Azakhel Afghans Wait to Rebuild their Lives

By Gabrielle Menezes
Nasmeen is old, but she doesn’t know how old exactly.  She fled the Russian invasion in Afghanistan and came to Pakistan with her family over 20 years ago.  Along with thousands of Afghans, she settled in the Azakhel refugee village in the Nowshera District of Pakistan.  Azakhel eventually became home to 23,000 Afghans fleeing violence in their home country. But that was before the epic floods that began with the July monsoon and destroyed their village.

Afghan IDPs: Overshadowed by politics

By Lynn Yoshikawa
In preparation for the recent high-profile, regional aid conference, the bustling city of Mazar e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan received a makeover. The wide boulevards were hosed down and police checkpoints scanned passing cars. But as plans came together for the conference, one issue was conspicuously overlooked – that of the thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Afghanistan who struggle to survive in the shadows of the city.

From Afghanistan, Unfiltered: Traveling in Kabul

By Dawn Calabia
Arriving in Kabul, one is deposited in a small, bare airport terminal missing the usual hubbub of travelers and shopkeepers.  Passengers quickly leave the terminal as security staff, who are  everywhere, quickly pinpoint anyone standing about; “why are you waiting here?” they ask without informing you that those greeting guests must wait outside in a parking lot.  Barriers around the terminal prevent travelers from re-entering or even walking close to the VIP area.  It is a very small airport for the capital of a country receiving large amounts of international aid and numerous contractors.

Iraq & Afghanistan: An Orderly Departure

By Ron Capps
Thirty-five years ago this week, Saigon fell to advancing North Vietnamese troops. Even this many years later, the images are indelible: Helicopters landing on the roof of the embassy; American sailors pushing helicopters off of the deck of a carrier as more hover alongside waiting to unload American citizens; and refugees fleeing the North Vietnamese Army's advance.

Pakistan: Protect People Now

By Ellie Stamatopoulos

Refugees International hosted its eighth annual Washington Circle event, Protect People First: Eyewitness Reports from Afghanistan and Pakistan, last Friday in front of a captivated Georgetown audience with one message --- make civilians the priority.

Afghanistan: Work in Progress

By Kristele Younes

The Obama administration is a much stronger supporter of the United Nations than the Bush administration was. But even for those who strongly believe in multilateralism -- and who want to see the UN play a larger role in international relations, humanitarian assistance and nation-building -- it can be difficult to understand the mandate and work of individual agencies and the cumbersome bureaucracy that sometimes prevents swift action.

President’s Corner: Obama’s speech and displacement in the Muslim World

By Kenneth Bacon

President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World in Cairo was a complete home run.

He highlighted the shared religious values of peace and justice that unify the People of the Book--Jews, Christians and Muslims who live by their Holy texts, the Talmud, the Bible and the Koran. He addressed the differences that currently divide the faiths, and he proposed paths for dialogue, partnership and peace in the future.

Inspired by New Supporters at the Afghan Embassy

By Megan Fowler

I am always inspired when people hear about Refugees International's work for the first time. Last night, Ambassador Said Jawad and his wife Shamim hosted a group of some 100 influential supporters and new friends of Refugees International at the Embassy of Afghanistan. They were there to learn about our recent mission to Afghanistan and the latest work we are doing to improve the lives of Afghan refugees.  

Afghanistan and Pakistan: Bold Reforms Needed

By Patrick Duplat
The big news today in Washington circles is the announcement of President Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He revealed significant increases in military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan, as well as higher levels of assistance for both countries. There’s bound to be disagreements over whether this is the appropriate course of action, but Obama is undeniably making the region a top priority of his tenure.

Pakistan: The Real Price of Eleven Billion Dollars

By Patrick Duplat

Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. government has provided Pakistan with $11 billion in military aid, a staggering sum in both absolute terms and when compared with non-military assistance. Not surprisingly, Pakistan wants this financial and logistical support to its armed forces to continue. President Asif Ali Zardari, in a recent Washington Post op-ed, urged the U.S. to “give [Pakistan] the necessary resources – upgrading [their] equipment and providing the newest technology – to fight terrorists…”

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