A Sad Look at the Africa Bureau

By Ron Capps
The Department of State's Inspector General recently released an inspection report on the Bureau of African Affairs. The report highlights resource shortcomings, policy failures and is a damning indictment of the past few years' leadership in the bureau. It is also a testimony to the dedication and competence of the foreign and civil service officials within the bureau. (Full disclosure, I served in the bureau for several years as a Foreign Service Officer.)

The inspectors cited "an undercurrent of dissatisfaction" and "uneven quality of leadership" leftover from the previous regime but noted that the team that took over on January 21 enjoyed "almost universal respect." "Morale," the inspectors noted, "is on the upswing."  That's good because there remain huge problems for the new team and the staff to overcome.

DR Congo: Kimia II's Impact on Civilians

By Camilla Olson
I last visited Mwenga in February 2009. At the time, we went there to see how people would be impacted if the Rwandan and Congolese militaries expanded their operations against the FDLR rebel group into South Kivu.    

In February, people in Mwenga told us that they were very scared about these joint operations. There is a large presence of FDLR in Mwenga territory and people said that any operations against the rebel group would certainly jeopardize their own security. People were also scared of the Rwandan army returning to the area given its history of past abuses against the local population there. They told us, “if we flee, we don’t know where we’d go, because in the forest is the FDLR who have threatened to attack us, and in town will be the Rwandan military who have targeted us in the past.”

Peacekeeping: RI Testifies on Capitol Hill

By Pamela Snyder

Refugees International was back on Capitol Hill yesterday, as Peacekeeping Advocate Erin Weir testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the challenges currently facing peacekeeping and possible improvements to the operations, said committee chairman Rep. Howard Berman. A distinguished group of witnesses gathered for the hearing, including Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr.

Sudan: Progress on Abyei

By Vanessa Parra

Earlier this week a decision from The Hague determined the boundary between north and south Sudan around the town of Abyei. This particular decision stems from an agreement signed last year, but it marks a part of the peace process occuring in Sudan. Benchmark goals like an election in April of next year and a referendum in 2011 are part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) – a document that marked the end of 21 years of war.

Iraq: Keeping Our Focus

By Jake Kurtzer
While America’s attention has shifted to the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, recent news reports about the targeting of Christian Iraqis have turned a few eyes back towards the violence within Iraq. The targeting of Iraqi Christians portends a return to the attacks on minorities and ethnic strife that led to the massive displacement of civilians from Iraq.

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.

Pakistan: Wake Up Call

By Patrick Duplat

There is a sense in Washington that the magnitude of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Pakistan hasn't been fully grasped yet. The latest offensive by the Pakistani military has forced one and a half million people to leave the Swat and Buner districts in less than three weeks. The UN Refugee Agency stated that the fighting is uprooting more people faster than any conflict since the Rwandan genocide. Even before the most recent military operations, half a million people had fled from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan.

Colombia: Violence Risks Destabilizing the Entire Region

By Andrea Lari
It is always amazing to encounter reactions of surprise from my colleagues when I talk about the enormous number of Colombians that fled their homes and land so that they could save their lives. The overwhelming stereotype that confines Colombia to being the biggest producer and exporter of cocaine in the world often obscures the daily reality that the average Colombian has to face.

DR Congo: Turning a Blind Eye

By Camilla Olson

It’s happened again.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is off of the international radar screen, despite the fact that violence and displacement continue.

Burma: One Year After Cyclone Nargis

By Jake Kurtzer
Anniversaries provide us with many opportunities – to commemorate, to remember, to admonish, to celebrate, to reassess. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Cyclone Nargis, which destroyed 700,000 homes in the Irrawaddy Delta of Burma and killed an estimated 138,000 people. In the press releases that I’ve read in the past few days, a number of organizations are using this anniversary to chastise the Burmese regime for their callousness towards their own population. This is undeniable, but I want to argue that this anniversary should be used for a different purpose – to see what we can do to continue to help the people who suffered from the storm.
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