My colleague, Mark Yarnell, and I were recently in Mogadishu, Somalia. Anyone visiting Mogadishu can see the new construction and other evidence of money flowing back into this city, which was devastated by years of conflict. As Mark and I drove around, we also saw the downside of these changes. Many sites where internally displaced people (IDPs) were living a year ago had since been cleared by private landowners and the government.
I have just completed a five day trip to Mogadishu where my colleague, Garrett Bradford, and I visited camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). There are more than 300,000 IDPs living in makeshift shelters in camps spread across the Somali capital. Some camps, like the one near the dilapidated Parliament building, are teeming with thousands of families. Others consist of just a few dozen people living on private, undeveloped housing lots.
In recent weeks, stories from the unfolding crisis in Jonglei State, South Sudan, have started reaching Western newspapers. More than 100,000 people are estimated to be displaced, trapped in soon-to-be malaria-infested swamps beyond the reach of aid agencies. The government of South Sudan has denied access to the displaced and wounded, leading to fears that the situation in this severely food-insecure state could rapidly deteriorate into a full-scale humanitarian emergency.
It has been nearly a year since Somalia established a new federal government, ostensibly ending years of political transition. Some areas in Somalia are indeed experiencing increased stability and economic revival, but overall, a severe and complex humanitarian crisis continues and many challenges remain – especially for the country’s 1.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).
On Friday morning, the sound of mortar shells could be heard from Mugunga III displaced camp in eastern Congo. For the 160,000 displaced persons living in the Mugunga camps, it carried with it a new threat that comes all too soon after last year’s siege of the nearby town of Goma.
For much of the year, Yida refugee camp on the border of Sudan and South Sudan is hot, dry, and seemingly barren. (Watch our video to get a glimpse of camp life.) Yida’s 70,000 residents depend almost entirely on the World Food Program (WFP) for nutritional support, and receive rations of sorghum, yellow peas, oil, and salt. This diet has brought many people back from the brink of severe malnutrition. But while the refugees may not be starving, today we are seeing a new challenge emerge: nutrient deficiency.
On Friday, the High Court of Kenya issued a landmark decision on refugee rights. The court struck down a December 2012 government directive that would have forced all refugees living in cities to relocate to camps and suspended all registration and support services for city-dwelling refugees and asylum-seekers.
Omar, 24, lives in the Goudebo refugee camp on the outskirts of Dori, Burkina Faso. Like thousands of other Malian Tuaregs, Omar and his family sought refuge in neighboring Burkina after fighting broke out between Tuareg separatists, Islamic extremists, and the Malian government. In fact, he and his family have been displaced since February 2012, the very onset of the crisis.
This weekend, while many of us in the United States were outside enjoying the summer weather, 66,000 civilians fled across the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern border into Uganda. The exodus came after an attack by a Ugandan rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces - National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU), who on Thursday briefly took control of the Congolese town of Kamango.