Bor, South Sudan – It has been a dark week in Jonglei State in eastern South Sudan. On Friday night, the last of the humanitarian workers in Pibor town were evacuated by UN helicopter as South Sudanese forces roamed the dusty streets, attacking civilians and looting anything they could carry.
Three decades ago, the Center for Disease Control famously created its own “4H Club” to signify the four groups most at-risk for HIV/AIDS: homosexuals, hemophiliacs, heroin users, and Haitians. For Haiti, the implications of the label were particularly high – a dramatic dip in tourism, a near halt of foreign importing of Haitian goods, and, fueled by subsequent poverty, a heightened prevalence rate among Haitians.
Today, Marcy Hersh and I are en route to South Sudan, where we will spend the next three weeks assessing the conditions for displaced people in two of the harshest and most isolated areas of the country. In Jonglei and Unity states, an estimated 180,000 displaced persons are taking shelter in camps, with host families, and hiding in the bush, often with little to no support from the UN or humanitarian agencies.
This post previously appeared in Politico.
Syria’s civil war has become one of the largest humanitarian disasters in recent memory. The number of displaced Syrians is climbing rapidly, and the United Nations now estimates that half of Syria’s 20 million people could need aid by the end of this year. The Obama Administration and Congress have responded generously to the needs of Syrians during the last two years of conflict, but clearly more must be done.
As sad and overwhelming as they may be, some experiences make you say, “I am glad I was there to witness it.” Meeting with the refugees and IDPs affected by the Nagorno Karabakh conflict was that kind of an experience for me.
This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.
There are now roughly 200,000 Syrian refugees in 17 camps throughout southeastern Turkey, and this week a Refugees International team visited one such camp in Kilis Province.
This post originally appeared at The Hill's Congress Blog.
Two nights ago, my Refugees International colleagues and I paid a visit to a cramped apartment on the Turkish-Syrian border. Dr. Najjar, a Syrian physician, showed us various types of medical equipment he had gathered over the past week. They will be sent into a northern Syria province in the coming days to resupply hospitals and clinics.
A few minutes ago, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the creation of an “intervention brigade” within the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).
The resolution passed despite a good deal of skepticism on the part of many Council members, and it’s unclear whether the Council is prepared for the potential humanitarian fallout.
This post originally appeared on The Hill's Congress Blog.
Last week in Iraqi Kurdistan, two solemn anniversaries were being commemorated: the chemical weapons attack on Halabja 25 years ago and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, there was another anniversary that went largely unnoticed: the second anniversary of the conflict in Syria.