A little more than a week ago, June 20th, was World Refugee Day. The occasion seeks to raise awareness of, and funds for, the continued international work to support those displaced from their home countries. It furthermore is an opportunity to show solidarity with people who may still suffer from the consequences of persecution and the challenges of exile and exclusion.
However, the universal context of such a campaign raises questions about the transcendental nature of refugee identity and experience, and the possible existence of a global “refugee community.”
Nila is tired. Two weeks ago, she arrived in Yida camp, South Sudan, with her three young children in search of safety and food. Like the many people that fled before her, Nila and her family escaped from their homes in the middle of the night after relentless bombings by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) made it impossible for them to harvest their crops. As they hid in the caves away from the bombs, hunger set in, and finally they were forced to flee.
Samuel totters on uneven footing in the doorway of the thatch hut and gapes, open-mouthed, at the strangers in his house. He’s just a year old and has lived his entire life here in Yida, a transit camp for refugees in Unity State, South Sudan.
My Refugees International colleague and I perch on the edge of the bed that Samuel shares with his mom, Halima. When Samuel starts to whimper, Halima rises from her metal chair, held together by twine, scoops up the naked baby, and then returns to her chair and continues her story.
Right now, the shell-shocked residents of Moore, Oklahoma, are grappling with the loss of 24 lives and the destruction of entire neighborhoods following a devastating tornado on May 20. Meanwhile, across the globe, tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh and Burma are returning to damaged homes and villages in the wake of Cyclone Mahasen, which thankfully proved more merciful than anticipated.
While in Myanmar's Kachin State last month, I visited a number of displacement camps around Myitkyina and Waingmaw, and I also met with Kachin community-based organizations (CBOs) who deliver aid in both government and non-government controlled areas.
This post originally appeared at ThinkProgress.
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.