In December 2013, in Juba, South Sudan, fighting broke out between soldiers of the Nuer and Dinka ethnicity within the presidential guard. This fighting quickly spread throughout the country, as the Dinka aligned themselves with the country’s president, Salva Kiir, and the Nuer aligned themselves with the former vice-president, Riek Machar. Despite attempts to negotiate an end to the fighting, battles between the national army and the opposition forces continue, and the country remains incredibly insecure.
The image of a crowded, dusty camp – full of tents and largely devoid of plant life – is probably what comes to mind immediately when you hear the word "refugee." You might think of Kenya’s Dadaab camp, which is currently the largest refugee settlement in the world, or of 80s-era photos of the Sudanese who fled to Ethiopia. You might even picture recent scenes from Zaatari, the camp in northern Jordan that is home to almost 100,000 Syrians who arrived in the past couple of years.
While a great deal of international attention has been given to the massive number of Syrian refugees who have crossed into Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, it is often forgotten that many Syrians – up to 300,000 according to some estimates – have made the somewhat longer journey to the nearby state of Egypt.
Every morning, Estralia wakes up in an unfamiliar environment, feeling unsure of where she is and where her home has gone. After a moment, all the terrible memories of Typhoon Haiyan come flooding back to her and she remembers the painful truth: everything has washed away.
As one drives around the devastated town of Bossangoa in northwest Central African Republic (CAR), it immediately becomes clear how the implosion of this country is being felt by ordinary citizens.
Bossangoa is the ancestral home of CAR’s former president, François Bozizé. The local population faced brutal attacks by the Seleka rebel group when they launched an offensive that brought down Bozizé in March 2013.
Last week saw the start of a fourth year of conflict in Syria. Some of the primary markers of this event include a death toll approaching 150,000; fully half of Syria’s entire population in need of humanitarian aid; and 2.5 million Syrian refugees living in nearby countries, afraid to return, with more arriving every day. In addition, the UN’s financial requirements for providing lifesaving assistance to Syrians – both inside and outside the country – have risen to an astonishing $6.5 billion for 2014 alone.
This blog first appeared in Think Progress.
In the second half of 2013, Bulgaria, the poorest member of the European Union, saw an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers, most of them Syrians fleeing conflict through Turkey. The pace of arrivals quickly picked up, and by the end of the year the country, which usually sees less than 1,500 asylum seekers a year, was confronted with more than 7,000.
My colleague, Dara McLeod, and I are about to begin a mission to two neighboring countries in the center of Africa that are experiencing full-scale humanitarian crises: the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. Fighting inside each country has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.