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.
More than 100,000 people are now living in displacement camps in northern Myanmar, driven from their homes by conflict between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). While about a third of these individuals are living in government-controlled areas, the vast majority are located in zones controlled by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), the KIA’s political wing.
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.
As Hassan shuffled around the room with my camera in hand, snapping photos of his cousin Juhanah, his grandmother told the story of how their extended family came to share this simple concrete dwelling in southern Turkey. Like the stories of many other Syrian families taking refuge in neighboring countries, hers was one of trauma, loss, and uncertainty.
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).
As the number of Syrian refugees continues to grow and host communities feel the crunch, Lebanon is considering changes to its immigration policies which would limit the number of Syrian arrivals. Lebanon has been very welcoming toward Syrians so far, but with Syrian refugees now comprising roughly 25 percent of its population, there are fears that the demographic balance of the country is in jeopardy. Many here also worry that high social tensions related to the refugee influx could cause internal conflict.
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.
Yesterday’s announcement that the United States will accept 2,000 Syrian refugees is a welcome piece of good news for the nearly two million Syrians now living in exile. Many have spent more than two years trying to eke out an existence in neighboring countries that offer varying degrees of hospitality and support.