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.
In a recent meeting with a group of people displaced by the conflict in Myanmar’s Kachin State, I was reminded of the lack of options with which many displaced people can be left. When I asked the group why they were unable to return to their home villages, they laughed and pointed behind my head. I turned around and saw a line of at least 50 military trucks on the road behind us. They told me that they had seen at least 200 military trucks pass by the camp that day.
At the same time that the Kenyan government is ramping up pressure for Somali refugees to return home, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has released new international protection considerations for people fleeing southern and central Somalia. The guidelines highlight the continued risks that these people face and stress the need for ongoing international protection of Somali asylum-seekers.
The island of Leyte in the Philippines may be one of the only places in the world where beachfront property is completely undesirable. Those who live along Leyte's eastern beaches know that the sea's destructive power can suddenly sweep away everything they hold dear.
On December 16 last year, refugees began to flood across the border from South Sudan into Uganda as a result of an outbreak of violence in their country of origin. In the past two months the number of new arrivals has grown to roughly 66,000. They are being hosted in three areas: Adjumani, Arua, and Kiryandongo.
Refugee resettlement is in the news. At a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last month, speakers from both ends of the political spectrum called on the country to admit some of the 2.3 million Syrians who have become refugees. “While the United States has led the world in resettling and providing humanitarian assistance to refugees from conflicts around the globe, we’ve not done enough to address the current Syrian crisis,” said Senator Dick Durbin.