Well into the fourth year of the conflict in Syria, it is clear that Syrian refugees in the neighboring countries will not be able to return home in the near future. In Lebanon, where one in four residents is a Syrian refugee, the demands of providing emergency assistance to refugees while trying to support disadvantaged host communities have become especially complex. Lebanon’s government has not been able to come to agreement on approving a range of support projects for both Syrian refugees and disadvantaged Lebanese nationals. And while this political debate goes on, tensions between hosts and guests continue to rise.
Somali refugees in Kenya are facing pressure on multiple fronts. Earlier
this year, the Kenyan government announced that all urban refugees must
report to refugee camps. At the same time, the government launched a
security operation aimed at rooting out alleged members of the Al Shabab
terrorist organization from Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali
neighborhood in Nairobi. Together, these two initiatives opened the door
to increased levels of abuse, extortion, and harassment of refugees by
the Kenyan police. This comes as the Kenyan government is publicly
urging large-scale returns of Somali refugees even though the
humanitarian situation inside Somalia is deteriorating severely.
The deployment of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade and the
expulsion of the M23 rebel group have led many to herald a new era of
peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province. Yet
much of the province remains unsafe, many humanitarian needs are not
being met, and stability over the long-term is far from guaranteed.
Mexico is in the midst of a hidden humanitarian crisis. Entire rural communities have been viciously emptied by violent drug cartels looking to appropriate their land and natural resources. Residents have fled cities and states where the Mexican military is heavily engaged in armed conflict against organized criminal groups. As a result of targeted assassinations, kidnappings, and extortion, Mexican families have been forced to escape by abandoning their homes and livelihoods.
Katanga, the richest province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
is experiencing a humanitarian and security crisis that is worsening by
the day. While the United Nations and donor countries have been heavily involved
in other parts of the DRC,
international efforts to protect civilians in Katanga are falling short
and must be enhanced well in advance of the 2016 national elections.
South Sudan is on the verge of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Ongoing conflict since mid-December 2013 has forced mass displacement and limited humanitarian access to people in need.
Egypt’s political upheavals, along with national policies that obstruct
the work of humanitarian organizations, have left Syrian refugees there
with little visibility or assistance outside the communities where they
live. More international attention must be directed towards these
international community was unable to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe
in CAR. But action can be taken now by the United Nations and major
donor governments to stop the crisis from getting worse and assist those
who can be reached.
On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan tore a path of destruction across
the Philippines. While the emergency response was successful in
providing life-saving assistance, three months on, humanitarian needs
remain enormous, especially with respect to the restoration of people’s
In November 2013, a massive typhoon struck the Philippines, killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes. The response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is the largest to a sudden-onset natural disaster since the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods. Typhoon Haiyan is also the first large-scale natural disaster to strike since the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Transformative Agenda (TA) was adopted, and the first Level 3 (L3) emergency declaration in such a context. Unfortunately, the TA’s debut demonstrated myriad problems.
As Myanmar continues its renewed engagement with the international community, it must begin to address the serious violations of the rights of ethnic minorities that plague the country. It is time for the international community to change its ad hoc approach to Myanmar. Key donors and the United Nations must coordinate their advocacy and use consistent messaging to push the Myanmar government to address the root causes of the abuses suffered by ethnic minorities.
With the support of donor states and the humanitarian community, the Kurdistan Regional Government and Jordan have done a remarkable job in responding to the immediate challenges of the refugee influx. But the limitations of emergency assistance are becoming clear. A new and longer-term approach is now required – one that gives more attention to the situation of refugees living outside of camps, provides greater support to the communities most directly affected by the refugees’ presence, and entails more extensive engagement by development organizations.
Malgré les déclarations des gouvernements maliens et français, qui présentent leurs actions contre les insurgés au nord du Mali comme un succès, le bon déroulement des élections présidentielles en Août et le déploiement partiel de la Mission Multidimensionnelle Intégrée des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation au Mali (MINUSMA), la situation sécuritaire n’est pas revenue à la normale.
Despite French and Malian government declarations of success against
Islamist insurgents in the north of Mali, successful presidential
elections in August, and the partial deployment of the United Nations
Multidimensional Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), security conditions in
the country have not yet returned to normal.
In the wake of fragile security gains, the prevailing story of Somalia these days is one of progress. The terrorist group Al Shabab was forced from control of the country’s major cities more than two years ago, and Western donors are eager to support the country’s new president. In the past year, rebuilding and economic development in the capital, Mogadishu, has flourished. And yet, in spite of this growing stability, more than one million Somalis remain displaced within the country. In Mogadishu, the United Nations estimates that there are some 369,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in makeshift camps. Some camps are teeming with thousands of families, whereas others consist of just a few dozen people living on private, undeveloped lots. As the city develops, many of these IDPs are being forced from the places that have been their home for years – sometimes decades.
“I just need peace.” Those are the words of Tsehaye, a 35-year-old Eritrean man who has survived
torture in his own country, detention in Israel, and years of uncertainty as he waits to hear if he will
be recognized as a refugee. RI met Tsehaye in Tel Aviv while researching the experience of African
asylum seekers in Israel. Tsehaye’s experience is not unusual. It is the harsh reality for thousands
of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel, where a policy of deterrence denies them their freedom,
the right to work, access to healthcare, and trauma counseling. The threat of deportation also
looms over people like Tsehaye, as Israel has yet to grant refugee status to a single person from
Eritrea, despite that country’s long record of human rights violations.
The Syrian refugee populations in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey all face significant challenges. Thousands of people leave Syria for these countries every day, but once safely across the border there is no guarantee of finding adequate support for day-to-day needs such as shelter, food, or healthcare. Longer-term assistance, including education and psychosocial care, is still in the developing stages more than two years into the crisis, and it is sometimes neglected in deference to more immediate needs as the emergency grows.
Recurrent climate-related shocks in West Africa’s Sahel region are having severe impacts on vulnerable populations. Increasingly, those unable to feed themselves or their families have no option but to leave their villages, resorting to new forms of migration that bring with them serious protection risks. New resilience-building initiatives launched by regional bodies, the United Nations, and donors have the potential to begin to tackle the root causes of these populations’ vulnerabilities. However, a lack of coherence and coordination is seriously threatening the effectiveness of these initiatives. With implementation still in the initial stages, there is a window of opportunity to address these shortcomings before significant time and resource commitments are made.
Les chocs récurrents liés au climat dans la région Ouest-Africaine du Sahel ont des impacts conséquents sur les populations vulnérables. De plus en plus, ceux qui n’ont pas les capacités de se nourrir ou de nourrir leurs familles n’ont d’autre option que de quitter leurs villages, en ayant recours à de nouvelles formes de migration auxquelles sont associés d’important risques en matière de protection. De nouvelles initiatives de résilience lancées par des organismes régionaux, les Nations Unies, et les bailleurs de fonds pourraient s’attaquer aux causes profondes de la vulnérabilité de ces populations. Cependant, un manque de cohérence et de coordination menace considérablement l’efficacité de ces initiatives. Leur mise en œuvre en étant encore à son stade initial, il est encore temps de remédier à ces déficiences avant que ne soient pris des engagements significatifs en temps et en ressources.
Two years ago, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan and became the world’s youngest country. After more than two decades of civil war, it was hoped that this separation would finally lead to peace for the people in the South. Unfortunately, independence has not brought stability to the entire country, as ongoing border clashes and internal violence continue to cause displacement. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in South Sudan, with more being displaced every day.
In 2009/10, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolutions 1888 and 1960 establishing Women’s Protection Advisors (WPAs). These officials are tasked with building capacity to address conflict-related sexual violence within UN peacekeeping missions and reporting incidents for the monitoring and reporting arrangements as a basis for Security Council action against perpetrators. Today, six WPAs are assigned to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. The rollout of WPAs in that country has been marked by recruitment delays and training gaps which have ultimately led to poor practice in data collection, endangering sexual violence survivors. While Refugees International welcomes the initiative to address conflict-related sexual violence within peacekeeping missions, immediate measures must be taken to ensure that WPAs use an approach centered on the wellbeing of the survivor, following internationally recognized guidelines on safe and ethical researching, documenting, and monitoring of sexual violence in emergencies.
In its rush to normalize relations with Myanmar, the international
community – particularly the United Nations – must not ignore the
increase in abuses being committed against ethnic minorities in Rakhine
and Kachin States, and it must take a stronger stance in defense of the
human rights of affected populations. Ten months after violence forced
them into displacement camps in central Rakhine State, Rohingyas are
living in fear of multiple dangers: flooding and disease caused by the
rainy season, indefinite periods of displacement and segregation and the
consolidation of ethnic cleansing, arbitrary arrests, being forced by
officials to sign away their rights to citizenship, and a lack of
protection from further attacks. Meanwhile, in Kachin State, a peace
agreement remains out of reach almost two years after conflict there
resumed. Roughly 100,000 people are stuck in displacement camps, and
international humanitarian agencies are being denied access to the tens
of thousands living in non-government controlled areas.
Two years after the Syrian revolution began, there is much wider recognition of the dire humanitarian needs inside the country, and support for expanding cross-border aid activities is increasing. The United Nations, a handful of international non-governmental organizations, and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent all have humanitarian operations inside Syria. The Syrian regime, however, significantly restricts their ability to conduct these operations. As a result, relatively little humanitarian aid is available in Syria. Broader aid distribution is urgently needed. This will require donors to develop means of assistance that rely less on traditional agencies and actors, such as supporting the networks of local Syrian groups and activists which have successfully delivered aid. With the modest resources currently available for distributing aid in a challenging environment, innovative methods to efficiently identify and meet the needs of those inside of Syria must be developed, tested, funded, and expanded appropriately.
Au cours de l’Automne 2012, des centaines de milliers de personnes ont fuit leur maison en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) à la suite d’affrontements entre le groupe rebelle M23 et l’armée congolaise. La province du Nord Kivu a vu à elle seule 914 000 personnes se réfugier dans des camps et auprès de familles d’accueil. Malheureusement, l’agence des Nations Unies pour les Réfugiés (HCR) coordonne seulement l’assistance destinée aux résidents des camps, 112 000 personnes, soit un neuvième de la population déplacée. Les personnes déplacées en zones reculées, en particulier celles vivant dans des « sites spontanés » et dans des familles d’accueil, ne peuvent bénéficier des mécanismes de coordination mis en place, et reçoivent trop souvent peu voire pas d’assistance ou de protection. Les violences basées sur le genre (VBG) sont endémiques, et les programmes de protection destinés aux femmes et filles sont insuffisants. Désormais, et plus que jamais, les acteurs humanitaires en RDC doivent améliorer la coordination de l’aide humanitaire et s’assurer que la mise en place de l’assistance se fait selon des critères de vulnérabilité plutôt que de statut.
In the fall of 2012, hundreds of thousands of people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) fled their homes following fighting between the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army. In North Kivu province alone, 914,000 people took shelter in camps and with host families. Unfortunately, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) only coordinates support for those persons living in official camps – 112,000 people, or one ninth of the displaced population.
Displaced persons in remote areas, particularly those living in “spontaneous settlements” and with host families, have been left out of coordination mechanisms, and in many cases they have received little to no assistance or protection. Gender-based violence (GBV) is rampant, and programs to protect women and girls are insufficient. Now more than ever, aid actors in the DRC need to improve aid coordination and ensure that assistance is based on vulnerability rather than status.
The recent increase in displacement due to conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has multiplied the risk of gender-based violence (GBV). At the same time, coordination efforts by the international aid community are failing to address the needs of women and girls. In 2009, United Nations Action on Sexual Violence in Conflict drafted a comprehensive strategy for combating sexual violence in the DRC, which was then adopted by the DRC government. However, challenges with leadership, information sharing, and funding are hindering implementation of this strategy and actually obstructing urgent response to beneficiaries. To ensure effective prevention and response to GBV, the current coordination mechanism should be abandoned in favor of a structure better suited to humanitarian crises.
In December 2012, the Government of Kenya announced a directive that
would force all refugees living in cities to relocate to camps, and shut
down all registration and service provision to refugees and
asylum-seekers in cities. This effectively empowered Kenyan security
services to unleash a wave of abuse against refugees. That Kenya has not
yet gone ahead with a forced relocation plan has led some to believe
that the worst has been averted. Yet the directive caused severe harm
even without being implemented. Many refugees felt forced to leave
Nairobi following severe harassment. The directive has also been a
set-back to Kenya’s notable advances in enabling urban refugees to
support themselves, and it has put the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR)
global urban refugee policy at risk.
Depuis que des groupes islamistes radicaux ont pris le contrôle du nord du Mali en début d’année, l’attention locale et internationale s’est concentrée sur des plans visant à chasser les insurgés grâce à l’intervention d’une force militaire dirigée par l’Afrique. Mais cette stratégie a laissé dans l’ombre les besoins encore insatisfaits et croissants des Maliens déplacés, dont la majorité a fui vers le sud du pays. Bien qu’il soit facilement possible d’accéder à eux, les Maliens déplacés n’ont à ce jour reçu que très peu d’aide. Étant donné que le gouvernement civil et l’armée malienne sont tous deux en déroute, il faudra du temps pour que le processus politique puisse se remettre en route, et que l’armée se consolide pour reprendre le nord. Pendant ce temps, répondre aux besoins des déportés du sud doit devenir une priorité. D’autre part, étant donné la probabilité d’une détérioration grandissante des conditions humanitaires dans le nord ainsi que le sud, la coordination de la réponse humanitaire doit être améliorée. Il est crucial que l’on apporte un soin particulier à ce que des plans d’urgence humanitaires bien développés et disposant de ressources soient mis en place et prêts à être déployés.
Since hard-line Islamist groups took control of northern Mali earlier this year, regional and international attention has focused on plans for an African-led military force to drive out the insurgents. But this focus has distracted from the unmet and growing needs of displaced Malians, the majority of whom have fled to the country's south. Although easily accessible, they have received only limited assistance to date. With both the civilian government and the Malian army in a state of disarray, it will take time to get the political process on track and the army in shape to retake the north. In the meantime, meeting the needs of those displaced in the south must be prioritized. In addition, given the likelihood of a further deterioration of humanitarian conditions in both the north and south, coordination of the humanitarian response must be improved and far more emphasis must be placed on ensuring that well-developed and resourced humanitarian contingency plans are in place and ready for implementation.
The civil war in Syria has forced large numbers of Syrians from their homes, and in many cases from the country entirely. Refugees continue to flee in record numbers, and there are currently almost 400,000 registered or waiting for registration in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey combined. The United Nations has said it expects this number could reach 700,000 by December 31, 2012. About half of all the registered Syrians are living in camps, but the other half remain in local host communities trying to get by on their own.
In Syria, women and girls are being targeted for rape on a massive scale. This is one of the primary reasons many are fleeing to Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq. As refugees, however, these women and girls remain vulnerable to multiple forms of gender-based violence (GBV). This crisis requires urgent action. The United Nations Refugee Agency should immediately prioritize protecting Syrian women and girls to ensure they receive greater assistance and prevent further violence against them.
There are currently 1.36 million Somalis displaced within their own country. These internally displaced persons (IDPs) face major protection challenges – including abuse and aid diversion by camp gatekeepers, as well as the threat of forced evictions. These vulnerabilities are not new to Somalia’s displaced population, but the context is changing. Refugees International recently conducted assessments of IDP settlements in Mogadishu and Hargeisa, Somaliland. In Mogadishu, security and stability is improving, and the election of a new president in September has generated cautious optimism throughout the capital. To the north, the relative stability of the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland has primed it for long-term development opportunities. Unfortunately, while conditions in parts of Somalia are improving, the country’s internally displaced population is at risk of being left behind.
Despite an abundance of natural resources, Rakhine State is the second-poorest state in Burma. The simmering tension that exists between the Rakhine and stateless Rohingya communities has been stoked by poverty for decades. However, in June 2012 that tension boiled over. What began as inter-communal violence was followed by a wave of state-sponsored persecution of the Rohingya, along with a refusal to allow humanitarian agencies access to the northern part of the state, where the majority of Rohingya live. In October, Rohingya and other Muslim communities were attacked again, resulting in the destruction of thousands of houses, the displacement of tens of thousands of people, and an unknown number of deaths. In the state capital, Sittwe, tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya are now living in segregated, squalid camps outside of town and cut off from their livelihoods. The conflict has brought much-deserved international attention to the long-neglected situation of Burma’s Rohingya. The fact that it is taking place during a period of dramatic change in the country’s governance presents the world with a chance to finally put an end to discrimination against the Rohingya and restore their citizenship.
For decades, Burmese Rohingya fleeing persecution have sought refuge in Bangladesh. June’s inter-communal violence in Burma’s Rakhine State, as well as subsequent state-sponsored persecution and targeted attacks against Muslim populations, have cast an international spotlight on this neglected population, and offered an opportunity to resolve the status of both stateless Rohingya inside Burma and those Rohingya who are refugees in neighboring countries. This could be an opportunity for Bangladesh to engage fully on this issue and develop its long-awaited refugee policy. Instead, the nation is rallying against the Rohingya by refusing entry to refugees and restricting humanitarian assistance. This response, besides representing a breach of international law, will weaken Bangladesh’s ability to secure international support as discussions of the Rohingya's plight intensify. The governments of Bangladesh and Burma should be engaging in bilateral - and perhaps multilateral - discussions about how to protect the rights of the Rohingya community.
Colombia alberga el número más grande del mundo de personas en condición
de desplazamiento interno (PsCDI), la mayoría de los cuales vive en
zonas urbanas. El conflicto armado continúa desplazando más de 130 000
personas anualmente. Una vez desplazados, estos colombianos enfrentan
con frecuencia pobreza extrema, viven en asentamientos inseguros y
sufren exclusión económica y social. Ayudar a las PsCID urbano a pasar
de una situación de sufrimiento y vulnerabilidad permanente a una de
independencia e inclusión social, transformará a Colombia en una nación
más estable y próspera. La nueva Ley de Víctimas provee un marco
organizativo para alcanzar este objetivo. Aunque el gobierno colombiano
parece contar con la voluntad política necesaria para lograr un progreso
real, problemas de coordinación, excesiva descentralización y una débil
capacidad local, amenazan con desarticular la implementación de la
nueva ley. El gobierno central de Colombia debe proveer recursos y
activar la veeduría de los programas de integración local para las PsCDI
urbano. El gobierno de los Estados Unidos (EE.UU.) y la Agencia de la
Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) deben invertir los recursos
necesarios para el diseño y pilotaje de las iniciativas de integración
local para las PsCDI urbano, así como también profundizar su compromiso
con las autoridades locales y asistir a las organizaciones no
gubernamentales (ONGs) locales en su labor de cabildeo en favor de
programas efectivos para dicha población.
Colombia is home to the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world, the majority of whom live in urban areas. Armed conflict continues to displace more than 130,000 people annually. Once displaced, these Colombians frequently endure extreme poverty, live in unsafe settlements, and suffer social and economic exclusion. Helping urban IDPs move from conditions of sustained suffering and vulnerability to self-reliance and social inclusion will transform Colombia into a more stable and prosperous nation. The new Victims Law provides an organizing framework for achieving this goal. Although the Colombian government appears to possess the political will necessary to make real progress, coordination problems, excessive decentralization, and weak local capacity threaten to derail the implementation of the new law. Colombia’s central government must provide resources and active oversight of local integration programs for urban IDPs. The U.S. government and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) must invest the resources necessary to design and pilot local integration initiatives for urban IDPs, as well as deepen their engagement with local authorities and assist local NGOs to advocate for effective IDP programs.
Since early 2012, Lebanon and Jordan have seen a dramatic increase in
the number of refugees crossing their borders as the Syrian government
intensifies its crackdown on opposition groups. Despite the fact that
neither country has signed the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967
Protocol, both have accommodated those fleeing Syria, providing services
and assistance despite their own strained resources. As host countries,
Lebanon and Jordan are at a breaking point and need robust support –
for both the host communities and the refugee populations – in order to
maintain the safe havens they currently offer. The international
community must act by creating a solid refugee response that supports
those in need and preserves regional stability.
Another food crisis in the Sahel has put 18 million people at risk. Armed conflict in Mali has now compounded the situation, forcing more than 180,000 people to flee to neighboring countries. These refugees are arriving in remote areas facing acute food and water shortages. While agencies have quickly scaled up to provide life-saving assistance, resources are dwindling and additional support is needed for both Malian refugees and their host communities. Allowing the situation to languish risks lives and threatens to undermine an already-fragile coexistence. Going forward, humanitarian assistance must be accompanied by long-term investments that address the threat that food insecurity, climate change, and regional instability present to the Sahel.
As the newest nation in the world, the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) is undertaking the monumental task of building a nation state. Creating a functioning government would be an epic challenge for any country, but it is even greater for RoSS because it is faced with millions of displaced people, internal and external conflict, widespread food insecurity, a stagnant economy, and a population that includes dozens of tribes, ethnicities, indigenous communities and identities. The situation is further complicated by the internal conflict that re-ignited in South Sudan following the decades-long civil war. During the war, southerners were pitted against a common enemy in Khartoum. Now, absent that enemy, competing tribal and ethnic interests are fueling internal conflict, such as in Jonglei state. To ensure the successful transition of RoSS to a functioning nation, an identity must emerge that trumps all these competing interests. Citizenship should be based on place of birth or familial origin without any regard to the person’s color, faith, tribe, ethnicity, or other attribute.
The day-to-day reality for ordinary people in the Democratic Republic of
Congo includes all of the following: latent insecurity, ongoing
military operations, and systematic attacks by armed groups – including
units of the Congolese military. The international community has been
providing humanitarian assistance to the DRC for over a decade and a
half, but the need remains acute. The local UN peacekeeping operation
(MONUSCO) dedicates the majority of its scarce resources to the
protection of civilians, and will need to maintain this critical effort
for the foreseeable future. Creative protection efforts by the
peacekeepers need to be reinforced and supported. Protection monitoring
and coordination efforts – led by the UN Refugee Agency – also need to
Heavy rains and flooding in Colombia over the past fifteen months have affected more than three million people. While the initial humanitarian response was weak, there have been noteworthy improvements both on the ground and institutionally. But with significant numbers of people still displaced or affected by the disaster, challenges remain. Increased support is needed to address ongoing problems at poorly maintained shelters and to help affected communities restart their lives. Ambitious plans to relocate people away from at-risk areas will require the full participation of affected communities if they are to succeed. On the national level, major changes are underway to strengthen disaster management and build climate resilience. Nevertheless, weak local institutions threaten to undermine new and ambitious central government initiatives. Local capacity-building and accountability mechanisms must be prioritized.
Las lluvias e inundaciones intensas ocurridas en los últimos quince meses en Colombia han afectado a más de tres millones de personas. Si bien la respuesta humanitaria inicial fue débil, ha habido notables avances tanto al nivel institucional como en el terreno. A pesar de todo, con un número aún significativo de personas desplazadas o afectadas por el desastre, los desafíos persisten. Se requiere mayor apoyo para responder a los continuos problemas en los albergues pobremente mantenidos, así como para ayudar a las comunidades afectadas a reiniciar sus vidas. Los ambiciosos planes de reubicación de personas lejos de áreas de riesgo requerirán la completa participación de las comunidades afectadas si quieren alcanzar el éxito. A nivel nacional, se están gestando cambios importantes con miras a fortalecer el manejo de desastres y a construir resiliencia climática. No obstante, instituciones locales débiles amenazan con socavar las nuevas y ambiciosas iniciativas del gobierno central. Deben priorizarse, por tanto, la generación de capacidad a nivel local, así como los mecanismos de rendición de cuentas.
The United Nations has declared that famine conditions in south-central Somalia no longer exist. But the ongoing conflict in the country, coupled with a precarious food situation, will keep large numbers of Somali refugees from voluntarily returning anytime soon – this despite the rising insecurity in refugee-hosting areas of Kenya and Ethiopia. This insecurity poses a serious threat to protection and services for refugees. However, it also provides an opportunity to shake-up the unsustainable way that agencies have delivered services for decades. Despite security restrictions on access, donor governments must maintain their level of focus and funding for refugee operations in the region.
Syrians are taking refuge along the eastern border of Lebanon by the thousands. More than 2,000 people fled from Syria into Lebanon in the first week of March alone, bringing the total estimate of displaced Syrians in that country to at least 13,000. Humanitarian operations in much of the north, led by Lebanon’s HRC and the UNHCR, are inadequate. Much more assistance must be provided to those arriving in the east, south of Beirut, and in Tripoli. Lebanon has a long history of hosting Iraqi refugees and the same goodwill should be extended to Syrians. To fill humanitarian gaps, all displaced Syrians should be permitted to register and receive assistance regardless of their location in Lebanon. Local leaders and organizations with the experience to provide humanitarian aid must be identified and leveraged to enhance the quality and reach of necessary assistance.
As many as 100,000 people living in Kuwait are stateless. Called “bidoon” over the last twelve months thousands have been gathering peacefully in Taima Square to insist that the government recognize their Kuwaiti nationality. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and beatings have all been used to quell the demonstrators. Refugees International (RI) is calling on the Government of Kuwait to refrain from any further use of violence and to investigate serious allegations of abuse by special security forces. As well, pending applications for nationality filed by the stateless bidoon should be fairly and transparently adjudicated as a matter of priority.
After nearly 50 years of brutal military rule, Burma is embarking upon a landmark transition to civilian administration. The country has seen some promising political reforms. But the world’s longest civil war, coupled with natural disasters within the country, has created serious humanitarian needs which still persist. Recently, the Burmese government has demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with humanitarian agencies. The international community must seize this opportunity to ensure that the needs of the displaced are met, the military’s abuse of human rights are stemmed, and ethnic conflicts progress toward peaceful resolution. Only by addressing both political reform and ethnic conflict will policymakers be able to break the cycles of violence that have gripped the people of Burma.
The Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) is going through a major displacement crisis. The country is playing host to tens of thousands of refugees who fled fighting in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. In addition to this, hundreds of thousands of people are displaced due to violence within South Sudan itself. The country also has to contend with a large influx of southerners returning from northern cities. This crisis could soon become overwhelming for the world’s newest country – a country already struggling to deliver security and basic services to its citizens. If this displacement crisis is not adequately addressed, all the positive efforts now being made to incorporate returnees into the social, political, and economic fabric of South Sudan will be short lived.
When famine was declared in Somalia in July, the world turned its attention to the crisis in the Horn of Africa. Since then, public and media attention has waned, despite the fact that the crisis is far from over. Food production in Somalia will not return to normal levels until the end of 2012 at the earliest. Rising insecurity inside Somalia and Kenya is impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid while greater numbers of Somalis are forced to flee violence and hunger. In the refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, UN agencies and NGOs have responded well to meet the basic needs of hundreds of thousands of new refugees, but protection monitoring and programming remains weak. In Mogadishu, non-traditional donor countries have created much needed new streams of assistance. However, their inexperience in aid distribution and coordination is resulting in vast disparities in the delivery of aid. Informal and unmanaged Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) sites inside the capital have become breeding grounds for waterborne diseases. And throughout Somalia, ongoing violence, banditry, and food shortages have trapped people who have nothing left, and nowhere to flee.
With the death of Muammar Gaddafi, a long-standing dictatorship has come to an end. The majority of Libyans are celebrating a new future; but certain groups – including suspected loyalist civilians, sub-Saharan Africans, and ethnic minorities – remain displaced and vulnerable to violent attacks. The National Transitional Council (NTC), the current de facto government of Libya, lacks command and control over all armed groups, including those responsible for revenge attacks. As such, the NTC cannot yet establish or maintain the rule of law. The plight of these vulnerable civilians foreshadows challenges to reconciliation, integration, and equal treatment of all in the new Libya. Further, civilians suffering losses during hostilities have not been properly recognized or assisted.
RI Advocate Matt Pennington and CIVIC Director of Field Operations Kristele Younes conducted a joint mission to Libya in September and October of 2011 to assess key civilian protection gaps and challenges.
Gender discrimination in Kuwait’s nationality laws increases the incidence of statelessness by rendering children of Kuwaiti women and bidoon men stateless. Statelessness exposes women to heightened risks of abuse and exploitation. It also endangers family life.
One year after massive floods submerged much of Pakistan, millions of flood survivors are still without permanent shelter and struggling to access food. It is critical that the U.S. government make strides in demonstrating that flood assistance, in addition to providing life-saving assistance, is also helping to alleviate poverty and to build a more democratic and economically and politically stable Pakistan.
International interest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is
waning at a time when hundreds of thousands of Congolese continue to be
displaced by ongoing violence. This shift risks squandering the
substantial investments made towards peace and stability in the DRC and
leaves internally displaced people vulnerable to further violence and
suffering. Continued political and financial support by the U.S. and
other donor governments is still essential to address both the root
causes of the problem and emergency needs – all the more so in the
context of November’s elections.
L’intérêt de la communauté internationale à l’égard la République
démocratique du Congo (RDC) diminue. Pourtant, des centaines de milliers
de Congolais sont toujours déplacés en raison de la violence actuelle.
Ce changement d’attitude risque de gâcher les efforts considérables
investis afin d’amener paix et stabilité en RDC, et cela expose les
déplacés internes à davantage de violence et souffrances. Le soutien politique et financier continu des Etats-Unis et d’autres
pays donateurs reste essentiel si l’on veut combattre à la fois les
causes du problème et les besoins d’urgence, a fortiori dans le contexte
Afghan civilians are caught in the middle of an intensifying military
campaign against a fractured armed insurgency. Despite the U.S.
military’s claims of progress, insurgent attacks are up by 50% over last
year, and more than 250,000 people have fled their villages in the past
In recent years the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) has
faced tremendous pressure to improve civilian protection in the volatile
and violent eastern provinces of the country. The mission has seen its
share of high-profile protection failures – including the mass rape of
over 200 women, men and children in August of 2010. But MONUSCO is at
the forefront of innovative tactics to protect civilians. In order to
sustain and maximize these new efforts, however, the mission requires
additional civilian and logistical capacity. MONUSCO also requires new
information management and analysis systems in order to facilitate
moving from a reactive to genuinely preventive protection posture.
The Rohingya ethnic minority of Burma are trapped between severe repression in their homeland and abuse in neighboring countries. Bangladesh has hosted hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fleeing persecution for more than three decades, but at least 200,000 Rohingya refugees have no legal rights there. They live in squalor, receive very limited aid and are subject to arrest, extortion and detention. Unregistered refugee women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and physical attacks. The international community must urge the Bangladeshi government to register undocumented refugees and improve protection for all vulnerable Rohingyas. Donor governments must also work to restart and increase resettlement of refugees to a third country and increase assistance for communities hosting refugees.
Malaysia has taken significant steps forward in improving refugee
rights. In the past year, there have been no reported attempts to deport
Burmese refugees to the border with Thailand and a decrease in
immigration raids and arrests of registered refugees. But these advances
have not yet been codified into written government policy, leaving
refugees considered “illegal migrants” and subject to arrest and
detention. The Government of Malaysia should build on this progress by
setting up a system of residence and work permits for refugees. The
international community should mobilize additional funds for the UN
Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and non-governmental agencies to leverage this
opportunity to improve refugee rights.
As the conflict in Libya evolves into a drawn-out stalemate, affected civilian populations remain largely inaccessible to humanitarian agencies. The UN Security Council rightly took action to prevent an all-out slaughter in Benghazi. But to fully protect civilians now, the UN must better identify the needs of people inside Libya and ensure they can access assistance. Furthermore, the U.S. and other governments in the region should commit to resettling the growing number of refugees on Libya’s borders and continue funding the evacuation of third-country nationals.
The eruption of conflict between the Burmese military and an ethnic rebel faction in eastern Burma has forced over 30,000 people to flee to Thailand since November 2010. Skirmishes are ongoing and both parties have planted landmines in people’s villages and farmlands. While the Thai government has a long-standing policy of providing refuge for “those fleeing fighting,” the Thai army is pressuring Burmese to return prematurely and restricting aid agencies. Unless the Thai Government strengthens its policy to protect those fleeing fighting and persecution, current and future refugees will have no choice but to join the ranks of millions of undocumented and unprotected migrant workers in Thailand.
Before the excitement around the emergence of the world’s newest nation
fades, outstanding issues from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be
resolved. Hundreds of thousands of people are returning south and
desperately require support to rebuild their lives and communities. The
rights of minority groups on either side of the border need to be
The next two years will be defining ones for the future of Iraq and the
United States' legacy in the region. It would be a grave mistake for the
U.S. Government to diminish efforts to protect and assist Iraq's
displaced. A reduction of funding and diplomacy on the issue could
undermine stated U.S. foreign policy goals and lead to the creation of a
second large-scale protracted displacement crisis in the Middle East.
Two decades after Latvia reasserted its independence during the breakup of the former Soviet Union, references to its traumatic past still surface in the media and during political debates. Often the Russian-speaking minority is blamed for the crimes of the Soviet regime. Divisive rhetoric of us and them reflects social schisms based on ethno-centric power-grabbing and vilification of “the other.” In the mid 1990s, the Latvian government created a category of “non-citizens”, which continues to impede hundreds of thousands of people from enjoying their right to a nationality. This status should be abolished, and Russian-speaking Latvians should be provided the same rights as other citizens, including the right to vote.
As the January 9 referenda in south Sudan and Abyei approach, so does the possibility for violence and humanitarian crises. The United Nations has mapped out potential flashpoints for conflict and drawn up detailed contingency plans, but many critical challenges remain unresolved. With less than a month remaining until the referenda, agencies lack sufficient staffing, humanitarian access has become a growing issue, a coordinated response to gender-based violence has yet to be developed, and a systematic plan to protect minority communities and returnees has not been finalized. These issues must be resolved immediately in order to effectively protect and assist the Sudanese people if a large-scale crisis emerges.
One year after President Obama’s announcement of the Afghanistan strategy, the country continues to slide into crisis.
The UN Refugee Agency’s approach to urban refugee protection in
Nairobi, Kenya should serve as a model and best practice for programs
worldwide. By embracing the Age, Gender, and Diversity Mainstreaming Initiative,
UNHCR has significantly improved their relationships with the refugee
community and has drawn upon resources within that community to
While the international community has not succeeded in bringing
stability to Somalia, it can succeed in improving the lives of Somali
refugees. The single most important way the donor community can assist
the Somali people is through increasing educational opportunities.
Humanitarian assistance alone cannot meet the needs of three generations
of Somali refugees. Donors and the United Nations must provide greater
development funding to refugees and host communities living in and
around Dadaab. To improve urban protection, the UNHCR must dedicate
more staff for registration in Nairobi and, along with donors,
prioritize support for local Kenyan NGOs assisting urban refugees.
La solidaridad impresionante de la República Dominicana tras el terremoto de enero en el vecino país de Haití ya ha conducido a mejores relaciones entre ambos países, que deben mantenerse con la celebración de un acuerdo bilateral sobre política migratoria que respete los derechos humanos. El Gobierno de la República Dominicana debería establecer el reglamento, largamente esperado, de la Ley de Migración de 2004 e instituir un proceso transparente de regularización que abra el camino para la legalización de los extranjeros que han vivido en la República Dominicana durante mucho tiempo. A pesar de los avances en las relaciones con Haití, el Gobierno de la República Dominicana continúa privando ilegalmente a los dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana de su nacionalidad, aumentando así la apatridia. Es necesario cambiar esta política.
The impressive solidarity demonstrated by the Dominican Republic in the
aftermath of the January earthquake in neighboring Haiti already has
led to improved relations between the countries. This must be sustained
by reaching bilateral agreement on a migration policy which respects
human rights. The Dominican Government should pass the long-awaited
regulations for the 2004 Migration Law and put in place a transparent
regularization process that gives a path to legal status to foreigners
who have lived in the DR for long periods. Despite advances in
relations with Haiti the Dominican Government continues to illegally
strip Dominicans of Haitian descent of their nationality and is thus
increasing statelessness. This policy must be changed.
Nearly ten months after the January 12 earthquake, the people of Haiti
are still living in a state of emergency, with a humanitarian response
that appears paralyzed. Camp inhabitants are protesting against their
living conditions and threats of evictions and objecting to the
arbitrarily appointed or completely absent camp managers. Gang leaders
or land-owners are intimidating the displaced. Sexual, domestic, and
gang violence in and around the camps is rising. More experienced
United Nations personnel and resources for humanitarian protection are
urgently required. Further, agencies must focus much more attention on
developing livelihood opportunities that would enable people to
transition out of the camps.
Près de dix mois après le tremblement de terre du 12 janvier, la
réponse humanitaire semble être paralysée et la population haïtienne
vit toujours dans l’état d’urgence. Les habitants des camps protestent
contre leurs conditions de vie et les menaces d’expulsion auxquelles
ils font face, et expriment leur désaccord à l’égard des nominations
arbitraires ou l’absence totale des gestionnaires de camp. Les chefs de
gang et les propriétaires de terrains intimident les résidents. La
violence sexuelle, domestique et celle perpétrée par les gangs
augmente. Il est urgent que du personnel des Nations unies plus
expérimenté ainsi que des ressources supplémentaires soient affectés
aux initiatives de protection humanitaire. Par ailleurs, les agences
doivent accorder davantage d’attention aux activités visant à
développer des modes de subsistance afin de permettre aux personnes de
quitter progressivement les camps.
Alors que l’on entame les débats sur l’avenir des opérations de
maintien de la paix en RD Congo et les modalités de retrait de la
mission, l’est du pays est toujours embourbé dans le conflit. Les
initiatives conjointes de la Mission des Nations Unies pour la
Stabilisation et du gouvernement congolais visant à dresser le bilan
des défis encore à relever ont été précipitées et incohérentes. La
méthodologie d’évaluation a été développée sans prendre en compte les
acteurs clés internes et externes à la mission. Alors que les
discussions sur le retrait des forces de la MONUSCO (ancienne MONUC)
ont commencé au Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies, le processus de
planification de l’évaluation doit être plus cohérent, les opinions des
agences des Nations unies et de la société civile doivent être prises
en considération dans le processus et il faut continuer à développer et
soutenir les initiatives civiles, également cruciales.
Discussions about the future of peacekeeping in the DR Congo and the
modalities of withdrawal are happening while the east of the country
remains steeped in conflict. Joint efforts by the UN stabilization
mission and the Congolese Government to map remaining challenges have
been rushed and incoherent. Assessment methodology was designed
without reference to key actors, both inside and outside the mission.
As the UN Security Council begins discussing the withdrawal of MONUSCO
(formerly MONUC) forces, the assessment planning process must be made
more consistent, UN agencies and civil society must be given a voice in
the process, and critical civilian efforts must continue to be
developed and supported.
By opening its borders to some 100,000 vulnerable ethnic Uzbek refugees
fleeing deadly violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, the Uzbekistan
government demonstrated rare humanitarianism and respect for
international law. After the clashes subsided, Uzbekistan arranged with
Kyrgyzstan to encourage the refugees to voluntarily return for
Kyrgyzstan’s June 27 constitutional referendum. While Uzbekistan and its
citizens should be commended for their humane actions they should be
encouraged, along with their neighbors, to provide temporary asylum to
any refugee at risk and cease any deportation of those still fearing
persecution if returned to Kyrgyzstan.
The official mourning period for the dead and wounded in southern
Kyrgyzstan has ended, but inter-ethnic tensions, fears and human rights
abuses haunt this area, particularly its Uzbek citizens. Some 75,000
people remain displaced. Thousands of Uzbeks have sought refuge in
neighboring countries or have migrated to Russia. Kyrgyzstan’s interim
government must act to ensure physical and legal security for all
citizens and end impunity for those responsible for attacks, arbitrary
arrests, detention, kidnappings, extortion and intimidation. The
government must restore justice and tolerance for all or risk its
economic, social and political development as central Asia’s leading
Sudan is preparing to hold a referendum on southern independence in
January 2011 as mandated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Indications suggest that the vote will be overwhelmingly in favor of
separation. Although an explosion of full scale north-south war is not
inevitable, the risk of new outbreaks of conflict in hotspot areas is
all too real. If the south separates, southerners in the north and
northerners in the south will be especially vulnerable to violence and
loss of citizenship resulting in statelessness. The parties to the CPA,
international donor governments and the United Nations must place
urgent priority on preventing and responding to possible abuses.
Même si l’on se réjouit du lancement d’une nouvelle stratégie contre
les violences sexuelles en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), de
nombreux défis sont encore à relever. La stratégie, qui fait partie du
plan de stabilisation de l’est de la RDC du gouvernement congolais a,
sans le vouloir, provoqué une baisse de l’attention et des fonds
destinés à la lutte contre les violences sexuelles dans un nombre accru
de zones touchées par le conflit. Par ailleurs, le manque de
coordination et d’implication des groupes locaux fait obstacle à la
réponse dans son ensemble. Afin de garantir une approche véritablement
compréhensive visant à combattre et répondre aux violences sexuelles en
RDC, les gouvernements des pays donateurs doivent soutenir la nouvelle
stratégie tout en assurant que les besoins d’urgence soient satisfaits.
The launch of a new strategy on sexual violence in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) is welcome, but numerous challenges remain.
The strategy, which is part of the Congolese government’s stabilization
plan for eastern DRC, has unintentionally led to a loss of attention
and funding to address sexual violence in more conflict-affected areas.
Further, poor coordination and lack of engagement with local groups are
hindering the overall response. To ensure a truly comprehensive
approach to combating and responding to sexual violence in the DRC,
donor governments need to support the new strategy while ensuring that
emergency needs are met.
Tens of thousands of Somali refugees have sought asylum in cities in
neighboring countries but have long been overlooked by humanitarian
actors. Registration and documentation should be the foundation of refugee protection in cities.
The government of Kuwait continues to balk at granting nationality to
its approximately 90,000 stateless residents, or bidoon. Lack of legal
status impacts all areas of their lives. Kuwait must begin immediate
and transparent reviews of all bidoon cases towards providing
naturalization. Meanwhile Kuwait should guarantee the bidoon the right
to work and earn equitable incomes, allow their children to enroll in
public schools, provide them healthcare free of charge, and issue
certificates that record births, marriages, and deaths. With Kuwait
about to enter the UN Universal Periodic Review process on May 12,
other states have an immediate opportunity to press the country to take
these steps to address the statelessness problem.
La signature récente d’un accord tripartite entre l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés (HCR) et les gouvernements de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) et du Rwanda va mener au retour officiel de milliers de réfugiés congolais. Cependant, l’escalade des tensions dans les zones contrôlées par le groupe rebelle CNDP rend la réintégration de ces anciens réfugiés plus difficile. Les Etats-Unis doivent apporter un soutien plus important aux stratégies d'atténuation des conflits politiques qui existent autour des terres et des ethnicités. Les Etats-Unis et les membres du Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies doivent aussi presser les gouvernements de la RDC et du Rwanda de s’atteler à la question de la domination grandissante du CNDP dans les zones de retour.
The recent signing of a tripartite agreement between the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda will lead to the official return of tens of thousands of Congolese refugees. However, their reintegration is challenged by mounting tensions in areas controlled by the CNDP rebel group. More support is needed from the U.S. for strategies that mitigate potential conflicts over land and ethnicity. The U.S. and members of the UN Security Council should also urge the DRC and Rwanda to address the growing dominance of the CNDP in return areas.
Five years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) southern Sudan remains highly volatile, with longstanding tribal tensions, competition for land, and new economic competition fueling south-south violence that has resulted in 450 deaths and the displacement of 40,000 people this year alone. Just nine months from the planned referendum for southern independence, the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) remains weak, and its army and police remain incapable of maintaining stability and protecting civilians. In this context, the UN peacekeeping mission, UNMIS, must develop and implement a clear mission-wide protection plan that incorporates all the relevant civilian, military, and policing units within the mission.
Military operations in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas
(FATA) continue to displace thousands of civilians. The role of the
Pakistani military in the humanitarian response as well as allegations
of human rights abuses in its counterinsurgency operations, has yet to
be prioritized, particularly by the U.S. government. Simultaneously,
U.S. development funding in the FATA is not having its intended impact,
while projects that could significantly improve the lives of hundreds
of thousands of Pakistanis are not receiving enough support. While
Refugees International recognizes the complexity of the U.S. role in
the region, greater oversight of humanitarian and human rights issues
should inform the U.S. government’s strategic partnership with Pakistan.
Un conflit violent dans la province de l’Equateur dans le nord-ouest de
la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) a forcé presque 200.000
civils congolais à fuir leur foyer au cours des six derniers mois. Les
agences humanitaires ont du mal à répondre aux besoins de ceux qui ont
pris la fuite, dont nombreux ne veulent pas rentrer chez eux dans un
avenir proche, et l’approvisionnement d’aide est désormais urgent dans
les zones de déplacement. En même temps, les événements en Equateur
soulignent la fragilité de la paix générale au Congo ainsi que le rôle
crucial que continue de jouer la Mission des Nations Unies en RDC
(MONUC) lors d’éruptions de violence ainsi qu’en matière de protection
du peuple congolais.
Violent conflict in Equateur province in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) forced nearly 200,000 Congolese civilians to flee their homes in the last six months. Humanitarian agencies have struggled to meet the needs of those who fled, many of whom do not want to return anytime soon, and assistance is urgently needed now in areas of displacement. At the same time, events in Equateur underscore the overall fragility of peace in the Congo and the vital role that the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) continues to play in responding to outbreaks of violence and protecting the Congolese people.
The next two years will be critical in determining Sudan’s future. The
country faces national elections in April, the first multi-party
elections in 24 years, and a referendum on southern independence in
January 2011. While the U.S. and others must do everything possible to
ensure that the governments in north and south Sudan reach agreement on
outstanding issues before the referendum, the humanitarian community
must simultaneously prepare to respond if conflict erupts around the
upcoming political events. Decades of responding to crises in Sudan has
created a complacent “business as usual” attitude among some
humanitarian agencies and donors that must be overcome.
The humanitarian situation facing Iraqi refugees and internally
displaced people is quickly becoming a protracted one for which the
U.S. bears special responsibility. Though the country is well
positioned to generate vast sums of revenue from its oil, it will take
many years before the government is able to rebuild the country’s
infrastructure and provide basic services to its people. Ongoing
political and security concerns continue to challenge development
efforts. It is thus critical that the U.S. and other donors continue
to support a strong and expanded humanitarian program, working
hand-in-hand with a variety of community development initiatives.
The devastating earthquake that struck Port-Au-Prince in January radically altered
the lives of the Haitian people, as well as the international community’s
engagement with the country. Billions of dollars in government and private
donations have been provided from around the world. However, millions of
Haitians are still desperate for food, water, shelter and protection from abuse
and exploitation. Moving forward, the U.S. and UN must quickly improve
its efforts for displaced Haitians by connecting with Haitian civil society groups
and streamlining bureaucratic processes. The U.S.
must also ensure that government-assistance programs for Haiti are not
funded at the expense of other international humanitarian emergencies.
Like Burma’s other neighbors, India hosts a large and growing refugee
population, the majority of whom are Chin ethnic minorities. India
generally tolerates the presence of Burmese refugees, but does not
afford them any legal protection, leaving them vulnerable to
harassment, discrimination, and deportation. While India’s lack of a
legal regime for refugees is a major impediment to addressing the needs
of Burmese refugees, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and international
donors need to explore creative ways to work within the existing
framework to provide assistance and increase protection for this
Displaced Colombian women and girls are the resilient survivors of the ongoing conflict inside the country. Frustrated by continued neglect from the authorities, displaced women’s organizations successfully petitioned the Constitutional Court, which ordered the Colombian government to bring to justice perpetrators of sexual violence and devise programs attending to the protection and socio-economic needs of displaced women. It is time for the government of Colombia to prioritize the implementation of the court orders. The U.S. government should take the opportunity of its close relationship with its Colombian counterpart to strongly encourage full compliance and provide help and resources to facilitate that task.
Las mujeres y niñas colombianas desplazadas son las estoicas sobrevivientes del conflicto que persiste en el país. Frustradas por la desidia de las autoridades, las organizaciones de mujeres desplazadas presentaron múltiples peticiones a la Corte Constitucional, que ordenó al Gobierno de Colombia que llevara ante la justicia a los perpetradores de actos de violencia sexual y que formulara programas para proteger a las mujeres desplazadas y atender sus necesidades socioeconómicas. Es hora de que el Gobierno de Colombia dé prioridad al cumplimiento de las órdenes judiciales. El Gobierno de Estados Unidos debería aprovechar la oportunidad que le ofrece su estrecha relación con el Gobierno de Colombia para impulsar enérgicamente el pleno cumplimiento de la orden y proporcionar ayuda y recursos con el propósito de facilitar esa tarea.
La sécurité en République Démocratique du Congo s’est considérablement
détériorée à la suite de l’offensive militaire contre les FDLR, groupe
rebelle composé d’anciens génocidaires Rwandais. Cette opération
militaire a fait fuir des centaines de milliers de personnes dans les
provinces du Nord et Sud Kivu. Face à cette situation, le mandat de la
mission onusienne de maintien de la paix en RD Congo (MONUC) est de
soutenir les forces armées Congolaises (FARDC), faibles et souvent
criminelles, tout en protégeant les civils de la violence environnante.
Les dirigeants de la MONUC et le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU doivent
renforcer les stratégies de protection de la mission, et s’assurer de
l’application rigoureuse des critères concernant les droits de l’homme
afin que le soutien aux FARDC ne compromette pas le travail de
protection des civils.
The security environment in the Democratic Republic of Congo has worsened dramatically with the launch of a military offensive against the FDLR rebel group. In the face of this conflict, the UN peacekeeping mission to the Congo (MONUC) has been mandated to support the weak and often criminal Congolese military, the FARDC, while simultaneously protecting civilians from ongoing violence. MONUC mission leadership and the UN Security Council must reinforce the mission’s protection strategies, and ensure the rigorous application of human rights criteria to ensure that support given to the FARDC does not undermine overarching protection objectives.
Pakistan is facing a complex humanitarian crisis. Recent military offensives against militant groups have displaced several million civilians and left thousands dead. While many have returned home, the new offensive in South Waziristan is currently displacing hundreds of thousands more. The UN’s activities are limited by both the insecure environment and restrictions by the government of Pakistan, but it must do a better job at adopting a principled approach to humanitarian assistance. As for the U.S., if it wants to help stabilize Pakistan, it needs to insist that the government prioritize the protection of civilians.
Burmese refugees have been living in Thailand for more than two
decades. The situation is fluid: resettlement programs have provided
tens of thousands of people with new lives, while a new wave of
conflict in Burma is changing the political landscape and forcing
thousands of new refugees to flee into Thailand.
The unexpected political cooperation between the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda in 2009 led to optimistic assessments that the long-running conflict in eastern DRC would soon end. But nine months after the Congolese military launched operations against the FDLR rebel group in North and South Kivu provinces, there have been few signs of success and civilians continue to pay a horrible price.
La surprenante coopération politique entre les gouvernements de la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC) et du Rwanda en 2009 a laissé envisager un dénouement proche du long conflit dans l'est de la RDC. Or, neuf mois après le lancement des opérations contre le groupe rebelle FDLR par l'armée congolaise dans les provinces du Nord et Sud Kivu, les signes de réussite sont rares et la population civile continue de payer un prix très lourd.
When world leaders gather to address hot issues such as security,
governance, poverty, discrimination, human trafficking, and climate
change, they invariably skirt around one of the problems that links
them all: statelessness. Taking steps to uphold the nationality rights
of the more than 12 million stateless persons around the world could go
a long way toward responding to these inter-related challenges.
Despite the investments made in Afghanistan in the last eight years,
the country is still facing a serious humanitarian situation, the
result of both natural disasters and ongoing conflict. The UN and
donors must increase budgets for humanitarian assistance and support
the recently re-established UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The Iraqi refugee crisis is far from over and recent violence is
creating further displacement. Iraqi women will resist returning home,
even if conditions improve in Iraq, if there is no focus on securing
their rights as women and assuring their personal security and their
families’ well being.
The impact of Colombia’s internal armed conflict on Ecuador and
Venezuela is destabilizing border regions while thousands of Colombians
continue to flee their country in search of sanctuary.
El impacto del conflicto armado interno de Colombia en Ecuador y
Venezuela está desestabilizando las regiones fronterizas, al mismo
tiempo que miles de colombianos continúan huyendo de su país en busca
Pakistan is witnessing the largest population movement since its independence in 1947. Needs are enormous, as millions of people have fled without anything and sought shelter in camps or with relatives. Yet, the implications of this humanitarian crisis and growing instability have not been adequately recognized
The number of displaced Iraqis remains high, both inside the country and in neighboring ones. They remain reluctant to go back due to lack of security, the creation of ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, and poor government services.
Somalia remains the site of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with
regional consequences that require greater international attention. The
formation of a new government has so far meant little to the more than
three million Somalis in need of emergency assistance inside the
International engagement is urgently needed to rescue south Sudan from
the brink of an unfolding crisis. The perilous situation is being
ignored amid the focus on the indictment of President Al-Bashir by the
International Criminal Court.
In the past year, humanitarian assistance to Burma has been primarily focused on victims of Cyclone Nargis, which struck the Irrawaddy delta on May 2, 2008. Though the initial delivery of assistance was hampered by government obstruction, the aid programs that have since developed in the delta have benefited from an ease of operations unseen in other parts of the country.
With the recent shift in the security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) must quickly reorient their strategies to assist and protect vulnerable people.
Il est urgent que les agences des Nations Unies et les organisations
non gouvernementales (ONG) remodèlent leurs stratégies d’aide aux
populations vulnérables dans l’est de la République Démocratique du
Congo (RDC) qui a récemment connu un changement dramatique dans sa
The humanitarian situation has severely deteriorated over the past year in Afghanistan and Pakistan, creating more displacement and vulnerability. To promote stability, the international community must better balance development and humanitarian assistance and target returnees to Afghanistan as well as displaced people in both countries.
Donor governments, international agencies, and national leaders should seize the current opportunity to break the cycle of violent conflict and sow the seeds for a steady recovery in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Les gouvernements donateurs, les agences internationales, et les
dirigeants nationaux devraient saisir l’occasion qu’ils ont aujourd’hui
de mettre un terme au conflit afin que la République Centrafricaine
puisse se rétablir progressivement.
Sudan is entering a volatile period in the implementation of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The risk of violent outbreaks is acute.
The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) was deployed with a mandate to observe
and monitor CPA implementation, and is therefore both ill-equipped and
ill-disposed to engage in civilian protection efforts.
Among Burma’s ethnic minorities, the Rohingya, a stateless population,
stand out for their particularly harsh treatment by Burmese authorities
and their invisibility as a persecuted minority. Despite decades of
severe repression, there has been minimal international response to the
needs of this extremely vulnerable population compared to other Burmese
Having fled killings, kidnappings, torture, and death threats, about
3,000 Palestinian refugees from Iraq are currently stranded in three
camps along the border between Syria and Iraq. Denied asylum and
refugee rights, they are extremely vulnerable in poorly situated camps.
The Syrian government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
are both open to third country resettlement on humanitarian grounds and
on the basis of individual choice.
Somalia is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster and aid agencies are
unable to respond to the immense scale of needs. The insecurity
preventing assistance is a consequence of failed international
political and diplomatic efforts. To stabilize the situation in south
central Somalia, U.S. policy requires a complete overhaul, prioritizing
humanitarian concerns over narrow counterterrorism objectives.
The UN peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo (DRC) is stretched beyond all reasonable expectations. The force has responded in earnest as several hundred thousand Congolese have fled homes and displacement camps, intent on escaping the violence that has reignited in the North Kivu province in recent days.
La mission de paix de l’ONU en République Démocratique du Congo a été mise à rude épreuve. Alors que plusieurs centaines de milliers de Congolais fuyaient leurs foyers et les camps de réfugiés pour éviter la violence qui reprenait dans le Nord-Kivu, la force a fait son possible pour répondre aux demandes pressantes de la population.
Two million Iraqi refugees are increasingly desperate and
few of them are willing to return home. Although the United Nations and donor
governments have dramatically increased their response to Iraqi refugees' needs,
these efforts must be expanded as refugees are increasingly vulnerable due to
depleting assets and rising costs.
A concerted effort to tackle aggressively road access issues in
northern Katanga can accelerate the creation of basic services and
stimulate economic activities. Improved security, communities’
welcoming attitudes towards returning refugees, and a commitment from
local government officials to help returnees and residents provide an
opportunity in an area known for its geographic isolation, battered
infrastructure and chronic humanitarian needs.
Un effort soutenu pour remédier aux problèmes d’accès par la route dans le Nord du Katanga pourrait accélérer la création de services de base et stimuler les activités économiques. La région est connue pour son isolement géographique, ses infrastructures délabrées et ses besoins humanitaires chroniques.
Le Burundi doit faire face à d’importants défis pour réintégrer les
réfugiés qui ont passé des décennies en exil. Pour assurer une
stabilité durable, le gouvernement du Burundi devrait aborder de façon
plus volontariste les questions relatives à la terre et à la propriété
entre les rapatriés et les résidents; de même, les pays donateurs
devraient renforcer les strctures gouvernementales locales et les aider
à relancer les services et les activités de subsistance pour les
Burundi is facing enormous challenges reintegrating thousands of
refugees who spent decades in exile. To ensure long-term stability, the
government of Burundi should address more vigorously land and property
disputes between returnees and residents, and donor countries should
strengthen local government bodies and help them boost services and
livelihood opportunities for returnees.
For the first time since Bangladesh gained independence in 1971, Urdu
speaking minorities will be eligible to vote in December’s
parliamentary elections. A High Court judgment last May confirmed the
group’s rights to Bangladeshi citizenship, ending nearly four decades
of political and socio-economic exclusion.
Kuwait must begin immediate and transparent reviews of all
bidun cases towards providing naturalization and at the same time
consider undertaking a tolerance campaign to address discrimination in
the society at large.
Kuwait should provide civil registry and social services equitably,
particularly ensuring that birth certificates, inclusive of name, are
provided for all children. The Government of Kuwait must move to
resolve statelessness within its borders.
Three months after Cyclone Nargis, the world has an outdated image of the situation inside Burma. Although aid agencies delivered assistance within days after the storm and continue to do so, the story of a recalcitrant government that rejects aid from the generous nations of the world has not been updated.
To promote peace and stability in the region, donors should provide
increased funding to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) so that Sudanese
refugees who wish to return home from Uganda can do so safely,
voluntarily, and in dignity. Assistance
will also be needed for those who wish to integrate locally. At the
same time, the threat of new violence in south Sudan requires ongoing
space for refugees to seek asylum in Uganda. This will be enhanced by
ensuring that former refugee settlement areas are rehabilitated and
handed over to the local authorities in good condition.
Increasing numbers of Colombians are
fleeing their homes in several regions of the country and continue to
face serious vulnerability. Despite greater security in urban centers
and improvements in funding and the legal aspects of the government’s
emergency response system for new displacements, the large numbers of
newly displaced people are overwhelming the capacity of the government
and humanitarian agencies.
Se incrementa el número de colombianos que escapan de sus casas en varias regiones del país y siguen afrontando un alto grado de vulnerabilidad. A pesar que hay mayor seguridad en centros urbanos, más recursos financieros y un gran marco normativo que incluye un sistema de respuesta para la emergencia en caso de nuevos desplazamientos, la gran cantidad de personas recién desplazadas desborda la capacidad de las agencias de gobierno y humanitarias. Los presupuestos de las administraciones locales y sus infraestructuras afrontan esa enorme tensión y las distancias de las áreas donde ocurre el desplazamiento también complica la respuesta humanitaria.
Malgré la présence d’une force militaire de l’Union européenne à l’est
du Tchad, des mouvements rebelles, la violence intercommunautaire, des
attaques transfrontalières et le banditisme sont endémiques. Les civils et le personnel humanitaire sont régulièrement attaqués et
une insécurité continuelle entrave la distribution de l’aide
humanitaire. Pour augmenter la stabilité au Tchad, le Conseil de
sécurité des Nations Unies doit renforcer la mission de maintien de
l’ordre de l’ONU (MINURCAT), augmenter les efforts pour la réforme du
secteur de la justice et donner la possibilité au responsable civil de
la mission de l’ONU de s’engager dans des efforts politiques en vue de
la stabilisation et de la réconciliation.
Les agences d’aide internationale et les pays donateurs devraient
développer des stratégies pour promouvoir des solutions durables pour
les personnes déplacées internes (PDI) dans l’est du Tchad et pour
diminuer la dépendance des réfugiés soudanais à l’assistance
Despite the presence of a European Union military force in eastern
Chad, rebel movements, inter-communal violence, cross border attacks
and banditry are rampant. Civilians and humanitarian staff are
routinely attacked and ongoing insecurity is hampering the delivery of
humanitarian aid. To increase stability in Chad, the United Nations
Security Council must strengthen the UN policing mission (MINURCAT),
increase efforts for justice sector reform and give the civilian head
of the UN mission the ability to engage in political efforts towards
stabilization and reconciliation.
International aid agencies and donor
governments should develop strategies to promote durable solutions for
internally displaced people (IDPs) in eastern Chad and to decrease
Sudanese refugees’ dependence on outside assistance.
Peace negotiations over the past two years between the Government of
Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have produced tangible
gains for the north which must not be lost. Despite the fact that LRA leader Joseph
Kony has not signed the Final Peace Agreement, improved security has
meant that many internally displaced people (IDPs) can now access their
farm land and begin rebuilding their homes. The situation remains
fragile, however, and many of the displaced keep a foot in two places –
one in the original camp or transit site and one in their home land –
in case security deteriorates.
Despite strong historic and ethnic ties,
relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have rarely been smooth. As a
result, and particularly over the past decade, nationality rights of
residents of both countries have been at risk.
On May 16, President Leonel Fernandez won a further term in office using the electoral slogan "Pa'lante"
("moving forward") with a campaign message of modernization and
development for the country. But the Dominican Republic is not
utilizing all its human resources to move forward. An illegal
retroactive application of nationality laws is leaving increasing
numbers of Dominicans of Haitian descent functionally stateless.
Cientos de miles de personas han quedado en un limbo legal y, en
práctica, una gran mayoría de ellas se ven sin acceso ni a la
nacionalidad dominicana ni a la haitiana. El pasado 16 de mayo el Presidente Leonel Fernández renovó su mandato
haciendo uso del slogan electoral "Pa’lante" (hacia adelante),
transmitiendo durante su campaña un mensaje de modernización y
desarrollo para el país.
The ethnic divides that Kenya’s election
crisis brought to light overshadow
another longstanding form of marginalization: obstacles to citizenship
faced by minority groups such as the Nubians, Kenyan Somalis, and
coastal Arabs in the national identification (ID) card registration
La communauté internationale doit aller au-delà du fait de répondre
aux besoins basiques immédiats et développer une stratégie pour traiter
de façon complète les dynamiques de l’actuelle crise des déplacements
dans l’est de la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC).
The international community must move
beyond providing immediate basic services and develop a strategy to
deal comprehensively with the dynamics of the current displacement
crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis swept through Burma’s delta region, devastating a country that was already on the brink of a humanitarian crisis. The death toll is likely to mount to over 70,000, and as many as two million people have been displaced from their homes. There are alarming reports of entire villages destroyed, their populations missing. The international community must rally around a UN-led response to the crisis, set aside political disputes with the government of Burma, and begin preparing for not only immediate assistance, but also medium- and long-term stabilization and reconstruction plans.
Yemen is one of the least developed
countries in the world, ranking 153rd in the Human Development Index.
In the north of the country, a localized conflict has displaced tens of
thousands of civilians since 2004. In the past few years the arrival of
large numbers of Ethiopian and Somali migrants and asylum seekers has
further jeopardized the economy and stability of the country.
Somalia is without a doubt the most neglected crisis in the world
today. Over the past seventeen years, Somalia has been subject to
ongoing civil wars, droughts and floods. Most observers agree that the
crisis has never been as acute as it is today. The immense gap between
the level of need and the corresponding humanitarian response is
striking. Agencies struggle to provide food, water, health care, and
other basic assistance to one million internally displaced people
because of the worsening security crisis.
Economic difficulties drove the dramatic September 2007 protests in
Burma. In their aftermath, the international community is beginning to
respond to the humanitarian needs of ordinary Burmese. The U.S. is a
critical exception. While most analysts, including Refugees
International, believe only a change in political leadership can
address the structural causes of poverty in Burma, few forecast an end
to the country’s political stalemate. The international community must
do more to address the humanitarian needs of Burma’s 55 million people
in the absence of political progress.
In 2007, the international community
finally started responding to the plight of Iraqi refugees in the
Middle East. The attention to the crisis resulted in increased funding
that allowed the UN—particularly the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)—and
non-governmental organizations to develop and expand their programs.
Still, much more remains to be done to identify and meet the particular
needs of refugees from mixed socio-economic backgrounds living in
developed urban areas.
Three years after the signature of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan and
the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), adequate access
to basic services and creation of sustainable livelihoods remain
elusive for most Sudanese people. Since 2004, an estimated 2 million
southern Sudanese, either exiled in neighbouring countries or displaced
within Sudan, have returned home, with more than 90% having done so
spontaneously. Only a fraction has received adequate assistance.
The Central African Republic (CAR) faces
political instability and chronic poverty that demand a long-term
concerted effort from the international donor community, the United
Nations and international NGOs. Several positive steps have been taken
in the last few months, but more can be done to assist the government
in tackling the crisis in the northwest that is at the heart of massive
The recent government crackdown on demonstrations by monks and common
people inside Burma focused the world’s attention on the ongoing human
rights and humanitarian catastrophe there. After years of internal conflict and
repression, 500,000 have been displaced internally and an estimated
three million seek sanctuary and livelihoods in neighboring countries.
Thailand and other countries in the region are already straining to
handle the Burmese exodus.
Three years since the first allegations of sexual exploitation by UN
peacekeepers surfaced, the UN has taken significant steps to address the
problem. But reports
of abuse and exploitation continue.
Iraqis are now the third largest
displaced population in the world, after Palestinians and Sudanese.
Their number will likely continue to grow as violence in Iraq shows no
signs of diminishing.
Estimates identify 2.5 million refugees, with Syria and Jordan, two
countries with sizeable Palestinian populations as well, hosting the
vast majority. Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey have also received
significant flows of Iraqi refugees.
Progress in the implementation of the
January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by the
Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army can
only be consolidated if southern Sudanese in the south start enjoying
tangible peace dividends.
The Arabic word, “bidun,” meaning “without” and short for “bidun jinsiya” (without citizenship), is used to denote longtime residents of Kuwait who are stateless. The estimated number of bidun in Kuwait
ranges from 90,000 to 130,000, less than half the number who resided in
the country prior to Iraq’s invasion in 1990. Those who remain are
subject to systematic discrimination and their future is uncertain.
In 2005, after over two decades of civil
war, the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation
Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
But devastated infrastructure, a fragile security environment, political
mistrust, ethno-tribal tensions, and friction over possession of
oil-producing areas have meant that many of the reforms provided for in
the CPA have been slow to materialize.
After years exiled in bordering countries,
or displaced within Sudan, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people are
returning home to rebuild their lives, but more help is needed for
their reintegration into communities.
Decades of irregular migration to Sabah in eastern Malaysia have
resulted in large numbers of undocumented children of migrants from the
Philippines and Indonesia who are potentially at risk of statelessness. Undocumented migrants in Malaysia are
targets for arrest and deportation, which in some cases has left their
children alone on the street.
Burmese refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia are facing increasing threats to their security. Starting in March 2005, the Government of Malaysia launched a
nationwide operation targeting undocumented migrants in the country.
This operation has led to serious human rights violations against
Burmese in Malaysia, who the government classifies as illegal migrants
rather than refugees or asylum seekers.
The ongoing resettlement from camps in Thailand is giving Burmese
refugees a chance at a durable solution for the first time, yet the
policies of some countries resettling the refugees are creating
complications for those who will remain in the camps. An estimated 150,000 Burmese refugees, largely from the Karen ethnic
group, have lived in camps in Thailand, often for more than a decade.
La violencia en Colombia continúa y en ciertas regiones del
país está incrementando a pesar de la retórica del
gobierno de que está tomando el control sobre el conflicto
interno que ha plagado a la nación por las últimas cuatro
décadas. Equipos de expertos de Refugiados Internacional (RI) visitaron los
departamentos de Nariño y el Chocó en junio de 2006 y
febrero de 2007 y hallaron que las condiciones de seguridad han
Over the past decades, waves of
asylum seekers have fled persecution in Haiti, seeking safe haven in
neighboring countries in the region. For those fleeing by land, the
Dominican Republic has issued only a handful of asylum decisions, and
for those fleeing by sea, the U.S. Coast Guard has rarely provided
interdicted Haitians meaningful access to refugee or asylum processing.
Preparations for upcoming national elections in Bangladesh are providing a unique opportunity to resolve the protracted predicament of the country’s stateless Biharis, estimated to number as few as 240,000 and as many as 500,000, especially those who want to become citizens of Bangladesh.
The Burmese military regime carries out systematic repression and human rights violations against the Rohingya ethnic minority living in Burma's northern Rakhine State. The Rohingya also continue to be denied Burmese citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law which renders them stateless. Consequently many Rohingya asylum seekers flee to neighboring Bangladesh where the government, fearing a "pull-factor", has become increasingly reluctant to harbor them.
In 1962, when a census was conducted in the Hasakeh governorate under Decree No. 93, an estimated 120,000 people or about 20 percent of Syrian Kurds lost their citizenship, a number which has since more than doubled. Many persons who lost their nationality also later lost rights to their property, which was seized by the government and used for the re-settlement of displaced Arabs.
In 2004 the already desperate living conditions of the stateless Biharis in Bangladesh have continued to worsen. This year alone, they have lost their government-subsidized food aid, and many families have lost their homes to tornado, fire, and eviction. They continue to eke out an inhuman existence in their camps of decaying squalor. The situation is critical and requires immediate attention.
When Estonia joined the European Union on May 1, 2004, over 160,000 Russian-speaking non-citizens remained in limbo. These individuals are being forced to choose between learning a new language and passing an exam to acquire Estonian citizenship; applying for Russian citizenship and thus surrendering the benefits of EU membership; or remaining stateless with limited political access and foreign travel restrictions.