Over the past year, persistent and unprecedented rains have resulted in
massive flooding in Colombia that has affected close to 3 million
people. In March 2011, Refugees International sent a team to assess the
Durante el año pasado, lluvias persistentes y sin precedente dieron como
resultado inundaciones masivas en Colombia las cuales han afectado
cerca de tres millones de personas. En marzo de 2011 Refugees
International (RI) envió un equipo
para evaluar la situación.
A new report by the Open Society Justice Initiative
and Refugees International looks at the bidoon in Kuwait—a large
population of stateless persons in the small emirate—as well as other
In July 2010, massive rain in Pakistan led to unprecedented flooding
that submerged one-fifth of the country and affected more than 20
million people. While many experts believe the floods were the result of
climate change, others say the science is uncertain. Regardless, most
agree that natural disasters are occurring more frequently and that the
international community is ill-equipped to respond. It is estimated that
by 2050, as many as 200 million people will be displaced by natural
disasters and climate change. The world’s poorest and most crisis-prone
countries will be disproportionately affected.
The clock is ticking fast towards what might be the most important date
in modern Sudanese history – two referenda in Sudan that are likely to
result in the breakup of Africa’s largest state. With six months
remaining until 9 January 2011, the scheduled date of the referenda, the
run-up to, and outcome of, the vote must be managed with extreme care. The Guarantors to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), who invested
considerable effort in obtaining the CPA on 9 January 2005, have both a
responsibility and an ability to help Sudan implement the CPA and
prevent further conflict. It is imperative that the Guarantors urgently
redouble their efforts to ensure adequate preparations for the
referenda, and help secure agreements on sensitive issues such as border
demarcation and oil sharing.
When violent conflict breaks out, the United States and other United Nations member states often call for the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces to create stability and protect people from harm. The UN Security Council has explicitly instructed peacekeepers to protect civilians under “imminent threat of violence” in most UN peacekeeping mandates since 1999. But there is no clarity as to what “protection” means in practice. Which circumstances require action and what level of force should be used? This has resulted in a lack of proper training, guidance and resources for peacekeepers to accomplish protection activities.
When former Secretary of State Dean Acheson wrote of “the Eclipse of
the State Department” in a 1971 article for Foreign Affairs, he could
not have been more prescient towards the position of the Department in
2009. Dwarfed by the Department of Defense in terms of budget,
personnel and capacity, State and the Agency for International
Development (USAID) have atrophied nearly to the point of
irretrievability. This paper describes the causes and effects of the
lack of human capital and capacity at State and USAID and offers
suggestions on how to rebuild these capacities.
The brutal reality of modern day conflict and the recognition of an
international responsibility to protect civilians in times of crisis
has made peacekeeping more important — and more controversial — than
The world community is no longer silent about statelessness. In recent years, countries such as Bangladesh, Estonia, Mauritania, Nepal, and Sri Lanka have made significant strides to protect the rights of stateless persons.
Statelessness, or the lack of effective nationality, impacts the daily
lives of some 11-12 million people around the world. Perhaps those who
suffer most are stateless infants, children and youth.
Though born and raised in their parents’ country of habitual residence,
they lack formal recognition of their existence.
In his introduction to the 2002 National Security Strategy, President
Bush said: “America is now threatened less by conquering states than we
are by failing ones.” Failing states with weak state institutions
struggle to deliver services to their population or to control
corruption and are at risk of ongoing conflict.
Millions of Afghans need help rebuilding their lives and country. The
U.S. and other donor nations must allocate resources to tackle problems
that are specific to vulnerable Afghans. The humanitarian situation is worsening in Afghanistan.
Five years after the US -led invasion, Iraq remains a deeply violent
and divided society. Faced with one of the largest displacement and
humanitarian crises in the world, Iraqi civilians are in urgent need of
assistance. Particularly vulnerable are the 2.7 million internally
displaced Iraqis who have fled their homes for safer locations inside
Sexual violence defines the conflict in Darfur, but international
efforts to prevent and respond to the issue have been insufficient.
While this report critiques the international response, the primary
obstacles to preventing rape and assisting survivors are the
perpetrators and the Sudanese government officials who actively block
the work of international agencies.
Being forcibly displaced because of violence and conflict is an
experience that millions of Colombians have lived through for over four
decades. While all Colombian society is permeated by this traumatic
reality, displacement is mainly hitting those living in rural areas
with devastating impact on the lives of campesino, indigenous and
El desplazamiento forzado producto de la violencia y el conflicto es
una experiencia que millones de colombianos han afrontado por más de
cuatro décadas. Aunque la sociedad colombiana en su totalidad se ha
visto perjudicada por esta traumática realidad, son aquellos viviendo
en las zonas rurales quienes se han sido mayormente afectados por el
desplazamiento, el cual ha tenido un impacto devastador en las vidas de
comunidades campesinas, indígenas y afrocolombianas.
Refugees International visited Kuwait to look into the plight of
90,000-130,000 bidun, Arabic for “without” and short for bidun jinsiya
(without citizenship). Over the years, the bidun have been called by
various names. Early on they were benignly called “awlaad al-badiya,”
(children of the desert). At present, they are officially — and more
ominously — designated as illegal residents.
The Bunong people of Cambodia are a people under siege. One of several
hill tribe groups that inhabit the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam border
highlands, the Bunong (also referred to as the Phnong) lead a
precarious existence in their traditional forest homeland in the
highlands of eastern Cambodia. Survivors of the wars that ravaged
Southeast Asia in the 1970s, the Bunong today face new internal and
outside forces that threaten their continued existence.
Mass rape, often perpetrated by members of the Sudanese armed forces
and affiliated militias, is endemic in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Government officials deny that rape is an integral part of violence in
Darfur and assert that Sudan aggressively punishes rape. In fact, rape
victims suffer from an almost complete lack of access to justice, and
the Government is more likely to take action against those who report
and document rape than those who commit it.
Four years after the U.S. launched its attack against Iraq, the civil
war there has produced a humanitarian crisis marked by the world’s
fastest growing refugee and internally displaced populations. But Iraq,
Washington and the U.N. do not acknowledge the magnitude of the
humanitarian crisis. This has led to an inadequate response, both
within Iraq and in the region.
In April 2006, the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, former U.S.
President Bill Clinton, presented the humanitarian community with a
challenge – and an opportunity. With the intention to improve NGO
global relief and recovery, President Clinton launched a six-month
intensive review by U.S. and international NGOs of their activities in
tsunami recovery in five critically important areas: accountability to
affected populations; coordination; enhancing local capacity; human
rights and recovery; and NGO professionalism.
For more than a decade, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has
struggled with one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Yet,
improbably, that situation has improved markedly over the past few
years. Seventy percent of the electorate has voted in the first
democratic contest for president in four decades; violence in the east
has eased, largely due to the presence of the UN peacekeeping force,
MONUC; and humanitarian response has improved even as internally
displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees begin to return home.
Burma is experiencing one of the most neglected humanitarian and human
rights crises in the world. No less than half a million people are
internally displaced in the eastern part of the country and at least
one million more have fled to neighboring nations. This report provides
an in-depth look at the causes of displacement in Burma, the acute
needs of the internally displaced population and the current response
to those needs.
A six-hour bus ride from Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka, put us in
Rangpur just before 5:30 p.m., with the last rays of daylight all but
gone. The population of this northwestern city includes 30,000
Urdu-speaking Bihari. Our first stop was an area called Camp Three
where we conversed with the leader of the stranded Pakistanis, Mr.
Alhaj Nasim Khan.
Syria is at a critical crossroads, faced with a timely opportunity to
maintain stability and security in the country by realizing the
nationality and its concomitant rights of all residents. In particular,
an estimated 300,000 stateless Kurds live within the country’s borders,
but are in a unique situation in relation to the larger Kurdish
population due to a 1962 census that led to their denationalization.
Over one year ago, the U.S. government declared that the killing in
Darfur was genocide. Proclaiming the slogan “African solutions to
African problems,” the United States, NATO member states, and members
of the United Nations Security Council turned the responsibility for
resolving the Darfur crisis over to the African Union (AU).
In early 2004, abuses by peacekeepers in the UN Mission in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) made international headlines
and were subsequently the subject of UN Security Council meetings and
US Congressional hearings. However, sexual exploitation and abuse by
peacekeepers is not limited to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Every person has the right to a nationality. Yet statelessness
continues to be a fundamental cause of discrimination, exploitation,
and forced displacement in all regions of the world. Statelessness is
a highly complex legal and often political issue with a
disproportionate impact on women, children, and ethnically mixed