Aid Inside Syria: A Step in the Right Direction?
Providing humanitarian aid in a conflict zone is a challenge all over the world. But perhaps no situation has proved more complex than that of Syria. A particularly stubborn and brutal regime, a fragmented opposition movement, and ever-changing alliances among fighting groups have resulted in an operational context defined by irregular access and major security risks for humanitarian workers. Every day, millions of vulnerable people across the country live with food and fuel shortages, homelessness, and an absence of vital medical care. Almost 5 million of those people are in places that are difficult for humanitarians to access. Syrian groups working inside the country have been able to offer some support in hard-to-reach areas and to a lesser degree in besieged areas where the United Nations and international non-governmental organizations do not send their staff.
South Sudan: A Nation Uprooted
Since December 2013, conflict in South Sudan has forced 2 million people from their homes. In the north of the country, where fighting is most severe, populations have been pushed to the brink of starvation. Tragically, this war in South Sudan is unlikely to end anytime soon. Donors and aid organizations have mobilized to deliver significant amounts of humanitarian aid, but logistical and security challenges continue to hamper the effectiveness of the response. Improvements can and must be made, both to better respond to people in need and to prepare for new waves of displacement within South Sudan and into neighboring countries like Ethiopia, the largest South Sudanese refugee hosting country. This is a critical moment, before the rainy season begins in earnest in May and logistical challenges become even more difficult. United Nations peacekeepers, armed with a new mandate that prioritizes civilian protection, can also take steps to better implement that mandate and keep people safe.
Philippines: Post-typhoon resettlement plan carries risks
In November 2013, the strongest typhoon on record tore a path of destruction across the central Philippines, displacing four million people. In the disaster’s wake, the government adopted an ambitious plan to relocate 200,000 households away from at-risk coastal areas and resettle them out of harm’s way. While well-intentioned as a strategy to mitigate displacement from future typhoons and climate change, observations to date suggest that without sufficient planning and safeguards, government-led resettlement is a highly risky undertaking that threatens to prolong displacement and leave affected populations more, not less, vulnerable.
Philippines: Displaced and Forgotten in Zamboanga
In September 2013, fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a Muslim rebel group in the port city of Zamboanga on Mindanao forced 120,000 people – primarily minority Muslims – to flee. More than a year later, tens of thousands remain displaced, living in deplorable conditions.
Myanmar: A Tipping Point for Rohingya Rights?
Two years after a wave of violence hit the region, Myanmar’s Rakhine State has become a segregated zone. Two million ethnic Rakhine live apart from 1.2 million stateless Rohingya, who are trapped inside displacement camps or barred from leaving their villages. Ending this segregation and protecting the rights of the Rohingya are necessary components of Myanmar’s move toward democracy.
Waiting for Winter: Displaced Iraqis in the KRI
About 850,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled the conflict in central Iraq to seek safety further north in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). They are scattered across the KRI in a variety of temporary housing situations: though a small number of them are in camps, most live informally in local schools, unfinished buildings, and public parks. Half a million of them are in the city of Dohuk alone. The great majority of these 850,000 internally displaced are members of religious minorities – Christians from the Ninewa Plains and Yazidis from the Sinjar area, in particular.
A Daily Struggle to Survive: Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
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.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Somali Refugees in Kenya
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.
DR Congo: North Kivu’s Long, Rocky Road to Stability
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's Unseen Victims
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.
DR Congo: Katanga in Crisis
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: On the Precipice
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.
Tough Times for Syrian Refugees in Egypt
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
Central African Republic: No Time to Lose
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.
Philippines: Typhoon Survivors Face Obstacles to Recovery
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
Philippines: New Approach to Emergency Response Fails Women and Girls
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.
Myanmar: Act Immediately to Protect Displaced People's Rights
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.
Beyond Emergency Assistance: Syrian Refugees in Northern Iraq and Jordan
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.
Cachés et dans le besoin: Déplacement urbain au sud du Mali
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.
Hidden and in Need: Urban Displacement in Southern Mali
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.