BLOG

June 17, 2015 Alice Thomas Africa, Burkina Faso, Climate Displacement, Niger, Philippines, Americas, Asia, Middle East

On Thursday, the Vatican will release Pope Francis’ first encyclical on the theme of the environment and the poor. In addition to emphasizing how environmental destruction and natural resource exploitation harm the poor, the document is expected to include a statement on role of humans in contributing to climate change. Given the Pope’s popularity, and as the spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics around the world, his decision to narrow in on environmental exploitation and climate change has garnered significant attention from all sides.

March 04, 2015 Jeff Crisp Sri Lanka, Asia, Neglected Crises, Protection & Security

 

Prior to Sri Lanka’s January 2015 election, it was impossible to turn on the television, look at a newspaper or walk down the street without being bombarded with images of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his two brothers, Basil and Gothabaya, who between them dominated many of the key Cabinet positions. But the face of Sri Lanka has changed.

February 27, 2015 Sarnata Reynolds Bangladesh, Myanmar, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Statelessness

About two years ago I secretly met with a dozen stateless Rohingya refugees in a hotel room in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.  They were new arrivals from Rakhine State in Myanmar and had waded through shallow areas of the Naf River on the Bay of Bengal to escape violence and persecution. We met clandestinely because they were afraid that if they were identified as Rohingya, they would be arrested, detained, and sent back to Myanmar. Newspapers worldwide were reporting the expulsion of large numbers of Rohingya, and the refugees knew of others who had been spotted and deported. 

December 12, 2014 Jeff Crisp Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Protection & Security

The very first article of the United Nations Charter states that a key “purpose and principle” of the world body is that of “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” But sadly, the UN has not always lived up to this noble ideal. 

December 11, 2014 Guest Climate Displacement, Philippines, Asia

A couple of days before Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013, the residents of a small village in the mountains outside Tacloban noticed that the birds were behaving differently and then stopped singing. According to a local newspaper report, the 75 villagers recognized this as a warning and responded by preparing shelters. All of them survived the 250 mile-per-hour winds despite significant damage to their homes, gardens, and trees. 

November 20, 2014 Guest Climate Displacement, Americas, Asia

Earlier this year, many heralded New Zealand’s grant of asylum to a family from the low-lying Pacific island nation of Tuvalu as the first legal recognition of “climate refugees.” This was not the case. While the applicants claimed that they would be victim to the impacts of climate change if returned to their country, the tribunal explicitly refrained from ruling on this matter and granted the family's appeal on unrelated humanitarian grounds.

November 17, 2014 Alice Thomas Climate Displacement, Philippines, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Women & Children

This month, the people of central Philippines are marking a sad anniversary. On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall, drove a path of destruction across the region, killing over 6,000 people and displacing some four million. 

October 14, 2014 Sarnata Reynolds Congress, Myanmar, U.S. Administration, United Nations, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Neglected Crises, Protection & Security

When I met Amir two years ago in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, he had just graduated with a degree in Physics from Sittwe University. He was a fluent English speaker and planned to pursue a career as an engineer. Amir lived in Aung Mingalar, the only neighborhood in the capital city of Sittwe where the Rohingya still maintained a residence after 140,000 had been driven out of the city by mobs assisted by the police.

October 06, 2014 Jeff Crisp Myanmar, Thailand, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Protection & Security

"Thailand’s pledge to repatriate 100,000 Burmese refugees sparks concern.” “Refugees fear forced return to Myanmar.” “Thai and Burmese armies to discuss refugee repatriation in August.” According to these recent news reports, the 140,000 refugees from Myanmar who are currently exiled in neighboring Thailand are about to go home, whether they like it or not. 

Refugees International traveled to Myanmar’s Kayin State to test the validity of such assertions, and found the reality of the situation to be quite different.

September 18, 2014 Sarnata Reynolds Myanmar, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Protection & Security, Statelessness

Since a wave of violence displaced tens of thousands of Rohingya in June 2012, RI has visited Myanmar four times to document their humanitarian situation, publicize their persecution, and demand that the international community pursue a remedy for them as part of the normalization of relations with the Myanmar government. Now RI is returning to the country to push again for progress.

September 15, 2014 Alice Thomas Africa, Climate Displacement, Kenya, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Americas, Asia, Middle East

On September 21, thousands of people will come together in New York City to demand action on global climate change. The People’s Climate March, which comes in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23, will not only be the largest climate march in history, but also the most diverse.

September 15, 2014 Jeff Crisp Africa, Iraq, Syria, Americas, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Middle East

“This policy calls for UNHCR to pursue alternatives to camps whenever possible. Compliance with this policy is mandatory.” Those words are taken from a policy statement prepared by UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. Approved by High Commissioner António Guterres on July 22, 2014, the document has curiously not been placed in the public domain, nor have UNHCR’s key partners – donor states, other UN agencies, and NGOs – been informed of its existence. But Refugees International has gained access to a leaked copy.

September 03, 2014 Jeff Crisp Africa, Israel, Syria, Asia, Middle East, Protection & Security

“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” In just 15 words, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights makes it very clear that people whose life and liberty are at risk in their homeland should be able to leave it and find safe refuge in another state.

But as with many other rights that are spelled out in the Universal Declaration, the right to seek asylum is routinely denied to many people who should be able to benefit from it. 

August 29, 2014 Guest Myanmar, Thailand, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Protection & Security

Thailand’s migration and refugee policies have shifted since the military’s coup d’état in May. The Thai junta has initiated a policy of labor reforms, including a crackdown on undocumented migrant workers to allegedly combat corruption and human trafficking.

August 21, 2014 Dawn Calabia Afghanistan, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Protection & Security

This year Afghans surprised the world when seven million of them participated in a generally peaceful presidential election, despite threats by armed groups including the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

July 31, 2014 Guest Climate Displacement, Philippines, Humanitarian Response, Asia

Less than a year after super-Typhoon Haiyan wrought havoc on the southern Philippines, the country is again in the thick of storm season. The latest was Typhoon Glenda, a category three storm that first made landfall over Albay Province on July 15, before continuing northwest and knocking out power over Metro Manila.

July 28, 2014 Jeff Crisp Africa, Americas, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Protection & Security

In Australia, the navy is intercepting boats in international waters and incarcerating asylum seekers in floating prisons.  In Kenya, the government is deporting refugees to Somalia, despite the continued armed conflict and the increasingly serious drought in that country. Sudan has recently returned a group of refugees to Eritrea, one of the most authoritarian countries in the world. And the United States is refusing to admit many Mexican children who arrive at its border, despite mounting evidence that they are escaping from life-threatening and gang-related violence.

March 28, 2014 Sarnata Reynolds Myanmar, Humanitarian Response, Asia, Protection & Security, Statelessness

On Thursday, members of the Rakhine Buddhist community in Myanmar attacked aid workers because they were providing food, water, and basic healthcare to their stateless Rohingya neighbors.