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.
The government of Afghanistan is back in the news these days - and for all the wrong reasons. Recent actions by President Hamid Karzai and his supporters are putting the country's future at risk, and none stand to lose more than Afghan women.
Afghan women have been disproportionately affected by years of insecurity, poverty, and displacement. Their aspirations have been undermined by strong local opposition to achieving their rights and exercising leadership.
Just a few years ago, the countries of the European Union (EU) thought they were finally getting control over the flow of refugees and asylum seekers across their borders. Having peaked at 670,000 in 1992, the number of asylum applications submitted in the EU fell rapidly in successive years, slumping to just 200,000 in 2006.
It’s been quite a month for those of us following the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. On February 3, the New York Times exposed one of the terrible tragedies of this year’s abnormally harsh winter: the deaths of at least 24 children in Kabul’s IDP settlements. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, Michael Keating, was quoted as saying, “I just don’t think the humanitarian story is sufficiently understood here.
Happy New Year, from all of us at Refugees International! Before we start tackling the challenges of 2012 – and there will be many – we bring you a brief wrap-up of all things RI from the year gone by.
First, "RI in 2011: By the Numbers":
For the last two weeks, my colleagues have reflected on global efforts to combat violence against women and girls, as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Today, I want to examine a vital and practical solution to the problem of gender violence: the engagement of men and boys.
Monday’s early morning attack on the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) came as a shock to the humanitarian community – shock quickly followed by concerns UNHCR might be forced to halt its important work assisting displaced Afghans.
The initial car bomb destroyed a shared wall between UNHCR’s guesthouse and the compound of International Relief and Development (IRD), a nonprofit aid provider. The attackers then entered UNHCR’s compound and killed three of its guards. While Afghan National Police (ANP) eventually responded, hours went by before the attackers were killed.