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.
As the 67th General Assembly opens this week, and as the United Nations gears up for the countless high-level meetings and side events that follow, the enormity of the challenges facing the UN is striking.
Roya Hakakian is a member of the Board of Refugees International. This post originally appeared at The Daily Beast.
By Roya Hakakian
“Eating on the floor of a house under the ground! The food was an interesting barley paste, covered with very hot tomato soup. Another adventure in Libya. How are you? C”
Refugees International is deeply saddened by yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, three American consular staff, and several Libyan security personnel. While many details about the incident remain unclear, it is our firm belief that those who executed this attack in no way represent the Libyan people and their aspirations for peace.
The Sahel region of West Africa is facing a major food crisis for the third time in seven years. The region has suffered from poverty and vulnerability for generations, but now drought, poor harvests, high food prices, environmental degradation, and decreased remittances from Libya and Cote d’Ivoire are putting millions at risk.
Stability in Libya depends on the ability of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and its international partners to effectively demobilize thousands of young men and women who participated in the armed revolution.
Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) processes are one of the earliest and most important steps in any successful transition towards peace. But such processes have to be inclusive, bringing together not only men but also female fighters and women who helped combatants in the field.
Much has transpired in Libya since I left the country several weeks ago. On October 31, Libya’s de facto government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), appointed an interim prime minister, Abdurrahim el-Keib. Keib, a Libyan-American, will be responsible for leading the country for the next seven months, until elections for a national congress are held.