This is the second of two guest posts by journalist Moulid Hujale. To read the first post, click here.
More than 300,000 Somali refugees live in the Dadaab camps of northeastern Kenya. Interestingly, the refugees there are divided among various groups whose intentions to return home depend on the group’s main interest in staying the camps.
Amidst the news about drastic cuts to the World Food Program’s (WFP) support for Syrian refugees, it’s important to recall that WFP’s programs in other parts of the world have also been scaled back. For instance, in November, WFP halved food rations for the nearly half a million refugees living in camps in Kenya. The danger is not only that these refugees may go hungry, but also that they may be forced to return home before it’s safe to do so.
Earlier this year, I made my first trip to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in a search for some urban refugees. Although urban refugees are not officially recognised by the government of Tanzania, some organisations which work with the urban refugee population, such as Asylum Access, estimate that there may be over 10,000 in the city.
Many of these refugees fled their countries of origin during the Great Lakes crises of the 1990s, with some Congolese especially arriving more recently having fled renewed violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Five months ago, I visited a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The people living there first arrived in 2012 and 2013, having fled from armed groups who destroyed villages and killed civilians. As the chaos continued back at home, many IDPs had no choice but to remain in the camps. But the longer they stayed, the less aid they received from the United Nations and other organizations.
Next week, I will be traveling on mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), along with several RI colleagues, where we will be undertaking an in-depth assessment of the challenges that the humanitarian community is currently facing in keeping women and girls safe from gender-based violence (GBV).
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.
“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.
“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.
In December 2013, in Juba, South Sudan, fighting broke out between soldiers of the Nuer and Dinka ethnicity within the presidential guard. This fighting quickly spread throughout the country, as many Dinka aligned themselves with the country’s president, Salva Kiir, and many Nuer aligned themselves with the former vice president, Riek Machar. Since then, 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
In November of 2013, the government of Saudi Arabia began expelling large numbers of foreign nationals, including some 550,000 Yemenis, 180,000 Ethiopians, and 36,000 Somalis. While there has been little international attention or condemnation of these deportations, the returning individuals and their countries of origin have suffered many logistical, economic, and social ramifications due to this decision.