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.
“Stop the boats.” That was one of the principal slogans used by the winning Coalition in the September 2013 Australian election. And in the six months since he assumed office, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has left no one in any doubt as to his determination to prevent asylum seekers from making their way to the country by sea.
The island of Leyte in the Philippines may be one of the only places in the world where beachfront property is completely undesirable. Those who live along Leyte's eastern beaches know that the sea's destructive power can suddenly sweep away everything they hold dear.
On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall, cut a path of destruction across the central Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people and displacing approximately four million.
There is always a convenient excuse. In Haiti, we don't have the time. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we don't have the funding. In the Syrian refugee response, we don't have the experts. Somehow, there is always a pat answer to why we, the humanitarian community, fail to protect women and girls in emergency after emergency.
More than 100,000 people are now living in displacement camps in northern Myanmar, driven from their homes by conflict between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). While about a third of these individuals are living in government-controlled areas, the vast majority are located in zones controlled by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), the KIA’s political wing.
During my recent visit to Myanmar, I met with human rights activist Kyaw Hla Aung in a Rohingya village in Sittwe Township, Rakhine State. We talked about his peaceful political activism, his public service, and his humanitarian work. But mostly we talked about how he and other village elders and leaders feared for their lives.
On my research missions to Myanmar and to Bangladesh, I have met so many Rohingyas who suffered terrible abuses at the hands of the NaSaKa border force and whose everyday lives were blighted by their fear of it. In our reports, Refugees International has repeatedly demanded that the NaSaKa be reined in, and so we welcome President Thein Sein's announcement that this notorious force is being disbanded.