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.
This is the first of two guest posts by journalist Moulid Hujale. To read the second post, click here.
After completing a five days assessment mission to the port city of Kismayo in southern Somalia earlier this year, 19 refugee representatives from the Dadaab camps in Kenya have found that the current security and socioeconomic situation is not fit for returnees despite the local administration’s promise to provide such a conducive environment.
This month, the Philippines is marking the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan – one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall. The international response to the typhoon was immediate and robust – essential given the reality that over four million people were displaced by the storm.
But this week, I am in the Philippines to mark the one-year anniversary of another humanitarian crisis – one that is coming without fanfare.
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.
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).
In early 2014, during peace talks facilitated by the United Nations and the Arab League, the Syrian government and opposition groups reached an agreement to allow some civilians to evacuate the city of Homs after being trapped for more than a year and a half. They also agreed to the delivery of desperately-needed aid. Food supplies had drastically depleted inside the city in the previous months, and families had resorted to eating wild plants and small amounts of insect-infested grains.
In a recent speech to his governing board, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres made an intriguing but little-noticed proposal - that the humanitarian response to major emergencies should in future be partly funded by assessed rather than voluntary contributions.
But what exactly did he mean by that?
The country of Sudan has been plagued by war since it was granted independence from Britain in 1955. Conflict originated from the merging of the northern and southern regions of Sudan by the British colonial government, and religious differences and conflict over resources resulted in the outbreak of civil war from 1955 to 1972, and again from 1983 to 2005. During the second civil war, around tens of thousands of boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 17 were forced from their homes.
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.