Somalia is now well into its third consecutive season of a severe drought that, in the last seven months alone, has forced more than 760,000 people to flee their homes in search of food and water. Most come from areas controlled by Al-Shabaab or other non-state armed groups, places where the government and humanitarian agencies have limited to no access. The town of Baidoa, retaken from Al-Shabaab in 2012 and now marginally under state control, has become the only means of survival for much of the rural population across the country’s drought-stricken, south central region.
As a human rights researcher and advocate for many years, I have sadly become accustomed to listening to painful stories and to witnessing people’s despair. But on the Greek islands, there is an added layer of cruelty: this pain is avoidable.
Somalia is again in the throes of another drought that by many accounts is worse than the last. Thankfully, greater government control and a prompt humanitarian response by the government and aid agencies have saved lives, but the scale of displacement is enormous. More than 760,000 Somalis have been displaced across the country since November 2016, 160,000 of them to Mogadishu. Here they are struggling to access assistance and protection in a dangerous and volatile environment.
Following the Supreme Court's "travel ban" decision on June 26, Refugees International has assembled the following Q&A.
On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will travel to Washington, D.C. and will meet this week with Members of Congress and administration officials. He will be in Washington in the wake of an extraordinary press conference he held at the United Nations in New York on June 20, in which he urged the Trump administration to stay engaged on global issues. This is an extraordinary plea to the U.S. president from the UN's chief.
On Dec. 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly declared that June 20 would be "celebrated" annually as World Refugee Day. For millions of people displaced by conflict and persecution globally, there is little to celebrate, but World Refugee Day does present an opportunity to bring attention to their plight, and to the possibility of solutions.
On World Refugee Day 2017, the world faces massive humanitarian crises in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and beyond. More than 65 million men, women, and children are displaced today – the largest number since World War II.These historic and multiple refugee crises come at a time when countries are retreating from long-standing humanitarian commitments, closing their doors to millions seeking refuge.
The only response to World Refugee Day 2017 is urgent action, as we face proposed Trump administration funding cuts of 32 percent to the international affairs budget. Such drastic slashes to humanitarian and development assistance as well as peacekeeping and international organizations at this time of unprecedented global need is incomprehensible. Should these cuts be implemented, the impacts on the most vulnerable populations will be devastating and, unfortunately, deadly.
Elena Kvochko recently hiked more than 18,300 feet up Mount Everest as part of a charity challenge to raise awareness for displaced individuals and refugees. Here she recounts her journey and what inspired her to support RI’s work.
War and conflict are no longer the primary drivers of displacement and humanitarian crises. More extreme weather and other climate change impacts are increasingly playing a role. In 2016 alone, 24 million people were forced from their homes by weather-related disasters, far more than were displaced by conflict. Meanwhile, more frequent and protracted droughts, especially in poor and unstable countries in Africa and the Middle East, are undermining food security, causing people to migrate in order to survive, and fueling pre-existing social and ethnic tensions.
Refugees International’s (RI) 2015 Richard Holbrooke Award Winner Tun Khin traveled recently with RI’s Senior Advocate for Human Rights Dan Sullivan to Bangladesh to visit Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar (also called Burma). In this guest blog, Tun Khin shares his thoughts on the experience of being within sight of his homeland and what motivates him to continue to fight on behalf of his fellow Rohingya.
Throughout the 20th century, it was a common and largely uncontested practice for refugees to be placed in camps when they arrived in their country of asylum. The advantages of this arrangement appeared to be self-evident. However, alternatives to camps must be pursued as a global principle, while the provision of appropriate support to refugees in urban centers and rural host communities must be guaranteed.
Refugees International (RI) traveled to Bangladesh in May 2017, visiting the makeshift settlements for Rohingya refugees who have fled from neighboring Myanmar. More than 70,000 Rohingya have fled severe human rights abuses by the Myanmar military since October 2016, joining as many as 500,000 estimated Rohingya who have come to Bangladesh during decades of persecution in Myanmar.
This week, the leaders of seven of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations will meet in Taormina, Italy, for this year’s G7 summit.The leaders of the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, and the EU will attend the meeting on the Sicilian coast. As they marvel at the beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea, will they think of the men, women and children who put their lives in the hands of ruthless smugglers to reach Italy’s shores?
As the U.S. president prepares to depart on his first international trip, including a visit to Saudi Arabia, there is no better time to press the Saudi government to do much more to address the enormous humanitarian needs in Yemen.
In advance of Refugees International’s 38th Anniversary Dinner on April 25, 2017, Ambassador Vlora Çitaku of Kosovo hosted a luncheon the mark the occasion. The luncheon took place at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Çitaku, the event’s honorary chair, addressed the luncheon and paid tribute to the 2017 RI humanitarian award winners, the Syria Civil Defense (the White Helmets) and Hassan Shire of Defend Defenders. Eileen Shields-West, RI’s board chair, and Congressman Ed Royce also addressed the gathering.
In a new survey, a Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow and Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland Shibley Telhami outlines American public attitudes towards the pending U.S. travel ban, refugees, and the Muslim religion.
Today international humanitarian assistance to Ukraine's most needy of the 2. 6 million war-affected and internally displaced people is almost at a standstill. International donors have failed to respond to the United Nation’s appeal for $214 million in aid assistance. With the world facing four famines and the Syrian refugee and displacement crisis, donors for Europe’s major displacement crisis are in short supply...
Refugees International's 38th Anniversary Dinner took place at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on April 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. The White Helmets (Syria Civil Defense) were awarded RI's highest humanitarian award, the McCall-Pierpaoli Award. The Congressional Leadership Award was presented to Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and the Richard C. Holbrooke Award was presented to Hassan Shire.
Standing on a soccer field on an island in the Mediterranean, it’s hard to understand how it came to this: how did this Italian island just north of Africa somehow become the frontline of the Mediterranean migration crisis?