The clock is ticking on a November 12 deadline to form a transitional government in South Sudan. Failure to do so might fatally undermine an already fragile peace.
Even though South Sudan’s civil war ended a year ago, women and girls in South Sudan continue to experience some of the highest levels of gender-based violence around the world. With nearly 4 million South Sudanese displaced, women and girls who are on the move are particularly vulnerable to these attacks, as well as other risks to their safety, including intimate partner violence and underage pregnancy.
A year after South Sudan signed a peace agreement to end the country’s devastating civil war, a staggering one-third of its population is still displaced. Little of the peace agreement has been implemented, and failure to address key issues, including relocation and disarmament of soldiers and disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities, could revive the devastating violence seen in recent years. As peace hangs in the balance, South Sudan’s displaced people fear returning home.
This piece was originally published in Newsweek here.
President Donald Trump and his administration have received a failing grade on a report card assessing the U.S. government's performance on refugee and humanitarian protection.
Released on Monday by Refugees International, an independent humanitarian organization advocating for better support for displaced and stateless people, the new report card finds Trump and his administration wanting for the second year running.
"In this report card, we found that as bad as the Trump administration's performance was last year, in fact, this year it has gotten worse," Refugees International President Eric Schwartz told Newsweek in an interview.
"It reflects such a tale of cruelty and woe that really isn't adequately captured in the daily reporting of the media because it is coming from so many different directions," he said.
Out of seven categories assessing the U.S.'s status on refugee and humanitarian protection, the Trump administration earned an "F," or a failing grade on five.
Among those five were the government's slashing of its Refugee Admissions Program as well as its its efforts to revoke the Temporary Protected Status program for approximately 320,000 people. The Trump administration also received an "F" on its efforts on humanitarian funding, asylum and "strengthening the multilateral system of refugee, migration and humanitarian response."
"The Trump administration continues to undermine U.S. refugee law and longstanding U.S. humanitarian policy through cruel practices toward families seeking asylum, weakening the U.S. asylum process, and crippling the U.S. Refugee Admissions program," a summary of the report card's findings states.
Meanwhile, "overseas, President Trump continued restrictions on life-saving humanitarian aid—including aid to refugee women and girls—failed to lead efforts to end conflicts inflicting humanitarian suffering, and separated the United States from broad-based global efforts to improve global responses on migration and refugees," it says.
Overall, it found that the Trump administration's "performance has only gotten worse" when it comes to its approach on refugee and humanitarian protection.
While the Trump administration did fail the majority of the categories covered by the report card, it managed to escape with just a "D," or an "unsatisfactory, though minimally acceptable" grade on two issues: Diplomacy to save lives and its efforts to assist refugee women and girls.
"Among the humanitarian crises currently causing the greatest suffering are those in Myanmar, Syria, and Yemen. President Trump is responsible for none of them, but presidential leadership could be critical to mitigating future suffering," the report states. "To date, the president's actions—and failures to act—have been extremely damaging to vulnerable populations in these countries."
Despite "what has probably been one of the greatest mass crimes of our generation," Schwartz said of the brutal expulsion of some 700,000 Rohingya in 2017 and the killings of thousands more by Myanmar's security forces, "the president has been remarkably and astonishingly... silent."
Meanwhile, on Yemen, where there are more than 24 million people in need of assistance and protection according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Trump administration has "failed to hold the Saudi-led coalition to account," the report continues.
While the report states that the Trump administration's policy approach on Syria "continues to lack coherence," it does note that the government "has slowed its disengagement from northeast Syria."
"The administration has been partially successful in negotiating with Turkey a limited buffer zone between Turkey and Syrian-Kurdish forces in northeast Syria," it continues. "However, it has failed to commit adequate diplomatic resources toward efforts to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib in Syria's northwest."
On the Trump administration's efforts to support refugee women and girls, the Refugees International report card states that the Trump administration "continues to impose policies that either roll back or threaten important global gains for the protection of women and girls."
Pointing to the Trump administration's decision to reinstate and expand what had been known as the Mexico City Policy, or the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing legal abortion services or referrals, as well as from advocating for abortion law reform, the report card notes that "in early 2019, the administration took the policy even further."
"The U.S. government now will not fund foreign NGOs that use any monies—even if those monies do not come from the U.S. government—to support other organizations that provide information on abortion," it said.
However, one of the main reasons that the Trump administration did not receive a "completely failing grade" on this issue, was that "there is an exception to these prohibitions in the case of humanitarian and disaster-related foreign assistance accounts."
While the Trump administration narrowly evaded an "F" on both issues, Schwartz said the "D" it received on both fronts should signal "unsatisfactory" performance.
Overall, he said, "the full spectrum of hostility towards some of the world's most vulnerable people is really breathtaking and it is really important to have a document like this because it pulls together a range of cruel and nasty measures in conflict with U.S. policy for decades," he said.
"There's not an area of international humanitarian concern that has escaped the kinds of cruel measures that conflict with international humanitarian principals which have been imposed by this administration," Schwartz added. "Nothing prevents this president and administration from charting a new course, but the record to date is pretty awful."
An advocacy group says the Trump administration's humanitarian policies are falling short both inside the country and around the world.
The United States and other countries continue to face enormous humanitarian challenges in a world with more than 70 million refugees and internally displaced people. Yet the administration of President Donald Trump is doing worse at handling refugees and providing humanitarian protection than last year, according to an independent refugee advocacy organization.
A new report put together by Refugees International shows the U.S. is still falling short when it comes to refugee responsibility and humanitarian policies. The 2019 annual paper released on Monday gave the U.S. an F, or a failing grade overall. The organization gave the U.S. a failing grade last year, the first year the organization produced the assessment, but the country's policies have deteriorated in the past year, the report says.
The current administration also received an F for all internal and several overseas measures related to refugees, as it is undermining the U.S. law and longstanding U.S. humanitarian policy "through cruel practices toward families seeking asylum, weakening the U.S. asylum process, and crippling the U.S. Refugee Admissions program," say the authors of the report
Among other findings in the report:
Overseas, the Trump administration continued restricting life-saving humanitarian aid, including aid to refugee women and girls. It also failed to lead efforts to put an end to "conflicts inflicting humanitarian suffering, and separated the U.S. from broad-based global efforts to improve global responses on migration and refugees."
Overall, the U.S. engaged in "systematic efforts to effectively end asylum for large numbers of credible claimants at the U.S. southern border." It also rejected "international compacts on enhanced protection and management of migrants and refugees endorsed by an overwhelming majority of other governments," say the authors of the report.
The current administration is failing to display leadership on efforts meant to recognize and respond to massive human rights violations and forced migrations in countries such as Myanmar.
The U.S. also is falling short in providing humanitarian leadership in several countries torn by conflict, say the authors of the report. In Syria, the Trump administration policies lack coherence. South Sudan and northern Nigeria are receiving little attention, while in Yemen the U.S. administration is not applying enough pressure on the Saudi-led coalition to end abuses against those harmed by the military.
The effects of these policies are "rippling around the world," the report states, because of the influence U.S. policies have on other countries. "The president's anti-refugee and anti-asylum rhetoric has been adopted and amplified by other politicians around the world," say the report's authors.
This piece originally appeared here.
Yael Schacher discusses the historic low U.S. refugee admissions cap on Al Jazeera English.
Refugees International is very concerned about the administration’s negotiated arrangements to return asylum seekers to danger in Mexico and Central America. These policies and agreements effectively bypass the laws Congress adopted to protect refugees. Contrary to what the administration claims, these policies will also increase smuggling and trafficking.
Turkey is home to the largest refugee population in the world. But with an economic downturn and a rising unemployment rate, refugees who once found safe harbor in Turkey are now facing an increasingly hostile climate—from increasing deportations, to shrinking access to the labor market, to growing xenophobia. In this report, Izza Leghtas, addresses what must be done, both within Turkey and internationally, to help protect the rights of refugees in Turkey.
Due to severe drought and conflict, Ethiopia is facing a large scale displacement crisis. Lack of food, shelter, and water are threatening the lives of millions of internally displaced people. This report examines one forgotten population—the 350,000 people displaced by a severe 2015-16 drought in the country’s Somali region—and what must be done in order to build resilience, address humanitarian needs, and prevent this from happening again.