Sixty years ago today the United Nations general assembly voted into existence a temporary body known as UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. UNRWA's task was to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the dispossession of some three-quarters of a million Palestine refugees forced by the 1948 Middle East war to abandon their homes and flee their ancestral lands. Just two decades later, the six-day war generated another spasm of violence and forced displacement, culminating in the occupation of Palestinian territory. Today, anguished exile remains the lot of Palestinians and Palestine refugees. The occupation of Palestinian land persists, there is no Palestinian state, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms to which Palestinians are entitled under international law do not exist.… Seguir leyendo »
Canadians are rolling their eyes at the latest oddity to emerge from their confused, clogged immigration system: a white South African admitted as a refugee because he claimed he was being persecuted by black people.
His lawyer says the case sets a precedent, which it well might, although it's difficult to pin down exactly what it is. Brandon Huntley, a 31-year-old lawn sprinkler salesman who came to Canada on a work visa in 2006 and stayed illegally, told the Immigration and Refugee Board that he had been mugged and stabbed seven times by black people in his home country. He didn't report the attacks to the "untrustworthy" police.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, Abrehale Misghina, a 28-year-old Eritrean refugee, committed suicide in broad daylight in a public park in Tel Aviv. He had snatched a mobile phone from a young boy and, after a desperate attempt to make a call, collapsed in tears. He then returned the phone to its owner, dragged a dustbin to a nearby tree, climbed on top of it, threw a rope over a branch, placed a noose around his neck and hanged himself.
Misghina's story is typical of the suffering of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers. Increasing numbers Eritreans have fled their country since President Isaias Afewerki came to power in 1993.… Seguir leyendo »
For me and my family, Oct. 31 has always been significant. Not because it’s Halloween, but because that’s the day we arrived as refugees to a free part of the world.
Beginning in August 1972, thousands of Asian entrepreneurs fled the East African country of Uganda after its dictator, Idi Amin, declared us to be bloodsuckers, seized our property and gave us three months to leave or die.
My family and I had only Ugandan passports, so we couldn’t escape to Britain or India like many of our neighbors. We’d been in Africa for two generations; my father and his brothers owned a car dealership in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.… Seguir leyendo »
It is a grave humanitarian crisis: 1.5 million Iraqi refugees living in deplorable and declining conditions in Syria and Jordan.
They are clustered not in camps but in overcrowded urban neighborhoods, crammed into dark, squalid apartments. Many have been traumatized by extreme violence. Their savings are dwindling; many cannot afford to pay for rent, heat and food; few have proper medical care.
After meeting with refugees, leaders in both Syria and Jordan and United Nations experts, we came to the inescapable conclusion that this crisis could endure for years and that much more help is needed now.
There is absolutely no denying that the United States has a special responsibility to help.… Seguir leyendo »
Today is moral maze day again at the Home Office. Actually, so is every day, but today the show moves to the House of Lords in a case involving three asylum-seekers from Darfur.
One should spare a thought for the immigration officials. We pay them to keep the door shut but to open it discriminately, case by case. One of their rulings is that it’s OK to return Darfur refugees to Khartoum. Back in April this ruling was overturned in favour of the three Darfuris.
That was in the Court of Appeal, which decided that deporting them would be unduly harsh because of the conditions in the Sudanese refugee camps.… Seguir leyendo »
For more than a year, men and women in our armed forces have been urging the United States to bring to safety the Iraqi translators and others who have worked beside them and are now the victims of retaliation. A Marine captain, Zachary Iscol, said he owed his life and the lives of his men to his Iraqi translator. “Just coming to work was an act of heroism and courage on his part,” Captain Iscol said.
On July 7, the administration received another urgent call to action on this issue, this time from Ambassador Ryan Crocker. In a cable to Washington, he laid out the dangers his Iraqi employees faced.… Seguir leyendo »
The Bush administration correctly asserts that the entire Middle East, from royal palaces to terrorist camps, is watching the eventual outcome in Iraq to determine the state of American resolve. But the region is also taking a more immediate measure of America's commitment to its friends: our response to the Iraqi refugee crisis. And this, too, is a matter of national credibility and honor.
About 2 million Iraqis have been displaced within Iraq by sectarian violence and contagious fear; another 2 million have fled the country for Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and beyond. According to the United Nations, a steady flow of new refugees continues at about 50,000 each month.… Seguir leyendo »
Entre los diez grandes problemas internacionales, nueve son continuamente tratados, desde el cambio climático a la pobreza extrema. Pero hay uno del que apenas se habla: los refugiados y desplazados. Quizás lo fagocita el debate migratorio. El 20 de junio, Día Mundial del Refugiado, recordamos a aquellos que huyen de guerras y persecuciones políticas, religiosas, étnicas o por su orientación sexual.
Con el crecimiento demográfico aumenta también el número de hombres y mujeres que se embarcan en un proceso migratorio: 191 millones en 2005 frente a 99 millones en 1980. Lejos de disminuir, las migraciones internacionales aumentan y aumentarán.
Sin embargo, el número de refugiados disminuye.… Seguir leyendo »
The near-blind eye the United States has turned to the humanitarian crisis now unfolding from the Iraq war threatens to undermine any hope for real peace and security in that region for years and perhaps decades to come. The displacement of 4 million Iraqis to date -- one in seven of the country's citizens -- is the largest the Middle East has known since 1948. Just as the displacement of the Palestinians has influenced the politics and security of the region, and indeed of the world, for almost 60 years, the impact of the Iraqi refugee population will be felt by the international community for a long, long time.… Seguir leyendo »
You cannot sue the United Nations. If the UN violates your rights, that's just too bad. There is no judge with jurisdiction, no independent tribunal, no possibility of compensation or justice. A culture of impunity is built into the DNA of the UN, and some of the clearest examples can be found in the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), mandated by the UN General Assembly to protect refugees around the world. Wherever UNHCR is responsible for determining refugee status, it fails to meet its own guidelines for fairness. And wherever UNHCR warehouses refugees in camps -- sometimes for decades -- it colludes in human rights violations on a large scale, with support from the American taxpayer.… Seguir leyendo »
By Kirk W. Johnson, the regional coordinator of reconstruction in Falluja in 2005 for the United States Agency for International Development (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 18/04/07):
THE crisis over Iraq’s refugees is the first major policy issue in which Iraqi civilians are front and center. We debate how the surge looks today or how oil will be distributed tomorrow on the banks of a swelling river of human misery: two million Iraqis who couldn’t bear to live in Iraq anymore, and another two million displaced internally but too poor to flee.
This week, representatives from dozens of countries and international nongovernmental organizations have gathered in Geneva to discuss what might be done in the wake of the largest population shift in the Middle East since 1948.… Seguir leyendo »
By Nicholas Eberstadt, on the board of the United States Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and Christopher Griffin, a research associate at the American Enterprise Institute (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19/02/07):
THE Bush administration can point to precious few successes in its efforts to curb North Korea’s mounting menace — even last week’s celebrated nuclear deal with Kim Jong-il’s government is, for the moment, little more than a written promise from a highly unreliable negotiating partner.
Yet inexplicably, the Bush team continues to overlook a spectacular opportunity to deliver freedom to tens of thousands of North Koreans, to pressure the country from within for fundamental change and to lay the groundwork for a peaceful, reunified Korean Peninsula.… Seguir leyendo »
By Edward M. Kennedy, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts and incoming chairman of the Senate immigration, border security and refugee subcommittee (THE WASHINGTON POST, 30/12/06):
With the nation still at war in Iraq, each of us is deeply grateful to the brave men and women in our armed forces who celebrated the holidays this year with half their hearts at home and half in Iraq. But this year especially it is essential that we also reflect on another human cost of the war -- the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children who have fled their homes and often their country to escape the violence of a nation increasingly at war with itself.… Seguir leyendo »
By Madeleine Bunting (THE GUARDIAN, 18/12/06):
Nehad has the hunched look of a man who has lived with fear for years. It was to escape fear that he fled Iraq for Europe in 2003, hoping to start a new life beyond the reach of the torture and prisons of Saddam Hussein's regime in northern Iraq. But after four years of failed asylum applications in the UK, he is still living in fear.He's too nervous to tell his story inside the cafe where we meet for fear of eavesdroppers, so we sit outside. He flinches as a policewoman passes. He says he never answers a knock on his front door at home in Birmingham; friends know to call first to tell him they are coming.… Seguir leyendo »
By Kenneth H. Bacon, president of Refugees International (THE WASHINGTON POST, 06/12/06):
James Baker has never met Alia Al-Naradi, but they both have an interest in seeing the United States engage Syria on Iraq. For Baker, engagement is about stabilizing Iraq to allow the United States to exit gracefully. For Alia, it's about survival.
Alia is an Iraqi refugee who fled to Syria, a country that has absorbed more than 750,000 Iraqis since the beginning of the war. Syria's resources are now stretched thin, and without international help, it may not be able to accept vulnerable Iraqis much longer. Working with Syria through the United Nations to help Iraqi refugees could provide a humanitarian first step for greater engagement.… Seguir leyendo »
Por Vidal Martín, área de Derechos Humanos, FRIDE (FRIDE, 06/09/06):
Cientos de miles de personas se han visto afectadas por la ofensiva de Israel en Líbano en el último mes y se han convertido en desplazados interiores, refugiados o personas aisladas y asediadas. Los sistemas legales y técnicos de protección funcionaron de forma muy limitada. El Estado libanés se encuentra débil para asistir a las víctimas y para organizar una operación de rehabilitación y regreso de los desplazados. A la vez, la capacidad de los Estados vecinos es limitada y la ayuda humanitaria ha tenido hasta ahora acceso restringido. En el caso de que se cumpla la resolución 1701 de la ONU comenzaría un complejo proceso de ayuda para estas personas.
Leer artículo completo (PDF).
By William Darlymple, the author of From the 'Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium' (THE GUARDIAN, 02/09/06):
Wander through the streets of Damascus this week, and you will see signs everywhere of the conflict in Lebanon. The bearded, black-turbaned Hassan Nasrallah stares out from every shop window, even in the Christian quarter. Here electric-blue neon crosses wink from the domes of the churches, and processions of crucifix-carrying boy scouts squeeze past gaggles of Christian girls heading out on the town, all low-cut jeans and tight-fitting T-shirts. The video shops are full of DVDs showing "highlights" from the war - exploding Israeli tanks and jubilant Hizbullah fighters - which sell even better than the ubiquitous pirated versions of the latest Hollywood releases, The Devil Wears Prada and The Da Vinci Code: evidence that in the contemporary Middle East you don't have to hate western culture, or even be a Muslim, to relish the bloody nose given to ill-judged Israeli and American attempts at imposing their hegemony in the region by force of invasion and cluster bombs.… Seguir leyendo »
El invisible vuelo de las tortugas. Rosa Delia Blanco Terán es presidenta de la Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado, CEAR (EL PAIS, 26/05/05).