When Angelique Namaika was a child she became so sick that she almost didn’t survive, but what followed was a happy childhood, one in which she was very close to her parents, giving her a good foundation for helping those … Continue reading
Tomorrow (20th June 2013) is World Refugee Day, and with latest events in Syria it is now more important than ever to be aware of the plight of refugees.
There are currently 1,600,000 Syrian refugees living in camps in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey. Yesterday UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie was in Jordan where 540,000 refugees reside. She visited one of the camps to mark World Refugee Day and also “to show support for Syria’s refugees, to call on the world to address their plight, and to better understand needs in Jordan and other countries in the region most directly affected by this devastating conflict.”
“The worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century is unfolding in the Middle East today,” Angelina added. “By the end of this year half of Syria’s population – ten million people – are expected to be displaced and in desperate need.”
The UN recently launched the largest emergency appeal in their history for £3.2 billion. In the Zaatari camp in Jordan there are 30,000 children of school age living there but only two schools in operation which are full to capacity, teaching 10,000 children. They are building another school that will be able to house 5,000 children but due to a lack of funding there is no money for the teachers’ salaries or to run it full stop.
Children in the camp are suffering from diarrhoea, respiratory infections, high fever, ear infections and skin diseases, due to poor sanitation and hygiene. In winter the camps are constantly flooded due to rain and snow and in the summer the temperatures regularly top 100°F making living conditions in the dusty camp unbearable.
The £3.2bn currently sought by the UN is to cover refugees’ most basic needs and only until the end of this year – the situation is critical.
One U.N. agency, the World Food Programme (WFP), has delivered 500 million meals in Syria so far this year. “We have reached a stage in Syria where some of the people, if they don’t get food from the World Food Programme, they simply do not eat,” the WFP’s Syria Regional Emergency Coordinator Muhannad Hadi said.
The European Union last week promised 400 million euros, Russia and China have so far contributed $10 million and $1 million to the UNHCR. Although it is fantastic that countries all over the world are donating to the cause, the numbers from world governments still falls way short of what they need to survive. It is hoped with the Syria appeal that donations from the likes of you and me will help them reach their target so they can provide for the basic needs of the thousands of refugees streaming out of Syria everyday.
You can help by donating to the WFP here. Alternatively you can help by donating to the UNHCR’s appeal here – UK UNHCR – http://donate.unhcr.org/syria-uk or the Worldwide UNHCR – http://donate.unhcr.org/syria
£15 could provide two families with synthetic mats to prevent them from sleeping on the ground.
£30 can provide high thermal fleece blankets to keep a family warm during the bitter winter months.
£80 can provide kitchen equipment for eight families to cook warm food throughout the winter.
£300 can provide a tent to shelter a family from the harsh weather.
To understand, on a tiny scale, what it must be like to be a refugee, I’d like to share a story from my post on World Refugee Day last year. Apologies about this but it is a story that has stayed with me ever since I saw it on the television series Equator several years ago. The presenter Simon Reeve visited a refugee camp on the Somalian/Kenyan border and met a young girl, Fatima, who fled the dangers of her home country Somalia for the camp in Kenya. What really struck me was that she’d never travelled more than 4km from the camp. The Kenyan authorities wouldn’t let her go any further into Kenya and she couldn’t go back to Somalia so therefore had been trapped with thousands of other refugees in the camp for the last 17 years. In the programme, Simon Reeve talked about having a British passport and how he could go anywhere he wanted in the world yet the refugees are confined to what is almost a prison.
After visiting the camp, he said: “Thanks to an accident of birth, I was lucky enough to be able to leave to continue my journey around the world”.
The number of displaced persons around the world currently numbers 45,000,000 due to the ongoing conflicts in Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali. In 2012 alone, 7,600,000 people became refugees, with the total number at its highest since 1994.
Thank you for reading,
Visit the UNHCR here – http://www.unhcr.org.uk/
Donate to the World Food Programme here.
You can follow the UNHCR on Twitter here - https://twitter.com/Refugees
And on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/UNHCR
The WFP are on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/WFP
And on Facebook here.
Photographer Brian Sokol has been posting portraits of Malian refugees taking an adult literacy class in Burkina Faso on the UN Refugees Agency Instagram page.
Sokol and UNHCR reporting officer Hugo Reichenberger spoke with 15 Malian refugees attending an adult literacy class in Goudebou refugee camp. Each of them had a different reason for learning to read and write.
“Reading will make me understand the world better,” says Mohammed. “This is my first chance to learn.”
Follow the series here: http://rfg.ee/iSXqo
Share this from the UNHCR page on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/UNHCR
Visit the UNHCR website: www.unhcr.org
Back in May, Angelina Jolie was in London to lend her voice the British Government’s global campaign aimed at tackling sexual violence in conflict zones around the world. Today, she was back in the UK to listen to the Foreign Secretary give his keynote address at the “Preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations” meeting at Wilton Park, Sussex. Hague joked ‘She assures me she is here to meet you and to listen to our discussion, but I also think she may be checking up on whether we have lived up to our promises’.
Following his announcement in May, that Britain would create a team of experts to be deployed to conflict areas around the world to support UN missions and gather evidence about sexual violence, Hague announced yesterday that a 70-strong specialist team of police, lawyers, psychologists, doctors and forensic experts is ready to head overseas to help survivors and witnesses. He said that each deployment will be tailored to meet local needs and circumstances and that the deployments will be based on ‘in-depth assessments of national and international responses in that country to date and how the British team could reinforce or complement existing efforts, as well as consultations with the authorities in each country’.
The Foreign Secretary also pledged additional funding of more than £¼ million over a three-year period to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support to develop policies, guidance and training for use by UN peacekeepers as first responders to incidents of sexual violence.
“I am delighted to be working with Foreign Secretary Hague again on the United Kingdom’s initiative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. In many conflicts, sexual violence is used as a tactic of war, intended to hurt not only a single individual, but their family, their community, their ethnic group”.
Jolie has been drawing attention to some of the worlds worst humanitarian disasters for over 10 years and has worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons in over 30 countries including Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Haiti, Somalia and Thailand.
She further said that sexual violence has almost “become a rule rather than an exception, and we all must work together to combat the impunity and ensure justice for the victims.”
Speaking about the conference, the Foreign Secretary said:
“I believe that a critical mass of public opinion has now begun to build up against the use of rape as a weapon of war in many countries.
“My experience as a politician leads me to believe that this is the moment to mobilise global public opinion and to rally the efforts of nations, in the same way that we have mustered the will to ban the use of landmines and cluster munitions, and are on the verge of securing an international Arms Trade Treaty.
“Shattering the culture of impunity for those who use rape as a weapon of war is the next great global challenge of our generation. It is a cause whose time has come.”
The 70-strong team of police, lawyers, psychologists, doctors and forensic experts will be deployed overseas by the end of the year.
William Hague’s speech can be found here.
Further information about the UNHCR can be found here.
In 2000, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) decided that the 20th June each year would be celebrated as World Refugee Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees worldwide.
The first time I looked into the UNHCR and the plight of refugees was when I’d watched a programme called Equator on the BBC back in 2006. Do you remember it? Simon Reeve followed the equator around the world to visit some of the most troubled countries on earth such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia.
On his journey he visited a refugee camp on the Kenya/Somalia border where he met with a young woman called Fatima who’d lived in the refugee camp for most of her life.
Fatima fled from her home in Somalia to the camp for safety and what really struck me was that she’d never travelled more than 4km from the camp. The Kenyan authorities wouldn’t let her go any further into Kenya and she couldn’t go back to Somalia so therefore had been trapped with thousands of other refugees in the camp for the last 17 years. In the programme, Simon Reeve talked about having a British passport and how he could go anywhere he wanted in the world yet the refugees are confined to almost a prison.
After visiting the camp Reeve said: “Thanks to an accident of birth, I was lucky enough to be able to leave to continue my journey around the world”.
Last year 800,000 people were forced to flee across borders. Worldwide, 42.5 million people ended 2011 either as refugees (15.2 million), internally displaced (26.4 million) or in the process of seeking asylum (895,000).
The UNHCR has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. Established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly their role is to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems around the world.
The British Government has launched a global campaign aimed at tackling sexual violence in war zones around the world. Angelina Jolie lent her voice to the campaign yesterday and, alongside William Hague, spoke about how sexual violence and rape are used as weapons of war. The UN has estimated that during the 1992 – 1995 Bosnian War 50,000 rapes were committed which has resulted in only 30 convictions.
The Government’s initiative is expected to be in place by the end of the year and will include a panel of UK experts consisting of doctors, lawyers, forensic experts and the police who will gather evidence about sexual violence in conflict zones with the aim of increasing the number of prosecutions through the international criminal courts.
Jolie, a special envoy for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), has been drawing attention to some of the worlds worst humanitarian disasters for over 10 years and has worked tirelessly to highlight the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons in over 30 countries including Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Haiti, Somalia and Thailand.
Last year she completed her directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, a love story set during the Bosnian war and gave an advanced screening of it during the launch of the scheme at the Foreign Office yesterday.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo over a thousand women, children and men are raped every day and the atrocities are also widespread throughout the Darfur region of Sudan. They, along with other countries, will be the projects main concern.
Hague stated in his speech: “Sexual violence is an issue which is central to conflict prevention and to peace building worldwide.
“Where there is no justice, the seeds of future conflict are sown, and development is held back.”