Information and news about civil war

Education in Syria
Just seven years ago, Syria was a regional leader in basic education. Unfortunately, education is one of the many social structures that has suffered amidst the uprising of civil conflict. In 2011, antigovernment protests broke out in Syria in response to the authoritarian rhetoric of President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian government used violence to suppress demonstrations, and over time, the conflict turned into a civil war. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the country, but those who remain are struggling to obtain an education in Syria.

The State of Education in Syria

Many civilians were left in the middle of war-torn chaos where day-to-day activities, like going to school, have become life-threatening and sometimes impossible. Attendance rates have taken a dive since 2011. Today, nearly a decade worth of progress in education in Syria has been reversed due to the conflict. Before the outbreak of war and violence, an estimated 97 percent of primary school-aged children were attending school daily. In 2018, that rate had fallen to 30 percent in the areas hit hardest by the conflict like Aleppo and Idlib.

Many schools have been destroyed by airstrikes and, in regions dominated by ISIS, teachers are often victims of violent attacks if they don’t conform to the curriculum the terrorists want to be taught. And yet, some have managed their way around the destructive turmoil. To continue education in Syria, teachers have set up makeshift classrooms in caves and abandoned poultry farms. Despite the limited space and decreased lighting, caves have proven to be one of the best places for classrooms since underground spaces are safer from airstrikes.

Teachers Making a Difference

Other teachers like Abudlkafi Alhamdo, an English literature professor in Syria, set up classrooms in vacated apartment buildings. Alhamdo remained in the battle-torn country despite his own thoughts of leaving to protect his wife and children. Amidst the ongoing violence between Assad’s regime and the protestors, students would come to their English teacher without food, shelter, water or their families and seek refuge.

Alhamdo recalled the first pupil who came to him after the attacks on his city, Aleppo. He asked the tardy student what kept him, and the boy responded by informing him that his father and sister had been killed the previous day. Alhamdo offered comfort and care to the student, and after that others came along, affected by the war-caused impoverished conditions.

Education is the Key to Ending Conflict

Alhamdo did more than provide his students with food and water. He continued to teach his pupils regardless of what the conditions were outside the classroom because he believes that, without education, the children may be subjected to the violence of Assad’s regime. The English literature teacher believes that education, in any country, can pull the people out of violence and instead create innovators, leaders and critical thinkers who can combat world issues with peaceful strategies.

UNICEF shares Alhamdo’s belief in the importance of education in Syria. The organization has responded to the education crisis throughout the region placing 120 prefabricated classrooms in cities like Homs and Aleppo. UNICEF has also sent 765,000 book bags containing school supplies across the country, hoping to bring back a glimpse of normalcy for Syrian children.

Efforts made by the teachers who have stayed behind to care for their students and groups like UNICEF are one way that education in Syria has survived. But, the country will not be able to achieve its previous educational status until the conflict is finally resolved and the war is over.

– Haley Newlin
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Poverty in the Democratic Republic of The Congo (DRC) can be interpreted as a combination of spillover conflict from neighboring African nations, as well as an embedded culture of governmental corruption. In the text below, the top 10 facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will address the underlying causes, as well as how DRC has been able to improve impoverished conditions in recent years.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. The Democratic Republic of Congo has a population of approximately 78 million people. Out of this number, 80 percent of the population live in extreme poverty. DRC is classified internationally as the country of medium concerning human development. Indicators of human development measure parameters such as population’s well being, regarding life expectancy, child/maternal mortality, infant mortality, malnutrition and mortality associated with a disease.
  2. Wealth is unequally distributed, far better in urban over rural areas and wealth is a determinant for access to sanitation and medical services. The poor in rural areas are most affected.
  3. Poverty is also a direct consequence of the political conflict that occurred during the 1990s, called the First and Second Congo War. The country has seen a dramatic transformation from a state engulfed in brutal genocidal violence into a relatively stable post-conflict society. Poverty is a byproduct of political violence that in turn has significant economic and social repercussions. The consequences of the war can be seen even today, as more than 900,000 people were displaced from the country. in 2016 War-torn communities have left approximately 4 million children orphans or living on the streets.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, poverty and development are linked. As African nations develop, their populations rise as a result. However, the flip side to this is that malnutrition and new diseases spread as the existing system of governance cannot keep up with the uptick of the population.
  5. DRC transitioned from a Marxist to free market economy that has relied heavily on wealth from the mining industry. Upon the transition, the new economy has not been managed appropriately, as wealth is spent lavishly on the patronage of government officials instead of humanitarian efforts.
  6. War impacted on poverty since infrastructure communities that rely on for clean water and sanitation were destroyed, contributing to the spread of disease. Waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera and malaria are the most common and deadly in the country. Less than one-fourth of DRC’s population has access to clean drinking water and sanitation services. DRC has a 45 percent inoculation rate of malaria, resulting from lack of access to cleaning drinking water and poor nutrition. Approximately 40 percent of deaths in the country is related to malaria.
  7. DRC’s governmental structure has had a tumultuous relationship with the population, engaging in genocidal violence during internal conflict, and an unstable kleptocratic government post-conflict system. Historically, the country functions under an economy and government of affection. Primarily, government investment is spent on personal relations to buy popular support, rather than on social programs that would earn support.
  8. The people of the DRC look to the international community and nongovernmental organizations for assistance. The Nouvelle Esperance (New Hope) program offered great assistance in the Millennium Declaration that is based in human development and humanitarian assistance but also has specific goals to eliminate poverty all together using a strategy that fosters national and international stability. The Global Partnership plays an integral role in improving education in the DRC, increasing access to education by providing $20 million in learning materials and renovating 728 classrooms. Other notable contributions have come from UNICEF and USAID that aid and monitor the quality of the services that the country’s government provides.
  9. Significant assistance programs have been provided by transnational banks such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. African Development Bank’s helps reduce infant and maternal mortality rates through programs that equally distribute medical supplies. World Bank’s helps with the program aimed to increase standards of living through sanitation, energy and various accessible social services. World Bank has 29 total projects active in the country representing a total of $3.8 billion. World Bank has also funded medical projects assisting the DRC in the successful eradication of poliomyelitis. Since World Bank began humanitarian projects in the DRC in the post-conflict era of the 1990s, there is a vast improvement since the strategy has shifted away from emergency assistance programs to sustainable growth strategies.
  10. Different organizations are helping the country’s situation. With the help of the U.N. which the Democratic Republic of Congo joined in 2000, the country has successfully been able to demobilize and improve health and education opportunities. Britain’s Department of International Development has developed an initiative that aims to support long-term programs that tackle the underlying issues of poverty, with the goal of cutting the number of people in poverty in half, as well as ensuring all children have a primary education, sexual equality, a reduction in child and mother death rates and environmental protection. Other notable contributions have come from the French and Belgian governments that foster public management of resources as well as public administrative support.

These top 10 facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provide an understanding of not only how poverty developed in the country and the effects poverty has had on the people, but also working solutions to address this issue. The Democratic Republic of the Congo can also provide an example of success for other post-conflict societies in improving poverty rates.

– Kimberly Keysa
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About The Nuer of South SudanThe East-Central African country of South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. Since then, the nation of 13 million people has struggled to maintain governance and control due to violent civil conflict. This struggle has lead to a dire humanitarian crisis and four million South Sudanese facing displacement.

The Nuer are a prominent and second most populous ethnic group in South Sudan, contributing to 16 percent, or two million people, of the total population. Given this status, the Nuer have stood at the center of the civil Sudanese conflict for decades. These 10 facts about the Nuer of South Sudan offer insight into an ethnic group afflicted most by the South Sudanese Civil War.

10 facts about the Nuer of South Sudan

  1. The Nuer live in South Sudan in rural swamps and open savannas on both sides of the Nile River. They are located approximately 500 miles south of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Due to the civil conflict, the Nuer also inhabit United Nations refugee camps in the South Sudanese capital city of Juba.Nuer also seek refuge in neighboring countries like Uganda, which hosts over a million refugees. Approximately 2.5 million South Sudanese are seeking refuge or asylum protections. The majority of these refugees are women and children.
  2. The Nuer of South Sudan are cattle raising pastoralists. Horticulture is also commonly practiced, but less desirable. With more than 80 percent of the populace living in rural areas, cattle have historically been both a cultural and religious symbol, signifying wealth as well as an economic livelihood for the Nuer. Cattle are particularly important as a part of bridewealth exchanges.
  3. Since independence, the official language of South Sudan is English, replacing Arabic, but the Nuer traditionally speak the Nuer language. The Nuer language belongs to a subgroup of Nilo-Saharan languages, as a Nilotic language indigenous to the Nile Valley.
  4. Despite a high infant mortality rate , South Sudan is the world’s youngest country. The infant mortality rate stands at 79 infants per 1,000 live births and the under-five mortality rate is 108 per 1,000 live births. Around 45 percent of the country is between zero and 14 years of age.
  5. The Nuer of South Sudan form a cluster of autonomous sections and clans. The North had long sought state control of Nuer land, but neglect of social and political developments provoked two civil wars. This eventually led to South Sudan gaining independence from the North after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 and the Independence Referendum in 2011.There is  no structured political system for the Nuer, generating significant conflict. However, dominant clans often hold more significance and elders often make decisions.
  6. In 2013, Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer, was dismissed by the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, over accusations of a coup attempt against the president. In addition to past support for the North by the Nuer, this sparked massive violence; President Salva Kiir ordered the deaths of thousands of Nuer in the Juba Massacre of 2013. These actions prompted the ongoing civil war in South Sudan.
  7. Since the start of the conflict, more than 2.4 million people have been displaced. In the northern part of South Sudan, the United Nations protects civilians in camp Bentiu. Nearly everyone in this camp is Nuer. In February 2017, a group of Dinka soldiers called the Upper Nile State attacked the Bentiu U.N. compound, killing an estimated 300 Nuer civilians.
  8. Thousands of Nuer have faced rape, sexual exploitation and attacks on women outside of Protection of Civilian (POC) sites. Studies show that 65 percent of women and girls in South Sudan have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. According to UNICEF, these incidents have occurred continuously over the past two and a half years, increasing with the outbreak of violence.
  9. International nonprofit and government agencies like the Nuer International Relief Agency (NIRA), The Red Cross, UNICEF and the U.N. provide humanitarian relief, health and education for war-affected and displaced Nuer. In the first three months of 2018, the International Committee of the Red Cross provided 1,675 metric tons of food, improved access to water for 267,000 people and helped 16,000 people reach family members separated by the conflict. Additionally, these agencies actively advocated and lobbied for successful peace and reconciliation as of June 2018, as well for the support of international communities in addressing the crisis.
  10. In May 2018, more than 200 children were released from armed groups in South Sudan. The release was the third this year, totaling to more than 800 child soldiers being freed in 2018. Additional releases are expected in coming months that could result in more than 1,000 children being freed.Despite this success, an estimated 19,000 children continue to serve in armed groups. UNICEF urges for the abolishment of recruitment and for the release of all child soldiers.

These 10 facts about the Nuer of South Sudan show a lot still needs to be done on the ground to address the suffering of Nuer ethnics and all South Sudanese nationals. More than 8 million people are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance in South Sudan. However, on June 28, 2018, warring parties signed a permanent ceasefire in Sudan’s capital city Khartoum, calling for an end to the four-and-a-half year civil war. The agreement, signed by President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and Former Vice-President Riek Machar, a Nuer, represents a significant stride towards peace in South Sudan’s history and resolution of these crises.

– Joseph Ventura

Photo: Flickr

Lebanon
Lebanon is a small nation wedged between the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Israel to the south and Syria to the northeast. Despite its size and a population of only six million, Lebanon became a center of trade in the Middle East during the mid-1900s. It is also known for its diverse culture in which Shia and Sunni Muslims live alongside a large Christian minority and other smaller groups.

The outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975 undermined the country’s prosperity and stability. The conflict lasted 15 years and Lebanon has struggled to recover ever since. While Lebanon remains a relatively wealthy nation in the region overall, its economic situation has become increasingly complicated and many people living in the country do not benefit from that wealth. Here are the top 10 facts crucial to know about poverty in Lebanon.

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Lebanon

  1. More than 25 percent of Lebanese citizens live in poverty. That number sinks as low as 16 percent in urban areas like the capital city of Beirut, and climbs to 36 percent in some rural areas.
  2. A person living below the poverty threshold in Lebanon earns less than $266 per month.
  3. Children in poor families are less likely to be able to complete their education. This can trap them in low-skill, high-demand job-markets.
  4. As many as 20 percent of Lebanese citizens live with unimproved sanitation facilities; 10 percent of poor households have no access to clean drinking water.
  5. There are more than one million refugees in Lebanon, with most fleeing the Syrian civil war. Refugees are not counted in many official poverty statistics from Lebanon’s government, meaning that the effects of poverty are significantly more widespread than these statistics suggest.
  6. Nearly half a million Palestinian refugees are registered with U.N. relief organizations in Lebanon. Palestinians may make up as much as 10 percent of the country’s population but they lack several important rights. Many live in U.N. camps in extreme poverty and are denied access to certain types of work.
  7. Poor Lebanese citizens, refugees and women brought in from other countries around the world are vulnerable to human trafficking. Refugees are especially likely to be coerced into forced labor. In 2014, the Lebanese government committed to reducing human trafficking within the country, but the results have been inconsistent so far.
  8. Poor Lebanese workers are often trapped in high-turnover or seasonal jobs with low wages. Making matters worse, the government and U.N. cannot adequately support the huge refugee population in Lebanon, meaning that many of them must find work to survive. This pits citizens and non-citizens against each other. Lebanese workers suddenly face much higher competition for jobs. Meanwhile, refugees lack citizens’ legal protections, which forces many of them to work in difficult conditions for half or even a third of what native workers are paid.
  9. Women (especially heads of households) are often the most impacted by poverty. Many are culturally expected to raise and care for a family but are also forced to enter the workforce to provide additional income. These dual expectations can add to their burden, stifle their educational prospects and make it difficult for them to access highly-competitive jobs.
  10. Social safety programs are rare and inconsistent in Lebanon. Many families are forced to go hundreds or thousands of dollars into debt to cover unexpected expenses like medical bills.

Building a Safety Net

The Lebanese Civil War severely damaged the country’s economy and infrastructure and the modern refugee crisis has only increased the strain. That said, several promising programs could alleviate these problems and reduce the impact of poverty in Lebanon.

While Lebanon’s social programs are still relatively young and often haphazard, the government has formed two primary means of relieving poverty: the National Social Security Fund and the Emergency National Poverty Targeting Programme. Expanding and improving these programs along with continued investment in infrastructure and education could make an enormous difference in the lives of thousands of Lebanese citizens.

Unfortunately, these government programs do not cover refugees. U.N. humanitarian aid has traditionally stepped up to fill this void, but even these resources have recently begun to dry up.

Response from the International Community

These 10 facts about poverty in Lebanon illustrate a complex and ongoing struggle to improve living conditions in the country. As the Syrian conflict continues, the government of Lebanon will have to continue to cope with an unstable region and an increasingly large population of foreign refugees within its borders.

Thankfully, Lebanon is not alone. In April, around 50 countries met in Paris at the CEDRE Conference where they pledged to invest more than $11 billion into Lebanon’s economy. Time will tell if measures like these will accomplish their goal of restoring prosperity to Lebanon and, eventually, to the Middle East.

– Josh Henreckson
Photo: Flickr

Child soldier in SomaliaSince 1991, the Federal Republic of Somalia has been involved in an ongoing civil war being fought between the transitional federal government (TFG) and al-Shabab militants.

This civil war continues to acquire worldwide attention for its recruitment of child soldiers, often used by al-Shabab and the Somali National Army (SNA).

Child Soldiers in Somalia

Child soldiers are children or individuals under the age of 18 who are used for any military purpose. As of 2016, 1,915 children have been recruited and used in the Somali civil war.

The number of child soldiers in Somalia has almost doubled since 2015 because of an increase in al-Shabab abduction cases. Out of 950 children abducted since 2015, 87 percent were abducted by al-Shabab. The SNA is also responsible for 920 cases of child soldiers. Here are 10 key facts about child soldiers in Somalia.

Top 10 Facts About Child Soldiers in Somalia

  1. Child soldiers are not only used to fight in the war. Though some children serve as combatants, others also serve as porters, messengers, spies and cooks. Young girls are forced to marry al-Shabab militants or recruited as sexual slaves in brothels.
  2. Children are recruited as soldiers because they can be easily coerced. They are more likely to comply and be easily influenced than adults. Al-Shabab relies on recruiting child soldiers because they are easier to manipulate.
  3. Seventy percent of child soldiers have been recruited by al-Shabab. Al-Shabab has recruited and trained children as young as age nine to be combatants. Over 50 percent of al-Shabab members are believed to be children, according to the U.N.
  4. Poverty and living in a combat zone can increase the probability of a child becoming a child soldier. Some poor children decide to join a military organization if there is a lack of access to education or to end a poverty cycle. Living in a combat zone also causes separations between children and their families.
  5. Child soldiers and children in Somalia endured 18 cases of denial of humanitarian access to children. Clan militias (10), al-Shabab (5), the SNA (2) and Puntland armed forces (1) are responsible for the grave violation.
  6. Hardships and abuse do not end when child soldiers are arrested and detained. The special circumstances of children who were recruited and coerced into war activity are unrecognized. Child soldiers in detention are threatened, tortured and forcibly sign confessions.
  7. In 2001, SAACID implemented the first Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program in Mogadishu, Somalia. SAACID (pronounced ‘say-eed’ in Somali, meaning ‘to help’) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on improving the lives of women, children and the poor. Programs were created by the U.N. to reintegrate child soldiers into society, but these still lack the protection of rights of children. Former child soldiers of al-Shabab also fear to leave DDR compounds and possible reprisal from al-Shabab.
  8. Once reintegrated, former child soldiers have difficulty finding a job with little to no skills or education. UNICEF and INTERSOS offer vocational training programs for former Somali child soldiers. The program offers training in plumbing, carpentry, electrical and tailoring. In 2016, over 900 former Somali child soldiers received these services.
  9. The SNA takes measures to improve the protection of children. The SNA formed a plan of action with the U.N. that follows Security Council resolutions 1539 and 1612.
  10. The Dallaire Initiative establishes a child protection advisor in the African Union Mission of Somalia (AMISOM). The British Peace Support Training Team in Kenya will train members from AMISOM, SNA and the Somali National. The training will instruct how to counteract the use of child soldiers.

AMISOM and Future Developments

AMISOM held a forum with the security sector and AMISOM military in November 2017. The meeting primarily focused on the disadvantages of recruiting child soldiers and policies and law enforcement that can prevent it.

According to Musa Gbow, AMISOM’s Child Protection Advisor and coordinator of the workshop, “We have to ensure that the Federal Government and Federal member states continue to work together especially with regards to dealing with the prevention of the recruitment and use of children as soldiers in the conflict in Somalia.”

Recent developments, like Gbow’s dedication to creating a child protection policy at the federal and regional level, create hope for the futures of all children of armed conflict.

– Diane Adame
Photo: Flickr

A Changing Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire is located in Western Africa off the Gulf of Guinea. In recent years, Côte d’Ivoire’s increased stability has attracted foreign investment and its swelling middle class has created domestic demand. Both of these have been possible as a changing Côte d’Ivoire evolves with its three main crops: cocoa, coffee and cashews.

History of Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire is a country with a troubled past. It began as a French colony that was granted independence in 1960 under President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who held the post until his death in 1993. There was relative peace and democracy until the 2000 election when Alassane Ouattara decided to run against the current President Henri Konan Bedie. This election split the country into the north and south.

The north, led by Ouattara, was a Muslim-based rebel group; the South turned into a Christian-based government. Then, after some deadly hostilities, the U.N. sent a peacekeeping force in 2004. Events continued in this vein until 2010 when Ouattara was elected president. Laurent Gbagbo (who at the time had claimed leadership for himself) refused to accept terms, which led Ouattara to lead troops across the country in 2011. Gbagbo was captured and later tried for crimes against humanity.

It has been a long road since the end of the civil war in 2011, but the country has been on track for beginning to turn life around for its citizens. There are still instances of unrest, such as in 2017 when demobilized soldiers took to the streets, demanded pay and did not return to their barracks until the government had paid them back $21,000. In this particular instance, 15 people died.

Points of Concern

There are also suggestions of the government using false accusation to hold journalists or publishers back. On February 12th, six journalists were held for 48 hours after they reported the payment to the mutineers. Another instance was when an online news editor was charged for releasing fake news after an interview with ex-President Gbagbo’s son, Michel.

Along with potentially wrongful convictions is the concern over Côte d’Ivoire’s ability to handle criminals. Particularly those accused of the human rights abuse during the civil war. The trial of former First Lady Simone Gbagbo led many to lose belief in the judiciary system after she was released.

A Bright Future

Despite concerns, there have been some impressive steps in the right direction. President Ouattara is helping to create a changing Côte d’Ivoire with a new constitution as well as putting forth continued efforts to strengthen the judicial system. The government has also adopted a decree to help enforce the law that strengthened human rights defenders three years ago.  

The increased stability has led to increased investment and the ability to focus on agricultural strengths. Côte d’Ivoire has the second highest growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa standing around 8.8 percent as of 2016. While the middle class is currently at 23 percent. Both of these growth trajectories have been made possible by the cash crops (cocoa, coffee, and cashews).

Cashews, while not being a native to Côte d’Ivoire, hit a record of 625,000 tons in its first growing season of 2015. By the end of 2015 Côte d’Ivoire passed India in cashew exports making it the largest cashew exporter. The Côte d’Ivoire government offered a bonus payment of CFA 400 for every kilogram of cashew exports.

Moments of Success

The Côte d’Ivoire has evolved as successes and incentives increased interest from foreign investors. China has invested and given foreign aid totaling around $4 billion to the Côte d’Ivoire in the last 15 years. Such investments lead to improved infrastructure, especially in Côte d’Ivoire’s energy sector. With its growing energy sector, power demand has grown 10 percent within the nation each year from 2012-2017.

A changing Côte d’Ivoire has brought wealth and prosperity to the country. However, there is still a ways to go as Côte d’Ivoire learns how to face and deal with the aftermaths of the civil war.

– Natasha Komen
Photo: Flickr

civil war in LibyaIn Feb. 2011, civilians in Libya, inspired by the Arab spring, took part in protests against their government. Muammar Gadhafi has held complete control over power and wealth in Libya ever since overthrowing King Idris in 1969. Civil war in Libya broke out in early 2011 as rebels rose up in response to a police crackdown on protesters.

In 2011, during the civil war in Libya, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed. Those killed included civilians, government forces and rebels.

On Feb. 16, 2011, anti-government protests in Benghazi met violent opposition from police. Protests quickly spread to the capital of Tripoli, and more than 200 people were killed. The conflict escalated from Feb. 16 to Feb. 21, on which day Gadhafi made a speech vowing to die a martyr rather than step down.

The conflict drew international interest for humanitarian and economic reasons. Libya has a significant standing as one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world. It produces two percent of the world’s oil supply.

In March 2011, French, British and American forces took action in Libya. More than 110 missiles fired from American and British ships hit about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets. A week later, NATO agreed to take command of the mission and enforced a no-fly zone over Libya. In October, Gadhafi was found and killed by rebel forces.

Seven years later, Libyans are still feeling the aftershocks of the conflict. According to Amnesty International’s most recent report on Libya, there are now three rival governments competing for power in the country.

The U.N. backs the Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj based in the capital of Tripoli. The GNA has been unable to enforce authority over the area. The Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar, refuses to recognize the GNA and continues to fight for control of Libya. The rest of the country is ruled by local militias and Islamist groups, including ones linked to ISIS.

The direct humanitarian impact of the civil war in Libya is that hundreds of thousands of people across the country are now living in unsafe conditions with little access to healthcare, food, safe drinking water, shelter and education. An estimated 100,000 people are in need of international protection and 226,000 internally displaced people.

A disturbing development of a slave trade has also become apparent in Libya. According to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Libyans and migrants are being detained and sold in open slave markets. Due to the split governments, no authority is able to stop the human rights abuses.

Civilians in Libya continue to suffer as a result of the conflict. The desire for reform was well-intentioned, but the transfer of power following the death of Gadhafi did not go as planned. The resulting fracture of the country has thrown Libya into turmoil without any indication of ending.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sudan
The political climate of Sudan is one that has been unpredictable for several years, and resulted in many refugees fleeing the country. Thankfully, aid from Uganda and organizations has been successful in easing the burdens refugees face when they leave their country.

The Civil War in Sudan

Wars in Sudan have occurred since the 1960s, with the most recent civil war in Sudan beginning in 2014 over a political argument: Salva Kiir, the president of Sudan, believed Vice President Reik Machar was attempting to overthrow his presidency and undermine his power, and the disagreement divided the country.

Since 2014, attempts at peace have been interrupted: stolen oil and ethnic cleansing resulting from the civil war in Sudan and the nation’s violent political climate lead to a total of one million refugees leaving their homes by last fall.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, many of these refugees escaped to Uganda and more than 1,800 refugees leave South Sudan every day. Fortunately, Uganda’s open border policy has made it possible for refugees to find temporary rest where land, food, water and education are accessible.

Refugees

In an interview with UNHCR, Tabu Sunday, a South Sudanese refugee, discussed her experience in leaving her parents to find safety in Uganda.

“Where I was living they were killing people,” she said. “My parents said they didn’t have enough money for travelling. So we had to walk on foot with my aunt. It was a long and hard journey. We had to use the Congo route to reach Uganda. My aunt stayed for a week and decided to return home.”

There are several aid organizations assisting refugees fleeing the civil war in Sudan. For instance, the Cooperative Assistance and Relief Everywhere organization (CARE) provides nutrition assistance to refugees in addition to the efforts of Uganda’s families and governments. According to CARE, approximately two million citizens from South Sudan have fled their country.

UNICEF has been involved in Sudan with the goals to improve health, nutrition, water, sanitation, education and safety. Making education more accessible in South Sudan is an endeavor of which many organizations have seen success — through UNICEF “Education in Emergencies” programs and the establishment of United Nations Protection of Civilians Sites, a 2013 project was able to improve such accessibility.

However, aid organizations have overcome some challenges in assisting South Sudan in the past. In the spring of 2017, the government of South Sudan blocked aid organizations from providing food to the country. Not only was a Save the Children base stolen from, but aid was blocked by the government as a form of brutality.

Despite these challenges, aid organizations persist and maintain a strong focus on improving the present and future lives of refugees.  

The Future   

As aid organizations persist in their efforts to help refugees, several organizations will need to take into account the political climate where aid workers are placed; for instance, being aware of the potential famines that will most likely result from the political climate of the civil war in Sudan. However, knowing this ahead of time will assist organizations in providing better care to refugees in need.

According to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the violence in Sudan combined with famine and a history of an unstable political climate has made the issue of assisting the people in South Sudan very complex.

It is estimated that by March 2018, 8 million people will experience food insecurity. The European Union, and its partnerships, have contributed 43 percent of the aid to South Sudan.

Humanitarian Aid Efforts

The efforts of aid organizations make indisputable difference to refugees on the ground. According to UNOCHA, 5.4 million of the 7 million people in need of help received assistance by December 2017.

Below are a few of the organizations making a difference in addition to the European Union and its partnerships.

  1. The International Rescue Committee
  2. Save the Children
  3. USAID
  4. CARE
  5. UNOCHA

These organizations will continue to provide resources for people to learn about the issues in Sudan as well as give aid to the people there, steps that will continue the progress international groups have already set in motion.

– Gabriella Evans

Photo: Flickr

Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2017 Introduced in SenateSenator Ben Cardin (D-MD) launched the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2017 in June 2017. This bill would require a report from the United States on the accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Syria by the Syrian government.

Syria’s ongoing conflict has lasted over six years as of the year 2017. The war crimes committed in the nation have caused over 4,900,000 citizens to flee to neighboring countries, with another 600,000 living under siege. Evidence has been collected by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) declaring that the Syrian government has “committed the crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, rape or other forms of sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, enforce disappearance and other inhuman acts.”

Furthermore, a report from 2016 stated that the Syrian government forces used chemicals in an attack in Idlib in 2015 in violation of a pact. The United States and Russia made an agreement requiring Syria to dispose of all chemical weapons to prevent further harm to the Syrian people. Because of these accounts, at least 12 other countries have requested assistance in investigating the ongoing conflict in Syria in order to prevent further war crimes.

Congress has taken initiative, urging all parties in the conflict to halt attacks on civilians and provide the necessary humanitarian and medical assistance in order to end the siege on all peoples. This is a result of another document reporting that, in February alone, the Syrian government prevented 80,000 medical treatment items from going into besieged areas. Syrian citizens now rely on interference from the United States to help provide for humanitarian needs.

Although Congress cannot prevent these sieges from affecting the Syrian people as of right now, the United States has taken action by accepting approximately 12,500 refugees from Syria with the goal of resettlement. This number exceeds the Obama administration’s goal of resettling 10,000 Syrians, a huge accomplishment in itself.

The Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2017 would ensure a report is submitted to the appropriate congressional committees reporting on the war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, and would not cease until the Secretary of State determined that the violence in Syria has ceased. It would also ensure that USAID, the Department of Defense and other programs within the government are held accountable for their participation in the war crimes that are occurring in Syria.

The United States is the world’s largest donor to the Syrian humanitarian response, donating a total of $5.9 billion. However, the passing of this bill would allow the United States to assist much more in the well-being of the Syrian people. The next step for the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2017, since it has already passed the Senate, is to pass through the House of Representatives.

– Adrienne Tauscheck

Photo: Flickr

When the 2011 Arab Spring swept through the Middle East, it left behind a number of ongoing conflicts that still continue to rage. One of the most serious of these conflicts is the Libyan civil war, which began with the ousting and subsequent death of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The conflict has been a long and complicated one, with many different factions taking their turn in the spotlight. Below are 10 facts about the Libyan crisis:

  1. The current phase of the war is primarily being fought by the House of Representatives government, based out of Tripoli, and the rival General National Congress, elected in 2014, as they both vie to take control of the whole nation.
  2. The U.N. brought the two sides together in 2016 to sign the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and form a transitional government, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, that would help bring stability to the nation. It still remains unclear whether the new government will be able to enforce its U.N. mandate.
  3. Khalifa Haftar, general of the Libyan National Army, has aligned himself with the House of Representatives, who voted against the U.N. agreement, and has been aiding them in their struggle with al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).
  4. When the House of Representatives was voted into office in 2014, only 18 percent of eligible voters turned out and cast their ballots. This was largely due to a lack of confidence in the ability of an elected government to make meaningful change.
  5. Considering such low voter confidence and the fact that the original LPA expires in December of this year, the U.N. has begun taking steps to amend the LPA to ease the divisions between the House of Representatives and the GNA, as well as create free and fair elections.
  6. The Libyan crisis is commonly divided into two official civil wars. The first lasted for several months in 2011 and was marked primarily by the deposing and killing of Muammar Gaddafi. The currently ongoing civil war began in 2014 when the national government came into conflict with the General National Congress, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed Islamist government.
  7. The second civil war has already claimed nearly 7,000 lives, with over 20,000 people wounded in the conflict and many thousands more displaced from their homes. Fighting in Sabratha, a city near Tripoli, saw nearly 10,000 people fleeing their homes to seek aid from U.N. groups in Libya.
  8. Fleeing the same fighting in Sabratha, a group of immigrants, as over 100,000 others from all across North Africa have sought to do this year alone, tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy in a dinghy that subsequently ran out of fuel and capsized. Of the 100 refugees in the boat, more than 50 are feared to have drowned. They join the over 2,400 of that 100,000 that have drowned crossing the Mediterranean while fleeing the fighting in their home countries.
  9. The BBC reports that refugees caught fleeing Libya are thrown into crowded and dirty detention centers where they are held to keep them from fleeing. There are also rumors that the falling numbers of Libyans fleeing to Italy is spurred by the GNA’s use of Libyan militias, who may be involved in human trafficking.
  10. Though representatives of the U.S. government have made statements in favor of the measures being taken to end the crisis, actions such as the United States’ past military involvement with the Libyan oil industry and the inclusion of Libya in President Trump’s travel ban have led many to questions as to what the U.S. is doing to help bring stability to the nation.

The wars in Libya are an increasingly complex, evolving and seemingly convoluted issue. These 10 facts about the Libyan crisis can serve as an overview of the conflict, but there is far more information to be delved into as the world seeks a resolution to the crisis.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr