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Child Labor in Turkey
Child labor in Turkey continues as both an international and domestic issue for the country. Despite Turkish and international community efforts to establish policies and initiatives to prevent child labor and protect the interests of children, child labor persists. The below facts highlight the details of the type of labor children typically perform as well as the efforts the government of Turkey has made to end child labor.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Turkey

  1. Work in Hazelnut Fields: Hazelnut production in Turkey is the largest sector of agricultural production, making up approximately 20 percent of Turkey’s agricultural exports. For this reason, many migrant agricultural workers travel along the eastern and western regions of Turkey looking for work during the hazelnut harvesting season. The children of these workers travel with their families and also contribute to the harvest of hazelnuts in Turkey. In 2017, nearly 800,000 children worked in the hazelnut fields. Most children work 11 hour days, seven days a week in the fields.
  2. The Second National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking: The Second National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking is an existing program in Turkey. This program identifies and protects both the victims of child trafficking as well as those children who are at high-risk for trafficking, such as the children of migrant agricultural workers. The high-risk children this program identified are the recipients of additional security precautions that the shelters took in. Victims of human trafficking frequently become migrant agricultural workers.
  3. Children of Syrian Refugees are High-Risk: As the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey continues to grow, so does the number of Syrian families working as migrant agricultural workers. Due to their status within the country of Turkey, many of these laborers work longer hours than those of the Turkish migrant workers and receive lower wages, with children oftentimes earning half of an adult’s wage. The children of the Syrian refugees are at an even higher risk of becoming permanently part of the sector of migrant labor due to lower access to education, discrimination and financial barriers.
  4. Efforts of the Turkish Government to Eradicate Child Labor: The Turkish government has made efforts to combat the high levels of child labor with a variety of government-funded programs. The Conditional Education and Health Care Assistance Program “aims to reduce poverty through cash transfers,” which takes the form of free milk and books given to primary school children. In 2017, approximately 190,000 children benefited from this program. By providing food and educational support, the Turkish government aims to create a learning environment for children where their families feel that they can afford the time for their children to be in school instead of working to earn extra money.
  5. Child labor in Turkey Increased in 2018: Despite the sweeping measures that the Turkish government has taken to prevent and eventually put an end to child labor in Turkey, the number of child laborers saw a marked increase in 2018. The Turkish government made a commitment to the International Labor Organization (ILO) that it would put an end to child labor by 2015, but that has not been the case thus far.
  6. Education Rates of Child Laborers: Due to the long hours that child laborers in Turkey work, they are unable to consistently attend schools in the areas where they work on hazelnut farms. The children also move around too frequently with their families to establish a lasting record at any one school, contributing to these children’s decreased likelihood of school attendance. In addition, the vocational schools that exist in areas that have heavy industry provide an education to children that promotes their continued work in the industrial sphere.
  7. Minimum Age for Child Labor: Turkey has existing laws in place that are to protect children from child labor. There is a minimum age requirement of 15 for agricultural work and a minimum age of 18 for hazardous work. A prohibition of forced labor and child trafficking also currently exists in Turkey. Despite the efforts of the government of Turkey, holes continue to exist in the legal framework that aims to protect children from hazardous child labor.
  8. Effective Enforcement of Existing Child Labor Laws: Though the Turkish government has age limits in place for child labor, as well as a list of light work that the Regulation on the Principles and Procedures Governing the Employment of Children and Young Workers permits, high levels of child labor in Turkey persist. Part of this gap in the legislation and actual protection of child laborers is due in part to the low numbers of inspectors and the classification of agricultural work as light labor. The Regulation on Principles has indicated that the country must legally consider picking fruit and vegetables as light work, therefore placing very few restrictions on migratory agriculture. Despite this, the gaps that exist in the legal framework “may hinder adequate enforcement of [Turkey’s] child labor laws.”
  9. National Program to Combat Child Labor in Turkey: The government of Turkey has made an effort to maintain compliance with international child labor laws. The National Program to Combat Child Labor began in 2017 and is to run until 2023. This program focuses on maintaining surveillance of the labor sectors of migratory agriculture, street work and work performed in small to medium industries to ensure that none of Turkey’s existing child labor laws are in violation.
  10. The Global March Against Child Labour: There are multiple NGOs in the international sphere that are fighting to end child labor worldwide. The Global March Against Child Labour is one such organization with a mission is to “mobilise worldwide efforts to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free and meaningful education and the right to be free from economic exploitation.” Global March operates through the advocacy of issues to policymakers, raising awareness of child labor around the world and building partnerships with existing organizations such as the International Labour Organization. The Global March has seen success in many of its areas of focus. In 2018, Global March organized the Meet of Parliamentarians Without Borders for Children’s Rights in Brussels, Belgium. At the conclusion of the parliament, in which MPs from Sri Lanka, Benin, Togo, Paraguay, Uganda, Ghana, the Netherlands and Costa Rica attended, all MPs committed to working within their respective parliaments to end child labor in their countries.

Turkey still requires progress to put an end to dangerous and damaging child labor, but the steps that it has made in its own programs, as well as international programs, shows hope for a future for child labor in Turkey. That future includes stronger protection of a child’s right to receive an education and lead a stable life out of the fields.

– Anne Pietrow
Photo: Flickr

how to help people fleeing violence in central america
Central America is currently facing a growing and uncontrollable issue of violence and corruption. Many innocent civilians, in search of more stable living conditions, have decided to attempt to escape the devastating violence of the region. However, considering the various situations in nations like Venezuela and Colombia worsening, a large number of migrants are journeying toward the safety of the United States. In recent years, violence has run rampant in Central America and, specifically, the Northern Triangle (the region comprised of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras). Drug cartels and gangs have taken over, perpetuating corruption and violence that has crippled the region’s economy and political stability. The situation seems bleak, but here is how to help people fleeing violence in Central America.

Violence in the Northern Triangle

First, it is crucial to understand the violence occurring in the Northern Triangle. Specifically, two well-known gangs are to blame for much of the violence and conflict in the region. MS-13 and Barrio 18 have grown to control most of the crime and extortion rackets in Central America. These criminal organizations heavily involve themselves in drug trafficking as well, increasing the prevalence of violence and death in the region. According to InSight Crime, a foundation that focuses on the analysis of crime and threats to national and citizen security and safety, 47.4 percent of homicides in Guatemala in 2015 related to gangs or organized crime. On top of that, 49 percent of other homicides had unknown motives and perpetrators between 2012 and 2015.

The third country comprising the Northern Triangle, El Salvador, has also fallen victim to this festering cycle of violence and crime. Since 2015, gang violence alone has resulted in the deaths of more than 20,000 people in El Salvador, and to this day, innocent civilians are still trying to flee this volatility and corruption.

How Organizations are Helping

That said, there is still hope for the desperate refugees who have been displaced from the region. Organizations like The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Amnesty International have developed programs by which people can donate money and garner support for the humanitarian crisis in Central America. UNHCR and Amnesty International have done extensive work to analyze migrations from the Northern Triangle, chronicling why and how people are fleeing from the region. The organizations have also called upon various nations and leaders, such as the United States, to provide more aid to this desperate region through financial appeals processes and garnering support from the general public.

How Anyone Can Help

Those looking for how to help people fleeing violence in Central America can do so by emailing and calling their local representatives in Congress in support of the rejection of any proposed cuts to foreign assistance going to the Northern Triangle countries in Central America. It is as easy as sending an email or making a quick phone call, but the impact of these small gestures can have tremendous effects on policymakers, as they all must consider the ideas and sentiments of their constituents.

By reaching out to policymakers and creating more awareness regarding this growing issue, foreign aid will eventually reach the Northern Triangle. Though the proliferation of political instability and gang violence in the region makes for a bleak situation, foreign aid facilitated by active public engagement can have a positive impact on the people fleeing violence in Central America.

– Ethan Marchetti
Photo: Flickr

Hiring Refugees
The world is currently facing a record-high number of displaced people. Globally, more than 70 million people fled or are fleeing their homes as a result of domestic war, systematic persecution, hunger or any number of other life-threatening conditions. These people are refugees.

Refugees who have fled their home countries rely on other countries to take them in and provide them with the basic necessities for survival, like food, water and shelter. Many of these people, however, have extremely limited access to the job markets of their host countries. Therefore, it is difficult for them to find a source of personal income.

Recent studies show that integrating refugees into the host country’s workforce can be economically beneficial on multiple levels. Some have estimated that closing job and pay gaps for refugees around the world could generate as much as $2.5 trillion globally. Displaced refugees represent a largely under-utilized source of labor, and giving them the opportunity to be part of the workforce could profoundly impact productivity.

Employment Benefits Refugees and Host Countries

Hiring refugees has the potential to benefit all parties involved. The refugees themselves often benefit most directly from integration into the workplace. Having a source of personal income can be extremely liberating for displaced families; it increases financial independence and allows them to rely less on the aid of their host country. It also means that children can go to school and receive an education instead of staying home to help support the family. Essentially, it allows refugees to become more productive members of society.

Contrary to popular rhetoric, the host country also benefits economically from hiring refugees. By having jobs, refugee workers are contributing to the productivity of the country and increasing the gross domestic product. Additionally, most economists found that one cannot substantiate the fear native workers have over refugees and other migrants “stealing” jobs—displaced people generally look for vacant positions that do not require a mastery of the host country’s language.

Refugees and Migrants Create Jobs

Refugees and migrants also tend to have much higher rates of entrepreneurship than the rest of society, meaning that they create jobs. It may be helpful to use the U.S. as an example here. In the U.S., migrants—a larger distinction of people living in a foreign country that encompasses refugees—represent about 15 percent of the population. However, migrants constitute about 25 percent of America’s entrepreneurs, indicating that they have a higher rate of entrepreneurship than the average citizen. In 2015, over 180,000 refugees created $4.6 billion in American income due to entrepreneurial ventures.

Organizations that hire refugees have reported much higher retention rates than the average. For example, manufacturing represents the industry where the highest proportion of refugees find work—about 20 percent. The refugee rate of turnover in this industry is just 4 percent, compared to the 11 percent national average. This means that refugees often make industrious and loyal workers on whom businesses can depend. Overall, refugees generate billions of dollars each year through entrepreneurship, consumer spending and job retention.

Finally, the country of origin can also benefit economically when other countries take in its refugees. Host and origin countries share a relationship that could potentially open up networks of trade and investment that boost the origin country’s economy. Additionally, when people from the origin country integrate into the host country’s workforce, it creates business networks where refugees might learn skills and master technology that they can communicate back home. These networks of trade and business can help update the origin country’s economy and make it more competitive.

Global Companies Hiring Refugees

Below are just a few of the companies hiring refugees and working to better integrate refugee populations into the workforce in a variety of different countries.

  1. Sodexo: A facilities management company, Sodexo pledged to hire 300 refugees in the U.S., Canada, Sweden and Brazil by 2020.
  2. Ben & Jerry’s: The beloved ice cream company plans on hiring at least 500 refugees throughout Europe once it completes a business incubator program in 2023.
  3. Barilla: The pasta magnate Barilla plans on hiring 75 refugees in Europe by 2023.
  4. Care.com: Building on a German pilot program that trains refugee women to be nannies and childcare workers, Care.com will train 1,000 refugee women to enter the care industry by 2020.
  5. Hissho Sushi: The sushi chain plans on aiding 1,250 refugees in becoming franchise owners by 2023, in conjunction with more locations opening across the U.S.
  6. Amplio Recruiting: Amplio hopes to provide 10,000 refugees in the United States with employment opportunities by 2023.

– Morgan Johnson
Photo: Flickr

The United States Can Help Refugees
The world has seen an incessant cycle of violent conflict, famine and environmental catastrophes in recent years. These events have caused an increase in refugees and displaced people to a number that human history has not seen before. To date, a record 70 million people worldwide are displaced. A significant question is how the United States can help refugees.

The United States has not only the resources but an obligation to remedy this ever-growing humanitarian crisis. Through humanitarian assistance, the United States has the ability to curb global instability for national security purposes. It is important to first understand how the United States can help refugees before looking at how to improve the current system.

U.S. refugee policy has historically set the standard for the rest of the world. However, modern policy has not evolved to meet the growing crisis at hand. It is crucial to continue the search for an adequate policy to end the push factors causing the refugee crisis and improve the quality of life for displaced people. The United States can accomplish this goal in two ways: by expanding upon existing humanitarian assistance and restructuring the United States’ current humanitarian system.

How the United States Helps Refugees and Displaced People

The United States has implemented a number of programs to improve the lives of refugees around the world. One such program is the Julia Taft fund. This program supports projects aimed at assisting refugees or refugee returnees to become self-sufficient in ways that are beneficial to their host communities. The fund provides financial assistance to local NGOs, community-based and faith-based organizations that seek to ameliorate the lives of refugees by improving economic conditions in their host communities.

With the support of the Julia Taft fund, the U.S. embassy in Chad helped open a salon in collaboration with a local NGO. The salon opened in April 2019, aims to reduce sexual violence against refugee women in urban areas. The 12 women selected for the project participated in an apprenticeship at a local salon and now have the skill set necessary to run their own business. This example demonstrates that the United States can use the fund to increase the self-sufficiency of displaced people while bringing value to the economy of the local host communities.

The implementation of programs, such as the Julia Taft Fund, demonstrates how the United States can help refugees. This fund provides refugees with the tools to be self-sufficient while also benefitting local economies. In order to continue and expand programs such as this, the U.S. must increase funding and the efficiency of its humanitarian aid delivery system. The United States sets the standard for humanitarian assistance to refugees. The United States must modernize this system for the benefit of global stability and national security.

How the United States Can Better Help Refugees and Displaced People

Increasing the capabilities of the United States humanitarian aid delivery system is crucial to managing the growing number of refugee crises. It is important to ask how the United States can help refugees and what the U.S. can do better to address this issue. The U.S. needs to empower its humanitarian organizations with increased funding and a sound organizational structure in order to address the changing needs of displaced people around the world.

In order to achieve a more efficient and influential U.S. humanitarian system, it is important to maintain and gradually increase funding to the State Department and USAID. The Trump administration is proposing cuts to both of these state entities. The proposed cuts would reduce funding by nearly one-third, from $8.7 billion to $6.3 billion. This potential decrease in funding would cripple the United States’ ability to effectively address the causes and mitigate the effects of refugee crises.

A well funded and autonomous USAID would be better equipped to implement humanitarian response programming for displaced people and their host communities. The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration would simultaneously remain an independent entity focusing on policy and diplomatic responses to refugee crises. This structure would act to create a cohesive diplomatic and humanitarian response to the growing number of crises that impact people around the world.

– Peter Trousdale
Photo: Flickr

5 Organizations Helping to Resettle North Koreans

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has committed numerous human rights violations throughout modern history. Many North Koreans who have managed to escape the country reveal the horrific conditions in which they lived. These conditions include generational incarceration in concentration camps, the public execution of dissidents and mass famine.

As such, many North Koreans have attempted the escape their country through secret escape routes and brokers. To escape, North Koreans must traverse forests, cross the Yalu River and navigate heavily patrolled areas. Unfortunately, many don’t make it. Those who survive must then adapt to and resettle in modern society, a complicated and tedious process.

Resettlement is difficult because North Korea lacks technological, social and economic progress. Additionally, many North Korean refugees face discrimination due to stigma. North Korea is so technologically behind, many North Koreans have never touched a computer. This makes it near impossible to find a job or receive an education when they resettle in new countries, like South Korea.

Luckily, many institutions help North Korean refugees resettle in these new cultures and societies. To do so, they provide North Korean refugees with essential skills to find a job, proper housing, education and more. Here are five organizations helping to resettle North Koreans.

5 Organizations Helping to Resettle North Koreans

  1. Teach North Korean Refugees is a nonprofit organization focused on changing the lives of North Koreans through English education. Learning fluent English can open doors to many job opportunities, especially for this globalized world. In 2013, Casie Lartigue Jr. and Eunkoo Lee founded the organization after they witnessed the obstacles North Korean refugees face. The organization began as a small assembly and before growing into a larger nonprofit. Currently, Teach North Korean Refugees has helped 411 North Korean refugees learn English. The organization boasts 914 tutors. Of these, North Korean refugees may a tutor according to their teaching style. They may then choose one of two courses: “Finding My Way,” which covers English basics, and “Telling My Own Story,” which focuses on writing and public speaking. Volunteers can donate and even apply to tutor on their site.
  2. Crossing Borders is a Christian-based organization that primarily focuses on assisting North Koreans refugees trapped in China. The Chinese government considers North Korean refugees to be unlawful economic migrants and returns them to North Korea upon capture. As a result, many North Korean refugees face persecution and exploitation. Accordingly, Crossing Borders provides counseling, medical assistance, safety, and job training to North Korean refugees. It also offers community building and Christian counseling. While the organization does not require North Korean refugees to be Christian, they provide optional mass services. The organization also takes care of underage North Korean refugees who are without parents. It provides safe housing and education for children until they are either adopted or reunited with family members.
  3. The Mulmangcho Foundation is probably one of the most essential resettlement organizations in South Korea. It offers direct training to North Korean refugees, enabling a smoother resettlement process. The organization has several programs for different needs. For instance, Open School helps North Korean refugees with everyday tasks, such as opening a bank account. The publishing programs provide North Korean refugees with a variety of writing tools. These tools are designed to enable North Korean refugees to publish their own stories and learn public speaking. Currently, six children’s books, based on actual experiences, and two nonfiction books have been published through The Mulmangcho Foundation. Furthermore, the organization helps South Korean prisoners-of-war escape North Korean camps.
  4. The North Korea Refugee Aid is the American-based organization of the aforementioned Mulmangcho Foundation. It provides North Korean refugees with the necessary tools for everyday life, as well as physiological treatment and job training. The programs give North Koreans refugees the chance to study in the United States through scholarships, academic tutors and host families.
  5. HanVoice is a Canadian resettlement organization with seven chapters spread throughout universities. The organization helps resettle refugees, as well as advocates against North Korea and their human rights violations. HanVoice seeks to engage Canadians in speaking against these violations and supporting North Korean refugees. The organization’s program, HanVoice Pioneers Program, offers a six-month training course to North Korean refugees. This program provides public speaking and leadership courses, along with an internship for the Canadian Parliament.

Overall, it is essential to remember that the fight for human rights is not only dependent on politics. The conflict surrounding North Korea is complicated and cannot be solved in one summit. However, ordinary people can help North Koreans by supporting these organizations and raising awareness of the human rights violations happening in North Korea. These 5 organizations helping to resettle North Koreans provide hope and assistance that make it possible for North Koreans to achieve real freedom.

Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Flickr

Venezuelan refugees in PeruFor the last decade, Venezuela has seen a severe and damaging economic recession. As of 2018, inflation hit 130,060 percent. There are severe shortages of food and medicine and an increase in crime that has made life in Venezuela a battle for survival. Considering these factors, including President Nicolás Maduro not leaving power anytime soon, many Venezuelans have decided to pack their bags and leave their beloved homeland. In the past four years, approximately 10 percent of the population fled the country. Thankfully, shelters have opened to provide aid for Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

At first, many governments were willing to cooperate, but as more Venezuelans left, many countries established specific immigration requirements, such as having a valid passport. Even though this sounded fair for many, it closed the door to many of these refugees, as the cost of processing one visa is around 7,200 bolívars ($115); that is four times the local minimum wage.

Peru is one of the few nations that kept an open border policy for many years. However, that changed when President Martin Viscarra established that as of June 15, Venezuelans would need a passport and visa to enter Peru. That day, 5,849 people arrived at the border Peruvian border, and while some arrived just in time, others were left behind. These grim situations may make it seem that all hope is lost, but there are still many Peruvians who receive these migrants with open arms. These three shelters have given shelter and hope to Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

Casa Don Bosco

This Lima home directed by Salesian Missionaries takes part in integration projects that help newly arrived Venezuelans adapt to an entirely different culture. While it used to be an old vocational training facility, it now accommodates the needs of the refugees, by providing necessary guidance on finding housing and educating them on their fundamental workers’ rights. Casa Don Bosco also has ties with The Food Bank of Peru, allowing them to feed all the migrants that knock on their doors.

A Power Couple and Their Shelter

In June 2018, Raquel Vásquez and Ernesto Reyes, a married couple, bought an old house in the middle of the Comas district. Their mission was to provide refuge to any Venezuelan refugees that arrived in Lima. Once installed, Venezuelans are allowed to stay for up to one month for free, giving them time to find a job and better housing. Vásquez and Reyes said that opening the shelter was a necessity, especially after seeing all the refugees sleeping on the streets, penniless after spending all their money just to get to Lima. The shelter operates thanks to the couple’s own money and local donations.

Rene Cobeña’s Shelter and Business

The owner of this shelter is textile businessman Rene Cobeña, who bought an old hotel and transformed it into a safe haven. The house not only offers Venezuelans breakfast, lunch and dinner but also operates as a small business, employing the same refugees. Using his money and some donations, Cobeña buys ingredients to make arepas and donuts that the refugees sell. He has also sold some of his textile machines to fund better ingredients and transportation. Thanks to these efforts, the refugees were able to start building their savings, helping themselves and their families, and eventually leave the shelter to begin anew.

These shelters are not on alone in their efforts; despite the lack of legal assistance, the owners and many other Peruvians are giving what they can to help. Venezuelans are escaping one of the most brutal dictatorships of the last century, and all they need is a helping hand through this difficult time as Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Wikimedia

Civil War in Libya

On Feb. 15, 2011, the first civil war in Libya, also known as the Libyan Revolution, began. The Libyan Revolution was fought between Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and opposing rebel forces who wanted to overthrow Gaddafi’s oppressive government. The war lasted over eight months until Gaddafi was captured and assassinated in October of that same year.

Post-Civil War

A year after the war ended, two major political groups emerged into power, the General National Congress and the House of Representatives, also known as the Tobruk government. The HoR allies with General Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army whose leadership resembles that of Gaddafi’s.

As rival governments, the GNC and the HoR both seek control over Libyan territory and oil. Consequently, the Libyan Political Agreement was proposed to resolve the conflict, mandating the division of power between both governments. Under these terms, The Presidency Council was created. The PC presides the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and is currently led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Despite the agreement, more violence and instability ensued in Libya. Nevertheless, major actors like Haftar continue to violate terms mandated by the agreement. In particular, Haftar rejects the LPA and continues to oppose the GNC. In 2014, Haftar launched Operation Dignity, a campaign against Islamist militias. However, Libya Dawn, a pro-Islamist coalition, opposes this campaign and also seeks control over Libyan territory.

This breakout of violence spawned a second civil war in Libya.

The Current State of Libya

Today, the battle between rival factions is still ongoing and further exacerbated by the presence of terrorist groups, including ISIS. These groups have gained footholds in Libyan territories and seek control, training and recruiting members on Libyan grounds.

Moreover, the GNA mobilizes local militias to fight Haftar’s more organized and disciplined army. At the end of 2018, casualties in Libya reached 7,695 deaths with as many as 20,000 injured.

Having lost control over most of eastern Libya, Haftar has expanded the LNA westward. In April, the LNA advanced into the capital of Tripoli. Haftar has also launched several airstrikes into the city. Since the invasion of Tripoli, the U.N. Health Agency reported that 443 people have been killed and 2,110 have been wounded.

Humanitarian Concerns

The civil war in Libya has become an international issue, prompting the displacement of thousands of Libyans and causing a humanitarian crisis on the European border. About 90 percent of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe come from Libya. In 2018, the U.N. Refugee Agency reported that more than 1,111 migrants from Libya died or went missing while crossing the Mediterranean.

The European Union provides resources and training to Libyan coast guards to intercept migrant boats entering Europe. The coast guard sends refugees who are entering Europe back to Libyan detention centers, where they suffer inhumane conditions including torture, kidnap, rape and trafficking. Libyan detention centers hold nearly 6,000 migrants and asylum seekers. However, these migrants consist not only of Libyans, as Libya is a transit point for other migrants from Africa.

Aside from fleeing groups, nearly 1.3 million people in Libya are in need of humanitarian assistance. Thousands are living in unsafe conditions, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. Within Libya alone, civil war has internally displaced 200,000 people as of October 2018.

Influence of Foreign Powers

The civil war in Libya is also highly diplomatic. All actors rely on external powers to support their efforts by providing funding and weapons. The civil war is sometimes seen as a proxy war between foreign powers because of their influence on internal actors.

The civil war in Libya impacts foreign powers, causing national security and economic concerns. Between ISIS’ increasing foothold in Libyan territory and thousands of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, the United States and the U.N. are concerned about national security. Additionally, many international oil companies rely on Libya’s oil production, and the conflict may disrupt oil prices.

The U.S. and the U.N. officially endorse the GNA, while Gulf states, such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, endorse the LNA. In April, the U.S. and the U.N. appealed for a truce between the LNA and GNA in Libya. However, Haftar refused.

Nonprofit Organizations

Amid the violence and instability pervading Libya, several nonprofit organizations are working to mitigate the crisis. These organizations have committed to providing civilians aid and protection amid the civil war in Libya.

Among the organizations helping Libyan civilians is the International Rescue Committee. The IRC works on the ground, providing urgent care and protection to Libyans in conflict-ridden areas. Additionally, the IRC has multiple health centers and shelters across Libya that provide medical care and supplies.

The UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency, is another organization helping civilians amid the conflict. The UNHCR aims to protect Libyan refugees by providing life-saving assistance, such as medical care and access to water and sanitation facilities, in 12 different disembarkation points in western Libya. The UNHCR works to resettle refugees and reunite families and advocates for alternatives to refugee detention centers, including care arrangements for children and family tracing. While conflict plagues Libya, the people of Libya can seek some hope and comfort in the efforts of nonprofits on the ground.

Louise Macaraniag
Photo: Heritage

Documentaries About MigrationDocumentaries are often a great resource for gaining insight on a particular topic. In recent years, various journalists, filmmakers and documentarians have played a key role in telling the stories of those suffering from socio-political unrest occurring around the world. These stories include key humanitarian issues, such as migration resulting from crises. Not only do these crises displace millions of lives, but they also create an imbalance, leading to migrants who must endure poor living conditions. As such, documentaries about migration are extremely popular. They portray global migration crises from the perspective of those most affected. Here are the top five documentaries about migration.

Top 5 Documentaries About Migration

  1. 4.1 Miles (2016)
    A story about a Hellenic coast guard captain on a small Greek island who suddenly becomes in charge of saving thousands of refugees from drowning during the European migration crisis gives the viewers hope for humanity. The film was a winner of the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award at the 2016 IDA Documentary Awards and was an Academy Award® Short Subject nominee.
  2. Human Flow (2017)
    Human Flow takes the viewer across the globe through 23 countries. It highlights urgent stories of victims of the various refugee crisis and shows the plight of those looking for a safe space to live in. For Ai Weiwei, “the purpose of (the documentary) is to show it to people of influence, people who are in a position to help and who have a responsibility to help.”
  3. Stranger in Paradise (2016)
    Stranger in Paradise is a mixture of fiction and documentary that depicts an actor in a classroom of a detention center telling refugees about what Europeans think of them. It reflects on the powerful relation between the Europeans and refugees in a candid manner and highlights the emotion most people feel while they have to go through the turmoil of displacement.
  4. City of Ghosts (2017)
    This film is a story of brave citizen journalists who face the realities of life undercover, in exile and on the run to stand against the violence that is taking place in the city of Raqqa in Syria. This film has used the camera as a powerful weapon to show the circumstances that have shaped the lives of people in Syria and has highlighted the turmoil in Syria in a great way.
  5. The Good Postman (2016)
    This film follows Ivan, the local postman in a quiet Bulgarian community on the Turkish border, as he decides to run for mayor. He then campaigns to bring the aging village to life by welcoming refugees. Some in the community support Ivan, while others resist his campaign. The film highlights the importance of a global discussion, depicting the plight of refugees and how they are perceived around the globe.

These five documentaries about migration enable viewers to understand migrants by portraying the conflicts driving migration through a personal lens. By diving into the lives of those impacted, these films tell a larger story about humanity as a whole.

Isha Akshita Mahajan
Photo: Flickr

Impact Investing in RefugeesImpact investing, otherwise known as socially responsible investing, refers to investment aiming to create a positive social or environmental impact while also generating a financial return. Some subsets of impact investing intend to control the power of private investments. Here, these investors are only addressing the concerns of particular groups.

For example, “gender lens investing” encourages investment in companies that are led by women. Additionally, it promotes investment in companies that create products or services seeking to improve women’s’ lives and wellbeing.

However, an unprecedented rise in the number of refugees and displaced people globally is creating the need for a new type of impact investment, specifically addressing their needs. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, a record 70.8 million people around the world are either internally displaced, have become refugees, or are seeking asylum due to natural disasters or violent civil conflicts. Here are 3 organizations that are leading the charge in the new field of impact investing in refugees.

3 Leading Organizations Focused on Impact Investing in Refugees

  1. Refugee Investment Network
    The Refugee Investment Network (RIN) is one of the leading organizations in the emerging field of impact investing in refugees. At the Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference in San Diego in October of 2018, RIN was launched. RIN serves as an information hub connecting investors to projects that benefit refugees. To help investors address this group of individuals, RIN has created the Refugee Lens, which guides investors on how to most effectively seek out and invest in organizations benefitting refugees. One of RIN’s goals is to challenge the misconception that refugees are an economic burden. Instead, RIN promotes the idea that impact investing in refugees can stimulate economic growth, and presents evidence of this in a report, titled “Paradigm Shift.” The report points out that entrepreneurs comprise 13 percent of the refugee population in the U.S. This means that refugees have a higher percentage of entrepreneurs than both the non-immigrant refugee population and the native-born population in the U.S.
  2. Epimonia
    Epimonia is a fashion company that promotes awareness of refugee issues in the U.S. The company was founded by Mohamed Malim, a Somali-American entrepreneur and former refugee who fled Somalia’s civil war. Initially, he had relocated to Kenya, but then again to the U.S. Among other products, Epimonia sells bracelets made from life vests that were once worn by refugees, known as “embracelets.” The Greek island of Lesbos provides these life vests since they have a high population of refugees. Additionally, Epimonia works with the nonprofit organization Refugees4Refugees to acquire these life vests, which then become embracelets. Refugee workers in the Netherlands make the bracelets, which then sell throughout the U.S. Malim has sold almost 1,500 embraclets, and has visited 20 college campuses to spread awareness of refugee issues. Epimonia invests 50 percent of its profits into initiatives that benefit refugee communities in the U.S. The organization has given $1,500 to the Dream Refugee Mentorship Program. They provide current and former refugees with professional mentorship and scholarship aid. Additionally, it provides them with a network of connections to help them succeed in the workforce after college.
  3. Kiva Refugee Investment Fund
    In 2017, the microfinance company Kiva launched the Kiva Refugee Investment Fund (KRIF) to help extend financial services to refugees and provide loans to those looking to start businesses. Unlike other nonprofits that operate on the basis of donations, KRIF utilizes crowdfunding to channel money into loans. These are then given to refugees, which are later paid back. This means that individuals who contribute to loans not only get to aid in refugee entrepreneurs launching their businesses but also get to share in the successes that those businesses create. KRIF challenges the idea that refugees are too risky to invest in, and has supporting data. According to its website, KRIF currently has a rate of repayment on its loans of 95.5, percent. Additionally, they have effectively crowdfunded $12.5 million in loans to 15,873 refugee borrowers. In total, KRIF aims to reach 200,000 borrowers.

Multiple organizations are beginning the way for investment in refugees. Impact investing in refugees has proven to be far less risky than naysayers have claimed. In fact, it is incredibly effective at both generating a financial return to investors and uplifting refugee communities around the world.

– Andrew Bryant
Photo: Flickr

Syrian Refugees in Germany

What began as a peaceful political uprising in 2011 has become one of the most devastating on-going civil wars of the 21st century. The war has contributed to the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, leaving Syrian refugees in Germany hopeful for improved living conditions. The Syrian Civil War has not only devastated the country and its people but also neighboring nations, creating a regional disruption.

Syria’s fall is a global failure, and the consequences the war has brought with it have been difficult for other countries to manage. The Syrian Civil War forced countries to establish new policies to address the influx of Syrian refugees. Syrians have been escaping the bombings and repression since the outbreak of the war in 2011. However, in 2015, Europe was under more pressure when over one million refugees arrived through dangerous sea travel. Some Member States have closed their borders, and others have implemented new welcoming policies.

Current Living Conditions

Angela Merkel’s Germany welcomed thousands of Syrian refugees with its open door policy. German crowds awaited the arrival of Syrian refugees in Munich from Austria in 2015. However, today this enthusiasm contends with the rise of populism and right wing parties, affecting the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany. Amidst refugee settlement, anti-immigration views have become more and more popular among Germans. This forces the government to desperately establish effective integration policies to reduce tensions.

The living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany are very difficult. They are hospitalized as needed after arriving from extremely life-threatening conditions. Later, the refugees receive camp assignments. Due to the large number of refugee arrivals, Germany had to build emergency camps. These camps lack quality infrastructure and necessary equipment. Some refugees are assigned to shelters such as Tempelhof, where they sleep in a small bed among hundreds of others in one hall.

Due to integration laws that assign family members to different cities, some refugees must endure family separation. Moreover, Germany suspended the family reunification policy between 2016 and 2018 for refugees awaiting their status approval. According to the German government, Germany embassies received 44,736 family reunification applications in 2018, but only granted 1,500 applications.

Paperwork Holds Up the Process

Unfortunately, the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany become even more difficult once paper work begins. It could take up to eighteen months to be recognized as an asylum seeker. In most cities, refugees cannot join integration programs if they are not asylum seekers. According to the German law, asylum is a given right to anyone fleeing political persecution. However, the process of being granted refugee status based on the Asylum Act and the Residence Act can be lengthy.

These acts entitle refugees to integration programs, language classes and employment. This is not the reality for refugees who wait years of the approval of their status. Systematic hurdles can stop refugees from learning German, continuing their education or pursuing a job. Therefore, many refugees lose hope and enter black market jobs or seek distressing pathways.

A Brighter Future

Nonetheless, German policies, under the guidance of Merkel, continue to strive for effective integration. Overall refugee unemployment dropped sharply from 50.5 percent to 40.5 percent in mid-2018, based on the Institute for Employment Research. The study also concludes half of the refugee population will be employed by 2020. This is an optimistic advance considering the language barrier in addition to the fact that 80 percent of refugees who arrived in 2015 did not acquire a university degree. This is achievable because the settlement of refugees is improving along with the overall living conditions of Syrian refugees in Germany.

Eventually, refugees will be able to leave crowded shelters and move into apartments with their families. By improving  integration efforts and paperwork processes, Syrian refugees in Germany can gain asylum status and attain their legal rights.

Njoud Mashouka
Photo: Flickr