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Post-Genocide Poverty Reduction
Genocides have occurred for decades; however, the aftermath of genocide lasts longer than the length of the genocide itself. One common problem for survivors is trying to deal with post-genocide poverty reduction. Many Jewish immigrants of the Holocaust experienced mass poverty that continues to be reported into this decade. In fact, he Telegraph reported in 2015 that more than one half million survivors are living in poverty.

After the Rwandan Genocide, Tutsis and Hutus alike had to deal with the ruins of their communities; many other populations across the world have experienced genocide and needed to focus on development and poverty reduction efforts in one way or another. The following three communities received significant organizational aid in poverty reduction methods after their respective genocides.

The Holocaust: Restitution and Aid

During the Holocaust, Jewish people were typically looted by Nazis or other community members. In 2009, the European Shoah Legacy Institute developed a two-day conference with 47 countries and the EU to urge restitution for the assets stolen from Jews during World War II, and also made efforts to ascertain social aid for poor Holocaust survivors.

France and Germany sold “heirless Jewish properties” to raise funds for social benefits; Germany established a $1 billion home care program for survivors; Austria and Poland pay pensions to survivors who suffered in their country yet live abroad. Efforts like this made the European Shoah Legacy Institute’s goals of poverty reduction and restitution in Holocaust survivors  realized.

The Rwandan Genocide: Empowerment

Inclusive Security is a noteworthy organization related to poverty reduction and female empowerment. After the Rwandan genocide, this organization empowered women to recognize their place at the table and to take initiative in rebuilding their communities.

Since the genocide, the country experienced 8 percent economic growth each year, is projected for further progress and millions of Rwandan citizens have been lifted out of poverty. Also, women have been motivated to take leadership positions and now 64 percent of elected parliamentary seats are held by women.

Inclusive Security states, “Women help create peace that lasts. When women are included in negotiations, the agreement is 35 percent more likely to endure for at least fifteen years.” Female empowerment has one of the driving factors of Rwanda’s successful transition out of genocide.

The Darfur Genocide: Education

In 2012, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) started a project in Soudan called “The Youth Volunteers Rebuilding Darfur Project.” This project’s objectives are to:

  • Improve the environment for sustainable peace in Sudan through increased respect for rights and human security
  • Reduce poverty and increase equitable economic growth.

The approach is to train and equip youth and women to expand Sudan’s economy through businesses. This program also supports the future by educating on environmental sustainability. The UNDP’s future-oriented approach allows youth and women to gain tools to build a successful community.

Post-Genocide Poverty Reduction

These three case studies of the Holocaust in the 1940s, the Rwandan genocide during the 1990s and the Darfur genocide in the early 2000s illuminate various strategies for post-genocide poverty reduction. Restitution and aid provides a short-term solution to a long-term goal, as it allows survivors to immediately gain the assistance they need to reestablish themselves in society.

However, further steps are crucial to sustaining a life without poverty after a genocide. Empowerment and education are key steps to reducing poverty in the long-term. Overall, a combination of these three approaches is key to poverty reduction in the aftermath of a genocide.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr

Recent Genocides
Genocide has been a part of the human experience for as long as humans have been around. As the world looks forward to solving issues like poverty and disease, recent genocides still threaten the developing world.

The “Third World War” in the Democratic Republic of Congo

One of the most recent genocides happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Genocide Watch reports that genocide continues to take place. Moreover, a report by the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights states there has been evidence of recent genocides in the DRC as early as 1993.

Much of the recent genocide is involves two factions: the Raia Mutomboki militia, which seeks to kill or expel anyone speaking Rwandan or Congolese, and the rival Hutu militia called the FDLR, which attacks anyone associated with the Raia Mutomboki. Both sides have slaughtered civilians and combatants along ethnic grounds in hopes of annihilating their rival ethnic groups from the greater Congo area.

Considered the bloodiest conflict since World War II, reports estimate that almost six million people have died since fighting started in 1996. Poverty, famine, disease and sexual violence continue to devastate the DRC. In 2010, a U.N. representative called the DRC the rape capital of the world. Additionally, civil unrest stemming from the postponement of the 2016 presidential elections displaced approximately 3.9 million people by the end of 2017.

Humanitarian organizations have provided aid, but the problems within the DRC are far from fixed. The International Rescue Committee expects to reach 8.4 million Congolese by 2020, focusing on improving the health and safety of women, children and the vulnerable.

The Darfur Genocide: First Genocide of the 21st Century

Darfur is a region in Western Sudan with a population of around seven million people. Since 2003, the Sudanese government-backed militia called the Janjaweed have laid waste to many villages in Darfur. The violence and recent genocide began as a series of reprisals for a 2003 attack on a Sudanese Air Force Base, and it was claimed that the residents of Darfur were responsible for the attack. The Janjaweed target civilians, committing mass murder and rape and looting economic resources. The U.N. estimates 4.7 million people have been affected by the fighting since 2004–half of them children. A 2016 report indicated that more than 600,000 people have died directly or indirectly because of the conflict.

Humanitarian access has been historically restricted and inhibited by the Sudanese government. The Sudanese government has been accused of intimidating and arresting aid workers. For example, in May 2005, two aid workers from Médecins sans Frontières were arrested at gunpoint under suspicion of “publishing false information” after a report by the organization was released on rape in Darfur.

The Yazidi Genocide

Most of the world’s Yazidi’s live in the Sinjar province of northern Iraq and have practiced their distinct traditions for thousands of years. However, the Yazidis are a religious and ethnic minority publicly reviled by ISIS. As a result, in August 2014, ISIS launched a genocide on the Yazidi communities of Sinjar. The ISIS fighters surged through the region, finding little military resistance. The local Peshmerga, a Kurdish security force, quickly abandoned their checkpoints and the Yazidi communities who depended on them for defense. The defenseless Yazidi villages offered little in the way of a military objective, so ISIS entered the region with one goal: the total extermination and subjugation of the Yazidi population. According to U.N. reports, Yazidi girls and women, as young as nine years old, were sold into sex slavery and trafficked across the Syrian border. Men and young boys were separated from their families–the men executed and the boys forced into ISIS training camps. Hundreds were summarily executed upon capture. All evidence points to an intentional and highly organized scheme by ISIS to end the Yazidi presence in Iraq, and potentially the world.

Access to the Sinjar region has been difficult for both humanitarian organizations and displaced Yazidis trying to return to their homeland. However, the Yazidis are not alone. Nadia’s Initiative, an advocacy organization founded by Nadia Murad, a 24-year-old Yazidi woman and survivor of the genocide, has gathered support for the Yazidi people by releasing a recent report on the current status of Sinjar. It has generated a unified humanitarian effort through the Sinjar Action Fund and has partnered with the French government to de-mine the explosives left behind by ISIS fighters in the region.

In the horrific wake of recent genocides, it can be easy to lose hope that genocide will be eradicated. However, organizations like the Sinjar Action Fund and the International Rescue Committee have and continue to work to produce a world without genocide. As solutions are being presented, it is up to everyone to implement them.

– Peter Buffo

Photo: Flickr

Darfur Genocide
The Darfur Genocide is one of the worst human rights abuses of modern time. Over 90 diverse tribes and sub-clans populate the region of Darfur which is located in western Sudan. With a pre-conflict population of 6 million people, tensions within the region leading to the Darfur Genocide were produced by multiple interconnected factors including ethnic conflict, economic instability and political opportunism.

The level of violence and destruction at the height of the Darfur genocide was staggering. In 2005, the Coalition for International Justice interviewed 1,136 Darfur refugees located in 19 camps in neighboring Chad. A staggering 61 percent of the respondents noted that they had witnessed the killing of one of their family members.

 

Top 10 Darfur Genocide Facts:

 

  1. In 1989, then-General Omar al-Bashir seized control of Sudan through a military coup. The country was in the middle of a 21-year civil war between the North and South regions when the leader came to power and tensions continued to build. Conflicts began to increase within the ethnically diverse Darfur and weapons started flowing into the area due to a struggle for political control.
  2. The conflict escalated in 2003 when two non-Arab rebel groups within Darfur, the Sudan Liberian Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, accused the government of neglecting the region and took up arms against it. The Sudanese government, led by al-Bashir, quickly responded with a counter-insurgency campaign against the rebels and began backing a brutal Arab militia known as the Janjaweed. Civilians within the country were the ones to ultimately pay the price for the escalating violence and began receiving a barrage of attacks from the government, pro-government troops and rebel groups.
  3. The dispute is generally racial and not religious in nature. Muslim Arab Sudanese (the Janjaweed militia group) systematically targeted, displaced, and murdered Muslim black Sudanese individuals within the Darfur region. The victims are generally from non-Arab tribal groups.
  4. According to the United Human Rights Council, over 400 villages were completely destroyed through the conflict, forcing mass amounts of civilians to be displaced from their homes. The Janjaweed would set out to destroy the houses and buildings within the community, shooting the men and gang-raping the women and children. Families would be separated and killed. Those who escaped the brutal onslaught would then be faced with an arduous journey to find refuge.
  5. Many citizens fled the violence and relocated to refugee camps within the area and neighboring Chad. According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, approximately two million individuals are still displaced due to the violence, with the majority having left their homes between 2003 and 2005 — the height of the conflict.
  6. Malnutrition, starvation and disease were serious concerns. Residents have been able to receive limited humanitarian assistance during the conflict due to the Sudanese government hindering aid efforts within the region and violence against humanitarian programs already in place. According to UNICEF, attacks on humanitarian vehicles, convoys, and compounds are common, impacting the availability of vital aid services. Approximately 25 to 30 international relief organizations have left the area due to security concerns or have been expelled by the government, as reported by The Washington Post.
  7. In June 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched investigations into the human rights violations occurring in Darfur. According to the United Human Rights Council, the government refused to cooperate with the investigations and denied any connection with the Janjaweed militia group.
  8. On March 4, 2009, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first-ever sitting president of a country to be indicted by the ICC for directing a campaign of mass killing, and rape against civilians in Darfur. His accusations according to the BBC include crimes of humanity including murder, extermination, rape and torture, as well as war crimes including attacks on civilians in Darfur, and pillaging towns and villages.
  9. The United Nations estimates that as many as 300,000 individuals have been killed since the start of the Darfur conflict in 2003. The majority of these casualties are from civilian men, women and children who lived within communities throughout the area.
  10. While the conflict has eased, it is by no means over. According to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, levels of violence have increased since the start of 2013. Approximately 400,000 individuals were displaced from their homes during the first half of 2014 alone as the Darfur crisis persists.

Lauren Lewis

Sources: BBC, United Human Rights Council, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Darfur Australia Network, UNICEF, The Washington Post, Sudan Research, Analysis, Advocacy
Photo: Haiku Deck