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Comoros Refugees

The U.N. Human Rights Council estimates that, currently, there are over 21 million refugees. While coverage tends to be concerned primarily with those from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan, because of their large refugee populations, a smaller, ongoing crisis exists in the Comoros Islands, off the cost of Mozambique, where people flee economic hardship. Here are the 10 facts about refugees from the Comoros.

  1. Many refugees from the Comoros Islands flee to one of the nation’s smaller islands, called Mayotte. This island lies to the southeast of the rest of the Comoros Islands – Moheli, Anjouan, and Grande Comore.
  2. The Comoros at one time belonged to France, but the three major islands gained independence, while Mayotte is still a French territory.
  3. In 1995, the French government made traveling between the islands without a visa illegal, leading to major problems with illegal immigration.
  4. As much as 40 percent of Mayotte’s population are considered illegal immigrants, according to estimates by the French government.
  5. Those living illegally in Mayotte face severe prosecution and deportation. Authorities have stepped up patrols in order to detain and deport those without proper papers. Mayotte deports as many as 20,000 illegal immigrants a year.
  6. Immigrants detained in Mayotte face what a 2008 Council of Europe Human Rights Report deemed “unacceptable” holding conditions, yet many still make the trip seeking better education and healthcare. Detained persons stay in overcrowded rooms and often face inhumane treatment by guards.
  7. Desperation by those leaving the major Comoros Islands has resulted in many tragedies in the ocean. Official numbers from France state that there have been less than ten thousand deaths from the Comoros to Mayotte since 1995. However, governor of Anjouan, Anissi Chamsidine, puts the number at an alarming 50,000.
  8. Although many Comorians travel to Mayotte to find a better life, many who do reach there are disappointed. Those who have left for Mayotte still live in poverty, fearful of deportation. The Red Cross estimates that immigrants working in agriculture or fishing make an average of only $370 a month, while local citizens make $958.
  9. Some Comorians who leave the country will flee to France, although at much fewer rates. In 2016, 294 Comorians applied for asylum in France. Only 16 percent of applications were accepted.
  10. Over 150,000 people with Comorian citizenship live abroad, largely in France, where they can find better access to jobs, education and healthcare.

These facts about refugees from the Comoros Islands illustrate a situation that is in dire need of a solution. The international community must take a stand in assisting to lift the Cormorian people out of a circle of poverty and deportation.

Selasi Amoani

Photo: Flickr

Senegal Poverty Rate
Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, has a population of about 13 million people. Nearly half of the Senegalese population—46.7 percent, to be exact—are living in poverty. The following 10 facts explain and give context for the poverty rate in Senegal:

  1. The poverty rate in Senegal is determined in terms of consumption. Estimates of consumption per household are divided by the number of adults in the household. This number excludes children, who are assumed to consume less than adults. From here, a minimum acceptable standard of consumption is calculated and individuals below this level of consumption are considered poor.
  2. Geographic disparities exist between rural areas and Dakar, the capital city and the largest city in Senegal. In rural areas, 66 percent of residents are considered poor, compared to 25 percent of residents in Dakar. Additionally, the general poverty line in Dakar is almost two times higher than it is in rural areas.
  3. As of 2011, 38 percent of Senegal’s population was living on $1.90 or less per day.
  4. As of 2016, Senegal’s GNI per capita was $950.
  5. Senegal’s economy relies on industries such as mining, construction, agriculture, fishing and tourism, but it also heavily relies on foreign aid and remittances. Nearly 75 percent of the population works in the agriculture sector, which is regularly threatened by inclement weather such as drought and climate change.
  6. Senegal has a poor economy and, as a result, many Senegalese people emigrate to other countries. An economic crisis in 1970 ignited migration, which had accelerated by 1990. Many migrants left for Libya and Mauritania for opportunities in their thriving oil industries. Others left for more developed countries such as France, Italy and Spain for other economic opportunities.
  7. Senegal’s GDP rose at an average of 4.5 percent each year from 1995 to 2005. After 2005, however, while the rest of Africa enjoyed economic growth, Senegal’s economy started to decline. From 2005 to 2011, Senegal’s economy rose at an average rate of 3.3 percent. Decline in economic growth, especially during this period, can be attributed to drought, floods, rising fuel prices and the global financial crisis.
  8. The World Bank reported that GDP growth is too low for significant poverty reduction in Senegal.
  9. The fertility rate in Senegal is almost 4.5 children per woman. Young people comprise a large portion of the population at 60 percent of the Senegalese population. Additionally, Senegal has an illiteracy rate of 40 percent and a high unemployment rate of 12.7 percent, both of which provide dim outlooks for Senegalese youth. According to the Hunger Project, 22 percent of children ages five to 14 are working and not attending school.
  10. Unlike many countries facing extreme poverty, Senegal has one of the most stable governments in Africa and is considered a model for democracy in Africa. Since its independence from France in 1960, Senegal has elected four presidents and has witnessed three peaceful political transitions.

Despite the fact that the poverty rate in Senegal is high, many projects have been implemented to reduce the poverty rate. President Macky Sall unveiled the Emerging Senegal Plan (ESP), which strives to prioritize economic reforms and growth. The International Monetary Fund is providing assistance for the ESP from 2015 to 2017.

In an attempt to take a fresh look at poverty, Senegal’s national statistics office distributed the second Senegal Poverty Monitoring Survey. The World Bank, the Canadian government and the World Food Programme provided financial support. The survey, however, has room for error, because it is heavily dependent on the time of year that residents fill it out, as consumption levels vary based on the harvest.

Furthermore, microfinance has begun to play a key role in reducing poverty in very poor countries, such as Senegal. This program has allowed very poor individuals who are excluded from traditional banking to obtain microloans. The Hunger Project introduced the Microfinance Program (MFP) in Senegal, which strives to incorporate female farmers and entrepreneurs to give them a larger voice in the community. Three of the MFPs in Senegal have been approved by the government to operate as rural banks. MFPs provide credit and savings programs and have allowed many farmers to move beyond exclusively subsistence farming.

Economic growth will be the key component in reducing poverty in Senegal. These projects from the Senegalese government and various organizations hope to spark economic growth and help reduce the poverty rate in Senegal.

Christiana Lano

Photo: Google

Tajikistan Poverty RateAs of 2017, the Tajikistan poverty rate is 32 percent, meaning that 32 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. Additionally, 3.7 percent of people live on less than $1.90 a day, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Tajikistan has one of the highest poverty rates of central and west Asian nations. It is currently third, following Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

The current poverty rate is only slightly higher than that of 2015, when it was at 31.5 percent. Over the last five years, the Tajikistan poverty rate has hovered around the low 30 percent range.

Notable strides have been made since Tajikistan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. According to UNICEF, the Tajikistan poverty rate was above 70 percent in the early 2000s. However, it remains one of the poorest countries in western Asia.

Poverty in Tajikistan has a particularly significant effect on children, large families with multiple children, and families in rural areas. For every 1,000 babies born, 39 die before their first birthday.

The poorest people in the country live in the rural Khation region. Here, 78 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. The primary cause of rural poverty is a reliance on agricultural activities that do not provide an adequate income.

Tajikistan is currently the largest remittance-dependent country in the world. In 2012, it was the top receiver of remittances from Russia. Today, remittances make up over half of Tajikistan’s GDP (52 percent in 2013). The majority of families in Tajikistan have a migrant member of the household. In general, remittances have had a positive impact on reducing child poverty. They have been shown to improve living conditions for children, especially in terms of nutrition and morbidity rates.

The World Bank’s solutions for reducing poverty in Tajikistan are geared primarily towards private sector development, specifically private investment and private sector-led growth. An increase in both areas, and especially in agriculture, are represented in the World Bank’s ongoing Country Partnership Strategy (CPS). The organization has highlighted the need for a more “competitive” and “transparent” business environment. The movement of goods across borders to regional markets needs to be made easier as well.

Several achievements in the fiscal years of 2011 and 2013 have helped combat poverty in Tajikistan. This includes the implementation of a “single window” that simplifies import and export procedures, as well as the implementation of a revised tax code simplifying tax reporting procedures. These results and others are evidence that growth and solutions are underway in Tajikistan.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Slovenia
Before the 1991 formation of the official state of Slovenia, a country in central Europe, shifting boarders, names, Habsburg and communist rule pervaded the landscape. At the time of its independence, the country welcomed a multiparty democratic political system and experienced an economic prosperity that attracted hundreds of thousands of migrants to the region. Slovenia is now a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. In such a young country, human rights are still developing. Below are five facts about human rights in Slovenia:

  1. In 2017 alone, Slovenia committed to accepting 567 asylum-seekers, 124 of whom were from Greece and Italy.
  2. The National Assembly in Slovenia passed the Protection against Discrimination Act in April 2017. In coordination with EU anti-discrimination law, the Act combats discrimination against gender identity and expression, social status and health. The Act also reinforced the Advocate of the Principle of Equality, which is an independent anti-discrimination body for hearing cases and offering assistance to victims of discrimination.
  3. Slovenia recently amended its constitution to include the right to drinking water. Water must be used as a source of drinking water for Slovenes before being used for any other purpose. Water resources are a public good, not a tradable commodity.
  4. Some groups have less access to human rights in Slovenia than others. Discrimination against Roma is an ongoing issue in Slovenia. Many Roma live in inadequate, segregated housing settlements without access to water, sanitation, electricity or public transportation.
  5. Slovenia has the highest recorded number of human rights violations per capita of any European country. The country has a record of 148 human rights violations per million people. Slovenia lost 94 percent of its cases in the European Court of Human Rights. Most of the violations concern the right to trial within a reasonable time and the right to effective legal remedy.

Human rights in Slovenia still require much development, as it is a relatively young country. Fortunately, Slovenia’s short history allows for the easier reformation of social and political systems.

Sophie Nunnally

10 Facts About Benin Refugees
Benin is a French-speaking West African nation, home to the Vodun (Voodoo) religion, established in 1960. Benin is a country in which Beninese have fled their own country to seek asylum in other countries, while also accepting refugees from neighboring countries. Here are 10 facts about Beninese refugees:

  1. The Beninese government cooperates with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers on their rights and basic needs within Benin.
  2. U.N. agencies in Benin joined efforts with the Beninese government to provide refugee-hosting families with assistance and to reinforce social infrastructures such as schools and health facilities for the new arrivals.
  3. In 2016, 710 people fled Benin and applied for asylum in other countries. This corresponds to approximately 0.007 percent of all residents of Benin.
  4. The most desired destination countries for Beninese refugees to flee have been Italy, Germany and the United States. The most successful refugees from Benin have been in Canada and in Italy.
  5. Refugees have put in applications for asylum in Italy, Germany, the United States, France, Belgium, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Spain and Morocco. However, overall, 96 percent of these asylum applications have been rejected.

While many Beninese people left Benin, many people have also sought out Benin to seek asylum from their own countries.

  1. More than 200,000 Togolese (from Togo in West Africa) have gone into exile, while most reached neighboring countries such as Ghana and Benin seeking asylum.
  2. After the recent election in Togo, a total of 26,154 people left Togo and sought asylum in Ghana and Benin, according to the United Nations.
  3. Due to the influx of Togolese refugees into Benin, the country urged the international community to send $6.5 million in aid.
  4. According to the United Nations, most of the refugees in Benin are “living with family and friends, with UNHCR providing transport for new arrivals who wish to stay with relatives.”
  5. In 2015, there were 530 refugees in Benin, which was a drastic drop from prior years.

The mid-2000s brought a surge of Togolese refugees into Benin, while at the same time some Beninese sought asylum in other countries. As of 2016, the number of refugees in Benin had drastically dropped and continues to stay at a low amount. These 10 facts about Beninese refugees show how political situations affect a number of asylum seekers.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Norway
Norway, officially known as the Kingdom of Norway, is located between Finland, Russia, Skagerrak and Denmark. With a population of over 5.2 million people, Norway is a member of the European Economic Area. Norway is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and is considered to be one of the richest countries in Europe. Below are eight facts about the poverty rate in Norway.

8 Facts About the Poverty Rate in Norway

  1. Norway had an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in 2016 and was ranked 48th on a list of worldwide unemployment rates. The rate dropped 0.2 percent from 2015 to 2016.
  2. Although Norway is considered to be a wealthy country, 7.5 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line.
  3. The richest 10 percent of the population in Norway controls 21.2 percent of the entire nation’s wealth. The poorest 10 percent of the population controls only 3.8 percent of the whole country’s wealth.
  4. Norway lowered its oil prices in 2015, which caused an increase in the country’s unemployment rate and slowed down the growth of its GDP in 2016.
  5. Many immigrants in Norway live in poverty. According to recent research, 36 percent of immigrant children live in poverty in Norway, while only five percent of children with Norwegian parents do.
  6. The main cause of poverty among immigrants is that many immigrants are unable to apply their education and work experience they gain from their home country to their new careers in Norway.
  7. The poverty among children is a direct cause of lower education rates. Most immigrant children end up failing at the workplace and struggling with the same poverty problem.
  8. Norway’s government has expressed a willingness to increase public spending from the sovereign wealth fund to help prevent a recession.

Although Norway is considered to be one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, poverty is still a problem in the country, especially among immigrants. The Norwegian government will need to pay more attention to immigrants’ living conditions in the future in order to make changes and reduce the poverty rate in Norway.

Mike Liu

Hunger in Palau

For 18 years, the Republic of Palau, an island country in Micronesia, has worked with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to improve the lives of families living below the poverty line. Together, the government and the FAO are combatting issues of hunger in Palau in the following ways.

7 Ways the FAO is Tackling Hunger in Palau

  1. Palau first partnered with the FAO in 1999. The cooperation between the country and the FAO to reduce hunger has helped increase production and productivity of farming systems, and contributes primarily to support local food production.
  2. Palau has received assistance from the FAO through the 2013-2017 Country Programming Framework (CPF) for the Pacific sub-region. The four-year plan focuses on improving legislation, food quality and safety and production of ecologically sustainable agriculture in 14 Pacific Island countries. In Palau, these plans are priorities for the National Master Development Plan 2020 and the Medium Term Development Strategy 2009-2014.
  3. Goals for the FAO CPF for Palau include robust legislative and strategic planning frameworks, increased production of agriculture and aquaculture and improved market access.
  4. To support local food production, the FAO has been working diligently to develop policy and planning for the country’s fisheries. Seafood is a primary food source in Palau, and many people find employment in the marine sector.
  5. Additionally, the FAO has sought to strengthen the country’s agriculture sector in connection with the tourism industry and domestic markets. With approval from Palau’s Bureau of Agriculture and the Tourism Office, the plan will also increase farm management and marketing.
  6. Subsistence crop production of taro, cassava, sweet potato, banana and coconut is the main agricultural system in Palau. Both rural and urban women are the dominant growers and harvesters of these crops. Most of the harvest feeds families and the country’s small commercial sub-sector in local markets and farms.
  7. In 2015, the FAO held training events in Palau as part of targeting agriculture and domestic farming practices. Participants received training in basic farm financial analysis and recordkeeping. They also trained to be able to advise smaller, local farmers in marketing and value addition.

As a result of the partnership with the FAO, the government and local agricultural workers are striving more and more for a better life. With the progress already made, reducing hunger in Palau appears to be successful.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Unsplash

Human Rights in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy. A range of political parties participate in free and fair elections. Freedom of the press and human rights are, generally, constitutionally guaranteed and respected in practice.

However, in the recent past, reports on human rights in the United Kingdom show the development of some disturbing practices. Such trends were further complicated by Brexit U.K.’s vote out of the European Union (EU) and the victory of conservatives in the general election of June 2017, which changed the state of human rights in the country.

Here are nine of the most troubling facts about human rights in the United Kingdom that have gone unaddressed by the authorities.

  1. The new counter-terrorism policy seems to have trumped human rights and the freedoms of people. Prime Minister Theresa May, during her first party conference speech, said that left-wing human rights lawyers will no longer be allowed to pursue claims of victims of human rights by the British Armed Forces. Benjamin Ward from Human Rights Watch says “judging from the comments by Prime Minister May… you would think human rights are a dangerous and alien construct.”
  2. In 2015, the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom killed three people, including one British citizen, in a drone strike in al-Raqqa, Syria. In May 2016, the Joint Committee for Human Rights published its inquiry which called on the government to clarify the use of drones for targeted killings.
  3. In 2004, the U.S. and Libyan governments —with the knowledge and cooperation of the U.K. government—had subjected two Libyan families to rendition, torture and other ill treatment. In June 2016, the Crown Prosecution Service, the principal public criminal prosecuting agency in England and Wales, decided not to bring any criminal charges relating to the allegations by the families.
  4. Abuse and mistreatment by the British Armed Forces also loomed large in reports on human rights in the United Kingdom. In September 2016, it emerged that between 2005 and 2013 the Royal Military Police investigated approximately 600 cases of alleged mistreatment of those in detention in Afghanistan. Similarly, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team had concluded investigations into 2,356 of 3,389 allegations received. These allegations were related to abuse of Iraqi civilians by British Armed Forces personnel.
  5. Following Brexit and the conservative victory in recent U.K. elections, there has been a substantial increase in hate crimes. Member of Parliament Jo Cox, who had campaigned vigorously on behalf of asylum seekers, was murdered. There was also a marked rise in xenophobia and arson attacks against EU citizens, particularly those from Eastern Europe.
  6. Despite some progress, the U.K. government has generally not been immigrant-friendly lately. It passed the Immigration Act into law in May 2016, which “extended sanctions against landlords whose tenants’ immigration status disqualifies them from renting while increasing landlords’ eviction powers…” The government continued to resist calls for hosting more refugees, although it announced its plan to resettle up to 3,000 refugees from the Middle East and North Africa by 2020.
  7. Violence against women and girls remains a serious concern. There is a lack of funding of specialized services for women who have undergone domestic violence and abuse. Research by Women Aid shows that shelters were being forced to turn away two out of three survivors due to lack of space and resources. The rate among women who are ethnic minorities was four out of five.
  8. In November 2016, the U.K. Parliament approved the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA). This has entrenched and broadened the State’s surveillance powers both at home and abroad. The IPA increased the powers of public authorities to interfere with private communications and information. It also permitted “a broad range of vaguely defined interception, interference and data retention practices” without adequate safeguards for protecting the right to privacy.
  9. The government continued to refuse to set up an independent inquiry into the 1989 killing of Patrick Finucane—an Irish politician—although it was previously acknowledged that there had been a “collusion” in the case. This is one of the historical and structural issues of injustice, abuse and torture of Northern Ireland that has been systematically neglected for decades.

Aslam Kakar

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in PalauPalau is a small island of about 18,000 citizens located in the western Pacific Ocean. Among its neighbours are Guam, New Guinea and the Philippines. The Republic of Palau only recently gained sovereignty in October of 1994. The country is so small that there is only one major hospital that provides healthcare to all citizens; in fact, more remote parts of the country are served by field dispensaries of this hospital or by private clinics. Disease control is critical for Palau’s small population. The following are five facts about common diseases in Palau.

  1. As the developing nation of Palau undergoes political, economic and cultural transitions, health emphasis has shifted from communicable diseases to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs currently cause 78 percent of deaths in Palau – a number which is still expected to rise.
  2. Three out of four Palauan adults are overweight or obese, often leading to high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose – these are associated with hypertension and diabetes, respectively. However, hypertension and diabetes, already common diseases in Palau, are often under-diagnosed.
  3. One quarter of adult Palauan men smoke, and three of five Palauan adults chew tobacco. Tobacco usage is tied to the advent of four major NCDs: cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has partnered with the Palauan government to implement mechanisms for tobacco control and develop a five-year NCD plan.
  4. In Palau, over 40 percent of adult males binge drink, while young females binge drink even more than their adult counterparts. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to acquiring more than 60 different diseases. Among them are liver disease and cardiovascular disease, both common diseases in Palau. Fortunately, Palau has an NCD Prevention and Control Strategic Plan of Action that includes the goal of reducing harmful alcohol use by 10 percent by 2020.
  5. One major challenge to strengthening the health system in Palau is the lack of healthcare employees. Even the majority of existing healthcare workers are underprepared. This begs the solution of more thorough medical schools and training programs, as well as better access to necessary medical materials. Most important is a heightened recruitment process for the healthcare system. These are some of the goals of the WHO’s strategic plan for Palau.

Although it is disheartening to see development tied to a slew of new diseases and causes of death, NCDs are fortunately preventable as they are chiefly associated with lifestyle choices. Palau’s Ministry of Health is clearly aware of these health problems and is taking necessary and effective steps toward making progress in controlling them, including developing a comprehensive five-year plan.

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Google

Vaccines in UgandaUganda is an African country that has made huge strides in recent years in terms of vaccination and immunization coverage. Vaccines in Uganda have become more available to children in the last two decades and new vaccines have been developed and implemented into the country’s routine programs. Despite this, coverage for certain diseases still lags behind other African countries. Here are eight facts about vaccines in Uganda:

  1. In 2012, Uganda launched a nationwide HPV vaccine to help fight the country’s most common form of cancer. Cervical cancer is three times more common in Uganda than the global average. Uganda’s Ministry of Health helped roll out the new vaccine program, launching in several different school districts to raise awareness about the disease.
  2. Uganda achieved 90 percent child immunization coverage for certain diseases in 2014, and since then, coverage has risen to as high as 98 percent.
  3. The last polio case was seen in Uganda in 2010. Uganda plans to fully eradicate the disease by 2018, and will replace the oral polio vaccine with a more effective injectable one using a $1.5 million grant from the Ministry of Health.
  4. Uganda experienced a Yellow Fever outbreak in April of 2016, with 30 confirmed cases and seven deaths. The country’s rapid response team collected samples, confirmed cases and collected and referred samples to the Uganda Virus Research Institute to help quell the spread of the disease. Uganda is located on the “Yellow Fever belt” of Africa and is a high-risk country for transmission of the Yellow Fever virus.
  5. In 2014, Uganda introduced a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to stave off pneumonia in both childhood and adulthood. Despite increased introduction of vaccines in Uganda, diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis remain a threat due to under-immunization.
  6. DTP3 coverage in Uganda has increased by 14 percent in the last 11 years, from 64 percent to 78 percent. Uganda aims to achieve 80 percent DTP3 coverage, though they have struggled to increase coverage in recent years and lag behind other African countries such as Kenya.
  7. Over 90 percent of Uganda’s immunization programs are funded by donors and nonprofit organizations. One of the organizations with the strongest impact has been the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). They have contributed more than $300 million since 2000.
  8. Thanks to a new rotavirus vaccine, Uganda estimates 70,000 lives will be saved and over 300,000 hospital admissions may be avoided between 2016 and 2035.

After revamping its vaccination program in the early 2000s, Uganda has made significant progress in curbing the spread of disease. While there are still areas to be improved, vaccines in Uganda have saved thousands of lives thus far and have improved the health of the country.

Nicholas Dugan

Photo: Flickr