9 Facts About IDPs in Colombia
For more than 50 years, Colombia grappled with a civil war that left more than 220,000 dead and millions displaced. The protracted issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) continues in the country despite the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in rural Colombia. Here are nine facts about IDPs in Colombia.

9 Facts About IDPs in Colombia

  1. In 2019, there were approximately eight million IDPs in Colombia. This does not include the additional 1.7 million Venezuelan refugees in the country.
  2. There are still citizens being displaced since the peace agreement in 2016. As of 2019, the number of people of concern in Colombia has increased by 13%.
  3. The government lacks control of many rural regions of Colombia. Although FARC largely demobilized in 2016, there are other armed groups still controlling large swaths of the country that are perpetuating the IDP crisis. These groups are funded by the lucrative cocaine trade, which continues to thrive in unstable regions.
  4. Environmental impacts also play a role in the IDP situation. Colombia has the fourth-highest rate of deforestation in the world, a majority of which occurs in areas of origin for IDPs. Criminal elements and the government share responsibility for environmental degradation.
  5. Human rights activists are at risk. Since the 2016 Peace Accord, more than 400 human rights activists and environmental defenders have been killed in Colombia, many of which were from indigenous communities. These advocates are crucial in establishing crop substitution programs and helping resettle and empower IDPs.
  6. For IDPs living in urban areas, UNHCR and national NGOs have implemented the legalization of informal settlements. This has helped provide better access to government services, energy and the sewage system, along with lessening the stigma of not having ownership titles for housing. This UNHCR project has been ongoing since 2015 and has benefitted more than 24,000 IDPs.
  7. The Opción Legal NGO assists IDPs with reintegration into rural communities through legal means. Reintegration was included in the 2016 peace agreement but it is still in need of better implementation. With the help of funding from UNHCR, Opción Legal operates programs encouraging and strengthening political participation for IDPs. This NGO has assisted IDP populations in regions like Atlántico and Bolívar.
  8.  The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is supporting the implementation of the peace agreement. The agency is seeking out durable solutions to conflict, such as education and job training. The programs have benefitted more than 10,000 Colombians directly and 235,000 indirectly.
  9. USAID is working to build institutional trust in regions with high levels of IDPs. Vulnerable populations in addition to IDPs, such as women, community leaders, migrants and ethnic minorities, are all considered crucial populations for funding and empowerment. USAID also has a strategy to build capacity for youth leaders, which is viewed as a possible long-term solution for peace and self-reliance.

Looking Forward

The 2016 Peace Accord was a big step in working to improve livelihoods for millions of IDPs in Colombia. Although many challenges remain in implementation, the legal frameworks are in place for the country to continue toward its ultimate goals of peace and stability.

– Matthew Brown
Photo: Flickr

food insecurity in ethiopia
Despite the fact that Ethiopia has a stronger economy than many other countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, it still remains one of the world’s least developed countries. In 2017, Ethiopia ranked 173 out of 189 countries and territories in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI). Food insecurity contributes to a lack of development in Ethiopia.

Drought, Conflict, and IDPs

Drought is one of the principal sources of food insecurity in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is currently suffering from the lingering effects of past droughts. There have been two devastating droughts in Ethiopia since 2015, which has forced many out of their homes in search of food and basic services. Droughts are a primary factor in the creation of internal refugees, or internally displaced person (IDPs) in Ethiopia.

Currently, nearly three million Ethiopians are categorized as IDPs. In addition to drought, the number of IDPs has increased due to a surge in ethnic violence, particularly along the Oromiya-Somali regional border. Nearly 600,000 individuals from the Oromiya and Somali regions have become IDPs.

The combination of drought, displacement, violence and underdevelopment has resulted in widespread food insecurity in Ethiopia. Due to this, roughly 7% of the population relies on food aid. The U.S. Government has been heavily involved in battling food insecurity in Ethiopia. Currently, food insecurity and under-nutrition are two of the greatest economic hindrances in Ethiopia.

Here are five things you need to know about the United States’ involvement in addressing food insecurity in Ethiopia.

5 Ways the U.S. Helps Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

  1. “Feed the Future,” an initiative launched by the Obama Administration in 2010, has been one of the more successful programs in promoting food security in Ethiopia: Feed the Future worked in different areas in Ethiopia from 2013 to 2015 and reduced the prevalence of poverty in those areas by 12 percent. Additionally, in 2017, those who were reached by Feed the Future generated $40 million in agricultural sales and received $5.7 million in new private investment. The economy and food security in Ethiopia are closely intertwined because the nation’s economy is dependent on agriculture. Agriculture-led economic growth, therefore, has been one the primary missions of Feed the Future within Ethiopia.
  2. The US has focused on restoring Ethiopia’s potato and sweet potato supply due to its high source of Vitamin A as a means of reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia: In June 2016, The USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) supported the International Potato Center (CIP) to assist drought-affected farmers in planting potatoes and sweet potatoes. Due to this support, the CIP was able to provide sweet potato seeds to nearly 10,000 farmers and trained more than 11,300 men and women on various ways to incorporate this vitamin-rich vegetable into more of their meals. The USAID/OFDA continues to support programs that promote the development of critical agriculture, such as sweet potatoes, in Ethiopia.
  3. Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams (MHNTs) are working in Ethiopia to help manage issues of malnutrition: The USAID’s OFDA and UNICEF have partnered together to deploy MHNTs in order to provide malnutrition screenings, basic health care services, immunizations and health education. The team also offered patient referrals when necessary. In 2017, 50 MHNTs provided 483,700 individuals in the Afar and Somali regions of Ethiopia with life-saving health and nutritional services.
  4. Humanitarian assistance has been essential in reducing severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children: Although USAID provides resources to help treat SAM, 38 percent of children under five still have stunted growth due to malnutrition. As of March 2018, 31,066 children were admitted and treated for SAM. Approximately 30 percent of these cases were in the Somali region due to the region’s issue with ethnic violence and drought. Significantly more assistance is needed in the Somali region in order to sufficiently manage malnutrition.
  5. Humanitarian assistance has been one of the primary reasons Ethiopia has not entered into a state of emergency for food insecurity: Although increased rainfall and a reduction in disease outbreak have helped minimize food insecurity in Ethiopia, the country would be much worse off without the help of humanitarian aid. Currently, Ethiopia is in crisis, which is phase three of five on the food insecurity scale. The phases include minimal, stressed, crisis, emergency and famine. Experts from the Famine Early Warning Systems Networks report that “Ethiopia would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance.”

Looking Forward

The need for humanitarian aid will increase as Ethiopia’s population rapidly grows. Currently, Ethiopia ranks second in Africa for the number of refugees the country hosts. Nearly 100 percent of these refugees originate from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. Ethiopia currently hosts over 920,262 registered refugees and asylum seekers as of May 31, 2018.

The number of asylum seekers in Ethiopia will continue to grow because Ethiopia has an open-door asylum policy. As Ethiopia’s population continues to grow due to this policy, food sources will become increasingly strained. The need for humanitarian assistance to promote sustainable agriculture and farming practices, therefore, has become essential for reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia.

Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Somalia
Situated on the Horn of Africa and plagued by a history of instability, Somalia has fallen victim to crisis after crisis. The end result has created massive hunger in Somalia. Clan warfare, droughts, famines, and the presence of terror group al-Shabab have left much of the country vulnerable and without food.

10 Facts about Hunger in Somalia:

  1. Most recently, hunger in Somalia has worsened due to a two-year drought. Of the country’s 12.3 million people, 6.2 million are severely food insecure. In addition, almost three million cannot reach their daily food requirements.
  2. This is not the first hunger crisis to occur in the country. In 2011, an estimated quarter-million people died due to a severe famine.
  3. Somalia is not the only country currently suffering from a hunger crisis. Hunger levels worldwide are at their highest in decades. Four countries, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, are at risk of famine.
  4. Somalia has been attempting to gain stability since the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991. The country has been slowly rebuilding itself, with the establishment of a transitional government in 2012 and the election of a new president on February 8.
  5. Somalia has an infant mortality rate of 13.7 percent, the third-highest in the world. Malnutrition is largely to blame, according to UNICEF.

  1. The situation is worse in rural areas, as poor rainfalls have resulted in failing crops and water shortage. As a result, nearly three-quarters of the country’s livestock has died, which harms pastoralists’ livelihoods.
  2. The drought has reduced maize and sorghum harvests to about 25 percent of past averages. Food prices in Somalia have reached near-record levels.
  3. Hunger in Somalia is also high among internally displaced populations (IDPs). Approximately 638,000 of the 1,200,000 IDPs in Somalia are struggling to feed themselves. IDPs are on the move and suffer from loss of income and reduced access to social services.
  4. Somalia has one of the world’s lowest school enrollment rates. Just 42 percent of children — 36 percent are girls — are in school. The U.N. World Food Program operates a program that provides free school meals as a way to both improve attendance and address hunger in Somalia.
  5. “Humanitarian assistance has saved lives in the drought-affected north over the past year, but as the crisis spreads we have no time to lose,” Laurent Bukera, country director of the U.N. World Food Program told the U.N. News Service. The U.N. issued an appeal for 2017 for $864 million to provide assistance to Somalis. The U.N. World Food Program has also put together a $26 million assistance plan.

Hunger in Somalia has a detrimental impact on communities and future generations. The conflict hinders the country’s progress toward establishing stability. However, understanding the facts and conditions surrounding hunger in Somalia is an essential first step in becoming a part of the solution.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr

In 2013, conflicts came to a head and raged on in many parts of the world. From Sudan to Syria, civilians suffered the effects of war-torn territory and many have been forced to leave. The rate of refugees or Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) has hit a new high. The number of refugees around the world surpassed its previous high point around the second World War. Over 50 million people around the world qualify as refugees, with half of these being children.

The head of the U.N.’s refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, said in an interview that “We are witnessing a quantum leap in forced displacement in the world,” and if the 51.2 million displaced people were to form their own country, it would be the 24th most populous country in the world. With this many people struggling to find asylum, the reason for their refugee status comes into question.

There are no humanitarian acts that can stop this; aid can only go so far. Guterres has expressed serious concern for this, acknowledging that there are too many people that need help for the capacity of many humanitarian services. The problem cannot be covered with bandages anymore, and the root of the conflicts need to be addressed.

The increased tension in Central Africa, Iran, Ukraine and other countries in crisis threaten to push the displacement number higher than it currently is by the end of the 2014 calendar year.

Guterres notes that the conflicts have resounding effects, citing the fact that Iran and Pakistan still both host 2.5 million Afghan refugees and over 6 million people have been living in exile for at least five years, if not more. Conflict resolutions will not completely fix the problem, but it will serve as a small stepping stone to placing those who have been forced to flee their home countries.

Finding asylum for refugees around the world has proven itself more difficult than expected, with many Western countries tightening the borders and adding intense regulations that make it nearly impossible for refugees to find solace. Eighty-six percent of the world’s refugees are living in developing countries, shattering the idea that many find safety in developed countries like the United States, England or the like.

Safety is not guaranteed for refugees as their population rapidly increases. With little hope for the end of many current conflicts, it is likely the number of refugees for 2014 will surpass the current status with ease.

— Elena Lopez

Sources: New York Times, The Guardian, UN
Photo: The Guardian

internally displaced people
There are 33.3 million internally displaced people worldwide as of 2013 according to The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) in a report released mid-May.

The Global Overview 2014: people internally displaced by conflict and violence, the IDMC’s flagship annual report, was launched at an event co-organized by the IDMC, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The IDMC has been monitoring internal displacement figures since the late 90’s. The current numbers show 8.1 million newly displaced people in 2013, up 1.8 million from 2012.

Displacement occurs heavily in areas experiencing extreme conflict and violence, leaving the most unstable countries with the highest population of displaced people. Figures from the IDMC show the rankings of these areas as follows:

Countries with the largest displacement related to conflict and violence

  1. Syria (6.5 million)
  2. Columbia (5.7 million)
  3. Nigeria (3.3 million)
  4. DRC (2.9 million)
  5. Sudan (2.4 million)
  6. Iraq (2.1 million)
  7. Somalia (1.1 million)

As seen, 63 percent of the total displacement numbers come from Syria, Columbia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan. Syria passed Columbia as having the most internally displaced people (IDPs) last year and accounts for almost half of new displacements in 2013.

However, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region containing the highest number of internally displaced people since 2003. “These numbers show why it’s so vitally important that the international response to Syria should not be at the expense of displaced people in Africa or elsewhere,” says Antonio Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Currently, 12.5 million people are internally displaced in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a 55 percent increase in new displacements in the region from the previous year. The most problematic areas are the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Aside from being forced to migrate from their homes, IDPs suffer various health issues associated with the move as well. Displacement camps are often militarized and lack inadequate shelter. Proper health treatment is often inaccessible while living conditions are unsanitary.

Continuing conflict also makes it difficult for governments and humanitarians in the field to deliver aid. Conditions are so bad that the average displacement time for affected people is now 17 years, according to Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering,” urges Guterres, “Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative.”

A promising sign for positive change comes with the African Union’s Kampala Convention, the world’s first international treaty that legally binds states to assisting and protecting their IDPs. Five additional countries signed on this year alone.

The fact that internal displacement is an upward trend reveals an inherent flaw in the way the issue is being addressed. Comprehensive reform on the local, national and international approach is now being discussed as efforts increase to resolve the IDP crisis.

– Edward Heinrich

Sources: Internal-Displacement,Algazeera,The Chicago Citizen
Photo: FT Photo Diary