Posts


As the Syrian refugee crisis continues to become the worst refugee crisis in recorded history (beating the 4.6 million Afghans who fled in 1992), it might be beneficial to know about refugees in Argentina, one of the most refugee-accepting countries.

  1. High wages, economic prosperity, a good public education system and a liberal legal framework brought many European immigrants to Argentina between 1870 and 1914.  By the start of World War I, Argentina was one-third European.
  2. Although fewer in number, Europeans continued to immigrate to Argentina between the two World Wars and throughout the post-World War II era. However, by the end of 1960, most European migration to Argentina halted.
  3. With the ending of migration from Europe, regional migrant numbers became more significant. Interest in the job opportunities and a relatively beneficial currency exchange rate brought many regional migrants in the 1990s. Oddly enough, this became an issue as Argentina’s laws were increasingly restrictive, leaving many migrants susceptible to abuse.
  4. By the end of the decade, this led to a degree of contempt between natural-born Argentinians and migrants or refugees. The degree of the contempt was so harsh that even legislation denounced irregular migrants, and trade unions claimed they were stealing jobs.
  5. Argentina formally switched course, though, and signed a regional agreement, along with Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. The agreement recognizes the right to migrate, provides equal treatment for foreigners and the right to family reunification. It also established the “Patria Grande” program, granting residency and creating a process for foreigners to become permanent residents.
  6. Argentina signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2005, dictating the guidelines for the admission of refugees in Argentina. Among the criteria for resettlement in Argentina are that immigrants are survivors of torture or violence, women at risk, or women with children or families with strong integration potential.
  7. Before refugees in Argentina are considered for visas, relatives or other Argentinian citizens must vouch for them. The process kicks off with a letter of invitation sent to the refugee family.
  8. In July 2016, Argentina announced it would accept 3,000 Syrian refugees.
  9. By making this announcement, Argentina was the first country to assist the European Union with the Syrian refugee crisis.
  10. On April 7, 2017, an international non-governmental organization, Blue Rose Compass, announced it would provide 1,000 university scholarships to young women, ages 18 through 34, who are Syrian refugees. The scholarships will grant the women humanitarian visas to Argentina and eventually allow them to register as citizens.

Hopefully, as the Syrian refugee crisis persists, Argentina will continue to represent itself as a role model for countries accepting refugees.

James Hardison

Photo: Flickr

Tropical Diseases
Neglected tropical diseases are transmitted diseases caused by parasites, and are usually found in tropical and subtropical regions. They mostly affect people in poverty who live in unsanitary conditions. Most of these neglected tropical diseases can be easily prevented with treatments and vaccinations that are affordable.

Lymphatic Filariasis
More than 1.3 billion people across 72 countries might be at risk for this disease, and more than 120 million people are infected by it. Lymphatic filariasis is caused by infections from parasites called filarial worms and leads to abnormal enlargements of body parts which cause great pain. The disease is better known as elephantiasis. There has been some success in stopping the spread of the disease by using preventive chemotherapy. The disease can also be treated with a care package that alleviates pain and prevents any more disfigurement.

Onchocerciasis (River Blindness)
The River Blindness disease gets its name from the black flies that are found in fast-flowing streams and rivers. Infections cause blindness and skin disease. Ninety percent of cases occur in Africa with a lot of cases in Latin America and Yemen. Long-term skin damage and blindness can be prevented with a medicine called ivermectin.

Schistosomiasis (Snail Fever)
Schistosomiasis gets the nickname “snail fever” from freshwater snails carrying the disease. Children can be highly susceptible to the disease when they swim and fish in infested waters. Snail fever has spread in a lot of poor areas in Africa because of migrations and population movements, but the World Health Organization has worked to spread awareness and treat infections. The WHO even implemented campaigns to distribute praziquantel which can be a large-scale treatment of schistosomiasis.

Ascariasis (Roundworm Infection)
Ascariasis is one of the most common neglected tropical diseases, infecting more than one billion people per year and causing 60,000 deaths each year. The disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm called Ascaris lumbricoides. More than one hundred worms could infect a human at a time. The earthworm eggs can be accidentally ingested through contaminated food, water and soil. Some symptoms can be minor such as coughing, loss of appetite and a fever. In severe cases, it can cause malnutrition, intestinal blockage, and pneumonia. There have been companies that have been donating to help fight the disease such as Johnson and Johnson pledging to donate 200 million tablets of mebendazole by 2020 and GlaxoSmithKline donating one billion tablets of Albendazole a year.

Trachoma
Trachoma is another eye disease that is a lot more severe than River Blindness. It is one of the most infectious causes of blindness and affects about 1.9 million people. Trachoma is either spread through physical contact with the eye and or nose discharge from other people. Fleets of flies have been known to carry the disease as well. This neglected tropical disease mostly affects women and young children in poor rural areas in Africa and Asia. The World Health Assembly has adopted Resolution WHA51.11 which is geared towards eliminating the disease by 2020.

With continued intervention from governments, NGOs and corporations, these neglected tropical diseases can be effectively targeted and eliminated, ensuring lives of enhanced productivity and prosperity for millions of people around the world.

Emma Majewski

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Latin America
Hunger and poverty in Latin America, including Mexico, Central and South America, have decreased since the 1990s and early 2000s. However, hunger and malnourishment continue to be ongoing issues as a result of poverty.

In 2015, 28 percent of Latin Americans suffered from impoverished conditions, as compared to 44 percent in 2002. Although the numbers had improved since 2002, there was a stall in improvements in 2013.

As of 2017, studies show that 130 million people in South America are currently living in a state of poverty across various countries. These countries include Honduras, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

One major cause of the poverty and instability suffered among individuals living in these countries is due to the disparity between socio-economic classes. According to the Huffington Post, some things that can be done to decrease the rate of poverty and increase the well-being of persons living in Latin America include “comprehensive poverty reduction programs” specifically directed at increasing labor incomes, improving social programs and configuring ways to “integrate early childhood development into the social development.”

Additionally, while Latin America was once a large producer of commodities, this changed after the recession in 2008. Countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela have faced greater economic losses over the past year. For example, Brazil faced severe economic hardship in 2016 due to failed policy-making strategies and an overall inadequate political environment, which led to higher inflation and lower income for businesses and families.

The economy in Venezuela has also left much to be desired. Last year, the country faced a free fall in oil production, which then led to heightened inflation and negative economic effects on the overall quality of life for Venezuelans.

Argentinian economist Raul Benitiz Manaut told Inter Press News Agency that the real problem surrounding hunger and poverty in Latin America is a “problem of access, not production.” Likewise, he has vocalized the importance of wealthier countries taking the initiative to reach out and help countries whose citizens are suffering from hunger and malnourishment.

In 2013, Harvard University conducted a study and offered some useful solutions that can help reduce poverty in Latin America. One solution offered by the university addressed the issue of low productivity in Latin countries and the need for the public and private sectors to work together to resolve this issue. For example, a project known as “Mundo Vex Tenda” was created in Brazil in 2010 and funded by the United States Inter-American Development Bank. The project focuses on providing individuals running small businesses in Brazil with the opportunity to learn effective business-related skills in areas such as financial literacy, marketing and food safety practices.

Additionally, Harvard researchers stated that “governments must root out violence and invest in specialized infrastructure; create transparent, accountable mechanisms that decentralize decision-making; and direct resources to reinvigorating the private sector, short of protecting it from competition.”

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr

Brazil Refugees
As the fifth largest country by both area and population, Brazil is the largest country in South America and Latin America and receives more refugees than any other country in the region. Brazil is also the only country in the Americas to have Portuguese as the official language.

The country is both a regional power in Latin America and a middle power in international affairs. Due to its recognition as an emerging global power, Brazil has been identified as a shelter to refugees and migrants. Here are 10 facts about Brazil refugees:

  1. As of 2016, Brazil has about 2,100 refugees living in the country.
  2. Brazil receives more refugees from Syria than any other country in Latin America.
  3. As of 2013, Brazil issued 8,000 humanitarian visas under more simplified conditions to allow survivors of the Syrian war to claim asylum in the country.
  4. Due to these visas, Brazil has had approximately 2,000 refugees settle in the country.
  5. Brazil refugees are able to receive informal, temporary employment in the services and retail industry.
  6. Brazil refugees are considered by some to be an unnecessary cost and security threat due to the country’s deep economic recession.
  7. Refugees claiming asylum in Brazil have higher education than the average Brazilian.
  8. The Brazilian government wants to limit the intake of refugees due to the country’s economic woes.
  9. Brazilian refugees will now be faced with the country’s recalibration of its foreign policy.
  10. Brazil’s refugees have the right to work, access to education and health care.


In recent years, Brazil has been praised for the country’s humanitarian efforts and openness to asylum seekers. As of recently, questions of the country’s ability to aid refugees have plagued the government amid the country distancing itself from developing nations and experiencing the worst recession in its memory.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

 Guatemala
Guatemala is a center for disease monitoring in Latin America. The Center for Disease Control Central American Regional Office was placed in Guatemala City in 2005. Here are four of the top diseases in Guatemala.

  • Lower Respiratory Infections
    Lower respiratory infections killed about 10,000 people in Guatemala in 2012. It’s possible that lower respiratory infections in Guatemala and other developing nations come from air pollution from solid fuels.
  • Neonatal and Nutritional Issues
    Neonatal and nutritional issues killed about 600,000 Guatemalans in 2012. Still, Guatemala is working on fighting against it. In 2005, the government strengthened the Extension of Coverage program to provide basic healthcare to even the most vulnerable and impoverished people in rural communities. This program included the World Bank’s Maternal-Infant Health and Nutrition Project, which along with other programs helped reduce malnutrition in children under two years old and helped with other issues related to maternal health.
  • HIV, TB and Malaria
    About 2,000 people died of HIV, TB or malaria in 2012. Sex workers, sexually active gay men, prison inmates and street children are among those most at risk of contracting AIDs, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Guatemala has adapted prevention standards from the WHO and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to test for and treat HIV.Tuberculosis is spread very quickly in overcrowded areas. One can obtain tuberculosis through contaminated air or certain milk products. Malaria is most present in low altitude areas (not Guatemala City or Antigua). It is spread by the anopheles mosquito. People may get bitten by these mosquitoes without even realizing it because the mosquitoes are silent and do not leave bite marks.
  • Zika
    Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should have the most concern about Zika because it causes birth defects. Almost 1,000 pregnant women were suspected of having the Zika virus, and 275 women were confirmed with having it in 2016.


These are just four of the top diseases in Guatemala. The Center for Disease Control and other organizations are working to alleviate these and other diseases in the nation.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr

Multidimensional Poverty
Low-income families in Mexico have struggled for years to acquire and maintain affordable housing. In fact, 34 percent of Mexican families live in poor-quality homes, many of which are self-constructed. Patrimonio Hoy was created in 1998 to address this problem. The program provides low-income families with building materials, microfinance, technical assistance and logistical support so that they can acquire livable housing.

Patrimonio Hoy is a subsidiary of the multinational Mexican cement manufacturer CEMEX. After joining the Business Call to Action in 2014, its goals are to offer a market-based solution to meet the needs of low-income families, provide at least 125,000 low-income families in Mexico with affordable housing and replicate the model in other developing countries.

How it Works

Technical Assistance

A Patrimonio Hoy architect visits a family in their home to assess their house structure, discuss their building plans and evaluate their financial situation. After the assessment, the architect develops the building plan. This plan includes the design type and quantity of material needed to meet the required construction standards.

Financing

Families receive customized financing products according to their financial needs. New customers can choose a schedule with multiple deliveries of building materials. This schedule is then customized to each customer’s needs, ability to pay and the desired construction timeline.

Building Materials and Construction Services

Patrimonio Hoy has created additional demand for construction materials. This, in turn, has enabled local distributors to increase their sales without any additional investments.

In addition to helping customers acquire proper building materials, Patrimonio Hoy supervises the entire construction process. The program acts as a professional contractor and manages the legalization of land titles. This lightens the administrative burden on low-income families.

How Patrimonio Hoy Addresses Poverty

Patrimonio Hoy is addressing Millennium Development Goal 1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The program improves the lives of more than two million individuals through more than 3.3 million square meters of home construction. It also empowers families and encourages local economic development.

Patrimonio Hoy also addresses Millennium Development Goal 3: to promote gender equality and empower women. The program has trained more than 3,000 women promoters and their families in low-income communities.

Patrimonio Hoy also increases local employment and improves the local public school infrastructure. This brings greater responsibility in households and encourages better learning and health for children.

Expansion and Success

More than 750,000 low-income families in Latin America have benefitted from the project. Patrimonio Hoy has attained national coverage in Mexico (29 states, 56 cities) and has expanded across Latin America to Costa Rica, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Panama.

Patrimonio Hoy is constantly innovating and creating new business initiatives to further improve the quality of neighborhoods. Already the program has empowered families, and improved their general quality of life, ultimately preparing participating countries for steady economic and social growth.

Liliana Rehorn

Photo: Flickr

Costa Rica _Poverty
The end of 2016 signaled positive signs for Costa Rica as its poverty rate registered at the lowest rate in seven years, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses.

Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination, drawing more than 2.6 million visitors in 2015, but many visitors are surprised to see the heavily impoverished areas around the country. While the nation has reduced its homicide rates and experienced moderate economic growth, the poverty rate climbed to a four-year high of 20 percent in 2014, it is still suffering from deep wealth disparity. The inflation rate in Costa Rica is relatively low, but it disproportionally impacts the poorest in the country.

Costa Rica has one of the highest rated education systems in Latin America, and it ranks higher than its neighbors in both social capital and health. However, despite these positive gains, the poverty rate remained a challenge. In 2015, the nation launched the National Strategy for the Reduction of Poverty from the Bridge to Development.

Developed with the cooperation of eight different public agencies and social aid programs, the Bridge to Development aims to reduce poverty and emphasize human rights; its goals included linking social institutions and combining the various social welfare programs into one cohesive unit. Prior to this system, aid was scattered among 30 different programs creating both confusion and overlap of the programming money. By consolidating into one program, the target was to reduce the uncertainty and prevent fraud.

In addition, Costa Rica’s economic growth is creating more opportunities to escape poverty; increased economic activity and an uptick in goods and services have generated more jobs and reduced the unemployment rate. The combination of this growth and the social policies is a positive development for the country.

In 2016, more than 10,000 households rose above the poverty line, and the poverty level declined 1.2 percent. Another 10,000 households were able to move out of the category of extreme poverty. The results are promising, and the country is committed to building on those returns going forward.

Costa Rican officials are proud of the gains that have been made; by steadily lowering the poverty rate, they hope to reinforce the nations’ reputation as one of the best-developed nations in Latin America. However, the nation still has work to do in order to reach its goals of social inclusion and enhanced human rights, but it is a hopeful success story as 2017 begins.

Jennifer Graham

Photo: Flickr

"Thomas Rhett and Friends" Concert aids 147 Million Orphans
Thomas Rhett emerged in 2016 as one of country music’s notable rising stars. This year he released his sophomore studio album Tangled Up, which spawned multiple hits including “T-Shirt,” “Star of the Show” and CMA song of the year, “Die a Happy Man.”

Off stage, however, Rhett’s success is supplemented by his enthusiastic support of relief projects for impoverished communities in developing nations. Following the conclusion of his ‘Six String Circus Tour’ co-headlining Jason Aldean, Rhett hosted the first annual “Thomas Rhett and Friends” charity concert benefiting 147 Million Orphans.

On Twitter, Rhett often calls attention to 147 Million Orphans, an organization sponsoring trips to Africa and Latin America with a purpose of building up local communities. Beginning in 2009, the organization’s original mission was to provide food, water, medicine and shelter to children in Uganda.

However, it has since expanded to Haiti and Honduras with remarkable achievements such as funding the construction of a large-scale medical center in Gressier, Haiti. According to its website, the organization accomplishes its goals by focusing on sustainable income projects that encourage healthier technologies and family preservation.

As a longtime supporter of the organization, Rhett announced a charity concert held on the evening of October 4, 2016. Tickets were limited and hopeful attendees raised money by bidding for the chance to take part in the event. Before the concert, guests participated in a silent auction to bid on exclusive items such as autographed guitars and appropriately customized t-shirts. Guests then arrived at The Old School in Nashville for dinner and drinks, a private concert, a personal meet and greet and an after-party bonfire.

Drawing additional publicity, Rhett’s performance was accompanied by fellow musicians: Dierks Bentley, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, Walker Hayes, Shane McAnally and Russell Dickerson. With all proceeds benefiting his charity, the concert all in all raised over $250,000.

Further, Rhett’s wife Lauren Atkins is an avid supporter of the organization. Atkins is professionally trained as a nurse, and she frequently embarks on mission trips herself to deliver medical supplies, new mattresses, and bed covers to the aforementioned nations.

Most recently, the couple also celebrated Giving Tuesday in Kenya by raising awareness of a wildlife refuge. Rhett then announced a few dates for his solo “Home Team Tour” beginning in spring 2017. While a follow-up “Thomas Rhett and Friends” concert has not been formalized yet, it is clear that the causes in developing nations will remain an important component of the Atkins’ family philanthropy.

Zachary Machuga

Photo: Flickr

Violence Fuels Honduran Refugees
While many in the U.S. have begun focusing on the Syrian refugee crisis and the horrors committed by the Islamic State (IS) and the Assad regime, the U.S. still has a major refugee crisis along its southern border.

For decades, millions of migrants have traveled from South and Central America to the U.S. in search of better work opportunities and social benefits for themselves and their families. Recently, however, the migrant crisis has transformed into a refugee crisis, with many also traveling to the U.S. to escape the dangers of their home countries.

With the U.S. as the world’s biggest customer, a thriving drug market worth more than $300 billion has fueled the violence between gangs, each fighting for territory and the rights to sell drugs. In countries dictated by drug trades, government corruption also becomes inevitable, with police sometimes working hand in hand with gangs.

Especially in Honduras, these drug wars have displaced thousands, destroying neighborhoods and forcing their inhabitants to move north. Thousands of Honduran refugees have traveled to the U.S. in search of new lives.

In the past few years, however, U.S. investment in countries like Honduras has helped reduce violence. The American government has put money and resources into programs that dissuade youth from joining gangs and replenish impoverished neighborhoods.

Here are 10 facts about Honduras and Honduran refugees:

  1. One hundred and seventy-four thousand people, four percent of the country’s households, have been displaced because of violence.
  2. In 2011, Honduras was the murder capital of the world, with 91.6 murders per 100,000 people. In 2014, that number dropped to 66.
  3. In 2014, 18,000 unaccompanied Honduran children arrived at the U.S. border.
  4. This year, the U.S. has sent between $95 and $110 million in violence prevention funding to Honduras.
  5. In one pilot program, participants were deemed 77 percent less likely to commit crimes or abuse drugs and alcohol after a year of counseling, according to Creative Associates International.
  6. Because of fear and corruption, 96 percent of homicides do not end in a conviction in Honduras.
  7. There are about 23,000 gang members involved in police shootouts and turf wars daily.
  8. About 15,000 Hondurans applied for refugee status in 2015, double that of 2014.
  9. In 2014, 64.7 percent of unaccompanied minors received the asylum they applied for.
  10. For 2016, the U.S. has 3,000 refugee slots for applicants from Latin America and the Caribbean even though 9,000 people may be eligible.

While there is a lot of potential in the U.S. funded pilot programs, more money is necessary to enact change on a large scale. Although many may criticize the foreign aid the U.S. already gives as being too charitable, they must keep in mind the costs of receiving these refugees illegally and the cost of them making the journey north. By fixing the roots of the problem, the U.S. can prevent the symptoms from reaching its borders.

Because Honduras is filled with human rights violations, many would see the funding completely cut. This summer, government officials tried to pass a bill in Congress that would do so.

However, responding to the human rights issue by cutting funding to violence prevention may be most impractical and harmful. Although expensive, the best solution may be to continue funding violence prevention programs while beginning separate programs that address government abuse and corruption.

Henry Gao

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Poverty in Latin America
Within the past decade, 70 million people were able to escape poverty in Latin America due to economic growth and a lessened income gap. However, millions still remain in the cycle of poverty. Presented below is key data about poverty in Latin America.

 

10 Leading Facts on Poverty in Latin America

 

  1. One in five Latin Americans lives in chronic poverty conditions. Latin Americans account for 130 million of the nearly 500 million who live in chronic poverty worldwide.
  2. Poverty rates vary from country to country in the Latin American region. With estimated poverty rates floating around 10 percent, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile have the lowest chronic poverty rates. Meanwhile, Nicaragua with 37 percent and Guatemala with 50 percent have the highest chronic poverty rates in Latin America, which are well above the regional average of 21 percent.
  3. Poverty rates can also vary within a country. A single country can have both ends of the spectrum with the highest poverty rate that is eight times higher than the lowest. For example, Brazil has a chronic poverty rate of 5 percent in Santa Catarina, but 40 percent in Ceará.
  4. Poverty in Latin America encompasses both urban and rural areas. Most assume that rural areas have higher poverty rates than urban areas, like in Bolivia, where the amount of people living in rural poverty is 20 percentage points higher than those living in urban poverty. However, the number of urban poor is higher than the number of rural poor in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
  5. Poor Latin Americans lack access to basic health care services. Approximately 20 percent of the Latin American and Caribbean population lack access to health care due to their poverty conditions. The region also has high rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
  6. Those living in poverty in Latin America lack access to safe water and sanitation. The World Water Council reported that 77 million people lack access to safe water or live without a water source in their homes. Of the 77 million, 51 million live in rural areas and 26 million live in urban areas. An estimated 256 million rely on latrines and septic tanks as an alternative to basic sanitation.
  7. The lack of education in Latin America lowers prospects of rising out of poverty. One in 12 young people ages 15 to 24 have not completed primary school, and therefore lack the skills necessary to find decent jobs. The same age group represents 40 percent of the total number of unemployed in many Latin American countries. When they are employed, six out of 10 jobs are informal, lacking decent wages, contract agreements and social security rights.
  8. Limited economic opportunities keep the poor in poverty. The biggest factor that led to poverty reduction from 2004-2012 was labor income. The Huffington Post reported that in poor households every Latin American country had an average of 20 percent “fewer human resources to generate income” than non-poor households and those households who managed to escape poverty.
  9. Chronic poverty levels are falling. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of Latin Americans living on under $4 a day decreased from 45 percent to 25 percent. The Latin American population living on $2.5 per day fell from 28 percent to 14 percent.
  10. The falling poverty levels in Latin America can be attributed to improved public policy. Latin American governments created conditional cash transfers (CCT), which substituted subsidies for money transfers for the poor who invested in human capital beginning in the late 1990s. As a result, child attendance in schools has risen and families have more food and more diversity in diets.


In 2010, the middle-class population exceeded the low-income population for the first time in the region. However, with one-fifth of the population still in poverty, there is much work to be done.

Ashley Leon

Photo: Flickr