malnutrition in libya

Malnutrition impacts children all over the world, particularly those who are poor or who reside in poorer countries. In Libya, rates for children who experience stunting, wasting and are overweight — the three main effects of malnutrition — are all moderate to very high, indicating that the nation has a lot of work to do to decrease these numbers and improve nutrition and health.

Malnutrition in Libya is exacerbated by the prevalence of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Libya, as many attempt to use the nation as a crossing point to reach Europe. A recent analysis of migrant detention facilities has shown that malnutrition is prevalent in these centers.

Comparing Libya to Global Trends

Worldwide, 21.9 percent of children under five have stunted growth as a result of malnutrition, a significant decrease from 2000, when the rate was nearly 33 percent. Stunting refers to impaired cognitive skills that often lead to a decrease in school and work performance, negatively impacting children for the rest of their lives. Rates are highest in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where many countries continue to have a rate of 30 percent or higher.

Libya is just below the global average, with 21 percent of children experiencing stunting.

Wasting is the rapid loss of body weight due to malnutrition. Based on UNICEF estimates, 7.3 percent of children globally are wasted and 2.4 percent are severely wasted, with the highest rates in South Asia, followed by West and Central Africa. Rates in Libya are classified as medium, as 5 to 10 percent of children under 5 are wasted. This is comparable to the global average of 7.3 percent.

Complications of Malnutrition

Malnutrition can also cause children to be overweight. Overnutrition is a form of malnutrition that occurs when there is an imbalance in protein, energy and micronutrients in someone’s diet, often resulting in obesity. Not only is it important to eat food, but it is also important to eat the right combination of foods to have a healthy diet.

Globally, 5.9 percent of children under five are overweight, with the highest rates in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the Middle East and North Africa. Libya is classified as very high, as more than 15 percent of children under five are overweight. This indicates that poor nutrition is one of the most serious food-related issues that Libya faces.

Efforts by the World Food Programme

Malnutrition in Libya has received global attention, and the World Food Programme has stepped in to fight food insecurity. As a nation with a largely desert environment, agriculture is limited, causing Libya to rely heavily on imported food. The country’s current trade deficit has a significant impact on the availability of food and proper nutrition, as prosperous trade is essential to feeding the nation.

To counteract this, the World Food Programme partners with four local organizations, LibAid, the Kafaa Development Foundation, the Sheikh Taher Azzawi Charity Organization (STACO) and the Ayady Al Khair Society (AKS), as well as the UN Country Team and Security Management Team. These local organizations work closely with communities experiencing malnutrition in Libya to determine the amount of need in particular areas.

The World Food Programme then provides onsite food distributions to vulnerable and malnourished families, with each family receiving two food parcels, which can feed five people over the course of a month. The parcels contain pasta, rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, chickpeas, sugar and tomato paste, all of which provide approximately 75 percent of daily energy requirements. The parcels are meant to be used alongside other food sources, providing access to certain nutrients that are otherwise unavailable.

A Focus on Migrants, Refugees and IDPs

Migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are the most in need of food assistance worldwide.  Approximately 60 percent of IDPs are vulnerable to food insecurity. As a result, the World Food Programme focuses many of its food distribution efforts on IDPs and other migrants in Libya, as they are among the most vulnerable to malnutrition in Libya.

Many migrants in Libya are out of reach of the World Food Programme as hundreds of detainees are in migrant detention facilities. In March 2019, a detention center in Tripoli came under fire after Doctors Without Borders published nutrition assessments and determined that almost one quarter of those in the center were malnourished or underweight.

Those held in detention facilities are entirely dependent on the Libyan authorities for the food they receive, and Doctors Without Borders found that many only receive one meal every two or three days and that those who are new arrivals sometimes do not receive food for four days.

Doctors Without Borders Respond

In response to this crisis, Doctors Without Borders began providing emergency food rations to ensure that food needs will be met in the future. Karline Kleijer, the head of emergencies for Doctors Without Borders, stated that “If food, shelter and essential services can’t be provided in a consistent and appropriate manner, then these people should be released immediately by the Libyan authorities.”

Hopefully, with the efforts of organizations like the World Food Programme and Doctors Without Borders malnutrition in Libya will continue to be addressed, and the plight of migrants will soon be recognized and responded to by the Libyan government. Malnutrition is clearly a mounting crisis that requires attention as soon as possible.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

closed its ports

Recently, Italy‘s newly formed government has closed its ports to migrant ships. The new political atmosphere is run by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League party, known for its strong anti-immigration beliefs.

In particular, a rescue ship named Aquarius, which was carrying 629 rescued migrants on board from 26 countries in Africa, was denied entry into an Italian port on June 10. The ship was forced to stay out at sea until another European country, Spain, gave the ship access to its ports the next day.

The new Italian Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, who is also the League’s leader, made the decision to close Italy’s ports. In the past, Salvini has called Sicily “the refugee camp of Europe,” and his actions reflect Italy’s struggle with the high numbers of refugees arriving each week. The Italian government wants Europe as a whole to play a larger role in accepting refugees.

Why Italy Has Closed its Ports

Since 2013, 690,000 immigrants have arrived in Italy. While some may be legal, many are not and 500,000 of them still reside in Italy. Among them are denied asylum seekers and those who have overstayed their visa.

In 2017 alone, 120,000 migrants arrived and the Italian government has estimated that 4.2 billion is the cost of taking them in, roughly $4.9 billion. That figure is divided between caring for asylum seekers, who are generally not allowed to work, as well as paying for sea rescues and providing medical assistance. This is one of many contributing factors as to why Italy has closed its ports.

Italy’s Changing Relationship to Refugees

In 2017, Italy formed a deal with Libya to enforce Libya’s coastguard in order to keep migrant ships from entering Italy. Since the deal, in the first five months of 2018, the number of migrants reaching Italian ports has dropped to 13,808. This is down 84 percent compared to the same period of time in 2017.

Part of Salvini’s campaign was to repatriate at least 500,000 migrants during his five-year term, as Italians have grown increasingly afraid of migrants and associate higher crime rates to the influx of migrants. Italy has closed its ports as a way to combat this sentiment.

International and National Response

As the nation has closed its ports, mayors across the south of Italy have spoken out against this decision and have pledged to open their ports to these rescue boats. However, without the direct support of the Italian coastguard, it is unlikely that much can be done.

This sentiment, however, gives hope to the changing attitudes toward helping these migrants. It demonstrates that opinions are changing and that people are more interested in saving the lives of refugees, rather than keeping them out.

As a response to Italy having closed its ports, European leaders and humanitarian groups have denounced this decision. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees appealed to Italy and Malta, stating that issues such as these should be addressed after the rescue and that the lives of the migrants should have been put first. Furthermore, Spain and France have offered to help take in the migrants.

As a solution, the European Council President Donald Tusk has proposed regional disembarkment platforms outside of the European Union. This would allow a more manageable way to differentiate between economic migrants and migrants in need of protection. As a result, the strain would be taken off countries such as Italy and allow for a more efficient system, which would benefit E.U. countries, the migrants and public sentiment toward this issue.

– Trelawny Robinson
Photo: Flickr

Cabo Verde Migrants
The Republic of Cabo Verde (or Cape Verde) consists of 10 islands and 5 islets off the west coast of Africa. Originally a colony of Portugal, Cabo Verde gained its independence in 1975. It currently runs under a multi-party system with both a prime minister and a president.

Despite the area’s lack of natural resources and droughts, the country found stability. Migration is a huge part of that. Men, in particular, emigrate to countries like the United States and Portugal in search of work so they can send money back home to their families.

Here are 10 facts about Cabo Verde migrants:

  1. There are more Cabo Verde migrants than there are residents in the Republic of Cabo Verde. The 20th century saw a huge fluctuation of emigration after droughts plagued the islands. Most migrated to the eastern coast of the United States or Portugal, but there are also Cabo Verdeans in Senegal, the Netherlands, France and Angola.
  2. Many Cabo Verde migrants are deported back home because of their involvement in drugs, crime and improper documentation. Males are most likely to return, and this caused an increase in important roles for women.
  3. Migrants that are deported back to Cabo Verde do not have access to a program to initiate them back into the society, which makes life at home difficult.
  4. Those returning from the United States have difficulty remembering the Creole language of Cabo Verde and struggle to find a job.
  5. The 2016 push for tighter immigration laws in the United States threatened to deport nearly 400 Cabo Verde migrants. Executive orders to speed up the deportation process in the United States only increased that threat.
  6. Migrating an important for many Cabo Verde people because it allows them to send money to their families. Working outside of the country brings in foreign currency that helps stabilize both family incomes and the nation’s economy.
  7. To help Cabo Verde migrants, an International Commission established the Ministry of Emigrated Communities. This institution worked to fund migration and make it easier for Cabo Verdeans to remain in countries outside of their own in order to work. The immigration policies of other countries have led to some conflict, but this representation is important for Cabo Verdeans.
  8. Some Cabo Verdean migrants want to pursue higher education. In 2009, the number of migrants from Cape Verde who had received a higher education was at 11%. At the same time, more than 54% of Cape Verde migrants held positions in health care.
  9. Most of the wealth in Cabo Verde comes from migrants who are working abroad and sending money home. This is visible on the islands by the large houses and expensive cars. It is crucial that migration remains an option for Cabo Verdeans.
  10. In 2010, the European Union worked with Cabo Verde on a project to “promote legal mobility between Cabo Verde and the EU by enhancing cooperation on migration and development issues while combating irregular migration.” The EU wanted to find a productive and agreeable use for the skills that Cabo Verde emigrants possessed when they returned home. They also wanted to find a successful way for Cabo Verdeans to continue migrating to new countries.

Migration isn’t currently popular in places like the United States. However, for those living in Cabo Verde, it is one of the best options for economic and social stability.

Mackenzie Fielder

Photo: Flickr

As Middle Eastern migrants travel to Western Europe, many must make the voyage across the Balkan Peninsula. Hundreds of migrants, half of whom are from Syria and Afghanistan, stop in Belgrade, Serbia as a jumping-off point into Hungary. The majority of migrants claim to be headed to Germany, while some say they plan on arriving in Sweden.

Around 500-700 people take up temporary residence in Belgrade’s parks near the city’s central transportation lines. Here, they generally wait 2 days for transport into Hungary. As they wait, they battle temperatures nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a lack of supplies.

A total of 60,000 migrants have entered Serbia through Macedonia and Bulgaria during the first six months of the year though it is speculated that the numbers could indeed be higher.

Fortunately, Serbian organizations, restaurants, and people have begun distributing aid. Mikes House, a cultural and designer house, has distributed water, food and clothes. Residents of the city have also begun to gift old clothing along with water. Many simply come to speak to migrants and share stories.

On April 12, Belgrade authorities began to park water tanks in the parks and have organized services to clean the parks and rid them of garbage.

Médecins Sans Frontières has also started providing general healthcare to the migrants as their journeys take a brief pause in the northern Balkans.

All of this comes at a time when Europe as a whole experiences major surges in migration due to one of history’s largest refugee crises. Germany, in particular, has had to raise its projected influx from 450,000 at the beginning of 2015 to a projected 800,000 by the end of the year.

As a contingency plan, on August 10 the European Commission approved 2.4 billion euros of aid for the next six-year period, in the hopes that it may help curb the strain many countries will be feeling as migrants begin to settle within state borders.

Jaime Longoria

Sources: BBC, Reuters, Ukraine Today
Photo: BBC

This past week, the recent migration crisis—which has currently been sweeping across Europe and other developed nations in the world—came to a head in the small port of Calais, France. Located in the west of the country, Calais strategically connects France to the United Kingdom via the Channel tunnel and port, and has in recent years become an increasingly popular spot for migrants to try and smuggle themselves into Britain.

In recent weeks, the number of migrants inhabiting the area of Calais has dramatically increased in number, as 3,000 new migrants escaping from conflict-ridden areas in Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan set up camp near the port. According to British authorities, this situation has caused chaos and fear among British truck drivers, who are often forced to transport migrants illegally with them in their vehicles as they make their way back into Britain. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulauge Association, which represents over 83,000 truck haulers in Britain, has stated that “[British] drivers are fearful [but]… can’t do anything about it when they’ve got 10 to 20 [usually armed] people trying to get on board.”

The chaotic situation in Calais, brought about by migrants jumping in the back of trucks, was further exacerbated this past week following a Eurotunnel labor strike which took place on Tuesday. Angered at discovering that 400 employees were going to be cut from the Eurotunnel company, strikers shut down the port and threw burning tires onto the tracks, effectively blocking both the tunnel and port.

The striker’s actions last week led to hours of stand-still traffic in Calais, as truck drivers and ordinary passengers waited desperately in order to be able to cross back into Britain. Drivers also described the effect of the labor strike as scary and intimidating, with many refusing to open their windows or doors during hours of sitting in motionless traffic for fear that migrants would climb in.

This situation has in turn created frustrations on both sides of the Channel, as British and French authorities struggle with how to deal with the strike and its effect on cross-country migrant smuggling. Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, has argued that “Calais has been taken hostage by the decisions of the British government,” blaming the British for the strike and for refusing to absorb more migrants into the country.

Richard Burnett has similarly blamed the French by arguing that the French authorities in Calais have failed to directly tackle the issue. British authorities have also complained that the chaotic situation in Calais has cost the United Kingdom millions in trade revenue, with the Fresh Produce Consortium estimating that at least 10 million pounds worth of fresh fruit and vegetables have been thrown away in the past year as a result of delays brought about by migrant truck-jumping in Calais.

At the moment, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Holland say that they are working closely together in order to resolve the labor dispute, with Cameron tweeting on Friday, “I’ve called on @fhollande on Calais & the need to stop the illegal blockade & maintain port security.”

Calls to expand the nearby port at Dunkirk, 45 miles from Calais, have also been considered in an attempt to deescalate the situation, while British Home Secretary Theresa May and French Minister of Interior Bernard Cazenueve have also agreed to increase funding in order to improve the security situation in and around Calais.

Ana Powell

Sources: The Guardian, New York Times
Photo: Flickr

haitiThe rapid growth of Haitian migrants returning to their native country from neighboring nations has led to the incredibly excessive increase in “ten cities” throughout the small nation. Humanitarian relief groups have turned their attention to this growing problem and the impoverished people of Haiti.

These tent cities are made up primarily of extremely poor individuals, many of whom were deported from countries in which they sought refuge. Many individuals returned from the Dominican Republic — the neighboring nation that Haiti has had tensions with for years, especially with regards to immigration. To make matters worse, the handful of tent cities that have emerged, seemingly overnight, are located along regions of the country that have been suffering drastic droughts. In just about a month’s time, from the end of June to the end of July, the number of tent homes and cities increased in the Southern region of the country three times over. This means limited water and crops, further limiting the resources many of the Haitian individuals are already missing.

As mentioned previously, many Haitians living in the tent cities have returned from migrating to the Dominican Republic. This is because of the strict immigration and deportation policies being enforced by the country. These laws make legal status mandatory for any immigrants entering the country, and make the process rather difficult. Thus, poor Haitians without the means to gain citizenship are sent back to poverty within the tent cities of Haiti.

This rise in refugees and poverty-stricken makeshift cities has drawn in the attention of many humanitarian relief organizations. Despite the unfortunate living conditions, many groups are now working hard to help people living in the cities. Haitian immigrants have made efforts to follow through with the required process for citizenship in the Dominican Republic, but many are unable to. Moreover, with all the concern for the dangerous conditions of the thousands being sent back to the tent cities of Haiti, the Dominican Republic refuses to hold any talks or discussions on the matter.

In order for the problems to be resolved, there needs to be more discussion between the governments of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: CNN, Tele Sur
Photo: Tele Sur

Most Americans don’t know that Macedonia, a small country just north of Greece, exists, let alone that it is a nation riddled with distress. Many facts about Macedonia go unnoticed. Gaining its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia is a young country that still faces many challenges. Macedonia has yet to solve the dispute with Greece that erupted over the origin of its name, has restricted media freedom and has limited rights for minorities. Macedonia’s membership in NATO was blocked by Greece at the Alliance’s Summit of Bucharest in 2008, and as a result the nation struggles with economic growth.

The population of Macedonia stands at around 2 million, with a median age of 36.8 years. The population is growing at a rate of 0.21 percent, ranking 180 out of all the countries in the world, and there is currently much controversy surrounding the treatment of migrants to the country. The Macedonian birth rate is 11.64 per 1,000 persons (ranked 171 out of the world’s nations), and the death rate is approximately 9 per 1,000 (ranked 66 in the world). 57 percent of the population lives in an urban environment, and luckily almost 100 percent of this population has access to drinking water.

The rest of Macedonia’s problems aside, malnutrition is not much of an issue. Although between 1.3% percent and 2.1 percent of children under the age of 5 are underweight, this statistic puts Macedonia at 128th in the world, which not bad considering all the countries that rank higher and the few that fall below, including the United States and Australia.

However, this does not mean that malnutrition is not a problem, and this percentage should still be regarded as significant and given adequate attention, as no children should have to go without proper nutrition. The most urgent of Macedonia’s struggles, however, is the current conflict with Ethnic Albanians and the treatment of migrants, and it is key that these issues are dealt with first and foremost.

-Katie Pickle

Sources: CIA, BBC
Photo: Flickr

At the start of July 2015, plans were announced for Britain to spend more than 300 million pounds in international aid, which is targeted towards Syria and the Sahel Region of Africa and includes countries such as South Sudan, Sudan, the Central African Republic and Nigeria. The money is supposed to help stabilize the lives of people in those regions in order to relieve the Mediterranean migrant crisis by reducing the influx of migrants traveling to the European Union, especially to Italy and Greece.

As the Washington Post states, migrants flee from their home countries to Europe because of poverty, civil war, violence and political instability. The largest number of migrants by boats are Syrians, who are attempting to flee from a civil war which has left over 200,000 dead and more than 4 million displaced. The second greatest number of refugees comes from Eritrea, which is suffering from economic issues, a repressive government and forced conscription. A large number of migrants also come from Libya, Mali and Nigeria.

As of May 2015, the U.N. estimated that over 60,000 migrants crossed over the Mediterranean Sea since the start of 2015, and another 1,800 died during the crossing.

The journey across the Mediterranean by boat is very perilous, and migrants cross because they have no other choice. They normally pay a smuggler who forces them into an old and unreliable boat (sometimes at gunpoint) and often leaves the boat halfway across the Mediterranean, relying on rescue teams from Italy and other E.U. countries to get the migrants safely to shore.

Some blame the rescue teams for the influx of immigrants. While it is true that large numbers of people attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in order to migrate into Europe — there were 220,000 unauthorized immigrants in Europe in 2014 — the rescue teams are not to blame for the large numbers of people attempting the crossing. Since Italy shut down its Mare Nostrum rescue program last October, numbers of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean remained about the same. However, the death toll jumped dramatically. From January to April 2014, only 96 died while crossing the Mediterranean, compared to 1,500 during the first four months of 2015.

Nevertheless, some are still convinced that rescue teams are responsible for the higher number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean, and the situation has led to the rise of the far-right in Europe, especially in Italy and France, where levels of anti-immigrant rhetoric are high.

In reality, migrants only try to cross the Mediterranean because they do not have another choice. As one migrant put it, “We are between hell and the deep blue sea.”

Britain hopes that the money it is adding to the international aid budget will help lower the number of migrants by increasing political stability in regions that are suffering. However, even if Britain’s plan works, it is still unsure what will happen to those who have already migrated to Europe. There were plans to relocate 40,000 Italian and Greek refugees to other parts of Europe, but those plans appear to have stalled due to anti-immigrant sentiments.

– Ashrita Rau

Sources: Express, The Guardian, Washington Post, The Independent, The Atlantic
Photo: The Guardian

Each year, millions of the world’s poor leave their homelands in search of security. Often, these individuals resort to dangerous methods of transportation in order to obtain freedom and safety.

92 bodies were found in the Sahara desert yesterday, believed to be the result of individuals fleeing lives of extreme poverty in Niger. The group mainly consisted of women and children whose deaths are believed to be the result of extreme dehydration.

Officials have reported that the group originally travelled by truck, which broke down during the trip across the desert to nearby Algeria. The migrants decided to walk the rest of the way. Their bodies were found only 6 miles from their destination.

This is the latest in a string of migrant deaths around the world. On October 12, 27 people drowned off the coasts of Sicily and Tunisia in an attempt to reach Europe from Africa. Earlier that week, another boat carrying migrants capsized in the same area, killing 345 people in an effort to reach Malta. The UN Refugee Agency (UNRA) estimates that over 30,000 individuals have tried to enter Europe through Italy this year alone.

In 2011, the Agency estimated that there were at least 12 million stateless individuals worldwide but the number could be significantly higher. Regions upset by violence and political instability tend to lack proper records and developed nations have struggled over the past several years to achieve an accurate count of illegal immigrants.

In the United States alone, there are an estimated 6 million undocumented Mexican workers as well as an increasing number of illegal immigrants from Central America. The Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project has determined that the greatest increase of migrants has occurred in southern states like Georgia and North Carolina.

Border states like Texas, Arizona and New Mexico have seen an increase in illegal immigrant deaths in the last couple of years. Nearly 200 bodies were recovered last year in a single Texas county as migrant paths continue to change in order to avoid Border Patrol sites.

Similar to the migrant deaths in Niger, illegal immigrants find themselves lost in the hot, dry fields of the southwestern United States. Death by dehydration has become a common occurrence for those unfamiliar with the area.

Immigration policy reform remains a highly controversial issue in America and abroad. Asylum advocates continue to campaign for inclusive immigration policies, while other groups support tighter border control. The UNRA argues that the despite legal infractions by migrants, their rights and well-being must be safeguarded at all times.

Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: MSN, UN Refugee Agency, CNN
Photo: Women Travel Blog