refugee crisisThe question regarding what should be done about the refugee crisis is currently one of the most heated debates in Congress. But, where does each Democratic Candidate stand on the refugee crisis? Here are the Democratic candidates on immigration.

Joe Biden

Former U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, is primarily focused on addressing the Southern border crisis by admitting more refugees and asylum-seekers, particularly from Central America. When referring to refugees and immigrants Biden stated, “We could afford to take in a heartbeat another two million. The idea that a country of 330 million cannot afford people who are in desperate need and who are justifiably weak and fleeing depression is absolutely bizarre.”

Cory Booker

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey similarly plans to expand pathways for refugees and asylum-seekers as well as to address the root causes of migration and the refugee crisis. Not only does Booker hope to increase the cap on refugees but also staffing at the border to assist with interviews and to improve in-country refugee processing. Additionally, Booker plans to investigate the root causes of migration through the lens of corruption, violence, poverty and climate change by creating a role in the State Department. He is committed to spending foreign aid in order to address the root causes of the refugee crisis.

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana hopes to return the refugee admissions target to 110,000 or potentially more. Buttigieg believes letting in more refugees will “help grow our tax base and plug labor gaps as Americans age.” Buttigieg also wants to help other countries resettle refugees and integrate them into society so that resettlement will be mutually beneficial. Ultimately, Buttigieg hopes to change the discussion around immigrants and refugees. He stated on Twitter, “Immigrants and refugees are not a problem that we need to handle; they are an asset to our nation and an essential part of the fabric of this country—our policies must reflect that.”

Amy Klobuchar

The two primary plans Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has for addressing the refugee crisis are reinstating the 110,000 refugees cap while simultaneously increasing spending on foreign aid. In order to process this number of refugees, Klobuchar would reopen the International U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices. Klobuchar would also accept more Muslim refugees into the country because she adamantly opposes the “Muslim Ban.” Klobuchar believes that a strengthened vetting process for visitors and refugees would eliminate any need for this ban. Additionally, Klobuchar plans to increase foreign aid and the State Department’s budget to address the current crisis and deter future crises by promoting global stability.

Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a platform of immigration reform that is “grounded in civil and human rights.” He plans to achieve these values by changing the treatment of individuals at the border, such as ending family separation, the detention of children at the border and the detention of asylum seekers while their applications are being processed. Sanders plans to end the United States’ for-profit detention centers entirely. Additionally, Sanders wants to support refugees globally by providing foreign aid to other host countries to create an international community committed to resettling refugees and ending the refugee crisis it created.

Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has the most progressive target for resettlement. If elected, Warren aims to resettle 125,000 refugees in the U.S. in her first year in office and then at least 175,000 by the end of her first presidential term. She hopes to address the refugee crisis by providing foreign aid in Central America in order to stabilize this region. Warren plans to implement a system that would make it easier for asylum seekers to get a day in court. She has also stated she will reduce immigration detention for all immigrants crossing the border.

Andrew Yang

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is most concerned with the crisis occurring in Venezuela. Yang wants to both support the Venezuelan people through humanitarian aid and through distributing foreign aid to the countries that are admitting massive numbers of Venezuelan refugees. Although Venezuela is Yang’s primary concern, he also plans to work with the entire international community in order to address the global refugee crisis. Yang believes that the U.S. should disengage in military efforts abroad attempting to promote peacekeeping because these efforts are causing more destabilization than peace.

There is a lot to consider when choosing who to vote for in the 2020 Presidential Election. However, the refugee crisis has certainly been a priority. There are currently 25.9 million refugees and 41.3 million internally displaced people throughout the world. The need for a president that understands the importance of diplomacy and foreign aid spending when it comes to addressing the refugee crisis is, therefore, imperative.

– Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

Refugee Sanitation Facility Act
The Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act was scheduled to be seen by the House of Representatives the week of May 20, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. During this period, the bill moved through the House but still has to pass the Senate. Reintroduced after December 2018 revisions by sponsor Grace Meng (D-NY-6), the bill aims to “provide women and girls safe access to sanitation facilities in refugee camps.”

Moving the Bill Forward

In April, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted for the bill to be seen by the rest of the House for a vote. Co-sponsored by 42 representatives, the bill is an international affairs policy that would call the Department of State to ensure safe and sanitary conditions for refugees being held by the US government, with special focus on the conditions where women, children and vulnerable populations are present. It is intended to be an addition to the preexisting Section 501 of the Foreign Relations Act, U.S. code 2601 that states “the provision of safe and secure access to sanitation facilities, with a special emphasis on women and girls, and vulnerable populations.”

A Rising Crisis

According to the American Immigration Council, the number of people forcibly displaced around the world grew from 42.7 million to 68.5 million between 2007 and 2017. Under United States law, a refugee is “A person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a well-founded fear of persecution’ due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.” This definition has been a part of US law since as early as the 1951 United Nations Convention. Since January 2017, the admission of refugees into the U.S. has dramatically declined. The Trump administration lowered the refugee admissions ceiling from 110,000 (set under the Obama administration) to 50,000.

As of July 2018, there were over 733,000 pending immigration cases and the average wait time for an immigration hearing was 721 days. The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act requires all individuals seeking asylum at ports of entry to be detained until said hearing. Jarring images of these detention centers have been shared online, with depictions of children sleeping in cages and on the ground with no blankets. The Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act can help in providing more dignified conditions for refugees.

Though there are some organized efforts to provide sanitation to refugee camps, none of them are mandated by law. The Refugee Sanitation Facility Safety Act of 2019 would reflect in U.S. law the priority of treating all on its lands with human dignity.

– Ava Gambero

Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Kutupalong Bulukhail
Myanmar is a nation of deep ethnic divide. In speeches, prominent military, civilian and religious leaders refer to it was “The Western Gate” — depicting Burmese society as a rhetorical last-line-of-defense, holding back “hordes” of Muslims from “invading” Buddhist Myanmar and Thailand. This “at war” mentality has fermented for generations, culminating in a climate of prejudice where any action is justified.

Background of the Current Crisis

The current crisis began when violence escalated in late 2016. Burmese security forces used hostilities against the ARSA — a Rohingya ethnic militia — as a pretext for military action in a counterinsurgency campaign.

Atrocities followed.

Over 350 villages were burned to the ground between August and November 2017 alone. And, since 2017, 688,000 Rohingya fled into Bangladesh, taking refuge in Bangladesh with the hundreds of thousands who had already fled in the years prior.

Kutupalong Bulukhail — known as the “mega camp” — is the largest of the refugee camps built in the hills of Cox’s Bazar, one of Bangladesh’s poorest districts. It serves as the home to 600,000 people. Swaths of forest needed to be cleared in order to make room for the bamboo and tarp shelters of refugees. While the camp is a source of safety, it was hastily constructed during the crisis and lacks modern infrastructure which means that facilities are far from perfect.

Containing the Spread of Disease

With masses of people living in close quarters without modern infrastructure, infection can easily spread. Focusing on preventing infectious diseases, is often more effective than treatment.

One high priority disease is Diphtheria, a potentially lethal bacterial infection that affects the airways and the heart. Children are in particular danger of contracting the disease. Since Oct. 2017 the WHO has vaccinated 898,000 children, living in and near the refugee camps as part of a targeted prevention program. By inoculating those with the weakest immune systems viruses it can be kept from spreading to adults.

To keep ahead of future problems, 153 independent health facilities serving the refugees have banded together in an electronic Early Warning and Response System created by the WHO. Everyday medical professionals verify and investigate alerts, helping to deliver fast treatment.

Addressing Hunger

Hunger is another concern. Living as stateless, often internally displaced, people many Rohingya have already endured a life of poverty. Their situation is worsened when they are forced to leave everything they cannot carry as they flee to Bangladesh.

Years of poverty and forced migration result in malnutrition. Children are especially vulnerable: 38 percent have stunted growth and 12 percent are severely malnourished.

Once they arrive, organizations like Action Against Hunger (AAH) work to feed refugees. Assisted by Rohingya volunteers, AAH operates community kitchens in the camps which serve 11,000 meals every day. Throughout 2017 the kitchens and other programs have helped 422,963 people.

Providing Access to Safe Water

Water has proven to be a more challenging problem than food or medicine. Providing drinking water and ensuring that it is drinkable is no small feat. AAH, UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders have all made efforts to improve water conditions by digging wells and constructing long-term latrines. AAH alone installed more than 230 drinking water access points in 2017.

Now as monsoon season is here, living conditions in Kutupalong Bulukhail are worse than ever. The heavy rains frequently destabilize the newly deforested terrain of the camp and the threat landslide become apparent. Fortunately, those in the most dangerous zones have been relocated to safer areas by the UNHCR.

The seasonal hardships make Myanmar’s offer of “safe and dignified” repatriation more enticing. However, the U.N. and dozens of aid organizations warn that it is likely a false promise. Refugees that return home would only put them in further danger. Kutupalong Balukhail will likely be their home for some time to come.

One refugee recalls a conversation with her brother:

“I have a brother back in Myanmar. They are still afraid to sleep at night… After coming here, through the blessings of Allah and the Bangladesh government, we can sleep at night.”

– John Glade
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts on Forced Migration
Forced migration is ever-present in society due to various coercive factors. From cases in the United States to Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the practice can be seen on almost every continent. The International Organization for Migration defines forced migration as the “movement of people caused by threats to their livelihoods.” This article will discuss 10 facts on forced migration that are the most critical in the world right now.

10 Facts on Forced Migration

  1. Columbia University gives categories to displaced persons: conflict-induced and disaster-induced. Those who are displaced by conflict are those who fled their homes due to violence — this circumstance accounts for about 12 million people. Disaster-induced displaced persons are those who undergo and escape natural disaster or human-made disasters such as floods, earthquakes, monsoons, deforestation or industrial accidents; this type of situation displaced about 19 million people in 2017.

  2. The most common distinctions between displaced persons are refugees, asylum seekers and Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs).  As defined by the UNHCR, refugees are people who live outside of their home country due to the fear of persecution. Gaining refugee status is a legal process in which a person must be determined a refugee by international, national or local law. This process can be carried out by a country or by the UNHCR, and this process differs everywhere. Asylum seekers are those who have crossed borders to flee violence, but whose refugee status is undetermined.  In contrast, IDPs are those who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict or disaster but have yet to cross an international border.

  3. Approximately 68.5 million people — mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan — have been forcibly displaced from their homes, which is the highest level of displacement in history. In 2017 alone, there were 30.6 million people displaced from their homes, approximately 11.8 million due to violent conflict or war, and 18.8 million due to natural disasters.

  4. Forced migration impacts the most vulnerable of people. According to the UNHCR, 52 percent of refugees were under the age of 18, and there were approximately 174,000 unaccompanied or separated children. Children may experience obstacles to education as forced migrants, and experience many social and cultural challenges in a place away from their home country. Unaccompanied children experience different challenges as they often lack the same protections and support as children with adult care, and many may suffer or be taken advantage of in a new environment.

  5. Sixty-eight percent of refugees came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia in 2017. In fact, 6.3 million refugees came from Syria, 2.6 million from Afghanistan, and 2.4 million from South Sudan. Out of the 25.4 million refugees reported in the world, these three countries, in particular, make up more than half of the refugee population. These refugees come from conflict and war-torn regions where choosing to stay could mean risking their lives.

  6. One reason for the current peak refugee crisis is that only about 103,000 refugees were resettled in 2017. Resettlement is the relocation and integration of people (forced migrants in this case) into another country. The UNHCR lists resettlement as one of the three durable solutions to the refugee crisis as it is a long-term solution for those who cannot go back to their home country. Approximately 44,400 people are being displaced a day, and unfortunately, this resettlement number does not make up the difference. Resettlement numbers are so low because many developed countries are not resettling as many people as they usually do. This decrease could be due to the highly dependent nature of resettlement on political climates as well as the current administrations in charge.

  7. The countries hosting the most refugees are Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Uganda and Turkey. Relative to the national population, Lebanon hosted the most refugees of these countries with 1 out of 6 inhabitants being refugees. Jordan is next with 1 out of 14, followed by 1 out 23 in Turkey. Eighty-five percent of refugees in the world are going to other developing countries, and large amounts of displaced peoples can have severe effects on the global economy. There may be serious problems for national economies that lack enough jobs for displaced peoples who seek work, pressure can be put on already fragile infrastructure.

  8. Refugees can benefit economies. In fact, many refugees in the United States pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. In places that aided refugees in finding work, most were employed within 6 years of their settlement.

  9. Forcible displacement is an issue receiving more attention in the media and one that people are becoming increasingly passionate about. The UNHCR is dedicated to helping those who are displaced in 128 countries, including those in Syria. The UNCHR not only aids refugees that live in Syria but also Syrian Internally Displaced Peoples. The UNHCR provides economic and legal assistance, as well as shelters, health services and violence protection.

  10. Many local cities around the globe have resettlement agencies that aid refugees and other displaced peoples through their resettlement process. Many cities across the United States have an Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), a non-profit responsible for resettling refugees into their communities. The ECDC’s work also involves community integration and education initiatives which shows their commitment to ensuring a happy and healthy future for their clients.

Work to Do

These 10 facts on forced migration help to show that there does not exist a simple solution to combat the forced migration crisis. Vulnerable people are still being forced from their homes and their livelihoods, and there is plenty of work that needs to be done. This work, however, has a dedicated workforce of people working hard for those who need it the most.

– Isabella Niemeyer

Photo: Flickr

Refugee CrisisOn June 20, the world stood in solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers in observation of World Refugee Day, a time to consider the refugee crisis.

The occasion came at a pivotal time in the U.S, as public outcries about border practices separating families reached a high. This refugee crisis stems from the Trump administration’s use of separation as a deterrent for crossing the border in combination with the administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy, which requires immediate arrest for those crossing illegally. More than 2,300 kids have been separated from their families.

Nine facts about refugees

  1. More people have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict than at any other time since World War II. The world is facing the biggest refugee crisis to date.  At the end of 2017, 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution on grounds of race, religion, political opinion and violence or conflict.
  1. Half of the refugees are under the age of 18. In some countries, including the U.S., migrant kids are even forced to represent themselves in a court of law.
  1. Under international law, refugees are not allowed to be forced back to their home countries. This law places an obligation for the state to not return a refugee to “the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
  1. Developing countries host 86 percent of the world’s refugees. The most popular host countries are Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia.
  1. More than half of the world’s refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Approximately one in five displaced persons come from Syria, where conflict has created an intense refugee crisis.
  1. Saudi Arabia does not register migrants as international refugees. This may not seem like a big deal, but the policy forces migrants to go through the Saudi visa process, during which the government can deny visas and deport individuals. If the individuals were registered as refugees, it would be illegal for the Saudi government to deport them under international law.
  1. Australia’s military blocks refugees before they reach its shores. The practice is coined as Operation Sovereign Borders. Military officials patrol waters to intercept migrants and send them to India or Indonesia. If migrant boats make it to Australia, its passengers are not allowed to stay on the mainland while their asylum cases are processed. Instead, they are sent to processing centers on the island of Naura. Human Rights Watch has begun to shut down such facilities.

  1. In one French town, it is illegal to feed refugees. The northern regions of France used to be home to a refugee settlement called the Jungle, which served as a temporary camp for thousands of migrants seeking asylum across the English Channel in the U.K. In 2016, however, authorities closed the site due to health and terrorism concerns. To ensure the camp remain dismantled, the city’s mayor enacted decrees banning organizations from giving food to any migrants.
  1. Germany has welcomed asylum-seekers in a way to revitalize run-down towns. The German law guarantees the right to asylum for all persons who flee political persecution.  Additionally, any unaccompanied migrant under the age of 18 is provided with a legal guardian to act on his or her behalf and to help navigate the asylum process.

With numbers of refugees rising, the world is faced with a great task of amending practices and treating all persons with respect. Many point to dealing with the root issue of migration rather than adjusting policy and procedure. This view is misinformed, however, as intervention in the home country is often very difficult, controversial and unsuccessful. Instead, we ought to come together as cohabitants of the planet to bring about positive change surrounding this global refugee crisis.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr

help refugeesJune 20 marked the 18th anniversary of world refugee day. There are currently 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Of those millions, 25.4 million people are classified as refugees.

World Refugee Day holds a long history of support for those in need. This day is celebrated in order to give all an opportunity to help refugees and to create a public awareness for millions of lives that are in need of saving.

Since the beginning of World Refugee Day in 2000, the refugee crisis has increased greatly. Growing from 12 million in 2000 to more than 20 million in 2018, refugees can be found seeking shelter in many countries.

The United Nations

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has taken steps to fight the refugee crisis. The UNHCR provides assistance and support to refugees all over the world. Present in 128 countries and 478 locations around the world, the UNHCR is helping those wherever they can.

For example, in Ukraine, the UNHCR is working with the Ukrainian government to help strengthen the asylum system and gives medical, material and social assistance to those refugees and internally displaced people. In Ukraine, there are currently 1,800,000 people who are internally displaced and 3,253 refugees from other countries.

Along with working with the government and giving assistance to those in need, the UNHCR in Ukraine provided 843 homes with winter cash assistance in 2018.

Another recent effort presented by the UNHCR was their assistance in Montenegro. On April 3 the UNHCR paired with the Red Cross and opened the first Community Centre for persons seeking international protection.


The UNHCR doesn’t only just provide physical materials and goods; they also are committed to bringing education to refugees all over the world.

By the end of 2016, the UNHCR had encouraged 64 out of 81 countries to put policies in place to support the inclusion of refugee children in the respective countries education system. After this push, more than 984,000 refugee children were enrolled in primary education.

Of that 984,000 refugee children, 250,000 were not attending school at the time.

How to Help

While the UNHCR is continually working to better the lives of refugees all over the world, there is still plenty of work that can be done on the individual level for refugees. Here are five ways that anyone can get involved no matter where they may be.

  1. Volunteer a skill: Having a specific skill or talent can be used for good to help refugees. Whether knowing how to budget extremely well or how to create a website, there are refugees in local communities who would appreciate learning a new talent or skill to help them with their future endeavors.
  2. Spread awareness: Hold fundraisers, raffles, yard sales or meetings to spread the word about the refugee crisis. There are some that may know there is a problem, but don’t know much more than that. By putting on events and spreading the word, education about this crisis will increase awareness.
  3. Call the House Representatives and the Senate: Calling local state representatives is a quick and easy way to let one’s voice be heard. Placing a call to a member of the House or Senate will let them know that this is an issue that you care about and want to address.
  4. Support business and organizations run by refugees: Moving to a new country and facing the economic challenges of that country can be one of the hardest things for refugees. Supporting their family can be difficult for refugees in a new country. Make an effort to buy from refugees to help them get started in a new place.
  5. Donate: Donating can be one of the easiest ways to help refugees in need. Donations can be for organizations that go out into the field and provide physical goods or they can be for organizations, like The Borgen Project, that push elected officials to support and pass laws to help those in need.

While the refugee crisis continues to grow, it is important to know that anyone can take part in getting laws passed to protect refugees or can offer kindness to those who are adjusting to drastic life changes.

– Victoria Fowler
Photo: Flickr

Education for Syrian Refugees in TurkeyTurkey is home to 833,039 Syrian school-aged children displaced by civil conflict. Since 2016, the Turkish government has worked to expand education for Syrian refugees in Turkey by integrating refugee children into the public school system. The initiative has some demonstrable success: there was a 25 percent increase in Turkish public school enrollment by refugee children in the 2017 school year.

Of the school-aged Syrian refugees living in Turkey, 612,603 were enrolled in either Turkish public school or temporary education centers as of October 2017. The Turkish government plans to close temporary education centers by the end of 2018. Approximately 300,000 refugee children attending these centers will be transferred to public schools and will transition to a Turkish-language curriculum. Another 360,000 refugee students who are not currently enrolled will also be sent to public school.

The Current Situation

For the first time since the policy was announced, more refugee school-aged children are enrolled in the Turkish public school system, at 59 percent, than in temporary education centers, 41 percent. The Turkish government plans to close all temporary education centers by the end of the year.

Temporary education centers teach an accredited curriculum in Arabic. For the past seven years, these facilities have provided education for Syrian refugees in Turkey in their mother tongue. However, these centers have been criticized for fostering cultural and linguistic separation between refugees and natives.

What Must Still Be Done

To accommodate the influx of students, the Turkish government is building 150 new schools with donated funds. However, this new construction will not adequately incorporate matriculating refugees from temporary education centers and additional funding is still needed.

Currently, the Ministry of National Education is adjusting to the increased number of students attending public school by sending some Syrian children to imam-hatip schools. Imam-hatip schools teach religious texts alongside other curriculum.

Critics of the new policy worry that Syrian students will drop out of school rather than attend Turkish-language public schools. Cultural tensions between Turkish and Syrian students, aggravated by resource shortages in public schools, could create hostile learning environments for Syrian children.

Working Toward Education for Syrian Refugees in Turkey

To mitigate the risk, the Ministry of National Education has declared that kindergarten and primary school are compulsory for all Syrian children. The government plans to enroll refugee children in intensive Turkish language courses to help students adjust to a Turkish curriculum. Also, refugee children will be offered additional classes on Arabic language and culture to help Syrian students stay connected to their heritage.

Additionally, to encourage older refugee children to stay in school, an E.U. program offers subsidies to Syrian schoolchildren. Subsidies are awarded to students who attend 80 percent of their classes and payments differ based on age and gender. Female high school students are entitled to the largest subsidies.

The Ministry of National Education’s public education initiative shows a real commitment to creating inclusive education for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Despite cultural and language barriers, more Syrian refugee children than ever before are enrolled in schools in Turkey.

– Katherine Parks

Photo: Flickr

What was the Kosovo Conflict?

Starting in February 1998 and lasting until June 1999, the Kosovo Conflict was essentially ethnic Albanians being in opposition to ethnic Serbs and the government of Yugoslavia in Kosovo. Problems of the Kosovo Conflict were both widespread and numerous, despite only lasting for less than two years. Considering the issues it caused, it is important to understand what the Kosovo Conflict was in a broader sense.

The Kosovo Conflict began in response to Albanians being in the majority of the population in an area that was held in high regard by the Serbs. In addition, Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the Albanians in Kosovo, sought to nonviolently protest Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Serbian Republic at the time. Tensions gradually rose between the two groups and resulted in the emergence of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Beginning two years prior to the start of the war in 1996, the KLA sporadically attacked Serbian politicians and police. The attacks gradually escalated and led to the actions of the KLA being classified as an armed uprising, resulting in the Kosovo Conflict. The Serbian police force, along with Yugoslav armed forces, tried to regain control of the territory. Attempts to regain control of the region led to widespread media attention and a slew of refugees from the area.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was instrumental in ending the Kosovo Conflict. After NATO had exhausted its diplomatic attempts to find peace in Kosovo, they turned to Operation Allied Force. Allied Force was the first time in NATO history in which military action took place against a sovereign state outside NATO territory. After 77 days of Allied Force, Milosevic agreed to NATO’s demands. One million refugees were able to safely return to Kosovo.

However, along with the influx of refugees from the region, the war resulted in various negative consequences. Problems of the Kosovo Conflict included damage to trade routes and transportation, a loss of confidence in consumers and investors, weakened infrastructure and increased stress on the economy.

Unfortunately, the response to the consequences of the Kosovo Conflict was not sufficient. Humanitarian organizations in place that represented the international community were simply not prepared to deal with the large-scale effects of the war. Training and guidelines were typically bypassed, and some members of the military admitted that guidelines were lacking.

Conflict in the region is still at an all-time high today. In January 2018, a Serbian train bearing signs saying, “Kosovo is Serbian,” was stopped on its way to enter Kosovo due to reports of a planned attack by Albanians. Kosovo officially declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but this is not recognized by Serbia or its ally, Russia. Hopefully, the region will be able to find peace, but it seems that the problems that arose from what was the Kosovo Conflict continue to persist 20 years later.

– Blake Chambers

Photo: Flickr


Western Ireland does not have much in common with the Kurdish regions of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. It lacks the mountainous sanctuary that harbored the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Kurds, as well as the constant ethnic battles. What Carrick-on-Shannon, a small town in the west of Ireland, does have is Kurd-owned businesses, Kurdish athletes and Kurdish New Year celebrations.

With a population estimated to be around 30 million people, the Kurdish ethnic group is one of the largest stateless nations in the world. Years of political turmoil in their traditional homeland of Kurdistan has forced the Kurdish population to become divided along the borders of Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria after centuries of persecution. Currently, 1.2 million Kurds live outside of Kurdistan.

The group of Kurdish families, who were first resettled in Carrick-on-Shannon by the United Nations, fled from years of political persecution in Iran and Iraq. After escaping from the violence against their ethnic group in Iran in 1979, many Kurds crossed into their relatively safe neighbor Iraq. The Iraq War in 2003 then forced Kurds to live in refugee camps toward the Iraq-Jordan border. In 2005 and 2006, around 100 Kurdish refugees in Ireland were resettled to Carrick-on-Shannon.

The Irish government, through services that now comprise the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, helped these Kurdish refugees in Ireland build a home in Carrick-on-Shannon. Adults enrolled in language courses to learn English while receiving social welfare to support their families, and children attended local schools.

However, government assistance wasn’t the only welcoming committee for the Kurds. Volunteers from the small Irish town brought food and clothes and built relationships with the mostly Muslim group of Kurds who resettled in their town. Nuns helped them practice English and tutored them in school subjects to help alleviate the difficulties of the language barrier. Though it was not easy, the small community came to foster a mutual respect between its old residents and the new.

After over a decade, the Kurds of Carrick-on-Shannon have become an integrated part of the town. The young refugees, like Halala Ahmadi, who was born in a refugee camp in Iraq and arrived in Ireland as a 15-year-old, have received opportunities for education, work and freedom of which their parents could only dream.

This success story of resettlement offers hope during times when the fate of refugees in Europe remains uncertain. With the support of both the Irish government and volunteers, friends and neighbors in Carrick-on-Shannon, these Kurdish refugees in Ireland have been able to claim a new home after years of displacement.

Richa Bijlani

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About San Marino Refugees
San Marino is a small country ensconced by its neighboring country, Italy. It is considered to be the world’s oldest surviving republic. Its population is a little over 30,000. The refugee population in the area is small, which makes it a low concern for the region. However, previous years reveal higher numbers of refugees. Here are 10 facts about refugees in San Marino.

10 Facts About Refugees in San Marino

  1. Refugees in San Marino have come from Italy, Czech Republic, Brazil and even Mexico in the past.
  2. During World War II, San Marino, who was neutral during the war, hosted approximately 100,000 refugees from Italy.
  3. Between 1998 and 2000, the refugee population in San Marino was four. In the years following San Marino did not see its refugee population exceed this number.
  4. Currently, there is only one reported case of a refugee in San Marino, making the region’s refugee population at one.
  5. San Marino is not included in the Geneva Convention of 1951 or the Protocol of 1967. However, the government still has a system in place for protecting refugees. This means that the San Marino government can protect refugees at risk of persecution based on race, religion, social group affiliation, political opinions and more.
  6. By action of the cabinet, the government can grant refugee status or asylum to those seeking refuge in San Marino. Requests for asylum are rare.
  7. Laws in San Marino allow for foreign travel, emigration and repatriation. The country’s government follows suit with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees by providing assistance to asylum seekers and people who are considered stateless. This is also reflective of policies from other comparative humanitarian organizations.
  8. According to the Council of Europe Development Bank, as of 2015 San Marino contributed 20,000 euros to the Bank’s Migrant and Refugee Fund. This contribution was a sign of solidarity with San Marino’s support of European social cohesion and refugees in the area, according to the Bank’s report.
  9. According to a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, requests for softer citizenship requirements have been declined in the past, making it difficult for refugees to eventually obtain citizenship.
  10. More than one million migrants and refugees landed in European countries. By comparison, the refugee population in San Marino is a mere fraction of a percentage of that total. While there are numerous facts about San Marino refugees, these are 10 facts about San Marino refugees that are important to know.

Though the refugee population in the country is minute these 10 facts about refugees in San Marino are important to achieving a deeper understanding the European refugee crisis as a whole.

Leah Potter
Photo: Flickr