Facts about the Lake Chad Basin Crisis
The Lake Chad Basin crisis is a humanitarian emergency that is among the most severe in the world. This crisis began in 2009 with the violence caused in Nigeria by Boko Haram, an Islamic jihadist group that was formed in 2002. Since then, the conflict has also spread to Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

This humanitarian disaster has caused hunger, malnutrition and displacement in the region. Additionally, violence continues and Boko Haram even aims to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid. Because the crisis is often overlooked, it is important to address the facts about the Lake Chad Basin crisis.

10 Facts About the Lake Chad Basin Crisis

  1. Although its mission now is to overthrow the Nigerian government, the Boko Haram group was originally created to resist western education and influence. The group is also against things like voting in elections, an education system without religion and dressing with shirts and pants because this reflects western influence.
  2. As of May 2016, around 20,000 people had been killed by the extremists. Additionally, as a result of the crisis, many children have been separated from their families and are often killed or recruited to join armed groups. Females are also subject to physical abuse, forced labor, rape, forced marriage and sexual assault.
  3. There are more than 17 million people living in the affected areas across the four Lake Chad Basin countries. Many who are living in these affected areas are solely dependent on humanitarian aid for survival.
  4. The conflict has resulted in around 2.4 million people being displaced. More than half of those who were displaced were children. Of these children, 50 percent were under the age of five when displaced from their homes.
  5. There is an increased risk of disease in the area since malnutrition rates have reached critical levels. Those who are suffering from the conflict often depend on international aid for medical assistance. This can be extremely problematic due to Boko Haram’s efforts to stop foreign aid from reaching the area.
  6. There are 5.2 million people in need of food assistance as a result of the conflict. Approximately 745,000 suffer from acute malnourishment. Of these people, 490,000 are children.
  7. Currently, around four million people are food insecure in the affected regions. Unfortunately, it is predicted that this will increase to almost five million in the lean season between June and August.
  8. The severity of the conflict and its consequences continues to increase. Civilians are frequently still under attack by the Boko Haram group. The number of internally displaced people continues to substantially rise in the region, even though millions of people have already been displaced.
  9. The U.N. estimates that nearly 11 million people in the region require and depend on humanitarian assistance for survival. Approximately 7.7 million people requiring aid are located in the northeastern region of Nigeria in the three most affected states: Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
  10. Currently, it is estimated that around $1.58 billion will be required in aid to the region for 2018. Unfortunately, only $477 million, or approximately 30 percent of the goal, has been funded. It is important to encourage international assistance for this particular cause in order to ensure the survival of millions.

Many NGOs and foreign governments are working together to improve the living situation of those suffering from the Lake Chad Basin crisis. However, it is still important to urge senators and representatives to pass legislation that can assist in this humanitarian emergency that has left millions in need due to hunger, violence and displacement.

– Luz Solano-Flórez

Photo: Flickr

current global issues

Among all the good in the world, and all the progress being made in global issues, there is still much more to be done. Given the overwhelming disasters that nations, including the U.S., have been or still are going through, it is important to be aware of the most pressing global issues.

Top 10 Current Global Issues

  1. Climate Change
    The global temperatures are rising, and are estimated to increase from 2.6 degrees Celsius to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100. This would cause more severe weather, crises with food and resources and the spread of diseases. The reduction of greenhouse emissions and the spreading of education on the importance of going green can help make a big difference. Lobbying governments and discussing policies to reduce carbon emissions and encouraging reforestation is an effective way of making progress with climate change.
  2. Pollution
    Pollution is one of the most difficult global issues to combat, as the umbrella term refers to ocean litter, pesticides and fertilizers, air, light and noise pollution. Clean water is essential for humans and animals, but more than one billion people don’t have access to clean water due to pollution from toxic substances, sewage or industrial waste. It is of the utmost importance that people all over the world begin working to minimize the various types of pollution, in order to better the health of the planet and all those living on it.
  3. Violence
    Violence can be found in the social, cultural and economic aspects of the world. Whether it is conflict that has broken out in a city, hatred targeted at a certain group of people or sexual harassment occurring on the street, violence is a preventable problem that has been an issue for longer than necessary. With continued work on behalf of the governments of all nations, as well as the individual citizens, the issue can be addressed and reduced.
  4. Security and Well Being
    The U.N. is a perfect example of preventing the lack of security and well being that is a serious global issue. Through its efforts with regional organizations and representatives that are skilled in security, the U.N. is working toward increasing the well being of people throughout the world.
  5. Lack of Education
    More than 72 million children throughout the globe that are of the age to be in primary education are not enrolled in school. This can be attributed to inequality and marginalization as well as poverty. Fortunately, there are many organizations that work directly with the issue of education in providing the proper tools and resources to aid schools.
  6. Unemployment
    Without the necessary education and skills for employment, many people, particularly 15- to 24-year olds, struggle to find jobs and create a proper living for themselves and their families. This leads to a lack of necessary resources, such as enough food, clothing, transportation and proper living conditions. Fortunately, there are organizations throughout the world teaching people in need the skills for jobs and interviewing, helping to lift people from the vicious cycle of poverty.
  7. Government Corruption
    Corruption is a major cause of poverty considering how it affects the poor the most, eroding political and economic development, democracy and more. Corruption can be detrimental to the safety and well being of citizens living within the corrupted vicinity, and can cause an increase in violence and physical threats without as much regulation in the government.
  8. Malnourishment & Hunger
    Currently there are 795 million people who do not have enough to eat. Long-term success to ending world hunger starts with ending poverty. With fighting poverty through proper training for employment, education and the teaching of cooking and gardening skills, people who are suffering will be more likely to get jobs, earn enough money to buy food and even learn how to make their own food to save money.
  9. Substance Abuse
    The United Nations reports that, by the beginning of the 21st century, an estimated 185 million people over the age of 15 were consuming drugs globally. The drugs most commonly used are marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, amphetamine stimulants, opiates and volatile solvents. Different classes of people, both poor and rich, partake in substance abuse, and it is a persistent issue throughout the world. Petitions and projects are in progress to end the global issue of substance abuse.
  10. Terrorism
    Terrorism is an issue throughout the world that causes fear and insecurity, violence and death. Across the globe, terrorists attack innocent people, often without warning. This makes civilians feel defenseless in their everyday lives. Making national security a higher priority is key in combating terrorism, as well as promoting justice in wrongdoings to illustrate the enforcement of the law and the serious punishments for terror crimes.

With so many current global issues that require immediate attention, it is easy to get discouraged. However, the amount of progress that organizations have made in combating these problems is admirable, and the world will continue to improve in the years to come. By staying active in current events, and standing up for the health and safety of all humans, everyone is able to make a difference in changing the fate of our world.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr



Life after ISIS
After more than two years of intense fighting with ISIS, the extremist group seems to finally be getting pushed back. Now, the question of how life after ISIS will be arises. In late June, Iraqi forces retook Fallujah, one of ISIS’s largest captured cities. Now, allied troops are conducting an offensive effort on Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, and Raqqa, the ISIS capital. Of the 10 million people living under ISIS controlled territory at its peak, nearly 4 million have been liberated. U.S. led coalition and Russian air strikes have also helped destroy ISIS’s oil infrastructure, reducing its state revenue from an estimated $2.9 billion to $2.4 billion.

With ISIS clearly on the defense, it is time to begin planning the reconstruction phase, both politically and physically. While the U.S. has spent at least $6.5 billion on the military campaign, it has only contributed $15 million to stabilization efforts. Although Kerry has announced $155 million in additional aid for displaced Iraqis, the U.N., however, is seeking $400 million from the U.S. government and its allies to help rebuild the cities it has damaged.

Besides the need to rebuild infrastructure, government officials will need to address the many internally and externally displaced refugees. There are an estimated 6.6 million refugees internally displaced within Syria, 4.8 million outside of Syria, and 3 million Iraqis within Iraq. Refugees will need basic necessities like food and shelter, but also education and work opportunities for permanent relocation. Externally displaced refugees will need plenty of guidance with cultural adjustment as well.

Perhaps most importantly, in life after ISIS, government officials will also need to create long-term reconstruction plans within the Syrian and Iraqi regions. Because ISIS rose from the power vacuum created by the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011, U.S. officials should be especially wary and considerate in how it ends this conflict. Answering the question of Kurdish sovereignty is also essential, although the U.S.’s role in that may be diminished. In Syria, there is still the concern over Assad’s rule, which led to the inhumane civil war and indirectly aided ISIS’s quick expansion.

While political installations or overthrows may be the riskiest for the U.S., some have suggested establishing educational institutions as centers for peace. Rather than spreading religion through the caliphate, centralized institutions can educate on Islam bringing different ethnicities together. Though ideal, the reality that another extremist group may take the place of ISIS exists if there is no centralized, robust peace established. There is no better time than now for peaceful reform.

Henry Gao

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Kenya
During the early 1990s, Kenya formed a repatriation program, the Dadaab refugee camp, for thousands of displaced Somalians escaping rebel attacks, drought, continuous violence and abuse.

  1. Islamic extremists displaced thousands of Kenyans housed in the Dadaab refugee camp. Now the country is requesting that more than 260,000 refugees in Kenya return to Somalia for concern of Somalia-based al-Shabab Islamic extremists launching attacks within the Kenyan camp. After numerous deadly attacks from 2011-2015, the government announced in May the closure of Dadaab for immediate national security interests.
  2. World leaders don’t agree with deporting refugees back to Somalia. Kenyan officials are tentatively closing Dadaab at the end of 2016. However, the Human Rights Watch says sending refugees back to Somalia doesn’t meet international standards of a voluntary return.
  3. They have Somalian blood, but are Kenyan-bred. On average, refugees are in exile for about 20 years, according to the U.N. refugee agency. In Northeastern Kenya, nestled in close proximity to Somalia’s border, the Dabaab camp has been home to residents for a quarter of a century. Some have never stepped foot on Somalian soil.
  4. Refugees are being lured with a cash advance to return. Many Somalian refugees were told they would be deprived of a $400 U.N. cash grant because of forced extradition, according to the Human Rights Watch. Dadaab refugees have been given inadequate information about potential dangers during their forced exit.
  5. Resources in Somalia don’t exist for the influx of Kenyan refugees to return. Some Somalian refugees who returned to their home country have fled back to Kenya again due to continuous violence and nonexistent resources and services. The deported refugees seeking asylum were unable to reestablish themselves in Somalia, and now they are denied access to refugee registration, or asylum procedures in Dadaab. This leaves a large percentage of displaced peoples without legal status or access to food.
  6. Force and coercion used on refugees are not tolerated by world leaders. While the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta claims the process of repatriation will be voluntary and humane, countries internationally say they will reprimand evictions using force. However, many refugees inhabiting Kenya agree to the return for fear of coercion and force if they stay in Kenya, but they will face danger, persecution and hunger in Somalia.
  7. Refugees are involuntarily returning to insecure conditions and poverty. “The Kenyan authorities are not giving Somali refugees a real choice between staying and leaving, and the UN refugee agency isn’t giving people accurate information about security conditions in Somalia,” said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch. “There is no way these returns can be considered voluntary.”
  8. Kenyan refugees have no choice but to leave. Dadaab’s refugees reported feeling trapped by the government’s decision to shut down the camp. Many are afraid of returning to Somalia, but simultaneously fear the handcuffs and deportation of staying in Dadaab until the end of the year.
  9. The Dadaab refugee camp is a city full of resources and services. The refugee camp is the largest safe haven worldwide, and was initially created to host roughly 90,000 refugees searching for relief from rebels fighting the Somalian government in 1991. Now it spans five camps with makeshift cinemas, soccer leagues, bustling businesses, schools, hospitals and a graveyard.
  10. Refugees are forced into danger and left without community support. In mid-August, roughly 24,000 Somalian refugees had left Dadaab and gone back to their country of origin since the beginning of the repatriation process in December 2014. Kenya’s government reported to Human Rights Watch that in mid-August they were aiding the return of 1,000 refugees per day. Negotiations of repatriations are ongoing because refugees aren’t being sufficiently assisted upon their return to Somalia.

Rachel Williams

Photo: Flickr

Educating WomenGender parity in education around the globe has not yet been achieved but great strides are being made toward that goal.

Regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia remain challenges, as boys in these regions are still more than one-and-a-half times more likely to complete their secondary education than girls. Organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank keep track of statistics like these in their quest to provide education to girls and women in need.

Data from these types of organizations also illustrates the greater benefits of educating women. Here are five major reasons that educating women benefits everyone:

1. Educated women tend to have smaller, healthier families. Women who stay in school longer are likely to be older when they marry and when they have their first child. Education provides more access to information about family planning and educated women are more likely to have fewer children. Additionally, women learn about immunizations and general medical care for their children. They may also learn how to treat preventable diseases and learn hygiene practices to keep their children healthy.

2. Educated women are more likely to contribute to the economy. The more women participate in a country’s workforce, the healthier its GDP becomes — and every year of additional education increases a person’s capacity to be productive in the workforce. Families also increase their income when both parents contribute, which leads to more families rising out of poverty. UNESCO data shows that if girls enjoyed the same access to education that boys do, per capita income would increase by 23 percent over 40 years.

3. Education combats the problem of hunger. Women who receive more education are older and have more access to life-saving information by the time they begin having children. They are more likely to recognize the signs of malnutrition and to recognize proper nutrition that will prevent their children from becoming malnourished or stunted.

4. Educating women counters the threat of violence and terrorism. If lacking education, both women and men are more likely to be less tolerant of those who look different, who speak a different language or practice a different religion. Increasing tolerance in communities that were previously under-educated serves to spread that tolerance around the world and women are in a prime position to promote this in further generations as caretakers of their own children.

5. Educated women are more likely to have educated children. Once they have experienced the benefits of education for themselves, women are likely to want their children to have the same benefits. This perpetuates the trends of smaller, healthier families, healthier economies and better-informed world citizens.

Not only is educating women one of the most efficient ways for aid organizations to make an impact on gender equality, it also benefits the greater community in terms of prosperity, health and peace.

Katie Curlee Hamblen

Sources: Bloomberg, UNGEI, UNESCO, World Bank

Sanctions in Sudan
The U.S. designated Sudan a “state sponsor of terrorism” in 1993 when it was revealed that President Omar al-Bashir’s government was protecting terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden. There have been sanctions in Sudan ever since.

However, it has recently been pointed out by various publications and organizations that the sanctions have not had their desired effect. Foreign Policy, for instance, has pointed out that rather than crippling Sudan’s privileged and corrupt elite, the sanctions have done little more than exacerbate the poverty that 39 percent of the African country’s population lives in. Some would argue that it is, therefore, time to lift sanctions in Sudan.

The ways that the sanctions harm ordinary Sudanese are numerous. For one thing, isolation of the country’s biomedical sector has severely impacted its already dismal state of health care provision. Doctors often have to use outdated technology or black market products because the necessary equipment is too expensive.

Furthermore, scientists and academics cannot perform important research because they are prevented from subscribing to certain journals, buying certain books and accessing databases used by laboratories around the world. It is difficult for them to collaborate with scientists from the U.S. and other more advanced countries, which would be a crucial aspect of development.

Things are similarly tough for aid and development institutions. Though food, medicine and humanitarian assistance are technically exempted from sanctions, obtaining waivers is difficult and sometimes impossible. Many organizations would like to deal with Sudan balk because of the need to navigate thorny bureaucratic territory to secure special licenses. In other developing countries, a lot of this work would be performed by intermediary banks but since complying with the sanctions is such a hassle, many are unwilling to do so.

The IMF has reported that the dissolution of relations between Sudanese banks and their foreign counterparts is in large part the result of U.S. policy. Last year, the French bank BNP Paribas, after being caught doing business with Sudan, Iran and Cuba, was forced to pay an $8.9 billion penalty. This punishment has highlighted the increased risks banks have faced since 9/11 in dealing with countries that have some history of financing or otherwise abetting terrorism.

Despite having in these ways taken a significant toll on ordinary Sudanese, the sanctions have failed to oust Bashir from power or put an end to violence in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions. To lift sanctions in Sudan would allow the country new opportunities to develop and address its economic and political crises.

Up until recently, such change seemed like a pipe dream, since U.S.-Sudan relations have kept at a destructive standstill. However, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is looking to loosen things up.

According to, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) are hoping to undo travel restrictions that halt travel between Sudan and the U.S. The legislation they plan to introduce “would allow individuals from countries in the Visa Waiver Program who have dual citizenship with Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan to travel to the United States without a visa.” A bipartisan group of representatives plans to introduce similar legislation in the House.

These moves are not as major as a decision to lift sanctions in Sudan but they do point to the possibility that momentum will be gained in that direction in the near future.

Joe D’Amore

Sources: Foreign Policy, IMF, The Hill 1, The Hill 2, Flickr

Obama’s recent trip to Africa has made headlines far and wide. Perhaps less publicized, is his endorsement for a counter-terrorism plan, projected at $465 million. Many African regions have faced continual and extreme conflict, and such investments could help alleviate it.

The money would go towards training, equipment, and the development of partners in Africa. The increased funding would contribute to an increase in foreign aid spending in Africa for counter-terrorism from about $1.3 billion to $2.1 billion. So far, Congress seems to be overwhelmingly supportive while the Senate seems much more tentative and resistant due to oversight issues.

With the increase in the conversation of the threats from the Islamic State, the U.S is looking to actively prevent ISIS from gaining more power particularly in Africa, where vast human capital and a large amount vulnerable people could be easily taken advantage of, which poses serious risks for global security. With such an evident risk posed by ISIS, there is a need to rapidly develop and implement the counter-terrorism programs, but we need to be sure not to overlook managerial and organizational importance in the name of speed and anxiety.

The widespread poverty and general weak governmental systems in many of the eastern and sub-Saharan regions create high susceptibility for terrorism and extremist recruitment. The weakened structures and overall perceived lack of opportunity in such areas make it easier for such violent groups to gain strength, with the potential to overthrow governments and take hold of the people. With such broad and grave consequences, counter-terrorism is an essential investment. Counter-terrorism efforts not only help to keep development efforts in place and working but also help to decrease threats to U.S national security.

Emma Dowd

Sources: The Hill, Washington Post
Photo: Flickr


Journalist kidnappings, an issue which has been associated with terrorism, has grown on a global scale. With a total of 720 kidnapped reporters being murdered in the past decade, examiners are trying to fully understand these incidents, while educating the public of its many complications.

In 1994, a debate emerged when an Associated Press writer, Tina Susman, had gone missing after she was snatched off reporting grounds by Somalian thugs. The journalist would later be held for ransom for a near-20 day count while being stored in a cramped room.

Controversially, in the wake of her disappearance, Susman’s story never broke the air until she was rescued, initiating concern from the public over “double standard[s]” and “injustice.”

Fellow peers from her reporting unit at the Associated Press addressed the public, saying that they, alongside other news reporting teams, did not want to report on the story as a means to prevent “periling” Susman’s life. However, political officials noted that sources like the Associated Press were being “peculiar” and “overcautious” and loosely implied that such reporting would not have fazed the Somalian terrorists due to the lack of media presence in the developing region.

Congressional officials further argued that if government officials were to keep the story quiet themselves, journalists like those from The Associated Press would be all over them.

Susman herself proclaimed that in the end, it was good that the media kept her story confidential, partly because media acknowledgment of the Somalian robbers would have made things more problematic for Susman’s survival, adding to the thugs’ arrogance.

Although Tina Susman’s case met a moderately relieving outcome, hundreds of other kidnapping cases have not seen a safe close, considering their involvement with terrorist-induced conflicts.

2002 would mark the year when journalist kidnappings became a global concern, as reporters became potential victims in treacherous power-fueled schemes used by terrorist groups to seek money and attention from the masses. Following the murder of reporter Daniel Pearl, several terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda have used homicide as the key component in seeking ransom negotiations and for “propaganda purposes” at a highly effective level; both elements were once controversially debated in the 1994 kidnapping case of Tina Susman.

In 2003, The New Yorker presented several points on the harrowing scenarios, highlighting that if bargains are offered to terrorist groups at a low rate, only amputations of the kidnapped are likely to be sent; with intricate negotiations set at an expensive price, many remain unsure the kidnapped will be returned safely in one piece.

Today, the stakes of ransom negotiations remain uncertain and have ignited a firestorm of controversy from the public, especially those bearing kidnapped loved ones who served in a range of posts from military personnel to communication officials.

The disappearance of Austin Tice, who has been missing since mid-August 2012, has raised many questions concerning congressional powers’ consideration in establishing a new U.S. policy that assures the return of hostages and enhances the informational exchange of loved one’s whereabouts between government agencies and families.

The case has since not seen positive news coverage. Recently, a report that confirmed that Tice was not being held captive by once-presumed Syrian powers, leaving his whereabouts unknown.

The episodes of journalist kidnapping have caused extreme pandemonium this past year. Notably, the global coverage of the terrorist group ISIS, murdering hostages in the most brutal fashion and capturing the footage on video-camera, only to be uploaded on the Internet for the public to see, has garnered much attention. This is the same strategy those in the discussion of the 1994 case of Tina Susman feared would propel terrorist pacts to conjure controversy in order to attain media attention.

Last year, it was reported by the advocacy group known as Reporters Without Borders that a total of 119 journalists were captured in 2014, with 66 murdered—a 35% increase compared to the previous year.

Jeff Varner

Sources: American Journalism Review, The New Yorker, CBS News, Poynter, McClatchy DC
Photo: The Atlantic

Despite the state’s success in decapitating a major terrorist organization in Peru 30 years ago, many victims are still being rescued from captivity today. This includes a kidnap rescue mission by the Peruvian army, which took place just this past July.

The army of the Peruvian state rescued 39 people from a farm where some of them have been held there for 30 years after being kidnapped. Others, children now, were born within the confines of their captivity. These individuals were all victims of the terror that reigned over Peru from the Shining Path, or as it is called in Peru, Sendera Luminoso.

The Shining Path was an infamous and extremely destructive terrorist and politically radical group, responsible for the death of thousands of Peruvians over the years, as well as the disappearance of many innocent people. Despite the state’s ability to end the group’s terror in 1992, when the leader Abimael Guzman was taken down, these victims were not released until over 20 years after the dismantlement of the organization.

The victims found within the walls of these particular farms, which are labeled “production camps”, were primarily children. Many were kidnapped from rural areas and forced to work in these camps. They were to do agricultural work in the fields, as well as procreate with other captives.

Unfortunately, there are many cases in which the Shining Path still leaves its mark and affects those still living in Peru today. The government of the country is making an effort to permanently wipe out any impact the terrorist group continues to make, starting with these camps that are still in existence, hidden throughout the jungles and rural areas of the country.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: Inside the World, BBC
Photo: The Independent

Years of Violence
The infamous FARC terrorist organization in Colombia has the potential to end its years of violence and reign of terror with probable peace talks this month.

The FARC, or the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, has been responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 people in Colombia over the last 50 years since its establishment in 1964. The terrorist group has been notorious for violently attacking both civilians and significant political figures in the country throughout the years, as means of intimidation, gaining power and generally creating havoc.

The “revolutionary” group has been seemingly unstoppable through means of military force or political means, though the Colombian government has continued its efforts to end the excessive violence. However, lately, the government has discussed a potential ceasefire from the military in the midst of “peace talks” with the group. A discussion like this has not happened since the summer of 2012.

The question is, will these peace talks be successful and how long will said ceasefire last? Ending violence at the hand of the FARC have been attempted numerous times since 1964, while no solutions have been long-term. Issues with poverty and corruption in the government have led to continuous growth in the organization over generations, and many scholars argue that these attempts at peace will once again be unsuccessful.

What does this mean for the people of Colombia, and the overall security of Latin America in general? Most of the deaths at the hand of FARC have been innocent civilians in Colombia, many of which live in poorer and less secure regions of the country. The terrorist group is infamous for invading small communities, killing and torturing people and creating massive destruction. If said peace talks are successful, the 50 years of insecurity and terror for the people of Colombia may finally come to an end.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: Foreign Policy, BBC
Photo: Caribbean Digital Network