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Hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina
During the Bosnian War, a bloody conflict centered in the Bosnian capital city of Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995 and thousands of citizens experienced immense hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the war, Sarajevo did not have a connection to the rest of the world, resulting in immediate shortages of food, medicine, water and electricity. Lacking these basic necessities and in constant danger of violence, nearly 12,000 civilians died by the end of the war. Unable to survive on what remained in the country, humanitarian aid efforts saved many citizens through the United Nations, bringing in 160,000 tons of food and other essential goods to Sarajevo.

Challenges in Recovery

The end of the war in 1995 brought necessary relief, as well as a new set of challenges as the nation recovered. Unemployment rates rose for the next 10 years, peaking at 31.1% and then steadily decreasing until the worldwide economic crisis in 2008, after which unemployment numbers spiked back to upwards of 28%. This percentage began to fall in 2015, and in 2019, the unemployment rate was 18.4%. This decline has not been without setbacks, however. In 2014, protests and riots broke out in response to the government insisting that there was no hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This statement angered citizens, which followed the closure of several factories which laid off many citizens. They responded by setting fire to multiple government buildings, a scene reminiscent of the Bosnian War just years before.

Although the recent civil unrest indicates otherwise, levels of hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina have slowly declined over the past 20 years, with only 2.5% of the population currently experiencing undernourishment. Although undernourishment levels are low, the prevalence of stunting in children under the age of 5 is over 8%, a result of poor nutrition. In addition, approximately 20% of the population are children, one-third of which are experiencing poverty and subsequent hunger and malnutrition.

The Effects of Refugees

Although levels of unemployment and hunger are now relatively low, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and an influx in refugees entering the country have placed an additional strain on an already fragile system. As of May 2020, over 7,000 refugees live in Bosnia and Herzegovina, presenting the challenge of providing food and shelter for more than the capacity of existing camps. The ability to provide for refugees and migrants is essential not only for refugee safety and welfare but for the economic stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina as they seek to meet the needs of their own citizens. The people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are familiar with the realities of what it means to be a refugee, as many of them experienced displacement during the war. However, local authorities were not prepared for the number of refugees they received, resulting in the need for new plans and structures, while simultaneously addressing their own economic and political needs.

Following the first influx of refugees and migrants entering Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017, the International Organization for Migration, which had previously established a presence in the country as a result of the 2015 refugee crisis, has been providing support for national authorities and civil society. The organization has established mobile protection teams to assist migrants in vulnerable situations and also provided transportation, food, shelter and other basic necessities as necessary.

The United Nations Development Program

Assistance with the current refugee population allows Bosnia and Herzegovina to focus on reducing unemployment and hunger in the nation through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations Development Program proposed. The goals act as a blueprint for nations across the world to end poverty by 2030. The second of these goals focus on eradicating hunger through international cooperation and the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices. Recently, the European Union, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, allocated 20 million euros to the development and modernization of the agri-food sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although the program is positioned to independently assist countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, strong partnerships with entities such as the European Union are crucial for the goals’ success.

As the fight against hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues, the country must develop additional solutions in order to increase employment rates and promote economic stability. Challenges and unprecedented setbacks may present themselves, but to continue a pattern of success, the nation must search for systems and solutions that will continually strengthen its government and citizens.

Kalicia Bateman
Photo: Unsplash

Displacement in Burkina Faso
Over the last couple of years, the crisis of displacement in Burkina Faso, a small country in western Africa, has become the most pressing refugee situation on Earth. Violence and lack of resources have forced many into displacement and extreme poverty.

Astronomical Growth of the Crisis

The Displacement in Burkina Faso has been called the current fastest growing crisis of its kind—for the last two years, attacks carried out by armed groups have ravaged villages, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. Since January of 2019, the number of people displaced in Burkina Faso, which has a total population of 18.6 million, has risen from 50,000 to around 920,000 as of July 2020. The United Nations has recognized that this is the fastest growing population of displaced people on the planet and that activists need to put their resources to work in Burkina Faso as quickly as possible.

Stable But Struggling Economy

Burkina Faso’s people do not benefit from its relatively stable macroeconomic status—Burkina Faso’s economy relies primarily upon agriculture, and though this sector has seen a decline, the rising service sector has allowed the country’s GDP growth to remain 6% in 2019. Yet, Burkina Faso’s people remain largely impoverished: over 40% of its population lives below the poverty line.

The displacement crisis, of course, has not helped the matter. It has caused over 2,000 schools to close, among other major losses in massive fields like medicine. 11,000 teachers felt the impact of this mass closing, and around 300,000 students found themselves without an education.

Lack of Governmental Regulation

Authorities do not know the extent of the situation—the armed groups terrorizing Burkina Faso, some linked with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, have caused the administrative presence in the northern and eastern regions of the country to virtually disappear. Official regulation throughout the nation has deteriorated as a result. Police and other representatives of the state have fled these areas, which have unofficially fallen to terrorist control.

Moreover, the administration of Burkina Faso has resorted to execution without trial; 60 such executions occurred in 2019 alone. These circumstances make it difficult to say exactly how many lives have been affected by this crisis.

Humanitarian Organizations Strain to Help

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other humanitarian organizations need major funding to solve this issue: In response to the massive spread of displacement in Burkina Faso, IOM has begun a project to provide shelter and other resources to displaced people. Through their efforts, IOM delivered on its promise to more than 3,000 people in Burkina Faso. IOM also managed to provide psychological care for over 5,000 displaced people.

However, most of all, IOM needs outside funding to expand the scope of its aid. In June of 2020, IOM appealed for $37.8 million, hoping to extend aid to 460,000 displaced people in Burkina Faso and other neighboring countries.

Displacement and COVID-19

Burkina Faso needs aid for its COVID-19 response as well. The pandemic and displacement in Burkina Faso have created a dual-threat situation for the nation’s people. However, officials at IMO warn that both issues require the world’s attention. Neither of the relief efforts should suffer for the other’s sake—the rise of one issue inevitably worsens the other.

IMO has dedicated itself to solving both problems. They have provided medical supplies and raised awareness, helping over 3,282 displaced people become more aware of the pandemic situation.

Burkina Faso faces an issue that perhaps lies outside the bounds of what its government can overcome alone. Humanitarian agents around the globe need to immediately provide resources in order to alleviate the suffering in this once prosperous nation by helping it fight COVID-19 and its growing displacement crisis.

– Will Sikich
Photo: Flickr

Slave Labor in LibyaIn the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, an outbreak of news coverage uncovered the mass institutionalized racism within the United States. However, it is important to also bring to light the racist acts in other countries, such as slave labor in Libya, that still continue the prejudice against black communities today.

The migration of more than 150,000 migrants from Libya to Europe motivated the government to allocate funding towards the Libyan Coast Guard. As a result, Libya accumulated at least 400,000 refugees in detention centers, concentration camps and slave auctions. Currently, there are three times the amount of people in these modern slavery systems in comparison to the transatlantic trade in the 1600s. Here are five ways to help end slave labor in Libya.

5 Ways to Help End Slave Labor in Libya

  1. Social Media: As social media is becoming more popular by the minute, try raising awareness about the mistreatment of migrants in Libya through social media. It is crucial, especially with the sentiment of the Black Lives Matter Movement, to provide resources to the community on how to help during this crisis.
  2. Email or Call U.S. Congressional and International Leaders: Support from the United States is instrumental in providing foreign aid to refugees in Libya. For example, calling attention to certain legislation, such as the International Affairs Budget or the Global Health Security Act, could ensure safety and enrichment for countries at risk. It is also important to grasp the attention of the most vocal leaders across the globe. One could also contact different U.N. ambassadors about taking priority in this cause and mobilizing efforts to solve this global issue.
  3. Boycott Slave Labor in Large Industries: Living in a primarily capitalistic economy, many do not realize how slavery persists through global businesses and industries. Popular brands, such as Nestle and H&M, have used slave labor previously in support of mass production. With over 850,000 textile workers since 2018, H&M does not provide its laborers up to minimum wage. In fact, many of the large industries outside of H&M have their laborers work up to 11 hours a day for six days a week. However, there are simple measures that one can take daily to boycott slave labor. For example, one could support smaller black-owned businesses, such as Aaks, to foster an antislavery sentiment within the community. Other examples of black-owned businesses that follow ethical guidelines are Moda Operandi and Aliya Wanek.
  4. Support Antislavery Movements: Many organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), protect victims from human trafficking and support safe departures for refugees. Adding on, smaller projects, such as the Polaris Project, have geared themselves towards ending global enslavement. The Polaris Project takes significant value in its name. It translates to the “North Star” which slaves used as a navigation tool for their freedom. To be more specific, the Polaris Project has run a national human trafficking hotline that has served as a model in many other countries. Having more than 4,000 service providers in the U.S. alone, the Polaris Project has helped survivors and victims who have experienced human trafficking. In addition, it has researched and formed databases, such as the Global Modern Slavery Directory, to connect various countries in ending the slave trade. As of now, more than 2,900 organizations have the database to end human trafficking and slave trading internationally.
  5. Restorative Justice Within Libya: Libya does not criminalize labor trafficking, which allows slave labor to endure. This is largely due to weak law enforcement and the judicial institution in Libya. For example, labor trafficking is not a criminal law, which allows for slave labor to persist. To take part in restorative action, it is necessary to assemble support to provide legal reform in overlooked matters, such as labor trafficking, within Libya. Some organizations that are combating this issue are the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Directorate For Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM).

Although the slave trade remains to be an integral problem in Libya, some are making various strides in the fight against slave labor and labor trafficking. For example, the United Nations made it an official goal to end slavery by 2030. In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council is providing more funding towards antislavery actions as well as providing health care to migrants and refugees. With this support, Libya is taking action in making internal improvements, such as collaborating with IOM on imperative initiatives such as the better treatment of migrants. With numerous efforts together, there is more solvency not just in Libya, but in the widespread systemic oppression that many face today.

– Aishwarya Thiyagarajan
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in The Gambia
The Gambia is a small West African country that people know for its diverse ecosystems around the Gambia River. It is the smallest country within mainland Africa and farming, fishing and tourism drive its economy. The Gambia has a life expectancy of 65 years which is relatively low when considering that the global average life expectancy is 72 years. The Gambia also faces problems associated with poverty that can have serious effects on population and life expectancy. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in The Gambia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in The Gambia

  1. HIV/AIDS – Twenty-one thousand people are currently living with HIV or AIDS in The Gambia with only 30 percent seeking treatment. Since 2010, The Gambia has been working towards lowering the rate of transmission between mothers and children. With the establishment of the National AIDS Control Programme, HIV infections have decreased by 3 percent and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 23 percent.
  2. Lack of Health Care Providers – The Gambia faces a lack of health care providers. According to a 2009 World Health Organization report, The Gambia had only 156 physicians. The World Health Organization recommends two doctors for every 10,000 people, whereas The Gambia only has one doctor for every 10,000. The International Organization for Migration, in partnership with the World Health Organization, is attempting to increase the amount of health care providers through its program, Migration for Development in Africa.
  3. Infant Mortality Rate – The infant mortality rate in The Gambia is at 58 deaths per 1,000 live births, severely affecting the life expectancy in The Gambia. Malaria is the cause for 4 percent of infant deaths under the age of 1, and 25 percent between the ages of 1 and 4. The National Malaria Control Programme launched in 2014 and prevents 75 percent of all malaria and severe malaria episodes.
  4. Maternal Mortality Rate – The maternal mortality rate in The Gambia is 706 deaths per 100,000 live births. The major cause behind maternal mortality is a lack of prompt response to emergencies combined with disorganized health care. Improving accessibility is necessary for preventing maternal deaths.
  5. Income – The average gross salary is $0.57 per hour with 75 percent of the labor force working in agriculture. Longterm challenges that the economy of The Gambia faces include an undiversified economy, limited access to resources and high population growth.
  6. Malnutrition – Approximately 11 percent of the country is chronically food insecure and 21 percent of children under 5 are malnourished which impacts the life expectancy in The Gambia. Thirty percent of the population do not have proper nourishment–a number that has increased over the past decade. The Gambia relies heavily on imports of food staples along with low agricultural production has made it easy to become food deficient. UNICEF has begun treating cases of malnutrition through preventative and curative services.
  7. Water – Only 32 percent of households have access to clean water with unprotected wells being more common in rural areas. With 4 percent of the rural population practicing open defecation, water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases account for 20 percent of under-5 deaths. Water for Africa has begun to send aid to The Gambia in the form of building wells.
  8. Education – The Gambia sends its children to six years of primary school and three years of upper basic education, but there are still gaps in education. With aid from the United States and the World Bank, The Gambia launched its Education Sector Support Program to promote early childhood development and boost access to basic education. The project also provides for the building of 40 schools in remote areas.
  9. Malaria Endemic – Peak season for malaria is during the rainy season from June to October. The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) works to provide relief to malaria outbreaks in The Gambia with cases that have declined by 50 percent from 2011 to 2016. The CRS works by distributing bed nets and focusing its aid on children under 5 and pregnant women.
  10. Employment – Farming employs at least 70 percent of the population. Farmers are reliant on rain-fed agriculture. Most cannot afford improved seeds and fertilizers. Between 2011 and 2013, poverty, food shortages and malnutrition have increased due to crop failures that droughts caused.

Despite problems people associate with agriculture, income and health, life expectancy in The Gambia is rising while infant and maternal mortality rates are declining.

– Darci Flatley
Photo: Flickr

Education in Venezuela
The Council of Foreign Relations refers to Venezuela as a failed petrostate, or as a nation struggling economically—and, as a result, socially—due to extensive reliance on a once successful, now-fractured petroleum trade. In 2015, global prices plummeted to less than $49 per barrel of oil. Just a year earlier, the average was $93 dollars per barrel. Since then, the Venezuelan economy has experienced inflation at record high rates—the highest at 2,688,670 percent in January 2019. This led to food and vital medicine shortages across the country. Almost 90 percent of the country’s population now lives in poverty, and education in Venezuela has experienced a major decline.

The economic situation this country has experienced since 1990 is almost entirely responsible for the lack of funding and resources that the country allocates to social welfare programs—particularly those supporting electricity, running water and food security in education. Despite worldwide support for leadership change in Venezuela while it is desperately in need of humanitarian assistance and guidance, people are doing very little to address the needs of individual citizens and the currently under-covered establishment of education in Venezuela.

Why Venezuelans Cannot Stay in School

Under the current system, basic education in Venezuela is compulsory and free–in recent years, however, the Venezuelan government has failed to follow through in ensuring these elementary level schools are in stable condition to foster a learning environment. As the disadvantages of remaining in Venezuela continue to increase, a growing number of Venezuelans have begun immigrating to countries like Colombia and Brazil in search of a better life. The conditions for learning in Venezuela are so dire. UNICEF reported on May 31, 2019, that up to 3,000 Venezuelan children in one region of the country cross daily into neighboring Colombia to get to and return from their school in the Colombian border city of Cúcuta. Seven thousand more students with their families have already left Venezuela behind and migrated to Colombia to live and learn there full time.

The quality of consistent and scheduled education in Venezuela has declined drastically in recent years. Country-wide power outages that lead to the cancellation of classes for days and weeks on end discourage many people in Venezuela from trusting the educational system of their country. While the Ministry of Education in Venezuela has yet to report on the frequency of power outages in Venezuelan schools, a Reuters article found that two major blackouts in March 2019 led to the government canceling classes for a week at the beginning and end of that month. Though classes would normally end at the start of July, Venezuelan Education Minister Aristibulo Isturiz said the school would be open until the end of July to account for missed educational days.

UNESCO has found Venezuelan youth are not remaining in school as they did in years past. In 2009, the gross enrollment ratio for primary students in Venezuela was 101 percent. In 2017, that ratio became 93.37 percent. This is alarming due to the fact that nine years of education (ages 7-14) are legally compulsory by decree of 1880 Venezuelan President Antonio Guzman and solidified through the creation of the Ministry of Public Instruction and the Bolivarian social program Mission Robinson. Though there should be no obstacles keeping children of this age in school, on average 7 percent do not attend. Secondary education adolescent gross enrollment dropped from 92 percent in 2013 to 83 percent in 2017. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of out-of-school children grew by 200,000 and the number of adolescents no longer in Venezuelan schools increased by 150,000.

No Food, No School

This overall decrease in quality also has to do with the fact that children who made sure to attend for the sake of receiving at least one meal per day are no longer receiving a meal at school. At the Santo Anglo School an hour outside Caracas, the nation’s capital, schools have adjusted their protocol so that they are not responsible for feeding students anymore. They ask parents to feed children breakfast before they go to school and end school around 11:45 a.m., which is just before lunch so they do not have an obligation to provide it.

These issues persist in all parts of this country. Francy Rodriguez, a teacher in Venezuela’s capital, told an Al-Jazeera reporter that, “The children have no food at home and they come here to at least get one meal. But we haven’t had food for a year because the kitchen is broken. The children faint during physical education class because their stomachs are empty.” A Venezuelan regional president to a chapter of the National Federation of Educational workers stated that “Hungry people aren’t able to teach or learn. We’re going to end up with a nation of illiterates.”

Efforts to Fix the Crisis

In a joint effort led by the International Organization for Migration and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 95 worldwide organizations that strive to end migrant crises will be working to solve the Venezuelan migrant crisis by following the Refugee and Migrant Response Plan of 2019. This plan provided “a total of USD 738 million … for the period January – December 2019, including USD 315.5 million for Colombia, USD 117.3 million for Ecuador, USD 106.4 million for Peru, USD 56.6 million for Brazil, USD 35.7 million for the Southern Cone, USD 34.8 million for the Caribbean, USD 21.7 million for Central America/Mexico and USD 49.7 million for regional (Venezuela).”

In addition, UNICEF advocates are appealing to allocate around $70 million to the Venezuelan cause, with a focus on assisting local and national governments within that region to improve the quality of “drinking water and sanitation, protection, education and health services for uprooted children and those in vulnerable communities.” Also, the World Food Programme plans to expand its initiative supplying food in schools that are not meeting healthy standards to Venezuela. In doing so, it provides food security so that children do not feel obligated to enter the labor force at an age they should be learning and growing their intellectual capabilities.

– Fatemeh-Zahra Yarali
Photo: Flickr