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Poverty Rate in NigerNiger made American and world news recently for the ambush that killed four U.S. Army Green Berets operating alongside Nigerien troops in October. The World Bank puts the poverty rate in Niger at 48.9, and in 2015 it ranked dead last out of 188 countries in the United Nations Development Index. 76 percent of Nigeriens live on less than $2 a day.

The region of Africa that Niger occupies is home to several armed groups loyal to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State. A group affiliated with the latter is the primary suspect behind the October 4 attacks that killed the U.S. servicemen. Violence, both within and without, has always been a factor contributing to the poverty rate in Niger. In 2015, Niger approved the deployment of 750 troops to neighboring Nigeria to combat the Islamist group Boko Haram. In retaliation, Boko Haram has increased its operations in Niger.

The conflict has also created a refugee situation. About 115,000 people from neighboring Nigeria have relocated to Niger, primarily to the Niger’s Diffa region, which is already known for having a strained food supply.

Another tragic factor contributing to the poverty rate in Niger is teenage pregnancy and child brides. Half of the girls in Niger are married before age 15. Many of these unions are forced marriages. Polygamy is also common in Niger. The extremely young age at which many Nigerien girls give birth and the high numbers of children many mothers have are creating a population boom that could increase the poverty rate in Niger if not handled carefully.

These facts may present a grim picture of Niger, but there are efforts being made to reduce the poverty rate in Niger. Mobile fertility clinics have given Nigerien women education and access to birth control that they would otherwise not have. Many communities also have “husband schools” to educate men on birth spacing and population control, so that they are knowledgeable about these issues and can come to an agreement with their wives to have fewer children.

The agriculture sector also has shown improvements in recent years and has driven Niger’s economy. Less than a third of Niger’s usable land is currently being farmed. Combined with better farming techniques, this could lead to much higher food production. These steps may seem small on their own, but with combined efforts they can make a major difference in the lives of Nigeriens.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Four major socioeconomic factors correlate significantly with the cultivation of extremism in developing nations: youth unemployment, militarization, levels of criminality, access to weapons and corruption.

These factors strengthen the four drivers of radicalization that arise in developed countries: historic conflict, corruption, acceptance of human rights and the marginalization of groups.

Two major categories of socioeconomic conditions that lead to extremism include relative deprivation and general corruption. These ideas largely capture the four elements that are common among both developing and developed nations where radicalization is most common.

Relative Deprivation
Relative deprivation is the discrepancy between individuals’ expectations of justice and the state and an opposing reality and is a precursor to radicalization.

Kartika Bhatia and Hafez Ghanem argue that unemployment and underemployment can increase the likelihood of violent extremism, explaining the positive relationship between relative deprivation and radicalization. Furthermore, those with secondary educations who are unemployed or underemployed have the highest risk of becoming radicalized.

The Global Terrorism Index discloses that those who move to Syria to become an ISIL foreign fighter experience relative deprivation in that they typically have high educations but low incomes.

Corruption
According to the Global Terrorism Index, acts of terror between 1989 and 2014, “93 percent of all terrorist attacks occurred in countries with state-sponsored terror including extra-judicial deaths, torture and imprisonment without trial” versus only 0.5 percent of countries not experiencing political terror suffering from internal terrorist acts.

Poor socioeconomic conditions like widespread poverty can lead to political instability that reinforces antidemocratic values and the disenfranchisement of citizens. This reciprocal relationship between poor socioeconomic circumstances and corruption negatively influence one another, both factors swelling each other’s occurrence.

The report also notes that “when group grievances against the state are high, and the opportunity cost of joining a rebellion is low, groups are most likely to form”.

Today and the Future
Despite it all, there is good news. In 2016, the number of terrorist attacks and deaths from the attacks have both declined by 10 percent.

A decrease in the number of instances is significant and certainly good news. But getting to the root of what is causing radicalization is the best strategy to ameliorate the socioeconomic conditions that lead to extremism in general.

The creation of anti-corruption measures is being enforced globally. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption recognizes the destructive effects that corruption has on citizens. Postulating corruption as a global issue, the convention proposes a set of regulations that fights to eliminate corruption both before and after it occurs.

Matthew Murray, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, takes the position that freedom from official corruption is a human right and international law should reflect that.

The legal advocacy of recognizing corruption as a crime against human rights is a fundamental step toward global initiatives that will combat corruption preying on vulnerable nations.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

Rohingya Muslims in MyanmarAs the world has begun to pay more attention to the refugee crisis concerning Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the problem with State Chancellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s response—or lack thereof—has come under scrutiny.

The refugee crisis only illuminates the persecution of Rohingya that has been going on for decades. The U.N. reported that government troops in Myanmar have committed crimes against the minority Muslim population—such as murder, rape and arson—that have made living in their home country impossible.

Furthermore, the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have been denied citizenship since 1982, and are not considered to be one of the country’s 135 official ethnic groups.

While the military in the country denies such allegations, thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar, hoping to find an escape from the brutality that has taken over their lives. Most Rohingya flee to neighboring countries, but the brutality against the refugees has not stopped, only transitioned from one predator to another. Aljazeera reports that the head of the U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM) is “concerned” about the violence taking place in Bangladesh against the minority Muslim population, and has every right to be.

The violence is reported to be sexual in nature and gender-targeted, which only solidifies the concerns held by world leaders that Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi is not going to openly oppose the violence being carried out by citizens of her country against the Rohingya. In fact, the State Chancellor has refused to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing for quite some time.

Human rights groups and the U.N. have called on the State Chancellor to take action and stop the senseless murder of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Unfortunately, the politics of the situation are more complicated than it may seem.

The BBC reports that under Myanmar’s constitution, the military is a very powerful entity that prevents Myanmar from taking steps towards democracy. Despite calls by international leaders and human rights groups for Aung San Suu Kyi to denounce the violence, it is ultimately the military’s stronghold over the government that has prevented her from speaking out.

Still, many believe that the State Chancellor should be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize that she was awarded in 1991.

Finally, after an unusual period of silence, the State Chancellor addressed the violence. Amid the confusion and horror that has become everyday life for the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has stated the Rohingya will be allowed to return to their home country.

The road home is seemingly far-off—a result of the military’s targeted violence towards their homes, crops and other resources essential for the Rohingya’s survival in Myanmar. However, many in the international community believe the recent attention drawn to the ethnic cleansing will have a positive effect and save the lives of those who need help.

For this reason, it is imperative that the world does not forget about the genocide occurring against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The international community must pay attention and provide any support necessary.

Jaxx Artz

Photo: Flickr

Turkey-ISIL ConflictSince Turkey declared war on the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) in 2014, the Middle Eastern country accomplished great strides in aiding the world’s poor, while struggling with both internal and external challenges. These 10 facts about the Turkey-ISIL conflict explore two sides of the same issue.

  1. Turkey’s economy struggled before the country declared war
    During the twenty-first century, Turkey utilized rapid urbanization and increasing trade to become an upper-middle-class country. As growth slowed in 2013, critics accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of being soft on terrorism. Time Magazine suggests that Erdoğan declared war on ISIL to distract his populace and boost the economy.
  2. In recent years, Turkey has discovered economic success
    The World Bank reports that exports and growth in Turkey will strengthen overall in 2017. In the midst of a turbulent time, the country continues decreasing its poverty rate past 9.3 percent, compared to 27.3 percent in the 2000s.
  3. Turkey has also found new economic hardships
    In spite of Turkey’s accomplishments fighting poverty, unemployment reached 12.1 percent in November 2016, rising from 11.1 percent a year earlier. The employment rate is even worse among men and women aged 15-24.
  4. Turkey shows incredible generosity to immigrants
    In 2015, Turkey provided a place to live for two million Syrian refugees. That number has since increased to three million. The 2015 Turkish Development Assistance Report named Turkey the second-largest donor country in the world.
  5. Turkey’s generosity comes with costs
    The increase in transport and food expenses drove core inflation up to 10.2 percent in 2017. This is the first time in a decade for such numbers to reach double digits in Turkey. Combined with a poor harvest and increasing gas prices, it’s uncertain how long Turkey will allow its refugees to stay. No one can put a price on human life, but these 10 facts about the Turkey-ISIL conflict reveal that fighting global poverty is more than a moral issue.
  6. Syrian refugees are uncertain if they’ll ever return home
    Many Turkish neighborhoods packed with Syrians in the past three years. As Middle Eastern conflict continues, these un-integrated communities reveal that caring for migrants is more than a short-term solution.
  7. Refugees are gaining more access to social services
    When Syrian refugees first entered Turkey in 2011, the government gave migrants a special protection status in lieu of work permits. The country also granted their guests temporary accommodation centers and permission to enroll in universities without passports. Turkey has since rolled out work permits in response to complaints.
  8. Not all refugees can use services
    Due to the length and cost of providing work permits and social security for Syrian workers, most Turkish companies risk minor fines to hire illegal workers. Such practices do not comfort Turkish anxieties. Labor lawyer Mehmet Ata Sarikaripoglu notes “a public concern that Turkish people would be unemployed because of… Syrians… employed with lower fees.”
  9. ISIL terrorists are retreating
    As of Oct. 4, 2017, Iraqi forces have retaken Hawija, a major Islamic State stronghold. Though Iraq routinely declares victory before fighting has finished, this latest strike continues a trend that has greatly reduced ISIL territory.
  10. Turkey’s conflicts with Kurds continue
    Turkish forces bombed more Kurdish separatists than ISIL targets during the war. The arrests of Kurdistan Workers Party members outnumber the amount of detained ISIL fighters. The Kurdistan Regional Government claimed territory close to Hawija, signaling that conflict in the region will continue for the foreseeable future.

These 10 facts about the Turkey-ISIL conflict reveal the inseparable relationships between war, economy and global poverty.

Nick Edinger

Photo: Google

Facts About LandminesLandmines are any type of container of explosive material than can be triggered when it comes into contact with a person or a vehicle. The explosive blast or fragments of a landmine are intended to incapacitate a person or vehicle.

10 Facts about Landmines:

  1. Landmines are generally buried 6 inches (15 centimeters) under the surface or simply laid above ground. Buried landmines can remain active for more than 50 years.
  2. Landmines come in two categories, anti-personnel landmines and anti-tank landmines. An anti-personnel landmine is designed to injure or kill a person, while an anti-tank landmine is designed to incapacitate tanks or other vehicles.
  3. Landmines were first created during World War I. While the original mines were anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines were developed to prevent enemy forces from reusing or removing anti-tank mines.
  4. The random dissemination of landmines began in the 1960s. The U.S. dropped thousands of mines by plane during its nine-year bombing campaign of Laos.
  5. There are an estimated 110 million anti-personnel mines in the ground and another 250 million stockpiled across the world today. About 5 to 10 million mines are produced each year.
  6. The countries most affected by landmines are Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq, China, Egypt and Laos. Mines are also a serious problem in Bosnia, Croatia, Georgia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
  7. One person is killed by a landmine every 15 minutes. About 70 people are killed by a landmine every day. 26,000 people a year become landmine victims. A total of over one million people have been killed or maimed by landmines.
  8. The cost of removing all currently existing mines would be $50-$100 billion. Organizations like Minesweepers are dedicated to removing landmines across the globe. Overall, mine removal operations have resulted in the destruction of more than 2.2 million anti-personnel mines and 250,000 anti-tank mines.
  9. Landmines deprive some of the poorest people on Earth access to arable land, markets, schools, work and water. The existence of landmines can also prevent reconstruction, new development and the delivery of aid.
  10. Landmines place a burden on the health systems of developing countries. People hurt by mines need more antibiotics and need to stay in the hospital longer than other patients.

Landmines can be hard to detect and are often prevalent in areas decimated by war. This makes their existence especially dangerous to the poor and to refugees. While these facts about landmines can be distressing, great work by organizations like Minesweepers helps make environments less dangerous and the lives of the global poor safer.

Brock Hall

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Libya

Poverty in Libya is notoriously hard to define. An estimate based on surveys of sub-groups puts about one-third of Libya’s population below the poverty line. However, no specific figure exists.

Libya’s economy is directly dependent on its political stability, as most countries are. The country struggled with a civil war starting in 2014 which impacted Libya’s economy greatly, due to its dependence on oil and gas exports. Armed conflict between rival forces over control of the largest oil terminals in 2015 caused a decline in crude oil production which has yet to recover. In fact, production today is only at one-third of what it was before this political conflict.

While the government of Libya is officially “in transition,” its leaders historically have not used its financial resources to develop the national infrastructure. As a result, poverty in Libya persists in the form of widespread power outages, limited access to clean drinking water, medical services and safe housing, as well as decreased security due to political instability.

An added threat is the presence of extremists associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who attack Libyan oilfields, further detracting from future government revenue.

The GDP in Libya is estimated to have declined by 10 percent along with a per capita income of less than $4,500. Inflation runs rampant due to high food prices and the tendency of some citizens to stockpile food.

In order to combat poverty in Libya, organizations like the World Bank have committed to supporting Libya’s economic recovery. As of spring 2016, support includes technical assistance, analytical services and trust fund/grant financing.

The World Bank has created threemedium-termm objectives for promoting economic growth in Libya: increasing accountability and transparency, improving the delivery of services and creating jobs. Hopefully these will be accomplished in the near future by partnering with donor agencies and people from different parts of Libya to make sure the plan for recovery is Libyan-owned.

Ellen Ray

Photo: Flickr


Afghanistan has been in the midst of a war for several decades. While the conditions of war have the ability to stunt progress, the Afghans are unwilling to let their education system crumble. Whether it be national initiatives or programs developed by smaller organizations, education in Afghanistan continues to make progress.

In recent years, Afghanistan has made drastic progress in its education system. In 2002, about 900,000 boys attended school; girls, on the other hand, were not given the same opportunities. Most girls were educated at home to read and write but not much more. With the help of private donors, these numbers have begun to drastically change, and the Ministry of Education has since been able to build 16,000 schools across the country.

Now, there are over nine million students in Afghanistan, 40 percent of which are girls, a stark contrast to the state of education 15 years ago.

Not only is the government working towards creating a better education system throughout the country, but privately-owned companies are trying to make positive changes as well. Teach for Afghanistan, a sector of Teach for All, has been avidly working toward enrolling more students in school. While numbers of adolescents in school have been on the rise, there are still over three million children unenrolled in school, with two million of those actively working instead.

Additionally, schools still do not have enough teachers, leading the student to teacher ratio to be 111 students to one teacher.

In order to combat this problem, Teach for Afghanistan’s founder, Rahmatullah Arman, has helped obtain more teachers around the country. In the eastern province of Nangarhar, there are 80 graduates from Afghan universities teaching 23,000 students in 21 schools as part of the program.

When selecting fellows to teach for the program, it was important to the program to hire many female teachers to try and change the mindset for female education in Afghanistan. It is common for girls to be pulled from school, but the teachers try to reach out to parents and keep as many girls in school as possible.

Education in Afghanistan isn’t perfect; there are millions of boys and girls who are uneducated and female schooling is still seen as less essential to families throughout the country.

While there are still changes that need to be made, many people, as well as the government, recognize the importance of a strong education in giving their people the best chance in the future.

Olivia Hayes

Photo: Flickr

South Sudanese Civil War
After 20 years of fighting and more than 1.5 million lives lost, the 10 most southern Sudanese states seceded, forming South Sudan. Though this action was part of an agreement intended to end the civil war, conflict barely paused to allow the country’s inception. In 2013, President Salva Kiir Mayardiit accused his vice-president, Riek Machar, of planning a coup, and the newly formed country launched into civil war.

Peace accords were signed in 2015, but conflict remains the norm. This month, the city Pagak (a traditional rebel stronghold) was retaken by rebel groups less than a week after government forces had captured it from insurgents. These events have all occurred despite a unilateral ceasefire signed into effect by the president more than a year ago.

Much like the racial divides that ignited the Rwandan civil war and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, the South Sudanese Civil War is one predicated on inter-ethnic violence. However, with over 60 different tribes living in South Sudan, the conflicts are much less predictable and even harder to contain and control.

Perhaps the biggest fallout from the Rwandan Civil War was the two million refugees pushed out by fear of conflict. This same mass exodus is being seen in the South Sudanese Civil War, where nearly 3.5 million people have been displaced.

Though it seems that there is no end in sight for the South Sudanese Civil War, groups around the world are stepping up to help. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that five million people in South Sudan are in need of immediate help, and they have stepped up admirably to the task. The IRC trains community and government leaders on the importance of law and human rights; provides medical, psychological and legal assistance to survivors of sexual violence and has improved access to medical care and clean water in the area.

A recent cholera outbreak in the region has also prompted significant humanitarian assistance from many countries. China donated $1.8 million to the South Sudanese Ministry of Health, and more than 97,000 doses of cholera vaccination have been distributed on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Even with such substantial assistance, the South Sudanese Civil War remains one of the great humanitarian crises of today. Every day, more people are displaced or killed outright by the conflict at a rate which far outpaces that of current aid. The end of the conflict will come only when the area has achieved stability. With millions of lives at risk, now is the time to act.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Syrian Refugees
It has been six years since the outbreak of civil war in Syria that has resulted in a reported 470,000 Syrian deaths. The war began with anti-government demonstrations and escalated into armed opposition groups fighting the government after a violent crackdown on the protests. The ongoing threat of the civil war has caused 11 million Syrians to flee so far. Here are 10 facts about Syrian refugees:

  1. Of the 11 million people displaced by the conflict in Syria, five million Syrians are refugees. This means that the other 6.3 million are displaced within Syria.
  2. Four out of five Syrian refugees are children.
  3. In just over a year after the civil uprising began, 500,000 Syrian refugees had left their homes.
  4. Many Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East. They reside in countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, although an estimated 10 percent have relocated to Europe.
  5. Many Syrians who fled into Northern Iraq are now trapped inside Iraq’s internal conflict. Because of pre-existing conflict, Iraq struggles to meet the needs of the Syrian refugees.
  6. In order to flee, many Syrian refugees attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Not all of them make it across alive.
  7. In January 2016, a reported 2,647 refugees fled to the United States, amounting to roughly 0.06 percent of the total refugee population.
  8. Around 40,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Canada.
  9. Nearly the entire population of Syria lives in poverty, with about 70 percent lacking access to clean drinking water.
  10. In 2016, the U.N. declared that $4.5 billion was required in order to meet the urgent needs of Syrians, yet only $2.9 billion was actually received.


These 10 facts about Syrian refugees illustrate the always-escalating nature of the crisis, showing that aid is needed more than ever before.

Danyel Harrigan

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Uruguay
Prompted by the Syrian refugee crisis, many countries have implemented stricter immigration policies. However, some Latin American countries, specifically those with a higher proportion of Muslims or Syrians, responded to the refugee crisis with more sympathy. Uruguay is one such country. Nestled in between Brazil and Argentina, the territory of Uruguay is roughly the size of Washington state and is home to only 3.4 million individuals. Here are some essential facts about refugees in Uruguay:

  1. Uruguay was the first country in Latin America that showed a willingness to receive refugees.
  2. According to one political analyst, Uruguay’s economy will largely be unable to assimilate refugees into their workforce.
  3. Refugees publicly lamented the country’s limited economic opportunity.
  4. According to most recent statistics, Uruguay accepted 117 immigrants up to September 2015.
  5. Refugees now appeal to other countries and even to the United Nations to help them leave the country.
  6. Some refugees tried leaving the country, but such efforts failed because most countries do not accept their Uruguay-issued documentation and the immigrants also lack their Syrian-issued passports.
  7. Amidst such social discord, public opinion toward Syrian refugees began to sour. Many citizens felt that the refugees in Uruguay are ungrateful.
  8. Due to such public backlash, President Vasquez temporarily suspended any further allocation of Syrian refugees.
  9. The country’s first group of Syrian refugees was to take Spanish classes to help them assimilate.
  10. Uruguay hoped that, with their initial open door policy, they would have a type of contagion effect on surrounding countries.


The following information about refugees in Uruguay reveals that countries with already suffering economies are, in many cases, unfit to offer refuge to large numbers of displaced persons. Therefore, more prosperous nations ought to show Uruguay’s initial willingness to accept refugees.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Flickr