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Hunger in Libya
Located in northern Africa, the arid country of Libya is known for its large oil reserves and sweeping desert. However, conflict has left the country with a largely displaced population and economic troubles that have fostered food scarcity. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Libya.

  1. Poverty is a key cause of hunger in Libya. Of Libya’s 6.4 million people, 40 percent live below the poverty line.
  2. Economists say Libya is affected by a resource curse. Libya is home to vast quantities of oil, but also to high rates of poverty. This disparity between resource wealth and citizen poverty can be caused by conflict or government control of resources.
  3. Conflict is one of the leading causes of hunger. Approximately 21 percent of the world’s undernourished people are affected by conflict. This is especially relevant in Libya, where roughly 90 percent of the population is affected by violence.
  4. The conflict has cut income per capita in Libya by half in the past two years. It has decreased food availability and increased prices.
  5. Internally displaced people (IDPs) are especially vulnerable to hunger. Due to the conflict, the number of IDPs in Libya has increased. Around 17 percent of IDPs are food insecure, an 11 percent increase since 2015. Overall, 60 percent of IDPs are vulnerable to food shortage.
  6. Many social programs have been shut down due to instability. As a result, families who relied on them are suffering even more.
  7. Hunger in Libya is worsened by a healthcare shortage, as there are fewer than 1500 primary healthcare facilities in the country. This makes it difficult for families suffering from hunger-related diseases to receive the care they need. The shortage also results in higher health care prices, which puts futher financial strain on families.
  8. In order to combat hunger, many families in Libya practice negative coping strategies. These include reducing the number of meals they have each day and cutting back on other necessary expenses such as healthcare.
  9. Hunger in Libya has an impact on child development. Stunting (low height for age) and wasting (low weight for height) affects 21 and four percent of children under five, respectively.
  10. The World Food Programme and the rest of the U.N. run an emergency operation in order to help combat hunger in Libya. Due to conflict, however, the organization runs the program from Tunisia and coordinates with local groups to deliver food to people in Libya.

While food insecurity remains a problem in Libya, increasing food aid to the country and continuing talks to improve the political climate may help reduce hunger in Libya.

Alexi Worley

Photo: Flickr


Georgia is a nation well-known for its conflict with Russia over provinces South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008. Georgia is a former member of the Soviet Union, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia shortly after it left the Soviet Union. However, neither Abkhazia nor South Ossetia is fully recognized as independent from Georgia internationally. Their declarations of independence resulted in conflict with Georgia.

Here are nine facts about refugees in Georgia.

1. As of mid-2015, there were more than 250,000 “refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR” in Georgia. This includes refugees, people in refugee-like situations (who have not been formally recognized as refugees), internally displaced persons, asylum seekers and other stateless persons.

3. The 2008 conflict created 150,000 Georgian asylum seekers. Fewer than 1,000 Georgian asylum seekers had been accepted each year globally since the early 2000s.

4. More than 1,400 refugees from other countries were accepted into Georgia in 2015. The majority of them were from Iraq and Syria.

5. Since Russia’s second invasion of Chechnya in 1999, about 12,000 Chechnya refugees came to Georgia. Russia has made claims that Georgia hid Chechnya rebels, but Georgia has deemed those claims as false.

6. The International Criminal Court started investigating the war crimes of South Ossetia, Russia and Georgia in and around South Ossetia in order to bring justice to over 6,000 victims. Still, it is doubtful the victims will receive reparations.

7. There are almost 300,000 internally displaced persons in Georgia due to the conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia over the last 20 years. Five percent of the population is internally displaced.

8. During Georgia’s conflict with Abkhazia in 1992-1993, both sides terrorized civilians based on which group they were from and this led to many displaced persons.

9. The EU voted in February to allow Georgians to travel visa-free into the EU for up to 90 days. The EU was concerned this could cause an upsurge in Georgian migrants overstaying illegally, therefore it reserved the right to reinstate visa requirements if needed.

These are just nine facts about refugees in Georgia. Refugees in Georgia are affected by the conflict in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia.

Jennifer Taggart

Photo: Flickr


The Sudanese civil war ended with South Sudan’s successful secession referendum. The referendum effectively split Sudan in two. Less than two years later, South Sudan was plunged into its own three-year civil war. As a result, South Sudan, the youngest country in the world, now has the largest refugee crisis in Africa. Here are 10 facts about South Sudanese refugees.

  1. One and a half million South Sudanese have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in neighboring countries, predominantly Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and other eastern sub-Saharan African countries.
  2.  The South Sudanese civil war sparked from a falling out between President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer.  As a result, 3.5 million people have lost their homes.
  3. As violence began to escalate in the capital city of Juba in July 2016, the rates of displaced refugees have continued to rise. On average, 63,000 people are displaced every month.
  4. Ninety percent of the South Sudanese refugees are women and children. Human rights groups have found that both Dinka and Nuer forces have killed civilians, raped thousands of women, and forcefully recruited children to fight in their armies.
  5. Food security is a real problem in South Sudan. According to the World Food Program, 40 percent of the population is in desperate need of food assistance. The Sudanese government is unable to feed its population because it has diverted most of its resources to fighting rebel forces.
  6. The international community warns that the growing humanitarian crisis has the potential to become the worst global famine in 70 years.
  7. One million people are on the brink of extreme hunger, 2.9 million faces a food crisis that will likely escalate into a famine, while more than 7.5 million South Sudanese are in need of food assistance.
  8. In order to prevent the impending famine, the international community would need to come up with $4.4 billion by the end of March. As of Mar. 29, 2017, only 10 percent of that goal has been reached.
  9. In the midst of this impending famine, the government is planning to build a $10 billion new capitol building in Ramciel. However, if the construction was postponed and the funding was allocated as humanitarian assistance, the famine could be averted.
  10. Uganda has received the most South Sudanese refugees. The country’s handling of the steady inflow of 3,000 refugees per day is impressive. Refugees are allowed access to farmland and shelter, ensuring integration into Ugandan society. The people of Uganda do not want the refugees to become isolated in camps with no opportunity to branch out and join the greater Ugandan community.

If the South Sudanese government continues with its new capital project and the international community remains unsuccessful in accruing the $3.9 billion funding gap necessary to end the famine, then this humanitarian crisis will continue to develop and complicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, likely becoming one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time.

Josh Ward

Photo: Flickr

Crisis in Yemen
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is reaching new heights. The war is a proxy war fought between the Sunni Muslim state of Saudi Arabia and the Shiite Muslim state of Iran. More than 10,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed and roughly 2.1 million have been displaced.

According to the U.N., 80 percent of the population is in need of some form of humanitarian aid. There is a water shortage that may completely deteriorate in 2017. There are now 21 million people dependent on international aid to survive.

The Houthi uprising began in the wake of the Tunisian civil war in 2011. This was a major security concern for the Saudi government, as it shares its southern border with Yemen. Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was backed by Saudi Arabia and the U.S., was forced to resign from office in 2011. This occurred after widespread protests were held in opposition to his illegal business dealing and his amassed $60 billion. A U.N. expert panel stated in a report than“Many have argued that the country’s spiraling debt and economic problems would be alleviated with a repatriation of these alleged stolen assets.”

Power was ceded to Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in February 2012. Houthi rebels then took control of Sana’a, the capital city, through a string of terrorist attacks. Hadi fled the country.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen continued to worsen with a growing food deficit, increasing drought and terrorism concerns. Half of Yemen’s population was living below the poverty line, and almost half of the population was under the age of 18 and unemployed. Saudi Arabia led a U.S., U.K., and France-backed coalition in support of Hadi’s internationally recognized government against the Houthi rebels.

Former secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon announced that the U.N. had documentation of widespread violations of children’s rights in Syria that were committed as part of the Houthi child soldier recruitment efforts, as well as the child casualties from the Saudi air strikes. Saudi Arabia threatened that if it were not removed from the report, they would cut off its funding to the U.N. and incredulously, the threat succeeded. This miscarriage of justice has hurt the U.N.’s reputation as an impartial mediator in the conflict.

War crimes are being committed on both sides as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen carries on. Unfortunately, these crimes will likely continue without reprimand or sanctions as Saudi allies, like the U.S., have vetoed the U.N.’s independent international investigation into these war crimes. This effectively kills any charges against the Saudi’s or Houthi rebels, endangering countless more children’s lives.

Joshua Ward

Photo: Flickr

refugee statistics
The refugee statistics are appalling. The last few years have seen the highest levels of refugees on record. The topic is everywhere — on television, online and on the minds of those displaced and those trying to help. To grasp how big the world refugee crisis truly is, below are 15 statistics on refugees worth knowing.

 

Top Refugee Statistics

 

  1. Nearly one in 100 people worldwide have been pushed out of their homes due to war or political instability.
  2. Including 5.2 million Palestinian refugees, the total number of refugees in the world today is 21.3 million. This does not include internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have not left their country’s borders but were forcibly moved from their community. More than 65 million people are affected by war and power struggles including IDPs.
  3. Fifty-three percent of refugees come from Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. Respectively, 1.1 million, 2.7 million, and 4.8 million refugees came from these countries.
  4. The Middle East and North Africa host 39 percent of refugees. Africa hosts 29 percent, Europe and the Americas host 18 percent while Asia and the Pacific host 14 percent. Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Ethiopia, and Jordan rank as the top hosting countries.
  5. The number of people seeking asylum in Europe has also reached a record high of 1.3 million. Most of these refugees are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  6. Germany, Hungary and Sweden have become the top destination countries in Europe for refugees.
  7. In the history of statistics on refugees, the last five years have seen the greatest rate of increase on record. The greatest rate of decrease occurred between the years 1994 to 1999. The lowest recorded number of refugees was in 1963.
  8. Nine out of 10 refugees head for neighboring countries. Most do not seek asylum in industrialized countries. About 86 percent are hosted in developing countries.
  9. Pakistan and Iran house nearly 95 percent of Afghan refugees.
  10. Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt house nearly 95 percent of Syrian refugees.
  11. The U.N. Refugee Agency was underfunded by $10.3 billion dollars in 2015. It is estimated that the annual cost of U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria will be $10 billion.
  12. Several countries are doing their statistical “fair share” to assist in the latest refugee crisis. Canada is at the top of this list, receiving almost 250 percent of its estimated fair share of refugees. Norway is second, accepting 144 percent of its fair share, and Germany is not far behind, welcoming 118 percent.
  13. The countries that accept the least of their fair share include the U.S., Spain and France, all standing at 10 percent. Japan, Russia and South Korea rank last, having accepted zero percent of what would be considered fair.
  14. The largest refugee camps in the world include Kakuma Camp in Kenya, Zaatari in Jordan and Yida in South Sudan. Each of these camps hold more than 70,000 people, which is more than the population of Boston.
  15. Many case studies illustrate the need for clean water. In Kakuma camp, households that had access to 110 liters of water per day saw 11 cases of cholera; those who had access to 37 liters of water per day noted 163 cases.

These statistics on refugees show the extent to which this unprecedented crisis has affected the world. Certain regions are more affected than others, but affected most are the displaced persons themselves.

Michael Ros

Photo: Flickr

Soldiers Used In War
The use of child soldiers in war is a persistent issue, despite ongoing international efforts to stop the practice. The U.N. defines a child soldier as anyone under age 18 who is recruited or used by an armed force or group in any capacity. The International Criminal Court further designates recruiting or using children under age 15 as a war crime. Yet, military groups continue to recruit children because they are cheap and manipulable.

Many children are forced to join military groups at a young age. Child soldiers are also easier to manipulate and force into conflict. Recruiters typically target children from troubled areas or conflict zones, likely accustomed to violence and with fewer educational or work opportunities.

Other children join military groups voluntarily to flee poverty, gain protection, or to connect with something resembling a family. Military organizations are viewed as a safe and secure group of comrades, distant from their difficult lives.

There are several roles that militant groups fill with child soldiers. In many cases, children participate directly in conflict, but they can also be used for other dangerous support roles. Many are porters who carry heavy loads of ammunition or injured soldiers, while others are lookouts or cooks. Girls are often forced to be sex slaves.

Participating in armed conflict has significant consequences for the physical and emotional development of children. Many endure abuse and witness extreme violence or death. Even worse, they are forced to commit horrific acts, resulting in lifelong psychological distress. Child soldiers also have a higher risk of sexual abuse by adults or other children. These children are plagued by depression, anxiety, insomnia and numerous other health issues.

While the issue of child soldiers remains daunting, progress is being made to reduce the practice across the globe. UNICEF created a campaign in 2014 called “Children, Not Soldiers” aimed towards global prevention of the use of child soldiers. The campaign focuses on seven countries: Afghanistan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Thousands of soldiers have been released and introduced back into civilian life because of the campaign.

National campaigns have also helped countries make significant strides towards reducing the use of child soldiers. Countries have implemented disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs to make a change. Stopping such an ingrained practice and rehabilitating children who have grown up in conflict is a difficult task. However, these programs represent a strong effort to stop the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Lindsay Harris

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Thailand
The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol established a legal framework that implemented rights for refugees. To date, 145 state parties have ratified this agreement; however, Thailand is not one of these countries and provides no legal protection to refugees and asylum-seekers. Currently, there are more than 100,000 refugees in Thailand. Discussed below are 10 facts about the lives and circumstances of refugees in Thailand.

 

Top 10 Facts on Refugees in Thailand

 

  1. Nearly 130,000 people reside as refugees in Thailand, of whom approximately 90 percent are from the bordering country of Myanmar, also known as Burma. More than 80 percent of Burmese refugees in Thailand are ethnic Karen. They fled eastern Myanmar due to persecution by the Myanmar army beginning in 1988 and have resided in nine refugee camps along the Thailand-Myanmar border for nearly three decades. Thousands of refugees have been born inside these camps and know no other life.
  2. Because Thailand did not ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention, the Thai Royal Government (TRG) considers refugees stateless persons or irregular migrants. They are not citizens, meaning they are do not have access to healthcare, employment or education, nor are they allowed to vote, own property or obtain a driver’s license.
  3. Due to their stateless status, refugees must live exclusively in refugee camps, without the right to work or leave the camp. Refugees who choose to live and work outside of camps in Thailand are considered illegal and do not have any legal protection, making them highly susceptible to arrest and deportation.
  4. Cut off from government assistance and employment opportunities, many refugees in Thailand depend entirely on aid organizations for food and other basic resources.
  5. The TRG has pledged to end statelessness by 2024. One step toward this goal is the 2010 Civil Registration Act, which allows babies born to refugee parents to receive birth registration. While this does not grant the infants citizenship, they are no longer considered stateless persons. The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that 4,300 infants were registered and provided birth certificates in 2017.
  6. The refugee camps have become highly organized. The TRG serves as the overall authority for the camps, implementing refugee policies and providing border patrol. The Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) and Karenni Refugee Committee (KnRC) serve as the representatives of refugees in the camps and act as liaisons between the camps and the government, border patrol, NGOs and the UNHCR. Camp members elect committee members and all refugees over the age of 20, regardless of registration status, are eligible to vote.
  7. Most refugee camps are in mountainous regions with limited access to electricity, phones and healthcare services. These areas are also susceptible to flash floods during the rainy season. Overcrowding is rampant, with houses primarily built out of bamboo and wood, leading to a high fire risk. In 2015, a fire in the Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp damaged 194 homes and five community buildings. Fortunately, there were no casualties and several nonprofits and the UNHCR pooled together to begin rebuilding within a month.
  8. The KRC and World Education are two of the leading nonprofits supporting education opportunities for refugees. Schools are primarily located in the largest refugee camp, Mae La. There are currently more than 2,000 students who come from other camps and live in boarding houses in Mae La while completing their secondary education.
  9. Resettlement to third countries began in 2005, and since then more than 80,000 refugees have resettled. The U.S., Australia, and Canada accept many of these refugees.
  10. Now under a democratically elected government, in 2014, the Myanmar government opened peace talks with persecuted ethnic minorities. While they are still in progress, in October 2016, the Myanmar and Thai governments endorsed the return of 68 refugees to Myanmar and hope to gradually support the return of more.

While the TRG still does not provide legal rights or protection to refugees, it has taken steps toward eliminating the stateless status of refugees and assisting them in resettling in other countries or safely returning to Myanmar. The TRG has pledged not only to eliminate statelessness by 2024 but at the 2016 U.N. Leaders’ Summit on Refugees it also pledged to provide better skills training opportunities for refugees, coupled with employment opportunities.

Nicole Toomey

Photo: Flickr


Amidst facing a humanitarian crisis and lack of mine regulations, Ukraine received aid totaling one million euros from Italy through the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF to help those impacted by the actions in Eastern Ukraine in 2017. The donation will help the WFP provide basic necessities and humanitarian assistance Ukrainians need to combat hunger, while also fighting against their own government and people.

Among a population of 45.2 million, more than 4.4 million Ukrainians have been impacted, and more than 3.8 million still need humanitarian assistance.

“Our contribution to WFP and UNICEF operations will help ease people’s suffering, in particular for the most vulnerable, providing food assistance, increasing knowledge and building safe behaviour practices to deal with the risk of mines,” said Davide La Cecilia, the Italian Ambassador to Ukraine in a press release published by the WFP.

Thanks to Italy’s donation, UNICEF will help protect 500,000 children and their guardians from the dangers in mines by supporting the mine risk education program.

The WFP plans to help those who do not receive assistance from other humanitarian actors and further small-scale recovery activities, such as providing food, to aid local citizens. UNICEF will use the funding to promote children’s education programs and for families living in areas close to the contact line, which divides the government and non-government controlled areas and where the fighting is most intense.

Giancarlo Stopponi, WFP deputy country director in Ukraine, said, “WFP greatly appreciates Italy’s support at a time when communities across Ukraine continue to experience the negative consequences of the conflict.”

The WFP has been aiding Ukraine since 2014 by providing emergency food services to internally displaced citizens in Eastern Ukraine, handing out monthly food packages and food assistance. To this day, about 850,000 of most Eastern Ukraine’s most vulnerable people have received food from WFP, despite attempts to bar humanitarian staff.

The program plans to continue their efforts aiming to assist 220,000 citizens in Eastern Ukraine. These people both rely on and need WFP’s food assistance, along with their other operations, such as the Logistic Cluster Support to the Humanitarian Response in Ukraine.

In 2017, UNICEF has appealed to the U.S. for $31.3 million to be used towards combatting hunger in Ukraine. The money will be used for health and nutrition needs, education, water, hygiene and sanitation, and protection for those most vulnerable to the conflict, such as children and families.

Mary Waller

Photo: Flickr


Famine has been officially declared as people are dying from hunger in Sudan. The United Nations has said the situation is “desperate” in the Southern state.

Nearly 100,000 people are facing famine so serious that they are at risk of dying in the Southern Unity State of the country. One million people are currently on the border of famine and almost five million are in need of some type of humanitarian aid.

On February 22, 2017, the United Nations spoke out about the rising crisis of hunger in Sudan is leading to rising deaths. Five million South Sudanese do not have an adequate amount of food and that number is expected to rise. Over one million of those are severely malnourished children who are at immediate risk of dying.

South Sudan is a country of around 12 million people in Northern Africa. Around 80 percent of the country’s population lives in rural areas, with more than 30 percent of the children under the age of five being undernourished. The life expectancy is 55.7 years.

South Sudan became an independent nation from the Republic of Sudan in 2011 but has faced a civil war since 2013 that continues to this day. Many aid workers in the country have faced violence because of the ongoing war with some even having been forced to leave the country.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partner organizations want to assist nearly six million people in 2017 in South Sudan as well as other countries struggling with the same crises. The situation is expected to get worse in the coming months due to the height of the lean season if something is not done immediately. Emphasis has been placed on the fact that these types of issues are stemming from disputes, which means that they are preventable.

Some organizations working to provide aid for hunger in Sudan are UNICEF (The United Nations International Children’s Fund), FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), Action Against Hunger, and WFP (The World Food Programme). These organizations work to provide a variety of types of support to those who are affected. UNICEF, focusing specifically on children, is working to provide treatment for children facing extreme malnutrition. FAO is working to make food more secure and to increase incomes. Action Against Hunger is working to provide emergency care and treatment. WFP is working to provide nutritional school meals, general nutritional support and provides money transfers for displaced people in need of food.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

Refugees Come From
2015 UNHCR statistics estimate that 65.3 million people have been forced from their homes around the world. This equates to roughly one out of every 113 people on Earth. Almost 1 percent of the Earth’s population is displaced either internally, as an asylum-seeker, or as a refugee. Approximately 21.3 million of these people are considered refugees, and over half of these refugees come from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

 

Refugees Come From:

 

Syria
Approximately 4.9 million refugees come from Syria. This is a subset of the 12.3 million people who have been displaced from their homes within or outside of the country. The Syrian Civil War began in 2011 with anti-government protests, creating an opening for the militant group ISIS to infiltrate the country. The fighting has killed many citizens while destroying infrastructure including homes, schools, and hospitals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvOnXh3NN9w

Most Syrian refugees are resettled in five neighboring countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Many of these refugees struggle to meet their basic needs, and most live below the poverty line in these countries. Yet, life is still better in refugee camps than at home.

Afghanistan
Around 2.7 million refugees come from Afghanistan. Most of these individuals are resettled in Pakistan and Iran, where their human rights are in constant jeopardy. The number of Afghan refugees continues to dwindle because of continued efforts to repatriate them. These efforts are controversial because citizens still face poverty and war upon their return.

Afghanistan has had economic and security-related difficulties since the withdrawal of many international humanitarian programs in 2014. At the end of 2015, an earthquake displaced even more people. Violence continues to put those remaining in the country in danger. The country’s failing infrastructure has caused a lack of access to electricity, education, and clean water. Women and children are also heavily abused.

Somalia
Roughly 1.1 million refugees come from Somalia. Since disastrous battles in 1991, Somalia has endured continued conflict. In combination with ongoing flooding and drought, many face extreme poverty and malnutrition.

17 percent of the population is either displaced or living elsewhere as refugees. Thousands of Somalis live in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, where they have remained for multiple decades. Many others live in Ethiopia and Yemen. From 1990 to 2015, the number of Somalian-born people living outside the country doubled.

Humanitarian crises have put these countries at the forefront, in terms of numbers, of displaced persons and refugees. However, waves of refugees change with global conflict. Most refugees today are fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. However, the 1970s saw many refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia, while the 1990s saw mostly European refugees from the former Soviet Union and Kosovo. No matter where refugees come from or where they resettle, we must continue supporting them.

Lindsay Harris

Photo: Flickr