The Humanitarian Times

May 19, 2000

 

- ERITREA/ETHIOPIA, ANGOLA WARS DISPLACE 100,000s; UN SANCTIONS tightened on Ethiopia/Ertirea. This week the Eritrean Govt requested UN aid for 200,000 people forcibly displaced from western war zones; observers estimate closer to half million are displaced, as Sudan prepares for another refugee influx from Eritrea. WFP/FAO estimate that the total number of internally displaced in Angola has swelled dramatically to 2.5M, most in need of food rations.

- RAINS FLOOD E.TIMOR REFUGEE CAMPS, AFFECT 20,000; KILL 50+

- RUSSIA PARLIAMENT RATIFIES COMPREH. NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY, but added that Russia will cease nuclear testing only if the U.S. does (ratifies; which US Senate voted down last year).

- S. LEONE DISARMAMENT REMAINS STALLED, FIGHTING CONTINUES between UN peace troops & rebel (RUF) forces but may be affected by this week's incarceration of long-time rebel leader (& govt cabinet member) Foday Sankoh, who Human Rights Watch says should receive a fair trial (in intl. venue; he was granted immunity under domestic law, as part of last year's peace agreement). More importantly, HRW insists the UN should improve monitoring & interdiction of arms flows into S Leone (particularly from Liberia), pointing out that the rebels are emboldened to be using their arms stocks.

- WORLD BANK REPORT AGAIN CONDITIONS AID TO MILITARY JUNTA on governance reforms that the junta has not undertaken.

- ARTICLE 19 CALLS ON SRI LANKA GOVT TO REVOKE WAR CENSORSHIP in order for greater transparency & public involvement to promote reconciliation.

- BRADFORD UNIV. CONFLICT RESOLUTION TRAINING MATERIALS ON-LINE: explain history, theories, glossary & use in post-conflict countries: www.brad.ac.uk/acad/confres/dislearn/unit1.html

- "WORLD RURAL HEALTH CONFERENCE" AUGUST 15-19 IN CALGARY CANADA, with sessions on education networks, aboriginal health, trauma & triage. See: http://www.ruralnet.ab.ca/wrhc/

- CONF. ON STATISTICS, DEV. & HUMAN RIGHTS: SEPT 4-8, MONTREUX, Switzerland, including sessions on "Developing tools for measuring implementation or violation of civil & political rights," & "statistical info on refugee & displaced persons." Organized by IAOS: www.statistik.admin.ch/about/international

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NEW BOOK ON DISPLACEMENT & REINTEGRATION

 

"RISKS & RECONSTRUCTION: EXPERIENCES OF RESETTLERS & REFUGEES" edited by M Cernea & C McDowell (2000 WashDC: World Bank, ISBN: 0-8213-4444-7, co-sponsored by Oxford's Refugee Studies Prog), includes 17 studies (& editors notes) on the challenges of population resettlement & reintegration, framed by 8 primary risks: landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, marginalization, increased morbidity & mortality, food insecurity, loss of access to common property & social disintegration. Cernea observes that conventional planning approaches fail to "protect against risks & loss of entitlements & rights...victimization, de-capitalization & impoverishment" of populations displaced by development programs. Therefore, "it is necessary to build a new economics of resettlement, transforming what now is a compensation-based economics into an economics of recovery." Cernea calls for a merging of the currently-separate disciplines of refugees, conflict, & dev.-displacement, each of which faces common challenges: "forced displacement tears apart existing social fabric.

It disperses & fragments communities, dismantles patterns of social organization & interpersonal ties; kinship groups become scattered as well. Life-sustaining informal networks of reciprocal help, local voluntary associations & self- organized mutual service are disrupted. Voutira & B Harrell- Bond point to successes (Tibetan refugees in India & Nepal, Sahawari refugees, Greeks fleeing Turkey) & point to the recent trend of "coerce return" of refugees -- as from Tanzania back to Rwanda. V Lassailly-Jacob writes that causes of mass displacement in Africa persecution, war, drought, famine & devt projects) "are increasingly inter-related," & that "the number of refugees is far greater than what is counted in official statistics." She pools African experience from large-dam resettlement & 140+ refugee settlements planned by UNHCR, all of which focus on agricultural development for recovery, but have often failed because of rushed planning, ongoingly-unclear rights to land (under customary law).

She concludes that informal coping efforts account for survival, not formal programs; for ex: "Eritrean refugees in Kassala Prov., Sudan, though grouped on farming settlements, survived mainly through parallel activities - they worked as laborers on state-run or private farms, raised livestock or became petty traders." Successful wage-restoration programs (with strong monitoring & followup) are described from China & Argentina. R Green critiques na´ve models of food security, disputing that free rations in camps, & land access on return adequately explain livelihood & vulnerability. For ex: in many crises, the limiting factor is water; thus interventions ought to target "provision of wages for...labor-intensive water facility restoration & enhancement to reduce future vulnerability." Summarizing a range of field experience, Green concludes, "the main barriers to return do not turn on transport, still less on transit camps, but on working capital & on facilitation of livelihood & daily life rehabilitation in place on arrival." Camp settings (dominated by casual labor) are unfavorable for building up working capital (tools, seeds, equipment, home restoration). Green argues that post-conflict demobilized combatants "have been as uprooted & dislocated by war just as other refugees & displaced have," but are likely to continue to use weapons for livelihood: "demobilizing into destitution (or a cease-fire with no provision for feeding ex-combatants as in Sierra Leone) causes grave risk of privatizing rather than ending war." J Brown describes recent collaboration among donors to reintegrate Azeris displaced from fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh who, living for years unemployed in internal IDP camps, said that "security, de-mining, housing & employment" - in that order - were the primary fears that kept them from returning to areas of origin.

Brown argues for a comprehensive approach to resettlement, which no one donor alone can achieve. Additional chapters describe conditions that permit communities to rebuild their social networks.

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May 19, 2000 The Humanitarian Times

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