The Humanitarian Times

November 13, 2000

 

- MORE THAN 1 MILLION CONGOLESE UPROOTED IN EASTERN DEM. REP. CONGO, said UN expert Charles Petrie last week, as Western donors appeal to NGOs to engage in complex emergency believed to have killed 100,000s already. FAO called for humanitarian corridors between Kinshasa in the west & eastern provinces which would permit national food-stocks to meet local food shortfalls of 1M metric tons.

- SHELTER & SEED HELP FOR 1M MEKONG RIVER DELTA RESIDENTS given to rebuild in Cambodia & Vietnam where 1M homes flooded, affecting 2.2+M people & destroyed 300,000 ha. of rice. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), CARE, & Cambodian Red Cross have provided rice, blankets & mosquito nets. Partners for Dev. (US NGO) distributed 400 MT of seeds of fast-growing rice for post-flood cultivation. Action Against Hunger has used food-for-work to repair regular water sources.

- 120,000 PALESTINIANS CUT OFF FROM LIVELIHOOD, INCOME in West Bank & Gaza, dependent on Israel for jobs, water, power, port access. Some 200 Palestinians have been killed in recent protests & battles where the PLO's Fatah faction & Israeli Army exchange gunfire.

- EUROPEAN COMM. NOW TRUCKING EMERGENCY HEATING OIL TO SERBIA each day. Refugees Intl urges food aid & more fuel aid to support fragile new democratic govt, including coal & firewood; RI also stresses the winter exposure vulnerability of 700,000 refugees & internally displaced in Seriba.

- INTL LABOR ORG. FINDS BURMA STILL USES FORCED LABOR OF CIVILIANS

- PAKISTAN & IRAN DENY ENTRY TO ASYLUM-SEEKERS FROM AFGHANISTAN.

Pakistan shut its border this week - already hosting 1.2M refugees.

Iran forcibly returned 2,000+ from its Kish isle. FAO urges aid donations not only of 1M tons of food aid but also 300,000 tons of wheat seeds needed for planting. Saturday, Human Rights Watch called on Pakistan & Tajikistan to re-open borders to refugees, to save lives.

- 400,000 UIGHUR MUSLIMS SPARK FEAR IN KAZAKSTAN & KRGYZSTAN where they support independence for their land in western China. (Inst. for War & Peace Reporting).

- NARMADA DAM CONSTRUCTION ALLOWED BY INDIA'S SUPREME COURT, after 6 years of arguments about how it will displace 100,000s of residents. The court found no proof of env. damage.

- LAND RE-ALLOCATION IN ZIMBABWE JUDGED ILLEGAL BY ITS SUPREME COURT but Pres. R Mugabe says he will continue to seize property (however unconstitutional), though the seizures unemploys & displaces rural farmworkers (who are not favored by the ruling party), & reduces food production.

- UMCOR (METHODIST NGO) PLANS $1M IN MOZAMBIQUE LANDMINE CLEARANCE

- FORMER DICTATOR PINOCHET ORDERED NOT TO LEAVE CHILE by a Chilean court this week, after Argentina's request for his extradition on murder charges. The US CIA said it will release 700 documents this month about covert aid to the 1973 military overthrow of Chile's Allende govt.

- JAPAN'S POLITICIANS CALL FOR 30% CUTBACK IN GOVT'S FOREIGN AID in recognition of Japan's own economic recession: the leading Liberal Democratic Party proposed.

- DONORS FAILED TO COORDINATE & TRACK $66B IN AID TO RUSSIA, IN 1990s, concludes an evaluation by the US General Accounting Off (GAO), highlighting weakness in Russia's banking sector.

- HUMANITARIAN NGOS IN EUROPE AGREE TO TEAM, AS "ALLIANCE-2015" bringing together Concern, German Agro Action, HIVOS & Ibis to share assets in emergency & poverty aid.

- MARY McCLYMONT CHOSEN TO HEAD INTERACTION, NGO CONSORTIUM, after years managing the Ford Foundation's Peace & Social Justice Program, including humanitarian grants to NGOs.

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NEW REPORTS ON MASS MIGRATION & HUMANITARIAN ACTION

 

- NEW "STATE OF THE WORLD'S REFUGEES, 2000" BY UNHCR RELEASED TODAY (Mark Cutts, editor, Nov. 2000, Oxford Univ Press, ISBN 0-19-924106-6), the most important book published this year, makes a superb college textbook, because it provides valuable histories of refugee crises during the last 50 years, including the 10M refugees who fled Bangladesh during its 1971 war with Pakistan, plus Palestinians, Hungarians, C. America, Zimbabwe, Tibet, Indochina, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Rwanda & others. The authors tactfully capture the Cold war use of refugees in local conflicts, as in the Contra & Salvadoran rebel camps in Honduras. UNHCR carefully crafts each case study, such as on the pros & cons of large camps vs. small settlements: "refugee camps are often places of vibrant social & economic activity. Large camps become important zones of economic activity with active markets, restaurants & oth facilities." Reviewing Indochina's experience, the report cites the extraordinary efforts of asylum & resettlement countries to accept 2.5M refugees from Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam, but remembers "the countless people who drowned at sea or who lost their lives or suffered from pirate attacks, rape, shelling, push-backs & long-term detention in inhumane conditions." The report examines the scant help common for refugee return. Until the 1990s, "UNHCR's involvement in repatriation operations was generally short-term & small-scale;" but evolved into a bigger, broader approach with the repatriations in Central America, Cambodia & Mozambique, where "UNHCR played a major role in UN peace-building operations, & humanitarian activities were integrated into a wider strategic & political framework aimed at ensuring reconciliation, reintegration & reconstruction." 24 pgs of end tables give useful data on both current & historical refugee case-loads by region & country. In her forward, UN High Comm. Ogata sees the report as a "sobering reminder of the intl. community's continuing failure to prevent prejudice, persecution, poverty...root causes of conflict & displacement." (see also here)

- Also, see UNHCR publishes REFWORLD, a database of documents & data on refugees, IDPs, maps & intl. policies, available on 2 CD-ROMs as well as directly on the web (www.unhcr.ch/refworld)

- NEW "WORLD MIGRATION REPORT 2000" BY IOM (INTL. ORG. FOR MIGRATION) (edited by Susan Forbes Martin, 2000 NY: UN ISBN 92-9068-089-X), includes readable topical & regional overviews of migration trends, with a look to what problems may emerge in future, for instance how reduced fertility & higher elderly cohorts in developed, industrial urban areas make them increasingly dependent on rural-to-urban migration. Because of SE Asia's high fertility & high growth rates some years back, large numbers of young adults are on the move.

Many govts promote the export of people (labor) as economic strategy; remittances (money sent home) average some $77B per year worldwide.

But IOM fears that illegal smuggling & sex trade of humans increases in tandem: "Migrant smuggling & trafficking is becoming one of the most explosive branches of organized crime. An estimated 700,000 to 2M women & children are trafficked globally each year. Long distance, intercontinental smuggling reportedly is organized by well-known ethnic crime syndicates that form strategic global alliances linked to local networks of employers & enforcers." In SE Asia, IOM coordinates the "Manila Process" by which E & SE Asian countries agree to contain irregular migration & trafficking.

Similarly, IOM coordinates with govts in the "Puebla Group" on migration in C. America, &, with OSCE & UNHCR on mass migration in the former Soviet Union. The report also documents some of IOM's operational programs, including helping in the repatriation of 116,000 refugees to E Timor during the last year. The report observes: "Refugees & internally displaced persons constitute the vast majority of African peoples on the move" & examines migrant contract labor & human rights in South & Southern Africa.

- Also valuable: the Intl. Labor Org's "The Work of Strangers: Survey of Intl. Labor Migration" (by Peter Stalker, ILO), cogently examines global patterns of migration incentives, income, remittances, brain drain & resulting social problems. Stalker also notes the continued dominance of western media (Reuters, AFP, AP) in developing countries.

- NEW MAY 2000 REPORT DESCRIBES MAJOR HUMANITARIAN AID AGENCIES: "Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century", published by OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; ISBN 0-97012247-4-0), gives succinct mission statements & essays, with photos, by the members of the UN Inter-Agency Standing Comm., including NGO consortia like ICVA & the Steering Comm for Humanitarian Response, & Spec. Rep. Francis Deng who urges NGOs to become trained in how to protect IDPs.

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November 13, 20000 The Humanitarian Times
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