September, 2018 – Newsletter
In these newsletters, published every month, I will attempt to recount updates about featured situations in the current crisis. For a more complete overview of other situations, please scroll to the bottom of the article. Here, you can quickly learn about news reports to be an informed person about the most recent developments.
Syrians continue to suffer at the hands of both Asaad- and rebel- groups – becoming either internally displaced or fleeing refugees in the process. Below are three important essays displaying current developments and pertinent news questions.
- Turkey Stands Between Europe and the Next Refugee Crisis (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/25/opinion/syria-idlib-refugees-turkey-war-erdogan-putin-assad.html)
Turkey has reached its maximum capacity of accepting and integrating refugees. With the assistance of some international aid, the country has successfully provided education and employment to numerous Syrians. Moreover, over 60,000 educated Syrians have become citizens of Turkey. The welcoming attitude of Turks, nonetheless, has waned and now nearly 85% of the population believe that Syrians should be returned to their homeland after the war ceases.
Recently, Erdogan and Putin agreed to delay an all-out assault on Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria. Putin has asked for the removal of all rebel terrorist groups and heavy weaponry by October 15. If this fails, there could be another wave of Syrian refugees from Idlib.
- I was a refugee. I know how we can help the people of Syria. (https://www.euronews.com/2018/09/27/i-was-a-refugee-i-know-how-we-can-help-the-people-of-syria-view)
“World leaders must also boost protection for those on the move and increase resettlement opportunities for those who have legitimate fears about their safety.”
Perhaps most importantly, we must understand that someone could have fled several times before finding a haven. Providing psychosocial care is integral to the ability of that person to recover from the trauma of dislocation and become an active, productive citizen of the world.
- Syria’s war has exposed the hypocrisy of western powers. (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/14/syria-australia-battle)
“When it comes to Syria, the U.S. and its Saudi Arabian and Qatari allies are backing Islamic fundamentalism under the guise of defeating the west’s key Middle East villain, Iran.”
There is ambiguity about who is funding and fighting the war in Syria. With numerous players in this game of war, lines become blurred with the occasional lift of the fog every once in a while. It appears that the western powers aiming to depose Asaad want a more “friendly,” democratic president as a replacement. In the end, the fighting powers want an ally in Syria and the power to deploy its military influence in the region.
Perhaps another salient, often overlooked question is: how will Syria and Syrians deal with the reconstruction of a country devasted by power and overcrowded by political agendas of conflicting natures?
For a quick history of the conflict, I suggest Vox’s video: Syria’s war: Who is fighting and why (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFpanWNgfQY).
Spiraling violence, conflict and a severe food shortage have endangered millions of lives.
- South Sudan Refugee Crisis (https://www.unrefugees.org/emergencies/south-sudan/).
- More than 4 million South Sudanese people have become displaced. Most are woman and children fleeing after violent attacks, sexual assaults, and death threats.
- 65% of the refugees are below the age of 18.
- South Sudan conflict, hunger: Facts, FAQs, and how to help (https://www.worldvision.org/refugees-news-stories/south-sudan-refugee-crisis-facts)
Political powers after the 2011 independence have resulted in the internal displacement of over 2 million South Sudanese with the widespread famine that is crippling the nation.
- How South Sudan refugees are boosting Uganda’s economy (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-41887429)
“But the worst thing is when I saw a woman and a child being killed. How could I, as a woman, continue to stay in South Sudan when such things are happening when women and children are being killed?”
Entrepreneurship has taken Uganda by storm since international aid dwindled. People need to support their families and access to nutritious food. Refugees are cutting hair, selling coal, and more. In Uganda, the UNHCR has provided land and plastic sheeting for refugees to respectively grow crop and construct homes. But there is little hope for the situation in South Sudan to get better soon – so people are making the best out of their fates.
NowThisWorld explains the conflict briefly here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g074zYIr410.
Countless Palestinians have been displaced since 1948 – too many to count. The situation continues to be unresolved and even getting worse, especially after the U.S. defunded UNRWA and will likely revise the Palestinian refugee status. Perhaps these developments are the most major events since the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
- Wishing away Palestinian refugees: End of US’ UNRWA aid explained (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/unrwa-funding-cut-deeply-regrettable-shocking-180901071620633.html)
“For nearly 70 years, UNRWA has provided lifesaving assistance to more than five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories, as well as Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.”
More than 120,000 students rely on 171 UNRWA schools and its 24 health clinics serve 1.1 million Palestinian refugees.
Despite the political act of halting any funds to UNRWA, on the basis that the organization exaggerates the number of Palestinian refugees, other countries have stepped in to increase donations to UNRWA. But the move clearly signifies the administration’s position on the Palestinian-Israeli issue.
- The U.S. Is Sidelining Itself in the Middle East (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/08/trump-palestinians-unrwa-funding/569167/)
By undermining UNRWA’s definition of refugees, the administration appears to be attacking the Palestinian belief in the “right of return”. Intergenerational trauma becomes troubling to address without proper healthcare or schooling, both of which are provided by UNRWA.
Palestinian authorities, as a result of these acts, has refused to participate in the peace talks. This has consequently led to the U.S. taking calculated risks without the opinion of Palestinians. Will the peace plan, therefore, be “dead on arrival”?
- Jordan warns of ‘serious consequences’ of revoking Palestinian refugee status (https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/jordan-warns-of-serious-consequences-of-revoking-palestinian-refugee-status-1.756959)
“Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon would lose their right to return to their homeland.”
As put by a Jordanian official, accepting the “ultimate deal” and revoking refugee status to the 2 million Palestinians living in Jordan would be “political suicide”. The right of return is not only enshrined in the UN resolution following 1948 but also by a declaration by King Abdallah I.
Situation explained briefly here: U.S. cuts funding for UN Relief and Works Agency (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR5i5Qmi37w).
All articles above are synthesized and their writers express their own opinions not necessarily of this author. They are chosen only to reflect questions and findings in the news to inform larger audiences.
These are only some of the ongoing refugee crises; I have only featured some situations. You can certainly read more about the crises in: Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Myanmar.
For a complete review of ongoing crises, please visit “Operational Portal, Refugee Situations” (https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations).