Settlement of Displaced Kashmiri Pandits – the plan spells trouble already.
Dec 1, 2014
In India, the longstanding mission of Bharatiya Janata Party regarding the resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits is becoming a national priority. Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah, has apparently detailed the plan that calls for allocating 840 hectares (approximately 2075 Acres ) of land in various parts of the State, for the construction of securitized “satellite colonies” for those forcibly displaced in 1989, due to the rise of militancy in Kashmir Valley.
The noble goal of resettling those displaced, two decades ago, seems good in theory, but what is wrong is the following:
Any plan to bring back members of any ethnic community, especially those forced out by members of another ethnic group, should focus on reconciliation and co-existence of both communities in the new setting.
The plan to house the returning families into the newly built securitized colonies, defeats the purpose of reconciliation and overcoming of hostilities. Such a plan is not a solution, but rather it will make the returning families a target of renewed attacks. Separate settlement exclusively meant to house this community is encouraging communalism, a form of structural violence.
In addition, those returning will never enjoy the feeling of having ‘come home’ to their ancestral lands. The unintended consequences of such a plan are enormous, just like the consequences of having kept them in the Mini Township in Jagti camps. The narratives of my research participants suggests that having been isolated from the mainstream Jammu had deprived the displaced community from socio-economic opportunities, enjoyed by the Jammu residents.
Dec 1, 2014
Settlement of Displaced Kashmiri Pandits – the plan spells trouble already.
Return of Kashmiri Pandits and the importance of the ‘Shrine Bill’.
A former separatist leader, in the struggle to make the Kashmir Valley, an Islamic place, shows change of heart.
He tells, the Kashmiri Pandits, forced out of the Valley in 1989, that they form an “essential part of Kashmir’ and that their return “will fill the vacuum in the Kashmiriyat”. He admits that KPs have lost their ‘identity and culture’ and recognizes that “apathy of successive governments had multiplied their problems”.
“Kashmiri Pandits have been demanding Shrine Bill for a long time, but no heed is given to this important demand and only hollow promises of their return is made every time by political parties,” he said and added that shrine bill is the fundamental right of KPs.
November 24, 2014
In Donetsk, homeless Ukrainians loathe Kiev government
By AFP | 15 Nov, 2014, 06.37PM IST
DONETSK: Despite living in a tiny cellar in Donetsk for more than three months, Sergei is not complaining about the frequent shelling or lack of running water. Instead, he saves his fury for his own country – Ukraine.
“It’s the Ukrainian army that has done all this damage,” the 56-year-old former miner rages, standing in front of the dusty mattress he sleeps on as his wife watches with pursed lips.
“The government doesn’t pay our pensions,” he adds, his voice rising. “I am Ukrainian but Ukraine has done me so much wrong.”
Along with dozens of others, Sergei and three members of his family are living beneath what used to be a cultural centre in Donetsk, the eastern Ukrainian stronghold of pro-Moscow separatists pitched against Ukrainian forces.
They are among some 970,000 people who the UN estimates have been displaced – most over the border into Russia – by seven months of fighting in Ukraine’s east.
As the conflict enters its first, harsh winter, aid agencies are stepping up efforts to help the roughly 460,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) to cope amid a nominal ceasefire which is frequently violated.
Many of those living in the cellars with Sergei share his disgust at their home country and rely on pro-Russian rebels to help them.
Lyubov Domianova recalls an outbreak of shelling on Wednesday from which she sheltered in the room where she lives with her two daughters, grandson and some 20 other people.
“It was terrifying,” she says simply. The 62-year-old is grateful to the separatists of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic who she says have brought her food and aid.
As for the Ukrainian army, she fears that they will “come and kill us.”
Elsewhere in the city, Tatiana Samarina has found shelter with two others in a student room after leaving her home near Donetsk airport, scene of fierce exchanges between Ukrainian forces and rebels.
“They (Ukraine) can forget Donbass. We were never with them. In Donetsk, we support the separatists,” she says.
Their space is sparsely furnished — three beds, three chairs, a table and a wardrobe — but the rebels provide free food and clothes.
Around 50 rooms in the pink eight-storey building are reserved for displaced people.
Marina Shirishilova, 26, has lived there with her husband and children since being evacuated from their home in July.
She says she spends her days keeping the children occupied. The family survives on 50 hryvnias (2.5 euros, $3) per day. But Marina is hopeful of receiving a grant promised to her by the rebels following the birth of her third child, a tiny newborn who sleeps peacefully in a crib in the corner of the room.
“Do you know when we will get the money for the baby?” she asks, clutching the child’s identity papers.
Nov 16, 2014
South Sudan: the Forgotten Crisis in Jonglei State
Thursday, 16 October 2014, 12:17 pm
Press Release: HelpAge International
South Sudan: the Forgotten Crisis in Jonglei State
Nairobi, 15 October 2014 – Jonglei State has the highest number of internally displaced people and the highest level of food insecurity and malnutrition in famine-threatened South Sudan, according to a joint assessment by HelpAge International and Islamic Relief Worldwide.
1.3 million people remain internally displaced across South Sudan. According to UNOCHA, there are about 790,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), as of August 2014, in Jonglei State alone. Of those, it is estimated that at least 63,000 are older men and women.
Over 450,000 South Sudanese have been forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.
The joint assessment shows that most vulnerable people including people with special needs such as older people, children, and pregnant and lactating mothers have been hit the hardest by the first major crisis since South Sudan became the world’s newest independent nation. Older people have found it difficult to flee due to mobility problems and many have been killed as a result.
Food is becoming scarce as stocks have been exhausted, looted or shared amongst vulnerable communities. Many people are still afraid to cultivate their land because they were uncertain about the future, forcing even those that have returned home into dependency on government rations.
Waterborne diseases, such as cholera and typhoid, from contaminated water are an increasing risk, particularly as 80% of the population depend on water from boreholes, according to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation in Jonglei State. Anestimated 35% ofboreholes have been destroyed.
Crowded conditions, shared facilities, open defecation and poor waste management remain major problems within the refugee site at Bor.Lack, and the land around the refugee camps has made it difficult to dig adequate pit latrines. People have been forced to share beyond the capacity allowed (over 60 people per pit latrine). The pit latrines have been dug close to shelters (radius of 20metres). However, men and women do have access to separate toilets. Existing pit latrines were also reported not to be age-appropriate. Both older people and people living with disabilities are finding them difficult to access.
“I just want to go back home,” says Peter*, an older man at the UNMISS Bor Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp. “At least when at home, I am able to cultivate some crops or even look after my livestock.”
Acute respiratory infections, communicable diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure, are the most common ailments affecting both older men and women. Many health facilities have been destroyed, while those remaining do not have enough medical stocks– forcing people to use traditional herbs instead.
The lack of psychosocial and counselling services has been identified asa significant issue, as rape has been reported among both young and older women – in some cases, used as a tool for survival to access passage or safety.
“We just want peace to come so that we can go back to our ways, like the cultivation we used to do,” says Akur, an older woman living at Luedir Village in Bor.
“At the moment, we are afraid to cultivate because we are not certain about the future. If there is peace, we would cultivate our farms.”
Islamic Relief’s East Africa Regional Director, Yusuf Ahmed, says: “The situation in South Sudan is amongst the most grave in the world today. Millions face starvation, and many have been driven from their homes. Jonglei is one of the worst affected areas.
“Despite the scale and depth of the crisis, humanitarian programmes remain hugely underfunded. Much more is needed to enable organisations like Islamic Relief and HelpAge to get vital aid to those that need it the most.”
“Older people are often forgotten in emergencies. There is need for interventions that cater for older people in such situations,” says Prafulla Mishra, HelpAge International East, West and Central Africa Regional Director.
HelpAge International is providing non-food items (NFIs) such as blankets, mosquito nets, mattresses, plastic mats and washing soap to older people who have been displaced by the conflict in Juba. HelpAge is also offering Helping Older People in Emergencies (HOPE) training for humanitarian agencies in Juba, aimed at assisting them in ensuring that their programmes include older people; and that they develop an understanding of how to put age-sensitive programming into practice.
Islamic Relief is delivering urgent aid in South Sudan, with emergency teams responding since the outbreak of fighting in December 2013. Its relief effort includes distributing food and essential medical supplies and mosquito nets – as well as hygiene kits and shelter supplies. Islamic Relief has also constructed wells, latrines and bathrooms.
Conflict Analysis Tools and Methods Capacity Building
Workshop – Khartoum, Sudan
August 16–21, 2014
Two S-CAR faculty members, Daniel Rothbart and Sudha Rajput, traveled to Khartoum, Sudan to facilitate a one-day symposium and five-day workshop entitled “Conflict Analysis Tools and Methods Capacity Building.” Supported by USAID and the international organization, AECOM, the symposium and workshop were hosted by the Centre for Peace and Development at the University of Bahri, Khartoum and took place at the Grand Holiday Villa, near the banks of the Nile River. These events represent the first academic gathering among faculty from Sudan and South Sudan following the independence of South Sudan in 2011.
The 30 workshop participants came from Khartoum, Omdurman, Darfur, Upper Nile, Al-Fashir, Haifa (Sudan), Juba, and Bahr al Jabal (South Sudan). The participants reflected multi-dimensional diversity of gender, age, and nationality (Sudanese and South Sudanese), with some representing the United Nations Africa Mission in Darfur, IFAD, or other international agencies. Participants also represented varied academic backgrounds—Doctorates, Masters, and PhD candidates—and research interests, including the livelihood issues of marginalized communities, internally displaced persons (IDP)/refugee issues, modernization and indigenous populations, women and conflict, ethnic-based conflicts, human rights, and development.
The Symposium opened with recitations from the Holy Quran, followed by opening remarks by officials from USAID and the University of Bahri. Dr. Rothbart delivered the keynote address, entitled “Conflict Analysis: A Field in Flux.” Dr. Rajput then led a session apprising the audience of the objectives, expectations, and plan for the workshop.
During the five days that followed, Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput addressed the following topics on conflict analysis: conflict theories, research design, data gathering, data analysis, research-driven programs, and dissemination of findings. Each day’s activities included a challenging exercise designed to enhance the participants’ skills in applying the conceptual information to research. Group discussions and reporting were lively and insightful as the participants applied the lessons to local situations and balanced conceptual information with concrete case studies. For example, Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput’s presentation of research-driven programs included humanitarian relief programs, development through policy reforms, societal reforms, and IDP/refugee programs. Material on “Evaluating Conflict Resolution Intervention” was well received by the participants. The workshop exposed participants to conflict-related topics that called for integration of theory, research, and practice.
The workshop’s final day focused on publishing and networking in the field of conflict analysis. Local professors from the two universities shared stories about the opportunities and challenges associated with publication and presentation of findings. Dr. Rajput shared her blog on IDP issues and offered it as a platform for the participants to brainstorm and discuss issues related to IDPs/refugees.
The participants’ grasp of the material was impressive. Their summaries of group discussions and observations about the conflicts in Sudan/South Sudan showed a commitment to conflict research in the pursuit of their individual topics. The workshop concluded with a graduation ceremony in which each participant was awarded a certificate for successfully completing the workshop. This workshop paved the way for upcoming field research in various parts of the two countries. Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput’s work will continue for another two months, as they supervise the research and reporting of the participants.
Throughout the week’s events, the need for flexibility became quite apparent. Despite having developed a meticulous design for the workshop activities, Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput were asked to modify their plans each day, sometimes requiring them to add information in expanded sessions and other times calling for a reduction of the content to quicken the pace. Yet, this all went very well, in large measure because of the easy collaboration with the workshop’s architects from the University of Bahri.
During the week, the head of the USAID mission in Sudan hosted a social gathering at his home, attended by the US ambassador to Sudan. Additionally, the Vice Chancellor of the Bahri University graciously invited Dr. Rothbart and Dr. Rajput to his office for tea and a delightful dinner at a Sudanese restaurant situated on the Omdurman-side of the Nile River. Dr. Rajput’s highlight of the visit was a trip to the Pyramids, a trip that required both a 2.5 hour drive and a special permit from the Ministry of Tourism. These pyramids are located in the villages called Bagrawiyah, and in June 2011, this site was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A short camel ride took Dr. Rajput close to the pyramids. On the way back, the participants took her to a Sufi festival that was held on mosque premises. This day was an incredible way to experience the Sudanese local culture.
Number of internally displaced people from Crimea and Donbas exceeds 310,000 people
UNHCR has called on Ukrainian MPs to support a bill on ensuring the rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Source: ukrnews.com Sept 17 2014
(1) According to UNICEF, around 500,000 Gazans were internally displaced during the Israeli aggression.
(2) The infrastructure at UN schools is not suitable to house thousands of families and definitely not for the children. Disease is spreading specially among children due to overcrowding… we are not asking for the impossible. We only want our houses to be rebuilt,” said a Gazan woman PressTv).
(3) According to an organization engaged in post-war reconstruction, it would take 20 years for the war-torn Gaza Strip to be rebuilt and cost 7.7 billion dollars.
(4) The 50-day war ended on August 26 with an Egyptian-brokered truce.
Sept 10, 2014
In just one day, I have come across two separate accounts of displaced KPs expressing their frustrations with the democratic process. One of those accounts is analyzed and summarized here:
Zulfikar Majid of Jammu, of the Decan Herald, captured in the article:
“Parties betrayed us, say Kashmir Pandits
The frustration stems from the decision of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP, a party relatively more favored by the displaced KPs) resulting in the legislators opposing the “Temple and Shrines Bill”, which would hold the J&K government responsible for managing, protecting and administering the Hindu shrines/icons and religious places in the Kashmir Valley. This decision has left the KP feeling “betrayed by every political party in the state”.
Kashmiri Pandit Conference, a KP outfit, commented “we are in a fix on whom to vote”.
I am summarizing the Sentiments of KPs:
1) KPs are feeling “exploited” by both the National Conference (NC) and Congress.
2) “The stand of BJP (on the bill) has disgusted KPs”.
3) “We sacrificed our homeland for the nation”.
4) “All political parties, be it separatists or mainstreams have ganged up against us”.
5) Sanjay Pandita, a local journalist opines that the major reason for KPs to stay away from elections is they feel they have no representation in the state government.
Course: ‘Refugee and IDP Issue Analysis’
Dr. Sudha Rajput
School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, George Mason University.
I am excited to share, with you, my students’ feedback on the intensive 3-day seminar that I had designed & delivered, entitled ‘Refugee and IDP Issue Analysis’. This was based on my research of internally displaced communities from the Kashmir Valley.
Course Goal: empower students with a robust diagnostic model to undertake analysis of conflict-induced internally displaced communities around the globe.
Within 3 days: the students analyzed 4 global case studies on displacement, posted 3 blogs, reviewed 20+ articles, analysed 2 UN Videos, engaged in active discussion on current crisis in Syria, Burma and South Sudan.
(1) “This class exceeded my expectations. Unbelievably, in three days, we covered a tremendous amount of ground. You are an energetic professor and clearly very passionate about your area of expertise. This course should be adopted by the school and adapted to a 3-credit course” (Brad Davis, US Army).
(2) “This was the best course I have attended so far. Your use of relevant and live examples did not only impart knowledge but also increased my interest in the course. I am glad I chose the course and I think I will do my Dissertation in it. Thank you very much for the knowledge you gave me. You are sure an expert in refugee and IDP issues. You have interested me in the subject” (Aloysius Naris., State Dept).
(3) “I would like to thank you, Dr. Rajput for a very informative and enlightening course. Honestly, I didn’t expect that I would find a course about IDPs and Refugees appealing. I don’t know how in three days you increased our knowledge about the dynamics, positions, and policies about this important issue. Please add me to your email list so that I can attend any lecture you might give or any other avenue” (Aleia Hanan, S-CAR).
(4) “The instructor, Professor Rajput, was incredibly well-informed on IDP and
Refugee issues and had conducted relevant field studies to share with the class, making
the concepts and frameworks the course is based on tangible to the students. The classes
were well organized, informative, and connected to real life examples” (Ann Rohrhoff).
(5) “Professor Rajput’s personal research on IDPs and refugees gives her the authority to inform or educate us on the issues. She brings a remarkable insight. The class is interesting and interactive because she creates an active environment and allows those with first-hand experiences to not only react on her comments but bring their knowledge and analysis on the class materials” (Claudine Kuradusenge, S-CAR).
(6) “The course was fantastic; the course taught me the proper research methodology and diagnostic tools. An overall stimulating course while only three days profoundly opened my eyes on this important issue that I would recommend all SCAR students to enroll in this course. Professor Rajput, was an amazing instructor for the simple fact that she was responsive to our needs” (Adnan Hurreh).
(7) “It was helpful to have a professor who had recently returned from the field that could share her experiences. I was able to better grasp the concepts and understand the nuances of refugee and IDP issues through the Professor’s experiences” (Ashton Callahan).
(8) “This course was eye opening and reaffirmed the career path I would like to take. What I liked most about Professor Rajput was her knack to explain such a thorny, complicated issue in such simplified ways. She created a welcoming community in the classroom where all questions were welcomed at any time. What also helped was hearing her on-the-field stories; she is one of the few professors I have encountered that can explain the material and share personal stories and tie it all together (she can paint the whole picture). It helps tremendously when real life stories from the instructor’s perspective are brought into the classroom” (Nida Ansari).
(9) “I definitely have a foundation now for future study. It was especially beneficial for me how Professor Rajput gave examples from her own research and methodology to explain how to apply the models and frameworks we studied; working with such a complex issue, her input made the possibility of finding solutions seem tangible” (Kaitlyn Stovall).
(10) “I think I really learned a lot of applicable skills and knowledge to round out my time at S-CAR. It was clear that Professor Rajput was extremely knowledgeable on the class topic. I think her anecdotes and fieldwork experience provided dynamic and useful context for the class as we explored the topics during our class sessions” (Hillary Bullis, State Department).
(11) “This class is amazing. Thank you for all the valuable time you invested in your research. It has been a rewarding start to the school year just learning so much from you” (Joseph Yarsiah, State Department).
(12) “Dr. Rajput has done the field of conflict analysis and resolution a big favor by exposing the issue of refugees and IDPs issues and concern through her valuable research in Asia. I think she did a very thorough investigation of the issues of refugees and IDPs in Kashmir and reflected that in a very entertaining, challenging, yet encouraging way for us students. She also share lights on being a good researcher and what it took to get the job done. She is very knowledgeable on the subject and was able to cover a lot in three classes. It felt like an entire semester worth of information. She is passionate about her work and very proud of her research. As a former refugee myself, I felt proud listening to a lecturer who brought so much light and attention to this issue” (Joseph Yarsiah, State Department).
Sudha Rajput, PhD
‘Refugee and IDP Issue Analysis’
School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
George Mason University
World Bank (Ret.)
Sudha’s blog – a view on internal displacement
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