Legislation on IDPs – legislation in progress (around the globe)

What is new on IDP legislation around the globe?
Sudha Rajput
October 23, 2013

Kampala Convention: Per news from Africa.com, we are learning that the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) has submitted the Kampala Convention to its National legislature for revisions. When passed into law, this convention will apply to all IDPs in Africa, but needs to be signed by 15 countries to make the convention legally binding. The convention will apply to all victims of internal displacement regardless of the causes of their displacement, whether displaced by violence or natural disasters.
This is great news, let’s see if we can have similar conventions in other parts of the world.
For the full story, visit http://allafrica.com/stories/201310221529.html

Update on KACHIN IDPs

Updated Dec 12 2013
Kachinnews.com reports that Burmese army troops have shot at “Kachin refugees” and have stolen part of their food supplies, such as rice.
Allegedly these were Burmese Army soldiers who entered ‘Nam Lim Pa’ IDP camp, forcing more than 50 resident villagers to flee to Man Gau village. Free Burma Rangers (FBR) states that these army troops came from five different Battalions under the Military Operations Command (MOC). Such tactics and incidents, where the army uses the aid convoys to advance its ‘sphere of control’ have been used by the army before, for instance earlier military had targeted the UN aid convoy in Kachin state’s jade rich Hpakant to take territory from KIO (Kachin Independence Organization).

Update on Kachin IDPs:
October 25, 2013

IDPs in Kachin State continue to be attacked by Burmese army:
“More than 100,000 civilians have been displaced since the armed conflict began in Kachin state in June 2011, including an estimated 53,000 registered IDPs in KIA-controlled areas. The regime has continuously restricted access to humanitarian aid to these IDPs, with only three deliveries of UN aid permitted in KIA-controlled areas since July 2012. These deliveries were comprised of food, medicine, and other supplies designed to provide short-term relief, but only reached 25% of the IDPs in desperate need of aid”.
For full story check out:
http://www.fidh.org/en/asia/burma/14171-army-attacks-camps-of-displaced-people-in-kachin-state

Update on Kachin IDPs:
August 29, 2013

About Kachin: Northernmost state of Burma (Myanmar) is bordered by China and India, with Myanmar’s highest mountain, forming the southern tip of the Himalayas.

History: Kachin troops formed major part of Burmese army, but with dissolution of Union of Burma in 1962, Kachin forces withdrew and formed the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)

Root cause leading up to IDP situation: After a Myanmar army offensive in 1994 seized the jade mines from the KIO, a peace treaty was signed that allowed KIO control of most of the State, under aegis of Myanmar military, resulting in the creation of splinter factions from the KIO and KIA of groups opposed to the peace accord, creating an unstable political landscape.
Continued Conflict: 2011 Outbreak of Civil War: Fighting between KIA and the Myanmar army began in June 2011, lasting till 2012, leading to roughly 5,600 IDPs, displaced from over 300 villages, arriving at 38 Camps under Myanmar government control. By Oct 2012, 100,000 IDPs were still in camps across Kachin state, living in KIA controlled territory.

Current Plight of people: Some among the campers are over 70 years old, desperately wanting to return home, but reluctant to return as security has not been established in the villages they were forced to leave. Gunfires can still be heard and villages continue to be littered with landmines. Aid agencies point to lack of government coordination.

Sudha Rajput
August 29, 2013, 11:26am

Egypt – what is happening in Egypt (Aug 14,2013)

Sudha Rajput explains the ongoing Egypt conflict in simple terms.
Country: Egypt (population 85m)
Gov HQ: Alexandria (coastal city in Egypt) – other gov offices in Nile Delta area
Neighbors: Northeast (Israel and Gaza Strip) West (Libya) South (Sudan) – Egypt’s Israeli border is in close proximity to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, although there is no land border between them.
Type of violence: POLITICAL UNREST (Morsi supporters vs security forces) – SECTARIAN VIOLENCE (Christian minority vs Muslim majority)
Root Cause: – Root Cause of this violent episode –people were unhappy under Morsi – sinking economy, absence of political reform.
International Community: condemning the latest violence (of Aug 14, 2013), US is urging the parties to resolve their differences peacefully and refrain from violence –
Conflict Parties: retaliatory clashes bn security forces (military backed interim gov) and Morsi supporters (Muslim Brotherhood)
Conflict Stage: Escalation
Conflict-handling orientation: Confrontational – blame game – tit-for-tat –
Implications: (i) could turn into Syrian style civil war that has killed >100,000 (ii) International impact – Egypt’s stock markets and banks (remaining closed)
Situation: security forces killing supporters of ousted pd Mohamed Morsi (Egypt’s first democratically elected president) of Muslim Brotherhood in a July 3 coup– Former pd (autocrat) Hosni Mobarek was topped in 2011 uprising – Morsi’s party had emerged after Mubarak’s fall as the country’s strongest political force. Mohammed el Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, the VP of the interim gov resigned – interim Egyptian gov had promised for a smooth transition to a democratically elected civilian administration – many Morsi-allied Muslim Brotherhood members have been arrested – these large-scale arrests of Brotherhood members are similar to the authoritarian approach adopted by Mubarek government, when the Islamist group was banned and repressed – authorities are blaming the Islamist forces for the violence that erupted Aug 14 – Morsi supporters are running makeshift hospitals – current gov is blaming Brotherhood for burning churches – these sectarian attacks reflect anger of the minority Christians in Egypt – Camps were set up by Brotherhood supporters to demand reinstatement of Morsi – Authorities claim that Morsi supporters have been staging unauthorized sit-ins for the last 6 weeks – military is holding Morsi and his top aides, and prominent Islamist leaders, incommunicado since the coup.
full story in http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/egyptian-security-forces-move-against-protesters-camps/2013/08/14/bc079750-04a7-11e3-9259-e2aafe5a5f84_story.html

EGYPT – what is happening in Egypt on July 3, 2013?

Sudha Rajput: July 3, 2013 1:03pm
CNN just reported that the army’s 48-hour deadline for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy to end the nation’s political crisis has passed. On Monday, the military gave Morsy, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, 48 hours to accommodate his opponents with a power-sharing agreement or be pushed aside. Morsy vowed that he would not comply and demanded the military withdraw its ultimatum and return to its barracks. Massive demonstrations for and against Morsy continue at Tahir Square in Cairo.
CNN Breaking News: July 3, 1:06pm

SYRIA – Conflict in Syria

Latest on Syria:

Sudha Rajput
June 12, 2013:
Syria: latest IDP toll (4.25 million)
per U.S. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Elizabeth Hopkins

–Ms. Hopkins remarks that “the global number of Internally Displaced Persons is larger than ever before, and that 6.5 million persons became newly displaced in their home countries last year. This underscores the point that UNHCR’s responsibilities continue to grow”. She notes the UNHCR’s commitments to IDPs, and remarks that these commitments should not be a lower priority for the agency relative to its other populations of concern – refugees, returnees, and stateless persons.
“We need to continue to strengthen the system of response. The well-being of millions of Internal Displaced Persons depends in part on United Nations’ High Commission of Refugees living up to these responsibilities.”
Source; http://editorials.voa.gov/content/hopkins-on-internally-displaced-people/1674517.html

What is happening in Syria?
Sudha Rajput, June 6, 2013, 10:00 am
Extracted from reference cited below
Syria: Damascus (capital)
Background: Events leading to country’s tumultuous uprising against Syrian President, Bashar-al-Assad’s regime began in March 2011. Assad’s regime is Shiite-affiliated Alawite sect. The conflict is between the Syrian government (pro-Assad) and the opposition rebel Free Syrian Army.
Role of other conflict parties: (1) US – condemns Syrian President (2) Lebanese Hezbollah supports Syrian President – Hezbollah is helping the Syrian army to regain control of more and more areas of Syria lost to the rebels. (3) Iran supports Syrian President.
Current situation: Syrian gov captures Qusair from the opposition rebels, a strategic Syrian town, giving Syrian President’s forces the upper hand in the two-year-old conflict and dimming the prospect of peace talks. Pro-Assad forces launched a surprise attack (June 4, 2013) opening up an escape route across the Lebanese border, to force the rebels to leave.
Refugee influx: people fleeing Syria are ending up in Lebanon (putting Lebanese citizens at risk)
Aside: As reported by Loveday Morris Hezbollah, Russia and Iran are providing help to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, changing the momentum of the civil war. In general Syrian army has been assisted by Hezbollah (Lebanse Shiite movement). Hezbollah militants, known for their prowess in street fighting.
Implications: (1) boosts Assad’s confidence, win for the Syrian government, makes it easier to further push for central Syria (2) Loss of the border town will cut into the supply lines from the rebel supporters in Lebanon, six miles to the west. (3) changes the momentum of the civil war (4) dims prospect of peace talks (4) conflict could explode into a regional sectarian war (5) Control of Qusair gives the Syrian government a crucial link between the capital, Damascus, and the port cities of Tartus and Latakia, the heartland of Assad’s Shiite-affiliated Alawite sect. (6) It secures a supply conduit from the Lebanese border, important for Hezbollah as it plans for a long-term fight in Syria. (7) win in Qusair boosted Hezbollah’s reputation after its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, promised his men victory in a May 25 speech. Celebratory gunfire erupted Wednesday in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold. (8) Exacerbate Sunni-Shiite divisions in the region (9) inflamed sectarian strife in Lebanon (10) Iraq recorded its highest monthly death toll in five years in May — a spike likely attributed to heightened sectarian tensions partly linked to Syria’s war (11) regional Sunni-Shiite war (per Peter Harling, of International Crisis Group).

Reference: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/report-lebanese-militants-help-syrian-forces-capture-border-town/2013/06/05/fe51f0b0-cdbb-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html?wpisrc=nl_cuzheads
Ahmed Ramadan contributed to the original article (June 6, 2013)

Displacement in Burma – June 2013 situation

IDP in Kachin, Burma
June 4, 2013
Cause of Displacement:
(1) Tension between Burmese gov an ethnic Kachin rebels.
(2) Burma’s military has been at war against Kachin rebels for decades, but both sides signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The conflict flared again up in June 2011 after the longstanding ceasefire broke down. Fighting escalated in December 2012 until February 2013, when clashes became less frequent.
(3) war has displaced tens of thousands of people. In Myitkyina and Wai Maw alone, more than 12,000 people are currently staying in 39 camps, although there are many other camps in the state.

Current situation:
(1) June 1, preliminary peace agreement signed bn the two parties, Burmese gov says IDPs could return home within 2 months, but detailed plans to be discussed with Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).
(2) May 30, 2013, a government negotiation team and the KIO signed a seven-point statement in which both sides agreed to “undertake efforts to achieve de-escalation and cessation of hostilities” and to “continue discussions on military matters related to repositioning of troops.”
(3) Officials said the agreement—although not a ceasefire—marked an important step toward ending clashes.
(4) US Embassy in Rangoon said the US was encouraged by the agreement and would closely follow the political, military and humanitarian situation in Kachin State.
Facts:
(1) Tens of thousands of Kachin people have been displaced in fighting between Kachin rebels and the government since a longstanding ceasefire broke down in 2011.
(2) more than 500 refugees at Thagaya camp in Wai Maw Township.
(3) IDP camps are overcrowded and lack supplies.
(4) government has prevented international aid groups from accessing camps in rebel-controlled territories near the border with China, although a UN convoy was allowed to bring aid in February.
(5) UN will assist Burma’s government and the KIO with return of the IDPs.
(6) Camp residents praised the minister’s news but voiced concern for people’s safety. “We really want to go home, but only if there is genuine ceasefire,” one IDP told Aung Min. “Plus we have no money to resume our livelihoods, and our neighborhoods have been riddled with landmines. I’m worried about our children’s education, too.”
(7) minister said that after the government establishes trust with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), de-mining programs would also begin in the state.
(8) “We will support food, education and so on,” he added. “But our government alone can’t handle all of these tasks. It must be an all-inclusive process.”

Reference: http://www.irrawaddy.org/archives/36161

Displacement in Darfur (Sudan)

Darfur (Sudan)
June 4, 2013
Context: plight of IDPs
Note: original article (referenced below)

Since 2003 everything in Darfur has changed, including the culture of the IDP camps, impacting the local social structure. Darfur has been suffering from a major transformation, a new style of life. Today, the IDPs depend greatly on national and international organizations for all services, including accommodation. Before the war, IDPs depended on farm lands, where they would breed their cattle and carry out agricultural activities but along the way, they lost their lands and moved toward big cities, in search of security and shelter.

The issue of IDPs has opened doors for international involvement. The IDPs have been waiting desperately for ten years anticipating a better quality of life. A promise made by UN agencies but unfortunately people have been waiting for too long with the hopes of future as gloomy.
There is also a sense of uneasiness and worry about the existence of camps which begins to threaten the identity and culture of people. How to deal with this issue is an enormous challenge facing IDPs, local government authorities and international communities.

Mohammed Abdul (2013) suggests the solution should start from the IDPs themselves. They should face the challenge and correct the current situation, as the UN agencies talk of shortage of funding for Darfur, given the portfolio of other humanitarian crisis under the umbrella of the UN. In addition, Abdullah reminds that international support can’t be an ever-lasting process.

Reference: http://news.sudanvisiondaily.com/article.html?rsnpaid=656
by Mohammed Abdullah (posted 05/06/2013)

Random thoughts

May 30, 2013
Syria:
Do you think, it is right for the EU to lift the arms embargo on Syria?
How do you think, the EU decision will impact the ongoing conflict parties (Syrian government, Syrian rebels, neighboring countries)
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Displacement in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Move in the right direction on issue of rights for those internally displaced.

 

“The House of Assembly has ratified the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons. The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons was signed in Kampala in 2009 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted on December 13 2006”.

This Kampala Declaration, adopted at the AU Summit is the first legally binding instrument specifically designed to assist the IDPs.

This move signals Zimbabwe’s government’s commitment to protect and help the IDPs who become displaced for a number of reasons. As we know globally the numbers of those internally displaced far exceeds the number of the refugees, for instance in Africa there are four times as many IDPs are refugees, who are not protected by international laws unlike the refugees who are protected by UN’s Refugee Convention.

“It reaffirms that national authorities have the primary responsibility to provide assistance to internally displaced people. It comprehensively addresses different causes of internal displacements; conflicts generalised violence, human cause or natural disasters and development projects like building dams or clearing only land for large scale agriculture.”

Sudha: May 20, 2013 2:39pm

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201305200341.html – May 20, 2013

Displacement in Myanmar

Sudha Rajput: May 29, 2013, 4:49pm
Extracted from source cited below

My title for today’s post: Why the displacement in Myanmar:
Myanmar’s 64 million people view the country’s 800,000 Rohingya as illegal migrants from what is now Bangladesh, and refer to them as Bengali.

President Thein Sein has tried to contain violence against Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar, and other Muslims in the Buddhist-majority country, he has also allowed greater political freedom since taking power two years ago.

Fresh anti-Muslim violence broke out again on May 28, 2013 in northern Shan state when a mob torched a mosque, religious school and 11 shops after police refused to hand over a Muslim man accused of burning a Buddhist girl.

Per Human Rights Watch, 70 Rohingya were killed in a massacre in Mrauk-U township on Oct. 23, including 28 children who were hacked to death, part of violence in the region last year that killed 180 people and displaced more than 100,000. In March, anti-Muslim violence in central Myanmar killed more than 40 people, displaced 20,000 others and left about 1,400 buildings destroyed, including mosques.

Last month, a government commission investigating the violence in Rakhine state cited population growth as a factor fueling tensions between ethnic groups. While it proposed family planning measures, it said none should be discriminatory.
‘Cruel’ policy
“Implementation of this callous and cruel two-child policy against the Rohingya is an example of the systematic and wide ranging persecution of this group, the target of an ethnic cleansing campaign,” said, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Governments who care about reform in Burma need to speak out about the persecution.”
Source: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/international/myanmar-tested-on-two-child-policy-for-rohingya/

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Sudha Rajput: May 24, 2013, 3:16pm

My title for this post: ‘Myanmar – why the effort is slow’

Myannmar: Rakhine:

Rakhine houses approximately 140,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) of the sectarian violence perpetrated on the Rohingya Muslims in 2012. Aid agencies such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and Amnesty International, have been working to resolve the Rohingya crisis over the past year. Almost 70,000 IDPs remain in makeshift shelters in low-lying areas along the Bangladesh coast, which are highly susceptible to tidal surges and flooding. The flood waters from the neighboring Bangladesh make things work for those in the camps.

Complications with relocation of IDPs relates to the widespread anti-Muslim sentiment that took root in ethnic clashes between the Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims early last year. The government is wary of stirring up violent responses to their resettlement strategy, and finds itself with limited options.

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Sudha Rajput: May 20,2013, 3:03 pm

Myanmar (neighbor of Bangladesh):

Myanmar, Rakhine state is full of makeshift settlements, housing up to 140,000 people, namely Rohingya Muslims — displaced by sectarian unrest that began in 2012, claiming many lives, and fracturing whole villages. The camps have been constructed from bamboo and tarpaulin, located in soggy paddy fields.

Rohingya are now totally dependent on humanitarian aid, with total segregation of Buddhist and Muslim communities.

Background; “Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship —considered by the United Nations to be one of the world’s most persecuted minorities…Attacks against Muslims — who make up an estimated 4 percent of the population — have spread to other parts of Myanmar, overshadowing widely praised political reforms as the country emerges from decades of military rule”. Finally after continuous warnings from rights groups and aid organizations, local authorities are now starting to build enough wooden shelters before the tents are swamped.

Ongoing cyclones and flood waters threaten the lives of those living in these camps.

Similarity between displaced Kashmiri Pandits: “The semi-permanence of the wooden structures has caused concern that they will prolong segregation of communities — a solution, albeit temporary, that was advocated by a recent official report on the unrest”. This is similar to the Kashmiri Pandit Jagti community housed in “township” like apartments as a temporary solution but now who find themselves totally isolated from Jammu’s mainstream. Understandably it is a challenge to provide the IDPs some form of permanence without creating barriers between this group and the locals. The reality is these camps often become permanent settlements. Just like with Kashmiri Pandit community the reasons behind the temporary shelters is the aim of eventually returning the displaced to their original communities. But with prolonged settlements, the IDPs begin to lose faith in the authorities.

Reference: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/international/after-cyclone-myanmar-camps-face-monsoon-threat/