Posts Tagged ‘Norwegian Refugee Council’

Gaza: Hilfe ist dringend nötig

Mittwoch, Mai 19th, 2010

“Urgent need for aid

Astrid Sehl

The suffering continues in the ”children’s prison” in Gaza where the population are dependent on aid to survive. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) urges Norway and the international community to take action and seek new means to get supplies into the barred area.

One year and four months after the three week long war in Gaza, the citizens have not been provided with the assistance they need. Why? Because Israel and Egypt do not allow aid into the Palestinian area. Neither by truck, boat nor air transport.

The only possibility for the population in Gaza is to use underground tunnels. These tunnels costed more than one hundred lives last year. And this week four people were killed when part of one tunnel collapsed. UN and several humanitarian organizations therefore avoid using the tunnels to transport cement and other heavy and large supplies. However, as most people in Gaza, they have to use the petrol, drinking water and other materials brought through the tunnels, in order to continue some of the relief work.

There are more than 1.5 million citizens in Gaza, without any possibilities of getting out because of the closed borders. More than one millon of those are dependent on food supplies from outside to survive. The lack of agricultural land and fishing possibilities makes it difficult to be self-sufficient regarding food. Fishermen who fish outside the limit, three nautical miles from the shore, get shot at from Israeli naval vessels.

– The human suffering in Gaza is man-made and totally meaningless. It is entirely unacceptable of Israel and Egypt to deny aid to the ”children’s prison” in Gaza. Norway must put pressure on these countries and through USA and UN demand that aid can be transported on roads and by sea, says secretary general Elisabeth Rasmusson.

The population in Gaza is very young, 60 percent of the population of 1.5 million are bellow the age of 18. 52,000 children are born in Gaza every year. They are born into an environment characterised by immediate need for food, drinking water, health service, electricity, petrol and so forth. NRC is ready to rebuild damaged houses, but is in lack of materials because of the blockade.

– UN and humanitarian organizations have not been able to rebuild one single house of the 3400 houses which were totally destroyed during the Gaza war, because it is impossible to get materials into the area, says Rasmusson.

Zinat Al-Samoni (36), a widow and mother of seven, was one of the many survivors getting their lives ruined by the war
– My husband was shot in the head, and my son was shot in the chest when the Israeli troops came through our door. Afterwards, they demolished our house. We have nothing left, says Zinat.

Now she is a single mother for her seven children in the age between one and twelve years. Some bits of steal are the only thing that remains where their house used to be. All the bricks have been taken by kids and sold to others who are desperate to get roofs over their heads.

NRC assists Zinat and 1300 other persons in Gaza to obtain the necessary documents to get help to rebuild their homes. A lot of houses, with only small damages, have been repaired. While the blockade makes it impossible to rebuild the completely destroyed homes of Zinat and many others in Gaza.

– But the blockade can’t prevent us from giving free legal aid, says Rasmusson.”

(Quelle: NRC.)

Zahl der weltweiten Flüchtlinge erreicht neuen Höchststand

Mittwoch, Mai 19th, 2010

GLOBAL: IDP numbers peak at 27 million, says new report

LONDON, 18 May 2010 (IRIN) – At least 6.8 million people were displaced last year, mainly by long-running conflicts, pushing the number of those forced to live away from home to 27 million – the highest since the mid-1990s, a new report states.

“The massive population movements and shocking violence are a sad reminder of the price that civilians pay in armed conflict,” Elisabeth Rasmusson, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), said while launching the 2009 annual report on displacement at London’s Royal Institute of International Affairs. “Millions of people were newly displaced by conflicts in which combatants did not meet their obligations to protect civilians.”

The report, published by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (part of the NRC), said that while the number of refugees in the world remained fairly static, that of IDPs was rising steadily.

The distinction between a refugee and an IDP is clear in international law, but for the people who packed up their families and a few possessions and fled their homes to escape conflict it was often a matter of chance whether or not they crossed an international border.

The biggest single group of newly displaced people was in Pakistan, where some three million people fled army offensives against the Taliban and other armed groups. Most of the displacement was, however, temporary and they have now been able to go home. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, one million were newly displaced in 2009, as were over half a million in Sudan, and 400,000 each in Somalia and Colombia.

The IDPs, Rasmusson said, were often poorer and more vulnerable than refugees, and unable to travel as far from the conflict zone. The responsibility for their security and welfare should lie with their own governments, but some were reluctant to acknowledge the existence of displaced people within their borders. “They prefer to call them dislocated, or mobile or vulnerable populations,” she said.

The report cites Algeria, Myanmar, Indonesia and Zimbabwe as denying internal displacement. “This is arguably an attempt to deny the displaced access to the assistance they are entitled to by international law,” she said.

AU convention

Rasmusson and John Holmes, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, paid tribute to the African Union for its adoption last October of a Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. Holmes called the convention “very significant” and “a major step forward”.

“It recognises that states have a duty to prevent displacement and a responsibility towards those displaced,” he said at the report launch. “But the test will be whether the number of displaced is now reduced.”

Asked whether the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, should take responsibility for the welfare of IDPs, or whether a new international body was needed, Holmes said: “I think it is right for the UNHCR to take on more of this role.” However, he recognised that there was some resistance within the organization and among donors to a dilution of its mandate.

“We don’t want the UNHCR to be confined to the static problem of refugees, while IDPs are a massively expanding problem,” he added.

On the implications of displacement, he said: “Displacement creates an unacceptable burden on the communities that host IDPs, many of whom are themselves in need of humanitarian or development assistance…

“Furthermore, protracted displacement, and the marginalization that results, can have serious political, security and financial implications for national governments. As we have seen around the world, failure to resolve displacement inevitably undermines national efforts aimed at long-term peace and stability in post-crisis countries.”

Full report

(Quelle: IRIN News.)