This Week in Restoring Family Links News 05/16/2016 – 05/22/2015

Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

Burundi: Over 110,000 persons have fled Burundi due to violence in the lead up to elections expected in May/June of this year. The majority (approximately 70,000) have fled to Tanzania, arriving in Kagunga and Kigoma as they await transport to the Nyarugusu refugee camp. The sheer number of people has led to a humanitarian crisis, but is being compounded by the rising threat of cholera, with between 300 and 400 new cases being reported daily.

Numerous organizations are responding to the needs of these refugees. Oxfam in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency and the government of Tanzania has focused its relief efforts on water and sanitary equipment. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been supporting Red Cross National Societies in the region to meet the humanitarian needs of the displaced, including reconnecting families separated by the conflict.

(Christophe Archambault/AFP)

(Christophe Archambault/AFP)

Rohingya: Last week, we covered the refugee crisis emerging in the Andaman Sea as Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were denied entry into Malaysia and Indonesia, forcing them to remain stranded in the sea without food, water, or medical attention. This week, progress was made in addressing the emergency as both Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to provide temporary protection for the thousands of refugees. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has pledged to assist these migrants. The Philippines has also offered to accept 300 of the boat people.

The willingness of these nations to address the crisis is an important step forward; however, other regional players continue to refuse to help and refute responsibility. Australia has completely refused to help address the crisis by resettling refugees. And Myanmar, where many of the refugees are fleeing from says it has no responsibility for the refugees. The nation’s continued denial of recognition and rights for the Rohingya is seen by many as the main driver of the current crisis.

South Sudan: This week, many agencies warned of increased violence in South Sudan ahead of the rainy season. The conflict is increasingly disrupting humanitarian assistance, and even targeting UN compounds where many displaced South Sudanese have sought refuge. The conflict has frustrated the international community whose continued attempts at peace negotiations have resulted in eight failed ceasefires, testing the limits and applicability of current conflict resolution practices.

Fall of Saigon: One Woman's Harrowing Tale with a Happy Ending

This year last month marked the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon to The People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. Many people remember the striking images of people evacuating from Saigon and South Vietnam on April 29th and 30th.

Thu-Thuy Truong, Board Secretary for the Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter and Restoring Family Links Advocate, was 13 at the time and one of thousands of Vietnamese who fled on April 30. The Red Cross chapter in Denver, Colorado welcomed Thu-Thuy Truong as a guest speaker to talk about her experience and how the Red Cross helped reconnect her family with their father, from whom they were separated during the incident. Her story is both harrowing and inspiring.

In this video, she shares an abridged version of her story. 

For more stories from the Colorado and Wyoming Region of the American Red Cross, please click here.

For more information on the reconnecting families services of the Red Cross, please visit redcross.org/reconnectingfamilies.

This Week in Restoring Family Links News 05/09/2015 - 05/15/2015

Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

Migrants rest inside a shelter after being rescued from boats at Lhoksukon in Indonesia's Aceh Province (Roni Bintang/Reuters)

Migrants rest inside a shelter after being rescued from boats at Lhoksukon in Indonesia's Aceh Province (Roni Bintang/Reuters)

Rohingya Migration Crisis: This week, the plight of over 1,000 refugees seeking asylum in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia came to the forefront in the news. The refugees are reported by officials as being a mix of Bangladeshis and ethnic Rohingya, a persecuted and stateless minority living in western Myanmar and eastern Bangladesh. These men, women, and children flee persecution and poverty, making the long and often dangerous journey by wooden boat through the Andaman Sea.

The three nations where people have sought asylum have all attempted to push the refugees back to the sea, saying they have done enough to help the persecuted minority and that they have to do more to protect their borders. Many organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have called on these nations to end these pushbacks and provide the asylum seekers with the protection and aid that they desperately need. While thousands have attempted to make it to shore, it is feared that thousands more remain stranded in rickety boats with nowhere to go. International law continues to debate how to best address the needs of stateless persons, and whether these persons can be recognized under current refugee law.

Darrin Zammit Lupi/Files/Courtesy Reuters

Darrin Zammit Lupi/Files/Courtesy Reuters

Migration in Europe: As the European Union continues to see an increase in migration across the Mediterranean, several proposals have been put forward to address the humanitarian crisis. One would address the uneven burden of meeting the needs of the migrants. As the majority of migrants cross from Libya, Italy has struggled to meet their protection needs. The proposal would distribute 20,000 migrants a year among EU nations based on the country’s current population and capacity for providing protection to asylum seekers. This proposal has been promoted by Germany, whereas other nations that would receive a large percentage of the 20,000, such as the UK, have rejected this solution. Another proposed solution involves using military force against smugglers; however, many immigration advocates have warned that such actions could further endanger the lives of migrants. The Red Cross has urged for a humanitarian approach to addressing the crisis.

Nepal military personnel and earthquake survivors search for belongings in collapsed houses in Sankhu, on the outskirts of Kathmandu (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Nepal military personnel and earthquake survivors search for belongings in collapsed houses in Sankhu, on the outskirts of Kathmandu (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Nepal Update: On April 25, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 48 miles NW of Kathmandu, Nepal, affecting an estimated 8 million people across 39 districts in Nepal’s West and Central Regions.  The earthquake resulted in more than 8,300 deaths, injured 17,800 people, and damaged or destroyed more than 500,000 houses.  Initial U.N. assessments have found that more than 90 percent of houses were destroyed in Sindhupalchok and Gorkha districts.

On May 12, a second major earthquake—of magnitude 7.3—struck 47 miles NE of Kathmandu, affecting 32 districts, including those still recovering from the April 25 earthquake.  The government of Nepal had confirmed 117 deaths and more than 1,900 people injured as of May 15.  Additional damage to houses and buildings also occurred as a result of the second earthquake.

Although humanitarian aid is now reaching many of the communities affected by the April 25 earthquake, access remains a challenge for some of the worst affected areas, particularly remote communities north of Kathmandu.  Debris removal remains a top priority in districts affected by the May 12 earthquake, as landslides have damaged roads and rendered some areas inaccessible. Many people displaced by the earthquakes are currently living outdoors in cold, wet conditions.  Additional disaster risks are also complicating response operations; many earthquake-affected areas are at continued risk of landslides and aftershocks, and heavy rains have occurred in some locations.

The earthquakes damaged schools and health facilities, limited access to water and sanitation, and left an estimated 3.5 million people in need of food assistance. Sustained relief and recovery efforts are required before the next monsoon season which is forecasted to begin in several weeks.  The Government of Nepal has identified shelter, health care provision, food, and water, sanitation and hygiene as key priorities for the response.

The American Red Cross has contributed $5 million to the response. The American Red Cross has also deployed a total of 11 disaster specialists and is providing relief supplies to support the response.  The American Red Cross is working closely with the Nepal Red Cross and the IFRC to coordinate additional support.