This Week in Restoring Family Links News

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 new weekly blog segment that will highlight and summarize some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

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Syria: As the Syrian Civil War enters its fourth year of conflict, many news stories have focused on the difficulty of reaching a peace deal and the difficulties faced in providing humanitarian assistance for those affected by the conflict. However, the plight of Syrian refugees has been a vital story to share. While the refugee crises faced by Syria’s neighbors is often highlighted, Bulgaria – an entry point into Europe for many refugees – is facing a crisis of its own. With limited funds and poor facilities, refugees in the nation face prolonged detention before they can be registered as refugees. Calls for humanitarian support to Bulgaria and for other European Union nations to ease the country’s burden have been made, but little action has taken place as of now.

Highlighting the plight of nations can be a useful tool for broadcasting the need for humanitarian assistance. However, it is also important to provide a voice to the refugees themselves and those who are trying to provide services for those affected by the conflict. A photo essay in Marie Clair highlights the stories of women who have fled the conflict for Jordan. These stories highlight the difficulty of making the decision to leave behind their homes and possessions, but also show their resilience as they seek safety for themselves and their families. Another news piece focuses on the mental health needs of Syrians both inside and outside of the nation and the difficulty psychiatrists have had accessing clients.

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South Sudan: News stories reporting on the current situation in South Sudan often focus on the escalating humanitarian crisis, the rising number of refugees fleeing the nation, and the political deadlock keeping the warring parties from reaching a peace deal. However, it is important to also highlight the humanitarian work being accomplished by various organizations in the region and the ways in which technological advances are making it easier for families to stay connected even when they are forced to flee due to violence. The Ugandan Red Cross along with its partners has worked to ensure the safety of those fleeing South Sudan and provide them shelter in refugee camps. Likewise in Uganda, new telecommunications networks are making it easier for families to stay connected by phone as well as for humanitarian organizations to do their work.

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Central African Republic: Similarly to South Sudan, news stories about the current crisis in Central African Republic are often less than positive. In addition to grim reports of rebel attacks in the countryside and the capital, there is also an ongoing humanitarian crisis faced by the refugees who have fled the conflict, especially those in Chad. However, in the midst of crisis, glimmers of hope do exist. This week UNICEF reported that they were able to reunite four children with their father after they had been abducted by rebel troops. The UN organization warned that as the conflict separates more children from their families, child abductions could occur more frequently. They urge that authorities protect the rights of children until a political solution can bring an end to the conflict.

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North/South Korea: Over the past month, we have reported on the political back and forth between South and North Korea over holding family reunions for those who were separated by the Korean War. While previous reunions have been canceled, the most recent talks ended positively with a weeklong reunion at a North Korean mountain resort. As the population benefiting from these meetings grows older, the urgency for more frequent reunions led South Korea to request that letters and Skype communication become available for families wanting to reconnect. Currently, North Korea has denied these requests; however, as the relationship between the two Koreas continues in a more positive direction, this issue will hopefully be revisited