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.
Syria: Yesterday, the international community learned of a sobering reality: The UN declared that the number of Syrian refugees has officially climbed to 4 million, over half of Syria's population. In a statement, U.N. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said, "This is the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation.”
Though many choose to flee to bordering countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, 7 million are displaced within Syria, and in its 5th year, conflict still rages on – over the past few weeks, rebels have attacked the city of Aleppo by bombing government buildings, universities, and community centers. Aleppo was once named the city of scholars, as well as a secure home for Syrians. Now, Aleppo is marked as a city of war.
Though refugees are separated from violence, they face a life with poorer conditions than before. Families driven by deepened poverty and desperation turn to extreme survival strategies, such as marrying off their young children or forcing them to work. Guterres stated, "Worsening conditions are driving growing numbers towards Europe and further afield, but the overwhelming majority remain in the region. We cannot afford to let them and the communities hosting them slide further into desperation." UNHCR appealed for $5.5 billion to support the Syrian refugees in 2015, but the plan is only 24% funded. Humanitarian organizations have cut rations due to a lack of funds. Help is desperately needed, but the growing numbers carry a heavy weight on aid moving forward.
South Sudan: On July 9, 2011, South Sudan gained independence as an individual nation in Africa. 4 years later, South Sudan is not participating in celebrations, and the world’s newest nation is one of the world’s worst humanitarian situations. Conflict began in December 2013, and since, 2.25 million South Sudanese are displaced, including more than 600,000 refugees who have fled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. As many frail parents struggle to make the journey out of their homes–life expectancy in South Sudan is only 55 years–the crisis has majorly impacted the next generation of South Sudanese: 70% of those displaced are children.
Last week, we reported about the ruthless attack on a peacekeeping base that killed one and injured many others. This week, in anticipation for the rainy season in South Sudan, world health organizations are concerned about the possibility of cholera infecting those internally displaced. The Red Cross has resulted to air drops to deliver food, water, and health supplies, due to the remote locations of displaced persons, and along with other humanitarian organizations, are calling for action. Watch these two videos from the British Red Cross and UNHCR for more information about South Sudan since their independence.
Yemen: Last Saturday, a rocket attack struck a kindergarten shelter in Aden, Yemen, killing 12 refugees. Among them were 11 Somalis, 1 Ethiopian, and 5 being children. 12 others were also injured. Supported by the UNHCR and Solidarity Association for Development, (SAD), Al Tadamon Kindergarten is home to hundreds of displaced families. UNHCR reported that the shelter was well-known for hosting refugees, and called for members of the conflict to respect and protect all civilian lives. Currently, over 1 million are internally displaced people in Yemen, 250,000 are refugees and millions more are in need.