- Sierra Leone: Mudslides - Aug 2017
- Sierra Leone: Floods - Sep 2015
- West Africa: Ebola Outbreak - Mar 2014
- Sierra Leone: Wild Fires - Jan 2013
- Sierra Leone/Guinea: Cholera Outbreak - Feb 2012
- West/Central Africa: Floods - Jun 2010
- West Africa: Floods - Jul 2009
- Sierra Leone: Floods and Landslides - Aug 2009
- Sierra Leone: Floods - Sep 2007
- West Africa: Floods - Jul 2007
National elections in Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire will be held in three months, with the security and stability of West Africa hanging in the balance. While over 1.3 million Liberians have registered to vote on October 11, hundreds of thousands of refugees are still in camps outside the country, with those of voting age unable to register. Additionally, tens of thousands of internally displaced persons that did register may not get to vote because they have not been able to return to their home county.
In Northern Uganda, RI focused on the lack of reproductive health services for women and the problem of gender-based violence. In particular, internally displaced women are not well served. The RI team met with representatives from UNFPA and other protection agencies to ensure that they better address the needs of displaced women in Northern Uganda.
In Sudan, RI's mission to Darfur focused on gender-based violence. RI was able to bring attention to the fact that female genital mutilation (FGM) and rape were putting women at serious risk.
UN peacekeepers have brought four years of security to Sierra Leone after a brutal civil war, but economic and social conditions remain fragile. Durable peace and economic recovery will require continued investment, both in Sierra Leone and throughout West Africa.
The United Nations could improve the performance of its peacekeeping operations by taking a more regional approach to efforts to end conflicts, Refugees International concludes in a new report.
By Cliff Bernath and Sarah Martin
RI Advocate Sarah Martin recently returned from a mission to West Africa.
During the past decade of war in Liberia, an estimated 250,000 people have fled for safety to bordering countries. With the expulsion of Charles Taylor and the arrival of a UN peacekeeping mission - UNMIL - last August, the situation in Liberia is beginning to stabilize. Liberia's Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) program is scheduled to begin on April 15, and refugees who have been living in camps in Sierra Leone - some for more than 10 years--are optimistic about peace and the possibility of returning to their homes and livelihoods.
Sarah Martin and Cliff Bernath are presently conducting a humanitarian assessment mission in West Africa.
Director of Conflict Prevention and Resolution Cliff Bernath and Advocate Sarah Martin are presently on a four-week assessment mission to West Africa.
Beginning on March 5, 2004, RI Advocate Sarah Martin, and Director of Conflict Prevention and Resolution Cliff Bernath will conduct a mission to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire to examine the roles, strengths and weaknesses of the peacekeeping operations, individually and in a regional context; to assess the refugee and IDP situation in each country; and to explore Gender-based Violence (GBV) and HIV/AIDS problems and programs.
A Powerful Voice for Lifesaving Action
There is a direct relationship between armed conflicts and the world's 35 million displaced people. The overwhelming majority of displaced people have been forced from their homes and countries due to the direct and indirect impacts of war and conflict. Many times, it is the actual gunfire and imminent threat of death that drives them away. All too often, it is the indirect consequences of conflict, such as fear of atrocities, kidnappings, rapes, looting and other human rights violations that force them to seek refuge.
During the 15-year long civil war in Liberia, most of the population was forced to flee their homes at some point to escape armed conflict and brutal treatment by militia and rebel forces. There are an estimated 305,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are living in camps inside Liberia. In addition, there are about 105,000 registered refugees in neighboring countries, although the numbers are probably higher. People who flee to another country become refugees and are granted protection under international law.
Maureen Lynch is Director of Research and George Kun is McCall-Pierpaoli Fellow with Refugees International.
Richard Poole recently returned from a three-week humanitarian assessment mission in West Africa.
Security incidents in refugee camps located close to international borders continue to take lives. Today, more than 35,000 Liberian refugees in the Ivory Coast are in imminent danger, and the UN estimates that half of them need to be evacuated immediately. No country has offered them a safe haven. At Nicla camp, near Guiglo, more than 8,000 refugees face ongoing fighting and active recruitment from belligerent forces. One refugee accommodated near the Liberian border told Refugees International, "I personally know of five people who disappeared.
Today more than 5,000 children will be displaced by conflict. In all, an estimated 25 million children are living as refugees or are displaced in their home country. These young individuals experience much disruption and loss in their lives - loss of familiar people and surroundings; loss of a sense of order and predictability. They also face difficulties specific to their experience as returnees.
By RI Advocates Clifford Bernath and
More than 100,000 Liberians in neighboring countries could be considered "permanent" refugees. Refugees International interviewed Liberians in Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea who have been living as refugees for more than a decade. The majority of the refugees that RI spoke with did not consider themselves to be integrated into their host country. They also felt that they could not return home. Since they have no hope of integrating or going home, they have become, in essence, "permanent" refugees.
The road to becoming a refugee almost always starts with men -- men intent on gaining power and men intent on keeping it. Their tools are weapons, repression and terror. Their victims are the less powerful: men, women and children who are forced to flee their homes and countries in search of safety. When the fear of staying exceeds the fear of leaving, they enter the road to becoming a refugee.