Since mid-2005, Ockenden International has been carrying out community assistance projects in Missan governorate in south Iraq. We work with small communities, in neighbourhoods or villages surrounding Amarah city, to organize consultations on an activity for which the community can prove a real need, and can organise themselves, with the support of our staff. When you consider the massive levels of destruction which Iraq has experienced over the last few years, it is not surprising that in the vast majority of cases the community has opted for a construction project of some kind.
Ockenden International works in Afghan refugee camps in northern Pakistan, working on education projects with the communities there. We provide teacher training, and help set up and maintain primary schools within the Afghan refugee camps. We work to help prepare Afghan refugees for return to Afghanistan, by ensuring that the schools conform to Afghan curriculum, and linking returning refugees with training, education and job opportunities in Afghanistan.
On 19 June 2006, peace talks aimed at settling the complex conflict in eastern Sudan were said to have come to a conclusion. With international focus on Darfur, this has been achieved largely away from the glare of the international media.
Following recent improvements in relations between the Governments of Sudan and Eritrea, a climate came into being which has made this potential settlement possible.
A major change in the Nepalese political landscape was announced in Kathmandu on Friday 16 June. Marking a potential end to the 10-year-old Maoist insurgency, which has left some 13,000 dead, an interim government is to be formed.
New Prime Minister, Girija Prasad Koirala, and Maoist leader, Prachanda, signed a joint statement allowing for the development of a government in which Maoist leaders will serve. It is hoped that the new government will be formed within a few weeks.
Pakistan sustained the heaviest death toll and destruction in its 58-year history after a powerful earthquake registering 7.6 on the Richter scale ripped through the north of the country and Pakistani-administered Kashmir on 8 October last year. More than 80,000 people were killed and over 100,000 were injured while nearly 4 million people were rendered homeless just weeks before the start of the bitter Himalayan winter.
For many years Ockenden has been working with internally displaced people (IDPs) in eastern Sudan and in and around the capital Khartoum. We have often sought to convince donors that many of Sudan's five to six million IDPs live in appalling conditions and require assistance.
According to a recent report from the NGO Coordinating Committee in Iraq the humanitarian situation in Iraq remains desperate and may well continue to decline in the coming months.
The continued conflict between Maoist rebels and the government in Nepal has had devastating effects on the lives of many of Nepal's people. The war has led to people being displaced for a number of reasons including acts of violence or threats against the population, practices of forced recruitment and extortion in an increasingly unstable environment.
Afghanistan has been and will remain a challenging environment for Ockenden International to serve its beneficiaries. The confluence of myriad forces including the ongoing insurgency by Anti-Government Elements, the ubiquitous drug trade and a still-weak central government continue to hamper efforts at reconstruction and development.
January saw a major donor conference in London, resulting in what is known as the "Afghanistan Compact". Despite the pledges of billions of dollars for Afghanistan over the next 5 years, challenges and obstacles remain massive.
During February …
The earthquake that struck northwest Pakistan and Kashmir on 8 October 2005 had a devastating effect on most people living in the region. 87,000 people died and an estimated 3 million were displaced. Daily updates from the media and the many appeals by charities for people to make a contribution to the relief effort, have led many people to imagine how those who have been affected are coping and how best to offer them assistance.
Those who were displaced are in remote locations that are difficult to access. The basics that are required to survive are in short supply.
Report on the current and potential impact of displaced people returning to southern Sudan
Ockenden International has worked in Nepal for the past three years helping Tibetan refugees.
For the first time in 3 decades, Afghanistan has a popularly elected parliament. The last year that an elected national assembly functioned was 1973, before coups and a Soviet invasion brought 30 years of conflict and despair to the country. Elections took place in September, but the parliament was officially sworn in and convened on December 19 2005, marking the conclusion of the political transition process agreed on by Afghan factions in December 2001.
On 8 October 200,5 an earthquake devastated parts of northern Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. In Pakistan it is estimated that more than 87,000 people have died, with many more injured and displaced; the death toll is likely to increase.
Over the course of the previous two nights security fears have grown in the town of Maridi, southern Sudan, as the rebel Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army(LRA) launched consecutive attacks on the population.
Ockenden International, who are working on capacity and skills based programmes in the area, have been informed that 3 people were abducted on Monday night and a further five on Tuesday.
The LRA are known to be operating in the Western Equatorial province of Sudan having recently been forced out of Uganda and the DRC.
Balekot -- 7 December
The road through the mountains was only briefly blocked and is now open. The destruction increases the closer you get, as Balekot was the epicentre of the earthquake. Completely flattened, with large displaced communities living in tents from both Balekot and the surrounding area. Some come to Balekot briefly to find relatives and others come for help.
Children from the primary school that was destroyed are now being taught by an ex-grocer whose business was demolished. Only their teacher was killed.
Woking charity Ockenden International has been to Sudan to explore ways it can help refugees of the country's bitter civil war.
This paper seeks to reflect on the often
difficult interplay between humanitarian organisations and the military.
It looks primarily at three countries where Ockenden International works:
Sudan (south), Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ockenden International currently maintains offices in six provinces of Afghanistan, employing approximately 200 Afghan and 3 expatriate staff to carry out a variety of programmes intended to address the most pressing needs of Afghanistan's most vulnerable populations.
Following the recent formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU), it is expected that many more internally displaced People (IDPs) and refugees will return to South Sudan. However, two decades of conflict have left the region ill equipped to cater for the needs of such a vulnerable group.
As many articles on this website have highlighted, IDPs, in particular, remain vulnerable for many reasons; not least by the lack of international law classifying their rights and the duties of governments towards them.