I have been working with Austcare for almost four months in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh as the Coordinator of our Program with Rohingya refugees. The Rohingyas are a persecuted ethnic and religious minority from Myanmar, and the groups in Cox's Bazar fled that persecution in 1991 to live in Bangladesh. While the Rohingyas are ineligible for citizenship in Myanmar, their rights in Bangladesh are also severely restricted. This effectively makes these people stateless.
I grew up in Mendivil, a village of 55 people in the rural area of Navarra in Spain.
On May 4, 190km per hour winds and 3.5 metre waves ripped through the most densely populated area of Myanmar (Burma). Already, there have been 15,000 deaths, with more than 10,000 of these being from a single town, Bogalay. A further 30,000 people are missing.
There are reports of at least 60 villages having been completely washed away.
United Nations officials have stated that hundreds of thousands have lost their homes, and the figure could even run into millions.
Civil wars between the Sudanese Government in Khartoum and various rebel groups have ravaged Sudan since its independence from British-Egyptian colonial administration in 1956. The most devastating consequences for local communities have been wrought by the conflicts in the regions of Darfur and southern Sudan.
The current situation
On Thursday 15 November 2007, Cyclone Sidr, described as the worst storm in years to hit the disaster-prone country, triggered a six metre high tidal wave that crashed into the south-west coast before sweeping north over the capital Dhaka.
An estimated 3000 people have lost their lives, with authorities estimating the figure could go as high as 10,000, with hundreds of fishermen still missing. Some organisations have estimated that over 1 million people are now homeless, and up to 7 million lives have been affected.
Austcare is distributing more than half a tonne of children's clothing in the eastern districts of Timor-Leste as part of its on-going response to last month's unrest in the fledgling democracy.
The Australian-based international aid organisation has developed a $340,000 program to assist those affected by the post-election turmoil that forced 8000 people from their homes and resulted in the burning, looting or destruction of more than 400 houses.
As part of its response, Austcare has begun delivering clothing for adults and children throughout the Watulari section of …
Austcare, the Australian international aid organisation is on the ground and actively monitoring the unrest and displacement in the Eastern districts of Vequeque and Baucau.
Austcare has committed AUD$40 thousand to assist in the current crisis in East Timor and a needs assessment is already underway.
Increased humanitarian protection is required for displaced people, and should be coordinated through UN agencies, the Timor-Leste government officials and local networks, to ensure their safety and basic human rights, and assist in the distribution of food and other emergency …
The current situation
Tension and unease continues in East Timor with some fresh outbreaks of violence following the announcement of the new Timor-Leste National Government on 6 August 2007. At this time where the people and Government of Timor-Leste are engaged in building democracy in the world's newest nation, such tension was expected, and we urge Australians to respond.
One of Australia's leading authorities on landmines will launch a pre-election campaign designed to eradicate another devastating weapon from the world's arsenals.
In May 2007, conflict erupted in Nahr al-Bared camp between the Lebanese Government and Islamist militants. Since the fighting halted earlier this week, the International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that between 13,000 and 15,000 refugees have poured out of the besieged Nahr al-Bared camp, and are fleeing to the relative safety of Bourj el-Barajneh camp in Beirut.
Wissam, a young mother who fled Nahr al-Bared describes part of her ordeal, "I woke at three in the morning to the sound of guns and bombing and fighting.
Strengthening Neighbourhoods in the West Bank
PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: "It was the best training I ever had. I learned a lot, such as techniques of communication and decision making," said Samire Musaimi, a 26-year-old living in Balata Refugee Camp. Samire, an Arabic language teacher, took part in Austcare's leadership training for young women.
An ongoing threat to civilians
Explosive remnants of war (ERW) are an ongoing threat even after conflicts are resolved. They remain hidden in the ground for years, ready to kill and injure civilians.
Affected land prevents people from returning home after conflicts end.
Recovering women's livelihoods together
SRI LANKA: More than 30,000 people were killed and 550,000 lost their homes when the 2004 tsunami hit Sri Lanka.
Two years later, people are still struggling. As well as losing family and friends, many survivors lost their farms, businesses, and even simple tools of trade, like hoes and weaving equipment. Earning an income has become difficult.
In partnership with ActionAid International and Women and Child Care Organisation (WACCO), Austcare is contributing to a livelihood recovery project for tsunami-affected women living in …
JAVA EARTHQUAKE - AUSTCARE RESPONDS
JAVA: In May 2006, an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale struck the island of Java, Indonesia. Within minutes 5,700 people were killed, 20,000 were injured and over one million were homeless.
With so many people needing urgent medical attention, local hospitals and clinics were quickly overcrowded, unable to cope with the demand. Working in partnership with Australian Aid International, AUSTCARE sent a medical team to Yogyakarta to help treat the injured and to reduce the stress on local hospitals and clinics.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in the current Middle East crisis. AUSTCARE urges all parties of the conflict to protect the lives of civilians and calls on the international community to take immediate action to resolve the crisis through peaceful means.
Help the people affected by the Java earthquake
Help AUSTCARE in its ongoing peacebuilding efforts in East Timor
AUSTCARE HELPS TO PROTECT VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN SUDAN
SUDAN: While the crisis in Sudan has eased since its peak, it is far from over. Food and other supplies can be diffi cult for the UN agencies to distribute, as violence, robbery and extortion continue.
As part of its innovative "PROTECT NOW" program AUSTCARE has sent fi ve Protection Offi cers to Sudan, to work with the United Nations Offi ce for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to provide valuable support on the ground, a fi rst for Australian aid agencies.
The survivors of the South Asia Earthquake still require your help.
"As we approach the festive season we will all pause to think of the millions of people who lost loved ones and were affected in the devastating tsunami of 26 December 2004," says Major General Michael Smith AO (Retd), CEO of AUSTCARE.
"AUSTCARE has been privileged to be able to work with affected communities in Sri Lanka and Aceh Indonesia with the generous support of the Australian community and corporate sectors," says Michael Smith.
Thunderstorms and cold weather augur more misery for survivors of the Kashmir earthquake with the harsh Himalayan winter looming. The scale of this humanitarian disaster continues to grow, with 2.5 million people now estimated as homeless and another million people in extreme grief.