World Refugee Day, Crisis in Yemen and Violence in PNG

Posted on 19 June 2018

+ By the time you read this newsletter 20 more people will be forced from their home

Tomorrow, June 20, is World Refugee Day.

On World Refugee Day, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees, and former-refugees living in New Zealand. This year also marks a key moment for the New Zealand public to show support for families forced to flee.

With 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, this day is more relevant than ever.

In New Zealand, there has been positive steps in the last year to be with us raising our refugee quota to 1500 by the year 2020.  Along with a trial for a Community Sponsorship programme that will be similar to Canada's hugely successful equivalent.  The year-long ‘Tikanga Māori’ project, designed to help former-refugees resettlement in New Zealand by connecting them to the local Māori community, culture and history, has also been a big success.  

However, the global situation of refugees isn't positive at all and raises the question - what more can New Zealand do?

With more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the situation is lethal as monsoon season has arrived.  In one weekend they received more than a third of the rainfall typically received during the entire monsoon period.  

Meanwhile in Europe, the treatment of refugees in France is appalling and has been called out in an Oxfam report.  Oxfam says France should immediately stop and punish the "illegal practices of the French police at the French-Italian border", ensure the right to seek asylum for all foreign children in French territory and take care of them according to international law. 

In Greece, refugees are still arriving in the hundreds every day and there are now reports from NGOs on the ground, that an increasing amount of people are being rejected at the border with Turkey. "They do not even get the chance to ask for asylum in Greece before they are being pushed back across the Evros river — where they came from. If the police or army do this, they are breaking international law. This is illegal. You have a right to claim asylum in Greece, when you reach Greece."

Meanwhile, the EU leaders will meet in Brussels at the end of June to discuss broader asylum reform.  The hardening line comes amid concern that numbers of people coming to the EU via Italy and Greece will keep going up and amid a wave of support for anti-immigrant populists.  The proposal is to have camps situated in Europe but outside the EU to deal with asylum claims before asylum-seekers enter the EU.  

In Australia, community sector leaders have gathered in Canberra to protest cuts to asylum seeker support payments, as a new report reveals that government policy is driving people seeking asylum into destitution.

The appalling situation on the American border is worsening by the hour, as the Trump administration's new enforcement policy is put into action.  The policy says every migrant who crosses the border illegally – even those seeking asylum in the US – is subject to criminal prosecution.  So far almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents.   With false claims by Trump that "crime in Germany is way up" also causing controversy as he blames Merkel's refugee policy, saying it had been a "big mistake" to allow people sanctuary.

+ 8 million at risk of starvation in Yemen

The civil war in Yemen has its roots in the Arab Spring of 2011, when an uprising forced the country's long-time authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The political transition was supposed to bring stability to Yemen, one of the Middle East's poorest nations, but President Hadi struggled to deal with various problems including militant attacks, corruption, food insecurity, and continuing loyalty of many military officers to Saleh. Fighting began in 2014 when the Houthi Shia Muslim rebel movement took advantage of the new president's weakness. (Read the BBC’s explainer)
Fighting escalated in March 2015 triggering a civil war throughout the country, and today 22.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance including 11.3 million in acute need.
The healthcare system has all but collapsed, as there has been intentional targeting of health facilities...and there has been a deadly cholera outbreak in Yemen since April last year.  In early June 2018, ICRC evacuated 71 staff members out of the country and MSF temporarily suspended its activities in the Abs after a cholera treatment centre was shelled.

In the news at the moment is the bombing of and fighting around the Port in the coastal city of Hudaydah, where most of the aid arrives for people in Yemen's rebel-held areas. Agencies have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe, as there are about eight million people currently at risk of starvation.
+ Instability closer to home is also affecting humanitarian responses

PNG has declared a state of emergency after rioting in Mendi destroyed a commercial airliner and led to a closure of the airport last week. Mendi is a critical hub in the humanitarian response to February's earthquake, and the national government is endeavouring to restore security as soon as possible. 
+ Measuring trust

Trust is difficult to measure and its definition can vary depending on the cultural and historical context.  But with strong trust, we can receive honest and timely feedback which can lead to more sustainable and appropriate interventions.  

Gretchen Leuthart, the current Communications Manager at VSA has recently completed Masters research on trust with communities and partners.  She has developed ten indicators through research with Caritas New Zealand which can be used in other contexts as well to measure the levels of trust with local partners and communities.  Listen to this interview where three indicators are discussed, which can be adapted to your own context and begin making strengthened relationships and trust more of a priority.
+ Scholarships available for Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership

The Centre for Humanitarian Leadership, a partnership between Deakin and Save the Children Australia, is pleased to launch the opening of applications for the 11th intake of the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership / Humanitarian Leadership Programme Anglophone and the 2nd intake of the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership francophone/ Programme de Leadership Humanitaire,  partnership between Deakin / CHL, IRIS and ACF).
There are 10 full scholarships for women leaders from the ASEAN countries to take part in this.
Applications for the GCHL/HLP (Anglophone) close on Sunday 30th June 2018 and should be completed on the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership website.
Applications for the PLH/GCHLF (Francophone) close on Sunday 21st July 2018 and should be completed on the IRIS website.


Humanitarian Asia