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Thursday, December 15, 2011

This Festive Season give the best gift possible to Somali refugees: save their lives

After traveling for weeks across arduous terrain with little or no food and water 5 year old Yusuf and his family arrived hungry and tired in Kenya. Drought in their homeland of Somalia killed their animals and crops and forced them to flee for their lives.

On top of the constant hunger and extreme weather conditions they were forced to endure, they were also robbed of all their money and possessions along the way; arriving in Kenya with literally nothing except the clothes upon their backs.

Thanks to assistance from UNHCR they are now starting their new life as refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complex, but their troubles are far from over.

“I remember the hunger, the thirst, and the weakness as we made our way to the border… Four of the children of the families we were traveling with died. We helped bury them and then carried on." Yusuf's father Abdullahi.

Refugees like Yusuf and his family are in need of everything from shelter, to water to healthcare, and they need it now.

Help us today to give refugees hope for the future

Your donation will allow UNHCR to deliver humanitarian aid and assistance both inside Somalia and across East Africa to save the lives and protect thousands of children like Yusuf.

Somalia is currently suffering from one of the worst humanitarian crises in memory. As if 20 years of civil war weren’t enough, Somalis are also now facing the worst drought in 60 years.

In 2011 alone more that 163,000 Somalis have fled to Kenya and a further 98,200 are currently seeking refuge in Ethiopia.

Many do not survive the perilous journey to cross into neighbouring countries. Mothers have been forced to watch, powerless to do anything, as their children die in front of their eyes. Those that do make it to refugee camps are arriving in terrible conditions.

They need urgent medical assistance and nutritional support. They also need clean drinking water and shelter to protect themselves from the harsh climate.

UNHCR can give them this. We provide shelter, food, water, medical care and other basic necessities for refugee children and their families.

Around the world, millions of people rely on the UN Refugee Agency for their survival. Some refugees may need our help for only a short time. But many face years living in isolated refugee camps.

Please help by giving what you can this festive season. Here are just a few examples of what your money could provide:

US $10 provides 10 bars of soap to help stop the spread of diseases such as Cholera.
US $50 provides therapeutic feeding kits – each one helps feed five children.
US $100 provides survival kits – each has a blanket, mattress, kitchen set, stove and soap.
US $450 provides an all-weather tent to shelter a refugee family.
Every dollar you give means a life saved.

Thank you for your support.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Support refugees’ rights: UN

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has blasted countries that enact laws meant to suppress migrants.

With an estimated three million of its people exiled in South Africa alone, Zimbabwe is one of the world’s highest refugee-producing countries. Most of the exiles are being suppressed and harassed in their host countries.

The UNHCR Chief said “dramatic” events had forced hundreds of thousands of people to seek refuge across borders in 2011, when more than 750 000 people became refugees, following upheaval and conflict in Africa and the Middle East.

“Global forced displacement figures already stood at a 15-year high at the end of 2010, with 43.7 million people uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide,” he said. “Recent events indicate that this number is likely to rise again by the end of the year. 

These events have amply demonstrated why it is so important to do what we have gathered here to do: to reengage with and recommit to the core values underpinning the entire system of international protection – tolerance, solidarity and respect for human rights and human dignity.”

He accused some populist politicians and irresponsible elements of the media of exploiting feelings of fear and insecurity to scapegoat foreigners, trying to force the adoption of restrictive policies and actively spreading racist and xenophobic sentiments.

“Having been in government myself for many years, I know that no state can disregard the security of its citizens, their social and economic well-being and the cohesion of society,” he said. “States also have the right to define their own immigration policies; provided they do so in respect for human dignity and basic rights.

But all this can be done, and needs to be done, in ways that ensure protection is granted to those who need it. This means guaranteeing their access to territory, fair treatment of their asylum claims and adequate integration policies that contributes to social harmony.”

He said that despite the 1951 Convention, implementation challenges remained. Many refugees still do not enjoy the minimum standards it sets out, as many systems are marred by poor quality decision-making, disproportionately low recognition rates or a lack of access to legal services.

“In many situations, refugees do also not have freedom of movement, access to social care or permission to work. The burden of hosting large refugee populations is borne predominantly by developing countries.

They have granted asylum to 80 per cent of the world’s refugees, and more than one third of the 20 top refugee-hosting states are Least Developed Countries. As many of these states struggle to provide even basic services to their own populations, the generosity they show towards hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighbouring countries demands an effort that is disproportionate to the resources at their disposal.”