Tag Archive | "migration"

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We Must Practice Real Relief for Refugees

Posted on 29 August 2015 by Jerry

We can use 2015 as a test of the world’s ability and willingness to help millions of refugees as we practice our preparation for displacement due to global warming. So far the world has failed to satisfactorily resettle and accept the displaced millions from the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and numerous other abandoned homelands.

United Nation’s statistics from the end of 2014 pegged the level of the world’s refugees at 59.5 million people. Of these 19.5 million were refugees that have actually left their home countries, 38.2 million who have been displaced from their homes and 1.8 million that have formally applied for asylum in another country.

The displaced Syrian citizens represent some 7.6 million people. This total is how many people and families have lost their homes.   At least 4.3 million of the 7.6 million were forced to leave the country as refugees.

A July 2015 article in the Guardian identifies “Turkey is now the largest refugee-hosting country in the world, sheltering 1,805,255 Syrians. Lebanon has taken in 1,172,735 Syrian refugees, Jordan 629,128, Iraq 249,726 and Egypt 132,375. About 24,055 Syrians are refugees elsewhere in North Africa. The latest UN figures do not include the more than 270,000 Syrians applying for asylum in Europe.”

We have forced the neighboring countries to keep their borders open.   They provide temporary shelter and sustenance for these refugees.  This allows everyone to avoid opening their doors and actually helping these people resettle in other countries. Various articles have identified limitations placed on refugees who are largely being held in refugee camps set up in the various counties.

For example, because Turkey offers sanctuary but no permanent residency all refugees cannot work legally in Turkey. In the EU there is a “Dublin” agreement that all asylum seekers must remain in their country of entry into the E.U.  This causes Italy, Greece and Bulgaria to complain about their status as the countries of entry and has caused much criticism of their treatment of asylum seekers.

Many who cross lightly protected or patrolled country borders to go onward to more prosperous European Union countries complain of repeatedly being “pushed back” into Turkey. These refugees have been caught by police and have been returned to Turkey. This has most often happened at the hands of Bulgarian border guards.

This issue is fluid and very topical at this moment because of the flood of refugees coming out of Syria and looking for access and safe passage to various countries in the E.U. Violence has erupted in Germany because the country expects to accept and resettle some 800,000 refugees this year.   This has proven to be very controversial amongst Germany’s citizens.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was heckled in the town of Heidenau, Germany.  She said that xenophobia would not be tolerated.  Merkel was quoted as saying in a speech to the crowd, “There is no tolerance for those who are not willing to help where legal and human help is required.  The more people who make that clear…the stronger we will be.”

Her speech did not silence the Prime Minister of Serbia who has said he will not close the borders of his country to refugees.  Many are crossing through Serbia to Hungary where they can enter the EU if they get past the fence that Hungary is building along its border.  Prime Minister Alexander Vucic of Serbia stated, “What we want to hear tomorrow from Chancellor Merkel…from Frederica Mogherini…is what is the plan?”  Merkel and Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, are meeting soon in Vienna at a conference of Balkan leaders.

Some countries point to the money they have sent to help the refugee camps being set up by the neighbors of Syria. This is most common in countries that refuse to take the actual refugees as new citizens.

The most representative examples of this are the United Kingdom and the United States. The United Kingdom has maintained a policy of keeping its borders closed to refugees seeking asylum. It keeps pointing to the over £500 million pounds it has sent to the region.

The U.S. has just announced, as reported by the National Public Radio, that it will allow 5,000 to 8,000 Syrian refugees to resettle in the U.S. in 2016. It has repeatedly mentioned the over $4 billion in humanitarian aid it has sent to aid refugee resettlement. These pronouncements are meant to shift the focus away from the less than 1,000 Syrians it has accepted this year. The U.N. has identified the resettlement of refugees in the U.S. in 2014 as 73,000 people. Most of these refugees did not come from Syria but were rather from Afghanistan.

All nations of the world should be using this exodus to test the resettlement procedures they plan to use when global warming results in the displacement of many more citizens. We should be putting expectations on countries that will need additional citizens to cope with favorable weather conditions that will cause their countries to prosper.

Many of these countries are not under any pressure to accept today’s refugees and they should be. Where are Canada and the Soviet Union? How may refugees have been resettled in their territories? The money presently being spent by the U.S., U.K., and others to give temporary shelter and sustenance to refugees in camps is being wasted when it could be spent to offer refugees what they are seeking.

Resettlement could be offered to those who agree to work on public projects to build new infrastructure in their adopted countries. Countries of the world should cooperate to rebuild, or in some cases build for the first time, infrastructure for their citizens. This infrastructure could help them cope with the negative results of global warming. Countries that do not want to accept immigrants should pay others for resettlement.

At the same time these people should be trained to assume a productive job when their work on public works projects is completed. These people want a new place to settle that offers them meaningful employment and the training necessary to support their new future in their adopted countries. This is what we should be spending our dollars on rather than temporary shelter that has to be paid for year in and year out.

Frankly, no country should want to keep refugees out of their sight. This only enables them to ignore the problem. Refugees cannot be ignored when hundred of millions, yes I said hundreds of millions, migrate to areas of the world to escape climate change and just to stay alive. There will not be enough money in the world to keep the problem contained.

Present estimates of country commitments to contain climate change still allow the world’s temperature to climb between three and four degrees. This will force hundreds of millions to flee the large desert areas that will be created in southern Europe.

I cannot imagine a world in which citizens will find acceptable the total numbers of deaths from starvation just beyond their closed borders. I am hoping that today’s handling of their devastation is not indicative of the help the world will offer. I expect countries will change leadership until they have leaders who are willing to play a larger role on the world stage. In short, I am an optimist who believes we will not let our fellow man down in their hour of greatest need.

If we continue to refuse to control climate change, we must prepare to accept millions of fleeing human beings. They will be the refugees of tomorrow testing the methods, practices and statements of intent we implement and give evidence of today.

Use the following links to obtain more information on this topic or access the source documents used to write this article.

http://news.yahoo.com/migrants-head-north-hungary-decries-humiliating-eu-policy-112329065.html

http://news.yahoo.com/hungarian-government-discussed-using-army-help-handle-migrants-071801926.html

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/09/syria-refugees-4-million-people-flee-crisis-deepens

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/13/syrian-refugee-catastrophe-european-union-united-nations

http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

http://syrianrefugees.eu/

http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/lebanon/syria-refugee-in-lebanon-sets-herself-on-fire-at-un-centre-witnesses-1.1308797

http://borgenproject.org/worlds-top-5-largest-refugee-populations/

 

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World Population to Skyrocket, Hunger is Dropping

Posted on 27 June 2015 by Jerry

Revised estimates of the world population show it growing to a whopping 10.9 billion people by the year 2100.  This is a significant adjustment upward of over 2.5 billion people over an estimate prepared a few years ago.  World hunger or undernourishment is shown to be decreasing from 1.011 billion to 795 million in the space of 15 years.

The two reports would seem to contradict each other.  The devil however, is in the details.  The reports are from two sources within the United Nations. The population forecast is from the United Nation’s Population Division.  The hunger report compares the years of 1990-92 to 2014-16 and was prepared by the United Nation’s Agriculture Organization.  The two reports represent two different views of time, one is a projection of future population growth and the other is looking back at what has happened to hunger.

While the hunger statistics show significant reductions in the developed countries, those in sub-Saharan Africa and western Asia show sizable growth in malnutrition.  The statistics show that in the sub-Saharan area undernourished people grew from 176 million in the early nineties to about 220 million people in 2015.  The number of hungry in western Asia grew from eight million to nineteen million people in the same period of time.

Coincidentally, the greatest population growth over the next eighty-five years takes place in sub-Saharan Africa that is believed to grow from under a billion people to more than four billion people.   As a simple example, the population of Nigeria at 174 million is forecast to quintuple by 2100 to more than 900 million people.  Maintaining the same rate of growth in malnourished people the statistics show over a billion hungry people in the sub-Saharan area by the turn of the century.

While estimates may vary from one group to the next as their assumptions change, there is consensus the largest growth in population and the hungry will take place in the sub-Saharan area.  Unfortunately for the rest of the world this will also be one of the areas hardest hit by temperature rise from global warming.  This will lead to even more wholesale migration of Africans seeking relief from drought and certain death.

These statistics beg many questions but two must weigh the heaviest on each of us.  First, why do the Africans in the sub-Saharan area continue to have children when they have such starvation and death?  We must remember that children are still economic assets to farmers and hunter-gatherers.  They help raise food or find it for the family.  These children are to provide for their families and replace children that are dying in the region.

The second question is more serious and that is are we going to accept the numbers of displaced or dying people in the sub-Saharan region?  Will we do nothing?  I don’t believe we will find the amount of affected people acceptable.  We will attempt to help them.  For these reasons we must be ready.

These conditions in sub-Saharan Africa should be of great concern to the world’s governments and each of us who will have to give shelter and sustenance not only to Africans who stay in their native lands but those who also seek to migrate to other places.  We must begin conditioning our own countries to provide a welcome environment for the best of these who seek to immigrate.  Further we should prepare our neighbors and politicians to give necessary aid to support the continued sustenance and shelter of those remaining in their homelands.

Use the following links to gain more information on our growing population or the hungry or see the source documents that were used for this article.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/09/140918-population-global-united-nations-2100-boom-africa/

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6206/234.abstract?sid=a337746e-cb47-4db3-bf80-67e80cbd3ea0

http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

http://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats

http://www.fao.org/hunger/en/

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Genetic History: Some Have Made Their Mark

Posted on 15 January 2014 by Jerry

Genome sequencing is rapidly advancing our knowledge of genetic contributions to the human species.   Recent genetic studies indicate interbreeding between Africans who initially migrated around the world and made up the largest part of the modern human genome, with Neanderthals, Denisovans, and an as yet unknown branch of hominid that contributed to our genetic code.

This new knowledge is demonstrating the evolutionary tree of modern humans includes new ancestral groups.  We see their presence in our genetic code.  This is becoming readily apparent from largely mitochondrial DNA, as well as nuclear DNA, extracted from archeological sites widely distributed in Africa, Siberia, Northern Germany, and Eurasia.

A recent article in Nature shows a likely gene flow that puts the contribution of the unknown ancient population in perspective.  It is from a recent article in the January 2, 2014 issue of nature magazine by Ewan Birney and Jonathan K. Pritchard.  It contains a chart showing first the genetic input of an unknown archaic population was followed by the main human tree splitting into two, with modern Africans separated from Neanderthals and Denisovans and a later branching to two separate  directions for Neanderthals and Denisovans.

This article stated “One surprise was the first clear evidence for interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans; another was the discovery of a second type of archaic hominin in Eurasia in addition to Neanderthals.  This group has been dubbed Denisovans.”  Continuing, the article states, “Most provocatively, Prufer et al. find evidence for levels of gene flow into Denisovans of sequence that is different from that of any known group, implying that there is at least one more, so far undiscovered, archaic-hominin group.”

This new information suggests some unusual conclusions can be drawn.  We have dramatically expanded our abilities to extract genetic information from all sorts of ancient remains.  The genetic material used for these studies is from single individuals in the distant past in each population group.  It is clear their presence and existence is indelibly inscribed in our own genetic code.  This knowledge of them has survived the passage of time.  These individuals, who ever they were, have created a lasting impact.

Use the following links to obtain more information regarding this subject matter or to access the source documentation.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7481/full/nature12847.html

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7481/full/nature12886.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/neanderthals-incest-interspecies-sex-revealed-by-genome-1.2474245

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/neanderthal-bone-highlights-human-inter-breeding-190309785.hmtl#VaOhuje

http://discovermagazine.com/2013/march/14-interbreeding-neanderthals#.utwoy5udc6u

 

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What Would You Do, Life or Death?

Posted on 08 September 2013 by Jerry

What would you do with your family if roving gangs with automatic weapons were killing people randomly in your neighborhood or if armed forces were firing heavy weapons like tanks, RPGs or mortars inexplicably destroying houses and buildings or jets and missiles were raining death unpredictably on your community?  What would you do if you could not let your children go outside or if your family was afraid a random explosion of their home would snuff out their lives?

If you were in Syria, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, Tanzania or elsewhere, you would do as an estimated fifteen million people before you, you would pack whatever you could carry and become a migrating refugee to a safer place.  You might make your way, most often on foot, to one of many refugee camps. You would uproot those you love and transport them to an uncertain future in order to save their lives.  In addition, probably most of you would mourn for your children’s loss of their childhood.

If you were Syrian, you might go to Al Zaatri, a refugee camp in Jordan that now ranks as the fourth largest refugee camp in the world with over 123,000 refugees.  A few years ago this camp was not on the world’s top ten list but growth of 5000 refugees a day would do that.

CORRECTION-TOPSHOT-JORDAN-US-SYRIA-REFUGEES-KERRY

The point is that whether we bomb Assad’s regime for its use of chemical weapons or not, whether we marshal negative world opinion or have a President who suffers a humiliating defeat in Congress, we must not forget the displaced people of the world.  Their suffering has to be our suffering.  If the universe of Star Wars were real, they would be a major and ongoing disruption of the Force.

There have been earlier articles on this blog that discuss refugee camps.  See http://www.iamaguardian.com//?s=a+climate+premonition&x=0&y=  and http://www.iamaguardian.com//?s=income+disparity+grows+migration+push+&x=0&y=0 .

I personally participate by donating recurring monthly amounts to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, aka The UN Refugee Agency (see http://donate.unhcr.org ).  I have attached an article from a few years ago, but updated this year, that lists organizations that are rated and ranked and in which you should have confidence. (http://www.charitywatch.org/hottopics/iraqaid.html )  Pick an organization and start a donation relationship to show your humanity to some of the most suffering people of the world.

Use the following links to obtain more information or see the source documents for this article:

http://blogs.wsj.com/photojournal/2013/09/03/worlds-largest-refugee-camps/

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/26/20201103-inside-a-refugee-camp-with-syrias-lost-generation?lite

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/jun/17/world-refugee-day-refugee-camps

http://www.iamaguardian.com//?s=a+climate+premonition&x=0&y

http://www.iamaguardian.com//?s=income+disparity+grows+migration+push+&x=0&y=0

http://donate.unhcr.org

http://www.charitywatch.org/hottopics/iraqaid.html

 

 

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A Climate Premonition

Posted on 22 July 2012 by Jerry

Camp Dadaab is the world’s largest and most extreme example of humanity’s failure to provide solutions to the problem of climate caused  mass migration.  We have to multiply Dadaab’s population of 500,000 by 300, however, to get a sense of the 150 million climate refugees the world will face in 2050.   The camp provides an unsettling premonition of what the future might hold if we don’t step up to more effectively manage migration.

Dadaab is a refugee camp in Kenya which has been in existence for 20 years.  Until 2011 it provided a haven largely for people fleeing the violence in Somalia.  In 2011 its numbers swelled by an additional 160,000 refugees to 500,000 people, with the new migrants seeking shelter from the drought in Africa.

Administered by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, Dadaab’s increase in population by roughly 30% was not anticipated and has overwhelmed the resources donated by a number of aid organizations and the United Nations.  Obviously, any and all donations would be helpful.  Targeted relief organizations are identified below.

Not only is the Dadaab warehousing of refugees not working but it clearly will fail to address the upcoming needs when the number of people is hundreds of times larger.  At present, out of the camp’s 500,000 people, about 230,000 are children which reflects that in most of Africa another child is viewed as a positive economic asset, e.g. more hands to mind the animals, perform chores, work to support the family. Seventy percent of these children at Dadaab are not in school and consequently not developing skills that can be put to use in the future.

Some 130,000 refugees are forced to live in tents which deteriorate rapidly in the harsh climate.  At present there is funding for the construction of only 4,000 semi-permanent shelters when some 30,000 are needed.  Water, sanitation, and medical services are falling woefully behind the burgeoning demands.  Camps such as these must be viewed as only temporary way-stations not a permanent home in themselves.  They must serve as a jumping off point for migration to a more permanent location.

In the November 2011 post, “Weather Goest Thou?” we discussed the inevitable large scale human migration as a result of climate change and the woeful lack of planning for how the world should respond.  Two groups were cited as attempting to plan ahead, the government of the U.K. and a panel of scientists under the auspices of Columbia University (see links below).

Part of the climate migration problem is the need to give legitimacy to climate refugees by changing laws to reflect this source of migration as valid and deserving of assistance.   There are two Australian attorneys, David Hodgkinson and Tess Burton, who have articulated the problem and recommended steps be taken to recognize, validate, and care for these refugees.

In part by quoting Etienne Piguet, a climate change activist and Professor of Human Geography at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, these attorneys assign responsibility for the refugees directly by saying “These principles encapsulate our sense that an urgent issue is as follows ‘if environmental deteriorations due to human influence on the climate generate forced migration flows, the question of the rights of victims to a form of protection will become unavoidable.’  Our solution is to base the convention of the normative claim that high-emitting nations should take responsibility for the lives affected by the over-use of the climate commons.”  In other words, those countries responsible for emissions which cause global climate change should be held responsible to bear the expense and effort required to deal with climate refugees.

Studies of past migrations have shown that rural populations invariably migrate to nearby major cities as their first option on the assumption there will be services to take care of them.  This will probably not represent the best alternative in climate change affected regions.  This is because the nearest city will, in all likelihood, be under the same climate change conditions as the surrounding territory.

We know of the failure of isolated camps like Dadaab.  They will not provide for the needs of this migrating population.  Assuming the countries contributing most to climate change will own up to their responsibilities, we must begin the planning for this migration. It has been suggested each country begin to study its options.  Each country should, and probably will, look at their own territory to determine if they will experience climate change population migration.

In the history of the U.S. the most recent and possibly largest example of a managed rapid migration of people occurred as a result of hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Over a million people were relocated around the country.  As is true in all migrations, the highest numbers of people migrated to nearby large population areas with, as an example, Texas receiving 200,000 people, Arkansas 50,000 and Alabama 24,000.  More distant relocations included 6,000 to Chicago, 807 families to California, over 2,000 people to Ohio, 200 to Massachusetts, and 100 to Rhode Island.

The point of this example is that large migrations can be managed in very short periods of time when many more locations participate in receiving the refugees.  At 150 million people, the climate refugees will represent a significantly larger number of people.  On the plus side however, is that we have decades to manage this number.  In addition, if the developed nations step up to assist refugees we will have the entire world in which to resettle these people.

We have two options; we can delay this effort until the world’s climate refugees number many millions and we are forced to take emergency action, like in Katrina and Dadaab.  Conversely, we can urge our governments, universities, and non profits around the world to start their studies now and implement relocation plans early, when our and their actions can keep pace with the growing numbers of migrating people.

Use the following links to obtain more information on climate change migration, Dadaab and official recognition for climate refugees.  In addition, a variety of links are provided for your donation to organizations fighting for resources for the half million people in Dadaab.

Dadaab Camp:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/sally-williams/8762161/famine-in-africa-inside-dadaab-the-worlds-largest-refugee-camp.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18801914

http://allafrica.com/download/resource/main/main/idatcs/00040581:78882d75b21d0da477a354c108e248ac.pdf

Dadaab Donations:

http://oxfam.org/

http://www.msf.org/msf/donations/donations_home.cfm (Doctors Without Borders)

http://savethechildren.org/

http://www.nrc.no/?aid-9179192 (Norwegian Refugee Council)

http://www.drc.dk/about-drc/relief-work/ (Danish Refugee Council)

http://donate.unhcr.org/ (U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees)

Planning for Migration:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/foresight/docs/migration/11-1116-migration-and-global-environmental-change.pdf

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/334/6055/456.summary

Australian Attorneys:

http://uk.oneworld.net/article/view/162390/1/?printableversion=enabled

http://www.hodgkinsongroup.com/documents/AdaptationAndDisplacement.pdf

Etienne Piguet:

UN Research Paper No. 153 – http://www.unhcr.org/47a316182.html

Katrina Migration:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0912/p01s01-ussc.html

 

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