There is a global refugee crisis. According to the UN, some 65 million people have been forced from their homes by violence and persecution – 1 in every 113 people around the world. On every continent, people are fleeing armed conflict and the devastation it wreaks.
But the consequences for those who leave can be almost as dire as for those who stay. Even trying to register as a victim of conflict is fraught with difficulties, with refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) often finding themselves in legal limbo, and unable to work or contribute to their host communities.
In this report, Peace Direct’s Local Peacebuilding Experts comment on the situation where they are. They describe some the conditions in which people are forced to survive, in Colombia, Lebanon, Tunisia, Ukraine, and the Western Balkans. But they also report on the remarkable work of local organisations, dedicated to ensuring that those who flee conflict do not have to leave their future in the past – and the role of refugees themselves, whose courage has led many to play an active role in shaping their own prospects.
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In the Western Balkans, Mirjana Kosić says, the Serbian government’s insistence that Serbia is only a transit country is counterproductive. Similarly, in Ukraine, Olga Dolinina says that the national authorities should start long-term planning, based on the assumption that some of those who have fled the conflict in the East will not want to go back.
In Tunisia, Nissaf Slama asks why, despite a revolution and the overthrow of a government in 2011, thousands continue to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe. And in Beirut, Sawssan Abou-Zahr describes the situation for the one million Syrians living in Lebanon, a country of only four million people itself.
Finally, Lina María Jaramillo discusses the way that the millions of IDPs in Colombia – the largest such population in the world – have organised to ensure that their voice is heard as the country aims to enter a new, more peaceful era.
This is the second in a series of reports from our Lcoal Peacebuilding Experts.
This edition discusses the problems that refugees and internally displaced persons face in five different regions around the world. Check back soon for the next edition.
Image credit: World Bank