How the Women's Refugee Commission is responding:
On November 8, 2013, a massive typhoon devastated large swaths of the Philippines. An estimated 4 million people have been displaced.
Read our statement about the particular needs of vulnerable groups that must be taken into account as the world responds.
Read our statement calling on the international community to ensure children's best interests are protected in response to Typhoon Haiyan.
Read our blog on the importance of engaging youth in the response to the typhoon.
On September 3, 2013, the number of Syrian refugees passed two million, with children representing approximately half of the refugee population. On this date one year ago, there were less than 250,000 refugees from Syria; a shocking 1.8 million people have fled in the past twelve months.
As Syria’s brutal civil war continues to unfold, one third of the country’s population has fled to neighboring countries, marking this humanitarian crisis as the largest in the world, and one of the gravest in recent history. A further 4.25 million people are displaced inside Syria, according to data as of 27 August from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
‘Syria has become the great tragedy of this century - a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” said António Guterres, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees. “The only solace is the humanity shown by the neighboring countries in welcoming and saving the lives of so many refugees.” With an average of almost 5,000 Syrians fleeing into neighboring countries every day, the need to significantly increase humanitarian aid and development support to host communities has reached a critical stage.’
The WRC’s Syria Response
Some 40% of the refugees are under 12 years old, and women make up nearly half of the entire refugee population. More than 100,000 Syrians, mostly civilians, have died. The threats to women’s and children’s safety continue to grow, and women’s voices remain absent from current attempts to find a peaceful, sustainable resolution to the current conflict.
The WRC has been on the ground in Jordan and Lebanon, assessing how the humanitarian response in these countries is meeting the needs of vulnerable groups. In Lebanon, our Disabilities Team has worked with local partners to assess if and how international relief agencies are including refugees with disabilities in their programming. To read our reports and assesments of disability inclusion in the refugee response in Lebanon click here.
In Jordan, our Sexual and Reproductive Health team conducted assesments in Z'aatri Refugee Camp and in urban refugee zones, looking at the availability of sexual and reproductive health services for refugee women and girls. Read our report "Reproductive Health Services for Syrian Refugees in Zaatri Refugee Camp and Irbid City, Jordan."
Our work in Syria's neighboring countries has allowed us to make recommendations to international agencies such as the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) about what is working for women and girls on the ground, and how to better distribute resources to meet their needs. Additionally, we have been undertaking international advocacy calling for an end to the violence in Syria, and increased funding for humanitarian assistance.
Read the open letter to the UN Security Council from the NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security, of which the Women's Refugee Commission is a member, urging UN Member States to end the violence in Syria, to allow humanitarian agencies access to all those in need of assistance, to provide assistance to Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and to ensure that the women and men of Syria are equally involved in rebuilding their country.
Photo:Alessio Romenzi / Corbis
Renewed fighting between government troops and M23 rebels outside the city of Goma in North Kivu province has killed at least 130 people in recent days. The M23, an armed group launched by former soldiers who mutinied from the Congolese army in 2012, briefly seized Goma last year, before eventually withdrawing under international pressure.
The fighting outside of Goma comes after a separate rebel attack in the town of Kamango, in the northernmost part of North Kivu province. A Ugandan-led rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) raided and briefly occupied the town last week. Nearly 70,000 refugees from the DRC have fled across the border into western Uganda. After several days of fighting, the Congolese Army pushed the ADF back and recaptured Kamango. Recent reports say the number of new arrivals at the border has began to subside.
Since March, tensions in the region have been heightened, leading the Security Council to authorize the deployment of an intervention brigade within the UN Organizations Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) to carry out targeted offensive operations against armed groups that threaten peace in eastern DRC.
The WRC's DRC Response
At the WRC, we are pushing for solutions that reduce displaced women's and girls' vulnerability to gender violence as they collect firewood. Our research has shown that the development of alternative sources of cooking fuel can help lessen the potential for attack. In 2008, the WRC, together with the World Food Programme and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, led an Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Task Force that developed guidance on how to address all fuel-related issues in humanitarian settings.
Putting this guidance (a matrix and decision tree diagrams) into action, we are currently undertaking a pilot project in the DRC, the goal of which is to ensure that crisis-affected populations in the Great Lakes region of Africa have safe access to appropriate, sustainable cooking fuel and alternative energy technologies.
This small-scale pilot project, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID), is specifically documenting the impact of the distribution of FES on women’s risk of sexual violence during firewood collection in an emergency response context. The longer-term goal is both to scale up best practices in the region and to inform global understanding of the protection impact of FES distribution in emergencies. For more information, click here.
Photo: Anglican Communion News Service
Consider making a donation to the Women's Refugee Commission today. You will be helping us to protect the rights and improve the lives of countless refugee women, children and youth around the world.
In any crisis, there is a series of essential steps that must be taken to protect and assist displaced persons. The Women’s Refugee Commission has developed a list of the of the Top 10 steps that must be taken by the humanitarian community and refugee-receiving countries to help protect the most vulnerable.
Special attention should be given to life-saving reproductive health services, particularly for survivors of sexual violence, pregnant women and newborns. The Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) outlines the basic reproductive health standards that must be met at the start of an emergency.
Safe access to cooking fuel is critical in humanitarian settings. Without it, displaced people face risks to their health, safety and well-being. Every sector, including camp coordination and camp management, food and nutrition, health or livelihoods, has a role to play in this issue--and sectors need to work together. The Women's Refugee Commission has developed a set of fact sheets for every sector to outline the issues involved, the problems and solutions.
Refugees with disabilities are extremely vulnerable and are often overlooked. The Women's Refugee Commission has developed a training "Disability Inclusion in Programs for Refugees and Displaced People." Check out the PowerPoint.