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November 2013

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Typhoon Haiyan Displaces Millions

More than four million people have been displaced by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. That’s more than live in Los Angeles, and more than were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami combined.

Women, children and people with disabilities are disproportionately affected by natural disasters. Risks of sexual violence and exploitation rise: the UN has estimated that more than 49,000 women of reproductive age are at risk of sexual violence in the areas hit by the typhoon. A disaster’s aftermath is an especially dangerous period for the health of pregnant women and newborns. Nearly 100,000 pregnant women and over 190,000 new mothers and their babies have had their lives upended.

It is absolutely critical for humanitarian agencies to take measures to protect women and children in the response to the storm. The WRC’s Top 10 Critical Needs Facing Refugees and Those Displaced in Emergencies—including preventing sexual violence and ensuring maternal and newborn health—are critical in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Gender, age and disability status must be taken into account in food distribution, provision of supplies and the structure of temporary settlements. Women and men, girls and boys must be consulted about their needs. As the acute emergency evolves into a protracted recovery, these populations must be supported in creating safe and sustainable livelihoods.

READ: The WRC’s statement about Hurricane Haiyan. "For women and girls who survive natural disasters, the immediate consequences—shock, displacement, sexual violence and exploitation, disruptions in health services and the loss of financial security within a family unit—can lead to devastating short- and long-term effects" ~Sandra Krause, Director, Sexual and Reproductive Health


Do You Know a Remarkable Refugee?

Every year, our Voices of Courage luncheon honors refugees who are doing incredible work for those displaced around the world. We need your help in finding those who deserve recognition, and whose work deserves more attention.

Visit our website for more details on how to nominate a refugee. The deadline is November 30.

While you’re at it, grab your calendar. The luncheon will be on May 1, 2014 in New York City.

NOMINATE A REFUGEE: "We encourage organizations and individuals to nominate refugees, IDPs, asylum-seekers or returnees working in their projects who are positive role models for their peers and are making a significant contribution to promoting their rights." Nominations are open through November 30.


UN's Women, Peace & Security Resolution

On October 18, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2122 during its annual open debate on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). The resolution seeks to strengthen women’s participation and leadership in peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction, a “pillar” of the WPS agenda. Due in part to determined advocacy by the WRC, the new resolution gives increased attention to the needs of displaced women and girls. Along with our partners, we advocated for the inclusion of issues like gender discrimination in nationality laws—which was included for the first time in a WPS resolution. Similarly, the resolution also affirms the rights of survivors of conflict-related rape to unrestricted access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.

READ: Senior Advocacy Officer Elizabeth Cafferty’s analysis of the WPS resolution. “Thirteen years ago, the Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1325—a landmark achievement…. The WRC made important contributions to the original resolution, and continues advocacy to reinforce and ensure its strength.”


Women’s Role in Myanmar’s Peace, Security & Development

WRC Executive Director Sarah Costa gave a keynote address on gender-based violence at the recent National Women’s Dialogue: Peace, Security and Development in Myanmar. The gathering, which was attended by some 350 representatives of Burmese women’s groups and humanitarian and development organizations, took a close look at empowering women in humanitarian action, political dialogue, peace-building and conflict resolution, and economic development, among others. Also in Myanmar, Dale Buscher, WRC Senior Director for Programs, conducted a three-day training on “Mitigating Risk of Gender-Based Violence: Using Livelihoods as a Tool of Protection.” The participants, mostly local NGOs, are working with displaced people in Burma’s Kachin and Rakhine states.

READ: Sarah Costa’s full address on the progress the world has made in addressing and preventing gender-based violence in conflict zones—and on the work that remains to be done.


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