Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's World Population Day, says the U.N.

The theme this year is "Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies," particularly women and girls.

There are more and more people involuntarily on the move. A recent report concluded that the number displaced by wars grew from 51 million in 2013 to almost 60 million in 2014.
If this were the population of a country, says UNHCR, it would be the world’s 24th largest.

“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres declared in a press release issued earlier today and marking the report's release.

“It is terrifying that on the one hand there is more and more impunity for those starting conflicts, and on the other there is seeming utter inability of the international community to work together to stop wars and build and preserve peace,” he added. ...

  • In Africa, the outbursts of hostilities, many of which are sectarian in nature, have consumed eight countries, including Côte d'Ivoire, the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, northeastern Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and, more recently, Burundi. ...
  • In the Middle East, Syria, Iraq and Yemen remain ablaze ...
  • in Europe, Ukraine has spawned a displacement crisis subsuming more than more than 1.3 million people, mostly across the country's eastern provinces of Dinetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkivska. ...
  • In Asia, meanwhile, the unresolved tensions in Kyrgyzstan and in several areas of Myanmar and Pakistan, [as well as fighting in Afghanistan,] continue to force people across the countries' borders.
And the worst of displacement often falls on women.
UNFPA said women and adolescent girls who are caught up in humanitarian emergencies also face much greater risk of abuse, sexual exploitation, violence and forced marriage during conflicts and natural disasters.

In addition, many women who survive a crisis become heads of household, with the sole responsibility of caring for their children.

They often have to overcome immense obstacles to provide health and care for children, the sick, the injured and the elderly, and bear the heaviest burden of relief and reconstruction. As a result, they may neglect their own needs as they care for others, UNFPA said.
I have a neighbor who walked across Cambodia with children to escape the famine and murders of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. She and her family made it. People are remarkably resilient. But our memories are shaped by the survivors' existence. Many, often most, don't make it.

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