RI's Web Roundup

By Vanessa Parra
Everything from Lady Gaga to the fall of Saigon – welcome to this week on the web:

On the anniversary of the fall of Saigon, a Vietnamese refugee remembers fleeing as a child.

Iraq & Afghanistan: An Orderly Departure

By Ron Capps
Thirty-five years ago this week, Saigon fell to advancing North Vietnamese troops. Even this many years later, the images are indelible: Helicopters landing on the roof of the embassy; American sailors pushing helicopters off of the deck of a carrier as more hover alongside waiting to unload American citizens; and refugees fleeing the North Vietnamese Army's advance.

Colombia: What can the U.S. do about the Western Hemisphere’s Greatest Displacement Crisis?

By Andrea Lari

One in ten Colombians has been uprooted by ongoing violence; families have been broken and loved ones assassinated. After being displaced, young boys and girls are forced to drop out of school in order to support their families and are at constant risk of being forcibly recruited by armed groups and narcotics gangs. A nationwide campaign to highlight these powerful human stories culminated with a grassroots effort to generate letters to Congressional representatives.

Sudan: Election Observation and Some Wishful Thinking

By Jennifer Smith
Like many others, Refugees International has been watching the Sudanese elections process closely, eagerly awaiting feedback from the various electoral observer missions. Preliminary statements coming out of some of the missions are fairly disappointing. The focus seems to be less on providing an objective assessment of how the process measures up to international standards, and more on excusing certain actions because of low expectations and a political desire for the elections to be seen as a success.

Sergio Documentary Highlights a Life Committed to UN Principles

By Briana Orr
On August 19th, 2003, a bomb-laden cement truck exploded at the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing seventeen people and injuring many more. Among those killed in the attack was the UN Special Representative to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a life-long humanitarian and diplomat who had spent his entire career within the UN system, grappling with its complexities, limits, and ethical challenges.

Violence Against Women: Congressional Hearing Highlights Global Problem

By Melanie Teff
The serious issue of violence against women in Colombia gets very little attention in the U.S. So it was refreshing to hear Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) open the Congressional hearing on violence against women yesterday by giving Colombia as an example of a country in conflict where sexual violence is frequently used by both illegal and legal armed groups. Rep.

Equateur: A Case Against MONUC Withdrawal

By Camilla Olson
In the same week that UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon announced that 2,000 UN peacekeepers from MONUC, the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) would be pulled out, new violence erupted in Equateur province – this time in the provincial capital of Mbandak.

Southern Sudan: Security Gaps Compromise Civilian Protection

By Limnyuy Konglim
Five years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and less than a year away from the referendum on southern independence, the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) still needs to make substantial progress in reforming the security sector and its ability to protect civilians. The pastoralist and farming communities of Sudan have a history of conflict with one another due to competition for grazing land and water for their cattle.

Biharis in Bangladesh: Inching Toward Integration

By Maureen Lynch
Seven years ago a group of young Urdu-speakers claiming to be citizens of Bangladesh filed a petition to demand enrollment in the country’s list of voters.  The government challenged their request, but the High Court determined they are "citizens of Bangladesh and their residence in the Geneva Camp, Mohammedpur, is not a bar to be enrolled as voters."  Five years later, in May 2008, a landmark decision in the Supreme Court restored the citizenship rights of the so-called Urdu-speaking refugees and stateless people (also known as Biharis, or stranded Pakistanis) who had languished in

Haiti: From the Ground Up

By Patrick Duplat

Aid workers can often seem jaded when confronted with the world’s misery. Many resort to cynicism, perhaps in the hope of distancing themselves emotionally from the victims of the tragedy unfolding before them. In Haiti – where an earthquake in early January devastated Port-au-Prince and left more than a million people homeless – I sensed a greater sense of empathy amongst the aid community.

The Faili Kurds of Iraq: Thirty Years Without Nationality

By Elizabeth Campbell
Thirty years ago, in April 1980, between 220,000 and 300,000 Iraqi Faili Kurds were stripped of their Iraqi citizenship. Many were expelled from their homes and were forced to march across the Iranian border into decades of exile and statelessness. Others became non-citizens in their own country. Though important steps have been taken by the Government of Iraq to restore the citizenship of these people, it is estimated that roughly 100,000 still lack a nationality.