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In a recent speech to his governing board, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres made an intriguing but little-noticed proposal - that the humanitarian response to major emergencies should in future be partly funded by assessed rather than voluntary contributions. But what exactly did he mean by that?
The country of Sudan has been plagued by war since it was granted independence from Britain in 1955. During the civil war between 1983 to 2005, around tens of thousands of boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 17 were forced from their homes. These children set out on foot to travel thousands of miles to safety to refugee camps in neighboring countries. They were nicknamed the “Lost Boys” by aid workers in the camp, a name inspired by the Lost Boys of the story Peter Pan. Now, a new movie, The Good Lie, seeks to tell the story of those Lost Boys.
Tanzania has just taken the remarkable step of offering citizenship to some 200,000 Burundian refugees, many of whom had fled from their homeland in 1972. Accommodated in three settlements in western Tanzania, the Burundians disprove many of the myths surrounding refugees. They live harmoniously with their neighbors. They are self-reliant. They pay taxes. And in addition to their own food, they produce tobacco and coffee for export, thereby contributing to the economy of their host county.
Five months ago, I visited a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The people living there first arrived in 2012 and 2013, having fled from armed groups who destroyed villages and killed civilians. By the time RI visited in May, donor governments had cut their financial support so drastically that only 27 percent of camp residents were getting food assistance. Fast forward to today, and I am sad to say the situation of IDPs living around Goma has not improved.