I have just completed a five day trip to Mogadishu where my colleague, Garrett Bradford, and I visited camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). There are more than 300,000 IDPs living in makeshift shelters in camps spread across the Somali capital. Some camps, like the one near the dilapidated Parliament building, are teeming with thousands of families. Others consist of just a few dozen people living on private, undeveloped housing lots.
It has been nearly a year since Somalia established a new federal government, ostensibly ending years of political transition. Some areas in Somalia are indeed experiencing increased stability and economic revival, but overall, a severe and complex humanitarian crisis continues and many challenges remain – especially for the country’s 1.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).
On Friday, the High Court of Kenya issued a landmark decision on refugee rights. The court struck down a December 2012 government directive that would have forced all refugees living in cities to relocate to camps and suspended all registration and support services for city-dwelling refugees and asylum-seekers.
In the United States, the green card signifies permanent resident status. Many people have to live and work in the U.S. for years, on temporary visas, before obtaining a green card. However, the Diversity Visa Program, known as "the green card lottery," gives 50,000 people from across the world the chance to relocate to the U.S.
Right now, the shell-shocked residents of Moore, Oklahoma, are grappling with the loss of 24 lives and the destruction of entire neighborhoods following a devastating tornado on May 20. Meanwhile, across the globe, tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh and Burma are returning to damaged homes and villages in the wake of Cyclone Mahasen, which thankfully proved more merciful than anticipated.
For most Americans, Earth Day symbolizes the need to protect the natural environment – specifically clean air, clean water, and pristine rivers and forests. In the years following the first Earth Day in 1970, some of our nation’s most important environmental laws were adopted, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act. Actors like Meryl Streep also caught the attention of America’s mothers by bringing attention to pesticides in the food that we feed our children every day.
I have experienced many challenges living as a refugee in Nairobi for two years. The first challenge is security, which is not guaranteed. I live in Eastleigh, a small neighborhood that has become a Somali enclave. A series of explosions took place here after Kenyan troops entered Somalia.
This caused a reaction among Kenyans, who blamed Somali refugees. Although there is an increased police presence in the area, Somalis are afraid of the police because of the way that they behave towards them.
This post originally appeared at The Refugee.
When the Kenyan government announced in December last year that all Somali refugees living in cities must move to the Dadaab refugee camp, I made plans to visit that camp. I wanted to see the place that was already home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis, and where the government planned to pack in thousands more.
Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp is the largest of its kind in the world: a sprawling, jam-packed community housing nearly half a million vulnerable Somali refugees. During a visit this week to one section of the camp, known as Kambioos, my Refugees International colleague and I met a young Somali man named Ahmed who had just arrived by bus from Nairobi.