My colleague Melanie Teff and I have begun a two-week mission in Kenya to assess conditions for Somali refugees. Though we are both eager to get underway, I wish our mission was taking place under different circumstances.
This is an extremely difficult time to be a Somali in Kenya, with the government announcing last month that refugees in urban areas will have to leave the cities and report to refugee camps. The government has also shut down the registration of refugees in urban areas and instructed aid agencies to suspend urban refugee services.
View our photo report from last week's event!
On the evening of October 16th, Refugees International celebrated the 10th anniversary of our New York Circle. Each year since the Circle was founded by Peta Roubin and Natacha Weiss, guests have come together to show their enthusiasm and support for RI’s lifesaving advocacy. This year, friends and supporters joined RI at Unilever’s New York apartment on Columbus Circle on a beautiful autumn night.
Mogadishu is being revitalized. During the five days I spent in the Somali capital last week, I saw first-hand the city’s development and increasing vibrancy. New businesses are popping up around every corner, local markets are buzzing with commercial activity, and there are traffic jams on the streets again.
This post originally appeared at ThinkProgress Security.
Yesterday, I met with a man in Mogadishu whose business was the target of a suicide attack. Ahmed is a British-Somali who returned to the country in 2008 and went on to open up several popular restaurants. Last Thursday, two suicide bombers walked into one of those restaurants and killed 15 of Ahmed’s patrons and staff.
As the 67th General Assembly opens this week, and as the United Nations gears up for the countless high-level meetings and side events that follow, the enormity of the challenges facing the UN is striking.
This post first appeared on The Hill's Congress Blog.
The first thing you notice are the colors. The vibrant reds, blues, and greens of the multi-colored domes that dot an otherwise dry and dusty landscape. From a distance, it could almost be described as beautiful. But as we drive closer, the domes transform into the crude and woefully inadequate shelters of thousands of displaced Somalis.
This week, Refugees International is embarking on a field mission to Somalia, where we will assess the conditions of – and gaps in response for – the more than 1.3 million Somalis who are internally displaced. Our team plans to visit IDP settlements in the capital, Mogadishu, as well as in the breakaway regions of Puntland and Somaliland.
Mark Yarnell, RI's advocate for the Horn of Africa, appeared on Capitol Hill following his recent mission to Kenya and Ethiopia. He told members of Congress that political leverage (not just aid money) is needed to ensure Somali refugees get the help they need.
As Mark told members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives, "where we do have control, and where we do have access, it is our responsibility to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable are being met."
At last week's London Conference on Somalia, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called for a “firm and durable” solution to the refugee crisis. This includes the return of Somali refugees from the camps in Kenya’s northeast back over the border into Somalia.