In a recent meeting with a group of people displaced by the conflict in Myanmar’s Kachin State, I was reminded of the lack of options with which many displaced people can be left. When I asked the group why they were unable to return to their home villages, they laughed and pointed behind my head. I turned around and saw a line of at least 50 military trucks on the road behind us. They told me that they had seen at least 200 military trucks pass by the camp that day.
The release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, after 15 years of house arrest, is a thrilling moment for the people of Burma and welcomed by Refugees International as long overdue. She remains wildly popular both at home and abroad despite her long isolation. However, her popularity will not automatically allow her to catalyze political change, as that will be determined by the repressive regime.
This article originally ran in The Huffington Post.
The Dadaab refugee camp in Northeastern Kenya is over 20 years old and has received successive waves of refugees, reflecting the political turmoil and violence against civilians that continues to engulf Somalia. I visited the camp this week and met with many Somalis who have fled civil war and sought refuge here. After talking with these people, it is clear to me that the United States and the international community must invest in the future of Somalia’s refugees if we want to build a peaceful Somalia.