Refugee children, the hope and future of Chad and the Central African Republic
Thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic fled to southern Chad since the end of 2017, many of whom lack food, shelter and access to medical care. They settled in more than 40 villages and four camps near the town of Goré – an area that already hosts around 43,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and 45,000 returnees from Chad, predominantly women and children.
From January 2014 to October 2017, over 230,000 Iraqi families have fled combat zones and armed groups, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These families face unique protection risks due to fractured community structures, separation of families, insecure shelter arrangements, and loss of income.
The Gender Based Violence Sub Cluster Report from West and Central African countries facing armed conflict revealed that the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence has drastically increased since the last report in 2016. It is in this line that we jointly organized, in 2017, a regional capacity building workshop on gender mainstreaming, prevention and response to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in emergency and humanitarian settings in Dakar, Senegal.
Helena Pes (Italy) is an international UN Volunteer serving in the Mbera camp, Mauritania, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). "The situation in northern Mali remains unstable and in these conditions, influx of refugees is unpredictable," she explains. Since 2012, several populations fled from Northern Mali due to conflict and the fear of oppression. Most of the more than 51,000 refugees in the camp are Touareg, co-habiting with Arab, Fula, and Songhai refugees.
Andrea Marilyn Pragashini Immanuel: “Refugees bring with them their culture, traditions, history and a truckload of experience. They strive through unimaginable hardship, incomprehensible misery and through it all find the strength to smile. They have taught me perseverance, to never give up hope even when everything fails and to strive hard. They have taught me to appreciate life, peace and prosperity.
"I am Chihiro Saito – international UN Volunteer from Japan serving with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Serbia. I work as Associate Field Officer in a team that responds to the refugee and migrant situation in the country. As part of my assignment, I visit Reception and Transit Centers where most refugees and asylum seekers are housed. I am responsible for ensuring asylum seekers’ basic social service needs are met and human rights respected. I have attained so much knowledge and experience working with asylum seekers and refugees.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme continues to demonstrate its ability to meet contemporary development and peace challenges. In 2016, UNV’s response to the refugee and migrant influx showcased this flexibility and rapid action capabilities through the deployment of hundreds of UN Volunteers who support humanitarian and development initiatives benefiting Syrian refugees and their host communities.
Responding to the refugee and migrant influx in Europe
Being a UN Volunteer was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life so far, and, being in my eighties, I think that holds some weight. In the early 1990s, having raised a family, already at the end of a successful business career, and well settled into retirement, the unexpected excitement and humility of reaching out to truly touch peoples’ lives showed me that life can always bring the unexpected.
At a gathering with leaders from UNHCR and business associates, I had a conversation that led me to UNV.
Thessaloniki, Greece: People from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the region are fleeing war and desperate situations in their home countries, and making their way to Europe in search of safety. Many of these people now remain in refugee camps in Greece, where they live in very difficult conditions.