Sharon Waxman, Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee writes about Lebanon for the Huffington Post.
"On June 7, the United Nations launched its largest humanitarian appeal in history: $5.2 billion to aid people affected by the Syrian civil war. It may surprise some that the U.N. is seeking the lion's share (32 percent) of that money for one small country -- Lebanon -- but numbers tell the story.
A country of 4.2 million people, Lebanon now hosts more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) expects that number to double by the end of the year. At that point, nearly one in five people in Lebanon will be a Syrian refugee. If we consider everyone affected by the conflict -- the 1.2 million Lebanese in the communities struggling to absorb the Syrian refugees, plus the 80,000 Palestinian refugees and 49,000 Lebanese who had been living in Syria -- the staggering figure would exceed 2.25 million, about half the prewar population of Lebanon."
World Refugee Day is a time to celebrate the strength and resilience of refugees around the world. It is also a time to bring attention to ways in which the humanitarian community can better meet the needs of displaced people. This World Refugee Day, we reflect on the state of displaced persons with disabilities, and look forward towards the future of disabilility inclusion in the humanitarian field.
The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) seeks to improve the lives and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, including women, children and youth, displaced by conflict and crisis. Over the past 18 months, with support from AusAID and other donors, the WRC has been providing technical advice to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to translate operational guidance on Working with Persons with Disabilities in Forced Displacement into practice at field levels.
Adolescents' access to quality reproductive health care, including family planning, is essential to their health, well-being, and future success. Yet too little is being done in humanitarian settings to meet this basic need. The Women's Refugee Commission and Save the Children, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Population Fund has documented the gaps in the humanitarian sector and outlined recommendations for donors, governments, and humanitarian and development organizations in a new report, "Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs in Humanitarian Settings: An In-depth Look at Family Planning Services."
The need for action on reproductive health care for adolescents could not be more urgent or obvious. The statistics are striking. Two million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year. Adolescent girls have a higher risk of maternal mortality than any other age group. And half of sexual assaults are committed against girls younger than 15.
An estimated 12 million people worldwide are stateless, with no country to call home. They are not recognized as nationals of the countries where they live, and as a result are denied basic human rights. For many people, this situation arises because of gender discrimination in nationality laws. This occurs when nationality legislation prevents women from acquiring, changing, retaining or passing on their nationality to their children and/or their spouses on an equal basis with men. This discrimination must end and nationality laws must be changed.
Today, the Women's Refugee Commission, and the Statelessness Program at the University of Tilburg (Netherlands) are launching a report, Our Motherland, Our Country: Gender Discrimination and Statelessness in the Middle East and North Africa.
On April 17, we at the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) welcomed the introduction of S. 744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013." For those of us who are veterans of the immigration reform efforts of 2006 and 2007, this day marked a long-awaited return to a serious national conversation about our immigration system. But April 17 also represented a major step forward for the protection of immigrant women's rights -- something we at the WRC have been working towards for more than 15 years.
Periodically, we’ll be featuring interviews with members of our staff talking about how they got into the field and what inspires them. Here we highlight Dhana Lama, Program Coordinator. Dhana supports the entire staff of the Women’s Refugee Commission with a wide range of administrative and logistical services, ensuring that operations run flawlessly.
Interview by Stephanie Selekman
A Tribute to Catherine O'Neill, Delivered by Jurate Kazickas
There was, quite simply, no one like Catherine.No one with her combination of intelligence, savviness, connections, compassion, brashness and passion.
More than 20 years ago, visiting refugee camps as an IRC board member, she saw with her own eyes the plight of young girls and women, how their specific needs were slighted or ignored, despite the fact that they were 80 percent of the displaced population.
Born in what is now South Sudan, Atim Caroline Ogwang lost her hearing when she was five when explosives left by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels detonated when she was picking fruit. She is currently human rights, sign language and gender officer of a nonprofit organization called the Southern Sudan Deaf Development Concern (SSDDC). At SSDDC, Atim Caroline promotes and advocates for deaf girls’ education, organizes deaf women to work towards self-reliance and capacity-building and calls for the full inclusion and participation of women with disabilities in international development programs. Among Atim Caroline’s many talents, she advocates through a performance art called deaf story telling with music.
Where were you born? Tell us about your family.
Soon after I was born in South Sudan, my family became refugees in Uganda. There are eight children in our family – three girls and five boys. I am number seven. I lost both of my parents in the war by the time I turned 10 years old. I was left in the care of my teenage sisters and brothers, all trying to survive in a very harsh environment.