Migration & Refugees

Migration in the Americas: A Dream That Can Turn Deadly

The Darién Gap is a stretch of jungle spanning the border between Colombia and Panama, the only missing section of the Pan-American Highway that stretches from Alaska to southern Argentina. For good reason, it used to be considered impenetrable. But in 2023, a record 520,000 people crossed it heading northwards, including many children. Many have lost their lives trying to cross it.

Education Either Makes Us or Breaks Us

There is a fork in the road before us. We have to choose who we are as human beings and as a human family. Do we break humanity or do we make it?

The Kids of the Islamic State: A Childhood Stolen

Rozena, a 31-year-old woman from Guyana, says she travelled to Turkey in 2015 to join an NGO which helped Syrian refugees. That’s all she’ll reveal when asked how and why she ended up living in the so-called Islamic State for four years.

Thailand’s ‘Humanitarian Corridor’ for Myanmar Faces Pushback

The Maung family is rebuilding their lives in a foreign land. A freshly painted signboard with a play on the word Revolution declares their small restaurant is open for business, and breakfast features traditional Myanmar mohinga—rice noodles and fish soup.

Parcels for Prisoners: Exiled Myanmar Activists Keep the Revolutionary Faith

Rangoon Nights is rocking. The bar is on its feet and the cocktail shaker is shaking in abandon as the band Born In Burma starts pumping out its beat. Except we’re not in Rangoon or Burma (officially called Myanmar), but in the northern Thai town of Chiangmai which has evolved into a hub for activists, fugitives, and those taking a break from the war tearing their country apart.

No God but Greed: Slavery and Indifference

At Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen there is a great painting made in 1797 by the Danish Golden Age painter Jens Juel. It depicts one of Denmark’s richest merchants at the time – Niels Ryberg, his newlywed son Johan Christian, and the son’s bride, Engelke. Johan Christian makes a gesture as though to show off the family estate. There is a strong feeling of harmony between the people and the countryside in which they are placed. The picture reflects the new interest in nature that emerged all over Europe towards the end of the 18th century. It also demonstrates how Denmark’s new, rich bourgeois wished to carry themselves in the style of the aristocracy, a social class which dominance they were infringing. Ryberg and his son appear just as distinguished as the aristocrats that used to be portrayed by Jens Juel.

Funding, Policy Changes Could Result in Countries Reaping Benefit of Migration

Amid an escalation of global conflict and climate change-induced displacements, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is escalating its donor campaign. For the first time since the organization’s formation in 1951, the IOM says it is "proactively approaching all partners to fund this vital appeal," at a time when the number of migrants making perilous intercontinental journeys has increased.

Forced Migration Grows, Justice Withers, Say Activists at World Social Forum

As involuntary migration rises around the world, partly in response to the impacts of climate change, justice for those leaving their homes and families to earn a living is largely missing, said activists meeting at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Kathmandu on Sunday.

Last Chance Saloon? Myanmar Junta Imposes Military Conscription

The news travelled like wildfire. In the teashops, bars, and market stalls that make Thailand’s border town of Mae Sot feel far more Burmese than Thai, the feared rumours circulating at the weekend were suddenly confirmed. Military conscription would be imposed on young men and women for two to five years, regime-controlled broadcasters in Myanmar announced on the Saturday night airwaves. Details were sparse.

Is Anti-Woke a Grass-Root Movement?

“Woke” was for a century, especially among black people in the US, an inspirational concept. However, almost overnight it turned into a pejorative. Like using the term “politically correct” as an insult, calling someone “woke” came to imply that the referred person’s views are excessively ridiculous, or even despicable. Being “anti-woke” has become an indication that you do not belong to an assumed group of “do-gooders”, who at the expense of right-minded “ordinary” citizens assert the demands of interest groups, which declare themselves to be discriminated against due to their ethnicity/race, gender, sexual preference, and/or physical or psychological disabilities.

The West’s Addiction to War Must End in Gaza

Two months ago, an opinion piece I wrote, "The Cries of Gaza Reach Afghanistan," was published with the hope of reminding American and other Western leaders of how quickly wars ON terror descend into wars OF terror because of their disproportionate impact on civilians and the unpredictability once unleashed.

Myanmar’s Military Catastrophe: Three Years and Counting

The military must have expected an easier ride. Three years ago, it ousted Myanmar’s democratically elected government. But the coup has been met with fierce resistance, unleashing a bloody conflict with no end in sight.

The Spectre of Migration: A conversation with Hammoud Gallego

Karl Marx’s Manifesto of the Communist Party begins with the now worn-out phrase: “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre”. Nowadays the word “communism” could easily be substituted by “migration”. All over Europe, politicians claim that Europe is being destroyed by migrants. In country after country, ghosts of yesterday are awakened. Parliaments include xenophobic politicians who might be considered as inheritors of demagogs who once dragged Europeans into hate and bloodbaths.

Trapped and Trafficked—Fishers Tell of Forced Labor Horror

“The thing is that when you come from an African country, they know that you’re basically trapped,” says Noel Adabblah. “You have the wrong documents; you can’t go home because you’ve already borrowed money there to get here, and you won’t risk losing what work you have, no matter how bad, because of that. They know all the tricks.” 

Mozambique Insurgency Significantly Decreased, Say Experts

There is cautious optimism regarding the conflict that has been raging in northern Mozambique, largely in the province of Cabo Delgado, since 2017. There are encouraging indications that the Islamic State (IS)-driven insurgency has significantly decreased thanks to the deployment of the Mozambique Defense Armed Forces (FADM), Southern African Development Community (SAMIM) forces, and a contingent of Rwandan troops (RSF).

Europe’s Shift to the Far Right and its Impact on Immigration

The recent elections in the Netherlands signals the increasing power of the far right in Europe. The populist party of Geert Wilders, the Party for Freedom, won a decisive, albeit unexpected, victory taking 37 seats out the 150 seat in parliament. Wilders will likely be the head of the next Government. His policies include stopping all immigration into the Netherlands, holding a referendum on leaving the EU, and banning mosques and the Quran.

Myanmar Refugees Build Schools, Cafes and Hope in Mae Sot


 
The typical image of a refugee is a poor person with their hands out asking for aid. The Burmese refugees in Mae Sot on the Thai-Myanmar border defy that stereotype. Many are middle-class, educated urbanites with skills and plenty of initiative. After standing up to the Burmese military and suffering for it, they left everything and fled for their lives to Mae Sot where they continued their struggle. Despite intimidation, exploitation by some Thai authorities, and living in fear without documentation, they have achieved a lot in under two years. Their purpose is to support their community and the revolution in a variety of ways through their resilience, commitment, ability and innovation. Some refugees have set up businesses such as cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, hairdressers, a farm and cross-border trade. While they are for-profit, they also provide employment for other refugees and donate to the most vulnerable. One café owner said, “If I am lucky, I break even but the café gives refugees employment, keeps them occupied and is a place where Burmese can meet and relax.” [caption id="attachment_183577" align="alignleft" width="630"]Paul Greening is an ex-UN senior staff officer with over 20 years of experience in six Asian countries working for six UN agencies and four INGOs. He worked in Sittwe, Rakhine State for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from 2017 to 2020 and has been living in Mae Sot for two years. First published by Myanmar news outlet Irrawady

UN and Humanitarian Partners Seek USD 46 Billion for Humanitarian Assistance

Funding humanitarian programs will continue into the new year, but the funding cuts of the previous year may impact the prioritization of the most immediate and most life-threatening needs. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released the Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) for 2024. This annual assessment of the global humanitarian sector provides insight into the humanitarian action undertaken by the UN and its partners and reviews current and future trends in this sector.

UN Staffers Face Threat of Being Forced Out of the US– at Retirement

Going back to the 1970s, thousands of UN staffers were given legal status opting for permanent residency in the US-- after their retirement. But that longstanding privilege now seems to be in jeopardy forcing retirees to return to their home countries uprooting their lives in the US.

Sudan’s Conflict Needs Civil Society Solutions

It’s recently been reported that the two main protagonists of Sudan’s current conflict – leaders of the armed forces and militia at war since April – have agreed to face-to-face talks. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African body, announced the potential breakthrough – although Sudan’s foreign ministry has since claimed IGAD’s statement is inaccurate, creating further uncertainty.

The Solutions to Child Poverty Must Reach the Most Vulnerable Communities

Child poverty persists even in some of the world’s richest countries, new findings from a UNICEF report reveal.

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