Tag Archives: UNHCR

Berunding di Sitwe, Arakan

Peristiwa berdarah di bumi Arakan yang bermula dengan tuduhan liar tanpa bukti sahih mengenai pemerkosaan seorang gadis Rakhine di Pulau Ramree oleh tiga lelaki Rohingya menjadi punca utama kepada ketegangan ini. Peristiwa ini dibakar hangat oleh pihak tertentu dengan pengedaran beberapa risalah kepada penduduk kampung mengapi-apikan kejadian ini. Kebencian yang dipupuk ini kemudiannya diterjemahkan dengan peristiwa pembunuhan 10 orang Muslim di Taungup. Seorang pemandu bas, seorang konduktor bas wanita dan 8 orang anggota jemaah Tabligh dari Rangoon, yang bukan berbangsa Rohingya pun. Mereka telah dibelasah sampai mati kerana khabar angin yang tersebar mengatakan tiga orang lelaki yang didakwa merogol gadis Rakhine di Ramree ada dikalangan mereka, begitu mudah sekali khabar angin ini merebak. Tanpa usul periksa mereka dibunuh.

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Seterusnya, umat Islam di Maungdaw, daerah majoriti Rohingya selepas menunaikan solat Jumaat telah merusuh, tujuannya ialah untuk menandakan solidariti dan kemarahan atas peristiwa pembunuhan tersebut tetapi ianya telah merebak hingga tidak dapat dibendung, menyebabkan penduduk Rakhine terpaksa melarikan diri bagi menyelamatkan nyawa mereka. Maka, kemudiannya tercetuslah huru hara diseluruh wilayah Arakan, memaksa kerajaan pusat menghantar pihak Tatmadaw untuk mengawal keadaan setelah NASAKA dilihat gagal berfungsi seperti sepatutnya.

Rombongan MRA telah tiba di Sitwe pada bulan September 2012, dengan diketuai oleh saya sendiri, Sdr. Johari Kan Abdullah, Penyelia Sekolah Komuniti Rohingya MRA dan Sdr. Shahid @ Shine, Koordinator Projek Myanmar MRA. Ketibaan kami tidak mendapat sambutan baik. Kebencian kepada orang Islam dan negara majoriti Islam sangat jelas di lapangan.

Pertama yang kami hadapi ialah pihak hotel yang kami tempah telah berhasrat untuk membatalkan tempahan tersebut atas alasan kami adalah Muslim dan kehadiran kami bakal mencetuskan protes dan berpotensi untuk menggangu perniagaan mereka. Keadaan sungguh tidak menentu, unfriendly dan penuh ketegangan. Saya tidak pernah mengalami keadaan sebegini sepanjang saya berkhidmat dalam kerja-kerja bantuan kemanusiaan. Walau di Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia., kami tidak pernah merasa sempit dan sendat seperti disini.

Setelah berunding, kami diberikan juga bilik dengan layanan muka masam mencuka. Bilik itu pula ditingkat paling atas di hotel tidak berlif ini. Kami hanya dibenarkan bermalam selama dua hari sahaja, hari ketiga kami kena berambus dari situ. Kami tidak dibenarkan menyewa sebuah bilik sahaja, kami diarahkan untuk menyewa dua buah bilik atas alasan orang asing tidak boleh tinggal bersama dengan orang tempatan, Shine dikira sebagai warga tempatan.

Kedua, contact kami di lapangan tidak muncul. Apabila dihubungi, kami difahamkan bahawa beliau seboleh mungkin tidak mahu berurusan apatah lagi untuk bertemu dan berbincang dengan kami disini. Beliau mungkin telah mendapat tekanan atau ugutan dari pihak tertentu agar tidak berkerjasama dengan kami. Akibatnya, kami sukar untuk mendapatkan kenderaan bagi tujuan pergerakan disini. Namun, kami sentiasa ada backup plan yang telah disediakan bagi menghadapi ketidaktentuan seperti ini.

Kami telah mengaktifkan backup plan kami dan semuanya berjalan lancar. Tanpa contact asal pun kami masih dapat bergerak dan mengatur program sehingga mengatur pertemuan dengan Kerajaan Negeri Rakhine dan pihak berkuasa setempat.

Ketiga, kami ingin memastikan bahawa kami mesti sampai ke kawasan paling kritikal di Sitwe yang kami telah kenalpasti iaitu penempatan Aung Mingalar. Ini sahaja penempatan orang Islam yang masih tinggal disana. Terletak di tengah-tengah Sitwe, salah satu pintu masuk Aung Mingalar terletak di tepi tugu peringatan U-Tama, seorang Sami Buddha yang memimpin gerakan menentang penjajahan British. Berhadapan dengan tugu ini ialah The Grand Mosque of Sitwe yang kini diharamkan untuk didirikan solat ataupun untuk dimasuki bagi apa tujuan sekalipun oleh orang Islam.

Kami telah mencari jalan lalu mengatur dan mengadakan rundingan dengan Rakhine Nationalist Democratic Party (RNDP), Parti yang telah memenangi pilihanraya dan merekalah yang membentuk Kerajaan Negeri Rakhine. Pertemuan kami berlangsung dalam suasana fragile, penuh syak wasangka dan prejudis. Sepanjang rundingan berlangsung, kami sering disindir oleh pihak Rakhine, macam-macam kami disindir. Malah kami juga tidak dihidangkan air sepanjang perbincangan ini berjalan. Sepanjang duduk dalam rundingan ini, kami telah dikelilingi oleh orang-orang Rakhine ini.

Round Pertama ini tidak berjalan dengan lancar, kami sendiri tidak puas hati dengan keputusan rundingan ini. Kami berhasrat untuk bertemu sekali lagi dan kami perlu kelihatan lebih telus, serius dan impartial (tidak berpihak) bagi mendapatkan kepercayaan dan hormat dari mereka.

Round Kedua, kami hadir dalam rundingan dengan imej baru, kami tidak lagi berjanggut dan bermisai. Saya menyatakan kepada mereka melalui jurubahasa kami sdr. Shine – janggut itu penting kepada saya, tetapi perbincangan hari ini lebih penting lagi. Rundingan kami seterusnya walaupun tidak bertukar 360 darjah tetapi paling tidak 180 telah berubah, kami mula senyum dan ketawa, kami bukan setakat ditawarkan air mineral malah kami juga dihidang air panas 3 in 1.

Apabila ditanya apa hasrat dan tujuan kedatangan kami, mereka tidak membantah apabila kami mohon untuk menghantar bantuan ke penempatan Aung Mingalar sendiri, disiang hari tanpa perlu diiring oleh polis mahupun tentera.

Keempat, penterjemah kami diserang ketika beliau sedang mengatur pembelian makanan kering buat kali kedua di Pasar Borong Sitwe. Alhamdulillah, beliau terselamat dari kecederaan serius, walaupun dikepung oleh perusuh yang melebihi ratusan orang, beliau berjaya diselamatkan oleh Polis dan hanya cedera diketuk dengan pengetuk di kepalanya. Pengiring dari RNDP yang turut bersama beliau turut dihalau oleh para perusuh tersebut yang tidak tahu menahu sebarang kerjasama dan perjanjian yang telah dibuat diantara kami dan RNDP termasuk Kerajaan Negeri Rakhine.

Ketika kejadian ini berlaku, saya dan Johari berada di dalam penempatan Aung Mingalar, sedang berbincang mengenai projek bantuan yang akan diberikan selepas ini, kami terus bergegas ke Balai Polis untuk membawa keluar Sdr. Shine dari situ. Kami ditanya samada akan membuat laporan Polis mengenai kejadian ini atau tidak? Tetapi kami menyatakan bahawa kami tidak mahu memanjangkan isu ini sambil memahami ianya berlaku kerana prejudis yang tinggi serta salah faham mereka terhadap kami. Seboleh mungkin, kami tidak mahu mencetus sebarang isu di lapangan kerana kami hendak keluar masuk disini untuk jangkamasa lama, justeru sebarang insiden akan pastinya merencatkan pergerakan kami nanti. Pun begitu, isu ini tetap mendapat perhatian dari media antarabangsa, namun kami tidak begitu melayan isu ini, matikan api saja.

Selepas dari kejadian ini, kami masih terus membantu dikawasan ini dengan mengadakan ibadah qurban bersama penduduk disini, sebanyak 25 ekor lembu berserta 55 ekor kambing telah kami qurbankan untuk diagih-agihkan kepada para pelarian dan penduduk yang terkepung disini.

Hari ini, Alhamdulillah, kami telah berjaya membuka sebuah pejabat operasi di Rangoon dan bakal menghantar lebih banyak bantuan kepada kedua dua pihak yang bertelagah disamping mempromosi dialog silang agama dikalangan mereka.

Shahrul Peshawar
Kuala Lumpur

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World Refugee Day 2012

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Hari Pelarian Sedunia 2012

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Aid Worker Diaries – Top 10 Critical Needs Facing Refugees & Persons Displaced in Emergencies

During the initial stages of a conflict or natural disaster, those who are forced to flee are particularly at risk—women, children and young people most of all.

The Women’s Refugee Commission has identified 10 pressing needs that must be met during the first weeks and months of an emergency to ensure the safety and well-being of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs)*. Some 43 million people are currently uprooted from their homes by armed conflict and persecution.

1. Keep refugees and IDPs safe. Ensure that they are settled in a secure location away from borders and ongoing conflict.

2. Provide safe access to basic needs, including food, safe and appropriate cooking fuel, potable water, sanitation and shelter.

3. Communicate with the people most affected and ensure their safety whether or not they have legal status or official documents. Ensure every adult is provided with individual documentation that allows him or her to access key services.

4. Provide life-saving health care, including reproductive health care. Ensure there are enough health workers and all necessary medicines and supplies to prevent and respond to infectious diseases and other health needs. Establish priority reproductive health services for women and girls.

5. Prevent and respond to sexual violence. Protect women and children from sexual violence by ensuring safe access to food, cooking fuel, water, latrines and other basic necessities. Offer medical services and psychosocial support to survivors of sexual violence.

6. Reduce the transmission of HIV. Enforce use of infection control measures by health workers; make condoms freely available; and ensure blood for transfusion is safe by screening it for HIV and other blood-borne diseases.

7. Prevent excess maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. Provide skilled birth attendants for normal births; manage obstetric complications at health facilities; establish 24-hour emergency referral system; provide contraceptives to meet demands; provide clean delivery kits to all visibly pregnant women.

8. Identify vulnerable individuals with specific needs, such as unaccompanied minors, child- or women-headed households, pregnant women, victims of trafficking and persons with disabilities. Secure their care and physical security. Monitor, report and respond to violations against children.

9. Provide education to children and young people. Offer structure for children and restore hope and a sense of normalcy in a safe, adult-supervised space. Teach basic literacy and numeracy skills, and provide vocational training for young people.

10. Provide economic opportunities and preserve existing economic assets. Build on refugees’ skills, taking into account local market needs, to provide the best chance for a sustainable income. Protect women and girls from sexual exploitation by providing them with economic opportunities.

* A refugee has crossed an international border; an internally displaced person (IDP) has fled from his or her home but is still in his or her own country.

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/blogs/aid-worker-diaries/top-10-critical-needs-facing-refugees-persons-displaced-in-emergencies/

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Displacement inside Kyrgyzstan reaches 300,000 Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

 Date: 17 Jun 2010

Some 300,000 people are now estimated to be internally displaced in Kyrgyzstan, according to information from the Kyrgyz Interim Government and non-governmental organizations on the ground. While many among this population are being sheltered by family and host communities, it is also estimated that at least 40,000 people are in need of shelter.

The Kyrgyz authorities are trying to restore law and order, and have reported that some 180 people have been killed and a further 1,900 injured. The situation in Osh and nearby villages appears to be volatile. Sporadic clashes have reportedly taken place around the town of Jalal-Abad and the situation there is tense. Many families have left from Osh and Jalal-Abad to Bishkek and other areas, fearing further violence.

UNHCR and other UN humanitarian agencies currently have no access to southern Kyrgyzstan. Despite this absence UNHCR has made available its stocks of relief items to ICRC for distribution to some 10,000 displaced people in Osh. A UN security assessment in the south is underway today. UNHCR hopes this assessment will allow operations to commence in some areas in Osh. A UNHCR airlift to Kyrgyzstan is scheduled to begin this weekend. Two planes loaded with 80 tonnes of relief from UNHCR’s emergency stockpile in Dubai will bring assistance for 15,000 people.

Members of an emergency response team are already in country or en route to Kyrgyzstan. Additional staff are being deployed to help respond to the unfolding humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, the government of Uzbekistan has been providing assistance and shelter to an estimated 100,000 refugees who have fled spiraling violence in Kyrgyzstan.

The influx has been mainly to Andijan province where some 80,000 people have arrived since last Friday. The provinces of Fergana and Namangan host some 8,000 and 3,500 people respectively. Most of the displaced are being accommodated in schools, warehouses and in several sports centres. The freshly arrived refugee population in Uzbekistan is in need of additional humanitarian support including water, food and shelter.

The UNHCR emergency airlift to Uzbekistan that began on Wednesday, continues today (Thursday 17 June) with further flights having landed in Andijan, bringing the total aid delivered so far to 160 tonnes. Another two flights to Andijan are scheduled for tomorrow (Friday 18 June). UNHCR plans to complete the deployment of its emergency response team in Uzbekistan by Sunday. Some members of the response team are already on the ground.

The total value of UNHCR’s humanitarian assistance to both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan amounts so far to over USD 2.5 million.

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Few refugees opt to go home

GENEVA – ONLY 251,000 of the world’s 15 million refugees returned to their home countries last year, the lowest rate in two decades, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo forced many refugees from those countries to stay put last year.

Other crises that had appeared to be abating, such as in Iraq and southern Sudan, also proved stubbornly stagnant in 2009, discouraging uprooted people from returning home, Guterres said in a statement accompanying a UNHCR report.

‘Already a majority of the world’s refugees have been living as refugees for five years or more,’ the former Portuguese prime minister said. ‘Inevitably, that proportion will grow if fewer refugees are able to go home.’ About 1 million refugees normally voluntarily repatriate every year, according to the UNHCR.

The world’s overall number of refugees – defined as those who flee conflict or persecution across international borders – was stable last year at 15.2 million.

Over the last decade, at least 1.3 million refugees have been naturalised in another country, more than half of them in the United States. — REUTERS

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Hospitality’s ultimate test: In Pakistan, displaced seek shelter house by house

By: Matt Hackworth/CWS

MARDAN, Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan — Awalkhan has four spare rooms in his modest house, now a temporary hostel to 30 people.

“Because I had spare rooms, I host them,” Awalkhan said, sitting on the edge of a traditional rattan charpoy bed. “They have no other way.”

The people in Awalkhan’s home are like most in Pakistan who are displaced by the fighting between national army and Taliban forces. They left in a hurry, with little more than the clothes on their backs, and fled to the home of a relative or close friend.

United Nations figures document 1.7 million have fled escalating violence in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. That number is likely far below the total number of people affected because so many have found refuge in the homes of others.

“It could be as high as 90 percent of people who fled are unaccounted for, simply because they’re staying with a host family,” CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan Director Marvin Parvez. (Parvez is also the Asia/Pacific Regional Director for Church World Service.) “These are families who didn’t have much to begin with, and now they have the added strain of caring for others. They need our help.”

Just as CWS has provided food packages and blankets in the nearby Sheik Yasin Camp, where 9,000 displaced persons live in tents, the agency has also provided food and supplies to families who have opened their homes to people in need.

A local partner in Mardan, Movement for Rural Development Organization, helped CWS identify homes where needs are particularly strong.

“The people of this community are very poor,” MRDO Chairman Sawar Khan said. “They are completely dependent upon NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the public.”

Smaller villages ring the outskirts of Mardan, where locals in native colorful dress, called shalwar khamiz, seek shelter from the blistering heat inside homes made of thick mud plaster. Over a thick cup of local chai tea and pastries, village elder Mohammed Younas Khan describes how his community is handling such an influx of people.

“If someone has four rooms, they give two rooms to the people,” Khan said, stroking his white beard. “If they have one room, they share it. That’s how we’re handling it.

“But it’s our prayer to Allah that the people should be able to go home,” Khan said.

Pakistan’s army set a deadline of June 25 for its operations against the Taliban to conclude. The deadline passed and troops continue to fight.

One thing is clear in Mardan: Families remain just as scared of life under Taliban rule as they are of being caught in a military firefight. Women duck under headscarves at the sight of a still camera, for fear the Taliban might see their photo, in violation of the Islamic laws of Sharia.

So, families remain in Mardan, caught between harsh justice and military might, far from home. For Awalkhan, the uncertainty facing the 30 people in his home produces at least one bit of clarity.

“I will continue to host them because this is my duty,” he said.

How to help

Church World Service is helping to provide food, shelter and medical care for displaced children and families in Pakistan. Contributions to support Church World Service emergency response and recovery efforts may be made online, by phone (800.297.1516), or sent to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

Media Contact:

Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676 lcrosson@churchworldservice.org

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