News Archives

Refugees, displaced persons increasing worldwide

 


Refugees, displaced persons increasing worldwide

 

June 8, 2004      

 

By Linda Bloom*                          

 

NEW YORK (UMNS) – The United Methodist Committee on Relief is becoming increasingly involved with refugees and displaced persons.

That attention comes as more conflicts – both internal and between countries – affect people, according to Jim Cox, executive director of UMCOR’s nongovernmental organization (NGO). The group’s senior management met May 28 in New York to discuss its role in “Bringing People Home, Building Livelihoods.”

Since 1960, the number of refugees – those who cross international borders to seek sanctuary – has increased ten-fold worldwide to 10 million, said Cox. He cited United Nations statistics.

But the number of people displaced within their own countries has skyrocketed even higher – to 25 million. “Often, they are displaced in areas still under conflict, so security is at risk,” he added. Unlike refugees, internally displaced persons have no specific protection under international law.

Since the end of the cold war, the nature of conflict itself has changed, Cox pointed out. Much the internal violence is tied to struggles between different ethnic groups.

UMCOR’s work with refugees in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo includes such issues as food security, water and sanitation, shelter and skills training, according to Jennifer Poitras, regional coordinator for Africa. Just as important is the demobilization and re-integration of ex-combatants, providing viable income-generating opportunities for that population.

However, before the agency helps with resettlement, it has to assess the situation and consider safety issues, the level of destruction and the roles various groups played in the conflict. “Sometimes, it’s not the right time to bring people home,” she explained. “Overall, what we’re trying to do is promote a secure environment.”

Securing funding for resettlement also is an issue. One dilemma, said Guy Hovey, regional director for Europe and Asia, is that institutional donors sometimes have their own political agendas and may be willing to assist refugees, but not the internally displaced.

While suffering “should not be a competition,” that is often the reality, he noted.

 

News media contact: Linda Bloom·(646)369-3759·New York· E-mail: newsdesk@umcom.org ·

 

 

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

First Name:*
Last Name:*
Email:*
ZIP/Postal Code:*
Question:*

*InfoServ ( about ) is a service of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW


Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.