Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On Discrimination Against Dominicans of Haitian Descent

I have traveled to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and am familiar with the history of racial tensions between the population of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent, and other citizens of the Dominican Republic.

These problems are by no means unique to these two neighboring countries, nor are there easy solutions. In addition to race there is competition for land, social services, and jobs. But while this situation should not be oversimplified, the way the Dominican government is dealing with it is unfortunate. Read the rest of this entry »


A record 33.3 million now displaced by war worldwide

(GENEVA) May 14, 2014 — Thirty-three million people were internally displaced at the end of 2013 due to conflict and violence says a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). This equates to a staggering increase of 4.5 million from 2012, signaling a record high for the second year running.

SetWidth240-idmc-global-overview-2014-cover-72dpiToday IDMC, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), launched its Global Overview 2014 at the United Nations in Geneva, alongside the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The report, which covers internal displacement in 2013 highlights that a full 63% of the record breaking 33.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs) reported worldwide, come from just five countries: Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. Including figures for Nigeria for the first time, the report documents that an astounding, 3.3 million Nigerians have been displaced by conflict.

“This record number of people forced to flee inside their own countries confirms a disturbing upward trend of internal displacement since IDMC first began monitoring and analyzing displacement back in the late 90s,” says Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of NRC.

“The dramatic increase in forced displacement in 2013 and the fact that the average amount of time people worldwide are living in displacement is now a staggering 17 years, all suggest that something is going terribly wrong in how we are responding and dealing with this issue,” says Egeland.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres added: “We should all be concerned about these numbers and the continuing upwards trend. We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering. Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative.” Read the rest of this entry »

Accompanying the Returned

Heading up the Rio Calima Thursday morning with @SJRCOLUMBIA and @SJRLAC to visit returned communities.

The two AfroColombian communities and a community of indigenous people fled when armed groups, part of Colombia’s 50-year conflict, moved into their lands.

Read more about the visit soon on

Jesuit Refugee Service accompanies displaced residents of Soacha

Soacha is a city of one million people located directly south of Colombia’s capital of Bogota. More than 30,000 people in Soacha are officially classified as displaced, but the actual number is likely much higher. The process of registering as ‘displaced’ is laborious, and many wind up registering in Bogota while still living in Soacha.

Soacha photo

Soacha, Colombia.

Jesuit Refugee Service Colombia serves the people of Soacha by advocating for better access to education and health care, advising and accompanying them in their quest for better government representation, and by providing training in sustainable farming.

Read more and see more photos and videos from Colombia in the coming weeks on the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA website.

Listen to the audio right now by clicking here.

Pakistan in urgent need as floods displace millions of people

(UNITED NATIONS) The response from donors to a request to assist millions of people affected by floods in Pakistan is encouraging, with nearly half of the $460 million required having been received, but the contributions are far from sufficient given the magnitude of the disaster, the United Nations reported yesterday.

Some $227.8 million or 49.6 per cent of the total amount requested by UN agencies and NGO partners in the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan (PIFERP) has so far been received, while another $42 million has been pledged, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“We thank donors for their generosity, and ask them to keep up this accelerated pace of donations. The road ahead remains long. We should all also be ready for any increase in requirements,” said John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

“Watching this disaster unfold, the world increasingly understands its immense magnitude,” said Mr. Holmes. “I am glad that we now see a more positive response to the calls of the Secretary-General and the humanitarian community for increased and faster funding,” he added, referring to the visit by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Pakistan on Sunday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Peace through Education in Southern Sudan

In January, Southern Sudan will hold a referendum to choose independence from or unity with the north. The conduct, result, and aftermath of the vote will determine the direction of Southern Sudan’s future and the prospects for sustained peace in the region. During this uncertain period, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) continues to accompany the people of Southern Sudan with programs that make schools the heart of new and restored communities, as focal points for hope for a better future and centers for peace building activities.

After a generation of civil war, the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement on January 9, 2005, ended armed hostilities between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the Government of Sudan. Read the rest of this entry »

Take Action: Support Colombian Internally Displaced Persons

Colombia has one of the highest internally displaced populations in the world.  In 2009 alone, 280,000 civilians were newly displaced in addition to over 4 million already displaced.  Victims of forced displacement leave their homes and families to escape violence, intimidation, and rape from both legal and illegal armed groups.  Vulnerable groups such as Afro-Colombians, indigenous communities and women face the greatest consequences of the armed conflict.

In 2004, the Colombian Constitutional Court declared a State of Unconstitutional Affairs and ordered the Colombian government to address the needs and rights of the displaced population.  Despite the Constitutional Court’s demands, Colombia’s displacement crisis continues and the Colombian government has yet to implement these orders.  The resolution led by Representative Hank Johnson (GA) and 22 other co-sponsors calls on the Government of Colombia to fully implement the Constitutional Court’s orders.

Ms. Sascha Thompson, Rep. Johnson’s aide, stated at a recent WOLA event that “many internally displaced Colombian leaders, who have been brave enough to organize their communities to speak out about their rights and to demand the Colombian authorities to meet its obligations to protect them and restore their lands, have become constant targets of threats against their lives, harassment, additional human rights violations, and extra violence.” These leaders and their families need your help.

Many indigenous groups in Colombia are on the verge of extinction. Afro-Colombians’ livelihoods are threatened by the armed conflict and invasive government policies.  The precarious condition of women is exacerbated by gender based violence.  Vulnerable populations in Colombia are disproportionately affected by the consequences of the armed conflict and their human rights must be protected.
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