Vanuatu: No ordinary homecoming – the Mataso community reunited

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 16:37

By Karina Coates

Mataso island residents packed the beachfront, awaiting the return of family members after many weeks of separation. As the patrol boat carrying 53 of their relatives drew closer, two small boats sped out to greet the travellers, for whom this four-hour voyage across rough seas from Vanuatu’s capital marked the end of a much rougher two-month journey.

Smuggled to Nigeria, displaced by conflict, one woman’s journey across three Boko Haram affected countries

Sat, 05/23/2015 - 10:58

By Rania Yousif

Naoumi Edou, a 47 year-old widow is originally from Doba in Logone Orientale a region in the south of Chad.

In August 2013, in order to support her two daughters, Naoumi set out and moved to Baga Kawa, a town in northern Nigeria which borders Chad.

Her relocation from Chad to Nigeria was costly and dangerous. Naoumi sold her house and other belongings to pay smugglers who aided her crossing Lake Chad into Cameroon before finally reaching Baga Kawa.  


Namaste, Equality, and Superman

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 12:31

By Eunjin Jeong

My first instinct when I spotted the two women from a small community in Sindhupalchok marching towards me was that I should maybe stop taking photos of their shattered community; perhaps I was rubbing salt in their wounds.

Over the past three weeks they’d seen their lives change forever, their homes destroyed, family, friends and neighbours killed, livelihoods wiped out.

When our eyes met, however, my doubts melted away. One of the women raised her hands, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards: “Namaste”, she said, the customary form of Hindu greeting meaning ‘I bow to the divine in you’. Her pressed hands could not hide a shy smile, her eyes hinting that she was genuinely happy to see a foreign face like mine interested in telling their stories when help is most needed. 

From One Nightmare to Another

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 22:38

(AFP Photo / Christophe Archambault)

The migrant crisis in Southeast Asia has gripped the attention of the world’s media. The human angle of these un-named thousands, on the open sea for weeks on end, has mved even the most experienced journalists. Agence France-Presse’s Christophe Archambault sailed out for an never-to-be-forgotten encounter with a boatload of migrants off the coast of Thailand. We reprint his blog by kind permission of Agence France-Presse.

By Christophe Archambault

KOH LIPE, Thailand, May 15, 2015 - For us this story began several weeks ago with the discovery of a mass grave in southern Thailand, thought to hold the bodies of Rohingya migrants smuggled into the country from neighbouring Myanmar.

The stateless Rohingya are one of the world’s most persecuted minorities according to the United Nations. Tens of thousands have fled Myanmar since communal violence broke out between them and the ethnic Buddhist Rakhine in 2012. Though the overall picture is murky, it is widely suspected that thousands are being trafficked out of the country on a route that runs via southern Thailand, where they are held by smugglers in squalid camps before being taken on, mainly to Malaysia. 

Bringing Home the Victims of Human Trafficking

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 12:16

Cambodian fishermen rescued from slavery in Indonesia, after years of forced labor on fishing vessels, arrive safely in Phnom Penh on May 11, 2015.  (Photo courtesy of IOM)

By William E. Todd, US Ambassador to Cambodia

According to estimates, more than 20 million people around the world are living as modern-day slaves – many lured away from their homes by promises of higher paying jobs. On Tuesday, we received some good news when 59 Cambodian fishermen arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport, bringing to an end their nightmare of emotional and physical abuse on fishing boats in the seas around Indonesia. Some of the men had been away for as long as five years, financially and physically shackled to an industry that is often known for taking advantage of people who are unable to defend themselves.

"There Are Different Kinds of Earthquakes"

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 12:30

By Paul Dillon

Kathmandu - There are earthquakes that deliver a single or series of mighty jolts; others cause the ground beneath your feet to vibrate and tremble and defy you to stand.

Today’s (12/5) earthquake was of a type I’m familiar with from Aceh, Indonesia, following the 2004 tsunami:  a sudden shudder powerful enough to knock you off your feet, followed by a series of long, violent sine-waves that cause the land around you to rise and fall like a ship on a concrete sea.

South-South Exchange held in Bogota looks at Repairing Victims of Mass Atrocities

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 16:02

By Peter Van der Auweraert

Decades of internal conflict in Colombia have seen millions become forcibly displaced and hundreds of thousands subjected to gruesome violations. In a move to deal with this painful past, the government of Colombia launched a comprehensive victims’ reparations program, established under the 2011 Victims and Land Restitution Law.

Mana Maya: Resilient Survivor of Two Devastating Earthquakes a Life-Time Apart

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:30

By Paul Dillon

She was a babe in arms the last time Nepal shook so violently; this time it was far worse.

The 8.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Mana Maya Shresta’s home on the afternoon of January 15, 1934, was one of the worst that seismically active Nepal had ever experienced. As many as 12,000 people died both there and in neighboring east Indian state of Bihar and contemporary accounts describe scenes of widespread devastation.

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