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Global Communities Supports Displaced Populations on World Refugee Day
Published 06/19/2014 by Global Communities
Global Communities Supports Displaced Populations on World Refugee Day
Global Communities regularly assists displaced individuals around the world and recognizes them on World Refugee Day on June 20, 2014. Providing for immediate needs such as food and shelter, as well as longer-term needs like permanent housing, education and job placement, Global Communities works closely with partners on the ground to support refugees as well as the communities that host them. Below are some of the projects we work on to support individuals affected by various forms of upheaval around the world.
With a small domestic population of 6.5 million, Jordan has received more than half a million registered Syrian refugees since that country’s internal crisis began. Below its border with Syria, the northern region of Jordan has absorbed the majority of refugees. Syrian families are moving in wherever they can, being absorbed into Jordanian host communities around them and putting pressure on already strained local economies, municipal services and natural resources. And while this is happening primarily in the north of Jordan, the southern region of the country faces development challenges of its own, including lack of employment opportunities, water scarcity and rural poverty. In a massive refugee crisis like this one, it is essential to focus on refugee needs. But we also have to address the needs of host communities – their pre-existing needs and the new ones created as they welcome so many new families.
At Global Communities, we are working in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the local Jordanian organizations Al Jidara and Jordan River Foundation to address host community challenges and strengthen their ability to cope with the demands they are facing. In April, we launched the USAID Community Engagement Project (CEP) in Irbid and Mafraq, along the Syrian border, and in Tafileh, in the south, to help Jordanian communities meet pressing needs during this time of change due to a combination of factors, including demographic changes, economic pressures due in part to the global financial downturn. Knowing these communities are already under stress, our teams visited towns and villages in Jordan to talk with community leaders and members to quickly determine how rapid solutions and fixes can be found to meet community needs. Right away our teams started working with local residents, conducted grants meetings for organizations in each governorate, and approved and funded 29 different projects. Each project provides a solution, or support, for a need identified by the community. The projects reflect the priorities of each community and benefit longtime residents and refugees alike: better systems for trash collection, including formal services as well as community clean-ups; creation or improvement of youth recreational opportunities, including sports clubs; enhancing public spaces that have suffered neglect; and improvements to schools, especially for girls. Read more about the Community Engagement Program here.
With a population of just over 4 million, Lebanon now has the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide. Lebanon has taken in nearly 1 million registered Syrian refugees since the start of the Syrian conflict four years ago, representing nearly a quarter of its own population. The influx has been described by the government as an existential threat in a country scarred by its own volatile history. Mt Lebanon’s urban environment is a challenge for UNHCR and aid practitioners attempting to locate, monitor, track and deliver aid to Syrian refugees. So Global Communities is assessing, monitoring and sharing information on the impact of the crisis and is an active implementing partner for UNHCR in providing shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene assistance.
The steady influx of refugees over the past three years means that Lebanese communities are becoming overwhelmed and local resources strained. Finding suitable housing is the greatest challenge for refugee families in Mt Lebanon due to increased demand and limited options. Refugees are finding shelter with Lebanese host families, rented apartments, collective centers, and even informal tented settlements. The excessive demand means families are often forced to live in substandard conditions – even dilapidated shelters without heat or running water are in high demand. The Shelter Assistance to Refugees program focuses on rehabilitating and weather-proofing the homes of Lebanese families hosting Syrian refugees. Through this program, Global Communities works with local Lebanese municipalities to identify Lebanese landowners willing to host Syrians in their homes and to negotiate a contract for rehabilitation to homes in exchange for one year of free rent to Syrian refugees. Read more about the refugee situation in Lebanon here.
Global Communities has been working in Colombia since 2001 to address the immediate needs of displaced families. After 45 years of armed conflict, Colombians continue to suffer from the effects of violence and the traumatic impact of the displacement. While estimates vary, up to 4.3 million individuals may be affected. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are generally farmers who have been displaced due to violence and threats fuelled by the drug trade. The conflict has hindered development and resulted in a severe lack of sustainable economic opportunities as families have abandoned or lost their homes and businesses. Many of these families have been displaced more than once, further exacerbating their vulnerability and reducing their ability to cope with economic and other shocks.
Over the decades of conflict, the Colombian government has lacked access to many rural and urban poor areas, and because of this families lack access to public services such as health, education, water and sanitation as well as economic opportunities and social safety nets that alleviate poverty. Much of the international and government assistance that has been provided to IDPs to date has been for emergency support or short-term interventions, rather than for sustainable economic and social development. Global Communities through the ANDA program is working to create sustainable, long-term change by using participatory methodologies to identify community priorities and encourage engagement in programming, building capacity of local implementers through mentoring and technical assistance, and coordinating closely with the Government of Colombia at all levels to extend the reach of services and assistance to program participants.
Global Communities also works with IDPs to provide psycho-social support for displaced families who have been traumatized by years of internal strife. Such support is facilitating social and family integration, positively addressing grief, and improving the physical and mental health of its beneficiaries. Income-generating activities are giving IDP women and men the opportunity to receive training in basic business and marketing and a skill useful in their communities such as traditional handicraft production, tailoring, tool production and carpentry, and fourteen community centers are providing informal education, hygiene and health promotion activities, and basic pre-school education.
The disputed region of Abyei straddles the border of Sudan and newly independent South Sudan and is claimed by both nations. The ongoing conflict and unrest has led to the displacement of thousands of residents. As residents return to the region they face numerous challenges including food insecurity, limited economic opportunities, and the lack of infrastructure and services including water, sanitation, housing, healthcare and other necessities.
With funding from USAID/OFDA, Global Communities is implementing the Returnee Reintegration and Rehabilitation Program (3RP) program to assist returnees, internally displaced people and host communities in the face of these economic, infrastructure and food security challenges. The program focuses on the provision of shelter as a catalyst to recovery and resilience. Safe shelter reduces the risks associated with living in unhealthy and hazardous living conditions. The program is also helping to establish sustainable livelihoods sources for returning populations and IDPs while providing host communities with increased income-earning potential. The program prioritizes the needs of all beneficiaries, including women, disabled persons and the elderly, and is training health and social workers on appropriate gender-based violence (GBV) response management and psychosocial support for GBV survivors.
In partnership with UNHCR, Global Communities is also implementing the Abyei Assistance Program (AAP). Using an integrated approach, AAP focuses on protection, livelihoods for women, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities that improve the wellbeing of vulnerable returnees, the displaced population, and host communities. Some of the activities include creation of a drop-in center for the provision of protection services, mobilizing communities around protection issues and training community members to serve as protection volunteers. AAP is helping establish asset building groups (ABGs) around viable income-generating activities to help women improve their livelihoods and implementing WASH interventions in schools with a special focus on the hygiene needs of school-aged girls who often leave school due to a lack of safe, clean facilities. The program also has a special focus on assisting Persons with Special Needs (PSN) through the provision of shelter repair kits.
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