Of the more than 27 million children estimated to lack access to education in emergency situations, substantial numbers are internally displaced. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement underscores the necessity that authorities make educational and training facilities available to the internally displaced as soon as conditions permit. However, all too often, this right to education is addressed only once conflicts have subsided. The author believes that far greater attention, priority and efforts need to be devoted to minimizing the disruption to education invariably resulting from displacement while maximizing the potential protection and other critical support that going to school can provide internally displaced children. Barriers that IDPs face in accessing their right to education, and steps to bridge the gaps in education is presented and outlined in this article.
The world of humanitarian assistance has grown significantly in scope and professionalism over the last fifty years. However, psychology has had little impact on work in this field. There are signs of this circumstance changing, with psychologists beginning to make contributions in a number of areas of activity. The purpose of this paper is to (1) identify the constraints that have limited the previous contribution of psychology in the arena of humanitarian assistance and (2) map areas where contributions have begun to be made, or offer particular potential for future contribution. The broad assertion of the paper is that the obstacles to appropriate application of psychological knowledge in the furtherance of the work of humanitarian assistance agencies are very real but, with due sensitivity, flexibility and breadth of vision, there are many areas of the discipline of psychology that can make a meaningful contribution to the conceptualization and implementation of humanitarian assistance.
In its 2000 World Refugee Survey, the U.S. Committee for Refugees estimates that as of December 31, 1999, there were over 14 million refugees and asylum seekers worldwide and at least 21 million internally displaced people. (1) The vast majority – as high as 75 percent – are women and young children. (2, 3, 4) In addition to experiencing the same hardships and security concerns as adult male refugees, women and children have special protection needs because of their gender and age. In particular, they need protection from sexual violence and exploitation, as well as physical violence and discrimination. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) Sexual violence can encompass anything ranging from rape and other sexual physical assaults or attempts to offers of food, protection, documents or other assistance in exchange for sexual favors. (2, 3, 4, 6, 8) This article focuses on protecting women and children in refugee camps from all forms of sexual violence committed by male offenders. Here, the term “refugee” includes refugees, internally displaced people, asylum seekers, and returnees. Similarly, a “refugee camp” refers to a temporary living arrangement where refugees, internally displaced people, asylum seekers, and returnees may reside, but does not include detention facilities. By focusing on women and children, the authors do not suggest that men are not targets of sexual violence or that women cannot be offenders. (4, 8, 9) However, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 1995 guidelines, Sexual Violence against Refugees: Guidelines on Prevention and Response (Guidelines on Sexual Violence), the majority of reported cases of sexual violence involve female targets and male perpetrators. (6) Likewise, by limiting the environment of concern to refugee camps, we do not imply that sexual violence against refugees does not take place elsewhere. It is widely accepted, for example, that sexual violence occurs during flight from and return to the country of origin, as well as in the country of asylum. (2, 5, 6) Refugee camps, however, offer an environment where some practical and commonsense measures based on injury-control models can be implemented fairly easily to reduce the risk of sexual violence for these vulnerable groups. Accordingly, although the assessment and planning tool introduced here is in pilot form and does not address all aspects of sexual or physical violence, exploitation, and discrimination among refugees, it is one step in what must be a coordinated effort to resolve this multi-faceted international problem.
- Transgression of Human Rights in Humanitarian Emergencies: The Case of Somali Refugees in Kenya and Zimbabwean Asylum-Seekers in South Africa
- Mapping Population Mobility in a Remote Context: Health Service Planning in the Whantoa District, Western Ethiopia
- One step forward, two steps back? Humanitarian Challenges and Dilemmas in Crisis Settings