Newsletter 2/16/2016

Tempelhof Airport in Berlin is currently being converted to house up to 7,000 refugees, making it Germany’s largest refugee project. Each cubicle contains beds, a toilet, a sink, and a shower.
For more images of this airport-turned-hotel, click here.


“I believe women should be celebrated. We must speak up.”

Bishnu on female empowerment in Nepali refugee camps


Ley Powers Talk (And Only Talk) Peace in Syria

This month 50,000 Syrians fled from Aleppo after the Syrian government (backed by Russia) launched an offensive on the northern city. While the Syrian government ramps up the violence on its own people, major powers–including Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Iran–are planning on meeting at a crucial peace talk in Germany on March 1st.

Russia has agreed to discuss a possible ceasefire at the peace talks. Meanwhile, however, they have backed airstrikes that have killed hundreds, displaced thousands, and ravaged cities in northern Syria. Yes, they seem very sincere about peace.

Some skeptics (aka me) are concerned that Russia’s agreement (to maybe discuss possible ceasefires which could perhaps put a potential end to the conflict) is simply a way for the offensive to buy more time to push the rebels back. “Yes, yes, let’s talk peace!” say the Russians as they plan to blow up Aleppo.

For more on violence in Aleppo and the forthcoming peace talks, click here.

NATO Moves to Curb Human Trafficking* in the Aegean

*Read: the flow of refugees crossing into Europe

As a means to aid Greece and Turkey with their “migrant problem,” NATO has deployed a fleet to end the flow of refugees crossing the Aegean. Greece had already declared Turkey a “safe third country,” giving it the legal framework to deny entry to asylum-seekers and deport those who had previously arrived, but this development takes the don’t-pass-go policies to a whole new level.

Officials are claiming that the intention is to crack down on the “criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people” which, while true to an extent, mainly means that migrants will now be met by warships as opposed to coastguards. Looks like the Refugee Welcome Wagon has become even less welcoming.

For more about NATO’s involvement in the Aegean, click here.

Boko Haram Strikes Again, and Again, and Again

On Monday, three girls were taken in at the Dikwa IDP camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria, where 50,000 people have sought sanctuary from Boko Haram. On Tuesday, two of them carried out a suicide bomb mission that killed 58, wounded another 70, and effectively let the world know they’d woken up on the wrong side of the beds they had been given the night before.

Attacks such as these have become somewhat routine in Northern Nigeria. Although President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to defeat Boko Haram have been doubled, the militant group continues to torch homes, abduct children, and massacre civilians. They’ve even begun targeting camps that house the people they have internally displaced.
Fear not, friends! The UN issued the call for a global response to stop the Boko Haram terror threat…last April. I know that was a while ago, but I’m sure they’ll pull it together. After all, look at how smoothly the Syrian peace talks have been going.
For more, click here.


inSight of the Week: Bishnu, age 48, Bhutanese in Nepal

“I moved from Bhutan 18 years ago, when I was 30 years old, but to this day I do not remember much about it. All I remember was the transition to these camps, and how hard it was. More than anything–I remember the food and how different. Suddenly, I could not eat any milk or yogurt. All I could manage was rice and curry. This made me ill. It was not healthy, but we had no choice. Looking back, I realize how lucky I was to have what we did.

“My favorite day of the year is International Women’s Day. I am one of the leaders at the Bhutanese Refugee Women’s Forum (BRWF), you see, and I believe women should be celebrated. We must speak up. Many of the women here suffer from domestic violence. They are stuck within their huts, and are afraid to leave. I go to visit these women and I ask them why they allow themselves to be dominated. Why? I encourage them to explore their emotions and dig deeply because this is how they can get better. Domestic violence used to be much worse in the camps, but now it is better. I think this is because male domination is an old cultural tradition; now people are gaining new understanding.
“Women are respected in the camp. In Bhutan, it was not tradition to go to school. Here that it is different. We can also do work outside of our home. I ran my own store for a while. I got a grant from the BRWF. After I had my store, people trusted me more. They would offer to lend me money whenever I needed it for my sick husband. I felt cared for.
“I smile whenever I think of my work with the BRWF and my old store. At the BRWF, I was nominated by my friends, and then elected to the position that I have held for a few years. Most people know me here; I am always saying hello.
“Relocation worries me. I already moved from to an unknown place and an unknown community when I came to Nepal. I don’t want to do it again. Everyone talks about resettlement as the solution, but I am not sure this is the answer for me. My children and I, when we introduce ourselves, we say we are refugees from Khadunabari camp. This is my identity. It is what I say when I greet people. It is what is implied when I always say hello.”
-Bishnu, age 48, Bhutanese in

Khadunabari Refugee Camp