Thursday, March 19, 2009

Voacb Lesson

Humanitarian jargon—what does it mean? Sometimes I use these words when I am talking to you guys, and realize that they might not make sense outside of the context of work.

Refugee Camp vs. Refugee Settlement: Meheba is a refugee settlement. That means that after two years of living here, refugees are no longer eligible for most relief type services (namely, food rations) and are given a two acre plot of land to cultivate for subsistence farming (Meheba is 750square kilometers). A camp is thus much smaller geographically and its residents tend to live there for a shorter period of time, during which refugees are assisted with food, education, healthcare and other services.

Protection: This word is used incessantly, by UNHCR, NGOs, and refugees alike. It actually encompasses anything and everything that safeguard’s a refugee’s security. It can range from food safety to physical safety to educational and employment rights. UNHCR’s responsibility is to “protect,” refugees, in this sense of the word, so if you can prove that you are “insecure” in the camp and are unable to return to your home county because you would be insecure there too, you may qualify for resettlement.

Insecurity: lacking in protection. Someone somewhere made the mistake of teaching this word to a refugee, and now every letter written by a refugee in Meheba hides a sentence in it that includes the phrase, “I am insecurity.”

Durable Solution: theoretically, no one should be a refugee forever. Being a refugee is a temporary solution to fleeing conflict. The three durable solutions are:
1) Repatriation- Returning to your country of origin. In Meheba, this is not happening as successfully as it could be. Our three largest demographics by nationality are Angolan, Congolese, and Rwandese.
A) The Angolan population has lived here for more than three decades. Culturally and linguistically they are nearly Zambian. Most young Angolans in Meheba were born here and don’t speak Portuguese, making it impossible to continue school or work in Angola.
B) Eastern DRC is still conflict ridden and too unsafe for the Congolese to return home.
C) The Rwandese living in Meheba are predominantly Hutu and fear being persecuted as genocidaires if they return home.
2) Resettlement- Being adopted by another country (US, Norway, Denmark, Canada...). The process for resettlement is lengthy (up to two years and dozens of interviews and fact checking procedures) and a last resort. It is intended to serve the least secure refugees. Often they are victims of torture both in their home countries and in the camp.
3) Local Integration- Being accepted as a legal immigrant in the host country and living there indefinitely. Zambia is very unlikely to grant Meheba’s refugees this status. They believe that allowing other nationalities to live here would sow seeds for future political and cultural instability. This is what happened in eastern Congo over a hundred years ago. Rwandese were allowed to settle in that country, and ethnic and political tensions slowly built up until war eventually broke out. The Zambian government has told Angolan refugees that they will never be locally integrated.

Cessation Clause- A legal declaration that refugees are no longer welcome in the host country. For example, Zambia has issued the cessation clause on refugees from Sierra Leone. They do not have the right live or work in Zambia unless they have immigration papers, which can be extremely expensive to obtain. A work permit costs around 3 million kwacha ($600). UNHCR mandated wage standards for refugees in Zambia are around $40/month for fulltime work.

Unaccompanied minor or Double Orphan: Children under the age of 18 who have no parents. The word orphan here can mean the death of one parent, not necessarily both.

Vulnerable- The disabled, unaccompanied minors, and unaccompanied elderly.

Participatory development- A development philosophy that prioritizes community input in the creation of development projects. FORGE develops our projects collaboratively, assessing needs through community members themselves and developing proposals through community project facilitators. Great in theory, imperfect in practice.

No comments:

Post a Comment