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Conflict

The multiple tragedies of Syria’s displaced women, and why the G20 needs to pay attention

Omer Karasapan's picture
Photoman29 l Shutterstock

Roughly half of the world’s 60 million-plus displaced people are female (the 60 million includes 19 million refugees and 41 million internally displaced people (IDPs). This the highest number ever recorded and the numbers continue to rise.

A Life Adventured: The migrant/refugee

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In the current migration and refugee crisis, is scale trumping humanity?

Refugee crisis in EuropeSomething about the way the story of the ongoing epic migration and refugee crisis is being told perturbs. Scale trumps humanity. Overwhelmingly, the focus is on the sheer girth and amplitude of the crisis. Mind-numbing statistics tumble from the mouth of broadcasters, and the cameras pan over and around scenes of multitudes on the move almost the same way that documentary makers film the flight of sky-darkening flocks of migratory birds or the earthquake mimicking stampede of wild bulls across a great river. The tragedies that occur with saddening frequency are anonymous: another boat sinks in the Mediterranean, hundreds are dead. We don’t see victims; we don’t know them. We see pictures of the flotsam and jetsam, of the foul detritus of failed voyages. And the cameras move on.

Until the picture of the lifeless body of little Aylan Kurdi on a Turkish beach turns up and the world is stunned and horrified. For instance, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy recently told Fareed Zakaria of CNN that that picture transformed policymaking in parts of Europe from indifferent to totally engaged. That, I would argue, is because that picture foregrounded a powerful truth.

What is this truth? It is this: while this migration and refugee crisis might be on a biblical scale, it is still about discrete, distinct, singular human lives. Each one of these people on the move is an individual, a bundle of consciousness, a brain, emotions, feelings, deep needs and aspirations, parents, families, friends, the whole nine yards. Above all, the truth is that each one of these individuals has chanced, gambled her life. In other words, each life caught up in this crisis is a life adventured. And when a human life is adventured a tragic ending is often the result.

The potential of reforming state broadcasters in divided societies: Advancing an unfashionable argument

James Deane's picture

BBC Media Action's Director of Policy and Learning argues for an urgent rethinking of what is often considered a relic of the past - the state broadcaster - to encourage discussion, dialogue and understanding across communities in fragile states.

Young child listens on a mobile telephoneMost commentaries on 21st-century media focus on the impact of new technologies, social media and, above all, the increasing global ubiquity of mobile telephony. Such commentaries highlight how in many, if not most, societies, the majority of people are under the age of 30 and are reinventing how humanity communicates with itself. The focus is on innovation, on digital replacing analogue, on an old order of mass, vertical forms of communication being supplanted by horizontal, digitally enabled networks.

Speaking personally, I have advanced at one time or another all these tenets and continue (mostly) to do so. This blog, however, marks the publication of a set of BBC Media Action policy and research outputs I’ve commissioned which collectively advance some unfashionable arguments.

We focus particularly on the role of media in fragile and divided societies and especially on what can be done to support media that transcends, rather than exacerbates, divisions in society. We argue that, for all the innovation, dynamism and potential that exists, there are growing signs that publics are less and less trusting of the media that is available to them. Media environments appear more dynamic, interactive and complex, but much of media – both traditional and social – exists to advance particular agendas or interests in society rather than to serve a public. 21st-century fragmentation of media environments has often been accompanied by an associated fracturing of media often owned, controlled or heavily influenced by particular political, factional, ethnic or religious interests. Such fracturing often applies to both social and traditional media.

Ready for takeoff: Connecting people for peace and development in Eastern DRC

Mohammed Dalil Essakali's picture
Aerial view of a refugee camp @Vincent Tremeau/World Bank
Aerial view of a refugee camp @Vincent Tremeau/World Bank

It would be hard to find another place on earth where the improvement of transportation is more impactful on the wellbeing of a population than in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here, transportation is so severely underdeveloped that travel to other provinces is sometimes nearly impossible, if not downright dangerous.

What are the prospects for economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa?

Shanta Devarajan's picture
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World Bank Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa, Shanta Devarajan discusses potential economic scenarios for the region.

Tunisian civil society: from revolutionaries to peace keepers

Donia Jemail's picture

Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis. Nataliya Hora l Shutterstock

Who would have thought, on January 14th 2011, when the Tunisian people took to the streets shouting “Degage!”  or “Get out!” to former dictator Ben Ali’s regime, that they put  in motion a series of events that would lead to a group civil society organizations  winning  the  Nobel Peace Prize four years later. 

Conflict and development: the World Bank Group’s new strategy for the Middle East and North Africa region

Omer Karasapan's picture
Damascus,Syria - Volodymyr Borodin l Shutterstock.com

In February 2012, I wrote a blog about the relevance to the Arab revolutions that had swept the region of  the UN’s then recently unveiled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future worth Choosing,” which called for the eventual adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Now three and a half years later, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, , world leaders endorsed the SDGs, an ambitious agenda that aims to end poverty, promote prosperity and protect the environment. 

Driving change in challenging contexts: four issues to address

Verena Fritz's picture
During war, markets help people survive. Salad traders in Garoule market, Mali.
© Irina Mosel / ODI


Recently, I participated in an ODI-organized conference on ‘Driving change in challenging contexts’. The ongoing refugee crisis in Europe as well as the adoption of the SDGs is bringing efforts to revive and accelerate development in challenging contexts to the forefront of political attention.

​Progress in such contexts is inevitably difficult. But actual practices are also still far from the possibility frontier of what could be done. Four issues stand out:

Jobs and conflict: solutions from Andhra Pradesh

Sanjay Pulipaka's picture

Counter insurgency operations have a development component. The states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in India have adopted a three pronged strategy to create jobs. These have helped sharply reduce the incidences of Naxalite extremism in their territories. A mix of policies aimed at grass roots employment, infrastructure investment and private sector support have paved the way for a sharp reduction in the fighting. 

Much ado about nothing? The economic impact of refugee ‘invasions’

Massimiliano Calì's picture
Stranded Refugees and Migrants camp in Hungary - Spectral-Design l Shuterstock.com

To those European Union citizens who think that the ongoing “refugee invasion” into the EU is quickly becoming economically unsustainable: If the experience of Syria’s neighbors is anything to go by, you may need to think again.

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