On a visit last year to the East region of Cameroon, a traditional leader we met in the municipality of Garoua-Boulai impressed us with their efforts to help refugees.
“We were the first to welcome our Central African brothers. We live at the border, so they came to us. There were women, children… tired, some injured. Most of them had to abandon everything, and travelled only with the clothes they wore. They are our brothers, so we welcomed them. We gave them a place to settle down, some farm a small plot of land,” he said.
Across the world, the movement of people is an increasingly urban phenomenon. As such, researchers are beginning to recognize that the developmental consequences of migration are often felt most acutely at the municipal or provincial level. A newly published study Mixed Migration, Forced Displacement and Job Outcomes in South Africa, adds to the growing body of research on movement to cities by highlighting the important urban dimensions of these movements into and within South Africa.
This week, I attended the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). This annual gathering provides an opportunity for the international community to discuss some of the most pressing global challenges, innovative solutions to address them and progress since last year.
I had the chance to participate in several key events on Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV). Since 2010, the number of major violent conflicts has tripled, and the fragility landscape is becoming even more complex. Violent extremism, climate change, pandemics and food insecurity are on the rise. Conflicts drive 80 percent of all humanitarian needs.
When considering support for refugees and their host communities, gender based violence (GBV) is a great concern that requires special care and attention.
Unfortunately, violence against women and girls is all too common in many countries across the globe. Drivers of GBV include entrenched social norms that perpetuate power imbalances between men and women, and more generally circumscribe women’s agency and voice in communities and in the home. Despite a recent increase in reporting, data suggest that 45 percent of women who have experienced GBV did not seek help or tell anyone, and there are striking regional differences.
Humanitarian organizations have very tough choices to make when it comes to deciding who receives assistance. In principle, humanitarian assistance should be for everyone, but with all the crises going on in the world today, budgetary support for these kinds of operations cannot keep up with the rapidly growing need for assistance.
As efforts continue to improve the global response to forced displacement, the World Bank Group and UNHCR are setting up a new joint data center that will better support refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless people, returnees, asylum-seekers, and host communities. The two organizations recently agreed to establish the center in Copenhagen based on recommendations from an independent selection panel, backed by a generous contribution from the government of Denmark.
Why a new data center? With all the data that is available today, you may wonder why anyone would need more data. What kind of data are we talking about here, and wouldn’t this overlap with what other organizations are doing already?
When I first visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007 as a public health researcher, I was trying to understand the complex issue of how young men get recruited into rebel groups in war-torn regions of central Africa. What I learned was both surprising and heartbreaking: a person who experienced war violence as a child could be more likely to engage in conflict as a young adult. Young men who had experienced extreme war violence in their past would often state this as a reason to take up arms. Even more tragically, these same young men would often struggle to reintegrate peacefully into their communities when hostilities ended. The violence they had experienced their whole lives through war persisted within their homes and communities even when formal peace was declared.
There are about 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and it is estimated that by 2030 the numbers will increase by 7 percent. Youth groups between the ages of 14 and 24 are an important focus in the work on the prevention of violent conflict. The UN resolution on Youth, Peace and Security (SCR 2250) recognizes the role of youth in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and urges to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels. In addition, the recently published World Bank/UN flagship study: Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict also recognizes the importance of youth in the prevention of violent conflict.
Conflict-affected situations are often characterized by challenging security, political and economic environments. Capital flight and inflation can emaciate financial markets, while volatile financial flows and diminishing money demand can put pressure on exchange rates. Supply-side shocks in economies dominated by agriculture or natural resource exports present policymakers with trade-offs between inflation and output objectives. Large informal sectors can weaken monetary policy transmission mechanisms and provide for a limited tax base. Also, because infrastructure and public services may be limited, institutional, administrative, technological and statistical capacities can be weak.
Earlier this spring, I was invited to participate in the launch of Pathways for Peace, an important study jointly developed by the UN and World Bank. Based on extensive research of what has ‘worked’ in different countries, the study sets out recommendations for how development processes can better interact with security, diplomacy, mediation, and other efforts to prevent conflicts from becoming violent. Addressing exclusion, including of women and youth, is central to these efforts.