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Map of the Day: Iraq’s New IDPs

There are now close to 1 million internally displaced people in Iraq. This map, from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) was published two days ago. The figures in red show Iraq’s newly displaced–which number at least 500,000 from the Mosul area alone.


The United Nations has had what’s known as a “political mission” in Iraq since 2003 — just a few months after the fall of Saddam Hussein. On August 19, 2003 the UN’s Iraq headquarters was attacked, killing at least 22 people, including the top UN official Sergio Vieira de Mello. The mission was scaled back until about 2007, when it was re-authorized with its current mandate.

In its current incarnation, UNAMI serves to support the Iraq government and help build Iraqi’ nascent institutions of governance. It monitors elections, helps mediate disputes, and coordinates humanitarian assistance. It is a small, civilian mission — there are fewer than 200 international employees and no peacekeepers.  Still, if there is to be a political resolution to this current crisis, the United Nations’ “good offices” will almost certainly be used as a platform to help mediate disputes between political groups.  In the meantime, UNAMI’s main priority right now is to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians who have newly become internally displaced.


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Top of the Morning: Scores of World Cup Fans Killed in Shebab Attack

Al Shebab strikes again. “At least 50 people were killed when gunmen in two minibuses sped into a town on Kenya’s coast, shooting soccer fans watching a World Cup match in a television hall and targeting two hotels, a police post and a bank, officials and witnesses said on Monday. Police said Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist group was most likely to blame for Sunday night’s assault on the town of Mpeketoni, which lies on the Indian Ocean coastline that runs north from Kenya’s main port of Mombasa to the Somali border. (Reuters

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At least two people were killed and 15 prisoners escaped after a suspected Islamist militant detainee shot his way out of the main jail in Mali’s capital Bamako on Monday, a government official said. (Reuters

Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets on Sunday in Niger’s capital Niamey to demand that authorities respect civil liberties, following the arrest of several of their number last month. (Reuters

The daughter of Sudanese opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi said there can be no national political dialogue in Sudan when everything people say is criminalized and there is lack of press and religious freedom. (VOA

Civilians displaced by brutal fighting in South Sudan are ignoring calls from government officials to return to their homes, preferring the safety of squalid UN bases to the risk that conflict could again engulf towns already devastated in the six-month conflict. (IRIN

The recent successful holding of legislative and presidential elections has raised hopes that Guinea-Bissau can move closer to the end of a two-year political crisis marked by international isolation and a devastating economic decline. (IRIN

Concern is mounting that British aid money may be funding police who are using rape as a tool of state-sanctioned torture against women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Guardian


The United States has ruled out co-ordinated military action with Iran as one of the options being considered to thwart radical Islamic extremists in Iraq as Sunni Muslim fighters seized another Iraqi city. (Irish Times

Once again Israelis are gripped by the horror of their young people being abducted, apparently by Palestinian extremists, and the army is pulling out all the stops to retrieve them. (Globe and Mail


More than 60,000 people have fled North Waziristan Agency to safer parts of Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan as Pakistan’s military launches an offensive in the region. Most of the people fleeing are children, and mental health experts are concerned that they will not have access to proper trauma care. (IRIN

Thailand’s military government ended a rice price-support scheme, put in place under the former civilian government, as investigations continue into widespread corruption and losses of billions of dollars from the program. (VOA

Authorities in southern Sri Lanka say three people have died in clashes between Buddhists and Muslims. (VOA

A low level of knowledge about sexual abuse is leaving Cambodia’s children vulnerable to harm, and a new report shows that despite sex education initiatives in recent years, a poor understanding by parents and children of what sexual abuse is, persists. (IRIN

Thailand’s junta denied on Monday that they were pursuing a “sweep and clean” policy of driving illegal foreign workers out of the country. (Reuters

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said it is up to the will of the people of her country if she becomes their president, reacting Monday to a vote against changing a constitutional clause that bars her from the office. (AP

The Americas

The US Supreme Court has turned away Argentina’s appeal of lower court rulings ordering it to pay more than $1.3 billion to hedge funds that hold some of the country’s defaulted bonds. (AP


Mark speaks with former US Ambassador to the UN Tom Pickering about the faltering Israel-Palestine peace process, his role in shaping US policy during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and an awkward phone call with President-elect George H.W. Bush, who tapped him to serve as US Ambassador to the UN during the run-up to the Gulf War. (UN Dispatch

Zimbabwe Registrar General’s Claim That Contraception Causes Cancer Is Misleading and Alarmist (AfricaCheck

Are Impact Evaluations Enough?  The Social Observatory Approach to Doing-by-Learning (Development Impact

Are we measuring the right things? The latest multidimensional poverty index is launched today – what do you think? (From Poverty to Power

Brazil’s World Cup: The Good, Bad & Unequal (World Policy Institute

Please Do Not Teach This Woman to Fish (FP

Quantitative versus qualitative measurement, the contest (Chris Blattman

Understanding food security through a gendered lens (IDS


Aid insiders fret that major NGOs have become too big and have lost the flexibility and responsiveness they once had. (IRIN

Economic inequality is now center stage in the global debate, and the World Economic Forum asserts that this issue is the single biggest risk facing the planet. (CNN

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UNHCR/ B.Ntwari/ January 2014

Displacement in the Central African Republic – By The Numbers

Every year, World Refugee Day is observed on June 20. It is an opportunity for organizations to highlight the plight of refugees across the world, and make the case for enhanced support – both in terms of providing the necessary humanitarian assistance to today’s refugees but also exhorting the international community to strengthen strategies and programs to help reduce the staggering numbers over time.

Today, we look at the displacement figures in the Central African Republic, where a civil conflict has been raging for more than a year.

- Between 557,000 and 625,000 = overall number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Central African Republic, representing approximately 12% of the population.

94,000 = number of internally displaced persons in the CAR in early 2012.

- Between 136,000 and 207,000 = number of internally displaced people in the capital, Bangui. A major decrease since December 2013, when 500,000 people were displaced in Bangui alone.

43  = number of displacement sites within Bangui

Approximately 226,000 = number of CAR refugees in Cameroon, Chad, DRC, and Congo, representing approximately 5% of the population.

- Approximately 90,000 = number of CAR refugees in Cameroon. Of the US$22.6 million UNHCR is seeking to help this population, so far just US$4.2 million has been received.

- Approximately 90,000 = number of CAR refugees in Chad (includes 14,000 arrivals since March 2013.) There are also approximately 400,000 South Sudanese refugees in Chad due to the conflict in that country – many of the half million refugees in Chad have recently arrived.

- Approximately 50,000 = number of CAR refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (includes refugees from before the conflict erupted in March 2013.) In December 2013, there were 2.6 million IDPs in the DRC – of which only about 500,000 were assisted by the UNHCR

- Approximately 16,000  = number of CAR refugees in the Republic of Congo (arrivals since March 2013.) Only about 19% of the funds requested in the Global Appeal have been released

While the Central African Republic has, for a long time, produced refugees and IDPs, the current crisis highlights a dramatic rise in displaced persons. It is worth noting, however, that both the number of overall displaced persons and the rate at which people are fleeing has been decreasing since December 2013. This is a good sign – people are able to return home in some cases, and the security situation is such that fewer people feel compelled to leave – but it is critical for the international community, and particularly donors, to continue to provide the financial support necessary to meet the needs of the displaced populations. Many of those who remain displaced are the most vulnerable – unable to return home, and with no plans to do so in the immediate future.

The Central African Republic’s displacement crisis is also marked by the fact that the vast majority of displaced persons are internally displaced, and as such do not technically fall under the mandate of the UNHCR – only about half of the internally displaced are supported by UNHCR in the CAR. Furthermore, as we reflect on the global displacement crisis on June 20, it is important to highlight the plight of those displaced who do not cross international borders. In the Central African Republic, with 12% of the population internally displaced, long-term, lasting peace will depend on creating a situation where people are able to return home and rebuild their lives.

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Episode 21: Amb. Thomas Pickering

Ambassador Thomas Pickering has had a front row seat to some of the most important foreign policy events of the last 50 years. The career foreign service officer and widely respected diplomat served as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Israel, Jordan, Russia, India, among others places. I speak with Tom Pickering about the faltering Israel-Palestine peace process, his role in shaping US policy during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and an awkward phone call with President-elect George H.W. Bush, who tapped him to serve as US Ambassador to the UN during the run-up to the Gulf War.


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Previous episodes

Dying for the World Cup

Episode 20: Jessica Tuchman Matthews, foreign policy trendsetter

Egypt After the Counter Revolution 

Episode 19: Louise Arbour, human rights pioneer.

What Obama Left Out of His Big Foreign Policy Speech

Episode 18: Zalmay Khalizad, former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN.

Why Libya is Suddenly on the Verge of a Civil War 

Episode 17: Gov Bill Richardson, he frees hostages.

The Foreign Policy Implications of India’s Elections

Episode 16: Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children

What Boko Haram Wants

Episode: 15 Laura Turner Seydel, philanthropist

Episode 14: Douglas Ollivant, Iraq expert

Episode 13: Gary Bass, historian

Episode 12: Mark Montgomery, demographer

Episode 11: Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watcher

Episode 10: Live from the UN, Volume 2.

Episode 9: Mia Farrow, humanitarian activist and Goodwill Ambassador

Episode 8: Suzanne Nossel, Big Thinker

Episode 7: Live from the UN, Volume 1. 

Episode 6: PJ Crowley, former State Department Spokesperson

Episode 5: Octavia Nasr, reporter

Episode 4: Arsalan Iftikhar, “The Muslim Guy”

Episode 3: Dodge Billingsley, filmmaker.

Episode 2: Laura Seay,  @TexasinAfrica

Episode 1: Heather Hurlburt, national security wonk

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Top of the Morning: A Mass Atrocity in Iraq

A Mass Atrocity in Iraq….ISIS boasts that it has killed 1700 Shiites and Iraqi soldiers, and posted images online to back up this claim. Sectarian civil war is their aim. “But with their claim, the Sunni militants were reveling in an atrocity that if confirmed would be the worst yet in the conflicts that roil the region, outstripping even the poison gas attack near Damascus last year.In an atmosphere where there were already fears that the militants’ sudden advance near the capital would prompt Shiite reprisal attacks against Sunni Arab civilians, the claims by ISIS were potentially explosive. And that is exactly the militant group’s stated intent: to stoke a return to all-out sectarian warfare that would bolster its attempts to carve out a Sunni Islamist caliphate that crosses borders through the region. (NYT

And the USA is evacuating staff from its Baghdad embassy (USA Today

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Aid agencies warned Sunday that starvation and diseases like malaria and cholera were set to intensify the crisis in South Sudan, which has been devastated by six months of conflict. (AP

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s information minister says hundreds of rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda from South and North Kivu provinces have been disarming as part of the government’s program to improve security and stabilize the country. (VOA

Nigerian security forces said on Sunday they were searching for a British construction worker they believe was kidnapped in the central Plateau state. (VOA

Three armed groups from northern Mali announced in Algiers on Sunday that they have agreed to begin talks with the Bamako government aimed at resolving long-standing disputes. (AFP

Africa needs to first rely on internal investment if it is to achieve the infrastructure developments it urgently needs, the president of Senegal said Sunday at a regional summit. (AP


The Italian coast guard says it has rescued nearly 300 Syrian migrants from a fishing boat adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. (VOA

A Kuwaiti human rights organisation on Sunday urged the Gulf state to fulfil pledges to abolish the sponsorship system for foreign labor and to end the arbitrary deportation of expatriates. (AP


Thousands of migrant workers have fled back to Cambodia, fearing the Thai military will crackdown on illegal workers. (VOA

Bangladesh’s Anti-Corruption Commission filed a case with local police accusing 17 people of breaching regulations over the construction of a building that collapsed last year, killing over 1,130 mostly garment workers. (AP

The Americas

Incumbent Juan Manuel Santos has been re-elected as Colombian president with nearly 51% of the vote, seeing off his right-wing challenger. (BBC


A ‘special’ perspective on food, human rights and the future of agriculture (Humanosphere


Why are taxes on capital income lower than taxes on labour income? (Owen abroad

Why your aid organisation should buy local (WhyDev


The use of carbon markets to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions was dealt a blow on Sunday after two weeks of United Nations talks on designing and reforming the mechanisms ended in deadlock. (Reuters
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recently criticized the international community for failing to stop widespread abuses. Navi Pillay said governments too often place more importance on politics than human rights. (VOA

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credit FIFA TV

The World Cup for Social Progress

Ed note. Be sure to tune into the World Cup + Social Good, co-hosted by our friends at the United Nations Foundation this week. 

For those of us anxiously counting down until the start of the World Cup, the coming month promises a flurry of excitement showcasing some of the world’s most talented athletes. Despite political divisions, countries as disparate as Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Korea, Nigeria, Iran, and Russia will all take to the same fields in displays of skill, teamwork, and passion. Football, which has universal appeal, will bring all eyes and ears to one place, and this limited attention span bears some legitimate social messaging potential.

Even to the FIFA, who is responsible for the quadrennial event, the World Cup is not simply a football championship. Because of the game’s unifying nature, FIFA has seized the opportunity to use the World Cup as a platform to address global issues that tear us apart, from racism and poverty to gender inequality and disease.

Using the World Cup as a platform for social progress is not new. FIFA originally took a bold stance against racism in 1961 by expelling apartheid South Africa from the games, only readmitting the nation in 1991 after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. When the games were held there in 2010, Mandela noted that “[Football] is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”

The seeds of racism have long been embedded in the football world, as well. Consequentially, the Buenos Aires Resolution to combat racism in football, passed by FIFA’s Congress in 2001, invited a decade-long campaign using international football superstars as advocates against racism. In the 2002 World Cup held in Japan and South Korea, FIFA introduced “Say No to Racism” banners that covered the fields during pre-game formalities, while anti-discrimination advertisements filled TV spots. These efforts were repeated in 2006 and 2010. And you can be sure to see these banners in Brazil this month.

The anti-discrimination campaign flourished alongside other movements. In 1999, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and FIFA President Sepp Blatter promoted a closer partnership between their two organizations. In 2005, FIFA created the Football for Hope initiative to further the UN Millennium Development Goals by fostering relationships between football organizations and existing development stakeholders to build community centers across the globe.

By building centers with shared spaces and a football field, young people have been encouraged to collaborate with each other and engage with existing NGOs to promote locally relevant social development on the frontiers of HIV/AIDS education, conflict resolution, gender equity, capacity-building and work training, youth leadership, and life skills training. The 2010 World Cup made the creation of 20 of these centers in Africa its priority.

While the use of football as a platform for social progress has evolved over time, the world of football has met its match: global social problems are not going away and might prove to be much tougher opponents than anticipated. But FIFA has yet another opportunity to make a case and promote its social responsibility initiatives in Brazil’s 2014 games.  After all, it’s the same qualities that make watching the World Cup so enthralling – teamwork, leadership, integrity, innovation, heart, blood, sweat, and tears – which will bring us closer to achieving these universal goals. 


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