Sunday, August 25, 2013

One Million Syrian Children Refugees

UNHCR has just reported that one million Syrian children have crossed the Syrian border to seek safety from the uprising against President Assad, which began in March 2011. Three-quarters of those children are under the age of 11. An additional two million children are currently displaced within Syria. And more than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
[Photo: UNHCR]
International news outlets were airing footage of an alleged chemical attack against Syrian civilians, which was recently confirmed by the US White House as being credible. One heartbreaking video I watched last night from Al-Jazeera showed a young father crying while cradling his two dead children, both of who looked no older than eight.

It is shameful that the world is standing by and letting Syrian civilians be slaughtered. I am certainly not one to rush towards military intervention, but there must be something that can be done to curb the human rights abuses. I look forward to hearing the US and other countries' plans for intervention; considering how many children are being affected in this conflict, a plan may be too little, too late.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Abuse and Recruitment of Children in Central African Republic

This week, the BBC reported that over 100,000 children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are being sexually and physically abused, recruited for armed groups, and suffering from malnutition and malaria. This is the result of what UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has called "a total breakdown of law and order" after Michel Djotodia overthrew President Francois Bozize in March of this year. Djotodia has "promised" to step down after elections scheduled for 2016, but a lot more damage can come to children and their families in three years of instability and violence. The article continues to describe the complete collapse of the health care system and destruction of whole villages. Children are obviously a major population that will be negatively affected by the political chaos in CAR.

[Photo: AP]

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Increasingly Strong Connection Between Climate Change and Conflict

Tim McDonnell of Mother Jones magazine recently wrote an excellent piece connecting global warming and violent conflict. McDonnell cites a survey published in Science, which:
"...takes a first-ever 30,000-foot view of this research, looking for trends that tie these examples together through fresh analysis of raw data from 60 quantitative studies. It offers evidence that unusually high temperatures could lead to tens of thousands more cases of "interpersonal" violence—murder, rape, assault, etc.—and more than a 50 percent increase in "intergroup" violence, i.e. war, in some places."
There are many potential reasons for this connection between climate change and violence. There are obvious connections between climate change and natural disaster, which oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with violence. Some researchers claim that warm weather contributes to increased inner-city violence (cue: Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing), such as the recent increase in murders in Chicago. Another reason is exceptionally high and low rainfall impacting agricultural production, which in turn can lead to interpersonal and intergroup violence.

The factors contributing to this connection is piquing the interest of researchers. Hopefully, new studies will draw stronger connections to causality, and perhaps suggest how violence can be lessened and even prevented.

[Photo: Medyan Dairieh/ZUMA Press]