Below are quotes from some of the participants, explaining their connection to the IDP issue and highlighting the work they will be showing in Dundas Square on June 25th.

Juana Awad:

As a media artist interested in personal and political histories, the issue of forced migration has traversed my work many times. As a Colombia born artist, this issue is of pressing importance: Colombia features the second highest number of IDPs in the world. My piece Apprehension analyzes our current rhetoric of ‘war on terror’ in the context of Colombia’s 60-year-old conflict, and looks into the rhetorical methods for justifying state violence as a legitimate means to shape a society.

Juliane Okot Bitek:

With regards to the IDP, I write about the IDP camps because this is the story of my home.  Part of making the IDP situation actual real and believable is rescuing it from the horrors of media reports that make it seem so far away that it might as well be fiction.  In that poem, I want to capture the elusiveness of understanding the miracle that happens without assistance from an angel who it turns out is the angel of death.  The predicament of the Acholi people whose temporary homes, containing everything they owned was hidden in small paragraphs in the end columns of foreign newspapers — it was never a big deal.  For people like me and the folks whose lives and property was lost in the fires as well as in the original predicament that forced them to leave their homes, it was everything.  The miracle is that, despite all Acholi will survive — its people, its language, culture and hope.  Thank you for the opportunity to allow me to present this poem.

Kevin Hill:

Working with Journalists for Human Rights in Sierra Leone last year, I saw the impact that war and internal displacement has on a nation.  Up to a third of Sierra Leone’s population was internally displaced during the civil war from 1991 to 2002. That’s nearly two million people.  Some of them fled to the IDP camp at Grafton, on the outskirts of Freetown, consisting of a few rows of crumbling mud brick and tarpaulin structures.  They live there still, seven years after the end of fighting, in abject poverty and suffering with little hope of change.  What was once to have been a temporary camp has become a permanent community.  A community that faces serious challenges.

Collaborative Transitions Africa (CTA):

CTA contributes to building lasting peace after war or violent conflict in Africa by supporting the ideas of internally displaced survivors to help their communities recover in northern Uganda.  We believe that lasting peace can only prevail when it is built inclusively from within conflict-ravaged communities, but displaced men and women often do not have the support to do so. CTA created this project with the Justice and Reconciliation Project’s (JRP) based on their report: “Kill Every Living Thing: The Barlonyo Massacre” in order to help the community remember and pay tribute to their experience during the massacre.  The Barlonyo Remembrance Book will be distributed shortly among the displaced survivors of the 2004 massacre in Barlonyo, Uganda.

Canadian Tamil Congress:

Over the last 25 years, Government of Sri Lanka has forced the internal displacement of more than 1,000,000 civilians through artillery attacks and aerial bombardment in Tamil concentrated areas. In the Vanni region alone, more than 300,000 civilians are forcibly held inside barbed wired camps where aid organizations and media are restricted access. As an advocacy organization, Canadian Tamil Congress is urging the Canadian Government and international organizations to demand unfettered access into government-run camps in order to ensure civilians are protected from harm and given the freedom to exercise their rights.

War Child Canada:

Over the past 15 years, it is estimated that over 234,000 civilians from the
Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions have been forced from their homes, and
now live in squalid, unsafe conditions. War Child Canada is working to help
children who have grown up with conflict and displacement. The goal of the
project is to provide young people with a safe environment where they will
be able to develop skills that enable them to become active participants in
their communities.

Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR):

Since it began operating in Northern Uganda more than 15 years ago, CPAR’s
humanitarian and community development programming has held specific focuson the challenges and vulnerabilities faced by internally displaced
communities there. CPAR programming seeks to empower communities through partnership to lead and sustain positive change – to create and protect space for healthy communities to thrive. CPAR work with IDP communities inUganda has included programs focused on: humanitarian assistance, mine action, peacebuilding and livelihood recovery.

GuluWalk:

After 22 years of conflict, more than one million people in northern Uganda remain displaced from their homes. The rebel army refuses to sign a peace deal, and families live in fear and uncertainty. People long to return home, but until peace is entrenched, they remain in IDP camps. This is why, every October, people around the world walk together in the global GuluWalk, a worldwide movement for peace in northern Uganda.

UNHCR

Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are individuals or groups of
people who have been forced to flee their homes to escape armed
conflict, persecution and human rights abuses, but have not crossed an
international border and therefore remain under the legal mandate of
their own governments.  They are persons that, in many instances, face
similar circumstances to those of refugees.  Indeed, as United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres remarked in his
editorial entitled “Waiting to Go Home”.

Although international law distinguishes between refugees and the
internally displaced, such distinctions are absurd to those who have
been forced from their homes and who have lost everything. Uprooted
people are equally deserving of help whether they have crossed an
international border or not.

While the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) mandate
does not specifically cover IDPs, the agency’s expertise on
displacement makes it ideally situated to oversee the management of
camps and the provision of protection for IDPs.  Of the world’s
estimated 26 million IDPs, UNHCR is able to assist about 14.4 million in
23 IDP operations around the globe.  As a group, they represent the
largest category of persons of concern to UNHCR.

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