#Refugee Crisis
Long term response is critical

STAFF BLOG: Dualta Roughneen, Plan International Ireland's Disaster Risk Management Coordinator, gives his insights.

We must not allow situations that are out of sight to become out of mind too.

In the last four years, the situation in Africa and the middle-East has changed considerably. From a period of relative calm, a series of conflicts and crises has altered the context within which Plan International Ireland has been operating.

From the optimism of the Arab Spring, where potential democratisation presented reason for hope, the Middle East has endured protracted and destructive conflict.

  • The Syrian war has resulted in the flight of millions of Syrians to neighbouring countries.
  • In South Sudan, the relative optimism that came with independence has been followed by a brutal civil war.
  • In the west of Africa, following a period of stable democracy, Mali has been turned on its head by a coup and attempted secession in the northern part of the country.
  • In neighbouring Niger and Burkina, an acute food crisis has caused significant challenges for refugees in accessing water, education and food programmes.
  • In Burundi, violence leading up to elections has resulted in the more than 100,000 refugees fleeing to Tanzania and Rwanda.
  • The civil war in the Central African Republic has caused hundreds of thousands of people to spill over the border into neighbouring Cameroon.

In each and every one of these situations, Plan International has been working on the ground, providing both humanitarian and development support to vulnerable and marginalised people, especially children.

Ranging from education, child protection or livelihoods programmes to support the near 300,000 refugees crossing through Egypt as they seek a better life in Europe to shelter programmes for the millions of South Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries to food and water programmes for the hundreds of thousands of Malians who had been forced to flee their homes in the north.

We’re making sure that those who want to return to their homes have the skills and resources to re-start their farming practices and that the schools are rebuilt and restarted so that children can get back to learning and playing.

For many of those affected by uncertainty in their home countries or forced to set up home in a neighbouring country fleeing violence, the decision to seek a better life further afield in Europe or elsewhere is never one that is taken easily.

Conditions are often difficult, sometimes unbearable, and many feel that there is no option but to move to where peace and stability seems guaranteed and opportunities abound.

Local communities and host governments make great sacrifices to receive their neighbours across their borders and need the support of international organisations in providing these services. Plan International, with funding from the Irish government, the European Union and other European governments has responded and will continue to respond to crises that affect children in flux.

We must not allow the needs of refugees and conflict affected people far from our borders to be forgotten as attention turns to situations much closer to home.

It is vitally important that Europe acts to address the needs of those arriving at its borders but this should not occur at the expense of other critical situations far from Ireland.

Europe must act together to save refugee children

Syrian Refugee Crisis
Our response

"I saw the soldiers arrive. People were running, the women were crying. There was panic"

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