被遺忘的角落
在盼望的人們 坦桑尼亞難民營探訪記

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撰文︰區家麟
圖片︰高仲明 / 樂施會義務攝影師

「幸福的家庭總是同一個模樣,不幸的家庭各有各的不幸。」來到東非坦桑尼亞,我又想起托爾斯泰所寫的名句。

看看坦桑尼亞周邊國家,南方的莫桑比克,冷戰時代打過二十年美蘇代理人戰爭,馬拉維一直在饑荒與赤貧中掙扎,雨林中的剛果從來國不成國,盧旺達與布隆迪廿年前的種族屠殺舉世震驚,烏干達有獨裁統治,肯尼亞算是較為穩定,但近年選舉常見種族仇殺。

恩都塔(Nduta)難民營,十一萬布隆迪難民,何去何從?

恩都塔(Nduta)難民營,十一萬布隆迪難民,何去何從?

坦桑尼亞人很自豪,選舉一向和平,無種族衝突無內戰無饑荒,早年更成為周邊國家獨立戰士與異見份子的暫棲地。但坦桑尼亞也有自己的不幸,六十年代跟毛澤東走,搞集體農莊、計劃經濟,雖然沒有大躍進般極端,但足以令這個東非大國失落了二十年,經濟停轉,恨錯難翻。

就是這個自顧不暇的國家,在西部邊陲有三十萬難民等待援助。我們從最接近的機場,驅車五小時才到難民營;沿路的紅土高原,旱季不能耕種,地廣人稀,很多村落缺水缺電,還要照顧二十五萬布隆迪難民與六萬剛果難民。

布隆迪的種族衝突不是廿多年前的事嗎?還未平息嗎?新一波難民潮2015年開始,這次肇因主要不是種族仇殺,而是政治逼害。做滿兩任的總統恩富倫齊扎競逐連任,聲稱合法合憲,引發反對派抗爭;聯合國讉責當地施行酷刑、暗殺、法外處決,高峰期有三十五萬難民逃到坦桑尼亞。

Jacques (化名)在樂施會的培訓班,學習農業知識,並獲支援在家門前建立小菜園。他希望成為出色的農夫。

Jacques (化名)在樂施會的培訓班,學習農業知識,並獲支援在家門前建立小菜園。他希望成為出色的農夫。

我們在難民營遇到二十七歲的Jacques(化名),「資深難民」他當之無愧。Jacques的人生,大部分在難民營渡過。兒時因家鄉種族屠殺,父母帶他避禍,2010年局勢緩和,重回故土,新生活在望,怎料五年後他又回到難民營。

Jacques說,布隆迪的執政黨逼年輕人入黨成為武裝民兵,會配槍,要你向反對派勸降,若然拒絕就逼你大開殺戒。

DSC04740來回地獄又折返人間,Jacques在難民營參加了樂施會辦的種植班;他的夢想是做一個好農夫;他認為,這裏的人耕種不夠認真,他深信自己務農,可以改變命運。

他眼神堅定,夢想亦卑微貼地,不過,難民營無地耕種,如何圓夢?

Jacques說,他看不到出路。

我問他何處是家,他苦笑一下,說布隆迪是他的家,但一天現任總統與他黨羽掌權,他都不會踏足故土。

半輩子活在難民營,這裏的生活,有什麼美好回憶?Jacques說,他喜歡這裏的平靜。

開始自願遺返計劃

坦桑尼亞政府倒待難民不薄,這裏有的是土地,幾片山頭劃作難民營,佔地甚廣。我們到訪的Nduta營地,有一片大森林,驅車繞一圈需時半小時。難民初時住在帳篷中,時日一長,自己燒磚建平房,門前有空地可以種少量蔬菜。難民營也沒有圍牆,難民可以偷偷出外撿拾柴薪,甚至幫附近村民打工種田。若非營內滿是救援組織的標記,你會以為這是一條普通的村落。

去年八月,在反對派杯葛選舉下連任的布隆迪總統恩富倫齊扎,親臨難民營試圖說服難民回國;坦桑尼亞亦隨即關閉邊境,不再接收難民,開始自願遣返計劃,至今已有萬多人遣返,四萬人登記輪候中,剩下廿多萬難民有些舉旗不定,有些堅拒回國。

其中一位難民對我們說,不能信任恩富倫齊扎,因為一切亂局他是始作俑者。恩富倫齊扎的身份也很特別,多年前他曾經在這裏的難民營待過,徵集義士、組織遊擊隊奪取政權,今天身份逆轉,他深明一幫反對派聚集於邊境不遠的難民營,乃計時炸彈。

Niyela  (化名) 帶著自己的孩子,與姊妹的女兒流徙到坦桑尼亞。當被問若可回國必須帶上甚麼時。她說 : 我一無所有,最寶貴的,就是我的子女。

Niyela (化名) 帶著自己的孩子,與姊妹的女兒流徙到坦桑尼亞。當被問若可回國必須帶上甚麼時。她說 : 我一無所有,最寶貴的,就是我的子女。

其中一位表明不會回國的,是35歲的寡婦Niyela,她帶着五個孩子走難。Niyela身型瘦削,滿臉愁容,我們透過兩重翻譯訪問,她全程沒半絲笑容。她是胡圖族人,而非較弱勢的圖西族,逃難是因為一位姐妹嫁了一位圖西族人,結果雙雙被殺,她收養的姨娚也因為有圖西族血統,生命受威脅,她只好帶同自己四個仔女,一齊逃難。

難民的食物,由聯合國的世界糧食計劃署統籌分發,但因為資金不足,去年只及營養標準約七成。Niyela 為免孩子挨餓,忍痛賣了逃難時帶在身邊的一部單車,用錢買食物。她全屋最值錢的東西,是早些時她到森林裏收集的柴薪;煮食要生火,一燒就化成炊煙的柴枝,乃難民的寶貝。

我們問Niyela,若有一天要離開難民營,有什麼最寶貴的一定會帶走?

Niyela說,她一無所有,最寶貴的,就是她的子女。

這片被世界遺忘的角落,廿多萬人,無聲地等,志願組織能做什麼?他們提供補充糧食、鋪設水利工程、解決食水衞生,又在營裏組織訓練班,教他們修理摩托車、教他們種植新知,務求他們在無止境等待的日子,有一技旁身,不會虛耗光陰,重燃希望。

不幸故事不計其數

近月來,情況慢慢起變化。坦桑尼亞政府催谷難民回國的態度漸趨強硬,例如加強管理難民營,阻撓難民去附近森林斬柴、禁止難民外出工作;往日難民營內外有市集,難民可以做小買賣,賺點外快或補充糧食,現在市集次數大減;政府亦禁止志願組織用派發現金方式濟助單親家庭或病弱的難民。種種措施,限制物資的流通,難民生活可能愈來愈艱困,目的就是要減少難民留下的誘因,選擇自願遣返。

堅持留下來的人,不幸的故事還有很多。

有一個家庭,本來已經自願遣返回鄉,卻發現田地已被侵佔,無法生存,只好重返難民營,但接受遣返後會失去難民身份,無資格取得任何援助,以後只能依靠親友接濟。

一位女士逃難時,和十五歲的女兒失散了,她一直尋找女兒蹤影,不願離開。

布隆迪難民孩子天真無邪,小小年紀經歷衝突、流徙,卻仍充滿生命力,以有限資源自製玩具。

布隆迪難民孩子天真無邪,小小年紀經歷衝突、流徙,卻仍充滿生命力,以有限資源自製玩具。

是去是留,很多人害怕公然談論,他們說,布隆迪政府在難民營布滿耳目,縱使身在外國,也恐防被老大哥盯上。

有種顛簸,不是三餐不繼,而是無處容身、漂泊徬徨;有種疲憊,不是坐困愁城,而是無法想像未來,又不能免於恐懼。

從難民營走出來,我仍惦記着孩子們天真的笑臉,他們還未知道成年人的險惡世界,他們在等待一個正常的童年。

原文刊於2018年9月26日《信報》

飄雪中仍看到希望

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洪水過後,民房被泥沙填埋,可見部分只剩下房頂。

去年八月底,朝鮮民主主義人民共和國(朝鮮)東北部咸鏡北道受颱風吹襲,引致嚴重洪災,沖毀當地大批民房及基建,風災的影響遍及15個郡/市,超過7萬人因而失去家園,流離失所,另有超過500人在洪災中喪生及失蹤。因為災情嚴重,災民急需糧食及庇護所,朝鮮政府亦向國際社會發出援助的呼籲。 

樂施會響應朝鮮政府的呼籲,啟動人道救援工作,於10月底將救援物品送抵朝鮮,向居在茂山縣的6,000名災民發放主糧麵粉、食油、餐具,以及向920個家庭提供重新搭建房屋(用於建屋頂)的彩鋼板,2,254戶獲得棉被(每戶兩張)。另外,亦協助災區建設水管及抽水機等灌溉系統,令210戶災民受惠。

去年11月初,樂施會負責人道救援的同事劉月珍及黃文忠專程去到朝鮮的茂山縣,監督救援物資發放情況,並了解災民生計恢復的需求。從他們所見所聞,朝鮮又是一個怎樣的國家,在那裡進行救援時又是什麼情況?以下是他們的分享。

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暴力的受害者 –  讓世人知道西非的危機 | Victims of violence – Shining a light on West Africa’s unknown crisis

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Photo: Ibrahim Dung/Oxfam

雖然世界正慢慢意識到正在西非州漫延的人道危機,但生活在危機下的西非人,他們遇到的可佈經歷,又有多少世人知道。

在尼日利亞的東北地區,以及在其鄰國尼日爾,乍得和喀麥隆發生的暴力衝突,已經迫使270萬人逃離家園,超過900萬人因此需要緊急援助。衝突又令當地人無法種植或購買農作物,數以百萬人因而要挨餓,估計已有數以萬人在衝突中餓死。

我第一次訪問位於尼日利亞東北地區阿達馬瓦州的Michika時,情境令人傷感難忘。來自博科聖地(Boko Haram)的襲擊,以及政府軍的還擊,嚴重打擊Michika居民的生活。但每當衝突停止,熱情好客又勤勞的當地人,就會奮力恢復正常生活。

在阿達馬瓦州州府Yola 外圍的大部分道路已經損壞。州內多個城鎮的銀行、學校、水電供應等基本服務亦被徹底破壞。在Michika,沒有一間銀行能正常運作。人民日常生活的設施被毁,是衝突地區常見的情況。

因發生在阿達馬瓦州內和南部博爾諾州部份地區的戰事,很多人離開家園逃至Michika。在博科聖地於2014年9月佔據Michika前,樂施會為逃至Michika的人提供人道救援物資。可是,當Michika失守後,他們又要再次被迫逃亡。

樂施會一直在Michika展開人道救援工作,以確保當地人有清潔飲用水,亦為被迫逃亡至Michika的居民,為逃亡者提供庇護的社區以及重返Michika的人,提供食物和衛生用品。我在今次行程中認識了Filomena,樂施會較早前修復了一個水井,這位七歲的小女孩就從這水井取水。她碰見我時,被我手上的攝影機嚇壞了。

我後來見到她的父母,終於明白為何這小女孩對我的攝影機如此害怕。Filomena的母親說:「Michika遇到的襲擊非常可佈,我希望永遠不會再碰到。在槍林彈雨下,我帶著七個孩子,花了一整天攀過Himmakai山。我的女兒Filomena目睹槍戰,所以當她看到你的攝影機,誤以為它是槍時,會表現得異常害怕。」

當Filomena母親從山上下來為家人尋找食物時,又碰到Michika被襲。她唯有逃到附近的一個小鎮,亦迫使她與孩子要短暫分開,要過一段時間才能回到孩子身邊。

這場嚴重的武裝衝突,不但影響Michika,更破壞尼日利亞全國及鄰近國家的安寧。為了可以更快地幫助更多受影響的人,協助更多如Filomena的孩子及她們的家庭,樂施會和其他援助機構都需要更多的設備,資源和人手。希望你也會支持我們的工作,讓有需要的人得到幫助。

(Original text)

The world is slowly waking up to the desperate crisis growing in West Africa, yet not much is known about the terrible experiences faced by the people affected.

The violence in north-east Nigeria, as well as in neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, has forced 2.7 million people to flee their homes and left over nine million people in need of emergency support. Unable to grow or buy food, millions are going hungry and thousands of people are estimated to have died already.

On my first visit to Michika, in north east Nigeria’s Adamawa state – an area badly hit by the conflict with Boko Haram and the military operations to counter them – it was heartbreaking to see its hospitable, industrious people struggling to get back on their feet once the fighting had stopped.

The first major mark of destruction we see approaching Michika was a demolished bridge, which the community has now filled with sand to allow people to travel in and out of the area.

“We couldn’t wait for the government to reconstruct this bridge. We had to do it ourselves. We’re used to bad roads and sand-filling the bridge isn’t harmful as long as vehicles can pass over it”, said a commuter we met on the bridge.

Most roads outside the state capital, Yola, have been damaged. In the towns, key services like banks, schools, water and electricity have been destroyed – this is a common sight in places following the fighting. Michika has no functioning banks.
Before Boko Haram captured the town in September 2014, Oxfam was providing humanitarian aid to people forced to flee the fighting from within Adamawa and some parts of southern Borno state. These people fled again after Michika came under attack.

Oxfam has been working hard in Michika to make sure people have clean drinking water, as well as providing food and hygiene items to people forced to flee, the communities sheltering them and those returning to their homes. During my trip, I met Filomena, a seven year old girl who was fetching water from one of the boreholes restored by Oxfam. She was terrified of the camera in my hand, and wishing to know more, I decided to meet her parents and find out why Filomena felt this way.

“The attack on Michika was an awful event, which I hope never to experience again. It took me the whole day to climb Himmakai Mountain with my seven children during the armed attacks. It usually only takes four hours to climb this mountain, but it took much longer because I had all my children with me. Some of them were still very little. My daughter witnessed gunshots and that is why she was scared of the camera”, Filomena’s mother explained.

When Filomena’s mother came down the mountain to fetch food for her family, the town was attacked again. She escaped to a nearby town – separated from her children until she could return.

Before Oxfam began work in the area, a nearby river was the family’s primary source of water. “My children were passing out blood in their urine and suffered from skin diseases. I still have a son with the skin disease”, she said.

Filomena and her mother are thankful that the new tap is helping to improve their quality of life and stop them getting ill.

Michika is just one of the areas hit hard by the ongoing violence in Nigeria and surrounding countries. If Oxfam is to help more children and families like Filomena’s, aid agencies need more equipment, more staff and more resources to help more people, faster.

An unnecessary war: Five thoughts from Yemen

無謂的戰爭:也門之行引起的五點思考  作者:Scott Paul(美國樂施會)

(英文原文後有中文摘譯) 

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I just spent ten days in Yemen meeting Yemeni community leaders, policy experts, humanitarian workers, and people receiving aid from Oxfam. Here are five thoughts I have following the trip:

The Humanitarian Situation is Appalling

It’s something I’ve read and repeated over the past sixteen months, but it’s hard to appreciate the magnitude of the crisis from a distance. In Khamer, it’s impossible to miss the massive tent city in the shadow of the ancient village. When I asked people there what worried them most, they rattled off long lists: health, water, sanitation, environmental rehabilitation, gender-based violence, and shelter were all mentioned by many as urgent issues (the airstrike that hit Raydah, the next town over, didn’t crack the top ten). Even the children of well-off residents are entering their third year out of school. Above all, nearly everyone pointed to their lack of income and inability to pay for food as the biggest challenge. Business has ground to a halt and there is no demand for casual labor, which is the principal source of income for many of the poorest Yemenis. Food is available in the market but most people just can’t afford it. Khamer is far from the most conflict-affected area, plus it’s close to Sana’a and accessible to humanitarian organizations. Yet, the need is still overwhelming.

Food Imports Are at Risk

So far, despite widespread unemployment and poverty, food insecurity in Yemen hasn’t reached famine levels. One reason is that even though imports have slowed through the damaged Hodeidah port, food from Saudi Arabia is arriving in the markets. Many Yemenis are able to buy a bit of food with the money they have, resulting in widespread malnutrition but staving off widespread mortality.

Unfortunately, the depletion of the Central Bank of Yemen’s (CBY) foreign currency reserves is already hampering its ability to guarantee critical food imports. Last week, the Prime Minister of Yemen requested that the International Monetary Fund freeze the CBY’s foreign accounts and stop recognizing its Governor and Vice Governor, who are widely viewed as independent and have been credited for keeping the Bank running through this difficult time. Many Yemenis I spoke with said the Governor’s name in reverent, hushed tones. To them, the removal of the Governor and the exhaustion of Yemen’s foreign reserves are two scenarios too disastrous to contemplate.

There Isn’t Enough Money

Yemeni money, in particular! Unable to transfer foreign cash outside of Yemen through their banks, Yemen’s wealthiest businesspeople have withdrawn their money in Yemeni riyals, believing their wealth is safer and more useful under the mattress than in a bank that can’t convert it to foreign currency abroad. Remember hundreds of people banging down the door to get their money in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life? It’s happening in Yemen – except in Yemen, many wealthy people have taken their money out already, and there’s a limited supply of riyals for the poor, for humanitarian organizations distributing cash to the poor, and for government agencies wishing to pay salaries to their employees.

The Central Bank of Yemen could print more money. However, doing so without ample foreign reserves could hurt the riyal, which has already lost substantial value against the dollar since the crisis began. Until banks can transfer their foreign cash outside the country and the CBY can replenish its foreign reserve, the choice for Yemeni people is between having a few riyals worth little, or slightly more riyals worth next to nothing. With food prices soaring, poor Yemenis will pay the heaviest price until the warring parties and the international community make this issue a priority.

The Yemeni People are Absurdly Resilient

I hesitate to write this – ordinarily, I find it condescending to call people resilient merely for surviving amidst horrible injustice. But in this case I mean something more specific. Yemenis have adapted to life amidst violence and poverty, individually and collectively, with striking boldness. When fuel stopped coming into the country, Yemenis (with some money) responded by lining the Sana’a skyline with solar panels. I won’t soon forget the horrifying drone of Saudi jets buzzing Sana’a on July 29. They were met with a chorus of honking car horns. The following day, under threat of bombardment, life went on as normal, with Yemenis determined to maintain their routines. Community leaders beamed with pride as they told me of the women who were breaking down traditional gender norms by finding new ways to earn money for their families. And Yemeni humanitarian workers, often ignored by the international humanitarian system, are working at the grassroots to meet the needs of people that big international organizations can’t reach.

Yemenis Feel Dismissed by the International Community

And they have good reason to feel this way. One Sheikh told me he felt that the Western powers held out the promise of democracy during the Arab Spring and then turned their backs as traditional Yemeni power brokers divided the country in the aftermath. Wherever I went, Yemenis thanked me for visiting – they said that the very presence of foreigners made them feel safer and less forgotten by a world that has largely turned its back. The lack of an international presence in Yemen reflects a general lack of concern by the international community: to date, donors have funded only 26 per cent of the UN’s humanitarian response for the year, while states like the United States and United Kingdom continue to support parties to the conflict that demonstrate no interest in conciliation for the sake of 21.2 million Yemenis in need.

The UN Security Council’s inaction is perhaps the most obvious manifestation of the international community’s disinterest in Yemen. On April 14, 2015, the Council adopted a resolution, which placed a set of unconditional demands on the Houthis without any corresponding demands on the Government of Yemen or the Saudi-led coalition to push them towards peace. Since then, the GoY has demanded implementation of the resolution before agreeing on a more comprehensive political solution to the conflict.

Yet, despite the fact that UNSCR 2216 has stood in the way of peace, the Council has not adopted a new resolution to push both parties toward an agreement. As of this writing, in the 481 days since the Council UNSCR 2216, the Council has adopted a single Resolution relating to Yemen; that resolution, which was technical in nature, did not speak to the peace process.

What Now?

There are more people in need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen than anywhere else in the world, but thanks to the relatively small number of refugees fleeing the country and the difficulty of entry for journalists, most people – even policy experts and government officials – aren’t able to relate to the scale of suffering there. As I left Sana’a, I couldn’t help but think that the international community’s approach to Yemen would be markedly different if world leaders were able to see what I saw. For a start, they would urgently help stabilize Yemen’s Central Bank, remove restrictions on the transport of hard foreign currency out of the country, and enact a new Security Council Resolution demanding peace. For its part specifically, the US government would withdraw its support for the parties fighting this cruel and unnecessary war.

在也門逗留10天,我分別與當地社區領袖、政策專家、人道工作者和當地受惠人會面。這次也門之行,讓我有以下五個想法:

駭人的人道狀況

在也門西部的古老村落Khamer,舉目盡是帳篷。在當地,即使是出身於富裕家庭的孩子,都已經失學3年。但最嚴重的是,幾乎全部人都指出,戰爭令他們欠缺收入,未能負擔價格飆升的糧食才是最大的挑戰。Khamer 遠離受衝突影響最嚴重的區域,加上鄰近首都薩那(Sana’a),兼且人道救援組織可在當地進行援助,Khamer的當地人仍然對物資有相當迫切的需求。

進口受到威脅

目前為止,也門的失業及貧窮情況非常普遍。貨運碼頭Hodeidah port遭到破壞,糧食進口速度減緩。可是,糧食供應雖然不穩,仍未造成饑荒。背後其中一個原因是,自沙地阿拉伯運來的食物,仍繼續供應當地市場。

不幸地,也門中央銀行經已耗盡其外匯儲備,再無力保證關鍵糧食的進口。上星期,也門總理要求國際貨幣組織凍結也門中央銀行的海外戶口及不再承認其行長及副行長。我曾與當地人民討論上述事情。他們認為,解除央行行長的職務及外匯儲備耗盡是兩個不堪設想的災難。

也門缺乏足夠金錢

也門的銀行已不能提供將外幣滙離也門的服務。也門比較富裕的生意人,都紛紛從銀行提取所有也門幣資金。他們深信把財產收在床墊下比存放在一間不能兌換外幣的銀行更有保障。而無論貧窮人、需要向員工支薪的當地政府部門,以至向有需要的貧窮社群提供援助的人道救援組織,都要面對銀行儲備嚴重不足,也門里亞爾供應有限的(貨幣單位)問題。(編按:人道救援組織會透過銀行轉帳,向有需要的貧窮社群發放應急現金,供他們在市場購買應急用品。),

現時,也門人繼續為糧食價格飆升付出極沉重的代價,直至各交戰方及國際社會重視也門的困局。

也門人適應極強

明顯地,也門人已適應每天在暴力與貧窮之中掙扎求存。當燃料無法進口,全國燃料耗盡時,相對富裕的也門人選擇在首都薩那各處鋪設太陽能板,以太陽能發電。在接下來的日子,雖受轟炸陰霾籠罩,但也門人仍努力返回日常生活的軌道,繼續維持其日常生活。社區領袖更驕傲地對我說,也門婦女成功打破「男主外、女主內」的傳統性別規範,透過尋找各種新方法,為家庭謀求生計。

雖然也門的人道工作者經常得不到國際人道主義組織的支援,但他們仍在草根階層開展工作,幫助那些國際組織未能接觸的也門人。

備受國際社會忽略也門人

每當我探訪也門時,當地人都表示感謝。而正正是外國人的到訪,增加他們的安全感,亦令他們覺得仍未被世界遺忘。在也門,國際組織並不多見,反映國際社會普遍不關注也門的狀況。至目前為止,捐助國家的捐款,只佔聯合國承諾,於今年向也門提供的人道救援金額的26%。同時,美國及英國等國家繼續支持參與也門衝突的不同派系。雖然2,100多萬名也門人急需援助,這些派別卻無意為他們的利益著想而商議和解。

至今為止,聯合國安理會並沒有對也門的衝突採取任何行動,這清楚顯示國際社會對也門現況的冷淡態度。於撰寫此文章時,已經是聯合國安理會通過其2,216項決議後的第481天,但期間安理會只通過一項針對也門的決議,並且屬技術性質,未有觸及當地和平進程。

何去何從?

現時急需人道援助的也門人的數目比全球任何一個地方都多,但礙於只有少數人選擇逃離自己國家,以及新聞從業員難以進入也門,使大部分人 ─ 甚至是政策專家及政府官員等 ─ 都難以了解和感受當地人的生活有多麼痛苦。在離開也門後,我不停想著若各國領袖能親身經歷我的所見所聞,他們對也門的態度就會改變,例如,他們會協助穩定也門中央銀行的財政狀況,解除國際流通外幣滙出也門的各種限制。聯合國安理會亦會就當地和平進程作出新的決議案。而美國政府亦會停止支持派別參與這些殘忍及無謂的衝突。

scott paul

Scott Paul is a Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor at Oxfam America.

 

 

 

 

A Life Displaced is Still a Life with Hope and Dreams

縱是流離失所  仍要活在希望中 (英文原文後有中文摘譯) 

Oxfam is providing 47,000+ ‪#‎refugees‬ with clean drinking water in the Nduta camp, Tanzania.

By Melanie Gallant, Oxfam Canada’s Media Relations Officer

Whether through civil war or other forms of conflict, natural disasters or climate related disasters such as drought, the global scale of displaced people is unprecedented. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are now over 60 million forcibly displaced people around the world including 19.5 million refugees – the highest number on record!

Last year I travelled to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where I saw firsthand how Syrian families living as refugees in cold and muddy tents were struggling to cope under difficult winter conditions. I remember one Syrian mom, Nahla*, tell me “We can’t sleep most nights because water leaks in (our tent) and makes everything wet. I am very worried for my children. I think of going back to Syria every day.” Millions of displaced people share that same dream – they are living in makeshift dwellings, in urgent need of safe drinking water, sanitation services, food, shelter, medicine, education and security, wanting desperately to return home. Many are from Syria, like Nahla*, but countless others are from dozens of crisis affected countries across the world.

Burundi is one of those countries, but one that seldom makes the headlines.

Already one of the poorest places on the planet, more than a decade of wars has left Burundi in an extremely difficult situation. Fear of violence and intimidation is forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. Over 250,000 people have fled, the majority to Tanzania, overstretching the capacity of the local government and aid agencies to respond.

The numbers are so shockingly high and hard to imagine, we can forget that each and every person forced to flee their home has a face, a story, a family, and dreams for the future.

Like many Burundian refugee women, Godeberite* now lives in a makeshift shelter in a crowded Tanzanian refugee camp, trying to nurture a young family in extremely difficult conditions. Having run out of options and forced to flee her home in Burundi, she arrived in the Nduta refugee camp in March. She was heavily pregnant with her first child Victor*, who is now 1 month old. Before an Oxfam water station was added, she used to have to walk for over an hour to fetch water.

Women and children account for more than 75% of displaced persons globally, and are particularly affected by crises and during displacement. For example, in addition to facing an increased risk of violence and sexual violence, women often become the primary caretakers for children, the injured, the sick and the elderly, which substantially increases their workload and emotional burden. Godeberite spoke to Oxfam, giving us a glimpse of how challenging life was for her in Nduta.

“There are more sicknesses here than back home in Burundi because of the large population living together. They did give pregnant women milk but as everything was open people would come and steal it from me. Right now I have access to clean water and that’s why I am healthy. If I did not have this it would have been very easy to get infections.”

Oxfam’s work in the Nduta camp includes the provision of water and sanitation facilities, emergency food, and most recently, livelihoods programs. These include income generation activities developed to make use of people’s existing skills and knowledge, like bee keeping and farming, but also paid work projects to improve the camp infrastructure and protect the environment, like drainage facilities, better roads, and planting trees. In fact, we are even working towards implementing solar pumping stations for water and installing semi-permanent latrines for families.

縱是流離失所  仍要活在希望中 

去年,我到了黎巴嫩貝卡谷地 (Bekaa Valley),親眼看見敘利亞難民家庭住在既寒冷且沾滿泥濘的帳篷內,艱苦地應付寒冬來臨。我記得其中一位名叫Nahla的難民提到:「帳篷漏水不但弄濕所有東西,更令我們差不多每晚都難以入睡。我很擔心我的子女,每天都想像著回去敘利亞。」

全球有數以千萬計流離失所者[1],他們居住在各種臨時居所,急需清潔食水、衛生服務、食物、庇護所、藥物、教育及安全保障,並且渴望能回到家園。這些漂泊流離的人當中,包括尋求庇護人士和難民,很多和Nahla一樣來自敘利亞,亦有很大部分是來自多個受不同衝突影響的國家。

在全球的流離失所者當中,有超過7成是婦女和兒童,無論在災難或避難的過程中,他們的生活都特別容易受到影響。例如,婦女除面對不斷增加的暴力及性暴力威脅外,她們還要經常負起照顧兒童、病患者,以及長者的責任,這不但會增加她們的工作量,亦令她們情緒上要承受更大壓力。

除了敘利亞外,世界很多地方難民情況同樣嚴峻,卻往往受到忽略,非洲內陸國家布隆迪 (Burundi)便是其中之一。Godeberite是一名來自布隆迪的難民。為逃避暴力衝突,她於今年三月逃向鄰國坦桑尼亞,現時住在位於Nduta的難民營。

在Nduta難民營生活需要克服很多困難。Godeberite說:「這裡的人口密度比布隆迪高,令住在這裡的人更容易患上疾病。難民營雖然有向孕婦提供牛奶,但由於東西都放在露天地方,很容易被其他人盜取。我現在仍可保持健康,全靠獲得乾淨食水。我若再得不到乾淨食水,就會很容易患病。」

樂施會在Nduta難民營的工作包括向難民提供食水、衛生服務和緊急食物等。最近,我們亦開始為難民提供生計改善計劃,為參與計劃人士安排適合他們技能和知識,例如養殖蜜蜂及耕種等工作,以賺取收入維生。另外,我們亦提供不同的有薪工作機會,包括興建排水設施、建設道路及種植樹木等,這些工作能改善營地的基建及保護其環境。現時,我們正嘗試在Nduta難民營引入太陽能泵水系統,以及為難民家庭興建較堅固耐用的半永久式廁所。

[1] 據聯合國難民署2016年6月發布的難民數字,全球有超過6,500萬人正處於流離失所的狀態,當中包括已獲難民身份的2,130萬人。

 

尼泊爾地震重建毅行路 「廁所的秘密」

Nepal 1 yr on - 6U9A4923

「樂施毅行者 2015」X「亞洲萬里通」尼泊爾考察之旅

圖片提供:樂施會

鋅鐵包圍著一個蹲式廁所,連接一個三米深的蓄糞池,蓄糞池頂部會用石屎蓋密封。排泄物久經沉澱,則成了農民耕作用的肥料。

鋅鐵包圍著一個蹲式廁所,連接一個三米深的蓄糞池,蓄糞池頂部會用石屎蓋密封。排泄物久經沉澱,則成了農民耕作用的肥料。

去年 4 月 25 日的尼泊爾大地震,令當地 85 萬戶房屋受到破壞,道路、供水及衞生設施損毀嚴重,「啹喀兵」世居的廓爾喀地區(Gorkha)是其中一個重災區。樂施毅行者是源自啹喀兵團的軍事訓練活動,與廓爾喀這個地方結下不解之緣。早前,五名樂施毅行者參與了「樂施毅行者 2015」X「亞洲萬里通」尼泊爾考察之旅,親訪在廓爾喀遭逢劫後餘生的災民,目睹就地取材的生活智慧與堅毅,感受災民在重建過程中的毅行精神。

經歷強震及多次餘震,廓爾喀九成房屋被毀,衞生設施廣泛被破壞,令傳染病易於傳播,增加爆發次生災害的風險。樂施會的救援工作著重於災區的環境衞生,特別關注廁所等衞生設施,以保障災民的健康。

樂施毅行者翻山越嶺,來到廓爾喀的 Ghairung 村,就在我們的「廁所專員」*引領下,來看一個「非一般」的廁所。

眼前的廁所以鋅鐵包圍,打開門後,是一個蹲式廁所。與廁所相隔約一米,有一個圓形裝置,被石屎蓋密封著,驟眼看不出乾坤。原來,秘密在於廁所下面,裡頭連接一個由災民挖掘的蓄糞池,深達三米。

阿俊從建築角度去考察災後重建的可發展空間。
阿俊從建築角度去考察災後重建的可發展空間。

身為建築師,同時又是樂施毅行者的阿俊,對這個秘密裝置由衷欣賞:「在地震前的廓爾喀,居民本只懂得運用地面的空間搭建房屋或是儲存倉庫,鮮有開發地底空間作排污、儲存等用途。我們在考察時看見的蓄糞池,是向地下空間發展的模式,更能善用土地的資源。雖然在大城市,向地下發展已是非常普遍,但在尼泊爾的山區,這個概念是在地震後,救援機構的協助下才衍生的。」樂施會在廓爾喀及其餘六個重災區,支持災民興建超過 7,200 組廁所,包括多個這類連接蓄糞池的廁所。

在蓄糞池裡,排泄物久經沉澱,就成了農民耕作用的珍貴肥料。這對於廓爾喀沿山勢而居的居民尤其重要,因居民以務農為生,充足的肥料有助其作物的生長,對糧食供應有決定性的影響。這個在救災中結合生計項目的方式,除了回應災民即時需要,亦為日後的生計發展鋪路。

Ricky 與災民交流,感受到災後重建對個人發展的重要。
Ricky 與災民交流,感受到災後重建對個人發展的重要。

從事人力資源管理工作的毅行者Ricky,則從人的發展角度看這些得來不易的「非一般廁所」,他說:「部分與我們交流的災民是委員會成員,他們組成委員會開挖廁所,有既定的分工,如部分人幫忙挖洞,學到挖掘、工程的知識和技巧後,也可加以謀生,滿足生計之餘也加強了居民對村內環境的歸屬感。」

樂施會在籌劃項目時,亦著重村民的參與,災後救援與重建項目也不例外。救援團隊一方面按災民的即時需要分派物資,亦重視與災民一起商議的過程,在重建計劃中回應他們的切實需要,從而訂立出適合該災區長遠發展的計劃。

透過帶動災民參與救援及重建工作,他們可以把握自己的權利,決定社區的發展方向。以設置基礎衞生設施為例,團隊會考慮如何配合當地的地理環境、土壤特性、氣候和農民的長遠生計,能否將各個項目扣連在一起,發揮互利互補的功用。

過去一年,我們在包括加德滿都谷地及廓爾喀在內的七個重災區展開救援及重建工作,在重建的毅行路上與災民一同打拼。除協助修建灌溉系統、道路、輸水管道等基建設施外,我們向災民提供清潔食水,派發衞生用品、糧食、種子及農具,以及幫助災民搭建臨時廁所、洗手設施和臨時居所,並舉行了多場衞生教育講座,希望提升災民的防患意識。至今,有逾 48 萬人獲得支援。

*由於樂施會的救援團隊已經在災區搭建了超過 7,200 組廁所。這種專門的知識及技術,讓我們主力負責衞生設施的團隊成員,也笑稱自己是「廁所專員(Toilet officer)」。

Disaster risk reduction as an alternative to fire fighting

More than 100,000 people in Vanuatu are now homeless. This child stands in front of what was his home.
Photo credit: Philippe Metois

Just a day after Cyclone Pam destroyed much of Vanuatu, the world’s governments gathered in Sendai, Japan, for the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The category five storm may have struck a chord with many who attended the conference, but it seems that it was not strong enough to mobilise participating countries to make stronger commitments to reduce the risk of future disasters and climate-driven poverty.

The devastating impact of the cyclone that battered the archipelago with gusts of up to 340 kph alongside the president of Vanuatu’s address at Sendai was a wakeup call to the international community. President Lonsdale called for more progressive and collective efforts in disaster and climate risk reduction as the current status quo is failing the world’s most vulnerable nations and communities.

In fact, experience has shown us that disaster risk reduction (DRR) is effective and that injuries and deaths caused by natural disasters can be reduced and avoided. For example, two cyclones of very similar intensities can lead to different consequences: Cyclone Sidr, which hit Bangladesh in 2007, affected 8.7 million people and killed around 4,000 to 5,000 people, while Cyclone Nargis, which hit Myanmar in 2008, affected fewer people at 2.4 million, but killed 84,500. The key difference between these two situations is that the government of Bangladesh, in partnership with many others, prioritised DRR, putting effective early warning systems, mitigation measures and community preparedness activities in place.

IMG-20150314-WA0002 (Mayling in panel session)This message of DRR and building resilience was loud and clear at the conference, and so attendees were urged to get it right this time. Granted, the discussions led to a new agreement that features a stronger emphasis on the impact of disasters on the vulnerable. The agreement includes targets to reduce damage to infrastructure as well as interference to basic services, such as health services. It also aims to increase access to disaster risk information and early warning systems. These are critical commitments that international NGOs like Oxfam will be actively supporting to implement and through which we can hold governments accountable in the coming years.

That said, Oxfam and other organisations hoped that the Sendai framework would set measurable, numerical targets such as reducing economic losses from disasters and increasing financial support from developed countries each by thirty per cent by 2030. Negotiators have instead gravitated towards more vague language that targets ‘substantial’ improvement on a range of measures, or really, minimal improvements to the Hyogo Framework.

The new agreements do little to galvanise bold action or create meaningful accountability. Wealthy countries also failed to make concrete commitments around additional financial and technical support to developing countries, which have less capacity to absorb and recover from disaster losses. In 2009, developed countries had promised to scale up climate finance to US$100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions; yet global progress has been slow.  Six years have gone by, and wealthy countries are still failing to contribute their fair share to help poorer countries like Vanuatu better prepare for climate-driven disasters for which they should be held least responsible.

There is clearly much more to be done. We need to also ensure that the low level of ambition shown in Sendai does not set the tone for other major international agreements this year, especially the UN’s Special Summit on Sustainable Development Goals in September and its global climate change conference in Paris this December. We will need to see much stronger commitments backed by concrete funding pledges.

DRR forms an absolutely critical dimension of these two agreements and must be fully integrated and resourced. For the sake of millions at growing risk from hazards around the globe, we cannot fail.

Mayling sentada en el cespedMayling Chan is the International Programme Director at Oxfam Hong Kong.

Oxfam stands #WithSyria in Hong Kong and China

Kate Lee – Humanitarian and Disaster Risk Management Programme Officer

With Syria large group

As a member of the International Programme Unit, my work has put me in touch with a lot of disasters and emergencies – the devastation following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, flooding and cyclones in India and Vietnam, a hurricane in Mexico, and violence in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, for example. But the Syria conflict has got to be one of the most heart-wrenching to see.

Though we are far removed geographically from Syria, the plight of its people remains close to our hearts here in Hong Kong. And today, the third anniversary of the conflict, our thoughts are with Syrians more than ever.

Children release balloons in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to mark three years since the start of the Syria crisis. (Muath Freij/Oxfam)

Children release balloons in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to mark three years since the start of the Syria crisis. (Muath Freij/Oxfam)

Three years of violence. Three years of fleeing. Three years of unsafe, unsanitary, and unstable living conditions. These are three years too many, and three years that must not be allowed to turn into a fourth.

More than 100,000 people have lost their lives, and there are now 2.5 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Jordan. Though these hosts have show great generosity, it doesn’t change the fact that these refugees lack basic things such as water, shelter, healthcare and education.

A recent Oxfam survey of 151 households comprising 1,015 people shows that just one-third can clearly see themselves returning home, and of them, 78 per cent don’t know when this might be.

We hope this will be soon, and that in the meantime, countries around the world can make good on their promise to deliver US$2.3 billion for the humanitarian response.

Today, I will be standing with Syria along with my colleagues in Hong Kong and Mainland China, and I hope you will too.

With Syria small group

You can find out more at #WithSyria, a group of organisations including Oxfam that is standing with Syrians. Scroll down to find out how you can hold your own candlelight vigil to shine a light of hope for Syrians, or head to the Facebook page for more. I’ll leave you with this clip from graffiti artist Banksy, which really struck a chord with me.

Philippines Typhoon Survivors ‘Rise Up’ in the True Christmas Spirit

By Jane Beesley – Humanitarian Communications Officer at Oxfam Great Britain

On Bantayan Island, North Cebu, I find a home-made ukulele. When I play it, the crowd of people around me start singing ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’I’m not sure who’s the most surprised. Christmas is big in the Philippines. In Cebu City, there’s a sign saying ‘The twelve weeks of Christmas’. They’re not joking. Christmas is normally the biggest event of the year, but this is not a normal year.

In Santa Cruz, few buildings remain. Photo: Oxfam/Jane Beesley

In Santa Cruz, just south of Tacloban, few buildings remain. Coconut trees lay uprooted or snapped in half. When the typhoon and storm surge came, one hundred people crowded into the small upstairs room of a community building.  Others survived because they had already left the village or managed to cling to trees that withstood the onslaught. Their arms wrapped tightly around the trunks. As the storm surge rushed in, they shouted to each other to climb further up the tree, to lock their hands together and not let go – I don’t know how any of them survived. At least 300 people lost their lives. Most people lost their homes, their belongings and livelihood. Now in tents, the few belongings that most have are basic items from relief distributions: food, hygiene kits, mats, jerry cans and kitchen sets.

A large Santa stands in a makeshift stall next to a Christmas tree and festive decorations. Photo: Oxfam/Jane Beesley

Walking through what looks like a demolition site, I am surprised to see a small makeshift stall with a large Santa, a Christmas tree and festive decorations strung along the front. It looks like Santa’s grotto. ‘We found these Christmas decorations in the debris, so we washed them and put them up,’ explains Rowen, 25. ‘We wanted to celebrate Christmas in some way.’

Rowen, like everyone I speak to, says: ‘Christmas celebrations this year will be different from other years. We’re happy because we’ve survived, but sad because others haven’t. We’ll celebrate Christmas, but in a simple way this year.’ Most people are grateful for ‘the good fortune’ they’ve had. I frequently hear, ‘We’ll celebrate Christmas in a quiet way this year, but we’ll share our good fortune with others.’ Normally, there are a lot of parties, a lot of food eaten, and a lot of money spent. One of Oxfam’s vehicle drivers tells me that many people across the Philippines have decided not to have parties, or to spend so much money. Instead, they will send what they have saved to support people who have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Another driver tells me, ‘Something like this really makes you appreciate what really matters in life. This is what I’ll be celebrating and giving thanks for this Christmas.’ Both men are from Tacloban.

A sign of hope hangs amid the wreckage. Photo: Oxfam/Jane Beesley

Again and again, I see two words written like graffiti on the remains of walls and buildings, or purposely written on signs: ‘bangon’ and ‘tindog’, meaning ‘rise up’ and ‘stand up’. I think these two phrases sum up the spirit of the people. This Christmas across the Philippines, especially in areas devastated by the typhoon, people will be rising and standing up, determined to support their communities and each other in recovering from one of the worst disasters to hit the country. But the size of the devastation is so great. For long-term recovery, the individuals, the communities and the Philippines cannot stand alone.

This Christmas, many people in the Philippines will be spending it without their loved ones, without roofs, without their homes, and without jobs. But they are not without hope.

This year, I will be spending Christmas in Tacloban, but wherever you are, I wish you a happy, peaceful and safe Christmas.