Those who risk everything to find safety deserve a sense of security

05 Nov 2015 by Alejandro Alvarez, Team Leader for Rule of Law, Justice, Security and Human Rights at UNDP

Syrian refugeesA little boy looks on as Syrian refugees queue at the UN registration centre in Zahle, east of Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: UNDP Lebanon
Earlier this year, I learned the story of a Syrian woman named Nour.* Nour, like many of those affected by the conflict in Syria, was forced to flee her home and take up residence in a neighboring country. But once there, Nour was involved in a serious accident in which another driver disobeyed traffic laws and crashed into her car. While Nour survived, her family was killed, and the heartache of having lost her home was now immensely compounded by losing her loved ones. Nour reported the incident to the police station and sought help from the authorities to bring those responsible for the accident to justice. But instead of being heard and assisted, Nour was met with resistance and was herself blamed for the wrongdoing. After all, she was the displaced, the refugee. The outsider. To date, Nour has yet to see those who killed her family held responsible. This is just one of the myriad of stories we are hearing from the people affected by the ongoing crisis in Syria. Millions have left their homes, livelihoods, and even families behind in search of safety, only to continue lacking effective protection wherever they find themselves. In some cases, the justice … Read more

Saving lives, preserving dignity and securing the future in Syria

05 Nov 2015 by Sima Bahous, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, UNDP

Syrian refugeesNow into its fifth year, the Syrian crisis has claimed over 250,000 lives and displaced over 12 million people from their homes. Photo: UNDP Syria
The whole world is acutely aware of the grim facts of the Syria crisis. Now into its fifth year, it’s claimed over 250,000 lives, displaced over 12 million from their homes, devastated the country, and rolled back Syria’s development indicators by four decades. Less known but also vitally important is the impact the crisis has had on neighboring countries who have generously accommodated record numbers of refugees and are reeling from the strains that come with such monumental solidarity. For more than four years, UNDP has been championing a resilience-based response to the Syria crisis, a response that is working to save lives, preserve dignity and secure the future in Syria and neighboring countries. UNDP’s response is to work with sister agencies such as OCHA and UNHCR to ensure that while all await a desperately-needed cessation of hostilities, we are helping communities in Syria and neighboring countries cope, recover where possible, and lay the groundwork so that when peace arrives, it can be sustained. This is the essence of resilience, and the lens through which we approach our work in response to this crisis. In Syria, we’ve been able to help over 4.5 million people directly and indirectly. We’ve created thousands … Read more

Climate Change, Peace and Security in the Arab Region

04 Nov 2015 by Dr. Kishan Khoday, Regional Team Leader, Climate Change, DRR and Resilience, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 in December. Among the various drivers of risk in the world today, two stand out: climate change and the evolving nature of conflict and insecurity. While each by itself has serious consequences for development, their convergence has become a subject of heightened attention. The U.N. Security Council has convened a series of debates on climate change in recent years and, for the first time, the latest global Assessment Report by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change includes a chapter on “Human Security”, mapping out the risks for resource scarcity, displacement, and conflict. Leading UNDP’s local partnerships in the Arab region, I see first-hand how the converging forces of climate and conflict can reshape the prospects for development. The Arab region is experiencing one of the most dramatic periods of change in history - with an escalation of conflict, a 33 percent rise in poverty rates, and the emergence of twenty million refugees and internally displaced persons. The very places experiencing conflict and unprecedented refugee flows are also some of the areas most at risk to the effects of climate … Read more

Portraits of peace: Community heroes share their stories

02 Nov 2015 by Michele Bornstein, Women, Peace and Security consultant, UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific

N-Peace Award winners with Helen Clark.The N-Peace Awards celebrate women, and their male allies, working to make their communities more peaceful and tolerant. UNDP Photo
“Don’t stay aside, help each other to get to peace, and help men…Women are the core of the society and so they have very important roles in bringing peace. That is why I always ask them: join together, make networks and help each other… We women should bring peace in Afghanistan.” These are the words of Hassina Neekzad, a teacher in Afghanistan who inspires young girls and women to believe in themselves as individuals and future leaders. Hassina is one of this year’s 10 N-Peace Award winners. Her sentiments ring loudly as we mark the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on 31 October. The resolution mandates the further inclusion and promotion of women in conflict and fragile settings. While substantial effort has been made to advance this agenda, women’s roles in waging peace remain under-recognized. That’s why UNDP founded the N-Peace initiative in 2010. N-Peace is a network of 2,400 people committed to empowering grassroots women activists and their allies from across Asia. On 23 October, UNDP honoured 10 peacebuilders and activists at a special N-Peace Awards ceremony presided over by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. The N-Peace Awards are an annual celebration of the many different … Read more

Will enclaved development be the scenario of the future?

30 Oct 2015 by Patrick Keuleers, Director, Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

In 1981, the movie “Escape from New York” depicted a future island of Manhattan as a maximum-security prison, surrounded by a high containment wall. Inside the wall there is chaos and a daily struggle for survival. Outside the wall, there is security, peace and abundance of social services. This movie comes to mind when thinking about enclaved development, except today it is wealthy companies and individuals walling themselves off from the surrounding poverty and insecurity. In the extractive industries, it is not unusual to see companies supported by political elite-pacts confining themselves to compounds protected by private security firms, literally walled off from the local communities. Food, supplies, and even labour are flown from outside, while the extracted resources are exported to other countries for processing. Where this happens, operations are hardly connected with the local environment. And when labour is imported, these developments also fail to promote local employment opportunities. Inequality and enclaved development is also increasingly visible in capitals and large cities. Some capitals in resource rich countries have become extremely expensive cities, despite widespread poverty. Many city dwellers, living in self-constructed settlements that lack basic infrastructure and services, do not benefit from the country’s massive oil, gas, diamond … Read more