Are starving Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) conditioned to foreign aid?

Posted: August 16, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Ring Mayar

By Ring Mayar, Sydney, Australia

Social media warriors

Social media warriors

August 16, 2017 (SSB) — I could not agree more with an article written by Simon Little, published under the title “South Sudan: Time for Humanitarians to get tough”. The author posed important questions, “as a humanitarian at what point does one start to think the unthinkable”? The author wondered to what extent the aid provided was positive, or if it was doing more harm than good.

Almost 70 years after the establishment of the UN, in part, to tackle world problems including development of the war torn countries in Africa, and other parts of the world, the fault lines of insecurity, food shortages, unstable economies, failing health care and education system, still appear glaring to many of the world’s billion people.

As many people lose their entitlement to property ownership, job security, rights, including the absence of economic empowerment as well as social and cultural severing – judging by the length of time refugees or IDPs spend in camps – guarded by peacekeeping soldiers, many prefer to stay in refugee camps and not venture out to establish themselves.

To preserve their mental state, IDPs prefer the confinement and deplorable condition in the UN camps to returning to their respective homes for various reasons. Horrible memories of killings, maiming, brutality and death by starvation still vivid to them are some reasons. In addition, the possibility of re-encountering such similar events upon return to their volatile homeland informs their decision not to leave.

This is despite the fact that they are more likely to die in crowded and unsanitary camps which predispose the population to infectious diseases outbreak than dying from the aforementioned fears. They seem to prefer the grim certainty to the unknown fate that awaits them should they decide to leave the camps for a supposed normal life.

But what exactly is happening to people who receive foreign aid to stay alive? This is a question that needs be answered by the world leaders and tax payers whose taxes are sent to save starving children, women and men in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

Ironically, no one would state explicitly or implicitly that refugees and IDP’s lives are conditioned by foreign aid, as the world saw in Myanmar, Congo, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and South Sudan. The world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was founded in 1945 with more than 20 million people in four countries at risk of starvation and famine, the UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien.

At the time when the world leaders turn a blind eye to IDPs perennial suffering in cohorts with the media, others offer the vitriolic response to IDPs suffering. Many world leaders and media outlets have instead focused on tragic pictures of drowned black Africans washing up on the shores of the EU.

Desperate refugees who are caught in swirling Mediterranean waters are only a tip of the iceberg of the real problem facing the forgotten segment of the world population, IDPs and refugees. The majority of the world’s refugees or IDPs are quickly forgotten indefinitely as they are cramped into crowded camps.

Mothers and children at greater risks

Generations of refugees or IDPs population have lived inside the fortress of UN manned camps, millions of children have been born, raised and died in these camps without setting a foot outside UN’s gated-camps.

Some are from the world’s largest and oldest refugee camps – Kenya’s Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps. Others from the world’s fastest growing IDPs camps in South Sudan and Yemen. In all of these camps, the IDPs live in unimaginable appalling conditions.

Often we hear about people at war or those drawn crossing treacherous international waters to get to safety, but you never hear about the size and the scale to which young people die, along with the frail and the old population.

Many times, high maternal mortality rates related to malnutrition and poor health goes unreported. In fact, it is likely that the next time you hear about starvation and hunger crisis is when NGOs and other governing bodies (UN) are asking for funding to sustain their operations in the regions embroiled in wars and deaths.

The groups who suffer the brunt of deplorable caging (UN camps) and death are women and children. People most likely to die in camps are children under the age of five and mothers during birth. For instance, children-mothers death associated with an increased incidence of mothers’ hunger, child’s malnutrition, and premature death of old people.

The increasing use of yellow beans and saturated oil, though, has changed health equation for IDPs camps. We just do not see it publicly. In other words, refugees and IDPs are fed same food for a long time, a diet which lacks nutritional value and some of the food provided to IDPs or refugee is categorically deemed unfit for human consumption.

For example, yellow beans which can be found at any refugee camps across the world is poisonous unless cooked for long period, some people die for not cooking yellow beans properly enough.

Loss of appetite is a common consequence of people eating the same diet over a long time. This loss makes people skinnier, develop cavernous eye sockets and protruding cheekbones. Symptoms of malnutrition and a diet lacking in diversity or diverse diet food, malnutrition set in – along with hunger related infection diseases – as it is happening now Yemen as result of the cholera outbreak.

Who are donors?

Recently, Donald Trump’s administration announced cuts to its foreign aid and this sent a seismic shockwave across the UN and other NGOs. This comes when the world is facing a massive (more than 10 million) wave of stateless people in need of food, protection, and shelter. To make matters worse, as his “American First” rhetoric comes to reality, Trump’s administration has banned refugees from the most volatile regions- Africa and the Middle East.

Moreover, the UN has always been coerced to favor or work in cohort with donor countries to further their foreign policy agenda as it has occurred in early 2016 when Saudi Arabia threatened to cut Palestinian aid and funds to other UN programs.

Subsequently, the former UN Chief, Ban Ki-moon was eventually forced to abandon blacklisting of a Saudi-led coalition for killing children in Yemen. Now with Saudi-led coalition free to inflict grave harm in Yemen, IDPs in the country continue to suffer from both fronts unabated.

In addition, a cholera epidemic is deepening the pains of the already food-starved people, struggling with limited water and medicine supply. This with nearly two million Yemeni children out of school, according to the UNICEF.

The removal of the Saudi-led coalition from the UN blacklisting should have prompted a protest from us all, or at least the UN should have pressed the Saudis-led coalition to stop effectively the bombing of Yemeni children with internationally banned weapons, instead the entire world sat mutely still.

One would wonder whether the UN is on the verge of death or whether the lifeline support it has long received from donors is coming to an end.

Being a refugee or IDPs has a range of negative social impacts on the affected population. Traditions and cultural boundaries become irrelevant. Criminal behaviors, communal violence, lack of adequate proper sanitation, antisocial behavior among children, become the norm.

Instead of the IDPs camp being a sanctuary for good, it has rather become a place of poverty, dirt, and promiscuity. No matter how grave the situation is for refugees or IDPs children, the education for children is always chronically underfunded by NGOs and the world governing body the “UN”.

Tragically, women and children are the ones who pay a heavy price, for instance, most women are widows, and they lose their husbands during war leaving the wife to raise children alone.

Sometimes mothers’ initiate early marriage of their young daughters as has happened in war-torn Syria and Iraq, either for mothers to minimize the number of children to care for or simply to find someone to protect her daughter from human traffickers in the camp. A situation dubbed as “selling daughters for food or security”.

The UN always talked about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the UN has terribly failed population with most needed help in recent years. Now the UN is squabbling or has reneged n fulfilling what it was established to achieve. The UN has failed to invest in fair, quality education for all but has favored some quarters of the world over the others.

Perhaps, for the IDPs and refugees to survive today’s carnage, the sooner they realize that the UN and NGOs, are not free charity, the destitute population are money generating machines to enrich world giant organization?

For them to remain relevant in this ever evolving world, wars and the suffering of the impoverished world must continue, in this situation, countries must solve their problems, feed and protect their citizens’ away from global systems.

Ring Mayar is Africa and Middle East Security Analyst at the Australian National University. He can be reached via the following Email: or Twitter: @nubainson.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

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