The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Enough is Enough: Sri Lanka Must Resettle Displaced Civilians Now

Sri Lanka’s government claimed victory over the LTTE in March, ending the civil war that had ravaged the country for twenty-five years. Yet more than four months later, 260,000 displaced civilians remain confined in military-run detention camps, suffering from deteriorating conditions and unable to leave.

Enough is enough. It’s time for the Sri Lankan government to release these IDPs and allow them to return home.

The U.N. has repeatedly called for the rapid resettlement of all refugees, and has, in harshening tones, warned that it will not continue to fund the camps unless resettlement progress is made. Numerous human rights groups have issued similar pleas to world leaders and to the Sri Lankan government. The international community itself has finally begun to register its concern over the state of the IDPs.

Yet all appeals have been to no avail.

Although Sri Lanka’s government continues to promise that all IDPs will be resettled by January next year, only a minimal fraction of refugees have so far been allowed to return home. Meanwhile, clashes are breaking out as IDPs try to escape the detention camps and rumors abound that resettled refugees have actually been taken to other detention centers.

The IDPs themselves are begging to return home – or at least for more freedom and sanitary conditions.

Sri Lanka’s government can no longer ignore the myriad demands for it to allow displaced civilians to return home. If it hopes to continue receiving billion-dollar loans from the IMF and foreign funding for its resettlement efforts, then it must begin by making significant progress to ensure the basic rights of all civilians – including the right to liberty and the freedom of movement.

Enough is enough. It’s time for the Sri Lankan government to release all IDPs and allow them to return home now.

Clinton Visits Africa at a Critical Time for Somalia

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with African leaders this week during her eleven-day, seven-nation tour of the continent, she will be forced to face a cache of challenges, from recent instability in Nigeria to the continuing plight of refugees and women in the Congo. But one of her most awaited encounters will come on Thursday as she meets with the president of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, in Nairobi, Kenya. The continued chaos in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, as government forces attempt to repel the latest attacks by Islamic insurgents, has only intensified in the past months and thrust Somalia once again into the international spotlight. At the meeting , Secretary Clinton is expected to reiterate her support for the TFG and the United States’ commitment to providing monetary and military aid to the beleaguered African Union mission in Somalia, in line with recent statements made by the State Department.

"We think that his government … offers the best possible chance for restoring stability to southern Somalia, which has been troubled over the last 20 years by enormous violence and civil conflict," the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State said at State Department press briefing last week.

Yet if the United States is serious about restoring stability to this war-weary country, it must begin by addressing the multinational aspect of its mushrooming conflict. Calls to stabilize Somalia have reached a new level as governments all over the world discover how the Somali conflict has extended into and affected their own spheres. This week, Australia arrested four men linked to Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s strongest Islamic insurgent group, who were plotting to storm a military base in Sydney. The United State’s FBI is currently investigating why and how dozens of young Somali-Americans have returned to Somalia to enlist in Al-Shabaab since 1991. Meanwhile, Kenya, Somalia’s southern neighbor, continuously struggles to provide aid for the 260,000 Somali refugees within its boundaries and to stem the flow of Islamic rebels pouring into its borders. These recent developments prove that the fate of this conflict not only affects Somalia, but poses a global security challenge – one Secretary Clinton must promptly and fully address this week in Kenya.

As Somali Information Minister Farhan Ali Mohamoud told CNN last week, “Somalia’s problems are not for Somalia alone to solve. Not only for the African Union to solve. It is a global and regional issue. We are very appreciative that the international community understands that, but they need to act now, rather than later."

Secretary Clinton and the United States have already made hopeful strides with their offers of aid, but more must be done. While further promises of support for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are welcome, the United States and its allies must also work with the African Union improve the efficiency of the force, which has so far been considered negligible due to a lack of soldiers. The Obama administration has pledged to supply Somali government forces with arms and security training, but more must be done to protect the thousands of Somalis caught in the conflict’s crossfire and to assist the country’s more than 200,000 internally displaced persons. Moreover, the United Nations must address the role of Eritrea, whose continued support of Al-Shabaab has led to threats of sanctions by members of the Security Council.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, has called for a greater, stronger international response to Somalia’s instability, saying the country is at a “turning point” for battling insurgents. He appealed to the Security Council to forcefully tackle Somalia’s humanitarian crisis, emphasizing immediate action: “If not now, then when? If the council does not act, then who will?” For such pleas to be answered, Secretary Clinton and the United States must take a leading role in addressing Somalia’s instability and violence now.