It’s May 15 today and May 15 is the day Palestinians call Al Nakba. 65 years ago, the creation of the state of Israel implied the displacement of thousands of Palestinians who left their homes and were forced to settle elsewhere. It led to the physical separation of Palestinians across the region – to refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, to the West Bank, to Gaza, to Jerusalem – which continues today, aggravated by movement restrictions, discrimination, housing demolitions, closure and siege.
The political division between Gaza and West Bank is but one of the more recent developments that continues to drive a stake between the Palestinians living in this case just a two hour drive apart. (The division, in brief, came when Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary elections, and concluding in their control of Gaza, and Fatah responding by claiming the West Bank.)
Thomas Hessius Ekman, swedish polis working as UNPOL adviser on trafficking.
Human trafficking is not a topic that is well known in Liberia. Most persons, or even organizations that might get into contact with it, do not know what it is or what it means. However, one should not confuse the lack of knowledge of trafficking with a belief that it does not exist in Liberia, because it does. It was with excitement that we heard about the new (or rather resurrected) National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force that has been formed to fight trafficking.
When explaining what trafficking is most Liberians identify the practice of taking children from rural villages to larger towns against promise of a better life, as trafficking. Some have heard of cases of small children being sold, or young boys being taken across the border to go to Quran schools. When we dig deeper we begin to see that yes, there is more going on in Liberia too. Women, and boys and girls are trafficked for different purposes and to different destinations. They are abused, mistreated, and the perpetrators have almost complete impunity as there is no precedent for prosecuting against human trafficking in Liberia.
One of the trickiest things in working to promote women’s rights in conflict is answering the question that follows when you tell someone that conflict affects women differently. “But how, give me a specific example,” they say.
That is why I am always so happy when I come across clear and communicable examples. Like this one! The Norwegian Refugee Council recently launched a report on “shelter” (humanitarian speak for housing, basically, but simplified) in Gaza. The long and extensive report has five pages that really speak to me – and that is when women in Gaza, in plain words, explain the link between overcrowding (a cause of the destruction of homes, and inability to build as there aren’t enough materials being imported due to the siege) and gender-based violence.
What I like to remember when the (male) politicians make their big speeches and grand promises, is the ever-ongoing, tireless work of the women’s organisations.
Today I got this fantastic mail from Impuls, in the small town of Tutin in south west Serbia, bordering Kosovo and Montenegro:
“Dear Stina, it’s me again with the good news. The Municipal Assembly today adopted an action plan for gender equality! In our action plan is included Resolution 1325. As far as I know, we are the only municipality that has this resolution included in the Action Plan.
Today, for me was a really happy day!”
(Translated by google and me.) And this is only one of the good things happening in Tutin thanks to Impuls. Just so you know.