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IRIN - Migration

Stories about refugees, migrants, asylum-seekers, people. 


Mayotte: the French migration frontline you’ve never heard of

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 10:55:51 +0000

Last month, Ousseni Souffiani’s life was turned upside down. He had lived in a hillside shantytown on the island of Mayotte, but a torrential downpour swept his flimsy home away, killing his wife and four of his children who were sheltering inside.   Like many other Comorian immigrants on Mayotte, a speck of French territory in the Indian Ocean, Souffiani’s home was a banga – made of corrugated sheet metal.   All that was left after the tragedy was an old foam mattress and a refrigerator, half-buried beneath the rubble.   When IRIN met Souffiani several weeks later, he was carrying an empty pot covered in cloth. He and his only surviving child, a six-year-old son, were going to a friend’s to ask for food. “We’re starting over at zero,” he said.   Souffiani had most recently worked as a labourer on a manioc field. But his life, like that of other undocumented migrants who’ve made the dangerous sea crossing from the Comoros – just 90 kilometres away – is a precarious one. They face discrimination, and are fearful of being caught by the government’s deportation machine.   Mayotte was once one of the four main islands in the Comoros, all under French control. But during the decolonisation period in the 1970s, it alone voted to join Paris rather than an independent Comoros, splitting the archipelago.   Despite its far-flung location and Comorian claims to the island, Mayotte has most of the trappings and advantages of an official French department – including membership of the EU.   A mirror image of the Mediterranean   So, just as migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, Comorians cross a thin strip of the Mozambique Channel to reach Mayotte and the chance of a better life, usually on small kwassa kwassa fishing boats. Edward Carver/IRIN A banga in the Mayotte capital, Mamoudzou As in the Mediterranean, these boats are often in poor condition – they are frequently seized, so smugglers don’t use their best vessels – and they are overloaded.   About 7,000-10,000 Comorians – more than one percent of the islands’ population – died on the crossing between 1995 and 2012, according to a report from the French Senate. Many local observers cite higher figures, and the Comorian authorities claim it is “the world’s largest marine cemetery”.   French border patrols catch several kwassa kwassa per night. In most cases, the people on board are deported the very next day. Mayotte has a population of just over 200,000, and yet manages to deport about 20,000 people each year.   Mayotte is exempt from certain French immigration laws, and the border police do not always respect those that do exist. In a report last year, France’s human rights commission condemned the quick deportations in Mayotte, where most migrants don’t even see a lawyer or a judge before expulsion.   The commission wrote that seeking asylum in Mayotte was “mission impossible” and that this “worrying phenomenon” was unique in France. For Comorians, these difficulties are compounded by the fact that they believe themselves to be on their own land when they are on Mayotte.   Social tensions   The people of Mayotte and the Comoros have a common, if complicated, ethnic background, with ancestors arriving over the centuries from Africa, islands in the Pacific, Madagascar, and the Middle East. They also share a language and religion.   Most people on the islands speak some form of the main Comorian language, Shikomori, and adhere to the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam.   Yet the long-settled Mahorans (people of Mayotte) resent the large presence of other Comorians on their island, which puts pressure on public services. Schools are now full of children from the other islands, and at Mayotte’s main hospital, most of the women giving birth are undocumented migrants.   Mansour Kamardine, one of Mayotte’s two representatives in the French parliament, considers the Comorian presence an “invasion” and regularly bemoans th[...]

Suffering Syrians, trapped Venezuelans, and a Ugandan refugee swindle: The Cheat Sheet

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 18:29:19 +0000

Every week, IRIN’s team of specialist editors scans the humanitarian horizon to curate a reading list on important and unfolding trends and events around the globe:   From bad to worse in Syria’s de-escalation zones   Late last month, IRIN analyst Aron Lund warned of the beginning of a new wave of displacement in northwestern Syria thanks to dual offensives by the government of President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey. But since then it’s been “going from bad to worse” in rebel-held Idlib, warns Save the Children, telling how a displacement camp has been bombed, leaving terrified people with nowhere safe to go. And in the nearby Kurdish enclave of Afrin, tens of thousands more people have been displaced since 20 January alone. In besieged Eastern Ghouta, which like Idlib was designated as a “de-escalation zone” in a deal hatched last May in Astana, hundreds of children are said to be in urgent need of medical evacuation, food prices are soaring, and monitors and opposition activists say 200 civilians have been killed in four days of government airstrikes. What is left for civilians in the Astana deal that was supposed to wind down years of horrific violence in Syria? The head of the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria said this week that the recent violence had made a “mockery of the de-escalation zones”. The Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, went further, declaring: “humanitarian diplomacy is failing”.   No exit: Venezuela’s neighbours close the door   Our never-cheery New Year listicle of humanitarian crises to watch out for warned that regional hospitality could soon wear thin as Venezuela’s neighbours felt the strain of more than a million newcomers. Fast forward less than six weeks and events have already overshot our gloomiest predictions. On a visit Thursday to Cúcuta, where hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans take their first steps on Colombian soil, President Juan Manuel Santos announced a raft of tough new measures: temporary permits allowing Venezuelans to cross over and return at will for vital trade, food, and medicines would be scrapped; those already in Colombia would have 90 days to register with officials before becoming “illegal”. At roughly the same time, 1,500 kilometres to the southeast, in the first town through the Brazilian escape route, Boa Vista, Defence Minister Raul Jungmann closed the door a little further: more troops would be deployed to the border; Venezuelans in the frontier region would be relocated to Brazil’s interior. Meanwhile, the extent of the humanitarian crisis brewing inside Venezuela, where malnutrition and diseases like malaria are reportedly on the rise, is getting harder to ascertain. Journalists are finding it harder to report on sensitive issues as President Nicolás Maduro becomes increasingly authoritarian ahead of snap April elections. With the International Monetary Fund predicting 13,000% inflation this year and the fallout from the election still ahead, these may soon be seen as the good times. In his comments in Cúcuta, Santos laid the blame squarely at Maduro’s door and challenged him to start accepting international humanitarian aid. Watch this space.   Inflated numbers: Ugandan refugee record tarnished   The Ugandan government has suspended five senior officials for allegedly inflating refugee figures to swindle donor funds. But the scandal could yet be worse, with additional allegations that refugee women in the north of the country have been trafficked back into South Sudan and sold as “wives”. Apollo Kazungu, Uganda’s commissioner for refugees, and members of his staff have been accused of colluding with officials from the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme to fiddle the numbers. Millions of dollars in aid are believed to have been lost as a result, the Guardian reported. The EU, which provides funding to the two agencies, is investigating the charges. Uganda claims to house 1.4 million refugees, a million of [...]

How weavers in Burkina Faso are now on Europe’s migration front line

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 14:19:05 +0000

Speed, endurance, dexterity and an eye for colour: just some of the skills needed when weaving on a loom. Eveline Ouédraogo masters them all. Without visible effort, this Burkinabé woman rapidly moves her feet over the pedals, her hands manoeuvring 40 brightly coloured coils of thread.   With each thread going back and forth, Ouédraogo, 37, earns a little bit more. Every fling on the loom brings her children a step closer to a better future: one the EU hopes – as the funder of the micro-enterprise where she works – will keep them at home rather than migrating north.   Ouédraogo is employed by the Association Zoodo pour la Promotion de la Femme, and the fabric they produce has featured in international fashion magazines. “Did you know there’s even a picture of Beyoncé wearing our fabrics?” said Ouédraogo, well within her rights to boast.   The association’s small workshop on the outskirts of the capital, Ouagadougou, is supported by the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), a programme run by the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the UN and the World Trade Organisation.   Major fashion brands such as Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney are linked by EFI with artisans in poor countries, supporting the idea of “fashion as a vehicle for development”.   Ouédraogo earns two to five euros per metre depending on the complexity of the fabric. On a good day, she can weave up to one and a half metres – making just a little over the average wage in Burkina Faso.   Investing in people   Last year, the EFI received €5 million from the multi-billion-dollar EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) to expand its programmes in Burkina Faso.   The fund, launched in 2015, aims to tackle the root causes of outward migration through development aid, security and peacebuilding support, as well as financing for migration management.   But in a country like Burkina Faso where remittances from migration represent real financial benefits for families, are projects like EFI – or more traditional EU rural development assistance – enough to dissuade young people from taking the risk of travelling to Europe?   Some €3.3 billion has been pledged to the EUTF, according to the European Commission. Burkina Faso is one of 21 sub-Saharan African countries contributing to migration flows to Europe that is benefitting from the fund, to the tune of €84 million.   Simone Cipriani, founder and head of EFI, believes the EUTF’s job creation strategy makes sense. “With this project, I think we will stabilise some jobs here, and tens, if not some hundreds, of people will decide to stay,” he told IRIN.   By investing in new technology and expanding the customer order book, he believes the “hundreds of jobs” EFI supports could be transformed into “almost 2,800 jobs”.   However, the evidence suggests that while increasing prosperity at home may encourage some people to stay, it also enables many more to leave. Cipriani acknowledged this. “People in Europe sometimes forget that people here in Africa have the freedom to go and migrate,” he added. Saskia Houttuin/Sarah Haaij/IRIN Workshop at Association Zoodo pour la Promotion de la Femme   Take Christiane Zoungrana. Five days a week the 42-year-old wheelchair-bound weaver pushes herself to work to help provide for her family. She has no plans to migrate, but her eldest son has recently been talking a lot about leaving.   Zoungrana would prefer to keep him as far away as possible from the dangers of the desert and Mediterranean, but he can’t seem to find a job. “If he really wants to go, I’ll help him,” she said, seeing the potential positive of having the means to employ someone to take care of her in the future if he made a success of himself elsewhere.   Migration hotspot   Burkina Faso is a poor, agriculture-based country. It historically provided workers to neighbouring economic powerhouse Cote d’[...]

Mapped: How monsoon rains could submerge Rohingya refugee camps

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 13:26:47 +0000

Tens of thousands of vulnerable people living in rickety homes in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps will be threatened by landslides and floods as the monsoon season nears, according to officials in the densely packed settlements. Data released by aid groups shows that floods could submerge one third of the land in the cramped Kutupalong-Balukhali mega-camp, which is now home to more than half a million Rohingya refugees. Using drone images, historical rainfall data and interviews with local residents, researchers have estimated the risks of floods and sudden “landslide failure” throughout the complex warren of interconnected streams and sloping hills. The risk analysis, released in late January, estimates that more than 86,000 people live in high-danger flood areas, while more than 23,000 live along steep, unstable hillsides that could crumble with continuous heavy rainfall. Aid groups and Bangladeshi authorities say stabilising the most at-risk homes in the camps is a top priority ahead of the monsoon season, which typically begins in late May. The current dry season offers only a small window of opportunity before the rains set in – and some fear time is running out. frameborder="0" height="600" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"> More than 688,000 Rohingya surged into Bangladesh after a military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017. Overwhelmed by the influx, Bangladeshi authorities ushered most of the new arrivals to a giant mega-camp sprawled between existing refugee settlements, then home to roughly 100,000 people. At the time, local NGOs and aid groups warned of the risks of amassing large numbers of people on unstable land. But, over the ensuing weeks, the camp exploded in size as Rohingya settled in, carving homes into the surrounding hillsides or digging in to low-lying land near rivers and streams. Many Rohingya arriving in the camps pieced together their makeshift homes from tarpaulin sheets and scraps of bamboo. In December, IRIN reported on early plans to prepare for the looming cyclone and rainy seasons. Aid workers warned that much of the infrastructure built over the past weeks could be swept away by a powerful storm or the monsoon rains. ”It's going to be a disaster within a disaster; we're going to have to restart," said Graham Eastmond, who coordinates aid groups working on organising shelter in the camps. "The monsoons themselves are going to create a whole different landscape to what exists now." See: A disaster within a disaster: cyclone fears in fragile Rohingya camps The new risk analysis estimates that floods and landslides could damage one quarter of washrooms and latrines in the main mega-camp and nearly half of the current sources of tube-well water. Other essential services hastily put in place during the influx are also at risk: makeshift classrooms for children, nutrition centres, and almost one third of health clinics – a particular concern given the already high risk of disease outbreaks in the cramped settlements. Aid groups also warn that heavy floods and landslides could wash away roads and pathways, cutting off large parts of the camp not submerged by the rainfall. The priority now, according to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, is to upgrade as many of the Rohingya homes as possible with stronger bamboo and better building techniques. Authorities are also looking into the logistics of moving the most at-risk homes. But this involves major work to level off steep hillsides and find useable new land – extremely difficult when space is at such a high premium. Already, aid groups working in education say the threat of monsoon season could see the permanent closure of dozens of learning centres in flood-prone areas, shrinking classroom space for 10,000 children. With the monsoon season fast approaching, aid officials are stepping up warnings that the window of opportunity to pr[...]

Kenya on edge, clashes in Aden, and a crypto aid windfall? The Cheat Sheet

Tue, 30 Jan 2018 09:49:11 +0000

Every week, IRIN’s team of specialist editors scans the humanitarian horizon to curate a reading list on important and unfolding trends and events around the globe: Kenya stumbles into an avoidable crisis Tensions are running high in Kenya. After opposition leader Raila Odinga swore himself in as “the people’s president” this week – in defiance of the official election result – the government responded by shutting down three private broadcasters that aired the ceremony. A high court has ordered the restoration of the TV transmissions, but the government is still chasing opposition activists, arresting today the self-declared “General” of the National Resistance Movement, Miguna Miguna, who officiated at the event. Odinga and his NASA coalition insist he was robbed in the 2017 elections, which were run twice. Western envoys have condemned Odinga’s high-tension swearing-in move, which earned a sharp rebuke by sections of Kenyans on Twitter, particularly over the role of foreign election monitors. The International Crisis Group appealed last week for both sides to show restraint. It urged Odinga to call off his swearing-in; for the government to agree to an audit of Kenya’s electoral authorities; and then for the convening of some form of national convention “to discuss reforms to lower the stakes of political competition”. Underlining the gravity of the situation, a new Brookings report noted that anyone concerned about peace, security, and human progress in Africa generally, and in East Africa in particular, should be keenly following the ongoing governance and constitutional developments in Kenya. Pakistan’s short Afghan reprieve leaves refugees in limbo Authorities in Pakistan have extended a deportation deadline for Afghan refugees by only 60 days. The brief reprieve – the government had been asked to consider a five-month extension – is fuelling concerns that authorities may soon push to send Afghans back to a country mired in violence. There are some 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, along with at least 600,000 people who are undocumented. Pakistan has frequently pressured Afghans to leave – more than 700,000 Afghans returned from Pakistan in 2016 and 2017. But aid groups say the recent uncertainty has not yet translated into widespread crackdowns on Afghan refugee communities on the ground. Even so, the prospect of another large-scale influx is troubling for aid groups in Afghanistan, which has been hit by multiple high-profile insurgent attacks in recent weeks. Conflict displaced more than 470,000 people in Afghanistan last year, while brazen attacks on a luxury hotel in Kabul and the Jalalabad office of the NGO Save the Children are further signs of the mounting insecurity in the country. Statistics released by the US military this week show that the Afghan government’s hold over its own territory continues to be eroded. It now has control or influence in only 56 percent of the country’s 407 districts – the lowest level in more than two years. allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="500" id="datawrapper-chart-f0wHp" scrolling="no" src="//" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important;">   Meanwhile, over the past three years, the Sudanese government has made it clear it expects the EU to provide funds and equipment for its migration control efforts.    The head of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan, regularly boasts about the RSF’s role in assisting the EU. He recently told Al Jazeera: “[The EU] lose[s] millions in fighting migration, that's why [it has] to support us."   The EU ambassador to the Sudan, Jean-Michel Dumond, rejects criticism of Europe’s relationship with Khartoum. “We have been accused of all the sins of the world, and it’s quite clear we have never cooperated with the RSF – we have no link,” he told IRIN. “[EU] aid is given [under] very clear condi[...]

Fumbled repatriation sows fear in Bangladesh Rohingya camps

Fri, 26 Jan 2018 13:32:36 +0000

It’s midday in Bangladesh’s sprawling Rohingya refugee settlements. A group of men hover under the shade of a tiny bamboo shack, trading strands of information about the topic on everyone’s minds: the future of several hundred thousand refugees here in the camps. Mohammed Salim is one of some 688,000 Rohingya driven out of Myanmar since August 2017. Like many, he’s heard the rumours – and they scare him. “We are hearing that Bangladesh wants to send us back,” Salim said. For Salim and many Rohingya here, there is only a trickle of information through the camps, often from news programmes downloaded at an Internet cafe, or from patchy radio broadcasts that have to be translated into the Rohingya dialect before filtering through the crowds. "The Bangladesh government doesn’t talk to us,” Salim said. “We know nothing." That said, news of plans to send Rohingya back to Rakhine pervaded the camps this week, sparking fear and protest. Officially, at least, Myanmar says it’s ready to begin resettling Rohingya. Bangladesh says it needs more time to prepare. Just about everyone else – rights groups, UN organisations, and Rohingya themselves – say even the thought of refugee return is startlingly premature and dangerous. A 23 January deadline to begin repatriations came and went with little movement. The Rohingya remain crowded in tenuous settlements etched into hillsides or sprawled out along low-lying floodplains. But fear is building as the uncertain prospects of repatriation loom overhead. Verena Hölzl/IRIN The Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh have swollen to the size of a city, but have little of the infrastructure. Aid workers say the upcoming monsoon and cyclone seasons could have a devastating impact on the fragile settlements. Voluntary returns? Behind a rusty fence, Bangladesh government employees inspect an overgrown patch of land that sits between overflowing camps near the border town of Teknaf. In the 1990s, the land was the sight of a transit camp built for a previous wave of Rohingya refugees who were being returned to Myanmar. For now, it’s still just an unkempt field. Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, Abul Kalam, said preparations for repatriation are continuing, even though the government this week announced actual returns would be postponed until an unspecified date. “It’s a complicated process and we want it to be sustainable,” he told IRIN. “There is no shortcut for it.” Bangladesh, he said, is continuing to prepare lists of possible returnees – he would not elaborate on how the names would be selected – and to set up transit camps so that returns can start. However, any eventual returns, he stressed, would be “safe and voluntary”. Ultimately, however, Kalam said the onus is on Myanmar to treat Rohingya with dignity, and for the international community to pressure Myanmar to do so. “We are by no means responsible for this artificially created disaster and we cannot solve all these problems,” he said. But there are major questions about what Rohingya refugees will face if they are returned to Myanmar. Rights groups and fleeing Rohingya say Myanmar’s military, along with groups of ethnic Rakhine, burned entire communities to the ground and slaughtered civilians. The military has denied almost all allegations of widespread atrocities, while the government has stonewalled a UN-led investigation on Myanmar soil. Myanmar says it is preparing a temporary settlement near Bangladesh’s border where repatriated Rohingya can live until their homes are rebuilt. But rights groups point out that tens of thousands of Rohingya in central Rakhine State have been stranded in once-temporary displacement sites since 2012, when a wave of communal violence ripped through the state. See: UN, aid groups debate Myanmar internment plan [...]

Crises on the horizon in 2018: the view from Davos

Fri, 26 Jan 2018 11:47:49 +0000

Political violence, increased weather threats, and the rise of strongmen will be key drivers of crises in 2018, experts told IRIN at the World Economic Forum this week.   The Global Humanitarian Outlook, convened by IRIN News and the Overseas Development Institute in Davos, Switzerland, brought together UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, professor and former Mauritanian foreign minister Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth, and ODI’s Managing Director Sara Pantuliano. Watch the full discussion here. Here are key highlights of their conversation with IRIN Director Heba Aly:   End of so-called Islamic State? Not so fast   The Iraqi and Syrian governments have both proclaimed victory over the militant group IS in recent months as it has lost swathes of territory in the region and seen its leadership decimated. But in the wake of a deadly, IS-claimed attack this week on aid agency Save the Children’s compound in Afghanistan, Mohamedou, author of ‘A Theory of ISIS’, warned of prematurely claiming victory.    “It’s a misleading narrative… This is the evil genius of [former US president] George W. Bush – to have couched the ‘war on terror’ in those terms – that there’s a sense, fundamentally, of closure that would come with bringing down physically, quantitatively what is a societal, what is a social, what is a political problem, what is a historical issue…” He recalled similar perceptions a decade ago when the Islamic State of Iraq, the successor to al-Qaeda, appeared “defeated” after a US military surge, “and then we came back to see that another much more powerful entity came behind, which was [IS].” Film Library twitter facebook whatsapp email Film Library Photo Library Back to film list width="640" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen=""> Professor Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou on ISIS Share this film twitter facebook whatsapp email While the IS of the last few years is “for all practical purposes gone”, the group is mutating, repositioning, and regrouping into “an entity that has become much more transnational, much more global,” Mohamedou added, pointing to specific risks in Libya and the Sinai region of Egypt.   Read more: Radio Wars: Islamic State takes over the Afghan airwaves Libya’s downward spiral to shortages, militia power, and migrant abuse Secrecy in Sinai – an unknown human toll     What about Syria? Any progress?   Lowcock, the UN’s relief chief, described a very mixed picture after a recent trip to Syria, which, in March, will enter its eighth year of war.   “There are certainly parts of the country where things are calmer than they were two or three years ago… Equally, the situation has gotten a lot more complex and there’s obviously been a very unsettling spike in the violence over the last three months or so.”   In particular, he pointed to the sieges of civilians in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb outside the capital, Damascus, as well as in the towns of Fua and Kefraya; the “extraordinary” amount of exploded ordnance in Raqqa; the [...]

EVENT: Humanitarian crises in the spotlight at Davos

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 23:12:02 +0000

While 2017 was tough, the humanitarian horizon suggests 2018 will be even worse. This week, IRIN is at the World Economic Forum in Davos where we will be discussing crises to look out for in 2018, sharing our unique perspective from the front lines to help policy makers take decisions that save lives. Tuesday 23 January, 15:00 GMT+1: Watch the live press conference with IRIN Director Heba Aly, alongside Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Sara Pantuliano, Managing Director of the Overseas Development Institute, and moderated by Georg Schmitt, Head of Corporate Affairs at the World Economic Forum. Wednesday 24 January, 21:00 - 23:00 GMT+1: Watch the Global Humanitarian Outlook, an IRIN-ODI event where we will be in conversation about the crises on the horizon in 2018 with UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth, Managing Director of the Overseas Development Institute Sara Pantuliano, and Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, author of 'A Theory of ISIS'. Global Humanitarian Outlook: Fireside Chat at the Tradeshift Sanctuary, Davos 24 January 2018 21:00 - 23:00 GMT+1 | Public event | Streamed live online Film Library twitter facebook whatsapp email Film Library Photo Library Back to film list width="640" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen=""> Global Humanitarian Outlook at the World Economic Forum Share this film twitter facebook whatsapp email Chair: Heba Aly @HebaJournalist - Director, IRIN News Speakers: Mark Lowcock @UNReliefChief - Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, UN Kenneth Roth @KenRoth - Executive Director, Human Rights Watch Sara Pantuliano @SaraPantuliano - Managing Director, Overseas Development Institute  Professor Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou @IHEID - The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Biographies Heba Aly is the Director of IRIN, one of the world's leading sources of original, field-based journalism about humanitarian crises. A Canadian-Egyptian multimedia journalist, Heba spent one decade reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia before becoming part of the team that successfully led IRIN's transition from the United Nations to a non-profit media organization. Her work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg News and IRIN, among others, took her to places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chad and Libya; and she received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for her work in northern Sudan. Mark Lowcock is the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Emergency Relief Coordinator, and former Permanent Secretary to the UK Department for International Development. Mr Lowcock began his career at DFID (formerly the Overseas Development Administration) in 1985, and he served in a diverse range of roles - including overseas postings in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Kenya - in addition to holding leadership positions at headquarters. Mr Lowcock was appointed Under-Secreta[...]