Featured Speakers: Ky Luu
Ky Luu, Director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, briefed a roundtable conference audience on the ground situation and emerging issues in Iraq, Sudan and Uganda. He has stopped in each country in the past couple months and provided some of the most up-to-date information on refugee and IDP crises.
About one month ago, UNHCR held a conference on refugees and IDPs. While Luu and others doubted the productivity of the event initially, the conference focused on specific immediate needs of these many displaced people. They are now working to raise awareness for partners. One of the current issues is that U.S. implementing partners have been doing substantive work in Iraq since 2003, but not collaborating with UNHCR. Still, the number of IDPs per year has increased but there is a strong commitment coming from UNHCR and others that we need to do more and multilateral organizations are finding the potential for operating within the country more fully.
In Sudan, the most important efforts are to support NGOs and find out the specific kinds of support that they need because the country’s government has not be very accepting of governmental organizations. Momentum is increasing for UNHCR to take on the crisis with sponsorship from the U.S. One problem is that with current capacity, they would not be able to do it until the beginning of next year, in addition to the fact that Sudan’s must agree to the partnership. Fortunately, Luu commented that funding to continue programs should not be a primary worry and no one should see funding as an impediment to staff safety and security or moving to another region if necessary. One of the primary concerns both here and in the field is the psychosocial help of the staff, especially on the ground abroad. This is one of the main areas to which continued funding will be allocated because of the current lack of psychosocial support.
In Uganda, about 40% of IDPs have either returned home or are in the process of doing so, but what has come up is the conflict of definition of just what “home” means. We cannot establish sustainable programs built around neighborhoods if the people who are occupying them want to move closer to their original homes within the next several months or couple years. This would be a waste of resources, but yet we must provide them with sufficient resources as they do return. The conclusions that some at USAID have made is that it is best to use energy and funds now, sooner rather than later and provide a robust return package, though they of course see the potential future downfall because of continued movement. They are hoping that with a more comprehensive study of the humanitarian situation, they will be able to maintain the same level of funding and move from care and maintenance to transitional recovery.
Location and Sponsor: USAID
Date: May 17, 2007
Approximate Number of Attendees: 30
Intern Attending: Elysa Severinghaus