Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

2 agosto, 2015
por Felipe Sahagún
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People displaced by disaster

 

 

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre recently released their annual Global Estimates of People Displaced by Disasters, which reports that almost 20 million people were newly displaced by sudden-onset disasters in 100 countries in 2014.  Since 2008, an average of 26.4 million people have been displaced by disasters every year—equivalent to one person every second. Their careful analysis of regional and global trends (coupled with impressive infographics) is an important step forward in our understanding of how people’s lives are uprooted by disasters stemming from the effects of climate change. And for the first time ever, their report examines both people who were newly displaced by disasters and those who have been displaced for years. While there is an assumption that people who are forced to leave their homes because of floods or earthquakes will be able to return home quickly, the reality is different—as those affected by Hurricane Katrina can attest.

Similar challenges for developed and developing nations

I was once again struck by the realization that rich and poor countries face similar challenges with respect to displacement caused by disasters. Today, the climate change negotiations seem to be stalled in tense north-south negotiations (for understandable reasons given the fact that some countries, such as Pacific Island countries that have contributed very little to global warming, will suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change.) But when you shift the focus to look at disasters and displacement, it is clear that disasters affect people in all parts of our planet—from Miami to Manila, from Christchurch to Port-au-Prince—and that displacement has similar consequences for all affected people.

In all regions of the world, those who are poor and marginalized often suffer disproportionately from the effects of disasters, in part because they tend to live on marginal land and their houses are more weakly constructed. They are also less likely to own their homes, which means that it is less likely they are eligible for assistance to rebuild their homes.

A few years ago, I wrote about the similarities between governmental programs to assist those displaced by Hurricane Katrina and by the Haitian earthquake. In both cases, people were still displaced years after the disaster, and in both cases, the U.S. and Haitian governments turned to rental subsidies to meet the housing needs of particularly vulnerable groups. IDMC’s new study turns an eye to a more recent disaster, superstorm Sandy, reminding us—and hopefully policymakers—that there are still more than 30,000 people in the United States who have not yet found solutions to their displacement.

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Global Estimates of  People Displaced by Disasters

2 agosto, 2015
por Felipe Sahagún
0 Comentarios

U.S. bases overseas

In a New York Times op-ed on July 27, American University Professor David Vine argued that the Department of Defense maintains a vast array of overseas bases that waste money, attract terrorist strikes, and militarize American foreign policy.

There is no doubt that some of his concerns are valid. For example, I would argue that the planned relocation of many Marines on Okinawa to Guam—along with the building of a major new airfield on Okinawa—is wasteful (though Tokyo will pay most of the costs). And I would agree that it sure would be nice if we could have fewer forces in the broader Middle East (though our non-intervention in Syria, and the mess that has ensued, shows that there are often huge costs to avoiding the deployment of forces as well). But on balance, Vine stacks the deck too blatantly in service of his argument, and a corrective is needed.

What the numbers really show

Vine writes that there are some 700 U.S. military bases abroad—in fact, there are fewer than 600 today. While his numbers are not far off, the bigger problem is that he conflates big bases with smaller ones.

To see the importance of this, take for example the Air Force. It has about 15 truly major operational bases overseas with significant operational capacity (major runways and related infrastructure)—and that’s it. A couple in Germany, a couple in Britain, one in Italy, one in Qatar, one in Kuwait, one in the UAE, three in Japan, two in South Korea, one in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and a couple still in Afghanistan. To be sure, the Air Force has lots of smaller facilities, but these aren’t major operational bases.

To be sure, America’s capabilities abroad are significant, dwarfing those of any other nation. But they have declined dramatically. The Army returned more than 500 facilities in Germany alone as the Cold War ended, for example.

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2 agosto, 2015
por Felipe Sahagún
0 Comentarios

Afghanistan and the death of Mullah Omar

Jul 31, 2015

The exact circumstances surrounding the reports of Mullah Omar’s death remain unclear, and some facts remain uncertain. It does seem likely, however, that the central power structure of the Taliban covered up his death in 2013 in an effort to preserve its influence, motivate Taliban fighters, and take advantage of the loyalty oath that those who join the Taliban took to Omar.

It also seems clear that—in spite of denials of Omar’s death by those who were around him in “Taliban central”—Omar did not endorse peace negotiations and has not been actively planning Taliban military campaigns for some time. The fact that Omar only gave a “post-deathbed endorsement” of peace negotiations seems to have led to Taliban statements that Omar never did endorse such negotiations on July 29—only a day after the Afghan government publicly announced Omar’s death.

In any case, the public confirmation of Omar’s death raises three key questions for Afghanistan:

  • What does this mean in terms of the leadership of the insurgency against the Afghan government;
  • How will it affect the course of the fighting, and
  • How will it affect any future peace negotiations?

In practice, the real answers to all three questions will only become apparent with time. It is easy to speculate and to suggest that Omar’s death will lead to major power struggles, to a weakening of the insurgent military effort, or to the success or failure of peace negotiations.

Predicting a future has never made one happen. The most that can be said at this point is that the future importance of the top level leadership of the Taliban must be kept in careful perspective, that the Taliban and other insurgents are making major military gains and may continue to do so, and that peace negotiations are a two-edged sword and can easily become an extension of war by other means.

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The aftermath of the shadowy life and death of Mullah -by Ahmed Rashid http://on.ft.com/1M53mM2  vía @FT