November 25, 2016
On the occasion of the 9th UN Forum on Minority Issues, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in cooperation with the Society for Threatened Peoples will be organising a side-event in Geneva on the 25 November 2016 entitled “Forgotten Crises, Forgotten Victims: Minorities and Humanitarian Challenges”.
Over the past few years a number of countries and regions around the world have seen the start or escalation of largescale and complex conflicts and natural disasters – something which the media (and by extension the donor community) has rapidly picked up on. However, what is not always covered by the media is that, in these conflicts, minorities are particularly targeted and forced to endure widespread and systematic humanitarian suffering and violations of their basic human rights. Minority groups and indigenous people have been subjected to mass displacement, sexual violence, massacres, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Even where they are not deliberately targeted, being often amongst the most vulnerable civilian components, they suffer disproportionately to the rest of society. In many cases this is accompanied and facilitated by the lack of any meaningful representation in decision-making.
Among the oft-forgotten humanitarian crises is that facing the people of Ogaden in the Somali region of Ethiopia, where the recent drought has hit on a territory already severely affected by arid conditions, years of isolation, repression and exclusion from economic development. As a result, many Ogadenis have fled to neighbouring Kenya, seeking shelter in refugee camps. Meanwhile, with the P5+1 nuclear deal, relations between the West and Iran are thawing, making the plight of the indigenous Arabi people within the province of Al-Ahwaz slide into insignificance. Also, the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, despite multiple demands made by the Jumma peoples to the Bangladeshi government, they continue to be denied their fundamental rights, including recognition as indigenous peoples.
These are just a few examples of situations where minorities face immense humanitarian challenges – but they clearly show that it is a truly transnational problem, not defined to a specific geographical or socio-economic context.
Against this background this side event seeks to draw attention to the multiple challenges minority groups face in situations of - in particular forgotten - humanitarian crises. Additionally, this side-event aims to offer a platform for minority representatives to discuss different coping strategies and measures to address various humanitarian challenges, based on their own experiences.
You may download the programme here.