The drivers of human displacement are becoming more and more complex, ranging from conflict and persecution to the increasingly pertinent variables of heightened mobility and social media influences. Of rapidly but appropriately escalating concern is the impact of climate change. While the intensity and severity of climate-induced disasters and climate-related migration will be unevenly distributed across space and time, the World Bank estimates that approximately 140 million people will be displaced globally due to climate-related reasons by 2050. The effects of climate change are expected to be particularly pronounced in Africa, where rising temperatures, unpredictable anomalous rainfall and high vulnerability to extreme natural hazards will continue to exacerbate conflict and harm local and regional human, economic, and environmental security.
In the East and Horn of Africa (EHoA) in particular, the dependence on rain-fed agriculture and pastoralism means that livelihoods and food security are inextricably linked and affected by long-term or sudden environmental changes and natural hazards. The extreme natural hazards that have struck EHoA in recent years have caused widespread hunger, displacement, loss of critical infrastructure and livelihoods, and death
In an effort to understand the complex variables that influence migration, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) developed the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) to track and gather information about populations on the move. The Flow Monitoring Registry (FMR) captures a wealth of data about the migratory routes, the demographics and nationality of migrants, reasons for migration, modes of transportation used to facilitate movement, and vulnerabilities experienced by these populations. While the descriptive data provides a wealth of information, more can be done to analyze the complexities of and interactions between migration, conflict, environmental changes, and climate-related events. Climate projections further suggest that environmental changes will likely further lead to decreased water availability, lowered agricultural productivity, and increased disease transmission in the region, producing complex ramifications regarding local and regional conflicts, economics, politics, and migration.
The porous borders in EHoA have contributed to some of the highest volumes of cross border movement in the world. In 2020 alone, EHoA hosted 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers.6 In the same year, the Horn of Africa experienced unusually high levels of precipitation leading to disastrous floods and landslides and creating ideal conditions for an detrimental locust plague towards the end of 2019 that devastated crops and disrupted livelihoods. The extreme precipitation experienced across much of the Horn in 2019 was preceded by anomalous rainfall the previous year. 2018 was particularly hot and dry in the Horn of Africa, with positive temperature anomalies of around 2°C and below-average precipitation contributing to drought-like conditions in Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti while Kenya and Sudan experienced above-average precipitation.8 The drought-like conditions in Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti contributed to widespread food insecurity that affected approximately 12 million people. These extreme weather conditions are increasingly exacerbating the already complex and interconnected factors driving migration in the Horn of Africa, and are only expected to escalate in the future.
For this study, the IOM RDH in Nairobi partnered with the Humanitarian Geoanalytics Program at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to leverage spatial analytics to investigate migration flows in the East and Horn of Africa and Yemen. Geospatial analytics hold tremendous potential to introduce new ways of thinking, build research capacity, study impacts, and facilitate costeffective programming. The adoption of geospatial methods into research oriented towards populations on the move, gives us the capacity to accurately characterize the spatial heterogeneity of migrating populations. Furthermore, by incorporating environmental variables into this spatial analysis, we begin to reveal relationships previously undiscovered that could contribute to a richer understanding regarding migration in the region.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Data Hub (RDH) for the East and Horn of Africa partnered with the Humanitarian Geoanalytics Program (HumGeo) at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) to analyze the complexities of and interactions between migration, conflict, environmental changes, and climate-related events in Yemen, and the East and Horn of Africa between 2018 and 2020.
This research aims to answer the following questions through a variety of geospatial analyses:
1) How did out-migration rates in any given administrative region change over time and, was it statistically significant compared to administrative regions around it?
2) How do the numbers of migrants and the overall migration trends vary across space and time, for each cited reason for migration (aka ‘driver of migration’)?
3) How do environmental variables, e.g. temperature and precipitation, correlate with outmigration in in the East and Horn of Africa?
This study provides new insights into out-migration patterns in the region, demonstrates a novel way to investigate changing reasons for out-migration using a variety of spatial analysis methods, and establishes a foundation for future studies to analyze the complex and evolving relationship between migration and climate change that will continue to intensify in the years to come.
Background: Ensuring adequate utilization of healthcare services for displaced populations is critical, yet there are well-documented treatment gaps. Yazidi women captured by the Islamic State (IS) were subjected to extreme trauma and violence. This study aims to understand perceptions of healthcare providers and utilization of these services among women who experienced extreme trauma.
Methods: This is a qualitative study with voluntary participation offered to approximately 400 women resettled through the Special Quota Program. An empirical approach was used to collect data and a grounded theory approach was used for content analysis. Participants ranked their interactions with providers on a Likert scale. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were assessed using the impact of event scale-revised questionnaire.
Results: A total of 116 Yazidi women participated in this study. The women experienced an average of 6.8 months of captivity by IS and 93% met criteria for probable PTSD. Eighty-three percent of the women interacted with a physician; 80% found this interaction helpful. Sixty-nine percent interacted with psychologists; 61% found this interaction helpful. Six themes emerged: “reminders of trauma” and “hopelessness” in relation to the traumatic experience; “immediate relief” and “healing through pharmaceutical treatment” in relation to provider interventions, and “support” and “cultural differences” in relation to interactions with providers.
Conclusions: There exist major barriers to care for Yazidi women who experienced extreme trauma, particularly in regards to psychiatric care. Perceptions of healthcare providers and perceived effectiveness of therapy are critical factors that must be taken into consideration to improve healthcare utilization and outcomes.
Importance: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is highly prevalent among refugees surviving mass atrocities, especially among women. Longitudinal studies investigating factors associated with PTSD course are essential to enable adequate treatment yet widely lacking.
Objective: To identify longitudinal changes in PTSD severity and posttraumatic coping among severely traumatized female refugees as well as risk and protective factors for PTSD course.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study took place in 14 German cities in the context of a humanitarian admission program that resettled 1000 especially vulnerable women and children from northern Iraq to Germany. Approximately 400 adult beneficiaries of the humanitarian admission program were eligible for the study. At baseline, a total of 116 of the 400 beneficiaries (29.0%) participated, with 96 (82.8%) of these women participating in the follow-up assessment. The study included a baseline assessment conducted 2 years after resettlement (September 1, 2017, to January 12, 2018) and a 1-year follow-up (August 29, 2018, to January 15, 2019).
Exposures: Violence and/or captivity during the 2014 genocide in northern Iraq by the so-called Islamic State.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Posttraumatic stress disorder severity and coping strategies were assessed in interpreter-aided interviews using the Impact of Event Scale–Revised.
Results: A total of 116 women (mean [SD] age, 32.2 [8.2] years; 115 [99.1%] Yazidi; 1 [0.9%] Christian) participated at baseline. According to the Impact of Event Scale–Revised, a high PTSD severity was found (mean [SD] raw sum score, 60.88 [15.75] of 88, with higher scores indicating greater distress), with no significant change over time. Helpful coping strategies included prayer, belief in collective strength, and belief in personal strength. Earlier symptoms of intrusions (β = 0.389, P = .007) and longer captivity (β = 0.218, P = .02) were identified as being associated with PTSD severity 1 year later. Longer captivity was associated with PTSD aggravation over time (β = 0.227, P = .04). Posttraumatic strengthening in faith (β = −0.206, P = .05) and in social relationships (β = −0.221, P = .03) were associated with a reduction in PTSD symptoms.
Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that female refugee survivors of genocide are at high risk for severe and chronic PTSD beyond the initial years of resettlement. The findings provide suggestions for mental health care specialized for particularly vulnerable populations.
By all accounts, demographic pressures in the Gaza Strip — in terms of population density, age structure, and growth rate — are extraordinarily high compared to neighboring countries and regions. This population pressure, combined with limited resources and territorial isolation, places immense strain on public services, social and political institutions, and the natural environment. At the same time, insecurity resulting from a deteriorating political context leads to further poverty and unemployment. Together these conditions require both immediate attention and long-term development planning, both of which are, admittedly, difficult in an environment of continuing political uncertainties. Since September 2000, the Gaza population has suffered periods of protracted closure imposed by the Israeli authorities. This has had deleterious consequences on the socioeconomic situation in the Gaza Strip. Currently, 30.3% of the Gazan workforce is unemployed. Concomitantly, poverty is rampant. As of 2004, 37.2% of Gazan families were below the poverty line, 26.0% of whom experienced extreme poverty suggesting that the majority of poor households in Gaza are unable to meet their most basic needs. These challenges to human security are exacerbated by the fact that approximately 64% of the Gaza population are refugees , approximately half of whom still reside in camps.
The ongoing military action in Afghanistan is deepening what was already a severe humanitarian crisis. Further displacement of civilians will have a profound impact upon the ability of the country and its people to recover. The movement of civilian populations in search of security, as a result of conflict, or food, as a result of drought, has characterized the long conflict in Afghanistan. The continuing flight of civilians from urban areas, in the face of aerial attacks, compounds a humanitarian situation that was already grave, due to a long and devastating drought in many parts of the country. Over the coming winter, more than a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) will require emergency assistance simply to survive. Apart from the immediate impact on the livelihoods of the displaced and their hosts, forced movement affects social relations and traditions within affected communities. It is important to take stock of these changes, and related shifts in community- or tribal-level politics that might occur during displacement, in efforts to support the recovery of vulnerable communities. This policy brief aims to provide a concise point of reference for those planning responses to the complex range of issues resulting from displacement. It includes a number of active links to the most relevant and reliable information sources. It concludes with a range of operational recommendations for international organizations, governments and NGOs working on this issue.
Nowhere to Turn is a report documenting the scope and long-term impact of rape and other sexual violence experienced by women who fled attacks on their villages in Darfur and are now refugees in neighboring Chad. The report is based on a scientific study, conducted in partnership with Physicians for Human Rights, of women's accounts of rape and other crimes against humanity that they have experienced in Darfur, as well as rape and deprivations of basic needs in refugee camps in Chad.
Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery collected 17 June 2011 confirms reports that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) control Kadugli and that civilians have been displaced to a location north of the town. More than 300 structures consistent with temporary shelters for IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) are visible close to the wall of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) compound. However, it is likely many more IDP structures are obscured by the heavy cloud cover visible in the imagery.
The human security situation in the Abyei region of Sudan has rapidly deteriorated in the past week due to renewed violence. Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed through the analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery that buildings consistent with civilian infrastructure appear to have been intentionally burned Maker Abior and Todach villages. Some 100 people in the Abyei region have reportedly died in the clashes to date. According to the humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), tens of thousands of civilians have either been displaced by fighting or fled due to fear of further attacks.
Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed through the analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery collected on 27 May the intentional destruction of approximately one-third of all civilian structures in Abyei town by the Government of Sudan and northern-aligned militia forces. SSP has documented multiple violations of international humanitarian law in Abyei town. These abuses can constitute war crimes, including violations of the Geneva Conventions, and in some cases they may represent crimes against humanity.
This guide outlines the tools and techniques to establish a foundation for visual analysis and discusses how these techniques can assist in identifying notable landscape features pertaining to agriculture, settlements, water catchment, and livestock in northern Somalia. To the knowledge of the Signal Program analysts, there is no systematic open-source remote sensing documentation of frequently occurring natural and man-made features in Somalia. This guide helps users to identify and analyze these features, particularly humanitarian practitioners supporting activities in the Horn of Africa. This project, titled “Children on the Move: Using Satellite Data Analysis in Conflict/Famine-Affected Areas,” was carried out in collaboration with UNICEF, the GovLab at NYU, and the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
Since the withdrawal of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRC) from Northern Uganda in 2005, the region has been on the slow path to recovery after a long period of danger and destruction. This study presents Ugandans’ views of peace, justice, and post-conflict reconstruction after twenty years of conflicts that ravaged the country. Based on its findings of violence, access to information consumption, and perception of ex-combatants, this study makes the following recommendations to the Ugandan government and the international community: (1) continue to promote reconstruction and development, (2) develop a relevant and realistic reparations program, (3) support national dialogue on the causes and consequences of the conflict, (4) strengthen regional security, (5) build local leadership capacity, (6) develop a responsive criminal justice and police system, (7) reevaluate the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s outreach strategy, and (8) ensure free and fair presidential elections.
This brief report reviews the health concerns that arise with rapid urbanization and confront humanitarian organizations during acute emergencies. The authors argue that one way forward is for humanitarian organizations to learn from existing grass-roots efforts.