Refugee crisis will worsen in 2016: War Child Canada
Published Tuesday, December 22, 2015 6:22PM EST
With no end in sight to the Syrian conflict, the refugee crisis will only worsen in 2016, War Child Canada’s Samantha Nutt has warned.
Speaking to CTV’s Power Play on Tuesday, Nutt said that while there’s more will than ever to achieve peace in Syria, it is unlikely to happen next year.
“I think there is more momentum towards a lasting peace deal and proper disarmament for the region coming into 2016 than we have seen previously, but unfortunately, I’m not optimistic we are going to see tremendous gains in 2016 when it comes to the Syrian crisis,” said Nutt.
A Syrian peace deal would likely require support from Russia and Iran, both of which are backing Bashar al-Assad in his government’s fight against ISIS, according to Nutt. But western countries, including Canada, continue to oppose the Assad regime and call for his removal as leader, while bombing ISIS in the war-torn country.
Without a resolution, Nutt suspects the number of Syrian refugees to continue to hover around four million, if not grow, as some of the seven million internally displaced Syrians seek safe haven in nearby countries.
“We’ll continue to feel the humanitarian fallout,” said Nutt. “The refugee exodus will continue, in particular as ISIS is being pushed back from certain territories. Aerial bombardments heavily impact civilians, and so many of them will be fleeing from that.”
Overlooked crisis: Burundi and South Sudan
Beyond the ISIS threat, Nutt also drew attention to two conflicts that the world should continue to monitor next year:
Burundi: The east African country has been in turmoil since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza’s candidacy for a third term was announced. Violence erupted following his re-election in July, which was opposed by many Burundians and the international community, who said it violated the country’s constitutional two-term limit. At least 400 people have been killed, nearly 3,500 arrested and 220,000 have fled the country since April 26, according to the Associated Press. Over the weekend, Burundi’s government rejected the African Union’s plans to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop the violence. “Just last week alone, we saw about 80 people killed as a result of the ongoing violence and security. You’ve got a lot of young people who are part of armed groups,” said Nutt.
- South Sudan: The civil war in the world’s youngest country -- South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011 -- has been dragging on for two years now. The war started at the end of 2013, after a fight between soldiers in Juba, the capital. According to an African Union report, soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, committed organized killings of the Nuer people, the tribe of political rival Riek Machar. Despite a peace deal signed in August, the violence continues. “We are looking at nearly a million Southern Sudanese refugees. It’s a crisis that has been largely overlooked,” said Nutt.
With files from the Associated Press