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World Digital Preservation Day

World Digital Preservation Day will be celebrated on November 7th of this year. 

Generally speaking, Digitization involves the process of taking something from analog form (paper-based) to digital form. More specifically, in relation to information resources, digitization involves creating digital text by converting handwritten or typewritten text. Digital Preservation refers to the preserving of paper-based documents by converting them into digital form. Digital preservation is largely utilized within archives, where rare documents and manuscripts often need to be digitally copied before they disintegrate or break down to a point where they can no longer be read or studied, however, digital preservation is also used in numerous other areas where resources need to be more accessible, such as medical records, legal documents, business policies, or news-related materials. Digitization can relate to things both big and small — either companies digitizing their efforts, or family members converting their old slides or photos to digital form.

Digital Preservation is an industry that is often overlooked. But in a world where digital resources are beginning to take precedence over physical materials, the need for digitization grows. More and more resources today are available only in digital forms. Some news sources move to broadcast solely online, rather than in print; some authors publish only e-books, rather than insisting on printing physical copies; many products now provide instruction manuals only online, leaving out a disk or other mode of installation. So, if digitization is such a vital aspect of today’s world, why do we not place greater importance on the digital preservation industry? Some think the answer to this question is simple: awareness. While consumers interact with digital resources every day, they may not think about the work it takes for something to be digitized. In response to this, World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD) was created so that credit could be paid to digital preservationists, and awareness could be drawn to how the processes of digital preservation vary around the world. 

World Digital Preservation Day is held every year on the first Thursday of November in hopes to bring awareness to digitization and celebrate the progress digital preservers have made over the years. On their website, the Digital Preservation Coalition boasts the diversity and need of preservation in numerous sectors including industry, commerce, government, research, law, medicine, and media, to name a few. In 2018, World Digital Preservation Day culminated in the Digital Preservation Awards ceremony in Amsterdam. This event was hosted by the Dutch Digital Heritage Network and the Amsterdam Museum as part of an international conference for WDPD.

To see more about how World Digital Preservation Day was celebrated in 2018, you can visit the Coalition blog to read stories of digital preservation, “see what a digital preservation day looks like” on Instagram, and watch videos on YouTube YouTube on how digital preservationists around the world celebrate WDPD. 

To check out past events happening around the world for WDPD, visit https://dpconline.org/events/past-events.

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Climate Action Game Experiment (CAGE)

Rapporteur: Lynne Rudasill, Global Studies Librarian, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

On October 23, 2019, Clifford Singer, Research and Emeritus Professor of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, and of Political Science presented the latest entry in the event series – Global Migrations – sponsored by the Center for Global Studies.  His topic related to the work he and his team of researchers have been doing on the Climate Action Game Experiment (CAGE).  The research community claims that climate change has already had an impact on migration.  According to the International Organization for Migration, by the mid-1990s up to 25 million individuals had been forced to leave their homes due to climate change-related factors and this number is expected to increase to as high as 200 million by 2050 if the effects of climate change are not mitigated.[1]  The goal of the CAGE team is to develop a data-calibrated probability distribution for the actual climate change outcomes, including how climate change alters anthropogenic effects, and suggest some scenarios for mitigating these effects.

The researchers, led by Singer, captured 200 years’ worth of demographic, economic, and climate data for a large number of countries to help develop a model of how these countries might react to climate change and its resultant effects.  The goal of the research is to develop estimations for the probability of future emissions scenarios that can be applied for human development.  The policy modifications were based on assumed scenarios and interactive negotiation exercises with a view to further develop game theory in the matter.

The team grouped countries into regions that included “Green New Deal Countries”, “No New Policy Countries”, “Negotiation Block with China Countries”, and “New Policy Countries” that represent extant negotiating blocks.  They calculated welfare damage impact based on the policy options and, in addition, developed insights on possible outcomes.  These include the posit that an immediate commitment to zero emissions by 2050 would be unlikely based on economic self interest of any block alone – something else would have to be of benefit.  In addition, from a purely altruistic view, flexibility in policy and resources is necessary to deal with an already acute situation.  Professor Singer also provided scenarios for two approaches to global climate change adaptation related to the political stability of the countries in question.  The choices are between improving public health and the environment and establishing the means by which to deal with an exponential increase in human migration.

Singer also discussed the issues of the increase in ambient temperature and the increase in concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, including the factors increasing atmospheric carbon.  There appears to be no realistic, lone political solution to a reduction in the global warming that is taking place.  It will be necessary to employ some type of geoengineering to deal with the problem.  The partial solution posited in this presentation was stratospheric Sulphur injection to reduce the extent of the rise in temperature.  The problem of reducing CO2 remains to be more fully explored in relationship to the lowered temperatures.

In conclusion, a flexible approach can be more credible and more beneficial to a green new deal region, without necessarily reducing overall global economic welfare.  In the nearer term, continuing the alleviation of the impacts of poverty and more systematic, humane approaches to displaced persons can be more cost effective than promising to go all of the way to zero net CO2 equivalent emissions between 2040 and 2050.


[1] Brown, Oli (Prepared by) (2008). Migration and Climate Change, IOM Migration Research Series, No. 31, International Organization for Migration, Geneva.  Accessed at: https://www.ipcc.ch › apps › njlite › srex › njlite_download


Slides from the presentation are available at: https://cgs.illinois.edu/files/2019/10/Singer-Cage.pdf

A guide to resources related to this presentation is available at: Climate Action Game Experiment

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Global Media and Information Literacy Week

Global Media and Information Literacy Week is hosted every year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Initiated in 2012, Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week seeks to “unite diverse actors committed to promoting MIL as a way to foster social inclusion and intercultural dialogue” (unesco.org).  This year’s Global MIL week will be held from October 24-31 and is titled “MIL Citizens: Informed, Engaged, Empowered.” The feature conference was held on September 24-26 in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

Media and Information Literacy is vital to all individuals, regardless of their age, their economic status, or where they live. Living in a world that is continuously becoming more and more digitally-minded, MIL is vastly important around the world. Unlike traditional “information literacy”, media and information literacy focuses on the use of information through different media platforms. MIL is significant in today’s world because it enables the communication and connectivity of individuals to information, and to each other. The utilization of Global MIL Week encourages the creation of local events in order to promote MIL connections around the world between various disciplines and professions. 


For more information, visit the UNESCO page titled Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2019


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Framing the Global Immigrant Challenge: Evidence from Elected Representatives’ Tweets

On Thursday October 17th, the Center for Global Studies hosted Dr. David D. Laitin, a co-founder of the Immigration Policy Lab, and James T. Watkins and Elise V. Watkins Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. CGS invited Dr. Laitin to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to give a presentation on his latest research project as part of the MillerComm Series in conjunction with the Center for Global Studies’ year-long series on Global Migrations. Dr. Laitin’s presentation was titled “Framing the Global Immigrant Challenge: Evidence from Elected Representatives’ Tweets.”

Dr. Laitin began by outlining several ideas. First, he suggested that the global migration crisis sees a steady flow of migrants coming from the Global South to the Global North, a phenomenon that continuously changes the culture and industry found in the North. Second, he highlighted the need to talk about migration and immigration, and the serious humanitarian challenge that the growing number of refugees and displaced peoples presents. He then posed several questions he believes to be pertinent to his overall project and the global migration crisis. They were:

  • “Does the salience of the immigration issue divide left and right traditional parties?
  • Do sentiments towards immigrants and refugees divide the left and right traditional parties?
  • Do elected officials develop coherent doctrine consistent with their party’s comparative advantage or are tweets merely event driven?
  • Are the tweets from the traditional parties responsive to the tweets of the nativist parties?
  • Do left and right parties own different dimensions or topics in the immigration realm?”

Dr. Laitin’s project involved a long process of data collection. First, he and his team identified elected officials from the countries of France, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. who were in office between 2013 and 2019. They then collected all the tweets from each elected official in each country from that time frame. They collected over 8 million tweets using Twitter’s streaming API. During the categorization process, the system was able to organize the tweets into four sections: those relating to immigration and its connections to economy, security, law, and culture. The results of these groupings suggested that these countries, the United States and Germany included[TDC1] , care most about what effect immigration has on security and law. Of the four categories, the influences of immigration on economics and culture were thought to be less significant; however, they are still significant enough to mention.

At the end of his presentation, Dr. Laitin made several overarching conclusions. First and foremost, he made the argument that elected officials are utilizing Twitter to react to daily events, rather than using Twitter as a tool to discuss long-term immigration trends. Second, he made the conclusion that neither left nor right traditional parties favor positive or negative tweets. On average, elected officials tweeted both positive and negative sentiments towards immigration, regardless of their party affiliation. However, the salience of far right parties was greater in response to immigration overall. Elected officials associated with far right politics tweeted more about issues relating to immigration than officials associated with more left parties.

Dr. Laitin’s observations on these topics included:

  •       Political parties affiliated with the right are more inclined to tweet about issues of immigration and security, but less about immigration and culture;
  •       Both sides of the political spectrum downplay the significance of immigration within discussions of economics and culture; and
  •       Canada provides a unique outlier, as they give no favor to any one dimension or topic.

The API used by Dr. Laitin and his team is stil  l running in real-time, continuously collecting tweets from elected officials. Dr. Laitin and his team are planning to include more countries and languages in the future, and hopefully create a website or database so the tweets and their trends are more readily available to researchers and the public.


To learn more about Dr. Laitin, you can visit his faculty page from Stanford University.

To research more about global migration issues and politics, visit the libguide titled “Framing the Global Immigrant Challenge: Evidence from Elected Representatives’ Tweets”.

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World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is held on the 10th of October every year. First celebrated in 1992, World Mental Health Day was created by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in an attempt to bring awareness of mental health issues, and encourage advocacy against the social stigmas that encapsulate them. The day has been observed for the last 26 years to remind us that mental health affects all regions of the world, not just those we interact with. 

World Mental Health Day specializes in a specific topic each year. Previous topics include: 

  • 1996 – Women and Mental Health
  • 1997 – Children and Mental Health
  • 1998 – Mental Health and Human Rights
  • 1999 – Mental Health and Aging
  • 2000 – Mental Health and Work (this program continued into 2001)
  • 2002 – The Effects of Trauma and Violence on Children and Adolescents
  • 2003 – Emotional and Behavioral Disorders of Children
  • 2004 – The Relationship Between Physical and Mental Health: Co-Occurring Disorders
  • 2005 – Mental and Physical Health Across the Lifespan
  • 2006 – Building Awareness – Reducing Risk: Mental Illness and Suicide
  • 2007 – Mental Health in a Changing World: The Impact of Culture and Diversity
  • 2008 – Making Mental Health a Global Priority: Scaling up Services through Citizen Advocacy
  • 2009 – Mental Health in Primary Care: Enhancing Treatment and Promoting Mental Health
  • 2010 – Mental Health and Chronic Physical Illness
  • 2011 – The Great Push: Investing in Mental Health
  • 2012 – Depression: A Global Crisis
  • 2013 – Mental Health and Older Adults
  • 2014 – Living with Schizophrenia
  • 2015 – Dignity in Mental Health
  • 2016 – Psychological First Aid
  • 2017 – Mental Health in the Workplace
  • 2018 – Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World

This year’s World Mental Health Day will focus on suicide prevention. According to National Today, a website designated to bringing awareness to global holidays, you can observe World Mental Health Day in the following ways:

Check out the WHO website for campaign information

Go to the World Mental Health Day page on the: WHO website to learn about resources and activities taking place around the world and near you.

Organize a conversation in your office or community

Start your own conversation about what it takes to be healthy in body and mind by organizing an event with your friends and neighbors. It can be a powerful way to learn more about each other and strengthen support networks close to home.

Educate yourself about mental health and share an important stat on social media

Chances are there is a lot about depression or OCD you don’t know—who is most affected? How early do people show symptoms? What are the tell-tale symptoms? Find out something you didn’t know and make sure to tell your friends.


For more information about this year’s World Mental Health Day, you can watch the YouTube video found here, or visit the World Health Organization’s page found here.

Other organizations that focus on mental health include:

Time to Change

World Federation for Mental Health

Mental Health Foundation

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

American Mental Wellness Association

Movement for Global Mental Health

Please visit these sites to find more resources and learn more about mental health.


Photos courtesy of pexels.com (free usage photos).

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Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids in the United States

On Wednesday, September 18th, Lauren Aronson gave a presentation titled “Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids in the United States: the Journey and the Destination.”

Aronson is an Associate Clinical Professor with the College of Law at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Previously, she has worked at Louisiana State University directing the Immigration Law Clinic, at Michigan State University as a Clinical Teaching Fellow, and with the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago where she worked directly with detained unaccompanied immigrant children.

Wednesday’s discussion was based on Aronson’s experience working with unaccompanied immigrant children in the United States. She began by explaining a number of acronyms that are often involved in discussions on immigration. They are:

  • UAC____________Unaccompanied Alien Child
  • CBP____________Customs & Border Protection
  • ICE_____________Immigration & Customs Enforcement
  • ORR____________Office of Refugee Resettlement
  • NTA_____________Notice to Appear

Aronson then continued her presentation by walking us through the process these children face, and sharing with us her personal experiences and anecdotes from working with the National Immigrant Justice Center. According to Aronson, at the end of August of this year, there weremore than 72,000 unaccompanied children living in the United States, a huge influx from 2010 when the number was around 18,000. Of these children, a large majority migrate from four Central American countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Aronson explained that these children are labeled as “unaccompanied” when they are under age 18, lack legal status, and do not have a legal parent or guardian living in the United States. However, because it is very difficult to locate family members and find out if a legal guardian is living in the U.S., often a large number of these children are detained despite actually having family in the country.

Unaccompanied children come to the U.S. a number of ways, and for a variety of reasons. Many children come by bus, train, or walking or hitchhiking, some families pay smugglers to take their children over the border, or sometimes, you can find children smuggling other children. These children come from countries with high poverty rates and high homicide rates. Currently, the homicide rate in the U.S. is between 4.5% and 5%. The homicide rate in Honduras alone is nine times that. Sometimes because of this overabundance of violence, unaccompanied children are enabled to stay by seeking asylum. But more often, these children are held in detention until they leave voluntarily or are removed from the country.

The process begins when a child enters the United States and is taken into custody by CBP (Customs & Border Protection). Within  72 hours, these children are expected to be transferred under ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) authority, and moved to an ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement). These resettlement centers are considered to be “shelters” for children waiting to be reunited with their families. But more realistically, these detention camps treat the children more like captives; the children are unable to come and go as they please, they are forced to wear uniforms, and they have to adhere to a schedule. In the detention centers, every child is given a medical examination and legal screening which involves things like being vaccinated, having dental work done, and meeting with a lawyer or legal aid so they can be told their rights. While in detention, the children have one hour of recreation time every day and usually start learning English. Social workers and mental health services are often available to children, but the detention centers have been given the name “las hieleras”, or “the iceboxes”, because the centers are so cold, and often these children are left exposed without proper necessities. When some children can no longer stand living in detention, they volunteer to be removed. If they choose to stay, they must wait until they receive an NTA (Notice to Appear in Immigration court), and go to trial. The average stay of a child living in an ORR is  57 days.

If a child does not choose to “voluntarily depart”, if they do not age out (become 19  years of age while living in detention), and are given an NTA, they have the opportunity to go to immigration court and plead their case. When a child arrives at his/her Master Calendar Hearing (MCH), they are presented with their “alien number” and the allegations against them. These allegations are usually given in the following structure:

  1. You are not a citizen of the United States
  2. You are a citizen of ________
  3. You entered the United States around this area, and on or around this date
  4. You are present in the United States without a lawful visa

When a defendant pleads guilty, their only hope of staying is to then argue for “immigration relief”. This relief consists of an individual either seeking asylum on the basis of some kind of cultural, political, social, or gender violence, or by filling for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which involves proving he/she has been abused or neglected by a parent in his/her home country.

Aronson explained to us that this lengthy process involves endless obstacles for unaccompanied children, and her hour-long description is only scratching the surface of what is going on in this country. A large number of children never make it to the point where they can go to immigration court and plead their case, and even if they do, there is no guarantee their appeal to seek asylum or SIJS will be approved. Aronson took several questions and expanded on more finite details of the conditions the children live in and how they arrive, and ended with the statement that, while the overabundance of unaccompanied children and the treatment of them is daunting and dreary, there are many things we as citizens can do to help.


To learn more about Lauren Aronson, visit her faculty page on the College of Law website. https://law.illinois.edu/faculty-research/faculty-profiles/aronson-lauren-r/

To learn more about this topic, visit the University Library’s libguide. https://guides.library.illinois.edu/c.php?g=966084&p=6979851

To follow current events pertaining to immigration in the U.S., follow the proceedings and publications of organizations such as the National Immigrant Justice Center. https://www.immigrantjustice.org/issues/unaccompanied-immigrant-children

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International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day is an international holiday sponsored by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), a specialized agency of the United Nations that focuses on issues relating to education around the world. On their website (hyperlink), UNESCO identifies “the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights” and insists there is a growing need “to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society” (1). International Literacy Day was established by UNESCO on October 26th, 1966 in an attempt to bring awareness, not only to the high level of illiteracy worldwide, but also to the importance of literacy for the individual and the community. Every year, the UN chooses a specific theme to address various obstacles to literacy and quality education. Previous themes have included “Literacy and Sustainable Development”; “Literacy and Health”, with a focus on Epidemics such as HIV, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; “Literacy and Empowerment”, with an emphasis on Gender Equality and the empowerment of women; and “Literacy and Peace”.

This year, for its 52nd year, International Literacy Day will focus on “Literacy and Multilingualism” in hopes to embrace “linguistic diversity in education and literacy development” (1). With the theme “Literacy and Multilingualism”, International Literacy Day hopes to enable discussions of how multilingualism is characterized and utilized in a world today, a world that is both highly globalized and digitalized.

The lowest literacy rates today can be seen in North Central Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Typically these low literacy rates are tied with people’s inability to access quality education, whether dictated by a lack of resources, poverty, gender inequality, or other cultural factors. 

However, despite the high rate of illiteracy in Africa, the Middle East, and many parts of Asia, these regions have seen leaps and bounds in youth literacy. While the high rate of illiteracy of elders has remained the same in the past ten years, statistics have shown more and more children and young adults are becoming literate.

  • According to Merriam-Webster, the terms “literate” and “illiterate” can be defined as follows: 
    • literate – “educated; able to read and write” 
    • Illiterate – “having little or no education: especially unable to read or write”

Today, 17% of the world remains illiterate, and while 17% doesn’t seem like a lot, the population of the world in 2018 was just over 7.5 billion people. That means 1.3 billion people around the world are unable to read and write today.

When considering the significance of this number, it is important to keep in mind that this number denotes only the number of people who cannot read or write. These “illiterate” people are still capable of communicating and interacting with the rest of the world by other means. For example, numerous communities around the world today remain oral societies; this means they communicate, operate, and pass information along orally, without writing down their thoughts, ideas, and/or histories. 

As part of the western world, Americans often forget that literacy is not exclusive to English. Literacy refers generally to the ability to read and write a language, not the ability to read and write in English. So this year, together with the celebration of this year’s International Literacy Day, one September 8, people around the world will celebrate and bring awareness to what Multilingualism is and how it operates in different countries, all the while seeking to educate and remind the world that literacy is a global issue, not an English issue. 

For more information on International Literacy Day, visit the United Nations website found here.


(1) “International Literacy Day,” UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/literacyday.

(2) Figures courtesy of UNESCO Institute for Statistics, “Fact Sheet No. 45”, Sept 2017. 

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International Studies Research Lab 2019

Friday August 2nd marked the end of the 2019 International Studies Research Lab! 

Sponsored by the Center for Global Studies here at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the ISRL promotes the internationalization of education by providing a unique opportunity for community colleges nationwide. The ISRL was created as a joint initiative with support from the Center for Global Studies (CGS), the International and Area Studies Library (IASL), the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC), the European Union Center (EUC), and the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies (CEAPS). An annual event, the ISRL brings together faculty, librarians, and administrators from community colleges around the U.S. interested in developing global studies curricula and instruction in less commonly taught languages, expanding library collections, or establishing international education programs at their home institutions. We prioritize projects for minority-serving institutions, as we identify these institutions specifically to be in need of global and international resources and support.

The International and Area Studies Library (IASL) serves as the home base for ISRL participants, as it offers extensive services that facilitate access to a wide range of materials relating to globalization, language, and global and regional studies. While on campus, our participants receive courtesy borrowing privileges for our entire library collection, not only those materials found at the IASL, and also have the opportunity to set up individual consultation sessions with the Global Studies Librarian and/or other international reference specialists. These specialists provide individualized support and guidance on developing and evolving curricula, library collections, and international education programs. 

With the acknowledgment of the University as a National Resources Center, together with the recognition of the University’s exemplar, extensive, diverse, and ever-growing library collections, the ISRL attracts self-motivated scholars from community colleges who, without the help of ISRL, may not have the resources and/or support to create materials with a global or international focus. While many participants choose to diversify their collections, curricula, and language and education programs in relation to one specific country or region, many choose to cultivate a more generalized global perspective. But regardless of approach, all participants develop materials that interact with international, intercultural, and global dimensions. 

Near the end of the lab, participants are invited to a collaborative workshop where they can present and discuss their projects and network with their peers. Participants are invited to share their work and establish collaborations in a day-long workshop. Individuals specializing in community college engagement are guest speakers every year, offering to participants insight into the process of internationalizing curriculum, programs, and library collections in their community college environments. This year’s workshop took place on Friday July 26th and showcased several guest speakers including Dr. Timothy Wedig, Associate Director, LAS Global Studies (UIUC), and keynote speaker Sashti (Raj) Rajgopal, Founding Director of the International Studies Consortium of Georgia. 

Participants’ final projects are deposited into the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS) at the University of Illinois. IDEALS collects, disseminates, and provides persistent and reliable access to the research and scholarship of faculty, staff, and students. Topics deposited from the ISRL are very diverse in nature and originate with many different perspectives and disciplines in mind. Some of the topics and themes from the 2019 ISRL include research on the conflict in Palestine, Iranian history from 1906 to the Abdication of Reza Khan, the past and future of the Turkish-American Alliance, developing global studies certificates, and local immigration activism. Past materials that have been added to the ISRL web resources site in IDEALS have been downloaded for use over 6,000 times, with the top three most-downloaded entries relating to developing themes on global studies in English classes, cross-cultural psychology, and writing about Chinese culture. The ISRL strongly encourages and values the depositing of lab materials into IDEALS so that individuals around the world can have open access to, and freedom to download, resources relating to the internationalization of education.

We wanted to take this moment to thank all of our participants for this year’s International Studies Research Lab, and look forward to more individuals taking part next summer!

For more information on the ISRL, you can visit here. However, please keep in mind that the current showcased information is for this year’s lab. New information will be made available on our website as plans progress for next year’s lab.

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The Number of Displaced Peoples Around the World is Growing

Here are the facts:

  • There are 68.5 million people displaced worldwide.
  • 25.4 million are refugees; 3.1 million are asylum-seekers
  • 40 million are internally displaced – meaning they currently still live in their native country, but have had to shift from their home region to another
  • 85% of all refugees move to developed countries
  • 57% of refugees today live in South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria
  • There are 10 million stateless people – this means 10 million people around the world have no nationality, no citizenship, and no rights
  • 44,400 people flee every day
  • 45% of the Syrian population (11 million) are currently displaced
  • The world’s largest refugee camp currently holds 329,000 people in Dadaab, Kenya
  • 51% of refugees worldwide are under the age of 18
  • 3 million refugees have settled in the United States since 1975

Types of displaced peoples:

  • Refugees – people who escape natural or human-made disasters such as flood and drought or persecution based on race, religion, politics, or association with a particular group
  • Asylum seekers – a type of refugee who has fled to another country, but has yet to receive refugee status
  • Internally displaced peoples – people who migrate to another region within their home country
  • Stateless persons – people who have no nationality and do not belong to either their home country or the country in which they are seeking refuge
  • Returnees – former refugees who return after their time in exile

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) employs 16,765 people around the world, and is currently working in 138 countries. But despite the expansive presence of the UNHCR, and the amount of money the United Nations uses towards aiding displaced peoples, it’s not enough. Refugee camps around the world are thought to be mini sanctuaries for those seeking asylum; people often think refugees living in camps are much better off, and have escaped to a better life. But the truth of the matter is that millions of refugees are living in abysmal conditions. When they first fled and began to settle in northern Libya, Eritrean refugees had many resources. The UNHCR brought doctors, medications, food, blankets, and other supplies. But not too soon after, resources ran out, the doctors went home because they were no longer able to be paid, and the medications were taken with them. Because of this, there has been an outbreak of tuberculosis, and because the refugees live in small cramped spaces, illnesses such as these spread like wildfire.

The situation in Libya is but one example of the struggles refugees face. When fleeing, many refugees lose contact with their families, become human trafficking victims, or are exploited in informal labor arrangements. More than 300,000 children migrated without their families in 2017. But as the number of displaced peoples grows, so does the need for monetary support. The country of Syria has disbursed the largest number of refugees in the shortest amount of time, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) illustrates how refugees can migrate over a series of decades. Like many countries in Africa, many of the Congolese were displaced internally, trying to escape from war and civil unrest, but many were inevitably forced to flee into East Africa and other parts of the world. Refugees from the DRC have been fleeing for more than twenty years.

World Refugee Day is held on June 20th every year. On December 4, 2000 the United Nations General Assembly decided the 17th of June would be commemorated in honor and respect of the continuously growing number of refugees and peoples displaced around the world. This was later changed to coincide with Africa Refugee Day on June 20. World Refugee Day is observed by numerous countries around the world in an attempt to bring attention to the millions of refugees and other peoples displaced because of conflict, war, and/or persecution, and on the 20th of every year, people around the world come together to bring awareness to refugees’ stories — the challenges they face, the places they reside, and the communities they call home.

Past themes from World Refugee day have covered topics relating to families being torn apart, how refugees find a new sense of home in a foreign land, and how/if countries have programs and services in place for the protection of displaced peoples. In 2016, the United Nations Refugee Agency began the #WithRefugees campaign in an attempt to show support for the growing number of displaced peoples by taking action to ensure refugee children have access to education, families have access to safe and secure shelters, and all refugees have the opportunity to develop skills or find work and provide for their families.

Numerous non-profits and non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International and the Red Cross International have been trying to offset the challenges refugees face. But as the population of displaced peoples worldwide continues to grow, resources dry up, and even those projects funded by the United Nations are not enough. In a world where war and conflict seem never-ending, we need to be thinking more seriously about how we can make conditions for refugees more humane and sustainable.


Other Resources

Connable, Ben. From Negative to Positive Stability: How the Syrian Refugee Crisis can Improve Jordan’s Outlook. Santa Monica, RAND, 2015.

Fleming, Melissa. A Hope More Powerful than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival. New York, Flatiron Books, 2017.

Hammerstad, Anne. The Rise and Decline of a Global Security Actor: UNHCR, Refugee Protection, and Security. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Kassa, Derese G. Refugee Spaces and Urban Citizenship in Nairobi: Africa’s Sanctuary City. Lanham, Lexington Books, 2019.

Kingsley, Patrick. The New Odyssey: the Story of the Twenty-first-century Refugee Crisis. New York, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017.

Maina, Andrew. Is My Claim Meritorious?: Congolese Experience of the Refugee Status Determination Process in Kenya. Danish Refugee Council, Great Lakes Civil Society Project, 2014.

McDonald-Gibson, Charlotte. Cast Away: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis. New York, New Press, 2016.

McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino. The Global Refugee Crisis: Fleeing Crisis and Violence. Minneapolis, Twenty-First Century Books, 2019.

Ribas Mateos, Natalia. Migration, Mobilities and the Arab Spring: Spaces of Refugee Flight in the Eastern Mediterranean. Northampton, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.

Sasikumar, Karthika, and Danijela Dudley. Political and Military Sociology: the European Refugee Crisis. London, Routledge, 2018.

Wilmer, S.E. Performing Statelessness in Europe. Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Woolley, Agnes. Contemporary Asylum Narratives: Representing Refugees in the Twenty-first Century. New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.


*Statistics and definitions courtesy of the United Nations. https://www.unhcr.org/

*Diagrams courtesy of Amnesty International.

For more information on what is being done around the globe, visit the following sites

Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/global-refugee-crisis-statistics-and-facts/

GlobalGiving https://www.globalgiving.org/world-refugee-day/

MercyCorps https://www.mercycorps.org/articles/worlds-5-biggest-refugee-crises

American Red Cross https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/international-services/migration-and-refugee-crisis.html

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Nuclear Testing in North Korea

According to BBC News, North Korea has begun firing short-range missiles again, despite Kim Jong-un’s statement last year that he would stop nuclear testing and cease launching intercontinental ballistic missiles. Over the last week, the South Korean military has issued a notice that North Korea has fired two short-range missiles in two separate weapons tests. The missiles were fired from Kusong North Korea (156km from Pyongyang), reached an altitude of 50km, and then flew into the sea. This is the first missile test to take place in North Korea since November 2017.

Tensions have grown between North Korea and the United States after Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un met for a summit meeting in Vietnam in February of this year (2019). The meeting was scheduled in hopes that Trump and Kim would establish a truce where North Korea would give up its nuclear program. But these hopes failed when Trump refused to lift the sanctions put into place by the United States in the 1950s.

The summer before, Trump and Kim met in Singapore, and Kim agreed to work towards the denuclearization of Korea. But the meeting in Vietnam this year disbanded any ideas of truce. Since the summit with President Trump this year, Kim has also begun meetings with Vladimir Putin. But despite his sporadic and unpredictable actions, analysts such as Jonathan Marcus, Defense Correspondent, believe Kim’s threat of nuclear war are simply that — a threat — and are only in place to guarantee the survival of his regime.

Analysts say Kim Jong-un has been trying to pressure the United States after the Trump meeting in Vietnam failed to bring together an agreement and a peace treaty, and with Seoul South Korea as the target, this new stream of tests aims towards showing Americans that Kim Jong-un is an intolerant and volatile man, and is quickly losing patience in the game.

Because the testing of intercontinental range systems would breach the agreement North Korea has with the United States, Pyongyang is demonstrating their short-range ballistic missile range as a kind of threat. But this agreement only lasts until the end of 2019. After that, who knows? North Korea has made claims that they have developed both ballistic missiles that could reach the U.S., and a small nuclear bomb that can fit on a long-range missile.

Some background: Born in 1983, Kim Jong-un, the current leader of North Korea is the grandson of Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea. Kim is thought to have attended Liebefeld-Steinholzli public school in Koniz, Switzerland during the late 1990s. He was described by his classmates as a shy boy who cared not for politics, but was obsessed with American Basketball. He was often found to be sketching portraits of famous players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Toni Kukoc. Kim attended his grandfather’s university, Kim Il-sung Military University and received a physics degree, in addition to becoming an army officer.

Despite being the second child of Kim Jong-il and Ko Yong-hui, Kim Jong-un was named heir apparent and became the “Supreme Leader” of North Korea in 2011 after the death of his father. Kim Jong-un’s older brother Kim Jong-nam was intended to be the next ruler of North Korea after his father. However, he allegedly fell out of favor in 2001 when he tried to visit Tokyo Disneyland with a fake passport. Jong-nam was killed in Malaysia in 2017, poisoned by two East Asian women. For many years following his death, suspicions revolved around the involvement of North Korean agents employed by the Kim family. However, other significant news has surfaced recently suggesting Jong-nam was an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and would travel to Malaysia to meet with agents. It is still being debated whether or not he was discovered to be working with the CIA in 2017, and whether or not this played a role in his death.

Kim became Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea in 2012, and holds the titles of Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Kim Jong-un ordered the execution of his uncle on 2013, and is rumored to have also issued an execution for his half-brother in 2017. Many countries consider him to be dictatorial and power-hungry, even though East Asian politicians argue he cares for his people more than his father or grandfather did.


*Photos courtesy of Newsweek, BBC, and Center for Strategic & International Studies respectively.

The program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security here at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign conducted a four part series titled “The Korean Peninsula in Crisis?” To find more information on this event and watch segments from each section, you can go here.


Current Events News Resources:

“North Korea Crisis in 300 Words” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40871848

“North Korea Nuclear Timeline Fast Facts” https://www.cnn.com/2013/10/29/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-timeline—fast-facts/index.html

“New North Korea Concerns Flare as Trump’s Signature Diplomacy Wilts” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/world/asia/north-korea-missile.html

“North Korea Fires Two Short-Range Missiles, South Says” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48212045

“North Korea’s Latest Missile Tests Don’t Break Any Deals with Trump, Because There is No Deal” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/05/09/north-koreas-latest-missile-tests-dont-break-any-deals-with-trump-because-there-is-no-deal/?utm_term=.76f36be12a16

“North Korea Launches New Missiles” https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2019-05-09/north-korea-launches-new-missiles

“North Korea’s New Missile has Russian Fingerprints ‘All Over’ It” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/north-korea-s-new-missile-has-russian-fingerprints-all-over-n1004151

“Kim Jong Un Tells N. Korea Military to Keep ‘Full-Combat Posture’ after Second Missile Launch in Week” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kim-jong-north-korea-military-full-combat-posture-second-missile-launch-in-

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