The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

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Top picks: Migrant boats, Islamic State and World Bank controversy

Town of Taludi, in Southern Kordofan has turned into a military zone
(Salma Elwardany/IRIN)

Welcome to IRIN's weekly assortment of noteworthy humanitarian journalism and research, compiled by the editorial team.

Five to read:

Rich countries must take in 1 million refugees to stop boat deaths

In this frank and comprehensive interview, François Crépeau, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants says that international inaction is creating a market for people smugglers and that the world needs to take in a million Syrians over next five years. He spoke to the Guardian’s Gabrielle Jackson about the recent deaths at sea in the Mediterranean, Australia’s approach to asylum-seeker policy, and how the world should respond now. He argues that opening legal channels for migrants would save lives, reduce people-smuggling and reduce the cost of asylum claims. It is a must-read, amongst the Guardian’s extensive coverage of what they calling one of Europe’s biggest maritime disasters.

Secret files reveal the structure of Islamic State

The Islamic State is often thought of as a fundamentalist religious organization. Yet an investigation by the German newspaper Der Spiegel reveals that religious ideology is far from the top of the group’s agenda at all times. Using a cache of leaked documents, reporter Christoph Reuter provides some of the best insight available into how the organization is structured. Religion, it seems, is far less of an inspiration for its structure than the regimes of East Germany and, crucially, that of Saddam Hussein.

Civilian perspectives on the conflict in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State

An average of three bombs a day have been dropped onto civilians living in rebel held areas of Sudan since 2012, according to this report by the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) and the National Human Rights Monitoring Organisation. It provides a rare look at what life is like under the daily threat of aerial bombardment. This report highlights the voices of those civilians living in the midst of this conflict. As one interviewee said, after surviving a bomb attack: "I am sending my voice loudly to the international community and the Security Council to stop this government from killing its own civilians and to protect them. Your silence is a shame to humanity." These civilian testimonies are all the more important, considering that there is both insufficient awareness at the international level about what is taking place, and a failure to mobilise around what information is available.

How the World Bank is financing environmental destruction

A new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Huffington Post and more than 20 other media partners has found that the World Bank is failing to enforce its own rules protecting people in the path of the projects it bankrolls, with devastating consequences. The investigation concludes that over the last decade, projects funded by the World Bank have physically or economically displaced an estimated 3.4 million people, forcing them from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods.

In South Sudan, nobody talks about the weather

Peace talks have done nothing to end the latest bout of civil war in South Sudan but the imminent rainy season will halt the fighting, writes Joshua Craze in this article for Creative Time Reports. The rains always played that role during the southern rebels long (1983-2005) struggle against the domination of Sudan. "Rains bring peace," mainly because in a country with hardly any tarmac they make roads impassably muddy. Noting that nobody talks about the weather at UN meetings, Craze argues that the failure to appreciate the role of seasons in the ebb and flow of conflict in South Sudan is symptomatic of a general failure to understand what is really going on there.

From IRIN:

The Med: Just another danger in a migrant's odyssey

Every time a migrant boat capsizes on its way to Europe, a death toll is estimated by aid agencies and reproduced in media reports. But what about that other number? What about all those who die before ever setting foot on a boat? That number may be far higher. Sea crossings are the final hurdle of a perilous journey for thousands of migrants. IRIN’s Migration editor Kristy Siegfried looks at the bigger picture, and follows journey that migrants take before they get on a boat.

In memoriam

Photographs Not Taken: A Chapter by Tim Hetherington

This week marks four years since the photojournalist Tim Hetherington was killed on assignment in Libya.

In this essay Hetherington offers his thoughts on depicting the dead in photographs and poses questions he struggled to answer about the ethics of photography. Essential reading for photographers, journalists and editors who deal with the ethics of conflict and humanitarian photography on a daily basis. Extracted from the book, Photographs Not Taken (2012) in which 60 photographers discuss a moment when they did not, or could not, use their camera.

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