Yolanda and I

by Kareen Oloroso, Philippines

News about typhoons is quite normal in the Philippines where we can almost always use up all the letters in the alphabet naming each one of them. In 2009, three days before my flight back to the Philippines after my one-year training in Germany, was a strong typhoon – Ondoy. Manila was flooded and lots of properties were damaged. In 2011, when typhoon Sendong devastated north Mindanao and parts of the Visayas, I found myself waking up from the noise of the people outside. We needed to save the chickens (fighting cocks, mostly) from drowning as the water in the nearby creek was overflowing and my friend’s backyard turned into a pool with almost a meter high of water. We have saved all the 30 chickens. We thought that was it but, when we went outside, there was panic. Some houses got caught by the flash flood and took with it some houses and some lives. That was in Negros. Sendong took thousands of lives in north Mindanao. And towards the end of 2013, Yolanda claimed more than 5,000 lives, destroyed houses, affected 13 million people, and changed the landscape of many towns in the Visayas. And this time, it got personal. More »

From Berlin with hope

by Zaidi Sattar, Bangladesh

In Berlin you come to realise that walls, no matter how high and impregnable they might be, cannot divide people. It is people who divide people — if you see what I mean! Unification of Berlin and of Germany is a glaring example of how a people can rise above all forms of repression and achieve their desire for unity which, in the German case, has also meant significantly higher economic prosperity for all Germans, particularly those who lived in the former East Germany. More »

A liberal policy approach to climate change

A liberal approach to climate changeIn our newest publication, IAF moderators Stefan Melnik and Rainer Heufers take a look at what a liberal policy approach on the issue of climate change might consist of. “Given the enormous differences of opinion within the international liberal community on climate change and how to address related policy issues, the document may be useful in identifying areas in which liberals might agree.”

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Plenty of Open Questions: Human Rights Protection and Religions

Strasbourg, France

Nine participants from Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Central Africa, Russia, and Ukraine – all experts in human rights – had via the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom the chance to take part in this year’s summer course of the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg. During the 3-week course, every year current knowledge and issues concerning international human rights law are conveyed based on international conventions and protection mechanisms. Two hundred and seventy-six participants from many countries attended this meeting which every year offers a forum intended for intense learning and dynamic discussions. More »

The secular state – protecting or repressing religious freedom?

icon_regligionsBerlin. In recent months the German public has become more aware of the problems in foreign countries abroad of a widespread and rising religiosity. In particular Arab countries are in the focus of German media attention. It seems that religious entities gain power for a variety of reasons. Especially for these cultures it is very important to find a concept of valuing religions and religious traditions as well as creating a stable independent democracy. More »