Salva Kiir Comes to His Sense (Sorta)

Kiir has come under enormous pressure, including the threat of international sanctions. And now, it looks like he’ll sign a peace deal. But will he actually abide by it? “South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has finally agreed to sign a peace deal and power-sharing accord to end a 20-month civil war, his spokesman said Tuesday…Sources in IGAD also confirmed plans for the deal to be signed in Juba on Wednesday, with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin due to attend. An IGAD official said rebel leader Machar would not be there because security provisions were not yet in place.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1JjKIMQ)

Whither Accountability? A UN report details horrific abuses committed by South Sudanese government soldiers. “The U.N. experts found that a government offensive in oil-producing Unity State between April and July this year had been “intent on rendering communal life unviable and prohibiting any return to normalcy following the violence.” “The intensity and brutality of violence aimed at civilians is hitherto unseen, in what has been so far — without a doubt — an incredibly violent conflict, where civilians have been targeted by all parties to the conflict,” the experts wrote in the interim reported submitted to U.N. Security Council members. Under a so-called “scorched earth policy” government-allied forces razed entire villages, sometimes with people inside their homes, raped women and abducted children, the experts said.

Water Used As Weapon in Syrian War…Disturbing new report from UNICEF. “In recent months, up to five million people living in cities and communities across the country have suffered the consequences of long and sometimes deliberate interruptions to their water supplies.In the northern city of Aleppo, where fighting has crippled the main pumping station for months at a time, UNICEF has recorded 18 deliberate water cuts this year alone. Taps in some communities were left dry for up to 17 days in a row – and for over a month in some areas of the city.” (UNICEF http://uni.cf/1NSPoKC)

Quote of the day: “Let’s not pretend that what the EU and its member states are doing is working. Migration is here to stay,” Francois Crepeau, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. (AP http://yhoo.it/1hZdBF3)

Africa

A teenage suicide bomber detonated an explosive device strapped to her body in the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu early on Tuesday, killing six people and wounding about 30, police said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1LuZr8l)

Around 1.5 million Zimbabweans are predicted to go hungry this year after a dramatic fall in maize production, the World Food Programme said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1LuZmSc)

Cameroon says it is banning and destroying cheap vegetable oil imported from Indonesia and Malaysia to protect its home industries. The central African nation says thousands of workers may lose their jobs if the country continues to import cheaper vegetable oil. (VOA http://bit.ly/1EhFzGp)

The chairman of Nigeria’s corruption-fighting Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is appearing before the Senate to answer accusations that he diverted billions of dollars. (AP http://yhoo.it/1NRUerq)

Pest experts from across Africa have recommended vast vaccination and pest eradication programs to stop trans-border animal diseases that claim between 10 percent and 20 percent of the continent’s animals yearly. The experts are gathered in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, under the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s program. (VOA http://bit.ly/1LuZ91l)

Gangs of children are roaming the streets of Ivory Coast’s biggest city. Known as “les microbes” (French for “the germs”), they are accused of violent robberies — and have become the scourge of Abidjan, where they are spreading terror among residents. (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1V7lMNX)

Hundreds of movie lovers gathered in front of a giant outdoor screen in Nairobi’s Mathare slum on Monday at the start of the Slum Film Festival, which aims to challenge perceptions of shanty towns as dens of crime and squalor. (TRF http://bit.ly/1LuZrW9)

MENA

Unidentified gunmen raided the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Yemeni port city of Aden on Monday, holding staff at gunpoint and stealing cars, cash and equipment, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1NRUd71)

Saudi Arabia has executed at least 175 people over the past 12 months, on average one person every two days, according to a report released Tuesday by Amnesty International. (AP http://yhoo.it/1NRU6Z2)

Around 5,300 migrants, mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa, were rescued in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast last week, EU border agency Frontex said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Nzhiyb)

Asia

Nepal police shot dead a protester as fresh clashes erupted in the country’s southern plains Tuesday, a day after an 18-month-old boy and seven officers died during demonstrations against a new constitution. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1NRUaYX)

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday it received substantive amounts of information from Iran aimed at quelling concerns its nuclear past had military elements, although it was too early to say whether any of it is new. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1NRUcjl)

India and the United Nations appealed for all parties to seek peace in Nepal, where hundreds of security forces on Tuesday were patrolling a western town after ethnic protesters demanding statehood attacked police a day earlier, leaving 11 people dead and many injured. (AP http://yhoo.it/1NzhhdJ)

An intensifying El Nino may bring the worst drought in 20 years to Papua New Guinea, the country’s prime minister said, raising fears that production of the country’s critical agricultural commodities may drop. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1NzhfTd)

The “waterman of India” will walk across five continents to raise awareness for his campaign to have the human rights to river water and access to nature recognised by the UN. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1EghjnC)

The Americas

U.S. stocks jumped at the open after China’s central bank cut interest rates to support its economy. (AP http://yhoo.it/1ETvtGf)

Gay rights activists in Panama presented a bill to lawmakers that would make hate crimes against gays, lesbians and transsexuals illegal — and punishable by up to a year in jail. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1NRU9UW)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowed to extend a crackdown on illegal migrants from neighboring Colombia he blames for rampant crime and widespread shortages, while authorities across the border struggled to attend to droves of returning. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Eghorr)

Colombia has condemned deportations of its citizens after Venezuela closed its border with its western neighbour last week. The crossings were shut after an attack by smugglers left three soldiers and a civilian injured. (BBC http://bbc.in/1EhFdQ6)

…and the rest

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says nearly 300,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe across the Mediterranean Sea this year. Most went to Italy and Greece. The UNHCR warns the situation is not sustainable and is calling for a comprehensive solution. (VOA http://bit.ly/1LuZ9yv)

As demand for water grows, the world must focus on how the precious resource will be shared among farmers, the energy sector and cities if it is to achieve the United Nations’ new development agenda, a World Bank expert said. (TRF http://bit.ly/1V7qaws)

Photo essay: The race to beat Hungary’s border fence (IRIN http://bit.ly/1JwKgMH)

Opinion/Blogs

Do we still care about the F word? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1LuY21C)

Confessions of a humanitarian: ‘The life of a veggie aid worker is no bed of kale’ (Guardian http://bit.ly/1EhFhiN)

Thailand, One Week After the Bombings. Is Another Free Speech Crackdown Coming? (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1JtIGXu)

Development under conflict: How to react to a crisis (Devex http://bit.ly/1MRrpyv)

Buying condoms won’t make you Africa’s “HERO” (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1ETD0VD)

China bashing: American campaign ritual or harbinger of tougher policy? (The Interpreter http://bit.ly/1ETD0oK)

5 trends that explain why civil society space is under assault around the world (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1Ub771W)

A U.S. Court Jeopardizes Corporate Transparency Rules, in the Name of Free Speech (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1JtILun)

Rwanda’s gender gap: banks must stop failing female entrepreneurs (Guardian http://bit.ly/1V7mfQd)

Why the New Sustainable Development Goals Won’t Make the World a Fairer Place (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1Lv0LIz)

Discussion

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The Last-Ditch South Sudan Peace Talks Are On the Brink of Collapse

Leaders met in Addis Ababa yesterday in a last ditch effort to bring peace to South Sudan after 18 months of war. The conflict that shattered the temporary peace achieved after a 2005 agreement with Sudan continues to take its toll on the country’s population and threaten regional security. However, despite strong pressure from the international community, the South Sudanese government walked away from yesterday’s talks without signing the proposed agreement, leaving many to wonder what is left to be done to finally resolve the conflict.

A History of Violence

Over the last 65 years, South Sudan has known little peace. With the exception of a 10 year period from 1972 to 1982, war has been a way of life for the South Sudanese. For successive generations, war has been a constant condition that defined the state and their lives. There were high hopes for peace in 2011 when the country officially gained its independence from Sudan, but conflict broke out in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, even before the South Sudan celebrated its official independence.

Conflict continued with various groups throughout the country until a power struggle fractured the ruling government in December 2013, a mere 17 months into the country’s independence. The resulting civil war has already killed tens of thousands of people and displaced nearly 2 million people.

Peace Deal on the Ropes

The high stakes of the conflict has brought regional and international heavyweights into the fold to try and find a solution to the fighting. The current peace process is led by the East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and supported by the United Nations, the African Union, the Western troika of the US, the UK and Norway, as well as China and the EU. But even with economic and political pressure exerted by all these players, progress has been slow as both the South Sudanese government led by President Salva Kiir and the main rebel group led by Riek Machar dragged their feet. Only the threat of additional targeted sanctions brought Kiir to the talks at the last minute in an effort to meet IGAD’s deadline of August 17 to sign a peace deal after numerous rounds of negotiations. In the end, while Machar signed the deal in a ceremony held in Addis Ababa, Kiir left without signing, calling the agreement a “sellout” and leaving little hope that a resolution will be reached within the 15 day timeframe for additional consultations granted by IGAD.

The current proposed peace plan, negotiated over a period of 17 months, offers a transitional power-sharing government, a plan for a permanent constitution and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to ensure accountability for all sides of the conflict. But despite the hardship experienced by civilians – the UN estimates that 4.6 million people are in need of food aid – and the growing pressure to reach a peace deal, the warring factions have been hesitant to stop fighting. Numerous ceasefire agreements over the last 18 months have failed, often within hours or days of going into effect. Yesterday’s attempt to finalize the peace agreement illustrated this hesitancy once again, and demonstrated how much further the country has to go before real peace can be achieved.

In many ways the conflict and the difficulties in resolving it are the outcome of the South Sudan’s long history of conflict. When war becomes normal, it also becomes the preferred solution to all political problems and the impetuses to find peace disappears. Many of the country’s political elites, both within the government and the various rebel groups, earned their political clout on the battlefield. With a poorly developed local civil society and few civilians in positions of power, it will take far more incentive than just the threat of sanctions to change the course South Sudan is on.

Discussion

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Bombing in Bangkok

There has so far been no claim of responsibility for the worst attack in Thailand in many, many years.” A powerful explosion sent a fireball and hail of debris through a busy Bangkok district filled with shoppers and tourists Monday, killing at least 19 people near a site that also has been a hub for political rallies and clashes, police said. More than 120 people were reported injured in what authorities described as a bomb blast, and one police official said many foreigners were among the casualties. There was no assertion of responsibility for an attack whose location — near one of the city’s tourist and commercial crossroads — and timing — shortly before 7 p.m. — may have been chosen to maximize damage and bloodshed.” (WaPo http://wapo.st/1JdpEEz)

Just a little more time, please…South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said he needs more time before he will sign a compromise deal with rebel forces led by his former deputy, mediators said Monday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1hIle2x)

Good News on the Ebola Front…Sierra Leone has not recorded a new case of Ebola in the last week, a first since the outbreak reached the country in March last year, the World Health Organization said Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1hjugmL)

Africa

Separatist rebels in northern Mali attacked positions of a pro-government militia on Monday in fighting that is undermining government attempts to pacify the region, sources from both groups said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JmGZ4c)

Burundi’s foreign minister said his government is doing its best to ensure that the country does not degenerate into ethnic conflict by bringing those responsible for violence to justice. (VOA http://bit.ly/1hjfbBH)

Central African Republic refugees in eastern Cameroon are insisting on leaving refugee camps due to difficult living conditions, saying they are being poorly fed, and their children lack school and humanitarian assistance. (VOA http://bit.ly/1TPN1zj)

Rights groups are calling on leaders from the 15-nation Southern Africa Development Community to take steps to improve the rule of law and human rights as they meet for an annual summit Monday and Tuesday in Botswana. (VOA http://bit.ly/1hjff4x)

MENA

The U.N.’s humanitarian chief called attention Monday to the impact that the ongoing conflict in Syria is having on civilians in the country and the risk it poses to stability in the Middle East. (VOA http://bit.ly/1hjfi07)

U.N. and camp officials in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region are already preparing for another wave of Iraqis displaced by war to flood into the area as the conflict against Islamic extremists rages on. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KrPfuw)

Israel on Monday offered to free a Palestinian detainee whose two-month hunger strike has left him in a coma — but only if he goes abroad, a demand his lawyer immediately dismissed. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KrYg6N

The almost year-old UN-facilitated dialogue aimed at ending the political power struggle at the heart of Libya’s civil war has pitched its tent in several locations inside and outside the country since it began last September. Last week it was again the turn of Geneva’s Palais des Nations. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1hjfnAM)

Qatar on Tuesday officially launches one of its most “significant” labour reforms to guarantee migrant workers’ wages, but rights groups are concerned over implementation of the new regulations. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1fl8xsC)

Lebanon’s health minister says the country is on the brink of a “major health disaster” unless an immediate solution is found for its mounting trash problem. (AP http://yhoo.it/1hjugDj)

Damascus should allow greater humanitarian access to people in need inside Syria, the United Nations’ aid chief said on Monday after his first visit to the country. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1KrYf2K)

Asia

Armed men kidnapped a foreign aid worker, believed to be German, in downtown Kabul on Monday, the latest in a spate of attacks on foreign targets at a time of declining security in the Afghan capital. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1hjukmv)

Local aid groups and the United Nations are urging Myanmar to allow access to about 1,400 people who are running out of food in makeshift camps in the jungle after fleeing clashes between the military and an ethnic armed group in Kachin state. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1TPmZfx)

Aid workers warn the problem of underage sex work could get worse if not confronted by authorities as Myanmar society opens up after half a century of isolation under military rule. They say support and rehabilitation is more important than punitive measures. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1fl8Cwv)

A general strike imposed by smaller political parties protesting a proposed new constitution that would split Nepal into six federal states crippled daily life across the Himalayan nation Monday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1DYw6DP)

The Americas

Latin America’s booming urban slums look set to continue their rapid expansion as government housing policies fail to tackle an explosion in informal housing, legal experts said on Monday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1fl8vRK)

A group of prominent writers, artists and intellectuals have called on the Mexican president to address the country’s terrible record on protecting journalists who report on drug violence and other criminal activity. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1DYw6Um)

The millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States must leave, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said Sunday, as he unveiled his immigration platform. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KrQfib)

Flooding from days of heavy rain in Uruguay has forced nearly 4,000 people from their homes, officials said Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KrYfj8)

Cuba put its civil defense system on alert on Monday due to a year-long drought that is forecast to worsen in the coming months and has already damaged agriculture and left more than a million people relying on trucked-in water. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1KrYdrt)

A criminal gang attacked and killed five police officers on Nicaragua’s southern Caribbean coast, one of the Central American country’s most violent regions, authorities said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KrYcUD)

…and the rest

Turkish coastguards have rescued almost 18,300 migrants in the Aegean Sea in the last month amid a drastic rise in the number attempting the maritime crossing to the EU, the government said on Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1hjuhap)

Opinion/Blogs

Global Dispatches Podcast: Mark speaks with Carne Ross, founder of the non profit Independent Diplomat and former British foreign service officer who resigned over the Iraq war. http://bit.ly/1LgEHE3

The exploitation of migrants has become our way of life (Guardian http://bit.ly/1TNcmoc)

What’s the point of international development think tanks? (ODI http://bit.ly/1KrORfv)

What does changing complex systems look like in practice? (Aid Leap http://bit.ly/1Ks1M0M)

Bright ideas for better aid (IRIN http://bit.ly/1KrPBkM)

Why is India dragging its heels over the criminalisation of marital rape? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1PhMtM1)

Africa’s Development – Myths and Missed Opportunities (News of Rwanda http://bit.ly/1NorRmI)

Does the ADB have a problem with women? (Aidnography http://bit.ly/1TNJgoS)

Discussion

comments…

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Statement by the Spokesperson on the repeated suicide attacks in Cameroon and Nigeria and…

In the last two months, about 800 people are reported to have been killed and many more wounded in multiple terror attacks in the countries around Lake Chad.
 
Those responsible for the recent suicide attacks in Cameroon on 25 July and in Nigeria on 26 July have a complete disregard for human life and dignity.
 
We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured. We express our solidarity with the authorities of the concerned countries and our confidence that those responsible for these acts of terror will be brought to justice.
 
Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria are sparing no effort in fighting terrorism in the region. Strong coordination both on the ground and at regional level, and for continued socio-economic development of the affected areas is needed. The EU reiterates its support to those regional organizations, national authorities, civil society organizations and citizens that are involved.
 
The pursuit by national authorities of long-term development, the protection and strengthening of basic services and the respect for humanitarian law and for human rights is essential for ensuring enhanced state presence and providing a sustainable solution to this crisis.
 
The European Union supports the efforts for comprehensive bilateral and regional cooperation to tackle these challenges. The recent visits of President Buhari to Niger and Chad and his upcoming visit to Cameroon are timely opportunities in this regard. 
 
 

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EU reinforces its support to Central Africa

Today, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, signed the Central Africa Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for an amount of €350 million for the period 2014-2020. 

The signature took place in the presence of Ministers and representatives of the Central African region, the Secretary General of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the President of the Commission for Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC).

The programme, whose implementation will be monitored by a steering committee, will cover three areas: political integration and cooperation in peace and security (€43 million), regional economic integration and trade (€211 million, of which €135 million will go through the Infrastructure Trust Fund), and the sustainable development of natural resources and biodiversity (€88 million). Another €8 million is set aside to support technical cooperation and regional authorising officers.  

Commissioner Neven Mimica said: “Regional integration is only viable when driven from within the region. It is a means to fulfill the policy objectives set out in the Cotonou Agreement, and to build on the achievements which ECCAS and CEMAC have already made, in economic and monetary integration, in peace and security, in infrastructure and in environment and natural resources.”

 

Context

The region of Central Africa includes 11 countries: Angola, Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Sao Tomé and Principe. It has to be noted, however, that Equatorial Guinea never signed the revised Cotonou Agreement, and can therefore not directly benefit from EDF funding. The region has a total population of about 160 million with the Democratic Republic of Congo accounting for nearly half. It is a region rich in natural resources, covering the largest tropical forest area after the Amazon.

Previous funding for Central Africa under the 10th European Development Fund amounted to €165 million. 

For more information see also:

Press release: The EU boosts its support to recovery and development in the Central African Republic

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5040_en.htm

Factsheet: The EU engagement with the Central African Republic (CAR)

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-15-5041_en.htm

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Questions and answers on how the European Commission helps refugees

Who is a refugee?

Every year natural disasters, conflicts and human rights violations force millions of people to leave their homes and to flee to save their lives. Their survival often depends on international assistance and protection.

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her home country and is unable or unwilling to return because of fear of persecution. The 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees gives refugees legal protection under the international refugee law. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated to respond to refugee needs.

An internally displaced person (IDP) is someone who was forced to flee his/her home but who did not cross a state border. IDPs benefit from the legal protection of international human rights law and, in armed conflict, international humanitarian law.

However, IDPs do not benefit from the specialised protection of international refugee law. No UN or international agency has been formally mandated to assist them. National governments have the primary responsibility for the security and well-being of all displaced people on their territory, but often they are unable or unwilling to comply with this obligation. The most important reference document to address the issue of protection and assistance to IDPs is the non-binding Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement from 1998. The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance to IDPs in Africa (the so called Kampala Convention), which entered into force in 2012, is the first ever binding international legal instrument on the rights of IDPs.  

How many refugees are there?

Today, there are more than 59.5 million people in need of help and protection as a consequence of forced displacement, more than at any time since comprehensive statistics have been collected, with the continuing crises in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan and Ukraine as major aggravating factors. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), globally some 38.2 million people are IDPs, around 19.5 million are refugees and 1.8 million people applied for asylum in 2014. Together, these forcibly displaced people represent the combined population of greater London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Stockholm, Lisbon, Warsaw, Athens, Barcelona and Brussels.

According to the latest UNHCR data, about half of the global refugee population are children under 18, the highest proportion in more than a decade. About half of the entire refugee population are women and girls. In many societies, they face specific risks such as discrimination and are less likely than men and boys to have access to basic rights.

Syria became the world’s largest source country of refugees during 2014 with an estimated 3.9 million people, overtaking Afghanistan, which had held this position for more than 30 years. Somalia, Sudan, South-Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar follow. It is estimated that around 45% of the world’s refugees are trapped in protracted situations (in exile for five years or more without prospects of immediate durable solutions).

For humanitarian workers, helping the displaced is becoming more difficult, costly and dangerous. In countries such as Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Central African Republic, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen or Iraq, getting help to internally displaced populations means working in environments where access is difficult and conflict or criminality present deadly risks.

86% of today’s refugees live in the developing world, which means that they find refuge in countries and among people who already struggle with poverty and hardship. Greater international solidarity is needed to address this challenge.

According to the UNHCR, out of the total 14.4 million refugees in the world in 2014, more than 1 million were in the EU.

What is World Refugee Day?

Each year, on 20 June, the world focuses on the plight of people who are forced to flee their homes due to conflicts or natural disasters. This day has been significant since 2001, when the UN General Assembly designated it on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Humanitarian situation and needs

Many of the people forced to flee and abandon their homes often have to do this at very short notice and to leave with nothing or very few possessions. Particularly in volatile contexts, they rely on local communities and international humanitarian aid for their survival. Too often, their flight to safety turns into protracted and long term displacement, as the problems that uprooted them take a long time to resolve.

Sustainable solutions for refugees include voluntary repatriation to their home countries, which is the preferred long-term outcome for the majority of refugees. Another solution is local integration or resettlement either in the asylum country where they are living or in third countries where they can be permanently resettled. The IDPs can be reintegrated in their place of origin (return), integrated in areas where they have taken refuge (local integration), or integrated in another part of the country (settlement elsewhere).

Refugees and those internally displaced (IDPs) face major challenges in terms of protection, access to shelter, food and other basic services such as health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene and education. Those who end up living in urban areas (IDP’s, refugees) may encounter poverty, lack of psychosocial support and difficulties in normalizing their status. Violence, abuse and exploitation against the most vulnerable often peak in the aftermath of emergencies, which underlines the importance of effective protection mechanisms to be put in place immediately.

The patterns of displacement are increasingly complex, as large numbers of migrants flow inside and between countries and regions. Their problems, and the burden on host countries, are worsened by climate change, increasing urbanisation, population growth and food insecurity. At the same time, the efforts of the humanitarian community to bring relief and contribute to lasting solutions are made more difficult by donors’ budgetary constraints, triggered by the global financial and economic crisis and the multiplication of crisis in need of funding.

The European Commission’s humanitarian response

Refugees are among the most vulnerable in humanitarian crises. This is why the European Commission provides substantial resources to help them. The European Commission gave more than €854 million or some 70% of its annual humanitarian aid budget in 2014 to projects helping refugees and IDPs in 33 countries worldwide. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) invests heavily in assisting displaced people and is currently responding to crises such as: Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, Somali refugees in Kenya and Yemen, Congolese refugees in the Great Lake region, Colombian refugees in Ecuador and Venezuela, Myanmar refugees in Thailand, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Sahrawi refugees.

Humanitarian aid delivered by the European Commission helps:

  • meet the most pressing needs of refugees;
  • protect and support refugees during their displacement and when returning to their place of origin;
  • increase the self-reliance of refugees and reduce their ‘dependency syndrome’.

The Commission focuses its support on organisations dealing with migrants, refugees and IDPs including the UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the Red Cross and Red Crescent family and non-governmental organisations. The three above-mentioned organization remained in 2014 among the first five humanitarian aid partner of the Commission, in terms of volume of funding (2. ICRC, 3. UNHCR, 5. IOM).

Through this support, the Commission’s action paves the way for durable solutions for refugees and IDPs. It coordinates its assistance with the organisations in charge of early recovery and development.

While supporting the victims of displacement, the European Commission is also working to decrease the number and scale of refugee crises: for instance, through its work on disaster preparedness and prevention, which aims to reduce the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities and prevent their displacement.

Refugees and development policy

The European Commission also provides development assistance to tackle the challenges related to forced displacement, since there is growing recognition of the importance of refugees and IDPs to the economy and development, with the potential to contribute to the economy of hosting countries (also acknowledged by the European Council in 2013).

This is particularly relevant in the case of refugees who are displaced for the long term; either in camps or urban areas (known as protracted displacement). These challenges must therefore be addressed by long-term development strategies in order to enable the refugees to be self-reliant and to support host communities.

The Commission is already a leading international donor in terms of support for refugees in developing countries with €200 million in ongoing projects from development funds.

In addition, the European Commission is currently working on developing new, more comprehensive and multi-sectoral approaches aimed at seeing sustainable solutions for refugees, IDPs and returnees. The objective is to ensure that development actors, together with humanitarian actors, will engage to address the crisis that forces the population to flee from the beginning in order to prevent that displacement turns into a permanent situation.

Examples

The humanitarian consequences of the crisis in Syria have reached an unprecedented scale. Around 11.5 million Syrians are internally displaced or are living as refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, North Africa and the EU. Many of those who were able to reach the neighbouring countries are now living in hardship; struggling to find shelter and food for their families and schooling for their children. The European Union is a leading donor in the response to the Syria crisis with around €3.6 billion of total budget mobilised by the Commission and Member States collectively in humanitarian, development, economic and stabilisation assistance. EU humanitarian assistance channelled through the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) primarily supports life-saving medical emergency responses, the provision of essential drugs, food and nutritional items, safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), shelter, distribution of basic non-food items and protection programmes. This funding is channelled through UN agencies and accredited international humanitarian organisations to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people.

In 2015, the Commission has increased its humanitarian assistance to the Syria crisis by €136 million, half of which will go to meet needs inside Syria, and the other half to Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. This includes €2.5 million to respond to the emergency inside Yarmouk refugee camp.

A new EU comprehensive strategy has been developed to tackle the crises in Syria and Iraq, which will include €1 billion in funding over the next two years. The new strategy will champion activities from several EU instruments and increase the impact of Europe’s solidarity and political support. This will include enhancing economic resilience among refugee and host communities especially to promote prospects for young people.

The Third International Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait City was held on 31 March 2015. During the conference, donors pledged a total of US$3.8 billion in humanitarian and development assistance to the Syria crisis out of which the EU and its Member States pledged €1.1 billion – the largest pledge by any donor.

To strengthen the development and protection capacities in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, and to enable Syrian refugees to tap into their own potentials, the European Commission is funding a Regional Development and Protection Programme (RDPP) in the region. The programme combines efforts to improve protection of refugees with longer-term livelihood support to host communities and, whenever possible, refugees alike. The Commission is currently also developing RDPPs for the Horn of Africa and North Africa in close collaboration with EU Member States.

The on-going crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) has forced an estimated 220 000 people since December 2013 to flee to Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo, bringing the number of Central African refugees in neighbouring countries to over 462 000 people. The European Union is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to CAR with over EUR 186 million provided since 2014. The European Commission alone has provided EUR 69 million (including about EUR 20 million for CAR refugees in neighbouring countries) in humanitarian aid since December 2013.

Almost half of the funding is spent in Chad, which was facing the biggest influx of people fleeing CAR at the beginning of the crisis, €7.8 million in Cameroon and €1 million in the DRC and the Republic of Congo. The humanitarian assistance addresses the basic needs of refugees such as shelter, food, health, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene. The funds are implemented through the European Commission’s partners such as UN agencies, International NGOs, and international organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies.

In CAR, the European Commission is funding humanitarian projects to enable free access to primary health services through mobile clinics. Projects seeking to improve the protection of civilians are also being supported. Food assistance is a priority. Moreover, the European Commission is supporting integrated actions to provide safe drinking water, re-establish decent sanitation facilities and promote better hygiene practices (WASH).

The situation in South Sudan since the outbreak of civil war in December 2013 remains one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises. Over 2 million people have fled their homes, of which 565 000 South Sudanese have taken refuge in Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, putting additional resource constraints on these countries and having a destabilising effect on the whole region. At over 1.5 million people have been internally displaced (IDPs), mostly because of widespread violence against civilians. More than half of the refugees (around 60%) are children. At the same time, the country hosts more than a quarter of a million refugees, mainly from Sudan. Overall, life-saving needs for food, health care, clean water, shelter, sanitation, protection, etc. continue to rise.

Humanitarian aid is delivered in extremely and increasingly challenging circumstances. Hostilities and attacks against humanitarian workers seriously constrain access to those in need. The commandeering of assets and other illegal obstructions further constrain the work of aid organisations.

The European Commission has made available more than €200 million since 2014 (over €120 million in 2015 alone) to respond to the unfolding and intensifying humanitarian crisis inside the South Sudan and support the urgent needs of refugees in the Horn of Africa, including South Sudanese refugees. The aid covers the provision of food aid, basic health care, clean water, sanitation, shelter and protection for the most vulnerable people. The funds also support the response to epidemics such as cholera and Hepatitis E.

As a result of the illegal annexation of Crimea and fighting between Russia-backed separatists and government forces in Eastern Ukraine, over two million people have been forced to flee their homes and have become increasingly vulnerable. As of June 2015, over 1.3 million people are registered as internally displaced (IDPs), and more than 860 000 have fled to neighbouring countries, especially Russia, Belarus and Poland. Refugees and internally displaced persons need shelter, food and sanitation items as well as proper healthcare and psychosocial support, education and protection. Medical supplies are extremely limited across the conflict zone. Despite a ceasefire agreement that came into force in February 2015, access to Donetsk and Luhansk regions remains challenging for humanitarian organisations.

The European Union and its Member States have jointly contributed over € 139 million in financial aid to the most vulnerable since the beginning of the crisis. Aid is provided to all affected populations, including refugees in Russia and Belarus, and is delivered according to humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. On the ground, the assistance is being delivered through partner organisations, including UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, IOM, Save the Children, Danish Refugee Council, People In Need, WFP and ICRC.

In a joint operation in January 2015, EU and its Member States organised the delivery emergency supplies by air and road, including tents, blankets and sleeping bags for the harsh winter conditions, in cooperation with humanitarian partners including UNICEF and UNHCR.

Asylum in the EU

Most displaced persons remain in their own countries or find refuge in neighbouring states, but many also travel to Europe to seek asylum. The EU has stepped up its search and rescue activities in response to the tragic situation in the Mediterranean, and thousands of people are being rescued every week.

The new European Agenda on Migration sets out proposals to establish a temporary relocation mechanism for 40 000 persons in Italy and Greece in clear need of international protection, to be relocated within the EU. The Agenda also includes a recommendation for an EU wide scheme to resettle 20 000 refugees in all Member States.

For further information

European Agenda on Migration

Homepage of DG HOME

Homepage of DG ECHO

Homepage of DG Europeaid

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EUR 50 million Lilongwe water investment programme gets European backing

European financial and technical support for investment to alleviate critical water shortages in Malawi’s largest city was confirmed today by the signature of finance agreements confirming a new EUR 24 million loan from the European Investment Bank to support the new EUR 49.2 million investment programme to be implemented by Lilongwe Water Board. The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest lender for the water sector and owned directly by the 28 European Union member states.

New water investment is essential as the population of Lilongwe is expected to double in the next 20 years. Crucial upgrading and improvements to the city’s water infrastructure will be managed by the Lilongwe Water Board over the next four years and increase water supply in low-income areas where services are currently limited as well as reducing water leakage. In this way the new investment will ensure efficient use of the existing water network and scarce water sources, as the city is dependent on water from the Lilongwe River. The project will both improve reliable water supply for customers and share water management best practice staff of the Lilongwe Water Board under a dedicated technical assistance programme.

The new support by European Investment Bank for crucial investment in the capital city was formally agreed in Lilongwe today by Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for lending in Africa and Goodall Gondwe, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development for the Republic of Malawi.

“On behalf of the people and Government of Malawi, I am very happy to have signed this project which will help the Government address some of the bottlenecks facing the Lilongwe Water Board.” said Goodall Gondwe, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.

“The European Investment Bank has a successful track record of supporting water investment that has helped to secure the supply of clean water to millions of people across Malawi. Our new engagement in the country demonstrates the EIB’s continued commitment to supporting water investment that improves lives across Africa and around the world. Being able to see at first hand the impact of previous water investment supported by the EIB in Malawi shows the crucial need to continue to upgrade existing water infrastructure and expand the supply of drinking water to more communities. I am confident that the new project confirmed today will improve the quality of water supply and waste water treatment in Lilongwe for many years to come.” said Pim van Ballekom, European Investment Bank Vice President.

“With this new investment project Lilongwe Water Board is closing the gap between supply and demand. By increasing the supply of quality water we will secure the supply clean drinking water for 250,000 people by 2021. This will involve addressing critical issues concerning water quantity and quality, quality of service, efficiency, and continued capacity building of the local water practitioners. We are proud of the strong history of partnership between the EIB and LWB, and we are very honoured for this cooperation to be strengthened today.” said Eng. Alfonso Chikuni, Chief Executive Office of the Lilongwe Water Board.

“Access to water remains a challenge for many Malawians but with EU and EIB support 372 public water kiosks have now been constructed in Lilongwe, providing safe drinking water for many thousands of Malawians. The EU has also contributed EUR 5.5M towards addressing water and sanitation issues in 7 Malawian cities and towns. I welcome the news that the Lilongwe water board and the EIB will continue working together towards reducing leaks and improving services for the city.” says EU Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann.

Mr. Alfonso Chikuni, Chief Executive Officer and other senior representatives of the Lilongwe Water Board, and Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann, Head of the European Union to Malawi, were also present.

The new investment programme managed by Lilongwe Water Board and backed by the European Investment Bank support will help to cater for expected increased demand for water in the city where water has been rationed for the last 3 years and the population is growing by 4% each year. This scheme includes increasing water storage capacity and supply by an additional 30,000 cubic metres of water a day to the city, construction of 100 water kiosks in low-income areas and replacing pipes and pumps that currently act as bottlenecks in the city water system. The water supply networks will also be expanded to areas of Lilongwe not currently connected.

Vice President van Ballekom is in Malawi for a three day official visit to the country, the first visit by high-level representatives of the largest lender for water investment worldwide. During the visit the EIB delegation will also visit successfully completed water investment projects previously financed by the bank. The new initiative represents one of the first public sector projects to be supported by the EIB since 2008.

Over the last five years the European Investment Bank has provided more than EUR 500 million to support water investment including in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in the Sahel, Cameroon in central Africa as well as Tanzania, Uganda, Lesotho and Zambia.

In 2014 the European Investment Bank provided more than EUR 2.5 billion to support infrastructure and private sector investment across Africa.

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The EU engagement with the Central African Republic

The challenges facing the Central African Republic (CAR) are so complex and interlinked that only a comprehensive approach focused on security, humanitarian aid, stabilisation and development cooperation will help make a difference. This is the approach of the European Union (EU).

The EU is the country’s main development partner and the main provider of humanitarian assistance. It has committed more than €360 million of new funding to respond to the crisis in CAR since it started in 2013. Over the years, the EU has also given development assistance to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people. Just last year, the first ever EU Trust Fund, calledBêkou, was established together with France, Germany and the Netherlands to better support projects that link humanitarian and development actions in CAR and to pave the way for its recovery.

The EU is active in the international efforts to stabilise the country, support the transition process and help put the country on track towards a sustainable recovery. The EU supports the transition authorities in their efforts to find a political solution to the crisis. This political process should be broad-based, inclusive and locally-led to make a difference and to pass the test of time. The EU maintains regular dialogue with the CAR authorities, in close coordination with its international partners.

EU priorities in the Central African Republic

The EU’s comprehensive approach covers the following priorities:

1) Security

Security is essential in order to restore a more stable government in CAR.

The EU supported the African-led mission MISCA under the African Peace Facility (APF). The EU’s contribution (€ 125 million) covered the cost of allowances, accommodation and feeding the troops deployed in the field. The salaries of civilian MISCA personnel and operational costs such as transport, communication and medical services were also supported by the Facility. This assistance was essential for the functioning of the mission ahead of the transfer of authority to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), which took place on 15 September 2014.

Furthermore, the military operation deployed by the European Union – EUFOR RCA – contributes to the international efforts to provide a secure environment and protect the populations most at risk. Deployed in the Bangui area and for a period of nine months between April 2014 and March 2015, it creates the conditions for the provision of humanitarian aid. The overall cost of the operation was estimated at € 38 million.

Since March, a new EU military Advisory Mission (EUMAM CAR) has been deployed in CAR. In parallel, on 28 April a Security Council Resolution), renewed the mandate of MINUSCA for one year.

2) Humanitarian assistance

The Central African Republic is in the worst humanitarian crisis since its independence. More than half of the 4.6 million population are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance. There are more than 436 000 internally displaced people, including over 44 000 in the capital. The crisis has forced over 220 000 people to flee to Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo since December 2013. There are over 461 000 Central African refugees in neighbouring countries. In addition to protection from violence, the priority needs are food, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter and basic household items.

The European Union is the largest humanitarian donor to CAR. The European Commission and Member States have substantially scaled up their humanitarian engagement in light of the evolving needs (from €20 million in 2012, to over €130 million in 2014). These funds support protection, access to health care, food and nutrition assistance, drinking-water distribution, sanitation services, logistics and humanitarian coordination. Life-saving assistance is provided to those in need within CAR as well as to refugees in neighbouring countries. In addition, the EU has organised repeated airlifts of life-saving items and aid personnel into CAR to help the victims in 2014.

In 2015 and to date, more than €47 million have already been committed by the EU (Commission and Member States) of which €14 million by the European Commission as a response to the most urgent needs in CAR.

A team of European humanitarian experts is closely monitoring the situation in the field, assessing the needs and overseeing the use of EU funds.

3) Stabilisation

The EU pays special attention to the fight against impunity and the re-establishment of rule of law. It is funding projects aimed at the restart of a basic criminal justice system in Bangui. It also supports the reinstatement of police and gendarmerie capacities for community policing as well as riot control, restoration of the joint operational command centre, reinforcement of the judiciary, and the rehabilitation of prison facilities.

Through a 2013 €12 million stabilisation package, with the EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), the EU provides support to restore police missions in Bangui, to support independent media in CAR, to promote community dialogue and peace, supports the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for missions in CAR and promotes the rejection of armed violence at community level.

Communities at risk also benefit from EU support to retain their ethnical and religious diversity (with €4 million, also through the IcSP). Operated in the few areas of Bangui where co-habitation continues, this pilot project is helping maintain a basis for the reconciliation process. Given its successful implementation in Bangui’s most sensitive areas, the project will be extended to critical zones in the provinces, with an additional budget boost of €10 million.

The €4.65 million IcSP project offers support to the transition process in CAR. In order to facilitate political dialogue it provides support to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD). In addition, as Housing, Land and Property (HLP) rights of those affected by the displacement will inevitably be a major concern, the project provides support through the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and seeks to strengthen HLP rights with local authorities, humanitarian actors and community leaders, ,while also organising an information campaign for those affected.

A €3 million IcSP action is currently being launched. It aims, on the one hand, to provide support to the civic education of civil society organisations and build their capacity for election observation, and, on the other hand, to support the initial steps of implementing the security sectorial reform.

Overall IcSP contribution to stabilise CAR amounts to € 32.5 million.

4) Resilience and sustainable recovery

Although the EU’s development cooperation has slowed down considerably due to the security and institutional situation, it continues. EU engagement for development in the CAR aims to foster economic recovery, create livelihoods and help restore state presence.

Between 2008 and 2013, around €225 million were allocated through the different financial instruments (€160 million through the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and €65 million through the EU budget).

The EU is also working on the transition from emergency response towards longer-term development assistance through an approach linking relief, rehabilitation and development.

On 9 July 2014 the EU adopted a support package of €119 million, including: Restoration of basic social services in the CAR: education and health (€27 million), support for the 2015 electoral process in the Central African Republic (€20 million) and support for the preservation and consolidation of the Central African Republic state (€33M).

The Bêkou Trust Fund

Moreover, in July 2014 the first EU Trust Fundwas established with three Member States (France, Germany and the Netherlands). The Bêkou Trust Fund, (which means hope in the Sango language received an original total amount of €74 million (€51 million from the European Commission, €10 million from France, €10 million from Germany, €3 million from the Netherlands), it provides more flexibility to the EU’s work in this specific and complex context of the CAR.

As of today, six projects have been approved by the Trust Fund’s Operational Committee, on health (€15 million), urban rehabilitation (€4.5 million), gender (€1.5 million), food security (€10 million), on limiting the effects of the CAR crisis in the region, focusing on refugees in the east of Cameroon (€4.5 million) and on a program to promote the independence of economic actors and economic re-launch (€11 million). The first contracts were signed at the beginning of 2015 and activities have already started, benefiting more than 1 million people.

Currently a State Building Contract 2015-2016 is under preparation for a total amount of €40 million, out of which, if agreed by the Member States, €25 million will be disbursed in 2015 and €15 million in 2016.

Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the EU Delegation in CAR is currently finalising a project with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) for a total of €1.2 million, for 2014 and 2015. The project’s objective is to document human rights violations and international crimes, accompany and support victims of international crimes before national and international courts, mobilise states, the international community and the civil society to fight against impunity, respect for human rights and democratic principles.

5) Regional impact of the crisis

In order to mitigate the regional impact of the CAR crisis on neighbouring countries, the EU has been active to provide targeted humanitarian assistance for CAR refugees in border regions in Chad, Cameroon and DRC (€ 14 million in 2014 and so far additional €5,3 million in 2015). Through an ongoing IcSP-funded project in Chad, it also facilitates the integration of returnees/refugees in host communities and helps prevent potential radicalisation (€12 million). A similar initiative is under preparation for Cameroon (€4 million).

For more information

The EU boosts its support to recovery and development in the Central African Republic:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5040_en.htm

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