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

comments…

Read More

How Europe is Making the Refugee Crisis Even Worse

As Greece continues to capture headlines over the most recent economic bailout and its potential to still derail the Eurozone, another crisis is unfolding in the country. As thousands of refugees pour into Greece in search of the safety of the EU, their numbers and the inability of Greece to cope is setting off a chain reaction that could result in a far bigger political crisis down the line.

The difficulty in handling the refugee crisis is evident in the recent news from the Greek island of Kos. A popular tourist destination near the Turkish coast, in recent months Kos has become the EU landing site for thousands of refugees, mainly Syrians fleeing that country’s ongoing civil war but also people escaping human rights abuses in Libya, Ethiopia and Eritrea. But as refugees come in search of a new life within the EU, what they are finding instead is a Greek government already struggling to provide for its own citizens and completely unable to cope with the needs of new arrivals.

That struggle is demonstrated in stark relief as local officials herded thousands of refugees into the local stadium, leaving them without food or water. Those with more resources took over abandoned hotels as they waited for their paperwork to be processed. Even as those on the island struggle to get by, more refugees arrive every day believing they finally have reached the promise land of the EU only to find little support and even less desire to assist them.

A Widening Crisis

While the recent stories from Kos highlight the desperate measures many are taking to reach the EU and the difficulty the Greek government is having in managing their numbers, the crisis extends far beyond the island. Earlier this month UNHCR reported that Greece took in more migrants in the past month than it accepted in all of 2014. Year to date, Greece has seen a 750 per cent increase in the number of refugees reaching its shore from the Mediterranean compared to last year. Yet despite the dramatic increase of migrants, Greek financial woes and an overstretched international aid systems means the response is falling far short of what is needed.

Because of austerity measures and the Euro crisis – Greece is now ranked as the 7th poorest state per capita in the EU – Greece in particular is in a bad spot to handle the massive refugee flows reaching the country. Making the situation worse is the lack of political will within the EU to deal with the crisis in a comprehensive way.

Under the current Dublin Regulation that controls how EU states handle asylum requests and irregular arrivals of refugees, it is generally the responsibility of the state a person first enters to process their claim. The outcome is border states, particularly those on the central and eastern Mediterranean such as Italy and Greece, face the bulk of the burden of the crisis. With few others EU states willing to share that burden, frustration is growing as border states struggle under the weight of refugee arrivals.

“The EU is having to deal with large numbers of people arriving in an irregular manner by sea and the logistical aspects of dealing with this are inherently difficult and dangerous,” Niels Frenzen, clinical professor of law at the University of Southern California, told UN Dispatch by email. “Syria is the largest refugee crisis in post-WW II era.  Millions of people are on the move as a result. So even if the EU and other neighboring countries had political consensus, they would be under strain because of the historic numbers.”

Europe, Unhelpful and Divided

The fact that political consensus is lacking only makes the problem worse.

Rather than come up with a unified approach to handling the refugee crisis, most European states are shifting blame and taking national approaches to block refugees from further entering the EU from Italy and Greece. This includes France blocking asylum seekers from entering the country from the Italian border, Hungary building a fence along its border with Serbia, and most recently, Macedonia attempting to close its border with Greece as riot police beat back refugees attempting to cross the border. These measures do little to address the underlying issue and instead create a whole new list of problems as asylum seekers desperately try to make it north.

“The biggest issue is political,” noted Frenzen. “No EU country wants to accept more people.  And no country wants to engage in burden sharing in regard to people arriving in Italy and Greece.  Migrants and asylum seekers are already reaching Germany, Sweden, UK and other countries by other means – overstaying visas, irregular movements – and there is no desire to accept more people who are arriving in EU by sea.”

Whether the EU likes it or not, these refugees will continue to come and they have rights that European countries are obligated to respect and uphold. In the meantime, the more Europe continues to stall in finding a unified response to the crisis, the more pressure it will place on states like Greece that have little room to handle yet another crisis. Doing so increases the likelihood that the next political crisis will occur much closer to home, and may in fact be within the EU’s own borders.

Discussion

comments…

Read More

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

comments…

Read More

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…

Read More

New Global Population Estimates from the UN

The report from the number crunchers at the UN also show that life expectancy in the least developed countries has increased sharply over the last 6 years. “The world’s population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and exceed 11 billion in 2100, with India expected to surpass China as the most populous around seven years from now and Nigeria overtaking the United States to become the world’s third largest country around 35 years from now, according to a new United Nations report released today. Moreover, the report reveals that during the 2015-2050 period, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States, Indonesia and Uganda.” (UN http://bit.ly/1KApafa)

The Largest Refugee Camp in the Middle East Turns 3 Years Old…The Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, which opened July 29 2012, has some 81,000 Syrian residents and can’t take any more. “With Za’atari at capacity, the number of urban refugees seeking shelter in Jordan’s second camp, Azraq, increased fourfold in the first six months of this year,” UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery told a press briefing in Geneva. In the first half of 2015, 3,658 people returned to Azraq from urban areas, compared to just 738 in the second half of 2014. This trend is driven by increasing vulnerability of urban refugees in Jordan whose savings are depleted after years in exile, and who are unable to find secure legal livelihoods. Those living in Amman, in particular, are trying to survive in one of the most expensive cities in the Middle East.” (UNHCR http://bit.ly/1KAj4LX)

Where’s the money? Only one percent of Kenyan government spending can be properly accounted for, according to a report by the country’s auditor-general released just days after US President Barack Obama warned corruption was holding the country back. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JvuvpB)

Deadly Flooding in India…Flash floods triggered by torrential monsoon rain have killed at least 26 people in a west Indian state in the past 48 hours, authorities said Wednesday. (AFP http://bit.ly/1D97jMX)

Africa

The president of Nigeria made his first official state visit to neighboring Cameroon on Wednesday, as the two former enemies struggle to contain the mutual threat posed by Islamic militants carrying out suicide bombings across the region. (AP http://yhoo.it/1H2OANP)

Nairobi announced it was going to relocate street children to rehabilitation centers in the country. The move coincided with a project to clean up the streets before the president’s arrival. Many say there must be a better way to address the plight of the Kenyan city’s street families. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MtVoes)

Fears are growing that endemic graft in Tanzania will deny the majority of its people a fair share of the wealth generated by the country’s natural gas riches. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1JRP4Z6)

Sudan’s foreign ministry summoned the European Union’s representative in Khartoum to complain about “false information” it said the EU had disseminated about the number of refugees and displaced people in the country. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MtVrqB)

Threatened by the advance of a desert that already covers two-thirds of Niger, the poor Sahel nation hopes to halt rapid deforestation by promoting natural gas. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Jvu9PM)

Nigeria has appointed a new boss for the amnesty scheme for ex-Niger Delta oil rebels, in a move seen by observers as an attempt to put back on track the programme which doused militancy in the oil-rich region. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JvupOH)

More than 5 million text messages have been sent to subscribers, who get health information and reminders for doctor’s appointments direct to their mobile phones – many of them in distant parts of Tanzania. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1DbeqnG)

US President Barack Obama’s visit to Ethiopia, which saw him speak out against democratic restrictions, was positive but Washington must maintain pressure on the government, an Ethiopian opposition figure said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1I1XFKv)

MENA

A car bomb exploded outside an Ismaili mosque in Yemen’s war-damaged capital Sanaa on Wednesday, killing four people and wounding six, health authorities and a security source said. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1KAklm0)

Saudi-led warplanes bombed targets in Yemen’s northerly Saada province, a stronghold of Iranian-allied Houthi forces, local officials said Wednesday, and a U.N. official accused both sides in the conflict of failing to respect international law. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KAktlu)

Turkey’s renewed conflict with Kurdish militants intensified on Wednesday as the government launched a new wave of airstrikes in northern Iraq and a blast temporarily crippled a key oil pipeline in southeastern Turkey. (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/1KAkzd0)

Asia

China’s widespread crackdown on rights lawyers and activists over the past three weeks has fueled growing concerns that President Xi Jinping is using the law as a tool to mute dissidents and those who defend them in court. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MtVpiz)

Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence for an influential opposition leader and an aide to a former prime minister for his role in mass killings during the country’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. (AP http://yhoo.it/1OOL2Fb)

Myanmar’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday registered for November elections to keep her seat in parliament and challenge the ruling military-backed party. (AP http://yhoo.it/1H2OR3g)

The Americas

The jaguar is being defeated by a ruthless, modern-day warrior: Powerful drug cartels are carving up its Central American natural habitat. In some areas, particularly in Honduras and Guatemala, the big cats are at risk of disappearing entirely. (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1Db5EGe)

Organisers of the 2016 Rio Olympics are facing a serious challenge to clean polluted waters for sailing and windsurfing events. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Db5ONZ)

Concerns of a humanitarian emergency in Haiti are mounting as a growing number of Haitians returning to their country from neighboring Dominican Republic are living in rapidly growing tent cities with little resources. (CNN http://cnn.it/1D96S58)

The Brazilian government plans to use drones to strengthen its fight against slave labor in rural areas, the Labour Ministry has said. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1MtVrqE)

Opponents of President Barack Obama’s soon-to-be-implemented policy to cut carbon emissions from power plants are planning to use an unlikely and potentially potent weapon against him: the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that saved Obamacare. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1gmGfzq)

…and the rest

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde says the world economy is recovering but fragile and “faces some downside risks.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1H2OF46)

Aid agencies have no problem agreeing that gender-sensitive programming is a good idea, but few have come up with concrete methods for evaluating the impact it has on those it is supposed to be helping. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Dbeyn6)

Western Union Co plans to invest more in its compliance and monitoring systems in a renewed effort to combat fraud and money laundering, a senior executive said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1DbePXf)

Opinion/Blogs

Unpacking Obama’s Message to the African Union (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1OOQTKK)

Why Local Content in Extractive Sector Won’t Work Without Home Grown Human Capital (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1Db4E4N)

Obama probably won’t be invited to speak at the African Union again any time soon (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1OOGEWD)

Did Malaysia merit its human trafficking upgrade? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Db5mzh)

Secret aid worker: sexual harassment and discrimination in the industry (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Db5L4J)

Analysts: Obama’s Africa Trip Underscores Drive for Foreign Policy Legacy (VOA http://bit.ly/1DP50Jo)

Will Kenya’s Heightened Security Leave With Obama? (RFI http://bit.ly/1DP6inK)

Africa Will Grow Faster When Private Sector Finally Steps Up (East African http://bit.ly/1DP6rHX)

South Africa: Rebranding Condom Campaign – Will It Work This Time? (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1DP6HH1)

5 things needed to turn the SDGs into reality (Devex http://bit.ly/1h5mIDO)

The Politics Behind Mobile Money in Ethiopia (CFI Blog http://bit.ly/1h5mInb)

Humans of Lagos offers a glimpse at daily life in the West African mega city (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1h5mHzz)

Zimbabwe’s Opportunity to Join the African Economic Success Story (CSIS Prosper http://bit.ly/1OOQTu0

Discussion

comments…

Read More

Happy 70th, UN Charter

The treaty that created the United Nations turns 70 years old today. On June 26, 1945 leaders from 50 of the original member states gathered in San Francisco to sign the United Nations Charter. Ban Ki Moon is back in the Bay Area today for celebrations to commemorate the event. Mark speaks with historian Stephen Schlesinger who discusses the fascinating–and legitimately entertaining —  historiography of the UN Charter. A naked Winston Churchill is central to this story. UN Nerds, international affairs enthusiasts and history buffs will enjoy this conversation.  (Global Dispatches Podcast  http://bit.ly/1LsdWek)

More Trouble in Burundi. The USA and Belgium are in the Thick of It…”One of Burundi’s vice presidents has fled to Belgium, saying he had been threatened after denouncing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office, an allegation denied by Burundi’s government…Rallies have petered out but the mood remains tense. Three grenade attacks in the capital on Thursday injured several people, the latest in a series of similar assaults in the past week that have killed four people and injured dozens in Bujumbura and other towns. The U.S. embassy said students camped out in a nearby construction site had fled after police entered the area on Thursday, and about 100 had taken refuge in an embassy parking area. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1SNst6C)

Pledges total $3bn for Nepal Recovery…”International donors and multilateral agencies have pledged about $3 billion in aid to help rebuild Nepal as it struggles to recover from a devastating earthquake.  The Himalayan nation got the largest pledges from its two giant neighbors, India and China.” (VOA http://bit.ly/1SNrFia)

And the most peaceful country in the world is…According to the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace, Iceland, the thinly populated island in the midst of the North Atlantic has retained its place as the most peaceful country in the world. (CNN http://cnn.it/1GtAbuW)

Should I stay, or should I go? South Africa said it may withdraw from the International Criminal Court after controversy rose last week over its refusal to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on genocide charges. (VOA http://bit.ly/1Jlyi9E)

Quote of the Day: “We must face hard truths — if the current rate of new HIV infections continues, merely sustaining the major efforts we already have in place will not be enough to stop deaths from AIDS increasing within five years in many countries,” said Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1QRLcAr)

Africa

Authorities in Sierra Leone quarantined three doctors and 28 nurses in the capital Freetown when a mother tested positive for Ebola after giving birth, the health ministry said on Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1GKkyS1)

Guinea will put four villages under a 21-day quarantine as part of a robust strategy to stamp out a lingering Ebola epidemic after new cases of the disease were discovered there. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Jlzda9)

The United Nations said it has started an emergency program to distribute planting seeds and medical aid as a food and health crisis looms in northern Cameroon. The region is hosting thousands of refugees and people internally displaced by Boko Haram fighting. (VOA http://bit.ly/1GKkxha)

Warring forces in South Sudan have abducted as many as a thousand more child soldiers in the latest abuses in the 18-month long civil war, monitors said Thursday, amid fresh efforts to bring rivals back to talks. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Lxr42W)

Africa can create jobs, improve social services and cut poverty if its governments can stem the $50 billion a year lost in illicit outflows, mainly through multinationals, campaigners said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1LxqYIK)

A Tanzanian court ordered an Islamist rebel leader on Thursday to be extradited to Uganda to face murder charges, though he said he would appeal against the decision. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Lxrian)

The British government told Ethiopia on Thursday its treatment of an imprisoned opposition figure, who is also a British national, was unacceptable and that the case risked hurting ties between the two countries. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Lxr6bb)

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, joint operations by the Congolese army and the United Nations mission MONUSCO have weakened one of the most active rebel groups in the country.  The mission chief said that about a quarter of the combatants with the FRPI rebel group have been taken out of action in the past four weeks. (VOA http://bit.ly/1GKkzFJ)

China’s Defence Ministry on Thursday declined to confirm a report that it was in talks for a military base in Horn of Africa country Djibouti, though it said all countries had an interest in regional peace and stability. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Jlz5aA)

MENA

Show me the money…United Nations aid agencies said on Thursday that a $4.5 billion appeal to tackle the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015 was less than a quarter funded, putting millions of vulnerable people at risk, and had already led to cuts in vital assistance. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Lxr5DZ)

Eight international NGOs delivering desperately needed food, blankets and medical aid to war-torn Syria have finally been granted legal status in Turkey after years of deadlocked applications. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Jlyt4Z)

Journalists face unprecedented threats in President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s Egypt, a watchdog group said Thursday, with the highest number behind bars since it began keeping records in 1990. (AP http://yhoo.it/1GKkthp)

Asia

The worst heat wave to hit Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi for nearly 35 years has killed more than 1,000 people, a charity said on Thursday, as morgues ran out of space and public hospitals struggled to cope. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Lxr3Mj)

South Korea on Thursday announced a $14 billion stimulus package to boost its troubled economy, hammered by the deadly MERS outbreak which has dented consumer spending and business sentiment. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1GKkrGb)

The Americas

A US House of Representatives Homeland Security subcommittee held a hearing Wednesday on the possible security risks involved with resettling some of the estimated 4 million refugees from the brutal civil war in Syria in the United States.  (VOA http://bit.ly/1Lxrgiy)

President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced a reform of U.S. policies for dealing with kidnappers. Mr. Obama said the U.S. will use “all instruments of national power” to recover Americans held by terrorists in other countries. (VOA http://bit.ly/1LxriHd)

As spotlight returns to decades-long violence against native women and girls in Canada, calls for national inquiry have been rebuffed but groups refuse to give up. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1QRL4kz)

…and the rest

Britain’s Foreign Office has launched an inquiry into its foreign aid spending after a tabloid newspaper reported that it had spent thousands of pounds on initiatives such as Hamlet workshops in Ecuador and a television game show in Ethiopia. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1SNs4kv)

Faced with increasing chaos at its borders, the EU Commission is urging member states to take a tougher stance on migrant returns. Draft conclusions from Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels note that “all tools shall be mobilised to promote readmission of illegal migrants to countries of origin and transit,” and that an increased budget will be made available to support more effective returns. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1QRKRO6)

Opinion/Blogs

The Perfect Package for Reducing Poverty Is Made Up of Different Parts (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1QRL5Vr)

Health sector first casualty of Myanmar aid cuts (DevPolicy http://bit.ly/1LFQbxx)

When foreign companies want local land (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1KcNp41)

Internet in Africa – Empowerment or Exploitation? (DW http://bit.ly/1LxriqV)

Ten reasons why European governments should back a global tax body (Reuters http://bit.ly/1Jly4zz)

Development finance’s $83bn question: who will pay for gender equality?(Guardian http://bit.ly/1SNs1oO)

Just when I despair that decades of intellectual work on development have fallen on deaf ears, comes stuff like this (Chris Blattman http://bit.ly/1BM8O2R)

Tackling Grand Corruption: Guatemala’s Successful Experiment (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1KcOXuQ)

Who is the richest man in history? (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/1KcOd8X)

Term limits in central Africa: utility or artifact? (Eyes Wide Open http://bit.ly/1KcOkBm)
This giant mural in downtown Oakland Commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Charter. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1Lx3R0X)

Discussion

comments…

Read More

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

Read More

Boko Haram: More EU funds to help the affected populations

In response to the growing humanitarian consequences of the Boko Haram attacks, the European Commission is providing €21 million to help the populations in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries who are affected by the violence inflicted by the militant Islamist group.

These new funds will provide immediate support, including clean water, food, shelter, health care and protection to the displaced and the host communities in the north-east Nigeria, as well as to Nigerian refugees and returnees in the neighbouring countries.

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, who is visiting Nigeria to assess the humanitarian situation, said: “More than 1.7 million people have been displaced by the terror of Boko Haram. Many of them live in precarious conditions in other parts of Nigeria or the neighbouring countries where they have fled. Meeting some of them today, I saw with my own eyes the immense needs that the conflict is causing among civilians. We are stepping up our humanitarian response to the call of those in the greatest need“.

€12.5 million of the funding will be used to tackle the humanitarian challenges in Nigeria, and €8.5 million will go to supporting refugees in Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

This new aid comes on top of the relief the Commission has provided to the most vulnerable people affected by food insecurity and malnutrition throughout Nigeria and its neighbouring countries. In 2014 and 2015, the Commission has allocated more than €107 million and €123 million, respectively, to provide humanitarian assistance to people in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

Background

The violent conflict in North-East Nigeria, with indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population, has displaced 1.5 million people within the country and forced over 230 000 to flee to Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

The displaced people in Nigeria live in precarious conditions and are in need of basic services. In addition, the security situation often prevents humanitarian organisations from reaching those in need and deliver basic supplies.

In the neighbouring countries, the newly-arrived refugees put additional strain on the resources of the host communities which already suffer from the consequences of successive food crises and extreme poverty.

Read More