[RFI] Cairo -Algeria moved into the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday night following a penalty shoot-out success over Cote d’Ivoire.
Which humanitarian topics are on IRIN’s radar and should be on yours? Check out our curation of upcoming events, topical reports, opinion, and quality journalism:
What will aid look like in 2030?
“The Future” has been something of an obsession for humanitarians of late. Academics researching the sector produce reports called “Planning from the Future” and A Practitioner’s Guide to the Future, aid agencies are similarly pre-occupied, and one of our own commentators has caught the bug. This week, our Director Heba Aly spoke at the launch of the latest attempt at such foresighting (yes, that’s a verb). The Future of Aid: INGOs in 2030 is the product of one year of research by the Inter-Agency Regional Analysts Network, a consortium of academic institutions and large international NGOs, with the help of futurologists, to predict what the landscape for humanitarian action will look like in 12 years’ time. From the collapse of global governance to the rise of mega-cities, it maps drivers of change and how international NGOs may have to adapt, for example, by moving from less principled to “different cultural and more pragmatic approaches” in non-conflict settings; becoming franchised partners; no longer engaging in operations directly but rather providing “on-demand” services to local and regional NGOs; or acting as a global foundation that gathers funds for a cause and uses its expertise to distribute them. For those asking whether international NGOs need exist at all in 2030, this research adds to a growing body of thought, from as far apart as design firms and the World Economic Forum, on the future of humanitarian response. We’ll keep you posted!
World leaders are wringing their hands after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, which theoretically makes it possible for Kim Jong-un to strike Alaska with a nuclear warhead. But what about the civilian population basically held captive by Kim’s totalitarian regime? North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have long overshadowed the plight of its 25 million inhabitants, but, as tensions rise, their situation is looking increasingly desperate. This report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization warns that North Korea is facing its worst drought since 2001 and says food imports are urgently needed even as food aid has declined, in part due to sanctions. Look out for more in-depth analysis from IRIN soon but, in the meantime, you can check out our comprehensive backgrounder on the perpetual humanitarian crisis in North Korea.
Djibouti says au revoir to anti-immigrant boat
Uproar met a right-wing, anti-immigration group’s recent plans to secure a vessel and interfere with NGOs rescuing migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean. So we decided to take a look into the boat’s checquered past. It was a floating armoury, licensed in the UK for private anti-piracy security operations off the coast of Somalia, hence its registration in Djibouti. However an official with Djibouti’s national Maritime Security Services told IRIN that chapter is now over: “this vessel has nothing to do with us or Djibouti, all Djibouti certificates have been deleted”. The MV Suunta, now renamed the C Star, is currently registered in land-locked Mongolia. According to activist group Hope Not Hate, the boat is detained by Egyptian authorities in the Red Sea and the chances of it ever picking up its provocative journalist passengers and white activists in Italy seem to be fading. To recap: a company based in Wales and its Swedish director are leasing a boat flagged in Mongolia to the Austria-based Defend Europe group, which wants to help Libya’s coastguard and is raising money on a Nevada-based alt-right website. Stay tuned on this surprisingly multicultural venture…
“Roman” going viral in Lebanon
Here’s a change of pace: this week we propose you check out the music video for Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila’s new single “Roman”. The beautifully shot clip – which is spreading quickly in Lebanon – features women in various sorts of traditional Arab and Muslim dress. As the band says, they are “styled to over-articulate their ethnic background, in a manner more typically employed by Western media to victimise them”. Indeed, we see the women and the band in situations we’ve grown accustomed to seeing refugees (who now make up about a quarter of Lebanon’s population) in: like empty buildings, pickup trucks, on a beach. A quick note on the rights of women in Lebanon: years of protest have not been successful in changing a nationality law that prevents Lebanese women from passing on their nationality to their children if their partners are not Lebanese. This can leave children stateless. Activists have also been fighting, with both politicking and dramatic street theatre, to repeal a law that allows rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims. They’ve had some success but no final vote in parliament. However, demonstrations in general seems to be on hold in Lebanon – this week the government banned all protests as Syrian activists planned to take to the street after the deaths of four Syrians in military custody. But back to Leila’s powerful video: while the refugee tie-in is not explicit (we invite you to watch and interpret for yourself), the feminism and the great dancing are.
Did you miss it?
Held incommunicado under house arrest in South Africa and rendered virtually stateless, that’s what, according to this well-researched article by Simon Allison in the Mail & Guardian. Quite the comedown for a man who has long been a dominant figure in South Sudan and twice served as its vice president. Machar was a key player in his country’s devastating civil war and his isolation means that already moribund peace efforts have even less chance of inching forward, writes Allison. His detention is “prolonging the war”, agreed Lam Paul Gabriel, a Uganda-based spokesperson for Machar’s party. This may be true, and yet regional actors in the peace process – Uganda, South Africa, and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development – appear loath to involve him anymore. Although Pretoria describes Machar as its “guest”, his conditions are such that even his wife cannot speak to him. The South Sudanese government, meanwhile, has revoked his passport. Machar was forced to flee his country after a bout of fighting in the capital, Juba, a year ago. His gruelling journey with hundreds of fighters across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he suffered the indignity of being rescued by UN peacekeepers, is chronicled in some detail here.
The small Ebola outbreak that surfaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo in May was officially declared over on 2 July. But it’s a fair assumption Ebola will be back – if not in Congo, then somewhere else. Médecins Sans Frontières has released a useful five-point lessons learned guide. The first rule of fighting Ebola, it says, is to train frontline health teams: The Congo outbreak was quickly recognised by a rural nurse who rang the alarm, minimising its spread. Secondly, because the disease is now taken seriously by the international community, aid was rapidly made available. Third: Although there is the promise of new vaccines, the “basic pillars of outbreak control” cannot be neglected, while, fourthly, location remains an important determinant of how successfully Ebola can be contained – its emergence in rural Congo rather than the middle of a city was a distinct advantage. Finally, medical innovations are not a magic bullet. The latest outbreak was fought the old fashioned way, as the permission and medical protocols weren’t in place to allow the use of new experimental treatments. Perhaps next time…
(TOP PHOTO: A screenshot taken from Mashrou’ Leila’s video for “Roman”)
20 April 2015 – Following the loss of some 700 lives after a boat carrying migrants capsized and sank over the weekend, the UN human rights chief has urged European Union (EU) governments to take a “more sophisticated, more courageous and less callous approach” to coping with the flows of migrants towards Europe.
“As we learn of yet more men, women and children who have lost their lives in their search for better and safer lives abroad, I am horrified but not surprised by this latest tragedy. These deaths and the hundreds of others that preceded them in recent months were sadly predictable,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
“The [deaths] are the result of a continuing failure of governance accompanied by a monumental failure of compassion,” he added.
“While Italy’s ‘Mare Nostrum’ programme, which ended last October, was a valiant, and in many ways successful, effort to save lives, the scaled-down ‘Operation Triton’ is simply not fit for purpose,” said Mr. Zeid, emphasizing that it is totally inadequate and “more geared to border control and policing the seas than to saving lives.”
Stopping the rescue of migrants in distress has not led to less migration, nor indeed to less smuggling, but merely to more deaths at sea, he said, stressing that Triton should immediately be replaced by a European-wide, State-led and well-resourced search and rescue capability in the Mediterranean.
“We have repeatedly underscored that no one who has food to eat, who is safe from torture, and rape, and from falling bombs, who has healthcare for his family, education for her children, decent and productive work would readily embark on these perilous journeys,” he added.
Europe is “turning its back” on some of the most vulnerable migrants in the world, and risks turning the Mediterranean into a “vast cemetery” rather than acknowledge that European economies and societies need the low-skilled labour that migrants are desperate to contribute, and that refugees have a right to seek asylum, Mr. Zeid said.
Lack of regular channels, coupled with harsh controls at external borders, has led migrants to turn to the increasingly organised smuggling industry along Europe’s southern borders, he said.
“It is time for politicians to show courageous leadership on this issue, instead of joining the mindless clamour for ever harsher deterrence policies. Not only do such policies not work, they operate at an unacceptable cost in terms of human lives,” the High Commissioner said.
In a separate statement, UN experts said that the repression of irregular migration clearly cannot be the only solution to the recurrent grave problem of masses of people drowning at sea. “The unnecessary deaths over the past few days are just the beginning. Europe must act innovatively to save lives,” said François Crépeau, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.
“We are talking about people dying unnecessarily when States have the capacity to save lives,” he added. “If Europe is to witness a significant reduction of human suffering at borders, it must bank on regulated openness and mobility. Otherwise the number of migrants risking their lives on unseaworthy vessels over perilous sea routes can only increase.”
“Moreover, those surviving their perilous journey find themselves in a situation of social vulnerability and often fall prey to unscrupulous or criminal recruiters or employers, exploiting them in slavery-like conditions,” cautioned Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
Mr. Crépeau and Ms. Giammarinaro both said that it is important to bring to justice unscrupulous smugglers for the suffering they inflict on irregular migrants, but warned that “Europe will find it difficult to defeat resourceful and adaptable smuggling rings, unless it destroys their business model, which was created when barriers and prohibitions to mobility were erected and which thrives at evading restrictive migration policies of many EU Member States.”
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants will present a report on his visit to Italy and a thematic report on EU border management to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015.
Earlier in the day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the death of hundreds of migrants off the coast of Libya a “shock to the global conscience.” The Mediterranean is fast becoming a “sea of misery” for thousands of migrants, he said.
“And this truly titanic humanitarian tragedy highlights yet again the need to address the plight of migrants, to crack down on the criminals who exploit the most vulnerable, and to strengthen rescue capacity in the Mediterranean and elsewhere,” Mr. Ban said.
Hughes Announces Partnership in OneWeb’s Innovative Global Satellite Broadband Initiative to Close the Digital Divide
– Hughes will design/develop/manufacture the ground system and employ OneWeb’s network to deliver services across its worldwide base of customers and distribution partners GERMANTOWN, Maryland, June 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ – Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES), the global leader in broadband satellite solutions and services, today announced a major technology and marketing partnership with OneWeb to close […]