Monthly Archives: September 2015

Closing ‘vast’ gender gap, ending child marriage key priorities, ...

30 September 2015 – Spotlighting the importance his country places on gender equality, the President of Ghana told the United Nations General Assembly today that a major priority will closing the “vast” gaps between men and women through, among other efforts, providing decent education for girls and working to end child marriage.

“Most of the world’s poorest people are women,” John Dramani Mahama said. “Currently we create programs and policies to address this imbalance, yet regardless of how successful they may be, they are not permanent solutions. They do not solve the ultimate problem, which is the vast inequality between men and women that so many traditions have inculcated.”

He also addressed the plight of children and the work his country is doing to address their needs.

“In order to address the issue of child mortality and malnutrition, preparatory work is underway to earmark disbursements for pregnant women and mothers of children under the age of one,” he said.

He noted the central role of education in achieving gender parity, emphasizing that it was “the key to change.”

“In Ghana, we have made tremendous progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal target on universal basic education. We instituted the ‘Girl Child Program,’ which encourages parents to send girls to school, and at the primary level we have achieved gender parity between boys and girls,” he said.

Turning to the practice of child marriage on the continent, Mr. Mahama highlighted that, in West Africa, two out of five girls are married before they turn 18, face increased maternal mortality rates and “are subject to the sort of poverty that is nearly insurmountable.”

“Ghana has launched a campaign, under the auspices of [the UN Children’s Fund] to end child marriage in our nation by focusing not only on getting young girls in school but also on keeping them there their education is complete,” he continued. “This is being achieved through enhanced access to secondary education and beyond without compromising quality.”

On UN reform, he emphasized that it was time “for greater inclusivity in the United Nations.”

“The world that was in 1945 does not exist now in 2015,” he continued, “so the visionary Organization that was formed to meet the needs of that world must now be reformed to meet the needs of this one.”

He also delineated those needs, among them the issues caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Boko Haram and Al-Qaida, as well to address the situatio of those killed in the South Sudan conflict and the “thousands dead in Syria, in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Mexico, Afghanistan and Somalia; thousands more, the majority from African nations, dead in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to flee poverty, hunger, disease or political strife or persecution.”

30 September 2015 – Illicit cigarettes hidden in trailer ...

Pretoria, 30 September 2015 – A vigilant SARS official discovered over R1 million worth of illicit cigarettes hidden in a trailer carrying a horse at Beitbridge border post on 28 September 2015.

The officer was doing inspections of trucks parked at the border post at about 2am when he discovered the one truck carrying a horse in the trailer.

The truck driver did not have a permit for the horse and was parked there overnight. However, the officer had a sixth sense about the truck and decided to do a thorough search. He banged under the bottom of the trailer and became suspicious as the sound was unusual. He then climbed into the trailer and discovered carpets hiding planks. The planks were covering a hole which contained several boxes of illicit cigarettes.

He then checked the roof of the trailer on the outside and inside and he realised that the level of the roof on the inside was not the same as on the outside. The roof was then cut open and a false compartment was found filled with more illicit cigarettes.

Altogether 105 master cartons of illicit cigarettes with a street value of R1 093 071 were confiscated.

Illicit cigarettes were also discovered at the Lebombo border post yesterday (29 September), hidden in the undercarriage of a taxi.

During a random search of vehicles at the main import gate, Customs officials discovered 100 cartons (20 000 sticks) of cigarettes wrapped in bags and strapped to the bottom of the taxi. They also discovered 320 pairs of undeclared All Star sneakers hidden under the taxi. The driver and goods were handed over to the SAPS.

And in another unusual bust, two Customs Detector Dog Unit members stopped a taxi which had illegally passed through the border near the Oshoek border post from Swaziland on 25 September. The taxi was escorted back to the border post where it was searched. Customs officials then searched the taxi and found packets of compressed dagga under the backseat, as well as 58 small packets of heroin rolled up in socks.

The suspect then tried to escape but was tracked down on a nearby farm. The suspect was arrested by the SAPS. The dagga was valued at R1218, while the heroin was valued at R2320.

These are significant seizures by SARS Customs who implement daily inspections in an effort to foil smuggling of goods. SARS will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies to protect the country and its citizens by disrupting organised crime and reducing illicit trade activities.

See the pics here.

30 September 2015 – Trade Statistics for August 2015

Pretoria, 30 September 2015 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today releases trade statistics for August 2015 that recorded a trade deficit of R9.95 billion. This figure includes trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS).

Please click here to read the full document.

For more info, visit the Trade Statistics webpages.

Crisis Forces CAR President to Leave UNGA Early

Hey DAWNSers!  Before we get to the day’s Digest, we have some exciting news to share. We have entered into a partnership with the good people at Global Citizen to help us expand our reach and provide us with the necessary support to keep our newsclips service free and fantastic. — Tom and Mark

With strife on the streets of Bangui escalating, Catherine Samba-Panza cut short her New York trip. French helicopters reportedly fired on militias near the airport. “It marked a fourth day of clashes since the killing of a Muslim man on Saturday unleashed the worst sectarian violence this year in the former French colony and raised doubts over plans to hold elections. The vote, scheduled for Oct. 18 but expected to be postponed, is meant to conclude a restoration of democracy after Muslim rebels seized power in the mostly Christian country in 2013, plunging the nation of 4.5 million people into a spiral of religious violence. Samba-Panza, who took office when Seleka ceded power in 2014 under international pressure, said the unrest was being stoked by supporters of ousted former president Francois Bozize.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/1MZolAH)

Saudi’s Under Pressure to Halt Yemen Bombing Campaign…Saudi Arabia and its allies faced mounting international pressure on Tuesday to halt a bombing campaign in Yemen the day after airstrikes killed dozens of people at a village wedding on the Red Sea coast. The attack occurred Monday morning in the village of Wahija, south of the city of Mokha, and appeared to be one of the deadliest involving civilians since the military campaign began in March. Witnesses said Monday that at least 70 people had been killed in tents set up for the wedding. On Tuesday, two local medical officials said as many as 81 people had died.

Stat of the day: The office of the U.N. human rights chief says 151 civilians have been killed in fighting in Yemen over two weeks in September, taking the civilian death toll to 2,355 over the last six months. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MYMNSJ)

On the UNGA Docket today: POTUS and VPOTUS are back in DC today. But the action still abounds in Turtle Bay. Palestine, Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan are on the speaker schedule on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Russia will chair a Security Council meeting to drum up support for its own anti-ISIS strategy.

Africa

The streets of the capital of the Central African Republic were deserted Tuesday with terrified residents sheltering indoors and 30,000 seeking refuge at the airport after three days of shooting and bloodshed. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1iJ2Jvb)

The Central African Republic’s president appealed for calm Tuesday as the United Nations reported 36 people dead and almost 30,000 displaced in three days of bloodshed terrorising the capital Bangui. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MYMQOy)

Burkina Faso’s army took up positions on Tuesday outside the presidential guard’s camp in the capital Ouagadougou, a day after the military chief of staff said the elite unit was refusing to disarm after a short-lived coup. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MYNEms)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged South Sudan Tuesday not to “betray and disappoint” the international community after its president promised to implement a faltering peace deal designed to end civil war. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MYNFXr)

Nigeria is struggling with an unprecedented economic crisis due to a plunge in oil revenues undermining the state’s ability to provide even basic services, Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1iJ83i3)

A scorching drought that has cut South Africa’s key maize crop by a third is likely to continue into the southern hemisphere summer as an El Nino weather pattern strengthens, according to the latest forecast from the South African Weather Service. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MYMM19)

MENA

Syrian opposition forces say they will never accept President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, after signs that Western powers may be willing to work with the embattled leader to end the war. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KJfgZc)

The United Arab Emirates is introducing labor reforms aimed at tightening oversight of employment agreements for the millions of temporary migrant workers who make up the bulk of the country’s workforce, a top Emirati official said Tuesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MYMNCc)

The Libyan coastguard said it rescued 346 migrants on Tuesday, almost 100 of them women and children, crammed onto rubber boats and stranded off the country’s coast. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MYNJ9N)

The World Bank says the Palestinian economy has worsened for a third consecutive year. (AP http://yhoo.it/1OEKioM)

The U.S. is losing the battle to stop Americans from traveling abroad to enlist in ISIS, a bipartisan congressional task force concluded in a report released Tuesday. (CNN http://cnn.it/1MZo1BP)

Asia

Western embassies in Bangladesh have restricted their diplomats’ movements amid concern more foreigners would be targeted after an Italian was shot dead in the first attack in the country claimed by Islamic State. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MYMIOP)

Deposed Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra filed a criminal case against the attorney general on Tuesday alleging unfair handling of charges against her that could see her jailed for 10 years. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MYMJ5s)

More than 200 ethnic Rohingya stormed out of an Indonesian encampment Tuesday as tensions erupted following alleged rapes and beatings by locals at the site where members of Myanmar’s long-persecuted minority have been held since arriving by boat four months ago. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MYNETo)

Two British journalists have gone on trial in Indonesia for allegedly trying to make a documentary about piracy without the correct visas, and could face up to five years in jail, an official said Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KJeqeP)

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi met U.S. President Barack Obama and France and Britain’s leaders on Monday, and called for a climate change agenda from upcoming global talks in Paris that helps developing countries with access to finance and technology. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MYMI1u)

The Americas

The news keeps getting worse for the once-ballyhooed Brazilian economy, compounding the delicate political situation for President Dilma Rousseff, who polls show is the nation’s most unpopular president since the 1985 return to democracy. (AP http://yhoo.it/1P4kzp8)

The justice accord signed at peace talks between Marxist FARC rebels and the Colombian government does not address possible prison time for those who confess crimes committed during the country’s 51-year war, the rebel group said on Tuesday, contradicting government statements on the issue. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MYNED4)

Peru declared a state of emergency in six provinces on Tuesday after protests over a big Chinese copper mining project left three people dead and 15 injured. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KJfkZ0)

Greenpeace called on Brazilian authorities on Tuesday to reject an environmental assessment for a hydroelectric dam on the Tapajos River in the Amazon because it was a “marketing tool” that disregarded the indigenous people living along its banks. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1iJ80CU)

…and the rest

An international press freedom group says the European Union has been too lenient in its treatment of media abuses in Hungary and accuses it of economic bias in defending the rights of journalists. (AP http://yhoo.it/1KJepYk)

More than half a million migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year — 383,000 of them arriving in Greece, the United Nations said on Tuesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KJeprk)

Austria may have to use force to ease any backlog of migrants if Germany decided to no longer let them enter via their shared border, but will continue to work closely with its neighbor to expedite the flow, the Vienna government said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MYNCuT)

European stock markets recovered their poise Tuesday despite an earlier rout in Asia which featured a 4 percent slide in Japan’s main index. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MYMLdr)

A top U.N. human rights official says efforts by Russia-backed separatist rebels to block the flow of humanitarian aid to people in eastern Ukraine could amount to crimes against humanity. (AP http://yhoo.it/1KJfkrQ)

Opinion/Blogs

The SDGs Should Stand for Senseless, Dreamy, Garbled (Foreign Policy http://atfp.co/1O6ouCF)

The not-so-easy task of educating girls (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1iJ8ZTw)

A Change of Perspective on Social Good (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1O6oDG5)

We Can Overcome Poverty and Hunger by 2030 (IPS http://bit.ly/1MYLp2C)

Maybe Trevor Noah Shouldn’t Be So Comfortable With An Indoor Toilet (Goatas and Soda http://n.pr/1P4kuBR)

In two charts, this is what refugees say about why they are leaving Syria now (Monkey Cage http://wapo.st/1iJ69hB)

Piketty’s contribution to unpacking inequality: timely and relevant (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1P4lNAF)

The majority of the world’s children are in school. So why aren’t they learning? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1ReogHU)

Secret aid worker: As a woman, I’m seen as a piece of meat (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Reom2n)

Bad time to change UN refugee supremo? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1P4mZEj)

It’s Up To The World: Pay For The Global Goals Or Buy Everyone A Latte (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1P4mSse)

Discussion

comments…

Public Interest Registry Appoints Dorcas Muthoni to Enset’s Board ...

Internet Hall of Fame Inductee to Serve Two-Year Term

RESTON, Virginia, Sept. 30, 2015 / PRNewswire — Public Interest Registry — the not-for-profit manager of .org, .ngo and .ong — today announced the appointment of Dorcas Muthoni to the board of directors of nonprofit domain registrar Enset, a subsidiary organization. Muthoni, a member of the Internet Hall of Fame and CEO and founder of OPENWORLD LTD, will begin a two-year term as director this month.

Muthoni is an accomplished entrepreneur and computer scientist whose leadership and technology advocacy has been recognized by groups including the Anita Borg Institute for Women, Women’s Forum and the World Economic Forum. In addition to serving as an Internet Society Fellow to the Internet Engineering Task Force and World Bank infoDev Global Forum, Muthoni is the founder of AfChix, a mentorship and capacity building initiative for women in computing across Africa.

“The Internet can provide NGOs and nonprofits with so many powerful tools to advance their missions and I’ve seen firsthand how technology can make a positive impact,” said Muthoni. “Enset’s mission to serve organizations who might not have the means or skills to access these digital tools is critical to ensuring all NGOs and nonprofits can be a part of the global online community.”

Founded in 2015 by Public Interest Registry, Enset supports nonprofits around the world as a trusted provider of digital tools for NGOs to use the Internet to advance their own mission. The registrar enables organisations to register their .ngo and .ong domains as part of OnGood, a suite of services exclusively for NGOs to improve visibility, raise funds and better connect with their audiences. Enset will also provide .org – the third largest top-level domain.

Muthoni joins two other experienced technology and philanthropy leaders on Enset’s board of directors. Erik Huizer joined Enset’s board of directors in 2014 as chairman and is the current chief technology officer at SURFnet, the national education and research network provider in the Netherlands. Jenny Hodgson, who was also appointed to Enset’s board of directors in 2014, is the executive director of the Global Fund for Community Foundations.

“Muthoni Dorcas’ background, expertise and strategic vision will make her an instrumental member of the Enset board,” said Maarten Botterman, Chairman of Public Interest Registry’s Board of Directors. “Combined with our existing directors, Dorcas’ leadership and guidance will help us position Enset as the only nonprofit domain registrar committed to helping organisations of all sizes and reach leverage the power of the Internet to raise awareness, funds and support for their missions and causes.”

About Public Interest Registry
Public Interest Registry is a nonprofit organisation that operates the .org top-level domain — the world’s third largest “generic” top-level domain with more than 10.5 million domain names registered worldwide – and the newly launched .ngo and .ong domains and OnGood community website. As an advocate for collaboration, safety and security on the Internet, Public Interest Registry’s mission is to empower the global noncommercial community to use the Internet more effectively, and to take a leadership position among Internet stakeholders on policy and other issues relating to the domain naming system. Public Interest Registry was founded by the Internet Society (internetsociety.org) in 2002 and is based in Reston, Virginia, USA.

Contact:
Michael Lock
(202) 223-9260
pir@allisonpr.com

UN Peacekeeping Gets Big Boost

On Day 1 of UNGA, President Obama hosted a pledging conference to bolster UN Peacekeeping operations around the world, which are overstretched and under resourced. As a consequence of this “Peacekeeping Summit” some 30,000 new troops were committed to future operations as well as key material and other support structures intended to improve the effectiveness of operations. Perhaps most significantly, China made a big pledge to peacekeeping, fundamentally changing its relationship to UN Peacekeeping. Here’s a rundown of why Obama held this meeting and the big commitments that were secured.  (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1Gd0AgS)

Obama v Putin at the UNGA…   “U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin sharply disagreed Monday over the chaos in Syria, with Obama urging a political transition to replace the Syrian president but Putin warning it would be a mistake to abandon the current government.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1PJXCps)

The end of Malaria? Malaria could be wiped out by 2040, despite the lack of an effective vaccine, previous failed attempts to eradicate the disease and drug resistance problems, the United Nations and Microsoft founder Bill Gates said in a report released on Monday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LY5v7d)

Blood on the Streets of Bangui…Tension and fear on Monday gripped Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, with the city’s main streets closed by barricades after a spate of violence, looting and the death of three protesters. A hospital source told AFP on condition of anonymity the three were killed and seven were injured on Monday when UN peacekeepers opened fire as several hundred protesters headed for the presidency. The UN mission issued a denial…With barricades raised across the city Monday, French and UN peacekeepers were on watch at key points after weekend trouble triggered by the killing of a motorcycle-taxi driver.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/1KMcejC)

Quote of the Day: “We are not Gays!” — Robert Mugabe being Robert Mugabe at his UNGA Address. Context from Vox: http://bit.ly/1KMdqDz

Africa

The testimony from dozens of people working in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s Unity state, points to the systematic abduction and abuse of women as a form of wages for forces allied to the government. The worst atrocities have led more than 110,000 people to seek safety at a UN base in the town. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1MVnaSH)

An individual was transferred to the ICC from Niger to face trial for allegedly destroying cultural heritage in Mali. (UN News Centre http://bit.ly/1KMd5kv)

The European Union will impose sanctions on four officials close to Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza in protest at his third term in office that has provoked a deep political crisis, diplomatic sources said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1OCCMuw)

Uganda’s main opposition leader Kizza Besigye said he and his Forum for Democratic Change party are making preparations to go it alone in next year’s presidential election unless there is a change in the position of the Democratic Alliance. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KLfufg)

Homophobic mobs have repeatedly attacked lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Kenya but police are unwilling to even attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice, rights groups said on Monday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1PJUYjj)

Burkina Faso’s powerful presidential guard is resisting efforts to disarm it after carrying out a short-lived coup against a transitional government this month, the army’s chief of staff said on Monday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1OCCOmk)

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the deployment of several hundred troops to South Sudan and Somalia to ‘shore up stability’ in those areas.  But aid groups say South Sudan desperately needs other forms of aid. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KLfwDH)

Run it back…A Sierra Leone official said the government is cautiously optimistic the country will successfully complete a new 42-day countdown to be declared Ebola-free without any setback. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1KLfpZ5)

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says East African nations that have worked to bring a new peace agreement for South Sudan should expand their efforts to include the international community in implementing the pact to end 20 months of fighting. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KLftYG)

MENA

The Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen’s Shiite rebels mistakenly struck a wedding party on Monday, killing at least 38 people, Yemeni security officials said. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MVtDxa)

Qatar plans to invest $35 billion over the next five years in the United States, as the energy-rich Gulf state diversifies its global stakes, its sovereign wealth fund said Monday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1KGkswN)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday offered to help root out terrorism in the Middle East and said the United States and its support for Israel are a major cause of the violence. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1KMdbIK)

Asia

Taliban insurgents fought their way into a major city in northern Afghanistan on Monday, driving back stunned security forces in a multi-pronged attack that also sent Afghan officials and U.N. personnel fleeing for safety. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1KMdfYX)

About 1,000 pro-democracy activists rallied outside Hong Kong government headquarters on Monday to mark the first anniversary of protests that crippled parts of the Chinese-controlled city for weeks but failed to secure electoral reforms. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1P2daXh)

Amnesty International called on Monday for the release of eight mainland Chinese activists who face long prison sentences for posting messages and pictures supporting Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1P2dc1i)

Save the Children’s new report suggests that Filipino ‘shortness’ is not just a genetic trait but is attributed to generations of ‘stunted’ children who are too small for their age because of malnutrition. http://bit.ly/1P2bBbS

Afghan Taliban fighters on Monday seized control of a 200-bed hospital in Kunduz city in the north, a spokesman for the militants said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1P2dZiT)

The Americas

Hundreds of people led by the parents and relatives of 43 missing students toured various sites in southern Mexico linked to the disappearance of the young people just over a year ago. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LY3kAy)

…and the rest

Germany’s president has warned that there are limits to how many refugees his country can absorb as it prepares for as many as 800,000 arrivals this year, showing growing concern even at the highest level over how to look after so many newcomers. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1OCCPGN)

Doctors treated migrant children — including newborns — for exposure as dropping temperatures Monday worsened the plight of asylum-seekers walking for days trying to reach sanctuary in Europe. (AP http://yhoo.it/1OCGuV2)

Art for refugees…Street artist Banksy has said he will send the material from his closed amusement park in England to France to help shelter refugees who are camped out there. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1P2ftJV)

National promises to curb greenhouse gas emissions will help avert the worst levels of global warming by 2100, but more action is needed to keep temperature rises within the 2 degree limit set by governments, a study showed on Monday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MVtERy)

Opinion/Blogs

Four takeaways from the Global Citizen Festival (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1LY5Tmg)

The UN gives a big boost to maternal and child health. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1KMcsHx)

A change of perspective on Social Good. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1KMcyyW)

U.N.’s Mixed Messages on Nepal’s Constitution (IPS http://bit.ly/1Wu0ECc)

Can Silk Shield Kenyan Farmers From Climate Change? (SciDevNet http://bit.ly/1PJXYfH)

Sustainable Development Goals Are in Reach If African Universities Work Together (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1OCHtok)

SDGs and the Dangers of Data (IRIN http://bit.ly/1P2e7yU)

What Are the Sustainable Development Goals and Why Do They Matter? (TRF http://bit.ly/1P2dOnI)

Measuring discrimination will bring the gender equality global goal a step closer (Guardian http://bit.ly/1PJVkXj)

Why SDGs Won’t Make the World a Fairer Place (Fahamu http://bit.ly/1OCIj4m)

Is Burkina Faso Out of the Woods? (ISS http://bit.ly/1MVtCcA)

How the U.S. Is Expanding Its Fight Against Extremism in Africa (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1P2fPAi)

Discussion

comments…

Statement by President Donald Tusk at the Leaders' Summit on ...

I am pleased to be here today and make a pledge on behalf of the European Union to strengthen UN peacekeeping operations. EU Member States remain the main financial contributors to UN peacekeeping, covering more than one third of the total peacekeeping budget for the period 2014-2015.

The Union also conducts crisis management missions and operations in support of UN objectives and UN peacekeeping. There are currently seventeen EU crisis management missions and operations (6 military and 11 civilian). These allow for burden sharing and support to the UN, notably in Mali, the Central African Republic, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Balkans. 

In the case of Africa, the EU remains committed to give full support to the continent’s efforts to manage its own security. The EU has agreed to increase its African Peace Facility from 750 to 900 million Euros for the period 2014-2016. Today, I would like to confirm the pledge defined by European Union Member States in March 2015, and reaffirm our commitment to fulfilling them.

Let me end by thanking the co-hosts of this event. And to all of those who have made important contributions today and in the past in support of the UN’s peace and security agenda.

IRIN's Top Picks: Aid bureaucracy, bombing Yemen and a bungled ...

LONDON, 25 September 2015 (IRIN) – Welcome to IRIN’s reading list. Every week our global network of specialist correspondents share their top picks of recent must-read research, podcasts, reports, blogs and in-depth articles to help you keep on top of global crises. We also highlight key upcoming conferences, book releases and policy debates.

Five to read:

Why localising aid is an elusive goal

In previous years, the IFRC’s World Disasters Report has focused on concrete issues such as HIV/AIDS, forced migration and malnutrition. This year, the topic is more philosophical: how to shift the balance of aid operations from international to local. The report argues that too much money and power rests with big international players and too little with the local groups who often do the most to save lives. It’s a theme the aid community has been wrestling with for years: everyone admits there’s a problem, but no one seems to have real answers. This report suggests some solutions but also highlights the huge obstacles to change. These include over-zealous financial checks, competing interests of recipient communities and local actors, and political and regulatory constraints in affected countries.

See IRIN’s take: Obstacles to going local

Solving the CAR problem

Rushed democracy is better than no democracy, right? A new report on the conflict in Central African Republic from the International Crisis Group suggests otherwise: “Elections alone will change very little in a country which today has ceased to function as a state.” As violence between ex-Séléka rebels, who are mostly Muslim, and predominantly Christian anti-balaka militias rages on, the ICG urges CAR’s transitional authorities to focus on disarming the various groups and reaffirming equal rights before moving forward with elections. Among other recommendations, the report says recruitment into the public services must reflect minority interests and calls for the deployment of more UN peacekeepers to areas where tensions are running high.

A worrying start

The Sustainable Development Goals formally come into being today, yet, depressingly, a flagship study by the Overseas Development Institute already predicts their failure. In the first comprehensive attempt to project their progress over the next 15 years, the ODI scores each of the 17 goals and reveals which ones need reform, revolution or a complete rethink. There is hope for halting deforestation and ending extreme poverty, both of which will be more than halfway to achievement by 2030, but plenty of causes for concern exist too. Inequality and global waste are actually set to worsen worldwide if trends continue, while progress would need to be “over three times faster” to reach the goal of zero hunger.

Less red tape please

A refreshingly honest blog post from Chris Blattman, associate professor at Columbia University, gives insight into the frustratingly bureaucratic world of international aid. After sitting on a panel debate looking at how to improve the humanitarian system through cash transfers, he witnessed how political wrangling, endless regulations, and poor global cooperation hinder real progress in the field: “It’s amazing how often the US government came up as an obstacle to doing the right thing.” Near the end, he reserved one particularly scathing point for the UN: “If anyone can figure out how to take $10 to give a refugee $1, they will.”

A bungled response to Ebola

Bad chlorine, missing buckets and barely-there health systems: just some of the lowlights in this must-read investigation by the Associated Press, which finds that the World Health Organization and other responders utterly failed to cope with the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. It exposes how a lack of supplies led hospital staff in Sierra Leone to wear ill-fitting gloves and stray plastic packaging to protect their feet. Joseph Fair, a US expert who advised the Sierra Leonean government, recalls “death by conference call”: health officials argued about the colour of bodybags and whether to order more ambulances even as supplies dwindled and people continued to die.

One to listen to:

Frenemy of the Yemeni

In this week’s Global Thinkers podcast from Foreign Policy, host Amanda Silverman is joined by journalist Elizabeth Dickinson and activist Farea al-Muslimi to discuss Saudi Arabia’s risky role in Yemen’s conflict, and what the West could do to intervene. Al-Muslimi argues that when the richest Arab countries bomb the poorest ones, it changes local political dynamics for the worse. Dickinson agrees: “[It’s] really emblematic not of Saudi power but in fact of their feebleness in their ability to create or facilitate a political solution.” They conclude that the crisis cannot be solved by military might, but seem optimistic that it’s not too late to broker peace between rival sides “if there is enough international will.”

One to look at:

How to stop a genocide

Genocide is rare and devastating – but also preventable. This week, the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide launched the Early Warning Project, which aims at predicting future state-led mass atrocities by tracking assaults on minorities in various countries. Using state-of-the-art statistical analysis, feedback from regional experts, as well as models put forward by political scientists, their world map highlights countries at the highest risk of experiencing a future episode of genocide:

The top 10 include Myanmar, Sudan, and even Yemen. Ultimately, many lives are at stake every day in such nations. The project aims to provide advocacy groups and governments with “more opportunity to take action well before killings occur.”

From IRIN:

Drifting in the delta

“When the wind is heavy and the waves are big we get afraid. Sometimes we fear we will sink.” Hkin San Htay, a rice farmer and mother of four, was left with a rickety house standing on stilts only a foot above the water after parts of Irrawaddy delta in Myanmar suffered its worst flooding in decades. Our photo feature from the region looks at how locals are coping with the aftermath of Cyclone Komen, which hit roughly two months ago. In the outskirts of Pathein, people continue to wade through flooded streets, while in the village of Sit Pin Gyi, some are improvising by paddling in makeshift boats and salvaging what’s left.

dv/if/ag