Category Archives: Business

Iranian-made missiles, climate change refugees, and a volcano in ...

Every week, IRIN's team of specialist editors scans the humanitarian horizon to curate a reading list on important and unfolding trends and events around the globe:

Anxious wait for Bali volcano displaced

Authorities on the Indonesian island of Bali have evacuated more than 55,000 people around the vicinity of the rumbling Mount Agung volcano, which continues to disrupt lives in the tourist hotspot. Mount Agung began erupting on the 21st of November, spewing volcanic ash four kilometres into the air and forcing authorities to close nearby airports. The volcano last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,000 people. While disaster management authorities say it's difficult to predict what will happen, it's likely that Bali residents will be living in uncertainty in the weeks and months ahead. The 1963 eruption stretched out over months, while Mount Sinabung volcano on Sumatra has spiked in and out of danger levels for years � several thousand evacuees have lived in displacement sites since 2015.

UN releases record-breaking humanitarian appeal for 2018

Misery remains buoyant. Next year, some 135.7 million people will be in life-threatening danger thanks to war and natural disasters. The UN's Global Humanitarian Overview for 2018 was released today, summarising critical situations and adding up the cost of projects required to help at least 90 million of them. Every year the UN coordinates a forecast of humanitarian operations and needs among dozens of aid agencies. The UN-led appeals include some NGOs, but not the Red Cross movement. Next year's price tag, if fully funded, would be $22.5 billion, one percent higher than projections at this point last year. In practice, the figure is aspirational: so far in 2017, UN fundraising has landed just 52 percent of its target. Speaking at the launch in Geneva, the top UN humanitarian official Mark Lowcock said the package of projects was the biggest-ever, but also that it was better designed and that donors could have "confidence in its needs assessment and credibility". IRIN will probe further in a sit-down interview with Lowcock. Look out for that next week!

The importance of UNVIM

If you've been following our coverage of Yemen of late, you'll remember Houthi rebels fired a rocket at Riyadh in early November, prompting the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting the rebels to close Yemen's key airports, borders, and ports to trade and aid. The coalition said the closures were necessary to prevent weapons smuggling from Iran, but it also brought millions of Yemenis ever closer to starvation. The blockade has since eased (although the UN and others say it has not let up enough to avert a humanitarian catastrophe); just in time for a UN panel of monitors to reportedly conclude that remnants of four Houthi ballistic missiles fired at Saudi Arabia this year appear to have been made in Iran. Why isn't there a UN force guarding against just this sort of thing? Well, actually, there is. It's called the UN Verification and Inspections Mechanism, UNVIM for short, and how it works is more than a bit confusing. We've got you covered. Look out for our explainer next week on what it takes to get a commercial ship, the source of most of Yemen's food, into the country.

Biya yesterday, today and tomorrow?

At the beginning of the year, the list of Africa's longest serving leaders looked like this: Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola; Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea; Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; Paul Biya of Cameroon; and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo. Two of those men have since gone � Dos Santos stepped down in August (after 38 years) and Mugabe resigned last week (after 37), although the armoured vehicles outside his house had something to do with the decision. Guessing who might be next is a mug's game. But Cameroon's Paul Biya celebrated his 35th anniversary in a more subdued manner than usual, writes Kangsen Feka Wakai in the online journal Africa is a Country. Cameroon's armed forces did not parade in front of him along Yaounde's Boulevard du 20 Mai. Instead, most of this year's celebrations were led by ruling party officials imploring their militants to vote for Biya in next year's elections under the slogan Paul Biya yesterday, today and tomorrow. But that's a hard sell in Cameroon's anglophone regions. Why? The region is simmering. Biya's clampdown on anglophone militants demanding secession has triggered an armed uprising. Eight members of the security forces have been killed in the past few weeks, and the government claims that the rebels have sanctuary in neighbouring Nigeria. See IRIN's earlier reporting, and look out for our upcoming story on the crisis.

What Pacific Islanders really want

New Zealand made headlines by proposing the world's first humanitarian visa programme for so-called climate change refugees. But the proposal is hardly straightforward. Who would qualify in countries where climate change is just one of many factors that trigger displacement? What about communities displaced by natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis? As Nina Hall, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, points out in an article over at The Conversation, any eventual policy will need to pay far greater concern to the needs of the Pacific Islanders themselves. Both New Zealand and Australia already have ample avenues to safe and legal migration for Pacific Islanders, but these may be underused or poorly targeted. New Zealand's Pacific Access Category programme, for example, uses a lottery system to offer 650 resident visas a year to citizens from Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Kiribati. But there are only 75 spots each year open to people from Kiribati and Tuvalu � low-lying atoll nations at the most risk from rising sea levels and coastal erosion. New Zealand's humanitarian visa proposal would only open up 100 total spots for people in all the Pacific Island nations. At the same time, many Pacific nations have instead called for New Zealand and Australia to expand existing work opportunities, such as short-term seasonal migration programmes, which fuel local economies through valuable remittances. About 12,000 Pacific Islanders each year already work in New Zealand or Australia under seasonal work schemes � but this number is grossly overshadowed by the 249,000 working holiday-maker visas Australia alone handed out to backpackers in 2013 � almost all from wealthy countries, according to a World Bank study. Countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu, the study notes, want access to employment, and do not wish their peoples to be treated as 'refugees' fleeing a hopeless economic and environmental situation. It's a point Kiribati's president, Taneti Maamau, underscored at November's COP23 climate change summit in Bonn. The continued conversation and predictions for Kiribati to sink in [the] future are not only de-empowering but also contradictory to our current efforts to build our islands, he said.

EVENTS:

We were the world; now what?

Today's World AIDS Day comes in the wake of worrying developments from Washington: signs of US retreat from its leadership role in the global response. Donald Trump's administration has proposed more than a billion dollars in cuts to key programmes such as the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief and the Global Fund. According to the One Campaign, if the cuts took effect, they could lead to nearly 300,000 deaths and more than 1.75 million new infections every year. The move is in keeping with Trump's America first rhetoric and broad retreat from multilateralism, which has already been demonstrated by efforts to make deep cuts to foreign assistance, including food aid, and threats to withdraw from UNESCO and the Paris climate deal. Such a drift away from collective positive action is hardly unique to the US. As we reported yesterday, as far-right parties have made gains across Europe, two UN-backed compacts conceived more than a year ago to improve the response to the global refugee and migrant crisis now seem rudderless in the face of strong political headwinds. So what's the big picture and where do these trends leave the future of humanitarian aid? On 7 December, the One Campaign's president and CEO, Gayle Smith, will deliver the Overseas Development Institute's annual lecture on exactly this subject in London. Details of how to attend or watch the livestream here.

Source: IRIN

Iranian-made missiles, climate change refugees, and a volcano in ...

Every week, IRIN's team of specialist editors scans the humanitarian horizon to curate a reading list on important and unfolding trends and events around the globe:

Anxious wait for Bali volcano displaced

Authorities on the Indonesian island of Bali have evacuated more than 55,000 people around the vicinity of the rumbling Mount Agung volcano, which continues to disrupt lives in the tourist hotspot. Mount Agung began erupting on the 21st of November, spewing volcanic ash four kilometres into the air and forcing authorities to close nearby airports. The volcano last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,000 people. While disaster management authorities say it's difficult to predict what will happen, it's likely that Bali residents will be living in uncertainty in the weeks and months ahead. The 1963 eruption stretched out over months, while Mount Sinabung volcano on Sumatra has spiked in and out of danger levels for years � several thousand evacuees have lived in displacement sites since 2015.

UN releases record-breaking humanitarian appeal for 2018

Misery remains buoyant. Next year, some 135.7 million people will be in life-threatening danger thanks to war and natural disasters. The UN's Global Humanitarian Overview for 2018 was released today, summarising critical situations and adding up the cost of projects required to help at least 90 million of them. Every year the UN coordinates a forecast of humanitarian operations and needs among dozens of aid agencies. The UN-led appeals include some NGOs, but not the Red Cross movement. Next year's price tag, if fully funded, would be $22.5 billion, one percent higher than projections at this point last year. In practice, the figure is aspirational: so far in 2017, UN fundraising has landed just 52 percent of its target. Speaking at the launch in Geneva, the top UN humanitarian official Mark Lowcock said the package of projects was the biggest-ever, but also that it was better designed and that donors could have "confidence in its needs assessment and credibility". IRIN will probe further in a sit-down interview with Lowcock. Look out for that next week!

The importance of UNVIM

If you've been following our coverage of Yemen of late, you'll remember Houthi rebels fired a rocket at Riyadh in early November, prompting the Saudi Arabian-led coalition fighting the rebels to close Yemen's key airports, borders, and ports to trade and aid. The coalition said the closures were necessary to prevent weapons smuggling from Iran, but it also brought millions of Yemenis ever closer to starvation. The blockade has since eased (although the UN and others say it has not let up enough to avert a humanitarian catastrophe); just in time for a UN panel of monitors to reportedly conclude that remnants of four Houthi ballistic missiles fired at Saudi Arabia this year appear to have been made in Iran. Why isn't there a UN force guarding against just this sort of thing? Well, actually, there is. It's called the UN Verification and Inspections Mechanism, UNVIM for short, and how it works is more than a bit confusing. We've got you covered. Look out for our explainer next week on what it takes to get a commercial ship, the source of most of Yemen's food, into the country.

Biya yesterday, today and tomorrow?

At the beginning of the year, the list of Africa's longest serving leaders looked like this: Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola; Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea; Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; Paul Biya of Cameroon; and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo. Two of those men have since gone � Dos Santos stepped down in August (after 38 years) and Mugabe resigned last week (after 37), although the armoured vehicles outside his house had something to do with the decision. Guessing who might be next is a mug's game. But Cameroon's Paul Biya celebrated his 35th anniversary in a more subdued manner than usual, writes Kangsen Feka Wakai in the online journal Africa is a Country. Cameroon's armed forces did not parade in front of him along Yaounde's Boulevard du 20 Mai. Instead, most of this year's celebrations were led by ruling party officials imploring their militants to vote for Biya in next year's elections under the slogan Paul Biya yesterday, today and tomorrow. But that's a hard sell in Cameroon's anglophone regions. Why? The region is simmering. Biya's clampdown on anglophone militants demanding secession has triggered an armed uprising. Eight members of the security forces have been killed in the past few weeks, and the government claims that the rebels have sanctuary in neighbouring Nigeria. See IRIN's earlier reporting, and look out for our upcoming story on the crisis.

What Pacific Islanders really want

New Zealand made headlines by proposing the world's first humanitarian visa programme for so-called climate change refugees. But the proposal is hardly straightforward. Who would qualify in countries where climate change is just one of many factors that trigger displacement? What about communities displaced by natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis? As Nina Hall, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, points out in an article over at The Conversation, any eventual policy will need to pay far greater concern to the needs of the Pacific Islanders themselves. Both New Zealand and Australia already have ample avenues to safe and legal migration for Pacific Islanders, but these may be underused or poorly targeted. New Zealand's Pacific Access Category programme, for example, uses a lottery system to offer 650 resident visas a year to citizens from Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Kiribati. But there are only 75 spots each year open to people from Kiribati and Tuvalu � low-lying atoll nations at the most risk from rising sea levels and coastal erosion. New Zealand's humanitarian visa proposal would only open up 100 total spots for people in all the Pacific Island nations. At the same time, many Pacific nations have instead called for New Zealand and Australia to expand existing work opportunities, such as short-term seasonal migration programmes, which fuel local economies through valuable remittances. About 12,000 Pacific Islanders each year already work in New Zealand or Australia under seasonal work schemes � but this number is grossly overshadowed by the 249,000 working holiday-maker visas Australia alone handed out to backpackers in 2013 � almost all from wealthy countries, according to a World Bank study. Countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu, the study notes, want access to employment, and do not wish their peoples to be treated as 'refugees' fleeing a hopeless economic and environmental situation. It's a point Kiribati's president, Taneti Maamau, underscored at November's COP23 climate change summit in Bonn. The continued conversation and predictions for Kiribati to sink in [the] future are not only de-empowering but also contradictory to our current efforts to build our islands, he said.

EVENTS:

We were the world; now what?

Today's World AIDS Day comes in the wake of worrying developments from Washington: signs of US retreat from its leadership role in the global response. Donald Trump's administration has proposed more than a billion dollars in cuts to key programmes such as the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief and the Global Fund. According to the One Campaign, if the cuts took effect, they could lead to nearly 300,000 deaths and more than 1.75 million new infections every year. The move is in keeping with Trump's America first rhetoric and broad retreat from multilateralism, which has already been demonstrated by efforts to make deep cuts to foreign assistance, including food aid, and threats to withdraw from UNESCO and the Paris climate deal. Such a drift away from collective positive action is hardly unique to the US. As we reported yesterday, as far-right parties have made gains across Europe, two UN-backed compacts conceived more than a year ago to improve the response to the global refugee and migrant crisis now seem rudderless in the face of strong political headwinds. So what's the big picture and where do these trends leave the future of humanitarian aid? On 7 December, the One Campaign's president and CEO, Gayle Smith, will deliver the Overseas Development Institute's annual lecture on exactly this subject in London. Details of how to attend or watch the livestream here.

Source: IRIN

News in Brief 29 November 2017 (AM)

End conflict by establishing an independent Palestine, urges Guterres

"Now is the time" to end decades of conflict by establishing an independent Palestinian State, "living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel", said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday.

The UN chief made his plea in a statement to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

He said the Palestine question had been "inextricably linked" with the history of the UN, and "is one of the longest unresolved issues" on the organization's agenda.

Mr Guterres said he was convinced the two-state solution envisaged by General Assembly Resolution 181, 70 years ago, "is the only premise for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace".

He said leaders on both sides had restated their commitment to a negotiated peace, but needed to "tangibly demonstrate" that commitment and return to negotiations.

"The recent positive developments on intra-Palestinian unity, should be harnessed by all to move the process in the right direction", he added.

"Horrific" mass-killings in Jonglei region of South Sudan condemned by UN

The killing of around 45 civilians in the Jonglei region of South Sudan on Wednesday has been condemned by the top UN official in the world's youngest country.

Special Representative David Shearer, who also heads the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said the "horrific" killings threatened to undermine on-going peace and reconciliation efforts.

South Sudan's been involved in a brutal civil conflict since 2013, when fighting began between troops loyal to the President and then Vice-President.

Reports suggest that Wednesday's attack, which also left 19 injured, involved the Murle and Dinka communities, who have been engaged in long-standing inter-ethnic violence.

Mr Shearer said the "vast majority" of civilians in the region wanted to see an end to the destructive pattern of "revenge attacks".

"I utterly condemn these killings and the abduction of perhaps 60 women and children which accompanied the attacks, and I urge both communities to show restraint and to put an end to the cycle of revenge killings that has occurred so much in this part of the country. It is crucial that the state and national authorities work together to bring the perpetrators of all attacks to account. From UNMISS's point of view, we will do whatever we can to try and bring peace to this area and support those communities that choose to follow a path of peace."

Mr Shearer said the dead included humanitarian workers who "worked selflessly for the people of Jonglei".

Their deaths were "pointless and utterly contemptible", he added.

Regional organizations "essential" to face global challenges: UN chief

"Strong and effective" regional organizations are essential to confront today's global challenges and threats, said the UN chief on Wednesday.

Antonio Guterres was addressing the opening session of the Africa-EU Summit in Abijan, CAte d'Ivoire, where African Union (AU) and European Union countries have come together to foster cooperation under the theme of "Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace".

The Secretary-General said that national governments had to lead the response to climate change, terrorism and conflicts, but multilateral cooperation and capacity-building was crucial.

He described the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AU's Agenda 2063 as "ambitious and mutually reinforcing blueprints."

He told delegates that gender equality and women's empowerment were fundamental, with discrimination and violence blocking many women from being able to participate.

"Regional organizations are essential to face the very difficult challenges that threaten us. The importance or regional organizations grow with every decade that passes. Regional and global solidarity must be our guide, as we draw on our collective efforts to build a life of peace, dignity and prosperity for all."

Child malnutrition rate in East Ghouta reaches record high

Acute malnutrition rates are at a "record high" among children living in Syria's besieged East Ghouta district, close to the capital Damascus, said the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday.

About half of the 400,000 trapped in the rebel-held suburbs are children, and more than a third of them are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition-related illnesses.

Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, warned that children are the first to suffer the dire consequences of living under siege conditions.

He called on the siege to be lifted immediately, in order to "provide them with the life-saving assistance they need now."

Mr Cappelaere stressed that escalating violence by Syrian government forces who are trying to retake East Ghouta, and the lack of humanitarian access, had "severely restricted" children's ability to receive health and nutrition services.

Sky-rocketing food prices was another factor causing a drastic increase in malnutrition, he added.

Source: United Nations Radio

News in Brief 28 November 2017 – Geneva (AM)

10 million Syrians do not know where their next meal is coming from

Ten million people inside Syria do not know where their next meal is coming from and some have resorted to scavenging for food, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.

As a new round of UN-led peace talks begins in Geneva, WFP spokesperson Bettina Luescher told journalists that the situation in Syria is "dire" in opposition-held areas outside the capital Damascus.

"When our colleagues went to besieged Eastern Ghouta in rural Damascus this month the community leaders told them that people were resorting to eating food from garbage. Children are so weak that they are fainting at school. They're eating animal fodder, they're skipping meals, they're begging on the streets. This is a nightmarish situation in the 21st century that does not have to happen."

Around 400,000 people live in Eastern Ghouta, and a total of three million are in besieged and hard-to-reach areas elsewhere in Syria.

UN aid coordinating agency OCHA has confirmed that a humanitarian convoy to Eastern Ghouta had to turn back on Monday amid fierce fighting.

The development comes as Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura prepares to meet the Syrian opposition at the UN in Geneva on the opening day of a new round of intra-Syrian talks.

His office indicated that he had received a message from the Syrian government that they would be arriving in the Swiss city on Wednesday.

Migrant deaths crossing Mediterranean top 3,000 in 2017

More than 3,000 migrants and refugees have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, the UN said on Tuesday.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesperson Joel Millman confirmed that this is the "fourth straight year" that the threshold had been overtaken.

"This mark passed sometime probably over the last weekend we've gone through months of falling arrivals, falling deaths, then this past weekend, something that hasn't happened very much this year, we recorded eight deaths in Spain, one in Greece and at least 31 in Libya."

The IOM spokesperson said that it was significant that the 3,000 deaths had been reached in late November and not in July, as was the case in 2016.

Fourteen out of every 15 deaths this year have occurred on the so-called Central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Europe.

Yemen diptheria infections spreading faster than we would wish, says UN health agency

To Yemen now, where a deadly diphtheria epidemic is spreading fast amid ongoing delays getting medicine into the country, despite an easing of a blockade put in place by a Saudi-led coalition.

Issuing the warning on Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) that the disease has claimed 20 lives in more than a dozen governorates.

Yemenis are already reeling from more than two years of conflict between the international alliance supporting President Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels, as well as the world's biggest cholera epidemic.

Here's WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier on the diphtheria threat:

"It's spreading faster than we would wish, so while some of the sources have been identified, it's spreading over 13 governorates and that's quite large. So everything depends on having access, on getting medicines and supplies in, on getting the vaccinations in and together with UNICEF and partners to vaccinate all the necessary age groups."

A vaccination campaign for more than 300,000 infants got under way at the weekend, coordinated by WHO and UN Children's Fund UNICEF.

But a boat carrying diphtheria vaccines has yet to dock in the war-torn country, held up by an apparent backlog in unloading other vessels carrying humanitarian aid and other supplies to Yemen.

These included a World Food Programme (WFP) charter which has reached harbour with 25 tonnes of wheat.

The UN agency confirmed that it is also coordinating two aid flights a day to Yemen from Amman in Jordan and another from Djibouti.

WFP provides help to seven million people but a $350 million shortfall has meant that half-rations have been put in place for some.

Source: United Nations Radio

AFRICA MUST IMPLEMENT 1999 YAMOUSSOUKRO AGREEMENT FOR OPEN SKIES, ...

ABUJA (NIGERIA), The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on African countries to implement the 1999 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies.

While 20 countries have signed on, the 27-year old accord still faces implementation challenges, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB said at the just concluded 3rd ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja.

Rigid bilateral air service agreements have made it difficult to liberalize the regional aviation markets. We must make regional aviation markets competitive and drive down costs, raise efficiencies and improve connectivity and convenience, Adesina said.

The Bank President also emphasized the Bank's strong support for Nigeria and expressed confidence in the ability of Nigeria to deliver on its policy commitments.

The hosting of this global forum here in Abuja is a clear mark of confidence in Nigeria. Let me use this opportunity to commend you and the government on the Economic Recovery and Growth Program, to build a more resilient economy, Adesina said.

As you know, we provided $600 million to support the government to address its budget deficit challenges and stand ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors.

The Bank President also commended the Government of Nigeria for its efforts to improve the state of aviation in Nigeria. The aviation sector plays an important in opening up doors to investors, he added.

Air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth. Today, Africa's aviation industry adds US $73 billion to the continent's annual GDP and employs about 7 million people � an average 130,000 people per country in Africa, according to the Bank President.

The aviation industry is projected to grow by 5% annually for the next 20 years. From serving 120 million passengers in 2015, the industry will triple and serve over 300 million passengers by 2035, Adesina observed.

That's the good news, he said, adding that regrettably Africa's aviation growth is held back by very restrictive regulatory environments which limit market size, profitability, and drive up costs.

Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30% above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are 8% higher. Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies!

The AfDB President called for the development of airport terminal capacity to expand passenger growth, develop regional aviation hubs to improve connectivity, and upgrade air navigational services and air traffic control to improve safety.

Modern and cheaper technologies such as the satellite based air navigation services now preclude the need for ground infrastructure, and make it possible to serve remote areas with radars. We must also develop within Africa, aircraft maintenance services and strengthen regional and sub-regional aviation safety agencies, he noted.

The AfDB has invested $20 billion in infrastructure over the past 10 years, with over $1 billion in the aviation sector. The Bank's investments include building modern airports and terminal extensions in Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Cabo Verde and improving airport navigation systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The AfDB supported aircraft fleet expansion programs for Ethiopia and CAte d'Ivoire. The Bank also supported regional efforts for improving aviation safety and capacity building.

Adesina congratulated Nigeria on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) certification of two airports in Abuja and Lagos as a consequence of meeting global standards, noting that the feat makes Nigeria the only country with two ICAO-certified airports in West and Central Africa.

The objective of the Bank is to support the ICAO safety and security standards certification of 20 African airports by 2019, Adesina said.

The African Development Bank will soon be going to its Board with a new aviation sector framework to support the revitalization of the aviation industry in Africa, he said.

The Bank, Adesina explained, is working with other partners on establishing facilities to de-risk financing for aircraft acquisition, upgrading of airports, expansion of regional navigational and air safety, and deregulation of the aviation industry to be more competitive and efficient.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is partnering with the Nigerian Government, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Agency in co-hosting the ICAO World Aviation Forum.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Mediterranean crossing still world’s deadliest for migrants ...

Crossing the Mediterranean to Europe is by far the world's deadliest journey for migrants, with at least 33,761 reported to have died or gone missing between 2000 and 2017, a United Nations report finds.

The report, released Friday from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), notes the highest number of fatalities, at 5,096, was recorded in 2016, when the short and relatively less dangerous route from Turkey to Greece was shut, following the European Union-Turkey deal.

Shutting the shorter and less dangerous routes can open longer and more dangerous routes, thus increasing the likelihood of dying at sea, said Professor Philippe Fargues of the European University Institute, who authored the report, Four Decades of Cross-Mediterranean Undocumented Migration to Europe.

The report reviews available evidence on trans-Mediterranean irregular migration to Europe along various routes going back to the 1970s, particularly on the magnitude of the flows, the evolution of sea routes to Southern Europe, the characteristics of migrants, the extent to which one can separate between economic and forced movements, and mortality during the sea journey.

More than 2.5 million migrants have crossed the Mediterranean in an unauthorized fashion since the 1970s.

Irregular sea journeys started rising in those years in response to the introduction, by Western States grappling with rising levels of unemployment during the 1973 oil crisis, of visa requirements for people who until then had been exempted � most of them temporary labour migrants from North Africa and Turkey.

These policies encouraged those who were already in Europe to stay, increased irregular migration of family members to join their relatives in Europe and gave way to the smuggling business, the report states.

The report also highlights differences between the modern pattern of migration from Africa to Italy, mostly via Libya, and that from the Middle East to Greece via Turkey.

Arrivals to Italy from North Africa largely originate across sub-Saharan Africa in response to deep migratory pressures � population growth coupled with limited livelihood opportunities, high unemployment and poor governance and political and economic instability.

Arrivals to Greece from Turkey since 2009 have been primarily of nationals from origin States affected by conflict and political instability, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Noting the limitations of available data on irregular migration, the report says the numbers of deaths at sea may grossly underestimate the real number of people who die or go missing while crossing the Mediterranean, as they are based on numbers of bodies found and survivors' testimonies.

Source: UN News Centre

News in Brief 23 November 2017 – Geneva (AM)

Philippines urged to stop attacks and killings in anti-drugs campaign

The Philippines should investigate killings connected to the state's war on drugs and stop the attacks, UN-appointed rights experts said on Thursday.

Three Special Rapporteurs made the appeal to the government of Rodrigo Duterte following what they said had been "a great number" of new deaths involving men, women and children.

Many of the killings appeared to have been perpetrated by law enforcement officials and "unknown assailants", the rights experts said in a statement.

They added that the number of victims is unclear, owing to changes in official reporting, and the limited number of investigations under way.

In September, UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he was gravely concerned by President Duterte's "shoot-to-kill" policy � and by the absence of "credible investigations" into reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings.

Aid response continues for Iraq quake victims

To Iraq now, where efforts are ongoing to help communities affected by a deadly earthquake earlier this month.

Hundreds of people are believed to have died and thousands more injured when the 7.3 magnitude tremor struck on 12 November.

More than 1.8 million people live with 100 kilometres of the quake epicentre in the north-east of the country, on the border with Iran.

A specialized UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team (UNDAC) has been helping to assess humanitarian needs in Darbandikhan, Sulaymaniyah and Halabja.

Here's UNDAC's Winston Chang, speaking from near Darbandikhan dam, where there are clear signs of surface damage: "Right now, no imminent threat of flooding, no threat of flooding, no real danger of the dam breaking at this point in time, which brought a lot of reassurance to the government that it would lead into a much bigger disaster downstream."

Work is ongoing to help affected communities, Mr Chang added, since the earthquake had damaged water filtration systems at the dam, which may also need strengthening.

In addition to assistance from the EU and World Bank, UN agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO) have also deployed emergency lifesaving aid, amid reports of major damage to hospitals and other buildings.

Alert over world's smallest porpoise at endangered species meeting

An attempt to save one of the world's most endangered sea mammals has been halted after one of them died as it was being captured earlier this month, senior UN conservationists said on Thursday.

John Scanlon, who heads the international convention on protected fauna and flora known as CITES, told journalists in Geneva that there are only 30 vaquita porpoises left in the wild.

It has been pushed to the edge of extinction by illegal netting of the Totoaba fish, whose swim bladder is highly prized, fetching up to $20,000 per kilo in China.

Mr Scanlon insisted that saving the animal was a question of sustainable development for people in the northern Gulf of California and Mexico:

"I mean you're looking at a very profitable item, you've got communities living around the lake that can see there's high profit for that. So you have to deal with the supply side, you but you have to work with local communities, you're not going to resolve it in isolationeverything's being done by the Mexican government, along with the US and China and others to say, 'What can we do to save this magnificent, the world's smallest porpoise, the most endangered cetacean, how can we save it?' So it's involving everybody, it's a development issue as much as an environmental issue."

Mexico, the US and China's efforts to save the vaquita are to be reviewed by other Member States in Geneva.

It's where 183 parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will be gathering from Monday.

Other urgent issues to be addressed include African elephant poaching; the activity is down to pre-2008 levels in East Africa, but it's still a cause for concern in central and west states.

For the first time, Japan's scientific whaling expeditions are also set to be discussed to see whether its pursuit of sei whales is in accordance with non-commercial trade regulations.

Source: United Nations Radio

Remarks at the Ministerial on Trade, Security, and Governance in ...

And we are grateful to see so many friends and partners here in the United States, and appreciate you traveling to be with us today for this event.

I have been very eager to host this ministerial meeting to bring together leaders from the continent to address our shared goals and, as I was sharing with the chairman of the African Union yesterday evening, I have not had the chance during my time as Secretary of State to travel to the continent. In my prior life, I came to your continent a lot and I visited many of your countries. But I do look forward to coming early next year. We have a trip that's in the planning now, so � but in the meantime, really did not want to wait that long to get this group together. So very eager to host this ministerial meeting and appreciate you all coming to address our shared goals and challenges, and I look forward to a full day of discussions on how we can work together to achieve those shared goals.

I know all of us are following very closely the events in Zimbabwe and they are a concern to I know each of you, they are a concern to us as well, and we all should work together for a quick return to civilian rule in that country in accordance with their constitution.

Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set itself on a new path � one that must include democratic elections and respect for human rights.

Ultimately, the people of Zimbabwe must choose their government. In our conversations today, we have an opportunity to discuss concrete ways that we could help them through this transition.

Our aim today is to expand and enrich the United States' relationship with Africa along three fronts that we're going to be discussing today: promoting trade and investment; encouraging good governance; and countering terrorism.

Let me briefly touch on how these issues will help us strengthen U.S.�Africa relations and our ties in the coming decades.

We're going to begin today's proceedings with a discussion on ways we can work together to expand trade and investment, and grow economic opportunities that benefit the people of Africa and the American people.

Trade and investment between the United States and African countries is growing. U.S. exports to Sub-Saharan Africa grew from $17 billion in 2010 to more than $25 billion in 2014. And last year, the U.S. direct investment in Africa grew to $57.5 billion � the highest level to date.

Our trade and investment is stronger than it's ever been, and the United States sees even more opportunity ahead in the coming years.

Africa is a growing market with vast potential. Five of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa, and consumer spending there is projected to exceed $2 million[1] by the year 2025.

By the year 2030, Africa is expected to represent about one quarter of the world's workforce and consumers, with a population of more than 1.7 billion. By 2050, the population of the continent is projected to double to more than 2.5 billion people � with 70 percent of that population being under the age of 30. All of these young people will have expectations for entering the workforce. The challenge is how to prepare Africa with the appropriate education for its workforce, and to prepare economically and financially for this future, so our partnership can facilitate greater growth and prosperity for both the United States and Africa.

This administration seeks to refocus our economic relationship squarely on trade and investment � to encourage policies that increase openness and competition within Africa.

A more economically vibrant and competitive Africa will grow the middle class, increase standards of living, and make the entire continent more prosperous.

I am also pleased to welcome with us today USAID Administrator Mark Green, and I look forward to his comments on this topic shortly. We also look forward to hearing from private sector leaders, and are very eager to learn more about your views and priorities for expanding trade and investment. Through Power Africa, for example, the United States and its partners have helped the private sector bring 82 power projects to Sub-Saharan Africa.

But economic growth and lasting prosperity can only thrive in environments of good government � good governance.

So we are going to discuss at our working lunch today how a country's success is firmly rooted in good governance, which fosters strong, accountable relationships between citizens and their elected officials, how that drives economic progress, and improves overall security.

Lasting peace and economic growth are undermined when governments fail to provide good governance, respect for human rights, or to uphold the law.

Peaceful, democratic transitions are important and contribute to stability. But democracy is not just about elections, and elections are neither the first nor are they the final step in the long road to building resilient democracies.

Democracy requires the inclusive, peaceful participation of a nation's citizens in the political process. That includes freedoms of expression and association, an independent press, a robust and engaged civil society, a government that is transparent and accountable to all of its citizens, and a fair and impartial judiciary. Corruption and weak governance, restriction on human rights and civil society, and authorities who ignore the rule of law and change their constitutions for personal gain are all obstacles to the development of prosperous, free societies. In fact, an African Union study estimated that corruption costs the continent roughly $150 billion a year.

This is money that should be used to create jobs, build schools and hospitals, improve security, and provide social services.

A quality basic education is another powerful contributor to economic growth and development � one that reduces poverty and provides children and youth the skills they need for gainful employment. We have worked with you to build the capacity for your national education system to offer quality education for more people, and we look forward to continued partnership to address low literacy rates, teacher shortages, and greater access to education across all of Africa.

We encourage our African counterparts to address these many governance challenges, and in doing so, unlock your country's development potential. We look forward to discussing today specific ways to strengthen democracy and promote better governance over our lunch discussions.

The United States also stands with you as we work to defeat the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism, which have taken so many innocent lives in Africa and across the world. That will be our final topic of discussion today.

We are particularly grateful for the work of African countries to expand multinational and regional cooperation to counter terrorism. The United States is committed to partnering with you to defeat ISIS, al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups across your continent.

Just last month, I announced that the United States pledged up to an additional $60 million in funding to support the G-5 Sahel Joint Force in counterterrorism efforts, and to bolster our regional partners in their fight to provide security and stability.

The United States, as the largest peacekeeping capacity-building contributor, is also helping over 20 African countries train, deploy, and sustain peacekeepers. This year, such efforts have already supported the training of more than 27,000 African peacekeepers to the UN and AU missions.

But we recognize that the force of arms alone is insufficient.

It is imperative that we work together, and with civil society, to address the root causes of violent extremism. To create sustainable peace, we must also combat marginalization, strengthen accountability, and create more economic opportunity.

Before I conclude, let me stress that the United States seeks greater support from our African partners on growing global security matters, including North Korea.

We appreciate the statements condemning the DPRK missile launches that many of your governments have made. But all nations must act to implement UN sanctions in full and cut off all UN-proscribed ties.

Further, I urge you to take additional measures to pressure the DPRK by downgrading your diplomatic relationships with the regime, severing economic ties, expelling all DPRK laborers, and reducing North Korea's presence in your country in all other ways it may be found.

The DPRK presents a threat to all of our nations. Everyone � including each country represented here today � must play a part in this peaceful pressure campaign to convince the DPRK that the only way to achieve true security and respect from the international community is to abandon its current path and choose a meaningful dialogue about a different future.

The United States will continue to support your efforts to secure your citizens, encourage stronger institutions and better governance, and promote greater economic growth for each of your countries.

I really do look forward to our time together today and in particular to hear how you are working to address these challenges, and how we can learn from your experience and strengthen this already very fruitful partnership.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Source: U.S Department of State