Inter Press ServiceHumanitarian Emergencies – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 22 Aug 2017 13:25:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-migrants-might-reach-one-billion-by-2050/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-migrants-might-reach-one-billion-by-2050 http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-migrants-might-reach-one-billion-by-2050/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 10:33:35 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151741 Imagine a world with as many as one billion people facing harsh climate change impacts resulting in devastating droughts and/or floods, extreme weather, destruction of natural resources, in particular lands, soils and water, and the consequence of severe livelihoods conditions, famine and starvation. Although not yet based on definite scientific projections, the proven speed with […]

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Photo by UNICEF 2010/Olivier Asselin

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Aug 21 2017 (IPS)

Imagine a world with as many as one billion people facing harsh climate change impacts resulting in devastating droughts and/or floods, extreme weather, destruction of natural resources, in particular lands, soils and water, and the consequence of severe livelihoods conditions, famine and starvation.

Although not yet based on definite scientific projections, the proven speed with which the process of climate change has been taking place, might lead to such a scenario by 2050. If so, 1 in 9 human beings would be on the move by then.

Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate, according to a 2015 study carried out by the Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University.

“This figure equals the current estimate of international migrants worldwide.

Other specialised sources estimate that “every second, one person is displaced by disaster.” On this, the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that in 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. “Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.”

Children celebrate International Migrants Day in Egypt, 18 December 2016. Photo: Ingy Mehanna/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2016

Children celebrate International Migrants Day in Egypt, 18 December 2016. Photo: Ingy Mehanna/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2016

 

One Person Displaced Every Second

As climate change continues, adds NRC, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.

“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That’s one person forced to flee every second.” See: Climate Victims – Every Second, One Person Is Displaced by Disaster

For its part, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) also forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

In an interview to IPS, the IOM Director General William Lacy Swing explained that political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today.

“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue.”

The UN specialised body’s chief added “We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.” See: Q&A: Crisis and Climate Change Driving Unprecedented Migration

 

Women in Somali region, where 3.3 million people suffer from hunger and need urgent support. Photo: FAO/Tamiru Legesse.

Women in Somali region, where 3.3 million people suffer from hunger and need urgent support. Photo: FAO/Tamiru Legesse.

 

Droughts, Desertification

Another warning comes from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which estimates that some 135 million people may be displaced by 2045 as a result of desertification.

Up to 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year due to desertification and drought alone, which is a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain, adds the Bonn-based Convention secretariat.

Meantime, the increase in droughts and flash floods that are stronger, more frequent and widespread is destroying the land – the Earth’s main fresh water store, according to UNCCD.

“Droughts kill more people than any other single weather-related catastrophe and conflicts among communities over water scarcity are gathering pace. Over 1 billion people today have no access to water, and demand will increase by 30 per cent by 2030.”

On the other hand, getting sustainable energy to all represents one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century, it continues.

“Research suggests that 1.4 billion people — over 20 per cent of the global population — lack access to electricity, and that at least 2.7 billion people — some 40 cent of the global population — rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.”

In short, land, water and energy as resources are all pillars of our survival and of sustainable development.

“They stand or fall together. To be sustainable and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to enhance supply, access and security across all three pillars, at the same time, while supporting global climate ambitions.”

 

National Security, Migration

On this, based on the UN Environment Programme’s 2009 study “From Conflict to Peace-building. The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” UNCCD reminds that 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts in the past 60 years are linked to the control and allocation of natural resources.

“The exposure of more and more poor people to water scarcity and hunger opens the door to the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts. Non-state actor groups are increasingly taking advantage of large cross-border migration flows and abandoned lands.”

Where natural assets including land are poorly managed, warns the Convention, violence might become the dominant means of resource control, forcing natural resource assets out of the hands of legitimate government.

Meanwhile, the number of international migrants worldwide has been on the rise. According to the International migration report (2015), their number has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.

Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices, says UNCCD, adding that in rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.

Africa is particularly susceptible since more than 90 per cent of economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base like rain-fed, subsistence agriculture.

“Unless we change the way we manage our land, in the next 30 years we may leave a billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.”

 

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South Asia Faces Fury of Floodshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/south-asia-faces-fury-floods/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=south-asia-faces-fury-floods http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/south-asia-faces-fury-floods/#respond Sun, 20 Aug 2017 11:32:50 +0000 Farid Ahmed http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151737 Aid agencies warn of a serious unfolding humanitarian crisis as floodwaters continue to inundate new areas of three South Asian countries, forcing millions of people to flee their homes for shelters. The death toll from drowning, snakebite, house collapse and landslide triggered by monsoon rains and floods rose to over 600 people, officials said on […]

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South Asia Floods: Women with goats come out of their submerged house, in Shibaloy, Manikganj district, Bangladesh. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

Women with goats come out of their submerged house, in Shibaloy, Manikganj district, Bangladesh. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

By Farid Ahmed
DHAKA, Aug 20 2017 (IPS)

Aid agencies warn of a serious unfolding humanitarian crisis as floodwaters continue to inundate new areas of three South Asian countries, forcing millions of people to flee their homes for shelters.

The death toll from drowning, snakebite, house collapse and landslide triggered by monsoon rains and floods rose to over 600 people, officials said on Aug. 19.In Bangladesh, farmers are bearing the brunt of the ongoing flooding as the country’s agriculture department estimated rice and other crops cultivated in half a million hectares of land in 34 districts were washed away.

More than 16 million have been affected by monsoon floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, with many of them either displaced or marooned without food or electricity.

In many areas, although the floodwater has started receding, rivers are still swelling.

A large number of displaced have taken refuge in squalid makeshift camps and are staying in extremely unhygienic conditions, according to aid agencies.

Road and rail communications in the affected areas have been also severely disrupted. Thousands of educational institutions have been forced to close, while submerged hospitals are unable to assist flood victims even as water-borne diseases are spreading.

“This is fast becoming one of the most serious humanitarian crises this region has seen in many years and urgent action is needed to meet the growing needs of millions of people affected by these devastating floods,” said Martin Faller, Deputy Regional Director for Asia Pacific, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“Millions of people across Nepal, Bangladesh and India face severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood waters,” Faller said in a statement.

The aid agency Oxfam said there was urgent need for supplies like drinking water, food, shelter, blankets, hygiene kits and solar lights.

Bangladesh authorities said more than a third of the country was submerged, and water levels in major rivers were still rising, inundating new areas every day.

South Asia Floods: The premises of a school inundated by floodwater in Shibaloy, Manikganj district, Bangladesh. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

The premises of a school inundated by floodwater in Shibaloy, Manikganj district, Bangladesh. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

In Bangladesh, flooding by major rivers has surpassed the levels set in 1988, the deadliest floods the country had seen to date.

According to the disaster management department control room of the Bangladesh government, at least 98 people died in August.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief estimated that more than half a million people in Bangladesh were affected by flooding.

In Bangladesh, farmers are bearing the brunt of the ongoing flooding as the country’s agriculture department estimated rice and other crops cultivated in half a million hectares of land in 34 districts were washed away.

Abdul Hamid, a farmer in Rangpur district, said he had cultivated rice in 10 bighas of land, but it was completely ruined by floods. “I don’t know how to recover the loss,” he said, adding that his house was also destroyed.

In India, over 11 million people have been affected by floods in four states across the north of the country. India’s meteorological department is forecasting more heavy rain for the region in the coming days.

The flood situation in parts of India’s northern West Bengal remained grim until August 18, with many rivers still flowing well above the extreme danger level despite improvement in the overall situation in the region, Rajib Banerjee, West Bengal’s minister for irrigation and waterways, told IPS on Aug. 19.

“The situation in Malda still looks grim and remains as a matter of concern as the water of the River Mahananda continues to rise,” he said.

The situation in villages in the Indian state of Assam is very serious, as embankments of rivers in many areas have been breached, forcing hundreds of families to flee their houses. Poor people, mostly farmers, were the chief victims and many took refuge on roadsides and embankments.

South Asia Floods: Children on a boat come to their two-storey tin-roofed house half of which is submerged in flood water, in Shibaloy, Manikganj district, Bangladesh. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

Children on a boat come to their two-storey tin-roofed house half of which is submerged in flood water, in Shibaloy, Manikganj district, Bangladesh. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

Thousands of people in northern Uttar Pradesh in India, where the authorities sought military help, were also badly affected and many of them still remained marooned.

Bihar, the worst-hit district in India, also estimated over 150 dead and half a million displaced in the past couple of weeks.

“In Nepal, government recorded 134 dead and 30 missing in flood-affected areas,” a senior journalist and director of news and current affairs of Nepal’s ABC News TV, Dr. Suresh Achaya, told IPS.

Some 14 districts out of 75, mostly located along the border with India, were badly affected, Acharya said.

In Nepal, many areas remain cut off after the most recent destructive floods and landslides on Aug. 11 and 12. Villagers and communities are stranded without food, water and electricity though the government said it had been providing the victims with foods and other support.

In the flood-hit areas, thousands of people had taken shelter in schools, temples and sides of roads and embankments.

The Nepalese ministry of agricultural development estimated that floodwaters had washed away rice and other crops worth Rs. 8.11 billion (77 million dollars) and feared the crop damage could cast a long shadow on the economy.

The Nepalese government, at a meeting with chief secretary Rajendra Kishore in the chair on Aug. 18, decided to accept foreign support and aid to meet the need.

Scientists attribute the deadly floods in South Asia to a changing climate, which they believe increased the magnitude of the current flooding many-fold.

“The untimely floods being experienced in Nepal, India and Bangladesh can definitely be attributed to climate change-induced changes in the South Asian monsoon system,” Dr Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), told IPS.

The countries in the region have already been taking the brunt of changing climate that caused extreme weather patterns increasing the daily rainfall amount, droughts, untimely flooding and frequent tropical storms.

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Civilians Increasingly Bearing Burden of Armed Conflicts in Arab Regionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/civilians-increasingly-bearing-burden-armed-conflicts-arab-region/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=civilians-increasingly-bearing-burden-armed-conflicts-arab-region http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/civilians-increasingly-bearing-burden-armed-conflicts-arab-region/#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 11:32:17 +0000 Hanif Hassan Al Qassim http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151695 The author is Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue

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World Humanitarian Day / Syrian boy brings bread back from underground bakery in severly damaged opposition-held area of Aleppo. August 2014. photo credit Shelly KittlesonIPS

Syrian boy brings bread back from underground bakery in severly damaged opposition-held area of Aleppo. August 2014. photo credit Shelly KittlesonIPS

By Dr. Hanif Hassan Al Qassim
GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug 18 2017 (IPS)

The war in Syria has now entered its 6th year and is becoming the world’s worst man-made disaster.

The humanitarian calamity in Syria has affected millions of lives; more than half of Syria’s pre-war population has been forced to flee, including 6.3 million internally displaced persons and 5.1 million refugees living in refugee camps in the Middle East and in Europe. It is also estimated that approximately 465,000 people have lost their lives because of this enduring conflict with no immediate end in sight.

Arab civilians are also suffering in other major armed conflicts in the Middle East. According to UNHCR and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, at least 3 million Iraqis have been displaced as a result of the civil strife in Iraq.

Iraq Body Count estimates that more than 50% of the war-related deaths – following the 2003 Iraq invasion – were civilians.

In Yemen, the United Nations estimates that more than 10,000 civilians have perished from the fighting between Yemeni government forces and the Houthi rebels. On top of this, IOM and UNHCR estimates that around 3 million Yemeni civilians have been displaced from their homes since the beginning of the conflict.

World Humanitarian Day / Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim. Credit: United Nations Library at Geneva

Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim. Credit: United Nations Library at Geneva

The high civilian tolls witnessed in these conflicts reveal that civilians are increasingly bearing the burden of armed conflicts in the Arab region.

The pattern of modern warfare has changed: battles that were once fought in the unpopulated shores of Normandie and in the desert of El Alamein are now being fought in the urban centres of Gaza, Mosul, Baghdad and Aleppo affecting the lives of millions of civilians.
The theme of the 2017 World Humanitarian Day – Civilians caught in conflict are not a target – reaffirm the vision expressed in the 10 May 2017 report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict calling for “collective action to strengthen the protection of civilians in armed conflict.”

A “global protection crisis” has emerged – noted the Secretary General in the same report – owing to the rise of use of force of which civilians are ultimately the main victims. Since the end of World War II, it is estimated that between 60-90% of war-related deaths are primarily among civilians. Civilians have become the primary casualties of war in the 21st century.

The irregular and black market arms trade have fuelled the rise of violent and extremist groups in numerous countries in the Arab region.

The illicit arms trade has enabled terrorist groups to thrive in countries affected by conflict and violence. Disturbing images of civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals being bombed in Palestine, in Syria and in Iraq show that civilian infrastructure is increasingly being targeted by belligerents.

Although the Arms Trade Treaty sought to regulate the international arms trade, the flow of arms and weapons to violent and extremist groups continues to fuel bloody conflicts in the Arab region owing to the lack of ratification of the Treaty by the member states of the United Nations.

Warfare and armed conflicts are increasingly being fought in urban centres in the Arab region. It has brought the war closer to people. The pattern of modern warfare has changed: Battles that were once fought in the unpopulated shores of Normandie and in the desert of El Alamein are now being fought in the urban centres of Gaza, Mosul, Baghdad and Aleppo affecting the lives of millions of civilians.

World Humanitarian Day / Civilians are Not a Target

The use of heavy weapons, so-called strategic bombardments and the use of modern technologies such as drones have increased the likelihood of inflicting collateral damage on civilians during armed conflicts. The disproportionate use of force has caused immense suffering leading to abuse and to killings of civilians. Collateral damage has emerged as an acceptable term to justify errors and the indiscriminate use of force.

In order to respond to the need to provide protection to civilians in armed conflict, the world has a moral responsibility to end the illegal trade of arms and weapons fuelling the growth of violent and extremist groups.

States need to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty and comply with its provisions so as to end the illicit arms trade that is currently estimated to lie at around 10 billion US dollars per year. Weapons and arms should not end up in the hands of extremist groups such as DAESH that commit heinous and unscrupulous crimes on civilian populations in the Arab region.

I also appeal to the international community to ensure that all parties to conflict comply with their provisions to protect the lives of civilians in line with the provisions set forth in the Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War commonly known as the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Respect for international law must guide the actions of belligerents in armed conflicts. Widespread crimes against humanity affecting civilians must be condemned uniformly by world leaders regardless of where they take place. Civilians should not bear the burden of the devastating consequences of military conflicts.

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Yemen: African Migrants Beaten, Starved, Sexually Violated by Criminal Groupshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/yemen-african-migrants-beaten-starved-sexually-violated-criminal-groups/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=yemen-african-migrants-beaten-starved-sexually-violated-criminal-groups http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/yemen-african-migrants-beaten-starved-sexually-violated-criminal-groups/#respond Mon, 14 Aug 2017 08:11:01 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151666 African migrants who arrive on Yemen’s shores –that’s if they are not forced into the sea to drown—risk to fall in the hands of criminal networks who hold them captive for several days to extort money in exchange for their “freedom,” according to UN sources. During captivity, the migrants are “horribly treated – beaten, starved, […]

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Yemen: African Migrants Beaten, Starved, Sexually Violated by Criminal Groups

Map of the Horn of Africa. Source: United Nations, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Cartographic Section. Public Domain

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Aug 14 2017 (IPS)

African migrants who arrive on Yemen’s shores –that’s if they are not forced into the sea to drown—risk to fall in the hands of criminal networks who hold them captive for several days to extort money in exchange for their “freedom,” according to UN sources.

During captivity, the migrants are “horribly treated – beaten, starved, sexually violated, chained to the ground” so they are willing to pay, confirmed to IPS Chissey Mueller, from the International Organization for Migration’s Mission in Yemen.

The released migrants might go to IOM, or other organisations for help, or they might continue their migratory journey at the risk of being abducted and held captive again, informed Mueller, IOM’s Migrants Assistance and Protection Unit in Yemen.

“It truly is a terrible ordeal: crossing the sea is only part of the dangerous journey that the migrants are embarking on,” said Mueller. IOM provides humanitarian assistance, such as medical assistance, food, water, and non-food items, to the most vulnerable migrants.

The smugglers that sail  boats between the Horn of Africa profit easily because the distance is short (5 hours or less between Somalia and Shabwa), and the demand is high, said Mueller.

“In addition to the smugglers operating boats, there are smugglers and criminal networks in Yemen who facilitate the movement of migrants between the governorates and into Saudi Arabia.”

And for those who want to return to their home country, the UN specialised body tries to evacuate them by coordinating with the authorities in Yemen and the country of origin for safe passage, she added.

IOM staff assist Somali, Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

IOM staff assist Somali, Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Dumped” in the Sea

Informing from Aden, Yemen, IOM on 10 August said that up to 180 migrants were reported to have been forced that day from a boat by smugglers off the coast of Yemen. Five bodies had been recovered so far and around 50 were reported missing.

This tragic incident came barely 24 hours after smugglers forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the sea as they approached the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea resulting in the drowning of over 50 migrants. The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf region via war-torn Yemen.

According to IOM, a total of 300 migrants have reportedly been forced from boats over the past two days by smugglers off the coast of Yemen – many feared dead or missing. See: Smugglers Throw Hundreds of African Migrants OffBoats Headed to Yemen.

“The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them into the sea when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” said Laurent de Boeck, the IOM Yemen Chief of Mission.

“It truly is a terrible ordeal: crossing the sea is only part of the dangerous journey that the migrants are embarking on”
“They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane. The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous. Too many young people pay smugglers on the false hope of a better future,” de Boeck added.

Migration Between Horn of Africa and Yemen, Not New

Migration of Africans to Yemen is not new. In fact, Mueller said to IPS that the migration trends between the Horn of Africa and Yemen are centuries old, and facilitated by the geographical proximity.

In 2014, there were an estimated 270,000 Somali refugees and several hundred thousand Ethiopian migrants in Yemen, she informed, adding that while the Somalis had sought refuge in Yemen, the Ethiopian migrants for the most part were focused on economic opportunities, either in Yemen or in Saudi Arabia.

‘There are large populations of Somalis along the southern and western coastal villages of Yemen, with significant communities in Aden and in Sana’a.  When the conflict engulfed Aden 2015 for three months, there was a mass exodus of the city.”

Somalis fled the area, and many of them headed east towards the Port of Mukallah, and eventually took boats to Somalia, said Mueller.  The Ethiopian migrants seemed to head north into Yemen, trying to avoid the conflict hotspots, with the intention of reaching Saudi Arabia.

Several Thousands Stranded in Yemen

Several thousand Ethiopian migrants have subsequently found themselves stranded in Yemen, trapped by the conflict’s frontlines, she added.

“Once the conflict in Aden ended by July/August 2015, and began to diminish in the southern part of the country, people – Yemenis and Somalis returned to their communities in Yemen. By the end of 2015, it was thought the Somali refugee community in Yemen still numbered 250,000, according to UNHCR estimates. “

According to Mueller, in 2016, despite the conflict’s continuation, but probably because it had begun to concentrate in the Taiz enclave, Hajjah, Sa’adah, etc., the number of Somali refugees and Ethiopian migrants estimated to have come to Yemen was over 117,000, according to the UN Refugee agency UNHCR.

Many More than 2,000 Migrants per Month

“IOM thinks that the trend of Ethiopian migrants coming to Yemen in 2017, most likely to transit through to Saudi Arabia, is still strong.”

For the first six months of 2017, we encountered almost 2,000 migrants per month when our mobile teams would patrol the coastal roads in Lahj and Shabwa, said Mueller, adding that is just two governorates that we cover, and we are just one agency.

“So imagine how many migrants are landing along other parts of Yemen’s coastal areas, where we are not present.  This is why we think that this year’s estimates of new arrivals are similar to last year’s trends. “

“Recently, smugglers have been pushing migrants out of the boats, fearing that the security forces might arrest them. This is what happened the past two days in Shabwa,” said Lina Koussa, IOM’s Emergency Response Officer in Aden.

Violently Forced into the Sea

Reporting from Aden, Yemen, IOM on 10 August informed that 160 Ethiopian migrants had been violently forced into the sea off Yemen’s coast in the morning of that day.

This tragic incident came one day after the presumed death of 50 Ethiopian and Somali migrants during a similar incident, the UN migration organisation informed, adding that as with yesterday (9 August), this tragedy took place off the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea – although in a different location and closer to the shore.

Every year, thousands of migrants risk their lives on this life-threatening route towards the Gulf countries through Yemen, a country in crisis. The journey and the situation in Yemen is extremely dangerous for migrants, IOM said.

“The psychological effect these experiences have on children can be enormous. This is why IOM has psychologists embedded in their patrolling teams on Yemen’s beaches. The deadly actions of the smugglers today bring the total number of presumed dead over the last two days close to 70. “

IOM is has information on 114 dead or missing in 2017 off the coast of Yemen (Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea in route to Yemen) and 109 in 2016. “The actual total is likely to be higher.”

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One in 10 Displaced Syrians Returned Homehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/one-in-10-displaced-syrians-returned-home/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=one-in-10-displaced-syrians-returned-home http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/one-in-10-displaced-syrians-returned-home/#respond Mon, 14 Aug 2017 07:07:37 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151662 This year alone, between January and July, 602,759 displaced Syrians returned home, according to reports from the UN Migration Agency and implementing partners on the ground. Around 6 million Syrians currently remain displaced within their own country. Findings indicate that the vast majority of  people returning (84 per cent) had been displaced within Syria, the Geneva-based […]

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IOM distributes hygiene kits in Damas, Syria last May 2017. File photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

IOM distributes hygiene kits in Damas, Syria last May 2017. File photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

By IPS World Desk
ROME/GENEVA, Aug 14 2017 (IPS)

This year alone, between January and July, 602,759 displaced Syrians returned home, according to reports from the UN Migration Agency and implementing partners on the ground. Around 6 million Syrians currently remain displaced within their own country.

Findings indicate that the vast majority of  people returning (84 per cent) had been displaced within Syria, the Geneva-based UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported.

The next highest number of people (16 per cent) returned from Turkey, followed by Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, it added. Those from Turkey and Jordan reportedly returned mainly to Aleppo and Al Hasakeh Governorates.

An estimated 27 per cent of the returnees stated that they did so to protect their assets or properties and 25 per cent referred to the improved economic situation in their area of origin.

Other factors people gave IOM and partners as their reasons for returning included the worsening economic situation in the place where they were seeking refuge (14 per cent), social or cultural issues such as tribal links, political affiliations or any obstacle preventing integration in their area of displacement (11 per cent), and the improvement of the security situation in their area of return (11 per cent).

Aleppo, Main Destination of Returnees

Half of all returnees in 2016 were to Aleppo Governorate, said IOM.

The report shows that similar trends have been observed in 2017. Consequently, an estimated 67 per cent of the returnees returned to Aleppo Governorate (405,420 individuals), 27,620 to Idleb Governorate, and 75,209 to Hama Governorate, 45,300 to Ar-Raqqa Governorate, 21,346 to Rural Damascus and 27,861 to other governorates.

Within the Governorates mentioned, Aleppo city, received the most returnees, followed by Al Bab sub-district in Aleppo Governorate, Hama sub-district in Hama Governorate, Menbij sub-district in the northeast of Aleppo Governorate, and Al-Khafsa sub-district also in Aleppo Governorate, the UN specialised body reported.

According to reports, almost all (97 per cent) returned to their own house, 1.8 per cent are living with hosts, 1.4 per cent in abandoned houses, 0.14 per cent in informal settlements and 0.03 per cent in rented accommodation.

The city of Zabadani in Syria taken last June 2017 during an IOM assessment. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

The city of Zabadani in Syria taken last June 2017 during an IOM assessment. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Access to Food, Household Items

Access of returnees to food and household items is 83 per cent and 80 per cent respectively. Access to water (41 per cent) and health services (39 per cent) is dangerously low as the country’s infrastructure has been extremely damaged by the conflict.

The report indicates that an increasing number of Syrians displaced within the country appear to be returning home, informed IOM, adding that the total figure by end of July this year was already close to the 685,662 returnees identified in the whole of 2016.

However, of those returnees, an estimated 20,752 and 21,045 were displaced again in 2016 and 2017 respectively. This means that around 10 per cent of those who returned ended up as internally displaced persons (IDPs) once again.

Six Million Displaced Within Syria

While trends of returnees increase, Syria continues to witness high rates of displacement. From January to July 2017, an estimated 808,661 people were displaced; many for the second or third time, and over 6 million in total currently remain displaced within the country. This makes up to 1 in 3 inhabitants.

The figure is particularly relevant in view of the fact that the Syrian population is estimated to be slightly more than 21 million, i.e. one in three Syrians are still displaced.

IDP returns have mainly been spontaneous but not necessarily voluntary, safe or sustainable. As such, they cannot, at present, be considered within the context of a durable solutions framework.

These data have been collected by IOM’s implementing partners, who use a set of tools and methods to identify, assess and monitor different population categories throughout Syria, in relation to needs and mobility dynamics at a community level.

According to IOM’s Progressive Resolution of Displacement Situations, the number and scale of crises are forcing record numbers of people to flee their homes seeking relative safety within or across international borders.

“However, the growing complexity and unpredictability of these crises is resulting in increasingly protracted displacement situations which challenge the versatility of the three traditional durable solutions – voluntary return and sustainable reintegration, sustainable settlement elsewhere and sustainable local integration.”

Over 4.5 Million Syrians in Hard-to-Reach Areas

According to the United Nations Refugee agency UNHCR’s estimates, there are 6.3 million internally displaced persons in Syria, while 4.53 million people are in hard-to-reach and besieged areas.

UNHCR reported that over 5 million people have fled Syria since 2011, seeking safety in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and beyond. Millions more are displaced inside Syria and, as war continues, hope is fading fast.

It also estimates that 13.5 million people are in humanitarian need in Syria.

 

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Promise or Peril? Africa’s 830 Million Young People by 2050http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/promise-peril-africas-830-million-young-people-2050/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=promise-peril-africas-830-million-young-people-2050 http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/promise-peril-africas-830-million-young-people-2050/#respond Fri, 11 Aug 2017 14:10:50 +0000 John Dramani Mahama and Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151652 Honourable Mr John Dramani Mahama, is the former President of the Republic of Ghana, follow him on twitter. Siddharth Chatterjee is the UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya, follow him on twitter.

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Refugees land at Lampedusa island in Italy. Credit: Ilaria Vechi/IPS.

By John Dramani Mahama and Siddharth Chatterjee
ACCRA, Ghana / NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 11 2017 (IPS)

Last month, Spanish charity workers rescued 167 migrants arriving from Africa aboard a small boat.

2016 was the deadliest for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean, with at least 3800 deaths recorded. Most know the dangers they face on the route, yet still choose the possibility of death in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels over the hopelessness of life in areas they reside.

John Dramani Mahama

Consider this. Every 24 hours, nearly 33,000 youth across Africa join the search for employment. About 60% will be joining the army of the unemployed.

A report from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees released this month claims that seven in ten of those heading for Europe are not refugees fleeing war or persecution, but economic migrants in search of better lives.

12 August 2017, is International Youth Day.

Africa’s youth population is growing rapidly and is expected to reach over 830 million by 2050. Whether this spells promise or peril depends on how the continent manages its “youth bulge”.

According to the World Bank, 40% of people who join rebel movements are motivated by lack of economic opportunity. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted, “The frustration generated in young people that have no hope in the future is a major source of insecurity in today’s world. And it is essential that when Governments plan their economic activities, when the international community develops forms of cooperation, they put youth employment, youth skills at the centre of all priorities…”

Some estimates indicate that more than half a million Africans migrated to European Union countries between 2013 and 2016, adding to the millions flowing in from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghnistan and parts of Asia.

Siddharth Chatterjee

Many of Africa’s young people remain trapped in poverty that is reflected in multiple dimensions, blighted by poor education, access to quality health care, malnutrition and lack of job opportunities.

For many young people–and especially girls– the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services is depriving them of their rights and the ability to make decisions about their bodies and plan their families. This is adversely affecting their education and employment opportunities.

According to UNDP’s Africa Human Development Report for 2016, gender inequalities cost sub-Saharan Africa US$ 95 billion annually in lost revenue. Women’s empowerment and gender equality needs to be at the top of national development plans.

Between 10 and 12 million people join the African labour force each year, yet the continent creates only 3.7 million jobs annually. Without urgent and sustained action, the spectre of a migration crisis looms that no wall, navy or coastguard can hope to stop.

10 to 12 million young people join the African labour force each year, yet the continent creates only 3.7 million jobs annually. Credit: Adapted from “Promulgation,” courtesy of flickr user ActionPixs (Maruko). Kenya

“The future of Africa’s youth does not lie in migration to Europe, but in a prosperous Africa”, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has said.

Africa’s population is expected to reach around 2.3 billion by 2050. The accompanying increase in its working age population creates a window of opportunity, which if properly harnessed, can translate into higher growth and yield a demographic dividend.

In the wake of the Second World War, the Marshall Plan helped to rebuild shattered European economies in the interests of growth and stability. We need a plan of similar ambition that places youth employment in Africa at the centre of development.

For example, one sector that Africa must prioritise is agribusiness, whose potential is almost limitless. Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa Region has said, “We cannot overstate the importance of agriculture to Africa’s determination to maintain and boost its high growth rates, create more jobs, significantly reduce poverty….”. The World Bank says African agriculture and agribusiness could be worth US $1 trillion by 2030.

The demographic dividend wheels: Adapted from African Union Commission.

Agriculture can help people overcome poor health and malnutrition. Given the importance of agriculture for the livelihoods of the rural poor, agricultural growth has the potential to greatly reduce poverty – a key contributor to poor health and undernutrition.

In the meantime, the aging demographic in many Western and Asian Tiger economies means increasing demand for skilled labour from regions with younger populations. It also means larger markets for economies seeking to benefit from the growth of a rapidly expanding African middle class. Consumer spending in Africa is projected to reach US $1.4 trillion in the next three years and business-to-business spending to reach $3.5 trillion in the next eight years.

Whether the future of Africa is promising or perilous will depend on how the continent and the international community moves from stated intent to urgent action and must give special priority to those SDGs that will give the continent a competitive edge through its youth.

The core SDGs of ending poverty, ensuring healthy lives and ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education all have particular resonance with the challenge of empowering youth and making them effective economic citizens.

As we mark International Youth Day, there is hope. Many young people in Africa are taking charge of their futures. There is a rising tide of entrepreneurship sweeping across Africa spanning technology, IT, innovation, small and medium enterprises. They are creating jobs for themselves and their communities.

The African Development Bank is working on creating 25 million jobs and equipping at least 50 million youth to realize their full economic potential by 2025.

The African Union established the theme for 2017 as “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments in Youth.” This will determine Africa’s enormous promise to realise its economic and social potential as well as reap a demographic dividend (video).

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Smugglers Throw Hundreds of African Migrants Off Boats Headed to Yemenhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/smugglers-throw-hundreds-african-migrants-off-boats-headed-yemen/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=smugglers-throw-hundreds-african-migrants-off-boats-headed-yemen http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/smugglers-throw-hundreds-african-migrants-off-boats-headed-yemen/#respond Fri, 11 Aug 2017 13:33:55 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151657 A total of 300 migrants have reportedly been forced from boats over the past two days by smugglers off the coast of Yemen – many feared dead or missing, the United Nations migration agency has reported. “The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them into the sea when he saw […]

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IOM staff assists Somali and Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers. Credit: UN Migration Agency (IOM)

By IPS World Desk
ROME, Aug 11 2017 (IPS)

A total of 300 migrants have reportedly been forced from boats over the past two days by smugglers off the coast of Yemen – many feared dead or missing, the United Nations migration agency has reported.

“The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them into the sea when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” said Laurent de Boeck, the Yemen Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane. The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous. Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future,” de Boeck added. “There is something fundamentally wrong with this world if countless numbers of children can be deliberately and ruthlessly drowned in the ocean, when they are no longer an easy source of income, and nothing is done to stop it from ever happening again.” – IOM chief.

According to IOM, up to 180 migrants were reportedly thrown into the sea from a boat today by the smugglers. Five bodies have been recovered so far, and around 50 are reported missing.

This latest incident comes barely 24 hours after smugglers forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the sea as they approached the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea, resulting in the drowning of around 50 migrants, said IOM. The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen.

Shallow Graves

Shortly after 11 August’s tragedy, IOM staff found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in Shabwa, during a routine patrol. The dead had been quickly buried by those who survived the smuggler’s deadly actions. The approximate average age of the passengers on the boat was 16.

“The UN Secretary-General is heart-broken by this continuing tragedy,” his Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters at the daily briefing in New York.

“This is why he continues to stress that the international community must give priority to preventing and resolving a variety of situations which both generate mass movement and expose those already on the move to significant danger,” he added, underscoring the need to increase legal pathways for regular migration and offer credible alternatives to these dangerous crossings for people in need of international protection.

30,000 Under the Age of 18

Since January of this year, IOM estimates that around 55,000 migrants left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen, most with the aim of trying to find better opportunities in the Gulf countries.

More than 30,000 of those migrants are under the age of 18 from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female, according to the UN specialised body.

IOM staff tend to the remains of a deceased migrant on a beach in Yemen. Credit: UN Migration

“This journey is especially hazardous during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean. Smugglers are active in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, offering fake promises to vulnerable migrants.”

IOM and its partners operate across the region to support these migrants and provide lifesaving assistance to those who find themselves abused or stranded along the route.

Forced into the Sea

Meantime, IOM reported that 160 Ethiopian migrants were violently forced into the sea off Yemen’s coast on 8 August morning.

This comes one day after the presumed death of 50 Ethiopian and Somali migrants during a similar incident, it adds.
“As with 9 August, this tragedy took place off the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea – although in a different location and closer to the shore.”

Staff from the UN migration agency found six bodies on the beach –two male and four female. An additional 13 Ethiopian migrants are still missing (unaccounted for).

IOM on 10 August provided emergency medical assistance to 57 migrants. The UN agency also provided food, water and other emergency relief assistance to the surviving migrants. 84 migrants (in addition to the 57) left the beach.

The UN migration agency has also reported that every year, thousands of migrants risk their lives on this life-threatening route towards the Gulf countries through Yemen, a country in crisis.

“The journey and the situation in Yemen is extremely dangerous for migrants. The psychological effect these experiences have on children can be enormous.”

This is why IOM has embedded psychologists embedded in their patrolling teams on Yemen’s beaches.

“The deadly actions of the smugglers on 10 August bring the total number of presumed dead over the last two day close to 70. IOM is aware of 114 dead or missing in 2017 off the coast of Yemen (Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea en route to Yemen) and 109 in 2016. The actual total is likely to be higher.

Brutally Treated

Survivors from both incidents described their journey with the smugglers to IOM:

“Throughout the journey, migrants had been brutally treated by the smugglers. They were forced to squat down for the entirety of the trip from Ambah Shore in Somalia, which sometimes takes between 24-36 hours, so that the smugglers could increase the number of people in the boat…

“… The migrants were not allowed to move inside the boat. They were not allowed a private or separate space to use the bathroom and had to urinate on themselves…

“… In some cases, the smugglers tied their hands so if something did happen, they would not be able to run or swim or save their lives. If one of the migrants accidentally moved, he would be beaten or even killed…

“…The migrants were not allowed to take enough food or water on the journey to fulfil their basic needs. They were only allowed to take one to two litres of water and one small meal. They also faced many dangerous during the journey in the windy season.”

Migrant survivors from other smuggling journeys have told IOM that usually smuggler networks coordinate when migrants arrive in Yemen so that they would have a pick up location.

“Some migrants who are able to pay extra money are taken by car to unknown destinations. Others, who do not have money, walk for long distances, without knowing where they are headed.

Pushed Out of the Boats

Recently, smugglers have been pushing migrants out of the boats, fearing that the security forces might arrest them. This is what happened the past two days in Shabowa, said Lina Koussa, IOM’s Emergency Response Officer in Aden.

“We condemn the acts of smugglers off the coast of Yemen – 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants were forced from a boat yesterday, and another 160 today, the death toll is still unknown,” said William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General.

“The utter disregard for human life by these smugglers, and all human smugglers worldwide, is nothing less than immoral. What is a teenager’s life worth? On this route to the Gulf countries, it can be as little as 100 USD, “ said IOM chief.

Something Wrong in This World

“There is something fundamentally wrong with this world if countless numbers of children can be deliberately and ruthlessly drowned in the ocean, when they are no longer an easy source of income, and nothing is done to stop it from ever happening again.”

It should never have happened in the first place, he added.

“We should not have to wait for tragedies like these to show us that international cooperation must be enhanced to fight human smuggling – not just through policy but through real action along these smuggling routes.”

This is a busy and extremely dangerous smuggling route. Yemen is suffering one of today’s most dire humanitarian crises, said William Lacy Swing.

Countries experiencing conflict or crisis like Yemen need greater support to reinforce law enforcement and humanitarian border management with the aim of protecting vulnerable migrants like these 16-year-old kids, he said.

“My thoughts are with their families and loved ones in Ethiopia and Somalia. I am making a promise to them that IOM will not forget them and will continue to fight to protect the rights and dignity of future generations of migrants,” concluded Swing.

120 Somali and Ethiopians, Forced into the Pitching Sea

IOM on 9 August reported from Aden that early that morning, a human smuggler, in charge of the boat, forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the pitching sea as they approached the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea. The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen.

Shortly after the tragedy, staff from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in Shabwa, during a routine patrol.

The dead had been quickly buried by those who survived the smuggler’s deadly actions. IOM is working closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure appropriate care for the deceased migrants’ remains.

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Migrants Crossing US-Mexico Border Dying at Faster Rate. More Deaths in Mediterraneanhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/migrants-crossing-us-mexico-border-dying-faster-rate-deaths-mediterranean/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrants-crossing-us-mexico-border-dying-faster-rate-deaths-mediterranean http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/migrants-crossing-us-mexico-border-dying-faster-rate-deaths-mediterranean/#respond Mon, 07 Aug 2017 09:12:30 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151589 While the number of migrants deaths in the Mediterranean Sea has so far in 2017 exceeded 2,350 victims for the fourth consecutive year, migrants crossing the United States-Mexico border are dying at a faster rate in 2017 than in past years, the UN migration agency reports. Visit to Detention Centers in Libya. During Ambassador Swing’s […]

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By IPS World Desk
ROME, Aug 7 2017 (IPS)

While the number of migrants deaths in the Mediterranean Sea has so far in 2017 exceeded 2,350 victims for the fourth consecutive year, migrants crossing the United States-Mexico border are dying at a faster rate in 2017 than in past years, the UN migration agency reports.


Visit to Detention Centers in Libya. During Ambassador Swing’s visit to Tripoli in May, IOM Libya launched a plan to enhance its presence in the country and improve living conditions inside detention centres. This video is a result of a VR training commissioned by the UN and conducted by LightShed. Source: IOM – UN Migration Agency

According to a new briefing from the Berlin-based Missing Migrants Project (MMP) at the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, migrants crossing the United States-Mexico border are dying at a faster rate in 2017 than in past years.

On this, MMP’s Julia Black on 4 August reported: “Some 232 migrant fatalities have been recorded in the first seven months of 2017, an increase of 17 per cent compared with the 204 deaths recorded between January and July 2016.”

Black added: “Fifty bodies were recorded as discovered in July, the most recorded in any month so far this year,” explaining that these remains were located across the border region. “Nine were recorded in various locations along the Río Grande; ten in a truck in San Antonio, Texas; and 16 in other locations in Texas.”

Migrants Crossing US-Mexico Border Dying at Faster Rate in 2017: UN Migration Agency

Fifteen more were recovered in Arizona’s Pima County, a notoriously dangerous crossing, where seasonal temperatures regularly soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) between the months of May and September. So far in 2017, 96 bodies have been recovered in Pima County.

Black said, “These numbers are especially concerning considering that, according to US Border Patrol figures, fewer migrants seem to be crossing into the US in 2017. The US Border Patrol has apprehended 140,024 migrants between January and June 2017, about half the number recorded in the first six months of 2016.”

The briefing reports that IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded more than 1,250 migrant fatalities on the US-Mexico border since 2014.

The “American Dream”

MMP staffers note each one of these deaths are individual tragedies that serve as reminders of the many migrants who continue to risk their lives pursuing their “Sueño Americano” – or American Dream, according to Black.

“Though the story of the ten migrants who lost their lives trapped in the back of a tractor-trailer in Texas on Sunday was widely covered by English- and Spanish-language media, most of the deaths recorded in the border region occur in ones and twos. Those deaths, recorded almost daily during summer months, rarely make headlines.”

The most recent incident recorded on the border region was the death of a five-year-old child migrant drowned in the Río Grande near Tamaulipas, Mexico, on Wednesday. Reports indicate that the child’s father also went missing during the river crossing, she added.

“Many of those pursuing ‘el Sueño Americano’ travel from Mexico to Texas, meaning that they must cross the swift-flowing Río Grande to reach the US. The briefing reports that in 2017, 57 people have drowned in Though migrant fatalities on the US-Mexico border represent 65 per cent of the total number recorded in the Americas, it is likely that many migrant deaths occur in Central and Southern America that go unrecorded.”

Notably, several bodies, presumed to be migrants, were seen floating off the coast of Nicaragua on Tuesday; another migrant was killed near Oaxaca, Mexico on Sunday after being struck by a train; another, from El Salvador, was the victim of a stabbing, she added.

The briefing reports that the true number of migrant fatalities in 2017 is likely to be higher than the data from Missing Migrants Project indicate. “It’s something that is true for all regions of the world, unfortunately,” concluded Black.

2,397 Migrant Deaths in the Mediterranean

Meantime, the UN Migration agency on the same day, 4 August, reported that 115,109 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 2 August, with almost 83 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 261,228 arrivals across the region through 2 August 2016.

Credit: IOM

For its part, IOM Rome reported that according to official figures of the Italian MOI, 95,215 migrants arrived in Italy by sea this year, which is slightly (2.73 per cent) fewer than last year during the same period, when 97,892 arrived, highlighting a trend that IOM has observed of slower traffic to Italy during mid-summer, and fewer deaths (approximately half of those recorded in July 2015 and 2016).

Top Ten Nationalities

Italian authorities on August first week released the latest roster of top-ten nationalities to arrive as migrants traveling by sea from Africa through the end of July, added IOM.

Nigeria continues to be the year’s top sender nation with 15,317 arrivals, followed by Bangladesh (8,687), Guinea (8,631), Cote d’Ivoire (7,905) and Mali (5,526).

Bangladesh, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco continue to show sharp increases over levels of arrivals at this time last year. Those countries that now are sending fewer migrants include Eritrea – down more than 50 per cent from 2016 – with slighter decreases as well for Nigeria, Sudan and the Gambia.

IOM’s Flavio Di Giacomo further noted total arrivals by sea to Italy during the month of July came to 11,461, a decrease of more than 50 per cent compared with the total registered in July 2016: 23,552.

Asphyxiation on Board

Meanwhile, IOM Athens reported that 73 migrants and refugees arrived at various Greek locations (Lesvos, Rhodes, Megisti) between 31 July and 2 August. The total number of arrivals by sea to Greece as of 2 August is 11,353. This compares with 160,515 at this time last year.

“The latest fatalities in the region were reported on Tuesday (1 August) when eight corpses were recovered on a dinghy off the Libyan coast – it is likely the migrants died from asphyxiation on board. They were expected to be brought to land in Italy on Friday 4 August.”

These deaths bring the total of fatalities in the Mediterranean in 2017 to 2,397, IOM reports, adding that although this figure trails the number of deaths (3,193) recorded at this time last year, it nonetheless marks the fourth consecutive year migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea have exceeded 2,350.

Worldwide, the IOM Missing Migrants Project reports that there have been 3,408 fatalities in 2017 through 2 August, with the Mediterranean region accounting for the largest proportion of deaths – over two-thirds of the global total.

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Collectively Managing South Asia’s Stressed Water Resourceshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/collectively-managing-south-asias-stressed-water-resources/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=collectively-managing-south-asias-stressed-water-resources http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/collectively-managing-south-asias-stressed-water-resources/#respond Tue, 01 Aug 2017 15:58:59 +0000 Rafiqul Islam http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151530 Experts and policymakers here say regional cooperation is a must to resolve long-standing water problems in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, and to harness the full value of water. There are many transboundary rivers, including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, in the region. Bangladesh in particular faces severe water problems, […]

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Ethnic women collect drinking water from a water plant in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Ethnic women collect drinking water from a water plant in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

By Rafiqul Islam
DHAKA, Aug 1 2017 (IPS)

Experts and policymakers here say regional cooperation is a must to resolve long-standing water problems in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, and to harness the full value of water.

There are many transboundary rivers, including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, in the region. Bangladesh in particular faces severe water problems, like flooding and riverbank erosion, due in part to a lack of cooperation with its neighbors, officials said at a consultation in the capital Dhaka."Valuing water - socially, culturally, economically and environmentally - is crucial here." --Netherlands Ambassador in Dhaka, Leonie Cuelenaere

On July 31, state ministers, senior and government officials, businesses and representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and development partners gathered at the Fourth Consultation of the UN High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) on Valuing Water at the BRAC Center Inn.

Bangladesh has 57 transboundary rivers, and 93 percent of its catchment is located outside the country’s borders.

Muhammad Nazrul Islam, State Minister of Bangladesh for Water Resources, said some countries have adequate water sources from upstream lakes and glaciers and think of water as their own resource, but water should be universal and all should have equitable access to it.

Highlighting various water-related problems Bangladesh has long been facing, he said, “When we get too much water during monsoon [season], then we hardly can manage or conserve water. But during the dry season, we face severe water scarcity.”

“Basin-based water management is urgent in South Asia to manage water of common rivers and to cope with water-related problems in the region,” said Abu Saleh Khan, a deputy executive director of the Dhaka-based think tank, Institute of Water Modelling (IWM).

Such management could include knowledge and data sharing, capacity development, increased dialogue, participatory decision-making and joint investment strategies.

With just 3 percent of the world’s land, South Asia has about a quarter of the world’s population. Rice and wheat, the staple foods in the subregion, require huge amounts of water and energy, even as water resources are coming under increasing strain from climate change, pollution and other sources.

In January 2016, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon convened a High Level Panel on Water (HLPW), involving 11 heads of state and government to accelerate change in the way governments, societies, and the private sector use and manage water.

The regional consultation was held in Dhaka as part of a high-level consultation on water called the ‘Valuing Water Initiative’.

Muhammad Nazrul Islam, State Minister of Bangladesh for Water Resources, speaks at the Fourth Consultation of the UN High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) on Valuing Water on July 31, 2017. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Muhammad Nazrul Islam, State Minister of Bangladesh for Water Resources, speaks at the Fourth Consultation of the UN High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) on Valuing Water on July 31, 2017. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

The goal of the Valuing Water Initiative is to achieve the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by inspiring better decision-making, and making better trade-offs between competing claims on water.

Valuing Water 

Today, freshwater is facing a crisis around the world, compounded by extreme weather events, droughts and floods. Water sources are threatened by overuse, pollution and climate change. But water is essential for human health, food security, energy supplies, sustaining cities, biodiversity and the environment.

“’We never know the worth of water until the well is dry’ is a saying in several different languages from around the world. And indeed, water is often taken for granted. That is why the High Level Panel on Water launched the Valuing Water Initiative last year,” said Netherlands Ambassador in Dhaka Leonie Cuelenaere.

She said water is a key element of Bangladesh’s culture and economy, but its 700 rivers frequently flood and create problems for local communities.

“Yet simultaneously, a shortage of fresh water occurs in the dry season. So valuing water – socially, culturally, economically and environmentally – is crucial here,” said Cuelenaere.

Regarding excessive use of water, Nazrul Islam noted that about 3,000 litres of water is required to irrigate one kilogram of paddy in Bangladesh.

“We have to change our lifestyle to cut water use, and need to innovate new varieties of crops which could be cultivated with a small volume of water,” he added.

Suraiya Begum, Senior Secretary and HLPW Sherpa to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said about 90 percent of Bangladesh’s people think that they have enough water, but some pockets in the country still face scarcity every year.

Focusing on Bangladesh’s strong commitment to conserve water and environment, she said Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina considers water a precious resource and advocates for its wiser use.

Valuing water can make the cost of pollution and waste apparent and promote greater efficiency and better practices.

Willem Mak, a project manager (valuing water) of the Netherlands government, said pricing of water is not synonymous with its true value, but is one way of covering costs, reflecting part of the value of these uses, ensuring adequate resources and finance for related infrastructure services.

He said valuing water can play a role in peace processes via transboundary water management or mitigation.

Dr Khondaker Azharul Haq, the president of Bangladesh Water Partnership, said water has many values – economic, social, cultural and even religious – while the values of water depend on its quality and quantity, and time and dimension.

“Rather than [only] economic value,” he said, “water has some values that you cannot count in dollars, particularly water for environmental conservation.”

The main objective of the July 31 water consultation was to obtain views from a wide array of country-level stakeholders on the proposals from the HLPW on the valuing water preamble and principles.

The water meet also encouraged governments, business and civil society to consider water’s multiple values and to guide the transparent incorporation of these values into decision-making by policymakers, communities, and businesses.

The members of the UN high level panel are heads of state from Australia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Jordan, Mauritius (co-chair), Mexico (co-chair), Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, South Africa and Tajikistan.

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It’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. What Do We Need to Do Now?http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/world-day-trafficking-persons-need-now/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=world-day-trafficking-persons-need-now http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/world-day-trafficking-persons-need-now/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 19:11:09 +0000 William Lacy Swing http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151511 William Lacy Swing is the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Migration Agency

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Owing to demographic drivers, countries are going to become more multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious -- William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organisation for Migration. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS​

By William Lacy Swing
GENEVA, Switzerland, Jul 31 2017 (IPS)

It is believed that millions are currently victims of trafficking in persons around the world. It is almost impossible to think about each one of those numbers as individual human beings and it can feel like an insurmountable problem. But it isn’t. And on this World Day Against Trafficking in Persons we must believe that not only can we make a dent but that we can make significant inroads into eliminating it.

At the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN’s Migration Agency I head, we deal with trafficking in persons on a daily basis. We know that trafficking involves more than kidnapping and selling of persons, people forced into jobs against their will, and victims forced to give away a kidney or other vital organs. Trafficking in persons can occur ever so subtly as in cases of employment pathways, where workers are charged for recruitment and placement fees, have their wages withheld, or cannot leave their employers and thus are put into vulnerable situations where they are further exploited and become trafficked. Migrants travelling on regular or irregular migration routes around the globe are highly vulnerable to these kinds of abuses. Many who start their journeys by willingly placing themselves in the hands of smugglers can also become victims of trafficking along the way.

In addition to our and our partners’ hands-on work in providing protection and assistance to already some 90,000 victims of trafficking over the years, we are working tirelessly to collect and analyze global data on trafficking so that we can collectively improve and implement the best practices and inform policies and programmes to better address trafficking in persons.

For instance, since 2015, IOM has surveyed over 22,000 migrants on the journey on the Eastern and Central Mediterranean routes. This is the largest-scale survey yet to explore migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation on the Mediterranean routes to Europe. Around 39% of individuals interviewed had a personal experience that indicates the presence of trafficking in persons or other exploitative practices along the route with many reporting direct experiences of abuse, exploitation and practices which can amount to trafficking in persons. Looking at just the Central route, a shocking 73% of those interviewed indicated this. With this research IOM is currently exploring which factors predict migrants’ vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation on their journey.

It is also our goal to facilitate cross-border, trans-agency analysis and provide the counter-trafficking community with the information we need to develop a more comprehensive understanding of this complex issue. To this end, we will soon be launching the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative. Drawing on IOM’s and partners’ victim case data, this will be the first ever open access data platform for human trafficking data.

As we develop new knowledge and tools, it is critical that we share our findings and communicate with other global leaders. This September, in an effort to develop the “Global Compact on Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration,” governments will come together to discuss smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery, including appropriate identification, protection and assistance to migrants and trafficking victims. This will be our chance to share our expertise learned from decades of research and practice in this field and to learn from others.

We are learning more, and understanding how to better respond to trafficking in persons, yet there are still many unanswered questions. What makes migrants susceptible to trafficking? What do we know about those being trafficked now? And how do we best stop it from occurring in the future?

We may not have all the answers yet, but we do know that we must now accumulate the data and knowledge we have and make it transferrable so that we can all benefit from it. We do not know everyone who could be at risk but we do know we need to make migration safer, more orderly, and more regular to make migrants less vulnerable. We do not know the exact number of victims of trafficking, but we do know it’s far too many.

The fight against trafficking in persons requires us to strive for answers to our many questions. It requires us to better respond, with shared data, knowledge, and tools, and it requires us to respond together.

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Last Mile Connectivity to Bangladesh’s Impoverished Northhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/last-mile-connectivity-bangladeshs-impoverished-north/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=last-mile-connectivity-bangladeshs-impoverished-north http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/last-mile-connectivity-bangladeshs-impoverished-north/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 06:06:38 +0000 Mahfuzur Rahman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151500 Life for Bangladesh’s rural people, particularly in its remote north, is still miserable. Seasonal flooding, river erosion, and the low quality of rural infrastructure and lack of connectivity have made things harder for poor northerners. Though the country has been elevated to the lower middle-income country club due to its overall income rise, largely because […]

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The Dharala River of Kurigram District. It is the poorest district of the country with 67.3 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/3.0

By Mahfuzur Rahman
DHAKA, Jul 31 2017 (IPS)

Life for Bangladesh’s rural people, particularly in its remote north, is still miserable. Seasonal flooding, river erosion, and the low quality of rural infrastructure and lack of connectivity have made things harder for poor northerners.

Though the country has been elevated to the lower middle-income country club due to its overall income rise, largely because of growing remittance inflows, poverty is still widespread in rural areas.

The situation worsens when there is a natural disaster like cyclone, flooding, or landslides. Since April, Bangladesh has suffered flash floods, with millions of farmers losing their standing crops and fish in its haor (wetland ecosystem) region. Then came the monsoon floods with an even greater onslaught, leaving millions of people either marooned or displaced.

As the floodwater receded, people started falling ill with fever, malaria and pneumonia. It is a life of uncertainty and unpredictability.

According to an article carried by leading Bengali newspaper, Prothom Alo, in its July 18 issue, 57,000 families were affected by the April flash flood in the country’s Sunamganj district alone.

Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya told journalists on July 12 that around 650,000 people in the country’s 13 districts, mostly the northern ones, have become victims of the seasonal flooding. The districts are Sirajganj, Bogra, Rangpur, Kurigram, Nilphamari, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat, Jamalpur,Tangail, Faridpur Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Cox’s Bazar.

Bangladesh’s northern region is an impoverished one by all accounts, and the blame for this largely goes to climate change. Yet things are expected to change thanks to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)’s PROVATi³ project, which stands for “promoting resilience of vulnerable through access to infrastructure, improved skills and information”.

As in other parts of Bangladesh, IFAD through its implementing partner, the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) of the Bangladesh government, provides the ‘last mile connectivity’ to stimulate growth and commercialisation through market access, and increases resilience by diversifying incomes, and improving design and maintenance of infrastructure.

Bangladesh has eight administrative zones. Rangpur division, the main project site, is the poorest. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) quarterly data (April-June 2016) shows nationally 23.2 per cent and 12.9 per cent of the population live below the upper and extreme poverty lines, respectively. Rangpur division, Kurigram district, the main project district with nine sub-districts, is the poorest district of the country with 67.3 per cent of the population living below the poverty line.

By other indicators such as the agricultural labour rate and education level of heads of families, which have a strong correlation with poverty, the whole Rangpur region, and Kurigram and Gaibandha districts in particular, are among the worst performers.

With a total budget of 94 million dollars, the project has a strong rural infrastructure focus, investing about 74 million dollars (80 percent of the project cost) in climate proven rural infrastructure (markets, roads and shelters).

The project also promotes capacity building and vocational training to diversify rural incomes (off-farm employment and entrepreneurship) thereby increasing resilience to shocks.

More importantly, it contributes significantly to increased disaster and flood preparedness through improved information quality and accessibility.

The project will be implemented in six districts –Gaibandha, Kurigram, Rangpur, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, and Jamalpur –with the main focus in the worst poverty-stricken districts – Jamalpur, Kurigram and Gaibandha.

The major parts of these districts are flood-prone because of the convergences of the Brahmaputra (Jamuna River) and Teesta rivers. Within the six districts, the project will implement development activities in 25 poorer and vulnerable upazilas (sub-districts).

The project infrastructure will be primarily built in 90 unions (councils), which are mostly char (shoal) and low-lying, and the worst poverty-stricken areas within the 25 upazilas (Sub-districts).

For local flood forecasting, 19 upazilas (174 councils) of Kurigram, Gaibandha and Jamalpur districts have been chosen as they are affected by monsoon floods of the Brahmaputra River.

Asked how the project idea was generated and what were the striking elements that IFAD agreed to support the programme, Philipp Baumgartner, an agricultural economist and Programme Officer (Asia and Pacific Region) at the Programme Management Department, told IPS that the area was selected given the high incidence of poverty and vulnerability of people.

“Recurring floods and riverbank erosions are among the main causes of poverty in the area,” he said.

Philipp said the PROVATi³ project would run for six years and aims to reach over 300,000 households, or an equivalent of 1.5 million people.

With its own loan of 63.5 million dollars, Philipp said it would be the biggest IFAD project so far implemented in Bangladesh, while other projects partnering with the World Bank and Asia Development Bank have been beyond 100 million.

A quick analysis of the project papers shows a deep commitment of the government of Bangladesh and IFAD to reduce extreme poverty, as the project areas are some of the poorest and most vulnerable districts in the country.

Bangladesh is a country of 160 million people with the highest population density (more than 1,000 per square kilometre) in the world, excluding a few city states. It is striving hard to come out of mass poverty through strong economic growth.

The average GDP growth over the last two decades ranged between 5 and 6.5 percent and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.5 per cent. But growth has been uneven among regions as well as population groups. The economy depends on agriculture, which is about 16 per cent of total GDP but employs more than 50 per cent of workforce.

Over the last three decades, the country has achieved remarkable improvements in social indicators such as primary education and health care, girls’ education, access to safe water and sanitation, reduction in child mortality, higher of life expectancy. Still, there are discrepancies.

This project, Phillip said, seeks to help the country go further within the framework of Agenda 2030 or Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it did in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to graduate out of poverty, permanently and with gender parity.

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African Migrant Women Face “Shocking Sexual Abuse” on Journey to Europehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/african-migrant-women-face-shocking-sexual-abuse-journey-europe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=african-migrant-women-face-shocking-sexual-abuse-journey-europe http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/african-migrant-women-face-shocking-sexual-abuse-journey-europe/#comments Fri, 28 Jul 2017 18:47:50 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151488 Up to 80 per cent of Nigerian migrant women and girls arriving on Europe’s shores in Italy could potentially be sex trafficking victims, spotlighting the horrific levels of abuse and violence migrants face along their arduous journeys for a better future, according to a UN study. In its report, “Human Trafficking through the Central Mediterranean […]

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Up to 80% of Nigerian migrant women and girls arriving on Europe's shores in Italy could potentially be sex trafficking victims

IOM staff Italy, meeting with a migrant. Credit: UN Migration Ageny (IOM) 2017

By IPS World Desk
ROME, Jul 28 2017 (IPS)

Up to 80 per cent of Nigerian migrant women and girls arriving on Europe’s shores in Italy could potentially be sex trafficking victims, spotlighting the horrific levels of abuse and violence migrants face along their arduous journeys for a better future, according to a UN study.

In its report, “Human Trafficking through the Central Mediterranean Route” (in Italian*), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) highlights the plight of those who have been assisted by the UN agency and calls for urgent action against the “market” which are supplied these victims was well as what is called is a “growing demand” for paid sexual services.

Trafficking is a transnational crime that devastates the lives of thousands of people and is the cause of untold suffering,” Federico Soda, the Director of the IOM Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean, said announcing the findings.

“This is a theme we have been working on for years, committing to protect, prevent and collaborate with the authorities dealing with organized crime.”

According to the UN agency, over the past three years, its office in Italy has witnesses an almost 600 per cent increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea. The upward trend has continued during the first six months of this year, with most victims arriving from Nigeria.

The data feeding the report was drawn from IOM operations in various parts of Italy, where staff met with potential victims of trafficking as soon as they reached the country, allowing the UN agency to develop a list of indicators that can help identify potential victims.

Described in the report, the indicators include gender (most sex trafficking victims are women); age (most victims age between 13-24 years); nationality (most are Nigerians); and psycho-physical wellness (victims are mostly silent and often “controlled” by other migrants who speak on their behalf or refuse to let them be interview by IOM).

When IOM staff identify a potential victim of trafficking, they explain to them that it is possible to access protection mechanisms and, with the victim’s consent, the staff inform the anti-trafficking helpline about the victim.

Also, if the person agrees, IOM staff provides assistance in communicating and filing a report to the investigating authorities.

“The report describes IOM’s activities in the face of this phenomenon: the difficulties in protecting victims and the main vulnerabilities identified among several cases of people who were assisted by [the agency],” said Carlotta Santarossa.

“We also wanted to tell some of the stories of people who have been assisted by IOM staff to highlight the true nature of this painful and hateful form of slavery.”

(*The English version of the report will be released shortly, according to IOM)

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No Access to Justice for Migrant Workers in South-East Asiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/no-access-justice-migrant-workers-south-east-asia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=no-access-justice-migrant-workers-south-east-asia http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/no-access-justice-migrant-workers-south-east-asia/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 18:08:11 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151487 Access to justice is often out of reach for migrant workers in South-east Asia, the United Nations labour agency reported in a study that shows that non-governmental organisations are assisting more often than government officials or trade unions. Migrant workers continue to face major obstacles to lodging and resolving complaints, the UN International Labour Organization‘s […]

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Access to justice is often out of reach for migrant workers in South-east Asia, the United Nations labour agency reported

Migrant workers, like these in northern Thailand, often work in high-risk sectors, such as construction. The ILO works to strengthen national occupational safety and health systems to improve protection of migrant workers. Credit: ILO/John Hulme

By IPS World Desk
ROME, Jul 28 2017 (IPS)

Access to justice is often out of reach for migrant workers in South-east Asia, the United Nations labour agency reported in a study that shows that non-governmental organisations are assisting more often than government officials or trade unions.

Migrant workers continue to face major obstacles to lodging and resolving complaints, the UN International Labour Organization‘s (ILO) finds in a new study on Access to justice for migrant workers in South-East Asia.

The results show that some progress has been achieved in increasing access to justice for migrant workers in recent years. Remedies awarded to migrants in the cases resolved by the Migrant Worker Resource Centres included 1.62 million dollars in compensation.

“Barriers to accessing formal assistance are one of the key reasons why migrant workers are vulnerable to labour rights violations during recruitment and employment,” said Tomoko Nishimoto, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

The report found that while the estimated 20.2 million migrant workers originating from South-east Asia have equal access to labour rights and social protections in the countries in which they work, “they frequently experience unequal and discriminatory treatment in practice.”

Lack of written evidence, high cost of legal assistance, fear of retaliation and language barriers are among the challenges to accessing justice noted in the report, which has been released ahead of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, marked annually on 30 July.

The report authors argue that there is a substantial and largely unmet demand for fair and responsive remedies in the countries surveyed.

The study is based on complaint case data gathered by Migrant Worker Resource Centres from 2011 to 2015.

Detailed information on over 1,000 cases involving more than 7,000 women and men migrant workers was documented in Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, establishing the largest regional dataset of migrant complaints compiled within South-East Asia, according to the UN labour agency.

“Migrant workers’ vulnerability to exploitation is exacerbated by the absence of fair, efficient and accessible means to resolve grievances when they occur, said Ben Harkins, Technical Officer for the ILO TRIANGLE in ASEAN programme and lead author of the report.

The report underlines the important link between the lack of effective channels for migrants to denounce abuses and cases of forced labour and human trafficking.

“Most migrant workers who are faced with situations of exploitation and abuse seek practical resolutions, such as disbursement of unpaid wages, deployment to destination countries and return of identification documents.”

“It is clear that these demands are not adequately met through enforcement of labour and human trafficking laws currently and that greater efforts are needed to ensure that migrant workers are provided with just remedies,” said Harkins.

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Millions of Women and Children for Sale for Sex, Slavery, Organs…http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/millions-women-children-sale-sex-slavery-organs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=millions-women-children-sale-sex-slavery-organs http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/millions-women-children-sale-sex-slavery-organs/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 17:49:03 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151484 It is happening now. Millions of humans are forced to flee armed conflicts, climate change, inequalities, and extreme poverty. They fall easy prey to traffickers lurking anyone who can be subjected to sexual exploitation, forced labour and even sell their skin and organs. Just as tragically, 79 per cent of all detected trafficking victims are […]

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Human trafficking has become a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise, affecting nearly every country in the world, according to UNODC

Credit: UN in Armenia

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Jul 28 2017 (IPS)

It is happening now. Millions of humans are forced to flee armed conflicts, climate change, inequalities, and extreme poverty. They fall easy prey to traffickers lurking anyone who can be subjected to sexual exploitation, forced labour and even sell their skin and organs.

Just as tragically, 79 per cent of all detected trafficking victims are women and children, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

The drama is immense. Every year, millions of children, women and men fall into the hands of traffickers, lured by fake promises and deceit, the United Nations reports once more, this time ahead of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, marked every year on 30 July.

The “horrendous crime” is being committed now, while you are reading this article, and in public “salve markets”. See African Migrants Bought and Sold Openly in ‘Slave Markets’ in Libya

Buying and selling migrants is a big business. In fact, human trafficking has become a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise, affecting nearly every country in the world, according to UNODC’s executive director Yury Fedotov.

Stolen

“Today, there are millions of people whose liberty, dignity and essential human rights have been stolen. They are coerced into sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, forced begging, stealing, online pornography, and even compelled to “sell” skin organs. “

Human trafficking has become a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise, affecting nearly every country in the world, according to UNODC

Not for Sale. Credit: IOM Tunisia

This inhumane business is far from slowing down–from 2012-2014, more than 500 different trafficking flows were detected and countries in Western and Southern Europe detected victims of 137 different citizenships, according to UNODC. In short, “the crime of human trafficking is occurring almost everywhere.”

In terms of the different types of trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced labour are the most prominent, says the report, adding that trafficking can, however, have numerous other forms including: victims compelled to act as beggars, forced into sham marriages, benefit fraud, pornography production, organ removal, among others.

Many countries have criminalised most forms of trafficking as set out in the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol. The number of countries doing this has increased from 33 in 2003 to 158 in 2016. Such an exponential increase is welcomed and it has helped to assist the victims and to prosecute the traffickers, said Fedotov.

“Unfortunately, the average number of convictions remains low. UNODC’s findings show that there is a close correlation between the length of time the trafficking law has been on the statute books and the conviction rate.”

What Is Human Trafficking All About

The UN defines human trafficking as a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. While it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world.

“Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. Children make up almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide, according to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

Another important development is the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which produced the groundbreaking New York Declaration. Of the nineteen commitments adopted by countries in the Declaration, three are dedicated to concrete action against the crimes of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Protect, Assist Trafficked Persons

This year, UNODC has chosen ‘act to protect and assist trafficked persons’ as the focus of the World Day.

This topic highlights one of the most pressing issues of our time — the large mixed migration movements of refugees and migrants.

The theme puts the spotlight on the significant impact of conflict and natural disasters, as well as the resultant, multiple risks of human trafficking that many people face.

And it addresses the key issue concerning trafficking responses: that most people are never identified as trafficking victims and therefore cannot access most of the assistance or protection provided.

Counter Trafficking in Persons Since the 90s

Meantime, the leading UN agency dealing with migrants reminds that it has been working to counter trafficking in persons since the mid-nineties.

“Our primary aims are to prevent trafficking in persons and to protect victims, in ordinary time and in crisis, while offering them support on their path to recovery, including through safe and sustainable (re)integration, return support to their home countries, or, in some circumstances, through third country resettlement, says the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Globally, it has so far assisted over 90,000 trafficked persons. “Ensuring freedom and a chance at a new life, IOM’s assistance includes safe accommodation, medical and psycho-social support, and assisted voluntary return and reintegration.”

For this, the UN agency works with governments, the private sector, civil society organisations, and other UN bodies “to protect victims of trafficking and associated forms of exploitation and abuse; to prevent such abuses from occurring; and to support the development and implementation of policies aimed at the prevention and prosecution of these crimes and the protection of victims.”

The agency’s approach is based on: respect for human rights; support for the physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community; and sustainability through capacity building and the facilitation of durable solutions for all beneficiaries.

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Migrants – The Increasingly Expensive Deadly Voyageshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/migrants-increasingly-expensive-deadly-voyages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrants-increasingly-expensive-deadly-voyages http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/migrants-increasingly-expensive-deadly-voyages/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 16:35:27 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151476 They borrow huge amounts of money. They sell all their modest properties. They suffer brutalities on the hands of their own countries “security” forces to prevent them from fleeing wars, droughts, floods, lack of food, extreme poverty. Thousands of them fall prey to human traffickers who take they money to load them on fragile boats […]

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The cost of getting into Europe has increased significantly when compared to 2016, says the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Credit: IOM

By IPS World Desk
ROME, Jul 28 2017 (IPS)

They borrow huge amounts of money. They sell all their modest properties. They suffer brutalities on the hands of their own countries “security” forces to prevent them from fleeing wars, droughts, floods, lack of food, extreme poverty.

Thousands of them fall prey to human traffickers who take they money to load them on fragile boats in voyages toward death. And hundreds of survivors are bought and sold as slaves. See: African Migrants Bought and Sold Openly in ‘Slave Markets’ in Libya.

Should all this not be enough, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) has just reported that voyages through the so-called Eastern Mediterranean route and into the European Union now cost 5,000 dollars or more.


Credit: UNICEF

“With increased border controls, it has become harder to reach Europe,” noted Livia Styp-Rekowska, IOM’s Border Management Specialist in Vienna. “One constant, however, is the increase in sums demanded.”

Styp-Rekowska noted new data released on 25 July that shows “the cost of getting into Europe has increased significantly when compared to 2016, the routes have changed, and different countries of destination are being prioritized.”

People arriving from Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan are charged the most, according to IOM.

Credit: IOM

The most popular destination up to June 2016 was overwhelmingly Germany, but migrants now seek to get to France, Sweden, Italy, Norway, Austria and Denmark as well, with Greece used as a popular transit country.

IOM has also reported that 112,018 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 23 July, with almost 85 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 250,586 arrivals across the region through 23 July 2016. See: Death Toll Rises in the Mediterranean Sea as EU Turns Its Back

Children Flee by Themselves

Meantime, Children Now More Than Half of the 65 Million Displaced and bear the blunt of inhumane abuses. In fact, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the same –25 July—reported that facing violence and trauma in Libya and other countries, thousands of children decided to flee by themselves, seeking to get away but not necessarily aiming for Europe.

The cost of getting into Europe has increased significantly when compared to 2016, says the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

A five year-old boy carries an empty water jerry in Al-hol camp in north-eastern Syria, hosting over 4,600 Iraqi refugees. Like most children there, he bears the brunt of carrying water for his family. Credit: UNICEF/Souliman

A new study of push-pull factors on child marriage showed that 75 per cent of children on the move decided to leave unaccompanied and that initially, they had no intention to come to Europe, UNICEF spokesperson Sarah Crowe said.

“What was striking in the new findings was that there were far more push factors, pushing children away from home – conflicts or violence at home – than there were pull factors [that lure them to Europe], and this went against the current narrative,” Crowe said.

She noted that of the children who arrived in Libya, 63 per cent of young people left the country because of the generalised violence and trauma they suffered or witnessed, making them more willing to take terrifying sea journeys.

“As one young Gambian boy said, ‘if you have a lion behind your back and a sea in front of you, you take the sea,’” she added.

“Among girls interviewed, one in five left because of forced child marriage at home.”

For the first six months of the year, a total of 12,239 children had arrived to Italy, and 93 per cent were travelling alone – the majority of them teenage boys, according to UNICEF figures. In Greece, however, the majority of children were actually being sent on the voyage by their parents, or were accompanied by their parents.

UNICEF stressed that the study is important for policymakers to understand why the children are making the voyage and how best to help them once they arrive in Europe… If they arrive! See: A Grisly Tale of Children Falling Easy Prey to Ruthless Smugglers

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UN Appoints Experts to DRC’s Kasai to Probe Harrowing Rights Abuseshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/un-appoints-experts-drcs-kasai-probe-harrowing-rights-abuses/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-appoints-experts-drcs-kasai-probe-harrowing-rights-abuses http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/un-appoints-experts-drcs-kasai-probe-harrowing-rights-abuses/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 18:27:16 +0000 Roshni Majumdar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151462 The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, appointed a team of three international experts yesterday to collect information and raise awareness about grave atrocities in the ongoing conflict in the remote Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Central Kasai has been mired in a conflict between government forces […]

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By Roshni Majumdar
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 27 2017 (IPS)

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, appointed a team of three international experts yesterday to collect information and raise awareness about grave atrocities in the ongoing conflict in the remote Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Security Council observes a moment of silence in memory of two UN experts who were killed recently while monitoring the sanctions regime in the Kasaï Central region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Credit: UN Photo

The Security Council observes a moment of silence in memory of two UN experts who were killed recently while monitoring the sanctions regime in the Kasaï Central region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Credit: UN Photo

Central Kasai has been mired in a conflict between government forces and local militias called Kamuina Nsapu since August 2016. The conflict, which has escalated in recent months, garnered international attention when two U.N. experts in the region were killed in March 2017.

The conflict intensified in the run up to the elections of December 2016, when government security forces clashed with demonstrators who contested the president’s bid to stay in power beyond his term ending in 2016, and killed 50 people. Hundreds were jailed, and media outlets were banned.

Ever since, the situation has only become worse.

Newer armed groups like Bana Mura have emerged to fight the Congolese army and police. They have carried out brutal attacks against targeted civilians of Luba and Lulua ethnic groups, killing hundreds and burning villages. Small children have been gravely wounded from machete attacks, and pregnant women have been cut open.

Victims have speculated that members of the Congolese army have also been part of these horrific killings.

Today, as many as 3,300 people have died, and 1.3 million people have been displaced within the country. In Angola alone, more than 30,000 people have been registered as refugees as thousands more stream into the central African country every day. Some 42 mass graves have been documented by the Joint Human Rights Office.

The atrocities committed against civilians have put pressure on the UN, which adopted the UN Human Rights Council resolution on June 22, 2017.

In the resolution, the Council expressed its grave concerns about the recurrent violence and the “recruitment and use of child soldiers, sexual and gender-based violence, destruction of houses, schools, places of worship, and State infrastructure by local militias, as well as of mass graves.”

The Council puts the newly appointed team in charge of collecting information, determining facts and circumstances, and to forwarding “the judicial authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo the conclusions of this investigation in order to establish the truth and to ensure that the perpetrators of deplorable crimes are all accountable to the judicial authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

The team includes Bacre Ndiaye, a Senegal national, Luc Côté, a Canadian who has worked on human rights violations in the DRC, and Mauritania’s Fatimata M’Baye.

A comprehensive report with the findings will be presented in June 2018, at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council.

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Yemen Records 400,000 Cholera Caseshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/yemen-records-400000-cholera-cases/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=yemen-records-400000-cholera-cases http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/yemen-records-400000-cholera-cases/#respond Thu, 27 Jul 2017 06:37:59 +0000 Roshni Majumdar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151450 The directors of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) released a joint statement today shedding light on a deadly cholera epidemic engulfing war-torn Yemen. More than 400,000 cases of cholera are suspected, and nearly 1,900 people have died from associated cases in the last three months alone. […]

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More than 400,000 cases of cholera are suspected in Yemen, and nearly 1,900 people have died from associated cases in the last three months alone.

Tents set up at Alsabeen hospital in Sana'a Yemen for screening suspected cholera cases.

By Roshni Majumdar
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 27 2017 (IPS)

The directors of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) released a joint statement today shedding light on a deadly cholera epidemic engulfing war-torn Yemen.

More than 400,000 cases of cholera are suspected, and nearly 1,900 people have died from associated cases in the last three months alone.

The dire situation results from a culmination of factors, such as modern tactics of warfare that destroy water pipelines, as well as continuous bombing of schools and hospitals. More than 60 percent of the population remains uncertain of their next meal as famine looms.

Nearly 2 million children are suffering from malnutrition, and are easy targets of the water-borne disease. The report estimates that nearly 80 percent of all children need immediate humanitarian assistance.

Amid the lack of adequate international support, community leaders have stepped up to the task—more than 16,000 volunteers visit families from door-to-door to raise awareness about cholera, and assist them with information to protect themselves.

Many health-care workers, as many as 30,000, haven’t been paid in nearly 10 months. Still, that doesn’t keep them from their work.

Similarly, international organisations like UNICEF and WHO have set up nearly 1,000 diarrhoea treatment centers to provide key supplies, like food and medicine. They are also similarly assisting, with the help of the community, to rebuild the local infrastructure.

There is hope, and more than 99 percent who are now showing cholera-related symptoms have a good chance of surviving.

The two-year deadly conflict in Yemen between the Saudi-led Coalition (SLC) and Houthi rebels in one of the most poorest Arab countries has produced devastating results—one report in 2016, which was quickly withdrawn, estimated that nearly 60% of children died from attacks by the SLC.

The UN agency leaders, Anthony Lake (UNICEF), David Beasley (WFP) and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO) urged the international community to “redouble its support for the people of Yemen,” following a trip to the country themselves.

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Nigeria’s Ticking Time Bombhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/nigerias-ticking-time-bomb/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nigerias-ticking-time-bomb http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/nigerias-ticking-time-bomb/#respond Tue, 25 Jul 2017 21:39:40 +0000 Cheick Ba http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151428 Cheick Ba is the Norwegian Refugee Council Country Director in Nigeria, who has worked in the humanitarian sector for more than 20 years, including in Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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'Alarming' levels of malnutrition and famine-like conditions in north-east Nigeria. Credit: UN Photo

By Cheick Ba
Maiduguri City, Nigeria, Jul 25 2017 (IPS)

In the dusty arid town of Dikwa, tens of thousands of Nigerians queue for hours in sweltering 40-degree heat for water. Fatuma is one of 100,000 people displaced in the Borno State town, the epicentre of Nigeria’s conflict. She sifts through remnants of food aid seeds, drying them out to prepare them to eat. Food is a scarcity here. Fatuma used to live on three meals a day. Today she is happy if aid agencies can provide her with a single meal.

Dikwa’s food crisis is mirrored throughout the conflict-stricken northeast, where the armed group Boko Haram has been brutally fighting to enforce strict Islamic Sharia law since 2009.

The Nigerian government launched a military operation in 2015 to flush the jihadist group out. An estimated 20,000 people have been killed due to the violence. Close to 2 million people have fled their homes, including 200,000 who sought safety in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The violence was the first thing Nigerians feared for their lives. Now they fear famine.

Northeast Nigeria is inching closer than ever to mass starvation. The food crisis is about to get alarmingly worse, with food security experts predicting its deterioration between now and the end of August.

Experts forecast a rise in the number of people facing crisis, emergency and famine conditions from 4.7 million to 5.2 million in northeast Nigeria. This includes 50,000 people likely to be affected by ‘famine-like’ conditions, according to the latest United Nations Global Early Warning report.

Declaring famine has serious implications for countries to step up and take action. It rings international alarm bells. But lack of access to some communities caught up in Nigeria’s conflict means the exact number of people dying of hunger is impossible to confirm. Regardless, the threat of famine draws nearer.

Armed conflict and violence are driving this food crisis. Insecurity is preventing people from farming in many areas, and restricting access to local markets. This is depleting grain stocks and pushing food prices beyond people’s reach. It’s having devastating consequences for affected families, including 450,000 acutely malnourished children.

The May to August lean season is well underway in Nigeria. This is a period when food production is traditionally low and families rely on what they have stockpiled from more plentiful times. With many farmers unable to cultivate their land for up to three years already, families have little reserves to draw from.

Inflation caused by currency depreciation is compounding the situation further. Conflict areas are experiencing prices about 150 per cent higher than in 2015, according to the United Nations.

My organization, the Norwegian Refugee Council, was forced to reduce the food basket we provide to families this month, to make up for the increased price of rice beans and millet. It’s a heart-breaking decision to make, but the alternative is to feed fewer people.

Despite the worsening food crisis, donor countries have only contributed 28 per cent of the money needed to provide the most basic humanitarian assistance this year. More visible crises like the war in Syria and Iraq garner so much international attention, there is less space for countries like Nigeria to get the same attention. As a result, donor dollars go elsewhere.

But while providing people with food saves lives, it’s only a short term solution. The crisis will only end when the conflict has been resolved, and communities can safely return to their land to rebuild their lives.

This is a man-made conflict that needs a man-made solution.

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Alcoholism Cannot Explain Russian Mortality Spikehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/alcoholism-cannot-explain-russian-mortality-spike/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=alcoholism-cannot-explain-russian-mortality-spike http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/alcoholism-cannot-explain-russian-mortality-spike/#respond Tue, 25 Jul 2017 14:42:49 +0000 Vladimir Popov and Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151424 Vladimir Popov was a Senior Economics Officer in the United Nations Secretariat. Jomo Kwame Sundaram was UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development.

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In Russia, the simultaneous increase in the total death rate, deaths due to external causes, and alcohol consumption were all driven by stress. Credit: Pavol Stracansky/IPS

By Vladimir Popov and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
MOSCOW and KUALA LUMPUR, Jul 25 2017 (IPS)

The steep upsurge in mortality and sudden fall in life expectancy in Russia in the early 1990s were the highest ever registered anywhere in recorded human history in the absence of catastrophes, such as wars, plague or famine. The shock economic reforms in the former Soviet economies after 1991 precipitated this unprecedented increase in mortality, shortening life expectancy, especially among middle-aged males.

Shock therapy
During 1987-1994, the Russian mortality rate increased by more than half, from 1.0% to 1.6%, as life expectancy fell from 70 to 64 years! Economic output fell by almost half during 1989-1998 as wealth and income inequalities as well as crime, murder and suicide rates soared.

The dramatic increase in mortality – most pronounced for middle-aged men, mostly due to cardiovascular diseases – has been explained in terms of various factors like falling real incomes, poorer nutrition, environmental degradation, the collapse of Soviet health care, and surges in alcoholism and smoking.

However, dietary changes – less meat and dairy products, yet more bread and potatoes – could not have quickly increased cardiovascular diseases.

Deterioration of health care, smoking and changes in diet would require much more time to increase mortality by so much, while increased pollution is not an acceptable explanation due to the collapse of industrial output.

While deterioration of the Russian diet, the collapse of its health care system as well as increased deaths due to accidents, murders and suicides undoubtedly contributed to increased mortality in Russia, they cannot explain the sudden magnitude of the increase. This leaves two major competing explanations for the mortality crisis – either increased alcohol consumption or heightened stress factors.

Alcoholism

The major explanation popular in the West, as it absolves the West of responsibility, attributes the mortality spike to increased alcohol consumption in the late 1980s and early 1990s after Gorbachev’s anti-alcoholism campaign.

Deaths due to alcohol poisoning are generally considered a better indicator of actual alcohol consumption as some alcohol consumed is produced illegally or smuggled into the country. Such deaths per 100,000 inhabitants increased from 10 in 1990-1991 to nearly 40 in 1994, exceeding the number of deaths due to suicide and murders.

The increased intake of alcohol can, in turn, be attributed to the lower prices of spirits in the early 1990s. But this alcohol explanation does not stand up to critical scrutiny. After all, as with most other goods, demand for alcohol is inversely related to price and positively to personal income and spending capacity.

First, during some periods, per capita alcohol consumption and death rates moved in opposite directions, e.g., alcohol consumption rose or remained stable during 2002-2009, while death rates – also due to external causes, accidents, murders, suicides and poisoning – fell.

Second, per capita alcohol consumption levels in the 1990s were equal to or lower than in the early 1980s, whereas the total death rate increased by over half and deaths due to external causes doubled!

Although strongly correlated with the mortality rate, higher alcohol consumption was not an important independent cause, but also exacerbated by the same stress factors as the mortality rate itself.

The simultaneous increase in the total death rate, deaths due to external causes, and alcohol consumption were thus all driven by another factor, namely stress.

Stress
What were these sources of increased stress and why did they increase premature deaths? Stress factors due to the economic ‘shock therapy’ following the demise of the Soviet Union are associated with the rise in unemployment, labour mobility, migration, divorce, wealth, and income inequalities.

A stress index incorporating these variables turns out to be a surprisingly good predictor of changes in life expectancy in post-communist economies, especially in the Russian Federation.

The evidence shows that many men in their 40s and 50s – who had lost their jobs or had to move to another job and/or another region, or experienced increases in inequalities in their country/region, or had divorced their wives – were more likely to die prematurely in the 1990s.

To reiterate, the Russian mortality crisis of the 1990s was mainly due to the shock economic reforms that led to mass, especially labour dislocations, much greater personal and family economic insecurity and sharp increases in inequalities. The resulting dramatic rise in stress factors was therefore mostly responsible for the sharp rise in mortality.

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Parliamentarians Study Nexus of Youth, Refugees and Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/parliamentarians-study-nexus-youth-refugees-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=parliamentarians-study-nexus-youth-refugees-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/07/parliamentarians-study-nexus-youth-refugees-development/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 18:04:54 +0000 Safa Khasawneh http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=151397 Held for the first time in the Arab world, an annual meeting of Asian and Arab Parliamentarians examined how regional conflicts hinder the development of effective policies to achieve sustainable development, particularly as they generate large numbers of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants. To reach a comprehensive solution, legislators called for examining the roots […]

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Delegates of Asian and Arab Parliamentarians in Amman, Jordan. Credit: Safa Khasawneh

By Safa Khasawneh
AMMAN, Jordan, Jul 21 2017 (IPS)

Held for the first time in the Arab world, an annual meeting of Asian and Arab Parliamentarians examined how regional conflicts hinder the development of effective policies to achieve sustainable development, particularly as they generate large numbers of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants.

To reach a comprehensive solution, legislators called for examining the roots and background of conflicts in the region."Governments should create societies where people can realize their dreams and achieve their goals." --Acting Chair of JPFP Ichiro Aisawa

The meeting kicked off Tuesday, July 18 in the Jordanian capital Amman with a focus on challenges faced by youth, including high unemployment rates and poor access to healthcare, as well as women’s empowerment and other sustainable development issues.

Around 50 legislators and experts from Asian, Arab and European countries attended the meeting, organized annually by the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) which serves as the Secretariat of Japan’s Parliamentarians Federation for Population (JPFP).

This year’s meeting was held under the theme “From Youth Bulge to Demographic Dividend: Toward Regional Development and Achievement of the SDGs” and hosted by the Jordan Senate and Forum of Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAPPD).

On behalf of the conference organizers, Acting Chair of JPFP Ichiro Aisawa addressed the gathering, devoting his remarks to the need to address challenges facing youth in the region, which he described as the birthplace of two of the world’s three major monotheistic religions and which has contributed richly to humankind’s cultural heritage.

Aisawa, who is also Director of APDA, called on parliamentarians to work together to realize sustainable development for the good of all.

In his opening statement, Jordan’s Acting Senate President Marouf Bakhit reiterated his country’s commitment to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding that issues of population and development are at the “forefront” of legislation approved by Arab parliaments and that holding this event is a “positive indicator and a step in the right direction.”

Bakhit stressed that population and development problems in Arab countries are caused mainly by conflicts, wars and forced migration.

Tackling the situation in the region, Vice Chair of JPFP Teruhiko Mashiko said in his keynote “the only solution is to prepare basic conditions for development based on knowledge and understanding of social sciences and integrating youth into the economic system.”

The first session touched on regional challenges, young refugees and means of fostering social stability. Jordan’s MP Dr. Reda Khawaldeh told IPS that building peaceful and stable societies is a responsibility that must be shouldered by the state, religious leaders, media and other civil society organizations.

Picking up on the main theme of Amman meeting – a youth bulge in the region, which describes the increasing proportion of youth relative to other age groups – Aisawa told IPS that frustration is one of the reasons that led angry Arab youth (most of whom were highly educated but with no jobs) to protest in the streets and topple their leaders.

These young men had lost their hopes and dreams of having a decent life, he said, stressing at the same time that this phenomenon is not limited to Arab countries, but could happen anywhere.

“To address this key dilemma, governments should create societies where people can realize their dreams and achieve their goals. Politicians must also advocate policies based on democracy where the rule of law prevails and people identify themselves as constructive stakeholders who participate in building their country rather than be the source of disruption and chaos,” Aisawa said.

The second session discussed the demographic dividend and creating decent jobs for youth. Sharing his experience in this regard, Philippines MP Tomasito Villarin said his country has adopted five local initiatives to give youth quality education essential for enhancing their productivity in the labor market and providing them with decent jobs.

Villarin told IPS that to achieve SDGs, his country must also address other grave challenges, including massive poverty in rural areas and an armed conflict south of Manila.

Focusing on women’s empowerment in the region as a driving force for sustainable development, Jordan’s MP Dr. Sawsan Majali warned that gender inequality is still a major challenge, especially for women with disabilities.

The second day was dedicated to a study visit to a number of sites in the ancient city of Salt, some 30 km northwest of the capital, where participants had the opportunity to explore and share good practices of development projects provided by the Salt Development Corporation (SDC), aimed at supporting community services and raising public awareness.

SDC Director Khaldoun Khreisat said financial and technical support came from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), whose officials saw Salt as a similar model to the Japanese city of Hagi.

During the three-day meeting, close consultations were held on other issues, including the key role parliamentarians play in achieving the SDGs, promoting accountability and good governance.

In his closing address, Vice Chair of JPFP Hiroyuki Nagahama stressed that politicians are accountable for the outcome of their policies and they have the responsibility and power to build a society where everybody can live in dignity.

At the end of meeting, Algerian MP Abdelmajid Tagguiche proposed the establishment of a committee to follow up and implement recommendations and outcomes of the conference.

As the curtain came down on July 20, a draft statement was issued calling for examining causes of conflicts in the region to achieve the SDGs, create decent jobs for youth and provide societies with health care and gender equality.

APDA was established on Feb. 1, 1982 and since that time it has engaged in activities working towards social development, economic progress, and the enhancement of welfare and peace in the world through studying and researching population and development issues in Asia and elsewhere.

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