Inter Press ServiceHuman Rights – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Sat, 23 Jun 2018 00:37:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Savagery of Rapes of Minorshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/savagery-rapes-minors/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=savagery-rapes-minors http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/savagery-rapes-minors/#respond Fri, 22 Jun 2018 21:56:03 +0000 Geetika 3 http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156382 Geetika Dang is an independent researcher; Vani S. Kulkarni is lecturer in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA; and Raghav Gaiha is (Hon.) professorial research fellow, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, England, and Visiting Scholar, Population Studies Centre, University of Pnnsylvania, USA).

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Geetika Dang is an independent researcher; Vani S. Kulkarni is lecturer in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA; and Raghav Gaiha is (Hon.) professorial research fellow, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, England, and Visiting Scholar, Population Studies Centre, University of Pnnsylvania, USA).

By Geetika Dang, Vani S. Kulkarni and Raghav Gaiha
NEW DELHI, Jun 22 2018 (IPS)

Rapes of minors surged from 16 per day in 2001 to 46 per day in 2016. As if this was not horrendous enough, their savagery adds to it.

In 2016, 43.3% of the total female rape victims were minors. Around 13% of the minor female victims were of age 11 and below. The deceased victim in the Kathua rape case from a nomadic Muslim community was barely eight years old. Her crumpled body was found in a blood-smeared dress in January, 2018. A group of Hindu men lured her into a forest, kidnapped her, drugged her, locked her in a Hindu temple, gang-raped her and then strangled her.

Geetika Dang

In another depraved and cruel assault, an eight-month-old baby girl was raped in New Delhi in January, 2018, by her 28-year-old cousin. As reported, the baby was on life support as her internal organs were damaged during the assault. In yet another case in Hisar’s Uklana town in December 2017, a 6-year old Dalit girl was brutally raped and murdered. The post-mortem revealed that the murderer had inserted a wooden stick in her body. Her body parts were badly brutalized, bore multiple injuries and scratch marks, and blood was spilt all over her body.

In April 2018, a four-month-old baby was raped and murdered in the historic Rajwada area in Madhya Pradesh. The infant’s body was found in the basement area of the heritage Shiv Vilas Palace, with blood smears on the stairs telling a barbaric tale. The ravaged body was carried away in a bundle. Many more gruesome cases could be cited but are omitted as they differ in location but not in the brutality. At the risk of overstating it, the surge in the frequency of rapes of minors has been inextricably linked to their brutality in recent years. Why bestial masculinity has risen in recent years is unclear.

Our analysis with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data and from other sources over 2001-16 yields useful insights into changes in incidence of rapes of minors (per lakh minors) across different states and over time.

Rapes of minors spiked between 2010-14, dropped sharply in 2015, and then spiked again in 2016. Surprisingly, after enactment of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in 2012, the incidence of rapes of minors surged. It covers crimes such as child rape, sexual assault and harassment and using children for pornography. However, NCRB began collecting data under POCSO in 2014. This may be partly linked to the spike in 2014.

Vani S. Kulkarni

There are some striking variations across the states (including Delhi as a sole union territory because of its infamous characterisation as the ‘rape capital’ of India). In 2001, the top three states (with lowest incidence of rapes of minors per 1,000,00 minors) were West Bengal (0.03), Jharkhand (0.12) and Arunachal Pradesh (0.19). In 2016, the top two states changed, with Bihar as the best (0.33), followed by Jammu and Kashmir (0.35) and Jharkhand (1.24) slipping from the second to the third best. So not just the states changed but the incidence was much higher among them.

In 2001, the three worst states/union territory were Delhi (4.44), followed by Chattisgarh (4.16) and Madhya Pradesh (3.24). In 2016, the three worst were Delhi (8.32), followed by Arunachal Pradesh (7.97) and Chattisgargh (7.58). Thus, while two out of the three worst states remained unchanged, the incidence of rapes rose.

At the regional level, the central was the worst in 2001 (33.53% of total rapes of minors), followed by a considerably lower share of the northern (19.01), and a slightly lower share of the southern (16.90%). In 2016, the central contributed the largest share (33.62%), followed by the southern (18.41 %), overtaking the northern region (16.10 %).

Raghav Gaiha

Using the NCRB and other data sets for the period 2001-16, we conducted an econometric panel analysis of rapes of minors during 2001-16, designed to isolate the contribution of each of the several factors associated with the surge in rapes of minors. Specifically, the panel model allows for individual state heterogeneity The larger the pool of minor girls (<17 years relative to men), the higher is the incidence of rapes of minors (hereafter just rapes). The greater the affluence of a state (measured in terms of state per capita income), the lower is the incidence of rape. The effect, however, is small. The lower the ratio of rural to urban population, the lower is the incidence of rapes, implying higher incidence in the latter. Congress and its coalition- ruled states lowered the rapes while President- ruled states saw a rise, presumably because the latter resulted from a breakdown of law and order. There are two surprising findings. One is that after the enactment of POCSO in 2012, the rapes increased. This is contrary to the spirit and intent of POCSO which was enacted as part of an initiative to make anti-rape laws more stringent. As convictions for rapes of minors are not available for the entire period of our analysis, we have used convictions for rapes as a proxy. This has a positive effect on rapes albeit small. This is not surprising as in 2016, out of 64,138 cases of child rapes for trials in courts, trials were completed only in 6626 cases and 57,454 (89.6%) cases are still pending. Of the cases in which trials were completed, offenders were convicted only in 28.2% of the cases.The problem is not just underreporting of rapes of minors for familiar reasons such as incest and fear of retaliation but also the incompetence and corruption of the police and judicial systems. So the recent legislation of capital punishment for rapists of girls below 12 years is a mere distraction from the imperative of systemic reforms. Worse, the capital punishment could add to the butchery of rapes of minors.

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Excerpt:

Geetika Dang is an independent researcher; Vani S. Kulkarni is lecturer in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA; and Raghav Gaiha is (Hon.) professorial research fellow, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, England, and Visiting Scholar, Population Studies Centre, University of Pnnsylvania, USA).

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Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 40,944 in 2018; Deaths Reach 960http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/mediterranean-migrant-arrivals-reach-40944-2018-deaths-reach-960/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mediterranean-migrant-arrivals-reach-40944-2018-deaths-reach-960 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/mediterranean-migrant-arrivals-reach-40944-2018-deaths-reach-960/#respond Fri, 22 Jun 2018 18:47:18 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156380 IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 40,944 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first 171 days of 2018. That total compares to 84,675 at this time last year, and over 215,997 at this time in 2016. In other words: Mediterranean arrivals at this point in 2018 are running at significantly below […]

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By International Organization for Migration
GENEVA, Jun 22 2018 (IOM)

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, reports that 40,944 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first 171 days of 2018. That total compares to 84,675 at this time last year, and over 215,997 at this time in 2016.

In other words: Mediterranean arrivals at this point in 2018 are running at significantly below half of last year’s total to date, and some 19 per cent of 2016’s volume at this same point during that year. Deaths, too, are much lower than at comparable periods of the past two years. In 2017 IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reported 2,133 deaths through 21 June; at this point in 2016 the figure was 2,911 – or over three times 2018’s estimated total of 960.

The largest shortfall since last year has been on transit via the so-called Central Mediterranean route linking North Africa to Italy. IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo notes that this year’s traffic towards Italian ports – 16,228 men, women and children through 20 June – is at a level nearly 78 per cent below that recorded through 20 June last year.

With the year swiftly approaching its mid-point, IOM notes that in none of the past four years have irregular migrant sea arrivals fallen short of 119,000 – last year’s total.

This year migrant arrivals to Italy by sea are below 17,000 – a remarkable turnaround for a country that has witnessed an annual average arrival rate of 156,000 migrants per year over the last four years (see chart below).

June arrivals to Italy, Di Giacomo recorded, are running now at less than 25 per cent of their 2017 rate, and less than 33 per cent of 2016’s volume (see chart below).

Nonetheless, the perils faced by migrants remain daunting. IOM Rome’s Flavio Di Giacomo notes that Italy’s most recent landing was recorded on 19 June in Pozzallo, where the ship of the Italian Coast Guard “Diciotti” brought a total of 523 migrants saved during the previous days in the Mediterranean.

Among them were survivors of a shipwreck that occurred on 12th June, migrants who had been rescued by the US Navy ship USS Trenton. Those, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, said they had left Zuwara, in Libya, during the night of 11 June, sailing on a dinghy carrying 117 people, including 20 women and a one-year-old child.

After seven hours of navigation, the boat began to deflate and many migrants fell into the water. The US Trenton, patrolling nearby, intervened and managed to bring 41 people to safety. Overall, 76 migrants lost their lives, survivors said, including 15 of the 20 women and the one-year-old child.

Upon arrival in Italy, these migrants were exhausted by the stress and the trauma they experienced; many also reported being victims of terrible violence perpetrated by their smugglers: kept locked for months in a house near the sea, where men reportedly were beaten and women were raped.

Early Thursday (21 June) IOM Libya’s Christine Petré reported on several ongoing search and rescue operations unfolding along Libya’s coastline. The Libyan Coast Guard, she said, returned 301 migrants (252 men, three women and 46 children – all boys); the majority from Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire were transferred to Trig al Seka detention centre. IOM offered emergency assistance.

The migrants said they started their journey in Garaboli, leaving on two rubber dinghies. The migrants received emergency primary health assistance, and protection screenings were provided at the disembarkation point.

Petré added that on Wednesday (20 June), the Libyan Coast Guard returned 42 migrants (36 men, four women and two children) who also received IOM emergency assistance. The migrants started their journey in Garaboli on one rubber dinghy.

All migrants were registered by the Libyan Coast Guard. The migrants, the majority from Guinea, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria, were then transferred to Ain Zara detention centre.

Tragically, the body of a Guinean national was retrieved during the operation. Later that day, 20 migrants (19 from Mali and one from Guinea) were returned to Basis disembarkation point by the Libyan Coast Guard and transferred to Tajoura detention centre.

For the week, IOM Libya is reporting 936 migrants returned to shore by authorities. The latest incident occurred Friday morning when 85 migrants were returned near Tripoli. Most were from Pakistan and Algeria.

So far this year, 8,310 migrants have been returned to the Libyan shore by the Libyan Coast Guard, Petré reported. A total of 37 corpses were retrieved on Libyan soil this week after washing ashore. Additionally, there are reports of a capsized dinghy on Tuesday (19 June) north of Almaya. Survivors reported most passengers were from Sudan.

“We know there were five survivors taken to hospital,” said Ms. Petré. “There were life vests found on the beach, which would indicate other survivors. But we don’t know how many to consider missing.”

IOM Madrid’s Ana Dodevska reported Thursday Spanish arrivals in June through the 20th of the month are 3,993, by far the heaviest volume for any month this year so far, and on track to be the busiest month off Spain in over four years of the current Mediterranean emergency (see charts below).

IOM’s team in the Balkans reported this week that during the first two weeks of June, authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina registered 1,076 new migrants and asylum seekers which totals to more than 6,600 arrivals since the beginning of 2018 (almost six times the 1,119 reported for all of 2017).

Pakistan is the most commonly reported origin country by irregular migrants and asylum seekers registered this year in Bosnia and Herzegovina (27% of all cases), followed by Syrian Arab Republic (18%), Afghanistan (13%) Iran (11%) and Iraq (8%).

Authorities in Montenegro reported 285 irregular apprehensions in the first two weeks of June, adding up to a total of 1,733 migrants and asylum seekers intercepted by the authorities in Montenegro since the starts of this year. This shows nine times increase in arrivals to Montenegro when compared to 187 registered in the same period in 2017 and increase of more than double when compared to the 807 registered arrivals in the whole of 2017. Migrants and asylum seekers registered in Montenegro are mostly of Syrian origin (45%), followed by those declaring Pakistani (16%), Algerian (11%) and Iraqi (8%) origin.

In Albania, another 46 irregular apprehensions on entry were reported in the first two weeks of June 2018 giving a total of 1,733 since the beginning of the year. Further on, another 421 migrants and asylum seekers were registered on exit from the country on the border with Montenegro between April and June. More than a third of the overall registered population were of Syrian origin and another 28% reported Algerian origin and 13% Libyan.

According to available data, intensified movements have been observed also in Slovenia where in May only, authorities apprehended 1,158 irregular migrants, almost double than the 573 reported in April 2018. Between January and May authorities registered a total of 2,383 migrants and refugees, four times increase compared to the 567 registered in the same period 2017. One quarter of individuals declared themselves as nationals of Pakistan (27%), followed by Algeria (19%), Syrian Arab Republic (9%), Afghanistan (7%) and Morocco (7%).

IOM Greece’s Christine Nikolaidou reported Thursday that over three days (18-20 June) the Hellenic Coast Guard reported at least three incidents requiring search and rescue operations off the islands of Samos and Lesvos. The Hellenic Coast Guard rescued 48 migrants off the island of Samos and 38 migrants off the island of Lesvos – a total of 86 migrants – and transferred them to the two islands.

IOM Greece further reported that besides those 86, another 75 irregular migrants arrived during the three days, landing in Oinouses and Kos, and bringing to 12,514 the total number of irregular migrants entering Greece via sea since January 1 – an average of around 73 persons per day (see charts below).

IOM Greece also reports that “Omed,” a three-year-old boy, lost his life in the open accommodation site located at Thiva, Greece. The boy, who was found dead in the sewage tank, was from Iraq. The incident took place Monday evening (18 June), just hours after his family reported his disappearance. Greek authorities have started an investigation; IOM has no update regarding autopsy results or the investigation.

Worldwide, IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded 1,592 people who died or went missing while migrating in 2018 (see chart below).

In the Mediterranean alone, 960 people have lost their lives at sea since the beginning of the year. In the Central Mediterranean, at least 12 people have died in the past four days off the coast of Libya.

On 18 June, the remains of five people, including two women, were recovered from a sinking boat 8 miles of Melittah area in Tripoli, Libya. The day after, a boat capsized north of Al Maya. Five survivors were rescued and transferred to the Janzour Hospital, while the remains of six people, including two children, were retrieved on the shore. On 20 June, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted 82 migrants and recovered one body from a boat north of Tajura, Libya.

There were several other additions to the Missing Migrants Project database since Tuesday’s update.

On the US/Mexico border, the remains of a young man who died from dehydration were recovered on 18 June on the side of highway 131 between Eagle Pass and Brackettville. Previously, on 10 June, the remains of one migrant were found in a ranch near Falfurrias in Brooks County, Texas. The same day, a man drowned in the Río Bravo – his body was recovered in McAllen, Hidalgo County.

In Europe, a 20-year-old Guinean man was crushed by a bus near Brussels, Belgium. The young migrant was clinging to the axle underneath the bus, which was bound for the UK, when he was tragically killed as the vehicle stopped.

Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on migrants’ deaths and disappearances are collected, click here.

Download the Latest Mediterranean Update infographic here.
For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit: http://migration.iom.int/europe

Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project at: http://missingmigrants.iom.int

For more information, please contact:

Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email: jmillman@iom.int
Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 8996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int
Hicham Hasnaoui, IIOM Morocco, Tel: + 212 5 37 65 28 81, Email: hhasnaoui@iom.int
Kelly Namia, IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 991 2174, Email: knamia@iom.int
Ivona Zakoska, IOM Regional DTM, Austria, Tel: + +43 1 5812222, Email: izakoska@iom.int
Julia Black, IOM GMDAC, Germany, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27, Email: jblack@iom.int
Christine Petré, IOM Libya, Tel : +216 29 240 448, Email : chpetre@iom.int
Ana Dodevska, IOM Spain, Tel: +34 91 445 7116, Email: adodevska@iom.int
Myriam Chabbi, IOM Tunisia, Mobile: +216 28 78 78 05, Tel: +216 71 860 312 (Ext. 109), Email: mchabbi@iom.int

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Senegalese Immigrants Face Police Brutality in Argentinahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/senegalese-immigrants-face-police-brutality-argentina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=senegalese-immigrants-face-police-brutality-argentina http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/senegalese-immigrants-face-police-brutality-argentina/#respond Fri, 22 Jun 2018 15:09:34 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156365 Senegalese immigrants began to arrive in Argentina in the 1990s and most of them joined the group of street vendors in Buenos Aires and other cities. But in recent months, they have suffered police brutality, denounced as a campaign of racial persecution. “We always had a good relationship with the police. They even looked after […]

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Gaming Disorder: A New Disease Experts say is Hard to Diagnosehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/gaming-disorder-new-disease-experts-say-hard-diagnose/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gaming-disorder-new-disease-experts-say-hard-diagnose http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/gaming-disorder-new-disease-experts-say-hard-diagnose/#respond Fri, 22 Jun 2018 13:53:07 +0000 Carmen Arroyo and Emily Thampoe http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156361 The World Health Organization (WHO) has formally added “Gaming Disorder” as a disease recognized by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in its 11th revision of its official collection of recognized conditions. However, since it is a very new condition, no one is really sure about its extent, its impact or how best to treat […]

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A young woman plays a video game on her phone. Credit: UN News/Elizabeth Scaffidi

By Carmen Arroyo and Emily Thampoe
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 22 2018 (IPS)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has formally added “Gaming Disorder” as a disease recognized by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in its 11th revision of its official collection of recognized conditions.

However, since it is a very new condition, no one is really sure about its extent, its impact or how best to treat it.

Ali M. Mattu, Professor of Medical Psychology in Psychiatry at Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, told IPS: “The vast majority of people who play video games do not become addicted, similar to how most people who use alcohol do not develop substance abuse problems”.

On the other hand, Professor Mattu said that it is still hard to make a diagnosis regarding Gaming Disorder: “However, as this is a new diagnosis, we do not know how common Gaming Disorder is. We also don’t know how much Gaming Disorder is a unique problem or how it is related to anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or other psychiatric problems.”

The WHO defines Gaming Disorder as “a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities [..]”.

The new ailment has been included in ICD-11 based on an existing consensus of experts in different fields, who were consulted during the drafting of the document; a document that had not changed since the early 90s.

The WHO says the disorder“follows the development of treatment programmes for people with health conditions identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder in many parts of the world, and will result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures”.

Some studies during previous years had already drawn attention to Gaming Disorder as a pathological disease. For example, an Oxford study conducted in 2016 showed that only 0.5% of the general population had symptoms of what is now known as Gaming Disorder, which implies that gaming is addictive.

This meant that, at the time, almost one million Americans had the possibility of suffering from Gaming Disorder, in accordance with the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (DSM-5) criteria regarding addiction to online games.

Moreover, a 2016 study presented by the internet security company ESET found that around 6% of respondents spend 24 hours gaming and 10% spend between 12 and 24 hours gaming.

And finally, Professor Douglas Gentile, expert on the impact of media on youth, concluded in a 2009 Iowa State study that one every ten players is addicted to video gaming.

But none of these studies were definitive.

So, how can we diagnose it?

Given some disagreement amongst the medical community of the easiness with which this disease could be diagnosed, the WHO specified that “the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months”.

Thus, doctors should wait 12 months to diagnose patients with this disorder, although, the WHO adds, if the symptoms are evident, they can diagnose earlier.

According to Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, who had talked to CNN, there are three major diagnostic features that would call for a diagnosis of the mental health condition.

The first is that gaming becomes more important than other things that an individual may do, even coming to the point that activities that were once important are no longer at the forefront of the individual’s mind.

The second one is that no matter the consequences that may come with playing games, the behavior will continue or increase.

The third and final diagnostic feature shows that Gaming Disorder might cause negative sensations such as distress, irregular sleeping habits, changed dietary patterns, and impaired relationships with loved ones.

When asked to comment on the diagnostic features of Gaming Disorder, Professor Mattutold IPS: “Based on what we do know about addictions, Gaming Disorder likely occurs when individuals play video games in a self-destructive way, despite negative consequences in their life”.

“In other words, video games get in the way of school, work, personal self-care, and relationships. We are wired to experience joy, connection, and meaning in our lives. When we don’t have enough of that in our lives, some of us can seek it out from other sources, like video games. Video games are also engineered to create the psychological state of flow. During flow, experience meets the challenge of a task leading time to pass by without one’s awareness. For some, this could lead to a greater vulnerability in becoming addicted to video games”.

Specialists also argue that it is hard to separate Gaming Disorder from other diseases, and as Professor Mattu told IPS “we do not yet know what are the most effective ways to treat Gaming Disorder”.

Given this disagreement, the American psychiatric community has currently not accepted Gaming Disorder as a disease, so its coverage in American insurances will likely be limited.

When asked to comment on the possible consequences of the WHO’s decision, Professor Mattu concluded: “The ICD Gaming Disorder classification is likely to encourage more research which will lead us to have a better understanding of what this problem looks like, how common it is, and the best way to treat it. We will know much more when the next major version of the ICD is released”.

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EU Urged to Ban Early & Forced Child Marriageshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/eu-urged-ban-early-forced-child-marriages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=eu-urged-ban-early-forced-child-marriages http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/eu-urged-ban-early-forced-child-marriages/#respond Fri, 22 Jun 2018 06:39:14 +0000 Rangita de Silva de Alwis http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156352 Rangita de Silva de Alwis is Associate Dean of International Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School & Advisor, UN Sustainable Development Goals Fund

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Rashmi Hamal is a local heroine who helped to save her friend from an early marriage. She campaigns actively against child marriages in the Far Western Region of Nepal. Credit: Naresh Newar/IPS

Rashmi Hamal is a local heroine who helped to save her friend from an early marriage. She campaigns actively against child marriages in the Far Western Region of Nepal. Credit: Naresh Newar/IPS

By Rangita de Silva de Alwis
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 22 2018 (IPS)

Something historic was initiated at the European Development Days (EDD) in early June: the EDD placed women and girls at the forefront of Sustainable Development. Since its inception in 2006, EDD has become a barometer for ideas in global development.

Ever since then, the EDDs have developed into the Davos of Development and shapes how the European Union constructs its development policies. In 2018, the EU development agenda was transformed and shaped by a gender equality agenda.

This year’s speakers included the Norwegian Prime Minister, the director-general of the World Health Organization, the Crown Princess of Denmark, and Head of UN Women and Under Secretary General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Along with H.R.H Princess Mabel of Oranje-Nassau of Netherlands, the chair of Girls not Brides; Aichatou Boulama Kane, the Minister of Planning of the Republic of Niger; and Linda McAvan,Labour MEP for Yorkshire & The Humber, Chair of European Parliament Committee on Development, I served on the panel on child marriage to examine closely the Draft Resolution “Toward an EU external strategy against early and forced marriage” introduced before the European parliament by Member of the EU Parliament, Charles Goerens who moderated the panel at EDD on June 6.

The Resolution was unique in the way in which it called on European Union, in the context of its foreign policy and its development cooperation policy, to offer a strategic pact to its partners and to that end require that all its partner countries prohibit early and forced marriage in law and practice.

The Resolution points out that in order to comprehensively tackle early and forced marriage, the European Union, as a major actor in global development, must play a leading role.

The Resolution was drafted at an important political moment and captured the extraordinary global shifts and crises as a stated goal: “…whereas during the recent migrant crises, many parents, seeking to protect their daughters from sexual aggression, chose to have them marry before the age of 18.”

The Resolution also took into consideration of girls all over the world, including Yazidi girls and Chibok girls who are forced into marriage: “…calls for the act of forcing a child to enter into a marriage and that of luring a child abroad with the purpose of forcing her or him to enter into a marriage to be criminalized.”

The bedrock of the Resolution is that it calls upon all Member States to include a ban on early and forced marriage in their legislation. In a remarkable use of development cooperation, the Resolution sets out that: “The level of public development aid is made dependent on the recipient country’s commitment to complying with the requirements in the fight against early and forced marriage.”

My recommendation addressed the fact that around the world, even when the law is changed, the loopholes in the law remain. For example, I cited the recent Bangladesh Child Marriage Restraint Act of 2017 signed into law by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last year. The law significantly increased the punishment for contracting or conducting child marriage.

However, it includes a provision in Section 2(10) of the law that undermines the spirit of the law reform: “Within the definition of the law will not be considered an offense if the marriage takes place in special circumstances in the best interest of the underage woman in question.”

Co-opting the primacy of the best interest of the child principle as set out in the Convention of the Rights of the Child helps the government to legitimize child marriage in a way that the principle was never envisioned.

General Comment 14 issued by the Committee of the Rights of the Child recognizes that the best interest standard is vulnerable to manipulation of governments and obliges states parties to ensure the full rights recognized by the Convention.

“The best interest of the standard is rendered meaningless if not seen in the context of all the rights in the Convention. The right to education, access to health care services and protection from physical, and mental violence are in no way promoted and are in fact impeded by child marriage. ”

The EU has a critical role to play in influencing policy reform both in the EU member states and outside. The EU and many of its member states contribute significant amounts of development cooperation to countries with high rates of child marriage. However, it is important for the EU to acknowledge that law reform itself can be complicit in undermining the prevention of child or forced marriage.

Development cooperation must be aimed not only at addressing legislative reform but also on closing the loopholes in the law that render law reform meaningless. This calls for aligning development cooperation not only with changes in law and practice but with the transformation of political will.

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Excerpt:

Rangita de Silva de Alwis is Associate Dean of International Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania Law School & Advisor, UN Sustainable Development Goals Fund

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America First or America Alone?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/america-first-america-alone/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=america-first-america-alone http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/america-first-america-alone/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 19:50:46 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156347 The United States’ move to withdraw from the Human Rights Council will have “reverberations” throughout the world in years to come, say human rights groups. This week, the U.S. announced its intention to withdraw from the 47-member Human Rights Council, accusing it of bias against Israel. “The Human Rights Council has been a protector of […]

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By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 21 2018 (IPS)

The United States’ move to withdraw from the Human Rights Council will have “reverberations” throughout the world in years to come, say human rights groups.

This week, the U.S. announced its intention to withdraw from the 47-member Human Rights Council, accusing it of bias against Israel.

“The Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias,” said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in a statement.

Nikki R. Haley, new United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations presented her credentials to Secretary-General António Guterres. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

While it comes as no surprise to many, the move has been condemned by global human rights groups.

“It is the latest in a series of gestures that says we’re really only interested in transactional diplomacy—you give us something we want, and we give you something you want and we better get a better deal,” Oxfam America’s Humanitarian Policy Lead Scott Paul told IPS, noting that it undermines human rights around the world.

Human Rights Watch’s Deputy UN Director Akshaya Kumar echoed similar comments on the U.S.’ “one dimensional” policy to IPS, stating: “By turning their back on the UN with this decision, they also turn their back on victims in Syria, Yemen, North Korea, and Burma—all just because of this concern with Israel.”

Created in 2006, the Human Rights Council (HRC) plays a vital role in addressing rights violations around the world. It has initiated investigations in Syria, Yemen, Burundi, Myanmar, and South Sudan while also raising awareness and discussing key topics such as disability rights and violence against women.

Last month, the Council accused Israel of excessive use of force during demonstrations at the border and voted to probe killings in Gaza.

Paul also noted that the U.S. withdrawal is ill-timed as the country’s human rights record is “rightly” under the spotlight.

Most recently, the human rights body blasted President Donald Trump’s immigration policy of separating children from parents at the southern border. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called the policy “unconscionable.”

A new report by the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty Philip Alston has also found and criticized the North American nation’s policies which have “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”

“Quitting this body doesn’t in any way protect you from the scrutiny of the world, or from being assessed by international standards of human rights law…all of those issues are going to continue to be discussed,” Kumar said.

In a letter, Haley attacked human rights groups including Human Rights Watch for opposing her recent push for a General Assembly vote on changes to the Council.

“You put yourself on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States, on a key human rights issue. You should know that your efforts to block negotiations and thwart reform were a contributing factor in the U.S. decision to withdraw from the council,” Haley wrote.

Human Rights Watch’s UN Director Louis Charbonneau called it “outrageous” and that blaming organizations for the country’s own failure is “taking a page out of the book of some of the worst governments around the world.”

Though Haley promised to continue to work to reform the HRC and to engage in human rights in other fora such as the Security Council, it could be difficult to make significant progress.

For instance, China, a member of both the HRC and the Security Council, has blocked a number of justice and accountability measures at the Security Council including those concerning Syria.

Russia has vetoed Security Council action on Syria 12 times, and very little progress has been made to help protect Syrians.

“So its a rhetorical slight of hand for her to say that the U.S. is still committed to human rights and will pursue it in other spaces when they are walking away from the primary body dedicated to human rights,” Kumar told IPS.

Not only are they withdrawing their membership, the U.S., with almost 18 months remaining on its term, is refusing to attend anymore meetings.

Kumar noted that the move is “really rare” as countries often attend meetings if they come up on the body’s agenda and even if they are not members but are committed to human rights.

“To say that they are not going to come at all is a pretty significant step away from multilateralism,” she said.

“It is really deeply disappointing,” Paul said, noting the withdrawal is a major step back from the U.S.’ legacy at the HRC.

While their engagement with the Council has been spotty, the U.S. has helped some of the body’s key decisions such as the creation of a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in North Korea.

The U.S. has also played a leading role on initiatives related to Syria, South Sudan, and Sri Lanka.

While the HRC is not a perfect institution, the U.S. move to abandon ship does not help the Council either, Paul noted.

“I don’t think we should expect perfection over institutions, I think we should work to make them more perfect…simply walking away because it’s not going so well or because we are not getting everything we want isn’t actually the way to make things better,” he told IPS.

“They are taking themselves off the field and out of really important conversations and that’s something that is going to have reverberations for years to come,” Kumar reiterated.

And just because the U.S. is leaving the Council also does not mean that the North American nation should leave behind its commitments to human rights.

“At some point, we will be back at the table. And in the meantime, we will be doing everything we can to hold our own government to account,” Paul concluded.

The U.S. joined the HRC in 2009, previously refusing to be involved under the Bush administration due to concerns over the body’s members.

Among the HRC’s members are Burundi, the Philippines, and Venezuela.

It is the first time a member has voluntarily withdrawn from the Council.

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Finding My Migrant Voicehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/finding-migrant-voice/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=finding-migrant-voice http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/finding-migrant-voice/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 15:18:32 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156343 Bärli Nugent, Assistant Dean, the Juilliard School of Music, New York, reflects on the journey that led to her curating a musical selection for a unique concert presented by the United Nations Migration Agency at the UN Vienna Headquarters on June 28 As a first-generation American on my Austrian mother’s side, I was a deeply […]

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By International Organization for Migration
Vienna, Jun 21 2018 (IOM)

Bärli Nugent, Assistant Dean, the Juilliard School of Music, New York, reflects on the journey that led to her curating a musical selection for a unique concert presented by the United Nations Migration Agency at the UN Vienna Headquarters on June 28

As a first-generation American on my Austrian mother’s side, I was a deeply shy child who grew up aware that my household was not like those of my all-American friends. We sometimes ate food that no one else did; my friends found my mother’s accent hard to understand, and yes, her English could be awkward.

Bärli Nugent is the Assistant Dean of the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

But she could also be fearless and always principled. When we encountered segregated facilities on a trip to the American South, she defiantly marched our white feet into the spaces marked “colored.”

I was quiet child; hiding, watching.

Music was where I found my voice – with a flute in my hands, I discovered I could bring beauty and engage with just about anyone. Later, as a professional performer touring internationally for 20 years, my goal was always to share stories and change lives through music. And in my work as a dean and faculty member at the Juilliard School since then, that goal remains.

I attended an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance lecture a year ago in New York given by Argentina Szabados of IOM. She spoke passionately about the modern scourge of international trafficking in human beings.

She quoted an African proverb, “Until lions start writing their own stories, the hunter will always be the heroes.”

Humanity seems increasingly estranged in a never-ending generational cycle. I am an artist-citizen seeking to make a contribution towards understanding and fellowship amongst peoples.

So this concert on June 28th in Vienna is my first effort to let the lions of music from countries affected by migration tell their own stories. Stories from Afghanistan, Austria, China, Germany, Iran and Turkey shared through the efforts of performers from Austria, Hungary, Japan, Kenya and the United States.

The composers

I first encountered the music of the late composer LIU ZHUANG when the American Brass Quintet, the first brass group invited to the People’s Republic of China in 1982, returned with some. A former faculty member at both the Shanghai Conservatory and Beijing Central Conservatory and member of the Chinese collective that composed 1969’s Yellow River Piano Concerto, she later migrated to the US to teach at Syracuse University and became my friend (her music a subject of my doctoral research). I perform her Soliloquy on a handmade raku pottery flute.

The distinguished late Austrian composer RICHARD STÖHR was forced out of Austria after the Anschluss of 1938, immigrating to the US, teaching Leonard Bernstein (among others) at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. While still teaching at the Akademie in Vienna, his youngest student was pianist Irene Schneidmann: my mother. She rarely spoke about the war years, but often about her beloved teacher Stöhr. I performed part of his Flute Sonata in December at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien as part of their 200-year Jubilee, and present another portion in this concert.

As administrator of the SYLFF* fellows at Juilliard (a group of exceptional students given scholarships by the Tokyo Foundation) and co-coordinator of the SYLFF Chamber Music Seminar between Juilliard, the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien and the Paris Conservatoire, I reached out to the Tokyo Foundation for recommendations of exceptional SYLFF fellows living in Vienna. The result was introductions to Iranian composer SHAYAN MOKHTARANI and Kenyan actress MERCY OTIENO. It was a stroke of luck that Shayan was about to begin work on a piece for soprano, flute and piano that will receive its world premiere at this concert; Mercy will present a dramatic reading of the poem Hour by American poet Carol Ann Duffy upon which Shayan’s piece is based.

Composer CEM GÜVEN is a first-year undergraduate student from Turkey studying at Juilliard. When I reached out to him, he too was in the middle of writing a short piece for flute and piano. When I told him about the concert, he altered the emphasis of the piece and named it after the three-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a Turkish beach after his family’s failed attempt to reach Greece, documented in a wrenching 2013 photograph seen around the world. This piece will also receive its world premiere on the programme.

In a recent casual conversation with Juilliard faculty member Philip Lasser where I mentioned that I was working on the programming for this concert, Afghani composer MILAD YOUSUFI’s name came up. Currently studying composition at the Mannes School of Music, his music has already been performed by members of the New York Philharmonic.

When we met in person just a few weeks ago, we discovered that as a student at Kabul’s Afghanistan National Institute of Music, he participated in a 2013 tour to the US in which I was instrumental in arranging a performance for the group at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center; I was also in attendance at the group’s Carnegie Hall concert in Isaac Stern Auditorium. He is also a poet and visual artist. He is unable to be in Vienna for this concert and will be represented in a piece for violin and piano. But he promises to write something for flute soon.

The future

I will present some of these pieces on a programme in September 2018 as part of the year-long observance of the Centennial of Juilliard’s preparatory education programs. I am in the early stages of researching more composers from countries affected by migration and will produce additional concerts of their music in the future. There are so many stories to tell; this is just the beginning.

* Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund

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Countries are Using Domestic Laws to Criminalize Health Carehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/countries-using-domestic-laws-criminalize-health-care/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=countries-using-domestic-laws-criminalize-health-care http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/countries-using-domestic-laws-criminalize-health-care/#respond Thu, 21 Jun 2018 06:01:00 +0000 Dainius Puras http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156333 Dr. Dainius Pūras is UN Special Rapporteur on “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

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Dr. Dainius Pūras is UN Special Rapporteur on “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

By Dr. Dainius Pūras
GENEVA, Jun 21 2018 (IPS)

Ambulance drivers attacked, nurses detained, doctors tortured, pharmacists arrested, dentists facing more than a decade in prison—all for delivering healthcare to people considered enemies of the state.

There is a disturbing global phenomenon of governments using domestic laws, policies, and practices to punish health professionals for doing their job to treat those in need. Whether it’s vague counter-terrorism legislation, misguided domestic laws and policies, or harsh administrative sanctions, states are often turning to domestic laws to criminalize health care.

Dr. Dainius Pūras

I have been privileged to be part of the medical profession for more than three decades. In recent years, I have seen the ways in which laws provide a pretext for states to enact violence and punitive sanction against my fellow health workers. These alarming trends undermine the ethical foundation of medicine and the human rights of communities we have pledged to serve.

Health professionals have a duty to care for the sick, wounded and injured, regardless of their patients’ political affiliation or which side of a conflict they are on. The core human rights principle of non-discrimination is not only a key component of medical ethics, but an essential part of our humanity: every human being has a right to medical care. Whether a foe or an ally, a patient is a patient.

For more than half a century, governments have recognized this concept, enshrining the protection of healthcare in international humanitarian and human rights instruments, as well as their national constitutions. Just two years ago, 80 states adopted a resolution specifically condemning attacks on health providers and their patients.

As the UN special rapporteur on the right to health, I have examined this issue during my country missions and engaged directly with governments as cases of medical professionals under threat have come to my attention.

Regrettably, health professionals continue to be harassed, fired, arrested, prosecuted and even killed for caring for those in need. I am convinced that these egregious human rights violations against health professionals and the communities they seek to serve emerge from a systemic failure to explicitly safeguard healthcare in law and policy at the national level.

These practices in countries around the world do not occur in a vacuum, but emerge from embedded legal systems that ensnare health workers in a widening punitive net.

I recently requested a review of the role domestic laws play in fostering the criminalization of healthcare to understand how health workers experience extraordinary violence, harassment or sanctions. The findings are alarming: of the 16 countries analyzed in the report, authorities in at least 10 of them could interpret the provision of healthcare as supporting terrorism.

The implication of this general state of legal affairs is dire. If nurses, doctors and paramedics are afraid to treat people because they may be prosecuted, whole communities could suffer.

Some countries have begun to understand how these laws and practices undermine healthcare and are taking steps to safeguard it. But much more needs to be done. Everyone must be able to access healthcare—it is an obligation under the right to health and incumbent upon states to secure.

States must review and amend their laws to ensure they explicitly shield the sick and wounded and those who care for them. Military, police and security forces must be instructed that patients cannot be denied care, regardless of their affiliation.

This requires both a normative as well as a cultural shift in how state structures uphold everyone’s basic dignity and rights. The international community must elevate this issue to ensure the protection of healthcare permeates the entire UN family.

In times of unrest and conflict, accessing medical care can mean the difference between life and death. Laws must be there to protect those providing that essential medical care, not be used as weapons against them.

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Excerpt:

Dr. Dainius Pūras is UN Special Rapporteur on “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”.

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A Journey from Science to Diplomacy: Rescuing Somali Migrants Stranded in Libyahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/journey-science-diplomacy-rescuing-somali-migrants-stranded-libya/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=journey-science-diplomacy-rescuing-somali-migrants-stranded-libya http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/journey-science-diplomacy-rescuing-somali-migrants-stranded-libya/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 18:42:58 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156323 As the sun begins to rise, 150 migrants welcome their first morning on Somalia’s soil in, what is for some, years and, others, months. Disembarking an IOM, UN Migration Agency, charter flight from Libya, at the end of May 2018 is the final haul of a long and hard journey. It is not the end […]

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Somali migrants, once stranded in Libya, arrive home in Somalia via an IOM charter flight. Photo: UNSOM Somalia/2018

By International Organization for Migration
Somalia, Jun 20 2018 (IOM)

As the sun begins to rise, 150 migrants welcome their first morning on Somalia’s soil in, what is for some, years and, others, months. Disembarking an IOM, UN Migration Agency, charter flight from Libya, at the end of May 2018 is the final haul of a long and hard journey. It is not the end that they had expected when they had first set out from Somalia. It isn’t Europe but it is home and it is safe.

Among the passengers is Ali Said Faqi, Ambassador for the Somali Government to the European Union (EU), and a major part of the mission to help Somali migrants stranded in Libya return home to their families. While few might have missed the stark media headlines on the abuse African migrants have faced at the hands of smugglers, traffickers and criminal gangs in Libya, Ali is one of the few, who have travelled to the source of these stories.

Ali with a returnee from Libya as he travels home to Somalia

Like most Somali diaspora, who were forced to flee the civil war, he is well acquainted with, what can be for many, the agonizing feeling of leaving home. After Ali left Somalia in the 1990’s, he passed through Kenya, Italy and Germany, before finally arriving in the United States in December 1998. He went on to become a prominent scholar in toxicology. His academic resume includes a PhD in toxicology from the University of Leipzig, more than 100 published scientific papers, two text book in toxicology and various impressive academic tenures.

In June 2013, Ali received an unexpected call from the Speaker of the Somali Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari and the former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. They were looking for a nominee for the post of Somali Ambassador to the EU. ‘I never harboured any political ambitions, but nonetheless contributing to my country’s welfare was always close to my heart,’ Ali says. The decision was therefore easy, and by the following day Ali Faqi was an Ambassador.

Ali speaks with a group of Somali migrants in a detention centre in Libya.

His journey to Libya several years later came about through another request from the highest echelons of the Somali Government. In the wake of the harrowing news stories of Africans being sold as slaves in Libya, President Mohamed Abullahi Farmajo called upon his Ambassador for help. ‘First, I was only to do a three-day mission to Libya but I ended up staying altogether 25 days,’ says Ali. When seeing the conditions in which the Somalis were held in Libya and hearing their harrowing stories, Ali could not return back before having done everything in his power to help them. ‘The stories I was told were like horror movies – all marked by experiences of hunger, thirst, torture, rape, forced labour and a long list of unimaginable abuses,’ Ali says.

This was his big chance to pay tribute to the country he loved so dearly – and he certainly rose to the challenge. When he eventually boarded a plane to Libya, he was not alone. Through IOM’s humanitarian voluntary return assistance, 75 Somalis reunited with their families. This attested to the importance of Ali’s hard work in getting Somali migrants out of Libya’s detention centres and of IOM’s operations to get them home. It was not long before Ali received a new wave of pledges for support.

IOM staff assist migrants as they are travelling home to Somalia. Photo: UNSOM Somalia

Ali’s strong commitment and hard work has gained him wide international recognition, such that, on 18 May 2018, he was granted the African Leadership Award for Outstanding International Humanitarian Service by the Independent Pan African Youth Parliament. With such a commitment to stranded Somali migrants, the sky is the limit for what Ali can achieve.

Through this project, altogether 235 Somali migrants have been assisted with voluntary return from Libya since March 2018, and an additional group of 200 people are expected to be assisted in the month of June 2018. This return and reintegration assistance of Somali migrants is part of the larger EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, which facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused policies and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative, backed by the EU Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of 26 African countries.

The reintegration support under the Joint Initiative aims to address returnees’ economic, social and psychosocial needs and foster inclusion of communities of return in reintegration planning and support whenever possible. To address these needs, the programme promotes an integrated reintegration approach that supports both migrants and their communities, has the potential to complement local development and aims to mitigate some of the drivers of irregular migration. The reintegration assistance is tailored to needs and opportunities. The value and duration of the assistance is not fixed and can vary. The programme does not foresee specific one size fits all reintegration packages.

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EU Funds Giant Research Project on Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/eu-funds-giant-research-project-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=eu-funds-giant-research-project-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/eu-funds-giant-research-project-migration/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 18:02:03 +0000 Bibiana Piene http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156311 What is the relationship between migration and development? And why do people choose to leave or stay in their home countries? Those are among the questions an international research project will explore. The project, estimated to cost about 5 million euros, is the largest ever EU-funded research project on migration . It will be Ledheaded […]

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Migrants being loaded on to a cargo plane in Kufra. Credit: Rebecca Murray/IPS

By Bibiana Piene
OSLO, Jun 20 2018 (IPS)

What is the relationship between migration and development? And why do people choose to leave or stay in their home countries? Those are among the questions an international research project will explore.

The project, estimated to cost about 5 million euros, is the largest ever EU-funded research project on migration .

It will be Ledheaded by the Peace Research Institute (PRIO) in Norway, in collaboration with research communities in both Europe, Africa and Asia, a. A total of 36 researchers will be involved in this research project.

“We will contribute to long-term solutions to migration challenges, among other things, by looking at the links between Europe’s immigration policy and development policy”, says PRIO researcher and project manager Jorgen Carling to IPS.

Should I stay or should I go?

Among the questions the researchers are asking is what it takes for people to want to stay and create a future in their home countries.

The connection between migration and development is essential in developing constructing a more effective and sustainable migration policy, and tackle the challenges and opportunities that migration brings, Carling states believes.

The researchers will also take a closer look at the term “development”.

“This is not as simple as it sounds, because more development has proven to create more migration, not less. We’re going to analyze this gap and figure out what’s going on”, says Carling.

“We will try to understand how different types of changes work. Development is often used as a collective term for all possible social changes in a positive direction, but in reality some things can be better, for example more prosperity. At the same time, crime can increase, as well as the gap between the poor and the rich,” he adds.

Important piece in political game

The project will start in September.

“I am looking forward to using research in a way that can create a better policy. We’re sure to get new knowledge”, says Carling, who acknowledges that research probably is just a piece in the political game on migration.

“But it’s an important piece”, he emphasizes.

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Chairman of the Geneva Centre: World Society Must Express Greater Solidarity for Refugees Worldwidehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/chairman-geneva-centre-world-society-must-express-greater-solidarity-refugees-worldwide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chairman-geneva-centre-world-society-must-express-greater-solidarity-refugees-worldwide http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/chairman-geneva-centre-world-society-must-express-greater-solidarity-refugees-worldwide/#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:53:12 +0000 Geneva Centre http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156307 Dr. Hanif Hassan Al Qassim, Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, has appealed to international decision-makers to express greater solidarity to destitute refugees from the Arab region and to work jointly to address the protracted refugee crisis. The Geneva Centre’s Chairman made this call to action on the occasion […]

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By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, Jun 20 2018 (Geneva Centre)

Dr. Hanif Hassan Al Qassim, Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, has appealed to international decision-makers to express greater solidarity to destitute refugees from the Arab region and to work jointly to address the protracted refugee crisis.

The Geneva Centre’s Chairman made this call to action on the occasion of the 2018 World Refugee Day which is observed annually on 20 June. Dr. Al Qassim highlighted that there are more than 5 million refugees in the Arab region owing to the proliferation of conflicts and the rise of violent extremism in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. The efforts of Jordan and Lebanon in hosting and in providing assistance to refugees – that may add up to 25% of their own nationals – stand out as shining examples of countries driven by the principles of international solidarity and justice, Dr. Al Qassim remarked.

In relation to the situation in Europe, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman said the inflow of displaced people has been exploited by a populist tidal-wave fuelling xenophobia and in particular Islamophobia. Although the arrival of displaced people to Europe only add up to 0.2% of Europe’s population, human solidarity and justice are being frayed by the fear of the Other. The campaign of fear waged against migrants and refugees is bringing back the spectre of nationalism and chauvinism threatening international cooperation and peace over the long run, he observed.

In conclusion, Dr. Al Qassim appealed to countries in the West and in the Middle East to step up their joint efforts to eliminate the root causes which have fuelled extremism. Peace and stability in the Middle East need to be restored before refugees can safely return to their home societies. This calls for a radical political change of approach in problem solving in the region. The world society must express greater solidarity for refugees worldwide, he highlighted.

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Three Countries Protect Half the World’s New Refugeeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/three-countries-protect-half-worlds-new-refugees/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=three-countries-protect-half-worlds-new-refugees http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/three-countries-protect-half-worlds-new-refugees/#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 04:41:55 +0000 Jan Egeland http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156304 Jan Egeland is Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council and former United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator

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Refugees on the move. Credit: UNHCR/Ivor Pricket

By Jan Egeland
OSLO, Norway, Jun 20 2018 (IPS)

Turkey, Bangladesh and Uganda alone received over half of all new refugees last year. Never before has the world registered a larger number of people displaced by war and persecution.

International responsibility-sharing for displaced people has utterly collapsed. Rich countries are building walls against families fleeing war, at the same time as less money is available for aid to people in conflict areas.

The number of people forced to flee reached 68.5 million at the start of 2018, according to figures from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and NRC’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. This is as many people as there are living in the United Kingdom.

International cooperation and peace diplomacy are in deep crisis. The number of people displaced worldwide is increasing for the sixth year in a row, and fewer people are safely returning home.

Forty million people are displaced within their own countries, and another 28.5 million have crossed a border and become refugees.

Turkey was the country that received most new refugees last year – 700,000 people. It now houses over 3.8 million refugees, most of them from Syria. In comparison, the rest of Europe as a whole received about half a million refugees last year, and the US received about 60.000.

When so few asylum seekers are arriving in Europe and the US, we have the responsibility to increase our support to less rich countries that are currently hosting a large number of refugees, like Bangladesh, Lebanon and Uganda, and increase the number of people we receive for resettlement.

The safety net we put in place after Second World War and which has provided millions of refugees with protection, is now being upheld by an increasingly small number of countries.

If these countries do not receive sufficient support, the whole protection system will unravel. If so, this will have dramatic consequences not only for the people affected, but also for the stability and security in many parts of the world.

By May this year, Uganda had only received 7.0 percent of the money needed for UN and other organisations to be able to provide necessary support to the large number of refugees from South Sudan and DR Congo. In Bangladesh the equivalent figure was 20 percent.

In addition to economic support to countries receiving a large number of refugees, 1.2 million refugees need to be resettled in a new country, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). These are people that are not safe where they currently are. Last year the UN member countries only received about 103.000 resettlement refugees.

The consequences of the lack of responsibility sharing were evident this month when the rescue vessel Aquarius with 629 refugees and migrants was denied entry to Italian ports.

When people in need at sea become pieces in a political game, it is a grotesque symbol of the current lack of a proper system for international responsibility sharing.

NRC is concerned to see new border barriers raise in front of people fleeing war and persecution, and the refugees’ rights being under threat.

In many of the countries NRC work, people in power are referring to how European countries are closing their borders, when they want to defend their decision to close their own borders.

We have to end this race to the bottom, and rather let us inspire by generous recipient countries like Uganda, where vulnerable refugees are being protected.

Facts:

• 68.5 million people were displaced at the entry of 2018.
• 40 million people are displaced within their own country, according to NRC’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)
• 28.5 million people have fled their country and are refugees or asylum seekers, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
• In 2017, 3.6 million sought protection in another country, either by themselves or through resettlement programs. Turkey received close to 20 percent of all new refugees in 2017, Bangladesh 18 percent, Uganda 15 percent and Sudan 14 percent.
• 667,000 refugees returned to their home country last year. Most returned to Nigeria (283,000)

Sources: UNHCR, NRC’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

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Excerpt:

Jan Egeland is Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council and former United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator

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IOM, Mongolian Consular Officers Work Together to Combat Human Traffickinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/iom-mongolian-consular-officers-work-together-combat-human-trafficking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-mongolian-consular-officers-work-together-combat-human-trafficking http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/iom-mongolian-consular-officers-work-together-combat-human-trafficking/#respond Tue, 19 Jun 2018 19:25:32 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156299 IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in collaboration with the Consular Department of Mongolia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has organized a pre-departure training on human trafficking for 31 Mongolian consular officers. The training in the Mongolian capital was designed to help the officers better understand the crime of trafficking in persons within a human rights framework […]

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Mongolian consular officers take part in IOM counter trafficking training in Ulaanbaatar. Photo: IOM 2018

By International Organization for Migration
Ulaanbaatar, Jun 19 2018 (IOM)

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in collaboration with the Consular Department of Mongolia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has organized a pre-departure training on human trafficking for 31 Mongolian consular officers.

The training in the Mongolian capital was designed to help the officers better understand the crime of trafficking in persons within a human rights framework – enabling them to identify victims and offer better protection to Mongolian nationals abroad. It will also help them to process suspect applications for Mongolian visas.

The US State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report classifies Mongolia as a “Tier 2” country that is making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking, but needs to do more. It notes that Mongolian victims of forced labour have been identified in Turkey, Kazakhstan and Israel. Victims of sex trafficking have been identified in the Republic of Korea; Japan; China; Hong Kong SAR, China; Malaysia; Germany; Sweden; and the United States. It also cites cases of forced labour from China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea working in Mongolia.

“The training was an excellent forum for the participants to discuss how to identify trafficked people in an effective and timely manner by looking at their profiles and learning from case studies about various forms of trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labour. It will also help them to spot signs of potential trafficking during the visa application process,” said Etienne Micallef, IOM’s Officer-in-Charge for IOM China and Mongolia.

“Consular protection staff play a critical role in combating human trafficking through victim identification. But they also need to be able to provide support to victims, organize referrals and, if necessary, coordinate the return of victims to their country of origin in a dignified and prompt manner,” he added.

For more information, please contact Zuzana Jankechova at IOM Mongolia. Email: zjankechova@iom.int

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Food Sustainability, Migration, Nutrition and Womenhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/food-sustainability-migration-nutrition-women/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=food-sustainability-migration-nutrition-women http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/food-sustainability-migration-nutrition-women/#respond Tue, 19 Jun 2018 18:02:14 +0000 Enrique Yeves http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156293 We worry about how we can continue to put food on our tables; and yet one-third of food is never eaten, instead being lost or wasted. We worry about eating properly, and yet in many countries , poor nutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies are increasingly common. This trend is taking place in the Americas, Oceania, […]

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By Enrique Yeves
ROME, Jun 19 2018 (IPS)

We worry about how we can continue to put food on our tables; and yet one-third of food is never eaten, instead being lost or wasted.

We worry about eating properly, and yet in many countries , poor nutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies are increasingly common. This trend is taking place in the Americas, Oceania, Asia, Africa and in Europe.

Enrique Yeves

We want to empower women and girls, yet in every sector we still see serious disparities in terms of equal pay for equal wages and getting more women into senior management positions. We worry about the mass movement of people, many of them disenfranchised, and yet fail to stop the exploitation and even death that too often awaits those who try to migrate.

What is to be done? First, we must understand how each of these issues is interlinked and how they can be alleviated using an integrated approach involving agriculture, education, social services, health and infrastructure. If we channel development assistance in an integrated way, rather than towards specific sectors, we are more likely to achieve sustainable changes – these in turn can ease the burden of coordination and enhance our ability to help governments to achieve more effective and long term improvements.

For this to happen, we need the political will of governments to achieve change, coupled with adequate resources.

These issues are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Governments committed to the SDGs in 2015, pledging to end hunger, extreme poverty, and other social, environmental and health evils that have left over 815 million people undernourished, and in many areas barely surviving in squalid and inhumane conditions.

The role of governments is central. Only they can exert the political will to enforce the required changes and to set aside the critically needed resources.

The role of development organizations, including the UN, non-governmental organizations and international and regional financial institutions, is also critical. They exist to support governments determined to achieve the SDGs and in so doing to improve their overall social, economic and political wellbeing.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been working for over 70 years on both the policy front and on the ground, doing so globally, regionally, nationally and at the community level. We have been documenting the state of food insecurity in the world, exploring and emphasizing the all-important role of small producers in achieving food security. Small-scale farmers, fishers and foresters, constituting a vast number of the rural poor, are vulnerable to environmental and market forces often beyond their control. Yet it is they who, using tried and tested traditional systems enhanced where possible by improved technologies adapted to their needs, hold the keys to a world without hunger As FAO has documented, family farmers produce more than two-thirds of the world’s food, with smallholders producing more per unit of land.

In the long run, tackling the direct relationship between mass migration and poverty and instability entails addressing basic challenges in the countries that people are leaving, and by providing more integrated assistance to refugees to improve their health and capacity to earn livelihoods in the receiving countries.

An important but frequently underplayed aspect for governments in developing countries is their need for assistance in defining and quantifying their present situation through internationally accepted benchmarks. Reliable statistics are crucial in order to measure progress towards attainment of the SDGs and general progress in development.

FAO delivers a lot of services to its members in this regard. And the effort produces globally relevant information, some of it alarming. Right now, for example, the global number of undernourished people is estimated at 815 million and that figure is rising for the first time in more than a decade. The number of countries reliant on external food assistance is now 39, the highest it’s ever been since FAO started tracking.

Eradicating hunger is a lynchpin for the entire 2030 Agenda, and governments must raise awareness about why achieving the SDGs is critical. This effort will both enable and benefit from women’s empowerment.

Programmes such as food for work, food stamps or a mix of both – especially in situations where conflict or natural disaster have impacted local production – are all part of the toolkit and are demonstrably efficient in fostering women’s power and interests. Increasing access to food is a building block to goals ranging from nutrition to women’s rights and assuring resilient livelihoods for producers.

What is essential is to find synergies – not only to avoid wasteful duplication but to forge the basis for sustainable solutions. Otherwise our worries are in vain.

Enrique Yeves is Director of Communications, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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2.5 Million Migrants Smuggled Worldwide, Many Via Social Mediahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/2-5-million-migrants-smuggled-worldwide-many-via-social-media/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=2-5-million-migrants-smuggled-worldwide-many-via-social-media http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/2-5-million-migrants-smuggled-worldwide-many-via-social-media/#comments Tue, 19 Jun 2018 15:43:09 +0000 Emily Thampoe and Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156291 At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled worldwide in 2016, generating an income for smugglers which ranged between $5.5 billion and $7.0 billion, according to a newly published report “2018 Global Study On Smuggling Of Migrants” by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Coincidentally, the release of the report followed the arrival […]

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The Italian Navy rescues migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Credit: Italian Coastguard/Massimo Sestini

By Emily Thampoe and Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 19 2018 (IPS)

At least 2.5 million migrants were smuggled worldwide in 2016, generating an income for smugglers which ranged between $5.5 billion and $7.0 billion, according to a newly published report “2018 Global Study On Smuggling Of Migrants” by the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Coincidentally, the release of the report followed the arrival in Spain, over the weekend, of more than 600 stranded migrants, initially rejected by Italy’s new populist government which followed through on its anti-immigration campaign policies.

During the launch of the report, many member states’ representatives were also concerned with the rising role of social media in the illegal smuggling of migrants. The report concluded that many social media platforms are used to advertise smuggling services.

This promotion can be seen through published advertisements on Facebook or other platforms that migrants themselves make use of to share their opinions and experiences with smuggling services.

On the one hand, smugglers will often gander the attention of those thinking to migrate through the creation of enticing advertisements with very nice photos and also provide logistical information such as payment options and methods of getting in contact with them.

While migration has long been an issue handled by member states; since 2016, they decided to work together to produce the Global Compact for Migration through the UN. Intergovernmental negotiations are still ongoing and the states will meet next December in Morocco for the final Intergovernmental Conference.

The report, launched at the meeting, described as the “New York Launch of the First Global Study on Smuggling of Migrants” at the UN Headquarters June 13, discusses the topic of smuggling migrants in great lengths, but specially highlights the use of social media by both migrants and smugglers.

The researchers Kristiina Kangaspunta and Angela Me presented the report and discussed its results with the member states’ representatives attending the meeting.

According to the study, smuggling processes vary widely, depending on the area and the type of routes they follow. The duration of the journey, for example, depends on the travel -which can be through sea, air or land- and the organization.

The fastest journeys can last between 15 and 20 days, when smugglers give contacts to the migrants for the different steps of the route. This method is used specially to move migrants from South Asia into Greece.

Once again, this report raised the question of how to handle the migration crisis; and different individuals provided different answers. From UNODC the general claim, held by Kangaspunta and Me, was to encourage member states to share their information on migrants.

On the other hand, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) urged the international community to act faster in order to prevent the refugee crisis.

María Jesús Herrera, leader of the Mission at IOM Spain, told IPS: “Stopping one boat or more in the Mediterranean Sea is not an answer to Europe’s migration challenges. A comprehensive approach to migration governance is needed, combining opportunities for safe and orderly movement, humane border management and countering migrant smuggling and trafficking. Saving lives should always be our top concern. We must urgently find a means to help these rescued migrants and work for a comprehensive method of supporting migrants and States throughout Europe.”

Asked what IOM is proposing, she added: “IOM urges the EU to re-consider a revision of the Dublin regulation based on the European Parliament’s proposal, and to reach agreement in Council to ensure solidarity among member states fully respecting the provisions of the Treaties”.

However, for some non-profit organizations, member states act too slow to stop the migrant crisis. “European governments and institutions have not always coped well with this crisis and have struggled to provide safe, humane options and adequate care and support for those affected by the trauma of conflict and displacement”, Chelsea Purvis, Mercy Corps Policy and Advocacy Advisor, told IPS.

The Mediterranean is not the only area of concern when talking about the migrant crisis, as some nonprofit organizations emphasize.

David Kode, who leads campaigns and advocacy for global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, urged member states to rethink their approach to the Palestinian refugees: “There are currently about 7.0 million Palestinian refugees across the world including the approximately 1.3 million refugees in the Gaza strip. If some states continue to support Israel’s actions and other states remain silent in the face of the atrocities committed against Palestinians, very little will change as Israeli forces continue to use unnecessary, indiscriminate and disproportionate force against protesters”.

The role of social media

The smuggler’s key to success, says the report, depend on building trust with migrants. That’s why, often times “they have the same citizenship as the migrants they smuggle”, and they target the youth in small villages -which are more eager to believe them.

Other tactics used by smugglers may be deceptive and manipulative. Sometimes they use Facebook to pose as employees for NGOs or personnel who are involved with fake European Union organizations.

Some smugglers, especially in relation to Afghan migrants, have made themselves appear to be legal advisors for asylum on various social media platforms. Herrera, from IOM, shares her concern with IPS: “Criminal organized groups show unfortunately great capacity in exploiting new technologies to expand their benefits. Social networks are obviously a great leverage of coercion and may result into the trafficking of human beings as observed in Libya”.

On the other hand, migrants also take advantage of social media to discuss the specifics of migrating and using the services of smugglers. In some cases, social media may be used as a sort of “consumer forum” to share experiences with specific smugglers with fellow migrants; akin to a research tool.

For example, Syrians use social media extensively to research the smugglers, asking other migrants for information through Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook.

When asked how the UN, member states, and NGOs can use social media to counter illegal smuggling, Kangaspunta and Me replied that they must harness the power of social media in creating communities, in the same way that migrants warn each other of the risks of hiring a smuggling service.

Sharing her insights with IPS, Purvis said: ”Mercy Corps’ focus is on using technology and social media to help refugees on the move find safety, and our Signpost programme operates in Europe and Jordan. Using an online platform provides refugees with accurate and factual information in their own language about their options and how they can access services in the country they are in.”

Herrera shared with IPS what seems to be IOM’s goal: “The desired future outcome is that states, international organizations, and other actors work towards a situation where migration systems, at a minimum, do not exacerbate vulnerabilities but rather guarantee protection of the human rights of migrants irrespective of status, while migration takes place within the rule of law, and is aligned with development, social, humanitarian and security interests of states”.

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Trump is Here to Stay and Change the Worldhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/trump-stay-change-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-stay-change-world http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/trump-stay-change-world/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 15:05:37 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156274 Donald John Trump, 45th and current president of the United States, has been seen in many illustrious circles as an anomaly that cannot last. Well, it is time to look at reality. If we put on the glasses of people who have seen their level of income reduced and are afraid of the future, Trump […]

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By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jun 18 2018 (IPS)

Donald John Trump, 45th and current president of the United States, has been seen in many illustrious circles as an anomaly that cannot last. Well, it is time to look at reality.

If we put on the glasses of people who have seen their level of income reduced and are afraid of the future, Trump is here to stay, and he is a result and not a cause.

Roberto Savio

In his year and a half of government, Trump has not lost one of his battles. He has changed the political discourse worldwide, established new standards of ethics in politics, a new meaning of democracy, and his electoral basis has not been shrinking at all.

His critics are the media (which a large majority of Americans dislike), the elite (which is hated) and professionals (who are considered to be profiting at the expense of the lower section of the middle class).

There is now a strong divide with the rural world, the de-industrialised parts of the United States, miners with their mine closed, etc. In addition, white Americans feel increasingly threatened by immigrants, minorities, corporations and industries which have been using the government to their advantage. At every election their number shrinks by two percent.

Let us not forget that Trump was elected by the vote of the majority of white woman, in a country which is the bedrock of feminism.

I know that this could create some irate reactions. The United States is home to some of the best universities in the world, the most brilliant researchers as shown by the number of Nobel prizes awarded , very good orchestras, libraries, museums, a vibrant civil society, and so on. But the sad reality is that those elites count, at best, for no more than 20 percent of the population.

In 80 percent of cases, TV news is the only source of information on international affairs. Newspapers are usually only local, with exception of a few (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, in all less than ten), and have a readership of 35 percent of the population.

You have only to travel in the US hinterland to observe two striking facts: it is very rare to meet somebody who knows geography and history even minimally, and everybody is convinced that the United States has been helping the entire world for which nobody is grateful.

An investigation by the New York Times found out that Americans were convinced that their country has been giving at least 15 percent of its budget for support and philanthropy. In fact, in recent decades the real figure has been below 0.75 percent. At the same time, it has a number of institutes of international studies of the highest level with brilliant analysts, plus a large number of international NGOs. But only 34 percent of the member of the Senate, and 38 percent of members of the House of Representatives have a passport…

The country is divided into two worlds. Of course, the same happen in every country, and in Africa or Asia the division between elite and low-level population is even more extreme. But the United States is an affluent country, where for more than two centuries efforts have been made on the fronts of education and integration in a country which has also been called the “melting pot”, and where it is widely believed that it is the best – if not the only – democracy in the world.

Trump, therefore, has an easy and captive electorate, made up of strong believers, and we cannot understand why, if we do not go over the history of American politics, which is in fact parallel to the political history of Europe. The calls for a lengthy analysis which is what is missing in today’s media, and in which recent US politics can be divided (very roughly) into three historical cycles.

The first, from 1945 to 1981), saw the political class convinced that the priority was to avoid a new world war. For this, institutions for peace and cooperation had to be built, and individuals were to be happy with their status and destiny.

Internationally, that meant the creation of the United Nation, multilateralism as a way to negotiate on the basis of participation and consensus, and international cooperation as a way to help poor countries develop and reduce inequalities. Domestically, this was to be done by giving priority to labour over capital. Strong trade unions were created and in 1979 income from labour accounted for 70 percent of total income. A similar trend was also the seen in Europe.

The second cycle ran from 1981 to 2009, the year Barack Obama was named president. On behalf of the corporate world, Ronald Reagan had launched the neoliberal wave. He started by shutting down the trade union of air traffic controllers, and went on to dismantle much of the welfare and social net built over the previous four decades, eliminating regulations, giving free circulation to capital, creating unrestricted free trade, and so on.

That led to delocalisation of factories, the decline of trade unions and their ability to negotiate, and a very painful reduction of the labour share of wealth, which fell from 70 percent in 1979 to 63 percent in 2014, and has continued to decline ever since.

Unprecedented inequalities have become normal and accepted. Today, an employee at Live Nation Entertainment, an events promotion and ticketing company, who earns an average of 24, 000 dollars would need 2,893 years to earn the 70.6 million dollars that its CEO, Michael Rapino, earned last year.

Reagan had a counterpart in Europe, Margaret Thatcher, who dismantled trade unions, ridiculed the concept of community and common goods and aims (“… there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families …” ), partly followed by Gerard Schroeder in Germany. Globalisation became the undisputed new political vision, far from the rigid ideologies which had created communism and fascism, and were responsible for the Second World War. The market would solve all problems, and governments should keep their hands off.

Reagan was followed by Bush Sr., George H. W. Bush. who somewhat moderated Reagan’s policies. While he started the war with Iraq, he did not go on to invade the entire country. And he was followed by a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who did not challenge neoliberal globalisation but tried to ride it, showing that the left (in American terms) could be more efficient than the right. To give just one example, it was Clinton who completed deregulation of banks by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act which separated savings and investment banking. That led to the transfer of billions of dollars from savings to investments, or speculation, with the result that today banks consider customer activity less lucrative than investments, and finance has become a sector that is totally separate from the production of goods and services. There are now 40 times more financial transactions in one day than output from industry and services, and finance is the only sector of human activity without any international control body.

Markets are now more important than the vote of citizens given that, in many cases, it is they that decide the viability of a government. Furthermore, this has become a sector with no ethics: since the financial crisis of 2008, banks have paid a whopping amount of 321 billion dollars in penalties for illegal activities.

Clinton’s conviction that the left could be successful also had its counterpart in Europe, like Reagan had Thatcher. It was Tony Blair, who constructed a theoretical design for explaining the submission of the left to neoliberal globalisation: this was the so-called Third Way which was, in fact, was a centrist position that tried to reconcile centre-right economic and centre-left social policies.

However, it became clear that neoliberal globalisation was in fact lifting only a few boats and that capital without regulation was becoming a threat. Social injustices continued to increase and legions of people in the rural area felt that towns were syphoning off all revenues and that the elite was ignoring them, and unemployed workers and the impoverished middle class no longer felt old loyalties to the left, which was now considered representative of the elite and professionals.

In the United States the Democratic Party, which also held a neoliberal view with Clinton, began to change its agenda from an economic approach to one of human rights, defending minorities, Afro-Americans and immigrants, and advocating their inclusion in the system.

The fight was no longer between corporations and trade unions, and Obama was the result of that fight, the champion of human rights also as an instrument of international affairs. In fact, while he had a brilliant agenda on human rights, he did very little on the social and economic front, beside the law on national health. But his alliance of minorities and progressive whites was a personal baggage, who could not pass on to an emblematic figure of the establishment like Hillary Clinton.

That led to a new situation in American politics. Those on the left began to see defence of their identity (and their past) as the new fight, now that the traditional division between left and right had waned. Religious identity, national identity, fight against the system and those who are different, become political action.

It should be stressed that the same process happened in Europe, albeit in a totally different cultural and social situation. Those left out deserted the traditional political system to vote for those who were against the system, and promised radical changes to restore the glories of the past.

Their message was necessary nationalist, because they denounced all international systems as merely supporting the elites who were the beneficiaries. It was also necessarily to find a scapegoat, like the Jews in the thirties. Immigrants were perfect because they aroused fear and a perceived loss of traditional identity, a threat in a period of large unemployment.

The new political message from the newcomers was to empower those left out, those who felt fear, those who had lost any trust in the political class, and promise to give them back their sovereignty, reject intruders and take power away from the traditional elites, the professionals of politics, to bring in real people.

Since the end of the financial crisis in 2008 – which brought about even further deterioration of the social and economic situation) – those parties known as populist parties started to grow and they now practically dominate the political panorama.

In the United States, the Republicans of the Tea Party, radical right-wing legislators, were able to change the Republican party, pushing out those called compassionate conservatives because they had social concern. In Europe, the media were startled to see workers voting for Marine Le Pen in France, but the left had lost any legitimacy as representative of the lower incomes; technological change led to the disappearance of social identities, like workers.

In a period of crisis, there was no capability for redistribution. The left had now found itself in the middle of a crisis of identity and it will not emerge from it soon.

Let us now come to today. In November 2016, to universal amazement, (and his own) Trump was elected president of the United States, and just four months later, in March 2017, Brexit came as a rude awakening for Europe. The resentful and fearful went to the polls to get Great Britain out of Europe. The fact that the campaign was plagued by falsehood – recognised by the winners after the referendum – was irrelevant. Who was against Brexit? The financial system, the international corporations, the big towns like London, university professors: in other words, the system. That was enough.

Here, I have deliberately lumped together the United States and Europe (the European Union) to show that globalisation has had a global impact. A United States, which had been the creator and guarantor of the international system, started to withdraw from it under Reagan when he felt that it was becoming a straitjacket for the United States.

This started the decline of the United Nations: on American initiative, trade was taken away from the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was created. Globalisation has two engines, trade and finance, and both are now out of the United Nations, which has become an institution for health, education, children, woman and other non-productive sectors, according to the market. It is no coincidence that Trump is now fighting against the globalisation that United States invented, and one of its main enemies is the WTO.

An old maxim is that people get the government they deserve. But we should also be aware that they are being pushed by a new alliance: the alternative right alliance. In all countries it has the same aim: destroy what exists. This network is fed at the same time by Russia and the United States. American alt-right ideologues like Steve Bannon are addressing European audiences to foster the end of the European Union, with clear support from the White House. The populists in power, like Viktor Orban in Hungary or Matteo Salvini in Italy (as well those not in power, like Le Pen) all consider Trump and Vladimir Putin as their points of references. Such alliances are new, and they will become very dangerous.

And now we come to Mr. Trump. After what has been said above, it is clear why he should be considered a symptom and not a cause, while his personality is obviously playing an additional important role. It should be noted that he has not lost any important battle since he came to power. He has been able to take over the Republican party completely, and it is now de facto the Trump Party.

In the primaries for the November 2017 elections (for all House of Representative seats and 50 percent of those of the Senate), he intervened to support candidates he liked, and their opponents always lost. In South Carolina, conservative Katie Arrington, who won against a much stronger opponent, Mark Sanford, declared in her acceptance speech: our party is the Trump party.

Trump knows exactly what his voters think, and he always acts in a way that strengthens his support, regardless of what he does. He is a known sexist, and is now involved in a scandal with a porno star? He has moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and he now has the support of the evangelists, a very large and puritan Protestant group which is an important source of votes. (Interestingly, Guatemala and Paraguay which decided to move their embassies to Jerusalem are also run by evangelists.)

Trump has refused to disclose his incomes and taxes, and he has not formally separated himself from his companies. In the United States, this is usually is enough to force people to resign.

He has removed from his cabinet all the representatives of finance and industry he had put in on his arrival (in order to be accepted by the establishment) and replaced them with right-wing hawks, highly efficient and not morons, from National Security Advisor John Bolton to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He has managed to obtain Gina Hastel, a notorious torturer, as director of the CIA with the votes of Democrats.

He has turned his back on a highly structured treaty with Iran (and other four major countries) to forge a totally unclear agreement with North Korea, which creates problems with Japan, an American ally by definition. He has decided to side with Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran, because that move has the support of a large American sector.

In addition to narcissism, what moves Trump are not values but money. He has quarreled with all historical allies of the United States and he is now engaging in a tariff war with them, while starting one with China, simply on the basis of money. However while erratic, Trump is not unpredictable. All that he has done, he announced during his electoral campaign.

Trump believes he is accountable to no one, and has created a direct relationship with his electors, bypassing the media. According to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog, which keeps track of Trump’s many misstatements, untruths and outright lies, he exceeded 3,000 untrue or misleading statements in his first 466 days – on average, 6.5 untruths a day. Nobody cares. Very few are able to judge.

When a president of United States announces that he is abandoning the treaty with Iran, because they are the main financier of ISIS and Al Qaida, the lack of public reaction is a good measure of the total ignorance of most Americans.

Americans have no idea that Islam is divided between Sunni and Shiite, and that the terrorists are Sunni and based on an extreme interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, or Salafism. Iranians, who are not Arabs, are Shiite, and are considered apostate by the Sunni extremists; Iran has lost thousands of men in the fight against ISIS.

This ignorance helps Trump win Republican voters, no matter what.

The fact that Trump knows exactly what his voters feel and think feeds his narcissism. After his meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, at a press conference he said of previous US presidents: “I don’t think they’ve ever had the confidence, frankly, in a president that they have right now for getting things done and having the ability to get things done”.

He does not tolerate any criticism or dissent, as his staff well knows. The result is that he is surrounded by yes men, like no president before. His assistant for trade, Peter Navarro, has declared that there should be a special place in hell for foreign leaders who disagree with Trump.

According to the large majority of economists, the tariff war that he has now started now with US allies plus China will bring growth down all over the world, but nobody reacts in the United States. It is all irrelevant to his voters. He now has a 92 percent rate of confidence, the highest since the United States has existed.

Considering all he has done in less than two years against the existing order leads us to consider that the real danger is that he will be re-elected, and leave office only in 2024. By then, the changes in ethics and style will have become really irreversible.

With many candidates in various countries looking to him as a political example, he will certainly be able to change the world in which we have grown and which, albeit with many faults, has been able to bring about growth and peace.

It is true that the traditional political system needs a radical update, and it does appear able to do so. Meanwhile, it is difficult to foresee how a world based on nationalism and xenophobia – with a strong increase in military spending worldwide, and many other global problems from climate change to no policy for migration, and a global debt that has reached 225 percent of GNP in ten years – will be able to live without conflicts,

What we do know is that the world which emerged from the Second World War, based on the idea of peace and development, the world which is in our constitutions, will disappear.

Democracy, can be a perfect tool for the legitimacy of a dictator. This is what is happening in the various Russias, Turkeys, Hungarys or Polands. A strongman wins the elections, then starts to make changes to the constitution in order to have more power. The next step is to place cronies in institutional positions, reduce the independence of the judiciary, control the media, and so on. That is then followed by acting in name of the majority, against minorities.

This is not new in history. Hitler and Mussolini were at first elected, and today many “men of providence” are lining up.

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IOM’s Director General Swing Praises Spain for Bringing 600+ Migrants to Safetyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/ioms-director-general-swing-praises-spain-bringing-600-migrants-safety/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ioms-director-general-swing-praises-spain-bringing-600-migrants-safety http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/ioms-director-general-swing-praises-spain-bringing-600-migrants-safety/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 13:39:39 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156272 IOM, the UN Migration Agency praises Spain’s action bringing over six hundred migrants stranded on Mediterranean rescue ships to safety. “I’m glad Spain has stepped forward to defuse this crisis, but I fear a major tragedy if states start refusing to accept rescued migrants as was threatened,” said IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing. “Keeping […]

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Spanish medical staff carried out preliminary health checks on the migrants at Valencia’s port. Photo: Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

By International Organization for Migration
GENEVA, Jun 18 2018 (IOM)

IOM, the UN Migration Agency praises Spain’s action bringing over six hundred migrants stranded on Mediterranean rescue ships to safety.

“I’m glad Spain has stepped forward to defuse this crisis, but I fear a major tragedy if states start refusing to accept rescued migrants as was threatened,” said IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing. “Keeping the rescued people at sea is not, of itself, going to dissuade other migrants from crossing to Europe and they too will need to be rescued sooner or later,” he added.

IOM believes that all EU Member States need to do more to support front-line states and welcomed the Spanish initiative to bring the migrants to safety. Mr. Swing emphasized Monday that the total numbers of irregular migrant arrivals have fallen dramatically from their peak during a 12-month period in 2015 and 2016, when over one million men, women and children crossed the Mediterranean bound for Greece, Italy and Spain. “This is a political crisis, not a migrant crisis,” Director general Swing added.

“Stopping one boat or more in the Mediterranean Sea is not an answer to Europe’s migration challenges,” Director General Swing explained. “A comprehensive approach to migration governance is needed, combining opportunities for safe and orderly movement, humane border management and countering migrant smuggling and trafficking.”

IOM urges the EU to re-consider a revision of the Dublin regulation based on the European Parliament’s proposal, and to reach agreement in Council to ensure solidarity among member states fully respecting the provisions of the Treaties.

“The best way forward is for the EU to reach a common response and shared governance of the migration flows,” explained Eugenio Ambrosi, Director of IOM’s regional office for the EU. “Fair distribution of migrants via a coordinated, humane and shared EU response from all European countries – not just those of the Mediterranean – is the only solution which saves lives, upholds rights and preserves European unity,” he added.

“Saving lives should always be our top concern. We must urgently find a means to help these rescued migrants and work for a comprehensive method of supporting migrants and States throughout Europe,” Director General Swing concluded.

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Ethiopia to Return Land in Bid for Peace with Eritreahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/ethiopia-return-land-bid-peace-eritrea/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethiopia-return-land-bid-peace-eritrea http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/ethiopia-return-land-bid-peace-eritrea/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 00:01:37 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156260 The utterly inconsequential-looking Ethiopian border town of Badme is where war broke out in 1998 between Ethiopia and Eritrea, lasting two years and devastating both countries.  Ever since the the town has remained, in spite of its ramshackle, unassuming appearance, an iconic symbol for both countries, primarily because despite the internationally brokered Algiers Peace Accord […]

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A group of Eritrean men, women and children who have just been dropped off dusty and tired at the entry point in the small town of Adinbried, about 50km southeast of Badme, having crossed the border during the preceding night. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

A group of Eritrean men, women and children who have just been dropped off dusty and tired at the entry point in the small town of Adinbried, about 50km southeast of Badme, having crossed the border during the preceding night. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By James Jeffrey
BADME, Ethiopia, Jun 18 2018 (IPS)

The utterly inconsequential-looking Ethiopian border town of Badme is where war broke out in 1998 between Ethiopia and Eritrea, lasting two years and devastating both countries. 

Ever since the the town has remained, in spite of its ramshackle, unassuming appearance, an iconic symbol for both countries, primarily because despite the internationally brokered Algiers Peace Accord that followed the 2000 ceasefire, and led to a ruling that Badme return to Eritrea, Ethiopia defiantly stayed put in the town.“The country [Ethiopia] is undergoing a seismic change—the likes of which it has never seen in such a short time span." --Yves Marie Stranger

Hence Badme festered as a source of rancour during years that turned into decades, with the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments coming to loathe each other, while all along the border the countries remained at loggerheads, each military eyeing the other warily.

But all of a sudden at the start of June, Ethiopia announced its readiness to fully comply and implement the Algiers Peace Accord, one of a number of unprecedented reformist actions this year, and which show no sign of slowing down since the April election of a new prime minister who has pledged to take Ethiopia in a new and more democratic and hopeful direction.

The Ethiopian government also announced it would accept the outcome of a 2002 border commission ruling, which awarded disputed territories collectively known as the Yirga Triangle, at the tip of which sits Badme, to Eritrea.

“Ethiopia’s change of heart towards Eritrea is genuine, and is directly tied to the momentous changes taking place domestically,” Awol Allo, a lecturer in law at Keele University in law and frequent commentator on Ethiopia, wrote in an opinion piece for Al Jazeera. “Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has reconfigured the Ethiopian political landscape and its strategic direction, moving with incredible speed to drive changes aimed at widening the political space and narrowing the social divisions and antagonisms within the country.”

This has included the prime minister linking the political, social and economic transformation in Ethiopia to regional dynamics, especially Eritrea, with which Ethiopia once had particular close economic, cultural and social ties—Eritrea was part of Ethiopia until gaining independence in 1991.

“Every Ethiopian should realise that it is expected of us to be a responsible government that ensures stability in our region, one that takes the initiative to connect the brotherly peoples of both countries and expands trains, buses, and economic ties between Asmara [the Eritrean capital] and Addis Ababa,” Abiy announced.

The rift between Eritrea and Ethiopia has had significant regional fallout. Both countries have engaged in hostile activities against each other, including proxy wars in the likes of neighbouring Somalia, thereby destabilising an already volatile region.

The rugged landscape of Tigray, Ethiopia’s most northern region, stretches away to the north and into Eritrea. Once Eritrea was Ethiopia’s most northern region until gaining independence in 1991. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

The rugged landscape of Tigray, Ethiopia’s most northern region, stretches away to the north and into Eritrea. Once Eritrea was Ethiopia’s most northern region until gaining independence in 1991. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Meanwhile, Eritrea continued to come off worse against Ethiopia’s stronger regional sway and diplomatic clout, becoming increasingly isolated, and subjected to international sanctions.

As a result, life became increasingly miserable for Eritreans—hence the unending exodus of Eritrean refugees into Ethiopia—as their government used the border war with Ethiopia and the subsequent perceived existential threats and belligerencies against Eritrea as an excuse for the state becoming increasingly repressive and militarised, with its leader Isaias Afewerki tightening his ironclad rule.

But the Eritrean government’s narrative has had the rug pulled out from under it.

“The Eritrean regime seems confused, unprepared and clueless about how it should respond to Ethiopia’s peace offer,” Abraham Zere, executive director of PEN Eritrea, part of a global network of writers in over 100 countries across the globe who campaign to promote literature and defend freedom of expression, wrote in another Al Jazeera opinion piece. “Ethiopia’s call for normalization and peace puts President Afewerki in a very difficult position, as it undermines his current strategy of blaming Ethiopia for his repressive rule.”

So far the response from the Eritrean government has been conspicuous by its absence. Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel when pressed to comment on the issue on Twitter replied elliptically: “Our position is crystal clear and has been so for 16 years.”

Previously, the Eritrean government has consistently demanded full compliance by Ethiopia with the EEBC’s decision and unilateral withdrawal of all troops from the disputed territories before any chance of normalizing relations—a demand that fails to take account of the EEBC’s terms and the  complex situation on the ground.

“The insistence on unilateral withdrawal as a condition for normalising relations is not tenable, not least because Badme was under Ethiopia rule before the EEBC’s ruling and continues to be under the effective control of the Ethiopian government,” Awol says. “The two countries must come together in good faith to hammer out a number of details including the fate of the population there.”

It’s unlikely to be easy. Already in Badme and in other of the disputed territories, both Eritreans and Ethiopians are protesting Abiy’s decision to implement the commission’s arbitrarily drawn border that would divide communities between the two countries.

“We have no issues over reconciling with our Eritrean brothers. But we will not leave Badme,” Teklit Girmay, a local government official, told Reuters. “We do not want peace by giving away this land after all the sacrifice.”

“It took us four days traveling from Asmara,” a 31-year-man said of the trek from the Eritrean capital, about 80km north of the border, holding all the money he has left: 13 Eritrean nakfa (80 cents). “We travelled for 10 hours each night, sleeping in the desert during the day.” Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

“It took us four days traveling from Asmara,” a 31-year-man said of the trek from the Eritrean capital, about 80km north of the border, holding all the money he has left: 13 Eritrean nakfa (80 cents). “We travelled for 10 hours each night, sleeping in the desert during the day.” Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Furthermore, across Tigray, Ethiopia’s most northern region that straddles the border, there are reports of increasing anger and protests about the announcement, while the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front regional party that has dominated Ethiopian politics since its founders spearheaded the 1991 revolution that brought the current government to power has issued a veiled warning to Abiy.

“The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front will not take part in any process that harms the interests of the people of Tigray,” it said in a statement, demanding that any withdrawal be linked to additional concessions from Eritrea.

Tigray’s proximity to Eritrea and the previous war means its people are acutely sensitive to the potential ramifications, which is further complicated by how people on both sides of the border share the same language – Tigrinya – as well as Orthodox religion and cultural traditions: a closeness that can also heighten resentment.

In 1998 Eritrea invaded Badme before pushing south to occupy the rest of Ethiopia’s Yirga Triangle, claiming it was historically Eritrean land. Ethiopia eventually regained the land but the fighting cost both countries thousands of lives and billions of dollars desperately needed elsewhere in such poor and financially strapped countries.

At the time of the EEBC’s ruling on Badme, the Ethiopian government felt the Ethiopian public wouldn’t tolerate the concession of a now iconic town responsible for so many lost Ethiopian lives—hence it and the rest of the Yirga Triangle remained jutting defiantly into Eritrea, both figuratively and literally.

“Although Badme was a mere pretext to start a conflict fuelled by much deeper political problems, it has since been etched into the imagination of many Ethiopians and Eritreans and has taken on a deeper meaning,” Awol says. “The name Badme condenses within itself a series of fundamental political and economic anxieties and hegemonic aspirations, acting as a byword for brutality, anguish, guilt, shame, fear and pride.”

In addition to potential internal resistance from the Ethiopian government’s TPLF old guard, coupled with potential intransigence from the Asmara regime, the reaction of the international community could also play a significant role.

“The international community, particularly the West, has ignored the dispute for too long,” Awol says. “Now that there is a newfound optimism for peace, the international community must seize the opportunity and act proactively and pre-emptively before local and regional dynamics change.”

Ethiopia is at a potentially exciting crossroads—though nothing is assured, and may well hang in the balance, one that the international community can influence due to Ethiopia’s increasing integration in the global system.

“The country is undergoing a seismic change—the likes of which it has never seen in such a short time span,” says Yves Marie Stranger, editor of “Ethiopia: Through Writers’ Eyes,” and a long-time Ethiophile. “Ethiopia, a land of barter and subsistence farming, a land where very little money changed hands until recently,  now depends on world oil prices,  wheat imports and  the dollar rate—just as much as on the next rainy season. In other words, Ethiopia’s unorthodox economics must now worship in the global church.”

Depending on what happens next, the repercussions for Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the wider Horn of Africa region, could be enormous.

“If Ethiopia does follow through with its stated intention, it’s doubtful that Eritreans would accept any further fear mongering from the Aferwerki administration regarding Addis Ababa’s actions and intentions,” Abraham says. “If Aferwerki attempts to dismiss or undermine this long-awaited gesture from its neighbour, the population may openly turn against the regime.”

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Now is Not the Time to Give up on the People of DRChttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/now-not-time-give-people-drc/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=now-not-time-give-people-drc http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/now-not-time-give-people-drc/#respond Fri, 15 Jun 2018 14:33:56 +0000 Jean-Philippe Marcoux http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156251 Jean-Philippe Marcoux is Mercy Corps Country Director, Democratic Republic of Congo

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Displaced women at the Simba Mosala Site in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: Badylon Kawanda Bakiman/IPS

Displaced women at the Simba Mosala Site in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: Badylon Kawanda Bakiman/IPS

By Jean-Philippe Marcoux
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jun 15 2018 (IPS)

After more than 20 years of brutal conflict, few might believe that things could get worse in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). And yet they most dishearteningly are.

In the last year, we have witnessed a continuous escalation of violence that has spread to half of the country, endangering millions. Some 2 million children suffer from acute hunger, and the DRC is home to the largest number of displaced people in Africa.

Political instability has sparked a flare-up of militia violence that has pockmarked eastern and central Congo, forcing tens of thousands to flee in recent months and stirring fears the African nation could plunge back into civil war. Now is the time for the international community to recognize the threat and to finally address the root causes of DRC’s seemingly endless cycle of conflict.

Yet many donors are forced to pick and choose which disasters to respond to in a world grappling with an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises. Budget constraints make it is easy to justify diverting funds to meet emergency needs.

However, the value of long-term development projects, which too often get short-shrift in the face of ongoing crisis, cannot be underestimated.

We know that humanitarian responses mostly serve to alleviate the symptoms of larger issues and are not solutions themselves. So, my organisation, Mercy Corps, and other agencies are working to address what drives conflict in the DRC: the grievances stemming from the lack of access to services and economic opportunities in a country where two-thirds of the population is under the age of 25.

As insecurity and violence in DRC has forced people out of the traditional rural and farming areas and into towns and cities where they feel safer, urban services are struggling to keep up with the new demand.

Currently, three-quarters of the population lack access to safe drinking water. Without access to clean water, people are more susceptible to disease, and women and girls are disproportionately impacted as they often have to take responsibility for the collection of water. As Justine, one of the women we work with says: “Water is life. So there is nothing we can do without water.”

This is why Mercy Corps is undertaking one of our largest-ever infrastructure programmes to provide safe drinking water to approximately 1 million people in the cities of Goma and Bukavu.

The IMAGINE programme, delivered with support from the U.K. government, involves nine local organisations, six health zones, five districts, two cities, two provincial water ministries and the public water utility.

All of these different parts form an integrated water governance initiative working in partnership to ensure that neighbourhoods have access to safe, clean water, as well as the means to provide feedback to improve water-delivery service. IMAGINE is proof that development gains can be made, even while chaos reigns in other parts of the country.

To be sure, Mercy Corps and other aid groups must and do respond to the most pressing needs that arise from violence in the DRC. Since the beginning of 2018, we have doubled our humanitarian response and set up the Kivu Crisis Response for newly displaced Congolese.

This programme allows us to coordinate with other organisations to respond in a smarter more rapid way to the most urgent needs of displaced people, providing lifesaving assistance in a way that maintains their dignity.

Ultimately, the Congolese people hold the power to decide their own futures. This includes choosing their own leaders through elections that are scheduled for this year. Development programmes like IMAGINE are tools that the Congolese people can use to build safer and healthier futures for themselves and future generations. Maintaining, and where possible, increasing development programming is central to this effort.

Home of to some of Africa’s most majestic national parks, this is a nation whose almost boundless natural beauty and potential eludes most newspaper headlines. Despair often eclipses the energy and determination of its inhabitants after so many years of war. But there are seedlings of hope. Now is not the time to give up on the people of DRC.

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Excerpt:

Jean-Philippe Marcoux is Mercy Corps Country Director, Democratic Republic of Congo

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Europe, Sharing the Love?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/europe-sharing-love/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=europe-sharing-love http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/europe-sharing-love/#respond Fri, 15 Jun 2018 12:42:42 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156249 Even if arrivals of migrants into Italy by sea have decreased between 2017 and 2018 so far, recent events in the Mediterranean rim have strongly drawn attention to the migration issue and a fierce debate is now underway among European countries. On June 10, Italy’s new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, barred the ship Aquarius, jointly […]

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Mediterranean waters in Spain. Credit: Photo by David Aler on Unsplash

By Maged Srour
ROME, Jun 15 2018 (IPS)

Even if arrivals of migrants into Italy by sea have decreased between 2017 and 2018 so far, recent events in the Mediterranean rim have strongly drawn attention to the migration issue and a fierce debate is now underway among European countries.

On June 10, Italy’s new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, barred the ship Aquarius, jointly operated by the NGOs‘SOS Mediterranée’ and ‘Doctors Beyond Borders’ (MSF), from docking at Italian ports. There were 629 migrants on the ship. Among them where 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and seven pregnant women.

The Italian coastguard coordinated the rescue operation but after moving the migrants to the Aquarius, the new Italian government denied access to Italian harbours. Malta, similarly when asked by Italy to accept the boat and take care of the relief, denied responsibility.

In recent years Italy has been at the forefront of a constant wave of migration from North Africa and has provided a huge amount of support by allowing the vessels into Italian ports. Malta also, with its relatively small population has accepted a large number of migrants despite its fewer than 450 000 inhabitants and small land size.

While public opinion, activists, policymakers, local officials and news agencies have criticised the latest decision by the Italian Government, the Government has also given to understand that it is working towards a solution with other European governments, given the very real humanitarian concerns involved in migration to its shores and those of other Mediterranean countries.

Similarly several local officials in Italy have condemned the hardline stance, such as the mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando and the Mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, the latter stating that “…the port of Naples is ready to welcome” the migrants. “We are humans, with a great heart. Naples is ready, without money, to save human lives” he tweeted on June 10.

A breakthrough in the situation occurred only when Spain’s newly elected Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, decided to welcome the 629 migrants after the mayors of Valencia and Barcelona both offered to take the boat in at their ports. “It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people” Sánchez’s office said.

As of 15 June, 792 migrants have either died or gone missing while crossing the Mediterranean, says the UN Migration Agency (IOM). This number represents a decrease compared to the last three years, as deaths in the same period, were 1,836 in 2017, 2,899 in 2016 and 1,806 in 2015.

However, this situation is still represents a shameful paradox in our century. In 2017, migrants dead or missing while crossing the Mediterranean waters were 3,116 and the EU initiatives and allocations of funds have not been able to avoid these tragedies. In 2018 alone, of the 52,389 people who attempted to cross the Mediterraneam rim, 792 died, making the death rate 1.5%. The deadliest route in 2018 is – as of June 15 – the central route (503 deaths), as opposed to going by the western route (244) or the east (45).

 

 

The timing of the Aquarius’ events may not be completely coincidental, as there is an EU meeting at the end of June that will consider changing the rule that asylum must be claimed in the country of first entry.

That is the rule that has put Italy on the frontline of Europe’s migration crisis. If considered in this light, the latest Italian decision, could be viewed as a bid for a domestic political win, as dissatisfaction of Italian public opinion towards migration flows has been steadily increasing in recent years. It remains to be seen what will be the political outome at the EU level.

While France’s government deeply criticized Italy’s decision to deny Aquarius’ docking, other countries, such as Hungary, praised Rome’s decision. Viktor Orban, the anti-migration prime minister said that Salvini’s decision is a “great moment which may truly bring changes in Europe’s migration policies.”

After being abandoned for four days, those migrants feared they were going back to Libya, a nightmare that obviously any of them wanted to consider. On November 2017, a CNN report on slave auctions in Libya had prompted international outrage over a slave market operating in the country.

Ben Fishman, an analyst from The Washington Institute, has highlighted what are the root causes of the growth of this general abuse of African migrants in Libya. “First” he wrote in a policy paper right after the CNN report was published, “many traffickers exploit migrants’ desperation to reach Europe, often trapping them in Libya. These traffickers enjoy free rein in Libya exploiting the country’s lawlessness in the same manner that the Islamic State did in 2015-2016 when it took control of Sirte.

Smugglers and gangs overlap with the militia landscape, making it extremely difficult to curtail the activities of one group without impacting the overall profit stream”. Fishman also added that “the main push factors that compel migrants to risk these treacherous journeys – namely, poverty, and lack of opportunities […] have not been adequately addressed”. In 2015 the EU had established a 3.2 billion euros fund to facilitate migration management at the point of origin in Africa but this EU-led initiative clearly needs to be greatly expanded.

Many analysts and activists urge the EU to address the migration crisis in an adequate and sustainable manner. Migration flows will continue, especially if policy responses remain as weak as they are at the moment. The EU needs to implement a comprehensive framework that deals both with the situation in Libya and with the points of origins in Africa, as well as with the welcoming policies implemented by the receiving countries in Europe.

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