Monthly Archives: September 2008
I just couldn’t let this one go…
Andy McCarthy of The National Review, in the midst of another gross distortion of the Global Poverty Act, describes the funds that the United States could contribute to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as money that would be “flush[ed] down a UN sink-hole.” Mark has already thoroughly debunked the utterly baseless rationale on which McCarthy’s attack relies, but let me just emphasize the perversion of so rabidly opposing — and even mocking — a bill that will help bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
The Global Poverty Act calls for the United States to increase its contribution to foreign aid, which currently stands at a meager 0.18% of our Gross National Product — the second-lowest proportion among developed countries. This assistance is geared toward meeting the MDGs that nations — including the United States — agreed to in 2000. The MDGs, among other ambitious endeavors, aim to halve the number of people living on less than $1 a day — currently 1.4 billion — by 2015.
If contributing to the goal of improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people in poverty is a “flushing” money down a “sink-hole,” then it’s certainly the most worthy sink-hole I’ve encountered. Let’s flush away.
By Oisin Walton
I am among the two teams of Telecoms Sans Frontieres (TSF) emergency telecommunications specialists who deployed to Haiti as it was hit by four cyclones–Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike–all in less than a month. TSF’s teams deployed from bases in Nicaragua and in France to support communications both among humanitarian relief workers, and for Haitians who had been driven from their homes by flood waters.
The hub of humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti is in Gonaives, a northern city that has been mostly destroyed by the hurricanes. Local authorities estimate that as many nearly 56,000 families have been affected by the cyclones, and living conditions here are extremely difficult.
Although water levels in Gonaives’ streets have lowered, mud has taken over. Gonaives is surrounded by hills devastated by deforestation, triggering mudslides that pour into the city. Daily storms make removing mud from homes and roads impossible, and aid agencies fear the stagnating water will spread diseases if it is not removed quickly.
Cross Posted at On Day One
Last year 43,716,440 people in 127 countries demonstrated their determination to fight global poverty by taking to their feet at events around the world. Today, we are precisely one month away from this year's Stand Up Against Poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals. Organizers hope to break last year's Guinness Book of World Record feat. Click here to organize a house party on from October 17-19, where you can join with millions across the globe to stand united in support of the Millennium Development Goals.
Here is some inspiration:
Tennis star Maria Sharapova is teaming with the United Nations Development program to sponsor a scholarship program for Chernobyl-affected youth. From the UN News Center:
18 September 2008 – The tennis star and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Maria Sharapova announced today that she is donating $210,000 to an initiative that will offer scholarships to youth from regions of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.
Announcing the joint initiative between UNDP and her private foundation, Ms. Sharapova noted her own connection to the issue – she was born in 1987 after her family fled Belarus for Siberia because of concerns about radiation in the wake of the Chernobyl accident.
“It has always been my dream to contribute to the recovery of a region where I have a personal connection,” she said, according to a UNDP press release. “Enabling talented young people to pursue higher education is part of a broader effort to build a brighter future for the region.”
UNIFEM just released a publication that will be integral in holding governments and organizations accountable to their commitments in improving women’s rights. It’s sad to say that many have not held true to their promises. The key word here: accountability. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says:
“If any man asks why I support better accountability to women, here’s my response: because a government that answers to women will answer to you, too.”
UNIFEM largely blames the severe lack of improvement in gender quality within various nations on an “accountability crisis.” Women should have the right to ask for explanations, to ask for information from decision makers – if they can’t simply ask and be answered to, where can we even start implementing change?
Read the whole report, title “Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009, Who Answers to Women? Gender and Accountability”, which also includes a pretty awesome online interactive feature guiding you through the report.
Back in June, clashes between the regular armed forces of Djibouti and Eritrea left scores of people dead. At the time, little was known about what sparked the fighting and which side was to blame. Djibouti claimed that Eritrean soldiers raided a border outpost inside Djibouti territory. Eritrea denied the it was to blame.
Amidst a general state of confusion, the Security Council ordered the UN to send a fact finding mission to assess what took place and offer recommendations to resolve the conflict. Unfortunately, the Eritrean government refused to speak to the UN officials, or grant them visas. (Read this post for some background on why Eritrea might harbor a grudge against the UN.)
So, the fact finding mission’s report really only reflects Djibouti’s side of the story, which is as follows:
The two countries previously agreed that Eritrean civil engineers should construct a road linking a town in Eritrea to a town in Djibouti (but to which Eritrea periodically makes claim). As civil engineers build the road, their are joined by Eritrean Defense Forces, which start digging trenches and fortifying the disputed border town. A military build-up ensues, but Eritrean Defense Forces start defecting to the Djibouti lines. Eritrea demands Djibouti hands back the deserters. Djibouti refuses Eritrea’s ultimatum. The remaining Eritrean forces opens fire on the Djibouti line. At least 44 people are killed.
That was in June. So what to do now? The Secretary General says that first and foremost, Eritrea must cooperate.
To provide momentum for such a political process, both countries must be made to believe that it is in their vested interest to have a balanced fact-finding mission, which would reach conclusions only after hearing from both sides. The Djibouti authorities have so far cooperated and facilitated the work of the fact-finding mission; the onus is now on the Eritrean leadership. If Eritrea alleges an invasion by Ethiopia or aggression by Djibouti, as it has done, then it has an international obligation and responsibility to cooperate with the United Nations to establish the facts
The report concludes that it is in neither side’s interests to escalate this conflict. That’s true. The Horn of Africa hardly needs another war.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.