Yearly Archives: 2009
On top of dealing with drones, a Taliban insurgency, and a government crackdown on that insurgency, the more than 2 million recently displaced persons in Pakistan will be forced to face a new and equally daunting challenge coming in three weeks, the rainy season and the malaria-bearing mosquitoes that soon follow.
This threat is particularly dire because the 18,000-plus families arriving every day, a migration that the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called one the worst since the genocide in Rwanda, have been displaced from regions, the Swat, Lower Dir, and Buner districts of the Northwest Frontier Province, where malaria is not endemic. Refugees are ill-prepared to deal with the disease both because the refugee population has no pre-existing immunity to malaria and because the flow of internally displaced people (IDPs) is quickly overwhelming available resources, including access to life-saving bednets.
The Human Rights Council’s failure to pass a resolution authorizing a commission of inquiry in Sri Lanka was, as we’ve already stressed, deeply disappointing. The 29 countries that voted for Sri Lanka’s own proposed resolution are undeniably guilty of letting the fox control the henhouse. But as the Guardian‘s Julian Borger reports, the lackluster efforts of Western countries to pass a stronger resolution should not be overlooked:
A European diplomat admitted that if EU states had been more organised they might have put forward a more critical resolution that could have been accepted by the council.
This is the sad — but by no means insurmountable — fact of the Human Rights Council; there will always be countries who vote to protect repressive regimes, or to ward off human rights investigations out of a concern for their own poor records. It will always be an uphill climb to ensure that the Council makes investigating all human rights violations a priority. But this doesn’t make the climb any less worthwhile; when the United States formally joins its Western counterparts on the Council, it should work tirelessly to make the Human Rights Council the most effective body it can be. A lack of organization is not an excuse when the rights of so many human beings are at stake.
Yesterday I wrote that a sad fact about life is that when things get tough, it’s often those who can least afford more hardship who bear the brunt. I was pointing to this story about how the global economic crisis was exacerbating human rights abuses.
Here’s more on how the dynamic works:
Aid funds are running short for worsening humanitarian emergencies in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa, as political complexities and the global economic crisis dampen the generosity of governments and individual donors.
Agencies in Sri Lanka, which are struggling to meet the basic needs of nearly 300,000 people displaced in the final stage of the country’s civil war, are warning they only have enough money to keep their relief operations going for around another three months….
As of Thursday, funds donated to the U.N.’s $155 million appeal for Sri Lanka stood at $61 million, or 39 percent of the total, with a further $27 million in pledges that have yet to be firmed up.
For the crisis in Pakistan – where a government offensive against Taliban militants has sparked an exodus of some 2.3 million people in the north – aid agencies need around $543 million to provide food, water, shelter and other relief to displaced people sheltering in camps and with host communities.
So far, the appeal is only 16 percent covered. Donors have promised a further $224 million but it remains unclear how and when this money will be allocated.
The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) says it has received about a third of the funds its needs to provide food aid to around 1.5 million people in Pakistan, but desperately requires more.
“We have food and we have (financial) commitments, but we need cash to move the food,” said Nancy Roman, WFP’s director of public policy and communications. “In terms of lead times, you can’t buy food with a commitment.”
Today is International Day of UN Peacekeepers, which is a day that we honor the over 100,000 blue helmets from 118 countries who serve in 16 conflict zones across the globe. As a general rule, peacekeepers go where the no single country is willing to send their troops and are overwhelmingly drawn from countries of the developing world. They operate in some of the harshest conditions on the planet, including South Sudan, Darfur, Chad, East Congo, and Haiti. It is not glamorous work, but separating former combatants, disarming, demobilizing, and re-intigrating former combatants into normal civilian life is key to long term peace in these war-torn regions.
It is dangerous work too. 132 peace keepers lost their lives in the line of duty in 2008.
Without the men and women of UN peacekeeping willing to put their lives on the line the world would be a much more violent place. Take a second to thank a peacekeeper for their service. As George Clooney say, peace, like war, needs waging.
Come September, we may see Nicolas Sarkozy throw some fries on his sammy and Angela Merkel crack open an Iron City Light. The White House announced today that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will host the next G-20 Summit. Here’s the gleeful Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said the U.S. agreed to host the next summit during the London meeting earlier in the spring. Pittsburgh is “a good place” to hold the summit because of its recovery from the decline of the steel industry in the 1980s, he said.
“With leaders already scheduled to be in the United States in September to attend the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama offered to host the Summit and leaders of the G20 welcomed the invitation,” a White House statement said. “Pittsburgh has demonstrated a commitment to employing new and green technology to further economic recovery and development. The summit will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh, an exemplar of that commitment. The facility is proud to have a LEED Gold Certification from the U.S Green Building Council for leadership in energy and environmental design.”
This has been a good year for the Steel City. Steelers win the Super Bowl, Pens make the Stanley Cup finals (for the second year in a row), Netroots Nation coming to town in August…and now this. I have no doubt that Pittsburgh’s 29-year-old mayor will rise to the occasion. Who knows, years from now history teachers may look back at the “Pittsburgh Agreement” as the moment the global economy got back on track?
Image from flickr. Creative commons n’at
The Guardian smartly editorializes about the need to fund the World Food Program. Money concluding sentence: “Overseas development aid is about the last thing the developed world should be cutting back on.”
Michael Kleinman summarizes the back-and-forth between Jeff Sachs, Bill Easterly, and Dambisa Moyo on the merits of global development. To only dip a toe in, I’ll agree that the ad hominem attacks — or, of course, the “baby-killer” strategy — should have no place in this debate.
Joe Cirincione says there may be reason to suspect that this round of North Korean bravado may go awry from the usual pattern — but that nonproliferation is in much better shape this time.
And with much talk (including some out of this here typing machine) of China‘s influence on Pyongyang, Fred Weir wonders whether Russia could play a role in halting North Korea’s nuclear program — or whether Moscow is too “perplexed and even scared” of the impoverished and desperate Hermit Kingdom.
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.