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What to Expect at the Big UN Climate Summit

Hundreds of world leaders are descending on the United Nations for a one day meeting on climate change. This is a big deal for the United Nations, for diplomacy, and possibly for the planet. So who is showing up and what countries are snubbing the conference? What will be discussed? And how will this affect ongoing negotiations to construct an internationally binding climate change agreement?

I speak with Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions who helps put this historic meeting at the United Nations in the larger context of international climate change diplomacy. This is a very useful conversation for understanding the diplomatic contours of arguably the single most important issue facing humanity today. (Subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss our twice/week podcast!) 

 

Episode 33: Ruth Messinger, American Jewish World Service CEO, Former NYC politician.

A conversation with Evan Cinq-Mars of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect Can UN Peacekeeping Save the Central African Republic?

 Episode 32: Andrew Young, UN Ambassador, Mayor, Civil Rights Legend

Obama’s Syria Dilemma, an in interview with Will McCants

Episode 31: Ambassador Michael Guest, LGBT Trailblazer

The Deadly Fear of Ebola, an interview with journalist Jina Moore

South Sudan’s Looming Famine, an interview with Tariq Riebl of Oxfam

Episode 30: Jeff Sachs, economist

Sex Slaves in Iraq, an interview with Zainab Hawa Bangura, the UN Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict

Episode 29: Chris Hill, former Ambassador to Iraq and North Korea nuke negotiator

Kevin Jon Heller discusses the  International Criminal Court’s Palestine Problem

Episode 28: Nancy Birsdall, founder of the Center for Global Development

The WHO explains Why this Ebola Outbreak is So Hard to Contain

Episode 27: Daniel Drezner, counter-intuitive wonk

Michael W. Hanna on How to Negotiate a Gaza Ceasefire

Episode 25: Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE, USA. Long-time AIDS-Fighter

One Campaign’s Erin Hofhelder How Humanity is Winning the Fight Against AIDS

Episode 24: Joseph Cirincione, Nuclear Policy Wonk 

A Migrant’s Story: Why are So Many Children Fleeing to the USA?

Episode 23: Live from the UN 2014 (Volume 2); A special edition with a slew of UN officials.

Inside the Iran Nuke Talks

Episode 23: Jillian York, Digital Free Speech defender

Turkey’s Strategic Interests in Iraq

Episode 22: Live from the UN, 2014 (Vol 1); A special edition, featuring the President of the General Assembly,  the UN Ambassadors from Vietnam and Jamaica, the head of the UN Association, and more!

The UN’s View of the Iraq Crisis

Episode 21: Thomas Pickering, former Ambassador to the UN, Israel, Jordan, Russia, India and more.

Dying for the World Cup

Episode 20: Jessica Tuchman Matthews, foreign policy trendsetter

Egypt After the Counter Revolution 

Episode 19: Louise Arbour, human rights pioneer.

What Obama Left Out of His Big Foreign Policy Speech

Episode 18: Zalmay Khalizad, former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN.

Why Libya is Suddenly on the Verge of a Civil War 

Episode 17: Gov Bill Richardson, he frees hostages.

The Foreign Policy Implications of India’s Elections

Episode 16: Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children

What Boko Haram Wants

Episode: 15 Laura Turner Seydel, philanthropist

Episode 14: Douglas Ollivant, Iraq expert

Episode 13: Gary Bass, historian

Episode 12: Mark Montgomery, demographer

Episode 11: Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watcher

Episode 10: Live from the UN, Volume 2.

Episode 9: Mia Farrow, humanitarian activist and Goodwill Ambassador

Episode 8: Suzanne Nossel, Big Thinker

Episode 7: Live from the UN, Volume 1. 

Episode 6: PJ Crowley, former State Department Spokesperson

Episode 5: Octavia Nasr, reporter

Episode 4: Arsalan Iftikhar, “The Muslim Guy”

Episode 3: Dodge Billingsley, filmmaker.

Episode 2: Laura Seay,  @TexasinAfrica

Episode 1: Heather Hurlburt, national security wonk

 

Podcast | | Leave a comment
syria map

Suspicious Deaths in Syria and a Vaccine Campaign Suspended

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The WHO and UNICEF have suspended a measles vaccination campaign in rebel-held part of Syria after at least 15 and as many as 50 children died after taking the vaccine. “The children, some just babies, all exhibited signs of “severe allergic shock” about an hour after they were given a second round of measles vaccinations in Idlib province on Tuesday, with many suffocating to death as their bodies swelled…The Western-backed opposition based in Turkey said it had suspended the second round of measles vaccinations, which began on Monday. The campaign was meant to target 60,000 children. In a statement, it said the vaccines used Tuesday met international standards and did not say what may have caused the deaths.It is extremely unlikely that the vaccinations killed the children, said Beirut-based public health specialist Fouad Fouad, who said spoiled vaccinations were more or less harmless. “It cannot cause death,” he said.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1uUikbD)

Stat of the Day:  22 million people were displaced in 2013 by disasters brought on by natural hazard events – almost three times more than by conflict in the same year. From a new report by the Norwegian Refugee Council http://bit.ly/1uUjMuA

Paul Farmer’s Ebola Treatment Experiment...The famed doctor is en route to Liberia to open a clinic, backed by George Soros, to provide high quality medical treatment to ebola victims.  (Forbes http://onforb.es/1qZ2rRL)

What to Watch Out For Today:  The Security Council is holding an emergency session Thursday to discuss an international response to the ebola crisis.  It will be webcast at webtv.un.org

Africa

The government in war-torn South Sudan said Wednesday it will not be expelling any foreign workers, reversing a policy announcement made the previous day that caused a storm of protests from aid agencies and neighbouring countries. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1u9mcVH)

Seventy bodies have been recovered from the rubble of a collapsed church building in Lagos but remain unidentified, a Nigerian official said on Wednesday, questioning South Africa’s assertion that 67 of the victims had come from there. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1u9jUWA)

The World Bank approved a $105 million grant to bolster the fight to contain the deadly Ebola virus epidemic raging in west Africa. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1mbGpLF)

The largest-ever outbreak of Ebola could drain billions of dollars from economies in West Africa by the end of next year if the epidemic is not contained, the World Bank said in an analysis. (AFP  http://bit.ly/1u9jsYn)

Around 80 people are missing in Central African Republic after their boat sank last week on the M’poko River south of the capital Bangui, the government said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1u9mn3g)

Zimbabwean lawyers on Wednesday decried reported assaults and the death of suspects in police custody, as well as conditions in holding cells they called unfit for human habitation. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1mbL941)

The Democratic Republic of Congo still has a long way to go to meet its pledges under a peace deal agreed last year, 10 Congolese NGOs said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1mbMUhx)

Nigerians fleeing Boko Haram violence at home and seeking refuge in Cameroon border towns are still not safe. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1mbOMaj)

MENA

Russia and Egypt have reached a preliminary deal for Cairo to buy arms worth $3.5 billion from Moscow, Interfax news agency quoted the head of a Russian state arms agency as saying on Wednesday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1u9n3p6)

The UN envoy to Yemen held talks Wednesday with Shiite rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi in a fresh effort to end the country’s political crisis, as deadly fighting intensified north of Sanaa. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1u9oW5p)

A deal reached on war-battered Gaza’s reconstruction is set to be implemented in the coming months, with the amount of building materials entering the territory expected to quadruple. (AP http://yhoo.it/1mbMlo1)

A top American intelligence official is acknowledging that the U.S. has difficulty tracking the movements and activities of Westerners in Syria who have joined rebels fighting President Bashar Assad. (AP http://yhoo.it/1u9p98A)

Asia

One-third of migrant workers in the Malaysian electronics industry, which produces goods for some of the world’s best-known brands, are trapped in forced labour, a form of modern-day slavery, according to new research. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1u9qU5C)

Doctors in the flood-ravaged Himalayan region of Kashmir said Wednesday that they were seeing outbreaks of gastroenteritis among people crowded into shelters after their homes were inundated two weeks ago. (AP http://yhoo.it/1u9lMhW)

A UN human rights team looking into complaints of torture in Azerbaijan said on Wednesday it had cut short its investigations because it had been stopped from visiting some government detention centers. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1mbLDXR)

As the flood emergency deepens in Pakistan, now affecting nearly 2.3 million people, humanitarian teams have mobilized to work alongside local government authorities to assess needs in the worst-affected areas. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1u9r3WN)

The Americas

Colombia’s police chief says leftist rebels have killed seven police officers and injured five in an ambush in the country’s northwest. (AP http://yhoo.it/1u9kjbv)

Opposition candidate Marina Silva has increased her lead slightly over President Dilma Rousseff in an expected second-round runoff to Brazil’s election next month, a new poll showed. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1u9kMKE)

A Caribbean trade bloc is urging governments to establish isolation facilities and take other preventive measures in case the Ebola virus reaches the region. (AP http://yhoo.it/1u9oYu3)

Opinion/Blogs

As oil and terror intertwine, Somalis want more from their government (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1u9pI26)

Should Countries Be More Like Shopping Malls? A Proposal for Service Guarantees for Africa (CGD http://bit.ly/1mbNwUm)

Sierra Leone: Getting beyond nutrition as “a women’s issue” (ODI http://bit.ly/1mbNTP1)

Ebola: seven things that need to be done to tackle the outbreak (Guardian http://bit.ly/1u9qRqC)

A Climate Summit to Spark Action (IPS http://bit.ly/1mbPYdK)

Is Africa Losing the Battle Against Corruption? (ISS http://bit.ly/1u9ue0J)

As the Islamic State Expands, How Vulnerable Is Africa? (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/1u9uYD7)

52 pick-up lines that will win the heart of an aid worker (WnyDev http://bit.ly/XFaiZ6)

Top of the Morning | Leave a comment
a demonstration in support of syrian human rights

This Syrian Journalist Was Arrested by the Assad Regime Three Times. Then ISIS Nabbed Him for a Facebook Post and He Barely Escaped With His Life

All we know of the man is that he was journalist living in Aleppo. When the civil war erupted in 2011 and was arrested several times by Syrian government. While in custody he was beaten and tortured. But, each time, he was eventually released.

Then ISIS took over his part of Aleppo.

What follows is testimony from United Nations investigators dispatched to compile evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria. This man’s story (with key identifying features redacted) was released by the UN Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry. It is profoundly disturbing, but a very important documentation of the human rights catastrophe inside Syria today.

 ————

The interviewee is a male citizen journalist from Aleppo who was interviewed on 15 August 2014

The interviewee has been arrested three times by Government forces for being an activist. The fourth time he was arrested and detained by ISIS due to his criticism of them in online newspapers.

From 2011 till 2014, he was coordinating demonstrations, working on social media and a xxxxx xxxxx.. The interviewee xxxxx for online newspapers xxxxx and xxxxx

The first time the interviewee was detained was in xxxxx 2011. He was arrested by the Shabbiha while participating in a demonstration in Aleppo. He was detained for xxxxx days at the Military Intelligence Branch in Aleppo. He was interrogated, beaten with a wooden stick, received electric shocks on his knees and was hung up by his wrists from the ceiling for xxxxx days.

The second time he was detained was in xxxxx 2011. Again, he was arrested by the Shabbiha while participating in a demonstration in Aleppo. He was detained for xx days at the Military Intelligence Branch in Aleppo. He was interrogated and beaten with a wooden stick during the xxxxx days there.

The third time he was detained was in early 2012. The interviewee was arrested by Government forces while he was taking pictures with his mobile phone of the big clock in Aleppo. He was first detained for xxxxx days in an isolated cell at the Political Intelligence Branch in Suleimania neighbourhood of Aleppo. For xxxxx days he was interrogated, beaten with a wooden stick and hung up by his wrists from the ceiling. Afterwards the interviewee was transferred to the Criminal Security Intelligence Branch in Aleppo. He was detained there for xx days. He was interrogated for one day and beaten with a plastic pipe. After his release, the interviewee went to his family in xxxxx. He continued working as an activist, writing commentary on xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx. Most of his writing criticised the rise of ISIS. 

In October 2013, xxxxx was killed by ISIS in xxxxx in Aleppo governorate. He was xx years old. xxxxx was  a journalist. He was murdered while xxxxx. Two ISIS members came into xxxxx xxxxx and shot the victim. One ISIS member was waiting outside. Witnesses recognized them as being from ISIS. The interviewee was informed of what happened by friends who witnessed the event. The murder of xxxxx was widely reported. ISIS announced on Twitter that they would continue killing people working for his media outlet. The interviewee saw the Twitter message. (A copy of Twitter message has been retrieved and archived).

On xx November 2013, another friend of the interviewee was kidnapped by ISIS. His name was xxxxx, aged xx years. He was also a journalist.

On xx November 2013, the interviewee was arrested at his house in xxxxx by five members of ISIS. ISIS members handcuffed and blindfolded him and took him away in the presence of his friends. His friends and family were not arrested. ISIS took the interviewee to a former hospital in Qadi Askar. The interviewee was put into in a cell in the basement. There were 12 cells. Each cell contained 40 to 50 people. All detainees were male. Most of the detainees were activists or people who opposed ISIS’s ideology. 

The next day, the interviewee was taken out of his cell, blindfolded, and escorted into a room on the first floor. While he lay on the ground, up to four ISIS members beat him with their hands, feet, and a wooden stick. He was beaten because he criticized ISIS on a public page of Facebook. 

The interviewee was detained for xx days. He was handcuffed with his hands in front of him. Each time an ISIS member would come, everyone was forced to stand against the wall so nobody would see them. If ISIS needed one of the detainees, he would be blindfolded before being taken away. During the last three days of his detention, the interviewee asked ISIS to remove his handcuffs because he had small insects over his body. Conditions of the cells were very bad. There was no bathroom. Many detainees had long hair. Interviewee did not take a shower for the entirety of his time in custody.

Every day he could hear people being tortured but could not see what was done to them. After xx days they interrogated and beat him again. Then ISIS members started to come into the basement on a daily basis. It became evident to him that his fellow detainees were being executed. The executions followed a pattern: two ISIS members would come into the cell, announce the names of the wanted persons, blindfold them while standing against the wall, escort them out of the cell into the first floor and a few minutes later they would hear gunshots. This occurred once a day, every day. 

During the last three days, there were 27 detainees left in the interviewee’s cell. One day, 19 detainees were killed from his cell at the same time. The last day ISIS came into his cell and called his name and another detainee called xxxxx. At that time clashes were taking place outside the building. Just when they were being escorted out of the cell, fighters from another armed group entered the building and started shooting. The interviewee and xxxxx were pushed back into the cell and ISIS locked their cell. Some members of ISIS escaped during the clashes, while others were killed. 

Around 150 people were released by the other armed group on 7 or 8 January 2014. The interviewee estimates that before the execution, there were between 400 and 600 detainees. When fighters from the other armed group helped the survivors escape from the backyard of the building, they discovered approximately 45 bodies in the yard of the hospital. They had all recently been  shot in the back of their head. The other armed group filmed the discovered bodies. (A copy of video has been retrieved and archived). The interviewee, aided by the other armed groups, escaped on 8 January 2014 and went to his family in xxxxx

 ————

This story was one of twelve testimonies released yesterday by the Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry. The commission’s chairperson Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, said plainly upon its release, “I have run out of words to depict the gravity of the crimes committed inside Syria.”

 

 

Rights | | Leave a comment
CITIZENS OF BOMI COUNTY, LIBERIA, WAIT FOR A VISIT OF PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF. AUGUST 2014. PHOTO: UNDP IN LIBERIA

The Devastating Economic Impact of Ebola

Ed note: This is a special guest post from Antionio Vigilante of the United Nations Development Program

Monrovia, Liberia—As the Ebola crisis continues to take a toll on people’s lives and livelihoods in West Africa, the focus is increasingly not just on the health aspects of the crisis, but also on its social and economic consequences.

Sure, the human and medical aspects of the crisis are still on the front burner, as they should be. Losing a spouse, a child or another close relative is devastating. The health sector is under tremendous pressure to cope with the sick, and even to protect its own workers from contagion. 

There are also health ramifications for those not affected by Ebola: access to regular health care is reduced due to closures of hospitals and clinics, loss of nurses and doctors and increased fees by private health care providers. Vaccination coverage, for instance, had already declined by 50 percent by July. Women in labour struggle to obtain skilled maternity care — in some cases they are turned away from the few institutions still in operation. People with HIV who are on antiretroviral drugs and people with chronic diseases on prolonged care have had their treatment interrupted as a result of the closure of health facilities. The public health care system has all but collapsed in parts of the areas hardest hit by Ebola.

Before the current crisis, Liberia’s economy experienced impressive growth rates of up to 8.7 per cent (2013). GDP growth was already projected to decline to 5.9 per cent this year, as mining production leveled off temporarily, coupled with the fall in international prices for rubber and iron ore, before rising to 6.8 per cent in 2015 and 7.2 per cent in 2016. Future growth figures will now have to be revised, as economic activities have slowed down dramatically in most sectors.

But there is also an underlying issue at hand: The impressive recent growth in Liberia has not been equitable or inclusive. About 57 per cent of the country’s approximately 4 million inhabitants live below the poverty line and 48 per cent live in conditions of extreme poverty. The lack of equitable, inclusive development means that more than half of the country’s population—especially women and children–is particularly vulnerable to shocks and crises, ultimately making the whole country less robust and less able to handle a crisis of any magnitude.

Part of the challenge in restoring livelihoods is psychological in nature. Fear and isolation can in the end take more lives than the Ebola virus itself if businesses are not operating, livelihoods disappear and public services are not delivered.

Reduced tax revenues go hand in hand with a decrease in the government’s ability to respond to the crisis. A decline in revenues is expected as Ebola continues to claim the lives of Liberians and the government continues to enforce travel restrictions as part of the state of emergency.  Soon, this is likely to impact salary payments for public employees and could paralyze the country further. Trust in the government is also on the line as it becomes increasingly unable to protect its citizens and deliver the services they desperately need. 

At the same time, prices of locally grown and imported foods are increasing as the state of emergency, military road blocks and restricted travel slow down trade. The trend is amplified by a vicious cycle of falling consumer demand and shrinking levels of income. 

In this scenario, it is crucial to put in place adequate social protection mechanisms, as the fall in disposable income make families unable to afford food and health services. This would not only contribute to improving social stability and security, but would also make Liberian society as a whole more robust and resilient.

Indeed, a large portion of the population is in need of public assistance. The latest data indicate that about 78 percent of the labour force is in a situation of vulnerable employment. By contrast, formally paid employees (about 195,000 people) make up only about 5 per cent of the population. About 13 percent of households do not have access to sufficient food and 28 per cent are vulnerable to food insecurity. If the poorest segments of the population get access to some form of social protection mechanism, it will enable them to better withstand the current crisis, as well as future ones. 

In the remote parts of the country, far from the hustle and bustle of its capital, Monrovia, it is also necessary to strengthen local authorities’ ability to handle the crisis, for instance by improving monitoring mechanisms and making protection equipment available for those who are in direct contact with Ebola patients and corpses.

The resurgence of the Ebola crisis since July and its gradual escalation into a national emergency in Liberia has diverted the focus and resources available to the authorities to the containment of the virus. In this phase of the crisis, it is necessary to act on all fronts to meet the devastating health, social and economic challenges before Liberia and other affected countries see all their hard-won development gains dwindle to nothing.

- Antionio Vigilante is Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Liberia

Development | | Leave a comment
the delivery of life-saving supplies by air in the town of Kiech Kon in the remote Upper Nile State. credit UNICEF

South Sudan’s Horrible Decision

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The country is on the brink of famine and a top minister thinks harassing foreign aid workers makes for good policy. “South Sudan’s labor minister declared Tuesday that foreigners can no longer work for international non-governmental organizations, which are moving massive amounts of humanitarian aid in a country on the brink of famine. The order, reported by a local radio station, also applies to communications companies, banks, insurance companies, oil companies and hotels. It says that foreign workers of any nationality must stop working by Oct. 15 and businesses or organizations must thereafter advertise for the vacant posts.” (BuzzFeed http://bzfd.it/1woByav)

Humanity Affirming Stat of the Day: New data released by the United Nations show that under-five mortality rates have dropped by 49% between 1990 and 2013. The average annual reduction has accelerated – in some countries it has even tripled – but overall progress is still short of meeting the global target of a two-thirds decrease in under-five mortality by 2015. (WHO http://bit.ly/XbZuBh)

This is How Much it Will Cost to Stop Ebola…“The World Health Organization and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), released its first ever system-wide needs assessment that systematically details the financial requirements for stopping the outbreak. So how much money do humanitarian agencies need to stop ebola in its tracks?  Nearly $1 billion — or $987.8 million to be precise. This includes $189 million to identify and trace people with ebola; $330 million for treatment of people with the disease; $40 million for equipment; $20 million for fuel; $2.5 million in cash incentives for healthcare workers; and $23 million for “safe and dignified burials” to prevent a key point of transmission for the virus, among other expenses. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1r4xL23)

The United Nations says tens of thousands of cases of enforced disappearances remain unsolved. (VOA http://bit.ly/1m8gyo6)

Global Dispatches Podcast: The Ruth Messinger interview. The longtime New York politician lost to Rudy Giuliani for New York City Mayor, then set her sights on global affairs as leader of the American Jewish World Service   http://bit.ly/1wlTkLq

Africa

The United States announced on Tuesday that it would send 3,000 troops to help tackle the Ebola outbreak as part of a ramped-up response including a major deployment in Liberia, the country where the epidemic is spiralling fastest out of control. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1u2pgTe)

The number of hungry people in the world has fallen sharply over the past decade but 805 million, or one in nine of the global population, still do not have enough to eat, three U.N. food and agriculture agencies said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1m8fNeG)

The Ebola response in Liberia, the country worst hit by the outbreak, will focus on community-level care units since new bed spaces are unlikely to be ready for weeks or months, World Health Organization Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward said. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1m8g8y3)

The United Nations took over a peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic previously run by the African Union, a move that rights groups said must lead to more action to protect civilians from attack. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1u2sC8Y)

West African governments are being urged to ensure human rights are respected as they battle the ongoing Ebola outbreak. Human Rights Watch says the response to the crisis has been slowed by ignorance, fear, denial and mistrust. (VOA http://bit.ly/1u2tEBL)

A campaign to persuade people in Rwanda to buy a new improved type of cooking stove – which uses less fuel and is less smoky – hasn’t succeeded, according to the stoves’ manufacturers. (VOA http://bit.ly/1m8gJ2A )

The United Nations says huge loads of equipment, needed by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic are blocked at the Douala seaport in Cameroon. (VOA http://bit.ly/1m8gVPl)

MENA

U.N. investigators say there is evidence of brutal crimes being committed in Syria by all warring factions. In its latest report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria documents gross violations and mass atrocities perpetrated by the militant Islamic State, other armed groups and government forces against civilians. (VOA http://bit.ly/1u2vClD)

Qatar has issued a new law to regulate charities in the Gulf state amid growing concern in the West over funding received by Islamic State militants. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1m8ipcu)

Asia

A look at Myanmar’s struggling clay pot industry. (AP http://yhoo.it/1u2xaMo)

The Americas

With US immigration reform long delayed, a Honduran mother and son are traveling to the capitol to tell lawmakers why they came to Boston and should be allowed to stay. (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1m8eUTm)

Panama is the first Latin American country to have adopted a national strategy to combat what is known as hidden hunger, with a plan aimed at eliminating micronutrient deficiencies among the most vulnerable segments of the population by means of biofortification of food crops. (IPS http://bit.ly/1m8ghS3)

Poor sanitation has caused serious health problems in Haiti - but could a special eco toilet improve the situation? (BBC Video http://bbc.in/1u2t1rP)

With approximately 500,000 underground abortions each year, Argentina’s government and the Catholic Church have created a moral paradox of immense proportions. (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1m8k6qb)

Opinion/Blogs

Why are western health workers with Ebola flown out, but locals left to die? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1m8f8df)

Towards the Next Horizon for Nutrition – Capacity Development (Global Nutrition Report Blog http://bit.ly/1u2wy9L)

Separate Legal Identity and Birth Registration in the Post-2015 Agenda (CGD http://bit.ly/1u2BCuH)

Hold the outrage: Airlifting Ebola-afflicted health workers is not a solution (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1m8lfhu)

Do TOMS shoes harm local shoe sellers? (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1u2EXKq)

Not so mega? The risky business of large-scale public-private partnerships in African agriculture (From Poverty to Power http://bit.ly/Zof2n7)

11 useless approaches to communicating about global development (How Matters http://bit.ly/Zof3Yu )

On cognitive dissonance: Local ownership & constant learning (WhyDev http://bit.ly/Zof7aB)

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Kenema Government Hospital, Sierra Leone
© IRIN/OCHA

Here’s How Much It Will Cost to Stop Ebola

The USA is dramatically scaling up its efforts to help countries in West Africa deal with an ebola outbreak that is spiraling out of control. In a speech at the US Centers for Disease Control today, President Obama is expected to discuss details of this strategy, which includes the deployment of up to 3,000 military personnel to Liberia to set up mobile clinics and help distribute protective equipment to the homes of hundreds of thousands of Liberians.

It’s a big effort. It is also a monumental shift in American strategy for dealing with this outbreak. But is it enough?

In Geneva today, the World Health Organization and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), released its first ever system-wide needs assessment that systematically details the financial requirements for stopping the outbreak. (This is a typical exercise for the UN. When disaster strikes, OCHA will estimate things like the number of tents and food rations required to keep the affected population alive during the response and recovery period. It compiles all this data and releases what’s called a humanitarian appeal, against which donors can contribute.)

So how much money do humanitarian agencies need to stop ebola in its tracks?  Nearly $1 billion — or $987.8 million to be precise. This includes $189 million to identify and trace people with ebola; $330 million for treatment of people with the disease; $40 million for equipment; $20 million for fuel; $2.5 million in cash incentives for healthcare workers; and $23 million for “safe and dignified burials” to prevent a key point of transmission for the virus, among other expenses.

As far as humanitarian appeals go, this appeal is very large. In terms of funding requirements, the only currently larger appeals are the man made disasters in Syria and South Sudan.

To date, donors have only contributed $150 million to ebola response. This leaves a huge gap that the international community needs to urgently fill. The announcement by the White House of additional funds to support the international response will help–and the USA is already the single largest financial contributor to the international ebola response. But other countries will need to step up if this funding gap is to be filled.

Funding is the most important metric against which to measure whether or not the international community is mobilizing sufficiently to respond to this crisis. If that $987.8 million is raised, this crisis will be brought under control, and stability would be restored to fragile post conflict countries in West Africa. If donors pony up much less than that, this outbreak will at best fester and at worst metastasize in the months to come.

Health | | Leave a comment

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