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 Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has never been confused for a hotbed of international diplomacy — the weather is hot, yes, but the diplomacy, not so much. As I prepared to head down to T&T to take up a diplomatic assignment a few years ago, a colleague with a full 15 years in the State Department looked at my name tag, which indicated my upcoming assignment, and said, “Port of Spain, now that’s one I’ve never heard of, where is that?”
So, as President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban and the rest of the hemisphere’s leaders get ready for this year’s Summit of the Americas, more than a few staffers, diplomats and journalists will be pulling out their atlases. One thing I’m sure they’ll find in Trinidad is warm hospitality and, if they step away from the formal events, a good lime (more on that later). But, they will also find a small country facing many of the difficult issues that the Obama administration is currently trying to tackle.
In places where there are few cars, where roads remain unpaved, where basic infrastructure services such as clean water and electricity are scant, mobile phone technology has become an enabling power for millions of people. As many readers of UN Dispatch already know, this is particularly the case in the field of global health, where mobile technology is revolutionizing healthcare delivery in the developing world (see some examples here).
Today is World Health Day, a day set aside to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. This year’s focus is on the safety of health facilities, and the readiness of health workers who treat those affected by emergencies – a challenge, particularly in remote and resource-poor environments where health workers may have infrequent contact with home offices.
Discussions on the precarious situation in Pakistan today tend to be focused mostly on the threat from fundamentalist or “jihadi” militants. The focus on that threat is absolutely critical, however, there are underlying structural factors that also play a key role in Pakistan’s instability. Rural poverty is a major factor that, so far, has not garnered the attention is deserves.
Eriposte is a regular contributor to The Left Coaster, where he frequently writes on issues pertaining to the Indian sub-continent. Below the fold is an in-depth post that explores the relationship between rural poverty and state security in Pakistan. For more on the relationship between poverty and terrorism see this post from UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
(By Mark Leon Goldberg. This item originally appeared in the American Prospect online)
In the coming weeks, Darfur will reach yet another crisis point when the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues an arrest warrant for President Omar al Bashir of Sudan. When this happens, President Bashir has all but promised retaliation — against United Nations personnel in Sudan, against Darfuris, and against southern Sudanese separatists. This much we know. What is still unclear is how the Obama administration intends to respond.
(by Dayo Olopade. Dayo holds degrees in Literature and African Studies from Yale University, and is the Washington reporter for The Root.)
LAGOS, NIGERIA–As Lagosians returned to work last week after the holidays, the headlines singing on newsstands across Nigeria was, like most things in this country, shocking, yet pedestrian: “FG, AGENCIES, BUDGET $2bn FOR GENERATORS.” Federal agencies from finance to foreign affairs, from commerce to local police have budgeted a total of $2 billion for the privilege of constant electricity in this next year of the 21st century. Lest this seem exorbitant, recall that similar budgetary requests have been made for the last several years. It’s not just that the dread Nigerian Electrical and Power Authority (NEPA) will continue to “take light” repeatedly and at random in 2009–nor that countless children will again be burned in kerosene lamp accidents, or smothered by monoxide fumes from faulty generators–this reporting plainly reveals the extent to which NEPA’s inefficiencies severely retard Nigerian development.
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.