CID Weekly: Sulawesi EQ, Cook Islands travel & more.

Posted on 19 January 2021

+ Fiji to head UN Human Rights Council

Fiji's ambassador to Geneva, Nazhat Shameem Khan, will serve as the United Nations Human Rights Council's president for this year. She was elected by an unprecedented secret ballot after a diplomatic stand-off prevented a consensus decision.

Earlier this month, Khan's candidacy for the role was opposed by Russia and China, who saw Fiji's as a staunch human rights defender, creating a deadlock just as Washington may seek to rejoin the forum it quit in 2018. “Neither China nor Russia want a human rights-friendly country to hold the presidency in a year where the U.S. will probably re-engage with the council,” stated Marc Limon of the Universal Rights Group think-tank.

Khan - and Fiji - will lead the council at a time of intensifying competition and scrutiny over states holding abusers to account. Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama hailed the appointment as coming at a critical time for humanity.

New Zealand Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, said it would see Pacific voices represented at an important global forum.

+ Cook Islanders to resume travel to NZ from this week

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown have announced that Cook Islanders can travel to New Zealand quarantine-free from Thursday 21st January, in order to enable access to essential services in New Zealand. 

Prime Minister Mark Brown said, "Cook Islanders look forward to quarantine-free entry to New Zealand to enable access to essential services, in the lead up to resuming free movement of people in both directions. I welcome the support of and joint effort with the New Zealand Government to institute this safe travel corridor which will enable essential health, education, economic and social connections for the first time in many months for our people."

Ardern also stressed that many precautions were being taken in the new move, stating,  "Both countries continue to take a very careful approach to managing our borders and preventing the spread of COVID remains our paramount concern. As such strict protocols will be in place including pre-departure health requirements and separation from other travellers at Auckland International Airport".

+ 10 most underreported humanitarian crises in 2020

Last week CARE International launched it's annual report; 'The 10 most under-reported humanitarian crisis of 2020'. The analysis is based on online media coverage in five languages throughout the year. CARE sees a concerning trend of crises being neglected year after year.  

Six out of the ten crises are located on the African continent. The Central African Republic has appeared in the ranking for five consecutive years. Both Madagascar and Burundi – the latter this year’s number 1 with the least media coverage – have made CARE’s list four times so far. This lack of attention adds to burdens such as the severe effects of COVID-19 restrictions and the growing impact of climate change in these countries.

“Covid-19 has shown us that humanitarian crises can occur anywhere”, says Delphine Pinault, CARE International’s Humanitarian Advocacy Coordinator and UN representative, “but for so many people, especially women and girls, Covid-19 is just another threat on top of what they must face already. We must not be silent while the world ignores crises that started long before Covid-19 and yet still have not been addressed.”

+ 84 confirmed West Sulawesi EQ fatalities

A series of earthquakes has been occurring in the West Sulawesi province since Thursday 14th January. The largest earthquake, at a magnitude of 6.2, struck on Friday demolishing buildings, including hospitals.

According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNBP), by Monday, close to 500,000 lives had been affected by this earthquake. Approximately 27,850 people are have been forced to evacuate from their homes, while fatalities have been confirmed at 84 people, with a further 750+ injured. 

With thousands displaced, authorities were also working to stem the spread of the coronavirus among evacuees. Aside from the earthquake, the world's fourth-most populous country also suffered a plane crash on Saturday, 9th January that killed 62 people, as well as va deadly landslide in Java, and the eruption of the Merapi and Semeru volcanoes. 

+ World's largest NGO leading change in the sector

In the wake of COVID-19, BRAC International, which is considered the world's largest NGO, has shifted the way it works to have more of a focus on partnerships and increased engagement in advocacy work in order to scale its impact. This shift has been highlighted in its response to COVID, with BRAC partnering with the World Food Programme to address food insecurity, and engaging with governments to promote public health measures.

On this changing approach to development work, BRAC International's Executive Director, Muhammad Musa, “Over time we would like to become a capacity builder for local actors and support local initiatives for adapting local problems.” This shift led by BRAC International has been commended by other NGOs when consulted by Devex, with Oxfam GB's CE, Danny Sriskandarajah, stating  “I think there is a question about what the next generation of international NGO networks will look like. And it probably is more like a franchise or a partnership model rather than a direct delivery model.”

+ Former US UN Ambassador to lead USAID

Last week U.S. President-elect Joe Biden named Samantha Power, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as his choice to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “Power will rally the international community and work with our partners to confront the biggest challenges of our time — including COVID-19, climate change, global poverty, and democratic backsliding,” his transition team said in a statement.

Power was US ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama-Biden administration and also served on Barack Obama’s national security council, as well as being a foreign policy and human rights adviser to the former Democratic president.

Biden has announced that he would elevate the USAID administrator to have a seat at his White House’s national security council, a significant move after Donald Trump was focused on cutting US aid overseas.

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