CID Weekly: Myanmar crisis, refugee programme and more.

Posted on 09 February 2021

Development & Humanitarian News

+ Myanmar crisis calls NZ aid into question

New Zealand's Myanmar community, supported by CID members including UnionAID, will gather outside parliament at 6pm today to ask our government to work urgently with the international community to urge Myanmar’s military to release all those arbitrarily detained, restore internet access and all forms of communication, to respect the November 2020 election results, and to allow for the start of the new Parliament by elected representatives. 

The military coup could put peace and therefore development gains back many years. Reports of internet blackouts, arbitrary arrests and fear of lethal violence is of grave concern.  The Lowy Institute explains how Myanmar's move to democracy was 'only ever a partial step'.

Last week Officials from the U.S. Department of State told reporters that the military takeover in Myanmar constituted a 'coup d’etat', a designation that carries restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance to the country, reports Michael Igoe of Devex.

The U.S. government is now assessing its foreign aid funding to ensure humanitarian aid can continue, while any funding that goes directly to the government is suspended.

In recent years New Zealand has increased its aid to Myanmar, one of the least developed countries in South East Asia. Primary areas include 'improved access to cheap, clean energy, prosperity for farmers, knowledge and skills capability, and disaster preparedness'.

Details of the 6pm event are here. 

+ First big speech on foreign affairs

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta has given her  inaugural foreign policy speech charting a new foreign affairs path.

“By building on the values of whanaungatanga (kinship), kotahitanga (common purpose) and kaitiakitanga (stewardship and care) we can promote investment, advocacy, and co-partnering the long term resilience of the Pacific."

+ NZ Refugee Quota Programme to resume

A total of 210 people are expected to arrive in New Zealand by the end of June, as the Refugee Quota Programme restarts after being interrupted by COVID since March 2020. 

All refugees will complete 14 days in a managed isolation facility before being transferred to Te Āhuru Mōwai o Aotearoa (the Māngere Refugee Resettlement Centre) to begin the resettlement programme and confirm housing arrangements. 

Despite the revival of the programme, Immigration New Zealand have confirmed that the refugee intake will fall short of the raised quota of 1500 in 2020/21. On this matter, Red Cross general manager of migration Rachel O'Connor said that the Government still needed to fulfil the initial quota as there are over 1200 refugees due to come.

“Since March 2020, when New Zealand borders closed, until today, 1,217 people due to come here haven’t arrived, so we have a lot of catching up to do.”

+ 'Global Gag Rule' reversed by Biden

US President Joe Biden has reversed the policy that banned federal funds from reaching organisations abroad that perform or facilitate abortions, including sharing information about the procedure.

The so-called global gag rule, first enacted by the Reagan administration in 1984, has been reversed by every Democratic president since—only to then be reinstated by each Republican that enters the Oval Office, including Trump, reports The Conversation.

"The policy allows for limited exceptions. For example, NGOs may provide information, referrals or services for legal abortion in cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy threatens the life of the pregnant person. However, our research shows that these exceptions are not always understood or followed in practice.

+ Building your financial reserves

Since COVID, it's clear NGOs need to grow their financial reserves and adopt new financial strategies to remain sustainable. Even before the pandemic, most NGOs had insufficient reserves.

UK's BOND report on new approaches to building financial reserves.

Recommendations include:

  • Make sure you have a reserves policy 
  • Reserves should be part of your wider financial culture
  • Think long term - it takes a long time to build up reserves
  • Reserves should be between 3-6 months of running costs
  • Get the balance right. Minimums are needed to gain donors’ confidence. But too high, and it looks like you don't need donor funds.
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Members Activities & Updates

+ CID members support Myanmar community

New Zealand's Myanmar community will gather outside Parliament today at 6pm. CID members, including UnionAid are going along to support.  Details here.

+ Oxfam Responds to Climate Commission Draft Report

Oxfam welcomes the release of the Climate Change Commission’s draft report on cutting New Zealand’s pollution, but says that doing our fair share for 1.5 degrees means much more ambitious action is needed now than the Commission currently recommends. You can read their response here

If you would like to share your organisation's jobs, events, or recent activities, please send an email to with an outline of the activity so it can be added to the next edition of the CID Weekly. 

Pacific News in Brief 

+ Former PM of Cooks become Secretary General

Former Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna has been voted the new Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum following a contested election, reports RNZ.  Puna succeeds Papua New Guinea's Dame Meg-Taylor who had held the role for more than six years.

Following the decision, Micronesian states have threatened to leave the Forum over claims the vote reneges on a gentlemen's agreement to rotate the Secretary-General position between Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia.  Palau has closed its embassy in Fiji and is preparing to leave the Forum.

+ Extra funding for Pacific vaccines confirmed

Foreign Affairs minister, Nanaia Mahuta has  confirmed New Zealand has earmarked $75 million of Official Development Assistance to support Pacific vaccine access.

+ Tonga passes on RSE scheme this year

Tonga has passed on the RSE scheme, citing an inability to provide the number of quarantine facilities required once workers return home.

+ Flight from NZ arrives in Cook Islands

The Cook Islands Government allowed a flight to arrive from New Zealand with passengers required to quarantine for up to two weeks upon landing in Rarotonga, reports PCF.

"Passengers who tested negative were allowed early release and will require follow-up testing. The next flight is expected to be quarantine free if New Zealand maintains zero community cases."


Useful Links, Webinars & Podcasts

+ CID Talk: 'What is Pacific Development, as defined by Pacific people?'

"What is Pacific development, as defined by Pacific people? Is Pacific development happening in Aotearoa New Zealand? What can traditional Pacific voyaging on waka hourua, double-hulled ocean-going sailing canoes, teach us about addressing modern humanitarian issues in a relevant and sustainable way?"

Natia Tucker will give a lunchtime CID Talk on Wednesday 24 February (12pm-1pm).

Natia has 20 years experience in development across both her home countries, Samoa and Aotearoa New Zealand. She recently completed her MPhil at AUT where she explored Pacific development. She has taken a year's leave from community development work at Auckland Council to put her learnings into practice.

This lunchtime talk will be a collection of stories and songs.

It will present six key elements of Pacific development and then demonstrate how learning traditional voyaging delivers on all six elements, while also delivering on international development objectives.

More details to follow.

+ Canadian International Development Week Online Events
International Development Week in Canada runs from 7 - 13th February, and features a range of online events that anyone can join. 

View the events lineup here