Nearly a million Syrians displaced in 2018 alone, Trump, Kim and the G7...

Posted on 12 June 2018

+ Nearly a million Syrians displaced in 2018 alone 

 Figures from the first 4 months of this year are the highest since war began in 2011, bringing the total number of internally displaced Syrians to 6.2 million. Another 5.6 million are sheltering in neighbouring countries.

Recent airstrikes in rebel-held Idlib province prompted a warning by U.N. humanitarian agency's (OCHA) top official for Syria that "we may have not seen the worst of the crisis" in Syria even after seven years of war. Speaking from Geneva, Panos Moumtzis noted military escalation could make Idlib's situation "much more complicated and brutal" than other conflict zones in Syria.

The UN's secretary general has called for an investigation into this recent attack allegedly conducted by Russian jets, which Syrian war monitor and paramedics reported as killing at least 35 people and wounding dozens more  in one of the deadliest incidents in this part of the country this year. 

As Russia continues to deny responsibility for the attack, Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) have launched several retaliatory airstrikes over the Idlib Governorate last Sunday the 10th, targeting several areas controlled by Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and their allies: Binnish, Taftanaz, and a number of other towns located near the provincial capital.

OCHA is on “high alert for possible further displacement among the estimated two and a half million people in Idlib. Moumtzis fears that an escalation in fighting in Idlib will force residents to try to flee north into hostile Turkey. "There is no place left to go” within Syria, he says. 

+ Trump, Kim and the G7

It's almost exactly the halfway point of 2018 - and President Trump and Kim Jong-Un have met.

Before we get in to politics, check out some of the weird (or perhaps precisely fit-to-context) memorabilia on sale on the streets of Singapore, including summit-branded water bottles and fans. 

Meanwhile human rights groups are watching for Mr. Trump to bring up North Korea’s widespread crimes against humanity.

North Korea has one of the worst human rights records of any country, including crimes that “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” concluded a 2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea.

The summit meeting comes days after a chaotic G7 where Trump managed to get himself off-side with America's key allies, including Canada. Russia was excluded from the G8 after the annexing of Crimea. It's worth looking back on the origin of the G8.

It goes back to the Reagan administration in the 1980s, writes Strobe Talbot of Politico. 

"Mikhail Gorbachev was ending the Cold War and trying to convert the Soviet Union to a normal, modern state that would integrate into global economy and a rule-based international order. He hoped that the major democratic states would bring him into their fold, at least as an associate member.

The seven members of the G7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States—supported the Gorbachev reforms: perestroika (reconstruction of the economy), glasnost (free speech and muzzling the Big Lie), lifting repression of Soviet citizens and Moscow’s domination of Eastern Europe."

+ Has volunteering peaked?

Volunteering is undervalued and has likely peaked, writes John McLeod in the 2018 JB Were report on support for Australian NGOs. 

John will be known to many in the New Zealand sector as the author of the JB Were Cause Report last year, and a member of our excellent panel at the CID conference in 2017.

Other interesting facts from this latest survey:

  • More women volunteer than men.
  • The financial value of volunteering to the sector is 1.7 times that of donations and bequests "but very few organisations put more effort into volunteering compared to seeking donations."
  • Bequests are set to become more significant with an ageing population and rising house values.
  • Public donations from mass market fundraising will continue to decline, but there is still considerable growth possible in the High Net Worth Individuals category.
  • Good news - JB Were expects overall donations and bequests to rise at a faster rate over the next 20 years than seen in the last 20 years, "but we see the mix changing significantly with structured giving, bequests and corporate support rising much faster than the mass market giving and volunteering."
  • Both corporates and INGOs still lack the skills to make partnerships work well, but the corporate sector remains keen to be a strong supporter on the sector 

Although this is an Australian survey, much of the analysis rings true for us in New Zealand. For instance, funding models:

"Fundraising and volunteering are vitally important to the successful, impact maximizing, future of the for-purpose sector. However, it isn’t an activity well understood by most supporters and increasingly isn’t seen as important by a growing number of Australians."

Even for those closely involved in either seeking or using that support, there are many significant changes taking place that are altering the face of giving and the skills needed
to attract it."

+ Aid definitions

The International Development Select Committee has published their inquiry into the definition and administration of official development assistance (ODA). The final report examines the current definition of ODA in light of the high-level meeting of the OECD DAC in October 2017, and critiques how UK aid is spent across government.   

Bond gave evidence at the inquiry.

According to Bond, the committee’s inquiry finds:

  • No major changes to the current definition of ODA are required.
  • They oppose other, more far-reaching proposals to be counted as ODA, such as counting all humanitarian assistance - irrespective of the economic status of the recipient country or territory - as aid.
  • Attempts to “manipulate the definition risk damaging the UK’s reputation for expertise and professionalism in aid delivery”.
  • The UK should continue to provide whatever assistance is necessary to its overseas territories, as required under the International Development Act 2002.
In a nut shell, reducing poverty should always come first.

Also important was this:

"The quality of aid - and the British public’s trust in aid - would improve greatly if the secretary of state had increased oversight for aid delivery across all government departments."

In New Zealand we have 33 government departments active in development in the Pacific. We could do with more oversight too.

+ Africa's 3 deadly deficits

Education, electricity and taxes.

According to the Brookings Institute, in 2016, per capita income growth in sub-Saharan Africa turned negative for the first time in the 2000s."

Because of the recovery of oil prices, the outlook since 2017 has been more optimistic.

"In its May 2018 Africa Regional Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that the region’s GDP growth would rise 3.4 percent in 2018, 0.6 percentage points higher than in 2017. Other forecasts are similar: The World Bank projects growth rates of 3.1 percent in 2018 and an average of 3.6 percent in 2019-20."

+ Cautious step forward for Rohingya

Months of negotiations between Myanmar and the United Nations on facilitating the “safe, voluntary, and dignified return” of Rohingya refugees in camps in Bangladesh have come to a head with a Memorandum of Understanding formalised at the beginning of this month. This is seen as a 'first step' in paving the road back to Myanmar for the many thousands displaced by the ongoing conflict in Rakhine.

Under this arrangement both the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and UN Development Program have agreed to work with Aung San Suu Kyi's Government on repatriation. Part of the Memorandum works as a "framework” for access to areas of northern Rakhine State that have been mostly off limits since before the attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on on 25 August last year.

However, the two UN agencies appear to remain cautious in their collaboration, making sure to note that conditions surrounding the crisis are "still not conducive for voluntary return.”

+ Positions harden in New Caledonia

"Barely a month since the carefully choreographed visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to New Caledonia, positions have hardened as parties prepare for the 4 November 2018 independence referendum," writes Denise Fisher from the Lowy Institute.
+ Population growth doesn't mean more famines

Conflict, political oppression, corruption, or gross economic mismanagement on the part of dictatorships or colonial regimes played a bigger role than population  in most famines of the 20th and 21st centuries, new data from Our World In Data reveals. 

These same factors are also disproportionately seen in the most acutely food-insecure countries today. 

"It is also true of the 2011 famine in Somalia, in which food aid was greatly restricted, and in some cases diverted, by militant Islamist group al Shabaab and other armed opposition groups in the country."

+ CID Talks: Anne-Marie Brook

CID was honoured to partner with Anne-Marie Brook to discuss Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) last week. Anne-Marie is the co-founder and Development Lead on HRMI, a global data project that is re-imagining the way we understand human rights.

With Anne-Marie and her colleagues working to collect, quantify, and condense expert data in to indicators of performance, HRMI represents a capacity to pinpoint how effectively states are meeting their commitment to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. This is a potential revolution for development: a budding ‘impact currency’ situating human rights in practical reality, and establishing a global reference point to inspire more ethical behaviour by states and other actors. 

Currently in its pilot stage, the HRMI comprises data on 12 human rights – broadly separable in to Economic, Social, and Cultural rights, and Civil and Political rights – from 13 self-nominated countries. Data was collected from a number of local experts on rights in each country was aggregated according to a measure of ‘progressive realisation’, which means country’s quantified human rights performance is expressed in terms of its economic and structural capacity to deliver: outcome as a function of potential. This latter measurement is derived from GDP per capita, allowing comparison of rights realisation across various scales of wealth, where performance is graphed with reference to an ‘Achievement Possibilities Frontier’. What’s important about this is that countries which closely fit the APF are recognised as high achieving – even if they appear to perform poorly on an aggregate level.  

With the HRMI methodology, is also possible to investigate how rights are realised at the micro-level, with national performance adjustable by gender and ethnicity.

Explore HRMI here.

For a summary of the conversation, please see this link. The live stream of Anne-Marie's presentation is available on our Facebook page, and her presentation slides are available here. 

CID would like to thank VSA for providing the venue for Anne-Marie’s talk.


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