New Zealand Red Cross nurse, remittances, Solomon Islands elections, the future of aid

Posted on 16 April 2019

+ "We just want her home": Abduction of New Zealand Red Cross Nurse

The reality of the risks that some in our sector face when working in conflict zones and situations of violence has been thrown into stark relief with confirmation that a nurse from New Zealand Red Cross, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was abducted in October 2013 in Syria and remains missing.

New Zealand Red Cross have released a statement outlining that Louisa Akavi was taken, along with six others, while delivering supplies to medical facilities in  north-western Syria. While four of the abductees were released the next day, Louisa’s fate and that of her two Syrian ICRC colleagues remains unknown.

The Red Cross Movement along with the New Zealand government have reason to believe Louisa is alive. The  ensuring 'media black-out' since her abduction has been a critical component of ensuring greater security for those still held, as outlined in yesterday's New York Times article.

Aid worker kidnappings have quadrupled since 2009, one reason the 2013 Aid Worker Security Report was ominously titled 'The New Normal: Coping with the kidnapping threat'. The latest Aid Worker Security Report (AWSR) for 2018 illustrates that Syria, along with South Sudan, Afghanistan and Central African Republic (CAR) have accounted for two thirds of all recent major incidents against aid workers. This increase in kidnappings since 2016 points to a troubling trend of armed groups increasingly using this tactic to assert control over aid operations.

Risk management and duty of care has increasingly been strengthened by NGOs and other humanitarian organisations since 2013. However, organisational frameworks do not speak to the emotional impact that such threats cause in real terms to family, friends and colleagues of those that fall victim to such incidences in the field.

New Zealand Red Cross secretary general Niamh Lawless said the family still held out hope that Akavi was alive and will come home, and that they were holding up as best as can be expected.

In a family statement released yesterday, the family shared "Our family misses her very much and is concerned for her safety... We know her and love her and trust her. We don't know what kind of coping mechanisms she may have needed to use to survive for five and half years."

While we think of the many organisations and staff dealing with dangerous contexts, CID's thoughts are with our colleagues at New Zealand Red Cross, as well as the family and friends of Louise. We are also thinking of the local Syrian staff that were taken with Louisa, Alaa Rajab and Nabil Bakdounes, and who have not been sighted since. We hope they are all brought home.

+ Aid money flatlines, reveals OECD data

Development assistance fell 2.7% last year, largely due to countries spending less on hosting refugees and changes to whether these costs qualify as aid, writes Vince Chadwick of Devex.

Aid advocates said preliminary data for 2018, released Wednesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, painted a worrying picture. Bilateral assistance to least-developed countries fell 3% from 2017, aid to Africa was down 4%, and humanitarian aid dropped 8%.

But the drop is in part because of the changes to how ODA (Official Development Assistance) is measures.

“This year’s DAC figures used a new methodology. In the past, if countries gave a loan, this was counted as ODA with repayments progressively subtracted. Now, only the amount the donor gives away by lending below market rates counts as ODA. “

The largest donors by volume were the U.S., Germany, U.K., Japan, and France.
+ Meanwhile Remittances grow  - especially in a crisis

The last decade has seen remittances grow, not just for long term development but also in response to humanitarian contexts too. 

Increased migration has led to rapid growth in remittance payments over the past decade. Worth over $613 billion globally, remittances provide a significant flow of money to individuals and households caught up in humanitarian crises, totaling over $52 billion for the largest 20 humanitarian aid recipient countries in 2017. 

Remittance payments are fundamentally different to aid for reasons of both practice and principle, and this should caution against attempts to conceptualise or categorise them as similar to traditional humanitarian aid flows.

Conservative estimates of remittances suggest that they far exceed humanitarian funding, along with constituting a sizable proportion of GDP in crisis-prone countries.  

A new report by the Humanitarian Policy Group 'Remittances in Humanitarian Crisis' (March 2019) shows that the uses, responsiveness and coverage of remittances mean they function differently to humanitarian aid in crisis settings. Despite being used as a safety net for many, those receiving remittances might not necessarily the most vulnerable.
+ ‘Thanks but no thanks’ - Should NGOs go or stay?

ACFID has done some analysis post the Sulawesi Tsunami on how localisation worked.

At the time, the Indonesian government’s request for international NGOs not to come, made sense. This was localisation working. The last thing affected communities needed was a flood of overseas aid workers all needing beds, food and water when there were none of the above for locals.

But its not always that simple:

“Due to extensive damage to infrastructure, and fuel and electricity shortages, it was difficult for relief workers to reach the areas most affected by the disaster and information-flow was patchy. Those that had made it through were relaying that in the critical first days - when people can be rescued from under collapsed housing and rubble - not enough was being done to save lives and aid workers were being stopped from helping. It was causing anger and frustration,” writes ACFID’s Tim Watkin.

“It’s tricky because aid donors, like Australia and ACFID’s members, have committed to the principle of ‘localisation’ which means ensuring that humanitarian action is as local as possible. But NGOs have a responsibility to call it as it is, to be truthful in communicating the reality of a dreadful situation and the relief that is required.”

In the end it’s a balance, and each situation is different. Local first responders need relieving; and sometimes, you just need outside help to save as many people as possible.

The bottom line is that the response is driven by local needs.
+ Solomons Election Analysis

“1. Based on provisional 2019 Solomon Islands election results we can say: 1. As always, most candidates polled poorly. Nearly half got fewer than 5% of the valid votes cast in their constituencies (median=6%). Lowest number of votes won by a candidate was 0,” tweeted DevPolicy’s Terence Wood who was in the Solomons for the election last week.

“2. Some winners swept home, some snuck in. Jeremiah Manele won with 74% of votes cast in Hograno/Kia/Havulei. Robertson Galokale won with 19% of votes cast in South Choiseul. The median winner won 48% of the vote.”

3. Two out of 25 female candidates won. The median female candidate won 2.5% (compared to 6% for men).”

For more analysis from Terence, go here
+ Welcome to a new member of the CID team

We are very pleased to announce that Gaia Maridati has started at CID as the new Office and International Development Events Manager.

We said good-bye to Natalia Karacaoglu who had gone off to have her baby and we wish her well on this next big milestone in her life, and thank her for excellent work at CID over the last year.

We feel very lucky to have Gaia join us.

She has degrees in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs from the University of Bologna. Her Master’s thesis focused on ‘The relationships between Brazil and Southern African countries after the end of the Cold War: case studies of Brazil-Mozambique, and Brazil-South Africa’.

Gaia has work and volunteering experience in the NGO sector in Italy and Spain, working in charities and youth organisations. She moved to New Zealand in late 2015 and initially worked in different sectors; among them for the tertiary education sector, at Massey University.

In the last two years, Gaia worked at Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) in different capacities. Her most recent role at VSA was as a Programme Officer in the International Programme Unit, supporting the Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Polynesia & Kiribati VSA programmes. She speaks five languages and she’s currently doing distance learning on Capacity Development.

You can contact Gaia on the same email address and call her anytime at CID. 
+ Podcast: Radically rethinking aid
Johnathan Glennie and Pablo Yanguas talk about aid, not as a temporary stop-gap exercise to achieve a world free of extreme poverty, but as a global public investment, in this Global Development Institute podcast

In a world where nation-states identities become blurrier, aid 'recipients' become donors, and regional groups move public funds across countries that are 'in the same group', there is a need to move from a voluntary system to a compulsory one, and from the focus on ‘ending poverty’ to ‘promoting sustainability’.

The SDGs are already there, raising global issues and acknowledging the multidirectional dimensions of power and relationships between states, but the NGO sector hasn’t caught up yet, he says.

Pablo Yanguas does a good job of probing Jonathan on how he thinks a ‘global public investment’ paradigm can be 'sold' without the notions of charity or guilt that has been attached to ‘aid’ for decades, and how accountability would happen in this global governance scenario.
PIANGO & CID: Localisation workshop - Sign up now!
"Organisations that already believe they are local or believe that a few tweaks to their systems will be sufficient to ‘localise’ them, are in for a shock. The implications of localisation are profound touching on every aspect of an INGO’s work including the nature of partnerships, business, financial and operating models. Localisation is more than a new programme of work. It aims to fundamentally rebalance the entire humanitarian ecosystem"
Building on former workshops, we will take a practical look at how localisation can work well (or not) on the ground, and how it is changing the way we work.
Selina Kuruleca, facilitator 

Selina works as a consultant with PIANGO (Pacific Islands Association of NGOs). She has been facilitating localisation workshops across the Pacific and has hosted workshops for many organisations including the WHO, the World Bank, UNFPA, Red Cross, and many NGOs, corporate and government departments.

She has a background in conflict mediation and resolution, in post-emergency psychological services, in mental health and in localisation.

To register, click here.
+ Do Kiwis care when tragedy happens somewhere else?

“A large part of my job hangs on the challenge of inspiring others to care about distant realities – typically involving the plight of countless strangers living halfway around the world from them. It’s an ambitious ask at the best of times, especially so over the past few weeks given the shocking events here in New Zealand. How can I ask New Zealanders to care about global events, when our hearts and minds are heavy for people suffering here at home?

Oxfam’s Darren Brunk, and humanitarian specialist has written a must-read piece about the challenges of raising awareness (and funds) for tragedies elsewhere when bad things are happening here.

But rather than a ‘them and us’ divide, he finds we feel more in common than ever before.

“New Zealand is not immune to the great ills of the world. We’ve seen that when tragedy and disaster touch us here in New Zealand, others around the world take notice because they can relate through their experience to our struggle. As we learn to care for New Zealanders touched by disaster at home, our ability to connect, relate and care for others similarly touched around the world also grows. This thought gives me hope, even in – especially in - times of disaster.”
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