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Archive for October 29th, 2013

Video Interviews with Kenyan Leaders and coverage of ICC case

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2013

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Aid unlikely to return to 2010 high any time soon

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2013

Aid unlikely to return to 2010 high any time soon

DAKAR, – Aid from the top 15 global donors – all from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) – is estimated to reach US$127 billion by the end of 2013, reversing the aid declines of the last two years, according to projections from the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre.

This represents a less than 1 percent increase over 2012, and is mainly due to some donors pursuing the commitment to give 0.7 percent of national income to development aid by 2015, a promise made by 15 European governments in 2005. The UK has promised to stick to this commitment, agreeing to raise aid from 0.56 percent to 0.7 percent of GNI, representing an increase of $3.7 billion.

“One can only speculate [as to why], but… the predominate theory is that [UK Prime Minister] David Cameron’s commitment to overseas aid is part and parcel of fashioning a new, compassionate brand of conservatism,” said Robin Davies, associate director of the Development Policy Centre and co-author of the report. “There is, at present, no reason to doubt that they [the UK] will meet its spending target,” he continued, “but programming an additional $3.7 billion in a single year is no mean feat.”

Without this hike from the UK, global aid would probably have fallen by 3 percent over the course of 2013, as most DAC donors reduced their aid, with a few exceptions, including Switzerland, Sweden and Italy.

The US, for example, is expected to have reduced its global aid spending by $1.7 billion in 2013, and the Netherlands by $1.23 billion, following austerity cuts at the end of 2012.

Researchers based their aid predictions on what the 15 largest DAC donors have pledged to spend this year, compared to their spending intentions at the same time last year. These top donors account for around 95 percent of official development assistance.

Non-DAC buffer

Even if the UK does not reach its global aid goal, Davies said the overall drop in global aid would be quite small. It is likely an increase in aid from non-DAC emerging donors and NGOs, as well as contributions from multilateral sources, which often take a while to “filter through the system,” would all act as a buffer against any drastic decreases in global aid.

Aid from non-DAC sources, including emerging donors and NGOs, has risen by several billions of dollars each year on average, reaching $43 billion in 2011 (compared to $133.9 billion from DAC donors). However, these figures are just estimates – many emerging or private donors do not officially report their aid.

Between 2000 and 2010, the amount of global aid from all DAC donors grew by more than 60 percent. According to Davies, this was linked to the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which led to “a much more effective narrative about the aims and achievements of aid.” This growth was also linked to the relative prosperity that prevailed in most of the OECD countries prior to the global financial crisis, which provided fertile ground for effective social campaigns in favour of aid, and to the terrorist attacks of September 11, which “led to a renewed focus on the geostrategic importance of aid”, he said.

As for the future, however, the Development Policy Centre says that it normally takes up to a decade for a country to recover from an economic crisis. This means that it is doubtful that the world will see another increase in global in the next few years.

“It appears likely aid will resume its downward trend in 2014, falling by perhaps a few percent per annum for several years,” Davies said.

Aid is not expected to return to its 2010 peak level until well after 2014.

If this happens, it is likely the level of funding allocated for short-term, discretionary purposes, such as emergency response, will fall, Davies said.

jl/aj/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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Humanitarian access in Blue Nile State has long been difficult

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2013

Humanitarian access in Blue Nile State has long been difficult

LONDON, – Gaining humanitarian access to places like South Kordofan and Blue Nile states or Darfur in Sudan has long been a tricky business, but things may well be getting even tougher for many of today’s larger and more risk-averse international NGOs, say aid experts.

As the UN issues urgent appeals for access to mount a large-scale polio immunization campaign in southern parts of Sudan, two new publications from the UK’s Overseas Development Institute set out the story of how people in parts of Sudan have ended up cut off from virtually all humanitarian help.

It has not always been like that. During Darfur’s long-running conflict, there have been times when it was possible to work on both sides of the lines. The paper on Darfur describes what author Jonathan Loeb calls “a golden age”, between 2004 and 2006, when the government of Sudan was for a time prepared to allow access, and when there were channels to negotiate safe passage with Darfuri rebel groups.

Loeb sets out in detail how this was done. Peace talks outside the country allowed donors and UN agencies to meet the rebel leadership, which then appointed a humanitarian coordinator to act as a contact point with international agencies. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) took the lead in negotiating access, working closely with the UN’s own security department, whose officers built up a strong network of contacts among rebel commanders.

The paper details the way agencies picked their way through a minefield of moral dilemmas. Should a UN agency like OCHA sign an access agreement with armed non-state actors? (They did.) Should they allow those groups to issue access permits – effectively visas – for their territory? (This was a step too far, and the rebels backed down.) And, trickiest of all, should the rebels, fearing some staff were spying for the government, be allowed to pick and choose, on an individual or tribal basis, which staff worked in their areas.

This is a vexed question in Sudan to the present day, and although it might be against normal humanitarian practice, NGOs were not totally unsympathetic. “This sympathy and understanding,” says Loeb in his paper, “largely stemmed from international NGOs’ observation of the HAC (Sudan’s official Humanitarian Aid Commission) and its attempts to control which Sudanese nationals were hired by UN agencies and NGOs; many aid agency staff had been personally pressured by HAC officials to hire particular staff who had close ties to the government.” Agencies negotiated their way round the demands as best they could.

But all these careful arrangements deteriorated after 2006 as the rebel groups fragmented, and collapsed altogether after 2009, when President Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court, and retaliated by expelling NGOs, targeting those organizations which had worked across the lines in rebel areas. Those which remained became unwilling to risk their work with the much larger populations in government zones. The UN retreated. By the end of last year only two NGOs, the Danish Refugee Council and Médecins Sans Frontières Spain were even trying to provide help in the rebel stronghold of the Jebel Marra (Darfur) – and that only on a very limited scale.

Too risk-averse?

The problems further south in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan provinces spring from more recent conflicts, which flared after the Southern vote for independence. By then, agencies had already become what Irina Mosel and Ashley Jackson in their paper on these areas call “very risk averse and anxious about their relationship with the government”. In addition, opposition movements are now suspicious and hostile towards the UN because of the failure of their peacekeeping forces to prioritize the protection of civilians. In these conflicts there has never been a “golden age” for access.

Nicola Bennett, OCHA’s humanitarian policy adviser in South Sudan, says she is hearing calls for a stronger push to get OCHA and other UN actors involved. “In part”, she says, “it’s perhaps to pave the way, or shield NGOs from some of these difficult positions they feel they are in, if they are sticking out their neck above the rest. It does mean working more closely with the security part of the UN… whether that’s through having humanitarian actors as part of risk assessments [and even that’s a challenge] or having, where possible, security officers who are dedicated to this, and really have a focus on supporting humanitarian actors. The majority tend to work for the peacekeeping mission and so their view of what security management looks like and who their major client is, is going to be completely different.”

“Swashbuckling” aid workers

Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan could be reached across the border from South Sudan or – in the case of Blue Nile – from Ethiopia, with or without Sudanese government consent. Twenty years ago, during the Sudanese civil war, a small number of aid agencies and churches were able to reach these states. Peter Moszynski, a journalist and activist who was there during that period, says attitudes have since changed.

“It got a lot worse,” he told IRIN, “in the context of Darfur, because of the expulsions. Some organizations used to do things which they might not admit to and certainly wouldn’t do now. It was quite a swashbuckling generation of aid workers. Now they have the mindset, ‘We won’t do anything to compromise our other operations.’ You have now got this whole `professionalism’ thing; people are doing it as a career path. The aid agency world has changed.”

Such help as these areas do get is from tiny, more or less freelance operations, and is certainly not enough to mount a full vaccination campaign. But, says Moszynski, “You really have to argue the merits of getting small amounts of aid in, versus getting things sorted out properly.”

Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile are also victims of the geographical position and their relatively small populations. For aid agencies they are a lower priority than Darfur; for diplomats a lower priority than ensuring war does not break out along the Sudan/South Sudan border.

Irina Mosel says this cannot go on for ever. “We have to continue engaging, but one of the key issues is, until when? Many actors felt that there has to be some timeline set, and if we continue to say there’s an agreement and then it isn’t implemented, when do we have to look at other alternatives? And that of course is very much determined by the level of need… There is more and more information that the humanitarian situation is severe, and that should be an indication to us that there has to be a certain end to this timeline.”

eb/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

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