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Philippines: Women's voices in the Bangsamoro

15 June 2016 - 12:51am
Source: Conciliation Resources Country: Philippines

Experiences and expectations in conflict and peace

This book features the powerful personal narratives of women in the Bangsamoro, Philippines across generations, ethnic affiliations and social status. The insights into their struggles, featured in this book, show how women's responses to the conflict vary and how their roles have been shaped during and after the conflict.

Philippines: Philippines: Saving lives and limbs

14 June 2016 - 7:34am
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Philippines

In areas exposed to armed conflict or violence, it is not uncommon for people to be seriously hurt by weapons or explosives; they can also be maimed or killed. Such is unfortunately the case in central and western Mindanao in the Philippines, where hospitals and community health facilities quite often take in patients wounded by weapons.

To boost the capacity of medical professionals and health facilities for treating people injured by weapons, the ICRC organizes annual training for surgeons in this specialized field. Two surgeons working in central and western Mindanao were selected to participate in a one-week Surgical Seminar on the Management of Patients with War Wounds in Geneva, Switzerland, in March.

"Our common goal is to save the lives of conflict victims. The training was a good opportunity for me to learn simple methods that can be used even in situations where resources are scarce. Weapon wounds are some of the most complex injuries to treat," shared Dr Edwin Cruzado, one of the two participants from the Philippines.

Through the training, Dr Cruzado had the opportunity to exchange experiences and best practices with 40 participants from other countries.

A native of Pikit municipality in North Cotabato province, Dr Cruzado has witnessed decades of armed fighting in that area and its adverse consequences on the civilian population. As such, he decided to become a surgeon and returned to his birthplace after his medical studies. "I know that my place is a conflict area so I can do a lot for the people as a doctor," he said.

It also helps that Dr Cruzado is affiliated with a private hospital in Midsayap that caters to the surgical needs of those from the nearby municipalities of Aleosan, Alamada and Pigcawayan. Even weapon-wounded patients from adjacent municipalities in Maguindanao province come to the hospital for treatment. As the Municipal Health Officer, Dr Cruzado also monitors the general health situation in Pikit.

"To be a surgeon in conflict areas is challenging but exciting. When I am able to save the lives or limbs of my patients, whoever they are, the fulfillment I feel is elevated and I know I've made the right decision to stay and serve my people. I thank the ICRC for helping me to improve and learn," said Dr Cruzado as he prepared to make his daily rounds.

As part of its mandate to help people affected by armed conflict, the ICRC supports six selected government hospitals in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao through the quarterly donation of medicines and medical supplies. These are the Cotabato Provincial Hospital and Maguindanao Provincial Hospital (in central Mindanao), Zamboanga City Medical Center (in western Mindanao), Agusan del Sur Provincial Hospital, Lianga District Hospital and Marihatag District Hospital (in northeastern Mindanao).

This regular support aims at enhancing the hospital's capacity for stabilizing and treating weapon-wounded patients. Other health facilities receive ad hoc support from the ICRC to address gaps and provide proper medical intervention to patients.

"In areas experiencing frequent armed violence, it is important that hospitals and medical workers are fully prepared to treat the wounded and sick regardless of their religion, ethnicity or affiliations," said Regula Frei, the ICRC health delegate for Mindanao.

The ICRC also assists weapon-wounded patients for their physical rehabilitation at Davao Jubilee Foundation, which the ICRC has been regularly supporting.

Thanks to the training, Dr Cruzado will be able to apply this new knowledge – and share it with colleagues – to help save more lives in his hometown where conflict and other situations of violence are a regular occurrence.

World: In a wide-ranging opening speech to the UN Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein sheds a light on "preventable calamities" and worrying trends in human rights around the world

13 June 2016 - 3:37pm
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, France, Gambia, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), World, Yemen

In a wide-ranging opening speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein sheds a light on "preventable calamities" and worrying trends in human rights around the world, including detailed concerns about the situation in more than 50 countries

Distinguished President of the Council,
Colleagues and friends

(Issued as received) When the Inter-American Commission announces it has to cut its personnel by forty percent – and when States have already withdrawn from it and the Inter-American Court; When States Parties have threatened to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – and, even more recently, others threaten to leave the United Nations, or the European Court of Human Rights and the European Union;

When those calling for departure have seemingly already fled in their minds from the urge to protect the world from the untold sorrow and miseries which twice swept it, and brought about the creation of many of these very institutions;

When filthy abuse by politicians of the vulnerable is tolerated; when the laws – human rights law, refugee law, international humanitarian law – are increasingly violated, and when hospitals are bombed – but no one is punished;

When human rights, the two words, are so rarely found in the world of finance and business, in its literature, in its lexicon – why? Because it is shameful to mention them?

When working for the collective benefit of all people, everywhere is apparently losing its ardour, and features only in empty proclamations swelling with unjustified self-importance and selfishness – Then do we really still have an international community? When the threads forming it are being tugged away and the tapestry, our world, is unravelling? Or are there only fragmented communities of competing interests – strategic and commercial – operating behind a screen of feigned allegiance to laws and institutions?

I think of a video clip I saw on the internet the other day, where the body of a young child, a young girl, with a face that is white with dust, nose bloodied, hair springing with life still – and her body crushed, inert as the rubble – dug out as she was from a bombed building in Syria, so reports said, just days ago.

The poet Hafiz says:

As pallid ghost appears Speak the epic of thy pain Please stop this, because this madness can be stopped.

Mr President,

As I speak before this 32nd session of the Human Rights Council, at which all of the 193 Member States of the United Nations are represented, the international community's familiar customs and procedures are much in evidence.

And yet the workable space in which we function as one community – resolving disputes, coming to consensus – is under attack. The common sets of laws, the institutions - and deeper still, the values – which bind us together are buckling. And suffering most from this onslaught are our fellow human beings – your people – who bear the brunt of the resulting deprivation, misery, injustice, and bloodshed. I, and many others, seek your support.

Hate is becoming mainstreamed. Walls – which tormented previous generations, and have never yielded any sustainable solution to any problem – are returning. Barriers of suspicion are rising, snaking through and between our societies – and they are killers. Clampdowns on public freedoms, and crackdowns on civil society activists and human rights defenders, are hacking away at the forces which uphold the healthy functioning of societies. Judicial institutions which act as checks on executive power are being dismantled. Towering inequalities are hollowing out the sense that there are common goods.

These trends bleed nations of their innate resilience. They do not make them safe: they make them weaker. Piece by piece, these mutually reinforcing trends are shearing off the protections that maintain respect, enable development, and provide the only fragile basis for world peace. They are attacks on sanity. And they can be reversed.

Mr President,

This is a period of powerful lessons – if we choose to learn from them.

We can build societies in which disputes can be peacefully resolved by impartial and effective institutions, and where people's right to development and other fundamental rights are respected.

We can shore up the basic building blocks of co-existence and well-being, both within States and between them.

Sound rule of law institutions, which offer the confidence of impartial justice, build confidence and strength. Equality: every individual must be clear in the knowledge that regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, opinions, belief, caste, age or sexual orientation, her equal rights are fully acknowledged. Trust can only accrue if government is transparent and accountable – and when people know they are entitled to contribute to all decisions in which they have a stake, there is greater social unity. When fundamental economic and social goods – such as education, clean water and adequate health-care – are viewed, correctly, as rights, resources are allocated with greater fairness and society as a whole is stronger. The freedoms of expression, association and belief must prevail, together with independent media, in order that people be fully informed and free to contribute ideas and experiences without fear of attack.

These are powerful levers for development and peace. They are investments which pay instant and long-term benefits in maintaining peace, in maximising sustainable development, and in optimizing the well-being of each society and humanity as a whole. In contrast, the damage done by denial of human rights spills across borders and mutilates the destiny of generations to come. Human rights are not costly – they are priceless.

Mr President,

We are 7.4 billion human beings clinging to a small and fragile planet. And there is really only one way to ensure a good and sustainable future: ensure respect, resolve disputes, construct institutions that are sound and fair and share resources and opportunities equitably.

The 2030 Agenda, which arises out of the Declaration on the Right to Development, is a practical, structured road-map for investing in human rights, including vital economic, social and cultural rights, and maintaining loyalty to the needs of humanity as a whole. These and other policies that benefit humanity are in the national interest of every State.

The 2030 Agenda details the way forward to combat exploitation and exclusion, and to build more just and resilient societies that fulfill the rights of all – including women and others who frequently suffer discrimination. It may not be a perfect or entirely sufficient programme, but it constitutes a universal commitment by States to the absolutely vital work of prevention.

At next month’s High Level Political Forum, we need member states and our civil society partners to push for real delivery on the Agenda’s promises, based on its core commitments to human rights. I also ask States to use their development aid more effectively, to promote the human rights goals that truly build development. Accountable, inclusive and transparent governance and rule of law institutions that are impartial and effective – these massively amplify development. And in the coming months and years, we have an opportunity to truly improve life for millions of people.

My Office is dedicated to that goal. The objective of our scrutiny is to give States the benefit of detailed, fact-based analysis, and to use that analysis as the basis for cooperation programmes that assist States to improve their protection of human rights.

In many situations, and especially when there are conflicting accounts, the independent, objective, and factual information that my Office provides can play an important role to prevent further violations. I very much regret the refusal by some countries to permit my staff to have access in order to monitor and report on events. I must emphasise that non-cooperation by Governments will not result in my Office remaining silent. On the contrary, it creates a presumption of major violations, and may deprive local and national actors of the opportunity to explain and provide information about events.

In updating this Council at the September session, I may list a number of countries where engagement with or access for my Office is impeded.

This morning, in the course of this update, I will outline some very pressing human rights concerns, which could have been prevented – and must now be redressed. To undertake that work, my recommendations are clear. In every situation of conflict, the principles of distinction, proportionality, precaution and necessity must be strictly observed, in line with international humanitarian law. I urge every State to fully comply with international human right norms and implement the recommendations of the human rights mechanisms and of my Office. All political detainees should be released, and reforms undertaken to ensure fair trials and an impartial and effective administration of justice. Independent national institutions and civil society organizations must be free to raise their voice.

Freedoms of expression, assembly and association must be respected and wherever people are jailed for exercising these rights – and there are many – I urge the authorities to release them with immediate effect.

The actions of the police, security forces and all other agents of the State must be in line with relevant human rights obligations and minimum standards. When reports suggest violations of human rights, I call on the authorities to conduct investigations to establish the facts, prosecute perpetrators and ensure redress for victims. Economic, social and cultural rights are vital, and their respect must include equitable access to resources, services and opportunities. Refugee law must also be respected, especially the principle of non-refoulement. And all forms of discrimination must be eradicated, to ensure that every member of society can freely make choices and participate in decisions.

On a daily basis, we are witness to horrors of every kind around the world. I extend my condolences and respect to all victims of human rights violations, including the victims of conflict and those who suffer violations of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. I also condemn with the greatest possible force the outrageous attacks by violent extremists on innocent people, chosen at random, or because of their presumed beliefs, or opinions, or – as we saw yesterday – their sexual orientation.

Martin Luther King spoke of the deep shame reserved "for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight". But he also pointed out that we can "re-dedicate ourselves to the long, and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world."

Mr President,

Globally, many countries have distinguished themselves by their principled welcome to large numbers of desperate, often terrified and poverty-stricken migrants and refugees. They have provided assistance, enabled access to education and labour markets, and protected many vital human rights in line with their commitments under international law.

Many other countries have not done so. And their failure to take in a fair share of the world’s most vulnerable is undermining the efforts of more responsible States. Across the board, we are seeing a strong trend that overturns international commitments, refuses basic humanity, and slams doors in the face of human beings in need.

The only sustainable way to resolve today’s movements of people will be to improve human rights in countries of origin, and I strongly urge the members of this Council to embark on that work. But meanwhile, the countries of Europe must find a way to address the current migration crisis consistently and in a manner that respects the rights of the people concerned – including in the context of the EU-Turkey agreement.

It is entirely possible to create well-functioning migration governance systems, even for large numbers of people, with fair and effective determination of individual protection needs. If European governments can remove hysteria and panic from the equation – and if all contribute to a solution – I am confident that they will be able to achieve this.

Recently I have sent staff to key locations along the Central Mediterranean and Balkan migration routes. They have observed a worrying increase in detention of migrants in Europe, including in the “hotspots” – essentially vast mandatory confinement areas which have been set up in Greece and Italy. Even unaccompanied children are frequently placed in prison cells or centres ringed with barbed-wire. Detention is never in the best interests of the child – which must take primacy over immigration objectives. Alternatives to the detention of children must be developed, drawing on the solid examples of non-custodial, community-based and child-friendly good practices that we have seen in the region in past years.

I also strongly recommended comprehensive collection of data by the EU on the detention of migrants in all Member States. These figures would, I fear, be very shocking.

I deplore the widespread anti-migrant rhetoric that we have heard, spanning the length and breadth of the European continent. This fosters a climate of divisiveness, xenophobia and even – as in Bulgaria – vigilante violence.

In contrast to these many deplorable failures of vision and humanity, a number of cities across Europe have responded commendably to the needs of vulnerable newcomers. I welcome the approach adopted by the Mayors of Lampedusa and Paris, alongside numerous other communities, many much smaller. With several European cities, such as Barcelona and Madrid, ready to relocate and resettle people, EU Member States need to make good on their commitments. In September 2015, they committed to relocate 160,000 people from Greece and Italy, but according to figures published last month fewer than 1,600 – less than 1% -- have actually been relocated.

In south-east Turkey, I am alarmed by satellite imagery which indicates widespread destruction in the eastern area of the town of Nusaybin due to the use of heavy weapons. Hundreds of buildings have been damaged or destroyed, including extensive damage between 25 and 29 May. Last month, I requested that my staff be given access to the affected areas, in the context of multiple and contradictory reports of violations of international law and other human rights abuses. While I welcome the personal invitation by the Turkish government for me to visit the country, this invitation must first be extended to my staff so that a team from my Office can establish clarity about the facts. I remain acutely concerned about the harassment of civil society organisations and journalists.

The rights of people still suffering from the protracted conflicts in the South Caucasus have long been a concern of my Office. We have received allegations of violations of international law in the context of the upsurge in hostilities along the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, especially in April. Significant efforts are needed to address the situation of displaced people. My Office is ready to assist in the collection of objective information on human rights needs in the affected areas.

In several countries of central and south-eastern Europe, including Hungary, Poland and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, I am concerned by challenges to the independence of rule of law institutions which provide an important check to executive overreach. Human rights defenders and civil society activists are under increasing pressure, indicating an almost region-wide narrowing of the democratic space, and we have observed multiple cases of harassment or persecution of journalists. In Poland, the European Commission has issued an opinion that is highly relevant to the regrettable constitutional crisis in the country, and I encourage the Government to cooperate under the EU’s Rule of law framework. I further encourage the authorities to benefit from the expertise of Poland’s highly respected Ombudsman organisation.

In Azerbaijan, I welcome recent releases of civil society actors and journalists. I invite the authorities to use this momentum to undertake meaningful steps towards widening space for civil society and safeguarding freedom of expression, including improving the justice system and the legal framework regulating NGO activities. My Office is ready to further advance a constructive dialogue with the Government with a view to addressing these issues.

This week, a number of amendments to the Russian Federation’s law on foreign agents come into force. More than 90 NGOs are now listed as "foreign agents” a designation which implies that their activities are “political”. I continue to urge the authorities to follow up on recommendations from UN human rights mechanisms and to amend this law in line with Russia’s international human rights obligations.

In Ukraine, we are concerned about the increasing violations to the ceasefire and the presence of heavy weaponry on both sides of the contact line. Only full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties can protect civilians and restore hope for a lasting peace. My Office has access to detention facilities in areas under the control of the Government and there has been some improvement in conditions, and in terms of specific individual cases. But this access has not been possible in areas controlled by armed groups, leading to an assumption that allegations of very severe conditions may be accurate. We continue to receive reports of torture, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and sexual and gender based violence linked to the conflict on both sides of the contact line. In areas controlled by the armed groups, we deplore the continued collapse of rule of law and severe restrictions on freedoms of opinion, expression, association and assembly. ASG Simonovic has recently completed a mission to Ukraine and will brief the Council during this session.

I welcome the continued search by many States for innovative, human rights-based approaches to challenges, including economic, social and cultural rights. Last week Switzerland held a referendum to consider a guaranteed basic income. The vote was negative, but in other countries, such as Brazil, Finland, Italy and the Netherlands, local and national governments are experimenting with new ways to approach social protection and equal opportunities using some form of basic income.

Mr President,

In many parts of the Middle East and North Africa, the life-forces of society – which are the freedom and hopes of the people – are crushed by repression, conflict or violent anarchy. Torture, summary execution and arbitrary arrests are assaults on the people's security, not measures to protect security. It is a mistake to imagine that attacking the people’s rights makes them any safer or more content.

The antidote to the savagery of violent extremism is greater rule of law. The best way to fight terrorism, and to stabilize the region, is to push back against discrimination; corruption; poor governance; failures of policing and justice; inequality; the denial of public freedoms, and other drivers of radicalization.

Mr President,

The disaster of Syria continues to deepen. So disturbed are we by the Inferno that Syria has become that to brief, month after month, this gathering or other bodies has become grotesque in itself. Collecting and analysing information so appalling, and reporting on it, is intended to serve action. But when it simply piles up and then dissipates into the corridors of power, we are shaken, feeling as I'm sure many around the world feel, almost helpless in this horror.

Torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, forced evictions and the destruction of schools and entire neighbourhoods continue unabated. Hospitals are attacked, apparently deliberately: last week, in Aleppo, three medical centres hit in a single day – one, a paediatric centre, for the second time. Women and girls in particular, and minorities, are abused by twisted fanatics with a dehumanising sadism that is part of no religion. Over half a million people are trapped in sieges by government forces or armed groups, and are forced to scavenge for their basic needs – in some cases, since 2012. In yet another atrocity, on Friday the people of Daraya were hit by multiple air and ground attacks – just hours after aid made it through to them, for the first time in four years. When the reckoning is taken, all global decision-makers will find their legacy has been forever damaged by their failure to take decisive action to end this terrible, and entirely preventable, conflict. The serious and systematic crimes that are being inflicted daily on the people of Syria profoundly dishonour all those responsible.

In Iraq, I am acutely concerned about the situation of tens of thousands of civilians who currently remain trapped inside Fallujah, and I refer you to my public communications on this topic earlier this month. I have urged the authorities to take immediate steps to redress the situation regarding people fleeing the outskirts of the city. I welcome the announcement last week that the Prime Minister will appoint a committee to investigate all allegations of violations committed against these displaced people, and I trust that this investigation will be truly consequential. I also commend the statement by Ayatollah al-Sistani urging security forces to protect the lives of civilians. The country must avoid further divisions or violence along sectarian lines, lest it implode completely.

I am also profoundly concerned about the suffering of the people of Yemen. The armed conflict that began more than a year ago has taken a terrible toll on civilians, with 9,700 civilian casualties documented by my Office. The humanitarian situation is disastrous and continues to worsen. More than 21 million Yemenis – 80% of the population – need basic assistance, 2.8 million people have been forced to leave their homes. Humanitarian aid is frequently obstructed by the parties to the conflict and limited by funding difficulties. In September, I will be submitting a comprehensive report on human rights violations in Yemen and the progress made by the national commission of investigation. I strongly urge all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular concerning the protection of civilians. The delivery of humanitarian aid must be ensured in all conflict zones and besieged areas.

The occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel entered its 49th year last week. Tensions remain high across the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Israel, and the risk of a further sudden escalation in violence remains very real. Violence is among the many consequences of this prolonged oppression, including and inexcusably against civilians on both sides. Both sides have seen civilians attacked recently, and I deplore those actions. The reactions of the Israeli authorities – in particular, instances of excessive use of force – have also been a cause for concern. I have reminded the Israeli Government of its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law on a number of occasions. The increase in detention of Palestinians this year, particularly in administrative detention without trial, is another serious concern. At the end of April there were almost 700 Palestinian administrative detainees, more than double the figure at the end of September 2015 and the highest number since June 2008. Over 400 Palestinian children are currently detained in Israeli prisons, among them 13 who are in administrative detention – again, the highest figure since public records began in 2008. I once again join the call by a number of Treaty Bodies for the practice of administrative detention by Israel to be abolished.

The situation in Gaza is untenable, with the continuing illegal blockade impeding reconstruction and basic services, and bleeding the people of hope. Arbitrary and often violent enforcement of the so-called "Access Restricted Areas" along the land and sea borders of Gaza not only obstructs access by Gazans to their livelihoods, but also results in deaths and injuries. So far this year, 73 fishermen have been arrested and detained by Israeli security forces – the same number as for all of 2015. Recent skirmishes along the border are a warning signal that another escalation of hostilities is a very real prospect unless there is real improvement for the people of Gaza.

Libya continues to be beset by violence and impunity, and my Office continues to document violations and abuses by all parties. Civilians have been attacked, killed, and abducted on account of their origins, religion, or political views and all parties have used heavy weaponry in residential areas without regard for civilian life. The main hospital of Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city, came under repeated fire throughout the month of May, and two weeks ago shells damaged the intensive care unit. Thousands of people continue to languish in detention centres controlled by various armed brigades, where my staff have documented extremely dire conditions. Human rights defenders and journalists have been attacked or abducted.

We have also received disturbing reports of many migrants in Libya being subjected to prolonged arbitrary detention; attacks and unlawful killings; torture and other ill-treatment; sexual violence; and abduction for ransom. On a visit to one centre in which migrants were detained, UN staff found dozens of people crammed into storage rooms without space to lie down. All cooperation measures that are taking place between the European Union and Libyan authorities on migration and border management must only be carried out in full respect for the human rights of the people involved. Such cooperation should not, for example, facilitate migrants being sent back to face arbitrary detention in centres where such abuses are rampant.

I remain acutely concerned about the actions by violent extremists in Egypt, as well as by the shrinking democratic space, including constant harassment of civil society organizations and human rights defenders. Measures being employed to restrict freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression include excessive use of force by security forces, arbitrary arrests and detention. The legislation governing peaceful assembly is excessively restrictive. Crackdowns breed grievance and rage, and feed cycles of violence. I urge the authorities to reflect on the long-term implications of their policies.

At least 250 people in Bahrain have reportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the Government because of their alleged disloyalty to the interests of the Kingdom. In addition to these severe restrictions on freedom of expression, which contravene Bahrain’s international human rights obligations, an indefinite ban on gatherings in the capital has been in place since 2013. Dozens of people – including minors – have been prosecuted for participating in protests. Repression will not eliminate people’s grievances; it will increase them.

In Mauritania, there has been considerable progress on the issue of slavery in recent years, although much work remains to be done. My Office in Mauritania will continue to work with the Government and civil society to further human rights through constructive dialogue, including on the right to a fair trial.

Mr President,

New waves of attacks by violent extremist groups in Mali have targeted civilians, the armed forces and UN peacekeepers; MINUSMA has become the most deadly of all current peacekeeping missions. In addition to the toll of civilian casualties, the activities of extremist groups are also denying the population access to basic services, as they obstruct the work of the authorities and aid agencies. Schools have closed in some areas due to fear that they will be attacked, because these groups oppose their values. It is essential that all security forces conduct counter terrorism operations in line with international human rights standards – avoiding, in particular, arbitrary arrests, arbitrary detention and use of excessive force. Such methods are contrary to international law and create widespread resentment, fuelling greater recruitment by extremist groups.

In Burundi, killings, disappearances and arbitrary arrests by agents of the State or associated militia continue throughout the country and the political and security situation is tense and highly volatile. Almost on a daily basis, grenades explode indiscriminately in the centre of Bujumbura, or are aimed at police and military targets. In recent weeks military officers from the defunct Armed Forces of Burundi, known as ex-FAB, have also been targeted, and I am concerned that some of these killings may be ethnic-based. There are also deeply disturbing allegations of ethnic-based hate speech against Tutsis during a large public rally organised two weeks ago in the south of the country by the Imbonerakure militia. These allegations of speech amounting to incitement to violence must be urgently addressed.

As this Council is aware, the independent experts whom you mandated to conduct investigations travelled to Burundi in March. Their Secretariat was deployed to Burundi in May. Its six human rights officers and one security officer are conducting missions to Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo this month to interview refugees. The second mission of the independent experts is planned for this week, and they are due to report to the Council in September. I note also that the International Criminal Court recently announced it will open a preliminary examination into violence in Burundi.

The formation of a transitional government of national unity offers hope, at last, for the people of South Sudan. However, violence has continued in some areas – particularly in Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr el Ghazal, which were not previously affected – and restrictions imposed on humanitarian access remain a significant problem. I trust that there will be no further delays in establishing the hybrid criminal court and other key institutions mandated by the peace agreement. The appalling violence that the country has suffered has roots in past failures of accountability, and there must now be a clear and determined commitment to hold perpetrators to account. I am hopeful that this session's enhanced interactive dialogue will contribute to that accountability and reconciliation, and that the new Commission on Human Rights on South Sudan will provide much-needed support.

In Sudan, the ongoing conflict in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, the fighting in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States and inter-tribal clashes continue to result in serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and large-scale displacement of civilians. Accountability and respect for human rights remain the only realistic hope for a sustainable end to this protracted conflict. I call on the Government to cooperate with the investigation and prosecution processes laid out in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, as well as with the work of the International Criminal Court pursuant to Security Council resolution 1593.

The peaceful transfer of power to the Central African Republic's newly elected President, in March, was an important milestone. President Touadera's government has no representative of any armed group, breaking with past practises and sending a courageous message that using violence will not lead to political reward. Nevertheless, the new government faces enormous challenges ahead and will need strong support to deliver effective reforms that can secure a path away from conflict and towards sustainable peace, respect for human rights and development. I encourage steps towards the disarmament of armed groups, the protection of civilians who remain threatened, and an end to impunity for human rights violations, to help reconcile divided communities.

Mozambique, which has been considered an African success story in recent years, shows signs of backsliding into violence. The resumption of an armed confrontation between Renamo’s armed wing and the national army has led to the displacement of people in affected areas. Abductions, summary executions, and ill-treatment and threats to human rights defenders and journalists have been reported. I urge the Government to do its utmost to hold perpetrators to account, and to address the corruption that deprives so many of their economic and social rights.

Gambia's President reportedly made statements vilifying and threatening the Mandinka ethnic group at a political rally ten days ago. His speech included comparisons to animals and death threats to both the Mandinka and to political opponents. This appalling rhetoric may constitute incitement to violence under the terms of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Furthermore, in the run-up to the Presidential elections scheduled for December, peaceful demonstrations have met with severe actions by police. I call on the President and the Government to unreservedly guarantee the rights of all the people of the Gambia.

In the Republic of the Congo, I am concerned about recent reports of human rights violations in the Pool region, following an alleged militia attack on a police office. This week, with the Government's agreement, I have deployed a six-week mission to assess the human rights situation, with particular attention to the affected area, and to make appropriate recommendations on possibilities for strengthening OHCHR's engagement in the country.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there has been a sharp reduction in the democratic space since the changes to the electoral law of January 2015, including arbitrary arrests and detention; the prohibition or disruption of numerous meetings and demonstrations by the opposition or civil society; and ill-treatment of protestors. Last month police fired on demonstrators in North Kivu province, and subsequent related protests in Kinshasa also resulted in violence. I remind the authorities that all Congolese have a right to participate in the public affairs of their country.

I am also concerned about heightened tension in Kenya, where elections will take place next year. Fears have been raised by the excessive use of force by police in response to protests over alleged bias by the election commission; by the widespread use of speech tantamount to incitement to violence; and by some violence on the part of protestors. Kenya's people, who endured the massive post-election bloodshed and destruction of eight years ago, deserve better. As in every country, I urge the authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly and to investigate and prosecute the use of excessive force. I also urge protesters to remain peaceful.

The Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea mandated by this Council has found reasonable grounds to conclude that widespread and systematic crimes against humanity have been committed since 1991. My Office is ready to support the Government in implementing the Commission's recommendations. I have noted recent developments in the country, including the release of some Djiboutian prisoners of war as well as reports of the release of Eritrean ex-combatants, and I encourage the Government to continue along this path and release other political prisoners.

The government in Nigeria has made progress in addressing insecurity linked to the operations of Boko Haram. I encourage the government to address issues highlighted by militancy in the Niger Delta, including dislocation and environmental damage resulting from business activity. Attacks against sedentary communities by Fulani herdsmen should also be addressed. The perception of exclusion and discrimination in the South, which is articulated by the Indigenous People of Biafra, is also of concern. As the country painfully learned from its initial response to Boko Haram, high-handed and militaristic responses to grievances may exacerbate situations and cement intractable problems into place. I welcome unreservedly the government's anti-corruption focus, and I hope national anti-corruption bodies will be rapidly strengthened, to enhance their transparency and impartiality.

Mr President,

In Afghanistan, civilian casualties continue to rise. Earlier this year, UNAMA’s Human Rights Unit documented a 2% increase, and almost one third of the victims were children. UNAMA is also reporting numerous attacks across the country targeting judges, prosecutors and judicial staff, with the Taliban claiming responsibility for many of these incidents. I deplore this continuing carnage, and demand that all attacks against civilians immediately cease.

Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, where very serious human rights concerns persist, my Office is working to implement Resolution 31/18, which mandates the establishment of a group of independent experts, in order to recommend mechanisms for accountability, truth and justice for the victims of possible crimes against humanity. I continue to believe that dialogue with the Government is also essential, to encourage reform and cooperation. In April, the Government submitted reports to CEDAW and CRC. I welcome this as an indication of its willingness to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms, and I renew my offer of technical cooperation.

I am very concerned about the dramatically increased number of brutal murders in Bangladesh that target freethinkers, liberals, religious minorities and LGBT activists. I note recent reports of police arrests, and I urge that investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of these vicious crimes be made a priority, with full respect for human rights. I also urge all government officials and political and religious leaders to unequivocally condemn these attacks on freedom, and to do more to protect affected groups.

In China, I have repeatedly noted my concern regarding the detention and interrogation of lawyers in connection with their work, as well as harassment and intimidation of Government critics and NGO workers. I am concerned that legislation on NGOs which is due to come into effect next January will further shrink the space available for civil society. Following last year's wave of arrests, at least 24 individuals have reportedly been charged with crimes, including subversion, incitement to subversion and assembly to disturb social order, and I understand that by mid-August, judicial authorities will decide whether or not to proceed with their prosecution. I call on the authorities to reconsider these proceedings and to release all individuals who have been detained in the context of legitimate work and activism, including the ten activists arrested in recent days.

In Cambodia, recent arrests of opposition members, officials of the National Election Committee and members of civil society indicate a drastic and deplorable narrowing of the democratic space. This will not help to create an environment conducive to credible elections in 2017 and 2018.

I remain concerned about the shrinking democratic space in the Maldives. Recent events once again raise significant fair trial issues. I am troubled by the application of terrorism-related charges against opposition leaders, and a number of new rules which have negative impact on fundamental freedoms. The access given to my Office by the Government is a positive signal that the authorities are open to discussion, and I am hopeful that we will be able to assist the Government to embark on institutional and legislative reform.

In Thailand, the authorities have scheduled a referendum in August so that the public can determine whether or not to support the draft constitution. Paradoxically, they have also limited dialogue on the topic. People who have posted critical comments on the draft constitution have been detained and charged with “sedition”. The people of Thailand have a right to discuss – and to criticise – decisions about their country, and free, fair and dynamic public debate on the draft constitution is vital if the country is to return to sustainable democracy. I remain concerned about the increasing use of military courts to try civilians. I welcome the decision last month to enact the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act and to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. I trust these commitments will be put into effect as a matter of priority.

I remind the incoming President of the Philippines that international law, which is binding on his administration, requires him to protect the rights of all his people, including journalists, civil society activists and human rights defenders who expose malfeasance. Criticism of people in power is not a crime. However, incitement to violence, and extra-judicial assassination, are crimes and are prohibited under multiple conventions to which the Philippines has acceeded. The people of his country have a right to the rule of law. The offer of bounties and other rewards for murder by vigilantes, and his encouragement of extrajudicial killings by security forces, are massive and damaging steps backwards which could lead to widespread violence and chaos. I urge the Government to reconsider such initiatives, and to refrain from its plans to reintroduce the death penalty, in a country which has been a leading force in the campaign to end the practise.

In Papua New Guinea, longstanding protests escalated last week when police used excessive force, including live ammunition, against demonstrators. I welcome announcements by the Prime Minister and police that investigations will be set up, and I trust these will be independent and result in appropriate accountability. Police and security forces must embody the rule of law – or tarnish the reputation and legitimacy of the State among its people.

In Sri Lanka, the government’s efforts to implement its commitments in Resolution 30/1 will require a comprehensive strategy on transitional justice that enables it to pursue different processes in a coordinated, integrated and appropriately sequenced manner. This will require the inclusive and meaningful engagement of all Sri Lankans. I will present an oral update later in the session.

In Myanmar, the formation of a civilian Government in March represents a watershed moment in the continuing transition to democracy. The President and State Counsellor have set a reformist agenda focused on national reconciliation, peace, democratic reforms and development. Complex and wide-ranging human rights challenges remain, but they are not intractable. My Office stands ready to support the Government in addressing these challenges, which will be key to Myanmar's transformation,. As requested by this Council, on 29 June I will present my report on the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.

Mr President,

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an important strategic partner and inspiration for the United Nations system, and a vital human rights actor within the region. The financial crisis that it faces is alarming. I call on Member States from the Americas, who so constructively engage with the Human Rights Council, to also come out in defence of their regional human rights system through regular financial contributions.

Mr President,

I share the concern of many partners across the Americas regarding the very high incidence of gun violence and gun-related deaths. According to UNODC, the Americas have by far the highest rate of intentional homicide of any region in the world. Many of these crimes can be linked to organised criminal gangs, which also drive corruption of the judiciary and other institutions.

In El Salvador, violence has risen steadily and, last year it had by far the highest murder rate of any country in the world not at war. Pervasive violence has forced thousands of people to migrate, mainly to the US, including unaccompanied children who fear they will be killed if they refuse to enrol in gangs. While the Government has launched a comprehensive “Plan for a Safe El Salvador” that included accountability and work to rehabilitate former gang members following prison sentences, more recently much harder-line security measures have been put forward. Recent allegations of extra-judicial killings by death squads are intolerable and are likely to fuel even greater violence.

I urge firm action to increase public security in all the affected countries, with a focus on the respect of human rights and on strengthening the capacity of rule of law institutions.

Regarding the situation in Venezuela, my Office shares many of the concerns of the Organization of American States, as well as its conviction that a solution to the current critical situation cannot be imposed from outside but must come from Venezuelans. We urge the Government and opposition to work towards this end, refraining from violence and hate speech, and in full respect of all international human rights norms. I am encouraged to see that the region is now engaging in support of Venezuela, and I offer the experience of my Office in ensuring independent and objective human rights monitoring and reporting, as well as support for the implementation of all human rights recommendations.

In Guatemala, I welcome the launch of a national dialogue on justice reform in response to numerous recommendations by my Office regarding judicial independence, access to justice and institutional strengthening. I hope this will be a decisive turning point in the fight against impunity and corruption, and that it will result in comprehensive reform to guarantee a fully independent and effective judiciary. As part of the Technical Secretariat of this dialogue, my Office has been closely involved in many aspects of its work, and in the context of discussion about recognising indigenous jurisdiction over legal matters, our staff have held meetings throughout the country with indigenous communities to foster their participation.

Haiti still does not have a constitutional President, and this lack of stable governance structures is impeding action on a wide range of crucial human rights issues. I take note of the Verification and Evaluation Commission’s recent report and invite all actors to work together to ensure a swift return to constitutional order. Six years after the 2010 earthquake, more than 60,000 people remain displaced and are urgently in need of sustainable solutions. The fate of Haitians and people of Haitian descent deported from the Dominican Republic is also of concern. Other vital human rights issues include the cruel and degrading conditions in detention centres and prisons, and the exploitation of children as domestic workers. Cholera remains a serious issue with the authorities recording more than 9000 deaths since 2010. Member States and, especially, members of the Security Council need to consider what can or should be done to deal with the tragic consequences of the cholera epidemic for Haitians.

I welcome the historic ruling two weeks ago in Argentina regarding Operation Condor, a covert pact in the 1970s between military dictatorships in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay to hunt down and murder political activists. Fourteen former military officials from Argentina and Uruguay were found guilty of crimes and human rights violations, including torture. This landmark of accountability will, I hope, bring a measure of peace to the families of the countless victims.

The greatest threat to the dividends of peace in Colombia is the risk that violence and human rights violations will be generated by struggles for control of illicit coca growing and illegal mining, following demobilisation. This is a trend that my office in Colombia is already observing. I urge the international community to invest with Colombia to transform these areas into productive economies that will improve the human rights situation and sustain peace.

In the United States of America, although federal civil rights legislation has had undeniable positive impact, many African Americans in particular struggle to achieve their rights to full equality. Especially when they are poor – as they disproportionately are – African Americans are more likely to be exposed to violence and crime, less likely to achieve a decent education and will have fewer employment opportunities, receive less adequate health care and face more violent interactions with the police. There is a need for much more action to address structural racial discrimination in the country. Accountability and justice must be upheld in cases of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. I am also concerned about the findings by the Working Group on People of African Descent that voter ID laws have discriminatory impact on minorities.

As the coordinator of the International Decade for People of African Descent, I am concerned about the continuing low political representation of Afro-descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are around 150 million people of African descent in the region, amounting to about 30 percent of the population. They make up more than half the population of Brazil and well over ten percent of the population of Cuba, to take two examples. But their representation in high levels of government, including Ministerial Cabinets, is far lower.

Representation matters. This deficit of representation at the summit of power affects all of society: parliaments, workplaces in the public and the private sectors, schools, law courts, the media – all of them places in which the voices of Afro-descendants are given too little weight. The voices, the choices, the experiences and the faces of Afro-descendants need to be better reflected in government. I urge these and other States to take action to reflect the diversity of their population in decision making bodies, including consideration of affirmative action policies.

Mr President,

The state of implementation of resolution 68/268 on treaty body strengthening is globally positive. The treaty body system is already making strides towards greater efficiency and effectiveness, as attested by the notable increase in State party reviews, examinations of individual communications and field visits. The capacity-building programme which the resolution called for has been established by my Office, and I encourage States to make use of it. Looking ahead, the Secretary General will soon submit to the General Assembly a first report under resolution 68/268. It remains clear that the ever-growing treaty body system still requires sustained support and attention in the process leading towards the 2020 review.

Mr President,

As the world learned very recently from Ebola, major health emergencies are also human rights crises. The Zika epidemic continues to grow, with 60 countries worldwide now reporting cases – and there is an urgent need for a strong preventive and human rights-based approach in every one of those countries, as well as regionally and globally. Zika appears to disproportionately affect poor people, who live in areas with inadequate sanitation and whose homes and workplaces are less likely to be air-conditioned and mosquito-free. That must not mean that decision-makers downplay this epidemic. I urge adequate preventive measures, include the allocation of funds, as well as full respect for the human rights of all those affected. Disease is inevitable, but it is within our capability to prevent and reverse epidemics and pandemics. Indeed, it is our urgent duty.

Mr President,

Today is International Albinism Awareness Day, and I would like to stress my appreciation for this Council's work to address the terrible problems faced by people with albinism – including the appointment of the first Independent Expert. I am glad to note that Malawi has adopted a plan of action to address attacks against persons with albinism. Tanzania has recently appointed, for the first time, a person with albinism as a Deputy Minister. In Malawi and South Africa, organisations of traditional healers have publicly dismissed the myths that body parts of persons with albinism can be used to make traditional medicine. These are significant steps, but the gruesome suffering that is inflicted on people with albinism will require much greater focus and support from many actors.

Mr President,

I have listed many preventable calamities, which inflict unnecessary suffering on many people. I have also suggested many of the tools which can roll back those forces and revive the resilience and unity of societies around the world. Equality. Dignity. Participation. Respect. Conflict can be prevented, and peace, security and development can be strengthened or rebuilt, brick by brick. Respect for human rights offers States a path towards greater stability, not less. And assistance in establishing that path is what my Office, in all humility, offers. We shed light on protection gaps in order to help States repair them. I urge you to assist our work, and to avail yourselves of the help we offer. Despite the often terrible trends that I have outlined in this discussion, I firmly believe that it is not yet too late to act.

Thank you.

For more information and media requests, please contact please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 /

For use of the information media; not an official record


Philippines: Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project

13 June 2016 - 1:56pm
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Philippines

With wealth concentrated in Metro Manila and a few other primary cities, secondary and tertiary cities must elevate their role in spreading economic development.

The Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project is a five-year, $47.8 million project, which fosters the development of conditions for broad-based, inclusive and resilient economic growth for a critical mass of cities and surrounding areas outside Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao. SURGE assists cities and adjacent areas to plan effectively, guarantee basic public services, reduce business transaction costs, promote competitiveness, support sustainable development, and reduce disaster and climate change risks while ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth.

SURGE is the flagship project of USAID’s Cities Development Initiative, a crucial component of the broader Partnership for Growth (PFG). A White House-initiated “whole of government” partnership between the U.S. Government and the Government of the Philippines, PFG aims to shift the Philippines to a sustained and more inclusive growth trajectory on par with other high‐performing emerging economies.


Activities under SURGE focus on four key areas: 1) Strengthening local capacity in inclusive and resilient urban development, including the promotion of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and ensuring access to sustainable water supply and sanitation services 2) Promoting low-emission local economic development strategies together with streamlined administrative and regulatory procedures and improved infrastructure and transport systems 3) Expanding economic connectivity and access between urban and rural areas 4) Strengthening multisectoral capacity to provide health and other basic services to ensure social inclusion

In line with the Cities Development Initiative’s approach of providing a multi-faceted package of assistance, SURGE leverages and works with existing USAID projects in economic growth, environment, energy and climate change, health, and education. USAID also works in partnership with the cities of Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, Zamboanga, and will cover additional cities in the near term.

Within the objective of promoting local economic development, SURGE is also improving land tenure security and land information management in selected cities, including Antipolo City. SURGE will undertake the following activities: - Develop comprehensive city land tenure profiles - Provide assistance in the preparation of Land Tenure Improvement Plans and consolidated maps for pilot villages - Assist selected cities in the inventory of government lands - Conduct an international conference on land tenure to provide a venue for sharing and disseminating good practices on land tenure and property rights improvement.

SURGE is currently conducting in-depth area assessments to inform the specific nature of assistance in each of the cities.


SURGE created and launched a Stakeholders’ Forum, a platform for engagement among the various city actors, in each of the Cities Development Initiative partner cities. Each forum enables regular dialogues among critical government and non-government stakeholders to discuss issues in urban planning, local economic development, and urban-rural linkages, and identify and implement priority actions for each city.


To foster the development of conditions for broad-based, inclusive and resilient economic growth in second-tier cities


  • Improve urban development and planning

  • Promote low-emission local economic development

  • Facilitate greater connectivity and access between urban and rural areas

  • Promote social inclusion


USAID's Cities Development Initiative sites:

  • Batangas City

  • Cagayan de Oro City

  • Iloilo City

  • Puerto Princesa City

  • Tagbilaran City

  • Zamboanga City

World: Integrating gender into humanitarian action: Good practices from Asia-Pacific 1

13 June 2016 - 1:36pm
Source: Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Government of Norway, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Women Country: Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, World

Statistics show that women are disproportionately negatively affected by disasters. As an example, the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Asia, and over 70 percent of the victims were women. Women are often posed at risk when social and cultural norms limit their mobility – according to some studies, women are 14 times more likely to die during a disaster than men.

The humanitarian community has been taking steady steps to ensure an effective humanitarian system for all women, men, boys and girls affected by disasters. As stated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the reduction of risks from disasters requires engagement and partnership from all in society.

In this brochure, you can read about successful initiatives that have been taken in Asia to ensure an equal treatment of all in society before, during and after disasters.

The document has been developed by Asian Disaster Preparedness Center and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on behalf of the IASC Informal ad-hoc Working Group on Gender in Humanitarian Action in Asia-Pacific Region and with support from the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Myanmar: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (7 - 13 June 2016)

13 June 2016 - 4:26am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines


According to the Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD), heavy rains triggered flash floods in Kawlin, Wuntho and Pinlebu townships in Sagaing Region on 9 June.
More than 25,000 people were affected in Kawlin and two people killed in Wutho.
The floods damaged bridges and farmlands. The Sagaing Regional Government is responding to urgent needs while RRD is providing cash assistance.

Localized floods were also reported in other parts of the country on 10 and 11 June. The full extent of the damage is still being analyzed by authorities. The regional governments are leading the response with the support from the President’s Emergency Reserve Fund.

25,000 people affected


On 7 June, the Province of Davao del Norte, in Mindanao, declared a state of calamity due to El Niño-induced drought. An estimated 57,240 families (229,000 people) are affected. Agricultural damage in the province is estimated at US$19.2 million.
A total of 17 provinces across the Philippines remain under a state of calamity.

229,000 people affected in Davao del Norte


From 5 to 9 June, flooding triggered by high tides and heavy rainfall occurred across 12 provinces in Sumatra, Java, Bali and Nusa Tenggara. At least 5,900 houses and temporary stalls were damaged and more than 30,000 houses were flooded.
Local authorities provided assistance to the affected communities.

On 8 June, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck 126 km off the west coast of Ternate City damaging 18 houses and a church.
Another earthquake measuring 6.2 in magnitude hit 286 km southwest of West Sumbawa district, West Nusa Tenggara province, on 9 June, at a depth of 10 km.
No damages or casualties were reported.

30,000 houses flooded


On 8 June, the India Meteorological Department officially announced the onset of the southwest monsoon season as heavy rainfall was recorded in the southern states particularly Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where at least two people were killed by floods.

Earlier outlook models have indicated above average rainfall is expected during this year’s monsoon season. Local authorities in landslide prone areas have initiated preparedness activities.4

Philippines: President Aquino enumerates gains from Mindanao peace

11 June 2016 - 12:55am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

MANILA, June 11 - President Aquino spelled out the dividends of peace over the past six years in Mindanao as the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front hammered a deal for lasting peace in the region.

During the launch of the book “Junctures, Selected Speeches and Statements” by OPPAP, the President said the government has worked to provide critical support to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as both sides iron out a peace deal.

For infrastructure, From 2011 to 2016, the national and regional governments invested a total of P61.64 billion in roads, bridges, and flood control projects in the region, compared to just around P11 billion from 2005 to 2010, he said.

Among these projects include the long-awaited Basilan Circumferential Road, which began construction in the year 2000, as well as the improvement of eight ports and two airports to promote regional connectivity.

The government has also intensified the implementation of 4Ps program whose coverage in the region has skyrocketed, from 37,564 households as of June 2010 to 442,924 under present administration.

The government also improved education and healthcare in the region. From 2011 to 2015, it has built 5,018 classrooms in ARMM. Through TESDA, the administration also provided skills training programs to around 25,000 beneficiaries in ARMM.

To address the shortage of medical professionals in the rural areas, it deployed 109 doctors, 3,855 nurses, 300 midwives, 22 dentists, and 78 public health associates from 2011 to 2015.

On top of this, the government also expanded access to electricity—electrifying 846 target sitios from July 2011 to March 2016.

“We’ve talked to the communities to ask about their most pressing needs, and—from 2013 to 2015—have funded a total of 1,133 poverty reduction projects in ARMM, totaling P2.60 billion. These projects include the provision of livelihood opportunities, potable water supply, medicine, and shelter assistance,” the President said.

A more transparent government also resulted to more investors coming to the region, he said. With the use of the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website in publishing all bid notices, BOI-ARMM approved investments in the region have increased from P87.9 million in 2010, to P6.58 billion in 2015 alone.

From 2010 to 2015, total investments amounted to P14.3 billion, according to the President.

He told the attendees of the book launch that there will be more good news if the country continue along the road to a true and lasting peace.

“This is the right path. It is a path that has benefited those in the margins; and it is a path that heals the fractures within the country we share,” he said.

“And the message that we now send to our countrymen is: We must continue along this path.”

Thursday’s book launch tells the journey that the government has taken in the past six years, fully aware that the journey is ongoing—that there are more challenges that both sides must overcome.

The President said he is hopeful that the the book will remind Filipinos of the successes that the country has enjoyed by talking peace noting it may also stand as an enduring symbol of the country’s restored faith in one another.

“I truly believe that our combined efforts can bring about a Mindanao—and a Philippines—that is free from conflict, one that we can be proud to bequeath to future generations,” he said. (PND)

World: International Annual Report 2015

10 June 2016 - 8:40am
Source: SOS Children's Villages International Country: Armenia, Austria, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Central African Republic, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guinea, Haiti, Hungary, India, Italy, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Malawi, Nepal, Niger, occupied Palestinian territory, Philippines, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Ukraine, World

The 2015 International Annual Report describes how SOS Children’s Villages around the world supported children and strengthened families and communities in 2015 through community-integrated responses in care, education, health and emergency services.

The 573 SOS Children’s Villages around the world in 2015 are described as ‘care and protection hubs’ for their local communities, as they provided a range of locally-tailored services to support vulnerable children.

These services included SOS families and supported foster care, family strengthening programmes, kindergartens, schools and vocational training, and health care for communities that lacked infrastructure, the report shows.

More than 553,000 children, young people and adults worldwide benefitted from SOS family strengthening programmes or SOS family-based alternative care in 2015.

Some 125,000 children attended SOS kindergartens and schools, while over 17,000 young people and adults prepared for independent life with SOS vocational training courses.

The organisation provided more than 940,000 health services through its 76 health clinics, and assisted children and families in humanitarian emergencies in over 22 countries.

SOS Children's Villages' range of services, and community-integrated approaches, were made possible through strong local, national and international partnerships, and the support of more than 1.4 million committed givers in 2015.

Disaggregated data from the SOS Children’s Villages Programme Database presents the most common risk factors which resulted in children needing SOS family strengthening or SOS family-based alternative care in 2015.

SOS Children’s Villages’ contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in particular, goals 1, 4, 8, 10 and 16 – which relate to some of the most common risk factors for family breakdown – is also described.

Case studies in the report illustrate how SOS Children’s Villages in different countries worked to help governments de-institutionalise and reform their alternative care systems, and how the organisation developed an innovative method to measure the social return on investment of its programmes.

World: Field Exchange No. 52 (June 2016)

10 June 2016 - 6:10am
Source: Emergency Nutrition Network Country: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chad, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe


This rather large issue of Field Exchange has a typically wide range of material from field practitioners and researchers. Some examples of innovative practice include an article by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) that has developed and is field testing approaches for treatment of uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition (SAM) by low-literacy community health workers, as part of community case management in South Sudan. We also have a summary of research conducted in Sierra Leone on an integrated moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and SAM treatment programme. It is good to see adolescent care featuring, a huge gap area when it comes to nutrition programming; International Medical Corps (IMC) share experiences of adolescent targeted programming in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The low profile of and access to SAM treatment in emergency-prone East Asia and the Pacific, despite the high burden of wasting, and actions to address this are the subjects of a thoughtful article by the UNICEF regional team. It complements nicely an article on the progress made in the Philippines on this front, which has partly come about through the capacity gaps identified and addressed with external humanitarian support. As ever, the pros and cons of mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) and weight-forheight measures in determining access to acute malnutrition treatment programmes remain a hot topic amongst some of the nutrition fraternity; we feature a cross-section of research that no doubt will fuel discussions that will feature in future issues of Field Exchange.

This editorial would like to focus on two sets of material in particular; namely the new Lancet series on breastfeeding and related articles, and a series of case studies on Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC) experiences in six recent emergencies (Ukraine, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, Philippines and Bangladesh).

The first paper in a recent Lancet breastfeeding series reinforces that where infectious diseases are prevalent, exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is critical to infants under 6 months of age in terms of mortality and infectious disease, and remains significant for children aged 6-24m in reducing mortality and infectious disease morbidity. It’s a worry that in resource poor settings, EBF rates remain stubbornly low. The Lancet paper calls for the need to tailor breastfeeding support strategies to specific patterns recorded in each country. Research from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), summarised in this issue, reflects such an approach, where a short-cut version of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding programme made a difference to EBF rates in the target group. Interestingly, adding in community support groups to the clinic-based programme probably made things worse – misinterpretations and mixed messages by the wider interested community were, in all likelihood, behind this finding.

Behaviour change communication (BCC) on feeding practices is a common thread to socalled ‘nutrition sensitive’ programming. It would be interesting to examine – through literature review and likely research - the impact of such BCC, since many factors influence infant feeding decisions. A selection of these are reflected in an article on the social impact of the Kenyan government’s Baby Friendly Community Initiative. Whilst some expected and unexpected social returns were positive (e.g. having healthier children, more paternal support of mothers), some significant negative outcomes of improving maternal and infant and young child feeding (IYCF) were also identified. Mothers reported they were now more worried knowing how they should be feeding their children but in reality, not being able to do so in their circumstance. Key informants reported less income due to job loss as a result of following optimal feeding practices, increased household expenditure on food and health care, increased workload of healthcare providers, financial strain on, and increased stress of, community health volunteers.

The investment case for breastfeeding is the focus of the second Lancet paper. e costs of not breastfeeding in terms of lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is used to support the case for breastfeeding investment. However the costing - based on economic calculations around cognitive development consequences of not breastfeeding and increased health costs of sicker non-breastfed children – does not capture the significant opportunity cost to mothers of feeding options, in terms of lost income and time. Such costs need to be monetised and captured in economic calculations or explicitly stated as absent; breastfeeding is not free. This paper reflects a lack of data that is critical to moving forward (or to halt us fighting a losing battle) on the feeding front. Six actions are proposed related to advocacy, societal attitudes, political will, breastmilk substitute (BMS) industry regulation, scale-up of interventions, and removal of structural and societal barriers. But reliable estimates of the costs and benefits of the actions needed to support optimal breastfeeding, including maternity entitlements, are missing. Just one available study estimates that it will cost $17.5 billion globally for a large range of interventions, much of which is maternity entitlements for poor women. Asia and Africa account for 80% of the millions of women with no or inadequate maternity protection; the economic implications and feasibility for governments of recommendations, and how accessible changes would be for the poorest women, is poorly understood. How fair is it to engage in BCC with individual mothers in these challenging contexts, in the absence of the societal and community support to enable change, and how much has it cost us trying and largely failing to do so? It would have been valuable if the Lancet economic analysis could have gone further and scrutinised what investments have been made to date and for what gains; it was not possible to ascertain national or overseas aid budgets for the protection or support of breastfeeding.

One of the challenges for humanitarian programming is how to appraise relative risk in mixed feeding contexts and minimise risks for all infants. The Syria and Ukraine crises pose particularly challenging contexts given the lowrates of EBF and increasing tendency prior to the crises to use BMS (the Lancet series calculates that global infant formula sales in 2014 were US$44.8 billion, most of the 50% growth by 2019 projected in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions). Middle income countries inhabit a grey area between high income and low income settings with declining breastfeeding rates (improved rates more likely amongst the better off women), yet still carrying some of the infectious disease burden that fuels morbidity and mortality risk. There are also inconsistencies been global perceptions of best practice and field experiences. Increases in infant mortality have not been demonstrated amongst the refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey amongst refugees nor reported in the Europe migrant crisis, despite widespread infant formula use in risky environments.
Children may well be sicker and undernourished (we just haven’t measured it) but it may also reflect that mothers engage their own risk minimisation strategies and adapt more effectively than we give them credit for. An article by Save the Children on their IYCF response in Croatia reflects the challenges of meeting the needs of both breastfed and formula dependent infants in a rapidly transiting population and the necessary compromises in terms of assessment and support offered. These and many more experiences will be reflected in in an update of the Operational Guidance on IYCF in emergencies currently underway (see news piece in this edition).

Our second editorial focus relates to findings from recent and ongoing GNC coordination experiences summarised in this issue. Three themes and challenges from the GNC case studies are worth mentioning here. The first relates to the default response in emergencies (first reported on extensively in the Field Exchange special issue (49) on the response to the Syria crisis) to focus on treatment of acute malnutrition in young children and IYCF to the exclusion of other groups and nutrition challenges. There are many questions for us to ponder. For example, do we have sufficient capacity and understanding to address the needs of the elderly in emergencies (including non-communicable diseases (NCDs)) and do we know how to address high levels of stunting. Emergency contexts are rapidly changing and yet our protocols and institutional capacity seems to be lagging behind these changes.

A second challenge appears to be how to effect inter-sector planning and coordination so that nutrition objectives can become part of so called ‘nutrition sensitive’ planning in emergencies.
Again, the response to the Syria crisis first highlighted the lack of influence of nutrition actors on widespread social protection planning. The GNC case studies in this issue again demonstrate lack of coordination between the nutrition sector and other sectors to enhance the nutrition sensitivity of programming in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food security, health and social protection. A key question is whether the overall cluster mechanism does enough to support the potential for inter-sector collaboration and planning and what role the nutrition cluster can have in realising this potential.

Finally, the case studies show a highly variable engagement in preparedness and longer-term coordination mechanisms – especially where a formal inter-agency standing committee (IASC) activation of the cluster is not needed or wanted. Engagement of the cluster with Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) actors and mechanisms may provide an excellent opportunity to strengthen links between humanitarian and development planning. The new ENN programme of work to support the SUN Movement’s knowledge management work in fragile and conflict affected states should ensure that ENN is able to fully capture this type of collaboration in the future. e new thematic areas on SUN opened on ennet should also, we hope, help cross-fertilise experiences between cluster/SUN mechanisms (for example, see 2485.aspx) and develop connections between humanitarian and development practitioners.

A final word on Field Exchange itself. As you’ll have noticed, the size of our print edition has grown over the last couple of years (issue 24 was just 28 pages!). This reflects, no doubt, the appetite to share and learn from each other and the breadth of programming and research now relevant to nutrition. However, we do need to consider what is manageable to sustain (in terms of resources) and digest (for our readership).

So over the coming months, we’ll be looking to innovate a little on how we deliver Field Exchange content to you, such as selected content for print, online editions, changes in format, etc.
We’ll contact those of you who have shared your email addresses for feedback and welcome unsolicited suggestions anytime; make sure your contacts are up to date (or add them) at: www.ennonline. net/subscribe/fex

Jeremy Shoham & Marie McGrath Field Exchange Co-editors

Philippines: DILG to LGUs: Prepare for La Nina

9 June 2016 - 10:42pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines
PRESS RELEASE June 6, 2016

As the rainy season is about to start, Secretary Mel Senen S. Sarmiento of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is calling on all local government units (LGUs) to carry out the disaster preparedness measures under Operation Listo.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the current El Nino is already in its decaying stage and there is a possible rise of La Nina during the second half of 2016.

PAGASA particularly warned the provinces of Isabela, Quezon, Samar, Leyte, Surigao, Agusan and Bicol of the developing La Nina.

In a directive, Sarmiento urged all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and DILG regional directors to take precautionary measures in their respective areas of responsibility.

"LGUs are encouraged to convene their respective Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils to prepare a La Nina Action Plan; closely coordinate with PAGASA for timely weather updates and with the DENR-Mines and Geosciences Bureau for adequate information on the threat of flooding and rainfall-induced landslides within the respective LGU," said Sarmiento.

He also directed LGUs to regularly submit a status report to the DILG, through its Field and Regional Offices, on all La Nina related incidents, including planning, preparations and general assessments.

Operation Listo

Sarmiento also reminds LGUs to implement the early preparedness actions listed in the Operation Listo Manuals for hydro-meteorological hazards namely the (1) Checklist of Critical Preparations for Mayors, (2) Checklist of Early Preparations for Mayors, and (3) Checklist for Municipal Local Government Operations Officers, Chiefs of Police, and Fire Marshalls.

These manuals lay down disaster preparedness minimum standards before, during, and after a disaster.

There are four General Actions to be undertaken proactively by local chief executives to be able to carry out the functions during the critical period when an advisory or alert is issued by PAGASA: (1) create the local Disaster Risk Reduction Management structures and systems to be mobilized; (2) institutionalize policies and plans; (3) build the competency of the created structures through various trainings; and (4) complement the competency by purchasing and preparing the needed hardware and supplies to equip the actions.

"As the Manuals say, these are done during 'peace time' or when no immediate threat of a disaster. Tamang paghahanda, tamang aksyon. This is what Operation Listo reminds everyone that we must be preemptive instead of reactive," said Sarmiento.

Operation Listo is an advocacy program of the DILG which aims to strengthen disaster preparedness of LGUs using the whole-of-government approach. Its first component called Listong Pamahalaang Lokal was launched in 2014 which institutionalized local protocols for disaster preparedness, response and monitoring.

"The goal is always zero casualty. The effectiveness of implementing Operation Listo is evident when we had no casualty in places affected by Bagyong Chedeng in Regions 2 and 3 including Pampanga last year," Sarmiento points out.

Listong Pamayanan and Listong Pamilyang Pilipino Last month, President Benigno S.Aquino III led the DILG's launching of two new components of Operation Listo: the Listong Pamayanan and Listong Pamilyang Pilipino.

Listong Pamayanan are a capacity development interventions that started from LGUs and to be cascaded to the community; and the Listong Pamilyang Pilipino focuses on the family and household level preparedness.

In Listong Pamilyang Pilipino, the DILG partners with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in distributing "Gabay at Mapa", which is a family guide to action before, during and after a disaster. It requires families to make a household plan determining their evacuation routes, family meeting points, and safe places in their home.

Families are advised to prepare their e-Balde, or Emergency Balde, which contains essential items to be brought during evacuation, such as ready-to-eat food, three gallons of water, medicine, first-aid and hygiene kits, clothes, flashlights, and radios.

World: El Niño forecasted impact - ECHO Daily Map | 09/06/2016

9 June 2016 - 10:31pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office Country: American Samoa, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, New Caledonia (France), Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue (New Zealand), Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Samoa, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, World, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Shelter Response Outcome Assessment Final Report Philippines May 2016

9 June 2016 - 2:15pm
Source: Shelter Cluster Country: Philippines


When Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, reached the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines on 8 November 2013, it was the strongest typhoon ever recorded to make landfall. Yolanda was the deadliest typhoon in Philippine history, killing over 6,000 people as it crossed the Visayas. Millions were left homeless across an area that included some of the poorest provinces in the country, with poverty incidence in 2012 estimated at above 60% of the population in Eastern Samar and above 45% in Samar.1 Given the large scale destruction of homes and livelihoods, Shelter formed a significant part of the humanitarian response that followed. In the Typhoon Haiyan Strategic Response, the shelter response was valued at USD 178,442,176, accounting for 23% of all requested funds and the second largest single component.2 To inform the development of the Shelter Cluster Strategy and monitor changing needs over time, REACH conducted three assessments on behalf of the Shelter Cluster: a baseline assessment of Shelter and WASH in December 20133 , a joint Shelter and WASH monitoring assessment in April 20144 , and a second monitoring assessment of the Shelter response in September 2014.

Following deactivation of the Philippines Shelter Cluster in October 2014, this Shelter Response Outcome Assessment aimed to assess the outcome of the large-scale response by affected populations, governmental and non-governmental (NGO) agencies that followed Yolanda, and focuses on shelter recovery. Planned and implemented with the Global Shelter Cluster and operational shelter in the Philippines, this report examines some of the characteristics influencing shelter recovery. Analysis was based on a review of secondary data, and primary data collected from 13 case study locations. The data was analysed to address a series of overall research questions, summarised below.

- How did shelter agency assistance support the rebuilding of safe, adequate and appropriate homes and which types of assistance helped people implement ‘Build Back Safer’ messages when rebuilding their homes?

Safety. Affected households that had received shelter assistance were widely reported to have achieved a higher level of Build Back Safer (BBS) standards when rebuilding and repairing their homes compared to those that relied only on their own resources, who struggled to balance shelter with other priorities.

Overall, the affected population already knew most BBS techniques to some extent before Yolanda, but techniques had become known in more detail following the typhoon, which was often reported to be due to the extensive dissemination of the 8 key BBS messages that was undertaken by government and shelter agencies. When comparing the safety of different types of shelter assistance, the highest BBS standards were observed in cases where complete permanent or transitional shelters had been constructed. Families that received other types of recovery assistance, such as materials, cash support or training, were not always found to prioritise all BBS considerations during reconstruction. Training for the wider community was reported only to be effective when materials were distributed to participants in conjunction with the training. Community members that did not receive assistance were frequently reported to have learned about BBS techniques by watching people they saw as the most skilled local carpenters, while they worked on other structures.

Adequacy. Shelter agencies generally aimed to follow adequacy standards in line with those outlined by the Humanitarian Shelter Working Group (HSWG) in all interventions. However, low awareness of these standards among beneficiaries, as well as their own competing priorities often posed challenges to achieving them. For instance, shelter agencies and affected households alike struggled to build shelters in line with adequate space standards in heavily populated areas. Durability of materials used for construction, especially coco-lumber, was a challenge, with both shelter agency assisted and selfrecovery rebuilding, due to depleting stocks of coco-lumber. As with BBS messaging implementation, where durable materials were available, these were reportedly only available to households that had the resources to pay for them – especially due to price hikes following increasing rebuilding demand.

Appropriateness. The environmental impact of both Yolanda and the subsequent rebuilding effort was apparent, with rising temperatures in many communities due to the absence of shade; reported increases in flash flooding; and delayed replenishment of forests as communities and shelter agencies resorted to using young trees for construction. A gradual change in materials felt to be culturally appropriate and preferred by beneficiaries was also noted amongst assessed communities. These altering preferences were reportedly due to a mixture of BBS messages and direct observations of effective and less effective shelter structures in the face of typhoons.

- To what extent did shelter agencies support the rebuilding of communities with access to essential facilities and needs?

Shelter agencies and communities alike explained that requirements for safety and access are often inherently conflicting. Finding a safe site which simultaneously had access to community infrastructure and livelihood opportunities continued to pose enormous challenges, leaving many communities in no build zones (NBZ)8 with nowhere to go. Some relocated households were said to use their shelters at relocation sites when they needed to evacuate in the face of typhoons, while returning to live on the coast, closer to livelihoods and services. Lack of access to key infrastructure and services was a key issue at relocation sites, often due to lack of available facilities or livelihoods but sometimes also due to lack of integration of the relocated population, which prompted people to return to their barangay of origin to access services that were otherwise not available at the new location. Agencies felt that guidance outlining standards for safety and access to essential services could better advise on how such conflicts should be approached.

Loss of livelihoods, particularly amongst copra farmers and fishermen, had been partially mitigated by shelter agencies through the surge in demand for construction labour that followed Yolanda. Another positive access effect of the response was that access to sanitation had considerably improved overall amongst affected communities compared to before Yolanda, although the increased use in latrines led to new challenges in safely disposing of latrine content and obtaining water needed for flushing. Water network access had sometimes not been restored at original sites and remained to be installed at relocation sites.

- How did shelter agencies complement each other to support reconstruction?

Coordination during the emergency and early recovery phase was reported to have been relatively strong.

One key challenge faced in terms of duplications was the interventions conducted by smaller, largely unknown organisations that did not connect with the wider coordination system. Shelter agencies reported a reduction in coordination following the closure of the clusters and some feared that unknown gaps remained due to lack of harmonised response data. Complementing activities were reported especially with the WASH sector, facilitated by WASH activities often implemented by shelter agencies themselves. However, some relatively well-assisted communities reported gaps occurring where agencies had planned to complement each other but one or more did not eventually follow up on their commitment.

- What were the key overall challenges that people faced when building safe, adequate and appropriate homes with access to essential facilities livelihoods opportunities? How did shelter agencies work to alleviate these?

Land issues indirectly underpinned almost every challenge related to the recovery of affected populations.

Lack of access to safe sites led not only to affected households remaining in NBZ but also to lack of implementation of BBS due to lack of permission to build stronger structures and lack of incentive to build secure structures with durable materials that would later have to be taken apart or were in any case not felt to be intended for long-term use. Lack of safe land near livelihoods and community facilities meant that some relocated communities were travelling long distances for all services and livelihoods. Shelter agencies tried several strategies to mitigate challenges faced due to land issues. Rental assistance had been given to households with damaged houses in NBZ; legal assistance was provided to households to facilitate longer-term tenancy with land owners; some tried coordinating with governmental agencies to procure land; and relocation sites were searched for near livelihoods and services.

Another key underlying challenge was lack of availability of durable materials, in turn intimately linked with the negative environmental and livelihoods impact that resulted from the repeated typhoons and subsequent rebuilding efforts that gradually demolished the mature trees desperately needed for construction lumber, copra and shade.

- To what extent did the shelter cluster assistance meet community priorities and expectations?

Satisfaction with assistance appeared to be closely linked to perceptions of whether support had been fairly targeted. Targeting perceived as unfair included cases where more vulnerable households were given assistance quickly and therefore did not qualify to receive more substantial assistance later on, which was instead given to less vulnerable households that had not already received assistance.
Similarly, it was also felt to be unfair where households were excluded from assistance due to previously received assistance, without having had a chance to choose between assistance types. In other cases, households were reported to intentionally delay rebuilding to receive assistance, since people perceived that those who had already begun rebuilding would not be eligible. Complaints were also raised that land owners received more durable assistance due to land tenure requirements of more permanent housing solutions, which excluded households that did not have formalised ownership or long-term rental agreements.

The Shelter Cluster’s priority of BBS standards in particular was otherwise fully aligned with the priorities of affected populations that largely considered the BBS techniques effective and important. Shelter agencies and communities alike indicated a need to better adapt the minimum space standards depending on level of population density. However, some reported that recovery assistance was felt to have arrived too late, with households that started to rebuild their homes immediately sometimes receiving training in BBS techniques several months after finishing rebuilding.

World: WHO Zika Virus, Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome Situation Report, 9 June 2016

9 June 2016 - 12:08pm
Source: World Health Organization Country: American Samoa, Argentina, Aruba (The Netherlands), Barbados, Belize, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (The Netherlands), Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao (The Netherlands), Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, French Guiana (France), French Polynesia (France), Gabon, Guadeloupe (France), Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Maldives, Martinique (France), Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico (The United States of America), Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (France), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sint Maarten (The Netherlands), Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, United States Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, World

 As of 8 June 2016, 60 countries and territories report continuing mosquito-borne transmission (Fig. 1) of which:

 46 countries are experiencing a first outbreak of Zika virus since 2015, with no previous evidence of circulation, and with ongoing transmission by mosquitos (Table 1).

 14 countries reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, with ongoing transmission.

 In addition, four countries or territories have reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, without ongoing transmission: Cook Islands, French Polynesia,
ISLA DE PASCUA – Chile and YAP (Federated States of Micronesia)1.

 Ten countries have reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus, probably via a sexual route (Table 2).

 In the week to 8 June 2016, no new country reported mosquito-borne or person-toperson Zika virus transmission.

 As of 8 June 2016, microcephaly and other central nervous system (CNS) malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection or suggestive of congenital infection have been reported by eleven countries or territories. Three of those reported microcephaly borne from mothers with a recent travel history to Brazil (Slovenia, United States of America) and Colombia (Spain), for one additional case the precise country of travel in Latin America is not determined (Table 3).

 In the context of Zika virus circulation, 13 countries and territories worldwide have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases (Table 4).

 As of 8 June, Cabo Verde has reported a total of six cases of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities with serological indication of previous Zika infection.  Based on research to date, there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and GBS.

 The global Strategic Response Framework launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2016 encompasses surveillance, response activities and research. An interim report has been published on some of the key activities being undertaken jointly by WHO and international, regional and national partners in response to this public health emergency. A revised strategy for the period July 2016 to December 2017 is currently being developed with partners and will be published in mid-June.

 WHO has developed new advice and information on diverse topics in the context of Zika virus.3 WHO’s latest information materials, news and resources to support corporate and programmatic risk communication, and community engagement are available online.

World: Asia and the Pacific: 2016 Regional Focus Model

9 June 2016 - 7:52am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, World

Why a regional focus model?

A key challenge faced by humanitarian agencies is how to ensure that limited available resources are allocated where they are most needed and are efficiently delivered in a principled manner. Decisions to allocate resources must strike a balance between meeting the immediate needs of crisis affected communities and supporting efforts to strengthen resilience and response preparedness to future emergencies.

To support humanitarian partners address some of these challenges, the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) developed a risk model, in 2007, to analyze hazards, vulnerabilities and response capacity at the country level using a range of quantitative indicators.

The model identifies hazard-prone countries that combine high vulnerability to hazards and low capacity to respond and are therefore more likely to request or accept support from the international community. The model also includes a "Humanitarian" component reflecting issues more directly related to OCHA's coordinating work. It is designed to be a practical tool to inform and guide disaster managers. The tool is also used by OCHA to guide its regional strategic framework and annual work plan.

In 2016, the Regional Focus Model (RFM) covers analysis of 36 countries in the Asia-Pacific region under ROAP in Bangkok, Thailand and the Regional Office for the Pacific in Suva, Fiji. Similar to previous RFM analyses in 2014 and 2015, the model is based on INFORM ( a global risk index that identifies and analyze where crises requiring international assistance may occur. It can be used to support decisions about prevention, preparedness and response.

Timor-Leste: Project HOPE Medical Volunteers Treat Patients and Instruct Health Care Professionals on Pacific Partnership 2016

9 June 2016 - 7:10am
Source: Project HOPE Country: Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Viet Nam

Millwood, VA, June 9, 2016

Medical volunteers from Project HOPE, the global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, have joined Pacific Partnership 2016, the 11th annual humanitarian aid mission and disaster response exercise led by the U.S. Navy to the Asia Pacific Region. Traveling aboard the USNS Mercy, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, the medical volunteers will support the U.S. Navy and partner nations by providing medical care, teaching medical topics and implementing side-by-side trainings with local health care professionals.

The purpose of Pacific Partnership is to bring a group of partner nations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) together to prepare in a time of calm so that they will be ready to respond if and when a natural disaster does occur. At the same time the host countries benefit from humanitarian aid in the form of engineering projects and health care instruction, trainings and care.

Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and the United Kingdom are all partners in the mission, conducting activities in the host countries Timor Leste, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Palau. Project HOPE is one of several organizations participating in Pacific Partnership 2016.

“Project HOPE is pleased to participate in this 11th Pacific Partnership mission,” said Andrea Dunne-Sosa, Project HOPE’s Director of Volunteer Programs. “Our volunteers are grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact on the health and health care of the communities served on this mission.”

Project HOPE volunteers will provide health care or health care instruction in Timor Leste, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. In each country, Project HOPE will provide 15-30 volunteers who will participate in specific engagements directly related to the host country’s needs and goals, such as providing hip and knee-replacement surgeries, nursing education, basic first responder courses, humanitarian aid and disaster response symposiums, surgical trainings, emergency care scenarios, and search and rescue trainings.

The Project HOPE volunteers on Pacific Partnership 2016 represent a wide array of medical specialties and include pediatric nurses, dieticians, burn specialists, anesthesiologists, radiologists, pharmacists, emergency room nurses, family medicine doctors and many others.

“Pacific Partnership 2016 will be my third mission volunteering with Project HOPE aboard a hospital ship,” said Harry Owens, M.D., a family and emergency medicine physician from McKenzie Bridge, OR who will serve as Project HOPE’s Team Leader on the mission. “On my past missions, I have seen many needy people be happy and grateful to receive a lot of health services. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help once again.”

Pacific Partnership began in 2005 in response to the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which devastated parts of Southeast Asia. Project HOPE medical volunteers joined the U.S. Navy aboard USNS Mercy on that mission providing surgeries and other medical care to people affected by the disaster. The U.S. Navy and Project HOPE volunteers have returned to the region in the summer of 2006 and every summer since for the annual Pacific Partnership missions.

About Project HOPE

Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solution to health problems with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now provides medical training and health education, and conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 30 countries. Visit our website and follow us on Twitter @projecthopeorg.

Media Contact

Geraldine Carroll Tel: (540) 257-3746

Philippines: Philippines: Mindanao - Humanitarian Partners Presence as of May 2016

9 June 2016 - 6:40am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines

World: Nutrition Funding: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

9 June 2016 - 6:05am
Source: Concern Worldwide, CESVI - Cooperazione e Sviluppo Onlus, Action Contre la Faim, People in Need, International Medical Corps, WaterAid, Malaria Consortium Country: Burkina Faso, India, Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, World

A new report from the Generation Nutrition campaign – “Nutrition Funding: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle is launched on the third anniversary of Nutrition for Growth.

Each year, undernutrition claims the lives of nearly three million children under the age of five and costs the global economy billions of dollars in lost productivity. The report calculates that, at the current rate of progress, states are going to miss the 2025 World Health Assembly targets on stunting and acute malnutrition by a significant margin. Increasing funding is essential if these and the other global nutrition targets are to be met on time.

In 2013, the UK hosted Nutrition for Growth, a high-level summit resulting in over $23 billion pledged to improve nutrition up to 2020 – this was good but it is not enough to end malnutrition in all its forms, as promised by world leaders. The new report calls for the next high-level nutrition funding summit to be announced immediately and for all stakeholders to step up and pledge ambitious and SMART financial commitments. We hope that at this summit donors will agree to a doubling of global aid to nutrition by 2020 and Southern governments will agree to increase their budget allocated to nutrition. The full set of recommendations by the campaign, including those for individual countries, can be found on pp.7-8 of the report.

World: Inter-regional Comparisons of Humanitarian Action: Event Report

9 June 2016 - 12:38am
Source: Nanyang Technological Univ. Country: Bangladesh, China, Japan, Micronesia (Federated States of), Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Vanuatu, World

The Conference on Inter-regional Comparisons of Humanitarian Action was held alongside the Re-launch of the NTS-Asia Consortium. The conference was organised by the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme at the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies.

The Asia-Pacific was again the world’s most disaster prone region in 2015 with a total of 160 disasters reported, accounting for 47% of the world’s 344 disasters.[1] Disasters in 2015 continued to shape life across the region with the Nepal earthquake and extreme weather events in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Vanuatu, and Micronesia affecting the lives of many people. Beyond natural hazards, the Asia-Pacific is also home to low-intensity and intractable conflicts. These conflicts often result in loss of life, persecution, and in some cases, mass forced migration. In 2015, the Asia-Pacific saw mass migration of Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants by sea out of the Bay of Bengal from Myanmar and Bangladesh. These migrants attempted to reach Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia only to face ‘forced pushbacks,’ which created a humanitarian crisis in the region. It is essential that in order to adequately provide for the needs of disaster-affected populations humanitarian principles are upheld.

In this region the consequences of natural hazards and conflict crises put pressure on local communities, governments, as well as regional and international organisations. As a result of the different actors involved, their diverse mandates and political will, there are significant challenges to humanitarian response and disaster management. It is therefore important to foster greater cooperation between the actors involved to build stronger disaster management capabilities as well as deliver aid effectively and efficiently to those most in need. Trust building takes time and requires cooperation amongst stakeholders prior to a crisis situation. In an effort to begin such collaboration amongst actors, the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme at the Centre for Non-Tradtiodational Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) Nanyang Technological University (NTU), hosted and facilitated the conference on Inter-regional Comparisons of Humanitarian Action on February 22nd 2016 alongside the re-launch of the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security Studies in Asia (NTS-Asia Consortium) at the Grand Park City Hall Hotel, Singapore. This event brought together key stakeholders including academics, practitioners, and military personnel from across Asia involved in humanitarian affairs. The conference covered Northeast Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the wider Asia-Pacific.

In Northeast Asia, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are emerging international humanitarian actors. However, domestically humanitarian action is not new or non-traditional for their militaries, which are the first-responders during disasters. Humanitarian action is often seen as a means to maintain national security and generate popular legitimacy. Internationally, humanitarian action is dependent on domestic security conditions particularly for the Republic of Korea. In the Republic of Korea, humanitarian action is contingent upon the stability of the Korean Peninsula – a core national security concern. When peninsula relations are particularly unstable between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, there is little appetite for humanitarian action elsewhere. That said the amount of money allocated to humanitarian affairs in the Republic of Korea and Northeast Asia overall are increasing.

Over the past year in Southeast Asia, the region has experienced humanitarian disasters as a result of both conflict and natural hazards. In Myanmar the flight of Rohingya out of Rakhine State into neighbouring countries caused a humanitarian crisis that highlighted the precarious nature of the conflict there and its impact on the region. In Aceh, customary law ensured the Rohingya were openly welcomed to the province, which was at odds with the position of the central government in Jakarta. In Malaysia, most assistance to the Rohingya was through informal means via non-governmental organizations, corporations and individuals. In a similar light, adequate humanitarian responses to natural hazards depended on a whole-of-society approach. However, challenges remained across the region like inadequate access to villages, communication barriers, and low levels of disaster prevention and preparedness amongst the affected population. Likewise in South Asia, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal were susceptible to numerous natural hazards, such as flooding, tsunamis, earthquake, typhoons, and landslides. In both Bangladesh and Nepal, there remains a need to also invest in disaster preparedness and prevention mechanisms to increase capacity and minimize relief costs.

Throughout the conference it became clear that there are two emerging trends in humanitarian action across the Asia–Pacific. The first is the increasing activity of selected Asia-Pacific states engaged in international humanitarian action across the region. The second is the divergence between local conditions and national action. This divergence was identified as customary approaches to humanitarian action diverging from national policy to become an important promoter of international humanitarianism on the one hand, to the severe local capacity issues facing national disaster management to implement strategy on the other hand. The conference highlighted the importance of greater dialogue to share experiences, as well as forms of cooperation, coexistence and collaboration amongst actors across and between these different levels of governance in humanitarian affairs. It became clear that no single stakeholder can address the multitude of needs that emerge in humanitarian crises. It is therefore vital that stakeholders work together where possible in the preparation for and implementation of humanitarian action both as a result of conflicts and natural hazards.

Philippines: Philippines: Mindanao - Development Partners Presence as of April 2016

8 June 2016 - 11:14pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Philippines

Mongolia: Asia-Pacific Region: Overview of El Niño Impact and Responses (as of June 2016)

6 June 2016 - 11:25pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Fiji, Indonesia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu, Viet Nam

IASC Regional Network for Asia-Pacific

The ongoing humanitarian impact of extreme weather events caused by El Niño, which began in 2015, are likely to continue in many cases in the Asia-Pacific region until the third quarter of 2016. While emergency needs in many countries are waning due to recent rainfalls, in many areas longer-term engagement, in particular around resilience and early recovery is still needed.

In many countries in Asia-Pacific, extended water shortages and prolonged lean seasons due to drought, coupled with underlying poor nutrition outcomes and widespread poverty, have led to the need for WASH, Food Security (incl. agriculture), Nutrition, Health and Early Recovery interventions. El Niño has also increased vulnerabilities in some countries with limited preparedness and response capacity, and has placed vulnerable groups, including women, girls, people living with a disability and the elderly, at increased risk of violence, discrimination and exclusion from basic services. More needs to be done by Governments, humanitarian and development partners alike to mitigate future risks. At the regional level humanitarian partners are coordinating to ensure effective strategic planning, including on specific issues such as population movements and gender-specific needs that may be influenced by El Niño and La Niña.

This overview highlights the on-going response, needs and challenges in the Asia-Pacific region as a result of El Niño.