humanitarian response

UN urges Turkey to open borders, end to bombing of Syria's Aleppo

The United Nations urged Turkey to open its borders to tens of thousands of Syrians who have overwhelmed nearby emergency camps and an end to bombings of their home province Aleppo. “The highest need and the best humanitarian response is for the bombing to stop,” UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien said, when asked if Russia should halt its air campaign in Aleppo. The main border crossing north of Syria’s second city Aleppo remained closed Tuesday, forcing huge crowds including women and children to sleep in tents or in the open. Source: Yahoo News

UN urges Turkey to open borders, end to bombing of Syria's Aleppo

The United Nations urged Turkey to open its borders to tens of thousands of Syrians who have overwhelmed nearby emergency camps and an end to bombings of their home province Aleppo. “The highest need and the best humanitarian response is for the bombing to stop,” UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien said, when asked if Russia should halt its air campaign in Aleppo. The main border crossing north of Syria’s second city Aleppo remained closed Tuesday, forcing huge crowds including women and children to sleep in tents or in the open. Source: Yahoo News

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UN urges Turkey to open borders, end to bombing of Aleppo

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) — The United Nations urged Turkey to let in tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing a regime offensive around Aleppo on Tuesday, adding to calls for Russia to end air strikes ahead of fresh peace efforts.

Up to 31,000 people have fled Aleppo and surrounding areas since last week, as government forces backed by Russian warplanes press an offensive that threatens to encircle the rebel-held eastern part of Syria’s second city.

“The highest need and the best humanitarian response is for the bombing to stop,” UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien said, when asked if Russia should halt its air campaign in Aleppo. “All bombings should stop.”

UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesman William Spindler urged Turkey to open its border to “all civilians from Syria who are fleeing danger and seeking international protection”.

Huge crowds of Syrians, most of them women and children, have spent days waiting at the Oncupinar border crossing into Turkey, sleeping in the open or packed into tents.

Ahmad al-Mohammad, a field worker with medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, said crowded conditions were causing health problems including diarrhoea.

“There are no longer enough places for families to sleep,” said told AFP. “Most of the families left with just the clothes they were in.”

Turkey, which already hosts 2.5 million Syrians, is delivering supplies across the border but has said it will let the new arrivals in only “if necessary”.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said that a “worst case scenario” could see up to 600,000 refugees arrive at the border.

“Our objective for now is to keep this wave of migrants on the other side of Turkey’s borders as much as is possible, and to provide them with the necessary services there,” Kurtulmus said.

– -Focus on Munich Talks–

The Aleppo offensive is piling on the pressure for a political solution ahead of a 17-nation contact group meeting Thursday in Munich aimed at getting peace talks back on track.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Russia’s aerial bombardment of Syrian opposition targets could derail efforts to revive the peace process, after discussions collapsed last week.

“Russia’s activities in Aleppo and in the region right now are making it much more difficult to be able to come to the table and to be able to have a serious conversation,” Kerry said in Washington.

“We have called on Russia — and we call on Russia again — to join in the effort to bring about an immediate ceasefire.”

EU president Donald Tusk said the Russian air strikes were “making an already very bad situation even worse”.

“As a direct consequence of the Russian military campaign, the murderous Assad regime is gaining ground, the moderate Syrian opposition is losing ground and thousands more refugees are fleeing towards Turkey and Europe.”

NATO said it would take any request to help with the refugee crisis “very

seriously”, after Ankara and Germany said they would seek the alliance’s help combating people smugglers.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is also expected to discuss the situation in Aleppo during a trip to Europe this week designed to drum up support for the fight against Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

– Under siege – 

Syria’s nearly five-year-old conflict has claimed 260,000 lives and displaced half the population.

The UN has warned 300,000 people in eastern Aleppo city could be cut off from humanitarian aid if government forces encircle the area, a tactic used by the regime to devastating effect against other former rebel bastions.

A report from Washington-based The Syria Institute and PAX, a peace organisation based in the Netherlands, said Tuesday that more than one million Syrians are living under siege.

The UN’s World Food Programme said it had begun food distributions to the displaced, despite the severing of access and supply routes.

“We are making every effort to get enough food in place for all those in need,” said WFP Syria country director Jakob Kern.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air raids, began a major operation in the northern province of Aleppo last week and are now around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Turkish frontier.

The regime advances came as peace talks in Geneva collapsed last week in part over rebel anger about the government offensive.

More than 20 suspected Russian air strikes hit several towns northwest of Aleppo city and in the northern countryside on Tuesday, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.


© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

3Novices:Syria Crisis: Which Countries Have Contributed The Most Humanitarian Funding? [Infographic]

3Novices:Syria Crisis: Which Countries Have Contributed The Most Humanitarian Funding? [Infographic]

Which countries are leading the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis? A report from Oxfam recently estimated that Syria required just under $9 billion in donations last year. Their analysis revealed that rich countries around the world only provided 56.5 percent of the funding requested by appeals.
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3Novices:Syria Crisis: Which Countries Have Contributed The Most Humanitarian Funding? [Infographic]

3Novices:Syria Crisis: Which Countries Have Contributed The Most Humanitarian Funding? [Infographic]

Which countries are leading the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis? A report from Oxfam recently estimated that Syria required just under $9 billion in donationslast year. Their analysis revealed that rich countries around the world only provided 56.5 percent of the funding requested by appeals. The United States has proven […]
#3Novices #News #OnlineMedia 3Novices

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Some "Sterling" advice from last year's state Scholar winners
External image

Sarah Farnsworth

Category: Social Science

Where are they now? A Monson Scholar at Brigham Young University, studying sociology and international development. This semester, I’m on a team of interns partnered with the Ashoka Foundation to discover the methods parents can use to empower their children to be lifelong leaders and changemakers. Over the summer, I’ll live in Lilongwe, Malawi, evaluating the effectiveness of part of Nu Skin’s Force for Good Foundation.

Looking back: While the Sterling Scholar program gave me confidence in applying to and paying for college, I would say its greatest academic benefit is in connecting applicants to other passionate students, teachers and local leaders. The discussions I had during interviews hugely motivated me to increase my efforts in service, my advocacy for gender equality and my study of sustainable humanitarian aid and social responsibility.

One of my favorite memories of the Sterling Scholar process was sitting on stage with the other Social Science finalists before the awards were announced — each student I talked to that night was so friendly, genuine and enthusiastic. One of my least favorite memories was the feeling I got after exiting my first interview. I was stressed, shaky and entirely unable to remember a word I’d just said.

Advice to this year’s nominees: Don’t be nervous! Do be authentic. If you speak about your experiences openly and express your opinions sincerely, you can face this process with excitement and confidence!

Max Bradley Adams

Category: Business and Marketing

Where are they now? Majoring in finance at Brigham Young University. I am an intern with Google, Inc., working in their Community Leadership Program’s Small Business team.

Looking back: Sterling Scholar gave me the opportunity to meet amazing people. Throughout the process, I met many wonderful scholars and judges, some of whom I still keep in contact with.

Sterling Scholar helped me in my academic pursuits in three ways. First, it gave me the money to pay for summer semester 2015 here at BYU. Second, Sterling Scholar helped me gain admittance to an Ivy League school — it was a prime piece of my application. Third, it gave me confidence that I can succeed. Whenever I apply for an internship with Goldman Sachs or Credit Suisse, I’ll no longer think “I could never get that,” but rather “I’ve done the impossible before.” I know now that I can have a shot at doing anything I want to. If I won Sterling Scholar, why not an internship at Google? Why not a job at Goldman Sachs?

Advice for this year’s nominees: Testing matters, so don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t do well on the ACT. It took me seven tries to get a 36, but I’m glad I was persistent enough to keep trying. That score has turned into tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships and an acceptance to an Ivy League.

Emma Tueller

Category: English

Where are they now? Double majoring in English and political science/international relations at Columbia University in New York City and interning with the Hilary Clinton campaign.

Looking back: The best moments of Sterling Scholar were the times I could hang out with the other sterling scholars from my school, either on long bus rides to interviews or in the moments before we had to sit down at the awards ceremony. The other Sterling Scholars became some of my best friends from high school and we are still keeping in touch.

The worst moments were the late nights I spent trying to write all the essays for my portfolio. But, on that same thread, those essays were some of the most important essays I wrote in high school. Especially the essay on why English matters to me. I had always viewed reading, writing and editing as a hobby, secondary to my other interests. But spending hours describing why I love English really helped me realize that it is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

Advice for this year’s nominees: Just go for it. Do what feels right to you in your portfolio and give totally honest answers in your interview. I wrote a poem instead of an essay for one of my essays and had so much fun with it. This is your chance to tell your story about a subject that you are passionate about.

Samuel I. Adams

Category: World Languages, General Sterling Scholar

Where are they now? Currently serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denmark. When I return from my mission, I will be studying biomedical engineering at the University of Utah.

Looking back: For me, the worst moment of the Sterling Scholar process was probably the anxiety of interviewing! I vividly remember sitting in the hall waiting for my first interview, my heart racing. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so stressed. From the moment the interviews began, the judges were very friendly. They were genuinely interested, and I sensed that they really cared about the students and getting to know them. Realizing that the judges were supportive and positive really helped me relax a bit more during the second round. Most of all, I just had to remember to be myself, to forget about being “judged,” and just use the opportunity to share my experiences with others who appeared sincerely and genuinely interested. When I realized the judges were more my friends than they were judges, my whole attitude changed and the interviews became a lot more enjoyable.

In my academic pursuits, participating in the Sterling Scholar program helped me find direction as a student; it prompted me to really ask myself: “What do I want out of my education in the future?” There is a lot of self-reflection that goes into writing up résumés and portfolios, and that really helped me to narrow down and to define where I see myself in 10 years and what new goals I want to set for myself. It was a good review of what I have done well, what I can do better and what I want to do in the future with my education.

Advice for this year’s nominees: Keep it in perspective. Sterling Scholar is a celebration of learning. I came away from the experience with new friends, fun memories and insights that I never would have gained if it weren’t for the Sterling Scholar process. Of course, it is always nice to win and be recognized, but every person I met through the process had something unique and incredible to offer. We need to remember there is more than receiving recognition. We all have talents and gifts, and when we work together, care about others, and are sincerely interested in them, everything in life becomes more rewarding and more uplifting; you learn something from everyone you meet.

Samantha Bemis

Category: Speech/Theater Arts/Forensics

Where are they now? Currently a student at the University of Utah. Although I haven’t officially declared my major, I am leaning towards a double major in finance and journalism and a minor in environmental studies. In addition to my academic pursuits, I have three jobs. I perform attorney managed document review at Orange Legal Technologies, coach and judge debate for Jordan High School and assist Professor Scott Schaefer as a research assistant in the area of Microeconomics.

Looking back: My worst moment during the Sterling Scholar process was the nervous anticipation before interviews at each stage of the competition. Saying I had butterflies in my stomach would definitely be an understatement. The best moment of the competition was traveling to and from each stage with my fellow Hillcrest students. We were already a tight-knit group and everyone was very supportive during the process, so I enjoyed spending time with them and seeing each other succeed. The program helped my academic pursuits in that it consistently reminds me the importance of being well-rounded. Just as a successful Sterling Scholar candidate needs to be strong academically in addition to being community-focused, leadership-oriented, etc., I realize that I need to diversify my time and place my focus in multiple important areas.

Advice for this year’s nominees: Be authentic! The best interviews are ones that flow and exude a positive authenticity, rather than ones that seem uncomfortable and staged. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through; the judges will love it!

Brandon Cui

Category: Science

Where are they now? Attending Stanford University studying computer science.

Looking back: I believe that the program had only strengthened my interest in science; I had always known that science was a big part of my life, as I had naturally been drawn towards science. However, after the Sterling Scholar competition, I can for a fact say that I truly love science. As a result, I continue to believe that I will continue in the pursuit of knowledge for the purpose of science for the rest of my life.

Advice for this year’s nominees: Be yourself. You’ve lived an amazing life and there’s a reason why you’re here right now. It’s your time to shine, tell a story that you want to best represent your life. Describe what you believe means the most to you; tell them why your field is your passion, why you’ve dedicated so much time, effort, and sleepless nights to what you’ve done.

McKay Kelly

Category: Vocal Performance

Where are they now? Attending Brigham Young University. I am currently undeclared on my major, but am debating between vocal performance and music education.

Looking back: The worst moment for me was compiling all of the information I wanted into my portfolio — both finding all the pictures and articles as well as deciding which ones to use. The best moment for me was performing for the judges and audience at the awards ceremony. I love performing for people and connecting with the audience. Sterling Scholar has really helped give me greater focus on what I love to do and helped me narrow into something that I want to do as a career. And, as a bonus, the scholarship has helped pay for college which has been so nice and taken a lot of financial stress out of college.

Advice for this year’s nominees: You don’t have to be the most elegant speaker or perfect student. Just show the judges your passion for the subject and have fun!

Aspen Clark

Category: Family and Consumer Sciences

Where are they now? Majoring in family and consumer sciences education at Brigham Young University

Looking back: Naturally, the honor of receiving my award was the happiest moment I experienced during the Sterling Scholar process. My whole family was able to attend the ceremony, and I am truly grateful for their love and support. I also really enjoyed the interview sessions, even though that was the part of the Sterling Scholar process I was most anxious about. Each of the judges were very warm and welcoming. It was quite the blessing to feel comfortable while I presented.

The worst moment I personally experienced during the Sterling Scholar process was gaining confidence. I really struggled with feeling like I was accomplished. I had a bad habit of comparing myself to everyone else, which did not get me anywhere. By the time the first interview round began, I soon realized that being better than the other candidates should not be a priority.

Advice for this year’s nominees: Be genuine and express enthusiasm. Prove that you love what you are competing in. Be professional, but also let your personality shine through. Above all, exemplify grace and humility. During the course of preparing a portfolio and participating in interviews, you will be presenting your greatest accomplishments. Have good sportsmanship. Be supportive of each other, express admiration wherever you can and celebrate the success of others.

Some “Sterling” advice from last year’s state Scholar winners
Church leaders call for compassion

Local churches are calling on the federal government to rethink it’s refugee strategy - and adopt a humanitarian response to the crisis.
It comes as calls to bring refugees to Tamworth sparks outrage amongst some locals online.
Church leaders call for compassion (video)

Local churches are calling on the federal government to rethink it’s refugee strategy - and adopt a humanitarian response to the crisis.
It comes as calls to bring refugees to Tamworth sparks outrage amongst some locals online.
How Do You Know a Famine Is Coming?
The U.S. government can predict disaster before it occurs. But its warnings aren’t always heeded.
By Robinson Meyer

A perk of early-warning systems like FEWSNET, too, is that civil groups can prepare for crises before they happen, and position food and water nearby ahead of time. That’s especially important in years like this one, when the world’s humanitarian-response infrastructure will be extremely stretched.

Opening Statement at the Conference on 4 February 2016

Executive Director of UNFPA, Babatunde Osotimehin recently said that “The health and rights of women and adolescents should not be treated like an afterthought in humanitarian response.”

This statement is of course true but for me it says so much more than a single thought. It says, that;

  • Right now, in many circumstances, we are failing to protect the fundamental human rights of women and girls.
  • Crimes against women and girls are often silent and don’t receive the focus and prioritization that they warrant.
  • Women and girls of child bearing age (between 15 and 49) made up about 25% of the more than 100 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2015.
  • Women and girls in need of aid because of conflict or disaster and without the protection of family and community are more vulnerable to sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
  • We must recognise that for a woman who is about to give birth, or the adolescent girl who survived sexual violence, life-saving services are as vital as water, food and shelter.
  • Our current protection and response strategies must include the needs of this large and vulnerable group.

So, I would sincerely like to thank the organisers; International Planned Parenthood Federation, The Danish Family Planning Association, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the All Party Parliamentary Group on sexual and reproductive health and rights for organising this important conference – Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Humanitarian Crisis.

This conference confirms that in the global community there is a promising and strengthened focus on this complex issue. War, instability, epidemics and disasters have left a long trail of chaos and destruction resulting in, the need for humanitarian aid being significantly outweighed by the growth in funding and services.

We need to ensure that humanitarian action includes recognition of the needs and vulnerabilities of this majority group and that protection is always at the core of humanitarian action.

In many parts of the world, even under normal conditions, reproductive health issues are a leading cause of death and illness among women of childbearing age. The majority of these deaths and disabilities are preventable and unnecessary and result from the lack of access to services and information.

We are talking about 800 women who die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, everyday.  Of these 800 tragedies, 507 of them occur in emergency situations.

Crises and humanitarian settings account for 60 % of all preventable maternal deaths in the world. In fact, in 2014, WHO documented that the 10 countries with the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world are affected by, or emerging from, war. The death of a mother very often means that newborn babies – or small children – are left behind and who, without their prime care-giver are more likely to die themselves.   And the statistics tell the same story; Crises account for 53 % of deaths of children under-five, and 45% of neonatal deaths.

Many complex circumstances and urgent needs arise when a crises strikes.  Health care services, skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care often become unavailable.

And women face other threats as well. The absence of health services and other factors increase the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. And the breakdown of protection systems often leads to a rise in gender-based violence. This includes; rape and sexual assault, human trafficking, domestic violence and early and forced marriage.

As a result of the prolonged Syrian crisis; The Danish Refugee Council have witnessed that the depletion of refugees resources, poverty and debt is resulting in negative coping mechanisms;

  • A critical and dangerous trend is the resort to child labor. Not only are children working in dangerous and exploitative conditions, they are also much less likely to attend school.
  • Another negative coping mechanism is early and forced marriage. DRC has witnessed that the difficult financial situation of Syrian families is encouraging early and forced marriage as girls become the financial burden of their husbands upon marriage.
  • Gender based violence is also prominent.  Syrian refugee women are in a critical situation as many have lost their husbands and other male relatives in the war, or the husband is still in Syria or elsewhere. This can leave the women and female-headed refugee households fearing for their safety, exposed to GBV and restricted in their movements, which again impacts their ability to access health facilities and employment opportunities.

Wherever a humanitarian disaster occurs, the burden of care women assume for children and others can make it difficult for them to take proper care of themselves. Women may or often do neglect their own needs as they care for their families and neighbors.

Over the last many years, as patron of UNFPA, and the Danish Refugee Council, I have visited a number of camps for refugees and internally displaced people.

Different countries, different camps and different reasons for their existence – from Dadaab in Kenya, to Za’atari in Jordan to Say Tha Mar in Myanmar and Tierkidi in Ethiopia.

These visits had left a strong impression on me – and while it is truly distressing to witness the often extremely difficult circumstances under which they live…they exist. At the same time, I cannot be anything but, enormously impressed by the courage, skills and ingenuity of the women and girls I have met.

I would like to name two interventions that, for these women and girls, had a significant impact on their lives.

  • In the Za’atari camp, I spoke with a couple of heavily pregnant women.  They were already mothers and therefore knew all too well the risks associated with childbirth. In Syria, they had given birth in a hospital with their own gynecologist and midwife.

    For them, the presence of UNFPA’s reproductive health unit turned their fear and the potential risk associated with giving birth into thankfulness and hope.  Today, UNFPA is delivering a larger share of its reproductive health services in crisis settings.
  • In Tierkidi, I witnessed the distribution of UNFPAs ‘dignity kits’.  These kits contain menstrual pads, soap, underwear, as well as other supplies required by circumstances or cultural contexts.   The importance of these kits are not just for their own dignity (as they themselves describe them), they also provided relief.  Relief that for example during their menstruation they could continue to move about and provide (water and food) for their children.  Here we must remember the culture sensitivities and how they affect women.

Experience shows that in crisis women and girls are not only victims.   They can also be leaders and they constitute an important resource to combat the challenges they face.

Traditional gender roles often change during such situations where it becomes necessary for women and girls to take on unconventional responsibilities and activities.

I have personally witnessed; how women are capable of finding innovative ways to cope, how they assume a role to protect and support their families and how they often continue to play pivotal roles in contributing to their local surroundings.  We must continue and increase support of this valuable resource.

So even though women and girls are extremely vulnerable in humanitarian crisis and have particular protection needs, they are also a resource to be utilized.

Whether women live or die in a crisis often depends on whether they can access basic sexual and reproductive health services, which too often takes a back seat to other urgent needs, like food and shelter.

We need to build a better and more durable shelter. This includes humanitarian responses that go far beyond the provision of food and shelter, as essential as those things are, and include reproductive health and family planning services and protection against gender based violence.

In 2016 the World Humanitarian Summit will convene, where stakeholders within humanitarian assistance will discuss how to improve the response to the needs of millions of people affected by conflict and disasters.

This Summit is an opportunity to highlight sexual and reproductive health services as an important element of all humanitarian responses.

Women and girls vulnerability to crisis is not a sign of weakness but, of inequality. Women and girls are powerful. If their needs are met and rights protected; they can become the catalyst of change; from the rubble of a crisis to the development, resilience and stability of their families, communities and nations.

Women and girls as an afterthought won’t do.

Thank you.


UN head’s visit another opportunity for Trudeau to rebrand Canada’s reputation

[Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with reporters in Davos, Switzerland on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan]

Experts say Canada’s new government has a chance to continue rebranding the country’s international reputation when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visits the nation’s capital next week.

The head of the United Nations is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Feb. 11, to discuss topics including climate change and Canada’s role in the humanitarian and military responses to the crisis in Syria.

Trudeau has made significant efforts to distance his approach to foreign policy from that of his predecessor, promising to recommit the country to multilateralism and peacekeeping while pledging to re-examine Canada’s contribution to the fight against the Islamic State.

Paul Heinbecker, formerly Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations and chief foreign policy advisor to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, said the tone of Trudeau’s speeches on the world stage has been vastly different than those of Stephen Harper.

“The previous government was contemptuous of the UN and multilateralism,” he said.

He said the optimistic tone struck by Trudeau on the campaign trail has carried over into the prime minister’s foreign policy.

Trudeau again made headlines around the world after his appearance at the January meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, although many foreign media outlets dwelled more on his youthful visage than the substance of his words.

“I don’t think Canadians were voting for Trudeaumania,” Heinbecker said. “But the rest of the world seems to have caught it.”

Yet Canada’s place as a key part of the international order is far from secure. Last month, defence ministers from seven countries met in Paris to discuss the fight against the Islamic State — and Canada wasn’t invited, which some believed was due to its decision to pull fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition combat mission in Syria and Iraq.

With ongoing problems in military procurement and a relatively small population, Canada doesn’t have the military might of other powers, such as France and the United Kingdom, never mind the United States or Russia.

Yet Heinbecker said Canada still has a role to play in the international system, pointing to Canadian-led initiatives such as the treaty that banned the use of anti-personnel land mines, signed in 1997, and even the G20 collection of states, which he said former prime minister Paul Martin was a major player in creating.

“We have roughly the same population the British had when they ran their empire,“ he said. "There’s lots of things we can do. We’re not going to be decisive in a military conflict, but we have ideas and diplomatic experience to contribute.”

Ferry de Kerckhove, a former high-ranking Canadian diplomat and a now a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s school of international affairs, said that while Trudeau’s personal popularity is clear, it’s not as obvious that the international community is paying attention to the change in tone.

“He came in with new rhetoric. The only problem is the rest of the world hasn’t really noticed as of yet,” he said.

The challenge for Trudeau as he meets with the UN secretary general, de Kerckhove said, is setting out a coherent foreign policy that is consistent with Canada’s history of multilateralism in a world where multilateral institutions are becoming less relevant.

"The UN of 1945 was not prepared to handle non-state actors and terrorist groups,” he said.

De Kerckhove said that, while the UN and other international groups have evolved, more decision-making and action is now being taken through voluntary coalitions, such as the one that bombed Libya in 2011 during that country’s civil war.

He noted that Trudeau took office at a particularly tumultuous time, with the spreading conflagration in Syria and Iraq and the accompanying humanitarian crisis across the Middle East just one of a litany of problems, and that some in the government seemed to be maintaining their campaign-trail positivity despite the seriousness of the situation.

“The reality of the world today doesn’t really seem to correspond with this blatant optimism. That’s really where you’ve got a disconnect,” he said.

“I think this government is slowly realizing that the world isn’t as pink and rosy as they would like it to be.”

While the rhetoric is different, de Kerckhove said, it’s not clear just how different Trudeau’s foreign policy will be in practice.

“For a long time, other than Bush’s war in Iraq, we’ve pretty much sided with the Americans,” he said.

“On multilateralism, it’s day and night. But at the end of the day, Canada will do what it is used to doing.”

‘Now turn pledges into action’ - civil society verdict on Supporting Syria donors’ conference

4 Febuary 2016

Joint press release from over 30 non-governmental organisations including Protection Approaches:

An international coalition of over 30 non-governmental organisations today welcomed the ambition demonstrated at the ‘Supporting Syria And the Region’ donor conference in London to increase the scale and scope of the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis, but said that overall pledges for 2016 fell more than $3 billion short of what was urgently needed. The NGOs, including Oxfam, Sawa Aid and Development, and Islamic Relief, applauded the generosity of some donors while encouraging others also to pledge their fair share. They also warned that many Syrians would continue to suffer unless more was done to ensure their protection inside and outside the country, and an end to the violence in Syria.

“Of course we welcome the funds pledged today, but all the money in the world won’t protect children in their beds from barrel bombs. We need action to stop the indiscriminate bombardment of Syrians, to protect those under siege and facing starvation, and those barred by violence or bureaucracy from safely accessing food, water and shelter. We urge all those with influence to exert concerted diplomatic pressure on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law and with the UN Security Council’s binding resolutions,” said Raed al-Saleh, head of the Syria Civil Defence, aka the White Helmets.  

The groups acknowledged conference participants’ condemnation of the widespread violations of international humanitarian law by all warring parties but warned that condemnation alone was scant consolation to Syrian civilians suffering extreme fear and deprivation on a daily basis inside Syria. They said that increased assistance must be accompanied by efforts to promote a comprehensive solution to the root causes of the conflict, and provide safe and legal routes for refugees to resettle beyond the region.  
“The money pledged today will go some way towards alleviating the suffering of the millions of conflict-affected Syrians inside and outside of the country, but more needs to be dine to end the sieges and ensure humanitarian access to all areas. Furthermore, the overall amount pledged falls short of what is urgently needed,” said Salma Kahale, Executive Director of Dawlaty.  
The three main refugee-hosting countries, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, agreed to take steps to open up their labour markets to refugees and to improve regulation and the investment climate.

“A million new jobs could help give hope to Syrian refugees and host countries; work permits must be accessible and affordable. This is a long-term crisis, which is why we must ensure jobs and decent, non-exploitative work not just emergency cash. Because we know without income, refugee families are at high risk of child marriage, sexual exploitation and child labour,” said Laurie Lee, CEO of Care International UK.

The NGOs welcomed governments’ commitment to ensure that all Syrian refugees and children in host countries have access to a safe and quality education by the 2016/2017 school year.

“The significant new funding spread over several years announced today represents a major step forward in getting millions of children back to school, although we need detail on the policies to make this happen. Syrian children have been denied their right to education for too long, so we look forward to seeing them all back in the classroom. But the international community still needs to do more to support education inside Syria, where 2.1 million children are currently out of school and schools are being destroyed, damaged and occupied on a regular basis,” said Tove Wang, CEO of Save the Children Norway.

The NGOs called for robust and transparent monitoring of pledges and implementation after the conference to ensure that commitments made in London are translated into concrete, coordinated action.


Amnesty International, Badael, Basmeh & Zeitooneh, Baytna Syria, CAABU, CAFOD, Care International, Caritas Lebanon, Center for Victims of Torture, Concern Worldwide, Dawlaty, Doctors of the World UK, International Alert, Islamic Relief, Karam Foundation, Mercy Corps, Norwegian Church Aid, Open Doors UK & Ireland, Oxfam, Pax Christi International, Protection Approaches, Save the Children, Sawa Foundation, Sawa for Development and Aid, Syria Relief and Development, Tearfund, Trocaire, UOSSM, Warchild, Welthungerhilfe, World Vision

(Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan, Nina Constable, 2015

Secretary Kerry announced today that the United States is providing nearly $601 million in additional life-saving humanitarian assistance for those affected by the war in Syria. This new funding brings U.S. humanitarian assistance in response to this conflict to more than $5.1 billion since the start of the crisis. Secretary Kerry also announced more than $290 million in U.S. development assistance for education to Jordan and Lebanon. 

UN News - Libya: $166 million UN-backed humanitarian appeal barely one per cent funded

See on - Saif al Islam

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Almost two months after its launch, a humanitarian appeal to aid 1.3 million vulnerable people in conflict-torn Libya is 99 per cent unfunded, a senior United Nations official for the North African country warned today, calling on the international community to step up to the plate.

“With winter temperatures plunging and funding support for the Libya Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) stagnant, I am increasingly concerned that vulnerable, conflict-affected people in Libya will continue to suffer due to a lack of meaningful and timely support,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya Ali Al-Za’tari said in press statement issued from neighbouring Tunis.

“The gallant efforts of Libyan organizations, public or civic, whether on their own or with external aid, are not enough to meet the demands of the many affected by the conflict,” he said.

The HRP was officially launched in Tunis on 9 December and appealed for some $166 million to assist a targeted population of 1.3 million people out of 2.4 million affected persons.

“Crudely put, the provision of life-saving assistance to affected persons by years of a debilitating and destabilizing conflict equated to $127 per person over a 15-month period (October 2015-December 2016),” Mr. Al-Za’atari said.

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New Gender-Based Violence Guidelines Are A Step Toward Equality In Crises
By Gavin Charles

Last week in Montreal, representatives from humanitarian civil society organizations and the Government of Canada gathered under the auspices of the Humanitarian Response Network for the official Canadian launch of new international guidelines for addressing gender-based violence (GBV) during humanitarian operations. The guidelines add definition and breadth to an ongoing global conversation about GBV. They also offer an opportunity to enhance, in this crucial and cross-cutting area, the relationship between immediate humanitarian relief and the longer-term development goal of equality.

Overall, the new guidelines are rooted in equality: equality of rights and needs among genders, and equality of responsibility among humanitarian responders.

The guidelines join a growing collection of international legal and policy actions explicitly or implicitly addressing elements of GBV. These include a range of soft and hard international humanitarian law, like the Geneva Conventions and Protocols; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Convention against Torture; the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women; the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; UN Security Council resolutions, notably including Resolution 1325, and the associated National Action Plans; the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies; and a recent international resolution through the summit of the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The latest guidelines revise an initial set produced in 2005. The new version was prepared under the guidance of 16 leading international humanitarian organizations and UN agencies, through broad-based consultations including field visits, direct dialogue, and surveys with groups and individuals around the world. Compared with the previous version, the new guidelines are broader in both scope and orientation. They expand the emphasis beyond sexual violence to include other forms of physical and mental harm, or threats perpetrated based on social distinctions between men and women. They also expand the target audience beyond GBV specialists to all actors, mainstreaming action on GBV across all humanitarian sectors.

Overall, the new guidelines are rooted in equality: equality of rights and needs among genders, and equality of responsibility among humanitarian responders. They mandate and encourage all humanitarian actors to consider situational questions like the following:

• A woman in a refugee camp has to use the bathroom during the night. Will she be safe on the poorly-lit path to the toilet?
• After a natural disaster, youth attend a training program on health and hygiene. Will the agenda include sexual health and hygiene, and will the trainers include women?
• Amidst a conflict, a rape victim needs testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Will the doctor be accessible and affordable, the tests thorough, and the counselling robust?
• During a famine, people line up for food packages. Will women and men have equal and adequate access?

All societies have challenges with gender inequality, and GBV is not limited to humanitarian crises and emergency situations. But the risk and prevalence of GBV is exacerbated in emergency or conflict situations as people suffer displacement, separation from support networks, overcrowding, loss of documentation, the breakdown of social norms against violence, and other effects that increase vulnerability.

Successfully tackling GBV requires a holistic approach that addresses immediate needs of survivors (responding to GBV) and potential victims (mitigating the existence of GBV), while also supporting long-term change to increase equality (preventing GBV). Notably, only the responsive element requires specialized training. All humanitarians, and indeed policymakers and programmers more generally, should be aware of the importance and get involved in the process of mitigating and preventing GBV.

The guidelines help achieve this. They constitute a set of standardized, trans-sector recommendations designed to integrate awareness and action to prevent and mitigate GBV throughout humanitarian operations. The guidelines approach this process not as a distinct set of tasks but rather as a lens through which to view all humanitarian operations, on the basis that humanitarians should always plan and implement programming with the assumption that GBV is occurring in a given emergency setting.

In that vein, the guidelines are comprehensive, but not overly prescriptive; they establish an accessible and holistic pool of recommended actions for humanitarian workers to consider and implement, while leaving room for discretion regarding the priority and order of those actions on the basis of context-specific knowledge and judgment. The guidelines are intended as just that – guides to help those working across the humanitarian sphere to ensure and broaden the inclusion of GBV interventions in their practice.

The guidelines help practitioners gain a better understanding of GBV. As noted above, they adopt a broad definition of violence, incorporating any form of harm perpetrated on the basis of gender. While the use of the terminology of violence can be debated - and was in Montreal - the intent is to ensure that systemic harms beyond physical violence are and tackled in humanitarian contexts.

The breadth of scope of the guidelines, and of the GBV phenomenon, means that many of the recommendations can be adapted and applied in non-emergency contexts. In this respect, the GBV guidelines are a useful reference point for longer-term development efforts; they can inform humanitarians in meeting the immediate needs of civilians, while also helping development practitioners to foster a socio-political culture that helps prevent GBV. Applying the guidelines throughout humanitarian and development efforts could help build linkages between the two fields that would improve continuity in programming and practice across the humanitarian-development spectrum, and thereby deliver more sustainable benefits to those receiving assistance.

Gavin Charles is a Policy Officer at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of CCIC or its members.

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Bloomberg View: Opinions on Finance, Politics & The Economy

Contrary to appearances, Trump has a coherent foreign policy organized around three principles, says Sam Clovis, the candidate’s chief policy advisor and retired Air Force Colonel.

> “One, we want to take a very clear worldview in our foreign policy, dealing with the national interest, and let that be our organizing principles. Two is that we want to make sure that we engage in free markets, but we want those markets to be fairer as well. And three, if we do not have strong economic recovery, we can’t do the other two,” said Clovis. “If that’s not a Trump doctrine, I don’t know what is.”

> The practical application of that doctrine plays out in several ways. Trump’s narrow definition of “national interest” does not include things like democracy promotion, humanitarian intervention, the responsibility to protect people from atrocities or the advocacy of human rights abroad. Trump believes that economic engagement will lead to political opening in the long run. He doesn’t think the U.S. government should spend blood or treasure on trying to change other countries’ systems.

> “This is a long game; it’s not a short game,” Clovis said. He faulted neoconservatives who “ think you can go out there and in three weeks after Iraq collapses you can create a constitutional democracy over there.”

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Bishop off to Islamic State, Syria talks

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is off to Europe for talks on Islamic State and Syria.

In Italy, she will discuss how to capitalise on recent military gains against IS at a forum, which is being co-chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

She will then fly to London to attend a conference of donors to Syria to discuss Australia’s humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria.