The Humanitarian Times

February 17, 1999

 

- DATE CORRECTION: EMERGENCY NUTRITION WORKSHOP APRIL 28-30,
The previous issue of Humanitarian Times stated that the workshop "Enhancing the Nutritional Quality of Relief Foods" was postponed from March 3-5 but failed to state the new dates. The workshop now will be held April 28, 29 & 30 (NOT March), in WashDC. Sponsored by Food Aid Management, the Micronutrient Initiative of Canada, the Congressional Hunger Center, USAID, and Ferris-Morris Associates, the workshop will review recent technical experiences with the prevention of vitamin & mineral deficiencies in large populations. Field-level fortification is one example that is technically feasible & inexpensive yet not yet common practice. Views & case experiences are requested:
pharriganatfoodaid.org.

- EMERGENCY NUTRITION NETWORK PUBLISHES RELIEF FIELD EXPERIENCE
of humanitarian groups working in food & nutrition; magazine available online; website: www2.tcd.ie/Community_Health/ENN.

- GOV AND REBELS OF GUINEA-BISSAU REACHED PEACE ACCORD THIS WEEK;
600 W.African ECOMOG troops will maintain the peace while new gov. is sworn in next week & troops demobilize. European Commissioner Emma Bonino chaired the peace talks in Lisbon, Portugal.

- UN SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR END TO CIVILIAN ABUSE IN CRISES,
stating Friday that military goals in armed conflicts are no excuse for mass murder, mutilation, rape or blocking of humanitarian aid by armed factions. The Sec. Gen. is asked to report back by Sept. on how the UN can better ensure civilian safety in crises.

- HUNDREDS OF INTL. OBSERVERS SCRUTINIZE NIGERIA NATIONAL ELECTIONS
Feb 20 for Parliament and Feb 27 for the Presidency. Former minister Olu Falae and former military ruler Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo -- both from Yoruba region -- will vie for the Presidency. Dozens of agencies from the EU and NAmerica will observe. The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) has trained over 10,000 domestic election monitors (1 per 11 polling places) to encourage broad participation in the elections and acceptance of the results. Given that militaries have ruled Nigeria 28 of the last 32 years, analysts fear another military coup or a civil war with fracturing of the country. France's AFP News reports "Fearful of the reaction of the still powerful military, politicians seeking office in Nigeria are falling over each other in their eagerness to promise they will not probe past regimes for corruption."

- BURMA MEMBERSHIP HARMS SE ASIA GROUP IN RELATIONS WITH EUROPE.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) postponed a ministerial meeting next month with the European Union due to the EU's refusal to give visas to military junta reps from Burma.

- FEB 19 ROUNDTABLE CHALLENGES NGOs TO SHARE NEWS OF CONFLICT
or indications of looming crises, particularly from areas that are insufficiently covered by mainstream media. One goal of the meeting is to achieve an informal network whereby NGO field observations can be circulated, analyzed and reported while maintaining confidentiality. The current possible-crisis are of Nigeria will be a special topic for discussion. Past experience and early-warning models are solicited by the sponsors -- the Congressional Hunger Center, the Center for the Study of Societies in Crisis, and InterTect, email:
MMZchcataol.com.

- GLOBAL DISASTER INFORMATION NETWORK (GDIN) WILL MEET MAY 11-14,
in Mexico City conference, including panels on disaster preparedness/response and telecommunications, the use of remote sensing data, & information sharing:
Mtrejoatbuzon.semarnap.gob.mx.

- SIERRA LEONE GETS EMERGENCY GOODS AS REFUGEES EXIT TO LIBERIA.
Shelter materials, sheeting, mats, drugs were airlifted to aid 150,000 displaced persons in Freetown. Outside of Freetown, only Kambia (near Guinea border), Bo and Kenema are accessible.

- HAGUE CONFERENCE ON POPULATION FINDS DONOR COMMITMENTS UNMET;
5-year followup to the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, held in the Netherlands last week, delegates noted that education & reproductive health programs remain under-funded.

- US CONGRESS WRITES HURRICANE MITCH RECONSTRUCTION LEGISLATION;
S. 371, "Central American and Caribbean Relief Act of 1999," would send $557m of humanitarian aid to Central America.

- "ETHICS AND HUMANITARIAN PRACTICE" WILL BE SUBJECT OF MARCH 20-21
conference in Australia, exploring tradeoffs aid agencies make in working in settings with corrupt gov's an inadequate intl. support; for more information:
fterryatcoombs.anu.edu.au.

- WORKSHOP BY SWISS PEACE FDTN IDENTIFIES CENTRAL ASIA CONFLICT
indicators. "Early Warning in Practice: The Case of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan" found that while interstate armed hostilities are unlikely, internal conflict may be triggered by an assassination and promoted by ongoing economic decline. The same day as the workshop, Feb. 16, Uzbek Pres. Islam Karimov survived an assassination attempt when bombs killed a workers at Gov. HQ.

- FEWS PROJECT TRACKS LA NINA IMPACT ON FOOD NEEDS IN AFRICA,
due to below-average ocean surface water temperatures (as well as cloud cover, winds and rain). The USAID-funded Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) reports 1.4m tons food import needs in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and monitors increasing desperation in Sudan and Somalia.
www.info.usaid.gov/fews/

- ADDENDUM FROM READER: RAPE AS CRIME AGAINT HUMANITY
In Dec. HT reported that Bosnian war criminal conviction for rape as a crime of war was the first such conviction. However, Amnesty Itl. reports that Jean Paul Akayesu, former Bourgmestre of the Taba commune was found guilty by the Intl. Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Sept 98 on 9 charges including one for rape (as a crime against humanity) for which he was sentenced to 15 years.

- NEW BOOK: "FAMINE IN AFRICA: CAUSES, RESPONSES & PREVENTION"
by J von Braun, T Teklu and P Webb (1998, Intl Food Pol. Research Inst.) is among the best of primers on current knowledge on famine prevention, market integration and malfunction, and household food security. Drawing heavily on the authors' personal research in Ethiopia, Sudan and Botswana in the 1980s and 1990s, this book re-incorporates material from the authors' numerous previous books and reports on famine in Africa. Employment programs, including food-for-work, are recommended as versatile instruments that target well the most in need: "labor-intensive employment programs can, through both wage payments and the investment in asset creation, address problems of short-term food needs and "sustainable poverty alleviation, and thereby famine prevention." Commenting on early warning systems: "Although technicians and analysts are increasingly able to offer useful warnings, policymakers often ignore them, with well-known tragic consequences."

- NEW MANUAL FOR PRACTITIONERS: PREDICTING COMPLEX EMERGENCIES,
"An Analytical Model of Internal Conflict and State Collapse" by Pauline Baker and Angeli Weller (1998, Fund for Peace) to help NGOs and other aid groups better anticipate crises, suggesting 12 key indicators. Among the indicators: human flight, sharp economic decline, criminalization/deligitimization of the state, and rise of factionalized elites. The manual proposes a lexicon of stages: stage 1 is root cases; stage 2 is immediate causes & triggers; stage 3 involves conflict or negotiations, etc..