The Humanitarian Times

June 16, 1999

 

- CONFLICT OVER KASHMIR BETWEEN INDIA & PAKISTAN RAISES ESCALATION FEARS as Pakistan officials claim 100,000 civilians have been displaced as India increases its counter-insurgency campaign. Although India has enforced its position in the highland & glaciers, it is at a disadvantage in the lowlands. The intensity of fighting inches forward the possibility of escalation to a nuclear exchange, given the 1998 nuclear detonations by both countries.

- 6.7 EARTHQUAKE CENTERED 70 MILES SE OF MEXICO's INDUSTRIAL CITY PUEBLA yesterday afternoon. The tremblar lasted several minutes and injured hundreds among Puebla's 1.2m residents & was felt by Mexico City's 20m residents & damaged buildings in Cuernevaca.

- ETHIOPIA VS ERITREA CONFLICT ESCALATES WITH OVER 20,000 CASUALTIES reported in intensive fighting during just the last week alone.

- ANGOLAN CHILDREN FOUND TO BE INCREASINGLY MALNOURISHED according to new survey conducted by Save the Children Fund that recorded 17% malnutrition among 1-5 year old children in Huambo Province where a siege by UNITA compelled farmers to abandon their crops.

- KOSOVO & "YUGOSLAVIA: PEACE AGREEMENT HOLDS, AS SERB TROOPS are halfway to complete pullout, with Pristina being turned over to NATO today. NATO bombing in Kosovo & Yugoslavia stopped June 10 after a June 3 vote by Yugoslavia's Parliament to accept NATO's terms for peace.

Hundreds of Serbs were killed in the final days of bombing. Security will be administered by a 48-50,000 NATO troop mission "KFOR", supported by 30 countries, including 19 NATO members of whom 20,000 will be present in Kosovo shortly. More below.

- JORDAN EXPERIENCING WORST DROUGHT IN DECADES, AFTER POOR WINTER RAINS & cut off of river water by Israel, though by treat Israel is supposed to permit 45 million cubic meters of water to Jordan annually.

- AZERI & ARMENIAN TROOPS CLASHED ALONG KARABAKH BORDER ON MONDAY

- SIERRA LEONE RECONCILIATION PROSPECTS GROW as negotiations suggest an opening for the RUF rebel faction to turn into a peaceful political party, and as Liberian ruler Charles Taylor signals an accommodation with the West African military force ECOMOG.

- $71 BILLION IN DEBT RELIEF FOR POOREST COUNTRIES was approved at G-8 Ministers meeting last weekend, to be paid for by sales of IMF gold supplies. This represents roughly 1/3 the total debt held by the world's poorest 40 countries.

- DEMOCRATIC PROGRESS PEACEFUL IN NIGERIA, INDONESIA, SALVADOR, S AFRICA

- SOUTH AFRICA: A.N.C. WINS JUNE 2, MANDELLA PRESIDENCY ENDS TODAY; ANC leader Thabo Mbeki is sworn in as President today, formally retiring Nelson Mandella who was South Africa's key president during the years of transition after the first multi-race elections in 1994.

- OLUSEGUN OBASANJO BECOMES CIVILIAN PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA PEACEFULLY, after 30 years of military domination of politics. Oasanjo immediately suspended large public contracts that had been awarded without transparency or fair competition. This week Obasanjo, has set up a panel to investigate human rights abuses during the country's military rule. Nigeria's regional capital, Warri saw days of armed fighting last week but is now calm.

- INDONESIA POSTED ITS FIRST TRULY DEMOCRATIC ELECTION IN 33 YEARS with unofficial results showing the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, to replace Golkar as the party in power. Former dictator Suharto's party, Golkar, had won past elections that were not free or fair.

- SALVADOR's NEW PRESIDENT, FRANCISCO FLORES, TOOK OFFICE JUNE 1 with promises to reduce murder rate & corruption; his ARENA party winning handily in the March elections.

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KOSOVO CRISIS

 

- 30,000+ FEARFUL SERB CIVILIANS BEGAN EXODUS FROM KOSOVO LAST WEEKEND with prospects for tens of thousands more to flee to Yugoslavia, where Yugoslav & German Red Cross transit centers have provided them with food & shelter. Because roughly 90,000 Kosovar refugees are in asylum in Montenegro, the Govt of Montenegro requested NATO to insist that when Serb troops exit Kosovo back to Yugoslavia they not take routes through Montenegro. Roughly half the 40,000 Yugoslav troops have left Kosovo by now & NATO today granted extra 24 hours to complete the withdrawal.

- MOST KOSOVAR REFUGEES ARE PREPARING TO RETURN SOON: Thousands of Kosovars are repatriating today to Kosovo, against the advice of UNHCR, the lead agency inside Kosovo, which is not yet able to provide presence or security advice about landmine locations. A survey among Kosovar refugees in Macedonia, conducted by the International Organization for Migration, found that almost two-thirds said they would wait "less than a week" before repatriating. Experience from similar crises suggests that displaced populations return spontaneously when and only when they feel that it is safe to do so & feel that they will miss opportunities, such as farming, or land-rights if they wait longer, regardless of what official plans or prescriptions are made by the UN for a carefully scheduled return.

- IDP (INTERNALLY DISPLACED) ESTIMATES ARE BEING REVISED DOWNWARD as aid observers can more directly assess the situation in Kosovo.

Approximately 18,500 displaced ethnic Albanians living in wooded hills in Glogovac, west of Pristina, were met by UN convoy on Monday. Last week the ICRC re-entered Kosovo, providing direct food shipments to IDPs.

Approximately 10-15,000 one-day food supplies for approximately 15,000 persons, each for one day, from NGOs like the Red Cross & airdrops by the International Rescue Committee. UNHCR, UNICEF & WFP are now coordinating aid deliveries inside Kosovo.

- LANDMINES WILL IMPEDE REPATRIATION & REINTEGRATION though the scale of mines laid by the Serbs is still being assessed.

In the peace agreement, Yugoslavia said it would provide maps of mine locations as well as Serb de-miners. But based on the example of Bosnia,where large areas remain mined today due to a lack of intl funding for de-mining, landmine hazards may remain common in Kosovo for years to come. The Bosnia demining team is en route to Kosovo where it will set up new operations, with US committed funding.

- HOW WILL KLA OR REMAINING SERBS BE DISARMED? is a question confusing many analysts. Based on experience from similar conflicts, KLA troops may be decommisioned, & much weaponry surrendered, but small arms will inevitably remain in private hands. NATO is unlikely to be able to do anything about this.

- "UNMIK," THE U.N. INTERIM ADMINISTRATION MISSION IN KOSOVO will include the OSCE which will coordinate institution building plus the program of the European Union that will coordinate reconstruction of infrastructure & the economy. Sergio Vieira de Mello was named UN Special Representative on a temporary basis. The media has speculated that the more permanent Spec Rep could be: Swede Carl Bildt, or Finn Martti Ahtisaari, Austrian Franz Vranitzsky, American Jack Klein, Algerian Lakhdar Brahimi, or Irishman Dick Spring.

- JULY DONORS CONFERENCE WILL DETAIL COSTS OF RECONSTRUCTION including the World Bank, the Intl Monetary Fund, the European Union & other key international funders. The Govt of Taiwan said it will donate $300m to the aid effort. Britain pledged an additional $64m for reintegration. In the last few days the IMF approved an additional $30 enhanced structural adjustment loan for Albania.

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MEETINGS & TRAINING

 

- NGOs MEET TODAY TO DISCUSS SHARED EFFORTS TO TRAIN FOR DISASTER response & preparedness at the Butler room of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace (Butler Room), at 1:30 p.m.

- APRIL WORKSHOP ON NUTRITION IN EMERGENCIES, HOSTED BY THE RED CROSS, found that vitamin & mineral deficiencies, which often occur in refugee crises, can be prevented on a population basis, through attention to agricultural production, dietary diversity, and innovative measures to fortify ration foods. Special fortified sauces or sprinkles can be added to diets. Fortification of bulk ration foods, such as oil, wheat or maize, should be more common practice.

- GLOBAL HEALTH COUNCIL ANNUAL CONF. MEETS JUNE 20-22 IN VIRGINIA A highlight of the conference will be the new Jonathan Mann award which honors the memory of Dr. Mann who pioneered numerous health and human rights programs & set up the UN AIDS organization in Geneva. Mann was killed in a 1998 plane crash. The new award will be given to Dr. Cynthia Maung, a refugee from Burma (fled 1988) who is famous throughout the region for providing health care to thousands of refugees entering Thailand, out of the Mae Tao Clinic she established in 1989.

- BUILDING EVALUATION CAPACITY IN AFRICA WILL BE THEME OF Sept 13-17 inaugural meeting of the Africa Evaluation Assoc., in Kenya. Contact: mpatelatunicef.org

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RECENT BOOKS

 

Fred C Cuny was killed in Chechnya in April 1995, trying to help mitigate the effects of Russian bombing on the civilian population of Grozny.

Cuny had worked on crises in over 50 countries. Wherever he cast his attention, he demonstrated the value of sensitivity, initiative, courage, innovation, flexibility, and foresight, missing elements in most response.

Three new books reflect his work & vision.

 

- "FAMINE, CONFLICT & RESPONSE, A BASIC GUIDE" BY FRED CUNY (posthumously) & Rick Hill (1999 Connecticut: Kumarian Press) pulls together a wide range of practical information relevant to a comprehensive response to food crises, including early warning, social & environmental assessment, market interventions, food distribution systems, logistics, & cross-border aid into a conflict zone. Its value is in placing different aspects of an intervention into a larger perspective; for example, "food aid can only relieve food needs, it cannot eliminate the causes of famine. Furthermore, unchecked food aid can have adverse consequences, delaying agricultural recovery & creating dependencies." It serves for the first time to draw into one volume the variety of market based interventions that include food loans, food for work, price supports for livestock, barter, grain for animal exchanges, food subsidies, price controls, monetization, and internal/local purchase.

"Counter-famine interventions are based on the premise that employment & income are the central issues that must be addressed in a famine.

If sufficient income can be provided, they will not need to liquidate family assets, & their ability to purchase food can be restored." A multitude of diverse, small-scale activities should be spread throughout the area." Cuny's strategies for Tigray (1984) & Sudan (1990) are recounted. This deserves to be a basic text in any field office involved in relief or college course that touches on crises or food aid. (see also/voir aussi)

- "THE MAN WHO TRIED TO SAVE THE WORLD" by Scott Anderson (1999 Toronto: Doubleday) tells of Fred Cuny's life while also educating about many of Cuny's insights & program approaches.

>From his social work along the Texas-Mexican border & brief air transport aid into Biafra, to his extensive work retrofitting the urban water supply in Sarajevo, this biography explains how Cuny found his own way through trial & error.. In response to the ponderous, band-aid approaches taken by most relief groups, Cuny saw the need for someone to interject creativity, to ask the big questions about root causes & long-term prospects, to think out of the box. His urban water system in Sarajevo, for instance, was a radical measure to reduce the need for citizens to risk going to the river for water, where they were easy targets for Serb snipers. Cuny was the first to emphasize seeing disasters as opportunities to do proper development, for example rebuilding homes to be earthquake-resistant. Anderson properly captures Fred's attention to the poor. The biography gives most of its attention to Cuny's work in Chechnya, Iraq & Bosnia, only briefly mentioning a few of his dozens of other assignments. In just a few sentences it mentions Cuny's local- purchase of foods from one region to assist in famine-affected regions of Ethiopia, & missions to Somalia, El Salvador & Sri Lanka. In Iraq in 1991 Cuny was instrumental in getting the Kurds to return home in rapid manner, educating the US military along the way. The biography does not fully describe the great number of lives Cuny inspired. Nor does it cite Cuny impressive publication achievements -- his strategy papers, blueprints for new organizations, or the books he co-authored on refugee & IDP return & repatriation. Anderson devotes several chapters to the mystery of Cuny's disappearance on his way into Chechnya. Anderson speculates that Chechen leader Dudayev may himself have ordered Cuny's execution, perhaps because Cuny observed sensitive nuclear missile facilities in Bamut.

-"HEALING COMMUNITIES IN CONFLICT -INTL ASSISTANCE IN COMPLEX EMERG'S" by Kim Maynard (May 1999, NY: Columbia Univ Press) is an excellent primer on the characteristics of complex emergencies, pulling together many recent theories & observations about the preconditions of conflict as well as factors conditioning post-conflict resolution.

She explains how internally displaced person flight patterns are different from cross-boundary refugees. Maynard touches on a wide variety of economic & social consequences of emergencies. "Children who grow up in chaos-ridden countries as Haiti, Nicaragua or Palestine often have few influences beyond the culture of violence; eventually, fighting becomes a way of live." Based on her first-hand involvement over the years with the Red Cross, Mercy Corps, & USAID, Maynard describes the various ways that aid can inadvertently fuel conflict or "it can divert energy away from traditional occupations such as those in agriculture, cottage industries." She recommends that routine humanitarian action expand its scope, "for example, the typical field coordination structure should include the sectors of conflict management & human rights. Unfortunately, many policymakers & field practitioners are reluctant to delve into the more controversial & ambiguous areas such as psychological trauma, conflict mitigation & even human rights protection." Maynard acknowledges Cuny's influence in her introduction; Cuny advised & reviewed early drafts. She quotes Cuny extensively, particularly his framework for understanding the phases of refugee flight & return.

 

FURTHER LEGACY

-Cuny set up, or helped set up a number of important humanitarian organizations that are still actively promoting solutions to disasters.

His primary commercial firm, InterTect plans relief programs in many countries; the Univ. of Madison Disaster Management Training Program (a university program) & InterWorks train NGOs, UN & government relief & rehabilitation organizations. A non-profit think tank Cuny set up in 1987, that produced a series of books on relief & repatriation is being re-named in honor of Cuny and will be called The Cuny Center for the Study of Societies in Crisis.

-The International Crisis Group (ICG) was being created at the time Cuny disappeared; his vision was that it would provide comprehensive country-wide approaches to relief and rehabilitation. The ICG has published dozens of timely reports on active humanitarian crises, including Algeria, Zaire, Bosnia, Cambodia & the Balkans. ICG was among earliest and most persistent voices for assertive intervention in Kosovo. including their 1998 "Kosovo Spring" or more recent "Sidelining Slobodan" or "Unifying the Kosovar Factions." Most ICG products & publications are easily available on the web: http://www.intl-crisis-group.org/.

-The US Public Broadcast Service Frontline series aired a documentary biography of Cuny's life which is available on videocassette which can be purchased from PBS. Their website about Cuny: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cuny/.

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The Humanitarian Times