The Humanitarian Times

May 11, 2000

 

- CAMBODIA GOVT & U.N. AGREED LAST WEEK ON JOINT WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL after months of dispute over authority & independence in prosecuting Khmer Rouge officials for their involvement in 1970's oppression that led to 1.7M deaths. Camb. Parliament will now consider ratifying & amending the law mandating the tribunal. With facilitation by U.S. Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts), Cambodia's Premier has agreed to have both U.N. & Cambodian-national judges.

- ACEH PROV. REPS & INDONESIAN GOV. WILL MEET FOR PEACE TALKS IN GENEVA later this week. Also this week, 13 Indonesian soldiers testified in court to the slaughter of un-armed Aceh students, under orders, last summer.

- EUROP. BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION & DEVT. SELECTS NEW PRESIDENT: Current French Treasury Dir. Jean Lemierre was approved by finance ministers this week to replace Horst Kohler who moves to the IMF.

- SIERRA LEONE, CONGO & ETHIOPIA CONFOUND U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL PEACE efforts this past week as a Richard Holbrooke-led 7-person UN Sec Council delegation has visited central & NE Africa. With UN encouragement, Rwanda agreed to withdraw its forces from Dem. Rep. of Congo last week, but fighting between Ugandan, Rwandan & Congo forces continues. Ethiopia & Eritrea will escalate their war this month. In Sierra Leone, 400 peacekeepers were disarmed & detained by rebels, while rebel leader Foday Sankoh disappeared, ahead of UN forces interested in arresting him. UN humanitarian agencies believe that Sankoh is a permanent obstacle to peace & recovery.

A joint high-level mission by UNDP, UNHCR & W. Bank to Sierra Leone in Feb. concluded that for the peace to hold, rapid intl. donations need to be channeled to create new jobs for demobilized soldiers. But donations have been few & slow & soldiers did not dis-arm. This week aid agencies suspended operations in Sierra Leone as civilian populations flee new rebel fighting. Sec. Gen. K Annan proposes more UN troops, which Nigeria is likely to provide under the regional (west African) ECOMOG force. Critics claim that current UN troops are numerous enough & have appropriate rules-of-engagement, but lack adequate training. Heavy fighting occurred today SE of Freetown.

- IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY (IRA) PROPOSES TO PLACE WEAPONS "BEYOND USE" & to seal the weapons sites in between inspections by indep. outsiders (Finnish ex-Pres. M Ahtisaari & S. African Cyril Ramaphosa). Disarming without turning over weapons may become a valuable model. The Royal Ulster Constabulary responded by announcing closure of 5 army stations.

- SRI LANKA'S GOVT REJECTED CEASE-FIRE; TAMIL REBELS CONVERGE ON JAFFNA City as they re-take the Penninsula. Indian forces will not help evacuate Sri Lankan troops from Jaffna, but are preparing for possible refugee flows into Ramanathapuram & Tuticorin.

- NIGERIA RE-ALLOCATES MORE OIL REVENUE SHARE TO ITS NIGER-DELTA STATES

- U.S. CONGRESS PASSES MORE SEVERE PENALTIES FOR INTL. SEX-TRAFFICKING crimes & also approved extension of federal witness protection programs to victims of human smuggling & sex slavery, in House of Reps.' vote this week.

- THAI GOV ASKED TO RESPECT BURMESE REFUGEES RIGHT TO NOT BE RETURNED by force to Burma where they would be persecuted. See new Human Rights Watch brief: www.hrw.org/press/2000/05/thaiback0506.htm

- APRIL MALARIA SUMMIT IN NIGERIA OBSERVES $100B COST IN AFRICA each year due to malaria infection (including lost production; estimates by Harvard & London schools of public health). New rapid diagnostic tests for malaria, using finger-prick blood sample, now permit on-the-spot confirmation in remote areas; see the World Health Organization's recent report: www.who.int/tdr/publications/publications/malaria_diagnosis.htm

- "EMERGENCY PERSONNEL SEMINAR 3" CONVENED HUMANITARIAN AID OFFICERS from 30 organizations from a dozen countries in NY 2 weeks ago, focusing on the selection, preparedness, training, management & retention of expatriate-intl. aid staff. Groups pondered how to share personnel rosters & registers. Surveys on staff core competencies were reviewed. An "emergency personnel network" was dubbed, co-managed by Red-R & other NGOs. See: http://www.redr.org/eps/index.htm

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HUMANITARIAN CHARTER & MINIMUM STANDARDS

 

- <WWW.SPHEREPROJECT.ORG> WEBSITE OFFERS INFO ON "HUMANITARIAN CHARTER & Minimum Standards in Disaster Response" (SPHERE Project); it now includes free downloadable versions of the handbook in English, French & Spanish (Portuguese version due in August), plus newsletters, pilot project list, contact info, newsletters, case studies, project background info, & reports from past workshops Sri Lanka, India & Canada.

1,000 SPHERE videotapes will have been distributed by this summer.

NGOs should advance order bulk quantities of the SPHERE handbook now, before this summer's 2nd print run. The Project Management Comm. of SPHERE includes a range of NGO networks (e.g. Caritas, Save the Children Alliance, CARE) & associations (Voice, SCHR, InterAction, ICVA).

- SPHERE TRAINING EFFORTS ACCELERATE: BURUNDI & SALVADOR IN MAY. NGO trainers completed a SPHERE training-of-trainers last week, launching a set of new training modules which will be posted on the website. Inter-agency workshops on Sphere standards & skills will be presented in Burundi (in French) & in El Salvador (in Spanish) this month; & in Sarjaevo June 22/23. For additional information on all Sphere trainings, contact Rita Joshi: joshiatuk.care.org. Other established training courses will also be utilizing the SPHERE principles & handbook, including the Columbia Univ/IRC/OFDA training in Bosnia, June 4-17 (contact: Lornaatintrescom.org); & the Intl. Diploma in Humanitarian Asst. course in New York, June 12-July 7 (contact: michel.veutheyatties.itu.int) .

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May 11, 2000 The Humanitarian Times

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