The Humanitarian Times

June 28, 2000


- "NO ONE IN SOUTH AFRICA TALKS ABOUT HIV/AIDS", ED BRADLEY REPORTED last night on special hour episode of "60 Minutes" (see:,1597,210080-412,00.shtml ), & as a result, high-risk behavior has not changed, few are tested, & few mothers use AZT to prevent transmission to babies. In Zimbabwe, where 50% expectant mothers have HIV, Bradley says Pres. Mugabe "has paid no attention to the epidemic which will decimate the next generation."

- SEVERE DROUGHT COULD DISPLACE 2M FROM AFGHANISTAN INTO PAKISTAN &/or Iran, reports UNHCR. Worst affected are rain-dependent wheat farmers, nomadic livestock herders, SW residents, & conflict-affected people in the north. The UN proposes food aid & potable water to populations in order to prevent displacement.


- CAMEROON: "LAKE NYOS IS POISED TO KILL AGAIN" WRITE SCIENTISTS, in the July Scientific American: "Lake Nyos contains twice as much carbon dioxide as" it did in 1986 when a cloud of volcanic-origin CO2 gas bubbled up from the lake's depths & swept low along the ground, killing 1,700 villagers by suffocation, spreading 20 km. "Little has been done to protect the people around Lake Nyos. Politics, lack of financial support & miscommunication have interfered." Moreover, a new explosion, "could also rupture the fragile dam & the waters could flow as far as Nigeria, drowning or displacing as many as 10,000 people." The authors explain how a dozen pipes, 200+-meter-long, 14-centimeter-round, would allow the poisonous lower-lake gases to froth up, out, & diffuse away (initial funding came this year from the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance.)

- ARMS INSPECTORS IN N. IRELAND DETERMINE ARMS CACHES ARE UNUSABLE by IRA army without their use being discovered, a finding viewed by all sides as a technical & political breakthrough in the peace process.

- CHILEAN ARMY OFFICER CONFIRMED 1973 STADIUM EXECUTIONS BY PINOCHET & the coup-leading army, on national television this week, implicating in particular Lieutenant Armando Larios, who had fled to the US.

- 70+ COUNTRIES STILL ALLOW TORTURE, DESPITE TREATY BAN, EXPERTS SAID on Monday's Intl. Day in Support of Victims of Torture. In NY, Dr. Allen Keller urged the US to expand refugee status to torture victims.


- ZIMBABWE VOTE ENDS PEACEFULLY; OPPOSITION PARTY GAINS SEATS in Parliament, though not a majority, after a high-turnout national election, deemed by US & EU election experts as neither free nor fair, with extensive systematic govt intimidation of voters. Pres. Mugabe's Exec Branch says it will confiscate remaining large farms from white persons.




- Proposals to un-tie foreign aid were rejected this week by donor govts meeting at the Org Econ Cooperation & Devt (OECD, Paris). Much aid is given in a manner that generates business for the donor country.

Japan, Denmark & France objected in general to un-tying aid. The Economist wrote, "In principle, all donors agree aid should be un-tied....unfortunately they do not agree that technical & food aid should also be untied." In a letter to the Financial Times this week, the Dir. Gen. of Japan's Economic Coop. Bureau wrote, "Japan is a strong proponent of untying aid.. 47% of (Japan's) grant aid is procured locally... the EU being one organization that still seems reluctant to untie its own aid."

- Humanitarian aid clusters around highly-visible disasters, thus 10,000s of victims of lesser-profile crises die. Oxfam UK, in its recent (May), "An End to Forgotten Emergencies?" explains how donors give vastly disproportionate amts of aid to a few well-known crises (Yugoslavia, Rwanda), & correspondingly trivial aid to hundreds of other, hidden emergencies. For example, "in 1999, more than half the aid channeled through ECHO (the European humanitarian office) went to Kosovo & the continuing consequences of the earlier conflict in former Yugoslavia. This was 4 times the amount of aid to the 70 ACP countries." ( )

- "GOOD INTENTIONS: PLEDGES OF AID FOR POST-CONFLICT RECOVERY" edited by Shep Forman & Stewart Patrick (2000 New York: Boulder, Co: Lynne Rienner Pub. ISBN 1 5587 879 2), reviews cases of El Salvador, Cambodia, Bosnia, S. Africa, Mozambique, & West Bank/Gaza, & finds "reconstruction assistance can contribute to the goal of peace maintenance.. unfortunately, the frameworks to design, coordinate & deliver such aid remain woefully under-institutionalized. The donor community improvises a new aid for each country. States recovering from not posses the administrative structures required to implement comprehensive recovery,..immature political institutions, underdeveloped legal frameworks, limited transparency & persistent internal disputes undermine good governance... On the supply side, generous pledges announced at multilateral conferences in reality consist of little more than previously committed funds repackaged for political purposes." Time-sensitive emergency rehabilitation programs stall for years. On Bosnia, the authors note that failure to clear landmines has obstructed return & reconstruction. Though donors frequently worry about the in-country absorptive capacity (skilled humans), the authors observe an inadequate use of Diaspora communities (including many professionals) as a medium-term solution.

The authors looking at S. Africa write that donors should commit & disburse pledged aid quickly, within policies set by the host govt; & in turn, host govts, "should resist trying to coordinate non-gov. dev. initiatives or to supervise the distribution of funding in civil society." In El Salvador, UNDP played a central role in coordinating refugee reintegration, while NGOs received most bilateral funds.

J Boyce summarizes: to build peace, donor aid should be conditioned so as to balance power between groups as well as "to tilt power balances in favor of peace within each of the contending parties... the consolidation of peace requires inclusive economic growth."


June 28, 2000 The Humanitarian Times

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