The Humanitarian Times

July 5, 2000

 

- EUROPE RENEWS LOME' CONVENTION FOR NORTH-SOUTH AID, after many months of negotiations with ACP countries, signed last month in Cotonou, Benin. The original signing had been scheduled to be held in Fiji (selected because it was so remote that NGOs would not come to protest), but the military coup in Fiji forced a new venue & schedule. EC's recently proposed aid strategy (focused on poverty alleviation, conflict prevention & expansion of intl. trade) has been criticized by NGOs, including EuroStep, for being shallow & ignoring practical priorities.

- SCIENTISTS' "DURBAN DECLARATION" CONFIRMS HIV VIRUS CAUSES AIDS, to be published tomorrow in the scientific Nature journal, & discussed at the 13th Annual AIDS conf. that starts this weekend in S. Africa where millions remain confused about the viral cause of AIDS.

- SENEGAL COURT DISMISSES TRIAL OF FORMER DICTATOR, HABRE, OF CHAD who is believed to have killed 40,000 & tortured 200,000 Chad citizens. As signer of the UN Convention Against Torture, Senegal obligated itself to prosecute or extradite alleged torturers.

According to Human Rights Watch (NY), "Habre was not a distant ruler. He instigated, directed, & approved the torture & killing of those who opposed him or those simply belonged to the wrong ethnic group."

- MUSLIM VS. CHRISTIAN KILLINGS DISPLACE CIVILIANS ACROSS MOLUCCA islands in Indonesia, leading to numerous secondary risks from displacement, one of which was the drowning of 500 Christians fleeing Duma to enclaves on Sulawesi, when their boat (built to hold only 200) sank this past week (10 survivors found at sea).

- KEY RECENT NATIONAL ELECTIONS IN PERU, HAITI, MEXICO END PEACEFULLY: though this week an Organz. of American States delegation visited Peru to pressure strongman Fujimori's to correct his unfair election process & to engage Peruvian society in an effort toward -- as the Inter-American Dialogue wrote last week -- "installing genuinely autonomous electoral institutions, assuring a free & independent press, & ending the involvement of Peru's intelligence services in political affairs."

- PALESTINIAN PARLIAMENT MONDAY APPROVED PROPOSAL TO DECLARE STATEHOOD by end of the year; leader Yassar Arafat announced ten days ago that statehood might be declared 'within weeks'. Israeli leader Barak is in Europe seeking support to block a unilateral declaration of statehood until after further summit meetings can be arranged & terms agreed to.

- UNICEF'S EMERGENCY WEBSITE (REVAMPED) NOW ON-LINE: < http://www.unicef.org/emerg > The new format makes UNICEF field situation reports, thematic reviews, appeals, & references easily available. Comments & information requests can be emailed to emopsatunicef.org.

- TAJIKISTAN PROMISED AID FOR HEALTH & INFRASTRUCTURE FROM ARAB DONORS at June Coordination Group of Arab Foundations, now that Tajikistan's civil conflict has subsided. Included among the donors are the Islamic Bank for Devt., the Kuwait Devt Foundation. Assistance was also pledged to re-engineer Dushanbe's urban water supply, which because of back-flow from pressure leaks, has caused infections.

- UNHCR SEEKS $23M TO AID 1M ERITREAN DISPLACED PERSONS (IDPs) (1/3 the Eritrean population), half of whom live in 24 camps, uprooted by the war with Ethiopia, now ended by ceasefire. UNICEF is monitoring nutrition in the IDP camps; as troops occupied low-lying high- production areas, much of the current crop is lost & food shortage anticipated.

- WESTERN GOVTs THIS WEEK PLEDGE $600M IN AID TO UKRAINE FOR NUCLEAR power plants, including one remaining active plant in Chernobyl which last month Ukraine announced it would close by end of this year.

- U.S. REVISED AID REGULATIONS, IN JUNE, FOR PERSONS GIVEN ASYLUM: asylees now are eligible for USG ORR refugee aid (cash, medical care & social services) immediately after being granted asylum.

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- RED CROSS "WORLD DISASTERS REPORT, 2000: FOCUS ON PUBLIC HEALTH" by the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (226pp; email wdrorderatifrc.org), published last week, summarizes statistics & global trends on the impact of disasters, including economic damage, numbers of IDPs & refugees, & efforts to prevent excess deaths. In 1999, it notes, more people died, 34,000, from flood disasters than any other natural disaster. "Natural & technological disasters between 1990 & 1999 affected on average 196M people annually, & last year alone killed 80,000 people." This year's report observes that most excess death, by far, occurs due to preventable health conditions such as diarrhea, acute respiratory infection, malnutrition & malaria, and not from drowning, being crushed or other physical injury. "In 1999 1000,000 people were killed by natural disasters, but around 13M died of infectious diseases." The report examines how cutbacks in spending on health care & how recent trends in drug-resistance among pathogens have led to a worldwide disaster of preventable deaths from common diseases, where poverty & political isolation are the prime risk factors. The Red Cross' now promotes community based care, for example through training of mobile health volunteers who can spread prevention strategies against diseases like diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, measles & AIDS through initiatives such as "ARCHI 2010" -- The African Red Cross/Red Crescent Health Initiative of health volunteer networks. Another chapter articulates the need for a new 'intl disaster-response law' (IDL), observing that "there is (now) no definitive, broadly accepted source of intl. law which spells out legal standards, procedures, rights & duties pertaining to disaster response & assistance." Chapters also examine the use of radio in emergency response (as in Kosovo), the long-term health consequences of the Chernobyl radioactive leak of 1986, & the protracted economic & food security crisis in North Korea, by J Owen-Davies.

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July 5, 2000 The Humanitarian Times

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The goal of The Humanitarian Times is to provide accurate & fair coverage of humanitarian crisis issues, & thereby to help those in the aid community in their efforts to find & promote solutions.