The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health ::
Holistic Development :: Sustainable Resilience
Week ending 26 March 2016

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
Editor &
Founding Managing Director
GE2P2 – Center for Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

pdf version: The Sentinel_ week ending 26 March 2016

blog edition: comprised of the 35+ entries  posted below.

EU Turkey Agreement [to 26 March 2016]

EU Turkey Agreement

Editor’s Note:
We lead again this week with the “EU-Turkey Agreement” as it continues to generate serious concern and action from agencies, NGOs and other actors in the European migrant-refugee crisis. Equally, we see it as establishing new and uncomfortable precedents.
Below, we include statements of concern from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNICEF and IOM, and statements defining withdrawal of and limits to humanitarian support in Greece from UNHCR, MSF, IRC and Oxfam. This summary is not attempting to be exhaustive, but we believe it is indicative of the situation.


UN rights chief expresses serious concerns over EU-Turkey agreement
GENEVA (24 March 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday expressed serious concerns about the recent agreement between the European Union and Turkey, pointing to what he termed “a contradiction at the heart of the agreement,” as well as raising concerns regarding arbitrary detention of refugees and migrants.

“The declared aim to return all refugees and migrants contrasts with the assurances about individual assessments,” the High Commissioner said. “If the safeguards are to be considered real, then the individual assessments must allow for the possibility that the persons in question will not in fact be returned. Otherwise it could still qualify as a collective expulsion.”

The EU-Turkey agreement calls for cases to be processed under the EU’s Asylum Procedures Directive, and goes on to state that “Migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey.”

Zeid expressed concern that this language presents a real risk of overlooking human rights law obligations, which require States to examine arguments against return beyond those found in refugee law. Such needs could arise, for example, in the case of children; victims of violence, rape, trauma and torture; individuals with specific sexual orientation; persons with disabilities; and a range of others with legitimate individual protection needs.

The UN Human Rights Chief urged Greece to handle all individual cases with genuine attention to all protection grounds required under international human rights law, including at the appeals stage.

Zeid said he has particular concerns about returns being carried out on the basis of asylum claims in Greece being found ‘inadmissible’ because Turkey is a ‘safe third country’ or a ‘first country of asylum.’

“Even if Turkey does expand its refugee definition to include non-Europeans, or passes laws qualifying certain nationalities for ‘temporary protection,’ it may not be considered fully safe for all returns in the near future. Refugee and migrant protection systems are not simply words on paper, but require trained personnel, tailored policies, infrastructure and other concrete practical measures that take time to establish,” the High Commissioner said. “Disturbingly, there have also been recent reports of forcible returns amounting to refoulement from Turkey.”

The UN human rights chief backed the strong concerns expressed on Tuesday by other UN agencies, UNHCR and UNICEF, at the use of detention for all new arrivals in the Greek islands, including children and other vulnerable persons, adding that this appears to contravene a range of international and EU human rights laws and standards, including that immigration detention should be a measure of last resort, and the principle of “best interests of the child.” The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has emphasized that children should never be detained on the basis of their migration status or that of their parents.

The High Commissioner expressed his concern that all returns must be carried out in full respect of the human rights and dignity of each individual being returned, including through ensuring that any consent for voluntary return is given free of any coercion and that those who are forcibly returned are protected against disproportionate use of force and other abuse of their rights and dignity.

Finally, the High Commissioner regretted that the envisaged so-called ‘one-for-one’ scheme for resettlement is to take place “within the framework of the existing commitments” to resettlement or relocation – without creating new commitments to legal pathways. He urged the EU to implement practical recommendations made by UN and other international organizations and experts concerning the creation of other regular channels for entry, including family reunification, other humanitarian pathways, and regulated labour migration in response to real labour market needs.

“This crisis is manageable if the EU acts on the basis of its own well-established and greatly respected laws and principles, and invests seriously in addressing root causes and supporting comprehensive solutions on the basis of international human rights treaties they have ratified,” Zeid said. “However, if the EU starts to circumvent international law, there could be a deeply problematic knock-on effect in other parts of the world.”


UNHCR redefines role in Greece as EU-Turkey deal comes into effect
Briefing Notes, 22 March 2016
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 22 March 2016, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

This past Sunday, the provisions agreed between the EU and Turkey to stem the large-scale arrival of refugees and migrants to Greece and beyond into Europe came into effect. Starting already on Saturday, the Greek authorities accelerated the transfer to the mainland of an estimated 8,000 refugees and migrants who had arrived on the islands before the 20th of March. This was to separate them from people arriving after that date and who will be subject to the new return policy.

Arrivals on Lesvos have so far continued. As of this morning 934 people had arrived since Sunday. They are being held at a closed registration and temporary accommodation site in Moria on the east of the island. The remaining 880 people who arrived before Sunday are being hosted about a kilometre away at the Kara Tepe centre, which is run by the local municipality and remains an open facility.

UNHCR has till now been supporting the authorities in the so-called “hotspots” on the Greek islands, where refugees and migrants were received, assisted, and registered. Under the new provisions, these sites have now become detention facilities. Accordingly, and in line with our policy on opposing mandatory detention, we have suspended some of our activities at all closed centres on the islands. This includes provision of transport to and from these sites. However, UNHCR will maintain a presence to carry out protection monitoring to ensure that refugee and human rights standards are upheld, and to provide information on the rights and procedures to seek asylum.

UNHCR staff will also continue to be present at the shoreline and sea port to provide life-saving assistance (including transport to hospitals where needed). We are counselling new arrivals on asylum in Greece, including on family reunification and on access to services. And we are identifying people with specific needs.

UNHCR is concerned that the EU-Turkey deal is being implemented before the required safeguards are in place in Greece. At present, Greece does not have sufficient capacity on the islands for assessing asylum claims, nor the proper conditions to accommodate people decently and safely pending an examination of their cases.

UNHCR is not a party to the EU-Turkey deal, nor will we be involved in returns or detention. We will continue to assist the Greek authorities to develop an adequate reception capacity.
Uncertainty is making the new arrivals nervous. Many still hope that the border will open. Many have run out of money. There is also an urgent need for information. The Greek police have been distributing leaflets in Arabic and Persian informing people that the border is closed and advising them to go to camps where better conditions are provided. But the capacity of nearby camps has been reached, and more camps need to be opened including for candidates for relocation.

Under the EU’s Emergency Relocation Mechanism, European countries agreed to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers, including 66,400 out of Greece and 39,600 out of Italy. As of 21 March 2016, 22 countries had made 7015 places available for asylum seekers to be relocated under the programme and a total of 953 asylum seekers had been relocated (384 out of Italy and 569 out of Greece).

Meanwhile, on the Greek mainland in Idomeni, an estimated 10,000-12,000 people, including some 4,000 children, are camping in dire conditions at an informal site near the border, close to a railway track. The majority are families, many of them with young children. Hygiene is a major concern, negatively impacting people’s health. People are burning plastic and rubbish to keep warm. The general environment is very challenging. UNHCR and partners have been working to improve capacity by providing family-sized and large tents for up to 2,400 people and collecting rubbish. Mobile latrines have been put in place, but they are not enough. Tents have been provided for vulnerable families and individuals, including 30 unaccompanied minors. UNHCR has been visiting detention centres where unaccompanied children are in protective custody. Food distribution has been arranged by several organisations (sandwich and a drink), three times a day, as well as the distribution of milk, baby food, and diapers.


New EU-Turkey agreement on refugee and migrants could leave children at risk: UNICEF
GENEVA, 22 March 2016 – UNICEF today expressed concern that the new agreement between the EU and Turkey, which comes into effect this week, does not address the pressing humanitarian needs of 19,000 refugee and migrant children stranded in Greece. Children make up 40 percent of the refugee and migrant population in Greece. It is estimated that unaccompanied children make up 10 percent of the child population.

UNICEF warned the new agreement could push children and families to take other more dangerous routes including the central Mediterranean Sea. UNICEF welcomes EU leaders’ commitment to determining the individual status of refugees and migrants rather than collective expulsions, push-back practices or other measures that may be harmful to children.

The children’s agency, however, urges that a number of priorities are addressed:
:: Unaccompanied and separated children are properly identified and taken into protective care rather than detention. They are entitled to a full hearing and assessment of their best interests prior to any decision related to them, including on return. The capacity of state institutions in Greece needs to be scaled up significantly to deal with this new caseload.

:: Child and family support services such as child friendly spaces, and safe mother and baby areas are rapidly expanded in ‘Blue Dots’ services.

:: Children stranded for longer periods in Greece will require an expanded set of basic services such as emergency education. Many children have been out of school for several months and would benefit even from short term learning.

:: To prevent disease outbreaks among children, urgent consideration has to be given to vaccinating refugee and migrant children, especially as many have been living in unsanitary conditions for weeks. An initial response would include vaccinating against measles, polio and pneumococcal infections.


IOM: Migrants Must Fully Benefit from Protection under International Law
Switzerland – IOM has called upon the international community to address the current migrant rights deficit, highlighting the fact that migrants do not adequately benefit from the protection granted to them under international law.


Greece: MSF Ends Activities at Primary Lesvos Transit Camp
March 22, 2016
New York/Athens, March 22, 2016 — The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has decided to suspend its activities linked to the Moria “hotspot” until further notice. Moria is the main camp on the island of Lesvos where all arrivals are identified, registered, and fingerprinted before being relocated or returned to their home countries. The decision follows the EU-Turkey deal announced Friday, which will lead to the forced return of migrants and asylum-seekers from the Greek Island.

“We made the extremely difficult decision to end our activities in Moria because continuing to work inside would make us complicit in a system we consider to be both unfair and inhumane,” said Marie Elisabeth Ingres, MSF head of mission in Greece. “We will not allow our assistance to be instrumentalized for a mass expulsion operation, and we refuse to be part of a system that has no regard for the humanitarian or protection needs of asylum seekers and migrants.”

MSF will close all activities linked to the “hotspot” of Moria, including the transportation of refugees to the center, and the water and sanitation activities and medical clinic inside. MSF will continue to run its transit center in Mantamados, where new arrivals are offered first aid assistance, and its sea rescue activities on the northern beaches of Lesvos. It will also continue to run mobile clinics on the island of Lesvos for those outside of the hotspot location.
Since July 2015, MSF has provided medical consultations, mental health support, distributed relief items, and conducted water and sanitation activities in Moria camp in Lesvos. MSF has carried out 24,314 consultations in the island of Lesvos, including 12,526 in Moria. MSF psychologists have assisted 401 people through individual sessions and have conducted 584 group sessions with 3,532 participants. Teams were also providing temporary shelter and transportation between the North and the registration centers of Moria and Kara Tepe in the South of the island. As of March 13, MSF transported 12,952 new arrivals.


The International Rescue Committee Will Not Transport Refugees to Closed Facility at Moria, Lesvos
Lesbos, Greece 23 Mar 2016 –
On Monday evening the IRC informed the Greek coastguard that we would not transport refugees to the closed facility at Moria. We cannot knowingly participate in the transportation of some of the world’s most vulnerable to a place where their freedom of movement is in question.

We will continue to provide for refugees’ basic and protection needs at Kara Tepe camp and, should refugees land on Lesvos’ north shore we are ready to assist them with the essential services they need.

The IRC has been working on the Greek island of Lesbos since July 2015 delivering clean water and sanitation in several refugee transit sites and providing newly arrived refugees with much needed information about the registration process and essential services. We continue to provide specialized services to the most vulnerable refugees, including people with limited mobility and children separated from their families. In early March the IRC’s emergency response team was deployed to Northern Greece to assist with the response there. In the short term the IRC’s protection and environmental health team are responding at Idomeni, the informal refugee site on Greece’s northern border.

More information about the IRC’s response to the Europe Refugee Crisis at this link.


Says no to police-run detention facilities
(23.03.2016) Refugee Crisis
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has decided to suspend a number of activities at the refugee and asylum seeker so-called ‘Hotspot’ facillity, Vial, on the island of Chios. “We cannot work independently and safely in a police-run detention facility. Now that it is a detention centre we no longer have adequate access to provide assistance to vulnerable refugees,” said Alain Homsy, Head of NRC operations in Greece.


Oxfam suspends aid operations in Moria camp in protest to the suspension of migrants’ rights by the EU and Turkey
24 March 2016
Oxfam has today suspended all of its operations in the Moria camp, on the Greek island of Lesvos, in response to the deteriorating treatment of migrants due to the recent deal struck between the EU and Turkey. The Greek authorities are transforming reception facilities into detention centers, where people will be held pending their mass return to Turkey.

World Bank Group, United Nations, and Islamic Development Bank Pledge Support for Stability in Middle East and North Africa

World Bank Group, United Nations, and Islamic Development Bank Pledge Support for Stability in Middle East and North Africa
Beirut, March 24, 2016 — World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of the Islamic Development Bank Group Dr. Mohamed Ali Al-Madani arrived in Lebanon today at the start of a joint visit to rally global support for the shared responsibility of promoting peace and development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The three organizations are jointly supporting an initiative to raise additional financing needed to help countries in the region cope with the immediate consequences of conflict, while laying the foundations for recovery and reconstruction.

With the Syrian conflict entering its sixth year, and the region coping with one of the largest refugee crises since World War II, all three leaders pledged to work closely together in the region. The three organizations recently launched the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region aimed at uniting the international community for the level of support required to meet the region’s immense challenges. Through innovative financing, the initiative plans to provide concessional financing to Lebanon and Jordan –both middle-income countries hosting large numbers of refugees — and to expand the funding available to countries struggling with slow growth and high youth unemployment because of instability.

At the Supporting Syria and the Region conference that took place in February in London, the World Bank Group announced that it will triple its investment in the region as compared to the previous five years. Funding from the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region combined with current programs is expected to total about US$20 billion over the coming five years.

In addition, in response to the current crisis, the Bank will announce $200 million in new financing during the trip to support education and create jobs. This will come in addition to the current more than $1.5 billion of Bank commitments in the two countries, as well as the scaling up of financial support to Iraq, which has now reached $2 billion and which is projected to equal $5 billion in the coming few years.

International Criminal Court (ICC) [to 26 March 2016]

Editor’s Note:
We have been monitoring the increasingly robust statements from UNESCO around protecting cultural heritage in conflict and similar contexts, including discussion around how military assets might be required, even if this is a last and unhappy option.

This week, the ICC brought to trial – with unprecedented speed and effect – a defendant accused of destroying a range of cultural heritage in Timbuktu, and received an unanticipated admission of guilt.

In parallel, the IPU (Inter Parliamentary Union) adopted an extensive resolution around these themes at its 134th Assembly which, among other calls-to-action, “proposes to include the protection of cultural and historical sites in multilateral peacekeeping operations…”

We include content from these two important developments below with links to the full text.


International Criminal Court (ICC) [to 26 March 2016]
ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I confirms the charge against Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi and commits him to trial
Situation: Republic of Mali
Case: The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi
Today, 24 March 2016, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) confirmed against Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi the war crime charge regarding the destruction of historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu (Mali), and committed Mr Al Mahdi to trial before a Trial Chamber.

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, following admission of guilt by the accused in Mali war crime case: “An important step for the victims, and another first for the ICC”
Today the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) confirmed the charge of war crime brought by my Office against Mr Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, and committed him to trial for attacking historic monuments and buildings dedicated to religion in Timbuktu, Mali between approximately 30 June and 11 July 2012. Following this decision, I can now publicly note a further significant development.

On 1 March 2016, Mr Al Mahdi explicitly expressed before ICC Judges and in the presence of his lawyers, his wish to plead guilty. He did so during the course of the confirmation of charges proceedings, at a point where the exchanges were in closed session. This part of the court record has now been made public.

This case is in many ways historically important in that it focuses exclusively on the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against ‘cultural property’. The deliberate and wanton destruction of historic mausoleums and buildings dedicated to religion, as witnessed in this case, caused severe harm to the religious practices, historical heritage, and cultural identity of the people of Timbuktu, Malians and the region more generally. The loss was not locally confined. The magnitude of the loss of such irreplaceable physical embodiment of history and culture was felt by the whole of humanity, and at the expense of future generations. This case underscores the seriousness of such crimes, and the necessity to hold perpetrators accountable. My Office is determined to continue to do its part to counter the scourge of such reprehensible crimes.

This is the first time that a suspect has expressed his intention to plead guilty to criminal conduct for which he is being prosecuted by my Office; a serious crime for which we had gathered overwhelming evidence. Such an admission of guilt, provided for in article 65 of the Rome Statute, will be a milestone in the history of the ICC.

This case is also unprecedented in terms of its expeditiousness and efficiency. The arrest warrant against Mr Al Mahdi was issued in September 2015. The arrest took place in the ensuing days, facilitated by the impressive cooperation of the States involved. The initial appearance hearing was held on 30 September 2015. The charge and the legal and factual submissions in support of the charge were filed on 17 and 18 December 2015. The confirmation of charges hearing was held on 1 March 2016…

Giving an identity to the 230 million children without a civil status: One of the major challenges of the humanitarian crisis in the 21st century

Giving an identity to the 230 million children without a civil status: One of the major challenges of the humanitarian crisis in the 21st century
Resolution adopted unanimously by the 134th IPU Assembly
(Lusaka, 23 March 2016)

The 134th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,
Alarmed by the existence, according to UNICEF estimates, of more than 230 million children under five years of age without a legal identity because they were not registered at birth and by the fact that one in every seven children registered in the world does not have a birth certificate attesting to his/her legal identity,

Observing that without a civil status, these children are severely hampered throughout their lives (unable to go to school, vote, marry, receive welfare benefits, inherit, etc.) and fall victim to trafficking (illegal adoption, prostitution and criminal networks), which is further exacerbated in situations of humanitarian crisis,

Considering that having a reliable, comprehensive and lasting civil registry is a necessary prerequisite for drawing up credible electoral lists and, as a consequence, the legitimacy of electoral processes,

Concerned about the “black holes” in statistics caused by the absence of registration of these children, which disrupts the planning and the management of public services for children,

Recalling different provisions and instruments under international law, in particular:
– Article 24, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted on 16 December 1966 by the UN General Assembly,
– Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989,
– Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which the IPU fully supports, including target 16.9, “By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration”,
– the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Protocols, especially the Fourth Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,
– the 1977 Protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts,

Also alarmed by the tremendous impact of humanitarian crises, particularly in situations of conflict, on the most vulnerable groups, especially women and children,

Convinced of the absolute need to fully meet the needs of those children in terms of assistance and protection through the mandates of peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations,

1. Calls on parliaments to request their governments to put in place measures to inform parents of the need to register children at birth and remove all barriers to the registration of children in registry offices regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, language, religion or social status;

2. Requests parliaments to adopt laws to ensure the issuance of birth certificates free of charge or, at least, to reduce to a minimum the cost of birth registration;

3. Calls for registry offices to be set up as close as possible to homes by distributing them throughout the country with as a wide coverage as possible;

4. Recommends that parliaments take measures to allow women to register births;

5. Calls for support for the implementation of applications for mobile devices that allow authorized persons (e.g. midwives, village leaders and school principals) to register births;

6. Invites parliaments to promote campaigns on regularizing the status of children without a legal identity through roving public hearings that move from village to village;

7. Calls on parliaments ensure adequate funding for civil registry, including moving towards the digitization of registration where possible;

8. Urges in particular parties to armed conflict to respect schools and hospitals and to provide unrestricted access for humanitarian assistance and to give humanitarian personnel all the facilities required to carry out their work;

9. Calls on governments and parties to conflict to meet their obligations in conformity with international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular the obligations set forth in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005;

10. Strongly urges the IPU to commit to monitoring developments on this issue.

Water and Jobs – 2016 UN World Water Development Report

Water and Jobs – 2016 UN World Water Development Report
March 2016 :: 164 pages
ISBN 978-92-3-100146-8 ePub ISBN 978-92-3-100155-0
Three out of four of the jobs worldwide are water-dependent. In fact, water shortages and lack of access may limit economic growth in the years to come, according to the 2016 United Nations World Water Development Report, Water and Jobs, which was launched on 22 March, World Water Day, in Geneva.

From its collection, through various uses, to its ultimate return to the natural environment, water is a key factor in the development of job opportunities either directly related to its management (supply, infrastructure, wastewater treatment, etc.) or in economic sectors that are heavily water-dependent such as agriculture, fishing, power, industry and health.

Furthermore, good access to drinking water and sanitation promotes an educated and healthy workforce, which constitutes an essential factor for sustained economic growth.

In its analysis of the economic impact of access to water, the report cites numerous studies that show a positive correlation between investments in the water sector and economic growth. It also highlights the key role of water in the transition to a green economy.

The 2016 Report will provide the content and basis for debate throughout the year on the global theme ‘Water and Jobs’ of this year’s World Water Day. The Report illustrates that nearly 3 out of 4 jobs of the global workforce (3.2 billion people) are moderately or highly dependent upon access to water and water-related services and therefore states that “Water is essential to decent jobs and sustainable development”. Water stress and the lack of decent work can exacerbate security challenges, force migration and undo the progress made in the fight to eradicate poverty.


Joint UNESCO and UN – Water Press Release
Water drives job creation and economic growth, says new UN report
22 March 2016
An estimated three out of four jobs that make up the global workforce are either heavily or moderately dependent on water. This means that water shortages and problems of access to water and sanitation could limit economic growth and job creation in the coming decades, according to a UN report…

UN urges stronger, coordinated international response to address El Niño impacts

UN urges stronger, coordinated international response to address El Niño impacts
Climate event has affected 60 million people; impacts set to increase at least until end of 2016

23 March 2016, Rome – The United Nations has called for a stronger response by governments, aid organizations and the private sector to address the devastating impact the El Niño climate event is having on the food security, livelihoods, nutrition and health of some 60 million people around the world.

The appeal came at a meeting organized in Rome by four UN agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). Participants, including representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations and other UN agencies, took stock of the growing impacts of the current El Niño, which is considered as one of the strongest in history.

They noted that more than $2.4 billion are needed for current El Niño emergency and recovery-responses and currently there is a $1.5 billion gap in funding…

A global crisis
El Niño-related impacts have been felt across the globe since mid 2015. Among these are severe or record droughts in Central America, the Pacific region, East Timor, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and in Southern Africa. In addition, floods have affected certain parts of Somalia and the Tanzania, devastating forest fires have once again resurfaced in Indonesia while some regions has witnessed storms, as in the case of Fiji with Tropical Cyclone Winston.

These disasters have resulted in a wide range of consequences, most importantly, severe increases in hunger, malnutrition, water- and vector-borne diseases and the prevalence of animal and plant pests and diseases. Increasingly, populations are on the move: families across the globe are being forced into distress migration, both within and across borders, as their sources of livelihood disappear.

The meeting ended with a series of commitments by FAO, IFAD, OCHA and WFP aimed at urgently scaling up responses to the current El Niño crisis while also ensuring a more effective response to similar events in the future…

UNESCO and L’Oréal Foundation launch manifesto to promote gender parity in the sciences

UNESCO and L’Oréal Foundation launch manifesto to promote gender parity in the sciences
25 March 2016
A manifesto for women in science was launched in Paris at the close of Thursday’s L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science award ceremony, which recognized five outstanding scientists and 15 your researchers. The Manifesto aims to draw attention to the need to ensure gender parity in science.

The Manifesto sets out to improve women’s access to science at all levels and in all disciplines. Its first signatories were Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, Jean-Paul Agon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of L’Oréal and head of the L’Oréal Foundation, and Elizabeth Blackburn, President of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Jury…

The Manifesto @4womeninscience promotes a six-point agenda:
:: Encourage girls to explore scientific career paths,
:: Break down the barriers that prevent women scientists from pursuing long term careers in research,
:: Prioritize women’s access to senior positions and leadership positions in the sciences,
:: Celebrate with the general public the contribution that women scientists make to scientific progress and to society,
:: Ensure gender equality through participation and leadership in symposiums and scientific commissions, such as conferences, committees and board meetings,
:: Promote mentoring and networking for young scientists to enable them to plan and develop careers that meet their expectations.

To sign the Manifesto:

United Nations – Secretary General, Security Council, General Assembly [to 26 March 2016]

United Nations – Secretary General, Security Council, General Assembly  [to 26 March 2016]
Selected Press Releases/Meetings Coverage

23 March 2016
Security Council Press Statement on Announcement of Cessation of Hostilities in Yemen

22 March 2016
Special Representative of Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Briefs on Situation of Children in South Sudan
The members of the Security Council welcomed the announcement on 23 March 2016 by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, of a nationwide cessation of hostilities in Yemen, scheduled to begin at midnight on 10 April 2016, and peace talks scheduled to begin on 18 April 2016 in Kuwait. The members of the Security Council welcomed the commitment of all parties both to the cessation of hostilities and to the peace talks…

22 March 2016
Security Council Press Statement on Terrorist Attacks in Brussels

22 March 2016
Congolese Ex-Rebel Commander’s Guilty Verdict for War Crimes Sends Strong Signal that Impunity ‘Will Not Be Tolerated’, Secretary-General Says

UN OHCHR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights [to 26 March 2016]

UN OHCHR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights [to 26 March 2016]
Selected Press Releases

UN rights chief expresses serious concerns over EU-Turkey agreement
GENEVA (24 March 2016) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday expressed serious concerns about the recent agreement between the European Union and Turkey, pointing to what he termed “a contradiction at the heart of the agreement,” as well as raising concerns regarding arbitrary detention of refugees and migrants…


Zeid lauds “hugely significant” conviction of Radovan Karadzic
GENEVA (24 March 2016) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein welcomed the verdict against Radovan Karadzic, President of the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic, which was delivered today by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, describing it as “hugely significant.” Karadzic was found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Twenty-one years after Karadzic was indicted, this verdict is a forceful manifestation of the international community’s implacable commitment to accountability,” Zeid said. “Karadzic master-minded the confinement, rape, torture and murder of thousands of people; the shelling of civilians; the siege of Sarajevo; and the extensive destruction and plunder of property, including Muslim and Roman Catholic places of worship.”

“His judgment is symbolically powerful – above all for the victims of the crimes committed during the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina and across the former Yugoslavia, but also for victims across the world. No matter how powerful they are, no matter how untouchable they imagine themselves to be, no matter what continent they inhabit, the perpetrators of such crimes must know that they will not escape justice. Having witnessed first hand the effect of the horrific crimes for which Karadzic has been convicted, I welcome the findings of the Tribunal.”…


Zeid urges Egypt to halt repression of NGOs
GENEVA (23 March 2016) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the closure of hundreds of civil society organizations in Egypt and the prosecutions of numerous human rights defenders for their legitimate work since November 2014.

“This looks like a clampdown on sections of Egyptian civil society and it must stop,” said Zeid. “NGOs who have played a valuable role in documenting violations and supporting victims will see their activities completely crippled if this continues. This will stifle the voices of those who advocate for victims.”…

SRSG/CAAC Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict [to 26 March 2016]

SRSG/CAAC Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict [to 26 March 2016]

23 Mar 2016
Special Representative of Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Briefs on Situation of Children in South Sudan
Press release issued by the UN Security Council
On 14 March 2016, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan and the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict held joint informal consultations featuring a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, concerning the impact of the armed conflict on children in South Sudan.

The joint informal consultations were a continuation of a practice initiated in 2015 to enhance collaboration and coordination between the Working Group and sanctions committees in order to advance the protection of children in armed conflict.

In her briefing, the Special Representative stated that, despite the many commitments signed by the Government and opposition, the situation of children in South Sudan has worsened with a dramatic increase in grave violations against children in 2015. She expressed deep concern over the continuing recruitment and use of children by all parties to the conflict, as well as the re-recruitment of children previously released by armed groups. The Special Representative also detailed the deliberate targeting of civilians in the conflict, resulting in children being killed and maimed, as well as the wide-spread use of sexual violence as a tactic of war against women and children.

Citing names of perpetrators from both sides, the Special Representative called upon the 2206 Sanctions Committee and its Panel of Experts on South Sudan to continue to investigate and examine the individual and command responsibility of all parties to the conflict for grave violations against children. She also expressed full support for the recommendations of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan for the establishment of accountability mechanisms, including the Hybrid Court for South Sudan to be established in pursuance of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan signed on 17 August 2015 (document S/2015/654)…

UN OCHA [to 26 March 2016]

UN OCHA [to 26 March 2016]

26 Mar 2016
Sudan: Jebel Marra Crisis Fact Sheet Issue 5 I 24 March 2016
Sudan KEY FACTS :: An estimated 129,000 civilians have been reportedly displaced from the Jebel Marra area in Sudan’s Darfur region since mid-January as a result of increased hostilities between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Abdul Wahid faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA/AW). This is about 23,000 more than the number reported on 10 March.

24 Mar 2016
Syrian Arab Republic: Joint Statement by Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis on the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members [EN/AR]

24 Mar 2016
Haiti: Becoming Visible: Finding Solutions for Statelessness in Haiti and the Dominican Republic: Position Statement of the CLIO & CCO Haïti in support of CCHD
The Inter-NGO Liaison Framework (Cadre de Liaison Inter-ONG, CLIO in French) and the Comité de Coordination des ONG en Haiti (CCO Haïti), 2 independent coordination platforms that jointly comprise 75 NGOs from Haitian and international civil society organizations operating in Haiti, welcome the Kellogg Foundation initiative to host a series of Round Tables around critical border and nationality issues on the island of Hispaniola, starting on March 23rd 2016…

24 Mar 2016
occupied Palestinian territory: OCHA Flash Update: Third large-scale demolition in Khirbet Tana in 2016
On 23 March, the Israeli authorities destroyed 53 structures in the Palestinian community of Khirbet Tana, located in Area C of the occupied West Bank, on grounds of lack of Israeli-issued building permits. This is one of the largest incidents since OCHA began systematically tracking demolitions in 2009.

24 Mar 2016
Yemen: Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien Statement on Yemen, New York, 24 March 2016 [EN/AR]
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Yemen
It is deeply saddening to be marking a whole year of violence in Yemen. A country whose people were already facing great deprivation and hunger, and who have had to deal since last March with the added horror of war, bombing, shelling; losing their homes and loved ones. I welcome the efforts to find a solution to the crisis, and the announcement yesterday of an agreement to cease hostilities on 10 April is positive…

23 Mar 2016
Iraq: Senior UN official warns of dire consequences for millions of Iraqis due to funding shortfalls

23 Mar 2016
Syrian Arab Republic: US $19 million is allocated through the Humanitarian Pooled Fund for projects in Syria [EN/AR]
Damascus, 23 March 2016 – Nearly $19 million has been allocated to partners through the Syria Humanitarian Pooled Fund (HPF). This standard allocation of funds will finance water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, health, food security and agriculture, education and cross-sectoral projects to meet the needs of and make a meaningful difference in the lives of almost 1.4 million people.

23 Mar 2016
Ethiopia: Humanitarian partners launch fundraising campaign to address funding gaps in Ethiopia drought response
(Addis Ababa, 23 March 2016): Humanitarian partners today launched a 90-day campaign to raise awareness on the urgent need for an additional funding for the drought crisis in Ethiopia to address the humanitarian resource gap. “Ethiopia is currently contending with one of the most serious climatic shocks in recorded history with ten million people facing lost harvests and livestock as well as severe water…

23 Mar 2016
World: CERF Advisory group supports the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for a $1 billion CERF by 2018
On 21 March, the CERF Advisory Group met in New York endorsed the Secretary-General’s call to expand CERF to $1 billion by 2018. The Group, which meets bi-annually and provides the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Secretary-General and CERF with policy guidance and expert advice, also encouraged all stakeholders and UN Member States to support a larger CERF.

UNICEF [to 26 March 2016]

UNICEF [to 26 March 2016]
Selected Press Releases

87 million children under 7 have known nothing but conflict – UNICEF
NEW YORK, 24 March 2016 – More than 86.7 million children under the age of 7 have spent their entire lives in conflict zones, putting their brain development at risk, UNICEF said today.

New EU-Turkey agreement on refugee and migrants could leave children at risk: UNICEF
GENEVA, 22 March 2016 – UNICEF today expressed concern that the new agreement between the EU and Turkey, which comes into effect this week, does not address the pressing humanitarian needs of 19,000 refugee and migrant children stranded in Greece.

Tsinghua University and UNICEF launch innovation partnership to help reach some of the world’s most disadvantaged children
BEIJING, 22 March 2016 – Tsinghua University and UNICEF announced a new long-term partnership to leverage the use of innovation, design and technology, in helping to reach some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children across the world.

Climate change and poor sanitation threaten water safety for millions: UNICEF
nnnNew York, 21 March 2016 – On the eve of World Water Day, UNICEF said the push to bring safe water to millions around the world is going to be even more challenging due to climate change, which threatens both water supply and water safety for millions of children living in drought- or flood-prone areas.

UNHCR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [to 26 March 2016]

UNHCR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [to 26 March 2016]

Press Releases
23 March 2016
UNHCR welcomes Ministerial Declaration in Bali, calls for new compact to absorb refugees in region
BALI, Indonesia – In a move welcomed by the UN Refugee Agency, Ministers of Bali Process countries today pledged to take a comprehensive regional approach to managing mixed migration flows by strengthening cooperation on search and rescue at sea, predictable disembarkation, temporary protection and legal pathways for refugees and migrants.

The Ministerial Declaration was adopted on Wednesday at the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Bali Process. It is the first-ever such declaration in the 14-year history of this regional forum and a strong sign that its 45 member countries are deeply committed to addressing the regional challenges of mixed migration at a time of massive forced displacement around the world.

“With more than 60 million people forcibly displaced from countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Burundi, no country or region is immune from the aspects, and combating smuggling and trafficking. This will only work, however, if it goes hand-in-hand with a clear and unequivocal human security impact,” said Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. “Today’s pledge is a timely reminder that predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing arrangements are the only way to tackle these challenges while seizing opportunities.”…


23 March 2016
UNHCR reaches embattled Taizz from Aden with life-saving aid

IOM / International Organization for Migration [to 26 March 2016]

IOM / International Organization for Migration [to 26 March 2016]

Migrants Must not be Left out of Efforts to End Tuberculosis
Switzerland – IOM marks World TB Day by highlighting the importance of engaging in productive multi-sectoral partnerships to promote the health and well-being of migrants.

Final Group of Fisheries ‘Slaves’ to be Repatriated from Indonesia
Indonesia – One year after, the last group of men trafficked onto vessels operating in Indonesian waters is preparing to return home.

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016: 160,547; Deaths: 488
Greece – IOM this week confirms more than one million migrant and refugee arrivals to the Greek islands via the Eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey since the start of 2015. Earlier this month IOM confirmed combined land and sea arrivals surpassed the one million mark in Greece.

IOM: Migrants Must Fully Benefit from Protection under International Law
Switzerland – IOM has called upon the international community to address the current migrant rights deficit, highlighting the fact that migrants do not adequately benefit from the protection granted to them under international law.

UN Women [to 26 March 2016]

UN Women [to 26 March 2016]

Date: 25 March 2016
Press release: UN Commission on the Status of Women urges gender-responsive implementation of Agenda 2030
The 60th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women concluded today with UN Member States committing to the gender-responsive implementation of Agenda 2030. A set of agreed conclusions called for enhancing the basis for rapid progress, including stronger laws, policies and institutions, better data and scaled-up financing.

Research reveals how fragile settings exacerbate inequalities
Date: 24 March 2016
UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality launched new research on women’s economic empowerment in fragile States this week on the sidelines of the 60th Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

WHO & Regional Offices [to 26 March 2016]

WHO & Regional Offices [to 26 March 2016]

WHO: Angola grapples with worst yellow fever outbreak in 30 years
March 2016
Angola is grappling with a yellow fever outbreak, which has infected more than 450 people and killed 178 – the first epidemic of the disease to hit the country in 30 years.
The outbreak, which was first reported in the capital city Luanda in December 2015, has since spread to 6 of the country’s 18 provinces…

Vaccination a powerful weapon but in short supply
WHO has taken urgent action to contain this outbreak, working with the Angolan Ministry of Health and partners to vaccinate people in the affected provinces. As of 24 March 2016, WHO and partners have vaccinated 5.7 million people in Luanda against yellow fever using vaccines from the International Coordination Group emergency stockpile.

WHO has established an incident management system and deployed around 65 experts in epidemiology, vector control, community engagement and other areas to support the vaccination campaign.

WHO’s recently established Contingency Fund for Emergencies released US$500,000 to enable a rapid response to this outbreak in Angola and WHO’s African Public Health Emergency Fund has provided US$289,383. WHO has also supported the development of an emergency response plan to provide an additional US$ 3 million funds from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to cover 50% of the costs of the vaccines for the province of Luanda.

Vaccine storage
“The vaccination campaign has so far been effective. We are seeing case numbers dropping considerably, especially in Luanda. However, we have to keep going and vaccinate all the people in Luanda and the affected provinces to end this outbreak. This is an enormous job which is exhausting supplies of vaccines,” says Dr Yactayo.

Whilst concerted efforts are being made to stop the outbreak, there is a global vaccine shortage, with the emergency stockpile completely depleted. An additional 1.5 million doses are needed to vaccinate the population at risk in Luanda province alone.

With the spread of the outbreak to other provinces in Angola and increasing numbers of imported cases reported by countries in Africa, WHO requests prioritizing vaccination of people at highest risk. WHO is in discussion with manufacturers and partners to divert shipments of vaccines for national routine immunization programmes until the emergency stockpile is replenished.

Partners working with WHO and the Ministry of Health include UNICEF, CDC/Atlanta, CORE Group, Médicins Sans Frontières, Medicos del Mundo, the National Red Cross of Angola and local community based organizations…


Iraq’s 2015 response to cholera outbreak minimizes future risk
23 March 2016, Baghdad, Iraq – After the declaration of a cholera epidemic in Iraq in September 2015, and in anticipation of a potential new outbreak, WHO, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Iraq, jointly with water and sanitation and health cluster partners held a consultation today to review lessons learnt and best practices from the successful 2015 response to the outbreak. Consultations such as these will help guide cholera contingency plans for 2016 and beyond….

…The meeting focused on a number of key issues, including the need to:
:: build local capacities to scale up surveillance, case investigation and management, as well as cholera prevention and control measures
:: strengthen laboratory capacities at central, governorate, and peripheral levels to ensure early detection and confirmation of a cholera outbreak
:: enhance collaborative activities between relevant ministries and agencies, with clear roles and accountability
:: maintain strong and regular communication with the health sector and apply an intersectoral approach for the management of cholera/acute watery diarrhoea.
…Cholera is endemic in Iraq, and the outbreak, officially declared in September 2015, resulted in 4945 cases confirmed in 17 of the 18 governorates across Iraq. WHO and UNICEF supported the Ministry of Health and other partners to put in place immediate preventive and control measures that included targeting approximately 249 319 people with oral cholera vaccine in a 2-round immunization campaign for vulnerable populations in 62 refugee and internally displaced persons camps and collective centres throughout the country.


Disease Outbreak News (DONs)
:: 23 March 2016 Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China
:: 23 March 2016 Human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus – China
:: 23 March 2016 Lassa Fever – Germany
:: 23 March 2016 Lassa Fever – Togo
:: 23 March 2016 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia
:: 22 March 2016 Yellow Fever – Angola
:: 21 March 2016 Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia


:: WHO Regional Offices
WHO African Region AFRO
No new digest content identified.

WHO Region of the Americas PAHO
:: PAHO/WHO calls on countries to work together to end tuberculosis in the next 20 years (03/24/2016)
:: Sesame Street Muppets Join PAHO to Educate Families About Preventing Zika Mosquito Bites (03/23/2016)

WHO South-East Asia Region SEARO
:: Media statement – Invest in safe water to enhance public health
22 March 2016

WHO European Region EURO
:: Public Health Panorama: TB in central Asia
:: Regional workshop on the global oral polio vaccine “switch” 30–31 March 2016, Vienna, Austria

WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region EMRO
:: Iraq’s 2015 response to cholera outbreak minimizes future risk
23 March 2016

WHO Western Pacific Region
:: Stronger action and commitment needed to end tuberculosis
MANILA, 23 March 2016 – As the world observes World TB Day (24 March), the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western Pacific Region urges governments and partners to strongly support calls to action to end the burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the Region. “Sadly, tuberculosis continues to be an agonizing chapter in the public health history of the Region,” said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “We must strengthen efforts to close the book on TB for the Region’s 1.8 billion people.”

UNAIDS [to 26 March 2016]

UNAIDS [to 26 March 2016]

23 March 2016
UNAIDS calls for stronger partnerships to end the epidemics of tuberculosis and HIV
On World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, UNAIDS is calling for stronger partnerships and a united approach to end the twin epidemics of TB and HIV and save millions of lives. It has never been more urgent for governments, the medical and scientific communities, the private sector and people affected by the diseases to come together to ensure access to existing treatment regimens and to push for new diagnostic tools and treatments to reach all people in need.

“We achieve the most when we work together and use all our strengths to reach ambitious goals,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé. “Harnessing the potential of everyone involved in the response to HIV and TB is needed now more than ever to end these epidemics and create a healthier world as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

…The international community is committed to ending the epidemics of TB and HIV within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. This will be possible only by strengthening and accelerating current responses and by maximizing the contribution of all those involved through a united approach at the international, regional, national and community levels. For example, the development of new diagnostic tools, treatments and potential vaccines against HIV and TB must be speeded up, especially in response to the emergence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Most importantly, these new regimens and tools must be within reach of everyone affected by TB and HIV…

UNDP United Nations Development Programme [to 26 March 2016]

UNDP United Nations Development Programme [to 26 March 2016]

Mar 24, 2016
UNDP Climate Action Hackathon Accelerates Innovative Approaches to Provide Weather Information to Vulnerable Communities in Africa
Hackers Leverage Weather and Climate Data to Create Mobile Applications to Improve Farming Productivity and Save Lives


Mar 21, 2016
Helen Clark: Speech at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development (DIHAD) Conference – Dubai,UAE
In conclusion, this is the year when the international community must make major strides on working more effectively across what have been the humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding silos. Resources are finite, and they need to be used more effectively, particularly if the 2030 Agenda commitment to ‘leave no one behind’ is to be honored. Strengthening co-ordination across the development, humanitarian, and peacebuilding communities is the fundamental shift which is urgently needed; and there is encouraging progress. But we must do more, and quickly.

UNEP United Nations Environment Programme [to 26 March 2016]

UNEP United Nations Environment Programme [to 26 March 2016]

Renewable Energy Investments: Major Milestones Reached, New World Record Set
:: Coal and gas-fired generation attracted less than half as much capacity investment as renewables last year;
:: Renewables added more to global energy generation capacity than all other technologies combined;
:: For first time, developing world investments in renewables (up 19% in 2015) topped developed nations’ (down 8%);
:: World record total of $286 billion invested in renewables last year; makes $2.3 trillion over 12 years


Three in Four Jobs in the Global Workforce Depend on Water, says UN on World Water Day
New report shows how water drives job creation and economic growth