The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 25 August 2018

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
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

PDF – The Sentinel_ period ending 25 Aug 2018

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals

Spiralling violence puts millions at risk in Ebola-hit eastern DRC


Spiralling violence puts millions at risk in Ebola-hit eastern DRC
24 Aug 2018
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is alarmed by the latest escalation of violence in already volatile and Ebola-hit North Kivu province in east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The cumulative effect of conflict and the outbreak of the deadly disease is threatening millions of Congolese.

The fighting involving a number of armed groups operating in the area has intensified in all six territories in North Kivu, a province bordering Rwanda and Uganda. Thousands of civilians have fled their burned out villages, bringing reports of brutal attacks. The already dire humanitarian situation has been further aggravated by an outbreak of Ebola virus in parts of the province. The disease has killed more than 60 people and infected dozens more in recent weeks.

Forced displacement in this part of the country remains massive. It is estimated that more than a million people are displaced in North Kivu. This is the highest concentration of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the DRC. An estimated half a million people have been forced from their homes this year alone.

UNHCR is particularly worried about the deteriorating situation in the Ebola-hit northern territory of Beni. The area is home to some 1.3 million people. Spiralling conflict has left the population living there virtually in a state of siege since October 2017. Reports of increased human rights violations and restrictions of humanitarian access are frequent. Estimates are that more than 100 armed groups are active in the province, continually terrorizing the population. Despite a large-scale military offensive of the Congolese Army against one of the main rebel groups, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) since January, there has been no let-up in the violence.

Despite security challenges, a UNHCR team accessed the area north of Beni earlier this month and conducted humanitarian assessments in Oicha and Eringeti districts. Residents told our staff about brutal attacks against the civilians carried out with machetes. Stories of massacres, extortion, forced displacement and other human rights violations are frequent.

Sexual and gender-based violence is rampant across the Beni territory. Many children are being recruited as child soldiers. The violence is particularly rampant in the so-called “triangle of death,” between the towns of Eringeti, Mbau and Kamango, on the Uganda-DRC border, as well as in the towns of Beni, Oicha and Mavivi.

UNHCR teams witnessed empty villages, countless torched and abandoned houses, as well as burnt cars. Those who fled found shelter mostly in Beni and Oicha, where both host and displaced communities fall prey to brutal and unpredictable attacks. Beni town hosts more than 32,000 displaced people, with the majority forced to live with host families or in schools or churches. More than two thirds have been forced to flee in the last three months.

UNHCR teams found the vulnerable displaced indigenous communities to be in some of the most critical situations. Forced out of their areas of origin in the forests, their living conditions in makeshift sites are abysmal. Families are sleeping rough, barely protected from the elements by their flimsy shelters. They have few or no means of survival as they can no longer hunt in the forests, now under the control of armed groups. There’s a genuine risk of these people losing their culture and way of life.

UNHCR is scaling up its capacity in North Kivu to respond to the growing humanitarian needs. We are arranging additional emergency shelters and other humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of the displaced in Beni. While UNHCR’s humanitarian response is continuing despite the outbreak of Ebola, the prevailing security situation and drastic funding shortfall severely hamper our efforts. UNHCR’s DRC 2018 appeal totalling USD 201 million is only 17 per cent funded.

UNHCR and IOM Chiefs Call for More Support as the Outflow of Venezuelans Rises Across the Region

Governance – Venezuela

UNHCR and IOM Chiefs Call for More Support as the Outflow of Venezuelans Rises Across the Region
Geneva – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and the Director General of the United Nations Migration Agency, IOM, William Lacy Swing appealed for greater support from the international community to the countries and communities in the region receiving a growing number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. With an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans living abroad, more than 1.6 million have left the country since 2015, 90 per cent of them to countries within South America.

Grandi and Swing commended States in the region for generously hosting Venezuelan nationals arriving at their borders. They nonetheless expressed concern over several recent developments affecting refugees and migrants from Venezuela. These include new passport and border entry requirements in Ecuador and Peru, as well as changes to the temporary stay permits for Venezuelans in Peru.

“We recognise the growing challenges associated with the large scale arrival of Venezuelans. It remains critical that any new measures continue to allow those in need of international protection to access safety and seek asylum,” stressed Grandi.

“We commend the efforts already made by receiving countries to provide Venezuelans with security, support and assistance. We trust that these demonstrations of solidarity will continue in the future,” said IOM´s Director General, Ambassador Swing, in Geneva Thursday.

Of particular concern are the most vulnerable—such as adolescent boys and girls, women, people trying to reunite with their families and unaccompanied and separated children who are unlikely to be able to meet documentation requirements and will therefore be placed at further risk of exploitation, trafficking and violence.

UNHCR, IOM, UN agencies and other partners are working in support of national responses by governments in the region to this complex human mobility and protection situation. This current situation underlines the urgent need to increase international engagement and solidarity in support of the governments’ response plans and addressing the most pressing humanitarian needs, in order to assure that those are met, safe transit is guaranteed and social and economic integration can be provided in line with larger development strategies.

Following the commitments of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, timely and predictable support by the international community is needed for fairer sharing of responsibilities and to complement the efforts of host countries.


Venezuela: General Secretariat Urges Countries to Ignore Extradition Requests from the Dictatorship
August 21. 2018
The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (GS/OAS) calls on the competent authorities of the hemisphere to ignore all attempted acts by the illegitimate supreme court of justice operating in Caracas under the dictatorial regime, and in particular to dismiss extradition requests made by this body as contrary to the law.

Today the only democratic institutions in Venezuela due to their constitutional origin, their composition in accordance with constitutional procedures and their functions are: the National Assembly (a result of the elections of December 2015); the legitimate Supreme Court of Justice (in exile and whose magistrates were designated by the National Assembly); and the Attorney General (also in exile and illegitimately dismissed by the fraudulent National Constituent Assembly.)

Only the acts of these three institutions have the legitimacy and legality that demand compliance by all state entities in Venezuela, and their validation by the Inter-American and international community.

Venezuela is a dictatorship, the National Constituent Assembly was elected through fraud, and the Executive Power and the Electoral Power have illegitimate origins and the procedures for the composition of their highest magistrates have been either unconstitutional or fraudulent.

In addition to principles and values, there is a need to translate the legal and political consequences of the breakdown of the institutional order in Venezuela into practice.

In recent days we have witnessed spurious extradition requests made by the illegitimate supreme court of justice of the dictatorship headed by its illegal president Maikel Moreno.

These “extradition requests” linked to the alleged attack against Nicolás Maduro are flawed and should be ignored by the international community because the body that issues them is fraudulent, its members are impostors, and their positions illegal.

Optimal Targeting under Budget Constraints in a Humanitarian Context

Humanitarian Response – Budget Constraint Strategies

Optimal Targeting under Budget Constraints in a Humanitarian Context
World Bank – Policy Research Working Paper 8191 :: 25 pages
Chiara Gigliarano, Paolo Verme
The combination of conflict, food insecurity, and displacement generates competing claims for financial resources that stretch the donors’ ability to provide funding and the humanitarian organizations’ capacity to provide social assistance. The paper uses Receiver Operating Characteristic curves and related indexes to determine the optimal targeting strategy of a food voucher program for refugees.

The estimations focus on the 2014 food vouchers administered by the World Food Programme to Syrian refugees in Jordan. The analysis uses data collected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Based on a poverty model, Receiver Operating Characteristic curves are used to optimize coverage and leakage rates under budget constraints. The paper shows how policy makers can use these instruments to fine-tune targeting using coverage rates, budgets, or poverty lines as guiding principles to increase the overall efficiency of a program. As humanitarian organizations operate under increasing budget constraints and increasing demands for efficiency, the proposed approach addresses both concerns.

The Policy Research Working Paper Series disseminates the findings of work in progress to encourage the exchange of ideas about development issues. An objective of the series is to get the findings out quickly, even if the presentations are less than fully polished. The papers carry the names of the authors and should be cited accordingly. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/World Bank and its affiliated organizations, or those of the Executive Directors of the World Bank or the governments they represent.


New Study Looks at How to Optimally Target Humanitarian Assistance When Budgets are Stretched – World Bank
Date: August 23, 2018 Type: Publication
As violent conflict surges, the world today faces multiple related crises – from forced displacement to food insecurity – that are driving up the need for humanitarian assistance. Yet budgets remain constrained, and humanitarian organizations are increasingly being forced to make tough choices, having to target resources as universal coverage of assistance programs becomes the exception rather than the rule.

In such situations, improving targeting can make the difference between life and death for some displaced people, says a new World Bank working paper, Optimal Targeting under Budget Constraints in a Humanitarian Context.

The paper aims to contribute to making targeting more effective when budgets are stretched. It utilizes Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curves and related indices to devise a methodology for optimizing coverage, poverty reduction and leakage, focusing on social protection programs (cash transfers).

The proposed methodology can be used when policy makers work with coverage, poverty or budget targets. It looks at questions such as: (i) What is the budget required to reduce poverty (or mitigate famine) by X percent? (ii) What is the budget required to increase household coverage by Y percent? (iii) What is the coverage or poverty reduction we can obtain with a given Z budget? (iv) Can the program’s efficiency be improved by shifting the poverty line? The answers can help donors take funding decisions and humanitarian organizations make targeting choices.

As a case study, the paper uses the food voucher program administered by the World Food Programme (WFP) to Syrian refugees in Jordan in 2014, to show how this method can be applied, relying on available micro data collected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The paper cautions that this method cannot be applied in all contexts. Quality micro data is not always available and outcomes such as nutrition levels may be more important than poverty reduction in emergency situations.

But all humanitarian operations with budget limitations that use cash or food vouchers as a form of social protection face the same targeting challenges, and operations may need to rely on less accurate targeting criteria.

“As we work with UNHCR and partners to improve the quality of micro data, this paper implicitly shows that collecting income or consumption data can also lead to improvements in the measurement of outcomes and in the effectiveness of targeting,” said co-author Paul Verme, World Bank lead economist.

World Bank Prices First Global Blockchain Bond, Raising A$110 Million

Development – Disruptive Technologies

World Bank Prices First Global Blockchain Bond, Raising A$110 Million
[Editor’s text bolding]
WASHINGTON/SYDNEY, August 23/24, 2018 – The World Bank launched bond-i (blockchain operated new debt instrument), the world’s first bond to be created, allocated, transferred and managed through its life cycle using distributed ledger technology. The two-year bond raised A$110 million, marking the first time that investors have supported the World Bank’s development activities in a transaction that is fully managed using the blockchain technology.

The World Bank mandated Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) as arranger for the bond on August 10. The announcement was followed by a two-week consultation period with the market, with key investors indicating strong support for the issuance.

Investors in the bond include CBA, First State Super, NSW Treasury Corporation, Northern Trust, QBE, SAFA, and Treasury Corporation of Victoria. CBA and the World Bank will continue to welcome investor interest in the bond throughout its life cycle, and inquiries from other market participants in relation to the platform.

The bond is part of a broader strategic focus of the World Bank to harness the potential of disruptive technologies for development. In June 2017, the World Bank launched a Blockchain Innovation Lab to understand the impact of blockchain and other disruptive technologies in areas such as land administration, supply chain management, health, education, cross-border payments, and carbon market trading.

Arunma Oteh, World Bank Treasurer, said: “I am delighted that this pioneer bond transaction using the distributed ledger technology, bond-i, was extremely well received by investors. We are particularly impressed with the breath of interest from official institutions, fund managers, and banks. We were no doubt successful in moving from concept to reality because these high-quality investors understood the value of leveraging technology for innovation in capital markets…

Evaluation of a mobile approach to gender-based violence service delivery among Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Featured Journal Content – GBV Services Delivery

Health Policy and Planning
Volume 33, Issue 7, 1 September 2018,
Original Articles
Evaluation of a mobile approach to gender-based violence service delivery among Syrian refugees in Lebanon
Pamela Lilleston []; Liliane Winograd; Spogmay Ahmed; Dounia Salamé; Dayana Al Alam …
Health Policy and Planning, Volume 33, Issue 7, 1 September 2018, Pages 767–776,
As the landscape of humanitarian response shifts from camp-based to urban- and informal-tented settlement-based responses, service providers and policymakers must consider creative modes for delivering health services. Psychosocial support and case management can be life-saving services for refugee women and girls who are at increased risk for physical, sexual and psychological gender-based violence (GBV). However, these services are often unavailable in non-camp refugee settings. We evaluated an innovative mobile service delivery model for GBV response and mitigation implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Lebanon. In October 2015, we conducted in-depth interviews with IRC staff (n=11), Syrian refugee women (n=40) and adolescent girls (n=26) to explore whether the mobile services meet the support needs of refugees and uphold international standards for GBV service delivery. Recruitment was conducted via purposive sampling. Data were analysed using deductive and inductive approaches in NVivo. Findings suggest that by providing free, flexible service delivery in women’s own communities, the mobile model overcame barriers that limited women’s and girls’ access to essential services, including transportation, checkpoints, cost and gendered expectations around mobility and domestic responsibilities. Participants described the services as strengthening social networks, reducing feelings of idleness and isolation, and increasing knowledge and self-confidence. Results indicate that the model requires skilled, creative staff who can assess community readiness for activities, quickly build trust and ensure confidentiality in contexts of displacement and disruption. Referring survivors to legal and medical services was challenging in a context with limited access to quality services. The IRC’s mobile service delivery model is a promising approach for accessing hard-to-reach refugee populations with critical GBV services.

A monumental cemetery built by eastern Africa’s first herders near Lake Turkana, Kenya

Featured Journal Content – Heritage Stewardship

PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States
of America
[Accessed 25 Aug 2018]
A monumental cemetery built by eastern Africa’s first herders near Lake Turkana, Kenya
Elisabeth A. Hildebrand, Katherine M. Grillo, Elizabeth A. Sawchuk, Susan K. Pfeiffer, Lawrence B. Conyers, Steven T. Goldstein, Austin Chad Hill, Anneke Janzen, Carla E. Klehm, Mark Helper, Purity Kiura, Emmanuel Ndiema, Cecilia Ngugi, John J. Shea, and Hong Wang
PNAS August 20, 2018. 201721975; published ahead of print August 20, 2018.
Archaeologists have long sought monumental architecture’s origins among societies that were becoming populous, sedentary, and territorial. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, dispersed pastoralists pioneered monumental construction. Eastern Africa’s earliest monumental site was built by the region’s first herders ∼5,000–4,300 y ago as the African Humid Period ended and Lake Turkana’s shoreline receded. Lothagam North Pillar Site was a massive communal cemetery with megalithic pillars, stone circles, cairns, and a mounded platform accommodating an estimated several hundred burials. Its mortuary cavity held individuals of mixed ages/sexes, with diverse adornments. Burial placement and ornamentation do not suggest social hierarchy. Amidst profound landscape changes and the socioeconomic uncertainties of a moving pastoral frontier, monumentality was an important unifying force for eastern Africa’s first herders.

Monumental architecture is a prime indicator of social complexity, because it requires many people to build a conspicuous structure commemorating shared beliefs. Examining monumentality in different environmental and economic settings can reveal diverse reasons for people to form larger social units and express unity through architectural display. In multiple areas of Africa, monumentality developed as mobile herders created large cemeteries and practiced other forms of commemoration. The motives for such behavior in sparsely populated, unpredictable landscapes may differ from well-studied cases of monumentality in predictable environments with sedentary populations. Here we report excavations and ground-penetrating radar surveys at the earliest and most massive monumental site in eastern Africa. Lothagam North Pillar Site was a communal cemetery near Lake Turkana (northwest Kenya) constructed 5,000 years ago by eastern Africa’s earliest pastoralists. Inside a platform ringed by boulders, a 119.5-m2 mortuary cavity accommodated an estimated minimum of 580 individuals. People of diverse ages and both sexes were buried, and ornaments accompanied most individuals. There is no evidence for social stratification. The uncertainties of living on a “moving frontier” of early herding—exacerbated by dramatic environmental shifts—may have spurred people to strengthen social networks that could provide information and assistance. Lothagam North Pillar Site would have served as both an arena for interaction and a tangible reminder of shared identity.