The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 24 August 2019

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 24 Aug 2019

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: 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  [see PDF]


Publication of The Sentinel resumes in full with this edition following annual leave by the editor/publisher.


Slavery – Anniversary

Virginia marks the dawn of American slavery in 1619 with solemn speeches and songs
The commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans 400 years ago began Saturday at Fort Monroe with the rhythm of drums.
Washington Post, August 24, 2019


UNESCO – Message from the Director-General on the occasion of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
This 23 August, we honour the memory of the men and women who, in Saint-Domingue in 1791, revolted and paved the way for the end of slavery and dehumanization. We honour their memory and that of all the other victims of slavery, for whom they stand.

The fight against trafficking and slavery is universal and ongoing. It is the reason for which UNESCO led the efforts to launch the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. This special day acknowledges the pivotal struggle of those who, subjected to the denial of their very humanity, triumphed over the slave system and affirmed the universal nature of the principles of human dignity, freedom, and equality.

The horror of slavery makes us think about and question humanity. Slavery is the product of a racist worldview which perverts all aspects of human activity. Established as a system of thought, illustrated in all manner of philosophical and artistic works, this outlook has been the basis for political, economic, and social practices of a global scope and with global consequences. It persists today in speeches and acts of violence which are anything but isolated and which are directly linked to this intellectual and political history.

To draw lessons from this history, we must lay this system bare, deconstruct the rhetorical and pseudoscientific mechanisms used to justify it; we must refuse to accept any concession or apologia which itself constitutes a compromising of principles. Such lucidity is the fundamental requirement for the reconciliation of memory and the fight against all present-day forms of enslavement, which continue to affect millions of people, particularly women and children.

The year 2019 is a particularly important one for this commemorative day. It is a time for taking stock and adopting new perspectives. It is the midpoint of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations to encourage Member States to pursue strategies for fighting racism and discrimination.

This year also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of UNESCO’s Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage. For a quarter century, the Organization has been working to help governments, universities, the media, and civil society to examine this tragic chapter in our history; to combat ignorance and the denial of a past which has nevertheless been extensively documented in written, oral, and material form; and to raise awareness of this heritage in all its complexity. The spotlight will be shone on this anniversary in Benin, where the project was launched in 1994, and where the International Scientific Committee for the Slave Route Project will be invited to look back on the work done and offer new insight into our current global circumstances.

Finally, 2019 is the year that Ghana is celebrating the Year of Return and the country’s historical ties with the African diaspora, an acknowledgement which marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in the English colony of Jamestown. All these commemorations encourage us to continue striving to put a definitive end to human exploitation and to ensure that the memory of the victims and freedom fighters remains a source of inspiration for future generation

Myanmar – Rohingya

Myanmar – Rohingya

Rohingya crisis: Rallies mark two years of exile in Bangladesh
BBC, 25 August 2019
Tens of thousands of Rohingya held demonstrations inside their refugee camps in Bangladesh on Sunday, two years after their exodus.
Nearly 750,000 fled their native Rakhine state in Myanmar in August 2017 as a violent crackdown on the ethnic group surged.
On Thursday, Bangladesh set up a voluntary return scheme – but not a single Rohingya decided to leave.
They are calling for Myanmar to grant them citizenship before they return…


61 NGOs warn of worsening crisis in Myanmar, call for refugees’ engagement on safe, voluntary returns
Joint Statement
Two years after mass atrocities in Myanmar forced more than 740,000 people to flee for their lives, the Government and the people of Bangladesh continue to generously host nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees. While UN agencies and over 130 local, national, and international NGOs have supported the Government of Bangladesh to provide life-sustaining assistance, refugees require much more than basic support for survival; they need their rights, security and dignity. Many long to return but fear further violence and persecution back home.

Refugees report feeling fearful and anxious following recent reports about possible expedited repatriation to Myanmar in the current conditions which do not guarantee their safety and rights. Current levels of engagement do not afford them their right to make informed decisions about their future, including voluntary return.

Worsening Conditions in Rakhine State (Myanmar)
Discriminatory policies in Myanmar mean that Rohingya communities in Rakhine State continue to face severe movement restrictions, as well as limited access to education, healthcare, and livelihoods opportunities. Some 128,000 displaced Rohingya and other Muslim communities have remained trapped in confined camps in central Rakhine State since 2012, unable to return home.

Since April 2017, the Government of Myanmar has taken initial steps towards the “closure” of some of these camps for internally displaced people in Rakhine State. New structures have been built on or next to existing sites, but there has been no meaningful progress on freedom of movement or human rights. Consultation with displaced communities is limited, and they remain unable to return to their original communities or another location of choice. Achieving durable solutions requires that the Myanmar government address the fundamental issues of equal rights and ensure that all communities in Rakhine State can live in safety, access basic services and pursue livelihoods opportunities.

The conditions in Myanmar are not conducive to the Rohingya refugees’ return at this time. As a recent report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found, not only have preparations for return been minimal, but authorities continue to raze Rohingya villages to make room for military bases and potential repatriation camps. The recent upsurge in violence has worsened the already precarious humanitarian situation in central and northern Rakhine State.

Striving for Dignity in Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh)
For the past two years, Rohingya refugees have remained dependent on humanitarian aid in the camps in Cox’s Bazar. The collective efforts of the humanitarian community under the leadership of the Government of Bangladesh have improved camp conditions, strengthened monsoon preparedness and helped prevent disease outbreaks.

Yet, living conditions in the camps remain dire, with growing concerns about safety and security. Gender-based violence and restricted freedom of movement increase the risks faced by refugee women and girls. Persons with disabilities and serious medical conditions experience barriers in accessing essential services. With shrinking funds[1] and continued restrictions on refugees’ access to education and livelihoods, the crisis is likely to worsen.

The Government of Bangladesh and generous residents of Teknaf and Ukhiya Upazilas in Cox’s Bazar were the first responders when refugees arrived in Bangladesh in August 2017. Today, some 500,000 Bangladeshis living near the camps continue to bear the socio-economic and environmental impact of the influx, amidst growing tensions with refugees over limited resources and services.

The international community must respond and stand beside Bangladesh to deliver a well-funded response that will improve living conditions and allow refugees and host communities to live in dignity.

NGOs in Bangladesh and Myanmar committed to providing assistance, but call for critical action by all parties
In response to the current crisis, we, the undersigned national and international organizations in Bangladesh and Myanmar, remain committed to providing assistance and protecting the rights of refugees, stateless, internally displaced persons and host communities until appropriate solutions to their displacement within and outside Myanmar are identified, including safe and voluntary repatriation.

We urge all parties to:
:: Ensure meaningful participation of Rohingya in decision making processes about their future: In light of ongoing discussions to expedite returns, the Rohingya must be meaningfully engaged by the Governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh in any discussions and decision making about their future (including their safe and voluntary return) through an inclusive process involving children, youth, women, elderly and persons with disabilities.

:: Respect Rohingya’s human rights in Myanmar: We call on the Government of Myanmar to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State by implementing the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations and create the conditions necessary to end Rohingya’s displacement while respecting each refugee’s right to make a free, informed decision about their return. This must also reflect calls by Rohingya communities for justice and accountability, citizenship, protection of civilians, freedom of movement, as well as non-discrimination and sustained access for humanitarian organizations, independent journalists and media in Rakhine State, in line with international standards. We urge the international community to support these efforts, by condemning past and ongoing violence in Myanmar and call on the Government of Myanmar to ensure full respect for human rights.

:: Support Rohingya’s inclusive access to education, livelihoods and protection: We call for the creation of an enabling environment for Rohingya on both sides of the border to access rights and services, such as education, skills training and livelihoods. We urge both governments to reduce the vulnerability of Rohingya and host communities by strengthening protection systems and access to justice for all. We appeal to the international community to fully fund the 2019 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis and the 2019 Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan to ensure uninterrupted, life-sustaining services to IDPs, refugees and host communities.

Identify medium/long-term solutions: We call on the international community to identify appropriate solutions to the Rohingya’s displacement within and outside Myanmar while continuing to support the Government of Bangladesh, progressively implementing the commitments of the Global Compact on Refugees on self-reliance and responsibility-sharing and pursuing a regional solutions approach to address the needs of displaced and host communities.

Signatory list here

Venezuela; Nicaragua; Columbia

Governance – OAS :: Venezuela; Nicaragua

OAS Permanent Council to Analyze Political and Social Crisis in Nicaragua and to Discuss Resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Venezuela
Organization of American States August 23, 2019
Please consult the agenda of the meeting here. Note that changes to the agenda may yet be made before the meeting. The meeting will be broadcast live at Wednesday, August 28 at 10:00 EDT (14:00 GMT) – with interpretation in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese- on the OAS Website and the OAS Facebook page


Statelessness – Columbia/Venezuela

UNICEF welcomes Government of Colombia decision to prevent statelessness for thousands of children born in Colombia to Venezuelan parents
PANAMA, 6 August 2019 – UNICEF welcomes the decision of the Government of Colombia to grant Colombian nationality to more than 24,000 children born to Venezuelan parents who have been in the country since August 2015. This decision is an essential guarantor of children’s rights and will help to mitigate the risks associated with statelessness.

The exceptional and temporary administrative measure allows children born in Colombia to Venezuelan parents since August 19, 2015 to have Colombian nationality listed in their Civil Birth Registry.

“This measure sets a strong example in guaranteeing the rights of uprooted children and we salute it as a milestone in the prevention of statelessness for children worldwide,” said María Cristina Perceval, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We encourage other countries in the region supporting children and families from Venezuela, to continue taking measures that guarantee the rights and integral protection of migrant children and their families,” she added…

Statement by Inger Andersen on the ongoing fires in the Amazon rainforest -UNEP

Heritage Stewardship

Statement by Inger Andersen on the ongoing fires in the Amazon rainforest
23 Aug 2019
Statement Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme

The ongoing fires in the Amazon rainforest are a harsh reminder of the environmental crises facing the world – of climate, of biodiversity and of pollution.

We cannot afford more damage to this precious natural resource, which is home to 33 million people – including 420 indigenous communities -, 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species and more than 370 types of reptiles. The Amazon, alongside other major forests such as the Congo Basin and Indonesian rainforests, is a natural defense against global warming due to its ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Sustainably managing it will be a critical part of reversing the damage already done. Failure to halt the damage will have severe impacts on human health and livelihoods, decimating rich biodiversity and leaving the world more exposed to the climate crises and yet more disasters.

The UN Environment Programme stands ready to work with Member States – including Brazil – in responding to this present crisis and in support of their efforts to meet the ambitious targets of the Paris Agreement. Brazil has a long tradition of action to protect the Amazon and we will continue to work with the Government and people of Brazil, providing the science, tools and assessments to guide evidence-based policy, convening Member States to address pressing environmental challenges, and advocating on behalf of the Amazon and other forests across the world.

At the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit this September, we will join Member States, UN colleagues, the private sector and civil society in calling for stronger protections for the earth’s forests and for the environmental defenders who spend their lives working to save these resources.

We urge Member States to come together and take necessary measures to extinguish the ongoing fires, to prevent further fires from being started and to protect the Amazon for the benefit of Brazil and the world.

Worsening Water Quality Reducing Economic Growth by a Third in Some Countries: World Bank

Water – Stewardship

Worsening Water Quality Reducing Economic Growth by a Third in Some Countries: World Bank
WASHINGTON, August 20, 2019 – The world faces an invisible crisis of water quality that is eliminating one-third of potential economic growth in heavily polluted areas and threatening human and environmental well-being, according to a World Bank report released today.

Quality Unknown: The Invisible Water Crisis shows, with new data and methods, how a combination of bacteria, sewage, chemicals, and plastics can suck oxygen from water supplies and transform water into poison for people and ecosystems. To shed light on the issue, the World Bank assembled the world’s largest database on water quality gathered from monitoring stations, remote sensing technology, and machine learning.

The report finds that a lack of clean water limits economic growth by one-third. It calls for immediate global, national, and local-level attention to these dangers which face both developed and developing countries.

“Clean water is a key factor for economic growth. Deteriorating water quality is stalling economic growth, worsening health conditions, reducing food production, and exacerbating poverty in many countries.” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Their governments must take urgent actions to help tackle water pollution so that countries can grow faster in equitable and environmentally sustainable ways.”

When Biological Oxygen Demand – a measure of how much organic pollution is in water and a proxy measure of overall water quality – crosses a certain threshold, GDP growth in downstream regions drops by as much as a third because of impacts on health, agriculture, and ecosystems.

A key contributor to poor water quality is nitrogen, which, applied as fertilizer in agriculture, eventually enters rivers, lakes and oceans where it transforms into nitrates. Early exposure of children to nitrates affects their growth and brain development, impacting their health and adult earning potential. The run-off and release into water from every additional kilogram of nitrogen fertilizer per hectare can increase the level of childhood stunting by as much as 19 percent and reduce future adult earnings by as much as 2 percent, compared to those who are not exposed.

The report also finds that as salinity in water and soil increases due to more intense droughts, storm surges and rising water extraction, agricultural yields fall. The world is losing enough food to saline water each year to feed 170 million people.

The report recommends a set of actions that countries can take to improve water quality. These include: environmental policies and standards; accurate monitoring of pollution loads; effective enforcement systems; water treatment infrastructure supported with incentives for private investment; and reliable, accurate information disclosure to households to inspire citizen engagement.

Note: The report, which was funded in part by the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership, a Multi-Donor Trust Fund based at the World Bank’s Water Global Practice, is available for download here:

Muslims must take action on climate crisis to preserve holy pilgrimage

Heritage Stewardship – Religious Observance/Climate Change

Muslims must take action on climate crisis to preserve holy pilgrimage
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Published: 22 August, 2019
Following scientific research released today calculating that rising temperatures will make it too dangerous for Muslims to perform hajj, Islamic Relief is calling for urgent action on climate change before it is too late.

In a new article published by the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, scientists show that rising temperatures mean holy pilgrimage to Mecca is likely to become hazardous to human health. Islamic Relief has now come together with the scientists to draw attention to the severity of the crisis.

Every year, millions of Muslims travel to Mecca to perform hajj, one of the major pillars of Islam. Two million pilgrims pray outdoors and walk great distances to perform religious rites in already high temperatures.

Through the analysis of historical climate models and past data, scientists project that should the world’s emissions continue in a business-as-usual scenario, temperatures in Mecca will rise to a level that the human body cannot cope with from as early as next year. But crucially, mitigating climate change through reducing emissions could limit the severity of these temperatures.

Conditions will be particularly severe when hajj falls within the summer months. Because Islam follows a lunar calendar, the dates for hajj change each year, and for five to seven years at a time, the trip falls over summer, when temperatures soar.

Hajj temperatures could rise to dangerous levels from 2020
According to the research, as soon as next year, summer days in Saudi Arabia could surpass the “extreme danger heat-stress threshold.” When skin temperature reaches this level – and combined with a certain level of humidity in the air – sweat no longer evaporates efficiently, so the body can no longer cool itself and overheats.

Pilgrims who travel to hajj are already at risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke which can be fatal, with the elderly and vulnerable most at risk.

Through calculating how climate change is likely to impact conditions in Saudi Arabia in the future, the researchers estimate that heat and humidity levels during hajj will exceed the extreme danger threshold:
:: 6% of the time by 2020;
:: 20% of the time from 2045 and 2053;
:: 42% of the time between 2079 and 2086.

These years are when hajj falls within the summer months making conditions more severe…

It’s now or never to tackle climate crisis

Islamic Relief is urging the Muslim community to step up and take action on this climate emergency by raising the issue with governments and policy makers. In the UK for example, we are calling on Muslims to highlight this devastating finding to their Member of Parliament and call on them to urge immediate action by the government in enacting policies that can reduce climate change…