The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 22 February 2020 :: Number 306

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 22 Feb 2020

:: 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]

Recent Developments in Northwest Syria – Flash Update No. 8 – As of 20 February 2020


OCHA – Syria
Recent Developments in Northwest Syria – Flash Update No. 8 – As of 20 February 2020
[Editor’s text bolding]
:: The humanitarian crisis for people in northwest Syria continues to reach new and dire levels. Some 900,000 people have been displaced since 1 December, exceeding worst case planning figures by the humanitarian community.
:: Indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas continue to drive people from their homes and destroy vital services, including hospitals, markets, and schools. Cold weather has made the situation worse.
:: The frontlines in northwest Syria are rapidly moving closer to densely populated areas, with bombardments increasingly affecting IDP sites and their vicinity.

The humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria has reached a horrifying level with almost 900,000 people displaced since 1 December. The majority of women, men, girls and boys who fled their homes to escape indiscriminate attacks moved to northwestern Idleb governorate, a small area already hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

The entire population of the Idleb area, estimated at 3 million people prior to the latest wave of violence, is increasingly concentrated in this small area along the Turkey-Syria border with no other place to go to find safety.

Since 1 December, some 300 communities changed control, rapidly bringing the frontlines closer to areas that are densely populated. People from those communities are those who fled. Places previously considered safe by civilians are now coming under fire. On 14 and 15 February, one person was killed, and many others were injured when two IDP sites were hit in Dana sub-district. These locations received some 267,000 displaced people recently and was home to more than 712,000 people prior to the latest wave of violence. Nevertheless, people from areas such as Atareb and Daret Azza, now at the frontlines, continue to flee further into northwest Idleb and northern Aleppo governorates as heavy bombardment impact their communities. According to OHCHR, some 300 people were killed in Idleb and Aleppo due to hostilities from 1 January to 18 February, many of them women and children.

Some 330,000 of the almost 900,000 people who displaced since 1 December fled to areas in northern Aleppo governorate such as Afrin, A’zaz and Al Bab. However, the freedom of movement of civilians from Idleb to northern Aleppo is increasingly at threat. As bombardment extended to the Daret Azza area, the roads leading to one of the two crossings between the Idleb area and northern Aleppo governorate reportedly came under fire, making it extremely dangerous for civilians to move via this route. Despite the announcement of two additional crossings between areas controlled by non-state armed groups and the Government of Syria opening near Mezanaz and Saraqab, and the relative decline of military activity in proximity of two others in Abu Thohur and al Hader, there is no information that people used these crossings to leave the Idleb area.

Nonetheless, some 1,040 people reportedly moved from the Idleb area to areas under the control of the Government of Syria since 1 December, Humanitarian actors are increasing their readiness for potential further movement of people. Some 1,000 people recently displaced from northwest Syria, reportedly arrived in Ar-Raqqa city where they are receiving assistance at collective shelters.

The delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Idleb area is susceptible to the impact of military activity. Humanitarian transshipments via the Bab al Hawa crossing that provides a lifeline to Idleb were suspended temporarily on 11 February when hostilities intensified. Regular transshipments resumed the following day, truck drivers from inside the Idleb area were reticent to separate from their families given the volatility of the situation. Prior to the most recent wave of violence and displacement, an estimated 1.9 million people were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance in the Idleb area.

Indiscriminate attacks continue to damage or destroy vital civilian infrastructure, including hospitals. On 17 February, two hospitals in Daret Azza town were reportedly damaged by airstrikes and put out of service. These hospitals providing some 14,000 outpatient consultations, facilities for hundreds of safe deliveries, surgeries and hemodialysis sessions. According to OHCHR, 10 medical facilities and 19 educational facilities were either directly hit or affected by strikes close by since 1 January in northwest Syria.

Harsh winter conditions further aggravate the suffering of these vulnerable people who fled their homes to escape the violence, most of whom have been displaced multiple times over nine years of conflict. Almost 170,000 of those newly displaced people are estimated to be living in the open or in unfinished buildings while some 284,000 are staying in camps already over-stretched beyond capacity or in makeshift camps where they set up individual tents with no basic services such as latrines. Many people have resorted to burning whatever they can spare such as extra clothes, pieces of furniture or materials they scavenged that let out toxic fumes.

In light of the scale of this dire humanitarian situation, humanitarian actors on the ground continue to leverage all efforts to scale up. However, people’s needs are so vast, with the current resources it is a struggle to meet their needs which grow exponentially despite all humanitarian efforts. As people’s humanitarian needs becoming more severe by the hour, humanitarian workers, who are the backbones of the emergency response, are displaced themselves with their families and struggle to support their loved ones. Many humanitarian NGOs had to leave behind equipment as they displaced with the people they were supporting. Humanitarian assets, warehouses and offices were left behind. Humanitarian activities planned in areas which changed control or close to the frontlines can no longer be carried out.

Some $30 million USD has been dispersed by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for the emergency, and an additional emergency allocation of $40 million USD from the Syria Cross-Border Humanitarian Fund (SCHF) is under process. The humanitarian community estimated that $336 million USD was needed to support some 800,000 people until July 2020 to meet the needs. This inter-cluster plan is under revision as more people are now affected.


A shameful response to the tragedy of Idlib
Financial Times – Editorial
Friday, 21 Feb 2020

What the UN describes as the worst humanitarian catastrophe of Syria’s nine-year-old civil war is unfolding in Idlib. The north-western province is the last redoubt of the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has launched a vicious offensive to recapture it, backed by Russian warplanes and Iranian-supplied fighters.

Roughly 1m people, a third of Idlib’s population — half of whom have been displaced several times already — are fleeing from a campaign of terror that deliberately targets civilians.

Turkey, which has 12 military “observation posts” in Idlib as part of a “de-escalation” accord with Russia in 2018, and has lost troops to regime shelling in recent weeks, is poised to go on the offensive against the Assads. That will not only set Ankara on a collision course with Moscow but aggravate the already appalling conditions Idlib’s people are enduring.

Syria’s pitiless conflict has killed half a million people. It has displaced half the prewar population of 22m, about 6m of them abroad. This new wave of refugees, pressed up against the Turkish frontier to the west and crammed into two north-west Syrian enclaves Turkey seized in 2016 and 2018, is set to become the biggest of the war.

That risks reviving Europe’s 2015-16 “migrant” crisis that turbocharged populist xenophobia. Russia is well aware of this, using it as leverage to frighten the EU into reconciling with Assad rule and stumping up funds to resurrect Syria from the rubble. Turkey is already host to 3.6m Syrian refugees, and part-subsidised by the EU to keep them. It periodically threatens to reopen routes north into Europe for fleeing Syrians — unless it wins support for the buffer zone it is building across northern Syria against the Kurds.

Idlib distils every intractable element that deterred the US and Europe from backing an initially broad-based rebellion against tyranny, before it was hijacked by jihadi extremists.

There are some 20,000 jihadi fighters linked to al-Qaeda in Idlib. But there are also 3m civilians. They have run out of places to run to, and their children are freezing to death in sub-zero temperatures. They face the bombing of hospitals and schools, markets and bakeries — the war criminal’s handbook the Assad regime and its patrons have written in blood. Syrian and Russian air forces have destroyed more than 50 medical facilities in Idlib, such that doctors have stopped providing the coordinates that were supposed to protect them and have, in some cases literally, gone underground.

Idlib, one of the first cities to rise up against the Assads, has been a pivot of a horrendous war that has saved the worst for last. The regime and its sponsors always intended to make it the final killing field in this catalogue of horror. The strategic logic of the Idlib offensive — to recapture two arterial highways from Damascus to Aleppo and from the coast to the east — pales alongside the primeval urge to liquidate all opposition. It should be remembered that when Russia came to the Assads’ rescue in 2015, it did not go after Isis or al-Qaeda. It relentlessly targeted mainstream rebels.

Western response to the tragedy is shameful. Russia has used its veto at the UN Security Council to shield Syria 14 times in 2011-19, often backed by China. But the US is an onlooker and Europe nowhere to be seen. The west has things that Russia (and Iran) want, including relief from sanctions and help to rebuild Syria. President Vladimir Putin needs to be confronted — with the evidence of Russia’s war crimes — before Idlib turns into a bloodbath and more millions of helpless Syrians are scattered to the winds

UN uses tech start-up to help war victims design peace deal – Remesh

UN uses tech start-up to help war victims design peace deal
Financial Times
Thursday, 20 Feb 2020

UN peacemakers are to start using mass online conversations to try to understand what people living in war zones want from peace agreements.

The new technology — which could be used in countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan and Ukraine — has been developed by UN officials working with the New York start-up Remesh and will be rolled out within the next year.

People invited to take part in a mass conversation can answer questions and respond to polls on their smartphones and their responses are analysed in real time to try to present insights to the UN team.
Fabrizio Hochschild, the UN under-secretary-general responsible for digital co-operation, said he wanted to broaden negotiations beyond “the interests of ten men — and usually always they are men — sitting in a room with a UN mediator in between”.

He said the aim was to have a new system which “really reflects the aspirations of those most affected by conflict”.

While more than $27bn is spent each year on peacebuilding initiatives around the world, based on a UN estimate, as many as two-thirds of these actually do not lead to any durable resolution. Instead, conflicts are often resumed two or three times after an agreement is signed.

Several academic studies have shown that wider consultation is key to ensuring the success of any peace deal, but gauging sentiment is difficult because viewpoints and goals shift as conflicts evolve.
Remesh said its platform was a “real-time” dialogue, carried out with simultaneous translation.

“You could think of it as just a really, really fancy AI-powered conversation platform,” said Andrew Konya, founder of Remesh. “It could serve as a way for the mediator to interact directly and have a conversation with the population . . . so they would know whether what they were working on resonated.”

The main challenge is in finding people to engage with, and persuading them to do so. The UN said it would issue both online and physical invitations.

So far, Remesh data on the use of this technology for commercial and political use shows that, on average, about 25 per cent of people who say they want to engage in conversation end up doing so, and about 80 per cent of those respond to a majority of the questions.

However, the company reports that in cases where the topic of conversation is closely related to an issue impacting on people’s lives, these numbers can be much higher.

To guard against hacking, the algorithms are designed to minimise the impact that either lone malicious actors or “swarms” of bots can have on results, and have warning systems to detect participants who are behaving suspiciously. An SMS conversation platform is also under development for populations that do not have good internet access.

Rosemary DiCarlo, UN under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, said the plan would “give a voice to people who wouldn’t normally have a voice, it allows them to have an input into our thinking”.

The initiative is part of a wider plan by the UN to bring together academics and tech companies to work out how they can be more effective. The London-based Alan Turing Institute has developed an AI tool that it claims is 94 per cent accurate in predicting the location of new conflicts a year in advance.
Separately, the peacekeeping body is also experimenting with using virtual reality to brief Security Council members who are voting on operations in unstable states which are too difficult to visit, such as Yemen.

David Balson, a former employee of UK signals intelligence agency GCHQ, is now part of a company called Ripjar which is working with the UN on other potential tech innovations. He said that the field of peace and security “needs to modernise” to deal with the evolving threats such as hybrid warfare.

“When you look at what’s happening in places like Yemen, places like Ukraine, these are not the type of conflicts that happened 30 years ago,” he said. “These have much more complex actors, intentions, motivations, and some of them are deliberately hidden through deception and the substrate of cyber space


Remesh :: About
Agile research is here
The Remesh platform allows you to have a live conversation with your customers at scale, using AI to analyze and organize your audience’s responses in real-time. Gain fast, frequent, and efficient insights and make decisions with confidence.

Organize the world’s voice into Truths.
Remesh’s mission is to organize the world’s voice into Truths through engaging and understanding populations in real-time and enabling informed action at the speed of conversation.

Access to human truth makes a better world.
Remesh was founded in 2014 with the mission to create a technology that could truly represent the will of the people and amplify their collective voice. As a company, we believe in the power of discovering the Truth which requires engaging, exchanging ideas and having a dialogue with groups of people at a massive scale. Starting conversations that bridge cultural, political, social, economic and geographic divide, ultimately leading to a more unified and less divided world.

Elite Capture of Foreign Aid : Evidence from Offshore Bank Accounts – World Bank

Development Aid – Corruption

Elite Capture of Foreign Aid : Evidence from Offshore Bank Accounts
World Bank – Policy Research Working Paper (English)
Jørgen Juel Andersen, Niels Johannesen, Bob Rijkers
2020/02/18 :: 46 papers
Do elites capture foreign aid? This paper documents that aid disbursements to highly aid-dependent countries coincide with sharp increases in bank deposits in offshore financial centers known for bank secrecy and private wealth management, but not in other financial centers. The estimates are not confounded by contemporaneous shocks such as civil conflicts, natural disasters, and financial crises, and are robust to instrumenting with predetermined aid commitments. The implied leakage rate is around 7.5 percent at the sample mean and tends to increase with the ratio of aid to GDP. The findings are consistent with aid capture in the most aid-dependent countries.


World Bank Group Statement on Development Research
WASHINGTON, February 18, 2020—Due to heightened interest in a Working Paper published by the World Bank, the institution has issued the following statement :
“Research conducted at the World Bank Group aims to support better country outcomes for the poor and vulnerable. The Bank is ranked first among research institutions in development, and our knowledge services undergo extensive review to ensure quality. The Bank publishes almost 400 working papers annually, often as works-in-progress disseminated informally to stimulate discussion and serve as a catalyst for more research.

We fully support our research department’s work to generate independent, relevant, peer-reviewed research, including on the important topic of illicit financial flows. World Bank Group management takes corruption and related fiduciary risks very seriously, especially given the challenging environments in which we need to work to achieve our poverty mission. The draft paper, ‘Elite Capture of Foreign Aid’ underwent several reviews, and it was improved as a result. The revised paper, now published as a World Bank Working Paper addresses a number of comments raised during the review process.

The World Bank Group strongly supports rule of law and good governance practices. We have strict procurement and financial management procedures in place that deter and detect corruption and irregularities in IDA and IBRD funded projects and programs and hold violators accountable wherever possible.”

Political artefacts, aesthetics and heritage: the Valley of the Fallen

Featured Journal Content

International Journal of Heritage Studies
Volume 26, Issue 3 2020
Political artefacts, aesthetics and heritage: the Valley of the Fallen
José Manuel Barros García
Pages: 253-266
Published online: 28 May 2019
When considering the values which define heritage, aesthetic value is usually one of the most important, nearly always linked to the idea of work of art and to concepts such as beauty or harmony. Furthermore, aesthetics and politics tend to be dealt with separately. However, the link between aesthetics and politics is key in order to manage the meaning of those artefacts made with the intention of altering the political environment (political artefacts), particularly when they could be (or when they have already become) heritage. This paper puts forward the idea that in order to fully comprehend the social effects of political artefacts, their relationship with aesthetics must be understood. The function of aesthetics in modifying the meanings and connotations of heritage, when the latter is considered to be negative from a socio-political point of view, is also examined. In order to exemplify this relationship between aesthetics and politics, the resignification of the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos), the most iconic and important Francoist memorial in Spain, is discussed.

Assessing the risk of pre-existing grievances in non-democracies: The conditional effect of natural disasters on repression

Featured Journal Content

International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Volume 42 January 2020
Research article   Open access
Assessing the risk of pre-existing grievances in non-democracies: The conditional effect of natural disasters on repression
Katharina Pfaff
Article 101337
Every disaster carries the risk of destruction but not every disaster prompts violent political process in a country. This article examines the popular argument that natural disasters can lead to higher state violence if resulting shocks caused by a disaster add to pre-existing grievances. If economic inequality or political instability is prevalent before a disaster occurs, disasters are expected to exacerbate the perceived threat to government’s survival in office. Consequently, repression is expected to be higher in the aftermath of a disaster. I test the existence of the expected conditional effect of pre-disaster stability and disasters using cross-national data on natural rapid-onset disasters in non-democracies between 1976 and 2013. As indicators for pre-existing grievances this article focuses on ex ante economic inequality and political dissent. While a natural disaster as such is not associated with a violation of human rights, empirical evidence suggests that the probability of an increase in post-disaster repression is higher when a country has previously experienced grievances.

World failing to provide children with a healthy life and a climate fit for their future: WHO-UNICEF-Lancet

Health – Children – Climate +

World failing to provide children with a healthy life and a climate fit for their future: WHO-UNICEF-Lancet
As climate and commercial threats intensify, WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission presses for radical rethink on child health
NEW YORK/ LONDON/ GENEVA, 19 February: No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures, finds a landmark report released today by a Commission of over 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world. The Commission was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and The Lancet.

The report, A Future for the World’s Children?, finds that the health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at children.

“Despite improvements in child and adolescent health over the past 20 years, progress has stalled, and is set to reverse,” said former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Co-Chair of the Commission, Helen Clark. “It has been estimated that around 250 million children under five years old in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential, based on proxy measures of stunting and poverty. But of even greater concern, every child worldwide now faces existential threats from climate change and commercial pressures.”

“Countries need to overhaul their approach to child and adolescent health, to ensure that we not only look after our children today but protect the world they will inherit in the future,” Clark added.

Intensifying climate change threatens every child’s future
The report includes a new global index of 180 countries, comparing performance on child flourishing, including measures of child survival and well-being, such as health, education, and nutrition; sustainability, with a proxy for greenhouse gas emissions, and equity, or income gaps.

According to the report, while the poorest countries need to do more to support their children’s ability to live healthy lives, excessive carbon emissions – disproportionately from wealthier countries – threaten the future of all children. If global warming exceeds 4°C by the year 2100 in line with current projections, this would lead to devastating health consequences for children, due to rising ocean levels, heatwaves, proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue, and malnutrition.

The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea, and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds. However, when authors took per capita CO2 emissions into account, the top countries trail behind: Norway ranked 156, the Republic of Korea 166, and the Netherlands 160. Each of the three emits 210% more CO2 per capita than their 2030 target. The United States of America (USA), Australia, and Saudi Arabia are among the ten worst emitters.

“More than 2 billion people live in countries where development is hampered by humanitarian crises, conflicts, and natural disasters, problems increasingly linked with climate change,” said Minister Awa Coll-Seck from Senegal, Co-Chair of the Commission. “While some of the poorest countries have among the lowest CO2 emissions, many are exposed to the harshest impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Promoting better conditions today for children to survive and thrive nationally does not have to come at the cost of eroding children’s futures globally.”

The only countries on track to beat CO2 emission per capita targets by 2030, while also performing fairly (within the top 70) on child flourishing measures are: Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Viet Nam.

Harmful commercial marketing preys on children – with childhood obesity increasing 11-fold
The report also highlights the distinct threat posed to children from harmful marketing. Evidence suggests that children in some countries see as many as 30,000 advertisements on television alone in a single year, while youth exposure to vaping (e-cigarettes) advertisements increased by more than 250% in the USA over two years, reaching more than 24 million young people.

Professor Anthony Costello, one of the Commission’s authors, said: “Industry self-regulation has failed. Studies in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA – among many others – have shown that self-regulation has not hampered commercial ability to advertise to children. For example, despite industry signing up to self-regulation in Australia, children and adolescent viewers were still exposed to 51 million alcohol ads during just one year of televised football, cricket and rugby. And the reality could be much worse still: we have few facts and figures about the huge expansion of social media advertising and algorithms aimed at our children.”

Children’s exposure to commercial marketing of junk food and sugary beverages is associated with purchase of unhealthy foods and overweight and obesity, linking predatory marketing to the alarming rise in childhood obesity. The number of obese children and adolescents increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 – an 11-fold increase, with dire individual and societal costs.

A manifesto for immediate action on child and adolescent health
To protect children, the independent Commission authors call for a new global movement driven by and for children. Specific recommendations include:
1. Stop CO2 emissions with the utmost urgency, to ensure children have a future on this planet;
2. Place children and adolescents at the centre of our efforts to achieve sustainable development;
3. New policies and investment in all sectors to work towards child health and rights;
4. Incorporate children’s voices into policy decisions;
5. Tighten national regulation of harmful commercial marketing, supported by a new Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet family of journals, said: “The opportunity is great. The evidence is available. The tools are at hand. From heads-of-state to local government, from UN leaders to children themselves, this Commission calls for the birth of a new era for child and adolescent health. It will take courage and commitment to deliver. It is the supreme test of our generation.”
“From the climate crisis to obesity and harmful commercial marketing, children around the world are having to contend with threats that were unimaginable just a few generations ago,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “It is time for a rethink on child health, one which places children at the top of every government’s development agenda and puts their well-being above all considerations.”

“This report shows that the world’s decision makers are, too often, failing today’s children and youth: failing to protect their health, failing to protect their rights, and failing to protect their planet,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization said. “This must be a wakeup call for countries to invest in child health and development, ensure their voices are heard, protect their rights, and build a future that is fit for children.”

Notes to editors
[1] About the index; please see pp. 35-38 of the report, with technical details in the Annex, pp. 19-72
[2] This Commission was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Commission Report:
Embargoed link:

Photography Archive of Shawn Walker and a Collection of Harlem Photography Workshop Acquired by Library of Congress

Heritage Stewardship

Photography Archive of Shawn Walker and a Collection of Harlem Photography Workshop Acquired by Library of Congress
Press Release February 19, 2020
The Library of Congress has acquired the archive of photographer Shawn Walker and his collection of photos, ephemera and audio recordings representing the influential Kamoinge Workshop based in Harlem, the Library announced today.

Founded in New York City in 1963, the Kamoinge Workshop is a collective of leading African American photographers, such as Anthony Barboza, Louis Draper, Adger Cowans, Albert Fenner, Ray Francis, Toni Parks, Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith and Ming Smith. Walker is a founding member and also served as an archivist, helping to preserve the group’s history.

The Shawn Walker archive contains nearly 100,000 photographs, negatives and transparencies depicting life in Harlem — a pivotal crossroad of African diaspora culture — between 1963 and the present. The Kamoinge collection — generously donated by Walker — consists of nearly 2,500 items, including prints by Kamoinge members such as Barboza, Draper, Smith and others. The Library of Congress worked with the Photography Collections Preservation Project to acquire both the Walker archive and the Kamoinge collection with an electronic finding aid. These materials will join the Library’s other important collections of photography by African Americans such as Gordon Parks, Robert McNeill, Roland Freeman, Dawoud Bey and Walker’s mentor, Roy DeCarava…

Economic Impact of COVID-19 – Remarks by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to G20

Global Growth – COVID-19

Remarks by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to G20 on Economic Impact of COVID-19
February 22, 2020
Today in Riyadh, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting:
“In January, we projected global growth to strengthen from 2.9 percent last year to 3.3 percent this year. Since then, COVID-19—a global health emergency—has disrupted activity in China. And let me say here that my deepest sympathies go to the people in China and other affected countries.

“The Chinese authorities are working to mitigate the negative impact on the economy, with crisis measures, liquidity provision, fiscal measures, and financial support. I have had an excellent discussion with Governor Yi Gang and other senior officials and assured them of our support for these policy measures.

“While the impact of the epidemic continues to unfold, the WHO’s assessment is that with strong and coordinated measures, the spread of the virus in China and globally can yet be contained and the human tragedy arrested. We are still learning about how this complex virus spreads and the uncertainties are too great to permit reliable forecasting. Many scenarios can play out, depending on how quickly the virus is contained and how fast the Chinese and other affected economies return to normal.

“In our current baseline scenario, announced policies are implemented and China’s economy would return to normal in the second quarter. As a result, the impact on the world economy would be relatively minor and short-lived.

“In this scenario, 2020 growth for China would be 5.6 percent. This is 0.4 percentage points lower than the January WEO Update. Global growth would be about 0.1 percentage points lower.

“But we are also looking at more dire scenarios where the spread of the virus continues for longer and more globally, and the growth consequences are more protracted.

“Global cooperation is essential to the containment of the COVID-19 and its economic impact, particularly if the outbreak turns out to be more persistent and widespread. To be adequately prepared, now is the time to recognize the potential risk for fragile states and countries with weak health care systems.

“The IMF stands ready to help, including through our Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust that can provide grants for debt relief to our poorest and most vulnerable members.”

Emergencies – COVID-19


Editor’s Note:
While we have concentrated the most current key reports just below, COVID-19 announcements, analysis and commentary will be found throughout this issue, in all sections.
Beyond the considerable continuing coverage in the global general media:
Daily WHO situation reports here:
WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) daily press briefings here:

Coronavirus [COVID-19]
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
Situation report – 33 [WHO]

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
22 February 2020
Globally :: 77,794 laboratory-confirmed [599 new]
[Week ago: 49,053 laboratory-confirmed [2056 new]]
China :: 76,392 laboratory-confirmed [397 new]
:: 2,348 deaths [109 new]
Outside of China
:: 1,402 laboratory-confirmed [58 new]
:: 28 countries
:: 11 deaths [1 new]

China – Very High
Regional Level – High
Global Level – High

:: Two new countries (Lebanon and Israel) reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
:: The role of environmental contamination in the transmission of COVID-19 is not yet clear. On 18 February, a new protocol entitled “Surface sampling of coronavirus disease (COVID-19): A practical “how to” protocol for health care and public health professionals” was published. This protocol was designed to determine viable virus presence and persistence on fomites in various locations where a COVID-19 patient is receiving care or isolated, and to understand how fomites may play a role in the transmission of the virus.
:: The WHO Director-General briefed the emergency ministerial meeting on COVID-19 organized by the African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Details can be found here.


National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China
Selected News & Announcements
Feb 22: Daily briefing on novel coronavirus cases in China
On Feb 21, 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland as well as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps reported 397 new cases of confirmed infections, 1,361 new cases of suspected infections, and 109 deaths.
[See Emergencies above for detail]

China races to develop vaccines against coronavirus
BEIJING — Chinese scientists are racing to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus by adopting five technological approaches, a senior National Health Commission official said on Feb 21.
“Some projects have entered the stage of animal testing,” Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the commission, told a news conference on China’s fight against the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“Under the premise of ensuring safety, effectiveness and accessibility (of vaccines), (we) foresee that as soon as from April to May this year some vaccines could enter clinical trials, or under specific conditions, could be applied for emergency use,” he said.
“Our goal is that if required by the outbreak situation, the emergency use of vaccines, as well as the emergency review and approval process, can be activated in accordance with laws,” the official said.

Emergencies – Ebola


Ebola – DRC+
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Ebola Outbreak in DRC 80: 16 February 2020
Situation Update
This week, the incidence of Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases continued to be low (Figure 1). From 10 to 16 February 2020, one new confirmed case was reported in Beni Health Zone, North Kivu Province in Democratic Republic of the Congo. The case was reported on 11 February 2020, and was listed and followed as a contact at the time of detection, with known epidemiological links. Early detection of cases reduces the probability of transmission of EVD in the community and significantly improves the clinical outcome for the patients…

While we are cautiously optimistic about the overall trend and reduced geographic spread of the outbreak, the security situation in several EVD-affected health areas remain volatile, and the risk of spread within Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries remains high. Given delays in isolation of some cases in recent weeks and continued reports of nosocomial transmission, we expect to see additional cases in the coming weeks. It is critical that response teams rapidly detect, investigate and follow-up all cases and their contracts…

While there is room for cautious optimism around the low number of new confirmed cases reported in recent weeks, the situation remains fragile and further cases should be expected. It is important to ensure continued access and heightened vigilance for response activities, including early case identification, contact tracing, and improving infection prevention and control measures in healthcare facilities.

The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 15 February 2020 :: Number 305

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 15 Feb 2020

:: 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]

Joint Framework :: Protecting and Promoting the Rights of Children Impacted by Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Conflict – Sexual Violence – Children

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Committee on the Rights of the Child Join Together to Protect and Promote the Rights of Children Impacted by Conflict-Related Sexual Violence
14 February, 2020
The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Pramila Patten, and the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee), Mr. Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna, welcomed the signing of a Framework of Cooperation between the Office of the Special Representative and the Committee during the 83rd session of the Committee in Geneva.

“With this Framework of Cooperation, the CRC Committee and my Office affirm our common commitment to promote and protect the rights of children affected by, or at risk of, conflict-related sexual violence”, said Special Representative Patten. “Children impacted by conflict-related sexual violence are rights-holders and therefore entitled to protection, justice, physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration, as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, added Mr. Pedernera.

This Framework reaffirms that the response to conflict-related sexual violence requires a survivor-centered, rights-based approach that prioritizes the unique needs and best interests of children affected by sexual violence, including children conceived through rape. The Framework is based on the premise that the denial of the rights of children affected by conflict-related sexual violence is irreconcilable with human rights’ claim to universality. It is also a threat to international peace and security and is in contravention of the principle of the Sustainable Development Goals, “Leave No one Behind”.

This initiative aims at advancing national level implementation of the rights of children affected by conflict-related sexual violence, through the implementation of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions on sexual violence and the Committee’s concluding observations to States parties. It also aims at enhancing cooperation in the conduct of research and collection of data to promote accountability of Member States and other actors in regard to the obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and other relevant international obligations and standards.

SRSG Patten and CRC Chair Pedernera stated: “This Framework of Cooperation provides a roadmap to guide our joint efforts to tackle the structural drivers of sexual violence against children. By fostering compliance with international norms, we can prevent and deter these horrific crimes, and ensure that they do not go unpunished. Together, we will continue to support duty-bearers to meet their obligations, and for all children to realize their rights.”

This Framework of Cooperation is the second agreement between the Office of the Special Representative and a United Nations human rights treaty body, following the signature, in July 2018, of a similar framework with the Committee on the Elimination Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee).

OAS Launches Guidebook to Facilitate Access of LGBTI Persons in the Americas to their Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights

Human Rights

OAS Launches Guidebook to Facilitate Access of LGBTI Persons in the Americas to their Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights
February 10, 2020
Today the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Working Group of the Protocol of San Salvador (WGPSS) launched the “Guidebook for the Operationalization of the Indicators of the Protocol of San Salvador from a Cross-cutting LGBTI Perspective.” This guidebook will facilitate access to Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

The guidebook is the first of a series of thematic reports called “Measuring All Gaps” that seeks to shed light on the state of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of several groups in a situation of vulnerability.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons are among those that suffer exclusion and discrimination around the world and require specific measures to guarantee their access to and the enjoyment of their economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.

Speaking at the launch event, the President of the WGPSS, Andrés Scagliola, noted that: “In the most unequal region of the world, the inequalities based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual characteristics (SOGIESC), ethnicity and nationality increase the gaps faced by LGBTQI persons in the enjoyment of their economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. The invisibility of these inequalities perpetuates the cycle of exclusion that these persons face on the basis of their SOGIESC. Giving visibility to these gaps and creating policies is a step to stopping this cycle, which is a responsibility of all States.”

This guidebook has been prepared to help States improve the collection of data concerning the state of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of LGBTI persons. The publication contains suggestions and recommendations, based on a series of progress indicators of the Protocol of San Salvador, on how to better disaggregate data to obtain information that is essential to designing and implementing effective public policies to address the gaps identified. It also contains examples of best practices adopted by states in the region concerning the data collection and social inclusion of LGBTI persons.

Also speaking at the event, the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, said: “States must adequately address the scourge of violence and discrimination based on SOGI through public policy, access to justice, law reform or administrative actions. In most contexts around the globe, however, policymakers are taking decisions in the dark, left only with personal preconceptions and prejudices. In my 2019 report to the UN General Assembly I urged States to collect data in an effort to understand root causes and deconstruct barriers created by criminalization, pathologization and demonization. Efforts to implement the Protocol of San Salvador throughout the Americas with a LGTBI cross-cutting perspective are essential building blocks in this endeavor.”…

The Guidebook is available here.

Lancet Editorial :: Editorial Living in detention: a matter of health justice

Featured Journal Content

Lancet Public Health
Feb 2020 Volume 5 Number 2 e71-e126
Living in detention: a matter of health justice
The Lancet Public Health
About 11 million people are currently being held in custody across the globe and more than 30 million individuals pass through prisons each year, often for short but disruptive periods of time. According to the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, 1·3 million children globally are deprived of liberty each year, with an estimated 410 000 living within the administration of justice. The health profile of the detained population is complex, often with co-occurring physical and mental health disorders, and a backdrop of social disadvantage. Detention can also expose people to new and increased health risks, yet the profiles of the population behind bars and their health needs have often been neglected. In this issue of The Lancet Public Health a series of reports look at detention through a public health lens.

Rohan Borschmann and colleagues review the health of adolescents in detention and report that they have poor health across a broad range of domains. Young people detained have a substantially higher prevalence of mental health disorders, suicidal behaviours, and self-harm than their peers, along with substance use disorders, neurodevelopment disabilities, and sexually transmitted infections. In a companion paper published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, Nathan Hugues and colleagues examined the determinants of adolescent criminalisation. Neurodevelopmental disabilities, poor mental health, and childhood trauma and adversity can increase the risk of contact with the criminal justice system, and such risk is exacerbated by societal marginalisation and inequality. For Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein and colleagues, the carceral contexts that young people are exposed to are most probably causing irrevocable harm to their health and wellbeing and, as such, the detention of children and adolescents should be used as a last resort.

While in detention, individuals are deprived of their freedom, not of their right to health. The WHO report on prison health in the European Region, stresses how much people involved in the criminal justice system disproportionately experience complex health issues, and continue to do so after release. Mortality among people released from prison exceeds that of those in the community, often due to preventable causes such as suicide, injury, and overdose.

Concerns have been raised about solitary confinement, which has been associated with post-traumatic stress disorders after release and with increased risk of reincarceration. In this issue, Christopher Wildeman and Lars Andersen look at the association between solitary confinement and mortality after release, and report that mortality among formerly incarcerated individuals who were placed in solitary confinement was much higher than for those not exposed, and almost 10 times that in the general population. These findings raise serious questions about how compatible solitary confinement is with the duty of care owed by prison authorities.

Angus Wallace, in his comment, sheds some light on the powerful lever that can be the European Court of Human Rights to improve the health of prison populations—mainly through Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Most people who are incarcerated will return to the community and so addressing their health needs can not only improve the wellbeing of the individual, but also impact that of their families and communities. For WHO “the health of people in prison is a critical part of broader public health.” Prison need not be a place where individuals’ health and wellbeing deteriorate. Time in detention can provide access to health services for people who often faced substantial barriers to accessing health care in the community, and deliver health promotion, health education, and disease prevention interventions.

Those with responsibility for governing societies must find a balance between keeping communities safe (by excluding those judged dangerous to community interests) and protecting the fundamental rights of everyone in society (including those who are incarcerated). Yet the evidence presented in this issue aligns with the conclusion of Arash Anoshiravani’s piece—namely, that addressing the health needs of young people involved with the justice system requires no less than a “reimagining of paediatric and adolescent primary care”. A radical transformation of attitudes and practices in favour of people living in detention is necessary, and public health institutions and practitioners represent a trusted frontline within which lie the origins of this urgent and necessary social change.


Scoping Review
The health of adolescents in detention: a global scoping review
Rohan Borschmann, et al
Adolescents detained within the criminal justice system are affected by complex health problems, health-risk behaviours, and high rates of premature death. We did a global synthesis of the evidence regarding the health of this population. We searched Embase, PsycINFO, Education Resources Information Center, PubMed, Web of Science, CINCH, Global Health, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Campbell Library, the National Criminal Justice Reference System Abstract Database, and Google Scholar for peer-reviewed journal articles, including reviews, that reported the prevalence of at least one health outcome (physical, mental, sexual, infectious, and neurocognitive) in adolescents (aged <20 years) in detention, and were published between Jan 1, 1980, and June 30, 2018. The reference lists of published review articles were scrutinised for additional relevant publications. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts, and three reviewed full texts of relevant articles. The protocol for this Review was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42016041392). 245 articles (204 primary research articles and 41 reviews) were included, with most primary research (183 [90%]) done in high-income countries. A high lifetime prevalence of health problems, risks, and conditions was reported in detained adolescents, including mental disorders (0–95%), substance use disorders (22–96%), self-harm (12–65%), neurodevelopmental disabilities (2–47%), infectious diseases (0–34%), and sexual and reproductive conditions (pregnant by age 19 years 20–37%; abnormal cervical screening test result 16%). Various physical and mental health problems and health-risk behaviours are more common among adolescents in detention than among their peers who have not been detained. As the social and structural drivers of poor health overlap somewhat with factors associated with exposure to the criminal justice system, strategies to address these factors could help to reduce both rates of adolescent detention and adolescent health inequalities. Improving the detection of mental and physical disorders, providing appropriate interventions during detention, and optimising transitional health care after release from detention could improve the health outcomes of these vulnerable young people.

Veridical data science

Featured Journal Content

PNAS – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Inaugural Article
Veridical data science
Bin Yu and Karl Kumbier
PNAS first published February 13, 2020.
Predictability, computability, and stability (PCS) are three core principles of data science. They embed the scientific principles of prediction and replication in data-driven decision making while recognizing the central role of computation. Based on these principles, we propose the PCS framework, including workflow and documentation (in R Markdown or Jupyter Notebook). The PCS framework aims at responsible, reliable, reproducible, and transparent analysis across fields of science, social science, engineering, business, and government. It can be used as a recommendation system for scientific hypothesis generation and experimental design. In particular, we propose (basic) PCS inference for reliability measures on data results, extending statistical inference to a much broader scope as current data science practice entails.
Building and expanding on principles of statistics, machine learning, and scientific inquiry, we propose the predictability, computability, and stability (PCS) framework for veridical data science. Our framework, composed of both a workflow and documentation, aims to provide responsible, reliable, reproducible, and transparent results across the data science life cycle. The PCS workflow uses predictability as a reality check and considers the importance of computation in data collection/storage and algorithm design. It augments predictability and computability with an overarching stability principle. Stability expands on statistical uncertainty considerations to assess how human judgment calls impact data results through data and model/algorithm perturbations. As part of the PCS workflow, we develop PCS inference procedures, namely PCS perturbation intervals and PCS hypothesis testing, to investigate the stability of data results relative to problem formulation, data cleaning, modeling decisions, and interpretations. We illustrate PCS inference through neuroscience and genomics projects of our own and others. Moreover, we demonstrate its favorable performance over existing methods in terms of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves in high-dimensional, sparse linear model simulations, including a wide range of misspecified models. Finally, we propose PCS documentation based on R Markdown or Jupyter Notebook, with publicly available, reproducible codes and narratives to back up human choices made throughout an analysis. The PCS workflow and documentation are demonstrated in a genomics case study available on Zenodo.

The Prioritization of Island Nations as Refuges from Extreme Pandemics

Featured Journal Content

Risk Analysis
Volume 40, Issue 2 Pages: 215-438 February 2020
Original Research Articles
The Prioritization of Island Nations as Refuges from Extreme Pandemics
Matt Boyd, Nick Wilson
Pages: 227-239
First Published: 23 September 2019
In this conceptual article with illustrative data, we suggest that it is useful to rank island nations as potential refuges for ensuring long‐term human survival in the face of catastrophic pandemics (or other relevant existential threats). Prioritization could identify the several island nations that are most suitable for targeting social and political preparations and further investment in resiliency. We outline a prioritization methodology and as an initial demonstration, we then provide example rankings by considering 20 sovereign island states (all with populations greater than 250,000 and no land borders). Results describe each nation in nine resilience‐relevant domains covering location, population, resources, and society according to published data.



Editor’s Note:
While we have concentrated key reports below, COVID-19 announcements, analysis and commentary will be found throughout this issue, in all sections.

Coronavirus [COVID-19]
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Situation report – 25
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
14 February 2020
Globally :: 49,053 laboratory-confirmed [2056 new]
China :: 48,548 laboratory-confirmed [1998 new]
:: 1,381 deaths [121 new]
Outside of China
:: 505 laboratory-confirmed [58 new]
:: 24 countries
:: 2 deaths [1 new]

China – Very High
Regional Level – High
Global Level – High

:: No new countries reported cases of 2019-nCoV in the past 24 hours.
:: The second death has been reported outside of China, in Japan. This individual did not have known travel history to China.
:: In China, health care workers account for 1716 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including six deaths.

WHO’s strategic objectives for this response are to:
:: Limit human-to-human transmission including reducing secondary infections among close contacts and health care workers, preventing transmission amplification events, and preventing further international spread from China*;
:: Identify, isolate and care for patients early, including providing optimized care for infected patients;
:: Identify and reduce transmission from the animal source;
:: Address crucial unknowns regarding clinical severity, extent of transmission and infection, treatment options, and accelerate the development of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines;
:: Communicate critical risk and event information to all communities and counter misinformation;
:: Minimize social and economic impact through multisectoral partnerships.

*This can be achieved through a combination of public health measures, such as rapid identification, diagnosis and management of the cases, identification and follow up of the contacts, infection prevention and control in health care settings, implementation of health measures for travelers, awareness-raising in the population and risk communication.


National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China
:: Daily briefing on novel coronavirus cases in China
Updated: 2020-02-15
…As of 24:00 on Feb 14, the National Health Commission had received 66,492 reports of confirmed cases and 1,523 deaths in 31 provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and in all 8,096 patients had been cured and discharged from hospital. There still remained 56,873 confirmed cases (including 11,053 in serious condition) and 8,969 suspected cases. So far, 513,183 people have been identified as having had close contact with infected patients. 169,039 are now under medical observation…

China pushes for differentiated measures to battle coronavirus
Updated: 2020-02-14 Xinhua
Epidemic prevention and control in Hubei Province, particularly in the capital city of Wuhan, remain the top priority, said Premier Li Keqiang.
BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) — Chinese authorities on Feb 13 stressed differentiated measures for different regions to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak at a high-level meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
The leading group of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak also demanded efforts to improve patient treatment and expedite research on drugs.
Epidemic prevention and control in Hubei Province, particularly in the capital city of Wuhan, remain the top priority, said the leading group headed by Li, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
While ordering Wuhan to speed up hospital admission and suspected case quarantine, the leading group instructed hard-hit cities in Hubei such as Xiaogan and Huanggang to carry out equally strict measures as in Wuhan in surveillance, quarantine and treatment.
The demand for more medics in Hubei and Wuhan should be fulfilled, and the departure channels of the city and the province need further control, according to the meeting.
Multiple steps such as spacing out return trips have prevented large-scale flows of people after the Spring Festival, said the meeting.
Each province is responsible for formulating differentiated epidemic prevention and control strategies based on their own conditions, according to the meeting.
No one-size-fits-all approach should be taken and unfair and extreme practices must be corrected without delay, said the meeting…


New York Times
Accessed 15 Feb 2020
China’s Leader, Under Fire, Says He Led Coronavirus Fight Early On
In pushing a new account of the country’s response, officials said President Xi Jinping was aware of the outbreak nearly two weeks before he first spoke publicly about it. It could draw him directly into questions about whether Chinese officials did too little, too late.
By Amy Qin
Feb. 15, 2020
Under fire for its response to the coronavirus epidemic, China’s authoritarian government appears to be pushing a new account of events that presents President Xi Jinping as taking early action to fight the outbreak that has convulsed the country.

But in doing so, the authorities have acknowledged for the first time that Mr. Xi was aware of the epidemic and involved in the response nearly two weeks before he first spoke publicly about it — and while officials at its epicenter in the city of Wuhan were still playing down its dangers.
That confirmation risks drawing the president, China’s most powerful leader in decades, directly into questions about whether top officials did too little, too late.

In an internal speech published on Saturday, Mr. Xi said he had “issued demands about the efforts to prevent and control” the coronavirus on Jan. 7, during a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest council of the Communist Party, whose sessions are typically cloaked in secrecy.

In the speech, he also said he had authorized the unprecedented lockdown of Wuhan and other cities beginning on Jan. 23.

“I have at every moment monitored the spread of the epidemic and progress in efforts to curtail it, constantly issuing oral orders and also instructions,” Mr. Xi said of his more recent involvement…


WHO News release 12 February 2020
World experts and funders set priorities for COVID-19 research
Leading health experts from around the world have been meeting at the World Health Organization’s Geneva headquarters to assess the current level of knowledge about the new COVID-19 disease, identify gaps and work together to accelerate and fund priority research needed to help stop this outbreak and prepare for any future outbreaks.

The 2-day forum was convened in line with the WHO R&D Blueprint – a strategy for developing drugs and vaccines before epidemics, and accelerating research and development while they are occurring.

“This outbreak is a test of solidarity — political, financial and scientific. We need to come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders, ensure that we have the resources necessary to bring this outbreak to an end and bring our best science to the forefront to find shared answers to shared problems. Research is an integral part of the outbreak response,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “I appreciate the positive response of the research community to join us at short notice and come up with concrete plans and commitment to work together.”

The meeting, hosted in collaboration with GloPID-R (the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness) brought together major research funders and over 300 scientists and researchers from a large variety of disciplines. They discussed all aspects of the outbreak and ways to control it including:
:: the natural history of the virus, its transmission and diagnosis;
:: animal and environmental research on the origin of the virus, including management measures at the human-animal interface;
:: epidemiological studies;
:: clinical characterization and management of disease caused by the virus;
:: infection prevention and control, including best ways to protect health care workers;
:: research and development for candidate therapeutics and vaccines;
:: ethical considerations for research;
:: and integration of social sciences into the outbreak response.

“This meeting allowed us to identify the urgent priorities for research. As a group of funders we will continue to mobilize, coordinate and align our funding to enable the research needed to tackle this crisis and stop the outbreak, in partnership with WHO,” said Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, chair of GloPID-R. “Equitable access – making sure we share data and reach those most in need, in particular those in lower and middle-income countries, is fundamental to this work which must be guided by ethical considerations at all times.”

During the meeting, the more than 300 scientists and researchers participating both in person and virtually agreed on a set of global research priorities. They also outlined mechanisms for continuing scientific interactions and collaborations beyond the meeting which will be coordinated and facilitated by WHO. They worked with research funders to determine how necessary resources can be mobilized so that critical research can start immediately.

The deliberations will form the basis of a research and innovation roadmap charting all the research needed and this will be used by researchers and funders to accelerate the research response.

WHO News release 13 February 2020
Remarks by Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme at media briefing on COVID-19 on 13 February 2020


Transcript for CDC Media Telebriefing: Update on COVID-19
Friday, February 14, 2020

FDA’s Actions in Response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus at Home and Abroad
Feb 14, 2020


The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 8 February 2020 :: Number 304

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 8 Feb 2020

:: 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]

UN agencies raise alarm in the Central Sahel where millions face hunger amid rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis

Central Sahel

UN agencies raise alarm in the Central Sahel where millions face hunger amid rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis
Joint UNFAO, UNICEF and WFP press release
DAKAR, 3 February 2020 – The number of people facing a critical lack of food and vital livelihood opportunities in the Central Sahel has spiked in one year due to rising insecurity and climatic shocks. The situation may further deteriorate unless the international community acts now, three United Nations agencies warned today.

Despite an overall satisfactory agricultural production, 3.3 million people need immediate assistance in the Central Sahel, according to the latest Cadre Harmonisé food security analyses, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said. Experts forecast that close to 4.8 million people in the Central Sahel will be at risk of food insecurity during the lean season (June-August 2020) if no appropriate actions are taken urgently.

The unprecedented escalation of humanitarian needs in the Central Sahel is a major factor for the alarming situation that the overall West Africa region is facing in 2020, where the number of people at risk of food insecurity could rise up to a total 14.4 million, a level that has not been reached since 2012.

Of biggest concern are the Central Sahelian countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, where conflict and its impacts on communities have become the main cause of food insecurity. The three countries are experiencing a rise in the number of security incidents, including attacks by armed groups and community conflicts that frequently lead to population movements.

In Burkina Faso in particular, the situation is alarming. The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) is now six times higher than it was in January 2019, going from 90,000 to 560,033 in December 2019. This shows how quickly and massively the situation deteriorated during in 2019.

“We are seeing a staggering rise in hunger in the central Sahel. The number of food-insecure people has doubled after harvest time when it should have dropped. Unless we act now, a whole generation are at risk,” said Chris Nikoi, Regional Director for WFP in West and Central Africa.

Climate change is disrupting already fragile livelihoods. There are already early departures of transhumance herds. This situation is exacerbated by armed and community conflicts, theft, and banditry, which disrupt the mobility of animal herds, access to fodder and water resources. It also leads to a concentration of animals in some more secure areas, with the risk of aggravating farmer-pastoralist conflicts.

Overall, the increasing vulnerability of rural populations, insecurity and conflict over resources, are disrupting social cohesion amongst communities, leading to a longer-term worsening of the crisis in the Sahel. Therefore, immediate assistance to respond to urgent needs must be coupled with substantial investments in rural livelihoods and social services, in order to reinforce social cohesion and provide the foundations for peace in the region.

“Unless we address these crises from their roots, millions of vulnerable pastoralists and agro-pastoralists will continue requiring urgent assistance each year, as it was in 2019 and as it will be in 2020,” said Robert Guei, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa, adding that the Global Network against Food Crises provides framework for that support.

Thanks to collective efforts in providing essential preventive and curative services, the results of the 2019 national nutrition surveys in the Sahel do not show an immediate decline in children’s nutritional status. However, the situation remains fragile with rates of global acute malnutrition that are still above or close to the WHO “serious threshold” in Niger (10.9%), and Mali (9.4%). The situation is particularly worrying in northern Burkina Faso where widespread insecurity is significantly hindering the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition among mothers and young children. Rapid nutrition assessments conducted in municipalities with high numbers of internally displaced people show a sharp deterioration of the nutritional status among children under five. More in-depth analysis involving both institutional and operational partners is ongoing to identify the most at-risk areas.

Household food insecurity, compounded by population displacement, limited access to health services and safe drinking water, as well as poor knowledge on optimal child feeding practices will have a serious impact on the nutritional status of young children, and on the capacities of communities to bounce back, if nothing is done now to protect the nutritional status of young children and prevent life-threatening acute malnutrition. Integrated approaches for the prevention and care of acute malnutrition must be implemented at scale immediately in the most affected areas.

“The conflict in the Central Sahel is a cascading crisis sweeping across the region, putting a whole generation of children at risk. Hundreds of thousands of children are deprived of education, vulnerable to exploitation and at risk of malnutrition. Children and young people continue to pay the highest price for a crisis not of their making. We need to act now with partners to avert a tragedy”, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.