The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 28 March 2020 :: Number 310

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 28 Mar 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]

Secretary-General Calls for Global Ceasefire, Citing War-Ravaged Health Systems, Populations Most Vulnerable to Novel Coronavirus

COVID-19 :: “Global Ceasefire”

Secretary-General Calls for Global Ceasefire, Citing War-Ravaged Health Systems, Populations Most Vulnerable to Novel Coronavirus
23 March 2020 SG/SM/20018
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ appeal for a global ceasefire amid the COVID-19 pandemic, issued today in New York:

Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly.

Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world. The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price. They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.

Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed. Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted. Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable.

The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.

To warring parties, I say: Pull back from hostilities. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns, stop the artillery, end the airstrikes.

This is crucial — to help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. But we need much more.

End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.

Remarks by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva During an Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit

COVID-19 :: G20

Remarks by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva During an Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit
March 26, 2020
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva made the following statement today following a conference call of G20 Leaders’ Summit:
“I am grateful to the Saudi presidency for calling this extraordinary summit – so we can close ranks as a global community to protect people’s lives and guard the world economy. We project a contraction of global output in 2020, and recovery in 2021. How deep the contraction and how fast the recovery depends on the speed of containment of the pandemic and on how strong and coordinated our monetary and fiscal policy actions are.

“You, the G20 leaders, have already taken extraordinary steps to save lives and safeguard your economies.

“Particularly critical is the targeted fiscal support to vulnerable households and to large and small businesses, so they can stay afloat and get quickly back to work. Otherwise it will take years to overcome the effects of widespread bankruptcies and layoffs.

“Such support will accelerate the eventual recovery, and put us in a better condition to tackle challenges such as debt overhangs and disrupted trade flows.

“And it is paramount we recognize the importance of supporting emerging market and developing economies to overcome the brunt of the crisis and help restore growth. They find themselves particularly hard hit by a combination of health crisis, sudden stop of the world economy, capital flight to safety, and – for some – sharp drop in commodity prices. These countries are the main focus of our attention. We have a considerable, $1 trillion strong, financial capacity to place in their defense, working closely with the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs).

The challenge though is enormous:
:: Exceptionally large number of countries simultaneously require IMF emergency financing.
:: Emerging markets are dramatically impacted by record high capital outflows and severe shortage of FX liquidity
:: Many low income countries step into this crisis under a high burden of debt.

“We must act at par with the magnitude of the challenge. For us at the IMF it means working with you to make our crisis response even stronger. For this we ask your backing to:
:: Double our emergency financing capacity.
:: Boost global liquidity through a sizeable SDR (Special Drawing Right) allocation, as we successfully did during the 2009 global crisis and by expanding the use of swap type facilities at the Fund
:: Support action of official bilateral creditors to ease the debt burden of our poorest members during the times of global downturn.

“We will get through this crisis together. Together we will lay the ground for a faster and stronger recovery.”

A global approach is the only way to fight COVID-19, the UN says as it launches humanitarian response plan

COVID-19 :: UN Funding Appeal – USD$2 billion

A global approach is the only way to fight COVID-19, the UN says as it launches humanitarian response plan
OCHA 25 March 2020
:: UN humanitarian chief warns that failing to help vulnerable countries fight the coronavirus now could place millions at risk and leave the virus free to circle back around the globe.
:: UN launches US$2 billion global humanitarian response to fight COVID-19 across South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
:: Governments urged to commit to fully supporting the global humanitarian response plan, while sustaining funding to existing humanitarian appeals.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today [Wednesday, 25 March] launched a $2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect millions of people and stop the virus from circling back around the globe.

COVID-19 has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and there are nearly 400,000 reported cases. It has a foothold across the globe and is now reaching countries that were already facing humanitarian crisis because of conflict, natural disasters and climate change.

The response plan will be implemented by UN agencies, with international NGOs and NGO consortia playing a direct role in the response. It will:
:: deliver essential laboratory equipment to test for the virus, and medical supplies to treat people;
:: install handwashing stations in camps and settlements;
:: launch public information campaigns on how to protect yourself and others from the virus; and
:: establish airbridges and hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said:
“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough. “We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves. This is a matter of basic human solidarity. It is also crucial for combating the virus. This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable.”

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said:
“COVID-19 has already upended life in some of the world’s wealthiest countries. It is now reaching places where people live in warzones, cannot easily access clean water and soap, and have no hope of a hospital bed if they fall critically ill.

“To leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries to their fate would be both cruel and unwise. If we leave coronavirus to spread freely in these places, we would be placing millions at high risk, whole regions will be tipped into chaos and the virus will have the opportunity to circle back around the globe.

“Countries battling the pandemic at home are rightly prioritizing people living in their own communities. But the hard truth is they will be failing to protect their own people if they do not act now to help the poorest countries protect themselves.

“Our priority is to help these countries prepare and continue helping the millions who rely on humanitarian assistance from the UN to survive. Properly funded, our global response effort will equip humanitarian organizations with the tools to fight the virus, save lives, and help contain the spread of COVID-19 worldwide.”…

Urgent action needed to prevent COVID-19 “rampaging through places of detention” – Bachelet

COVID-19 :: Detention

Urgent action needed to prevent COVID-19 “rampaging through places of detention” – Bachelet
GENEVA (25 March 2020) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called on governments to take urgent action to protect the health and safety of people in detention and other closed facilities, as part of overall efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 has begun to strike prisons, jails and immigration detention centres, as well as residential care homes and psychiatric hospitals, and risks rampaging through such institutions’ extremely vulnerable populations,” said Bachelet.

“In many countries, detention facilities are overcrowded, in some cases dangerously so. People are often held in unhygienic conditions and health services are inadequate or even non-existent. Physical distancing and self-isolation in such conditions are practically impossible,” she added.

“Governments are facing huge demands on resources in this crisis and are having to take difficult decisions. But I urge them not to forget those behind bars, or those confined in places such as closed mental health facilities, nursing homes and orphanages, because the consequences of neglecting them are potentially catastrophic,” the High Commissioner said.

“It is vital that governments should address the situation of detained people in their crisis planning to protect detainees, staff, visitors and of course wider society,” she added.

“With outbreaks of the disease, and an increasing number of deaths, already reported in prisons and other institutions in an expanding number of countries, authorities should act now to prevent further loss of life among detainees and staff,” Bachelet said.

The High Commissioner urged governments and relevant authorities to work quickly to reduce the number of people in detention, noting several countries have already undertaken some positive actions. Authorities should examine ways to release those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, among them older detainees and those who are sick, as well as low-risk offenders. They should also continue to provide for the specific health-care requirements of women prisoners, including those who are pregnant, as well as those of inmates with disabilities and of juvenile detainees.

“Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views,” Bachelet stressed.

When people are released, they should be medically screened and measures taken to ensure that if needed they receive care and proper follow-up, including health monitoring.

“Under international human rights law, States have an obligation to take steps to prevent foreseeable threats to public health and have a duty to ensure that all who need vital medical care can receive it,” Bachelet said.

For those in detention, the State has a particular duty to protect inmates’ physical and mental health and well-being, as set out by the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules).

Measures taken amid a health crisis should not undermine the fundamental rights of detained people, including their rights to adequate food and water. Safeguards against ill-treatment of people in custody, including access to a lawyer and doctor, should also be fully respected.

“Restrictions on visits to closed institutions may be required to help prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, but such steps need to be introduced in a transparent way and communicated clearly to those affected. Suddenly halting contact with the outside world risks aggravating what may be tense, difficult and potentially dangerous situations,” Bachelet said. She noted examples of alternative measures taken in some countries, such as setting up expanded videoconferencing, allowing increased phone calls with family members and permitting email.

“COVID-19 poses a huge challenge to the whole of society, as governments take steps to enforce physical distancing. It is vital such measures are upheld, but I am deeply concerned that some countries are threatening to impose prison sentences for those who fail to obey. This is likely to exacerbate the grave situation in prisons and do little to halt the disease’s spread,” Bachelet warned.
“Imprisonment should be a measure of last resort, particularly during this crisis.”

Interim Guidance on Scaling-up COVID-19 Outbreak in Readiness and Response Operations in Camps and Camp-like Settings

COVID-19 :: Camps

Interim Guidance on Scaling-up COVID-19 Outbreak in Readiness and Response Operations in Camps and Camp-like Settings (jointly developed by IFRC, IOM, UNHCR and WHO)
Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020
People affected by humanitarian crises, particularly those displaced and/or living in camps and camp-like settings, are often faced with specific challenges and vulnerabilities that must be taken into consideration when planning for readiness and response operations for the COVID-19 outbreak. They are frequently neglected, stigmatized, and may face difficulties in accessing health services that are otherwise available to the general population. In the context of this Interim Guidance, the people in humanitarian situations affected by this guidance may include internally displaced persons (IDPs), host communities, asylum seekers, refugees and returnees, and migrants when in similar situations. While further adaptations might be needed for some population groups, including those living in slums this interim guidance is issued to assist field staff to immediately respond to urgent needs.

ICAO assisting with humanitarian flight operations during COVID-19

COVID-19 :: Humanitarian Flight Operations

ICAO assisting with humanitarian flight operations during COVID-19
Montréal, 25 March 2020 – As part of its ongoing efforts in the global response to COVID-19, ICAO has taken action to assist the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), managed by the World Food Programme (WFP), as it continues to try to deliver reliable and effective passenger and light cargo transport during the COVID-19 pandemic in support of wide-ranging humanitarian goals.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently drew attention to the fact that the COVID-19 virus “does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly.” He underscored that as armed conflicts still rage around the world, “the most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price.”

With WFP facing difficulties in keeping abreast of global airport closures, posing risks to the reliable transport of relief staff and supplies, ICAO assisted with a new app it had already been developing to monitor government aeronautical information for up-to-the-minute airport closure updates.

ICAO’s Regional Offices have been actively coordinating with WFP counterparts and have been assisting with their efforts to expand MEDEVACS capacity globally and to establish seven dependable hub airports to support its worldwide humanitarian flight operations…

“UNHAS operations are critical to many citizens and societies no matter the global situation, and in many instances they are the only option for getting supplies to the world’s most remote and challenging locations,” noted ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu. “As we work together to respond to a global pandemic they become even more important, however, and therefore throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we’re calling on governments to be cognizant and proactive in assuring and supporting these vital air services.”