UNHCR reports progress on health efforts for refugees despite record displacement

Health – Refugees

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UNHCR reports progress on health efforts for refugees despite record displacement
20 July 2018
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has this week released its Annual Public Health Overview of new refugee emergencies and ongoing operations. Despite record forced displacement globally, the report finds that health services to refugees and other displaced populations are in most cases on track. However, communicable diseases, anaemia and stunting remain areas of concern.

The report notes that strengthened weekly surveillance of key health indicators among refugee populations during emergencies and systematic monitoring are contributing to prompt, effective interventions. The report is a snapshot of what has been achieved and highlights the trends based on key indicators in UNHCR’s public health, reproductive health and HIV, nutrition, food security, and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes in 37 key operations. In 21 of these operations, UNHCR and its partners collect and analyse public health data using a standardized health information system to better protect and serve refugees.

The report includes, for example, the findings on the mortality rates among refugee children under the age of five – which is always an important health impact indicator in emergencies. Despite major refugee emergencies and disease outbreaks in 2017 – a year in which wars and persecution drove global forced displacement to a new high – this rate remained globally stable in post-emergency situations at an average of 0.4 deaths per 1,000 refugee children every month, sustaining the declining trend we’ve observed since 2011. The indicator is within the range reported in developing and middle income countries, according to the UN 2017 World Mortality report.

There have been also improvements in reproductive health services as 9 out of 10 deliveries (in total 96,776 deliveries) in more than 83 per cent of the reporting operations were conducted by a skilled health worker, a 25 per cent increase from 2016. About half a million pregnant refugee women attended antenatal services at 135 monitored sites in 21 operations, an 18 per cent increase from 2016.

In 2017 over 8 million clinical consultations were provided to refugees at health facilities. This is a 10 per cent increase from 2016. Nine out of 10 refugees who were treated at the health facilities were suffering from communicable diseases, underscoring the importance of continued investment in high impact preventive services.

The number of mental health consultations for refugees has been also steadily increasing over the years – doubling in 2017 compared to numbers seen only three years ago. This was possible due to improved availability of these services at primary health care clinics.

Sixty-five per cent of our refugee operations reported measles vaccination coverage rates among children under one year of age above 90 per cent – against an international standard of above 95 per cent. Overall, more than 160,000 children in this age group were vaccinated against measles in routine programmes, a 15 per cent increase from 2016. Access to HIV treatment was sustained with over 10,000 refugees enrolled in HIV treatment programs a threefold increase from 2015.

Against these results, UNHCR remains very worried about continued high levels of anaemia as well as persistently high levels of stunting. Acute malnutrition also remains extremely concerning amid reductions in refugee food rations and basic assistance in several operations. Overall, 62 per cent of the surveyed refugee sites met the global acute malnutrition standards, showing a slight improvement from 2016. The levels of stunting among children under the age of five reached acceptable standards in only 25 per cent of sites, remaining at similar levels compared to 2016. Over 50 per cent of surveyed sites exhibited critical levels of child anaemia prevalence (above 40 per cent). Only three per cent of surveyed sites met anaemia standards with prevalence below acceptable standard of 20 per cent.

UNHCR managed to maintain the average volume of water provided to refugees at 21 litres per person per day, exceeding the basic minimum standard of 20 litres per day. However, UNHCR did not always meet the standards in emergency nor protracted situations. The average number of refugees per toilet improved to 22 persons – still over the standard of up to 20 persons per toilet for sanitation.

Given the record levels of forced displacement globally, in 2018 UNHCR’s budget requirements are at a record high of US$8.275 billion. However, as of mid-2018, only 33 per cent of these needs are funded. While UNHCR is grateful for the generous and timely support already provided by donors, and particularly grateful to donors for unrestricted contributions which allowed us to continue our work on these and other activities without interruptions, it is vital that UNHCR and partners have more resources available to provide life-saving services and improve the living conditions for refugees.

Migration and Asylum: Commission takes further steps in infringement procedures against Hungary

Governance – Migration-Asylum: Hungary

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Migration and Asylum: Commission takes further steps in infringement procedures against Hungary
European Commission – Press release Brussels, 19 July 2018
The European Commission has today decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for non-compliance of its asylum and return legislation with EU law.

The Commission has also today sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary concerning new Hungarian legislation which criminalises activities that support asylum and residence applications and further restricts the right to request asylum.

Court referral for non-compliance with EU asylum and return legislation
The Commission first launched an infringement procedure against Hungary concerning its asylum laws in December 2015. Following a series of exchanges on both administrative and political levels and a complementary letter of formal notice, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion in December 2017. After analysing the reply provided by the Hungarian authorities, the Commission considers that the majority of the concerns raised have still not been addressed and has therefore now decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice of the European Union – the last stage of the infringement procedure.

Specifically, the Commission finds that Hungarian legislation is incompatible with EU law in the following respects:
Asylum procedures: Whilst EU legislation provides the possibility for Member States to establish transit zones at the external borders, the Hungarian legislation falls short of the requirements of the Asylum Procedures Directive as it only allows asylum applications to be submitted within such transit zones where access is granted only to a limited number of persons and after excessively long waiting periods. The border procedure implemented by Hungary is not in compliance with EU law as it does not respect the maximum duration of 4 weeks in which someone can be held in a transit centre and fails to provide special guarantees for vulnerable applicants. Within its territory, Hungary fails to provide effective access to asylum procedures as irregular migrants are escorted back across the border, even if they wish to apply for asylum.

Reception conditions: The Commission considers that the indefinite detention of asylum seekers in transit zones without respecting the applicable procedural guarantees is in breach of EU rules as set out in the Reception Conditions Directive.

Return: The Hungarian law does not comply with the EU’s Return Directive as it fails to ensure that return decisions are issued individually and include information on legal remedies. As a result, migrants risk being returned without the appropriate safeguards and in breach of the non-refoulement principle…

The European Union and Japan agreed to create the world’s largest area of safe data flow

Human Rights – Data Protection

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The European Union and Japan agreed to create the world’s largest area of safe data flows
European Commission – Press release Tokyo, 17 July 2018
The EU and Japan successfully concluded today their talks on reciprocal adequacy. They agreed to recognise each other’s data protection systems as ‘equivalent’, which will allow data to flow safely between the EU and Japan.

Each side will now launch its relevant internal procedures for the adoption of its adequacy finding. For the EU, this involves obtaining an opinion from the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the green light from a committee composed of representatives of the EU Member States. Once this procedure will have been completed, the Commission will adopt the adequacy decision on Japan.

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality: “Japan and EU are already strategic partners. Data is the fuel of global economy and this agreement will allow for data to travel safely between us to the benefit of both our citizens and our economies. At the same time we reaffirm our commitment to shared values concerning the protection of personal data. This is why I am fully confident that by working together, we can shape the global standards for data protection and show common leadership in this important area.”

This mutual adequacy arrangement will create the world’s largest area of safe transfers of data based on a high level of protection for personal data. Europeans will benefit from strong protection of their personal data in line with EU privacy standards when their data is transferred to Japan. This arrangement will also complement the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, European companies will benefit from uninhibited flow of data with this key commercial partner, as well as from privileged access to the 127 million Japanese consumers. With this agreement, the EU and Japan affirm that, in the digital era, promoting high privacy standards and facilitating international trade go hand in hand. Under the GDPR, an adequacy decision is the most straightforward way to ensure secure and stable data flows.

The key elements of the adequacy decisions
The agreement found today foresees a mutual recognition of an equivalent level of data protection by the EU and Japan. Once adopted, this will cover personal data exchanged for commercial purposes, ensuring that in all exchanges a high level of data protection is applied.*

To live up to European standards, Japan has committed to implementing the following additional safeguards to protect EU citizens’ personal data, before the Commission formally adopts its adequacy decision:
:: A set of rules providing individuals in the EU whose personal data are transferred to Japan, with additional safeguards that will bridge several differences between the two data protection systems. These additional safeguards will strengthen, for example, the protection of sensitive data, the conditions under which EU data can be further transferred from Japan to another third country, the exercise of individual rights to access and rectification. These rules will be binding on Japanese companies importing data from the EU and enforceable by the Japanese independent data protection authority (PPC) and courts.
:: A complaint-handling mechanism to investigate and resolve complaints from Europeans regarding access to their data by Japanese public authorities. This new mechanism will be administered and supervised by the Japanese independent data protection authority…

World Bank and Partners Launch US$ 12 million Fund to Help Countries Increase Government Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness

Governance

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World Bank and Partners Launch US$ 12 million Fund to Help Countries Increase Government Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness
Press Release TBILISI, July 19, 2018 — With the goal of supporting governments and civil society in countries and sub-nationals that participate in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to increase government transparency, improve accountability and strengthen citizen engagement and government responsiveness, the World Bank and development partners have launched the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF).

The US$12 million Fund will support implementation of open government reforms, an inclusive and participatory dialogue and decision-making process, and build the evidence base on the impact of open government reforms. The design, strategy and governance of the MDTF is rooted in OGP’s founding principles that government and civil society should have an equal seat at the table. With the support of Agence Française de Développement, the Department for International Development UK, and Global Affairs Canada, the MDTF aims to deliver customized support to both governments and civil society in line with the OGP standards and timeframes, and it incentivizes robust performance by all partners while leveraging the World Bank’s technical expertise and country programs.

“The World Bank is supporting both governments and civil society in OGP to deliver country or locally led reforms to build knowledge, and create avenues and opportunities for open government and citizen engagement, and help build and maintain trust between citizens and the state,” said Debbie Wetzel, Senior Director of the World Bank’s Governance Global Practice. “The MDTF is an instrument to leverage the Bank’s technical specialists and in-country presence to support experimentation and innovative approaches to reform, participation, inclusion, and learning to move the needle on open government and citizen engagement.”…

The first set of awards have been given to nine civil society organizations to facilitate the participatory process of developing OGP Action Plans in five countries and four sub-nationals. Given the significant demand, this exceeded initial expectations. Eyakuze added, “The superb quality of the CSO proposals, and the decision to fund more than we had anticipated underscore the unique value of this MDTF.”
[More information on the MDTF, please visit: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/ogp-trust-fund ]

Adolescents with disabilities: enhancing resilience and delivering inclusive development

Development – Inclusion

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Adolescents with disabilities: enhancing resilience and delivering inclusive development
ODI – Research reports and studies | July 2018 | Nicola Jones, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall and Maria Stavropoulou

Over the past decade there has been growing recognition that adolescence is an ‘age of opportunity’ in terms of helping children launch into successful adulthood. At the same time, the world has recognised that in order to ‘leave no one behind’, we must focus on people who have disabilities – four-fifths of whom live in developing countries and below the poverty line. As of yet, however, there has been little attention paid to the adolescents with disabilities who live in low- and middle-income countries and how we can make sure that they too are supported to achieve independent futures.

This ground-breaking report takes stock of what we know about adolescents with disabilities living in the global South. Drawing on interviews with approximately 600 adolescent girls and boys with physical, visual, hearing or intellectual impairments, as well as interviews with their parents, teachers and other service providers, it also presents emerging findings from the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) research programme in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Jordan and the State of Palestine.

This report focuses, for the first time, on the intersection of age and disability – specifically the unique needs of adolescents with disabilities – and the gender dynamics that shape girls’ and boys’ lives. Alongside this, it also looks at the particular experiences of adolescents with disabilities who grow up in rural areas and conflict-affected contexts.

It finds that, primarily due to disability-related stigma and discrimination, adolescents with disabilities:
:: are excluded from education, especially at the secondary level;
:: often face insurmountable barriers to obtaining health care;
:: are likely to be socially isolated and have few sources of emotional support;
:: are much more likely to experience bullying and violence;
:: have few opportunities to make decisions even about their own lives; and
:: are largely shut out of the types of training and employment programmes that would help them achieve independence.

The report concludes by identifying key areas for action – including a need for a more integrated approach that takes account of adolescents’ intersecting needs, supporting caregivers so they can better support adolescents, and tackling gaps in data, policy and funding.

:: Report | Adolescents with disabilities: enhancing resilience and delivering inclusive development
:: Policy note | Adolescents with disabilities: enhancing resilience and delivering inclusive development
:: Infographics | Adolescents with disabilities: enhancing resilience and delivering inclusive development

High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Overwhelmingly Adopts Ministerial Declaration

Sustainable Development – Implementation of 2030 Agenda

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High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Overwhelmingly Adopts Ministerial Declaration by 164 Votes in Favour, 2 Against
18 July 2018
ECOSOC/6943
[Editor’s text bolding]
Adopting its Ministerial Declaration by a vote of 164 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development reaffirmed today its commitment to effectively implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for all people, everywhere.

Held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council under the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”, the Forum, in adopting the Declaration (document E/HLPF/2018/L.2), stressed that the 2030 Agenda is people-centred, universal and transformative.

Ministers and high representatives also reaffirmed their commitment to eradicating poverty, expressing concern that poverty remains a principle cause of hunger, and stressed the importance of taking collective measures to make an impact, among other goals. They further reaffirmed their commitment to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, stressing that much work remains to achieve the ambitious 2030 Agenda three years into its implementation. They also commended the 46 countries that delivered voluntary national reviews.

They committed to embracing diversity in cities and other human settlements, and to strengthening social cohesion, intercultural dialogue and tolerance. They noted with concern that 844 million people lack basic water services, 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, 4.5 billion people have no access to safely managed sanitation, and 892 million still practise open defecation. They also acknowledged that owing to rapid urbanization, many cities and local authorities face challenges in providing access to adequate housing and that migration and forced displacement further exacerbates these challenges. They called on all stakeholders to adopt a sustainable-food systems approach and develop effective strategies to reduce food waste. They underlined the challenges related to plastic waste, especially in the oceans, stressed the critical role of science, technology and innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and endeavoured to take immediate steps to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships.

The Forum recognized that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security and that peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development. “We call for further effective measures and actions to be taken, in conformity with international law, to remove the obstacles to the full realization of the right to self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation,” the Declaration reads.

It also reaffirms the Forum’s commitment to gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls and full realization of the human rights of all women and girls. “To achieve inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies, we call for the leadership and full, effective and equal participation of women in decision-making in the design, budgeting, implementation and monitoring of policies and programmes that affect their livelihoods, well-being and resilience,” the document reads. We reiterate the urgency to ensure women’s equal access to, and control over, land and nature resources, it adds.

Voting on an amendment submitted by the United States (document E/HLPF/2018/L.3), proposing to replace the words “mutually beneficial” in paragraph 28 with “international cooperation”, the Forum rejected that proposal by a vote of 107 against to 50 in favour, with 3 abstentions (Norway, Republic of Moldova, Seychelles). It rejected another amendment proposed by the United States — by 155 votes against to 2 in favour (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (Japan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea) — to replace the sentence “will continue to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization, as well as meaningful trade liberalization”, in paragraph 28, with the following sentence: “We reaffirm that trade can contribute to the promotion of sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty, as recognized in the 2030 Agenda.”

The Forum also voted to retain paragraph 12 of the Declaration, rejecting Israel’s proposal to delete it, by 109 votes in favour to 5 against (Australia, Canada, Honduras, Israel, United States), with 45 abstentions. It further voted to retain paragraph 16 of the Declaration — by 133 in favour to 11 against, with 10 abstentions (Algeria, Bahrain, China, Egypt, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Zimbabwe) after the Russian Federation requested a recorded vote seeking the paragraph’s deletion…

12. Recognize that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security and that peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda recognizes the need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights, including the right to development, on effective rule of law and good governance at all levels and on transparent, effective and accountable institutions. Factors that give rise to violence, insecurity and injustice, such as inequality, corruption, poor governance and illicit financial and arms flows, are addressed in the 2030 Agenda. We must redouble our efforts to resolve or prevent conflict and to support post-conflict countries, including by ensuring that women have a role in peacebuilding and State-building. We call for further effective measures and actions to be taken, in conformity with international law, to remove the obstacles to the full realization of the right to self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continue to adversely affect their economic and social development as well as their environment;

16. Reaffirm our commitment to achieving gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls and the full realization of the human rights of all women and girls. To achieve inclusive, sustainable and resilient societies, we call for the leadership and full, effective and equal participation of women in decision-making in the design, budgeting, implementation and monitoring of policies and programmes that affect their livelihoods, well-being and resilience, and we recognize that unequal gender roles as reflected in women’s disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work holds women back in the economy and other areas. We reiterate the urgency to ensure women’s equal access to, and control over, land and natural resources. We reaffirm our commitment to preventing and responding to gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment and harmful practices. Our efforts will reinforce the linkages between Sustainable Development Goal 5 and the other Sustainable Development Goals. The systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is crucial;

UN Environment and Google announce ground-breaking partnership to protect our planet

Sustainable Development – SDG Visualization

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UN Environment and Google announce ground-breaking partnership to protect our planet
New York, 16 July 2018 – UN Environment and Google announced today a global partnership that promises to change the way we see our planet. Combining environmental science, big data and unprecedented accessibility, this joint effort aims to expand what the world knows about the impacts of human activity on global ecosystems.

When completed, the platform will leverage Google’s cloud computing and earth observation public catalogs and for the first time enable governments, NGO’s and the public to track specific environment-related development targets with a user-friendly Google front-end.

“We will only be able to solve the biggest environmental challenges of our time if we get the data right,” Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said. “UN Environment is excited to be partnering with Google, to make sure we have the most sophisticated online tools to track progress, identify priority areas for our action, and bring us one step closer to a sustainable world.”…

“This partnership announcement builds on a common shared vision between our organizations,” said Rebecca Moore, Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine & Earth Outreach. “We are excited to enable all countries with equal access to the latest technology and information in support of global climate action and sustainable development.”

Long term, the partnership hopes to establish a platform for open-source data and analysis of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As an entry point to development, the partnership launches today with an initial focus on fresh-water ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.

These areas account for 0.01% of the world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10% of the world’s known species and evidence suggests a rapid loss freshwater biodiversity.

Google will periodically produce geospatial maps and data on water-related ecosystems by employing massive parallel cloud computing technology. Satellite imagery and statistics will be generated to assess the extent of change occurring to waterbodies, and made freely accessible to ensure nations have the opportunity to track changes, prevent and reverse ecosystem loss.

Other areas of collaboration include advocacy and capacity building activities as well as the development of partnerships with organizations like the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)…