The World Humanitarian Aid by the UN isn’t good enough

Turkey is as many other countries directly involved in the refugee crisis, which is at the top of the list of problems the World Humanitarian Summit hopes to resolve this week. Turkey needs the help of the United Nations and European Union to end this crisis. However, these international organizations are not helping with enough humanitarian aid and supplies for the people that are suffering.

The United Nations’ main goals are to maintain international peace and security, also to promote the respect of human rights, in which they’re not doing a really good job currently. In countries neighbouring Syria, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) supports host communities to cope with the influx of refugees by improving infrastructure, and improving local economic and employment opportunities focusing especially on vulnerable groups engaging the local population in its projects.

Speaking in Geneva the UN emergency relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien said that the Syrian government had in fact disregarded ‘countless’ efforts for aid to be allowed in, residents of the town last received aid in November 2012. Although the UN conducted a needs assessment which they came to the conclusion that resources which are in urgent need include medicine, food along with shortages in drinking water due to supplies being destroyed. While the UN’s announcements have been helpful in condemning Assad’s regime actions, it has not taken enough action to help those who need their assistance most.

Lack of aid might be the issue in the besieged areas in Syria, but that’s not the biggest problem. The quality of the humanitarian aid in the world today is not developed to where it should be, and it can be improved to a much higher level than it is. David Millband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, stated in a speech he held a month ago at Georgetown University, that the world humanitarian aid need to be reformed. Further on he expressed, “the scale and complexity of current humanitarian needs are increasingly out of step with the resources, policies and practices available to meet them.”


Source:  The World Humanitarian Summit


The organisation that directs the World Humanitarian Summit is the United Nations. Examples the media covers every single week shows that this organisation is not the most efficient when it comes to humanitarian aid. Actually, one of the biggest and high-profiled international NGOs was absent. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had withdrawn from the event with the statement; “We no longer have any hope that the WHS will address the weaknesses in humanitarian action and emergency response, particularly in conflict areas or epidemic situations.”

This week the World Humanitarian summit took place in Istanbul to revise and improve the structure of humanitarian aid. It only lasted two days, and as expected it was not enough time to improve the humanitarian aid in any way. The gathered world leaders did establish a core document with commitments, but it’s non-binding and therefore it becomes another declaration of intent, rather than action.

“It is shameful that rich countries are moaning, complaining, sending refugees back, cutting deals behind their backs… We want to see rich countries step up to the plate, absorb refugees and give them opportunities in their countries,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the aid group Oxfam International, told Al Jazeera after the summit closing.

Humanitarian action not only saves lives, it prepares communities to respond to disasters, protects hard-won development gains, and helps people get back on their feet after a crisis strikes. It is important that there soon will be taken some action rather than several conferences and summits that gather publicity for world leaders and organizations.
The United Nations is to bureaucratic and inefficient to handle the different crisis that are ongoing right now. The institutions should involve other NGOs to get action when it’s needed.


Mr Ban Ki Moon, during the meeting of the AU

During the day of the 31h of January, the general secretary of the ONU has taken the decision on the African Union (AU) to create an African regional force to fight against the army of Boko Haram Boko Haram.

The General Secretary of the UN, Mr Ban Ki-moon, on Saturday 7th, had coped with the idea of a regional force from the African Union to fight against the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, which come to conduct further deadly attacks in northern Cameroon. Denouncing the brutality unnamed of the militia Boko Haram, Mr Ban Ki-Moon felt that the situation need a “regional and international cooperation” to fight against the group.

The AU will then request a resolution of the UN Security Council for the deployment of the force, according to Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the organization. The AU also plans to ask the UN to create a fund to finance it.

“Africans are willing to send their troops to the effort, but it is also morally important that the UN and the international community are alongside the Africans for this fight, which is not unique to Africa” according to Chergui. The United Nations could consider participating in this regional force by bringing “advisers and logistical support,” according to a diplomat. Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin had already agreed end of 2014 to establish a force of 3,000 men to fight against Boko Haram, but because of disagreements between Abuja and its neighbours, this force was not still operational.

The soldats deployed against Boko Haram

The soldats deployed against Boko Haram

Since 2009, more than 13000 people died because of the attacks of this world known terrorist group, and more than 1 million of people were displaced. Definitely, the entire globe needs to take into account this worrying situation and little by little international organizations are starting to react and avoid unnecessary deaths.

The strategy that is going to be followed in order to solve this conflict has already being supported by the African Union. The next step is to get the support of the United Nations Security Council so that finally economic help could be achieved in order to start the military mission.

The Commissioner of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, Smail Chergui, informed about the UN intention to create a force composed by 75000 man and woman. This force has the aim to avoid the terrorist group expansion that has caused the declaration of states of emergency regions like Chad, Niger or Cameroon.

According to Ban Ki-Moon, Boko Haram has “committed unspeakable brutalities. These terrorist group should be fought thanks to regional and international cooperation”. Journalists affirmed that during the AU Summit many military experts agreed to debate in deep the possibility of creating a regional armed force in a meeting that took place between the 5th and 7th of February, although no news have been reported.

According to Dlamini-Zuma, the president of the AU Commission, Boko Haram “has already spread beyond the Nigerian borders, so the situation requires a collective, effective and decisive response”.

“All Rights For All Children, Worldwide.”

3954-19-11-12-unicefAs I been focused on my region, I could see that we are not used to hear news about Sub-Saharan Africa and that it makes difficult for us to know what it is happening there right now, but if we dig a little bit we can see that there are many issues going on in those countries.

For my International Current Day Observations course I interviewed Blanca Carazo Pérez who works for UNICEF as the head of government of UNICEF Spain in the Emergency Management and Cooperation department.

While talking to her I could appreciate that UNICEF is an organization that has a long history and has managed to achieve different accomplishments through the years, it was created after World War 2 in 1946 by the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations, with the purpose of helping children in Europe. Since the beginning they work with children no matter their race, religion or nationality to protect their rights above all.

Blanca Carazo Perez the head of government of UNICEF Spain in the Emergency Management and Cooperation department and Myself.

Blanca Carazo Pérez the head of government of UNICEF Spain in the Emergency Management and Cooperation department and Myself.

One of the most importantly achieves of UNICEF is the adoption of The Convention on the Rights of the Child that was enacted in 1990 but created the 20 of November 1989 and is the world’s most widely ratified international treaty, a treaty in which most countries have signed.

“Is our guide, the one who frames the action of UNICEF worldwide in both developed and developing countries”

Their mission is to protect all the rights of all children that are set out at the Convention. In recent years they have focused on the equity approach for children and especially those who are most in need.

At a working level in developing countries, they make an analysis of the situation of children, raising awareness among the media by giving the message of poverty and how it is affecting children in the developing countries, as any decision on cuts or prioritize one thing over another at a political level, but it must be analyzed from the standpoint of how it affects children, since we are not as aware as we should. Even though they are still having small successes at various levels from the development of the poverty strategy that includes a section for children, commitment to help children.

“Even if it is a slow and insistent progress that involves talking to people and make them proposals, each time we are getting more things done”

In each country there is a UNICEF office who creates a work plan with the government, as they are a United Nations agency the way of working is always in collaboration with governments, so sometimes it is not easy but allows results to have impacts at a large scale and have a sustainability, because they are trying not only to make a program that consists of building schools but in working with the government, so they can ensured that all country’s children attend these schools, these projects are slowly as all governments do not have those resources. These programs are developed for about 3 to 5 years making a series of priorities.

UNICEF has clear priorities and major areas in which they must work, as they are changing their global strategic plan which will be put into force in January 2014 and it is define as the category of child survival: health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, protection, HIV / AIDS. Like the attempt to reduce child mortality since mid are 17,000 children under 5 die daily, to give every single boy or girl an education, bring clear water, fight childhood malnutrition with new ways, end with female genital mutilation.

Another big problem that may seem nonsense and it is very important, is child registration, most African children are not registered civilly and that greatly affects when is the time to do the statistics which are the point of reference of politicians when it comes to make huge decisions.

This International Organization has made a lot of progress through the years and may not seem that far away that they were only helping children in Europe, but it has grown because we helped and we made that possible, people perseverance has made this possible.

Is in our hand to make the difference and start changing the world by doing small things and in that way will be a step forward to progress and we should encourage others to do the same, this interview has shown me that the world need us, and need our help to developed itself.

By: Itziar Pérez de Landazábal García.

Spain’s Agency of International Cooperation for Development Celebrates 25 years

6a00d8341bfb1653ef019b011ddeb7970dSpain’s agency of International Cooperation for Development has recently celebrated 25 years, with the presence of the Queen of Spain, Sofia and many prominent political figures. The agency over the years has developed subsidiaries in 38 countries all over the world. Every four years the agency establishes priority territories and in those territories priority countries. During the period 2013-2016 the priority territories have been and are  Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East,  and lastly Sub Saharan Africa. Ana Jar Rodriguez-Mendel the coordinator of Southern, Central, and Eastern Sub Saharan Africa explains how a priority country is chosen. images

“There are many factors and actors that go into the decisión, political, historical etc. Factors that influence the decisión include the capacity Spain has to help a particular country, cultural unions that countries may have with Spain like Equatorial Guinea which used to be a spanish colony, if a special cultural or economic relationship exists with Spain and fundamentally the level of development a particular country has -the lesser the development the more likely Spain will make it a priority country. The agency belongs to the national Ministry of Exterior so actors include autonomous community’s like Galicia or Andalusia and any city council involved in the development of a country. Other actors include ONGD which are non governmental organizations for development and opinions from the private sector ,enterprises, are crucial as they offer jobs and produce essential items for living . All of these actors are present at a parliamentary based decisión making process.”

The agency then continues establishing offices in priority countries. Priority countries in Sub Saharan Africa include Senegal, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique. Equatorial Guinea as mentioned used to be a spanish colony until 1968 when it gained independence. The country has become sub-Sahara’s biggest producer of oil, but its citizens continue living in poor conditions. Less than half the population have access to drinking water. Mozambique was a portuguese colony until 1975 and since has been struggling with civil war, economic mismanagement and famine. Niger rated by the United Nations as one of the worlds least-developed countries has had to  struggle with a a long military rule, a drought that prevents it from feeding its citizens and widespread diseases caused by an inadequate health care system. The agency plans to help these countries by consolidating democratic processes, reducing inequality and vulnerability of the poor, promote economic opportunities for the most poor, respond to humanitarian crisis in a effective way among etc.

images-1Ana Jar explains how the agency not only helps developing countries but also helps Spain. Spain in recent years has seen a worrying increase in immigration especially from Africa. The agency indirectly somehow helps Spain and in consequence the rest of Europe since many european immigrants enter through Spain. Many people must leave there countries because they have no other choice. It is either starve, live in a violent environment or travel through dangerous areas to an unknown country. If their countries provided them with a sustainable life than they wouldn’t want to leave. So if the agency help countries develop enough to provide its citizens with basic living conditions they would not want leave and emigrate to other countries like Spain.

Another issue Ana tackles is one that everyone is tired of hearing of but has a particular consequence in the agency, the european economic crisis. The crisis has hit hard many countries one of which is Spain. The government of Spain in consequence felt that they had no other choice but to lower the amount of money used to subsidize governmental agencies.  Many agencies have seen there budget lowered quite significantly. The Agency of International Cooperation for Development  in particular has seen there budget lowered more than fifty percent. That is the reason why the amount of priority countries has been lowered in order to concentrate the budget in a few countries and have a larger impact.

Even though the agency has seen their budget lowered, Ana explains the agency’s accomplishments over the past twenty five years. Such accomplishments include the increase of budget that Spain destined to the development of third world countries, strengthening the country’s exterior image where  Spain has never been present, and fundamentally as proven by evaluations the agency has implemented programs to decrease poverty. Although Ana insists that real success will be met when there is no need for an agency of this type. When third world countries have a sustainable future and need no exterior help.

 By: Mercedes Rosendo

China’s Industrial Mess Pollutes Mount Fuji

"Mercury Rising" at iconic Mt. Fuji  Source: Kyodo, Japan Times

“Mercury Rising” at iconic Mt. Fuji Source: Kyodo, Japan Times

China’s decisions not to take precautions when burning Mercury, and their denial of its effects on the environment are signs of a reckless disregard to the health and environmental dangers of this type of pollution.

Tensions are high between China and Japan over the pollution occurring at Mount Fuji, due to China’s primary role in the mercury levels rising.  China’s high mercury levels and pollution are damaging Mount Fuji in a very bad way.  The polluted air is affecting this UNESCO world heritage site terribly. Burning coal and high mercury levels are considered to be strong causes for the damage.  The higher-than-expected readings are likely due to Chinese factories burning coal, which releases mercury and arsenic, which, according to Taipei Times, also had elevated readings.

China's mercury burning is causing a great deal of pollution the the beautiful Mount Fuji.  Source: UNEP News Center

China’s mercury burning is causing a great deal of pollution the the beautiful Mount Fuji. Source: UNEP News Center

After industry showed a great amount of growth in development in China, it seems like environmental causes don’t matter to them anymore, as they are earning more money. Since they don’t take any of the necessary precautions to prevent these high levels of pollution, we can say that the environment does not seem to be important to China.

A Japanese research shows that most of the pollution in the air has been coming from china’s direction.  “Whenever readings were high, winds were blowing from the continent [China],” said Osamu Nagafuchi, the lead scientist on the study (Taipei Times).  As China continues recklessly ruining one of the world’s heritages, Japan, along with many other countries, has decided to give them a warning by way of United Nations action.

This issue creates quite a bit of tension between the two important Asian powers, China and Japan. Although Japan appears to be of the right mind set on the situation, it seems as if China has no plans of backing down or taking caution of their pollution.  Local media in China was flooded with angry Chinese citizens’ online comments, while Japanese readers registered their protests as well.

As a solution to this pollution problem, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) designed an agreement to reduce the burning of heavy metals such as mercury to prevent emissions and releases of mercury, which will hopefully reduce its dangerous effects on health and the environment.  According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Reporting Services, 109 countries signed the deal, which has been named the “Minimata Convention on Mercury”.  It seems like China needs to make peace with nature, otherwise tensions between other countries and them will continue to rise over the pollution to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In our opinion, China needs to consider a great change in what they are doing.  Strong precautionary measures need to be taken when dealing with strong pollutants, such as mercury.  This type of pollution not only ruins our world’s natural beauties, like Mount Fuji, but it also affects changes in our earth’s climate, which can contribute to natural disasters.  These disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. Therefore, China needs to make strides in cleaning up their pollution levels, because when disaster strikes, their industrial success is not what is going to save them. Love your world; protect it.


UNESCO: Voting For Values

“UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty”. That’s how the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines itself: besides all the natural and cultural beauty that they take under protection, they also involve in some social issues such as human rights and development of societies.

 After not paying their dues for two years, last Friday both the United States and Israel lost their right to vote in UNESCO. The reason behind this payment crisis was that UNESCO made Palestine a full member of the association in 2011. So because of the problematic relations between Israel and Palestine, these two major countries had have been protesting the association by not contributing financially.

This decision of not paying their dues, took the Obama administration by surprise too because it is due to two laws signed in the 90’s by President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton that entails an end of U.S. payments to any United Nations association  that recognizes Palestine as a full member.

For UNESCO this is a big amount of money loss -the 22 percent of their total income-, which has caused reduced-initiatives, frozen-hiring and canceled-programs. Of course, Israel’s contribution represents the 3 percent, which is not that little too. Nevertheless the economical struggles that they would have without these two important countries, UNESCO has not changed its policy or made an exception for Israel and the U.S.

“I believe all of our work to protect human rights and dignity as the basis for lasting peace and sustainable development is shared by the American people […] I will continue to work for the universality of this Organization, for the support of the United States, to the values we share, to the objectives we hold in common, of an effective multilateral order and a more peaceful, more just world.” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the Loss of Voting Rights

The main point here is that UNESCO is an association that promotes the basic building blocks of our civilization, issues that affects every society. But it seems that in the case of U.S. and Israel, these countries political affairs are getting ahead the association’s main aims.

So while some voices in the U.S. agree with the non-paying policy by saying that “UNESCO is interfering with the prospects for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”, other voices –including Obama’s– said that UNESCO duties are related to world heritage development, which includes equality for all societies.

By regarding that powerful countries have the huge impact over these kind of socially responsible associations, the words of Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO,  aren’t  surprising :“This is not only about financing. This is about values”.


China in Africa: The New Imperialism.

Colonialism comes back to Africa in the 21st century as China is exploiting its resources. Over the years the public opinion was that China’s investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, which started in the 1990s, was a way of cooperation to develop the region. But in the last four years, thanks to the media and other sources the public opinion has showed some concern and even anger towards China.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanui, says the essence of colonialism is already present. China is taking Africa’s’ primary goods like petroleum and coal. In order to do so China has set up infrastructure like mines. Infrastructure that do not supply jobs to Africans but to Chinese. So China takes Africa’s primary goods, manufactures goods using Africa’s’  primary goods and than sells those manufactured goods back to Africa. Goods that should be produced by Africa to be sold domestically or internationally.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanui.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanui.

Others are very critical about China’s unethical business practices. Guy Scott a former agriculture minister for Zambia has even made such accusations like “We’ve had bad people before. The whites were bad, the Indians were worse but the Chinese are worst of all.’” China has been very present in the textile industry in Zambia. Workers in this industry have complained about harsh working conditions. Another incident in agriculture have angered african people in Mozambique. Some African governments have allowed China to take land in exchange for the building of hospitals. Land that many African farmers depend on to live.

So if the Chinese are so horrible why is investing increasing and not decreasing?

Its all about politics. Many African governments like the idea of China’s non-interference policy and their tolerance for corruption. China’s interest go further than just economics. They also have a social interest. The One China Principle has to be a must in order for China to invest in a certain country. African countries must deny Taiwan as an independent state and have no relations. Not to mention the backing 53 African states in the United Nations. Overall China has a lot more to benefit from this “mutual cooperation” : creating jobs for Chinese citizens, cheap local labor, at the price of Africans, natural resources, spreading the One China Policy, and the backing of states in the UN.

Whats in it for Africa? The answer does not surpass the losses Africa has already experienced due to Chinese investment. Africa must be a competitor and not once again a colony.