Intervention of the Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See at the Brussels Conference on Syria
Published by press.vatican.va
The Conference “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” began in Brussels yesterday, co-chaired by the European Union, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Nations. It will also be attended by ministerial level representatives of seventy delegations, and representatives of international organizations and civil society.
The following is the intervention of His Excellency Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, given yesterday during the concluding day of the conference.
Intervention of His Excellency Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher
The Holy See is pleased to participate in the “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” Conference with its twofold aim: to reconfirm the humanitarian commitments that the international community made in London last year, and to look at the best ways to support a lasting political solution to the Syrian crisis, that is inclusive and Syrian-led. While the crisis has entered, regrettably and painfully, into its seventh year, the Holy See remains deeply concerned about the tremendous human suffering, affecting millions of innocent children and other civilians who remain deprived of essential humanitarian aid, medical facilities and education, and urges that international humanitarian law be fully respected, particularly with regard to the protection of civilian populations, guaranteeing them access to necessary medical assistance. Furthermore, the Holy See also expresses its concern for the conditions and treatment of prisoners and detainees.
In his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, on 9 January last, His Holiness Pope Francis appealed to the international community “to make every effort to encourage serious negotiations for an end to the conflict, which is causing a genuine human catastrophe. Each of the parties must give priority to international humanitarian law, and guarantee the protection of civilians and needed humanitarian aid for the populace”.
The Holy See invites all parties to the Syrian conflict to spare no effort to end the seemingly endless cycle of violence, to restore that sense of solidarity that is the basis of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence. As Pope Francis has stated: “Peace triumphs through solidarity. It generates the desire for dialogue and cooperation which finds an essential instrument in diplomacy”.
The Holy See warmly welcomes the emphasis on providing humanitarian assistance and the efforts to sustain the ceasefire and the political solution to the crisis at this pledging conference and joins its voice to the appeals for increased funding to help the internally displaced persons, the refugees and impacted-host communities in the neighbouring countries. On this occasion, I wish to reassure that the Catholic Church remains committed to continue its humanitarian assistance in the coming year.
In 2016, the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through its network of charitable agencies, contributed to providing USD 200 million of humanitarian assistance of direct benefit to more than 4.6 million people in Syria and the region. In distributing aid, Catholic agencies and entities make no distinction regarding the religious or ethnic identity of those requiring assistance, and seek always to give priority to the most vulnerable and to those most in need. This approach was demonstrated also through the opening in January of a Caritas point in the Muslim area of East Aleppo and the “Open hospitals” project that seeks to open the Catholic hospitals in Aleppo and Damascus and render them fully operative for the needs of the local populations, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
Of deep concern remains the vulnerable situation of Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, who suffer disproportionately the effects of war and social upheaval in the region, to such an extent that their very presence and existence are gravely threatened. As His Holiness Pope Francis has repeatedly recalled, their continued presence can enable them to fulfil their historic and essential role of contributing to the social cohesion of those societies, which will be of vital importance for the future of the entire region.
Published by reliefweb.int
OCHA STARTS EIGHT-DAY MISSION IN TSHIKAPA
The mission aims to assess the needs of those who have been affected bythe violence that has ravaged the area in the past few months. This is the first of three missions planned in Kasai, Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental aimed at mapping out a suitable response to the needs of those displaced.
OVER 80 TONS OF FOOD DISTRIBUTED TO 46 PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN ITURI
From 15 to 28 February, International NGO Samaritan’s Purse provided the food assistance to 23,000 students and school personnel as part of an emergency school canteen supported by the World Food Programme. Close to 160 tons were also provided to some 11,000 displaced people during the last two weeks of February. Those displaced had arrived from the areas of KomandaMambasa and Tchabi-Boga where nearly 90,000 IDPs are hosted since 2014 consecutively to ADF activities in North Kivu. In Irumu and Mambasa territories, clashes between armed groups and FARDC continue to negatively impact the protection environment and the work of humanitarian actors.
URGENT NEED TO TREAT MALNUTRITION IN HAUT LOMAMI
Since the beginning of 2017, there is a lack of nutritional products in several nutritional centers in Malemba-Nkulu, according to a recent mission. An average of some 520 children under 5 years old suffering from severe acute malnutrition are admitted in the ambulatory therapeutic nutrition unit of Malemba since January. Since December 2016, when international NGO ADRA ceased its activities in the area, no other actor has taken over to treat children suffering from malnutrition. In February 2017, 5 children died of malnutrition.
ESCALATION OF THE LAND CONFLICT OPPOSING TWO COMMUNITIES IN ITURI
This conflict that is taking place some 140 km north of Bunia broke out on 19 March. 550 houses and two schools have been burnt down in Lodjo and Tchulu. On 23 March, the Land Commission in Ituri noted that the estimated 5,000 habitants of Lodjo and Tchulu have fled to neighboring villages. The Governor of Ituri is due to visit the villages where IDPs are currently hosted .
WATER, SANITATION AND FOOD ASSISTANCE FOR 32,000 IDPS IN NORTH KIVU
In Mweso, humanitarian actors have installed emergency latrines, hygiene material in three public sites targeting some 15,000 IDPs. They are also conducting awareness sessions on the importance of hygiene. The displaced, who are lving with host families arrived in Mweso on 16 March from the “JTN” IDP site following clashes between FARDC and FDLR/FOCA. In Nyanzale, Caritas is due to deliver food to some 17,000 IDPs who have reached the area in successive waves since September 2016 following violence and insecurity.
CONCERNS ON THE FATE OF MINORS IN SOUTH KIVU AND MANIEMA
While there have been reports that the Congolese army recently escorted 10 children formerly enrolled in an armed group to NGO AVREO in Shabunda Territory, child protection experts remain concerned for the sake of many others who are allegedly on the front lines. AVREO is actively trying to reunite these children with their families. INGO AVSI and the Rapid Response to Movement of Population recently undertook an assessment of the protection needs of children separated from their families in Fizi (South Kivu) and Kabambare (Maniema) noting that they are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.
THOUSANDS VACCINATED AGAINST MEASLES, SUSPECTED CHOLERA IN SOUTH KIVU
Some 25,000 children up to 15 years old, out of a total target population of 35,000, were vaccinated against measles from 15 to 21 March in the area of Shabunda. Measles and cholera have been major public health issues in the province. In Nyange, Fizi Territory, between 21 February and 2 March, over 140 cases of cholera including over 10 deaths have been signaled among IDPs who came from Tanganyika. In the neighboring Tanganyika Province, health actors are concerned about a major outbreak of measles linked to malnutrition in Kansimba, Moba Territory. At least 285 cases including 56 deaths have been registered between 13 February and 12 March. Over 80% cases were notified in Maseba health area. Health authorities are calling for support to treat the worrisome rates of measles and malnutrition. OCHA has been leading humanitarian efforts to roll out a holistic assistance to the most vulnerable displaced people.
By Stephen Otage for www.allafrica.com
The United States Embassy in Kampala wants the government of Uganda to develop programs tailored towards addressing challenges faced by adolescent girls beyond providing free sanitary pads to them.
Mr. Mark Meassick, a director at the US Mission said Uganda needs to critically think about the plight of adolescent girls because they comprise the majority of the population; they have the highest HIV infection rates and they are the ones producing the highest number of children without any planning.
"Provide tailored attention to their needs. Help them to overcome all these obstacles because they deserve a chance like all Ugandans. In special circumstances, we should give a special package of chances," he said while passing out formerly vulnerable girls who have been empowered to fend for themselves without waiting for handouts.
Mr. John Makoha, the AVSI country representative said they are celebrating the success of the SCORE Project which did not give out handouts to girls but empowered about 30,000 lasses to increase their social security.
He said the beneficiaries can now start income generating projects which would enable them send their children to school and have stable families.
By HTET KHAUNG LINN / PUBLISHED BY MYANMAR NOW www.myanmar-now.org
BYINKAT VILLAGE, Mandalay Region - Kyaw Win is one of the millions of farmers who have long struggled to make ends meet in the harsh environment of central Myanmar’s Dry Zone.
But last year he began cultivating high-quality rice seeds at his farm in Byinkat Village and closely followed the growing instructions for the drought-resistant variety, which was supplied by international NGO AVSI.
Since then, his harvest has significantly increased. “I can now produce 100 paddy baskets per acre by using the methods of AVIS. Some farmers have imitated me and asked about my farming practices,” Kyaw Win said, adding that his harvest had increased with about 40 percent.
In the Dry Zone, some 10 million farmers rely on rainy season rice, oil seeds and pulses. Many languish in poverty and debt, and a lack of enough food is common. The region’s drought is compounded by the poor quality groundwater and by climate change, which has caused increasingly erratic rainfall in the past decade.
The introduction of more productive and resilient rice seeds, government officials and aid workers said, is a key strategy for helping the vulnerable communities.
“Climatic change in the Dry Zone is affecting the incomes of farmers through unseasonal rainfall or drought,” said Aung Soe Win, project manager of AVIS in Yamethin Township, Mandalay Region.
By Jo Griffin for theguardian.com
In recent weeks, more than 140 prison inmates have died in gang violence in Brazil. But away from the headlines a parallel catastrophe has been unfolding in the country’s juvenile detention centres, with campaigners demanding reforms and warning that proposals to stiffen sentences for young offenders could compound the crisis in the penal system.
Under existing law, offenders aged 12 to 18 are supposed to be dealt with through community service or education, with a maximum penalty of up to three years at a detention centre for the most serious crimes. In reality, however, young people who commit minor infractions are often locked up in overcrowded facilities with scant opportunity for rehabilitation and education, or protection from mistreatment, claim campaigners.
Robert Muggah, founder of the thinktank Igarapé Institute in Rio de Janeiro, says politicians have seized on rising crime to win support for tougher jail terms for young people. “The so-called ‘bullets, bibles and beef caucus’ are pushing through the legislation at a time of acute political and economic crisis in Brazil. Even before the impeachment of Dilma [Rousseff], they aggressively campaigned to water down gun control legislation and lower the age of criminal responsibility.
Increasing privatisation has generated an incentive to fill prisons, says Muggah, with “little concern expressed by the Brazilian public [about] the state of prisons, their conditions or the inmates”. The recent crisis has led to calls for more privatisation.
“Unless Brazil decriminalises drugs and begins applying existing legislation that sanctions alternative and proportionate sentencing, these problems will continue unabated,” says Muggah.
He cites the pioneering Apac programme, used in Brazil and other countries as an example of a restorative justice plan with a high success rate in reducing recidivism. In Chile, a prison reform plan including alternative sentencing for non-violent crimes reduced overcrowding from 60% to 15% in 2014, he says.
By Charlie Wood for www.csmonitor.com
What would you do with a modest paycheck that showed up monthly, regardless of employment: Retire early? Change careers? Open that business you’ve always dreamed about?
This question lies at the heart of the growingly popular but contentious topic of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which proposes replacing often inefficient social welfare programs with a guaranteed paycheck for all, enough to afford at least the basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. It's a counter-intuitive income model that challenges assumptions about effective compassion and induced laziness, but amid fears of an automated future, more economists are starting to take a hard look.
This summer, Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a UBI referendum, with almost 80 percent voting against it. “If you pay people to do nothing, they will do nothing,” Charles Wyplosz, an economics professor at the Geneva Graduate Institute, told AFP.
But is that necessarily the case? Some economists say a mounting body of evidence regarding a poverty-fighting tool called “cash transfers” may suggest otherwise.
Cash transfers are just what they sound like: a gift of capital, often from an NGO to members of a population living in poverty. Narrow in scope, they generally target groups of a few hundred to a thousand individuals with sums that fall between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars. Some are one-time lump sums, and others recur monthly for a time.
Proponents argue that cash transfers are effective for precisely the same reasons cash birthday gifts can be disappointing: they require almost no effort and often end up getting used on what the recipient needs, rather than what they desire. In these respects cash transfers resemble UBI with its flexibility and low overhead costs, although much more focused on helping people escape from poverty, rather than, say, surviving automation.
The Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) Foundation gave a one-time transfer of $150, accompanied by four days of business skills training, to 15 of the poorest women in 120 Ugandan villages. Half of the 1,800 women received the cash transfer and training a year-and-a-half after the others. Comparing the group that received the money early with the one that received it later, research and poverty organization Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) concluded that the program had a “transformative” economic effect, with monthly income almost doubling, consumption increasing by a third, and savings tripling.
Published by www.allstandtogether.com
These children belong to refugee families in Lebanon. Some of them arrived only a few weeks ago, while others who have managed to escape the war in Iraq and Syria have been here for two years. They are Christians and Muslims, and learn to hang out together in this special school.
Having lived through violence, persecution for religious reasons, and lack of electricity and food have left wounds that are difficult to heal.
Diana, AVSI Foundation: “Children in general are not easy to deal with. Especially children that are emotionally traumatized. They are special cases. You have to be very careful in how you speak to them. You have to give them a very safe environment. They want to feel loved, they want to feel protected, they want to feel safe. And I think that here, in our school, that is our most important goal: to make the children feel safe, before anything else.”
Some of the younger ones, like Mohamad who is almost a teenager, have experienced closed schools back in their countries for several years.
Diana, AVSI Foundation: “It’s difficult because, first of all they are learning things that they should have learned at a younger age and are now learning at an older age. That is the most difficult part. Second of all, discipline. They are not disciplined. They don’t know the rules of a classroom. So what we do is to introduce them to the rules in the beginning. We told them what you can do, what you can’t do, group study sessions, interactive learning… We try to make it as interesting as possible, so that they can be excited to learn.”
Fortunately, the fruits of education that the school passes along are appreciated during the first week of lessons.
Diana, AVSI Foundation: “I don’t want them to start learning, you know, all the letters and the numbers right away, but the simpler things, like asking for permission before speaking, for example, or writing in neat handwriting and not just scraping the paper. Those are huge improvements. They are huge. And, you know, from week to week I noticed a huge improvement in the kids”.
This initiative is one of the 20 schools that are being managed by the AVSI Foundation in Lebanon that follows the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Jihane Rahal, AVSI Foundation: “Even just playing together without hurting each other, without arguing and so on is something, it’s a wonderful achievement. Just being able to see them play, like now, during the recreational activity they have during rest, say, after one class and another. When they come here to play ball, they are together, they talk to each other. We try to pass on these simple values that will serve them for life.”
More than 10,000 children benefit from these educational centers, which open a door of hope for refugee children.
PUBLISHED BY reliefweb.int
The rainy season has always been a nightmare for Afonso Chirindze and his family. As residents of the George Dimitrov informal settlement, four months of rain and the flooding that followed would bring tremendous hardships.
“We would be literally swamped, and would spend a lot more on health care,” said Chirindze, 67. “For a long time, the lack of proper drainage systems and urban planning were at the root causes of that.”
That was before the neighborhood, located in the northern area of Maputo, was upgraded with new drainage systems and paved access roads, as part of the Maputo Municipal Development Program.
“Now I can move around with ease along the paved walkways and streets of the neighborhood,” Chirindze said, with a large smile. “My children no longer need to move away to higher grounds and stay with relatives. And malaria, which was pervasive during that period, is now becoming something of the past.”
With support from the World Bank, the upgrades were completed under the second phase of the program, known as ProMaputo II. About 40,000 residents of the George Dimitrov neighborhood directly benefited from the urban upgrading, including 2,000 children whose school -- which would be closed for months due to flooding-- was completely renovated.
The George Dimitrov community actively participated during the project formulation by jointly defining priorities and during implementation, and project monitoring and management.
As part of the implementation, the Municipal Council forged partnerships with foundations such as the AVSI Foundation, as well as with the Faculty of Architecture of Eduardo Mondlane University to produce prototype stalls for vendors selling clothes and food products along the public roads and markets. For this purpose, each vendor acquired a stall, paying 30% of the actual value while the remaining 70% was financed by the AVSI Foundation.
Published by reliefweb.int
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 9 January 2017 – Around three months ago hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, disrupting the lives of over two million people. In addition to the personal losses of homes and crops, more than 716 schools, numerous health facilities, and the existing sanitation infrastructure all suffered damage. Today, 1.4 million people in Haiti, including 600,000 children, require humanitarian assistance.
UNICEF is working with the Government and other partners to address the immediate basic needs of children and families, ensuring that these interventions lay the foundation for rehabilitation and resilience.
In collaboration with the IBESR (Ministry of Social Affairs), UNICEF is reaching 4,468 children with basic needs assistance including hygiene kits, blankets and food, as well as documentation assistance for documents lost in the hurricane.
UNICEF also supports child friendly spaces that provide children between the ages of 3 and 17 with a safe environment to play and be themselves, despite the challenging circumstances.
“Following hurricane Matthew we found that many children in the CFS [child friendly spaces] have had nightmares or panic attacks. Their trauma manifested in the children’s’ behaviour, in their drawings,” says Laura Gabrici, protection manager with AVSI Foundation, an international NGO working in partnership with UNICEF. “Often these children are very concerned about the fate of people dear to them, especially their parents, fearing that those people may disappear at any time in their lives. They are constantly afraid of being left alone.”
Published by broadwayworld.com
In January, AVSI-USA will be presenting two debut screenings of an award-winning documentary about Crecemos, an education and nutrition center in Oaxaca, Mexico, a long-term partner of the international NGO.
THE AWAKENED HEART first screening will take place in New York on January 14, 2017, as part of the New York Encounter, and in Washington DC, on January 25, 2017, at the Mexican Cultural Institute. Screenings will be followed by a Q&A discussion with Executive Director of Crecemos, Maria del Socorro del Rio.
Co-directed by Giovanni Morricone and Simonetta D'Italia, the short documentary The Awakened Heart was shot entirely over three and a half days in November 2015, in the slums of Oaxaca. Crecemos is located in the most dangerous neighborhood of Oaxaca City.
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