Afghanistan + 3 more

VOICE Newsletter Vol.6 No. 12

Format
News and Press Release
Source
Posted
Originally published
1. IN BRIEF
ANGOLA: HUMANITARIAN GROUPS CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL MEDIATION

Sixty humanitarian organisations in Angola have called for an "internal mediation commission" to broker an end to the civil war between government forces and UNITA rebels, media reports said on Thursday 5 August 1999.

According to reports, Thursday was declared a "day of reflection" on peace in Luanda. This latest initiative is among several to emerge in Angola in recent weeks. A "peace manifesto" was launched on July 15 by unionists and the academia, while the Catholic Church, which did not back the manifesto, set up a "movement for peace."

IRIN News Briefs, 5 August, contact e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org, fax: +254 262 21 29, Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN

GUINEA-BISSAU : THE HCR ENDS REPATRIATION OF GUINEA-BISSAU NATIONALS FROM SENEGAL

The last group of Guinea-Bissau refugees left Dakar on Tuesday by boat thus bringing to an end the HCR's programme for the repatriation of Guinea-Bissau nationals in Senegal. The 159 refugees, among them 57 children, were the last of the 802 Guinea-Bissau nationals who had fled to Senegal when the mutiny broke out in 1998.

Mr Diagne Khassim, the HCR's regional officer for public relations declared that 310 of the 720 refugees from Guinea Bissau registered in Cape Verde had decided to return home and that 175 of them had already done so.

IRIN News Briefs, 5 August, contact e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org, fax: +254 262 21 29, Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN

UNITED NATIONS : HUMANITARIAN PRIORITIES FOR THE SECOND SEMESTER 1999

The UN's humanitarian priorities for the second semester 1999 will be put in place during the second phase where the UN will commence its agricultural campaign, repatriate refugees and resume essential social services, before rehabilitation programmes and reconstruction of national infrastructure are undertaken.

At least 597 000 people in Guinea-Bissau still need humanitarian aid.

4.5 million dollars are required to implement the humanitarian aid programme. This amount is less than what was asked for at the beginning of the year, the reason being that certain bilateral projects suspended during the conflict have resumed, notably in the water, health and education sectors. The supply needs were met by the contributions made earlier.

IRIN News Briefs, 5 August, contact e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org, fax: +254 262 21 29, Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN

CENTRAL AFRICA : HEADS OF STATE WANT TO SET UP A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS UNIT
The Heads of State of seven Central African countries have launched an urgent appeal for the creation of a humanitarian crisis unit to deal with the needs and impact of the population movements resulting from the war in this part of the continent.

In the final communiqué published in Libreville, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tomé e Principe criticised the «international community for ignoring Africa in general and Central Africa in particular by not sufficiently taking account of the continent's humanitarian problems».

IRIN News Briefs, 9 August, contact e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org, fax: +254 262 21 29, Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN

ECHO 1's NEW HEAD OF UNIT : CORRECTION

Mr Steffen Stenberg-Jensen is ECHO 1's Head of Unit ad interim. He is also Adviser responsible for the follow-up of major crises.

Tel.: +32 2 299 27 40, Fax: +32 2 299 28 77

2 RECENTLY GRANTED AID

KOSOVO: ECHO SUPPORTS ICG PROJECT TO GATHER EVIDENCE ON CRIMES PERPETRATED BY YUGOSLAV FORCES

In a recent press release, the International Crisis Group (ICG) stated that ECHO is granting 1.4 million Euros to a project, which aims to "gather and process first-hand accounts of war crimes committed in Kosovo during Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing campaign against Kosovo Albanians". This is stated in a press release issued by the ICG, which points out that, since May, the project has involved forty of its legal consultants and interpreters who have gone to the region to the non governmental organisations set up in Kosovo with the aim of contributing to investigations carried out by the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

For further information, please contact Mrs. Camilla Bruckner, ECHO 4, +32 2 295 92 81, Fax : 32 2 299 28 53.

3 Agenda

MEETING OF THE EU-NGO CFSP CONTACT GROUP

The EU-NGO CFSP contact group is organising a meeting to be held on 21 September between 11.30 and 15.00 in room LEO 01 C 47 at the European Parliament entitled:

'Making the CFSP work - Institutional changes and their impact on the European Parliament'

Guests:

-Cesira D'aniello, DG General Affairs, Secretariat of the European Council.
-Pilvi-Sisko Vierros-Villeneuve, Adviser, Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU.
-Juan de Luis, Official at the division of the Policy Affairs of the WEU, Security Policy Department.
-Philippe Coessens (to be confirmed), Head of Unit, DG1A 05.

For further information, please contact ISIS-Europe, Tel : +32 2 230 74 46, e-mail : isis-europe@ping.be

4 Kosovo - Europe - Third World

NGOs DO NOT WANT KOSOVO TO BE REBUILT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE THIRD WORLD

The Liaison Committee of Development NGOs to the EU (900 NGOs) - which includes VOICE, the network of NGOs for emergency humanitarian action (80 NGOs) - find it positive that the EU will play a crucial role in the rebuilding of Kosovo, but find it unacceptable for the rebuilding of Kosovo to be financed from European funds allocated mainly for co-operation with developing countries.

The EU Council has proposed to reduce almost all the EU's budget lines for external relations for the year 2000 by 10%, including the development co-operation line. The category of external relations, which accounts for 8,4% of the total EU budget, is the only one to bear the brunt of the operation. Yet these reductions are being proposed in a preliminary draft budget, presented by the European Commission, which already contained a 29% reduction in the development co-operation lines (minus 109 million Euro) - which is unacceptable to NGOs. Whittling down development co-operation helps to destabilise poor countries and increases the risk of war there. As was starkly highlighted by the testimony of the young Guinean refugees who died a few days ago in Brussels in the undercarriage of the Sabena plane: "We are risking our lives, because we are suffering too much in Africa and we need you to fight against poverty and put an end to war in Africa".

NGOs call on the governments of EU countries and the European Parliament to raise the ceiling on the financial perspectives in the external relations category in the EU budget so as to be able to finance the rebuilding of Kosovo without affecting development co-operation and humanitarian aid projects with parts of the world other than Kosovo. In September, important decisions on the draft EU budget for 2000 will have to be taken in the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission.

For more information, please contact Sam Biesemans, Press & European Parliament relations, NGO-EU Liaison Committee, Tel: +32 2 732 87 85, Fax: + 32 2 732 19 34, e-mail : sbiesemans@clong.be

5 SAFETY FOR AID WORKERS

DON'T MIX MESSAGES

As International Rescue Committee's Randolph Martin notes, accident, unsafe water and infectious disease continue to be the largest causes of casualties among relief workers (FMR 4, April 1999). Yet few international aid agencies take an integrated approach to international safety and recognise an employer's responsibility to protect staff, beneficiaries and others from hazards at work. So, while recent attention by InterAction, OFDA, DFID and ECHO on aid worker security is welcome - and assaults on aid workers repugnant - the safety of aid workers needs a broader focus.

Firstly, the aid community, quick to spot stereotyped imagery elsewhere, has been satisfied to look through a media lens that rarely focuses on safety in the sector unless expatriate staff are assaulted, detained or killed. Typically highlighted in the press recently was the case of CARE Australia staff arrested by Serbia at the start of the war in Kosovo. Far less attention was paid to the fate of OSCE's Kosovar staff when international observers pulled out. Would ex-Premier Malcolm Fraser have protested as loudly if all three CARE staff arrested were local?

Secondly, this is not an argument for agencies to do less to protect their staff from risk, assessed or feared, of aggression. It is a plea for making sure that all the occupational risk factors to all aid workers that Martin notes - vehicle accidents, malaria, water-borne disease and HIV, and more - are systematically assessed, statistically analysed and inform priorities, as the People In Aid Code recommends. If aid agencies do not take action to protect their staff from all the risks Randolph Martin identifies, they allow the media view, basically a reactionary one, to win the day. Like the media, agencies will allow themselves to believe that it is only violence from apparently ungrateful host populations that causes injuries to aid workers. Shouldn't Malcolm Fraser also speak up for, say, stronger measures by agencies themselves to prevent accidents among staff travelling on Albania's often dangerous roads?

Thirdly, underlying much of the debate within the aid sector is an assumption that security affects workers in the aid or military sectors alone. Yet violence and aggression are increasingly features of other workplaces too. Remember Dunblane, Oklahoma, Port Arthur? Remember the murder of Irish reporter Veronica Guerin or the numerous deaths and disappearances of journalists just doing their job in Algeria?

Before reinventing Health and Safety as a stand-alone security issue or a debate on civilian/ military polarity, the aid community could do worse than look at the conventions, legislation and codes of practice that regulate and inform safety discussion in other sectors. 'Workers, trade unions, employers, public bodies and experts across a broad international spectrum are now expressing common concern about the issue of violence at work,' as one standard source puts it.

The 'active international network' Koenraad van Brabaant proposes has been in existence since at least 1950. It was then that the International Labour Organisation and World Health Organisation drew up accepted definitions of occupational health and ILO Convention 161 defined the responsibilities of employers. It is these that underpin national codes of practice, such as those of Britain's HSE, the USA's OSHA. They are the basis of sectoral and subject guidelines, including the People In Aid Code Of Best Practice In The Management And Support Of Aid Personnel.

International aid and donor - not to mention academic - organisations need to go down the same path as socially responsible corporations. They need to become as informed and accountable on safety as other employers working under national jurisdictions. If they do not, they risk mixing important messages about protecting international staff and beneficiaries. Seeing only a part of the problem is part of the problem.

Sara Davidson has managed relief and development programmes in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Rwanda and Bosnia. She is author of the People In Aid Code and co-author, with Dr Ted Lankester, of Prevent Accidents!

Sara Davidson