A child in Yemen dies every 10 minutes

The head of the United Nations stood in front of a room full of global leaders Tuesday and made a plaintive plea: “On average, a child under the age of 5 dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” António Guterres said. “This means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all of those deaths could have been prevented.”

Guterres is asking for $2.1 billion in funding to combat deepening hunger and disease across Yemen. “Only 15 percent has been met until the present moment,” he said at a fundraising conference in Geneva.

After two years of civil war, Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, is facing collapse. Its currency, agriculture, infrastructure, health care and even the most basic social cohesion have been destroyed by the war, and about 7 million people are on the brink of starvation, while two-thirds of the population relies on humanitarian aid to survive.

“We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation,” Guterres said. “We must act now to save lives.”

A half-million children are so severely malnourished that they are likely to die if they do not receive urgent care, said the U.N. children’s agency and the World Food Program.

In an irony, Saudi Arabia has made the biggest funding pledge, promising $150 million for Yemen. Much of the physical destruction in the country has been wrought by a Saudi-led air campaign — backed by the United States and others — that human rights activists say has indiscriminately targeted civilians. Kuwait, Germany and the United States have pledged lesser sums.

[Washington Post]

American aid worker leaves Egypt after being released

The Trump administration flew Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American aid worker, home to the United States after negotiating her release from three years of captivity in Egypt on charges of child abuse and human trafficking, two senior administration officials said.

Ms. Hijazi’s case had become an international symbol of Egypt’s treatment of aid workers, and President Trump had been criticized by human rights advocates for not publicly raising her plight during an Oval Office meeting with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt early this month.

But the two administration officials said that despite the public silence, the United States had quietly secured a promise by Egyptian officials for her release before Mr. Sisi arrived at the White House, efforts that culminated over the weekend when a court cleared her. Ms. Hijazi, who grew up in Virginia, near Washington, returned aboard a government jet that landed at Joint Base Andrews, accompanied by her family and top American officials.

Ms. Hijazi, who has dual Egyptian and American citizenship and is a graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, was arrested in May 2014, along with her husband, Mohamed Hassanein. At the time, she worked at the Beladi Foundation, a nonprofit that she founded to care for street children in Cairo.

Egyptian officials had charged Ms. Hijazi and her husband with human trafficking and abusing children, and they faced years in prison. Human rights advocates had called the case “bizarre” and said that it lacked credibility.

[New York Times]

Who gives 0.7% of their gross national income to overseas aid?

Under legislation approved in 2015, the UK government is legally required to spend 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on overseas development assistance (ODA), popularly known as foreign aid. And Microsoft founder Bill Gates has urged the UK to maintain its promise to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid, warning that reducing the commitment would cost lives.

According to the latest figures from the OECD, in 2016 two G7 countries met this target: the UK and, for the first time, Germany. Other countries that spent at least 0.7% were Sweden, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Denmark and Norway.

Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May described the target as a “critical pillar” of the country’s foreign policy. But some Conservative MPs and newspapers have suggested that the figure is too high and should not be maintained after the election.

The top 10 country recipients of UK aid in 2015 were Pakistan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, India and Bangladesh. Humanitarian projects received the largest proportion of aid in 2015.

 [BBC]

Bulgarian humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria

The Bulgarian government approved the provision of EUR 300,000 humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria, as reported by Focus News Agency.

The funds will be provided through voluntary contributions to the budgets of the International Organization for Migration, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Children’s Fund, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the World Food Program.

The aid provided will help in overcoming the humanitarian challenges in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria, to rebuild the countries, and improve the situation of the local citizens.

[Novinite]

Top European givers

Despite budgetary constraints, the European Union and its member states have collectively managed to keep their place as the world’s largest aid donor. Below is a overview of six major European donors.

United Kingdom – One of the only major aid actors with a development ministry responsible for both policy and implementation, the United Kingdom is also the first country to enshrine in law the U.N. target to spend 0.7 percent of gross national income on aid every year. U.K. aid is praised for its clear focus on the neediest. Out of the 28 countries it prioritizes, 21 are fragile and conflict-affected states.

Germany – These are promising times for the world’s third biggest bilateral donor. After undergoing major reforms in 2011, German foreign aid is seeking to be more selective and strategic in its spending priorities. But for the time being, Germany’s political commitment to focus on the poorest countries, especially in Africa, has yet to be reflected in its ODA allocations.

France – President François Hollande’s budgetary choices might have set the country back by more than a decade in reaching the 0.7 percent aid target, but France is expected to stabilize its aid budget. In the next few years, French ODA is further slated to increase the amount dedicated to climate change.

Sweden – Despite the global financial crisis, Sweden’s aid program has managed to stay the course.  Since 2006, the Nordic country has maintained its ODA at around one percent of its GNI. In line with its strong poverty focus, most of Sweden’s bilateral aid resources are directed to low income countries and fragile states. Three specific priorities drive Sweden’s aid giving: democracy and human rights; environment and climate change; and gender equality and the role of women in development. Sweden has also been particularly reactive to the critical situation in the Middle East.

The Netherlands – The Netherlands was one of the first countries to meet the ambitious goal of spending at least 0.7 percent of its GNI on ODA, but Dutch aid has plummeted in recent years.  Historically focused on social sectors, Dutch aid is now increasingly geared toward economic development and national interests.

Norway – Known for its long-standing commitment to high aid targets, Norway disbursed 1 percent of its gross national income in 2014 — making it the third most generous OECD DAC member in terms of its ODA/GNI ratio after Sweden and Luxembourg. In the future, ODA levels are likely to be maintained at this level. Norway is one of the world’s most committed donors to least-developed countries. Global education especially in conflict or disaster contexts — a topic which has been sliding off the aid agenda of many top donors — is another area where Norway is trying to lead the way.

[DeVex]

British Cabinet split over foreign aid spending

Government Ministers have urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to drop Britain’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on helping poorer countries, and have proposed diverting money to a new combined defense and security budget.

The UK, the world’s third-biggest donor, spends £13 billion per year on aid, and the Prime Minister has stood by the spending commitment despite pressure to reduce it following a series of scandals over where the money goes.

Some ministers believe Britain is doing more than its fair share when it comes to helping poorer countries, and point to the fact that the average spend by other wealthy nations is just 0.4 per cent of GNI.

In fact, the USA spends just 0.18 per cent.

Mrs May, however, has made it clear that she is a supporter of the 0.7 per cent spending pledge and remains “fully committed” to it. Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, also sees the commitment as a key part of the post-Brexit “global Britain” brand.

A Whitehall source explained: “A lot of the world’s biggest problems, such as disease, mass migration and terrorism, are incubated in countries affected by conflict, such as Somalia, Yemen and South Sudan.

[The Telegraph]

Why Trump should use Foreign Aid to make America great

Investing in global health is essential to the safety, security, and future prosperity of the United States. In addition to the humanitarian case for foreign aid, there are three very powerful reasons, which are aligned with President Donald Trump’s populist “America first” vision, why the administration should maintain and even spend more on global health.

  1. Deadly epidemics threaten US lives and prosperity – Over the course of the past two decades, we have faced numerous periodic crises stemming from infectious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), swine flu, Ebola, and now the Zika virus. Each of these cost US lives and billions of US dollars in response. By investing in health research to develop and stockpile new vaccines and drugs, and stronger health systems to deliver these preventive tools and cures, we will get out ahead of new infectious diseases before they become global disasters.
  2. Foreign Aid for health yields huge returns for the United States – Every US dollar spent on HIV prevention and treatment generates $10 in health and productivity benefits for the countries mounting large AIDS programs with our help, as a result of the infections and deaths averted; every dollar spent on tuberculosis generates $30 in societal benefits. US leadership in global health has helped produce remarkable improvements in global well-being.
  3. It strengthens US leadership on the global stage and counters our rivals – The United States launched its first international health programs in Africa after World War II out of Cold War ideological concerns. These early investments in health were motivated by the belief that training health professionals and controlling infectious disease would improve the population’s quality of life, and in turn, reduce their susceptibility to communism. Since that time, global health aid has continued to serve as an economically efficient way for the United States to promote its values and promote conditions that discourage turmoil around the world, from which the United States stands to gain in the long term.

If we cut our aid and leave a vacuum, it will be filled by US rivals, starting with China. Chinese foreign aid is growing fast, at an annual rate of more than 20 percent per year, and is rapidly catching up with US assistance. Chinese health aid to Africa in particular has grown rapidly. China is now one of the top ten bilateral global health donors to Africa and provided at least US$3 billion dollars in African health aid from 2000 to 2012. If our health support to developing nations … is severely curtailed, we should expect China to fill the void.

In addition, withdrawal of US support for health in areas affected by military conflict and military crisis could lead to the entry of non-state actors whose views are antithetical to those of the United States. Health aid can help fight the underlying causes of terrorism.

[Read full article at Health Affairs Blog]

Hillary Clinton warns President Trump of ‘grave mistake’ of cutting Foreign Aid

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that she thinks President Trump is making a “grave mistake” on foreign aid. In a speech on women’s rights at Georgetown University, Clinton said Trump’s proposed cuts to international aid in his budget would undermine American diplomacy.

“Turning our back on diplomacy won’t make our country safer,” Clinton said. “It will undermine our security and our standing in our world.”

Clinton’s comments about Trump came in a talk that was largely an impassioned call for advancing women’s rights around the world.

“Advancing the rights and full participation of women and girls is the great unfinished business of the 21st century, she said. “It is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue. A rising tide of women’s rights lifts entire nations.”

[TIME]

Humanitarians engaging with faith-based and faith-inspired organizations

Research conducted by Oxfam and the Harvard Divinity School finds much work to be done within the humanitarian sector.

Local humanitarian leadership is built upon the premise that humanitarian action should be led by local humanitarian actors whenever possible.

Yet this research, conducted with the Harvard Divinity School and with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, finds that secular humanitarian international NGOs do not engage systematically with local faith actors in their local leadership:

  • Faith-based NGO – A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that has an explicit faith claim in its mission statement and/or is directly supported by a formal religious structure.
  • Faith-inspired NGO – NGO with links to religious institutions and communities. FIO is a broader term that includes FBOs but also includes organizations that operate independently from a formal religious institution.