Monthly Archives: May 2018

Immigrants founded more than half of America’s billion-dollar startups

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Immigrants helped found more than half of the U.S.’s 87 startup companies valued at more than a billion dollars in 2016, according to a study by the National Foundation for American Policy, with the 11 biggest of those companies employing more than 17,000 people.

Another study from late last year found that 43% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.

Why it matters: The Trump administration recently proposed to cancel an Obama-era visa aimed at helping foreign entrepreneurs start new businesses in the U.S. The president and other advocates for cutting immigration levels argue that immigrants are taking jobs from U.S. workers, but in many instances, immigrants not only contribute to the U.S. economy, but create more jobs for Americans.

The big picture: Of the 44 immigrants who helped found billion dollar startup in the U.S, 20 first came to the U.S. as international students.

Why that matters: There was a 17% drop in international students in the U.S. last year, in large part due to the 28% decline in Indian students receiving visas. (The Trump administration has also called for increased scrutiny toward certain H-1B work-based visas, which were often acquired by India-based companies who then send high-skilled tech workers to U.S. companies.)


Europe and UNICEF team up to further assist Rohingya in Bangladesh

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The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operations (ECHO) has provided US$ 2.6 million to UNICEF to ensure that children, adolescents and young women can live in a safe and protective environment free from Gender Based Violence (GBV) and with better access to social services.

The measures will benefit 41,500 children and adolescents living in Rohingya camps as well as local Bangladeshi people – known as the host community – who live alongside them. More than 693,000 refugees from Myanmar have arrived in Cox Bazar since August 2017 – more than half of them (an estimated 58 per cent) are children.

“This initiative will allow us to protect the most vulnerable and reduce the risks and vulnerability to further violations of their rights, such as exploitation, trafficking, gender-based violence, child marriage and child labor,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative, Edouard Beigbeder.

UNICEF is providing more than 182,000 children and adolescents with critical child protection services, including psychosocial support and assistance for unaccompanied children in the camps to retrace their parents. Recreational and other support mechanisms are also to be provided.


Could the world’s worst humanitarian crisis get even worse?

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The war campaign in Yemen has become a quagmire for the Saudis and their allies, who have killed thousands in bombing raids but have failed to recapture much of the country. Meanwhile, the health- care system has virtually collapsed, along with food supplies, making millions of Yemenis dependent on international aid.

The world’s worst humanitarian crisis may be about to get much worse. Some 8 million people are on the brink of famine and the worst cholera epidemic in history is raging, and now the country’s most important port has become the target of a new offensive in the three-year-old civil war. Forces backed by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are seeking to cut off and eventually capture Hodeida, a city of 700,000 that is the entry point of 70 percent of the aid shipments keeping millions of civilians alive.

The Saudis and some advocates in Washington contend that if Hodeida’s port could be seized from the Houthis, aid shipments would improve, while the smuggling of Iranian missiles would stop. But aid groups see it differently. The offensive, they say, is likely to meet stiff resistance, and even if successful could take weeks or months. Any sustained interruption in shipping to Hodeida could tip the country into famine — and make it virtually impossible to combat the spread of cholera, which has already infected more than 1 million people.

[Washington Post]

The US has lost track of 1,500 immigrant children that they separated from their parents

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At a Senate hearing earlier this month, US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Trump Administration policy will refer everyone caught crossing the border illegally for prosecution, even if they are claiming they deserve asylum or have small children. Any parents who are prosecuted as a result will be separated from their children in the process.

In April, a New York Times investigation estimated that more than 700 children, including 100 under the age of 4, had been taken from their parents at the southern border since October, citing federal Department of Homeland Security officials. The U.S. government then places these children into the homes of sponsors or caregivers.

While testifying before a Senate subcommittee on April 26, Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, said the Office of Refugee Resettlement was not able to account for the whereabouts of 1,475 migrant children it had placed.

Now President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for his administration’s controversial policy of taking children away from parents caught unlawfully crossing into the United States with them, a practice the White House says is a deterrent to illegal immigration.

The president’s criticism of the “horrible” policy comes less than a month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” approach to illegal border crossings. “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he warned.

Trump’s tweet came a day after Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., attacked his policy of splitting up children and parents. “There are many ways to describe the @realDonaldTrump policy of ripping children away from their parents at the border. It violates human rights laws. It is unAmerican. It would shock Jesus. But I think the most appropriate way to describe it is this: The policy is evil,” Lieu tweeted.

[ABC News]

Israeli Supreme Court fully adopts Israeli army’s position

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The Israeli Supreme Court rejected two petitions filed by human rights groups and fully adopted the Israeli military’s position, giving a green light to its continued use of snipers and live fire against Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

Three Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected the two petitions, fully accepting the military’s claims related to the use of live fire on protesters. The court ruled that the Israeli military’s firing of live ammunition at protesters was in accordance with the law because, according to the court, the protest participants constituted a real danger to Israeli soldiers and citizens.

Human rights group Adalah and Al Mezan responded late Thursday night to the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling: “The Israeli Supreme Court completely ignored the broad factual basis presented to it by the petitioners, which includes multiple testimonies of wounded and reports of international organizations involved in documenting the killing and wounding of unarmed protesters in Gaza.

“It is worth noting that the Israeli Supreme Court refused to watch video clips documenting Israeli shootings of demonstrators and, rather than actually examining the case, fully accepted the claims presented to it by the state. [The petition included 12 video clips documenting Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed protesters – including women and children – who did not endanger any lives.] The extreme nature of the ruling is also highlighted by the striking absence of any mention of the casualty figures that had been presented to the court.”

Since 30 March 2018, 115 Palestinian residents of Gaza – including 15 children – have been killed by the Israeli military. At least 86 were killed during the protests themselves. Approximately 3,000 more were wounded by live fire during this same period. Those who were killed were mostly shot in the upper part of the body.


Urgent humanitarian needs in the occupied Palestinian territory

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The Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian territory announced the release of US$3.9 million to address urgent water, sanitation, shelter and protection needs in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

“The humanitarian response to the crisis is among the worst-funded globally this year,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick. “With this allocation, we ensure that humanitarian partners have the resources to respond to some of the most urgent needs, but this is a stop-gap measure only and much more is needed.”

The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires $540 million in funding, is currently only 16 per cent funded.

Over 75 per cent of the allocation targets needs in the Gaza Strip, where the already-dire humanitarian situation has been exacerbated since March 30, 2018 due to a massive rise in Palestinian casualties in the context of demonstrations.

The oPt HF is an emergency pooled fund supported in 2017 and 2018 by Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. It is managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and its allocation aim is to support highly vulnerable Palestinians.


US foundations have invested $50 Billion in Sustainable Development Goals

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent the most ambitious — as well as expensive — global development framework in history. The framework sets specific targets in seventeen areas, from ending poverty in all its forms (Goal 1), to combating climate change and its impacts (Goal 13), to achieving gender equality (Goal 5). But with an estimated annual price tag of $3.5 trillion, it’s clear that governments alone cannot finance the SDGs and hope to achieve the framework’s 2030 targets.

It’s not a surprise that Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives) and Goal 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all) have received the lion’s share of the funding to date (both more than $18 billion). In addition to regular health-related spending, foundations also have contributed significant sums in response to various health emergencies, both natural and man-made.

Though it has received considerably less funding than the other two, it’s interesting to note that Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality) ranks third  —  preliminary analysis hints at a promising scenario for gender equality-related funding — while Goal 16 (Promote peaceful and inclusive societies and justice for all) is close behind in the fourth spot. Indeed, a deep dive into Goal 16-related funding reveals that a lot of the grants made in support of efforts in this area overlap with Goal 5, gender equality, which suggests to us that peace and justice are strongly correlated with gender equality and that funders are well aware of the linkage.

Foundation Center data shows that foundations have contributed more than $50 billion toward achieving the SDGs since January 2016, when the SDG agenda was formally launched. In a blog post in 2016, Foundation Center president Brad Smith predicted that foundations would contribute $364 billion toward achieving the by 2030. While it’s too early to say whether Brad will be proved correct, the initial trends are favorable.

[Philanthropy News Digest]

Affordable antibiotics for antimicrobial resistance

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The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the launch of the Global Research & Development (R&D) collaboration hub on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) announced at the World Health Organization’s World Health Assembly.

This German-led collaboration between governments, donors, and various stakeholders aims to promote research on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and encourage the creation of new and affordable antibiotics, diagnostics, and vaccines to help combat the global resistance crisis. This hub could help ensure that investments in AMR are needs-driven rather than profit-driven.

MSF has been witnessing, with alarming regularity, the challenges caused by antimicrobial resistance in our clinics—from war-wounded Syrians undergoing reconstructive surgery in Jordan to burn patients in Haiti to newborn babies in Pakistan to patients with MDR-TB in South Africa, India, and Eastern Europe.

“We are encouraged by the launch of the Global R&D Hub on AMR, which could be an important catalyst to address the urgent need for medical tools for use by people in real-life conditions to tackle the worldwide AMR crisis. With more than half a million new cases each year and around a quarter of a million deaths, MDR-TB also needs to be a key focus of the Hub.


Israel will not co-operate with UN human rights inquiry

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Israel says it won’t co-operate with the inquiry called for by the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on Friday into recent violence on the Israel-Gaza border.

The body approved a commission of inquiry to investigate Israel’s handling of clashes on the Gaza border and alleged human rights violations in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem. The meeting was called after 60 Palestinian protesters were shot and killed by Israeli troops on Monday, the day the US transferred its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Twenty-nine countries voted to approve the probe, while 14 abstained. Only the United States and Australia voted against the resolution.

The United Nations human rights chief said Israel used “wholly disproportionate” force. Zeid Raad al -Hussein told the Geneva meeting that Gaza residents were effectively “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death”.

Kuwait has circulated a draft resolution at the UN Security Council condemning Israel’s actions and calling for the deployment of an international force to protect civilians. Kuwait is urging the Security Council to condemn Israel’s use of force against Palestinian civilians “in the strongest terms”, especially in the Gaza Strip.

[The Irish Times]

Will climate change cause more migrants than wars?

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Climate change is one of the main drivers of migration and will be increasingly so. It will even have a more significant role in the displacement of people than armed conflicts, which today cause major refugee crises.

This was the warning sounded by Ovais Sarmad, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Sarmad is a specialist in commerce and financial management, and has worked for 27 years at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

While the Syrian conflict resulted in a million migrants seeking refuge in Europe, “the climate change impact will make one million look like a small number. Because a hundred or four hundred million people live in developing countries in low-lying areas, in cities which are very close to the sea. If sea level rises, then people will have to move.”

Can one speak in a strict sense of climate refugees? The international community has not yet validated that definition, but Sarmad believes that the issue must be considered, due to realities such as the sea level rise, increasingly destructive hurricanes or persistent droughts.

The issue of climate change is particularly controversial in the G20, because last year, under the German presidency, the United States did not adhere to the Action Plan on Climate and Energy Growth, which was endorsed by the rest of the member countries, leading many to conclude that the G20 had become the Group of 19+1.

 [Read full IPS article]