Monthly Archives: August 2019

What happens to British charities if no-deal Brexit exit in October?

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Sir Stuart Etherington, the chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, has warned that British charities “must now be preparing for the consequences of no-deal”, noting that three-quarters of charities have done little or nothing to get ready for such an outcome.

Next week is shaping up to be a crucial one in the British parliament, where attempts by MPs to stave off a no-deal Brexit are expected before an up-to five-week suspension of parliament. The suspension will reduce the amount of time available to MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit, meaning the UK will leave the EU on 31 October with or without a deal.

Etherington said charities should “deal with this sorry reality”. He said: “We continue to believe that no deal will represent a very bad outcome for the country and for charities, and again ask politicians to work to avoid it.

Third Sector article set out some of the areas where charities could expect to see an impact from a no-deal Brexit.The article covers the impact on European staff, the likely constriction of funding available for charities and rising demand on their services, the potential impact of problems at the border, investments, and how international charities could be especially hard-hit.

[Third Sector]

Climate activist Greta Thunberg ends 15 day Atlantic crossing

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Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist has crossed the Atlantic on a zero-emissions sailboat to attend a conference on global warming, after leaving England two weeks ago on her 3,000-mile-long voyage. Thunberg chose not to fly because of the high levels of emissions from air travel.

Thunberg made her journey aboard the 18-meter (59-feet) elite racing yacht, the Malizia II, with two professional skippers, her dad, and a documentary filmmaker. The Malizia uses solar panels to power its underwater turbines.

The soft-spoken young climate activist will attend two climate summits at the United Nations in New York on September 23, and then, Chile. Thunberg has become the figurehead for a growing movement of youth climate activists after her weekly protests inspired student strikes in more than 100 cities worldwide, reports CNN News.

Greta has a way of making the complicated issue of climate change easy to understand. She attributes this to her being on the autism spectrum. Greta calls it a gift because it helps her see issues more starkly.

“If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn’t it made illegal?” she asked in her TED Talk last year.

Grete also plans to visit Canada and Mexico after the climate summit in New York City before traveling to Chile in December for a climate conference. Thunberg’s family says she is taking a sabbatical from school this year to focus on climate action.

[Digital Journal]

Brief analysis of two decades of global wildfires

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A new video from NASA provides a glimpse of global wildfire trends over the past two decades, showing where fires have intensified due to agricultural practices, including in Africa and Southeast Asia, and climate change.

The 30-second clip uses satellite data to map fires burning on a monthly basis from 2000 to 2019. The data shows clear seasonal trends, with lightning-triggered fires in North America and Eurasia during summer months, as well as fires set to clear land for agriculture during the dry season in August, September, and October in South America, Asia, and Africa.

It also shows longer-term trends, including the rapid expansion of agriculture into tropical forests in Central Africa and Indonesia over the past two decades, and an increase in the severity of fires in the Northern Hemisphere due to climate change.

But as NASA noted, “Africa is truly the fire continent.” On an average day in August, satellites typically detect 10,000 actively burning fires around the world — 70 percent of which are in Africa.

In the past week, much media and political attention has been given to the sudden spike in wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, particularly in Brazil. But the country actually places third in the number of fires actively burning per country, according to Weather Source, a climate analysis firm.

Over a 48-hour period last week, Angola had 6,902 active fires, the Democratic Republic of Congo had 3,395, and Brazil had 2,127.


President Trump presents himself as an environmentalist

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U.S. President Donald Trump, responding to a question about climate change after skipping a Group of Seven summit session on the issue in France, said on Monday that American wealth is based on energy and he will not jeopardize that for “dreams and windmills”.

The Republican president skipped a session on climate change and biodiversity at the summit, instead holding bilateral meetings.

Trump also did not attend a G7 meeting in which leaders discussed the rainforest fires in Brazil and agreed to draw up an initiative for the Amazon to be launched at the U.N. General Assembly in New York next month. French President Emmanuel Macron downplayed Trump’s absence.

Trump then sought to portray himself as an environmentalist at a news conference at the close of the Group of Seven summit, He referred to himself as an environmentalist, noting that he had filled out so many environmental impact statements as part of his work as a real estate developer.

“I want the cleanest water on Earth. I want the cleanest air on Earth. And that’s what we’re doing. And I’m an environmentalist, a lot of people don’t understand that. I have done more environmental impact statements probably than anybody that’s … ever been president. And I think I know more about the environment than most people,” Trump told reporters.

Environmental activists heaped scorn on Trump’s remarks. “Trump’s phony brand of ‘environmentalism’ means gutting the Endangered Species Act, bowing down to polluting industries, and denying climate change while the world burns,” Travis Nichols, a Greenpeace USA spokesman, said in a statement.

In 2017, Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord involving nearly 200 countries, and has described global warming as a “hoax.”


Syrian migrants face deadline to leave Istanbul

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Turkish authorities have told unregistered Syrian migrants in Istanbul to return to the province they are registered in, as part of a bid to relieve pressure on the country’s largest city.

But some Syrians told the BBC many were being deported to Idlib, Syria, where fighting is escalating. They say many are being forced to sign voluntary return documents that they cannot read or understand.

About half a million Syrians are registered in Istanbul – but estimates suggest twice that number are living there, having traveled there from the provinces they were first registered in.

Announcing the move last month, the governor of Istanbul said Syrians with the right to be in the city should carry their passports and identity documents with them at all times, and announced continuous checks at bus and train stations.

Turkey has the reputation as being the world’s largest host of refugees, welcoming 3.6 million Syrians since the war began. But patience with the Syrians is wearing thin. It’s been eight years since the war began, and doors are closing in Turkey and the welcome is running out. Polling has shown a decline in support for Syrian refugees – from about 70% to 40%.


White House won’t move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts

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The White House will no longer move forward with a proposal to cut billions of dollars in foreign aid that was allocated in the latest congressional budget deal, according to a senior administration official.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were among those encouraging President Trump to at least scale back the cuts. Democrats and Republicans alike had expressed concerns.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally, had called the proposed cuts “concerning,” while Democrats such as House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) decried what she called “the Trump administration’s continued efforts to illegally withhold funding that Congress has approved.”

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), the chair of the House Budget Committee, celebrated the decision as “a win,” tweeting “The Constitution grants Congress the power of the purse, and we will not cede that authority to this Administration and their constant executive overreach.”

 [The Hill]

The deadliest places to be a humanitarian aid worker

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For the third year in a row, Syria has remained the deadliest place to be an aid worker, according to an analysis done by CARE International.

A devastating 57 aid workers have lost their lives since the beginning of this year, including 18 in Syria – the largest humanitarian death toll for the third year running – and where a war has been raging since 2011.

While Syria tops the list in terms of deaths, largely as a result of aerial bombing, the world’s newest nation, South Sudan ranks top on the list of the most dangerous places to be an aid worker, with the most security incidents (abductions, robberies and harassments) recorded in 2019, according to studies by Humanitarian Outcomes.

In its new report, Humanitarian Outcomes – an independent research organization that provides global data on aid-worker security – notes that national aid workers continue to bear the brunt of the violence compared to their international colleagues.

The specific risks faced by female humanitarians are of specific concern. Sexual violence against female humanitarian workers occurred in eight percent of violent attacks last year, according to findings by Humanitarian Outcomes, but the number of reported incidents suggests that both victims and organizations may be vastly under-reporting the problem.

Rosalind Crowther, CARE South Sudan’s Country Director says: “Throughout the world, women play a vital role in every aspect of crisis response. … South Sudan continues to experience the greatest number of major attacks on aid operations and we know that every time the rules governing fighters’ conduct in war are broken, human suffering intensifies. Ultimately, attacks on aid workers hurt the world’s poorest.”

[Relief Web]

White House moving forward with plan to cancel foreign aid

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The Trump administration has finalized and is moving forward with a plan to cancel billions of dollars in foreign aid funding, a senior administration official told CNN on Saturday, teeing up a fight between the White House and Congress over the rarely used and controversial move known as rescission.

Bipartisan lawmakers and foreign policy advocates have spoken out publicly against the move to cancel funds to the State Department and US Agency for International Development, warning about their impact on US foreign policy priorities.

The official told CNN that they expect the rescission package to be made public at the beginning of next week. The official said Friday the rescission includes money to the United Nations — including some peacekeeping funds — funding for the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and cultural programs.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a typically staunch supporter of the President, and Republican Rep. Hal Rogers wrote to Trump Friday to express their concern over the proposed cancellation. “Not only do these cuts have the potential to undermine significant national security and anti-terrorism efforts of our diplomats and international partners overseas, but we fear such a rescission package could complicate the ability of the Administration and Congress to work constructively on future appropriations deals,” the South Carolina senator and Kentucky representative wrote.


65 lost and dehydrated Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan migrants found in Mexico

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Mexican authorities say federal police found 65 severely dehydrated and hungry migrants from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka wandering on a highway in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

The federal Public Safety Department said that the migrants recounted a long, complicated trip in a bid to reach the U.S. border. The migrants reported they set out April 24 from an airport in Qatar and flew to Turkey and Colombia. From there, they moved through Ecuador, Panama and Guatemala before reaching Mexico.

Once in Mexico, the migrants said, they boarded boats and travelled on the Coatzacoalcos River, though it is not clear why. The river does not lead anywhere near the U.S. border.


Uganda: A major country of refuge for families and children

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Uganda hosts over 1.29 million registered refugees and asylum seekers, making it the third largest host country in the world, in addition to being the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa.

Of the total 1.29 million refugees and asylum seekers:
– Over 830,000 are from South Sudan, 350,000 are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 41,000 from Burundi, and 60,000 from Somalia, Rwanda and other countries.
– 61 per cent are children.

In Uganda, refugee children have access to universal primary education, pre-primary and secondary education, vocational training, and tertiary institutions. In the first six months of the year, gross enrollment in primary schools among refugees increased to 72 per cent from 58 per cent in late 2017. However, due to limited resources and infrastructure, many children continue to remain out of school.

Refugee children in Uganda continue to face serious protection risks, including family separation, physical, sexual, and gender-based violence, psychosocial distress, and other forms of violence. Among refugee households, 31 per cent reported having at least one orphan, 10 per cent reported at least one unaccompanied minor, and 25 per cent reported at least one separated minor.

The Government of Uganda, with support from UNICEF, vaccinated over 167,000 children against measles, provided Vitamin A supplementation to nearly 450,000 children, psychosocial support services to over 20,000 children, and promoted access to early childhood education for over 44,000 children.

[UN Children’s Fund]