Tag Archives: Africa

EU reinforces humanitarian aid

The European Commission proposes €14.8 billion for humanitarian aid, of which €5 billion come from the European Union Recovery Instrument to reinforce the humanitarian aid.

The increased budget reflects the growing humanitarian needs in the most vulnerable parts of the world. The Humanitarian Aid Instrument will provide needs-based delivery of EU assistance to save and preserve lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and dignity of populations affected by natural hazards or man-made crises.

A significantly enhanced Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve will reinforce EU action in response to all aspects of the health crisis, as well as other emergencies. Funds can be channelled to provide emergency support as and when needed through EU instruments such as humanitarian aid in cases where funding under dedicated programmes proves insufficient.

EU additional €50M aid across world

Today the European Commission announced an additional €50 million in humanitarian aid to help respond to the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic globally. The new funding follows increased appeals by humanitarian organisations, including the UN Global Appeal.

The new funding will help vulnerable people facing major humanitarian crises, notably in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Central African Republic, the Great Lakes region in Africa, Eastern Africa, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Venezuela, as well as the Rohingya. It will provide access to health services, protective equipment, water and sanitation. It will be channelled through non-governmental organisations, international organisations, United Nations agencies, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“The Coronavirus pandemic is creating a humanitarian crisis of an enormous scale in some of the most fragile countries in the world. The pandemic threatens food security in countries where public health systems were already weak before this new crisis. We must act now to leave no area of the world unprotected. This is in our common interest. And it is crucial that humanitarian actors continue to have the access to carry out their life-saving work,” Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said.

The €50 million allocation comes in addition to significant humanitarian funding and actions already provided by the European Commission to respond to the most pressing needs created by the Coronavirus pandemic:

In February 2020, €30 million was allocated to the World Health Organization. Since then, the Commission has, subject to the agreement of the EU budgetary authorities,planned around €76 million to programmes included in the United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan. In addition, the Commission is providing direct funding for the work of humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, which are in the frontline of the humanitarian response to Coronavirus.

Previously, on 8 May, the Commission also announced the establishment of an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the Coronavirus response to some of the most critically affected areas around the world. The first flight on 8 May, operated in cooperation with France, transported around 60 humanitarian workers from various NGOs and UN agencies and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo to Bangui in the Central African Republic. Two subsequent humanitarian cargo flights to Central African Republic will transport a further 27 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in total.

On 15 May, on the second destination of the EU humanitarian air bridge 20 tons of supplies and humanitarian and health workers were flown to the West-African country of São Tomé and Principe. The flight was set-up in cooperation with the Portuguese government and several humanitarian partner organisations. On their return leg, the flight also brought back over 200 EU citizens and other passengers to Lisbon in a repatriation effort.

The additional humanitarian funding comes on top of some €20 billion in development and emergency funding from the Commission and Member States for both short-term and long-term needs around the world as part of a “Team Europe” approach.

COVID19: Africa flower industry collapse

The crash of the $8.5 billion global trade in cut flowers shows how quickly and distinctively the new coronavirus pandemic is disrupting supply chains, even in places where it isn’t yet pervasive. After only a few weeks of quarantine,

The flower trade is a masterpice of modern capitalism. A chain of cold storage starts with stems being picked in places as far away as Africa, the Middle East, and South America, then packed into refrigerated trucks, driven to refrigerated planes, and flown to Amsterdam to be auctioned off.

They’re then repacked into more cold trucks and planes and delivered to supermarkets, florists, and bridal bouquets across Asia, Europe, and the U.S.

The auctions are run by a cooperative, Royal FloraHolland, formed a century ago by a group of growers who met in a pub and devised a system to better control how their flowers were sold.

Royal FloraHolland now runs four auction sites that handle the considerable volume of the global trade. Its facility in Aalsmeer, a concrete warehouse, is one of the biggest buildings in Europe. Each day before sunrise, workers fill it with truckloads of chrysanthemums, roses, and tulips. Buyers assemble in rooms filled with computer screens, where photos of each lot are displayed. Usually over 20 million flowers and plants are sold at Royal FloraHolland every day.

Royal FloraHolland decided to proceed with the auction ahead of the King’s Day, the date of celebrating the birthday of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander, however the events have been cancelled and the Royal subjects have received a recommendation to stay safe at home.

The figures about Royal FloraHolland are impressive beyond imaginable: 90% of Dutch flower trade takes place at Royal FloraHolland. The auction houses have around 5000 members, 9000 suppliers, 3500 customers and 4500 employees.

Dutch floricultural business creates 250.000 full time jobs for people worldwide, directly as well as indirectly.

Museum Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac free visit

Paris museum Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac will be “free for ten days” to pay tribute to the former head of state at the origin of its creation, said it director, Stéphane Martin.

*The Museum will be free for ten days, (…) the time that people who want to pay tribute to the President can visit,” said Stéphane Martin on Europe 1 after the death of Jacques Chirac . Since, the establishment has been offering a temporary exhibition dedicated to acquisitions made since 1998, when the museum’s public establishment was created, which was opened in 2006.

This exhibition, which began two days before the death of Jacques Chirac,is really his collection, the collection that began in 1998 when he launched the museum Quai Branly,” said Stéphane Martin. This retraces “what we did for 20 years thanks to him in terms of enriching the collections”. “The images of the president are everywhere in the museum, the flags are at half-mast, it’s a very emotional moment for the teams,” said Stéphane Martin, adding that “a guestbook is available to visitors.

 

 

Combating sexual violence in conflict

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the European Union and the United Nations join their voices to call on the international community to accelerate its efforts to eliminate the scourge of all forms of sexual violence, including as a strategy and tactic of war and terror.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict we salute @DenisMukwege, Sakharov and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and all those who fight against the horrors of sexual violence“, the European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, the wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

More must be done to stop barbarity against women as a weapon of war.

#EDD: “Inequality is not sustainable”

Illegal migration and people smuggling from Africa to Europe demonstrate a joint interest in tackling the causes of that migration at source by providing new opportunities in the migrants’ home countries. ‘Inequality is the source of nationalisms and populisms,’ warned Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament. ‘If we want to tackle the issue of migration from Africa, we have to see it through African eyes.’ He suggested that African transformation of African raw materials could be promoted, so creating new industries and jobs.

Inequality can not be sustainable. It can only generate significant migratory flows, particularly to the richest countries, including Europe. Reducing them is a shared responsibility, we must commit ourselves to themTajani concluded.

EU: Water as tool for peace

On 19 November 2019, the EU Council adopted conclusions on water diplomacy. The Council recalls that water is a prerequisite for human survival and dignity and a fundamental basis for the resilience of both societies and the environment. Water is vital for human nutrition and health, and essential for ecosystem management, agriculture, energy and overall planetary security.

The Council notes the potential of water scarcity to affect peace and security, as water related risks can have grave human and economic costs, all of which can have direct implications for the EU, including through migration flows.

The Council intends to enhance EU diplomatic engagement about water as a tool for peace, security and stability, and firmly condemns the use of water as a weapon of war. The Council also underlines the EU’s commitment to promoting transboundary and integrated water management as well as effective water governance.

The Council reaffirms the EU’s commitment to the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, as components of the right to an adequate standard of living. It underlines the EU’s strong commitment to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda and highlights that progress on Goal 6 (“Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”) is essential for the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals.

The Council stresses the essential link between water and climate change, and welcomes recent discussions at the UN Security Council linking water, climate, peace and security. The EU confirms its continued commitment to address water challenges around the world and to give the necessary consideration to the importance of water and sanitation in the programming of future financial and technical cooperation with partner countries.

China trade in donkey hides devastates communities

Describing the scale of the animal abuse in Chinese trade in donkey hides and its devastating impact for local communities in developing countries, especially in Africa, the Members of the European Parliament called for an urgency of action to protect the equidae as an indefensible contributor to harmonious rural lifestyle.

During the European Parliament Strasbourg Plenary MEPs of the EU Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals considered the welfare of equines – horses, donkeys and hybrids, largely neglected within the existing laws and suffering abuses in Europe, however it is the Chinese traditional medicine, which causes the most abhorrent practices, with systemic torturing and killing of donkeys in pursue of their precious hides. Some farms in Europe also act as suppliers of donkey hides for China, however their activities are far too small to cover the huge demand of Chinese traditional medicine, looking for the animals all over the world, including the poorest villages in Africa, where people depend on donkeys for transport of water and goods.

Chaired by Jacqueline Foster MEP (ECR, UK),  the hearing featured speakers from World Horse Welfare, The Donkey Sanctuary and BrookeAction for Working Horses and Donkeys shared the numerous problems of equines welfare in the EU and worldwide, especially abhorrent abuses of donkeys in Chinese trade.

The Intergroup focused on the trade of donkey hides and the social, economic, and welfare problems that it raises. Ian Arthur Cawsey, UN Ambassador at The Donkey Sanctuary, explained the threat this trade represents, causing a global crisis for donkeys welfare, and even more so for people who depend on them.

During the last decades, China has seen the demand for donkey skins explode to produce ‘ejiao’, a substance used in traditional medicine, health and beauty products. Currently, the Chinese demand is assessed around 4 million donkey skins a year. As the result the global trade in animals increases, and donkeys are being traded and stolen all around the world.

However, these animals support the livelihood of 500 million people across the world and some of the world’s poorest communities. When donkeys are sold or stolen, the additional burden of taking on their work often falls on the most vulnerable members of the society: children and women. “If you have no donkey, you are a donkey yourself“, explains the Ethiopian proverb, hinting on animal key function in fulfilling daily hard work.

Since the skin is valued so much more than the meat, the premature death of the donkeys from deprivation of food and water is actually considered  by Chinese traders as ‘helpful’. The cruel practices also raise serious concerns for public health and the environment, while the growing Chinese demand for donkey skins clearly will never lead to regulated, humane or sustainable production practices.

Petra Ingram, Chief Executive Officer of the Brooke – Action for Working Horses and Donkeys, and Dr. Jennifer Wathan, Senior Manager, gave a presentation on the local impact of the trade in donkey hides on livelihoods in Africa, advocating to think global and act local. A donkey is a valuable asset that provides multiple essential functions to a household. The growing Chinese trade of donkey skins therefore deeply impacts poorest communities in Africa.

Donkeys provide a huge contribution in developing countries all over the world. For example, every day a donkey earns users and owners in Kenya between $5-12, doing tasks such as collecting water, carrying goods to market or in farming. Loss of a donkey not only results in that income being jeopardised, but also increases the burden on families to carry out manual work themselves. Our research shows that vulnerable people are particularly affected, especially women and the elderly who use their donkeys for daily chores and transportation. This can even keep children out of school” Petra Ingram said.

“We hope that highlighting this issue to the MEPs who attended or observed online today will prompt more research, and ultimately bring us closer to tackling the devastating effects of an unregulated trade in donkey hides. Brooke has made some progress, but this is a global crisis, too large for us and other charities to tackle in isolation, so we must work together to raise awareness and gather more evidence to support positive change for the donkeys and the people who depend on them,” Ingram concluded.

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EU expects Arab League aid in handling migration

On 19 September the heads of state or government met for an informal working dinner on migration in Salzburg, Austria. Leaders discussed the latest developments in this area. They took note that the number of irregular arrivals has been reduced and is now even lower than in the years before the crisis.

The heads of state or government also agreed to strengthen cooperation with third countries, including Egypt.

Together with chancellor Kurz we have started a dialogue with the Egyptian President and now we can say that there is a backing from the European Council for this and similar dialogues” said president of the EU Council Donald Tusk, who will meet President Al Sisi in September to take the cooperation forward. In this context, the leaders also agreed to organise a summit with the League of Arab States in February 2019.

 

Terrorist violence at rise in Africa

The number of violent incidents involving jihad groups in Africa has increased by +300% between 2010-2017, while the number of African countries experiencing sustained militant activity has more than doubled to 12 over the period, according to Africa Center.

The number of African countries experiencing sustained militant Islamist group activity has grown to 12: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and Tunisia). In 2010, there were just five (Algeria, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Somalia.

There has been a shift in the face of Islamist militancy in Africa over the 8-year time frame. In 2010, it was largely dominated by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Shabaab. Now it is shared with Boko Haram and the Islamic State (ISIS). The number of active groups has also grown steadily. In 2010, there were five recognized militant Islamist groups operating on the continent: al Qaeda (in Egypt and Libya), al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al Shabaab, Hizbul Islam, and Boko Haram. By end of 2017, the number was over 20.

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