During the final days of 2017, IOM, the UN Migration Agency succeeded in completing two movements of stranded Somalis and Ethiopians out of Yemen, despite immense security challenges and difficult sea conditions. Two boats were deployed, one headed to Aden to evacuate Somali refugees, while the other went to Hudaydah to evacuate Ethiopians, who were considered especially vulnerable due to the dangers of rising violence near that port city.
The 27 December operation was the 19th assisted voluntary humanitarian return conducted by IOM out of the city of Aden sea port, taking 138 Somali men, women and children home in cooperation with UNHCR. With this final movement in 2017, IOM Yemen helped a total of 2,241 Somali refugees through its sub-office in Aden. The total number of Ethiopian migrants helped return home through Hudaydah seaport via Djibouti reached 746 people during 2017.
It took several attempts to move a second group, some 71 Ethiopians, all occurring within days of the Somali movement. Complications beyond the control of IOM delayed the movement until 31 December but at 4:30 PM on New Year’s Eve, an IOM boat successfully left for Djibouti.
The next morning (1/01/2018), maritime authorities informed IOM that heavy waves near Djibouti would prevent the continuation of the voyage, forcing IOM’s vessel to return to international waters near Yemen. Later that afternoon, authorities informed IOM its boat could set back on its course, ending what had become a long ordeal.
“It was very challenging to conduct movements out of Hudaydah seaport due to the security threats that are present in Yemen’s northern Governorates. Those require us to liaise with different counterparts and authorities as well as the coalitions,” said Hanan Hajori, of IOM Yemen’s Assistance and Protection unit in the Hudaydah sub-office.
Without such permission, return assistance might not happen. In addition, due to rough seas and weather a number of movements had to be cancelled several times. “At the end, migrants in Hudaydah were taken out safely despite of all these challenges,” Hajori added.
While most UN agencies deal with the challenges that come with shortages in funding, IOM Yemen’s additional concern lies in the paramount issue of the safety of migrants and refugees while they are in IOM’s care.
Providing food, shelter and medical assistance are key aspects of IOM’s operations. IOM must also deal with complex security situations and volatile changes on the ground that can derail weeks of preparations in a matter of seconds. Keeping up with a heavy demand for operational efficiency as well as psychosocial efforts to lift the spirits of the people under IOM care requires working day and night to effectively help migrants so they may reach their final destination safely.
“This process usually takes from five to six hours, if everything is going smoothly,” said Rabih Sarieddine, an IOM official directing the sea-borne operations. “Nevertheless, on many occasions, the movement can be delayed for hours due to security matters, such as poor coordination between the security cells on the ground and the coalition, or due to lack of resources at a port, say, where a captain isn’t available.”
None of these are easy passages. Embarkation at a collection/transit centre generally starts in the early morning hours before buses can move to a port. There, beneficiaries go through security and immigration checks, after which the IOM team begins assisting beneficiaries onto their vessel.
A journey from Aden to Berbera typically takes between 12 and 15 hours, depending on the sea conditions, Sarieddine explained.
Brand Africa and biodiversity focus of the 9th edition of INVESTOUR
Nearly 30 African Tourism ministers convened at INVESTOUR to debate and exchange experiences on the development of the sector in the continent. This unique Tourism Investment and Business Forum for Africa is jointly organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Casa Africa and FITUR.
Two round tables and a business-to-business component integrates the 9th edition of INVESTOUR that took place in the framework of FITUR, the Tourism Fair in Madrid. The first session, moderated by Thebe Ikalafeng, Chairman at Brand Africa, addressed branding strategies to position the African continent in the travel market.
“International tourist arrivals in Africa grew by around 8% for the second consecutive year with 62 million arrivals registered for 2017. These strong results that show the potential of tourism in Africa but also the prioritization of the sector in the development agenda in the continent,” said UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili.
“INVESTOUR has become a consolidated platform for sharing ideas and projects around the tourism sector in Africa. We started as a small summit and nine years later, nearly 30 African tourism ministers convene here to position the African continent, a topic that will occupy the debates in this year’s edition,” explained Luis Padrón, Director General of Casa Africa.
The second panel evaluated the added value of African biodiversity as a strong component of the tourism sector in the continent. Wildlife, reserves and geographic treasures make Africa unique with regard to its tourism offer. According to UNWTO research, wildlife watching travel represents 80% of the total annual tourist arrivals to Africa. However, it is mandatory to continue working on conservation and protection measures and to engage stakeholders of different nature such as governments, local communities, private sector recipients and the media.
Within that round table, the UNWTO/Chimelong Programme on Wildlife Conservation and Tourism was presented. The initiative, jointly implemented by UNWTO and the Chimelong Group, based in Guandong (China), aims at contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda through sustainable tourism and particularly wildlife conservation. The initiative comprises capacity building, advocacy and knowledge sharing methodologies and addresses multiple stakeholders such as governments, civil society and the media.
In the afternoon, tourism stakeholders gathered to discuss business opportunities in the continent. 15 inspiring projects were shared with the aim to build partnerships around tourism development in African nations.
ADB VP Reaffirms Commitment to Support Bangladesh on Implementing SDGs
Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Wencai Zhang, attending the Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) in Dhaka today, reaffirmed ADB’s commitment to supporting Bangladesh in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and assisting the country in fulfilling its growth aspirations.
Complimenting Bangladesh on achieving the Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty incidence between 1990 and 2015, as well as those related to primary education, child mortality, maternal health, and safe drinking water and basic sanitation, Mr. Zhang said, “ADB stands ready to support Bangladesh in tackling challenges to meeting the SDGs, improving infrastructure, and boosting social development. Improving education quality, enhancing access to health, and creating more employment opportunities, particularly for women, are some of the challenges to be met to achieve the SDG targets.”
Mr. Zhang, in his remarks at the opening session of the BDF, noted that it is necessary to further boost investment to fulfill the country’s growth aspirations and move the economy to a higher growth trajectory. He also exchanged views with the Minister of Finance, Abul Maal A. Muhith, highlighting ADB’s robust and expanding partnership with Bangladesh.
The ADB Vice-President also noted that ADB’s country operations business plan for Bangladesh for the next three years reflects the government’s key development priorities for inclusive growth, with projects in infrastructure and social development.
ADB operations will address infrastructure development (transport, energy, and urban services sectors), rural infrastructure, skills development, climate and disaster resilience, and regional cooperation and integration. ADB will expand lending to $8 billion during 2016-2020 from $5 billion in 2011-2015. ADB will also continue to support Bangladesh’s regional cooperation and integration efforts, particularly in electricity sharing with neighbors, and implementation of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement.
Ukraine pilots the removal of value-added tax on electric vehicles
The Ukrainian Parliament has adopted a provisional exemption on value-added tax and excise tax for all electric vehicles for 2018. This regulation will be in effect on a temporary pilot basis for 2018. A more comprehensive regulation is being developed to create a sustainable environment for further development of electric mobility in Ukraine, as well as favorable conditions for investment opportunities in this market.
The announcement follows the formal launch of the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) in Ukraine in October 2017.
During the launch, the Ministry of Infrastructure announced a 40 per cent decrease in value-added tax for electric vehicles over the next five years, among other incentives. The GFEI has actively supported the such legislation through its national partners, the International Standardization Academy and the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Ukraine has experienced steady and strong growth in electric vehicle sales. The country now has one of the strongest electrification rates in the world, with sales tripling in 2017 alone.
Rob de Jong, the Head of UN Environment’s Air Quality and Mobility team, welcomed the news: “Countries that embrace electrification first will enjoy the greatest benefits. Policymakers are moving on this issue, and Ukraine is the latest example of an early adopter.”
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