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.
Uganda Can Rein in Debt by Managing its Public Investments Better
In the wake of a waning COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and upon full re-opening of the economy, optimism—regarding expected acceleration of growth and a clearer outlook for oil production with the signing of the Final Investment Decision in February 2022—has been dampened by new global shocks, including the impacts of the war in Ukraine.
The 19th edition of the Uganda Economic Update (UEU): Fiscal Sustainability through Deeper Reform of Public Investment Management, a biannual analysis of Uganda’s near-term macroeconomic outlook, estimates growth at 3.7 percent in 2022, which is lower than pre-COVID-19 projections of over 6 percent. Uganda’s gross national income per capita stood at about $840 in FY21 and has increased only marginally in the year since.
Real gross domestic product grew by 4.3 percent in the first half of 2022 supported by a strong and speedy recovery of the service sector upon the opening of the leisure and entertainment industry, accommodation, and food services, as well as sustained buoyancy of the information and communications sector. The report projects a 5.1 percent growth rate in FY23, 0.5 percentage point below the December 2021 forecast, increasing to about 6 percent in FY24.
“Rising commodity prices and the overall increase in cost of living pose new risks to livelihoods, that had just begun recovering from the effects of COVID-19. These and other shocks are threatening to stall socio-economic transformation, thus increasing the likelihood of the people falling deeper into poverty,” said Mukami Kariuki, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda. “It is therefore crucial for the Government of Uganda to adopt targeted interventions to support the vulnerable while managing debt and rising inflation.”
The UEU proposes four policy actions that will enable Uganda to sustain a resilient and inclusive recovery: i) accelerate vaccination efforts against COVID-19; ii) adopt targeted interventions to support the vulnerable – such as building shock responsive social protection systems; iii) maintain prudent fiscal and debt management to support the fiscal consolidation agenda; and iv) cautious monetary tightening in the face of rising inflationary pressures.
The report also recommends accelerating longer term structural reforms to (i) strengthen revenue mobilization through the implementation of the Domestic Revenue Mobilization Strategy; (ii) improve public investment management; (iii) rationalize public expenditure to support faster, sustainable, and inclusive growth by investing strongly in human capital development; and (iv) improve the trade and business environment and enable green investments.
The UEU notes that fiscal consolidation is needed to rein in debt and to create the necessary space to respond to shocks that could hurt or stall recovery. This can be done through better Public Investment Management (PIM) building on important reforms that have been undertaken by the government. The benefits of these efforts are starting to show.
“Uganda has a great opportunity to harness Public Investment Management by making sure that beyond preparing good projects, effort is also directed at ensuring that they are efficiently funded, implemented, monitored, operated, maintained, and evaluated. These steps ensure that the country can reap the maximum value of public investments,” said Rachel Sebudde, World Bank Senior Economist and the lead author of the Uganda Economic Update. “Strategic capacity building for government officials is crucial as it will improve the Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ effectiveness across the PIM cycle.”
Notwithstanding the progress achieved in the PIM process, key challenges remain. These include low execution rates on donor and own-budget projects; long implementation delays; cost- and time-overruns on projects; and high commitment fees in the case of non-concessional externally funded projects. Overall, the improvements around the administrative processes of the pre-investment phase of PIM are being discounted by challenges in critical areas, including project prioritization and selection, budgeting, and implementation.
New UN financing initiative goes live to power climate action
A new UN-led financing tool to strengthen weather and climate forecasting, improve life-saving early warning systems, safeguard jobs, and underpin climate adaptation for long-term resilience, officially opened for business on Thursday.
The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) is a key building block for a new initiative spearheaded by UN Secretary-General General António Guterres to ensure that early warning services cover everyone on Earth, within the next five years.
SOFF seeks to address the long-standing problem of inadequate weather forecasting and climate services, especially in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
In support of the Paris Agreement on climate change, it will strengthen the international response to keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, “by filling the data gaps that limit our understanding of the climate”, according to a press release issued by the World Meteorological Organization, WMO.
These gaps affect national agencies’ ability to predict and adapt to extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves, all of which are on the rise, in line with the warming climate.
Heads of the three founding agencies, WMO, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP), joined ministers from donor countries, LDC Group members, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) representatives and development partners, at the first SOFF Steering Committee meeting in Helsinki on Thursday to get the facility up and running.
Boost ‘the power of prediction’
“As the climate crisis worsens, it is crucial that we boost the power of prediction for everyone so countries can reduce disaster risk”, said the UN chief.
“That is why we have launched an initiative to ensure that every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within the next five years. SOFF is an essential tool to achieve this. I thank all the countries that are providing initial funding to the SOFF UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund and urge others to do the same”.
“Early warning systems are built on the foundation of weather observation data, but this foundation is patchy to non-existent in many in LDCs and African countries,” stated Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition.
Join the club
“I want to congratulate all the countries that have come forward and announce or soon will announce their financial contributions to the SOFF UN Multi Partner Trust Fund. I urge others to follow suit and help create a strong global data foundation upon which timely, accurate, people centered early warning systems can be built for everyone. Our collective efforts are needed more than ever.”
WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas, pointed out that today, less than 10 per cent of required basic weather and climate forecasting systems are available from SIDS and LDCs.
“The world urgently needs this data and this is why SOFF will be a partnership of equals where everyone has a role and responsibilities.”
SOFF provides benefits not only to the most vulnerable countries, but to all countries across the globe, said WMO. The improved availability of weather and climate observations enabled by the SOFF are essential if the world community is to realize the 162 billion US dollars annually in socio-economic benefits of weather and climate prediction.
Best science, best data
Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, emphasized that “now is the time to begin business by providing financial resources and technical capacity, by ensuring that from local to the global, all our actions can be informed by the best science and the best data. My deep thanks to the generous funders who will announce their firm pledges today. I encourage all to follow suit because now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work for people and for planet.”
UN Under-Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator Usha Rao-Monari followed, adding that “The United Nations Development Program is a proud co-founder of the SOFF UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund. Together with WMO and UNEP we are building upon the momentum generated over the past two years and I want to sincerely thank all stakeholders that contributed to the development of the SOFF. The specialized support provided by SOF is needed more than ever.”
Safer roads, a global development challenge for all
Every 24 seconds someone is killed in traffic, making safety on the world’s roads a global development challenge for all societies, especially for the most vulnerable, a senior UN official has said, ahead of the first ever High-level General Assembly Meeting on Improving Road Safety.
Nneka Henry, who heads the United Nations Road Safety Fund (UNRSF) Secretariat, noted that 500 children die in crashes every day, and that of the older population, women are 17 times more likely to be killed during a car crash than men, even when wearing seatbelts.
Challenge for all
Despite these statistics, road safety is not just a challenge for women or for young people. It is “for each and every one of us who walk, ride, cycle or drive on our roads,” Ms. Henry told Diedra Sealey, a young diplomat in the President of the General Assembly’s HOPE Fellowship programme.
The interview took place ahead of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Improving Road Safety, which gets underway at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday and Friday, organized by the President of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Coinciding with the meeting, is the UN Road Safety Fund pledging conference. The Fund was established in 2018 with a vision to “to build a world where roads are safe for every road user, everywhere.” It specially finances projects in low- and middle- income countries, where some 93 per cent of road deaths and injuries take place.
“I am here in New York to remind all 193 Member States of their commitment to the Fund’s mandate and success,” Ms. Henry said.
Those successes include the announcement that as of 1 July, all vehicles imported in East Africa need to be below the Euro 4/IV emission standard and no more than eight years old.
The Fund has been working with the Economic Community of West African States’ 15 members, to harmonize vehicle standard resolutions.
“This will have major air quality and road safety benefits,” Ms. Henry said about the latest announcement.
Some of the other achievements by the Fund include legislation in Azerbaijan to help emergency post-crash response, help to increase enforcement of the speed limits and other road traffic rules in Brazil and Jordan, as well as improving data collection in Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, and training urban planners on making safer school zones in Paraguay.
Vision for the future
As part of the High-level meeting this week, UN Member States will adopt a political declaration, to lay out a “vision for the future of mobility as one that promotes health and well-being, protects the environment, and benefits all people,” according to a press release.
The interconnected targets are part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that show how road safety is also integrated into the SDGs, from allowing safer access to education, to allowing people access to groceries and reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Halving traffic deaths and injuries by 2030 is a target under the third SDG, on good health and well-being.
Why Russia’s Vaccine Diplomacy Failed Africa
In these difficult and crucial times, the strategic partnership with Africa has become a priority of Russia’s foreign policy, declared...
9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles: Outcomes in 2022
The 9th Summit of the Americas—delayed for a year by the pandemic—attracted unprecedented scrutiny of Latin American and global media,...
Can BRICS Make a Contribution to International Security?
The 14th BRICS Summit is being held in virtual format in Beijing, China. Under turbulent international situations, the question of...
Uganda Can Rein in Debt by Managing its Public Investments Better
In the wake of a waning COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and upon full re-opening of the economy, optimism—regarding expected acceleration of...
An Epitaph for Anniversary
On the eve of the NATO summit in Madrid, to be held on June 28-30, Julianne Smith, U.S. Permanent Representative...
The Lives of Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia
Authors: Harsh Mahaseth and Samyuktha Banusekar* The Rohingya in Myanmar fled to various countries, having been denied citizenship and persecuted...
Qatar World Cup offers lessons for human rights struggles
It’s a good time, almost 12 years after the world soccer body, FIFA, awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup hosting...
Economy2 days ago
G7’s $600 Billion projects, no threat to Chinese BRI
Africa3 days ago
Russia Readies to Gather African leaders for 2nd Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
South Asia4 days ago
Why the implementation of the CHT peace agreement is still elusive?
Economy4 days ago
Digital Economy Development in China Shifts the Focus to the Production Side
East Asia4 days ago
Taiwan dispute, regional stability in East Asia and US policy towards it
South Asia4 days ago
Rohingya repatriation between Myanmar-Bangladesh
Americas3 days ago
Aligning values into an interest-based Canadian Indo-Pacific Strategy
East Asia3 days ago
Ukraine’s losses are China’s gains