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‘Humanitarian catastrophe’ looms in Haiti, threatening years of progress as COVID-19 takes hold

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The Delmas 32 neighbourhood in the Haitian capital, Port au Prince is one of the poorest in the Caribbean country. Photo: World Bank/Dominic Chavez

The COVID-19 outbreak could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe in Haiti, endangering many years of hard-won progress in the Caribbean nation, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) said on Friday.

In a statement, ECOSOC’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti called for immediate action to address health and humanitarian needs, alongside ongoing efforts to promote sustainable development and resilience to future shocks.

Come together

It asked the United Nations, Member States, donors, international financial institutions and others to urgently act together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its humanitarian and socio-economic consequences.

Six million people already live below the poverty line in Haiti and 40 per cent of the population is food insecure, it explained, adding that the 2020 hurricane season – which runs from June through November – could further compound existing challenges.

“Unless adequately managed, the COVID-19 health emergency and its socio-economic impact could become a humanitarian catastrophe, threatening to unravel some of the hard-won development and security gains achieved in the past decade and a half in Haiti”, it said.

The 17-member Ad Hoc Advisory Group, chaired by Canada and including Haiti, closely monitors the situation in Haiti and provides advice on its long-term development strategy.

COVID-19 pushes more into poverty

It said that it expects the novel coronavirus crisis to deepen the humanitarian, human rights and economic crisis in Haiti and to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, pushing more people into poverty.

With classrooms closed, some 300,000 children are missing daily school meals, putting them at risk of stunted growth, it said.

The pandemic could also further erode Haitians’ confidence in national institutions, exacerbate political and social tensions, prompt human rights violations and lead to renewed violence, it added.

Coronavirus deaths

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported Friday a total of 101 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 12 deaths, in Haiti as of Thursday.

The Ad Hoc Advisory Group welcomed the Government’s prompt response to the crisis as well as the support offered to it by the UN country team and the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).

In its most recent update on Haiti, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on 24 April that close to four million Haitians need urgent food assistance, and that at least 1 million of those are suffering from severe hunger.

In the capital Port-au-Prince alone, 850,000 people are food insecure, said the UN food agency, which is scaling up its food assistance programme in Haiti and appealing for an additional $140 million for emergency food assistance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Government restrictions on movements and gatherings are expected to put a further strain on the poorest households, pushing even more Haitians into severe hunger”, it said.

Last week, a group of 13 independent UN human rights experts called on Secretary-General António Guteres to “urgently step up efforts” to fulfil a UN pledge to help victims of a nine-year cholera epidemic in Haiti that killed more than 10,000 citizens.

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Top 3 Effective Strategies for Using Push Notifications

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A lot of businesses are actively using push marketing to raise their sales, attract more customers, and build a strong brand. Although some marketers achieve their goals, there are many who cannot make push marketing work for them. So, what are the secrets of successful push notifications? What key aspect of push marketing should you be aware of? In this post, we have prepared the top-3 most effective strategies that will make your business fly.

1. A/B Testing

Before sending a notification to a large audience, test its effectiveness with a small group of people. This will help you determine which parts of the notification are working and which should be reconsidered. Start by testing elements and factors such as:

  • Post content – You can measure how well users are responding to your posts by tracking your open or click rate. Your job is to find out what factors lead to an increase in your targets. Test how effective simple URLs, short sentences in a message are, etc. Refer to evadav.com/faq-publisher information for more details.
  • Frequency/timing – To find out how often to send push notifications, try different frequency options (for example, weekly and daily) and choose the one that will result in fewer unsubscriptions. You can also use metrics such as open rate and CTR to find out what time of day or night users are most likely to respond to your posts.
  • Message delivery method – Open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and conversion rate – all of these metrics indicate whether your push notifications are successfully engaging users. Use these data to determine which delivery method is most positively treated by your audience.

A/B testing will only be beneficial if you have quality tools at your disposal to measure success. You may not be able to get it right the first time around, but don’t be discouraged. Just keep testing!

2. Personalize Your Messages

To achieve the same level of personalization that messages from friends, family, and colleagues have, you should take into account all the details about the user’s identity. Event settings, language, and lifecycle – considering all these characteristics will help you make your message as personal and targeted as possible. You can go even further and segment users based on their activity on your website or landing page. It’s only when you start sending them notifications that are relevant to their interests, users will feel like you’re really trying to provide them with some value.

3. Avoid Complex Wording: Write Clearer

Interactive notifications will mean little if the content you communicate is of no value to the user. Most companies continue to use notifications as some kind of bait – as a piece of obscure, cryptic content, whose task is to lure the user back into the application. But notifications work more efficiently when they have some other meaning, a message.

A push notification can be considered successful if it:

  • Is written in a laconic form;
  • Conveys something interesting and intriguing to the user;
  • Justifies the user’s choice to perform a target action.

Companies that have worked hard on their push notifications engagement strategy end up gaining user loyalty and engagement, increased traffic, and more page views – metrics that impact readiness for conversion. And all this for a lot less than what you could invest in retargeting tools.

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Human Rights

Human rights breaches in Belarus, Ethiopia, and Algeria

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A girl stands outside her home in the Tigray Region, Ethiopia. © UNICEF/Tanya Bindra

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions taking stock of the human rights situation in Belarus, Ethiopia, and Algeria.

Human rights violations in Belarus, in particular the murder of Raman Bandarenka.

Parliament condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of Raman Bandarenka in Belarus, and expresses its condolences to his family and to all families who have lost loved ones as a result of the repression of Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s regime.

Mr Bandarenka, a 31-year-old art teacher, was brutally beaten on the evening of 11 November by a group of plain-clothed men in masks who reportedly had close ties to the regime. Mr Bandarenka was taken into detention where he was subjected to further beatings. He later died as a result of his injuries.

MEPs demand prompt, thorough, and independent investigations into his death and the protest-related deaths of other Belarusian civilians. They reiterate their support for the protesters’ demands for freedom, democracy, dignity, and the right to choose their own destiny, while condemning the ongoing human rights violations, intimidation, and disproportionate use of force by the authorities towards peaceful demonstrators.

The text was adopted by 613 votes in favour, 41 against and 35 abstentions.

The situation in Ethiopia

MEPs are deeply concerned by the current armed conflict between the federal government of Ethiopia and the regional administration of Tigray led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), including the ongoing violence and allegations of serious breaches of fundamental human rights. They call on both parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire and to settle political differences by democratic means within the framework of the country’s constitution.

The resolution deplores the loss of life and killing of innocent civilians and the extrajudicial killings, regardless of their perpetrators. Parliament implores Ethiopia’s central government and the TPLF to take immediate action to deescalate the conflict and criticises the severe restrictions preventing humanitarian workers from accessing the area.

The text was adopted by 643 votes in favour, 5 against and 46 abstentions.

Human rights abuses in Algeria, in particular the case of journalist Khaled Drareni.

Parliament strongly condemns the escalation of arbitrary and unlawful arrests, detentions, and judicial harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, lawyers, civil society, and peaceful activists in Algeria. It also urges the Algerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Mohamed Khaled Drareni and all those detained and charged for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

In August, Mr Drareni – a correspondent for TV5 Monde – was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 50 000 Algerian dinars for filming police attacking demonstrators in Algiers. He was formally charged with ‘inciting an unarmed gathering’ and ‘undermining the integrity of national territory’. In September, his sentence was reduced to two years on appeal.

MEPs reiterate their call on the Algerian authorities to stop all forms of intimidation, criminalisation, or the arbitrary detention of critical voices such as journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. They insist that appropriate steps be taken to guarantee for all the right to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. The resolution was adopted by 669 votes in favour, 3 against and 22 abstentions.

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Human Rights

UN Committee urges end to impunity for enforced disappearances in Iraq

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A Yazidi Kurd from Sinjar who was abducted by the ISIL terrorist group, pictured in Mamilyan Camp for internally displaced persons in Akre, Iraq. Photo: Giles Clarke/ Getty Images Reportage

A pattern of enforced disappearance – and impunity for such acts – persists in Iraq, according to a report published on Friday by the UN Committee charged with monitoring how well the country upholds its international obligations in dealing with the issue.

In issuing its findings, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances – a group of 10 independent experts that monitors States’ adherence to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance – also noted that revictimization prevails in these cases.

The Committee called on Iraq to incorporate the offence of enforced disappearance into its domestic criminal legislation and to ensure that no person is held in secret detention.

Legislation Delays

To be sure, the Committee also welcomed that Iraq set up two fact-finding committees, in 2016 and 2018, to address enforced disappearances committed in the country.  It also hailed the drafting of the Bill on the Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which is currently before the Council of Ministers.

But the experts also expressed concern at delays in adopting this legislation, which has fostered a lack of criminalization of the offence.  It recommended that Iraq revise the bill, in compliance with the International Convention, and in consultation with all stakeholders, including civil society.

Lack of data

Committee experts are also worried by the lack of reliable data on cases of enforced disappearance and the large quantity of unidentified bodies and mass graves. It recommended Iraq establish a consolidated nationwide database of all cases of disappearance that have occurred in the country since 1968.

For its part, the Committee said it has received allegations concerning around 420 secret detention sites.  It urged the State party to investigate thoroughly the allegations, and to close any such facilities or convert them into regular registered and supervised detention centres, as well as to take all necessary measures to ensure that no one is detained secretly in the future.

Experts on board

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances monitors States parties’ adherence to the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Committee is made up of 10 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.  The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty.

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