The report entitled "The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond" is being presented to EU home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in the European Parliament on Wednesday.
The report, by Dutch and Swedish researchers, Professor Mirjam van Reisen, Professor Conny Rijken and Meron Estefanos details the trafficking of refugees from the Horn of Africa who are targeted by criminal networks for extortion and exploitation.
The report, based on numerous interviews with surviving refugees, looks at the experience of refugees who have fled countries looking for safety and security.
The report concludes that between 2007 and 2012 some 25,000 to 30,000 people were trafficked, an estimated 95% from Eritrea.
Smuggled across borders by middlemen, or kidnapped from refugee camps, they are held in inhumane conditions close to the Israeli border, tortured and abused to pressure friends and relatives into paying enormous ransoms.
Many of those trafficked have died in captivity even after ransoms were paid. It estimates US$600 million may have been paid out in ransoms. The report suggests that many Eritreans do not survive the trafficking and the torture, and calculates between 5,000 and 10,000 of the hostages have died or been killed in captivity, with children as young as two or three years old among the victims.
The report, which focuses on the journey to Sinai and what happens to the refugees in Sinai, accuses Eritrea's Border Surveillance Unit, under the command of General Teklai Kifle 'Manjus', of being central to the human trafficking.
General Teklai and other senior Eritrean officers have also been identified by the UN Monitoring Group for involvement in human trafficking.
By Nesru Jema
Source: Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (Addis Ababa)
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's Finance Minister, argues that African countries need to build capacity to get more from their domestic resources.
The time is right for concerted international action on domestic resource mobilisation in the developing world. Recent high performance on collecting taxes and other domestic resources in developing countries shows that if properly harnessed and managed, domestic revenue can be a very important and sustainable source of long-term finance for economic development and reducing poverty.
Increasing income from domestic resources makes countries less dependent on aid, which can be highly unpredictable. Recently, aid volatility has been exacerbated by frequent fiscal challenges faced by many donor countries. More domestic financial flows would also make low and middle income countries less exposed to donor conditionality, allowing them to choose their own development priorities to meet their citizens’ needs. What is more, mobilising domestic resources demands good governance and prudent resource management in order to meet taxpayers’ aspirations.
In other words, if governments want people to appreciate the need to pay taxes, they must use the extra revenue on high-impact and result-oriented interventions to significantly reduce poverty, inequality, and unemployment and meet other social needs.
According to a recent African Development Bank report, tax revenue collection has improved in many African countries since the 1990s. Overall tax receipts in Africa increased from about 22% of GDP in 1990, to about 27% of GDP in 2007. However there was some variation across countries. Tax revenue in low-income African countries, for example, was still below 15% of GDP – the conventional IMF threshold for satisfactory tax performance, and a level deemed by the United Nations to be insufficient to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Illicit financial flows
Some problems in developing countries are illicit financial outflows, mostly due to looting by corrupt leaders and government officials, tax base erosion and profit-shifting by multinationals, multiple tax incentives, informal activities not being included in the revenue base, and illicit domestic flows.
Embezzlement of public funds by corrupt officials has become disturbingly pervasive, especially in mineral resource-rich countries in Africa. Also, over-dependence on aid or on abnormal profits from natural resources can make governments oblivious to their potential to raise revenue from other sources. All involved in the Global Partnership should coordinate their efforts to resolve these problems.
Effective development co-operation can boost countries’ own revenue-raising efforts by scaling up donor assistance, as well as sharing knowledge and expertise. It can help develop existing country revenue collection institutions, support reforms and improve accountability mechanisms. It should also help to track progress on institutional and capacity developments using country frameworks. More expertise is needed for tax officials in developing countries conducting tax policy analyses and designing tax policies appropriate to local country conditions. Investing development aid in building tax systems can yield impressive returns but only limited funds have been targeted towards this sector so far.
With donor support, developing countries’ governments can invest more in building their own technical capacities, in researching international best practices and in improving their negotiation skills to help them receive maximum benefit from new natural resource contracts. Above all, development frameworks for increasing domestic resource mobilisation should be home-driven and tailored to each country’s specific needs and circumstances, in line with the Busan Partnership Agreement’s first principle of country ownership.
Domestic resource mobilisation is one of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s top priorities for action at its first High-level meeting, to be held in Mexico City in April 2014. As we prepare, I call on all Global Partnership stakeholders including development co-operation providers and recipients, civil society, parliamentarians, and private businesses, to reflect on these issues. With their input, we can have fruitful dialogue to determine how the challenges of domestic resource mobilisation can be properly integrated to the post-2015 development agenda.
It is also imperative that the meeting addresses development co-operation providers’ accountability for timely delivery on their commitments to support these efforts. I believe strongly that the Mexico meeting can better position development co-operation to address the challenges of domestic resource mobilisation in low and middle-income countries.
This article was originally featured on the Effective Development Co-operation Blog hosted by the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation to foster constructive comment to help nations, business and organisations work better together to end poverty.
By Ngozi Okonko-Iweala
Source: Think Africa Press
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that only 10 percent of young men and 15 percent of young women in sub-Saharan Africa know their HIV status. The WHO say governments need to review their laws to make it easier for adolescents to get tested for HIV and to receive counseling and treatment.
More than 2 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 are living with HIV worldwide. Approximately 70 percent of these young people are in sub-Saharan Africa.
The WHO says in a report being released Monday that despite a 30 percent drop in the global number of HIV-related deaths over the last decade, the number of HIV-related deaths in the adolescent age group went up by 50 percent during that same time.
Craig McClure, associate director and chief of the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) HIV/AIDS Division, said (over Skype) that more attention needs to be given to adolescents when it comes to HIV testing and care.
"A lot of the focus in recent years has been on scaling up HIV testing for pregnant women, providing them with treatment to protect their own health and prevent transmission to their babies," he said. "We need to extend those efforts through to adolescents to make sure that children remain HIV-free from birth right through to adulthood and that those [adolescents] that are living with HIV have access to the treatment and care they deserve."
McClure says one of the first steps is making sure more young people know their status.
In many sub-Saharan African countries, the law prevents anyone under the age of 18 from getting tested for HIV without parental consent.
"We obviously would like adolescents, young people, to be able to discuss with their families their health needs, but we know that’s not always possible," he said. "So making it easier for adolescents to get HIV testing, either through the community or through health services, is a really important way of ensuring that they are linked to either care or to prevention services."
McClure says there is also a lack of youth-friendly HIV-testing and counseling services throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and not enough youth-led, government-funded programs to raise awareness among adolescents about the importance of HIV testing as a gateway to services.
He says keeping adolescents in HIV care as they navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood is particularly challenging. They often need more support than adults to stick to their treatment plan and more help dealing with social pressures from peers.
To help adolescents who are either living with HIV or are at risk of infection get the care they need, the WHO worked with UNICEF and other partners to create guidelines for tailoring HIV testing and care services to adolescents.
The report calls on governments to pay more attention to adolescents within their HIV programs and to review their polices in relation to age of consent.
By Jennifer Lazuta
Source: Voice of America
Online and diaspora activists should be recognised as the important early stages of a revolutionary movement, not a distraction.
In a recent African Futures article about the protests that erupted in Sudan this September, Alex de Waal concludes that the "immediate challenge for the opposition is intellectual." In his piece, de Waal contrasts the recent round of protests with the successful 1985 revolution. That comparison of yesterday's revolutionaries with today's activists is both unfair and incomplete.
First, by making no reference to the January 2013 New Dawn Charter or the Sudan Change Forces September 2013 communiqué - two documents that detail specific demands and principles for a change, as agreed to by a broad coalition of opposition forces - the piece's otherwise comprehensive analysis ignores a key dynamic. These documents are not silver bullets, but they do demonstrate a commitment to forging a unified vision for the proverbial "morning after."
Second, De Waal critiques the opposition’s “tendency to learn lessons from abroad rather than analysing conditions at home.” He suggests they are "borrowing and applying a script derived from a particular narrative of the Arab Spring or even [my organisation] the Enough Project." Increasingly, Sudanese are also emphasising the similarities between the struggle on the country's margins and the situation in the centre. For example, through the work of citizen journalists like 3ayin whose compelling videos highlight violence in South Kordofan and Darfur, information about government attacks on civilians in the periphery has begun to trickle into Khartoum too. This is a huge intellectual victory, no matter whose "script" it is.
In his piece, de Waal also questions the opposition's perceived proximity to the country's armed groups. This, he says, undermines activists’ non-violent protests. But at the same time, de Waal warns that there is "virtually no political coordination between the SRF and civic opposition in Khartoum." Bringing an end to the wars inflaming the periphery through dialogue will be a central element of any comprehensive solution. Through the drafting of the New Dawn Charter, some in civil society have already come together with the Sudan Revolutionary Front. Going forward, facilitating more avenues for discussing this document, which remains a work in progress, will be critical.
Finally, de Waal turns his attention to the Twitter and smartphone set. His piece suggests that too much of the social media conversation about Sudan has been in English or French or if in Arabic then "aimed at an external audience." But, since many activists have benefited from a cosmopolitan education, it is unsurprising that their commentary is multilingual. De Waal’s reading, which skewers the languages in which social media activists choose to express themselves, seems to imply that using English or French makes someone less authentically embedded in Sudan. In our increasingly interconnected world, it's short sighted to put up walls between communities of engaged citizens. Sudanese activists who have been using their social media presence to raise awareness and spur discussion, already understand this.
A revolution tailored to Sudan
De Waal's assessment that the opposition in Sudan suffers from a lack of organisation and cohesion is a correct one. His piece offers important insights into the role that Islamists play in the Sudanese polity. However, in idealising Khatim Adlan and the National Alliance for National Salvation, de Waal fails to recognise their 21st century reincarnations. A quarter of a century after the 1985 revolution, dynamics have changed, as have technologies. While social media and smartphones cannot reach everyone in Sudan, it would be a mistake to play down their power. When the Sudanese government shut down the internet during the September demonstrations, for example, protesters found ways to keep working using Ushahidi crisis mapping tools and other workarounds. The five day hunger strike in late October, dubbed #Strike4Sudan, drew international attention to those in still in detention. Survivors such as Rania Mamoun and Amjad Farid have become hubs of organisational energy. Now, instead of organising around funerals of martyrs, Sudanese activists are standing behind one another.
Observers waiting to see protesters dramatically steal CNN headlines with an Egyptian style revolution are looking for the wrong thing. Sudanese live in one of the most restricted environments in the world. The government successfully controls the narrative by targeting journalists and shutting down newspapers and television stations with impunity. In an amazing show of duplicity, after least 210 people were killed in state security forces' violent suppression of the protests following the government announcement that fuel subsidies would be cut on 22 September, the Sudanese government tried to pin the violence on the country's armed opposition. Sudan is not going to have a Tahrir Square moment where millions occupy Khartoum's city centre for days. That does not mean a revolution is not brewing.
21st Century Tools
Notwithstanding de Waal’s assessment, Sudanese activists are doing much more than just waiting for a "fortuitous alignment of the stars" to deliver them to power. But they need international support to help pry open political space for dialogue and discussion. The website Al Rakoba already hosts vibrant debates and Radio Dabanga offers unparalleled coverage of Darfur. But in our consultations with Sudanese, one thing comes up repeatedly: more independent media platforms are necessary.
Promoting increased access to innovative 21st century tools should be at the centrepiece of our strategy. Google's new Project Shield, which offers sites serving media, elections and human rights related content sophisticated protection from cyber attack, could help Sudanese NGOs and media houses maintain the integrity of their online platforms. Mobile Martus gives smartphone users the power to quickly send encrypted photos or videos to a desktop anywhere in the world, immediately deleting all trace of the material on their phones. By allowing advocates to avoid detection while preserving and publishing their data securely, these types of technologies could fundamentally alter the power imbalance in Sudan.
De Waal worries that the Sudanese government will "turn social media against its practitioners." However, tools like Silent Circle even allow the average person to communicate securely using cryptography, preventing others from intercepting communications for $10/month. Meanwhile Google's new UProxy system creates peer-to-peer gateways for secure browsing, making it easier for those planning and coordinating to organise themselves without infiltration. The Sudanese diaspora should be encouraged to support the opposition too. With UProxy, someone in London can lend their internet connection to a friend or loved one in Sudan, adding an extra wall of protection.
While it may not be a perfect solution, increased training on and access to 21st century tools could offer desperately needed protection to Sudanese activists. Many are now working online to raise awareness, spark debate and build organisational capacity to confront the regime. Alex de Waal, and others who care about Sudan, should see online activists for what they are - a necessary first step for change - and get behind them.
Source: Think Africa Press
In a humanitarian crisis, should aid agencies be working through local partners? Does it make their aid more appropriate, more effective, better value for money? Or are they better off just doing it themselves?
A new survey on partnering in emergencies, entitled Missed Opportunities, looks at the benefits, but also some of the challenges of working through local partners.
The study draws on the experience of the five major agencies which commissioned it (Christian Aid, CAFOD, Oxfam, Tearfund and ActionAid) and their partners in the field - normally local NGOs - in four recent emergencies - the conflict in North Kivu, the earthquake in Haiti, the food crisis in East Africa and the floods in Pakistan.
The biggest benefit found, perhaps not surprisingly, was in increasing the relevance and appropriateness of their aid, an area where big international agencies sometimes struggle. Partners are much more likely to know what people need and who the priority beneficiaries should be. Because they speak the language and come from the same culture, they spot things that might otherwise be overlooked; one example cited in the study comes from Haiti, where a local NGO partner set up communal kitchens, because they knew how little space the displaced people had for cooking, and how dangerous lots of small fires could be in a tented camp under plastic sheeting.
Partners can also improve the speed of response. They do not have to fly in from the other side of the world, but are already there when there is a sudden emergency, and can work in situations which would be difficult for outsiders, whether for political reasons, as in Burma/Myanmar, or for security reasons, as in Somalia.
But their staff do not always have the skills that are needed, and the first days of an emergency are not the moment to start training them. And they do not normally get included in coordination mechanisms like the UN's cluster system.
Then there is the question of whether they are cheaper. Ben Ramalingam, who was the lead author of the study, says: “This is a big issue, especially in the UK with its strong value-for-money agenda. Yes, they can show cost savings, especially on staff costs and the cost of putting boots on the ground. But there are also costs to doing partnerships, costs associated with setting them up and supporting them.”
This was one of the issues raised at a meeting to discuss the study at London's Overseas Development Institute. It is a sore point that donors are keen to see more use of partners because they are seen as providing good value, but investing in partnerships usually has to be paid for out of agencies' own resources. It is not something which is budgeted for when funds are given in response to humanitarian crises.
But the UK Department of International Development's head of humanitarian response, Dylan Winder, said he accepted that you needed to invest in capacity before the event, and his department might be sympathetic to requests for this kind of funding. “DFID doesn't really have the staff to engage in partnerships itself with lots of small organizations,” he said. “But if you can show that supporting partnerships would be value for money, I don't see why DFID wouldn't be prepared to fund it. We are up for the challenge of how to do this effectively.”
Who to partner with?
Another issue which aroused a lot of interest was which organizations to choose as partners. One of the points raised in the study was that partner NGOs were generally quite small, and could not deliver assistance or handle funding on a large scale. And yet it was rare for international agencies to enter into partnerships with the kind of developing country institutions which do work on a large scale, like BRAC, the Bangladesh-based NGO, or the humanitarian agencies of national governments.
Out of the five agencies which commissioned the study, three are faith-based - Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund. Helen Stawski, who co-chairs the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, said that since many possible partners in the developing world are faith-based organizations, shared religious belief does provide a kind of glue which strengthen partnerships. But she suggests that the whole issue of faith is a bit of an “elephant in the room”, glaringly present, but something that most aid agencies try to avoid.
She told IRIN: “They look for local NGOs that look like international NGOs, but I'm interested also in indigenous, faith-based expressions of society. They do have capacity, but it's a different sort of capacity and their accountability comes through relationships. We talk about `community based organizations' and `leaders with influence in the community', but often community leaders are religious leaders.”
Stawski says it makes no sense to avoid these as partners. “There are concerns about proselytizing, and there have been a few cases where aid has been used in an inappropriate way to encourage conversion, but the fear of this is far greater than the reality. Also there is an attitude, `We can't partner with your church because then we would have to partner with all the other faiths', but this kind of attitude seems superficial and rather misses the point. What we are looking for is capacity, who can have the most effect.”
UK-based NGO Islamic Relief were mentioned in the context of the food crisis in East Africa, and how collaborating with them had enabled non-Muslim agencies to tap into their network of local partnerships in Muslim areas to increase access.
Politics can also be a barrier. ActionAid CEO Richard Miller cites the Eritrean and Tigrean relief operations run out of Sudan during the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s as an example of how effective developing country organizations can be. “It was a complete alternative operation,” he said, “running successfully and at huge scale, and all done by local people.”
Yet those operations, run by the humanitarian wings of the EPLF and TPLF rebel movements were highly political and have been accused of using aid to fund the war effort. “There are differences of opinion about how politicized aid can be,” Miller told IRIN, “as we see in Syria now. But aid is part of a whole mix. Some standards have to be followed, but the consequence of not working with such organizations is also political. It can be messy, but it's only by engaging that we can continue to solve problems.”
Cape Town — Most Africans say their governments are failing in the fight against corruption, and many believe the situation has deteriorated in the last decade, according to the continent's most comprehensive survey of public opinion.
The survey also says nearly one in three Africans say they have paid a bribe in the past year, and almost one in five have paid it to a government official to get an official document or permit. The survey shows that corruption hits those living in poverty the hardest, and police forces are the government institutions most often accused of taking bribes.
These are among the major findings of the latest Afrobarometer survey of public opinion in 34 countries. Afrobarometer is a research project coordinated by independent institutions in Ghana, Benin, Kenya and South Africa, with partners in 31 other countries. It says its surveys are based on nationally representative samples and thus represent the views of about three-quarters of Africans.
The newest report from the survey conducted between 2011 and 2013 was published in Dakar on Wednesday.
It says that 56 percent of the 51,000 people surveyed believe their governments are doing "fairly badly" or "very badly" in the fight against corruption. Only 35 percent say their governments are doing "fairly well" or "very well".
Nigerians and Egyptians are the most dissatisfied - 82 percent in each country feel their governments are doing badly - followed by Zimbabweans (81 percent), Ugandans and Sudanese (76 percent), Kenyans (70 percent), Malians (69 percent), Tunisians (67 percent), Togolese, Tanzanians and South Africans (66 percent).
More than half of Liberians (63 percent) and Ghanaians (54 percent) also rated their governments' performances poorly. In Sierra Leone, less than half (44 percent) say their government is doing badly - although the survey also shows that Sierra Leoneans are top of the list in the proportion of citizens who say they have had to pay a bribe in the past year.
Malawians and the Basotho are the least dissatisfied with their governments over corruption, with 28 percent of people rating their governments poorly. In Botswana the figure is 29 percent, in Senegal 32 percent and in Niger 39 percent.
The report says that in the 16 countries surveyed since 2002, those who rate their governments' performances poorly rose from 46 percent to 54 percent of respondents. Perceptions of government performance worsened in 11 of the 16, with Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Tanzania doing worst.
In Kenya, only 11 percent of people said in 2003 the government was failing, but the figure rose to 70 percent in 2011. Afrobarometer attributed the 2003 figure to "public euphoria" after the 2002 election, in which an incumbent government was removed for the first time.
In Zimbabwe, negative ratings went up by 43 percentage points - from 38 percent in 2002 to 81 percent in 2012 - and in Ghana by 31 points and Tanzania 25 points.
The most notable improvement was in Malawi, where those who gave their government negative ratings dropped by 40 percentage points (from 68 percent ratings to 28 percent). There were also improvements in perceptions in Lesotho (18 points), Botswana (11 points) and Senegal (10 points).
Other findings in the report:
"Police attract the highest ratings of corruption across the 34 countries, with 43 percent of people saying that "most" or "all" of them are involved in corruption. Negative perceptions are highest in Nigeria (78 percent), Kenya (69 percent) and Sierra Leone (69 percent). "
"Almost one in five people (18 percent) who had gone without enough food to eat one or more times in the past year had paid a bribe to a government official in the past year to obtain medical treatment, compared with just 12 percent among those who never went without food. "
"Almost half the people (46 percent) who go without enough food to eat one or more times a year rate "most" or "all" of police to be corrupt, compared to 39 percent among those who never go without food. And 31 percent of the poorest perceive judges and magistrates to be corrupt, compared to 24 percent among better off citizens. "
In its conclusions, the report says although the fight against corruption "has had a very high profile in the last decade... Afrobarometer data shows that these efforts have not been sufficient to curb corruption levels.
"Moreover, the poor's experience with corruption in their day to day interactions with public servants may contribute to increasing social inequality and exacerbating the differences between the rich and the poor...
"High levels of corruption are also associated with dysfunctional democracies; those who perceive high levels of corruption in their national institutions, and those who experience it personally in their daily lives, are more likely to report being dissatisfied with the way democracy works in their country. "
The 34 countries surveyed were Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
BY John Allen
Source: All Africa