Articles on this Page
- 10/01/12--09:38: _Protection Cluster ...
- 10/01/12--09:43: _Ethiopia Weekly Hum...
- 10/01/12--09:55: _Update on UNHCR’s o...
- 10/01/12--09:57: _Humanitarian Bullet...
- 10/01/12--09:59: _Update on UNHCR’s o...
- 10/01/12--11:47: _Southern Africa Foo...
- 10/01/12--13:19: _Les crises humanita...
- 10/01/12--18:11: _Mali Food Security ...
- 10/01/12--19:21: _Decline in grains o...
- 10/01/12--19:27: _Australia and the W...
- 10/01/12--19:30: _35 die as cholera h...
- 10/02/12--02:46: _Echos de la Réprese...
- 10/02/12--05:28: _Horn of Africa: Tar...
- 10/02/12--05:34: _Changing the cultur...
- 10/02/12--05:49: _No back-to-school f...
- 10/02/12--05:57: _Hunger for educatio...
- 10/02/12--06:26: _Pounds of Preventio...
- 10/02/12--08:51: _Analysis: Towards i...
- 10/02/12--09:41: _The crisis in the S...
- 10/02/12--10:03: _Desert Locust Bulle...
- 10/01/12--09:38: Protection Cluster - Digest, vol. 02/2012
- 10/01/12--09:43: Ethiopia Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin, 01 October 2012
- 10/01/12--09:55: Update on UNHCR’s operations in the Middle East and North Africa
Region to experience improved food security prospects for the October- December period
Outbreak of cholera and hepatitis E virus reported in Kenya, Somalia and Sudan
Some 3,000 Congolese enter Uganda, fleeing fighting
Nutrition situation significantly improves in Dollo Ado refugee camps in Ethiopia
Number of food insecure declines marginally in Kenya
Increased police patrols deter insecurity in Tana Delta and Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya
Improved water availability and sanitation in all refugee camps in Upper Nile State,
Localised conflict continues to hinder humanitarian operations in Somalia
- 10/01/12--09:59: Update on UNHCR’s operations in Africa
- 10/01/12--11:47: Southern Africa Food Security Update - September 2012
- 10/01/12--18:11: Mali Food Security Outlook Update September 2012
Food security is improving overall compared to last month, due to the availability of lean-season foods and humanitarian aid underway in crisis areas. The Sahelian zones will transition to IPC Phase 1: Minimal food insecurity by December, while northern areas will remain at the Stress level (IPC Phase 2).
Significant support in the form of agricultural inputs from the government and partners has enabled better than expected development of irrigated and floodplain rice-growing areas. These operations are close to, and in some places even exceed, rice production levels in a normal year.
Decreases in staple food prices are increasingly frequent on producer markets and even some consumer markets. Prices remain 40 to 80% above average with a slowdown of sales on northern markets due to the significant humanitarian efforts now in progress.
Heavy rains in August and September caused significant housing and crop damage, especially in San, Tominian, Djenné, Mopti, Kayes, Yélimané, and Nara Circles. Damage estimates are underway; in Djenné over 50% of the rice-growing land may be affected.
- 10/01/12--19:21: Decline in grains output to increase food deficit
- Maize production could fall by four million bags due to bad weather that interrupted planting and expensive farm inputs for farmers with low incomes
- According to an annual agricultural report, maize yields are estimated at 17 million bags, down from 21 million bags last year
- According to the experts, changing demographics, increased global demand of wheat, and sky-rocketing food prices have resulted in the scramble for lease of agricultural land for crop production in Africa
Access to finance provided to more than 500,000 people in the Pacific.
More than 12,300 vulnerable people in Honiara, Solomon Islands benefited from training and work experience.
Improved access to running water and sanitation benefited more than 5 million Indonesians. More than a million households in the Philippines benefited from community-led projects such as new school buildings, improved water facilities and critical infrastructure.
More than 20,000 vulnerable Indonesian women benefited from empowerment activities like literacy and numeracy training.
More than one thousand Lao school principals trained in leadership and a ‘Schools of Quality approach’ and one hundred Lao pre-primary teachers received pre-primary training.
$12 million provided in emergency cash transfers, benefiting more than 44,000 people in conflict-affected communities in Sri Lanka.
School enrolments in Afghanistan increased from around one million to more than eight million, including more than three million girls.
Antenatal care provided to more than 130,000 Afghani women ensuring 34 percent of births attended by skilled attendants.
Approximately 64,000 people in Mozambique provided with a treated water supply.
- 10/01/12--19:30: 35 die as cholera hits villages on Kenya-Somalia border
- The deaths occurred after the disease, initially reported in Somalia, spread to villages along the border in Wajir and Garissa counties.
- The villages where Kenyans died are Amuma, Haameey, Hulugho and Damajaley.
- 10/02/12--02:46: Echos de la Répresentation de la FAO au Tchad N° 12 Juil - Août 2012
- 10/02/12--05:28: Horn of Africa: Targeted aid to help prevent food disasters
help treat a further 65,000 acutely malnourished children in Kenya every year for the next three years
provide care to prevent malnutrition for 400,000 women and children and
strengthen the resilience of the local health systems to prevent, prepare and respond quickly to future nutrition emergencies.
- 10/02/12--05:49: No back-to-school for many emergency children in Mali
- 10/02/12--05:57: Hunger for education among displaced Malian students
- 10/02/12--08:51: Analysis: Towards intervention in Mali
- 10/02/12--09:41: The crisis in the Sahel - Humanitarian Exchange Magazine Issue 55
In the lead article Peter Gubbels argues that the main cause of this crisis is not drought or a food shortage but a ‘resilience deficit’ which has left vulnerable people unprotected against shocks like rain failure and exceptionally high food prices. Northern Mali has been hit doubly hard by a poor harvest in 2011, followed by political unrest and violence in 2012.
In his article, Jean-Nicolas Marti explains how the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working to improve access to people in need in northern Mali by promoting acceptance of humanitarian principles among belligerents there.
Authors Amanda Farrant and Jeff Woodke explain how NGOs are helping communities to build resilience in Burkina Faso and Niger
Nanthilde Kamara, Madeleine Evrard Diakite, Emily Henderson and Camilla Knox-Peebles look at Emergency Market Mapping Analysis (EMMA) in Chad.
Zahairou Mamane Sani, Andrea Stewart and Caroline Draveny illustrate the benefits of coordinated needs assessments in Niger
Ousmane Niang, Véronique Mistycki and Soukeynatou Fall review the impact of social safety nets in promoting behaviour change.
Finally, Jessica Saulle, Nicola Hypher and Nick Martlew highlight the ways in which Household Economy Analysis can improve social protection programming.
‘humanitarian space’ in India and Burma
lessons learned from a multi-agency IDP Vulnerability Assessment and Profiling (IVAP) project in Pakistan
experiences of training and supporting ‘Skilled Volunteers’ in Bangladesh
progress in the implementation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction policies and protocols in Nepal.
- 10/02/12--10:03: Desert Locust Bulletin No. 408 (2 Oct 2012)
A WORD from the Global Protection Cluster
In this edition of the Global Protection Cluster (GPC) Digest, we keep cluster participants, stakeholders and readers informed on some of the key developments with regard to operational support, advocacy and guidance available to field clusters. As in past editions, the digest provides a window for field protection clusters and practitioners to share their experience with respect to the challenges they face in current humanitarian emergencies and the approaches being used to deliver on our common objectives, especially with respect to the theme chosen for this digest: Protection and Humanitarian Access. I am very pleased we are able to share with you our exclusive interview with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, Dr. Chaloka Beyani at the turn of the 20th anniversary of the mandate he now holds. You will find his perspective on humanitarian access extremely relevant to today’s challenges.
This theme is of clear and immediate significance to the GPC and the 25 field protection clusters given the nature of emergencies throughout 2012. The on-going efforts of the humanitarian community to secure and maintain humanitarian access in complex emergencies are faced with a multitude of constraining factors that impact the way we can deliver protection in such contexts. Whether it is due to insecurity affecting humanitarian staff, breakdown of law and order, the complexity of reaching Internally Displaced Persons outside-camps; frequent targeting of civilians or because of explicit obstacles posed by state and non-state actors, protection-mandated agencies are more and more constrained when trying to deliver protection and assistance to millions of internally displaced and other affected persons where and when it is needed. Such factors have called for innovative and proactive measures by the GPC and Field Protection Clusters in order to enable operational delivery of services in the field.
In fact, protection clusters in emergencies in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as in Somalia and Mali, have been doing just that. I take this opportunity to thank Judith, Bediako and Laurent who have engaged with protection cluster partners in their capacity as field protection cluster coordinators, to share insightful experience from some of these countries, and to the Areas of Responsibility (child protection, mine action, housing, land and property rights, gender- based violence) coordinators for their contributions. The submissions describe the realities of protection response efforts in the face of the changing nature of conflict and humanitarian working environment as we see it today.
These experiences reflect some of the proposed actions emanating from work carried out at the global level, notably through the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) since 2008.
For instance, recommendations have ranged from strengthening remote management mechanisms, establishment of peer review networks, a shift in the security risk management paradigm to inter-agency coordination, strategic humanitarian dialogue and mass information campaigns. In cases where integrated missions are present, clear criteria for engagement have been called for. The GPC will therefore elaborate a guidance note on interaction with peacekeeping operations and political missions; we will engage with the IASC Task Force on Humanitarian Space and Civil Military Relations on various aspects of their work and organize a roundtable on humanitarian access and remote protection management later this year in order to learn and share with you the most advanced and expert viewpoint on the subject.
The central role of the cluster system in international efforts to protect and assist the internally displaced was further emphasized by both the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council (HRC) this year, including in the most recent and landmark resolution of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/20/L.14) on the Human Rights of IDPs. We have therefore dedicated space for “Technical Briefings” on these developments, which we hope you will find informative and useful. This newsletter is yours: it should be a reflection of field concerns, and a forum for sharing experiences in delivering effective protection to the millions of girls, boys, women, and men affected by humanitarian crises around the world.
According to the latest forecast issued by the National Meteorological Agency (NMA), a weak El Niño and above-average sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean are expected to prevail from October 2012 to January 2013. Based on this forecast, NMA expects normal to above-normal rainfall and distribution in most parts of the country in the coming bega season (October 2012-January 2013). Between November and January, most parts of the country should see normal to above-normal rainfall distribution, particularly in southern and south-eastern areas. Unseasonable rains are likely to occur, resulting in a generally wet bega season. The normal to above-normal rainfall across southern and south-eastern parts of the country should have a positive impact on availability of pasture and drinking water in pastoralist and agro-pastoralist areas. However, unseasonable occasional rains in areas that are normally dry during this period (belg-marginal cropping areas of eastern Amhara and Tigray, central and eastern Oromia and northern Somali zones) could have limited negative impacts on the harvest and post-harvest activities. In the south-eastern and western parts of the country, un-seasonable rains received in November and December could also affect harvest and post-harvest activities. For more information, contact: email@example.com
Relief Food Update
As of September 20, dispatch of the fifth round of relief food aid was 98 per cent complete, while dispatch of the sixth round (targeting 3.8 million people) was 20 percent complete (89 per cent complete in SNNPR, 69 per cent in Amhara, and 11 per cent in Oromia and Somali region). With approximately 56 per cent of requirements identified in the July-August revised Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) contributed, WFP can cover the seventh round, but not more with currently available resources. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Based on the July update, some 178,371 people received Targeted Supplementary Feeding (TSF) in 141 priority woredas, of which 64 per cent were children under age 5. WFP, in collaboration with regional early warning bureaus in Amhara, Afar, Somali and Tigray covered 70.4 per cent of total beneficiaries in 74 woredas, while the remaining beneficiaries in 67 woredas in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Somali Regions were covered by NGO partners. Overall, a total of 672,486 moderately malnourished children under 5 and pregnant and breast-feeding women were enrolled in TSF programmes between January and July. TSF coverage increased considerably from June (94 woredas) to July, with over 52 per cent of woredas. Along with expansion of the relief food caseload and the start of the green harvest in some belg-producing areas, the TSF expansion is credited with helping to reduce admissions of severely malnourished children to Therapeutic Feeding Programmes (TFPs) from June to July, as reported on 17 September. For more information, contact: email@example.com
Noting that current efforts to support emergency education focus on coordination and mobilization of resources for education activities through on-going sectoral interventions, UNICEF reports that it has trained Afar regional and woreda education personnel on Education in Emergencies (EIE), and provided psycho-social training to school directors and teachers. Two schools damaged by high winds have been rehabilitated, and Save the Children UK has provided school furniture and educational materials to Bidu and Yalo woredas. UNICEF also distributed EIE supplies and hygiene kits to flood- and wind-affected woredas in southern Somali Region. Back-to-School campaigns started in the Somali Region with financial and technical support from UNICEF, Save the Children UK, Ogaden Welfare Development Association (OWDA), and other NGOs. Elsewhere, the Ministry of Education has requested Amhara and Oromia regional authorities to establish Regional Task Forces (RTF). EIE activities continue to face challenges related to shortfalls in financial and human resources. Fewer partners than expected are responding in the sector. However, strengthening of national and regional coordination, mobilizing resources for emergency responses and EIE training for RTFs and cluster members are planned. For more information, contact: Eyerusalem.A@scuk.org.et
Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme
Geneva, 1-5 October 2012
A. Situational analysis including new developments
Unrest in the Syrian Arab Republic has forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee to neighbouring countries. Smaller numbers of Syrian refugees have sought protection further afield, mainly in the Gulf States, North Africa and Europe. UNHCR and host governments have registered some 246,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. More than 100,000 refugees were registered in the month of August alone. In addition, an estimated 1.2 million Syrians are internally displaced.
As part of the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria, UNHCR and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have mounted a programme of cash and material assistance that aims to reach 100,000 internally displaced families by the end of 2012. Although there has not been a shift in the Syrian Government’s policy towards the entry and stay of refugees in the country, the number of refugees in the Syrian Arab Republic from Iraq and other countries has decreased. Since the beginning of 2012, the number of Iraqi refugees in the country has dropped from 102,000 to 87,000 as of the end of August.
Lebanon is hosting some 78,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, over 90 per cent of whom are Syrian. Of the 71,000 Syrian refugees in the country, 51,000 have registered with UNHCR, with the remaining number awaiting registration. The majority of Syrian refugees are being hosted by local communities in northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers remain a sizeable urban refugee population, with some 8,000 individuals living in Beirut.
The Jordanian Government estimates that more than 200,000 refugees have entered the country since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. Approximately, 91,000 have been registered or assisted by UNHCR. The Jordanian Government’s open border policy allowed Syrians to enter the country without restrictions on their movement or location. Most refugees subsequently settled with relatives, host families or in rented accommodations. In early August, the Government established a tented camp in northern Jordan where all new arrivals are being transferred. UNHCR and partners are assisting with shelter, ready-made meals, non-food items and health and education facilities. Some 29,000 Iraqi refugees are also being supported by UNHCR in Jordan.
Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme
Geneva, 1-5 October 2012
Update on UNHCR’s operations in Africa
While new or escalating refugee emergencies continue to command a decisive part of UNHCR’s attention and resources in Africa in 2012, the region has continued to present opportunities to bring long-standing refugee situations to a close. Some of these situations have been successfully resolved while others present a number of remaining challenges.
A. Situational analysis including new developments
Since January 2012, when violence erupted in northern Mali, more than 450,000 people have been forced to flee internally or to neighbouring countries. UNHCR estimates that there are now almost 270,000 refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. Registration is ongoing despite difficulties in accessing and registering a mobile refugee population. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is estimated at some 186,000. Weak funding support for the Mali situation has obliged UNHCR to limit its assistance to life-saving interventions.
By the end of August 2012, some 175,000 people fleeing fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in the Sudan had sought refuge in Upper Nile and Unity states, in South Sudan, and an additional 35,000 had fled into Benishangul-Gumuz regional state in western Ethiopia, triggering a large-scale humanitarian emergency. In Unity state, despite efforts to encourage the refugees to move to areas of greater safety, some 60,000 refugees remained close to the border in Yida, where sanitary conditions deteriorated significantly since the onset of the rainy season. Substantial resources have been deployed to Unity and Upper Nile states, but challenges remain, such as the lack of basic infrastructure and local technical capacity and difficulties in transporting equipment during the rainy season.
In Darfur, while the general trend has been a reduction in violence, pockets of insecurity remained in areas under the control of rebel movements, where fighting continued. While more than 37,000 IDPs have voluntarily returned to their homes, there are still 1.75 million IDPs living in camps and mixed settlements in the five states. Restricted access to many areas in Darfur has seriously impeded the Office’s ability to operate and respond to the needs of the displaced populations.
In the Horn of Africa, the month of August was marked by the conclusion of the Somalia political transition, with the swearing in of the Lower House of Parliament and the election of the Speaker of the new Somali Federal Parliament. Despite these developments, more than a quarter of Somalia’s population remains displaced with some 1.36 million IDPs and one million refugees in the region, including some 55,000 who fled the country in 2012. In Dadaab, Kenya, the security situation deteriorated following the kidnapping of humanitarian workers in September 2011 and due to the use of improvised explosive devices. Three humanitarian workers abducted in Dadaab are still being held hostage. The situation deteriorated further in June 2012 with the abduction of four humanitarian workers and the killing of their driver. The four were released soon after the incident. The Kenyan Government’s deployment of an additional 320 policemen, combined with innovative security management approaches devised by UNHCR and its partners, have enabled essential operations to continue.
In Ethiopia, UNHCR continued to respond to two emergency situations involving more than 160,000 refugees arriving from Somalia and the Sudan since early 2011, as well the ongoing arrival of refugees from Eritrea. The provision of health and nutrition services in all camps remained a key priority and has resulted in a decline in mortality rates, particularly in Dollo Ado.
Since violence erupted in North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in April 2012, an estimated 390,000 people have been internally displaced and more than 60,000 have fled into neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda. In Rwanda, all new arrivals have been registered and received assistance at the Nkamira Transit Centre, and nearly 14,000 refugees have been relocated to the new camp in Kigeme. By the end of August, more than 40,000 new arrivals from the DRC had been registered in the Nyakabanda transit centre in southern Uganda, in addition to the 81,500 Congolese refugees already hosted in the country. The majority of the new arrivals are relocated to a former refugee settlement called Rwamwanja, which needs to be entirely rehabilitated.
Maize grain prices rise as regional supplies tighten
Regional food security is stable and there is mostly Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity conditions in most parts of southern Africa following main season harvests. There are pockets of acute food insecurity in parts of Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe due to reduced harvests in some areas affected by drought or floods and above-average cereal prices. Areas of concern are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity.
Projected demand for South African maize is expected to exert pressure on the country’s maize supply this year. From June until mid August SAFEX prices for maize rose sharply in response to U.S. maize price increases due to deteriorating weather conditions. More recently prices have declined and stabilized, though at higher levels and still in response to world market prices which have also stabilized. However, there is the possibility that maize prices could still increase in the coming months as local supplies begin to dwindle.
The climate outlook for the 2012/13 rainfall season issued by the Southern Africa Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-16) predicts that most parts of the region are likely to receive normal to above-normal rainfall. However, some localized areas in South Africa, southern Mozambique, southern Zimbabwe, eastern Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland which experienced dryness during the 2011/12 season are likely to experience normal to below-normal rainfall in 2012/13 season.
GENÈVE, 1er octobre (HCR) – Le chef de l'agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, António Guterres, a averti aujourd'hui que de nouveaux conflits majeurs et simultanés combinés avec d'autres conflits prolongés et non résolus mettent à rude épreuve les ressources du HCR et celles d'autres acteurs humanitaires.
Dans son discours d'ouverture pour la réunion annuelle du Comité exécutif, l'organe directeur du HCR, António Guterres a indiqué que le HCR était aujourd'hui aux prises avec un niveau de crises de réfugiés sans précédent dans son histoire récente, avec de nouvelles urgences simultanées en Syrie, au Mali, au Soudan, au Soudan du Sud et en République démocratique du Congo.
« Déjà en 2011, alors que la crise se développait, plus de 800 000 personnes traversaient la frontière de leur pays en quête de refuge – soit en moyenne plus de 2 000 par jour. Cet exode a été le plus important de toute la décennie écoulée », a-t-il indiqué. « Et, à ce jour, plus de 700 000 personnes ont fui depuis la RDC, le Mali, le Soudan et la Syrie. »
António Guterres a indiqué que la capacité du HCR à aider les personnes déracinées à travers le monde a été « sollicitée de façon radicale » par cette accélération dans les nouvelles crises. Il a rendu hommage aux pays qui ont maintenu leurs frontières ouvertes aux personnes fuyant le conflit, et il a remercié les donateurs qui ont fait la preuve de leur engagement sans réserve et sans faille à l'appui des opérations du HCR, et ce au milieu de la crise économique mondiale. Le Haut Commissaire a également signalé que les coûts de l'aide à plus de 42 millions de personnes déracinées s'accroissent rapidement, avec la poursuite de situations prolongées de déplacement à grande échelle – par exemple en Afghanistan ou en Somalie.
« Nous sommes à un tournant où les demandes qui nous sont faites sont plus importantes alors que les moyens mis à notre disposition pour y répondre ne sont pas plus importants que l'année dernière. Nos opérations en Afrique, notamment, sont gravement sous-financées », a-t-il indiqué. « Nous n'avons aujourd'hui aucune marge de manœuvre pour faire face à des besoins imprévus. Dans l'environnement opérationnel imprévisible d'aujourd'hui, c'est une source de vive préoccupation. »
António Guterres a indiqué que, pour améliorer la performance de l'organisation, le HCR s'employait activement à améliorer son efficacité, avec en particulier l'examen scrupuleux des plans d'achat, les limitant aux missions critiques, et le réapprovisionnement des stocks strictement contrôlé. De plus, il a indiqué que le HCR – qui s'appuie sur les contributions volontaires – a renforcé les mesures pour atteindre les donateurs non traditionnels, y compris dans le secteur privé.
António Guterres, qui est Haut Commissaire des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés depuis 2005, a indiqué qu'un soutien continu était nécessaire pour les pays qui accueillent la majeure partie des populations réfugiées – principalement des pays en développement. Il a également évoqué l'importance, pour le HCR, des partenariats avec d'autres acteurs humanitaires, y compris des ONG nationales dans des pays et régions avec de larges populations déracinées.
Le Haut Commissaire a déclaré que mettre fin à un conflit nécessitait un règlement politique. Toutefois les acteurs humanitaires devraient également faire davantage pour améliorer les perspectives de paix – moyennant tout un éventail d'interventions au plan du plaidoyer, de l'éducation, des moyens d'existence et d'autres activités pour renforcer l'autonomie parmi les populations réfugiées.
« La majorité des personnes qui ont fui la Côte d'Ivoire l'année dernière sont déjà rentrées chez elles. Au Myanmar, j'espère que l'amélioration de la situation ouvrira la voie à la solution de la problématique de centaines de milliers de réfugiés en Thaïlande et dans d'autres pays de la région », a-t-il indiqué. « J'espère vivement que l'année prochaine, une solution se fera jour pour les Somaliens, nous permettant d'exploiter un potentiel inédit lors des deux dernières décennies. »
Composé actuellement de 87 Etats membres, le Comité exécutif du HCR se réunit une fois par an à Genève pour examiner et approuver les programmes et budgets du HCR, émettre un avis consultatif sur les questions de protection internationale et discuter d'un large éventail d'autres questions avec le HCR et ses partenaires intergouvernementaux et non gouvernementaux. La réunion de cette année, présidée par S.E. Monsieur l'Ambassadeur Jan KNUTSSON, Représentant permanent de la Suède auprès de l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève, dure depuis ce jour jusqu'au 5 octobre. Elle devrait examiner des questions comme les nouvelles lignes directrices pour les Etats sur la détention des demandeurs d'asile (dont le HCR souhaite que ce soit une exception plutôt que la règle), l'évolution des besoins en protection pour les personnes déplacées, et la situation de millions d'apatrides à travers le monde. António Guterres a parlé des progrès accomplis depuis 2011 dans les efforts pour accroître le nombre d'Etats qui ont adhéré aux principales Conventions sur l'apatridie. Et pour les personnes déplacées à travers le monde, il a appelé les membres de l'ExCom à faire encore davantage.
« Nous vivons une époque dangereuse dans un monde imprévisible. Chaque jour davantage de personnes sont contraintes de fuir en quête de refuge », a déclaré le Haut Commissaire. « J'exhorte tous les membres du Comité exécutif à renouveler leur engagement collectif, à soulager leur sort et celui de tous ceux qui sont arrachés à leur foyer et à leur communauté, alors que les crises d'aujourd'hui et de demain continueront de faire rage. »
Agricultural Production Outlook Positive throughout the Country
By BARNABAS BII
Posted Monday, October 1 2012 at 19:00
A viral disease that has attacked maize and heavy rains that are pounding wheat fields are expected to reduce the output of grains in the Rift Valley this season.
This, even as experts from Africa converge in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to deliberate on how to boost the growing potential of the two crops and attain food security on the continent.
Maize production could fall by four million bags due to bad weather that interrupted planting and expensive farm inputs for farmers with low incomes.
According to an annual agricultural report, maize yields are estimated at 17 million bags, down from 21 million bags last year.
The drop has been blamed on late planting caused by prolonged drought that saw uneven germination of seeds.
The outbreak of maize lethal necrosis (MLN) can only make matters worse.
The experts in Ethiopia are expected to address threats posed by pests and diseases, temperature, rainfall, and soils on wheat production.
The conference by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre brings together 12 wheat-growing African countries.
Increased global demand
According to the experts, changing demographics, increased global demand of wheat, and sky-rocketing food prices have resulted in the scramble for lease of agricultural land for crop production in Africa.
Grain farmers, however, attribute increased cost of farm inputs, disease outbreaks, and the effects of climate change as their greatest challenges.
“The government needs to subsidise the cost of farm inputs, especially fertiliser, and introduce insurance to cushion farmers against losses caused by natural calamities like drought or floods in order to transform farming into a profit-making venture,” said Mr Peter Boit, a large scale maize farmer in Uasin Gishu County.
According to the report, maize production in Bomet County, which was hard-hit by the MLN disease, is to drop from a million bags to between 300,000 and 500,000 bags this season.
The production of wheat, an alternative source of food, is expected to decline due to damage caused by heavy rains.
Harvesting is on in the South Rift and is expected to commence next month in the North Rift.
Australia and the World Bank Group Partnership: Unlocking potential, achieving results
This report highlights the achievements of the Australia – World Bank Group Partnership.
Headline results in 2012
By NATION CORRESPONDENT
Posted Friday, September 28 2012 at 23:30
Thirty-five people have died while 117 others are admitted to hospital following a cholera outbreak in villages on the Kenya-Somalia border.
An emergency response team comprising officials from of the Ministry of Health and the Kenya Red Cross said 15 Kenyans had lost their lives.
The deaths occurred after the disease, initially reported in Somalia, spread to villages along the border in Wajir and Garissa counties.
Speaking to the Nation, the Red Cross North-Eastern regional health coordinator, Mr Langat Daniel, who led a team to Hamey village, said the number of deaths reported within two weeks in the region and across the border is 35.
The villages where Kenyans died are Amuma, Haameey, Hulugho and Damajaley.
“We have admitted 117 patients at our cholera treatment centres where they are out of danger. However, the limitation of our mandate makes it difficult to reach the epicentre of the disease that is spreading fast towards our border.
We are likely to receive more cases,” said Mr Daniel.
“Some of the affected Kenyans are pastoralists who moved into Somalia in search of water and pasture,” he added.
He said the concerted efforts of the Red Cross and the Ministry of Health were helping to contain the spread of the communicable disease.
Mr Mohamed Dubow, who is in charge of the Red Cross public health team, said they had trained 60 community health workers in the affected areas to educate the public on hygiene and disease prevention.
“We have set up centres at Hameey, Damaajaaleey and Amuuma,” said Mr Dubow.
Construire la résilience pour réduire l’insécurité alimentaire
Alors que la réponse à la crise alimentaire et nutritionnelle de la bande sahélienne est en cours, une nouvelle urgence liée aux inondations dans le Sud et l’Est du pays mobilise la FAO et le reste de la communauté humanitaire. Si la réponse aux situations d’urgence se doit d’être immédiate et ciblée, il faut toujours préparer les appuis post-crise et les actions de construction de la résilience de ces populations vulnérables à l’insécurité alimentaire. La résilience est un concept largement utilisé, mais malheureusement souvent mal compris.
Pour la FAO, la résilience est la capacité de réagir face aux catastrophes et aux crises, de prévenir, d’anticiper, d’absorber, de s’adapter ou se remettre d’un choc ayant un impact sur la nutrition, l’agriculture, la sécurité alimentaire et la sécurité sanitaire des aliments, en temps voulu et de façon efficiente et durable. Ceci inclut la protection, la restauration et le renforcement des structures et fonctions des systèmes alimentaires et agricoles menacés.
Sur le terrain, cette capacité de résistance aux chocs se construit de plusieurs manières et à plusieurs niveaux. En aidant les producteurs pauvres à avoir des moyens de sécuriser leur production maraîchère par des systèmes de petite irrigation et en leur permettant de disposer de matériel végétal sain et des méthodes de lutte contre les maladies, la FAO appuie la construction de la résilience. En appuyant le Gouvernement à développer un système d’information et d’alerte précoce sur la sécurité alimentaire, la FAO appuie la construction de la résilience.
La construction de la résilience est un outil efficace de réponse aux crises. En effet, les producteurs et ménages ruraux, mieux armés pour faire face aux crises, auront moins besoin d’un appui extérieur pour reconstruire leurs moyens d’existence une fois la crise terminée.
Construire la résilience se présente aussi comme un moyen d'améliorer l'efficacité de la gestion des risques. La construction de la résilience doit donc être un objectif prioritaire pour l’atteinte de la sécurité alimentaire.
Britain pledged to target aid that will help prevent future food disasters in the Horn of Africa - a year on from the crisis that cost countless lives.
The new Development Secretary Justine Greening made the pledge today during a visit to the drought-hit area of Turkana province in Northern Kenya.
It comes as Ms Greening set out new UK aid to treat thousands more children and women who continue to suffer from malnutrition across the arid region.
Through the aid announced by the Development Secretary today, Britain will:
During her first ministerial visit to Africa, Ms Greening is travelling to Loiturerei village in Turkana province to meet some of the 69,000 of the poorest families who receive regular payments to increase their ability to cope with droughts, invest in their education and prevent them from falling into destitution.
At the height of the drought last year, more than one in three children in parts of Turkana province were malnourished. Emergency aid from Britain helped to reduce this, but many are still at risk.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:
"Britain played a leading role in the international response to last year’s drought, giving a lifeline to millions of families.
"It is better all round if we act now to prevent disasters, rather than just responding to them. Investing now will not only alleviate suffering but also ensure the poorest get the health care, education and opportunities they need to pull themselves out of poverty.
"The Prime Minister quite rightly challenged the world to act faster on hunger and malnutrition at this year's Global Hunger summit."
Ms Greening is also visiting a local health post and district hospital where children under age five were screened and treated for acute malnutrition. Supported by Britain and run by the Government of Kenya, UNICEF and medical charity Merlin, the specialist nutrition unit in the hospital provides in-patient care for children.
Britain led the response to drought across the Horn of Africa last year, feeding three and half million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia while providing health services, vaccinations and clean water for hundreds of thousands more.
In Northern Kenya, British aid reached over 500,000 children and women with special food rations during the crisis. But too many still face an uncertain future.
By Terry Ally
Ougadougou, Burkina Faso (October 1, 2012) – When the Taureg fled the fighting in north Mali into neighbouring Burkina Faso they brought part of their culture with them – the practice of child marriage.
When one raises the question of early childhood marriage in the refugee camps they close ranks and shy away from the subject.
“It is taboo to discuss child marriage,” says Fatimata Nabias-Ouedraogo, Plan Burkina’s Child Protection Advisor. “If we notice a young girl in the company of a man and we ask who this man is, they would say ‘Oh, he’s a friend’. We know that he might in fact be either the husband or fiancé who is looking over her.”
In the Taureg culture, early marriage is seen as mechanism to prevent the girl from yielding to temptation to have sex outside of marriage. To do so – or to become pregnant – would be akin to an unpardonable sin. Nabias-Ouedraogo says there are numerous health, social welfare and economic reasons why early marriage is a bad thing.
Statistics on how many girls have been married since the camps were established in March is difficult to come by. However Nabias-Ouedraogo, based on her experience, believes that more than half of the 1,016 girls, aged 11-17, may have already been married or promised in marriage.
Request for sex education
Plan Burkina, however, believes that there is good opportunity to turn the tide on child marriage and influence parents to allow the girls to complete their education.
Child protection workers are beginning to make encouraging progress. Some parents are starting to speak with them about the impact of early marriage. They discuss and consider how an education can lift their girls out of poverty, improve them socially and help them to do very practical and life-saving things such as read the labels on medicine or prescriptions.
Nabias-Ouedraogo says that a peer-mentoring group comprising young people from the community and the refugee camps is also engaging them in debate and discussion on these subjects. They hope this would have a trickle-up effect. And for those girls who are already married, they hope they would recognise the benefits of allowing their children to get a full education first.
Some of the children in the camp were attending school in Mali. A survey conducted to ask about their needs and desires reveal startling differences between those who have been educated and those who never went to school.
Those who went to school requested some dramatically different things. For example boys asked for sex education and information on reproductive health. They also wanted a TV, Playstation and board games. The girls however made no requests for entertainment items – a telltale sign that they might already be pre-occupied with married life.
Another pressing area of child protection work in the camps, says Nabias-Ouedraogo, is that of non-discrimination.
At focus are the Bella children. The Bella is a social class of the Taureg who were historically enslaved by the Taureg. When the French colonialised West Africa they abolished slavery but the practice continues, according to the Malian human rights organisation, Temedt.
The Taureg refugees have told Plan that the Bella are not slaves. Instead, they are the ‘protectors’ of the Bella. So much so that no one, except them, can speak with a Bella child.
Plan Burkina is setting up child-friendly spaces (CFS) in the camps to allow children to have their own place where they can be children, playing and enjoying a childhood. There is much to do there. Older children will have access to television, Play Station and board games among other activities. They are provided with meals, taught about hygiene and sanitation.
“Our unconditional and non-negotiable position is that all children must attend. There must be equal opportunity,” she says, adding that “we will not encourage a situation where only Arabs come but not Taureg, or Taureg and Arabs but not Bella. It has to be for all 7,000 refugee children – and we are also inviting children from the villages.”
The Taureg in these camps have come mainly from Gao in northern Mali where Temedt says that Bella slavery still exists.
Iddar Ag Ogazide, a Bella, has been quoted by the UN humanitarian news agency, IRIN, as saying that he worked for the Tuareg Ag Baye family for 35 years without receiving a salary or an education. He says the Ag Bayes bought his great-grandmother and inherited his family members from one generation to the next. In March 2008 Iddar and his wife Takwalet escaped.
Takwalet has been quoted by IRIN as saying that “life was hard there. Everything I did was against my will. I did all the cooking, pounding [of millet], getting water, fetching the wood and sweeping the house. I never received money; I didn’t even get any clothes.”
Whether slaves or free, Plan Burkina’s focus is one of non-discrimination and equal opportunity. Nabias-Ouedraogo says it’s an uphill task but they will continue to advocate with the Taureg so they can achieve a delay of marriage, a full education for girls and equal access to services for all children irrespective of their race, colour, class or creed.
By Terry Ally
BAMAKO, Mali (1 October 2012) - While many of their friends returned to school last week after the summer break, Mamadou and Bamba headed back to work in the gold mines in southern Mali. Both are from farming families whose crops failed to yield a large enough harvest last year resulting in both boys having to find work to support their families.
A survey carried out by four aid agencies in Mali found that there had been an increase in the number of such children who left home to find work to help.
“The increase of child labour (noted by 75% of the respondents) was believed to largely be in the areas of domestic work (primarily affecting girls) and work in mines (affecting slightly more boys than girls),” according to the survey led by the International Rescue Committee.
Some of these were sent either on their own or in the care of people outside the family. The report calls these “unaccompanied” children. Others might have been sent to live with relatives - the report calls these “separated” children.
Bamba, a 15 year old, is an unaccompanied child working in the Bayan gold mine close to the Malian/Guinean border. He has come south with a group of friends from his village of Kati – about 100km north of the Banyan gold mines. A man in his village financed the trip in exchange for half of the gold they find. They’ve been here for several months and have found nothing so far but the painstaking work continues.
From sunrise to sunset Bamba does a variety of jobs. One is to take turns digging a vertical shaft through mud down to bed rock and then cutting chunks of the rock and sending it to the surface to be tested for gold. If there is no gold, they keep digging until they find a vein. Today, the shaft is about 90 feet (27.5m) deep. They dig with with nothing more than a short-handled pick axe.
This task is not for the claustrophobic. The shafts are about 3 feet (0.9m) long by 2 feet (0.6m) wide and pitch black as one descends, climbing down makeshift scaffolding which is hewed from tree trunks – another one of Bamba’s tasks.
“I would prefer to be in school. I want to be a doctor to heal children but I have to work and send money home for my family,” he said.
“My arms hurt, my back hurts, my chest hurts,” he added as he opened his palms to reveal numerous calluses from cutting log
Gold mining has been Mali’s main export since 1999. The country is the third largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa and Ghana. Since 2005 Mali has produced about 50 tons of gold per year worth more than US$2.9 billion at September 2011 prices according to a Malian Ministry of Mines report.
This type of traditional mining in southern and western Mali is known as artisanal or small-scale mining and is carried out by individuals, groups or families with minimal or no mechanisation using labour-intensive excavation and processing methods. Artisanal mining accounts for about four tons of gold per year.
About 10-metres away, is another teenager, Mamadou who is cutting through bedrock 100 feet (30m) underground. “I would also like to be in school and would like to have a white collar job,” the soft-spoken Mamadou, said constantly glancing at his father as though to confirm that it is okay to answer our questions. Similar to Bamba he complains of pain all over his body. He’s here with his father, a farmer who takes on this second job in times of bad harvest. “This is the first time that we have worked the mines in the rainy season,” Faboure said. “It’s dangerous in the rainy season because the wells fill up with water but we haven’t a choice.” He would normally harvest two tonnes of millet but last year it was 500kg, the worst in recent years.
He is of the opinion that the days of good harvests are over and the family income must be supplemented. While he has other children in school, he has decided that Mamadou’s future is not through school by working in the field and the mines. “If I make a good find, I’ll be able to buy a house or a car,” said Mamadou with a big smile. It is believed that there are about 350 artisanal mining sites across western and southern Mali attracting between 100,000 to 200,000 people. The International Labour Organisation estimates that about 20 per cent of these are children.
Children affected by the food crises are not only working in the mines but also on the streets as beggar boys while girls work in homes. Salimata who turned 18-years old this year, was sent by her family to work as a domestic with a family in central Mali five years ago. After three years, she left the house in search of a cousin in the capital Bamako who referred her to the NGO Enda Mali who has been teaching her a trade. Salimata did not want to speak of her experience of her work in that home but she said that she was happy to be learning a trade in tie-dying and batik. She wants to open her own business some day.
One of her classmates, 15-year old Youssouf, came to the capital with his father in early 2012 to find work after their family’s bad harvest. Shortly afterwards, his father died, and he had the grim task of taking his father’s body back to the village for burial. He returned with his mother but soon found himself begging on the streets of Bamako.
“It was very scary,” he said. “Sometimes I earned 100 CFA (20 cents) but it is not enough because my mother owes 50,000 CFA in rent”.
He too was rescued from the streets by Enda Mali and is learning to be a tailor.
Mamadou Sacko from Enda said that since the food crisis and conflict in the north he had seen more than a 50 per cent increase of street children. They have already taken in more than double the number of children than they budgeted for this year and at the current rate, it will triple by year end. Plan Mali said they are now designing programmes to be able to help children displaced by both the food crisis and the conflict.
SEGOU, Mali (Oct 1, 2012) - He travelled two days by canoe down the Niger River and then 12 hours by bus to the town of Segou, 230km northeast of the capital, where he heard there were catch-up classes.
Oumar, 16, was preparing for exams when insurgents overran his historic town of Timbuktu. The town was first captured in March by fighters from the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) who want an independent state in north Mali. Weeks later, Islamist extremists seized the town from them.
All schools were closed. For five months, Oumar had nothing to do. Many of his classmates and neighbourhood friends joined the Islamic Ansar Dine army but he was not interested.
“After they joined, they stopped talking to me. I would telephone them but they would not answer. When I saw them in the market place with their guns they pretended not to know me,” Oumar said.
One of his friends, who had earlier fled to Segou - about 750km south of Timbuktu - called to share the good news about this school with catch-up classes that Plan International was running. He told his mother and as soon as she could afford it, he was on his way.
He was happy to put Timbuktu behind him. He said there was a breakdown in civil services. Stores had been looted. Government offices were vandalised. Hospitals and clinics were operating with skeleton staff and little medical supplies. Law and order had broken down in the early days. Motorcycles were stolen and 4-wheel drives of NGOs were hijacked. Law and order was restored when the Islamists arrived and imposed Sharia law. However, social services remained affected, such as electricity which was restricted to three hours per week.
“I was very discouraged because I could not charge my cell phone, or make ice, or turn on the fan. I could only watch TV three hours per week and only international channels because the Islamists cut transmission of Malian TV, so we did not know what was happening in the country.”
“I was very scared, especially at night because of all the shooting. I saw women being whipped by the Islamist police who also threatened to shoot me.”
He was bathing in the river with girls as usual. One day they saw the Islamist police coming toward them and they ran. The next day, the police caught them unawares in the river.
“They said to me: ‘Yesterday you ran when you saw us coming but we have come to warn you that it is forbidden for girls to bathe in public. If we see you again with the girls, you will not outrun a bullet’.”
“I never went back to the river!” he exclaimed, adding that “I didn’t want to get married either.”
Oumar said that if a single man and woman were caught talking in public, no matter how young they were, they were arrested and ordered to marry. The Islamist paid a dowry, which he heard was 2,000 CFA (US$4), to the girl’s parents and the couple was married without delay.
“When I left Timbuktu, there was a public wedding taking place,” he added.
News of the classes in Segou spread by word-of-mouth. It attracted students from all over the north - as far away as Gao (930km) and Kidal (1300km). UNICEF estimated that of the 300,000 school-age students in the north, 100,000 of them have fled to the south.
Fifteen year old Fatoumata came from Gao. She wanted to be a midwife but was denied further schooling when schools were closed after the town was seized.
“I was so scared. There was so much damage to buildings and stores. I even saw a dead woman in the town. For a long time I would see images of these people whenever I closed my eyes. I had difficulty sleeping.”
After the MNLA took over, law and order broke down.
“Prisoners escaped and terrorised us. We locked ourselves in our homes. They came to the neighbourhood, banged on doors, demanding they be opened – or else. They took what they wanted and left the people unharmed.”
When the Ansar Dine arrived, law and order was restored. Fatoumata and all other women had to cover their heads and they had to be so careful never to speak to a man in public or stand next to one in the market place.
“If they see a girl talking with a boy, they would each get 10 lashes, if they were single. If the woman was married, it was 100 strokes each.”
After exams, she wants to return to Gao to continue her studies, if schools are open, otherwise she would stay in the south.
The catch-up classes are for displaced students from the north. Some live with relatives in the community and others live at the boarding school. Meals are also provided daily – all north Malian cuisine to try to maintain as much of their culture as possible.
Plan also trained 200 teachers to help the Ministry of Education cope with the increased number of students in Segou Region.
In the region of Mopti, a few hours drive north, the education ministry has also started catch-up classes for displaced students and they are implementing the ‘Plan model’ including using north Malian cuisine.
They will be integrated into regular classes when the school year starts but the demand for school places is so great that the average size of the class is currently 150 students.
“There is a definite need for additional classrooms in Mopti and Plan Mali is aiming to assist with as many as we are able to within our tight budget,” said Emergency Response Manager Christophe Mvogo.
“Our appeals for education programming in this emergency have been poorly funded. We wish that we were able to provide many more classrooms and many more teachers.”
In the absence of funding, hopefully the students’ thirst for education would overcome the constraints and they would benefit significantly.
“Pounds of Prevention” is a series of short articles that illustrate how disaster risk reduction works and why it is important. Take a behind-the-scenes look at aid work in action, long before the disaster occurs. How is that possible? Read on!
Droughts—extended periods of time with below-average rainfall—frequently descend on much of southern Africa. For the people of Malawi, unreliable rains and prolonged dry spells bring a great deal of hardship because the country’s economy is tightly linked to agricultural production.
Drought conditions often mean that farmers cannot harvest enough crops on their small plots to last through the year, and likewise may not have surplus to sell at market. With more people buying food and fewer crops available, prices go up. When coupled with economic influences like globally high fuel costs, this situation can push prices even higher and fewer people still can afford what they need at market. Ultimately, the number of people who depend on emergency food aid distributions until the next harvest may go up significantly.
An unusually long period marked by erratic rainfall in 2011 and 2012 has provoked just this scenario, particularly in the drought-prone, southern parts of Malawi. While these dry conditions were not preventable, their effects are being partly reduced by farmers who are managing their lands in new ways. Recognizing the need for action many years ago, USAID has been working with especially poor and vulnerable households to address and mitigate the effects of drought in Malawi since 2004.
In recent years, USAID and partners have focused on strengthening the linkages among livelihoods, agriculture, and nutrition. Through a multi-pronged approach, USAID’s programs provide people with increased capital through collective commodity sales, access to credit through village-run savings and loan organizations, and training to conserve water and soil. Other programs help farmers grow different, drought-tolerant crop varieties and construct small-scale irrigation systems.
One activity uses gravity-fed irrigation methods to catch and direct water to crops, while another harnesses untapped water resources like streams to water fields. Both projects extend the length of the growing season, increase crop yields and the number of harvests possible, and permit more varieties of crops to thrive. Another project works with farmers to transition to growing crops that need less water and can be sold commercially. These include tomatoes, onions, cabbages, chilies, mustard leaves, and the drought-resistant staple sorghum. Once established, farmers sell their surplus and use the earnings to buy other food items, make improvements to their farms, and begin raising small animals. Furthermore, villagers participate in all aspects of operating the irrigation systems, including planning, construction, and maintenance. These investments not only improve agricultural production and nutritional practices, they give people a renewed sense of purpose and hopefulness for the future.
USAID and partners have already helped several tens of thousands of people, but the results do not stop there. Neighboring communities are often inspired to adopt these practices when they see such positive changes. In time, USAID believes that the more consistent agricultural production can be for Malawians, the more resilient the country will be to future droughts and other climatic shocks.
BAMAKO, 2 October 2012 (IRIN) - After weeks of shuttle diplomacy, speculation and contradictory signals, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) now looks to have the backing of the Malian government for a major troop deployment in northern Mali.
ECOWAS is still seeking support from the UN Security Council, whose members are divided on the issue of military intervention. Internal ECOWAS documents point to a draft plan, outlining provisional troop numbers, budget and time-frame.
In Bamako, supporters of an ECOWAS deployment are adamant that a strong outside force is crucial if Mali wants to "recapture" the north, ousting the Islamic movements which took over the area six months ago but have dominated an extensive criminal economy for years.
Speaking at a high-level meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly last week, Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon highlighted the Sahel's need for closer regional cooperation and a special UN emissary of its own, warning of "terrorist groups, transnational criminal organizations and insurgencies", and noting: "Human trafficking is on the rise, along with drug-trafficking and arms smuggling."
Who is in control in the north?
When the rebellion in northern Mali broke out in January, it was the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) that quickly out-manouevred a demoralized, ill-equipped army, capturing large swathes of territory.
The MNLA's demands for an independent state carried strong echoes of previous insurgencies but its combatants and fledgling administrations were rapidly supplanted by radical Islamic movements.
For Bamako, the main enemy no longer had a separatist agenda, but a rigid commitment to a Salafist Islam largely alien to Mali. At the same time, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), widely presented as the controller and financier of the Islamic radicals in the north, has extensive trafficking and kidnapping networks there - reportedly secured with the discreet connivance of sections of the Malian military and Algerian security forces.
While there has been endless speculation about the size, military strength, internal structures and support networks of the three main movements (Ansar Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa - MUJAO, and AQIM), hard information has often proved elusive.
Visitors to the north suggest AQIM's leadership is very much present, but extremely mobile, individual warlords frequently shifting location, while MUJAO's strength is allegedly growing, much of it fuelled by non-Malian West Africans.
What about mediation?
Regional mediation efforts have yielded little. ECOWAS's designated mediator, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré, was much criticized in Mali, seen as pro-Tuareg and taking unilateral initiatives without consulting the transitional government in Bamako.
Peace initiatives from Mali have been exploratory. Among those to have headed north was the Guinna Dogon (GD) movement, representing the Dogon ethnic community, mainly based around Mopti and Djenné in the north. "We went as cousins", GD president and Foreign Ministry adviser Mamadou Togo told IRIN. Both "occupiers and those being occupied" wanted peace and dialogue, but he found AQIM and MUJOA to be dominated by non-Malians, who seemed to have little understanding of the country, he said.
Togo found Ansar Dine veteran Tuareg leader and long-term negotiator Iyad Ag Ghali more approachable, but still with a wholly unrealistic agenda. "Iyad wants Sharia", Togo explained. "The Islamists argue that 95 percent of Malians are Muslims, so Sharia must be imposed now. How do you negotiate with that?"
What are the human rights concerns?
In a 23 September report [ http://www.hrw.org/africa/mali ] Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that under the control of Islamic radicals "stonings, amputations and floggings have become the order of the day in an apparent attempt to force the local population to accept their world view."
There is evidence of strong cohesion between the three movements on imposing Sharia, with courts now sitting regularly in Timbuktu and Gao, according to senior HRW Africa researcher Corinne Dufka, who also confirmed major recruitment drives of children and adults.
Could intervention make matters worse?
The reports of excesses in the north have inevitably strengthened the calls for prompt, decisive military action, with warnings that the longer the Islamists are left to their own devices, the more difficult they will be to dislodge.
But there are serious caveats about the humanitarian implications of renewed conflict. "There are no easy answers," Ban ki-Moon warned. According to Oxfam West Africa Regional Director Mamadou Biteye, "there is a major risk that military operations in northern Mali would make an already fragile humanitarian situation much worse."
Dufka of HRW warned of a conflict where humanitarian law would get little recognition, emphasizing that aerial strikes and drone attacks were likely to feature.
She also warned of a "fratricidal" element to the conflict, with armed groups like the northern militia group Ganda Koy (made up of ethnic Songhai and traditionally violently opposed to the Tuaregs), coming into the picture. Many Tuareg refugees told IRIN they were too afraid to return home because they would be targeted in attacks.
Dufka also expressed concern about the professionalism of the Malian military. An investigation has been promised into the killing of 16 Malian and Mauritanian Islamic preachers from the Dawa movement at Diabaly, 400km northeast of Bamako on 8 September, an incident which has further complicated Mali's relations with Mauritania and drew a furious response from Islamists in the north.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned in a recent report [ http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/west-africa/mali.aspx ] that "all scenarios are still possible in Mali," including a wave of attacks, major social protests, or another coup. The ICG urged the international community to help heal divisions and build strength in Mali's military, re-establish stalled development aid, and give the crisis a much higher profile.
Is ECOWAS capable of effective intervention?
Diplomats, who see a conflict as likely if not yet inevitable, suggest an intervention begun in haste will be catastrophic, not least because serious questions remain about ECOWAS's own capacity.
Key member states like Senegal appear lukewarm about intervention in Mali. Nigeria, facing its own Islamic fundamentalist threat in the shape of the radical Boko Haram movement, may face domestic pressure not to commit troops.
Few available ECOWAS troops have combat experience in a desert. Mauritania, which has criticized Mali in the past for being "soft" on "Islamic terrorism", and has sent its own troops into Mali on counter-insurgency operations, is not an ECOWAS member.
Neither is Algeria, accused by many Malians of spawning the Jihadist movements and their accompanying kidnapping and trafficking networks, which have played such a destructive role in northern Mali.
Neither the Malian army nor ECOWAS will be able to tackle the influx of arms and soldiers from Libya to northern Mali through southern Algeria and northern Niger, warns the ICG without "clear involvement of the Algerian... authorities".
ECOWAS has made it clear that it needs and expects strong backup from outside, particularly in airlifting troops to the combat zones, promoting speculation that France and the USA could play critical roles. Both, predictably, are downplaying their importance.
France has serious concerns about French hostages still held by Islamic radicals. The US formally suspended military engagement with Bamako after the National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDRE), headed by US-trained Captain Amadou Sanogo, took power on 22 March.
What about the new government in Bamako?
Military intervention is further complicated by the power vacuum in Bamako, where the government has no electoral mandate and where none of the three actors sharing power has sufficient legitimacy, say observers. Critics warn that the restoration of democracy has barely begun.
The government formed by President Dioncounda Traoré in August under outside pressure and headed by Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra, remains a weak, compromise administration, described by one diplomatic observer as, at best, "an imperfect construct, but one that could move forward".
Other concerns include continued support for Cpt Sanogo, the military's retention of key ministerial portfolios, including Defence, Home Security and Territorial Administration; and a history of serious human rights violations, with security forces targeting critical journalists and the reported torture and disappearance of soldiers hostile to the military junta.
"This is not a normal democracy; this is Mali post-coup," said a Bamako-based analyst.
Relations between ECOWAS and CNDRE have been volatile, with Sanogo and his political allies wanting to keep foreign troops outside Bamako and confining ECOWAS's role to logistics and training. The current civilian administration is more accepting, with Traoré issuing an invitation for military intervention.
But there is no evidence yet of a more robust approach from the Malian military, with reports instead of dangerous schisms, particularly after the "Red Berets" - Mali's elite force - were accused of leading a counter-coup attempt in late April.
Timbuktu parliamentary representative Sandy Haïdara is adamant Mali cannot go it alone. "We are from the north and we know our army cannot do this," he told IRIN. "They will need help".
This report online: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportID=96436
© IRIN. All rights reserved. More humanitarian news and analysis: http://www.irinnews.org/
The special feature of this issue of Humanitarian Exchange focuses on the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of Africa, where aid agencies estimate that more than 18 million people are affected by food insecurity.
Articles in the policy and practice section focus on:
We end the issue in East Africa with articles discussing the results of a programme monitoring cash and voucher transfers in Somalia and a Transparency International study examining corruption in food assistance in the 2011 drought response in Kenya.
Read the full magazine.
General Situation during September 2012 Forecast until mid-November 2012
The Desert Locust situation remained serious during September as a second generation of breeding commenced in northern Mali, Niger and Chad. This will cause locust numbers to increase further. As vegetation dries out, hopper bands and swarms are likely to form. From mid-October onwards, there is an increasing risk that adult groups and small swarms will move out of the Sahel and into Northwest Africa and, to a lesser extent, into cropping areas in Mali and Niger. The situation is further compounded by insecurity in northern Mali and in parts of northern Niger. Surveys should be maintained in all affected countries and control operations carried out when appropriate in order to reduce locust numbers and the potential threat to crops and pastures. All countries in the region should remain on high alert. Elsewhere, locusts were concentrating in parts of Sudan while monsoon rains ended along the Indo-Pakistan border where the situation remains calm.