Displaying items by tag: Donors/governments

A cursory look at the Colombian government’s policy discourse would lead one to conclude that its efforts to tackle armed groups and organised crime are synonymous with protecting the civilian population. This article argues that a more nuanced assessment of the discourse demonstrates that the government’s security agenda, despite using the language of civilian protection and human rights, has in fact undermined respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and has failed to reduce levels of forced displacement and violence against civilians. The discourse of security Since the election of President Alvaro Uribe in 2002, the government has sought to enhance…
Anti-personnel mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) kill or injure approximately 1,000 Colombians each year, more than any other country in the world. For this reason, the government and the international community have sought to stop the use of these weapons and to assist Colombians affected by them. The Office of the Vice-President has developed a special programme to address the issue, and acts as a centre for the coordination of the National Inter-Sectoral Commission for Unified Action against Anti-Personnel Mines, a group comprising 14 state institutions. In addition, the government has passed a significant number of laws and established…
In early July 2009, following on from the closing weeks of fighting between the Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE),  a Times journalist raised the alarm on the mortality rate in the internment camps, opened by the Sri Lankan government. The article reported 1,400 deaths a week in Manik Farm camp, which then held around 280,000 people. Presenting no methodology or basis for this figure, and without naming any names, the journalist cited “a humanitarian source” [1]. This was a serious accusation, corresponding to a rate of 7 deaths per 10,000 persons per day.  The emergency threshold applied…
Famine and drought pose a regular threat in Eritrea, along with the rest of the Horn of Africa. Consecutive years of drought, high food prices and the global economic downturn all suggest that hunger and malnutrition levels are high. However, unlike in neighbouring countries no reliable national nutrition statistics are available to show this. There have been no comprehensive nutrition surveys since 2005, and World Food Programme (WFP) general food distributions have been suspended since 2006. The activities of international NGOs are restricted. In August 2008, CAFOD was alerted to a poor rainy season by its local partner in Eritrea,…
States are increasingly contributing military assets in humanitarian emergencies. As a result, the humanitarian community has paid growing attention to civil–military relations, culminating in a series of guidelines and research activity and more frequent interaction on the ground. Most of this work has focused on complex emergencies. The subject is undoubtedly more contentious in conflict settings, where blurring the lines between humanitarian and military actors can compromise neutrality and independence, restricting humanitarian access and increasing security risks. It is also relevant in responses to natural disasters, for two reasons.  First, many recent large-scale disasters have occurred in contexts of ongoing…
Humanitarian agencies rely heavily on the media to raise awareness of crises and generate income. For the media, however, the driving force is the search for a story. Despite levels of death and destruction far outstripping the acute crises which seize the headlines, chronic emergencies such as civil wars and ongoing famines are neither immediate nor spectacular enough to warrant extensive coverage. Millions have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), making the conflict there the deadliest since the Second World War, dwarfing the combined death-tolls of all the other high-profile natural disasters and acts of terrorism of the…
In early November last year, television images showed the world thousands of people fleeing fighting between the government and rebels in eastern DRC. But these events were only a spike in what has been a long-running crisis. Every month, tens of thousands of people are forced to flee their homes due to fighting among and between armed militias and government forces, many for the third or fourth time. The journalists and visiting dignitaries who descended upon North Kivu late last year in response to the escalation in the violence focused their attention on large camps, especially those within easy striking…
Zimbabweis facing an extraordinary and multidimensional crisis. An estimated three million Zimbabweans have crossed the Limpopo river into South Africa as a matter of survival; more than three-quarters of the remaining population of nine million face serious food shortages; maternal mortality has tripled since the mid-1990s; a cholera epidemic has infected over 90,000 people, killing over 4,000; one in five adults are HIV positive, and one person dies every four minutes from AIDS; 94% of the population is officially unemployed; and thousands were beaten and intimidated by government security and paramilitary forces during last year’s elections. Political instability and mismanagement…
For decades, Ethiopia has been inextricably linked in the world’s eyes with famine and disaster. The country is often characterised as dependent on foreigners, its people lazy, its government obstructionist. In fact, however, successive Ethiopian governments have actively engaged in disaster risk management (DRM). Political will is not lacking: disasters remain at the heart of Ethiopian politics. This article sketches out the history of Ethiopian governments’ responses to disasters, charting the complex relationship between a strong state with a long, proud history of sovereignty and increasingly assertive donor and INGO communities. Ethiopia’s assertive sovereignty lies in its historical self-consciousness as…
The tsunami that struck Aceh, at the western tip of the Indonesian archipelago, in 2004 killed an estimated 167,700 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. The human tragedy of this and other disasters in Indonesia was also a test of the Indonesian state’s ability to respond. Compared to many countries affected by humanitarian crisis, Indonesia has significant state capacity for response and coordination, through civilian and military means. The impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami initially overwhelmed state capacity, while the 2006 earthquake in Yogyakarta showed how a well-organised local government could mount an effective response. Both experiences gave…
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