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Safe or sorry?
Safe or sorry?

Fast growth is, in one respect, just what China's insurance industry needs. The population will get much older in the coming decades, but the public pension scheme is still in its infancy. By supplementing public coverage with private policies, the government hopes that people may just manage to escape penury in their old age. At the moment the government covers roughly a third of medical expenses and insurance companies less than a tenth, leaving individuals to pick up more than...

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The DAO of accrue
The DAO of accrue

IT SOUNDS like a cult, but it wants to be a venture-capital fund of sorts. As The Economist went to press, the DAO (short for decentralised autonomous organisation) had already raised the equivalent of nearly $150m to invest in startups. This, say its fans, makes it the biggest crowdfunding effort ever.

To understand the DAO it helps to keep in mind the concept of “smart contracts”. These are business rules encoded in programs that execute themselves automatically under certain conditions: for example, funds are only transferred if the majority of owners have digitally signed off on a transaction. Such contracts can also be combined to form wholly digital firms that are not based anywhere in the real world, but on a “blockchain”, the sort of globally distributed ledger that underpins crypto-currencies such as bitcoin.

The DAO literally lives in the ether, meaning on the blockchain of Ethereum, one of bitcoin's rival crypto-currencies. Investors send digital coins (called “ether”) to the fund, which allows them to take part in votes on whether to put money in a given project. Candidates for investment put...

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The leeward side of fortune
The leeward side of fortune

Life in Vanuatu is not all fruity cocktails

THE phrase “Pacific island” conjures images of white-sand beaches, turquoise seas and cocktails served in halved coconuts. Alas, the reality is not quite so blissful. Most of the countries of the Pacific are poor and poorly run. Their tiny size and remoteness are obstacles enough to prosperity. Now, thanks to global warming, they must also contend with rising seas and increasingly frequent and severe storms.

The biggest regional economies belong to the predominantly Melanesian countries closest to Asia: Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Timor-Leste (which considers itself both a Pacific and a South-East Asian country). Fiji's leading export has long been sugar; sugar cane covers three-quarters of its arable land. But output is falling, and its future is uncertain: for years Fijian sugar has benefited from preferential access to the European Union, but that is scheduled to end next year. Competing on the open market against bigger producers with lower production and transport costs, such as Brazil and India, will be difficult. Fortunately, Fiji has a robust and growing tourism...

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Bank to basics
Bank to basics

TWO years ago Swedbank, Sweden's biggest retail bank, moved from its offices in the centre of Stockholm to a drab business park outside the city. Employees fretted about leaving their prime location, a few doors from the Riksbank, the central bank, and a stone's throw from Parliament. The move, which has saved $25m-odd a year, was symbolic not only of the bank's thrift, but also of its desire to retreat from the exciting but risky end of banking. Instead, much like the Scandinavian furniture in its office, it is returning to something simpler and more straightforward. That strategy has made Swedbank not only one of the safest banks in Europe, as judged by the thickness of its cushion of capital, but also one of the most profitable.

European banks are struggling. Economic growth is low; regulators demand ever more capital, and negative interest rates, which most banks do not dare to pass on to depositors, squeeze margins. All this, bankers tell aggrieved shareholders, has inevitably pushed returns far below their pre-crisis levels. Yet Swedbank has defied the inevitable. It is nearly twice as profitable as the average European bank, despite holding...

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Into the unknown
Into the unknown

IN A month's time, on June 23rd, Britain will vote on whether to leave the European Union. For many voters, polling day will be a blessed relief after a campaign that will have dominated the news for four months. Mind you, if they vote to leave, they will suffer many years of further debate about the exit negotiations.

Financial markets have been bemused observers of the campaign. Most investors, like most economists, think Britain would be worse off outside the EU. A recent survey of global fund managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA) found that Brexit was the biggest market risk, ahead of a Chinese devaluation; however, 71% of those managers thought it unlikely that Britons would vote to leave. Despite the closeness of most opinion polls, gambling markets have consistently favoured a Remain vote; the odds on Leave are down to 25%.

If Britain does vote to leave, the nature of the subsequent trade relationship with the EU will be all-important. Fitch, a credit-rating agency, says a quick deal guaranteeing free trade with the EU would be only mildly negative. But that would probably require Britain to accept free...

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A right, not a duty
A right, not a duty

Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. By Timothy Garton Ash. Yale University Press; 491 pages; $30. Atlantic Books; £20.

ON MARCH 31st Jan Böhmermann, a German comedian, read out a satirical poem on live television. He had admitted beforehand that the verses—in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, is described as a zoophile and paedophile, among much else—would land him in trouble. He was right: Mr Böhmermann may now face charges under an arcane German law which criminalises insults against foreign heads of state. Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, may repeal the law, but not before the authoritarian Mr Erdogan has been able to exploit it.

Mr Böhmermann's case makes the publication of “Free Speech” by Timothy Garton Ash, an academic at Oxford University, particularly timely. In 2011 Mr Garton Ash created freespeechdebate.com with students at his university. Before that, he had personal experience of how free speech can be curtailed while travelling in eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall: he describes a Polish censor's verdict he received in 1989 for an article on the “total bankruptcy” of socialism, and watching a woman swallow a piece of cigarette paper after asking him to memorise the message on it, eating her words. The result is a powerful, comprehensive...

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Boys’ own
Boys’ own

Morality tales

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer. By Kate Summerscale. Bloomsbury; 378 pages; £16.99. To be published in America by Penguin in July; $28.

ON A Sunday afternoon, George Orwell believed, nothing is more pleasurable than to settle down with a good, true, murder story. Kate Summerscale has a nose for such stories. In the bestselling prizewinner, “The Suspicions of Mr Whicher”, she explored the mystery of a Victorian infant found with his throat cut. In her new book, “The Wicked Boy”, the victim is a working-class wife and mother. Within a few pages her murderer has been identified. The challenge, to which Ms Summerscale rises wonderfully well, is to sustain the reader's interest in him for the remaining 50-odd years of his life.

The story begins in the summer of 1895, during a heatwave. On Monday July 8th, two young East End boys, 13-year-old Robert Coombes and his younger brother, Nattie, set out to watch W.G. Grace play at Lord's cricket ground. There seemed to be nothing odd in their behaviour, except perhaps that when they came home...

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Deep rising
Deep rising

Rise and shine

SOME time, probably in the eighth century AD, earthquakes, floods and subsidence caused the Egyptian coast at Alexandria and towards the Nile delta to sink beneath the waves. Tantalising references in ancient Greek and Egyptian texts to cities and temples along that coast were all that was left of them. Then in 1933 a Royal Air Force pilot, flying over Aboukir Bay east of Alexandria, thought he saw something. He told Prince Omar Toussoun, an Egyptian scholar, who found marble and red granite columns two kilometres offshore. At last, here was concrete evidence. Wars prevented further investigation, but from the 1960s onwards teams of underwater archaeologists have been mapping and excavating a whole submerged Graeco-Egyptian world near Alexandria, the city founded by Alexander the Great after he took Egypt from the Persians in 332BC.

Now, for the first time, an exhibition arranged in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities highlights the excavations begun in the 1990s by an underwater team headed by Franck Goddio, founder of the Institut Européen d'Archéologie Sous-Marine (IEASM). Using new...

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Indonesian scholar
Indonesian scholar

Chronicle of a life unforetold

A Life Beyond Boundaries. By Benedict Anderson. Verso; 205 pages; $24.95 and £14.99.

IN SOUTH-EAST Asia Benedict Anderson, who died last December aged 79, was an intellectual giant. In 1966 he was part of a team at Cornell University that published an influential report on what really happened during the violent takeover of Indonesia in October of the previous year. The report was leaked to the Washington Post and Anderson was eventually barred from entering the country.

He remained cut off from Indonesia for 27 years until the fall of Suharto's dictatorship. But he found new passions, studying Thailand and the Philippines. In 1983 his meandering studies and wide reading led him to write the book he is most famous for, “Imagined Communities”, which explores the enduring allure of nationalism.

Outside South-East Asian circles, Anderson's prolific and diverse output is more obscure. This should change with the publication of his memoir, “A Life Beyond Boundaries”. As the title suggests, Anderson is an enemy of the...

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Murder most foul
Murder most foul

IN JUNE America's economic expansion will be seven years old. That is practically geriatric: only three previous ones lasted longer. The record boom of the 1990s survived only ten years.

It is tempting to look at that ten-year mark as something like the maximum lifespan of an expansion in America, and to worry, correspondingly, that the current expansion's days are running short. But are they? At a press conference in December Janet Yellen, chairman of America's Federal Reserve, declared: “I think it's a myth that expansions die of old age.” Yet die they do. Either Ms Yellen is wrong, or someone is bumping off otherwise healthy expansions before their time.

Like death, recessions (commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of falling GDP) are a part of life. Supply shocks occasionally prompt them: soaring oil prices in 1973 hit consumers in rich economies like an enormous tax rise, for instance, diminishing their purchasing power and thus prompting GDP to fall. More often, weak demand is to blame. Financial-market wobbles or rising interest rates cause people to cling tighter to their cash. Fear proves contagious,...

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Prevailing winds
Prevailing winds

FOR half a century, language experts have fallen into two camps, with most lexicographers and academic linguists on one side, and traditionalist writers and editors on the other. Should language experts aim to describe the state of the language accurately? (Webster's Third New International Dictionary, in 1961, shocked the world by including common but disparaged “ain't” and “irregardless”.) Or should they prescribe how the language should be used (“Irregardless ain't a word”)? Over the decades, the two sides have traded insults; prescribers are authoritarians in denial about the real world and describers are permissivists with no standards.

Two authors in the past two years have made clear that it is time to move on. Steven Pinker is a describer, a linguist and cognitive scientist. But in 2014 he published “The Sense of Style”, a guide to good writing that ended with a section of prescriptions: do this, not that. They were grounded in description, not dogma—but prescriptions they were nonetheless.

Now come two new books by Bryan Garner, a proud prescriptivist who reaches the same point from the opposite direction. Mr...

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America’s central bank picks a poor time to get hawkish
America’s central bank picks a poor time to get hawkish

THE members of the Federal Reserve's monetary-policy making committee have been desperate to hike rates, often, for most of the past year. They were keen to begin hiking in September, but were put off when market volatility threatened to undermine the American recovery. In December they managed to get the first increase on the books, and committee members were feeling cocky as 2016 began; Stanley Fischer, the vice-chairman, proclaimed that it would be a four-hike year. Instead, markets spent the first two months of the year in a near panic, and here we are in mid-May with just the one, December rise behind us.

But the Fed is feeling good about the state of the state of the economy and is ready to give higher rates another chance. Over the last few weeks, every Fed official to wander within range of a microphone warned that more rate hikes might be coming sooner than many people anticipate. And yesterday the Fed published minutes from its April meeting which were revealing: "Most participants judged that if incoming data were consistent with economic growth...

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Inside a mind losing its grip with “The Father”
Inside a mind losing its grip with “The Father”

FEW things are more haunting than the prospect of losing one's mind. The slow but steady erosion of faculties that can come with age strips us of our most valued qualities: memories and stories, our judgement of others and our sense of ourselves. But for all of its drama, dementia is tough to dramatise. How do you capture the creeping distortion of thought? How do you chronicle the attrition of memory? Most depictions of mental decline concentrate on its effect on others—those partners, lovers and children who must grapple with the fact that they are suddenly strangers to someone they love. Rare is the work that manages to empathetically convey the helplessness and disorientation of the condition himself.

This is the wonder of “The Father”, a play that has arrived on Broadway after successful runs in London and Paris, where it earned Florian Zeller, the French playwright, the Molière Award for best play in 2014. In this wise and darkly amusing look at one elderly man's descent into senselessness, the audience can't help but identify with his slackening grip on reality. This...

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Law students hone their public presentation skills on legal aid at OSCE-supported training course in Moldova
Law students hone their public presentation skills on legal aid at OSCE-supported training course in Moldova

The OSCE Mission to Moldova organized a follow-up training event Vadul-lui-Vodă on 13 and 14 May 2016 for 14 law students from Bălţi, Cahul, Chişinău and Comrat aimed at raising public awareness of state guaranteed legal aid in Moldova.

Following on from a previous event held in April 2016, where the law students were trained on how to present information about the national legal aid system to the public, this latest event gave the participants the opportunity to act out their draft presentations and receive detailed feedback. In particular, the students learned how to make the lectures more interactive and informative for an audience that may be less familiar with legal terminology. Special emphasis was placed on avoiding prejudice and the perpetuation of stereotypes, including biased concepts about gender roles and people with disabilities.

“I especially liked the fact that after our presentations the trainers provided detailed input for each participant on how to improve our performance,” said Maria Marin, a law student from Cahul.

Following the training event, several teams of law students and paralegals will conduct lectures in rural communities throughout Moldova with the aim of extending the reach of free legal services beyond urban centres.

The training event is part of a project implemented jointly by the OSCE Mission to Moldova and the Chisinau-based Institute for Penal Reform that aims to ensure that citizens have access to legal information and are able to assert their rights.

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Where are the limits of our Europe?
Where are the limits of our Europe?
Last week, we celebrated Europe Day. For the EU, this was the time to celebrate its unity; for Sander Loones it is time to ask questions. Who do we want to be? Do we dare to set a limit on the number of newcomers? What do we do with those who are hostile to our values and our population?
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Half a million people affected by floods and landslides in Sri Lanka
Half a million people affected by floods and landslides in Sri Lanka
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
Country: Sri Lanka

According to the government, 43 people have been killed and close to 307,000 people displaced by the flooding. They are now being housed at 594 temporary camps.

Since the beginning of the week large areas of Sri Lanka have been deluged by torrential rains caused by a slow moving tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal which has brought Flash floods and landslides to 22 of the countries 26 districts.

An estimated 500,000 people have been directly affected with some places experiencing up to 300 mm of rainfall. According to the governments Disaster Management Centre, 43 people have been killed and close to 307,000 people displaced by the flooding. They are now being housed at 594 temporary camps across Sri Lanka.

Landslide in Aranayake

K. D. Piyasena lived in the village of Sirpura situated in Aranayake district secretariat, approximately 140kms away from the capital Colombo in the hills of Kegalle district.

Piiyasena lived in a modest house with his wife and three sons. He earned a small income from selling lottery tickets. Every day, his elder son who worked in a bank would buy 100 tickets for Piyasena to sell in the town.

“I got a call from my son on Tuesday evening asking me to come home. It wasn't anything urgent, he just told me it was raining and I should come home,” said Piyasena.

“When I got home, there was a massive pile of dirt. I was confused. I didn't know where I was. I honestly thought that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in this pile of dirt”.

It took several minutes for Piyasena to understand what had happened amidst the eerie silence surrounding him. His home and family had completely disappeared beneath a massive landslide.

At approximately 4.00 pm on Tuesday evening an entire side of the Siripura mountain collapsed into the valley below after receiving torrential rains for two consecutive days. The landslide buried three villages including Piyasenas.

“My entire life, my boys and my wife - they have left without me. I am heartbroken”, said Piyasena from a temporary camp where he is now being cared for by the Red Cross.

According to Government statistics, prior to the incident there were 220 families living in Siripura and the neighbouring villages of Pallebage and Elagipitiya. So far, search and rescue teams have retrieved only 19 bodies. Dozens remain missing.

Helping the survivors

As soon as the landslide occurred, Sri Lanka Red Cross Society's Kegalle Branch deployed its Disaster Response Team to Aranayake. Upon arriving they coordinated with the Government Authorities in search and rescue efforts and also in setting up temporary camps where they have been providing first aid, food and psychological support to the survivors of the landslide who made it to safety. Another team was also sent from Colombo to help. Now, Red Cross staff and volunteers are helping to manage nine temporary and are carrying out assessments in areas where people in the camps fled from.

Stranded by floodwaters

Red Cross volunteers and staff have also been responding to flash floods in others parts of Sri Lanka. In the capital, the Colombo branch has been providing cooked food and blankets, water bottles and other non-food relief items to over 800 families.

In Gampaha, which is one of the worst affected districts, Red Cross volunteers provided evacuation and first aid support to people stranded in Biyagama due to heavy flooding. Boats from the branch escorted people to safety where they were taken care of by volunteers.

According to the meteorological department of Sri Lanka more rains have been forecast in the next few weeks despite the current low pressure moving away from the island.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) will be supporting ongoing relief efforts by the Sri Lanka Red Cross through its Disaster Response Emergency Fund.

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More than 69,000 people have arrived from South Sudan in Sudan in 2016
More than 69,000 people have arrived from South Sudan in Sudan in 2016
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: South Sudan, Sudan

Most new arrivals are in East Darfur State. A total of 226,950 South Sudanese have sought safety and assistance in Sudan since December 2013 when fighting began.

HIGHLIGHTS

• More than 69,000 South Sudanese have arrived in Sudan since January 2016 as a result of ongoing conflict and deteriorating food security conditions in South Sudan.

• An inter-agency mission visited Abu Matarig, El Ferdous and Abu Jabra in East Darfur and reported 8,875 South Sudanese refugees in those locations.

• WHS will take place on 23-24 May in Istanbul, Turkey.

• Humanitarian partners and sectors are finding it difficult to continue to meet the needs of new Jebel Marra IDPs with low levels of funding, especially in South Darfur.

Over 69,000 people have arrived from South Sudan in Sudan in 2016

More than 69,000 South Sudanese have arrived in various locations in Sudan since January 2016 as a result of ongoing conflict and deteriorating food security conditions in South Sudan. The majority of new arrivals from South Sudan are in East Darfur State, which is hosting about 45,500 people - or 66 per cent of all the new arrivals in 2016. An additional 5,324 people have arrived in Bileil camp for internally displaced persons (IDP)s) in South Darfur and have been registered by Sudan's Commissioner of Refugees (COR). In West Kordofan, 7,241 arrivals have been reported by the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC); and in White Nile and Khartoum states, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) have registered 9,000 and 940 arrivals, respectively, since the beginning of 2016 (please see the table on page 2 for details).

According to UNHCR, 226,950 South Sudanese have sought safety and assistance in Sudan since December 2013. While the number of new South Sudanese arrivals in Sudan in 2016 is 75 per cent more than 39,622 arrivals registered by UNHCR during 1 January - 17 May 2015, the level of funding provided is significantly lower.

South Sudanese continue to arrive in East Darfur, inter-agency missions visit Abu Matarig, El Ferdous and Abu Jabra

The influx of South Sudanese refugees into East Darfur continues, with about 1,800 arrivals reported over the past week. An inter-agency needs assessment mission visited on10-11 May Abu Matarig, El Ferdous and Abu Jabra in East Darfur hosting South Sudanese refugees. The mission reported a total of 8,875 people in those locations. In addition, between 9-15 May, 661 new arrivals were registered in Khor Omer camp, which is hosting the majority of South Sudanese arrivals in East Darfur. The number of weekly arrivals in Khor Omer has reduced significantly compared to March and April when weekly arrival rates averaged over 3,000 and 1,700 individuals, respectively. However the underlying drivers of the displacements remain unchanged, with recent food security assessments in South Sudan indicating parts of the country will face a more severe lean season (May to September) in 2016 compared to previous years.

The refugees arriving in East Darfur, South Darfur and West Kordofan states are from Northern Bahr al Ghazal and Warrap states, driven by ongoing conflict and heightened food insecurity resulting from poor harvests, restricted trade, depreciating currency and steeply rising staple food prices.

The inter-agency mission, composed of staff from UN agencies, NGOs and government partners, to Abu Jabra, Abu Matarig and El Ferdous on 10-11 May was escorted by the United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and was the first time humanitarian partners have been able to access and carry out needs assessments for the new arrivals who have settled in areas outside Khor Omer camp in Ed Daein, capital of East Darfur. The preliminary findings of the mission indicate that in all three location there is a need for food and non-food essential supplies, especially water containers. Sanitation is one of the main problems in Abu Jabra as there is not enough space for constructing latrines in the area where the South Sudanese are currently staying. While the South Sudanese have access to local health facilities they lack resources to pay for the services and some health facilities need support in terms of medical supplies.

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OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum Preparatory Meeting in Berlin highlights importance of good governance for stable economic development and security
OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum Preparatory Meeting in Berlin highlights importance of good governance for stable economic development and security

BERLIN, 19 May 2016 – Co-operation on good governance is fundamental to strengthening economic stability and security said participants at the start of the two-day Second Preparatory Meeting of the Annual OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum, today in Berlin.

In his opening address Special Representative of the Federal Government of Germany for the 2016 OSCE Chairmanship, Gernot Erler stated: “Good governance is a key, maybe the key, to improved economic relations in our common space. And economic cooperation is not only a goal in itself, but also an essential contribution to the prevention of conflicts between and within participating States and thereby to security and stability in the whole OSCE area.”

More than 200 high-level officials from the OSCE's 57 participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation as well as representatives of the business community, civil society and academia are discussing the need of good governance for business growth and a favourable investment climate. The Forum Meeting will also evaluate aspects of good migration governance to support stable economic development in countries of origin, transit and destination.

The Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, Yurdakul Yigitguden, stressed the importance of working together to make migration a key factor for economic development and growth for countries of origin, destination, the private sector and the migrants themselves. “There is a strong need to address dysfunctional labour migration polices that do not allow the most suitable allocation of human resources and skills where they are needed,” Yigitguden said.

Chairman of the Advisory Council and founder of Transparency International Peter Eigen stressed that “Civil society organisations with their professional competence and independence have to be strengthened to grow into a role of co-operation with other actors for better global governance.”

The findings from the meeting will complement conclusions from January's 1st Preparatory Meeting in Vienna, and pave the way to the Forum's Concluding Meeting in Prague on 14-16 September 2016. Also the German Chairmanship aims at feeding issues of good governance worked on in the Environmental Economic Forum into discussions of the Ministerial Council meeting in Hamburg (8-9 December 2016).

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SA microjobbing startup M4JAM to resurface with new owners
SA microjobbing startup M4JAM to resurface with new owners

South African microjobbing startup M4JAM is to resume operations under new ownership after the founding team concluded the successful sale of the company.

All had seemed rosy for M4JAM, which in February of last year, raised funding from Naspers and Tencent-owned WeChat Africa in order to scale locally and expand globally.

But in March the board decided to cease trading and sell off M4JAM's assets after the company failed to achieve profitability within the investment timeframe.

Co-founder Andre Hugo confirmed to Disrupt Africa the company – which allows brands and NGOs to post small tasks which can then be completed by “jobbers” via their mobile phones – would close if a buyer could not be found.

That buyer has been found, and though the identities of the new owners has not been confirmed, M4JAM will now relaunch in something close to its original form. Hugo and fellow co-founder Warren Venter have left the company, however.

In a post on LinkedIn, Hugo said over the last 18 months M4JAM had successfully created micro jobs for over 130,000 people in South Africa.

“The journey has been incredible from working in my study at home, to presenting in Frankfurt at Mobicon, to VC meetings in Amsterdam, San Francisco and New York,” he said.

He confirmed that the journey had now come to an end, with the sale of the company successfully concluded last week.

“We wish the new owners the best of luck with the business and know that they will continue grow it as part of their overall strategy,” Hugo said.

The post SA microjobbing startup M4JAM to resurface with new owners appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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OSCE/ODIHR observers to hold press conference in Ulaanbaatar on Friday
OSCE/ODIHR observers to hold press conference in Ulaanbaatar on Friday

ULAANBAATAR, 19 May 2016 – On the occasion of the formal opening of the election observation mission deployed by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to observe the 29 June parliamentary elections in Mongolia, the mission will hold a press conference in Ulaanbaatar on Friday.

Ambassador Audrey Glover, head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission, will introduce the role of the mission and its upcoming activities.

Journalists are invited to attend the press conference at 14:00, Friday, 20 May, at the Khaan Hall of Chinggis Khaan Hotel, Tokyo street-10, Ulaanbaatar-49, Mongolia.

For further information, please contact:

Giuseppe Milazzo, EOM Media Analyst, at +976 99 40 0798 (mobile) Giuseppe.Milazzo@odhir.mn

or

Thomas Rymer, OSCE/ODIHR Spokesperson at: +48 609 522 266 (mobile) or thomas.rymer@odihr.pl (e-mail).

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OHCHR and OSCE strengthen capacities of defence lawyers in southern Kyrgyzstan on human rights standards
OHCHR and OSCE strengthen capacities of defence lawyers in southern Kyrgyzstan on human rights standards

OSH, Kyrgyzstan, 19 May 2016 – The Regional Office for Central Asia of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in co-operation with the OSCE Centre in Bishkek today completed a three-day training course for defence lawyers on developing effective litigation strategies before the UN treaty bodies.

The course aimed at enhancing the practical skills of some 20 practicing defence lawyers from southern Kyrgyzstan and representative of the regional Ombudsman's office in Batken in developing effective legal reasoning while preparing individual complaints. A trainer from Tajikistan – Nigina Bakhrieva – conducted the training.

“Defence lawyers play an important role in ensuring the strong rule of law and delivery of justice that upholds national and international human rights provisions,” said Anete Erdmane, Human Dimension Officer at the OSCE Centre's Osh field office. “In line with OSCE commitments, the OSCE Centre in Bishkek works to assist Kyrgyzstan in improving access to justice for all, including the most vulnerable members of society.”

Yevgenia Avetisova, Human Rights Officer at OHCHR, said: “The individual complaints mechanisms of the UN, to which Kyrgyzstan is a party, empower an individual to bring an alleged violation of human rights to the attention of the United Nations and obtain redress and justice in situations in which the national legal system may have failed to do so. In this light, this workshop helped the participants in identifying effective litigation strategies before the UN treaty bodies.”

Discussions focused on violations of the rights to freedom from torture and ill-treatment, freedom of religion or belief, and freedom from discrimination. The participants will continue to receive further support from the same expert who will provide practical advice over the next six months.

The training course has been conducted as part of the OSCE Centre's project on promoting a comprehensive approach to the rule of law, administration of justice and prevention of torture, as well as an OHCHR-implemented project on strengthening the rule of law, which is funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

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Novel opportunities available in African e-commerce space
Novel opportunities available in African e-commerce space

A range of ingenious solutions to logistics challenges in the African e-commerce space demonstrate that the continent is full of opportunity, according to an analyst.

Gareth Mellon, ICT programme manager at Frost & Sullivan Africa, told Disrupt Africa that e-commerce on the continent was poised for healthy growth as internet penetration increased alongside the demand for more formalised retail.

Frost & Sullivan believes Africa's e-commerce market – worth US$8 billion in 2013 – will grow to a value of US$50 billion by 2018, while numerous other experts expect there to be significant growth.

Yet challenges remain, according to Mellon, ranging from difficulties with distribution to regulatory hurdles, trade barriers and a lack of reliable payment systems. Infrastructure is also a serious issue, with problems such as these curtailing the revenues of the likes of Jumia, Konga and Takealot, and leading the likes of Naspers to decrease their commitment to the sector.

Yet Mellon said a range of “ingenious responses” to issues in the logistics space – whether in the form of innovative delivery mechanisms, including drones, or centralised distribution centres, points to the novel opportunities available in the space – show that the continent is full of opportunity.

“Given the broad acceptance of mobile money and Africa's record of technology leaps, it is not inconceivable that some areas may move directly from informal markets to on-demand e-commerce, skipping the stage of formal retail development that has characterised more developed markets,” he said.

Mellon said the lack of existing retail infrastructure can be seen as both a hindrance and an opportunity for e-commerce providers, with companies having the opportunity to introduce new solutions without having to deal with the difficulties associated with entrenched legacy systems or vested interests.

Niche e-commerce has proven popular for investors in recent months, and Mellon said he understands the attraction to more focused platforms.

“Locally, the most successful e-commerce platform is probably Yuppiechef, which caters to a very niche market,” he said.

“This has meant that it has been able to obtain relatively good margins on its products, as opposed to more general e-commerce retailers that must compete with supermarkets and other brick-and-mortar stores.”

The post Novel opportunities available in African e-commerce space appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Urgent action needed to prevent international yellow fever crisis
Urgent action needed to prevent international yellow fever crisis
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
Country: Angola, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia

Fears are growing that a deadly yellow fever outbreak in Angola - which has already spread to DRC, Kenya and China - will continue to expand without immediate action to prevent it.

Geneva, 19 May 2016: Fears are growing that a deadly yellow fever outbreak in Angola – which has already spread to Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and China - will continue to spread internationally without immediate action to prevent it, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned today.

The disease is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also responsible for spreading the Zika virus, dengue and chikungunya.

Dr Julie Lyn Hall, the IFRC's Director of Health, said that limited vaccine supplies, inadequate disease surveillance systems, poor sanitation and everyday cross-border economic and social interaction could turn a national outbreak into a global crisis, if no immediate community-based action is taken.

“Unvaccinated travellers could transform this outbreak into a regional or international crisis if we don't move quickly to protect vulnerable populations and help communities to reduce their risk of infection,” she said.

Yellow fever has killed 293 people in Angola since the beginning of the outbreak in December 2015, and a further 2,267 people are believed to have been infected. The IFRC released 50,672 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 24 February to support Angolan Red Cross work to support the vaccination of 90,000 people, and conducting community mobilization activities with 60,000 others. A further DREF allocation in support of the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be issued today.

The Angolan outbreak has resulted in cases being imported to Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya, and has been confirmed as the source of 11 infections in the People's Republic of China. A separate yellow fever outbreak has been confirmed in Uganda, with more than 50 suspected cases in three districts.

There are growing concerns that the outbreak could easily spread to neighbouring countries such as Namibia and Zambia, where the population is not vaccinated against the disease.

Volunteers and staff of the National Red Cross Societies in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda are hard at work in communities across the affected areas, identifying and eliminating mosquito breeding grounds, and helping people to reduce their risks of infection.

“Vaccination campaigns are the first lines of response, but we need to prioritise community engagement as a vital tool to prevent the spread of yellow fever,” said Dr Hall. “The continued rapid spread of the disease in the Angolan capital Luanda – where some 7 million people have already been vaccinated – underlines the importance of community engagement, surveillance and improving environmental sanitation.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

For further information, please contact:

In Geneva:

Benoit Carpentier, IFRC team leader, public communications Mobile: +41 79 213 2413 Email: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org Twitter: @BenoistC

Reeni Amin Chua, IFRC senior communications officer Mobile: +41 79 708 6273 Email: reeni.aminchua@ifrc.org

In South Africa:

Katherine Mueller, IFRC communications manager, Africa Mobile: +254 731 688 613 Email: katherine.mueller@ifrc.org Twitter: @IFRCAfrica

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OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation: Modernizing the Vienna Document and strong CSBMs are key responses to security challenges
OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation: Modernizing the Vienna Document and strong CSBMs are key responses to security challenges

VIENNA, 19 May 2016 - Challenges and opportunities in updating conventional arms control and confidence- and security-building measures were the focus of Wednesday's OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation held in Vienna, under the Forum's Chairmanship of Poland.

The Polish Chairmanship underlined the key role of the Forum in negotiating further agreements addressing the challenges and risks to military security in the OSCE area, as envisioned in the 1996 Lisbon Framework for Arms Control. These were designed to create a web of interlocking and mutually reinforcing arms control obligations and commitments, including the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, the Open Skies Treaty and the Vienna Document. The upcoming 20th anniversary of the Lisbon Framework provides a good opportunity for reviewing the status of implementation of the existing commitments and on the way forward, said the FSC Chairperson Ambassador Adam Bugajski.

“However, since the beginning of this century we have seen a gradual and continuing erosion of the conventional arms control regime,” said Ambassador Benno Laggner, Head of Division for Security Policy in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, who was invited by the Polish Chairmanship to addressing today's Forum meeting. He underscored “an urgent need to revitalize discussions on a future instrument for conventional arms control” and believed the OSCE, as the only inclusive security organization in the Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asian area, to be “the most appropriate platform for a broad-based discussion open to all interested States.”

Ambassador Grzegorz Poznański, Director of the Security Policy Department in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was also invited to speak today, said: “We are at the very critical juncture. While the security environment in Europe has deteriorated, we should feel under particular pressure not to let the basic elements of the security architecture to completely fall apart.” He referred to many proposals on the modernization of the Vienna Document, including a draft decision on strengthening co-operation as regards hazardous incidents of a military nature, tabled by Poland and co-sponsored by ten OSCE participating States.

The Polish Chairmanship stressed that the revitalization of these confidence and security-building measures remain a priority for the Forum.

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How to attract and retain quality staff for your startup
How to attract and retain quality staff for your startup

Attracting and retaining quality employees are vital to startups, with human resources (HR) a key business function that must be given adequate attention should a business want to grow and attract the best employees.

This is according to Kgomotso Ramoenyane, executive general manager of human resources at South African risk finance firm Business Partners, who says all entrepreneurs will have to increase their staff complement should they wish to grow their startup to the next level.

“If this process isn't managed properly, it can become a serious burden to the business owner. Many SME owners also underestimate the value that good HR management system can contribute towards the future growth of their business,” she said.

The key to effective HR and talent management, according to Ramoenyane, is for business owners is to familiarise themselves with local labour laws, which stipulate the dos and don'ts for employees and employers.

“Many entrepreneurs, especially those who run small businesses, often believe that they don't have the time or resources available to manage the business' HR needs, and as a result, find themselves clueless when the need arises to hire new staff or manage employees' needs,” she explains.

First and foremost, business owners need to find the right talent. While it is easier said than done, Ramoenyane says there are various measures that business owners can put in place to assist with the recruitment process.

“Start with a clear job description and advertise this brief on all relevant platforms that are available to the business. When interviewing potential candidates, it is important to pose the same questions to all interviewees so that an accurate comparison can be made,” she said.

The HR process does not end once a staff member is appointed to a particular position.

“Business owners need to pay attention to employees' needs on an ongoing basis. At least two formal performance reviews should take place annually – both to ascertain if the employer is happy with the level and quality of work being performed, and if the employee is satisfied with his or her working conditions, job description and role, as well as training and development opportunities,” Ramoenyane said.

For many employees, the reasons for staying in a particular job are not only limited to the salary they earn.

“Staff need more than a monthly pay check – they need to feel valued for their contribution to their company and its bottom line,” she said, adding this is an area where startups have the upper hand on larger organisations.

“While such organisations can perhaps offer larger salary packages, which appear more attractive, a small business can craft and implement their own unique employee value proposition, both with tangible and non-tangible aspects,” Ramoenyane said.

While the tangible aspects entail monthly remuneration and bonuses, considerations when formulating the non-tangible aspects include so-called “fringe benefits” such as free parking, flexi-hours, training opportunities or the occasional lunch from the business.

The biggest advantage small businesses have is their ability to involve staff in a wider range of responsibilities, which is necessitated by the size of the business.

“In larger organisations, one finds that the ability to be exposed to a wider range of duties is limited, as work is compartmentalised. Another big selling point for small businesses is their smaller size team, which can create a welcoming environment and close knit culture,” said Ramoenyane.

Ultimately, if small businesses want to attract and retain good staff, they need to fully understand what is important to their employees.

“Methods of retention can come in many forms, from professional and personal development, time off, reward and recognition, to pay and working hours,” Ramoenyane said.

“Ultimately, retaining quality employees requires that periodical discussions are held, whereby the focus is on the employee's engagement levels and what is important to them.”

The post How to attract and retain quality staff for your startup appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Night owls welcome at UNESCO for European Night of Museums on 21 May
Night owls welcome at UNESCO for European Night of Museums on 21 May
19 May 2016

infocus2.jpg

© Lin Xiang Xiong
UNESCO is proud to support the European Night of Museums for the 8th consecutive year, and give its patronage to this event taking place on Saturday, 21 May 2016.
In opening the doors to its Headquarters in Paris, this year UNESCO will give the public the opportunity to discover the temporary exhibition entitled “Art for Peace,” a broad collection of contemporary works serving as a cultural crossroads between China and Europe.
This event is also an occasion to discover, or rediscover, the modern architecture of the Organization's Headquarters – designed by Marcel Breuer, Luigi Nervi and Bernard Zehrfuss – and a part of its rich art collection, including works by Picasso, Miró, Calder, Erró, Giacometti, Chillida, Moore and Noguchi, among many others.
Following the recent attacks perpetrated against culture across the world, UNESCO reaffirms with even more conviction the importance of museums as a place for dialogue, mutual understanding and common values. The European Night of Museums, at UNESCO and in more than 3500 museums across Europe, will give people the opportunity to discover the beauty and diversity of cultural heritage worldwide.
Visits will take place from 8pm until midnight (last admissions), at 7 place de Fontenoy (exit at 125 Avenue de Suffren). Free entry; no prior booking required.
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This startup will help your startup team keep fit on the job
This startup will help your startup team keep fit on the job

Worried all that time spent coding at a desk is taking its toll on the health of your startup team? Help is at hand in the form of South African company Walk & Work.

Founded 16 months ago by Jan Folmer, Walk & Work is headquartered in Cape Town and has distribution points there and in Johannesburg.

The startup offers workstations that enable people to continue to work while being more physically active, by walking or cycling. The workstations come in the form of either a treadmill or bike desk, and are aimed at combating the negative health effects of a sedentary work day with movement.

“Our aim is to change office spaces where people are predominantly sitting down into a more active work environment, and we provide revolutionary office furniture that increases productivity and energy levels,” Folmer told Disrupt Africa.

The independently financed Walk & Work is the first distributor of treadmill desks and bike desks in South Africa, and Folmer said the potential market is so large the company has no plans to expand anywhere else anytime soon.

“South Africans intrinsically want to be active, however there are a lot of barriers and practical limitations that hinder us to be as active as we want to be, due to safety, the way we commute, and technology,” he said.

“Others do get active with peak exercise a few days a week, however this still doesn't counteract the negative health risks of sitting for between eight and 12 hours a day. A practical and viable solution to sit less is to integrate a treadmill desk in an office space, or even at home.”

Folmer has been using such desks for years, and swears by them. The treadmill desk allows users to walk slowly, which increases metabolism and burns more calories, while at the same time allowing them to continue writing that report, responding to emails, reading, or watching videos.

“You maintain your productivity, and you're being more active. Whilst the idea is still a bit quirky to some, it's actually a no-brainer in a country where obesity is reaching shocking figures, along with Type 2 diabetes,” he said.

“We felt there was a gap in the offering of alternatives to becoming more physically active within the boundaries of day to day constraints of work, commuting and family responsibilities.”

The market is growing globally since its introduction in 2009, with 55,000 treadmill desks sold in the United States (US). Folmer said awareness is increasing, with such workstations also having serious benefits to employers, such as lower healthcare costs, lower absenteeism, and higher productivity.

Walk & Work operates from an office with showroom in Cape Town, and works with resellers.

“We manage to keep overhead costs relatively low. The main challenge is the exchange rate, as these products are being imported,” he said.

“We mostly sell directly to our customers, which helps to fully assist finding a custom solution that best meets the needs. Apart from sales, we also offer rental solutions.”

The company's aim is to sell and install 700 treadmill desks before the second quarter of 2017, with Folmer saying Walk & Work is heading towards meeting that target. Awareness is a challenge, as with any product that is completely new in a market.

“Most people know that sitting is considered the new smoking, however they're not aware of alternatives,” he said.

“Luckily the early adopters have ensured a good uptake so far, and we're only receiving good feedback from our clients. Once you've tried it, you're hooked.”

The post This startup will help your startup team keep fit on the job appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Bulgarian football legend Hristo Stoichkov designated  UNESCO Champion for Sport
Bulgarian football legend Hristo Stoichkov designated UNESCO Champion for Sport

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, designated the Bulgarian football legend, Hristo Stoichkov, as a UNESCO Champion for Sport in a ceremony, which took place in Sofia (Bulgaria) on Wednesday, 18 May.

The designation comes in recognition of Hristo Stoichkov's efforts to promote sport as a tool to advance social inclusion and tolerance, his support to physical education among disabled students, his commitment to fighting racism and violence in sport, and his dedication to the aims and values of UNESCO.

The famous No. 8 and former Captain of the football team of Bulgaria, Mr Stoichkov has won numerous prestigious distinctions during his career, including the European Golden Shoe in 1990, the European Golden Ball in 1994, the World Cup Golden Boot in 1994, three times Champion of Bulgaria with his club CSKA Sofia, five times Champion of Spain with FC Barcelona, and winner of the Champions League in 1992.

In his capacity as a UNESCO Champion for Sport, Mr Stoichkov will support UNESCO's work in physical education and sport. He will work to promote the importance of physical education among disabled people and raise public awareness of sport as a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and networks, and promote ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice.

“At UNESCO, we are convinced that the values of solidarity, respect, equal dignity and tolerance are the foundations for the struggle against the scourges of racism and all forms of discrimination. These same values inspire all of UNESCO's action to foster respect and mutual understanding and to build dialogue between peoples and across all cultures – including through sport, especially football”, said the Director-General at the ceremony.

Ms Bokova also paid tribute to Mr Stoichkov's numerous projects and activities in Bulgaria to promote sport as a vector of social inclusion and tolerance.

Mr Stoichkov expressed his satisfaction with joining the family of UNESCO Champions for Sport, whose members include legends such as Ukrainian pole-vaulter Serhiy Bubka, Belgian tennis player Justine Henin, Brazilian football icon Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pelé, German Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher, and Jamaican track and field athlete Veronica Campbell-Brown.

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What a difference a game makes
What a difference a game makes

THE 2015-16 National Basketball Association (NBA) post-season was supposed to be more of a coronation than a competition. The Golden State Warriors broke the 20-year-old record held by Michael Jordan's best Chicago Bulls team for wins in a regular season, and marched through the first two rounds of the playoffs with relative ease—even though Stephen Curry, who on May 11th became the first player in league history to win the Most Valuable Player award by a unanimous vote, missed most of the games with injuries. Moreover, Golden State's most formidable rival, the San Antonio Spurs, suffered an upset loss in the second round, ensuring that the Warriors would not have to face another juggernaut before reaching the finals.

The Golden State steamroller hit...

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Children among dead and injured as siege tightens in Damascus area
Children among dead and injured as siege tightens in Damascus area
Source: Save the Children
Country: occupied Palestinian territory, Syrian Arab Republic

Khan Eshieh, the Palestinian refugee camp south of Damascus under complete siege, is home to around 3,000 children who are trapped and running out of food and medicine.

Continuing violence and blockades of besieged areas are adding to the suffering of the civilian population in Syria, Save the Children has warned.

Intensified bombing and shelling around the Khan Eshieh area has killed at least 11 people in the past 24 hours, including a mother and young child, according to a local agency there. The Jafra foundation reported that the deaths occurred after an airstrike hit their car. A further eight people, including children, have also been injured.

Khan Eshieh is the latest location to come under complete siege when the last road in and out of the area was blocked last week. The Palestinian refugee camp south of Damascus is home to around 3,000 children who are trapped and running out of food and medicine. The only existing medical facility in the camp has now almost completely run out of vital supplies – an eight year old girl was injured by shelling yesterday and had to have her hand amputated because of a lack of medical supplies and operating facilities.

Just eleven kilometres from the capital, in the besieged town of Darayya, there are fears of a new offensive against the town in the coming days. Residents told Save the Children that bombs hit civilians as they queued for an aid convoy that was barred from entering the town last Thursday. The area has been isolated without any official aid since October 2012.

Sonia Khush, head of Save the Children's Syria programme, said: “Darayya is an example of how desperate life is for people under continued siege. People there tell us of children so hungry they can't stand up for more than a few minutes. It is unthinkable that families are lured into the open because they are so desperate to receive aid, and then bombed. It is devastating to watch the grip tighten around another area, where we know children and their families are trapped inside.”

Shireen*, a teacher from Darayya told Save the Children about the failed distribution: “We had to wait a really long time, from 12pm to 6pm. Once I realised nothing was happening I turned back home. I had just arrived home when the first airstrike hit. The same place where we were waiting for the aid. I heard that a father and son were killed and five civilians were injured, including one of the women in the queue. It's unbelievable, I was standing with her in the queue. I left and went home and she stayed with her children.”

Notes to editors

The urgent deterioration in Khan Eshieh is also being seen in other besieged and hard to reach areas inside Syria, which are still being denied humanitarian aid. In the town of Al Wa'er, in northern Homs, a seven month old girl died of malnutrition this week after aid convoys were once again denied entry. Save the Children works with Syrian partners in besieged and other hard to reach areas in Syria to provide food parcels, support schools, repair water systems and provide psychological support for children affected by bombing and siege.

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Continued flooding since late March leaves hundreds of thousands of people displaced
Continued flooding since late March leaves hundreds of thousands of people displaced
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Ethiopia, United States of America

At least 236,890 people displaced by torrential rains and flash floods since late March. The floods are happening on the back of 18 months of drought that already weakened coping capacity.

Key Issues

  • At least 236,890 people displaced from torrential rains and corresponding flash floods since late March.

  • Major improvements in food dispatch and distribution performance have been achieved in the first months of 2016 with the transport of relief food increasing from 6,000MT per day at the start of the year up to 17,000MT per day currently.

  • The requirements for Agriculture, Education and Shelter/NFI sectors increased following the prioritization exercise early May.

  • USAID announces additional US$128 Million funding for humanitarian response in Ethiopia

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Noblesse oblige at Cannes
Noblesse oblige at Cannes

THE typical Cannes Festival film is either an extravagant exercise in surrealism or an angry indictment of social injustice. But films in the latter category seem surreal in the context of the Festival's conspicuous consumption. However political the polemics may be, they're being shown in the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, a venue known for its black-tie galas and red-carpet photoshoots, with a street of high-end jewellery boutiques on one side and a sparkling bay jammed with super-yachts on the other. The only people likely to storm any barricades are the star-spotters craning to glimpse George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

Both were in Cannes for the premiere of “Money Monster”, a satirical hostage thriller which struggles in vain to match its most obvious influences, “Network” and “Dog Day Afternoon”. Clooney plays Lee Gates, a complacent stock-touting guru with his own trashy television show. When a fund he recommends takes an $800m nosedive, one of its shareholders (Jack O'Connell) sneaks into the television studio (which has remarkably lax security) armed with a gun and a bomb vest, demanding an explanation....

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 17 May 2016
Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 17 May 2016

This report is for the general public and the media.

The SMM observed a relatively low level of violence in Donbas. The Mission continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons and visited a border area not controlled by the Government. The SMM noted long queues at checkpoints and monitored the situation affecting civilians living near the contact line. It followed up on reports of shelling in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk and on reports of casualties due to an explosion in Donetsk city. The SMM also monitored the situation of IDPs. The Mission's freedom of movement was restricted on three occasions.*

In keeping with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded a relatively low number of ceasefire violations. [1]

In government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), in less than a two-hour period during the evening and night of 16 May, the SMM heard approximately 260 single shots of small-arms and heavy-machine-gun fire and ten undetermined explosions 3-5km south-east of its position. The SMM also heard 20 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds of undetermined calibre, ten 1km to the east and ten 5km to the east, between 21:00 and midnight.

The SMM noted a limited number of ceasefire violations around the Donetsk city and Avdiivka-Yasynuvata area. The recorded violations between government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) all consisted of single explosions and sporadic bursts and shots of small-arms fire. During an approximately one-hour period around noon, the SMM heard four impacts (automatic grenade launcher and recoilless gun (SPG-9)) and three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 2-5km east of Avdiivka and 17 bursts and 16 single shots of small-arms fire 2-5km south-south-east of Yasynuvata. At 11:52, the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions 3-5km west-south-west of the Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre).

The SMM recorded an increase in ceasefire violations in Luhansk region compared to previous days. During the night of 16 May in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM heard 35 undetermined explosions approximately 3km south of its position. The following morning, during the flight of an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) near the Stanytsia Luhanska railway bridge, the SMM heard 35-40 shots of small-arms fire (AK-47) and 10-20 seconds of continuous machine-gun (PKM) and small-arms fire (AK-47) coming from the direction of government-controlled areas. Images taken by the UAV showed two individuals at a Ukrainian Armed Forces position with their weapons pointed in the direction of the UAV. The SMM also heard 12 undetermined explosions and five shots of small-arms fire 2-3km north-west of its position in government-controlled Dmytrivka (43km north-west of Luhansk), all assessed as part of live-fire exercises outside of the security zone.

The SMM followed up on reports of shelling in “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk). At a fenced industrial area housing a private residence, the SMM observed a number of craters and damage to a barn and garage. A large number of local and Russian media and “DPR” members were present when the SMM arrived. The SMM analysed three craters and determined them to have been caused by 82mm mortars fired from a westerly direction. The craters all appeared relatively fresh; according to residents of the compound, the shelling occurred in salvos 10-15 minutes apart from 23:00 on 16 May until 04:00 on 17 May, with the damage to the property occurring around midnight. In addition to the three analysed craters, the SMM observed other impacts. The SMM observed that the roof of a barn had collapsed. An impact to the roof of a nearby garage was observed, as was damage to the interior and a tractor parked inside. Separately, two “DPR” members showed the SMM the tailfins of two 120mm mortars that they said were found in the area, both were assessed as a 120mm aluminium extended range mortar. The residents of the nearby house showed the SMM two impacts to the roof which they said were caused when shells struck on 17 March.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that eight tanks (T-64) and three mortars (two 2B9, 82mm and one BM37, 82mm) were missing. At one site, all previously verified weapons were present. The SMM revisited an “LPR” permanent storage site whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines and found that all previously verified weapons were present.

Beyond the withdrawal lines, but outside storage sites, the SMM observed three tanks (T-72) at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Shymshynivka (27km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons as foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. The SMM has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October 2015 notification. The SMM revisited locations known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they do not comply with the specific criteria set out for permanent storage sites in the notification.

In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed 18 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm). Three towed howitzers were absent (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm). Three areas were found to be abandoned; two since 6 April and one since 8 March 2016. The SMM noted that 23 towed howitzers (five 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm and 18 Giatsint-B, 152mm) were missing from these areas.

In “DPR”-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed two self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm), eight towed howitzers (six 2A65 Msta-B, 152mm; and two D30, 122mm) and six multiple-launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm).

In violation of the withdrawal lines, the SMM observed seven self-propelled howitzers (assessed as 2S19 Msta-S, 152mm) at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Shymshynivka.

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles and other hardware in the security zone. In government-controlled areas, the SMM observed: two armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), two APCs stationary near Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), one stationary APC (MT-LB) in the vicinity of Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk), and one APC (BTR-70) in the area of Lopaskyne (23km north-west of Luhansk) travelling towards government-controlled Trokhizbenka (32km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM observed nine military-type trucks in a convoy moving from “LPR”-controlled Brianka (46km south-west of Luhansk) towards “LPR”-controlled Stakhanov (50km west of Luhansk).

The SMM monitored a border area not controlled by the Government. At the border crossing point in Chervonopartyzansk (64km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 16 civilian cars (ten with Russian Federation licence plates), one bus (Russian Federation licence plate) and one civilian truck (Ukrainian licence plate) crossing into the Russian Federation. Moving in the opposite direction, the SMM observed 17 civilian cars (seven with Ukrainian and ten with Russian Federation licence plates) entering “LPR”-controlled areas. The SMM was present in the area from 11:40 to 12:30.

The SMM continued to monitor long queues at crossing routes near the contact line. In the morning, the SMM observed at least 562 civilian vehicles and 130 pedestrians waiting to move west at a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near Marinka (government-controlled, 23km south-west of Donetsk). The SMM observed at least 227 civilian vehicles and 50 pedestrians waiting to move east at the same checkpoint. At a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint farther to the east along the same road, the SMM observed 14 cars waiting to head west. In the afternoon, the SMM observed 182 civilian vehicles and 60 pedestrians waiting to move east and 50 civilian vehicles and 200 pedestrians waiting to move west at the government checkpoint near Marinka. Approximately 15 minutes later, the SMM observed 340 civilian vehicles and at least 100 pedestrians waiting to move west at a “DPR”-controlled checkpoint located to the east on the same road. At “DPR”-controlled checkpoints on the road to government-controlled Maiorsk (45km north-east of Donetsk) from “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed an approximately 2.5 kilometre-long line of vehicles and encountered civilians, some of whom were visibly frustrated and complained to the SMM that they had been waiting in line for more than 24 hours. On the morning of 17 May, at the government checkpoint at Stanytsia Luhanska bridge, the SMM observed 150-200 people waiting to move north and approximately 500-550 waiting to move south. A member of a Ukrainian emergency response team told the SMM that they were running out of drinking water for civilians crossing the bridge, around which there is no protection from the sun. In the afternoon, 70-80 people were waiting to move north at the government-checkpoint, and no one was waiting to move the other direction.

In Donetsk city, the SMM followed up on media reports that a vehicle exploded on 14 May in a central part of the city. The director of a morgue in the city confirmed that they had received the body of one person on 14 May who was killed in the explosion. The director of a hospital in Donetsk told the SMM that three people had been injured in the explosion. A “DPR” “police chief” told the SMM that he could not provide any information as the “investigation” was still ongoing.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs). In Chernivtsi, the SMM spoke with the deputy head of the regional state administration regarding reports, including from IDPs, about pending evictions of four IDP families from a collective centre at a hotel in the city. The SMM had previously met with the management of the hotel on 10 May who claimed that, as of the beginning of 2016, the Government was no longer providing reimbursements for IDP housing costs to collective centres. The deputy head of the regional state administration told the SMM that approximately 500 IDP families in the region faced serious housing problems. According to him, only one of the four families who had difficulties paying for accommodation in the hotel had not agreed to pay rent. Over the last few months the SMM has spoken with IDPs and organizations assisting IDPs in Chernivtsi, who confirmed that many IDPs face difficulties in securing affordable housing. At a public event in Kyiv, speakers, including from the organization Crimean Diaspora, stated that the Government provided pre-existing social benefits and counselling services in the first few months of displacement, and volunteer groups provided immediate services specific to the most urgent issues faced by IDPs.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk.

*Restrictions to SMM's freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM's monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM's mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM's freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • On 17 May, an SMM UAV was fired at from a government-controlled position on three successive occasions while flying over the Stanytsia Luhanska railway bridge. The SMM was forced to recall the UAV, which did not sustain any damage. The JCCC was informed of the incident.

Conditional access:

  • Armed men stopped the SMM on the eastern outskirts of “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata and the patrol had to wait 20 minutes before being allowed to pass into the city with an escort of two armed men. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Delay:

  • At the south-eastern entrance to “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr (29km north-east of Mariupol), armed men stopped the SMM and forced the patrol to wait 35 minutes before allowing it to pass. The SMM informed the JCCC.

[1] Please see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

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Against the grain
Against the grain

Watch out or a vegan will snatch it

IS THE global fad for quinoa a bane or boon to the peasants of the Andes? For centuries they were more or less the only people to grow or eat the stuff. Dieticians in the rich world have known how nutritious it is for a long time: in 1993 a study by NASA, America's space agency, stated: “While no single food can supply all the essential life-sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom.” But it took adulation from the likes of Oprah Winfrey (who in 2008 included it in her 21-day “cleanse” diet) to give the grain global appeal. Now, wherever yuppies can be found, it can be too, usually lurking near Puy lentils or goji berries in a salad. The UN even branded 2013 the International Year of Quinoa.

As demand galloped ahead, supply could not keep pace. So between 2000 and its peak in 2014, the average price of quinoa exports from Peru and Bolivia more than tripled, to $6-7 a kilogram. That panicked the Guardian, a British newspaper, among other hand-wringers: in 2013 it ran the headline “Can vegans stomach the...

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OSCE Chairperson-in-Office opens high-level conference on economic connectivity in Berlin
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office opens high-level conference on economic connectivity in Berlin

BERLIN, 18 May 2016 – The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the OSCE business conference “Connectivity for Commerce and Investment” in the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin today, with close to 1000 high-ranking official and business representatives from the entire OSCE region and beyond attending.

The two-day conference is the first major OSCE event for private sector participants since the CSCE Conference on Economic Co-operation in Bonn in 1990. “The aim of the conference is to contribute to both economic opportunities and broader political confidence-building,” the Chairperson-in-Office stressed. He underlined that, even though the world is becoming ever more connected, there is still a need to strengthen economic co-operation and to conduct an open dialogue about initiatives for integration, particularly in the OSCE region.

The conference, which is expected to create momentum for greater economic exchange in the OSCE area and further the removal of barriers to cross-border co-operation, is a central element in Germany's 2016 OSCE Chairmanship programme. It is an opportunity for policy makers and business representatives to identify technical bottlenecks and obstacles to economic co-operation and to discuss different approaches to overcoming them, focusing on concrete solutions.

Participants include high-ranking official delegations from the 57 OSCE participating States, the 11 Partners for Co-operation and other interested countries, including China. In the plenary sessions, panels and workshops, they will consider topics such as economic hubs and transport corridors, trade and investment as facilitators for connectivity, trade facilitation and good governance, security of supply routes, the digital transformation, the EU-China Connectivity Platform, cross-border transport in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus, free trade in regions with protracted conflicts, the Western Balkans Connectivity Agenda and strengthening economic connectivity in the Eurasian space.

“The OSCE's work in the field of trade facilitation and good governance promotes transparency and predictability of procedures and regulations and thus stimulates government accountability towards the business community as well as its citizens,” said Halil Yurdakul Yigitgüden, the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities.

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Michael Moore's grand European tour
Michael Moore's grand European tour

THIS week sees the release of a fine hour-long documentary on social policies in Europe, and what America could learn from them. Sadly, this short film is wrapped in an hour-and-fifty-minute-long one, the other 50 minutes of which is Michael Moore making an ugly American of himself. The provocative film-maker's “Where To Invade Next” is quite amused with its own premise: Mr Moore is “invited” by to the Pentagon, where the brass tell him, in a voiceover of Mr Moore's own, “we don't know what the fuck we're doing.” They “send” Mr Moore to “invade” new countries, looking not for oil but for ideas for making America a more civilised place.

What he finds in Europe is, indeed, remarkable to Mr Moore's faux-naïf eyes. Italians get six weeks' of paid leave, plus various other holidays and allowances. The chief executive of Ducati, a luxury motorcycle-maker, says he is proud to give his workers living wages, decent conditions and time off. A working-class couple tells Mr Moore how they spend their long holidays, before he tells them that no federal law in America requires any paid holiday at...

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The Sahel: Under pressure, facing converging challenges, compounding risks
The Sahel: Under pressure, facing converging challenges, compounding risks
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal

Environmental shocks, insecurity, chronic hunger and malnutrition have a dangerously symbiotic relationship in the Sahel. A spike in armed conflict and violence worsens its chronic hardship and has led to rising displacement.

In the Sahel, extreme poverty, fast-growing populations, climate change, recurrent food and nutrition crises, armed conflicts and insecurity are building up to a perfect storm threatening the lives of communities already living on the brink of crisis.

The region is one of the world's climate change hotspots. Increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, more frequent droughts and floods and land degradation threaten the livelihoods of a population in which the majority relies on agriculture for survival.

Environmental shocks, insecurity, chronic hunger and malnutrition have a dangerously symbiotic relationship in the Sahel. A spike in armed conflict and violence worsens the Sahel's chronic hardship and has led to new peaks in displacement across the region. Lack of opportunities and unemployment, deteriorating security, economic and social inequality expose youths to risks of radicalization and recruitment. Many seek brighter prospects elsewhere, fueling the global migration crisis.

Faced with serious threats, governments risk channeling more resources to address security challenges at the expense of social development. Past gains and future development prospects are at stake. If these challenges remain unaddressed, the prospects for the region are dire, and the most vulnerable communities will suffer the most.

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Chibok girl found, first since abduction by Boko Haram
Chibok girl found, first since abduction by Boko Haram
Source: Agence France-Presse
Country: Nigeria

One of the 219 schoolgirls abducted in Chibok in northeast Nigeria has been found, the first since their seizure by Boko Haram more than two years ago, according to numerous sources.

Kano, Nigeria | AFP | Wednesday 5/18/2016 - 12:38 GMT

The first of 219 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok in northeast Nigeria more than two years ago has been found, activists, the head of a support group and a community leader said Wednesday.

Amina Ali was discovered on Tuesday in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno state by civilian vigilantes assisting the military and brought back to her home town of Mbalala, near Chibok.

"She met her parents, who recognised their daughter before she was taken to the military base in Damboa," Ayuba Alamson Chibok, a community leader in Chibok, told AFP.

"Her father's name is Ali and the girl's name is Amina. I know the family very well because I have worked with them, being a spokesman for the families of the Chibok girls."

Yakubu Nkeki, head of the Abducted Chibok Girls Parents' group, also confirmed her name and said she was 17 when she was abducted.

He added: "She's the daughter of my neighbour... They brought her to my house."

Tsambido Hosea Abana, a Chibok community leader in the capital, Abuja, from the BringBackOurGirls pressure group, was the first to give details about the discovery.

All three men said the teenager appeared to have given birth while in captivity while Abana said other kidnapped girls were in the forest, which the military has been targeting for several weeks.

There was no immediate word from the Nigerian authorities.

Boko Haram seized 276 students from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on the night of April 14, 2014. Fifty-seven managed to escape in the immediate aftermath.

Nothing had been heard from the 219 still held captive since a video published by the Islamists in May 2014 until an apparent "proof of life" message was sent to the Nigerian government earlier this year.

The abduction sparked outrage worldwide and brought global attention to the Boko Haram insurgency, which has killed at least 20,000 people and made more than 2.6 million homeless since 2009.

abu-phz/ccr

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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IPDC Chair Albana Shala Calls for Research Partnerships on Journalists’ Safety at WPFD Conference
IPDC Chair Albana Shala Calls for Research Partnerships on Journalists’ Safety at WPFD Conference

IPDC Chair Albana Shala took part in a two-day research conference on the safety of journalists during the celebrations of World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki, Finland on 3 and 4 May. The conference aimed at strengthening cooperation with academia in line with the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

The IPDC Chair highlighted IPDC's history as a driver of knowledge-driven media development, and stated that journalists' safety was a priority area in which IPDC wished to strengthen cooperation with academia to produce research. “Research will help in mainstreaming safety of journalists, raising public awareness, involving Governments in addressing impunity and finally support sustainable development of peaceful societies all over the world.”

Shala identified three areas in which IPDC would be interested in exploring possibilities of partnerships with academia. Firstly, partnerships for new applications of the UNESCO/IPDC Journalists' Safety Indicators. Secondly, research on the processes that lead to the successful establishment of national safety mechanisms. And thirdly, the identification and compilation of best practices from different parts of the world in monitoring, reporting on and promoting the safety of journalists.

The conference brought together more than 50 academics from six continents, and was organized by UNESCO in partnership with the University of Sheffield (Centre for Freedom of the Media), the University of Tampere, the University of Helsinki, and the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).

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UNHCR warns of worsening shelter conditions for refugees, launches global campaign
UNHCR warns of worsening shelter conditions for refugees, launches global campaign
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: World

Without a major increase in funding and global support, millions of people fleeing war and persecution face homelessness or inadequate housing in countries such as Lebanon, Mexico and Tanzania.

Geneva, 18 May 2016 – A huge shortfall in funds for sheltering refugees is severely undermining efforts to tackle the biggest global displacement crisis since World War II, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned today.

At the launch today of a new global campaign, called “Nobody Left Outside,” UNHCR said efforts to provide adequate shelter for refugees under its care were facing a half-billion-dollar deficit. Nobody Left Outside calls on the private sector to contribute funds for shelter solutions for 2 million refugees. The campaign is aimed at individuals, companies, foundations and philanthropists worldwide.

Forced displacement, most of it arising from war and conflict, has risen sharply in the past decade, largely a result of the Syria crisis, but also due to a proliferation of new displacement situations and unresolved old ones. Some 60 million people are today forcibly displaced, almost 20 million of them refugees who have been forced to flee across international borders, and the rest people displaced within their own countries. Humanitarian funding is failing to keep pace.

A shelter – be it a tent, a makeshift structure or a house – is the basic building block for refugees to survive and recover from the physical and mental effects of violence and persecution. Yet around the world, millions are struggling to get by in inadequate and often dangerous dwellings, barely able to pay the rent, and putting their lives, dignity and futures at risk.

“Shelter is the foundation stone for refugees to survive and recover, and should be considered a non-negotiable human right,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “As we tackle worldwide displacement on a level not seen since World War 2, no refugee should be left outside.”

The Nobody Left Outside campaign aims to raise funds from the private sector to build or improve shelter for 2 million refugees by 2018, amounting to almost one in eight of the 15.1 million under UNHCR's remit in mid 2015. The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) cares for the remaining Palestinian refugees.

Without a major increase in funding and global support, millions of people fleeing war and persecution face homelessness or inadequate housing in countries such as Lebanon, Mexico and Tanzania. Without a safe place to eat, sleep, study, store belongings and have privacy the consequences to their health and welfare can be profound.

Providing shelter on a global scale is a massive logistical undertaking. Every year, UNHCR purchases 70,000 tents and more than 2 million tarpaulins, which have come to symbolize the response to humanitarian emergencies.

However, as UNHCR continues to face high levels of shelter needs and with limited funding available, operations often face the difficult decision to prioritize emergency shelter for the maximum number of people of concern, over an investment in more durable and sustainable solutions. Outside of camps, refugees rely on UNHCR support to find housing and pay rent in towns and cities across dozens of countries bordering conflict zones.

These operations are expected to cost US$724 million in 2016. Yet only US$158 million is currently available, a shortfall which threatens to leave millions of men, women and children without adequate shelter and struggling to rebuild their lives.

The Nobody Left Outside campaign is asking private donors and enterprises to get more involved. The private sector is an increasingly important donor source for UNHCR, contributing more than eight per cent of the organization's overall funding in 2015.

“There is an important role for the private sector with its know-how, energy and money to act in a spirit of solidarity to shelter refugees from war and persecution,” said High Commissioner Grandi, adding that the provision of adequate shelter could ease tensions between refugees and host communities. “We must find better ways of peacefully integrating refugees into our host communities,” said Grandi. “Proper shelter for everyone is central to social cohesion. Good homes make good neighbours.”

The regions most in need of assistance are sub-Saharan Africa (US$255m needed, US$48m available) and the Middle East and North Africa (US$373m needed, US$91m available). Asia requires US$59m, with only US$8m available, and Europe also requires significantly more help (US$36m needed, US$10m available) as it faces a continued influx of refugees.

To support Nobody Left Outside, go to www.nobodyleftoutside.org

Media Contacts:

In Geneva, Leo Dobbs on mobile +41 79 883 63 47

For other offices, please consult our global PI network: http://www.unhcr.org/4a09806215.html

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Commemoration of the ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, Republic of Seychelles
Commemoration of the ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, Republic of Seychelles

The Republic of Seychelles commemorated the ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Day today, the 17th of May 2016.

In conjunction with this event, the Ministry of ICT launched the ICT Week yesterday, an annual event which brings together, government officials, the private sector ICT companies and civil society groups.

The ICT Week was inaugurated by H.E. Mr Danny Faure, Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles. In his opening remarks, the Vice-President highlighted the efforts of the government of the Republic of Seychelles to deploy broadband connectivity throughout the country and harness ICTs for enhancing economic development, entrepreneurship and stability.

In his keynote address at the opening ceremony, Mr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of the Knowledge Societies Division of the Communication and Information sector of UNESCO, stressed on the linkages between ICTs and SDGs and urged the government of Seychelles to incorporate the Knowledge Societies framework into their national development plans and policies. He also discussed the importance of broadband networks and infrastructure in order to deploy adequate services in key areas such as education, health, environment and economic development.

The keynote address was followed by a Q&A session with the participants and many questions relating to broadband and economic development, ICT policies and capacity building were discussed.

Mr.Banerjee will also moderate a plenary panel discussion on the role of ICTs for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

In the course of his mission to the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Banerjee also held discussions with H. E. the Vice-President of Seychelles and senior government officials from the Ministry of ICT, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture as well the Ministry of Education.

Caption for the attached photograph: Mr. Indrajit Banerjee with H.E. the Vice-President of the Republic of Seychelles Mr. Danny Faure, at the opening of the ICT Week.

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UN Humanitarian Chief calls for world focus on the plight of Niger people affected by Boko Haram
UN Humanitarian Chief calls for world focus on the plight of Niger people affected by Boko Haram
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Niger, Nigeria

The 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan has so far received only 25 per cent of the requirement of US$316 million, which is clearly insufficient to meet the immediate needs.

(Niamey, 17 May 2016): United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, completed today a two-day mission to Niger. He called for greater world attention on the massive humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Diffa region, where violence at the hands of Boko Haram has forced over 240,000 people out of their homes on both sides of the border with Nigeria.

In the Diffa region, USG O'Brien visited the Assaga site, hosting over 15,000 people including refugees, returnees and internally displaced people who had been recently forced out of their homes due to Boko Haram attacks. He called for armed groups to respect their obligations to protect civilians under International Humanitarian Law. “I am appalled by reports of killing of civilians, looting of villages, and other abuses perpetrated by Boko Haram in the countries around the Lake Chad Basin, including Niger,” he said. “Adherence to international humanitarian law and norms is fundamental in conflict and it applies to all parties, without exception.” In the Diffa region, two out of three people have experienced displacement.

“This morning I met a family in Diffa hosting 30 people who had fled violence caused by Boko Haram both in Nigeria and in Niger. As the first to respond, the solidarity and generosity of families in Diffa who have shared their scarce resources with those in need are an example and inspiration to us all,” noted the Emergency Relief Coordinator.

USG O'Brien met with the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini, Minister of the Interior, Mohamed Bazoum, Niger's first Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Laouan Magagi, and several other senior Government officials. They discussed ways to step up the humanitarian response for people affected by Boko Haram as well as the chronic challenges faced year after year by Nigeriens despite the Government's clear strategic commitment to build people's resilience to recurrent food insecurity and malnutrition crises. This deserves our support.

In 2016, humanitarian partners (donors, non-governmental organisations, and others humanitarian and development actors) and the Nigerien Government planned to assist two million food insecure people and 1.5 million people threatened by malnutrition: 1.2 million of them are children. “Displacement or malnutrition alone causes great human suffering. A combination of the two is too much for people to bear. Together, we must help them now with urgent supplies and services,” stressed USG O'Brien.
The humanitarian community has launched a Humanitarian Response Plan for 2016 targeting 1.5 million people with a budget requirement of US$316 million. So far only 25 per cent has been received, which is clearly insufficient to meet the immediate needs.

USG O'Brien will go from the Lake Chad Basin region to Istanbul to participate in the first ever World Humanitarian Summit being held 23-24 May. “The Summit will be a critical opportunity for me to tell the stories of the people I met, who have been affected by the Boko Haram violence,” explained USG O'Brien. “An event on the Lake Chad Basin region will help us draw global attention to the increasing vulnerability of the communities of the region, who are facing the converging events of climate change, high poverty levels, violent extremism and population growth.”

Mr. O'Brien noted that a comprehensive approach is urgently needed, to ensure greater collaboration between the political, security, development, environmental, and humanitarian efforts to maximize scarce resources and to ensure no one is left behind. “A big compounded crisis needs a big compounded response,” he added.

For further information, please call:
Herve Verhoosel, World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat, verhoosel@un.org +1 917 345 5238 Katy Thiam in Niger, thiamk@un.org , +227 99 71 71 39
OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

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Average startup raise in Africa in 2015 $326k – survey
Average startup raise in Africa in 2015 $326k – survey

The average investment value raised by African startups in 2015 was US$326,000, showing significant growth on previous years, according to survey results released by the African Business Angel Network (ABAN) and VC4Africa.

Disrupt Africa reported in October African startups were asked to complete the 10 minute“Venture Finance in Africa” survey hosted on the VC4Africa portal, which aimed to compile a large dataset on the performance of African growth ventures to date.

This year's survey was open to any African startup wishing to respond; contrary to previous years, when the research covered only members of the VC4Africa community – giving this year's survey a broader scope.

The results of the survey have now been released, with certain key findings revealing growth in ecosystem activity over the past years.

48 per cent of respondents said they successfully raised external investment in 2015, up from 44 per cent in the previous year.

The average capital secured per startup in 2015 was US$326,000; showing significant growth compared to the 2014 average of US$206,000, and the 2013 average of US$130,000.

However, these comparisons may be impacted by the wider scope in participation for the 2015 research.

The results found that most capital and the largest investments are secured in South Africa; while the most investments take place in Nigeria, closely followed by Kenya. Altogether, the research recorded investments in 26 African countries.

From the research, ABAN has drawn three conclusions as to trends prevalent in the ecosystem.

First, there is a growing interest from members of the African diaspora in investing in their country of origin, ABAN said.

There are also an increasing number of business professionals turning investor locally, the report says.

Finally, there is a growing appetite for cross-border investing across Africa.

“Here at ABAN we see that these trends highlight a change in mindset and a growing recognition of the opportunities and entrepreneurial talent coming from Africa,” said David van Dijk, director general of ABAN.

The post Average startup raise in Africa in 2015 $326k – survey appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Director-General condemns murder of journalists Akhilesh Pratap Singh and Rajdev Ranjan in India
Director-General condemns murder of journalists Akhilesh Pratap Singh and Rajdev Ranjan in India

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today called for an investigation into the killing of journalists, Akhilesh Pratap Singh and Rajdev Ranjan, who died in separate attacks in northeastern and central India respectively.

“I condemn the murders of Akhilesh Pratap Singh and Rajdev Ranjan,” the Director-General said. “I call on the authorities to investigate these killings to prevent impunity for crimes against freedom of expression and freedom of information from taking root.”

On 12 May, unknown assailants shot Akhilesh Pratap Singh, a correspondent for Hindi-language broadcaster Taaza TV, who was also known as Indradev Yadav, in the Chatra district of the state of Jharkhand in the northeast of India.

Senior reporter Rajdev Ranjan was shot on Friday 13 May in Siwan in the central Indian state of Bihar. He was the bureau chief of the Hindi-language national daily Hindustan.

The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization's General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.

****

Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at)unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

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Director-General of UNESCO deplores severe damage at Church of Saint Simeon, World Heritage Site in Syria
Director-General of UNESCO deplores severe damage at Church of Saint Simeon, World Heritage Site in Syria

The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, has deplored severe damages at the historic byzantine Church of Saint-Simeon, part of the UNESCO World Heritage property of the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, possibly as a result of an airstrike on 12 May last. UNESCO received several reports and photographic evidence revealing that the Church has suffered extensive damage, including to the remains of the pillars of Saint Simeon.

“I reiterate my calls on all parties to the conflict to abstain from using cultural property for any military purpose, across all of Syria, in order to avoid exposing such property to further damage. I reiterate also my calls on all parties to refrain from targeting cultural heritage sites and monuments, in accordance with customary international humanitarian law and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and its two protocols.” declared the Director-General.

“The conflict in Syria is causing incalculable human suffering and loss. The Destruction of Syria's unique cultural heritage is part and parcel of the humanitarian and security crisis. Its protection is therefore an integral part of wider efforts to end violence, to protect human life and move to peace.” she added.

The Church of Saint Simeon Stylites is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, that provides remarkable testimony to rural life in late Antiquity and during the Byzantine period. The villages, which date from the 1st to 7th centuries, feature a remarkably well preserved landscape and the architectural remains of dwellings, pagan temples, churches, cisterns, bathhouses etc. The cultural landscape also illustrates the transition from the ancient pagan world of the Roman Empire to Byzantine Christianity, bearing witness to the depth of cultural and religious traditions in Syria. The byzantine Church was built in the year 490 AD on Mount Simeon and has been revered as an iconic testimony of the history and identity of the Syrian people.

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Night owls welcome at UNESCO for European Night of Museums
Night owls welcome at UNESCO for European Night of Museums

UNESCO is proud to support the European Night of Museums for the 8th consecutive year, and give its patronage to this event taking place on Saturday, 21 May 2016. In opening the doors to its Headquarters in Paris, this year UNESCO will give the public the opportunity to discover the temporary exhibition entitled “Art for Peace,” a broad collection of contemporary works serving as a cultural crossroads between China and Europe.

This event is also an occasion to discover, or rediscover, the modern architecture of the Organization's Headquarters – designed by Marcel Breuer, Luigi Nervi and Bernard Zehrfuss – and a part of its rich art collection, including works by Picasso, Miró, Calder, Erró, Giacometti, Chillida, Moore and Noguchi, among many others.

Following the recent attacks perpetrated against culture across the world, UNESCO reaffirms with even more conviction the importance of museums as a place for dialogue, mutual understanding and common values. The European Night of Museums, at UNESCO and in more than 3500 museums across Europe, will give people the opportunity to discover the beauty and diversity of cultural heritage worldwide.

Visits will take place from 8pm until midnight (last admissions), at 7 place de Fontenoy (exit at 125 Avenue de Suffren). Free entry; no prior booking required.

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SA’s BetterWage launches to match your skills with online platforms
SA’s BetterWage launches to match your skills with online platforms

South African startup BetterWage has launched with the goal of helping people match their skills and passions with online platforms that can make them money, such as Airbnb and Uber.

BetterWage allows users to identify their skills and available services, and promptly matches them with hundreds of online platforms where they can monetise them.

“If you have room in your house to share, we'll introduce you to Airbnb and many more. If you can drive people around for money, we will suggest Uber and their equivalents,” co-founder Rudie Shepherd told Disrupt Africa.

“If you can programme a computer, we'll tell you that you can make a good living on Freelancer and a host of similar sites. We also offer a fortune of articles and videos to explain how to make money in this new online economy.”

Shepherd and fellow co-founder Dean Furman were – and are still – employed by financial and risk services firm Alexander Forbes when they launched BetterWage at the suggestion of the company.

“In around September 2015 Alexander Forbes took myself and Dean out of the business, put us in a virtual garage and told us to “come up with something that could disrupt the financial services industry – before someone else does it to us”,” Shepherd said.

“Having had decades of experience with building and rolling out IT systems, I promptly put in for a budget of a few million rand to get us started because I knew what it costs to develop new software. Financial services companies routinely spend millions on R&D projects, don't they?”

However, the Alexander Forbes chief executive officer (CEO) at the time – Edward Kieswetter – told the pair that they would have to behave like a startup and find their own money. BetterWage was thus developed with a very lean mentality.

“This was the best thing that could have happened to us,” Shepherd said.

“We got extremely creative with how we spent money because it really felt like we were spending our own, (because at one point we were. I dusted off development skills I forgot I had, learnt to use open source technology for free and figured out that hosting in the cloud is the only way to go for a startup in the bootstrap phase. Dean jumped in and did most of the research himself and authored nearly 40 blog articles in the process.”

The pair soft-launched BetterWage with internal staff at Alexander Forbes on December 1 to gauge the response.

“They did not know BetterWage was actually us and we had to deal with spam blocks and junk mail folders with the rest of the wannabe startups vying for their attention on any given day,” Shepherd said.

“After seeing a near 30 per cent conversion rate off a message that kind of looked like spam, to be honest, we knew we were onto something.”

The startup has now officially launched, with Shepherd saying it has been on a rollercoaster ride since.

“It's still just the two of us, in a virtual garage – but with a much better site and credibility based on delivery. It remains to be seen if the site is going to be a success, but we think so. We put our hearts and souls into this thing and we have every intention to see it succeed,” he said.

BetterWage's competition comes in the form of recruitment agencies that specialise in connecting people with job opportunities, but an individual would be required to leave their current job to use their services.

“Who can afford that risk in this economy? We rather work with them to find opportunities in the 9-to-5 category – which incidentally is only one of 32 ways to earn a wage these days,” Shepherd said.

“We believe people must have multiple jobs of various kinds. Our other competition is Google – because surely you can just type in “make money online” and get going? Good luck with that… 134 million results. Our WageFinder search engine is tiny in comparison – but it is extremely focused and doesn't waste your time searching for things that won't work for you,” he said.

Shepherd said it would be “wonderful” if BetterWage were to attract venture capital, but nonetheless he was quite happy with the organic growth it had seen so far.

“To be honest the strings attached to venture capital might be detrimental to what we are trying to do,” he said. “We believe that if we keep our focus on making money for our community before making money for our investors, the reward will be greater in the end for everybody concerned.”

With the need to generate a better income universal, BetterWage is making its services availale globally.

“Most of our users are close to home in South Africa because that is where we focused most of our marketing efforts to gauge the market appetite, and because this is where the poor exchange rate makes it very attractive to earn in dollars right now,” Shepherd said.

“We have plenty of subscribers from the United States (US), where the sharing and gig economy is already well understood but poorly serviced with information of how to best earn with it.”

BetterWage has three revenue streams: affiliate revenue through selling online courses with Udemy, consulting and expertise, and advertising. Shepherd said a this point the startup is for all practical purposes a “gift” to society right now – a “loss leader”.

“We're not seeking profit at this stage but will be happy to start funding our next round of development which include the add-ons to the BetterWage platform that will earn real money for investors,” he said.

“We're not a charity – but we are happy to give something away for free to learn where people's true needs are – and what they are happy to spend their hard earned money on going forward. We want to remain true to our founding philosophy that we will only help people spend money we helped them to earn in the first place.”

The post SA's BetterWage launches to match your skills with online platforms appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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US backs entrepreneurs at Zambia’s BongoHive with 6-month finance bootcamp
US backs entrepreneurs at Zambia’s BongoHive with 6-month finance bootcamp

The United States (US) Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz has launched a six-month finance bootcamp for Zambian entrepreneurs at innovation Hub BongoHive, aimed at assisting entrepreneurs in overcoming difficulties in accessing funding.

The programme, which begins on May 9 and runs through to October, is a partnership between the US government and BongoHive, and will see American business experts visit Zambia to hold workshops at BongoHive and the US Embassy.

The bootcamp is a follow-on to the inaugural 2015 Zambia Entrepreneurship Summit, which the US Embassy organised in partnership with the WECREATE Zambia Center, and the successful six-month Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp of last year, also a partnership between the US Embassy and BongoHive.

“Promoting entrepreneurship among Zambians is part of the US Mission's commitment to partnerships for economic growth in Zambia. We hope that the program's diverse group of innovative Zambian entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to learn more about strategies of sourcing financing and how they can further grow their businesses,” said Ambassador Schultz.

Co-founder and executive director of BongoHive Lukonga Lindunda said the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Zambia has been developing at a tremendous pace over the past few years.

“Initiatives like this bootcamp have been vital in the instigation of the positive changes we've witnessed,” he said.

“Although we still have work to do, cross-sector collaborations like this boot camp are delivering tremendous value to the Zambian change-makers of tomorrow.”

Disrupt Africa reported last week BongoHive kicked off the second cohort of its Launch accelerator programme, which aims to assist startups in growing and scaling their businesses.

BongoHive also recently launched the Discover programme, an intense three-week full-time bootcamp providing entrepreneurs with the basic skills they need to turn a business idea into a fully-fledged startup.

In February, the hub signed a sponsorship arrangement with local operator MTN, which will see the partners build an enabling environment for developers in Zambia.

The post US backs entrepreneurs at Zambia's BongoHive with 6-month finance bootcamp appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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E-health startup El Dacatra targets Gulf after Egypt growth
E-health startup El Dacatra targets Gulf after Egypt growth

Egyptian healthcare comparison platform El Dacatra has its sights set on expansion to the Gulf as it sees ongoing growth in its home market.

Launched as a pilot in December 2014 and made fully available to the public in July of last year, El Dacatra is a healthcare comparison platform for patients to search and compare between private healthcare providers.

Its aim is to empower patients to make informed decisions through easy access to doctors' information, qualifications and patients' reviews, while also elevating medical awareness by providing original Arabic medical content from doctors.

The startup's story began when founder Nada Hamada was pregnant, and had a hard time searching for good doctors and hospitals.

“The search process was very hectic and long and I was surprised that there was no reference or database for healthcare providers that contains information and patients' reviews,” she told Disrupt Africa.

“Since I come from a marketing background, I spotted the market gap and decided to fill it.”

El Dacatra provides patients with all the information they need to know, whether it is a doctor's qualifications, other patients' reviews, or even basic contact information and operating hours.

Hamada said though there are couple of players in the healthcare IT sector in Egypt, her startup's key edge is that it offers detailed reviews based on many elements. Moreover, El Dacatra enables healthcare providers to list all their information, as well as add videos and photos to their profiles.

“Our platform gives healthcare providers all the features that they would enjoy if they developed their own website, but at a much cheaper rate and completely hassle free setup,” she said.

Bootstrapped since its launch, El Dacatra has just started offering premium accounts as it monetises the platform. The site currently sees 15,000 monthly visits, and has over 2,000 subscribed users. Around 130 doctors are so far subscribed to the platform, with Hamada expecting all these figures to double over the next two months with extensive marketing and search engine optimisation.

Funding will be sought, however, as the startup has an eye on expanding in the Gulf in the coming years. Hamada is confident of continued success, as the challenges El Dacatra has faced has not been minimal – lack of funding, the high cost of website development, and the challenges introducing the idea of ratings and reviews to the Egyptian healthcare market.

“The biggest difficulty of all was doubt, as we weren't sure how users and healthcare providers would respond to the idea and interact with the platform,” she said.

“But we kept believing in our dream and pushing our limits until we got validation, and we are still thriving for more and more.”

The post E-health startup El Dacatra targets Gulf after Egypt growth appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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MSF responds to a particularly deadly outbreak of malaria in the north east DR Congo
MSF responds to a particularly deadly outbreak of malaria in the north east DR Congo
Source: Médecins Sans Frontières
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

At the beginning of May, MSF launched emergency relief in the Pawa and Boma Mangbetu health zones in response to an appeal from the overwhelmed health authorities.

Isiro, DRC – An unusually severe outbreak of malaria has hit the health area of Pawa and neighbouring Boma Mangbetu. On Monday 9 May 2016, 141 children were admitted overnight to the Pawa general referral hospital in the Haut-Uele province in the north east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There were two or three children to each of the 22 beds in the paediatric ward, with others on mats on the floor between the beds and in the corridors.

“We are so tired of watching children die!” exclaimed the head of the Gatua communities during a meeting with the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) nurse. “We have been burying children nonstop since March. The healthcare centre has no more malaria medicine, and mothers are taking their children home to die. The only thing they can do is to cool them down with water to try and bring the fever down.”

At the beginning of May, MSF launched emergency relief in the Pawa and Boma Mangbetu health zones in response to an appeal from the overwhelmed health authorities. The first step the organisation took was to distribute close to 10,000 artemisinin-based treatments for malaria and a larger number of rapid diagnostic tests to 32 healthcare centres in order to ensure that the disease is treated quickly, effectively and free of charge on a local level.

“We have encountered a similar situation only once: in 2012, during an intervention in the areas of Ganga-Dingila, Pawa, Poko and Boma-Mangbetu we treated over 60,000 children suffering from malaria,” explained Florent Uzzeni, MSF's Deputy Emergency Programme Manager. “Today our primary objective is to treat children suffering from simple malaria as quickly as possible, so that they do not go on to develop severe malaria.”

If the disease is treated in time with the right medication, the risk of complications can be significantly reduced. However, the current lack of available medication and its excessive cost have meant that cases of severe malaria are multiplying, leading to many children dying at home without access to healthcare. MSF will therefore also provide support for the Pawa and Boma Mangbetu general referral hospitals in treating these complicated cases, which often require intensive care, blood transfusions and oxygen therapy. MSF medical staff will be provided to strengthen the Ministry of Health's medical team. The organization will also provide the equipment and medication required, and provide training to improve the quality of care.

“We will provide relief in the areas with the highest number of malaria cases, but we know that other health areas in the Haut-Uele, Bas-Uele and Ituri provinces have also been affected,” continued Florent Uzzeni. “Effective treatments do exist, and if all the stakeholders within the country involved in the fight against malaria move quickly, we will be able to stop too many children dying as a result of this outbreak.”

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UNESCO Director-General discusses current global challenges and international cooperation with the President of the Czech Republic, H.E. Miloš Zeman
UNESCO Director-General discusses current global challenges and international cooperation with the President of the Czech Republic, H.E. Miloš Zeman

On the second day of her official visit to the Czech Republic, the Director-General met with H.E. Miloš Zeman, President of the Czech Republic. The meeting took place at the magnificent Prague Castle – which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site “the Historic Center of Prague” inscribed in 1992 – and was an opportunity for Ms. Bokova and Mr Zeman to discuss the solid and fruitful cooperation that exists between UNESCO and the Czech Republic, with a view to strengthening it further.

The President commended Irina Bokova for her leadership of the Organization and expressed support for UNESCO's work in all its fields of competence. The Director-General informed him about the Organization's specific programme on Preventing Violent Extremism and countering youth radicalization. “This includes action to bolster media and information literacy, and to help young women and men counter radicalization through the Internet” – she said.

The President commended UNESCO's programme in this field, underlining the Czech Republic's eagerness to further cooperate with UNESCO on this important and current topics, as well as on other projects across the full spectrum of the Organization's activities. The discussion then focused on current global challenges and on the importance of dialogue and cooperation between countries and people to promote better understanding between them and preventing radicalization.

On the same day, the Director-General also met with Mr Lubomír Zaorálek, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. During their meeting, the Director-General underlined that UNESCO's efforts are oriented towards the recognition that education must be an integral part of any crisis response. She further stressed that education of young people particularly in areas of conflict remains considerably neglected, despite the fact that providing educational opportunities to young people is fundamental to counter radicalization.

In this respect, the Director-General informed Mr Zaorálek of UNESCO's most recent activities centred around the prevention of violent extremism, as well as the increased collaboration with the European Union, who is currently supporting several UNESCO programmes. She referred to the launch of the new teachers' guide on preventing violent extremism, which aims to support young women and men to achieve new forms of global solidarity, and to provide them with the tools needed to resist and oppose violent extremism and radicalization at the early stages of their lives. Ms Bokova also informed the Minister about UNESCO's activities in the field of Holocaust education and and genocide prevention as well as fighting anti-Semitism.

Mr Zaorálek thanked the Director-General and commended the Organization for the strong stance taken towards the protection of cultural heritage in conflict areas, in particular in Syria and Iraq. In this respect, he praised the work undertaken by UNESCO in Palmyra and Erbil.

Earlier in the day, the Director-General paid a visit to the Lupáčova primary school, belonging to the UNESCO Associated Schools Network, and winner of the 2014 and 2016 European Language Prize. The Director-General was warmly welcomed by students, the teachers and the Principal of the school, Mr Milan Hausner. Here the school's international outlook is showcased right from the entry hall, adorned with flags from all European countries. Counting over 700 students and 70 teachers, the school is renowned for its language teaching (including Chinese), projects to promote knowledge of both Czech and world heritage, use of digital technology and interactive whiteboards, activities to promote social inclusion and cooperation with schools in Europe and beyond.

Students performed music, staged a short play describing the history of a World Heritage site, and showed how tablets were used for learning. Mr Hausner described a range of innovative initiatives, including the “Children like us” project supported by Bill Gates to connect students with children with special needs, partnering with a school in Java to study endangered species; fostering pupil curiosity in science subjects and the Comenius Europe beyond Borders project to encourage learning of foreign language. “Children have to be immerged in education to learn. We need more sharing of experience because there is a lot we can learn from what happens in schools in other countries and regions,” he said.

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Yemen humanitarian crisis demands urgent international attention: “shockingly low funding” – OCHA Director of Operations
Yemen humanitarian crisis demands urgent international attention: “shockingly low funding” – OCHA Director of Operations
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Yemen

Since mid-March 2015, the conflict has prompted a widening protection crisis, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation leaving more than 13 million Yemenis in need of immediate, life-saving humanitarian assistance.

(New York, 17 May 2016): After a three-day joint visit to Yemen by OCHA, WHO and WFP, John Ging, Director of Operations in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, today drew urgent attention to the desperate humanitarian situation in Yemen, which continues to deteriorate more than a year after the conflict escalated.

Since mid-March 2015, the conflict has prompted a widening protection crisis, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation brought on by years of poverty, poor governance and instability, leaving more than 13 million Yemenis in need of immediate, life-saving humanitarian assistance.

“Millions of people in Yemen are in increasingly dire need of assistance,” warned Mr. Ging, pointing out that food and nutrition, insecurity and access to healthcare are among the most critical areas of need. “People are dying of preventable illnesses because of the limited availability of even the most basic medical supplies.” Over 7.6 million people are severely food insecure, and 2.5 million people have been displaced by violent conflict since January 2014. “The continued conflict, months of limited imports of essential supplies, and rapidly deteriorating basic services are deepening humanitarian needs,” Mr. Ging told media in New York.

Last year the humanitarian community delivered vital assistance to 8.8 million women, children and men across the country despite severe restrictions on humanitarian movement and on-going conflict, making all humanitarian support, including the transportation of goods, difficult and often dangerous.

During the visit, Mr. Ging, with the Emergency Director of WHO, Rick Brennan, and the Deputy Emergency Director of WFP, Gian Carlo Cirri, visited a food distribution site in Amran, a small city in western central Yemen where a high number of internally displaced people are living in very difficult conditions as a result of the crisis. “Seeing the plight of the Yemeni people first hand reinforces the need for national and international humanitarian actors to scale up their response to protect and support the population,” he said.

Commending national and international humanitarian organizations for their exhaustive and brave work under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, John Ging noted that, “Yemen is one of the most acute humanitarian crises in the world, and the courageous and impressive work of the humanitarian staff is truly inspiring.”

Mr. Ging made a crucial appeal to the parties of the conflict to prioritize the protection of civilians and civilian needs, and to swiftly enable unhindered humanitarian access so that humanitarian actors have sustained, unhindered and safe access to all people in need, particularly in the governorates of Taizz, Hajjah, Sa'ada, Aden and Al Jawf. “The people of Yemen must be at the centre of this response, and our collective duty is to protect them and provide them with food, health, shelter and other vital support,” said Mr. Ging.

To the donor community, Mr. Ging appealed for an urgent increase in attention and support for the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires US$1.8 billion to reach over 13 million people this year, but remains shockingly underfunded at only 16 per cent.

For further information, please call:
Amanda Pitt, OCHA New York, pitta@un.org, Tel. +1 917 442 18
OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org or reliefweb.int

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“Europe’s lack of political will creating serious suffering for thousands of migrants” – UN rights expert
“Europe’s lack of political will creating serious suffering for thousands of migrants” – UN rights expert
Source: UN Human Rights Council
Country: Greece, Turkey, World

“Unlike before, Greece is no longer a transit country and is struggling to ‘catch up' and develop a mechanism to deal with immediate needs," said the Special Rapporteur.

ATHENS / GENEVA (17 May 2016) – “The suffering of migrants in Greece is the result of a complete absence of long-term vision and the clear lack of political will of the European Union,” United Nations human rights expert François Crépeau said at the end of a follow-up mission* to Greece.

“This is not only a humanitarian crisis,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants warned. “This is more importantly a political crisis in which the EU and the overwhelming majority of EU member states have abandoned Greece – a country that is fighting to implement austerity measures – leaving it to deal with an issue that requires efforts from all.”

Mr. Crépeau stressed that the closure of the borders surrounding Greece, coupled with the new EU-Turkey agreement, have exponentially increased the number of irregular migrants in the country. “Unlike before, Greece is no longer a transit country and is struggling to ‘catch up' and develop a mechanism to deal with immediate needs, in the absence of a clear commitment from the EU to support the country,” he said.

The independent expert expressed particular concern with conditions in the Reception and Identification Centres (RIC or ‘hotspots'), which have become closed centres as a result of the EU-Turkey deal, and “are creating an unacceptable level of confusion, frustration, violence and fear.”

He noted, among other worrying issues, the length of process to identify vulnerable migrants, the blatant over-crowding that is amplifying inter-communal friction, the mix of families and young single males, the absence of many Government services during the weekend, the contradictory information received regarding procedures and timelines, as well as insufficient procedural safeguards in detention facilities for migrants.

“I visited Idomeni and the closed detention sites of Lesbos and Samos and saw many children. The difference between those in open camps and those in detention is striking. It is unacceptable for children to be detained,” the Special Rapporteur said, stressing that “detention can never ever be in the best interests of a child.”

The rights expert welcomed official proposals to develop a more structured system of guardianship for unaccompanied minors, but called on the Greek Government “to develop alternatives to detention in the form of open shelters for families and unaccompanied minors as a matter of urgent priority.”

“The large number of irregular migrants stuck in Greece is mainly a result of EU and EU member States' overreliance on securing borders, ‘deals' and practices,” the Special Rapporteur said, while calling upon the EU to implement the relocation of 66,800 refugees in a timely and meaningful manner, and facilitate family reunification. He also called on the EU to support Greek authorities in improving reception facilities to ensure adequate standards, and to back alternative measures for detention.

“The way the EU and EU member States handle this ‘crisis' seems to indicate that human rights and the rule of law are dispensable when it comes to migrants under these circumstances,” Mr. Crépeau said.

The expert welcomed the positive steps taken by Greece to provide emergency services such as shelter, food and medical services, particularly for the most vulnerable groups. He also noted the quick response of national and international organisations in assisting the Government in its efforts to protect and promote the human rights of all migrants. “The Greek people have been generous in their support for irregular migrants,” he added.

“The Greek Government must harness the energy of these different actors and develop a comprehensive migration strategy. It must ensure the systematic provision of information to migrants themselves and to all the different stakeholders working with migrants,” he said.

During his five-day visit from 12 to 16 May, Mr. Crépeau met with a range of Government officials responsible for border management, international organisations, civil society organisations and migrant organisations.

He also gathered first-hand information during his visits in Athens, Idomeni and Polykastro in Central Macedonia, as well as the Aegean Islands of Lesvos and Samos, where he met with migrants, including families and unaccompanied children in the unofficial camp in Idomeni and Elliniko, the Polykastro police station, the Elliniko detention centre for migrant women, and the closed Reception and Identification Centres in Samos and Lesvos.

The Special Rapporteur will present his follow-up country mission report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2017.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19972&LangID=E

Mr. François Crépeau (Canada) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Crépeau is also Full Professor at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, in Montréal, where he holds the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law and is scientific director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/SRMigrants/Pages/SRMigrantsIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

Read the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CMW.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Greece: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/GRIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Alice Ochsenbein (+41 79 444 37 07 / aochsenbein@ohchr.org)
Elizabeth Wabuge (+41 79 109 68 75 / ewabuge@ohchr.org)
Dimitrios Fatouros (+32 2 788 84 68 / fatouros@unric.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

For your news websites and social media: Multimedia content & key messages relating to our news releases are available on UN Human Rights social media channels, listed below. Please tag us using the proper handles:
Twitter: @UNHumanRights
Facebook: unitednationshumanrights
Instagram: unitednationshumanrights
Google+: unitednationshumanrights
Youtube: unohchr

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UNESCO runs social media campaign with LGBTI youth organization IGLYO
UNESCO runs social media campaign with LGBTI youth organization IGLYO

UNESCO is supporting a new social media campaign by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth Organisation (IGLYO). The No More Hiding campaign profiles six young people from across the world who have been personally impacted by homophobic/transphobic violence in education.

A new image is being released each day, from May 10 – 17, culminating with the launch of a short film by IGLYO at UNESCO's International Ministerial Meeting on Education Sector Responses to Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression, on 17-18 May.

Students who are, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI), experience a higher prevalence of violence in educational settings than their peers, and many feel unsafe at school. The No More Hiding campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue, ensuring all young people achieve an inclusive and equitable education.

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Statement by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Statement by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

BERLIN, 17 May 2016 – OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today issued the following statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict:

“The situation along the line of contact continues to be tense. I deeply regret the reported recent loss of life, and I urge the sides to respect the ceasefire in full.

In this context, I welcome the initiative by my colleagues from the Russian Federation, the United States of America, and France, the co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, who held a meeting with the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on 16 May. I am encouraged by the renewed commitment that both Presidents have expressed to the ceasefire and to the peaceful settlement of the conflict, as well as their readiness to have a new round of talks in June.

Germany's 2016 OSCE Chairmanship remains fully committed to supporting the work of the Co-Chairs. We will actively support efforts to establish an investigative mechanism. We will also work on expanding the team of my Personal Representative, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk.

The escalation of hostilities in April was a reminder to us all that re-doubled, sustained efforts are now needed to break the deadlock. The consolidation of the ceasefire is a matter of high priority, not least with a view to creating favourable conditions for resuming negotiations on a comprehensive settlement.”

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OSCE trains Azerbaijani and Georgian law enforcement officers to combat cybercrime through open source IT forensics and network investigations
OSCE trains Azerbaijani and Georgian law enforcement officers to combat cybercrime through open source IT forensics and network investigations

TBILISI, 17 May 2016 – A five-day training course for law enforcement representatives from Georgia and Azerbaijan on introductory open source IT forensics and network investigations started on Monday in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Organized by the Strategic Police Matters Unit of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department with the support of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs and its Academy, the course places emphasis on the use of open source forensic tools for capturing and analysing digital evidence, as well as on conducting networking investigations in tackling cybercrime.

The course will also provide the opportunity for regional networking among participants, with the aim of facilitating future cross-border co-operation.

“It is of utmost importance that law-enforcement agencies across the world harmonize their methods and approaches in fighting cybercrime, which is why such regional training courses provide excellent opportunity to establish direct contacts and exchange experience in parallel to training,” said Miranda Khabazi, Deputy Rector of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia.

The practical training uses material from the European Cybercrime Training and Education Group (ECTEG) and is led by a cybercrime expert from the Centre for Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Investigation at University College Dublin, and supported by an expert from the OSCE.

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OSCE Gender Equality Platform for Border Security and Management launched in Helsinki
OSCE Gender Equality Platform for Border Security and Management launched in Helsinki

The Launch Meeting of the OSCE Gender Equality Platform for Border Security and Management was held in the premises of the Finnish Customs School in Helsinki on 17-18 May 2016 bringing together representatives from across the OSCE region to discuss women's leadership and empowerment in border security and management.

The event was organized jointly by the Border Security and Management Unit of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department in co-operation with the Unit's National Focal Points from Finland. It is the first activity of an OSCE extra-budgetary project entitled ‘Women Leadership and Empowerment Initiative for Border Security and Management Agencies', which is supported by the governments of Finland, Germany and the Netherlands.

“The OSCE's efforts in promoting concrete ways to gender mainstream at all levels of border security and management services are warmly welcomed,” said Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security of Finland Ann-Sofie Stude.

The officially-appointed representatives of the Platform will analyze the current gender mainstreaming in border security and management, learn about other projects and initiatives designed to contribute to empowering women in the security sector, and brainstorm on the nexus between gender mainstreaming and good governance in border security and management.

Participants will also define the challenges in integrating a gender perspective in this area, share best practices and lessons learnt, and identify how to integrate gender mainstreaming in education and training.

Dennis Cosgrove, Head of the OSCE Border Security and Management Unit acknowledged the challenges that border security and management agencies face in providing for equitable female and male staffing on all the levels but added that “gender equality is essential and vitally important so that these agencies can fulfill their important mission for all the citizens that they are dedicated and sworn to serve.”

A special session will be devoted to exploring the gender factor in response to the current migration flows, while the final session will discuss the project's follow-up activities and a brainstorming on other potential OSCE contributions in supporting gender mainstreaming in this field.

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Mudslides wipe out homes and livelihoods after torrential rain in Tajikistan
Mudslides wipe out homes and livelihoods after torrential rain in Tajikistan
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
Country: Tajikistan

IFRC is gearing up to release emergency funds to support the Tajikistan Red Crescent's operation. The German Red Cross is also preparing to provide food parcels.

Published: 17 May 2016 15:52 CET

By Andreea Anca, IFRC

Thousands of people have seen their homes and farmland ravaged by recent mudslides in northern Tajikistan.

More than 1,500 people have been evacuated and a further 2,550 households affected after heavy rain and strong winds caused havoc in the worst hit areas.

Roads have also been damaged, livestock lost and arable land washed away since mudslides began on 9 May.

The Tajikistan Red Crescent deployed 48 volunteers and 24 staff from its National Disaster Response Team to the Panjekent district of Sughd province and the Rudaky district of the Direct Ruled Districts which bore the brunt of the mudslides.

First aid and psychosocial support were provided by the Red Crescent teams, as well as help with the evacuation efforts.

Many houses have suffered severed structural damage and the water supply has also been disrupted. Aini and Panjekent districts of the Sughd province, Baljuvon, Farkhor, Jaloliddin Balhi districts of the Khatlon province, Rasht, Rudaki and Sangvor districts of the Direct Ruled Districts, and Davroz district of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast have all been affected.

The latest statistics released by the State Commission for Emergency Situations in Tajikistan show that flooding this month has affected 2,550 households, seen 1,500 people evacuated from their homes and at least four people killed.

The Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan is working closely with the Emergency Commission and the UN agencies to provide relief assistance to the affected households.

Tajikistan is no stranger to mudslides, landslides and flash flooding emergency and emergency efforts often are often hampered by tough terrain and conditions, making access to remote mountainous villages and towns difficult.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is gearing up to release emergency funds to support the Tajikistan Red Crescent's operation. The Germany Red Cross is also preparing to provide food parcels for the most affected families.

The Red Crescent has been working for a decade to put measures in place that reduce of the impact of severe weather and reduce the risk to communities - such as reinforcing riverbanks, tree planting and clearing irrigation channels to fight against the effects of flooding and landslides, particularly in disaster-prone Penjekent province.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 16 May 2016
Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 16 May 2016

The SMM observed a relatively low level of violence in Donbas. The Mission observed the presence of hardware in the security zone. It monitored the situation of civilians at checkpoints near the contact line. The SMM visited border areas not controlled by the Government. The Mission's freedom of movement was restricted on three occasions on both sides of the contact line.*

In keeping with the previous reporting period, the SMM recorded a relatively low number of ceasefire violations.[1]

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) the SMM heard, between 21:13 and 22:11 on 15 May, 52 explosions assessed as caused by outgoing rounds of undetermined weapons of a calibre less than 82mm 3-8km south-east of its position. In “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city, the SMM heard, between 22:00 on 15 May and 02:30 on 16 May, 71 undetermined explosions and one short burst of heavy-machine-gun fire 7-10km north-west of its position.

The following day, positioned 6km north-west of “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard two undetermined explosions, three bursts and two single shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 2-5km north and north-east, and one mortar round impacting 4km north-north-west of its position. Between 12:05 and 13:26, while in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk), the SMM heard nine explosions assessed as impacts of 120 and 82mm mortar rounds, two impacts of recoilless gun (SPG-9) fire, three bursts of 30mm cannon and continuous exchanges of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire 2-5km east-south-east of its position.

The situation remained relatively calm in Luhansk region, with the SMM recording two undetermined explosions. Positioned in a government-controlled part of Zolote (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 2km to the north-north-west; and positioned at the bridge south of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), one undetermined explosion approximately 300m to the east.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, beyond the respective withdrawal lines, but outside permanent storage sites, the SMM observed two tanks (T-64) near government-controlled Novookhtyrka (55km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures.

The SMM revisited an “LPR” heavy weapons permanent storage site and observed that five howitzers (D-30) were missing. The SMM noted a number of additional weapons present.

The SMM has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October 2015 notification.

The SMM revisited locations known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they do not comply with the specific criteria set out for permanent storage sites in the 16 October 2015 notification.

In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed 18 towed howitzers (D-20, 152mm) and five self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm). Five Addendum-regulated mortars (three PM-38, 120mm and two 2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) were absent.

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles and an anti-aircraft weapon in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM observed: two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV; BMP-1 and BMP-2) near Voitove (33km north-west of Luhansk), two IFVs (BMP-2) near Shchastia (20km north of Luhansk), one armoured personnel carrier (APC; BTR-60) near Svitlychne (54km north-west of Luhansk), four IFVs (BMP-2) near Krymske (44km north-west of Luhansk), and two armoured reconnaissance vehicles (BRDM-2) near Novotoshkivske (53km west of Luhansk). In “DPR”-controlled areas, the SMM observed: two APCs (BTR-80) in Donetsk city, and in “LPR”-controlled areas, one anti-aircraft gun (ZU-23) near Zhovte (17km north-west of Luhansk).

The SMM monitored border areas in areas not controlled by the Government. At the border crossing point near Dolzhanskyi (84km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 13 civilian cars crossing the border from Ukraine to the Russian Federation (ten with Ukrainian and three with Russian Federation licence plates). Moving in the opposite direction, the SMM observed 11 civilian cars (seven with Ukrainian and four with Russian Federation licence plates). In one vehicle entering Ukraine – an SUV with Ukrainian licence plates – the SMM observed three men in military-style clothing. At the unmanned pedestrian border crossing point in Krasnodarskyi (58km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed four elderly women and one elderly man entering Ukraine, and returning to the Russian Federation after 15 minutes; and three young men crossing into the Russian Federation and returning to Ukraine within five minutes.

The SMM continued to monitor long queues at crossing routes near the contact line. At a number of Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR” checkpoints along the H15 highway near Marinka, south-west of Donetsk city, the SMM in the morning observed in total 123 civilian vehicles queuing to move east and at least 500 queuing to move west. In the afternoon, it observed at the same checkpoints in total at least 30 civilian vehicles queuing to move east, and at least 285 civilians vehicles, plus 160 pedestrians, queuing to move west. The vast majority of people seen by the SMM on both occasions were at the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoints.

In government-controlled Velyka Chernihivka (44km north of Luhansk), the SMM spoke with several residents. They explained that most people there were dependent on agriculture. They added that they had difficulties – because of the contact line – in selling into the nearest big market, Luhansk city.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Chernivtsi and Kyiv.

*Restrictions to SMM's freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM's monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM's mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM's freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers refused to allow the SMM to enter a military site near government-controlled Nikolske (21km north-west of Mariupol). The SMM informed the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination.

Conditional access:

  • “DPR” members, saying they were acting on instruction from the “DPR” “ministry of defence”, insisted on escorting the SMM on two occasions in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk).

[1]Pease see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM's freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate”.

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Musicians who keep a-changin'
Musicians who keep a-changin'

“JUDAS!” cried a voice from the crowd. The catcall came as Bob Dylan was tuning his electric guitar at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England on the evening of May 17th 1966, 50 years ago today. Devoted fans of Mr Dylan, dismayed that the “voice of a generation” seemed to be eschewing the acoustic, political folk music of his early albums for capricious rock tunes, had been jeering his electric guitars since they first appeared onstage at the Newport Folk Festival a year before. Throughout his World Tour in 1966, the opening acoustic portions of Mr Dylan's concerts were met with cheers—while the sight of a Fender Telecaster led to mass walkouts. Responding to his Mancunian heckler, in a moment which has passed into musical folklore, Mr Dylan told his band to play the opening chords of “Like a Rolling Stone” “fucking loud”. Half a century later, he is still grumbling...

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Community leaders in southern Kyrgyzstan discuss preventing human trafficking at an OSCE training course
Community leaders in southern Kyrgyzstan discuss preventing human trafficking at an OSCE training course

OSH, Kyrgyzstan, 17 May 2016 – Some 25 community leaders, heads and members of rural councils, religious leaders and youth from the Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken regions gathered for a one-day training course on preventing human trafficking, and discussed how to foster co-operation with relevant state institutions across the country.

The OSCE Centre provided the course participants with relevant information materials and presented national legal and policy tools to raise awareness on exploitation and slavery within communities.

“Trafficking in human beings concerns all OSCE participating States, both as a security threat and as a human rights issue,” said Daniele Rumolo, Senior Human Dimension Officer at the OSCE Centre in Bishkek. “Virtually all countries in the region are countries of origin, transit, destination or a combination of the above. In a migration-prone country like Kyrgyzstan, continuous co-operation between communities and authorities is the most effective – in fact, the only – solution.”

Akylbek Tashbulatov, Director of the Centre for Support to International Protection, said that “the training course will help strengthen communication between communities and the Kyrgyz authorities, with a view to establishing effective mechanisms for the prevention of trafficking.”

The training course was organized by the OSCE Centre in Bishkek and the Centre for Support to International Protection in support of the implementation of the National Action Plan on Prevention of Trafficking in Human Beings for the period 2013 to 2016. It is part of the OSCE Centre's human dimension project on addressing human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan through grassroots initiatives and multi-agency co-operation.

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Attacks against journalists during demonstrations in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be condemned and investigated, OSCE Representative says
Attacks against journalists during demonstrations in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be condemned and investigated, OSCE Representative says

VIENNA, 17 May 2016 - The recent attack against Petar Panjkota, reporter with RTL Croatia television, in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is unacceptable and must be fully investigated, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today.

“I condemn the attack on Panjkota and call on the authorities to fully investigate this incident and prosecute the person responsible,” Mijatović said.

According to media reports, on 14 May, Panjkota was hit in the head by an unknown assailant shortly after finishing a live report from demonstrations in Banja Luka. The attack has been reported to the police.

“Journalists must be able to cover demonstrations in a free and safe manner. It is the duty of law enforcement to ensure that journalists can report safely,” Mijatović said.

On the same day, BN TV crew members Danina Milaković and Pavle Ivanović were verbally abused while covering the demonstrations. Meanwhile Vladimir Kovačević, also with BN TV, received threats on social media.

During her first official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina in July last year, the Representative emphasized the importance of strengthening the safety of journalists and countering the climate of impunity. She addressed this issue with authorities both at the level of the two entities and at the State level.

“I reiterate my call on the authorities to ensure journalists' safety; the media must be able to report on issues of public interest free from any form of intimidation,” Mijatović said.

The OSCE Representative welcomed prompt reactions by the Journalists' Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Journalists' Association of Croatia, and the Press Club in Banja Luka, who all publicly condemned these attacks.

“There have been numerous attacks on journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the assailants yet are to be prosecuted. Impunity for attacks on members of the media must stop,” Mijatović said.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.

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OSCE Presence supports dialogue on Albania’s totalitarian past
OSCE Presence supports dialogue on Albania’s totalitarian past

ELBASAN, Albania, 17 May 2016 – The OSCE Presence in Albania, with support from the German government, yesterday in Elbasan hosted a performance of a play reflecting on Albania's totalitarian past.

The play, “They enter without knocking”, centres on a couple waiting for the police to come to their door to take them to prison - or worse - for reasons unknown. A packed audience of around 300 people watched the performance, which evoked the atmosphere of fear and constant surveillance that reigned under the former totalitarian regime.

“Although it is never easy to talk about a painful past, society needs to engage in a conversation about the crimes of the past, and art is one way of stimulating such dialogue, because it speaks to us on so many levels,” said Ambassador Florian Raunig, Head of the OSCE Presence. “This should be entirely an Albanian process; we are only providing the framework for this dialogue to take place.”

The OSCE Presence and the German Embassy launched the project to foster a national dialogue on Albania's totalitarian past a year ago. Under the “We start talking” motto, the Presence has so far facilitated discussions among high school students, a series of TV debates hosted by the public broadcaster and a nationwide survey about the public's knowledge, perceptions and expectations for dialogue regarding the totalitarian past in Albania.

“They enter without knocking” was previously staged in Shkodra, as part of the project, and will be performed another three times in different cities around Albania over the course of this year.

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UNESCO releases video on school-related homophobic and transphobic violence
UNESCO releases video on school-related homophobic and transphobic violence

Homophobic and transphobic violence in educational settings is a global issue faced by all countries, with the percentage of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) students who are subjected to violence in schools ranging from 55 per cent in Thailand to 85 per cent in the United States. This violence also impacts students who are not LGBTI, but are perceived not to conform to sexual and gender norms.

As part of UNESCO's efforts to ensure all children and young people fulfil their right to a quality education, UNESCO has today released a new video and infographic. Unveiled at UNESCO's International Ministerial Meeting on Education Sector Responses to Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression, on 17-18 May, the video and graphics aim to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence in education and encourage education sectors to plan and implement effective responses.

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IFRC announces major initiative to scale-up drought response, strengthen resilience in Southern Africa
IFRC announces major initiative to scale-up drought response, strengthen resilience in Southern Africa
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
Country: Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

In addition to scaling up relief efforts, the IFRC's drought resilience initiative places heavy emphasis on supporting at-risk communities to better withstand future challenges.

Johannesburg, 17 May 2016 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has announced a major, 110 million Swiss franc, four year initiative to support National Red Cross Societies respond to the drought that is affecting millions of people across southern Africa. The initiative will increase Red Cross relief activities significantly, alongside an important expansion of long-term efforts to strengthen the resilience of 1 million vulnerable people.

IFRC Secretary General, Mr Elhadj As Sy, made the announcement following a mission to Malawi and Zimbabwe where he travelled to some of the areas worst-affected by a drought driven by one of the strongest El Niño phenomena.

“Much more needs to be done to support communities to survive and strive over the coming months. We met families who have received no external support and who are simply desperate,” said Mr Sy. “The needs far outweigh the response to date. We need to urgently scale-up our interventions to prevent this situation from becoming a catastrophe.”

An estimated 31.6 million people across the region are currently struggling to get adequate food, and this figure may climb to more than 49 million people by the end of the year. Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have all declared states of emergency, as have seven of South Africa's nine provinces. Mozambique declared a Red Alert, the highest level of national emergency preparedness, in its central and southern provinces.

In addition to scaling up relief efforts, including emergency distributions of cash, the IFRC's drought resilience initiative places heavy emphasis on supporting at-risk communities to better withstand future challenges.

“In Mwanza district (southern Malawi) I met families who, as a result of long-term support from the Red Cross and other partners, were better able to cope with the impact of this drought,” said Mr Sy.

One project, implemented by the Malawi Red Cross Society with the support of the Finnish Red Cross, saw vulnerable families receive goats that they could breed and sell for income. Each family is expected to return some of their livestock to the scheme, ensuring that more families can then receive these precious assets

AH, a widow with three children, lives with HIV. She has reared several goats over the past few years and sold them to purchase food, pay for her children's school fees, and build a new home. She has sold some of her goats to withstand the current drought. “I used to rely on piece work for an income, but it did not pay a lot and we could only afford to eat once a day,” said AH, who currently has 23 goats in her herd. “Now, we are eating three times a day, which is especially important so I can continue my medication. This project has helped me a lot.”

“This is one example of what is needed: a large-scale expansion of small-scale interventions that can have a sustainable and life-changing impact,” said Mr Sy.

Mr Sy was joined in Malawi and Zimbabwe by a number of partners, including the CEO of Devex, Raj Kumar, and UNICEF's El Niño Senior Advisor, Shadrack Omol. The participation of partners highlighted the importance of improving coordination and cooperation for an effective response.

“The challenges we are now seeing in southern Africa won't be easily overcome, and they most certainly won't be overcome if we continue working as we have in the past. A new kind of humanitarian response is needed: one that is built on a coalition of actors committed to breaking the silos we currently work in, and who are committed to taking long-term local action to strengthen resilience – now and for the future,” said Mr Sy.

The southern Africa drought plan falls under the One Billion Coalition for Resilience – an IFRC-led initiative that is bringing together aid organizations, governments, the private sector, academia and community groups to support 1 billion people over the next ten years to take action to strengthen their safety, health and well-being.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Note to editors: Supporting audio visual material is available through the following link: newsroom

For further information, please contact:

In Johannesburg

Matthew Cochrane, Senior Communications Advisor, Office of the Secretary General, IFRC E-mail: matthew.cochrane@ifrc.org ¦ Mobile: +41 79 251 8039

Katherine Mueller, Regional Communications Manager, Africa, IFRC E-mail: katherine.mueller@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @IFRCAfrica ¦ Mobile: +254 731 688 613

In Geneva

Benoit Carpentier, Team Leader – Public Communications, IFRC E-mail: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org ¦ Twitter: @BenoistC ¦ Mobile: +41 79 213 2413

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Music to read The Economist by: May 14th 2016
Music to read The Economist by: May 14th 2016

ALMOST every week The Economist puts together a playlist loosely inspired by the stories we covered.

This week we published a special report on the Arab world (Akher Oghneya, Heela heela), looked back at events in China 50 years ago (Talkin' bout a revolution) and worried about the results of the election in the Philippines (Dirty Harry).

We found that London's new mayor may be hard put to make sure the public gets the transport that the public wants (Going underground), that Britons are forsaking their pools (The swimming song) and that the Kernowyon, among others, are worrying that they Ain't got no home. We learned about the challenges for the wine trade of growing grapes in Israel (Drinking wine spo-dee-o-dee) and the prospects for the leather trade of farming more big reptiles (Crocodile rock).

We visited Russian troops who, despite the country's “withdrawal” from Syria, are very much still there (Gde nas net). Austria has lost a chancellor (Abschied) and it seems the early Earth suffered from...

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WEF names Africa’s top women innovators
WEF names Africa’s top women innovators

Five female entrepreneurs have been named Africa's top women innovators by the World Economic Forum (WEF), with the winners hailing from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

The WEF said the Africa Top Women Innovators Challenge 2016 was launched in recognition of the fact that not enough is being done to maximise the potential of Africa's female entrepreneurs.

The challenge looked to acknowledge the impact of female entrepreneurs in Africa, who are innovating for positive social impact.

Five candidates were named Africa's top women innovators, and invited to showcase and network at the World Economic Forum on Africa last week.

The winning candidates were Audrey Cheng, founder of Kenya's Moringa School coding academy; Larissa Uwase of Rwanda's CARL GROUP, which is tackling food security through innovations around the sweet potato crop; Nneile Nkholise, of South Africa's iMED Tech Group, which hires young female mechanical engineers to design breast and facial prostheses for cancer and burn victims; Lilian Makoi Rabi of Tanzania's bimaAFYA, offering mobile micro-health insurance for the low income and informal sector; and Natalie Bitature of Uganda's Musana Carts, which has developed environmentally friendly, solar-powered vending carts.

“I strongly believe that the 21st century will be Africa's century, that its young population has the potential to build a world where they are not only materially better off, but also where things are fairer, more sustainable and more tolerant than at any other time in history. But this will not be achieved unless women are able to make a full contribution. This is why we are showcasing Africa's best female entrepreneurs,” said Elsie Kanza, head of Africa at the WEF.

The criteria for the challenge required applicants' companies to be less than three years old, be earning revenue for at least a year and have proven innovation and positive social impact.

A further five entrepreneurs from Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and two from Uganda were also given special mention.

The post WEF names Africa's top women innovators appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Celebrating Museums Around the World
Celebrating Museums Around the World
17 May 2016

museums.jpg

Educational activity in Preah Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Museum in Siem Reap, Cambodia for the UNESCO-Japanese Funds-in-Trust project ‘Revitalising the World Heritage Site Museums in Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam'
© UNESCO/APSARA

Every year on 18 May, International Museum Day is celebrated worldwide to raise awareness of the importance of museums for fostering intercultural dialogue and cultural enrichment. According to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), participation in this event is growing among museums across the globe. In 2015, more than 35,000 museums from some 145 countries participated in the celebrations.

International Museum Day was officially established in 1977 with the adoption of a resolution by the ICOM General Assembly in Moscow, Russian Federation, to create an annual event "with the aim of further unifying the creative aspirations and efforts of museums and drawing the attention of the world public to their activity." On this day, participating museums organize creative events and activities related to the International Museum Day theme.

The 2016 theme of Museums and Cultural Landscapes, brings together nature and history. It recognizes that individuals and communities are not solely responsible for protecting and enhancing cultural landscapes. This duty is also shared by museums, as bearers of the tangible and intangible legacies of these territories.

Museums have always occupied a vital place at UNESCO. In November 2015, the 38th General Conference of UNESCO unanimously adopted the Recommendation concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections. This instrument reflects the solemn commitment of UNESCO and its Member States to promote the role and diversity of museums and collections, in line with International Museum Day's mission. In order to further disseminate the Recommendation, UNESCO is organizing a High-Level Forum on Museums, which is expected to take place in Shenzhen, People's Republic of China in November 2016. The Forum will serve as a laboratory of ideas, which will help generate innovative approaches and policy advice to strengthen the role of museums as vectors for intercultural dialogue and sustainable development.

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14 startups selected for 1st Seedstars Tunisia
14 startups selected for 1st Seedstars Tunisia

Global seed stage startup competition Seedstars World is to host its first Tunisian event tomorrow (May 18), with 14 startups to pitch head-to-head for a place in the global finals and the chance to win US$1,000,000 investment.

Disrupt Africa reported in April Seedstars World announced the world-touring competition will visit 20 African countries this year – up from 13 African events last year. First-time events will be held in Mali, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia.

The first Tunisian event is set for tomorrow, and will be held at the Dauphine University of Tunis.

14 startups have been selected to compete at the event.

Those set to compete are Evey Technologies – an online survey platform; Secure Drive Company, a hardware and software for car accident detection; localised advertising platform OMNIA; Akeed Solutions – a technology that optimizes embedded systems testing; tourism oriented augmented reality solution Incept; Talenthub – a social tool for headhunting and online recruiting; and Vynd Solutions, a mobile platform for local businesses and consumers.

Also competing are big data health platform Hippocrate; NewGen, an interactive mobile gaming system with physical toys; book sharing platform YallaRead; Lahja SARL, an Arab language translation app; telematics solution provider InsighTelematics; equity crowdfunding platform Afrikwity; and expense management solution Expensya.

“Entrepreneurs are important both as individuals working on startups and within larger corporations working towards innovation. Entrepreneurship is important for the cultural value it adds to society and the mindset it fosters. We look forward to hosting this event at Dauphine to promote entrepreneurship among Dauphine's students and to give these entrepreneurs global recognition,” said Amina Zeghal, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Dauphine University of Tunis.

The winning team from the Tunisian event will join other local heat winners at the global finals to be held in Switzerland in March 2017; where the regional winners will battle it out for US$1,00,000 in investment.

The post 14 startups selected for 1st Seedstars Tunisia appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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51% of SA businesses have faith in economic climate
51% of SA businesses have faith in economic climate

Only 51 per cent of South African SME owners have faith that the country's economy will be conducive for business growth in the next 12 months, a decrease of nine percentage points year-on-year.

This is according to the first quarter 2016 Business Partners Limited SME Index, which measures the attitudes and confidence levels of South African SME owners.

Though there has been no change in attitudes from the previous quarter, the company said economic conditions continue to strain the operating environment for SMEs.

Gerrie van Biljon, executive director at Business Partners, said unless the private sector and government start to work more closely together to create a more conducive business environment, confidence levels amongst business owners will continue to lag.

“Following the events of the firing and rehiring of the finance minister – now known as Nenegate – in the fourth quarter of last year, we expected improved confidence levels given the country's subsequent fiscal consolidation flowing from the 2016 Budget Speech,” he said.

“However, according to the respondents who participated in this quarter's index, the majority of business owners continue to possess a negative view when surveyed on various indices.”

Just 35 per cent of respondents believe the South African economy will be conducive for business growth over the next year, down from 45 per cent in the first quarter of 2015.

While 79 per cent of respondents say access to finance is important for the growth and sustainability of their businesses, only 26 per cent are certain they will be able to access business finance in the next year. This is down from 37 per cent the previous year.

Van Biljon says the recent announcement the private sector will set aside ZAR1.5 billion (US$97 million) to help small and medium enterprises survive the tough economic climate with an invitation for government to also contribute to the fund, was an example of the public-private sector collaboration that is required to increase confidence levels.

“Despite the uncertainty in both the economic and political climate, the private sector and government should ensure that affordable funding and technical assistance is available for SMEs, as without this South Africa can't gear itself for growth. We also need to ensure that procurement opportunities are continuously passed on to SMEs,” he said.

The post 51% of SA businesses have faith in economic climate appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Meet the Investor: Ravindra Mistri, Capital Eye
Meet the Investor: Ravindra Mistri, Capital Eye

Disrupt Africa revealed last week South Africa-based VC firm Capital Eye is in the process of raising a US$100 million fund for investments in African tech startups, with about half that amount already committed.

But who are Capital Eye Investments, and what type of startups are they looking for? We caught up with associate Ravindra Mistri to find out.

“We invest behind technology businesses and businesses driven by technology. We look for mobile, cloud, data, and social technologies that are scalable, with strong annuity revenue streams that ultimately solve a problem or remove friction from a transaction or process,” Mistri said.

Capital Eye was established in 2011, with operational, asset management and M&A expertise dating back to 1998 and technology roots founded in the 1970s.

“We're a private equity and venture capital investment firm currently managing a portfolio of 13 investments primarily across Sub-Saharan Africa, but also in the US, UK and Jersey,” Mistri said.

African investments include Wigroup, Emerge Mobile and Indaba Mobile, with Mistri saying the next three years will see a very aggressive acquisitive growth strategy across fintech, supply chain solutions, and software application solutions, including interconnected solutions and services – Internet of Things (IoT).

He said Capital Eye has a significant stream of enquiries through its website, but also sources companies in other ways.

“We also have access to a very large pipeline of investment opportunities through our current investments, as well as broader participation in the tech investment ecosystems; always with an ear to the ground,” Mistri said.

Key to Capital Eye is whether the business solves, has an addressable market, and has a commercial model that is scalable and sustainable. Mistri expects the fund to close in the next few months, and says Capital Eye is an active participant in its portfolio companies.

“The current team has, over 14 years, successfully invested in technology businesses across two investment platforms. Embedded within the team is up to 25 years of extensive technology specific experience across finance, legal, business development, and software skill sets,” he said.

“Accordingly we are active investors, engaging and advising where relevant depending on the nature and life-cycle of each investment.”

Mistri said while each African country is unique in its population demographics, economic growth rates, and opportunities and challenges, the expectation that African economies will, as a whole, expand twice as fast as developed nations means there will be a host of problems to solve, and consequent gaps in the market.

“The ‘African startup scene', in particular tech startups, is a unique opportunity to use the disruptive and enabling qualities of agile tech businesses to solve those problems; whether that's innovative supply chain solutions, financial inclusion, or simply servicing the financial, social, education and healthcare needs of an emerging consuming middle class,” he said.

“Whether that's M-KOPA Solar delivering alternate energy fintech solutions to informal settlements, BitPesa simplifying cross border mobile money transfer, or iKhokha offering payment and unsecured lending solutions to SME's; it's an incredibly exciting time to be alive.”

The post Meet the Investor: Ravindra Mistri, Capital Eye appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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How our decisions are shaping future disaster risk
How our decisions are shaping future disaster risk
Source: GFDRR
Country: World

Annual total damages have increased tenfold between 1976–1985 and 2005–2014 from US$14 billion to more than US$140 billion. Such losses are expected to continue growing.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Most disaster risk assessment today is static, focusing only on understanding current risks. A paradigm shift is needed toward dynamic risk assessments, which reveal the drivers of risk and the effectiveness of policies focused on reducing risk.

  • Global disaster risk is changing extremely fast, due to combined dynamics of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability.

  • The drivers of disaster risk are in the control of policy makers, society, and individuals—but accurate assessment and continuous reevaluation of risk is required to enable effective risk reduction and prevent drastic increases in future losses.

Disaster risks are rapidly increasing around the world: many regions are experiencing greater damage and higher losses than in the past. There is variability in annual losses and deaths from disasters, but annual total damage (averaged over a 10-year period) has increased tenfold between 1976–1985 and 2005–2014, from US$14 billion to more than US$140 billion. Such losses are expected to continue growing going forward unless we take action.

Disaster risk is influenced by the occurrence of potentially dangerous naturally occurring events, such as earthquakes or tropical cyclones (hazard); the population and economic assets located in hazard-prone areas (exposure); and the susceptibility of the exposed elements to the natural hazard (vulnerability). All three of these components are dynamic, and change over time under natural and human influences. But most risk assessments do not account for these changes, so they provide a static view of risk. As a result, risk management policy decisions based on such assessments do not take into account the continuous and sometimes rapid changes in the drivers of risk and so may underestimate risk.

Decisions being taken today are influencing future disaster risk—either reducing risk or increasing it. By promoting policies that reduce risk and avoiding maladaptive actions that increase risk, we can positively influence the risk environment of the future. The drivers of future risk are within the control of decision makers today: there is a huge opportunity today to manage the risks of tomorrow.

Risk assessments that inform disaster risk management must account for the dynamic nature of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. By quantifying future risk with and without the effect of disaster risk management policies and comparing the results, risk management specialists can demonstrate how policy actions taken now and in the near future could affect the risk environment in the medium to long term.

Interactive Feature

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Joint Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Secretary of State of the United States of America and State Secretary for Europe Affairs of France
Joint Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Secretary of State of the United States of America and State Secretary for Europe Affairs of France

VIENNA, 16 May 2016 - The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State of the United States of America John Kerry, and State Secretary for European Affairs of France Harlem Desir, representing the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, met today with President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev to advance a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

They reiterated that there can be no military solution to the conflict. The Co-Chairs insisted on the importance of respecting the 1994 and 1995 ceasefire agreements.

The Presidents reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire and the peaceful settlement of the conflict. To reduce the risk of further violence, they agreed to finalize in the shortest possible time an OSCE investigative mechanism. The Presidents also agreed to the expansion of the existing Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office. Finally, they agreed to continue the exchange of data on missing persons under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to which the Presidents committed during the Paris summit of October 2014.

The Presidents agreed on a next round of talks, to be held in June at a place to be mutually agreed, with an aim to resuming negotiations on a comprehensive settlement.

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U.S., Russia stalemate on Syria frustrates European powers
U.S., Russia stalemate on Syria frustrates European powers
UNITED NATIONS/VIENNA (Reuters) - The Obama administration's failure to convince Moscow that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go is fueling European frustration at being sidelined in efforts to end the country's five-year civil war, diplomats say.Some diplomats and analysts question whether the United States has misread Russia's desire to keep Assad in power.
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Dendrophilia
Dendrophilia

The Vegetarian. By Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith. Hogarth; 192 pages; $21. Portobello; £7.99.

ONE of the most erotic literary novels of the season is a slim South Korean work about a woman who forsakes eating meat. On May 16th “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize (MBIP) for fiction after a fiercely contested final judges' meeting that pitched books from Angola, Austria, China, Italy and Turkey, as well as South Korea. Translated by Deborah Smith, a young English scholar who began learning Korean only seven years ago, “The Vegetarian” has been praised on both sides of the Atlantic as strange, visionary and transgressive.

Written in three parts, each with a different narrator, the book begins quite plainly. “Before my wife turned vegetarian, I'd always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.” This subversive act, inspired by a dream, fractures the family life of the heroine, Yeong-hye. Her rebellion takes on increasingly bizarre and frightening forms. Seemingly ordinary relationships turn into a maelstrom of violence, shame and desire.

At the awards dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Boyd Tonkin, chairman of the 2016 MBIP judges, said: “In a style both lyrical and lacerating, [the story] reveals the impact of this great refusal...

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Kosovo’s recognition by FIFA is a step towards international legitimacy
Kosovo’s recognition by FIFA is a step towards international legitimacy

SUPERSTITIOUS folk consider Friday the 13th to be unlucky. Football fans in Kosovo might disagree: the day will now be associated with their recognition by FIFA, the sport's international administrative body. On May 13th delegates at the 66th FIFA Congress in Mexico City voted to admit the Kosovar national team, along with that of Gibraltar, as the group's 210th and 211th members. Both are now likely to participate in qualification for the 2018 World Cup. In Europe, seven of the qualifying groups have six teams, while two only have five, making it logistically simple for the two new members to slot in.

In Kosovo, the decision resonated well beyond the football pitch. In the years since the Kosovo War of 1998-99, the disputed area between Albania and Serbia has sought more autonomy, and declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. But it has yet to gain membership of the United Nations, many members of which have not given it diplomatic recognition. International sporting groups have been more welcoming. FIFA's vote followed Kosovo's admission to the International Olympic Committee, ahead of its debut in the Games this summer—while...

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Libya: Increased delivery of assistance as ongoing clashes trigger more displacement
Libya: Increased delivery of assistance as ongoing clashes trigger more displacement
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Libya, World

The capacity of local responders is stretched to breaking point as fearful families seek safety from conflict and repression, sheltering in schools, universities, public buildings and in the streets.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Health response steps up support to clinics in the south, with WHO and IMC in the lead.

  • WFP's food distribution reaches 81,000 people in April, with more than 174,000 set to receive food parcels in May.

  • Overall displacement figures for Libya are revised following the release of IOM's Round 3 of the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), with an increase likely due to conditions in Sirte.

Thousands of families flee Sirte

Ongoing clashes, military operations and day-to-day hardships in the Islamic State controlled Sirte area have forced thousands of people to flee in recent months. The capacity of local responders is stretched to breaking point as fearful families seek safety from conflict and repression, sheltering in schools, universities, public buildings and in the streets. In March-April, IOM recorded the displacement of 1,225 families over just 15 days from Sirte, Harawa and surrounding neighbourhoods. The total number has reached 5,500, with more expected. The town of Beni Walid is accommodating the bulk of the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with up to 20,000 in total.

The Libya Inter-Sector Coordination Group is prioritizing the response to Sirte IDPs. UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, IOM, WHO, in partnership with local actors, are conducting rapid assessments of their locations, numbers, and needs. OCHA is coordinating with local councils to advise on information collection, needs assessment, and activities of UN and partner organizations. Delivery of assistance has commenced to the most vulnerable groups in the most affected areas. UN agencies are working with local partners to deliver food, health, hygiene and non-food items, as well as education and recreational services.

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66th Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting takes place in Ergneti
66th Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting takes place in Ergneti

On 16th May 2016, the 66th meeting under the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place in Ergneti, co-facilitated by Kęstutis Jankauskas, the Head of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), and Ambassador Guenther Baechler, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for the South Caucasus.

In general the situation was acknowledged as calm. The participants discussed the increased number of detentions within the last month, especially when compared to the relatively low number that took place during the preceding period, including during the Easter holidays.

The situation in connection with humanitarian cases, including cases involving detained persons, was extensively discussed. Options for pursuing ways forward were further explored.

In this context the co-facilitators encouraged the use of the hotline mechanism to avoid misunderstanding and to provide solutions to such problems in a timely manner.

The next IPRM meeting will take place on 28th June 2016.

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A recipe for Parliamentary chaos?
A recipe for Parliamentary chaos?

IF BRITAIN votes to leave the EU, it seems likely to spell the end of David Cameron as Prime Minister. Even if he does not resign, his backbenchers will force him out. In the circumstances it will be hard for those who backed Remain to step into the role; the most likely replacement would be someone from the Brexit camp, such as Boris Johnson or Michael Gove (pictured).

So what kind of deal with the EU would such leaders negotiate? It has been a long-standing problem for the Brexit campaign that they have not been able to articulate what sort of trade deal they could arrange. A Norway/Switzerland style deal would guarantee access to the single market (making life easier for British firms to operate in continental Europe) but at the cost of agreeing to free movement of labour and EU Budget contributions, two things Brexiteers dislike. A simple trade deal under WTO rules would be better in sovereignty terms but worse in economic ones; British goods could face some tariffs and in services (an area of British expertise and buoyant exports), access would be restricted.

Mr Gove said recently that he Continue reading

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OSCE-supported training event enhances interviewing techniques among judges and prosecutors handling cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children
OSCE-supported training event enhances interviewing techniques among judges and prosecutors handling cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children

On 5-6 May, the OSCE Mission to Moldova held a training event on advanced interviewing skills and techniques for judges and prosecutors handling cases of human trafficking, in particular cases of children who have witnessed or suffered sexual abuse or exploitation. A total of 30 judges and prosecutors took part in the event, held at the National Institute of Justice in Chisinau.

During the event, participants explored techniques that can help to lessen the trauma experienced by child victims during the interview process. In particular, the training event encouraged participants to consider the victim's particular circumstances and individual characteristics, with the aim of both ensuring victims' participation in legal proceedings and improving the accuracy of the testimony obtained. This is essential in securing convictions and in reducing the threat of sexual abuse against children.

Handling cases involving child victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking is now a reality for many child protection and legal professionals in Moldova. This work is made all the more difficult given the nature of abuse and the age of the victims. It is important that professionals are equipped with the information and practical skills that they can apply when working on such cases.

The training event forms part of the Mission's ongoing work to enhance the capacity of judges, prosecutors and psychologists from across Moldova and address specific skills when handling human trafficking cases. In 2016, the Mission's work in this area incorporated the results of an evaluation and participant feedback from training events conducted between 2008 and 2014.

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Communist kitsch, comic or clueless?
Communist kitsch, comic or clueless?

HIPSTER-STYLE Vietnamese food has become popular in Australia of late. But a Vietnamese restaurant in Brisbane was forced to change its name from “Uncle Ho”, after Australian Vietnamese picketed it as an insensitive slap to the many who had lost family or fled their country thanks to the communist dictator and the North's conquest of Southern Vietnam. Before the name change, Uncle Ho was a kind of Marxist Colonel Sanders in replica propaganda art on the walls. After the furore, the restaurant became Uncle Bia Hoi, and is now Aunty Oh.

Communist kitsch is nothing new in Australia either. In Sydney a now-gone bar called Starlyn had a Soviet theme and attracted criticism from those who found the joshing references to a murderous tyrant in poor taste. Drinkers have been able to sip an Imperialist Running Dog cocktail while gazing at Chinese propaganda on the walls for nearly 15 years at Melbourne's Double Happiness. There have been no protests at Double Happiness—but Chinese migrants do not have the same history as their Vietnamese counterparts do. Bui Cuong of the Brisbane chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia told...

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Latest humanitarian snapshot highlights dzud in Mongolia, flooding and lava flow in Indonesia
Latest humanitarian snapshot highlights dzud in Mongolia, flooding and lava flow in Indonesia
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Palau, Philippines

Rains and unseasonal snow in Mongolia continue to impact vulnerable herders due to additional livestock deaths, despite official Govt declaration that the dzud is over.

MONGOLIA

The Government of Mongolia has officially declared the winter dzud over; however rains and unseasonal snow continue to impact vulnerable herders by putting stress on their livelihoods due to additional livestock deaths. Since January, some 1.1 million animals (up to 5.8 per cent) of the national livestock total have perished. Cash grants and cash-for-work interventions have begun as part of early recovery efforts. In March, CERF allocated $2.4 million to jumpstart health and nutrition, agriculture, protection and early recovery activities.

1.1 million animals perished

PHILIPPINES

According to the national weather bureau, large-scale drought will peak in May. The Government estimates most crop and livestock losses between February and April total US$239 million and have affected more than 260,000 farmers particularly in Mindanao and Western Visayas region.

260,000 farmers affected

MYANMAR

On 10 May, an estimated 1,600 people fled their villages in Kyaukme and Hsipaw townships in Shan State following heightened tensions between various armed groups.
In Kyaukme at least 800 people still remain displaced, while in Hsipaw some 600 people are still sheltering in two monasteries. Immediate needs are being met by authorities and local partners.

1,600 people displaced

INDONESIA

Between 10 to 13 May, floods and flash floods occurred in the provinces of South, West and Central Kalimantan, Bengkulu and Gorontalo. The incidents flooded 3,550 houses for several days. In Kotabaru District (South Kalimantan), flash floods killed three people with one still missing.
The monsoon season in Indonesia typically runs from November to March – the amount of rainfall and intensity during the past week is unusual at this time of year.

3,550 houses flooded

On 10 May, cold lava flow from Mount Sinabung, an active volanoe, in Kuta Mbaru Village (Karo District, North Sumatra), caused two deaths, four injuries and damaged three houses. The National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) reported an estimated 50 million cubic meters of cold lava remains on the mountain which continues to pose a high risk to communities in the area.

PALAU

Substantial rainfall over the past week has allowed Palau's Public Utilities Corporation to resume 24-hour water services to the states of Koror and Airai after two months of water restrictions due to El Niño-induced drought. The critical Ngerimel Dam is back on line and flow from the Ngerikiil River has also increased. Water levels will continue to be closely monitored and the public is still being advised to conserve water.

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Singularity Investments backs Sliide Airtime
Singularity Investments backs Sliide Airtime

Singularity Investments has announced it has invested an undisclosed sum into mobile advertising startup Sliide Airtime, to enable the startup to grow its business following a successful Nigerian launch.

Disrupt Africa reported diaspora-founded startup Sliide Airtime launched a lock screen content delivery platform in Nigeria in March, offering users a new channel to access online content while also earning free airtime.

The Sliide Airtime app provides personalised content when the user unlocks their mobile device; while users can also earn free airtime by completing in-app offers.

The Singularity funding will be used to further grow Sliide's Nigerian operations, and the startup plans a further fundraising round later this year with a view to financing expansion into South Africa, Ghana and Kenya.

“The response to our launch in Nigeria was phenomenal and exceeded expectations. Our business model has proven successful, and we welcome Singularity's involvement as we continue to grow the company,” said Corbyn Munnik, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Sliide Airtime.

Singularity said the investment reflects its commitment to the Nigerian telecoms market; following hot on the heels of Singularity's investment last month in corporate market intelligence startup, Asoko Insight.

“Sliide has an innovative business model that enables operators and consumer brands to achieve sustainable customer engagement in competitive environments, while enhancing the value of the mobile experience for their customers,” Singularity Investments principal Issam Darwish said.

“We believe that, by combining the innovative ideas and skills of the Sliide team with our expertise in scaling pan-African businesses, the Sliide platform is just the first of the company's disruptive mobile-based products that will add tremendous value to the mobile ecosystem across Africa.”

The post Singularity Investments backs Sliide Airtime appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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BBC World Service selects Lagos innovations for pilots
BBC World Service selects Lagos innovations for pilots

BBC Connected Studio and the BBC World Service have selected two teams from Lagos to pilot digital innovations aimed at helping the BBC reach young African audiences.

It is the latest stage of the BBC World Service's activities in Africa, which has already seen pilots launched in Nairobi, Kenya and Cape Town, South Africa as the BBC looks to increase its global reach to 500 million by 2020.

A briefing session for 100 people was held in partnership with the Co-Creation Hub in Lagos in January, with teams briefed with reaching the growing mobile audience in Nigeria with innovative digital ideas.

Workshops with digital experts were held to further help potential entrants, with submitted ideas scored and shortlisted by a judging panel. Two ideas have now been selected to be taken forward and built into pilots throughout the year.

The teams are Codulab, a small company based in Lagos, and a collaborative team of Nigerian innovators, Team Timerail. Further details on the pilots will be announced later this year, but the selected ideas include innovation surrounding chat bots and connecting to audiences through instant messaging, as well as structured journalism and connected storytelling.

“It has been great to collaborate with technical innovators in Nigeria – one of World Service's most important markets. Having done hackathons in Kenya and South Africa in 2015 it was only natural for us to come to Nigeria, too,” said BBC World Service Group digital development editor and judging panellist Dmitry Shishkin.

“This time we made extra effort to help with feedback and briefing for the event and were delighted by the great number of interesting submissions we received. Given the revolutionary changes mobile technology is bringing to Africa, the BBC is keen to be an integral part of this exciting journey.”

The post BBC World Service selects Lagos innovations for pilots appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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African startups invited to attend VIVA Technology event in Paris
African startups invited to attend VIVA Technology event in Paris

South Africa-based ad-tech company Popimedia has launched a campaign to encourage African startups to take part in the VIVA Technology event in Paris, France, which is co-hosted by Publicis and takes place from June 30.

Popimedia, which is part of Publicis Groupe, is facilitating African participation in the event, which is expecting 30,000 attendees, including entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and venture capitalists.

The aim of VIVA Technology is to provide a real-time platform for collaboration and a high-level stage for discussions around the impact technology has on both businesses and society.

It has four key cornerstones: collaborative co-working space Labs, open innovation platform Challenges, keynote and panel discussion sessions Imagine, and the Hall of Tech, which is devoted to tech innovations changing business and society.

Popimedia chief executive officer (CEO) Daniel Levy said VIVA Technology Paris would provide African tech startups with networking opportunities, insight into the most sophisticated technology developments globally, and inspiration for future collaborations and projects.

“VIVA Technology Paris presents an incredible platform, which local start-ups could use as a springboard to the next level of innovation and development. Understanding the journey of the tech start-up ourselves, we can attest to the benefits of collaborating with large corporations,” he said.

Entrepreneurs interested in attending can receive further information by sending an email here.

The post African startups invited to attend VIVA Technology event in Paris appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Kenya’s Lynk aiming to fix informal economies
Kenya’s Lynk aiming to fix informal economies

The informal economy in Kenya represents nearly 80 per cent of national employment and more than one-third of national GDP. Yet it faces serious challenges, which Nairobi-based startup Lynk is looking to fix.

“Currently, we are focused on the broken relationship between households and informal workers,” Adam Grunewald, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Lynk, told Disrupt Africa.

“We envision a world in which workers can enjoy job security, fair wages, a safe work environment, and the opportunity for career growth. Additionally, for a household, hiring someone for a job should be safe, convenient, and fair.”

Lynk is offers a network of professionals, allowing customers to book services from over 60 categories, ranging from plumbers to nannies to tutors. The platform works via mobile app, the web and SMS, and automatically identifies qualified workers based on subskills and other signals such as location, price, range, language and experience.

It provides the customer with multiple options of professionals, including prices for completing the job.

“In addition to job fulfillment, our platform also creates in depth profiles for all of our workers – the LinkedIn for the LinkedOut – where they can store details about their work experience, customer feedback, certificates, pictures of their work and more,” said developer Erick Obiero.

“These profiles are leveraged to achieve higher earning potential and full-time jobs. As our platform continues to grow and we recruit more workers and complete more jobs, we are collecting incredibly useful data that we expect can assist a number of supplementary projects related to financial inclusion, bulk orders of materials, and more.”

Formed in August of last year, Lynk became operational in October and was crowned winner of the third Safaricom Appwiz Challenge in December. Grunewald said the startup addresses problem finding skilled professionals in a quick, convenient, and reliable manner.

“Currently most worker sourcing is done via word of mouth, which can be highly time consuming and may not pay off,” he said.

“Customers are not experts at assessing a worker's trustworthiness or credibility, nor should they be. Thats where we're trying to step in. In the market today there are a number of bureaus that also focus on informal workers but we believe we can offer a superior service, at a larger scale, for a fraction of the price.”

Currently bootstrapped, Lynk is now in the process of raising US$600,000 in seed funding, half of which is committed. With this, it plans to expand to other cities in Kenya next year, after which it will grow throughout East Africa.

“Currently we only operate in Nairobi. However, our tech and operations are built to scale and we have already devised go to market plans for expansion. We intend to operate Lynk in any area with a large informal sector that could be made more efficient with technology,” Grunewald said.

Lynk charges a commission of 10 per cent to the quoted job value – so if a plumber does a job for US$10, the total cost for the customer is US$11. It does not currently take any money from workers in the system. Revenues so far stand at around US$40,000.

Obiero said the startup has built a two-sided marketplace of service providers and customers, and therefore needs to keep the two evenly calibrated.

“This is an ongoing challenge and requires rigorous measurement,” he said. “Additionally we work hard to keep ourselves focused as we have a number of exciting plans on the pipeline but are still a bit too small to do all the things we want to. For that reason we have not begun overtly marketing Lynk yet but still work with a smaller group of invite only customers.”

Grunewald said as a service marketplace Lynk was focused on acquiring verified workers, completing jobs, and doing so with very high customer satisfaction.

“Though we are less than a year old we have had strong traction on all fronts,” he said. Lynk has recruited and verified around 400 workers across 64 service categories, and completed more than 800 jobs from paying customers. It has also signed a number of key partnerships with large-scale vocational training institutions for large-scale worker recruitment.

The post Kenya's Lynk aiming to fix informal economies appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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100 babies born every day in areas worst hit by Ecuador quake – UNICEF
100 babies born every day in areas worst hit by Ecuador quake – UNICEF
Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Ecuador

UNICEF will need $15 million to meet the needs of 250,000 children until mid-July. Despite persistent needs in the most-damaged provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabí, funding remains extremely low.

One month after quake, better conditions but persistent needs

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 16 May 2016 – Up to 100 babies on average are born every day in Esmeraldas and Manabí, the provinces worst hit by the Ecuador earthquake, UNICEF said today.

“In a region where 1 in 5 children suffer from diarrhoea and chronic malnutrition, it is essential to provide these babies with the basic needs to survive and thrive,” said Grant Leaity, UNICEF Representative in Ecuador.

The April 16 earthquake killed 660 people, destroyed water systems and affected 33 health centres, half of which are not operational. The earthquake also damaged or destroyed some 560 schools and close to 10,000 buildings.

An immediate response led by the Government is allowing 75 per cent of children to return to school and providing an integrated response to over 30,000 people living in official shelters, including basic assistance, medical and psychological support. With support from UNICEF, access to safe water was restored in Jama and Pedernales, the two worst hit towns by the earthquake.

However, one month on, thousands more people are staying in informal shelters which lack basic services and 120,000 children are in urgent need of temporary educational spaces.

UNICEF is working with the Government and other partners to assist the most vulnerable populations by:

  • With the Ministry of Education, installing temporary learning spaces for 20,000 children and distributing 750 school-in-a-box kits to benefit 60,000 children. The first temporary learning spaces are already open in Pedernales and Jama with capacity to receive 5,600 children, and additional spaces are now being installed in Pedernales, Jama, Matal, Chorerra and Muisne.

  • With the National Water Authority and local municipalities, setting up water and sanitation services in shelters for displaced persons and temporary schools, and providing safe water and hygiene services in areas where the water grid has been damaged.

  • With the Ministry of Social Inclusion, providing psychosocial support and promoting sports and cultural activities for children and adolescents to contribute to their emotional recovery.

  • Supporting the Ministry of Health to establish protocols for acute malnutrition screening; develop community messaging for the prevention of vector-borne diseases such as Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya; provide micronutrients and vitamin A for nutrition, zinc and oral rehydration salts for diahorrea; provide tents to replace damaged health facilities; and provide temporary health posts close to shelters. Baby friendly spaces will also be set up in Pedernales, Jama and Muise.

Yet funding remains extremely low. UNICEF alone will need $15 million to meet the needs of 250,000 children until mid-July. So far, it has received only 15 per cent of this amount.

“If the donor community does not step up its support, we will be failing thousands of children,” Leaity said.

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UNESCO Director-General on first official visit to the Czech Republic
UNESCO Director-General on first official visit to the Czech Republic

From 15 to 17 May, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, is undertaking her first official visit to the Czech Republic, following an invitation by H.E. Miloš Zeman, President of the Czech Republic, to join him in the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the birth of the Emperor and King Charles IV, an important anniversary to which UNESCO is proudly associated with.

The visit takes place with a view to further strengthening existing cooperation between the Czech Republic and UNESCO across the Organization's fields of competence, as well as enhancing the engagement with civil society and professional institutions.

During her visit, the Director-General Bokova will have bilateral meetings with several high-level officials, including the President of the Czech Republic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the ministers of education and culture. She will also give a lecture at the Charles University – one of the world's greatest places of higher learning – where she will engage with students and faculty over the role of education in the prevention of violent extremism, and be awarded with the prestigious Charles University Honorary Medal.

The visit will also feature a special event at the Lupáčova Primary School in Prague, an Associated School of UNESCO, and winner of the 2014 and 2016 European Language Prize.

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Almost 1,000 Afghans fleeing their homes on a daily basis
Almost 1,000 Afghans fleeing their homes on a daily basis
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Afghanistan

Despite valiant efforts by aid agencies, no assistance has reached the conflict-displaced in Dehrawoud or Shindand districts, and no relief organization has delivered NFIs to the districts outside of Kunduz city.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Escalated conflict in Kunduz led to wide scale displacement of 22,400 people
• WFP and humanitarian partners face extreme access constraints halting delivery of food to displaced families in Uruzgan
• IMC expands life-saving medical care to remote areas of Afghanistan
• Dangerous needs assessment mission provides information essential for effective humanitarian assistance
• CHF allocates US$20 million for acute humanitarian needs

In this issue

Saving lives in Kunduz P.1
WFP scales up support to IDPs P.2
IMC Emergency Medical Service P.5
CHF allocates US$20 million P.6
Humanitarian access overview P.7

HUMANITARIAN ACCESS: A matter of life or death in Kunduz

Springtime in Kunduz, north eastern Afghanistan has been tragically filled with conflict and suffering, leading to an extraordinary displacement of more than 22,400 people.
Fleeing for their lives, 14,000 people were forced from Kunduz city to remote areas where the conflict is most active. The insecure environment and access constraints created severe challenges in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

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El Nino weakening fast, La Nina may develop – WMO
El Nino weakening fast, La Nina may develop – WMO
Source: World Meteorological Organization
Country: World

The previously strong 2015-16 El Niño is now weakening rapidly, but it is still likely to influence climate patterns in some regions until mid-year, UN weather agency reported.

The previously strong 2015-16 El Niño is now weakening rapidly. However it is still likely to influence climate patterns in some regions until mid-year. Climate prediction models indicate a return to ENSO-neutral during May 2016, with odds now increasing of La Niña development in the third quarter. A resurgence of El Niño is highly unlikely in 2016. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services will closely monitor changes in the state of ENSO over the coming months.

Ocean temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean exceeded +2.0 degrees Celsius above average between October 2015 and February 2016, but are now in the process of returning to ENSO-neutral levels. In early May, these areas had cooled to between +0.5 degrees Celsius and +1.0 degrees Celsius above average.

Atmospheric indicators that showed very strong El Niño patterns early in the year had weakened significantly towards ENSO-neutral values by early May. Such indicators include lower than normal atmospheric pressure across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, weakened and on occasion reversed low-level Pacific trade winds, and above-average cloudiness and increased rainfall near and east of the International Date Line. Historically, El Niño events often persist through much of the first quarter of the year following their development – and occasionally into the second quarter - before returning to neutral. Because of the strength of this El Niño, it has persisted through early May, albeit at weak levels, but the situation will likely return to neutral levels before the end of May.

Between January and early May 2016, temperatures below the surface of the tropical Pacific, to the east of the International Date Line, transitioned from being well above average to below average, as cool waters at depth in the western and central equatorial Pacific Ocean expanded both eastward and upwards towards the surface. In the eastern quarter of the tropical Pacific, surface waters have recently become cooler than average. While the surface waters in the central and east-central Pacific currently remain warmer than average, below average sea temperatures exist at shallow depths, suggesting that the surface waters are likely to cool further in the coming months. Historically, La Niña has followed several strong El Niño events, including the 1997-98 event.

Currently, all dynamical and statistical prediction models surveyed predict that the sea surface temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean will cool further in the coming months, with many models predicting temperatures to be in the range of -0.5 to +0.5 degrees Celsius from average during the overlapping 3-month periods May-July and June-August. Beginning in the July-September period and continuing through the remainder of 2016, more than half of the models predict east-central tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures will drop to more than 0.5 degrees Celsius below average, indicative of at least weak La Niña conditions. However, some uncertainty remains as forecasts made at this time of the year typically have less accuracy than those made during the second half of the year.

The 3-month mean sea surface temperature in the central tropical Pacific of well over 2 degrees Celsius above average during the peak of the 2015-16 El Niño indicates that it was comparable in strength to the previous very strong events of 1982-83 and 1997-98. While the peak ocean temperatures were approximately as strong as those of the 1997-98 event, other aspects of the 2015-16 El Niño were weaker, such as the sea surface temperature and subsurface temperature in the eastern one-third of the tropical Pacific, and the eastward extent of enhanced cloudiness and rainfall along the equator.

A careful watch will be maintained on the oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the tropical Pacific in the coming months to better assess the dissipation of El Niño and any possible transition to La Niña.

It is important to note that El Niño and La Niña are not the only factors that drive global climate patterns. Further, the strength of an El Niño event may not necessarily closely correspond to its climate impacts occurring in various regions of the world. At the regional level, seasonal outlooks need to assess the relative impacts of both the El Niño or La Niña state and other locally relevant climate drivers. For example, the sea surface temperature of the Indian Ocean, the south-eastern Pacific Ocean and the Tropical Atlantic Ocean are also known to influence the climate in the adjacent land areas. Regionally and locally applicable information is available via regional and national seasonal climate outlooks, such as those produced by WMO Regional Climate Centres (RCCs), Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs).

Full update available in English, French and Spanish.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 13 May 2016
Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 13 May 2016

The SMM observed a slightly higher number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region and recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Luhansk region compared to the previous day. The Mission observed weapons within withdrawal lines and others in holding areas. Armed men pointed weapons at the SMM at the unmanned aerial vehicle ground control station in a government-controlled area. The SMM observed the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance. The Mission followed up on the proliferation of weapons in areas outside of the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) zone.

The SMM observed a number of ceasefire violations in Donetsk region.[1] While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 12-13 May the SMM heard a total of seven undetermined explosions and three bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 3-5km south of its position. Positioned in Donetsk city on the night of 12 May, the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions 7-10km north-west and west-north-west.

On the night of 12 May the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded six undetermined rounds fired west to east at an unknown distance north of its position.

From a position at “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM saw one impact 2-4km north and heard 13 undetermined explosions 2-5km north, north-east and west-north-west.

Positioned in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk city), the SMM heard 14 undetermined explosions and four airbursts, bursts of heavy-machine gun and small- arms fire 2-7km west. While in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) the SMM heard seven mortar explosions (82mm), saw and heard two mortar air blasts (82mm), 15 undetermined explosions, one automatic-grenade launcher impact, one undetermined air blast and over 150 bursts of heavy-machine gun and small-arms fire 3-5km south-east of its position.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded a small number of ceasefire violations. While in a government-controlled part of Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 5-6km south. Positioned in government-controlled Troitske (70km west of Luhansk) the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 5-8km north-east.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted 16 tanks (ten T-72, six T-64) missing since 3 March 2016. Six mortars (2B9, 82mm) were also missing, as they have been since 31 March 2016. At one site, the SMM noted the same number and type of mortars as per the inventory but the serial number on one mortar did not match any in the inventory. At another site, all previously verified weapons were present.

The SMM revisited “DPR” permanent storage sites whose locations corresponded with the withdrawal lines and noted that all previously verified weapons were present.

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM observed 12 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) in “DPR”-controlled Zelene (28km east of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. The SMM has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October 2015 notification. The SMM revisited locations known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they do not comply with the specific criteria set out for permanent storage sites in the 16 October 2015 notification.

In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed: ten multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm) and six towed howitzers (2A36/Giatsint-B, 152mm). At a different site six towed howitzers (2A36/Giatsint-B, 152mm) were missing when the SMM arrived but were later observed returning to the site. Twenty-nine anti-tank guns (28 2A29/MT-12 Rapira, 100mm; and one 2A19/T-12 Rapira, 100mm) were missing; 23 since 11 December 2015 and the remaining six since 22 March 2016. One area was abandoned, as first observed on 12 March, with eight towed howitzers (2A65 Msta B, 152mm) missing. Ukrainian Armed Forces delayed the SMM's access at one site.*

Beyond the withdrawal lines and outside storage sites the SMM observed a self-propelled howitzer (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) on a stationary train in government-controlled Rubizhne (85km north-west of Luhansk).

At approximately 02:45 on 13 May five armed men in a cougar vehicle - who identified themselves as members of the National Guard - arrived at the ground control station for SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations near government-controlled Stepanivka (51km north-west of Donetsk), just after an SMM UAV had landed. As they approached the SMM in an intimidating manner, one man – who identified himself as a Lieutenant - loaded his pistol and ordered the SMM not to move. The other four pointed their automatic weapons at the SMM. They asked the SMM for identification, which was provided. They phoned the Ukrainian Air Force Liaison Officer and then left the area at approximately 03:00.

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles (ACV) in the security zone. Aerial surveillance imagery available to the SMM revealed the presence on 5 May of 29 armoured vehicles in the wider area of Svitlodarsk and “DPR”-controlled Lozove (54km north-east of Donetsk).

Beyond the withdrawal lines, the SMM monitored military movements in the Dnepropetrovsk region on 12 and 13 May. The SMM saw two full mechanized infantry battalions (including 31 tanks (T-64), 53 BMP 2, two armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and eight armoured tracked vehicles) with logistical elements being loaded onto rail wagons near government-controlled Melioratyvne (32km north-east of Dnepropetrovsk).

The SMM observed the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Krymske (43km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM saw an unexploded mortar round stuck in the road, which the checkpoint commander said they planned to remove in the coming days. The SMM observed a previously reported UXO (BM-27 Uragan, 220mm) in government-controlled Peredilske (24km north-west of Luhansk) (see SMM Daily Report, 4 March 2016). In “LPR”-controlled Kalynove Borschuvate (61km west of Luhansk), a man and a woman told the SMM of the presence of UXO on the sides of the road leading to a nearby mining complex. The SMM went to the area and saw a bottle on a stick suggesting the presence of UXO. At a Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint near government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) the SMM saw eight previously observed mines, protected with concrete blocks and marked with hazard signs.

Outside of Donbas the SMM followed up on the proliferation of weapons from the Anti-Terrorism Operation (ATO) zone. In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM spoke to the chief of patrol police concerning an incident on the night of 12 May when a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG-22) was allegedly fired at the house of a businessman in Ugornyky (3.7km east of Ivano-Frankivsk). According to the officer the grenade had not fully exploded and no one had been injured. He noted that there were cases of individuals bringing weapons to the region from the ATO zone.

Police at the scene of an alleged storming of a car park linked to a property dispute in Kyiv's Darnytskyi district told the SMM that a stun grenade had been thrown and weapons used. Three people had been injured, according to police. At the scene the SMM saw blast marks to a wall of a building. In Kharkiv, the SMM was told by a regional Ministry of Interior official and the police that a man had been detained for allegedly smuggling small arms and light weapons from the ATO zone. According to them, law enforcement officers had discovered machine guns, pistols, ammunition, grenades and mines at a number of locations. Police said that the suspect had connections with service personnel in the ATO zone. An investigation has been launched on charges of illegal handling of weapons, ammunition or explosives (article 263 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv and Chernivtsi.

*Restrictions to SMM's freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM's monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM's mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM's freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • Seven armed “DPR” members stopped the SMM in “DPR”-controlled Kominternove (23km north-east of Mariupol), said they could not monitor in the area and told them to leave. The SMM left the area.

Delayed access:

  • Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers denied the SMM access to a heavy weapons holding area. The JCCC was contacted and access was given after 22 minutes.

Other restrictions:

  • The SMM could not check the power supply to the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Oktiabr mine (8.5km north-west of Donetsk) due to security concerns as a suspicious green tube (approximately 25x10cm long) had been placed directly in front of the power supply.

[1] Pease see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report..

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions to SMM's freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate”.

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OSCE supports international conference on obstacles in prosecuting war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina
OSCE supports international conference on obstacles in prosecuting war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina

SARAJEVO, 14 May 2016 – Challenges in investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as well as potential solutions to these obstacles was the focus of a conference which concluded today in Sarajevo, having brought together more than 40 members of the judiciary, international law experts, government and diplomatic representatives.

The Conference was organized by the Associations of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide and Movement of Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves, and supported by the OSCE Mission to BiH.

“Victims and witnesses are the most important stakeholders in the criminal justice process and without their participation in the proceedings, there could be no justice for these terrible crimes,” said Fermin Cordoba, Acting Director of the Human Dimension Department at the OSCE Mission to BiH. “The Mission will continue to support the BiH judiciary at all levels to ensure the fair and effective processing of war crimes cases.”

Munira Subasic, President of the Association of Movement of Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves, said: “We need to talk about this issue publicly in order to expedite and improve the processing of these cases.”

Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Serge Brammertz said: “Experiences have taught us that the challenges of war crimes prosecutions can be successfully addressed if there is national ownership of post-conflict justice, appropriately supported by international assistance.”

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina presented findings from its trial monitoring and capacity-building efforts related to the implementation of the National Strategy for War Crimes Processing and reiterated its commitment to continue supporting the strengthening of domestic judicial institutions for the fair and efficient resolution of all remaining war crimes cases.

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ODIHR Director welcomes rejection of draft NGO law in Kyrgyz Republic
ODIHR Director welcomes rejection of draft NGO law in Kyrgyz Republic

WARSAW, 14 May 2016 ─ Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), today welcomed Thursday's rejection on third reading by the Jogorku Kenesh, Kyrgyzstan's parliament, of draft legislation that would have imposed unnecessarily cumbersome reporting requirements for non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“This draft legislation would have represented a limitation of the civic space both Kyrgyz and international NGOs need to carry out their vital work. Its rejection is in compliance with Kyrgyzstan's OSCE Commitments and international obligations, as well as the country's own constitution,” Director Link said. “I welcome this positive step toward ensuring a welcoming climate for all associations in the country.”

The version rejected already contained improvements to the contents of earlier drafts, particularly in the removal of the obligation for NGOs engaging in “political activities” and receiving financial support from foreign sources to register as “foreign agents”. A 2013 review by ODIHR and the Council of Europe's Venice Commission of an earlier version of the draft expressed strong reservations about these elements.

“The revisions made to the draft ahead of the second reading, which were in line with the recommendations from the ODIHR/Venice Commission review, already demonstrated an openness to co-operation in meeting Kyrgyzstan's OSCE commitments on freedom of association,” the ODIHR Director said. “The rejection on third reading of a draft that still contained problematic elements demonstrates the parliament's commitment to ensuring the law is in line with the relevant international obligations and standards.”

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3,000 children trapped and running out of food and medicine in besieged Khan Eshieh, Syria
3,000 children trapped and running out of food and medicine in besieged Khan Eshieh, Syria
Source: Save the Children
Country: occupied Palestinian territory, Syrian Arab Republic

Despite the recent February agreement to increase humanitarian access to besieged areas of Syria, hundreds of thousands of families are still without aid.

A complete siege has been imposed on the Khan Eshieh area in Syria in recent days, blocking essential supplies from entering and risking the lives of an estimated 3,000 children trapped inside, according to a local aid group there.

Friday, 13 May 2016 - 10:46am

The last remaining road in and out of Khan Eshieh, a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, was shut this week by heavy shelling and snipers, according to the Jafra Foundation, which provides education, psychosocial support and other aid in the camp. On one recent evening, three youths were reportedly shot dead while trying to escape. Shelling and bombing has intensified, with dozens of barrel bombs falling on the area.

Sonia Khush, head of Save the Children's Syria programme, said: “Despite the supposed ceasefire across the country, people are living in terror of siege and bombardment. People in Khan Eshieh tell us that most medicine, fuel and flour has almost run out, and food prices have doubled in the past few days. They expect it to get even worse in the coming days. The roads and access to the camp must urgently be reopened and vital humanitarian aid immediately allowed in.”

There are an estimated 12,000 people – about a quarter of them children – in Khan Eshieh. The camp has been partially besieged for nearly three years, with all the main roads between the camp and Damascus closed since 2013 and military checkpoints around the camp to prevent people from entering and leaving. Civilians were able to use one road – known locally as ‘the Death Road' due to the high risk of travelling on it – to get food, medicine and supplies from the nearby town of Zakia. However, in recent weeks medicine has been prevented from entering Zakia and the road has now been shut off by heavy shelling and sniper fire.

Only one doctor and one dentist are believed to remain in the camp, and do not have enough medicine, equipment and electricity needed to treat patients. Residents report an urgent need for water purification tablets to reduce the growing risk of disease.

Despite the recent February agreement to increase humanitarian access to besieged areas of Syria, hundreds of thousands of families are still without aid. Only 17% of the more than 4.5 million people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas have so far received assistance, and UN aid convoys continue to be denied permission. At least six besieged areas have still not received any aid at all.

The situation in Yarmouk, another Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, is continuously alarming, after weeks of fighting in the area. A new checkpoint in the camp is preventing families from accessing food and water, and much of the water supply is now contaminated. The main hospital, Palestine Hospital, reports that it has run out of fuel to operate with and medical supplies are still being prevented from entering the camp.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

  • Save the Children works with Syrian partners in besieged and other hard to reach areas in Syria to provide food parcels, support schools, repair water systems and provide psychological support for children affected by bombing and siege.
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Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action to be launched at Humanitarian Summit
Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action to be launched at Humanitarian Summit
Source: CBM
Country: World

A Charter will be launched during the World Humanitarian Summit to make humanitarian action increasingly receptive to the rights and the needs of persons with disabilities.

Time for action for persons with disabilities at the World Humanitarian Summit

Camille Gosselin, Humanitarian Advocacy Manager of Handicap International, explains the Charter on "Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action" that will be launched during the Summit.

On the 23rd and 24th May 2016 the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) will take place in Istanbul, under the initiative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Persons with disabilities will not be left behind!

A Charter on "Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action" will be launched during the Summit, setting out an agenda to make humanitarian action increasingly receptive to the rights and the needs of persons with disabilities. Every single interested organisation and State is invited to endorse the Charter.

Awareness and understanding of inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action is progressing, and humanitarian agencies are adopting targeted internal policies and tools. However, there are neither universally endorsed principles, nor standards or guidelines to ensure that humanitarian action is inclusive of persons with disabilities.

A group of civil society organisations, including Handicap International, CBM, the International Disability Alliance, Human Rights Watch and the Women's Refugee Commission, teamed up to drive real change at the WHS. A pioneering process has been set up for the development of the Charter on "Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action", in a multi-stakeholder, transparent and inclusive manner. Involved stakeholders included the NGO international community, as well as national and regional organisations, UN representatives and agencies, especially the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, chairing the Inter-Agency Support Group of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and a large number of States and governments, led by Finland and Australia. The process included the organisation of two workshops to kick off and finalise the Charter. Lively discussions were also held on an online platform, open to all interested parties, for more than two months.

The Charter puts forward five core principles to support humanitarian actors' practices to be more inclusive of persons with disabilities. They are ensuring non-discrimination, foster participation of persons with disabilities, developing inclusive policies and guidelines, fostering an inclusive response and services, and improving cooperation and coordination among humanitarian actors. Identifying concrete actions and commitments to bring these principles to life, especially the development of standards and guidelines, will enhance effectiveness of and accountability in humanitarian action.

The Charter will be launched at the WHS Special Session on "Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action" on 23 May, where representatives of Member States, UN agencies and NGOs will also state their commitments to bring the Charter to life.

Should you wish to receive more information, please contact Camille Gosselin, Humanitarian Advocacy Manager, Handicap International.

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UNESCO Director-General condemns the holding of the “Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest”
UNESCO Director-General condemns the holding of the “Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest”

dg_open_speech.jpg

© UNESCO

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has strongly condemned the “Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest”, which is taking place in Tehran.

"Such an initiative which aims at a mockery of the genocide of the Jewish people, a tragic page of humanity's history, can only foster hatred and incite to violence, racism and anger." declared Irina Bokova.

"This contest goes against the universal values of tolerance and respect, and runs counter to the action led by UNESCO to promote Holocaust education, to fight amti-Semitism and denial." pursued the Director-General.

The organization of an "International Holocaust Cartoon Contest" also runs against the spirit of openness of the rich Persian Culture, and to the values that guided the Islamic Republic of Iran in its initiative for the 2010 International Year for the Rapprochement of Culture.

UNESCO Director-General has expressed its concerns to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the holding of such an initiative in a letter addressed to the Ambassador of the Republic Islamic of Iran to UNESCO on 13 February 2016.

Irina Bokova has repeatedly voiced UNESCO's concern at the rise of new forms of anti-Semitism, drawing on distorted visions of culture and history, taking also the form of mockery or systematic delegitmization of the State of Israel. The Director-General reiterated the statements she made on Yom Ha Shoah on 5 may and on United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January : “We must redouble all efforts to teach young generations about the history of the Holocaust to combat all forms of anti-Semitism and denial today. We must join forces in teaching about the history of all culturesand all religions. We must encourage freedom of expression and promote cultural diversity, in a spirit of mutual respect for others and for human rights.”

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UK MP praises UNESCO in Parliament for program against racism and anti-Semitism
UK MP praises UNESCO in Parliament for program against racism and anti-Semitism

highlight-uk.jpg

© UNESCO

Right Honorable John Mann, Member of the British Parliament, congratulated UNESCO for its work in the fight against racism and discrimination and specifically in combatting anti-Semitism the Early Day Motion on 24 March 2016.

Early Day Motions are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. In this case, Mann's motion, 1324, had been signed by 28 Members of Parliament. It states:

"That this House notes the efforts of UNESCO to educate against racism and discrimination and specifically to combat anti-Semitism; congratulates UNESCO and its Director-General Irina Bokova for the two reports published in 2015, which add to efforts to combat racism in sport and online; and calls for continued support and enhanced cooperation on a European and International level to tackle anti-Semitism and all forms of racial hatred."

Mr. John Mann is the Chair of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism. UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova was a keynote speaker at the International Parliamentary Conference on Combating Antisemitism, held in Berlin on 14-15 March, 2016, organized by the Government and the Parliament of Germany, with the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Antisemitism.

Ms. Bokova presented the wide range of work that UNESCO is leading through education to fight all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Semitism in her Berlin presentation. This includes education for global citizenship and action to bolster media and information literacy, to prevent violent extremism and to help young women and men counter radicalization through the Internet. She emphasized the vital importance of UNESCO's work to advance Holocaust education -- a unique programme in the United Nations system -- to never forget and to fight racism and discrimination today. She also drew attention to UNESCO's work to advance tolerance and to fight hate speech, racism and discrimination in sports, notably in partnership with Juventus FC.

The conference took place during Germany's chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and featured a keynote address by Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and a range of high level speakers from across the world.

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Ecuador: Funds urgently needed to assist thousands of quake-affected people
Ecuador: Funds urgently needed to assist thousands of quake-affected people
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Ecuador

The appeal for international assistance ($72.7 million to assist 350,000 people for three months) has received 12 per cent of total requirements after the first three weeks. Most of the funds come from the UN relief fund (CERF).

Featured

  • The Flash Appeal (US$ 72.7 million) is currently 12 per cent funded. Funds are urgently needed to implement programs to assist benefit thousands of people.

  • The Government created the Committee for Reconstruction and Productive Reactivation of Employment to revive the economy and manage reconstruction in the affected areas.

  • Approximately 82 tourism establishments were affected in Portoviejo. Tourism is one of the main economic activities in the affected areas.

  • Displaced families who are not in official shelters, are in need of assistance.

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OSCE Special Representative praises Turkey’s government for improving legal protection for human trafficking victims
OSCE Special Representative praises Turkey’s government for improving legal protection for human trafficking victims

ISTANBUL, Turkey, 13 May 2016 – Concluding a one-week official visit to Turkey today, OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Madina Jarbussynova, commended recent changes to the legislative framework that will improve victim protection and identification.

“It is important to identify victims of human trafficking and protect them against re-trafficking and other abuses,” the Special Representative said. “Turkey has amended its regulations so that it fully complies with guidelines from the Council of Europe.”

This was her first official visit to Turkey, during which she met with representatives from the government as well as non-governmental and international organizations. Ambassador Jarbussynova met with high-level officials from the Court of Cassation, Department of Consular Affairs, the Directorate for Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking with the National Police, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

Turkey is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. It is also at the centre of the ongoing migration crisis, with large numbers of refugees from Syria and elsewhere currently in the country. The Special Representative visited a refugee centre in Gazantep, as well as shelters for human trafficking victims in Istanbul and Kirikkale.

“Large numbers of people on the move continue to arrive in Turkey, and local officials must be lauded for their extraordinary efforts to provide them with food and shelter,” Ambassador Jarbussynova said. “We must do all we can to ensure that they do not fall into the hands of human traffickers.”

The Special Representative conducts a series of country visits every year in order to share knowledge and good practices in the fight against human trafficking and to make tailor-made recommendations to the countries visited. The OSCE works together with participating States to eliminate human trafficking in all its forms.

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IFAP participates in African two-country KFIT needs assessment mission
IFAP participates in African two-country KFIT needs assessment mission

From 21 to 31 March, UNESCO undertook a needs assessment mission to Mozambique and Zimbabwe to support the implementation of the extra-budgetary project “ICTs transforming education in Africa”.

This 3-year extra-budgetary project funded by the Republic of Korea (ROK) through the Korean Funds in Trust (KFIT) facility has allocated some US$6 million to support ICT in education activities across three countries, namely Mozambique, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

In particular, the project will support the development and scaling-up of ICT-enhanced school curricula, strengthen the capacities of teachers to make effective pedagogical use of ICT, support higher education institutions in developing and applying Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and facilitate policy development including the use of the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template.

The team visiting Mozambique and Zimbabwe consisted of Mr. Fengchun Miao, Chief of UNESCO's ICT in Education Section, Mr. Paul Hector, Progamme Specialist with responsibility for the information for All Programme (IFAP), Mr. Hezekiel Dlamini, Advisor for Communication and Information in the Harare Office and Professor Kyoung Phil Joo, of the Korean National Open University.

The needs assessment mission provided an opportunity to engage with concerned UNESCO Field Offices and National Ministerial Teams who have a key role to play in supporting national ownership and implementation of the project. As part of this process a number of meetings were held with Ministers and senior government officials in key line ministries to clarify national priorities as well as specific institutional mandates and responsibilities. A number of field visits to schools, teacher training institutions, national ICT and community centers were invaluable in providing an understanding of the existing human capacity, technical infrastructure. Focus groups sessions workshops were especially useful in validating and enriching the external team's findings.

According to Mr. Abdoul Coulibaly, UNESCO Programme Specialist and Focal point for the Zimbabwe project, “the Needs Assessment mission was an opportune time as it allowed the National Team as well as well the UNESCO staff in the field to meet and discuss with actors and beneficiaries of the project, get acquainted with the template and get the necessary guidance toward its finalization.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by his counterpart, Mr. Noel Chicuecue, National Progamme Officer and focal point for the project in UNESCO's Mozambique Office, who felt that the assessment mission allowed local stakeholders to understand better the goals and focus of the project and provide relevant information on key issues and priority areas for Mozambique. The visit to institutions and partner organizations helped the mission to assess the conditions in which the project will operate” It was a useful exercise for the preparation of workplans by the country project team with technical assistance from the local UNESCO office.”

The mission was therefore successful in contributing to a shared vision of project priorities and modalities and for surfacing contextual challenges as well as opportunities critical to the project's success.

The mission also provided an opportunity to meet with the Secretary-Generals of the UNESCO National Commissions in both countries, to support their closer engagement in the KFIT project, to identify national IFAP projects and local IFAP champions. A visit to the national archives in Mozambique provided avenues for collaboration under the IFAP information preservation priority and with UNESCO Memory of the World (MOW) Programme.

Over the coming weeks national teams will finalize the draft needs assessment report prepared by the external team and develop detailed national implementation strategies. A regional consultation workshop to support coordination and sharing of experiences between the three national project teams is expected to take place in Harare in mid-May 2016.

The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks in the areas of information accessibility, information for development, information ethics, information literacy, information preservation and multilingualism.

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Press councils from South East Europe and Turkey discuss the challenges of online journalism at World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Helsinki
Press councils from South East Europe and Turkey discuss the challenges of online journalism at World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Helsinki

9 May 2016. To what extent have press councils adopted new ethical guidelines related to the online world and open journalism? Should ethical standards be the same for all journalists or should there be specific standards for bloggers and citizen journalists? These were some of the questions lively discussed by representatives of press councils from South East Europe and Turkey at a side-event of the World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Helsinki on 2 May 2016.

" In Serbia, the code of ethics has not been adapted to the digital era, yet the press council receives many complaints about online journalism. Most of these complaints deal with copyrights issues and it has become imperative for the press council to address this issue, said Nevena Krivokapić, a member of the Complaints Commission of the Press Council in Serbia.

The situation is quite similar for the other countries of the region. In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 78% of the breach of the code of ethics concerns online media, above all about non-balance reporting, the confusion between facts and comments or hate speech.

While online news sites and online-only media outlets are now members of most press councils in the world, there is no agreement if bloggers should be included in the system of media self-regulation. Debates indicated that divergences of opinions originated from the lack of common understanding on who is a blogger and who should be considered a journalist. Risto Uimonen, former Secretary General of the Finnish Media Council introduced the case of Finland where bloggers have until now been excluded from the media self-regulatory system. Conversely, Flip Voets from the Flemish Press Council explained why this body has adopted a different approach.

In this context, participants of the side-event from South East Europe and Turkey agreed that further discussion on these questions is needed to better understand the concrete implications of these challenges for their work and future. They also expressed the need for sharing best practices.

The side-event was organized by the Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the project “Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey”. Together with other press councils that are partners of the project, it sponsored the trips of participants from the whole region to Helsinki. This event will be followed by a regional training about online media ethics in Sarajevo in June 2016.

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Creating platforms for women’s lobbying strengthens democracies, say panelists at OSCE/ODIHR event in Warsaw
Creating platforms for women’s lobbying strengthens democracies, say panelists at OSCE/ODIHR event in Warsaw

Strengthening women's lobbying in public and political life in the OSCE region was the focus of a panel discussion in Warsaw on 13 May 2016, organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in co-operation with the Polish Congress of Women. The event was organized as part of the 8th Annual Congress of Women, which brought together some 5,000 women from Poland and across Europe.

Some 50 gender-equality advocates and speakers from Finland, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine attended the event, which served as a platform to exchange views and ideas concerning women's lobbying in the OSCE region, including good practices and lessons learned.

"The majority of OSCE participating States have not reached gender parity and the average rate of women in their parliaments currently stands at 25.7 per cent. Quite simply, women do not have adequate representation in decision-making," said Marcin Walecki, Head of ODIHR's Democratization Department. "There is a need to explore alternative approaches to advancing gender equality through building coalitions of women politicians, women parliamentarians, women's civil society organizations, and members of academia and other groups."

Iryna Lutsenko, a member of Ukraine's parliament, said: "Strengthening women's voices in public discourse means more than just having their opinions represented. It also has effects beyond women's status in societies, as they not only become more equitable, but democracies become stronger and more legitimate."

Eniko Pap, Legal Expert for the Hungarian Women's Lobby, said: "By using different approaches and lobbying techniques, women politicians and women's organizations can play a crucial role in advancing women's rights, including their participation in public and political life. If these efforts are complementary, grounded in the values of democracy and women's human rights, and utilize expertise and experiences in this field, their combined impact and advocacy can lead to tangible change and state action."

The event was organized as a part of ODIHR's continuing efforts to advance women's participation in decision-making, in line with OSCE commitments and international standards.

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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 12 May 2016
Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30hrs, 12 May 2016

This report is for media and the general public.

In Donetsk region, the SMM noted an increase in the number of recorded ceasefire violations compared with the previous day. In Luhansk region it continued to note a low level of ceasefire violations. The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair to essential infrastructure, and at one occasion “DPR” members prevented it from doing so.* The Mission monitored the situation affecting civilians in areas near the contact line. It monitored an area close to the border not under government control. The Mission observed a protest in Kyiv.

The SMM noted an increase in the number of ceasefire violations recorded in Donetsk region compared to the previous day, with double the number of explosions (41), yet relatively low compared to two days prior.[1] In the night hours of 11 May, whilst in Donetsk city centre, the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions and 33 single shots 5-10km north-north-west of its position. Positioned at the “DPR”-controlled Donetsk central railway station (6km north-west of Donetsk city centre) the SMM heard 22 undetermined explosions 3-5km north and north-north-west of its position. The SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk city centre) recorded one undetermined explosion 6km south of its position, as well as one undetermined projectile flying from south-south-west to north-east and one mortar round from south-east to east-south-east, at an undetermined distance.

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard, during the night of 11 May and early morning hours of the following day, five undetermined explosions, at least 20 bursts of automatic-grenade-launcher fire, 15 bursts of anti-aircraft-gun fire (ZU-23-2), at least 30 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, and more than 120 single shots of small-arms fire, 1-5km south-east of its position.

The SMM camera in government-controlled Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded 11 bursts of undetermined direct tracer rounds from south-east to north-west and subsequently five bursts of undetermined direct tracer rounds fired from west to east, all at an undetermined distance.

The situation in Luhansk region remained quiet, with one explosion recorded in government-controlled Putylyne (44km north-west of Luhansk) 5km south of the SMM's position. While positioned on the makeshift wooden structure connecting the pieces of the destroyed Stanytsia Luhanska bridge (16km north-east of Luhansk), the SMM heard one shot of small-arms fire 300m east of its position, and whilst north of the bridge, the SMM heard a single burst of machine gun fire, 600m north-west of its position.

Positioned in a government-controlled part of Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one explosion assessed as 120mm mortar fire, 2-3km north-west of its position. Whilst east of “LPR”-controlled Sokilnyky (39km north-west of Luhansk) the SMM heard, between 12:26 and 13:05, ten explosions assessed as caused by rocket-propelled grenades, ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, and 100 shots of small-arms fire 2-3km south of its position. Whilst in “LPR”-controlled Donetskyi (50km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard one undetermined loud explosion 5km north-west of its position.

In relation to the implementation of the Addendum to the Package of Measures, the SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site, whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines, and observed that three main battle tanks (MBT; T-72, 125mm) previously observed at that site were missing - two of them since 5 March 2016 (see SMM Daily Report 7 March).

The SMM also revisited a “DPR” permanent storage site, whose location corresponded with the withdrawal lines, and found that all weapons previously verified as withdrawn to the site were present.

Beyond the respective withdrawal lines, but outside permanent storage sites, the SMM observed 15 tanks at a training area in “LPR”-controlled Kruhlyk (31km south-west of Luhansk).

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons foreseen in the Minsk Package of Measures. The SMM has yet to receive the full information requested in the 16 October 2015 notification.

The SMM revisited locations known to the SMM as heavy weapons holding areas, even though they do not comply with the specific criteria set out for permanent storage sites in the 16 October 2015 notification.

In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM revisited such locations and observed 12 self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152 mm).

The SMM observed the presence of armoured combat vehicles within the security zone. The SMM observed one infantry fighting vehicle (BMP-2) stationary on a road in “DPR”-controlled Styla (34km south of Donetsk).

The SMM continued to observe the presence of unexploded ordnance and demining activity. In government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk), following reports from two local civilians (aged 40) about a booby trap in a private back yard, the SMM informed the Ukrainian Armed Forces commander in the area. One hour later, he confirmed to the SMM that the booby trap had been cleared. In a residential area of “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM observed the tail of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS; BM-27 Uragan, 220mm) rocket sticking 50cm out of the ground, which the SMM assessed to have been there since early 2015.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor adherence to the ceasefire to enable repair to essential infrastructure. In “DPR”-controlled Petrovskyi district (15km south-west of Donetsk city centre) two armed “DPR” members prevented the SMM from monitoring the progress of the repair works at the gas pipeline between Petrovskyi district and government-controlled Marinka (23km south-west of Donetsk) through an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).* The SMM monitored the repair works of 600m water pipeline in a government-controlled part of Zolote.

The SMM monitored the situation of civilians at checkpoints near the contact line. At a government checkpoint in Marinka, on several occasions during the day, the SMM observed in total 550 civilian vehicles, 10 buses and 500 pedestrians queuing to enter government-controlled areas and 525 civilian vehicles waiting to travel in the opposite direction. At the government checkpoint north of the bridge in Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM observed 40 civilian vehicles and ten buses in the nearby parking lot. The SMM also observed 150 pedestrians waiting to cross into government-controlled areas and some 40 pedestrians waiting on the other side, all of them passing the control procedure within ten minutes.

The SMM monitored one area close to the border not under government control. At the border crossing point in “LPR”-controlled Chervonopartizansk (64km south-east of Luhansk), the SMM observed 30 civilian cars queuing to cross to the Russian Federation, and some 35 civilian cars with Ukrainian license plates and three taxis parked at the border crossing point. The SMM observed five civilian cars and one bus all with Russian Federation licence plates crossing into Ukraine. Whilst in Chervonopartizansk, the SMM observed one cargo train with seven carts of coal moving towards “LPR”-controlled Sverdlovsk (60km south-east of Luhansk).

The SMM monitored the situation affecting civilians in areas near the contact line. Several residents (four females, aged 20-40) in government-controlled Toretsk (43km north of Donetsk) and “DPR”-controlled Debaltseve expressed to the SMM concerns about the economic situation and high unemployment rate. In government-controlled Pavlopil (26km north-east of Mariupol) two employees of the local administration told the SMM that since a mine incident on 3 May when a tractor hit an anti-tank mine the farmers in Pavlopil were afraid to work in the fields, although the mayor of Pavlopil said to the SMM that the field had been demined twice. In government-controlled Krasna Talivka (50km north-east of Luhansk), three civilians (female, aged 45-65) told the SMM that there were areas around the village mined since 2014, and that locals were afraid to cultivate the fields. In government-controlled Hrechyshkyne (45km north-west of Luhansk) the head of the village council informed the SMM that their premises in Hrechyshkyne had been without power supply since 29 April. During the meeting with the head of the village council, the SMM was able to confirm the lack of electricity in the building.

In Kyiv the SMM monitored a protest of 300 individuals (men and women of various ages) in front of the Parliament, against changing the name of Kirovohrad city (206km west of Dnepropetrovsk), as foreseen in the de-communization laws and against utilization of Russian language in public settings and government proceedings. The SMM heard some of the participants voice their protest also against interruption of pension payment for Chernobyl veterans. The SMM observed 30 police and 20 National Guard officers. The Parliament building was cordoned off by security personnel. The SMM observed that the latter were checking the identification documents and bags of individuals entering the area near the Parliament. Later, the SMM observed nine white National Guard buses, including some180 National Guard officers, present at the site. The protest ended peacefully.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, and Chernivtsi.

*Restrictions to SMM's freedom of movement or other impediments to the fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM's monitoring is restrained by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines and unexploded ordnance, and by restrictions of its freedom of movement and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM's mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM's freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations.

Denial of access:

  • In “LPR”-controlled Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk), a civilian vehicle overtook and stopped in front of the SMM vehicle on the way to the border crossing point to “LPR”-controlled Krasnodarskyi (56km south-east of Luhansk). An unarmed “LPR”- member denied further access to the SMM towards Krasnodarskyi, claiming that the SMM had no permission from his superiors. He wrote down the names of the SMM members and the number plates of the SMM vehicles. The SMM left, escorted by the civilian vehicle until near “LPR”-controlled Izvaryne (53km south-east of Luhansk). The SMM informed the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC).
  • The SMM attempted to monitor the repair works at the gas pipeline in Petrovskyi district through a UAV, but a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer at the JCCC said that the SMM needed the permission of the “DPR” “commander” to fly a UAV. Two armed “DPR” members, who refused to identify themselves, threatened to shoot down the SMM UAV if it was launched. The Russian Armed Forces representative at the JCCC subsequently addressed this restriction and facilitated access for the SMM, but by that time weather conditions precluded launch of the UAV.

Delay:

  • In government-controlled Solodke (77km north of Mariupol), a Ukrainian Armed Forces soldier prevented the SMM from entering a compound. The SMM left, but one hour later, his commanding officer authorised SMM access to the compound. The SMM informed the JCCC.

[1] Pease see the annexed table for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report.

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Migration crisis requires a Europe-wide response, OSCE parliamentarians’ visit to Calais confirms
Migration crisis requires a Europe-wide response, OSCE parliamentarians’ visit to Calais confirms

CALAIS, 11 May 2016 – The refugee and migrant crisis is impacting all of Europe with implications in humanitarian, economic and security dimensions, and therefore requires a continent-wide, multidimensional response, said parliamentarians at the conclusion of a field visit to Calais today.

Visiting the encampment commonly known as “the jungle” and nearby reception centers on the outskirts of Calais, France, members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee on Migration spoke today with refugees and migrants – many of whom hope to reach the United Kingdom by attempting to cross the English Channel – to hear their stories and see first-hand their living conditions.

The visit also included a briefing Tuesday in the French Interior Ministry on the migrant situation in the Calais region, and working meetings in Calais with various government officials and non-governmental organizations. Following a field visit to the temporary reception centres in the Calais camp including facilities for women and children, the delegation visited another camp near Dunkirk set up by the local mayor and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

“Some call this encampment ‘the jungle,' but the real jungle is the jumbled and sometimes conflicting interests and policy responses coming from European capitals. To effectively deal with this crisis, we need more equitable responsibility-sharing and better integration measures to ensure that migrants can contribute to society,” said Ad Hoc Committee on Migration Chair Filippo Lombardi (MP, Switzerland).

OSCE PA Vice-President Alain Neri (MP, France), who hosted the delegation of seven parliamentarians, added that conflict resolution and economic development in countries of origin must be considered part of the overall European response to the migration crisis.

“While the Calais migrant encampment is not a new phenomenon for France, it has taken on a greater urgency as the migration crisis has escalated in the past two years. Seeing first-hand the conditions in which many migrants live gives an indication of the severe difficulties that many thousands of migrants face on a daily basis. While we must work to improve the situation for refugees forced to flee their homes and live in these camps, we must also redouble our efforts to bring peace and prosperity to countries of origin,” Neri said.

“In Calais, we saw that the State can and must intervene to improve the conditions in the camps, in co-operation with local associations and NGOs,” he added.

After seeing the camps, committee members stressed the need for European countries and international organizations to work in co-operation to respond in a coherent, equitable and humane way to this challenge, including through burden-sharing and increased funding for those countries most affected. The parliamentarians applauded the work of aid workers to provide decent living conditions to migrants and refugees in the encampments.

Members of the Committee pledged to continue their efforts through the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to find practical policy solutions to the complex problem. They noted that the OSCE, with its 57 participating States, remains a useful and appropriate body for consideration of migration challenges due to its comprehensive approach to security including political and security questions; economic issues; and human rights and humanitarian questions.

In addition to Neri and Lombardi, members of the parliamentary delegation to Calais included OSCE parliamentarians from Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey, including leaders of the OSCE PA's general committees on humanitarian and security affairs. Lord Alfred Dubs, a member of the British OSCE PA delegation who has recently led a campaign in the United Kingdom to pressure his government to accept more unaccompanied children from camps in Europe as refugees, plans to also visit the Calais region in the near future.

The OSCE PA's Ad Hoc Committee on Migration was established following a unanimous decision taken by the Standing Committee at the OSCE PA's Winter Meeting on 25 February 2016 in Vienna. It serves as a focal point for the OSCE PA's work in the field of migration in all three dimensions of the OSCE: political and security questions; economic issues; and human rights and humanitarian questions. The Calais field visit is the first official activity of the Ad Hoc Committee, whose future plans include visits to Turkey, Greece and Lampedusa, Italy.

Senior OSCE PA officials have previously engaged with the topic of migration and refugees through field visits including in Turkey and Italy, and have held several high-level debates on the topic.

For more information on the Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, including its full membership and mandate, please click here.

For further information on the field visit to Calais, contact OSCE PA Programme Officer Farimah Daftary,farimah@oscepa.dk, +45 6010 8890.

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OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities calls for renewed dialogue between all political and social actors in Croatia
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities calls for renewed dialogue between all political and social actors in Croatia

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors visited Croatia from 9 to 10 May 2016. During her visit, Thors focused on promoting the effective implementation of the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities, in particular the provisions regarding languages and scripts; on education matters; and, on issues pertaining to national minorities and good neighbourly relations.

Concerned that marginalizing or stigmatizing national minorities poses a threat to the cohesion of society and to bilateral relations, Thors urged the systematic condemnation of discriminatory rhetoric or conduct.

“Divisive rhetoric has proven a dangerous path. The more diversity, the richer a society is, as different cultures are the shared wealth of all,” Thors said. “It is crucial to foster a sense of belonging for all members of society in order to effectively promote the integration process,” she added. Thors called for ensuring the protection of the rights of national minorities whilst avoiding polarization of the society along ethnic lines, consistent with The Ljubljana Guidelines on the Integration of Diverse Societies, published by HCNM in 2012.

The High Commissioner also emphasized the need for a renewed dialogue between all political and social actors to overcome difficulties, including those related to the protection of minority rights, in a consultative manner. In this context, Thors welcomed the thorough process of the curricular reform and reiterated her support to teaching of a common curriculum, regardless of the instruction language, as an effective way to integrate diverse societies and provide for common points of understanding.

Thors was encouraged by the prospect of further co-operation with Croatian institutions. She also welcomed the attention given to the existing joint bilateral inter-governmental commissions. “Co-ordination of efforts with neighbouring countries in this field and the active role played by all ministries under the auspices of the State Office of Croats Abroad could consolidate the shared European aspirations in the neighbourhood,” Thors noted.

The High Commissioner met a variety of key interlocutors in Zagreb. These included Zdravka Bušić, Deputy Foreign Minister; Dubravka Jurlina Alibegović, Minister of Public Administration; Predrag Šustar, Minister of Science, Education and Sports; Furio Radin, Milorad Pupovac, Ivan Radić, and Marko Sladojev, Chairperson and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Human and National Minority Rights, respectively; Aleksandar Tolnauer, President of the Council for National Minorities; Lora Vidović, Ombudsman; Branko Sočana, Director of the Government Office for Human Rights and Rights of the National Minorities; and Zvonko Milas, Head of the State Office for Croats Abroad.

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Donald Trump’s cunning plan
Donald Trump’s cunning plan

SAM CLOVIS, an adviser to Donald Trump, claimed this week that his candidate had a plan including "other factors we are going to propose" that will generate a budget surplus of between $4.5 trillion-7 trillion. That would be remarkable given that the Tax Foundation estimates that his planned tax cuts will reduce revenues by more than $10 trillion or that the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget puts the total cost of his announced plans at $12 trillion. That is because his proposals include big tax cuts (mainly benefiting the wealthy), and the protection of Social Security and Medicare (bar an impossible claim to save $300 billion on drugs spending when Medicare spent $62 billion on drugs last year).

But it is hard...

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Growing forced displacement in the department of Chocó, Western Colombia
Growing forced displacement in the department of Chocó, Western Colombia
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Colombia

n the past two months, more than 6,000 people have fled their homes to escape armed clashes between illegal groups fighting for territorial control of the area, as well as ongoing hostilities in the context of the country's civil war.

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 13 May 2016, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In Colombia, UNHCR is seeing increased recent forced displacement in the department of Chocó, in the country's west. In the past two months alone, more than 6,000 people have fled their homes to escape armed clashes between illegal groups fighting for territorial control of the area, as well as ongoing hostilities in the context of the country's civil war. An additional 7,000 people have found their movements severely restricted because of the fighting, which is concentrated around the Baudo, Atrato and San Juan rivers.

To date, the displacement has mostly affected Afro-Colombians and indigenous people. For these people access to livelihoods, including fishing, hunting and agriculture, has been completely cut off and their children are no longer able to go to school.

The magnitude of the situation has overwhelmed the local authorities' ability to respond to basic needs, including food, healthcare, shelter and psychological support. UNHCR is working in close coordination with the Colombian authorities and other humanitarian agencies to provide emergency assistance and logistical support to the displaced communities.

The Government of Colombia is meanwhile in the final stages of a peace dialogue with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the principal guerrilla force in the country, and recently announced the launch of formal negotiations with another group, the National Liberation Army (ELN). The peace dialogue, launched in 2012, aims to put an end to more than 50 years of armed conflict with the FARC, which has generated close to 7 million internally displaced people and 350,000 Colombian refugees, living mainly in Ecuador and Venezuela.

UNHCR today urgently calls on all parties to the conflict to guarantee the safety of the civilian population. This includes refraining from establishing military bases in or near civilian settlements and carrying out bombing raids in these areas. It is also essential to address the structural causes of displacement, including control over territory and resources.

Ending the forced displacement of Colombian internally displaced people and refugees is critical to the establishment of sustainable peace in Colombia and to the country's socioeconomic recovery. Failing to reintegrate internally displaced people and returnees will jeopardize the success of the fragile transition period and increases the risk of new displacements.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Mexico city, Francesca Fontanini +52 1 55 91972690, fontanin@unhcr.org In Geneva, Nora Sturm +41 79 200 7618, sturmn@unhcr.org In Geneva, William Spindler, +41 79 217 3011, spindler@unhcr.org

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Connectivity for Commerce and Investment: OSCE Business Conference to strengthen economic ties across OSCE area
Connectivity for Commerce and Investment: OSCE Business Conference to strengthen economic ties across OSCE area

VIENNA/BERLIN, 13 May 2016 – Germany's 2016 OSCE Chairmanship will hold an international business conference under the theme “Connectivity for Commerce and Investment” on 18 and 19 May in Berlin. The conference, taking place in the German Foreign Office, will be opened by Chairperson-in-Office and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

For the first time in the OSCE context, representatives from politics, economy and civil society from different regions and economic systems of the OSCE area will come together for this business conference. It aims to explore trade and investment opportunities in the OSCE area and thus to strengthen economic ties from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

Participants will discuss topics of economic connectivity such as infrastructure projects, transport corridors, trade, energy safety and digital connectivity.

Further information on the conference can be found here: www.OSCEconnectivity.org.

Journalists are invited to the opening session from 11:00 to 13:30 on Wednesday, 18 May, at the Federal Foreign Office/Auswärtiges Amt, Werderscher Markt 1, Berlin. Access for journalists to the Foreign Office will be possible from 09:00.

Advance registration of journalists is mandatory. Journalists must e-mail their first and last names as well as the media they represent no later than 16:00, 17 May, to presse@diplo.de.

The opening session will be streamed live at www.osce.org/live and www.diplo.de.

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Key Libyan and international partners unite to adopt an action plan for Libya’s heritage
Key Libyan and international partners unite to adopt an action plan for Libya’s heritage

infocus_dpl_libya_leptis_magna.jpg

Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Libya)
© UNESCO/Francesco Bandarin

Key UNESCO partners joined with the Organization to approve a new action plan to address emergency and short term interventions for the safeguarding of Libya's cultural heritage following a three-day international expert meeting in the Tunisian capital this week.

Organized with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Libya and in close cooperation with the Department of Antiquities of Libya and several Libyan institutions, UNESCO and ICCROM, the meeting was meant to develop a shared understanding of the country's cultural preservation. Participants agreed on medium and long term shared actions, with the participation of national and international stakeholders, and civil society actors. Areas of concern included cultural heritage preservation including archaeological sites, museums and urban heritage.

More than 80 participants attended the meeting, “Safeguarding Libyan Cultural Heritage,” among them representatives from the Ministry of Culture of Libya, various local offices of the Department of Antiquities, the Historic Cities Authority, the National Archives in Tripoli, the Directorate of Customs, Tourist and Antiquities Police, criminal investigative police, universities, the Intangible Heritage Centre in Saba, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides of Libya.

Other participants included UNESCO's institutional partners INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, UNITAR/UNOSAT, ICOMOS, ICOM, ALECSO, the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institution, the Prince Claus Foundation, among others.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to explore the wide potential of culture in supporting humanitarian response, reconciliation, social cohesion and dialogue. The crucial role of civil society, and in particular youth, was emphasized in achieving these goals.

At the closing of the meeting, Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya highlighted the central role of culture and identity in the context of Libya, and the necessity to protect cultural heritage from illicit trafficking and intentional destruction. “Culture is a soft power,” he said, adding, “it shall be brought high up in the agenda of the ongoing reconciliation process.”

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Lady Susan: Austen’s scheming and seductive anti-heroine
Lady Susan: Austen’s scheming and seductive anti-heroine

JANE AUSTEN carries a lot of cultural baggage. “Austenian”, to some, brings up associations of ironic social commentary and eloquent drawing-room heroines. For others, it signifies a soaked Colin Firth, an obsession with matchmaking and tightly-corseted dresses.

Forget all this. It is Austen's supposed predictability that is subverted by “Love & Friendship”, the first film adaptation of “Lady Susan”, directed by Whit Stillman. Written in 1795 but published almost a century later in 1871, the brief epistolary work is a satire of the tropes and narratives that Austen has become known for. Instead, “Love & Friendship” provides us with a manipulative, vain and conniving protagonist who is more than willing to give into temptation. These same moral failings make her a delightful, dynamic woman who, though causing chaos wherever she goes, is immensely likeable.

Lady Susan (played by Kate Beckinsale) first appears on screen dramatically fleeing the home of the Manwaring family. She has seduced Lord Manwaring, and he pursues her to her carriage while his distraught wife screams from the doorway....

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Director-General condemns the murder of journalistKhurram Zaki in Pakistan
Director-General condemns the murder of journalistKhurram Zaki in Pakistan

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today denounced the killing of journalist Khurram Zaki in the city of Karachi on 7 May.

“I condemn the murder of Khurram Zaki,” the Director-General said. “I call on the authorities to bring the perpetrators of this crime to trial, so as to deter others from using violence to stifle freedom of expression and prevent the people of Pakistan from engaging in free and informed debate.”

Khurram Zaki, an outspoken human rights activist and former television news journalist, was the editor of an online webstite, Let us Build Pakistan. He was shot by unidentified assailants.

The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization's General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.

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Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at)unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

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Director-General condemns the murder of journalist Khurram Zaki in Pakistan
Director-General condemns the murder of journalist Khurram Zaki in Pakistan

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today denounced the killing of journalist Khurram Zaki in the city of Karachi on 7 May.

“I condemn the murder of Khurram Zaki,” the Director-General said. “I call on the authorities to bring the perpetrators of this crime to trial, so as to deter others from using violence to stifle freedom of expression and prevent the people of Pakistan from engaging in free and informed debate.”

Khurram Zaki, an outspoken human rights activist and former television news journalist, was the editor of an online webstite, Let us Build Pakistan. He was shot by unidentified assailants.

The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization's General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.

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Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at)unesco.org, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

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OSCE meeting in Berlin to focus on good governance, ways to reinforce security and stability through cooperation
OSCE meeting in Berlin to focus on good governance, ways to reinforce security and stability through cooperation

VIENNA/BERLIN, 13 May 2016 – Officials and experts from 57 OSCE participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation countries, as well as high-level representatives from international organizations, civil society, academic and business community will meet from 19 to 20 May in Berlin to discuss good economic governance and labour migration in the OSCE area – the ways to reinforce security and stability through co-operation.

The meeting, part of the 24th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum, will be opened by Gernot Erler, Special Representative of the Federal Government of Germany for the 2016 OSCE Chairmanship and Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities Halil Yurdakul Yiğitgüden.

Keynote speakers will be Chairman of the Advisory Council and founder of Transparency International Peter Eigen, and Director of European and International Relations of ENGIE and Chair of the ICC Commission on Corporate Responsibility and Anti-corruption Denis Simonneau.

Journalists are invited to the opening session from 9:00 to 10:30 on Thursday, 19 May, at the Federal Foreign Office/Auswärtiges Amt, Werderscher Markt 1, Berlin. Journalists wishing to attend are required to send e-mail confirming their attendance to press@osce.org, no later than 14:00, 18 May.

The opening session will be streamed live at www.osce.org/live and www.diplo.de.

For interviews with other participants of the event, please send requests to press@osce.org. Follow the Forum on Twitter via #EEFOSCE. A detailed agenda can be accessed here.

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GE, Miller Centre to mentor Africa maternal, child health innovators
GE, Miller Centre to mentor Africa maternal, child health innovators

GE and Silicon Valley-based Santa Clara University's Miller Centre for Social Entrepreneurship have announced a partnership to host a training programme for social entrepreneurs working on maternal and child health innovations in sub-Saharan Africa.

The “healthymagination” mother and child programme aims to help social enterprises addressing maternal and/or child health strengthen their business models, refine business plans, reinforce organisational development, manage talent, and learn how to scale sustainably.

The programme includes six months of online training during which participants will be matched with a Silicon Valley leader who will mentor them on how to develop a scalable enterprise.

The programme begins in July with an in-person event in Nairobi; and ends with an investor showcase in February 2017, also in Nairobi.

Between 15 and 20 entrepreneurs will be selected to join the programme, with applications open to entrepreneurs from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, South Africa, Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Senegal.

“This programme supports GE's long track record in developing innovations for emerging markets while increasing positive health outcomes,” said Sue Siegel, chief executive officer (CEO) of GE Ventures and healthymagination.

“We are excited to join Miller Centre to accelerate the growth of social enterprises and commercialize innovative ideas while serving as a resource for entrepreneurs working to improve access, affordability and quality of maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa.”

“We share GE's healthymagination vision for innovating new ways to address global health challenges. The partnership between GE and Miller Centre highlights the potential for social entrepreneurship to improve maternal and child health in a region of the world that has limited access to skilled health care providers,” said Dr Thane Kreiner, executive director of the Miller Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.

Applications are open here, until May 18.

The post GE, Miller Centre to mentor Africa maternal, child health innovators appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Implications of migration and refugee crisis for the European security discussed at OSCE-ELIAMEP event in Athens
Implications of migration and refugee crisis for the European security discussed at OSCE-ELIAMEP event in Athens

Challenges posed by the migration and refugee flows and their impact on European security was the focus of an event jointly organized by the OSCE and the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) in Athens on 10 May 2016. The security implications of mass movements of people for regional and sub-regional stability, the role of international organizations, and co-operation and co-ordination among relevant actors, were among the issues highlighted.

Alternate Foreign Minister of Greece Nikos Xydakis opened the event, which brought together over 90 participants from the Greek Foreign Ministry and Athens's diplomatic, academic and media communities.

In his keynote address, OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier warned that migration had emerged as a new fault line cutting across Europe. “As the representative of an Organization that traces its roots to the successful attempt of over forty years ago to overcome the divides of the Cold War, I cannot but underline the need to build bridges – not walls – to protect our common prosperity and security,” he said. He underlined that beyond the humanitarian emergency and short-term responses, we needed also long-term approaches to address the root causes of migration. “On the strength of its comprehensive approach to security, the OSCE intends to play its part in avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines in Europe and in working towards effective solutions to migration-related challenges,” Zannier stressed.

Zannier's remarks were followed by a panel discussion among Claude Wild, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the OSCE and Chair of newly-created Informal Working Group on Migration and Refugee Flows; Nina Suomalainen, Head of the OSCE Mission to Skopje; Saban Kardas, Director of Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies in Ankara; and Monika Ekstrom, Head of Political Reporting and Policy Analysis of the Representation of the European Commission in Greece.

Panelists agreed that the phenomenon of migration will most likely be an issue for decades and emphasized a need for long-term solutions and enhanced co-operation among relevant national and international actors. “Today we are experiencing a migration governance crisis as we were not prepared for this challenge. What we need is a comprehensive ‘smart' response that reconciles both human and state security,” Wild said.

Suomalainen added that the OSCE was already doing a lot in the field of migration but what was needed in many areas was refocusing or updating of available mechanisms and tools.

Turning to larger geopolitical implications of the current crisis, Kardas noted that the reactive manner in which the EU had handled the instability in the Middle East and the resulting refugee crisis had weakened not only the internal solidarity within the EU but also its external credibility. “As a result, the erosion of trust between the EU and Turkey hindered a more effective and constructive partnership between the two actors in addressing the refugee challenge,” Kardas said. He stressed the importance of strengthening the resilience of local communities and infrastructure which are struggling to manage such a large influx of people.

This event in Athens was organized on the initiative of H.E. Dora Bakoyannis, former OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and currently member of the Greek Parliament and of the Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security. The event contributed to an evolving dialogue on migration trends in and around the OSCE area launched at the OSCE Security Days in Rome on 4 March 2016.

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SA travel startup Big5Boutique relaunches as Timbuktu
SA travel startup Big5Boutique relaunches as Timbuktu

South African travel startup Big5Boutique has relaunched and rebranded as Timbuktu after raising funding last year.

Big5Boutique has been around a couple of years, but now reappears as Timbuktu with a new tech stack after raising funding from United Kingdom (UK)-based travel business veteran Giles Trotter and CRE Venture Capital.

Timbuktu's interactive platform allows travellers to choose, chop and change an itinerary, and send through enquiries direct to people on the ground in Africa.

The startup describes its model as “driving a machete between the traveller and the traditional travel agent”, allowing safari-goers to do more of the choosing and booking themselves. African safaris have always been notoriously exclusive and complicated to plan and book, with Timbuktu looking to address this issue.

Users are offered a large selection of trip options and itineraries, which they can choose and amend in order to create a journey that suits their needs and budget. Once a satisfactory trip is saved, enquiries can be sent directly to experts on the ground.

Co-founder Johnny Prince came up with the idea while running a traditional tour operator in the UK, where he saw the changing market and the growing desire for people to be more involved in the fun planning of their trips.

“The African safari industry is ripe for disruption. The tools have not been available for people to take control of the planning process themselves,” he said.

Initially, the business will be focused on Europe, the United States (US) and South Africa source markets, with Africa as the destination. Long term, the plan is to expand to a global market.

“In five years time we want Timbuktu to be the website which people turn to in order to create their own trip to far-flung locations around the world,” said Prince.

The post SA travel startup Big5Boutique relaunches as Timbuktu appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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Want to scale your startup to Korea? Here’s how
Want to scale your startup to Korea? Here’s how

The South Korean government is inviting applications from tech startups worldwide to its K-Startup Grand Challenge, in a bid to attract foreign entrepreneurs to Korea and transform the country into an entrepreneurial hub.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge will see applicants participate in a pitching week, following which 40 startups from around the world will be selected to join a three month accelerator programme.

During the accelerator, startups will receive office space, mentorship, information sessions, business skills training, education on Korean culture, and access to networks.

Each startup will receive a US$4,100 monthly subsidy to cover living expenses, return airfares for three team members, and visas.

The programme culminates in a Demo Day, at which 20 winning teams will be chosen to remain in Korea for a further six months, and will receive a financial package to further build their businesses.

Each of the 20 winning startups will be awarded US$33,000; while the top four teams will receive additional grants of US$100,000 for the first place, US$40,000 for second, US$20,000 for third, and US$6,000 for fourth.

A number of funds will also look to make further investments in return for equity.

The government said the incubator hopes to attract the world's top startups to Korea, and to transform the Seoul's Pangyo Valley into the “Silicon Valley of the Asian region”.

Applications are open until June 14, here.

The post Want to scale your startup to Korea? Here's how appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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SpaceBox brings on-demand storage to SA
SpaceBox brings on-demand storage to SA

SpaceBox is bringing the on-demand storage model perfected in cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong to South Africa, allowing customers to arrange storage of items online.

Launched in June last year, SpaceBox is a valet-style on demand storage service. Users can create an online inventory of items, which they store with the startup. The platform allows the user to request any stored item to be delivered at a desired place and time within 24 hours.

To facilitate storage and delivery, SpaceBox has partnered with storage company XtraSpace.

“SpaceBox provide storage to our customers at a much more affordable rate than what customers would otherwise pay at another self-storage facility,” chief executive officer (CEO) Hjalmar Venter told Disrupt Africa.

“Customers only pay for the space they use. Included in the monthly storage rental cost is the initial delivery and pickup costs, our online platform and even the rental of our high quality security containers should you not have a box of your own. It's clear, flexible and simple.”

The startup was founded after Venter identified an increasing demand for a service-driven but technology-powered storage offering.

“The inevitable evolution of the storage business in the 21st century meant it would go online. The younger generation ‘live' online. They're not afraid of e-commerce. This is an industry that will grow with this generation,” he said.

SpaceBox was initially launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and recently also rolled out in Durban. Venter said the startup has plans to expand further afield.

“This valet-styled storage service is proving to be a success across the world in cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong, to name a few,” he said. “International expansion should therefore be a goal, and the opportunities in neighbouring countries seem to be a logical next step.”

The company works on a flexible, month-to-month storage rental model, charging ZAR99 (US$7) per box, per month.

“Taking into account our world-class online platform, investments in safety and security, warehousing and on-demand distribution included, it's very affordable,” Venter said, adding that registered users will also be eligible for promotions and giveaways.

He believes South African startups face a “tough culture”, and need to be entrepreneurial in spirit to keep going and believe in what they are doing.

“And it's tricky to sell a service that few people even know exists. My goal is really to educate the market and show them how we can improve their lives,” he said.

With this in mind, SpaceBox has been testing out a number of marketing avenues.

“We're testing everything. If it doesn't work – we try something else! The science comes once you've performed the art. The science is in the measurement. And we're still creating awareness right now,” Venter said.

SpaceBox uses both digital and offline marketing, with pamphlets and flyer drops part of its direct marketing strategy.

“I do believe that email marketing facilitates better engagement as a non-disruptive form of communication. We are making use of Google AdWords and Google banner advertising is also being tested,” Venter said.

“A social media presence is crucial to building awareness and facilitating engagement with consumers since SpaceBox is an online service and we need to be where our customers are – online. It's still early days.”

The post SpaceBox brings on-demand storage to SA appeared first on Disrupt Africa.

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