Daily Archives: April 10, 2019

OECD: Aid Drops for Some of World’s Neediest Countries

PARIS The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said aid from donor nations fell last year, compared to 2017, with some of the neediest countries feeling the pinch. The OECD’s new report, which raises concerns about meeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The OECD report released Wednesday finds that official donor aid among its member states was down 2.7 percent in 2018. One of the biggest declines was in humanitarian assistance � down 8 percent compared to 2017. Aid to African countries fell 4 percent.

Trends are a concern

The OECD’s head of development aid statistics, Yasmin Ahmad, says if support to refugees is taken out of the equation � in some cases because of fewer arrivals � the overall aid figure would remain unchanged. Ahmad, however, says the message is still alarming.

“The OECD considers these trends quite worrisome because it shows that most donors are not actually living up to the commitment that they made in 2015, which was to increase their aid, Ahmad said.

Ahmad said separate OECD findings also show foreign direct investment to developing countries dropped by about one-third from 2016 to 2017, among other downward trends.

“What is particularly concerning as well is that (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals which are global, are supposed to happen � and this drop in aid does not look good for being able to achieve these goals by 2030, Ahmad said.

Reasons vary

The reasons for the downturn vary. In Europe, some countries spent less on refugee assistance because fewer refugees arrived last year. Russian assistance dropped by more than 14 percent, reflecting an overall decline in its aid program. The United States cut foreign aid by 5 percent last year, including to Africa, although it remains the biggest donor.

“However, this amount only represents only 0.17 (percent) of its gross national income, which places it well below the average of the (OECD) Development Assistance Committee � the average being 0.31 percent, Ahmad said.

The OECD report finds a few bright spots. More than half a dozen countries worldwide met the U.N. aid spending target of point-7 percent of GDP. And several, including France and Turkey, have increased development assistance.

Source: Voice of America

UN Chief Calls for Cease-Fire in Libya

UNITED NATIONS U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to the fighting that erupted last week between Libyan political rivals for control of the capital, Tripoli.

It’s still time to stop. It’s still time for a cease-fire to take place, for a cessation of hostilities to take place and to avoid the worst, which would be a dramatic bloody battle for Tripoli, Guterres told reporters late Wednesday after he met behind closed doors with the 15-nation U.N. Security Council for more than two hours.

It is still time to recognize there is no military solution. Only political solutions can apply to situations like the one in Libya, he said.

Guterres visited Libya last week. Just hours after he departed the country, forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Haftar advanced from their positions in the east on Tripoli, which is controlled by the U.N.-backed Presidential Council and Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Guterres met with both men during his mission.

It is obvious that my appeal for an offensive not to take place and for the hostilities to stop was not heard, the U.N. chief said. But I think that when one looks at the situation today, it is clear that we have a very dangerous situation, and it is clear that we absolutely need to stop it.

National conference canceled

The fighting has scuttled U.N. plans for a national conference Sunday to bring the warring parties together. The U.N. said Tuesday that it is postponing it, as violence is overshadowing the political process.

On Wednesday, fighting centered on the suburbs south of the capital, with thousands of civilians fleeing their homes for safety. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says more than 5,800 people have been displaced in this latest round of violence.

Residents in the city report Haftar’s warplanes were buzzing neighborhoods and firing at them. Fighting was also reported at what had been the country’s international airport.

The U.N. has expressed concern at the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas and called on the parties to abide by international law and to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.

Fears for region

U.N. officials fear the violence in Libya could destabilize the entire Middle East by sending more refugees fleeing to Europe across the dangerous Mediterranean, disrupting oil production, and allowing terrorist groups such as Islamic State to take advantage of the chaos.

South Africa’s U.N. ambassador, Jerry Matjila, told reporters after the meeting that the Security Council is united in supporting the U.N. chief and his special envoy, Ghassan Salame, to get the parties back to the negotiating table.

Matjila also expressed concern about how the worsening situation could reverberate on the African continent.

Fears for Africans

Also, our concern is Africans, about what might happen in the Sahel if the issue is not resolved, he said. We are also concerned about migrants who are trapped in some cities in Libya, and we need to give those migrants at least a corridor to go out to safety.

There are thousands of African migrants who have tried to transit through Libya across the Mediterranean to Europe. Many are in overcrowded detention centers in Libya.

Libya has been in political and economic chaos since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

Source: Voice of America

UN Chief Calls for Cease-Fire in Libya

UNITED NATIONS U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to the fighting that erupted last week between Libyan political rivals for control of the capital, Tripoli.

It’s still time to stop. It’s still time for a cease-fire to take place, for a cessation of hostilities to take place and to avoid the worst, which would be a dramatic bloody battle for Tripoli, Guterres told reporters late Wednesday after he met behind closed doors with the 15-nation U.N. Security Council for more than two hours.

It is still time to recognize there is no military solution. Only political solutions can apply to situations like the one in Libya, he said.

Guterres visited Libya last week. Just hours after he departed the country, forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Haftar advanced from their positions in the east on Tripoli, which is controlled by the U.N.-backed Presidential Council and Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Guterres met with both men during his mission.

It is obvious that my appeal for an offensive not to take place and for the hostilities to stop was not heard, the U.N. chief said. But I think that when one looks at the situation today, it is clear that we have a very dangerous situation, and it is clear that we absolutely need to stop it.

National conference canceled

The fighting has scuttled U.N. plans for a national conference Sunday to bring the warring parties together. The U.N. said Tuesday that it is postponing it, as violence is overshadowing the political process.

On Wednesday, fighting centered on the suburbs south of the capital, with thousands of civilians fleeing their homes for safety. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says more than 5,800 people have been displaced in this latest round of violence.

Residents in the city report Haftar’s warplanes were buzzing neighborhoods and firing at them. Fighting was also reported at what had been the country’s international airport.

The U.N. has expressed concern at the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas and called on the parties to abide by international law and to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.

Fears for region

U.N. officials fear the violence in Libya could destabilize the entire Middle East by sending more refugees fleeing to Europe across the dangerous Mediterranean, disrupting oil production, and allowing terrorist groups such as Islamic State to take advantage of the chaos.

South Africa’s U.N. ambassador, Jerry Matjila, told reporters after the meeting that the Security Council is united in supporting the U.N. chief and his special envoy, Ghassan Salame, to get the parties back to the negotiating table.

Matjila also expressed concern about how the worsening situation could reverberate on the African continent.

Fears for Africans

Also, our concern is Africans, about what might happen in the Sahel if the issue is not resolved, he said. We are also concerned about migrants who are trapped in some cities in Libya, and we need to give those migrants at least a corridor to go out to safety.

There are thousands of African migrants who have tried to transit through Libya across the Mediterranean to Europe. Many are in overcrowded detention centers in Libya.

Libya has been in political and economic chaos since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

Source: Voice of America