Issues & Analysis
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AFGHANISTAN, ON THE MEDIA: Badakhshan’s journalists discuss media’s role in women empowerment

wadsam.com, July 29, 2016 – Three experts on women empowerment and more than 60 journalists gathered at Feyzabad’s women’s centre to discuss the media’s role in women empowerment. The event was hosted by the Social Association of Journalists in North Afghanistan (SAJNA) and the Afghan-German Cooperation.

The result of the event was that media has a crucial responsibility in promoting women’s participation in society. It has the power to spread messages and raise awareness for the challenges women face. Most importantly, media has given women a voice which has allowed them to actively engage with the Afghan government, interest groups and society at large.

The meeting was attended by three Afghan experts Zofnun Hesam Natiq, Director of the Department of Women Affairs (DoWA) in Badakhshan, Najia Sorush, women’s rights activist and Nasima Sahar, representative of the Afghan-German Cooperation.

Natiq underlined the Afghan society’s need for women’s participation: “A country cannot develop in a sustainable way if half the society is excluded from the process.” She added: “Today, I would like to invite all Afghan media to help women in assuming their role in society. Let us show how capable, skilled and strong Afghan women are.”

Najia Sorush highlighted the crucial role media has played in the past in strengthening Afghan women: “Media not only changed the minds of women, but more importantly, it changed the minds of men as well. Men increasingly provide support for the women around them.”

Nasima laid out the Afghan-German Cooperation’s wide range of activities for women: “In Badakhshan, the German government provided funding for the construction of a dormitory for female students, a women’s garden and an education centre. Furthermore, in conducting internship and training programs for women in areas such as IT, English, tailoring, food processing and disaster prevention, the German government supports women empowerment as well.

During the second part of the media meeting, the Q&A session, the experts answered questions from more than 60 national and local TV, radio and newspaper outlets. When asked about her expectation in the media landscape, Zonfnun replied: “I wish to see more investigative and in-depth reports on gender-related topics, because it makes stakeholders realise that they are accountable for what they do”.

“Media Meetings 2016 – Afghan media for Social Responsibility” are a series of regular events held by the Afghan-German cooperation and SAJNA. The meetings bring together experts from the public sector, civil society, development organizations and the media to discuss important development issues.

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ON DEVELOPMENT: African Leaders Driving Push for Industrialisation: UN Official

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa on July 25. Credit: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 27 2016, ipsnews.net, by Lyndal Rowland – Industrialisation in Africa is being driven by African leaders who realise that industries as diverse as horticulture and leather production can help add value to the primary resources they currently export.

This is an “inside driven” process, Li Yong, Director General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) told IPS in a recent interview. “I’ve heard that message from the African leaders.”

The African Union ‘Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want’ sets out a plan to transform the economy of the 54 countries in Africa based on manufacturing, said Li.

The process received support from the UN General Assembly on Monday with a new resolution titled the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (2016-2025).

The resolution was sponsored by the Group of 77 (G77) developing countries and China in collaboration with the African Union, said Li.

“These steps create a momentum that all “industrialization stakeholders” in Africa must take advantage of,” said Li.

The resolution called on UNIDO to work together with the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the Economic Commission for Africa to work towards sustainable industrialisation in Africa over the next 10 years.

The types of industrialisation African countries are embracing often involves adding value to the primary commodities, from mining or agriculture, that they are already producing.

It includes horticultural industry, notably in Kenya, Ethiopia and Senegal, beneficiation, adding value to minerals mined in Botswana, and shoe and garment manufacturing in Ethiopia, said Li.

However Li noted that in order to attract foreign investment in industrialisation, developing countries need to “do their homework.”

This can include building the necessary business infrastructure required for new industries in industrial parks.
“We have already seen some countries move ahead with attracting investments into industrial parks (including) Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa,” said Li.

Li pointed to recent examples from Ethiopia and Senegal, where the respective governments have invested millions of dollars in building industrial parks to attract foreign investors that create jobs and exports for these two Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Currently, there are 48 LDCs around the world, of which 34 are in Africa.

Most LDCs rely on a handful of primary resources for exports, such as gold or the so-called black golds: oil, coal and coffee.

The decent work and value addition that come with industrialisation are considered a key way that these LDCs can grow, transform and diversify their economies and become middle income countries. Most LDCs rely on a handful of primary resources for exports, such as gold or the so-called black golds: oil, coal and coffee.

LDCs in Africa have had “very low and declining shares of manufacturing value added in GDP since the 1970s”, noted Li.
By investing in industry, these countries can add value to their primary exports, including through agro-industry, as is the case in Ethiopia, whose main exports include coffee, gold, leather products and live animals. “Manufacturing connects agriculture to light industry” noted Li, such as through food processing, garments and textiles, wood and leather processing.

Moreover, industrialisation does not necessarily have to be incompatible with the shift to a low carbon economy, said Li, since use of resource and energy efficient production methods and renewable energy in productive activities such as agro-industry, beneficiation, and in manufacturing, in general, will lead the economy onto a low carbon path.

The world’s least developed countries are following in the footsteps of other countries which have already achieved development, in part due to the industrialisation of their economies.

LDCs are “really eager to learn from those countries (that have) already gone through this process so that is why we have established South-South cooperation,” said Li.

However industrialisation does not only benefit the developing countries which want to attract it.

“Firms in today’s manufacturing powerhouses such as China, India and Brazil that are faced with rising wages at home are searching for locations that offer competitive wages, and appropriate infrastructure,” said Li.

With populations in many countries around the world beginning to age, Africa also has a comparative advantage to offer with growing young populations in many African countries.

“With its young and growing population, some indications show that Africa has the potential to become the next region to benefit from industrialization, particularly in labor-intensive manufacturing sectors,” said Li.

By providing employment and opportunities for these young people at home, industrialisation can also address other issues, including migration, inequalities and climate change, noted Li.

“Industry means creating jobs and incomes and industrial jobs partially reduce the pressure on migration and also resolve the root causes,” he said.

The Role of the G77

Li noted that UNIDO works closely with all developing countries, often through the Group of 77 and China, which represents 134 developing countries at the UN.

“The G77 and China has diverse membership, including Least Developed Countries, Land Locked Developing Countries, Small Islands Developing States, and Middle Income Countries, located in almost all regions of the world and with diverse range of priorities with respect to industrial development,” he said.

“In LDCs, labor-intensive manufacturing is promoted to create jobs.”

“In middle-income countries moving up the technology ladder into higher value added manufacturing is targeted.”
This can include collaborations with “science, technology and research and development institutions, targeted foreign investment promotion, and other relevant services,” said Li.

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HAITI, ON DEVELOPMENT: OAS Needs New Leadership

OAShuffingtonpost.com, by Mark Weisbrot Co-Director, Center For Economic And Policy Research, Washington, D.C., July 11, 2016

Luis Almagro, the current Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) has abused his position and authority more flagrantly and outrageously than any predecessor in recent years. In his lack of judgment and disregard for political and diplomatic norms he resembles Donald Trump. And like Trump, he is increasingly seen as an embarrassment within the organization for which he is the standard bearer.

The OAS has been manipulated by Washington many times over the years in the service of regime change. Twenty-first century examples include Haiti (2000-2004, and 2011), Honduras (2009), and Paraguay (2012). It was in response to Washington’s manipulation of the OAS, in the process of consolidating the 2009 military coup in Honduras, that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was formed. It includes all countries in the hemisphere except the United States and Canada.

But in these other cases, Washington had to pretend it was doing something other than carrying out a political campaign against a sovereign government. Almagro is much more brazen. Like the communists of Karl Marx’s time, he “disdains to conceal his views.” He is a radical and seeks to win his goals by any means necessary.

His main goal at present is to get rid of the current government of Venezuela. In the run-up to the congressional elections there last December, he worked tirelessly to try and convince the media and the world that the government was going to rig the elections. When the vote count was universally acknowledged as clean, he made no apologies but simply switched tactics.

Almagro’s latest offensive involves invoking the OAS Democratic Charter, which allows the organization to intervene when there is an “unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state.” Never mind that Venezuela still has an elected president, unlike Brazil, where a cabal of corrupt politicians has manipulated the legislative and judicial branches of government to suspend the head of state in a desperate effort to protect themselves from investigations for corruption. Almagro’s offensive is about politics, not democracy. It’s about what Washington and its right-wing allies want for the region.

Exhibiting a profound lack of respect for the political norms of Latin America, Almagro posted an article by Washington Post editorialist Jackson Diehl on the OAS website. The articlepraised Almagro for “revitalizing the OAS” with his crusade against a member state. It is no more appropriate for the head of the OAS to campaign against a member country than it would be for the head of the European Commission to do so in Europe.

In Latin America there is a deep historical tradition that values national sovereignty and self-determination, however incomprehensible and arrogantly dismissed those concepts may be in Washington. Diehl is a hard core neoconservative, an American supremacist who uses the editorial pages of the Washington Post to trash almost all of the left governments of the region, and to support military intervention anywhere that it might vaguely serve “American interests.” He was one of the most prominent and vocal supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with the Post running 27 editorial board pieces supporting the war in the six months prior to the invasion.

Basking in the praise of someone like Jackson Diehl, for any literate Latin American, is the equivalent of Trump’s infamoustweet quoting Mussolini.

There are immediate and risky consequences of Almagro’s malfeasance and abuse of power. Venezuela is confronting an economic and political crisis and the country is politically divided. The political opposition in Venezuela is also divided; as throughout its 21st century history, some want to advocate peaceful and electoral change, while others want to overthrow the government. A normal leader of the OAS would do what the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) is doing — try to promote dialogue between the two opposing forces. Since the main opposition group (MUD) and other opposition leaders refuse to meet with the government, UNASUR has enlisted José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (former prime minister of Spain), Martín Torrijos (former president of Panama), and Leonel Fernández (former president of the Dominican Republic) to meet with both sides in order to facilitate dialogue.

But Almagro is not interested in promoting dialogue; he is more interested in using the OAS, and its reach in the media, to delegitimize the Venezuelan government, a goal that Washington has pursued for most of the past 15 years.

Impatience with Almagro within the OAS is mounting. Many governments have publicly criticized him, and several have called for his resignation. He had previously been denounced by former president Pepe Mujica of Uruguay, whom he had served as foreign minister.

Most importantly, in June, 19 countries (a majority of the OAS membership) ordered that the Permanent Council of the OAS discuss his behavior. This is long overdue, and hopefully will lead to a change of leadership.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and the president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the new book “Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy” (2015, Oxford University Press).

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AFGHANISTAN: Finally Standing Up to Pakistan

An Afghan National Army soldier holds tightly to a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Flickr/Georgia National Guard

An Afghan National Army soldier holds tightly to a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Flickr/Georgia National Guard

nationalinterest.org, Adam Gallagher, August 4, 2016

In recent months, Pakistan’s pernicious Afghan policy has come under heavy criticism in Washington. In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad noted that while most states have a gap between their declared and actual policy, “In the case of Pakistan, the gap is huge.” Indeed, “Pakistan’s current policy and conduct would better merit its inclusion on the State Department’s list of state-sponsors of terrorism,” the former envoy argued. With the Taliban now on the offensive, Khalilzad argued that “the Taliban’s resilience can be attributed above all to the strategic decision of the Pakistani military and intelligence services to provide sanctuary and support to these groups.”

With many on the Hill advocating for a cessation of U.S. assistance to Pakistan, Khalilzad also told lawmakers that the drone strike against Mansour has “created a golden hour to confront Pakistan” and force it to choose between its support for the Taliban and the Haqqani network, or its relationship with the United States, and the attendant economic and international support that it provides to Islamabad. Aziz’s surprising confession and the circumstances surrounding Mansour’s killing—let alone the host of other incriminating evidence—provide the perfect opportunity for the United State to increase pressure on Pakistan, ignore Islamabad’s dissembling and push for an end to support for the Taliban. After all, as Khalilzad notes, “Pakistani policy is the principal cause of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.”

The war in Afghanistan is now America’s longest, and it has spent more in inflation-adjusted dollars than on the Marshall Plan. Following a recent decision, President Obama will leave office with 8,400 U.S. troops in country, passing the baton on to the next president. Over the last fifteen years, the war effort has been consistently undermined by Islamabad’s duplicitous Afghan policy. There has been considerable hand-wringing within the Obama administration regarding troop levels, and much less public discussion of Islamabad’s role in Afghanistan. With an increasingly dangerous Islamic State wing, which recently just conducted the biggest attack in Kabul in years; Al Qaeda’s continued presence; and an unbowed Taliban, Washington is doing itself no favors by ignoring Pakistan’s support for extremist groups.

Long before Islamabad was even admitting that the Afghan Taliban were residing in Pakistan, Karzai cogently analyzed the Afghan war and a critical reason for its intractability, albeit without conventional diplomatic tact. If the next president hopes to bring the Afghan war to a close and leave the country on a viable path for prosperity and security, she or he will have to pressure Pakistan to change course. Just ask Hamid Karzai; he’s been saying so for years.

Adam Gallagher is a writer and editor based in Washington, DC. He is a senior writer for Tropics of Meta and his work has appeared in the Huffington Post, the National Interest, theDiplomat, and for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, among other outlets. He can be followed on Twitter@aegallagher10.

Image: An Afghan National Army soldier holds tightly to a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Flickr/Georgia National Guard

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ON DEVELOPMENT: The Next UN Secretary General Should Be a Woman – and Must Be a Feminist

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

Opinion by Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM, Aug 3 2016 (ipsnews.net) – The process for arguably the top political job on the planet is well underway.  And the time is right for a woman and a feminist to take the helm.

The United Nations (UN) Security Council is continuing its consideration of candidates for the next UN Secretary-General, with the next “straw poll” due to take place on Friday August 5th.

Backed by public debates and online campaigns, this selection process for the Secretary-General has been the most transparent and accessible yet – driven in part by tireless efforts from civil society.

But the decision to appoint essentially rests with the Security Council’s five permanent members in what has been, since 1946, a remarkably secretive selection procedure, one which has given us three Europeans, two Africans, two Asians and one Latin American – all men – in 70 years.

This process has never produced a female secretary general.

In 2006 the Secretary-General selection process included only one woman in seven candidates. This time round, half the current candidates are women. There is no shortage of talent. Yet the initial signs are not promising. The Security Council’s first straw pollon July 21st saw only one woman among the top five.

The absurd male monopoly on the UN’s top job must come to an end. The next Secretary-General must be both a woman and a feminist, with the determination and leadership to promote women’s rights and gender equality.

The long selection process ahead must reverse this. The absurd male monopoly on the UN’s top job must come to an end. The next Secretary-General must be both a woman and a feminist, with the determination and leadership to promote women’s rights and gender equality.

Growing up as an activist under an oppressive dictatorship in Uganda, the UN was a friend to those of us who fought our way to freedom, as it was for the millions that joined decolonization struggles in the African continent. Today, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Climate Agreement agreed in 2015 are testament to the UN’s global role and reach, and a legacy of Ban Ki-moon’s outstanding leadership.

Yet the UN is failing to meet its founding tenets to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”and uphold human rights for those who are powerless. For the UN’s new leader, reversing this sounds near-impossible amidst protracted conflicts, a lack of respect for international humanitarian law and a massive global displacement crisis.

Fulfilling the pledge to “leave no one behind” is perhaps the biggest political challenge. The new Secretary-General must grapple with the spiralling crisis of extreme economic inequality that keeps people poor, undermines economic growth and threatens the health of democracies. And a low carbon pathway will not happen without strong UN leadership to drive drastic reductions from the richest in our societies, whose lifestyles are responsible for the majority of them.

Choosing a woman goes far beyond symbolism and political correctness. The discrimination of women and girls goes to the core of any and all analyses of the world’s economic, political and environmental problems.

A feminist woman Secretary-General will, by definition and action, ensure gender equality is put at the heart of peace, security and development. In doing so, she will truly champion the UN’s core values of human rights, equality and justice.

Such an appointment – far too long in coming – would fulfil promises given by world leaders 21 years ago at the historic UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing to nominate more women to senior posts in the UN. In the past decade, women have filled less than a quarter of senior roles at the organization, according to UN Women. Shockingly, as recently as last year women made up less than 17 percent of Under- and Assistant Secretary-General appointments.

A new feminist UN Secretary General will ensure that more women serve as heads of UN agencies, peacekeeping missions, diplomatic envoys, and senior mediators who collectively can strengthen the global peace and security agenda. Without women’s equal access to positions of decision-making power and a clear process to get there, gender equality, global security and peace will never be realized.

And it will take a woman feminist Secretary-General to advance the bold, comprehensive women’s human rights agenda in intergovernmental fora that is needed to address the multiple and intertwined challenges facing us in the 21st century. Only a woman feminist Secretary-General can ensure financial support reaches women’s rights movements – proven to have made progress on addressing the challenges of violence against women and girls, climate change, conflict and economic inequality. They can ensure that feminist and civil society movements are not just observers in policymaking, but active and equal participants.

She should, too, boost international efforts to empower women economically – thus strengthening national economies and prosperity for all – and tackling the harmful social norms that trap women in poverty and powerlessness.

The new Secretary-General must also reimagine the role of the UN in a world radically different to the one it was set up to serve and be bold in leading its reform.

The UN must be made more inclusive, accountable, democratic, effective, and reflective of a world in which political and economic power has shifted. And the UN must be able to protect its unique role as a genuinely multilateral institution that acts in the interests of all people and all countries. Integrity must not be undermined by the influence of private sector actors and their money.

The Security Council, particularly the five permanent members, must choose change and progress over continuity. They must have the foresight to ensure they listen to the voices of the public and select the Secretary-General that the world and the UN needs today: a woman and a feminist.

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AFGHANISTAN: Afghan civilian casualties soar to record high, UN says

An Afghan man prays in front of the graves of victims of a suicide attack in Kabul,  July 25 2016 - Rahmat Gul/AP Photos

An Afghan man prays in front of the graves of victims of a suicide attack in Kabul, July 25 2016 – Rahmat Gul/AP Photos

thenational.ae Kabul — Civilian casualties in Afghanistan soared to a record high in the first half of 2016, the UN said on Monday.

Children in particular are paying a heavy price for growing insecurity as the conflict escalates, said the UN report which comes days after the deadliest attack in Kabul since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001.

Between January and June, 1,601 civilians were killed and 3,565 were wounded. It was a four per cent increase in casualties compared to the same period last year, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) said.

The casualties have reached their highest level since the UN began issuing its authoritative reports in 2009.

“Every single casualty documented in this report – people killed while praying, working, studying, fetching water, recovering in hospitals – every civilian casualty represents a failure of commitment and should be a call to action for parties to the conflict to take meaningful steps to reduce suffering,” Unama chief Tadamichi Yamamoto said.

The casualties include 1,509 children – or about one-third of the total, a figure the UN described as “alarming and shameful”. It was the highest toll ever recorded by the UN over a six-month period.

The statistics are a grim indicator of growing insecurity in Afghanistan as the Taliban step up their nationwide insurgency and the ISIL group seeks to expand their foothold in the east of the country.

The UN report said insurgent groups including the Taliban were responsible for the majority – 60 per cent – of civilian casualties.

But it also reported a 47 per cent increase in the number of casualties caused by pro-government forces, compared to the same period last year.

“The testimony of victims and their families brings into agonising focus the tragedy of … this protracted conflict since 2009,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“The family that lost a breadwinner, forcing the children to leave school and struggle to make ends meet; the driver who lost his limbs, depriving him of his livelihood; the man who went to the bazaar to shop for his children only to return home to find them dead.”

The report comes after the deadliest attack for 15 years in Kabul on Saturday killed 80 people and left hundreds maimed, an assault claimed by ISIL.

The twin bombings tore through crowds of minority Shiite Hazaras as they gathered to demand that a multi-million-dollar power line pass through their electricity-starved province of Bamiyan, one of the most deprived areas of Afghanistan. Those figures were excluded in the UN report.

But the assault illustrates the report’s finding that suicide bombings and complex attacks are now hurting more civilians than roadside bombs.

“Parties to the conflict must cease the deliberate targeting of civilians and the use of heavy weaponry in civilian-populated areas,” Mr Al Hussein said.

“There must be an end to the prevailing impunity enjoyed by those responsible for civilian casualties – no matter who they are.”

The report said that growing air strikes by Afghan forces also contributed to the rise in civilian casualties as new aircraft were deployed.

It also voiced concern over the human rights violations of pro-government militia groups, which act outside the law in some Afghan provinces.

* Agence France-Presse

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HAITI: Haiti 101 Years After US Invasion, Still Resisting Domination

Demonstrators march during a protest in Port-au-Prince, January 2016. | Photo: AFP

Demonstrators march during a protest in Port-au-Prince, January 2016. | Photo: AFP

telesurtv.net, July 27, 2016, By: Justin Podur

The U.S. presidential candidates can be looked at from the perspective of Haiti. One candidate has an extensive record there. The other has some historical parallels.

The U.S. invaded and occupied Haiti 101 years ago today, and remained there for 19 years. Accomplishments of the occupation include raiding the Haitian National Bank, re-instituting slave labor, establishing the hated National Guard, and getting a 25-year contract for the U.S. corporation, United Fruit.

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There was a pretext for the invasion—the assassination of Haiti’s president in 1915. But to understand the event, which has lessons to draw from a century later, it is necessary to look more closely at the invader than the invaded.

In 2016, the United States is living through a presidential campaign with a candidate willing to exploit racism and pander to anti-immigrant sentiment. Police are killing Black people in cities across the U.S.

Having drawn down troop levels in its two big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. still runs airsrikes and drone strikes in the region and covert actions all over the world. The U.S. is still the determining voice in Haiti’s politics and economy. In other words, 101 years after its invasion of Haiti, the U.S. retains two features: violent racial inequality and empire.

The U.S. presidential candidates can be looked at from the perspective of Haiti. One candidate has an extensive record there. The other has some historical parallels.

The Clintons have treated Haiti as a family business. In 2010, after an earthquake devastated the country, the Clinton Foundation was among the horde of non-governmental organizations that stepped up their role in the, still unfinished, rebuilding phase. Haiti’s social sector had already been taken over by NGOs and its streets—since the 2004 U.S.-led coup and occupation—were patrolled by United Nations troops.

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The Clinton Foundation received pledges of hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid to rebuild Haiti. The crown jewel of the Foundation’s work: the disappointing Caracol Industrial Park, opened in 2012, which promised and failed to expand Haiti’s low-wage garment-processing industry, long a source of foreign profits and little internal development.

Hillary Clinton made her own interventions into Haitian politics as secretary of state. At a key moment in Haiti post-earthquake politics, Clinton’s state department threw its weight behind presidential candidate Michel Martelly.

His electoral legitimacy was dubious and his presidency led the country to a constitutional crisis when people mobilized against another stolen election in 2015. That crisis is still ongoing, and will no doubt provide pretexts for the next U.S. intervention.

To try to imagine the impact of Trump on Haiti, one need only look back a century. As Trump continues his seemingly unstoppable march to the White House, he is compared to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and other populist buffoon-politicians. Woodrow Wilson, the invader of Haiti in 1915, may be a better example of the damage a president can.

When Woodrow Wilson became president, he set about doing what today would be called “Making America Great Again.” Decades had passed since the U.S. Civil War. The post-war Reconstruction involved efforts to desegregate cities and government workplaces and make a place for newly-freed Black people.

Wilson reversed these efforts, strengthening racial apartheid in the U.S. His administration made sure there were separate bathrooms in federal government offices.

Although Trump is unlikely to re-introduce segregation, something else happened under Woodrow Wilson’s rule that is relevant in this context: white vigilante violence and lynchings spiked.

Wilson created a permissive environment for such atrocities. First elected in 1912, Wilson only got around to making a statement against organized white violence—called “mob violence” or “race riots”—in mid-1917.

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When more riots broke out in 1919, this time designed to suppress the democratic impulses of Black soldiers returning from WWI, the NAACP implored Wilson to make a a statement. But it was Wilson, himself, who had restricted Black soldiers to non-combat roles during the war.

In foreign policy, Donald Trump’s pronouncements have been predictably incoherent and uninformed. But Woodrow Wilson’s presidency suggests that domestic policies of racism will not be confined to the domestic arena.

Wilson sent U.S. troops all over Latin America—Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua and of course, Haiti—which may have gotten the worst of it all. Racist wrath has been a constant in Haiti’s history since it won its independence in a slave revolt, and Wilson unleashed that wrath on the island during the 1915-1934 occupation. Chomsky’s “Year 501” gives a flavor for what U.S. occupiers were thinking and doing:

“Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, found the Haitian elite rather amusing: ‘Dear me, think of it, Niggers speaking French,'” he remarked. The effective ruler of Haiti, Marine Colonel L.W.T. Waller, who arrived fresh from appalling atrocities in the conquest of the Philippines, was not amused: “they are real nigger and no mistake … real nigs beneath the surface,” he said, rejecting any negotiations or other “bowing and scraping to these coons,” particularly the educated Haitians for whom this bloodthirsty lout had a special hatred.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while never approaching the racist fanaticism and thuggery of his distant relative Theodore Roosevelt, shared the feelings of his colleagues. On a visit to occupied Haiti in 1917, he recorded in his diary a comment by his traveling companion, who later became the Occupation’s leading civilian official.

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Fascinated by the Haitian Minister of Agriculture, he “couldn’t help saying to myself,” he told FDR, “that man would have brought $1,500 at auction in New Orleans in 1860 for stud purposes.”

“‘Roosevelt appears to have relished the story,” (Hans) Schmidt notes, “and retold it to American Minister Norman Armour when he visited Haiti as President in 1934.”

Chomsky conclude this section of horrifically racist quotes from the U.S. elite about Haiti with a warning, “The element of racism in policy formation should not be discounted, to the present day.”

Nor should Haitian resistance.

The U.S. occupation of 1915-1934 faced a rebellion led by Charlemagne Peralte. Marines assassinated him and circulated a photograph of him crucified. Rather than intimidating Haitians, the photo enraged them and cemented Charlemagne Peralte’s place as a national hero.

If Haitians had a say in the U.S. presidential election, a case could be made for the devil-you-know of Clinton rather than the risk of a new Woodrow Wilson in Trump. But subjects of the empire can’t vote, only citizens. The U.S. tried to set the tone of master 101 years ago.

But people still resist.

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IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEES: Narrow National Interests Threaten Historic Refugee Agreement

Border guards in Bangladesh refused entry to Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in 2012. Credit: Anurup Titu/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 27 2016, ipsnews.net, by Aruna Duttoriginal – Narrow national interests are threatening to derail an upcoming UN summit which aims to bring countries together to find a more humane and coordinated approach to large movements of refugees and migrants.

The existing system, which was established after World War II, is struggling to cope with record numbers of displaced persons, Peter Sutherland, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for International Migration said at an event at the International Peace Institute in New York last week.

Sutherland criticized the ethos prevailing over the debate concerning refugees. “It is not compassion but order, and keeping people out that has dominated the debate,” he said, adding that the negative dialogue “has bred xenophobia, racism and nationalism.”

Words like “erecting walls,” are cheap, said Sutherland, and the UN must stand strong and reverse the rhetoric.

Amnesty International, which has long supported radical change in the existing agreement to accommodate increasing migration, has warned that a few nations were working through the prism of “narrow national self-interest” and these few countries may scupper Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s initiative to end the refugee crisis.

Amnesty also warned that a group of “unlikely bedfellows” including Australia, China, Egypt, India, Russia, Pakistan and the U.S., among others, risk bulldozing the only worldwide effort under way to provide concrete action to deal with the global refugee crisis affecting 20 million people.

The UN and organizations like Amnesty are appealing to these nations to change their positions to meet the challenge so that the new Global Compact on Refugees can be adopted at a UN Summit planned for Sept. 19.

“As time runs out to finalize what could and should be a game-changing agreement, so much hangs in the balance. Millions of refugees around the world are in desperate need – 86 percent live in low and middle-income countries often ill-equipped to host them, while many of the world’s wealthiest states host the fewest and do the least. This situation is inherently unfair,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, is quoted saying in a press release July 25.

Instead of the new Global Compact on Refugee Responsibility Sharing, “What looms instead is possibly a shameful historic failure, with some states sacrificing refugees’ rights for selfish national interests,” Shetty added.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been calling for a new approach to large movements of refugees and migrants, and in May he set out some proposals in a report to the General Assembly, including for internationally agreed compacts on refugees and migrants. These include global responsibility sharing where no country takes on more than their fair share of refugees.

Amnesty warned that even the term “responsibility-sharing” is in jeopardy and the whole deal may be delayed because some states want absolute parity. The international rights organization blames a lack of political will and willingness to tolerate the preventable suffering of millions of people by continuing to build fences.

At the IPI meeting last week, Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco and upcoming Co-Chair of the Global Migration Group, said migration had built the history of humankind for thousands of years. “It should be a positive discussion, recognizing the importance of migration. … It is not an issue of conflict between North and South.”

Karen AbuZayd, Special Adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, said the work of setting up concrete mechanisms is “all in the hands of member-states.” The UN’s 2030 Development Agenda she said, frames migration in a positive manner, contrary to mainstream media’s portrayal.

“We must not lose sight of the bigger picture: the positive ones, the success stories,” that come out of migration. AbuZayd also pointed out that the majority of refugees are children and refugee children are five times less likely to attend school.

Syrian refugees today account for 30 percent of the Lebanese population and 20 percent of the population of Jordan.

In order to respond to this crisis, countries like Lebanon, have gone into serious debt, while the six richest countries host less than 9 percent of the refugees, according to Oxfam calculations.

Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, South Africa, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory are home to 50 percent of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers, but account for under 2 percent of the world’s economy.

Oxfam’s analysis concludes that the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom hosted 2.1 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 – just 8.88 percent of the world total.

Questioned whether it is important for richer countries to provide finance through very low-interest loans to these countries, or invest in more humanitarian assistance, Mais Balkhi, the Advocacy Manager of Syria Relief and Development, told IPS that said it has to be all these steps and more.

“It’s important for the richest countries to share the responsibility including hosting more refugees themselves in addition to providing both finance assistance to hosting countries neighboring Syria and increasing humanitarian aid.”

The Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson, speaking at a recent forum on migration and development, noted that of late, the public debate on migration and refugees has been dominated by security concerns.

Eliasson stressed the need to recognize that, overall, human mobility has a positive impact on development and is a driver for economic prosperity and social progress. Jan Eliasson also said that  “While there are trans-national frameworks to deal with the environment, trade and finance, we lack a similarly comprehensive approach to the governance of international migration — one linking migration, human rights and development.”

But Balkhi told IPS that the existing treaties, such as the human rights treaty, would be enough if they were being implemented, which is not the case in many UN member states.

“I think there should be a plan and a strategy to implement existing treaties and not creating new ones. States should be held accountable when human rights are not applied.”

On Jul. 25, the UN General Assembly voted for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to join the UN as a related organization, a step which may indicate a move towards greater coordination of migration related issues within the UN system.

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AFGHANISTAN: A Rock Between Hard Places

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New Book: “A Rock Between Hard Places-Afghanistan as an Arena of Regional Insecurity”
by Kristian Berg Harpviken And Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

What has driven neighboring states to intervene in the Afghan conflict? This book challenges mainstream analyses which place Afghanistan at the center — the so-called ‘heart’ — of a large pan-Asian region whose fate is predicated on Afghan stability. Instead Harpviken and Tadjbakhsh situate Afghanistan on the margins of three regional security complexes — those of South Asia, Central Asia, and the Persian Gulf — each characterized by deep security rivalries, which, in turn, informs their engagement in Afghanistan. Within Central Asia, security cooperation is hampered by competition for regional supremacy and great power support, a dynamic reflected in these states’ half-hearted role in Afghanistan. In the Persian Gulf, Iran and Saudi Arabia fight for economic and political influence, mirrored in their Afghan engagements; while long-standing Indo-Pakistani rivalries are perennially played out in Afghanistan.

Based on a careful reading of the recent political and economic history of the region, and of Great Power rivalry beyond it, the authors explain why efforts to build a comprehensive Afghanistan-centric regional security order have failed, and suggest what might be done to reset inter-state relations.

Kristian Berg Harpviken is Director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh teaches at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), Paris, and is Associate Researcher at PRIO.

‘There are few more insightful analysts of Afghanistan’s region than Kristian Berg Harpiven and Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh. Their new book challenges us to rethink our received understandings of how Afghanistan might relate to, and be affected by, its neighbours, and should be required reading for all scholars, diplomats and international officials interested in the stability of Southwest Asia.’ — William Maley, Professor of Diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University; author of Reconstructing Afghanistan: Civil-Military Experiences in Comparative Perspective

‘A very useful review of regional politics at a time when Afghanistan’s neighbours are more important to its fate than ever before.’ — Antonio Giustozzi, author of The Army of Afghanistan: A Political History of a Fragile Institution

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ON DEVELOPMENT: School out of reach for nearly one in 10 children worldwide, UNESCO says

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Many children out of school live in areas of conflict, others are girls living in societies that do not advocate educating women

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK, July 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Some 263 million children worldwide, nearly one in 10, do not go to school, posing a daunting hurdle to the United Nations’ efforts to educate all children by 2030, the U.N.’s cultural agency UNESCO reported on Friday.

The number is “staggering,” yet marks an improvement from 2000 when some 374 million children did not attend school, UNESCO said.

Many children out of school live in areas of conflict, others are girls living in societies that do not advocate educating females and others live in countries that do not make secondary school compulsory, the report said.

Children in their late teens are four times more likely to be out of school than younger children, it said.

“Our focus must be on inclusion from the earliest age and right through the learning cycle, on policies that address the barriers at every stage, with special attention to girls who still face the greatest disadvantage,” said UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova in a statement.

U.N. member nations last year adopted a set of global goals for 2030 that included a call for children around the world to complete primary and secondary school.

“These new findings show the hard work ahead if we are to reach this goal,” Bokova said.

Armed conflict poses a major barrier to education, UNESCO said.

Around the world, 22 million out-of-school children of primary education age live in conflict areas, it said.

Also, many children not in school live in sub-Saharan Africa, where three out of five children of secondary school age are not in classes, it said.

UNESCO said while primary and lower secondary education are compulsory in nearly every country, upper secondary school is not. Also, it said older children are often of legal working age.

It said globally 15 million girls of primary school age will never attend classes compared with about 10 million boys, and more than half those girls live in sub-Saharan Africa.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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ON DEVELOPMENT: Too hot to work: global warming to cost $2 trillion in lost productivity

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The first three months of 2016 have broken temperature records and 2015 was the planet’s warmest year since records began in the 19th century;

By Beh Lih Yi, https://twitter.com/@BehLihYi

JAKARTA, July 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rising temperatures caused by climate change may cost the world economy over $2 trillion in lost productivity by 2030 as hot weather makes it unbearable to work in some parts of the world, according to U.N. research published on Tuesday.

It showed that in Southeast Asia alone, up to 20 percent of annual work hours may already be lost in jobs with exposure to extreme heat with the figures set to double by 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen.

Across the globe, 43 countries will see a fall in their gross domestic product (GDP) due to reduced productivity, the majority of them in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Bangladesh, researcher Tord Kjellstrom said.

Indonesia and Thailand could see their GDP reduced by 6 percent in 2030, while in China GDP could be reduced by 0.8 percent and in India by 3.2 percent.

“Current climate conditions in tropical and subtropical parts of the world are already so hot during the hot seasons that occupational health effects occur and work capacity for many people is affected,” said Kjellstrom, a director at the New Zealand-based Health and Environment International Trust.

He said the increasing need for rest “is likely to become a significant problem” as climate change makes the hottest days hotter and leads to longer periods of excessively hot days.

Kjellstrom authored one of six papers on the impact of climate change on health that were put together by the United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health in Kuala Lumpur and published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health.

Kjellstrom warned that the lowest-paid workers – those in heavy labour, agricultural and manufacturing – were most at risk of exposure to extreme heat.

He urged countries to take “decisive action” to tackle global warming.

“Failure will cause the frequency and intensity of disasters to worsen dramatically beyond 2050, and the situation at the end of this century will be especially alarming for the world’s poorest people,” the researcher said.

The other papers in the series showed around 2.1 million people worldwide died between 1980 and 2012 due to nearly 21,000 natural catastrophes such as floods, mudslides, extreme heat, drought, high winds or fires.

In Asia Pacific, 1.2 billon people have been affected by 1,215 disasters – mostly flood, cyclones and landslides – since 2000.

In April, 175 countries signed a Paris climate deal to restrain the global rise in temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The first three months of 2016 have broken temperature records and 2015 was the planet’s warmest year since records began in the 19th century.

(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi, Editing by Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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AFGHANISTAN: Pakistan plans talks with Afghanistan, UN agency over refugees’ return

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Afghan refugees arrive to be repatriated to Afghanistan, at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed

Reuters, Thursday, 30 June 2016

The number of Afghans voluntarily returning from Pakistan has plummeted this year

* Pakistan has world’s second largest refugee population

* Just 6,000 Afghans returned home this year, vs 58,211 in 2015

* Afghanistan says working with Pakistan to tackle refugee woes (Adds Afghanistan minister’s comment)

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik

ISLAMABAD, June 30 (Reuters) – Pakistan plans talks with Afghanistan and the United Nations refugee agency to move longtime Afghan refugees to camps at home, the foreign office said on Thursday, after the numbers of those returning plunged this year.

Pakistan has the world’s second largest refugee population, with more than 1.5 million registered, and about a million unregistered, refugees from neighbouring Afghanistan, most of whom fled the Soviet occupation of their country in the 1980s.

The U.N. says the number of Afghans voluntarily returning from Pakistan has fallen to about 6,000, well below last year’s 58,211, as violence worsens in Afghanistan, where the government and its U.S. allies are battling a stubborn Taliban insurgency.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it would immediately approach Afghanistan on the political and diplomatic fronts, while the ministry for frontier regions would engage with the U.N. refugee agency and Afghanistan’s ministry of refugees.

The talks would seek ways to ease “early returns as well as the possibility of shifting Afghan refugees gradually from Pakistan to safer and peaceful areas of Afghanistan, where the Afghan government should establish settlements,” the foreign office said in a statement.

Hussain Alemi Balkhi, the Afghan minister for refugees and repatriation, said, “We know that the refugees face harassment and hardship, and we are working with Pakistani authorities to address these problems.”

He confirmed plans for a three-way meeting on July 19 with Pakistan and the U.N. refugee agency.

On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif allowed the 1.5 million registered refugees to stay on for six more months.

The registration deadline extension came soon after officials told Reuters at least 500 Afghan refugees had been arrested in the northwestern border province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and deported as a security risk.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said more than 2,000 refugees were arrested in the last month, and 400 deported to Afghanistan. (Additional Reporting by Hamid Shalizi in Kabul; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik)

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ON DEVELOPMENT: Water security for all? We need these five organisational changes

If we don’t debug this institutional software, the global water goal will remain a mirage. Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

theguardian.com, by Nick Hepworth, July 19, 2016, original

The global water crisis is not driven by absolute water scarcity, but by a scarcity of governance: there’s enough water to go around, we just need to get better at managing it.

To meet the sixth sustainable development goal (SDG) we must learn from stagnation in the sector and make sure that water institutions – policies, laws, organisations and their financing frameworks – actually deliver the goods. If we don’t adopt fresh approaches to debug this institutional software, the global water goal – and the many SDG targets underpinned by better water management – will remain a mirage. Some of the priorities for change are:

Related: 11 ideas for urban water security in developing countries

1 | Evidence-based action, not sector folklore

In 2013, we led a systematic mapping of evidence on water institutions to find out what makes them work towards poverty reduction and sustainable growth. We examined around 30,000 journal articles and reports on the topic and found that only 38 (0.13%) showed clear evidence linking water management to these outcomes.

Inadequate knowledge about how and why water management delivers societal outcomes people would want means that efforts to improve performance in the sector lack direction, and will struggle to get financial support. It also leaves the sector vulnerable to politically or commercially driven fixes such as water markets, credits and offsets.

Radical improvements throughout the research-policy-action cycle are needed. For example, we need investment in new studies that track and compare performance on water management, as well as better standards and guidelines for commissioning, reviewing and reporting on research evidence.

2 | Accountability and system change, not sticking plasters

Development partners and INGOs often focus on place-based projects, extending the provision of services or managing water supply on behalf of beleaguered governments.

Although this can help to avert immediate humanitarian crises, it has long been recognised – not least by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee – that the benefits of donor-led interventions which treat the symptoms rather than the root causes rarely endure. Instead, donors should prioritise approaches that hold water managers to account, help citizens get better services from their own governments and tackle things such as executive, legislative and judicial dysfunction, inadequate tax collection and mobilisation, overlapping ministerial mandates, power struggles, a vacuum of leadership and corruption.

As one example of a progressive response, we used social accountability monitoring, budget-tracking and evidence-based advocacy in our Fair Water Futures Programme. The initiative has helped more than 500,000 people in Tanzania and Zambia to obtain water rights, protect water resources and mitigate water-related disasters.

Related: Drought is a global problem – we need a global solution

3 | Credible water stewardship, not bluewash

The private sector is finally catching on to sustainable water management. This is good news, given the power and reach of corporates, but they must show water stewardship with integrity and accountability. The Alliance for Water Stewardship standard is the right mechanism for this – it’s demanding and differentiates the companies that are contributing to improved water security from those that are just talking about it.

Early use of the standard by Olam International and Diageo has been shown to reduce the risks of pollution, interrupted supply and poor governance for production sites, supply chains, local communities and farmers. It’s now up to such progressive companies, responsible supermarkets and switched-on consumers to encourage other businesses to use the standard.

4 | Collaborative donor action, not competition

Despite the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and its principles of alignment and harmonisation, proper coordination in the water sector is rare. It’s still common to find multiple initiatives by multiple donors focusing on the same issues with the same people in the same places.

The Paris Declaration urgently needs to be lived and breathed. Improving the accountability of donors and how investments and impacts are tracked can help but this should be supported by shared progress indicators, such as one on good water governance (still strikingly absent from the SDGs).

Including targets on water resource management alongside taps and toilets under goal six of the SDGs is an important step towards recognising mutual dependencies, but these still need to come with a smarter, fit-for-purpose monitoring framework.

5 | Capacity building, not demolition

Building capacity through training workshops doesn’t work. Ad-hoc, one-off workshops rarely provide contextual relevance or inspire action. And consultant-led technical assistance is rarely effective in building long-term capacity; without the ownership needed for implementation, the plans and strategies created by consultants are often left to collect dust.

Related: Water scarcity: your photos and stories

We urgently need new approaches to build professional capabilities. Contemporary theories of workplace motivationcould bear fruit here. Creating opportunities to learn by doing and receiving practitioner support from peers has been shown to yield the creativity and tenacity needed across the water sector. However, such models do not tally with the conditions of donor procurement processes, despite being stratospherically better value-for-money.

We also need to address the issues that cause so many skilled people to desert public sector water management roles in the global south, such as by improving civil service wages.

Global goals and targets might come and go but the pressing needs for improved water management in the real world don’t change. Let’s make sure that the ways we deliver it do.

Nick Hepworth is the director of Water Witness International. Follow @water_witness on Twitter.

Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter, and have your say on issues around water in development using#H2Oideas.

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HAITI: Murder of three deaf women in Haiti must be a starting point for change

The funeral of Jesula Gelin, Vanessa Previl and Monique Vincent. Photograph: Wesley Gedeon

theguardian.com, by Anna Leach, July 18, 2016, original

On Saturday 11 June government ministers and campaigners attended the funeral of three female street vendors, laid to rest in sturdy white coffins laden with flowers, with more than 2,000 people in attendance. Their brutal murders had shocked a country.

Jesula Gelin, a mother of six, Vanessa Previl and Monique Vincent were all deaf and worked in Haiti’s capital. That is itself was notable – they were economically independent and lived away from their families in a deaf community in Leveque, a village about an hour from the city.

On 18 March they had spent the morning in Port-au-Prince buying business supplies and visiting their families. They set off home in the early afternoon, leaving plenty of time to get back before dark on a normal day. However, a bridge had collapsed on Route Nine, one of the main thoroughfares, bringing traffic to a standstill. “It was on the radio, TV, so everybody knew to avoid those areas,” says Nicole Phillips, a lawyer who is representing the women’s families. “But if you’re deaf, you’re not going to benefit from any of that. They had no idea that the bridge had collapsed.”

The women had been travelling on a tap tap – the privately run Jeeps that are the equivalent of buses in Haiti. But at some point, in the heavily congested traffic, they got off the tap tap to continue their journey on foot. “They got exhausted,” says Phillips. “And then late at night, we don’t know what time, they stopped off in one of the victim’s relative’s house.

A protest prompted by the murder of the three deaf women. Photograph: Nicole Philips/Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

The house was owned by a distant relative. “She had been there before, by car it’s just 20 minutes from where she lives,” says Phillips. “She and the two other ladies went there to spend the night.”

Reports of what happened next are from two women who have been arrested in connection with the triple murder. They lived at the house and say that when the three deaf women arrived they were frightened and thought that they were lougawou. In Haitian mythology, lougawou or lougarou are evil spirits who come out at night and cause mischief such as killing your goats or eating your dog. They are something to be feared. Disabled people are sometimes labelled bad spirits. “They think that they are a different creature of god,” says Phillips. “That helps them justify the stigma of disabled people. You can tell yourself this [that they are different] and feel more justified morally.”

The sequence of events is not entirely clear, but at some point between 8pm and midnight the women were tortured and brutally murdered. Phillips has seen photographs of the bodies with burn marks and machete cuts. The two women who were in the house and a male accomplice have been arrested in connection with the murder. But the police have not captured another main suspect, a distant relative of one of the victims.

“Violence against women with disabilities is believed to be two or three times higher than against non-disabled women,” says Lisa Adams, programme director of the US-based Disability Rights Fund, which works in Haiti. “Disability, gender and sexuality compound to present a lot of cultural myths and stereotypes about women with disabilities – ranging from infantilising them to making them hyper sexual. I think that has a lot to do with the violence experienced by women with disabilities in Haiti – these three women in particular.”

The murders have brought a furious response from disability rights, women’s rights and human rights campaigners. “This has brought Haiti’s disability rights activists together,” says Phillips. “It has galvanised the community.” On 1 April hundreds of people marched in Port-au-Prince to demand justice for the three murdered women, and several other demonstrations around the country followed, including a march on 9 June in Cabaret near where they were killed.

A march on 9 June from the civil court in Cabaret to the place where the bodies of the women were found. Photograph: Wesley Gedeon/Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Disabled people in Haiti are discriminated against in multiple ways. For example, only 5% of children with disabilities are in school, according to a report by the Haitian state submitted in the report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And people with disabilities complain that the police don’t take them seriously when they report crimes and that they are taunted in public as “cocobe” (useless).

“Haiti is a model for exclusion,” says Michel Pean, who was secretary of state for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Haiti from 2007-11 and is blind himself. “But it’s also a good example of the fight for inclusion of people with disabilities within society.” Pean says that 1 million out of Haiti’s 10 million people have a disability. Since the earthquake in 2010, there are more people with disabilities and they have become more visible.

But strong civil society groups have driven successes for disability rights campaigners over the past 15 years, says Pean. “The idea to have a secretary of state dedicated to people with disabilities came from civil society. The same with the idea to have proper legislation came from civil society. Disability rights civil society is very active.”

And those activists are determined to seize this moment of tragedy and force the government to act. “We want to transform this very negative event into something positive,” says Pean. “Something which would ensure that people with disabilities are respected, and their rights are respected. Their right to education, their right to access to health, in other words, their right to live, with dignity.”

Related: One woman and 17 men: When will we have equal representation at the UN?

In response to the murders, campaigners are calling for the government to include the rights of women with disabilities into a national gender equality plan. The government has not replied to that petition yet, but it did fund the women’s funeral and ministers insist they are doing all they can to ensure that justice is done.

“For me, as a feminist activist,” says Nadine Anilus, a member of the Ministry of Women’s cabinet, “we condemn this criminal act and call the state authorities to take the necessary steps to make justice and reparation to the family of three women. Every Haitian citizen must play their part to improve the situation of people with disabilities. We are calling for a big national campaign.”

She adds that Haiti needs to ensure national accidents are communicated in a way that is accessible for people with disabilities and that more financial resources are needed for organisations working on these issues.

Pean is clear that it will take a long time before people with disabilities are treated equally in the country. “For things to actually change, mentalities as well, takes a long process,” he says. “One of the things that has to change is the economic situation in Haiti. Also, it’s essential that we have political stability. These are necessary conditions to enable us to reach true inclusion.”

Translation by Carole Villiers.

Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter. Join the conversation with the hashtag #SheMatters.

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ON DEVELOPMENT: Leaving no one (apart from migrants and refugees) behind

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Burundian refugees wait on the beach in Kagunga, Tanzania. Bill Marwa/OXFAM

irinnews.org, July 25, 2016, original

Ten months ago, the UN’s 2030 Agenda laid out an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals to be met over the next 15 years as 193 countries committed themselves to “leaving no one behind” in the endeavour to end poverty and promote development.

Was this merely a lofty-sounding phrase or is it actually compelling countries to extend their commitments to the 65 million refugees and displaced people living within their borders?

First, the bad news: the xenophobia and nationalism dominating political discourse around the world threaten to undermine the inclusive spirit of the agenda, and perhaps even the relevance of the UN itself.

Brexit, the EU-Turkey deal, Kenya’s plans to close its largest refugee camp, Dadaab, extremist attacks inspired or directed by so-called Islamic State, the inward-looking, alienating nature of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, have all contributed to a climate where governments are focused on acting individually to keep refugees and migrants out rather than on addressing their needs.

This doesn’t bode well for those hoping that concrete commitments towards a shared responsibility for the refugee crisis will emerge from the upcoming UN summit on large movements of refugees and migrants, or from US President Barack Obama’s separate Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, nor for hopes that countries will use their development agendas to prioritise the most vulnerable.

The promise

The latest draft declaration on the UN summit, to be signed by leaders in New York in September, is peppered with references to the 2030 Agenda.

“Words, of course, are cheap” – Peter Sutherland, UN special representative for international migration

The agenda, says the declaration, recognises migrants as “agents of change and as enablers for development in countries of origin, transit and destination”; endeavours to “reach the furthest behind first”; calls for facilitating safe migration and mobility; and “explicitly recognises the “needs of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants”.

Its targets deal with issues specific to refugees and migrants, like “education, labour standards, human trafficking, exploitation of children, access to justice and the building of self-reliance and resilience”.

“Meeting a year after 2030”, the draft optimistically notes, “we pledge to realise the full potential of the agenda for refugees and migrants”.

The reality

But during a recent briefing at the International Peace Institute in New York, where panellists attempted to join the dots between the 2030 Agenda and the UN refugee summit, their repeated calls to counter xenophobic rhetoric towards refugees and migrants sounded a desperate note.

Peter Sutherland, the UN special representative of the secretary-general for international migration, warned that pervasive and increasingly dominant political rhetoric was giving rise to xenophobia and racism and “breeding the type of extreme nationalism that many of us hoped was left behind us 40 or 50 years ago”. The optimism many felt when migration made it into the SDGs has dissipated, he said.

Related: What does Brexit mean for refugees?

Besides the “leaving no one behind” spirit of the agenda that calls for addressing the needs of the most vulnerable first, Goal 10 (reduce inequality within and among countries) specifically calls for the “orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people”, through “the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies” (target 7).

But as Sutherland said: “Words, of course, are cheap.” Rather than embracing the spirit of the global development agenda, political leaders are nurturing “a misguided belief that safeguarding sovereignty means acting unilaterally.

“They’ve resisted calls for collective action regionally and internationally,” he said.

What about IDPs?

Another negative, which emerged as a source of tension at the panel discussion, is that internally displaced people will be left off the refugee summit agenda. Member states demanded that IDPs be left out because “they are an issue of national sovereignty”, said Karen AbuZayd, the UN special adviser on the summit. A perfect opportunity for countries to commit to taking responsibility for both their own and other states’ displaced people appears to have been lost.

Of the world’s 65 million displaced people, more than 45 million are IDPs, pointed out Josephine Liebl, policy adviser at Oxfam. “For the summit to only focus on refugees and not look at IDPs is a huge omission for us,” she told IRIN. “In our programmes we’ve seen that IDPs receive very little protection and assistance.” This is, in part, she explained, because their movement may be less visible, because they are not crossing borders. Another reason, of course, is that IDPs are often caught up in the political conflict perpetrated by the member states themselves.

The good news

On the positive side, the 2030 Agenda does attempt to address many of the root causes that drive people to flee their homes, including poverty, climate change-induced disasters, and conflict. The wide-ranging and ambitious agenda has a better chance than the Millennium Development Goals, its predecessor, of tackling what drives migration in the first place, said Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America’s vice president for policy and campaigns.

O’Brien said the fact that three interest groups prevailed in developing the agenda – those wanting to finish the goals of the MDGs, nation states calling for more economic growth to sustain development, and those pushing for solutions to global challenges like climate change and structural inequality – has led to an agenda that is far better positioned to address the underlying causes of mass displacement of people.

Also, the 2030 Agenda is about universality. “It places obligations on countries accepting refugees and migrants to fulfill commitments regarding education, healthcare, job opportunities and everything else that the 169 targets cover,” said O’Brien. This, he told IRIN, “creates an avenue for accountability”. “There is nothing in the SDGs that says these commitments apply to countries’ own citizens only.”

Christine Matthews, deputy director of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) office in New York, told the panel that the 2030 Agenda’s call to “leave no one behind” was a landmark opportunity to strengthen the bridge between the humanitarian and development arenas, and for countries to incorporate building resilience and self-reliance of displaced people into their national and local development frameworks. Implementation of Goals 1 (no poverty), 10 (reduced inequalities), and 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions), in particular, will stop people from leaving their homes in the first place, she said.

There is at least some evidence of progress in this regard. Jessica Espey, associate director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, cited Nigeria as an example of a country looking at “leaving no one behind” as a way to address conflict. And the needs of Syrian refugees comprise a central component of Jordan’s new development plan, for example.

The World Bank and other donors are also supporting a scheme where Jordan gives employment, entrepreneurial support, and education to Syrian refugees in return for trade benefits. While the primary intention may be to stop Syrians from moving to Europe, it is also a sign that the focus – both within and outside the UN – is shifting to more development-oriented approaches to tackling the refugee crisis.

Some political accountability

Many see the inclusion of Goal 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) as a big positive in addressing a major driver of mass displacement – conflict. “During the SDG negotiations, many member states didn’t want to take on humanitarian and peace and conflict issues,” said Espey. “They saw this as the responsibility of the Security Council.

Related: The EU-Turkey migration deal is dying. What’s Plan B?

“The problem then is that the SDGs don’t tackle a number of pressing issues to do with instability and conflict,” such as refugees and displaced people. “Goal 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) ended up being the closest thing to a compromise.” Besides the political sensitivities, Espey pointed out that conflict and migration present an intractable and daunting challenge to an already overloaded and ambitious development agenda. “Adding governance to the agenda was just too big an issue to bite off,” she said.

Nevertheless, Goal 16 is being seen as an important “political placeholder for these crises”, as she put it, and, she agreed, for strengthening the humanitarian/development nexus. “The goal ensures that these issues of conflict and migration are being discussed as part of national priorities. And ‘leave no one behind’ gives leverage to tackle this goal.”

A final positive is the inclusion of “disaggregated” indicators: applying the different categories such as sex, race, and age to the population so that vulnerable people do not slip under the radar, as was the case with the MDGs. ‘Migratory status’ is at least one of these categories in the SDG indicators, stressed Casey Dunning, a senior policy analyst at the Centre for Global Development. Unless refugees and other displaced people are identified and counted they won’t be able to access services.

But in Dunning’s view, the interest for collecting this detailed disaggregated information is “just not there at the moment”. Not only, she said, are countries intent on looking inward and putting up fences, they are more focused on their own economic growth than on ensuring that no one is left behind.

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HAITI: U.S. Halts Funding For Haiti’s Election

To download a PDF version of this article, click here.

Following political turmoil due to fraudulent elections in Haiti, the U.S. government has decided to cease funding for the country’s upcoming 2016 presidential election. A blessing in disguise, this cessation of external funds could possibly fortify Haiti’s autonomy. In the past, Haiti’s autonomy has been weakened by foreign involvement in its internal matters. For example, in Haiti’s 2015 presidential elections, the United States, along with other international bodies, provided a total of $38 million USD to Haiti’s Conseil Electoral Provisoire(Provisional Electoral Council, CEP).[1] After this presidential election was declared void and inconclusive, another election was rescheduled and ultimately also declared null. Haiti’s next presidential election will be held October 9 2016—that is, if provided the necessary funding and stable political environment. The presidential election’s proposed budget stands at $55 million USD. With the United States stepping out of the image, Haiti has the potential to conduct an autonomous election, setting the stage for greater and beneficial sovereignty in the island-nation.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby affirmed that the United States would not finance Haiti’s presidential election in October.[2] According to Kirby, the U.S. government had notified Haitian officials on July 1 that the United States would discontinue “its assistance toward the completion of the presidential electoral process.”[3] The U.S. government’s spokesman also stated that the United States will not fund the upcoming election because it was not planned within its appropriated budget. The new strategy deviates from the United States’ historical approach on its heavy involvement in Haiti.

In recent history, U.S. involvement in Haitian internal affairs has been significant—particularly through monetary and political influence. For example, in the early 20th century U.S. Marines occupied the Caribbean nation for 19 years. Early in 2004, the U.S. government supported a coup to overthrow Haiti’s first democratically elected president.[4] In 2009, the U.S. government further weakened Haiti’s democratic system by funding and supporting illegitimate parliamentary elections in Haiti.[5] The United States’ extensive history of political and monetary involvement in Haiti has undoubtedly shaped the nation’s governmental structure. Overall, U.S. influence in Haiti has not aided the nation to develop into a stable and sustainable democracy.

Historically, Haiti’s reliance on assistance from developed nations, such as the United States, has done the opposite of propelling the nation forward. Instead, this dependency has prolonged the cycle of corruption—continuing a trend, as described by The Washington Post, of monopolizing economic and political power in Haiti by foreign entities.[6] Now, with the U.S. government affirming its termination of finances for the upcoming election, the Haitian government, for the first time in many years, must rely on fewer outside sources and internal revenue for electoral funding. Spokesman Kirby has stated, “We believe it’s the sound thing to do, the right thing to do for the people of Haiti in the long-term.”[7] This statement, in defense of the cessation of election funds, implies that the U.S. government’s withdrawal from providing funds is two-fold. In addition to not having a budget for the October election, the U.S. government’s discontinued involvement from the election will create space for Haiti to independently rebuild its democratic institutions. Provisional Electoral Council Chief Leopold Berlanger echoed this idea when he said, “a real sovereign country […] should get the means to fund [its] own elections.”[8]

While the possibilities for Haiti’s growth towards autonomy are made possible through the lack of U.S. government funding and involvement, the situation also poses a plausible negative outcome. If the United States will not fund the election, it may not recognize its legitimacy. University of Virginia professor Robert Fatton finds this a troubling prospect: “The fact that the U.S. is pulling $2 million [USD] from the ‘election basket’ may be a sign that it is prepared to delegitimize the forthcoming elections if the results do not coincide with its interests.”[9] This would be the worst-case scenario for Haiti—a country desperate for a valid and transparent election along with an officially recognized leadership.

Nonetheless, with the appropriate funding, the presidential election will take place this October. It is now time for the Haitian government and people to prove their ability to unite and exercise Haiti’s long-awaited autonomy. For long, Haiti, the second nation to gain independence in the Western Hemisphere, has relied on outside aid and intervention. This year Haiti will have the opportunity to reaffirm its autonomy.

 

Featured Photo: Coat of Arms of Haiti. Taken from Wikimedia.

[1] Nienaber, Georgianne. “How Is the US Involved in Haiti’s Current Elections?” Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. September 27, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://www.ijdh.org/2015/09/topics/politics-democracy/obama-sends-merten-back-to-haiti-as-new-election-crisis-looms/.

[2] Charles, Jacqueline. “U. S. to Haiti: Pay for Your Own Elections.” Miamiherald. July 07, 2016. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article88338777.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Haiti: US Interference Wins Elections.” TheHill. October 13, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/256679-haiti-us-interference-wins-elections.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Dupuy, Alex. “Foreign Aid Keeps the Country from Shaping Its Own Future.” Washington Post. January 09, 2011. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/07/AR2011010706511.html.

[7] McFadden, David. “US: No More Financial Help to Conclude Haiti Elections.” ABC News. July 07, 2016. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-financial-conclude-haiti-elections-40417737.

[8] Ibid.

[9] “US Withdraws Funding for Haiti Elections.” The Center for Economic and Policy Research. July 08, 2016. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://cepr.net/blogs/haiti-relief-and-reconstruction-watch/us-withdraws-funding-for-haiti-elections.

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Starting Sept 6: Filmmaking Fundamentals Course – Boston – 9/6-12/13, 2016

Michael Sheridan will teach a semester long Filmmaking Fundamentals course at MassArt, Boston, this fall.  Please join us or spread the word.

Class Name Film Production Fundamentals
Start Date September 6, 2016
End Date December 13, 2016
Meeting Days Tuesdays
Time 6:30-10pm
Room MassArt Tower-713/721
Instructor Michael Sheridan
Description An introduction to film/video production, this course will cover video production and post-production, principles of storytelling, as well as an overview of the history and theory of the different genres and aspects of filmmaking.   The class will be very hands on and students will work on projects that will be applicable to interactive, online, TV or big screen documentary, experimental and narrative approaches.
Instructor Bio Michael Sheridan, Founder and Director, Community Supported Film and SheridanWorks Productions.
For twenty years Michael Sheridan has produced films on people challenging the status quo and improving their economic and social condition. For 15 years Michael has taught filmmaking at the community and university level. In 1996 he co-founded Oxfam America’s documentary production unit, and later served as a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia. Michael founded Community Supported Film in 2010 to provide intensive training in documentary filmmaking to storytellers and activists in conflicted and developing communities. Their stories are screened in public engagement campaigns to educate concerned citizens and policymakers about sustainable paths to a more equitable and peaceful world.
Instructor Link http://www.csfilm.org, www.sheridanworks.com
Credits 3
Registration Course Details and Registration

For course information please contact Michael at michael@csfilm.org

For registration information please contact Susan at smendezdiez@massart.edu

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ON THE MEDIA: Which Countries’ Terrorist Attacks Are Ignored By The U.S. Media?

When a man drove a truck through a crowd in Nice, France, on Thursday night, the act of mass violence set off another all-too-familiar cycle of outrage, mourning and political gamesmanship. Media outlets ran stories oftragedy and heroism; politicians vowed to keep their constituents safe; citizens mourned at candlelight vigils. The attacks drew international attention, including in the U.S., where President Obama spoke from the White House, just as he had after November’s attacks in Paris. “We see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris,” Obama said the following month.

But this month has also seen attacks in Baghdad and Dhaka, Bangladesh, both of which Obama briefly mentioned in his address after the killings in Nice. Likewise, the attack in Paris was preceded by one in Beirut the day before. Yet those incidents received little attention — at least, until the subsequent attacks in France brought them into the spotlight — and the news media appeared to largely pass on covering these cities with the kind of live updates and in-depth human interest stories we saw after Paris and Nice.

It’s not hard to understand why Americans care about France and worry when it’s in danger. Despite the intervening ocean, France feels close to home; our nations are politically, economically and culturally intertwined to the point of kinship. But the extensive coverage of the attacks in Nice and Paris force us to question the boundaries of this kinship: Do we not see our kids in the faces of the young people killed elsewhere?

Mohamad Bazzi, a journalism professor at New York University and a former Middle East bureau chief for Newsday, sees these discrepancies as just a few data points in a larger pattern of American reporting, one with vast and often underappreciated consequences. In a phone conversation about how the media covers terrorist attacks across the world, Bazzi said: “The death toll in the West tends to be lower most of the time, but the coverage the West gets is an order of magnitude larger.”

Of course, there are problems with drawing such a conclusion from a handful of examples. For one thing, each attack claims a different number of lives. Bazzi acknowledged this, adding that the sophistication and coordination of the Paris attacks lent itself more readily to intensive, minute-by-minute coverage. But he stood by his larger claim.

Fortunately, we have the statistical tools to be more precise about Bazzi’s claim. After controlling for the number of injuries and fatalities, will we find that terrorist attacks on Western cities are more likely to be covered by the U.S. media than similar attacks elsewhere?

The Rand Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents contains data on 40,129 terrorist attacks that took place from 1968 to 2009.1 Each incident is logged with a date, location, the number of injuries and fatalities, and a brief description of the attack, among other details. One piece of information that’s missing: Did we care?

To answer this question, I consulted The New York Times’s Article Search API, which allows developers to query a tagged database of every article published since 1851. For each attack in Rand’s list, I checked whether there were any articles about it in the database. To do this, I queried for articles content-tagged with “terrorism,” geo-tagged with the city of the attack, and published on the day it took place or the following day. If I got any hits, I labeled that incident “newsworthy.”

This is, admittedly, a blunt measure of news coverage; it would make no distinction between, say, Paris and Beirut, which were both covered by the Times. Bazzi’s critique focuses more on the nature of the coverage, the “sidebars and human features and profiles of the victims and all the associated stories” that the U.S. media published after the Paris attacks. Still, if it’s true that we care less about terrorism in non-Western cities, we should find not only that major attacks receive less depth of coverage but also that minor attacks receive less coverage, period. My analysis homes in on this latter question: Does the location of an attack near the threshold of newsworthiness affect its coverage in U.S. media?

Or at least, in The New York Times. I use the Times as a proxy for the U.S. news media because I was unable to find any other publication that makes its archives as accessible to researchers.

I ran a logistic regression on this data, asking my computer to predict whether an attack was covered based only on (1) the number of injuries, (2) the number of fatalities and (3) the country where the attack took place. Sure enough, this third variable was — for some countries — a significant predictor of newsworthiness.

There were 31 countries2 with enough data3 to study. In 11 (Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the U.K., the U.S. and the West Bank/Gaza), a terrorist attack was statistically significantly more likely to be covered in the Times than an attack of the same magnitude that occurred elsewhere; in six (Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Iraq, Kashmir and Thailand), attacks were statistically significantly less likely to be covered.4

We can estimate the relative likelihood of coverage for each country by calculating an “odds ratio.” For example, France’s odds ratio of 5.9 implies that an attack in France is 5.9 times as likely to be considered newsworthy as an attack of the same magnitude not in France. We shouldn’t read too much into the exact numbers, as the error bars are pretty wide.5 But the vast disparities, from 10.2 in Saudi Arabia to 0.1 in Colombia, cannot reasonably be blamed on statistical noise.

beckman-terrorism-2

Michael Slackman, the international managing editor for The New York Times, pushed back on my results. “We have no ‘terrorism formula,’” he said in an email. “The context for ‘terror’ in the range of countries you listed — and over a four decade time span — is so varied that it seems impossible to make any kind of objective comparison or insightful conclusion.”

Slackman’s skepticism is warranted. The term “terrorism,” which my analysis regards as a discrete category, is of course highly influenced by political context. Considering that the Rand database includes a variety of groups, from Colombian rebels to jihadists like al-Qaida, we have to be careful when considering these results.

Indeed, Colombia’s claim to the lowest odds ratio of any country in this data set may be because of its longtime armed conflict. Terrorist attacks were quite frequent there during the period covered by the Rand data, and perhaps the regularity of these attacks made them less newsworthy in the eyes of the U.S. media. As Slackman suggests, we have to consider that the nature of attacks in a certain region — not just location — affects how that region is covered.

As another example, Saudi Arabia has the highest odds ratio in the data set. Saudi Arabia is a key ally of the U.S., certainly, but another factor may be in play here: There is a history of anti-Western attacks in Saudi Arabia, many targeting Americans. When I controlled for the presence of the word “American” in Rand’s attack description, Saudi Arabia’s odds ratio dropped to 5.7. This indicates that the outsize coverage of Saudi Arabian attacks could have as much to do with who their victims are as where they took place.

In addition to relevant country-specific contexts, Slackman is also right to be wary of the wide time span that this analysis covers.6 In particular, the political context for “terrorism” differs greatly for the periods before and after the Sept. 11 attacks; an attack taking place after Sept. 11, 2001, was 50 percent more likely to be covered by the Times than an attack of the same magnitude before Sept. 11.7 This could confound our results in countries where terrorism is concentrated on one side of the Sept. 11 attacks — for example, a shockingly small 22 of the 6,878 Iraqi attacks in the data set occurred before the 2003 U.S. invasion.

We can’t reasonably conclude, then, that location affects coverage, all else held equal; in the complex world of international terrorism, it is not possible to hold all else equal.

In a broader sense, though, Slackman’s criticism rings hollow to my ears. Whatever the cause, the numbers do bear out a discrepancy that reflects the expectations of nearly every journalist and academic I spoke to. If confounding variables like those mentioned above were doing all the heavy lifting, we’d see a scattered assortment of countries on either side of the coverage spectrum. Instead, the odds ratios are significantly correlated with GDP per capita.8

beckman-terrorism-1

Bazzi, for his part, believes the disparities are in large part due to anempathy gap, fueled by audience interest just as much as reporter focus. “Editors and producers advance the argument that they’re satisfying the needs of their audience — especially now, when all traffic can be measured, coverage can be catered quite quickly,” Bazzi said. He also argued, though, that the audience doesn’t dictate the coverage focus so much as preserve an existing coverage focus that it has come to expect. “Why did the audience get this way?” he asked.

Mónica Guzmán, vice chair of the ethics committee at the Society of Professional Journalists, said she agrees that both parties are responsible but stressed the role that journalists must play in breaking the cycle. “Many newsrooms like to think they cover all parts of the world equally, but they don’t, really,” Guzmán told me by email. “Unconscious biases abound, and maybe some conscious ones, too. … Great journalists take these challenges head on, and never assume they’ve conquered them.”

In the meantime, what can consumers of U.S. news do to push for more equitable coverage? “It’s hard to impose habits on people,” Bazzi said. “One quick fix for the audience is to go to sources in those countries. … If they see things in those local sources that they think should have been done by their usual American outlets, then they should bring that up.” Being conscious of and vocal about discrepancies, pressing U.S. sources to improve by asking them to confront their place in the feedback loop, may be our best hope to break the cycle.

Even with heightened scrutiny, though, this problem won’t resolve itself overnight. Slackman promised that the Times has “a deep and growing commitment to cover the world” — about this, I have no doubt. The paperhas announced that it is making a $50 million investment in international coverage and distribution. But many readers are committed to seeking out equitable coverage, and still, peak Google search volume for “Beirut” fell short of 1 percent of the peak volume for “Paris” in the days following the attacks in those cities last year.

Intention is crucial, but it takes continued effort to change personal and institutional habits. “Let’s not kid ourselves,” Guzmán said. “This work is hard.”

Footnotes

  1. The Rand Corp. is a nonprofit think tank located in the U.S. that does research for use in military planning. If its data has a systemic bias, I would expect it to be that its documentation of Western attacks is more comprehensive than that of non-Western attacks. This direction of bias, if it exists, strengthens the results of my analysis — my findings suggest that U.S. media coverage is more West-focused than Rand’s database.^
  2. Rand’s database uses some “country” designations, like the West Bank/Gaza and Kashmir, that don’t match up exactly with United Nations-recognized boundaries. ^
  3. Because of the size of Rand’s database and query limits on the Times’s API, I first limited my data set to attacks that caused at least 10 injuries or at least one fatality. This reduced the sample size to 14,547. I then limited my analysis to countries that had at least 25 attacks in this database, at least one of which was covered by the Times. For each of these 31 countries, I ran a three-variable logistic regression with a dummy variable for that country. A single regression with 31 country-specific dummy variables would produce odds ratios comparing each country to a baseline of all countries that aren’t part of this analysis — an arbitrary reference point. Running 31 regressions, each with a single dummy variable, allows us to compare attacks in a country to attacks not in that country. The results of these two strategies, moreover, are nearly identical. ^
  4. A country falls in the “significantly more likely” category if we are 95 percent certain that its odds ratio is greater than 1.0 (which indicates no difference). This is represented on the chart by a country whose error bar lies entirely to the right of the 1x line. The reverse holds for “significantly less likely.” ^
  5. For example, we can’t be sure that Saudi Arabia tops the list — we can only say with 95 percent confidence that Saudi Arabia’s odds ratio is between 4.2 and 24.8. Each point marked on the chart represents our “best guess” as to the true odds ratio, but there’s quite a bit of uncertainty. ^
  6. If we limit the analysis to only attacks that took place after Sept. 11, 2001, the main difference is that error bars are wider because the sample size is smaller. As a result, four countries (Pakistan, the West Bank/Gaza, France and Italy) slip out of statistical significance, and three more (Lebanon, Egypt and the U.K.) fall below the threshold for inclusion in this analysis. Somalia is the only country that becomes statistically significant; it joins the “significantly less coverage” category. ^
  7. This is true only after controlling for the country of the attack. Because of the increase in terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan after Sept. 11, a given post-Sept. 11 attack was actually less likely to be covered than a pre-Sept. 11 attack of the same magnitude, but this likely has to do with the concentration of post-Sept. 11 attacks in lower-coverage areas. ^
  8. GDP per capita is the best single predictor of odds ratio I could find (r-squared = 0.64), although a number of other variables I tried — e.g., rarity of attacks, trade with the U.S., percentage of Sporcle users who remembered the country on a world map quiz — were also predictive. ^

Milo Beckman is a freelance writer for FiveThirtyEight. His work can be found at milobeckman.com. He also constructs crossword puzzles for The New York Times.

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AFGHANISTAN: Deciding to Leave Afghanistan, Part 3 of 3: What happens after arrival in Europe

Afghan refugees in Germany are concerned about their asylum application status; here a group of new arrivals is led to the registration centre in Munich in December 2015 (Source Tolonews).

afghanistan-analysts.org, by Martine Van Bijlert, May 19, 2016, original

AAN has done a series of twelve in-depth interviews with families of Afghans who recently travelled to Europe. The conversations provided a fascinating insight into the practicalities of both the decision making processes and the journey, the complex interplay between economic and security considerations and the mixed feelings families often have once their loved ones have finally, safely, reached Europe. In this third and last installment, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert takes a closer look at what happened since the migrants arrived and lays out the hopes and concerns their families have, now that brothers and sons are in Europe.

This series of three dispatches is based on twelve interviews done for a joint project with (and funded by) the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FESand resulted in a joint study titled “’We Knew They Had No Future in Kabul’: Why and How Afghan Families Decide to Leave” published on 27 April 2016.  The data collection was conducted in the spring of 2016 with selected Afghan households to explore the decision-making processes at the family level of a small number of migrants. (1) The three dispatches present the main findings and place them in a wider context. The first dispatch in the series focused on the main motives and decision making processes and can be found here. Thesecond dispatch focused on the details of the journey, the routes and practical preparations and can be found here.

Situation after arrival in Europe

During the interviews, migrants’ families were asked where their loved ones were now and how they were doing. The fact that the interviews were done with the relatives of the migrants, rather than with the migrants themselves, obviously means that the information is partial and that everything is seen through the lens of those who stayed behind. But it is also instructive, as it provides insight into the continued linkages with the home front – a factor that tends to be underplayed in asylum interviews. (Many migrants, in particular minors, are coached to claim they no longer have living relatives or that they have lost all contact).

In all interviews except one, the migrants who had left Afghanistan in 2015 had arrived in Europe, although their journey had often been long and stressful (see this earlier dispatch in the series for details). The one exception was an interview with a young man from Kandahar, a migrant himself, who had tried to reach Europe but had failed; he was in Kabul at the time and preparing to attempt the journey again.

All migrants who had arrived in Europe were now awaiting a decision as to whether they could stay or not. Information about their situation tended to be fairly patchy. All relatives knew in which country their family members were staying, but none of them seemed to know the name of city (or they did not mention the city during the interview). Details tended to be about whether they had received money or language lessons, whether they were allowed to work and how they had been housed.

My son is now in Germany, but I don’t know the name of the city where he is living right now. He arrived there almost a month ago. I don’t have a lot of information about his status, but he is living in a camp and is waiting for the bureaucracy to decide whether he can stay. (Father of a 19-year old migrant from Kabul)

They are in Germany. They are learning German over there and now know a little already. I do not know what is going to happen to them. They arrived 40 days ago. They have been registered in Germany now, but not interviewed yet. They were given a card so that they can go to the city and buy necessary things, but they are not permitted to work. My eldest son gets 180 Euros and my younger son gets 150 Euros every two weeks. That is all they have received until now. They were given a room in a block where other Afghan migrants live. I don’t remember the name of the city.(Mother of a 15-year and an 18-year old, from Kabul)

My son is in Belgium. He arrived there almost six months ago. He did not choose a country. He just wanted to leave Afghanistan because he was tired of everything here. … He wants to stay in Belgium and is taking language classes. He is paid by the Belgian government and is happy there. He was supposed to have his interview after two weeks. I don’t know how it went. (Father of a 23-year old migrant from Kabul)

The relatives tended to have rudimentary knowledge of the bureaucratic procedures, but often had little detail, other than whether interviews had already been held or whether a decision had yet been taken.

Now, he is in Germany. He has got through two courts in Germany. He gave them his documents that explain the main factors and reasons for him going. His last appearance – in the high court – is going to be next month. He told us on the telephone that they would send him to the next court. (Brother of a 22-year old migrant from Sar-e Pul)

He has an apartment with two bedrooms. I’m not sure [when they arrived there]. They are waiting for their second or third interview. (Brother of a migrant from Herat, who left with his whole family)

Linkages to home

In the past, once a migrant left his or her home country, communication became cumbersome, erratic and expensive. However, increasedaccess to the internet and the growing use of smart phones, well beyond urban areas and the upper middle class, have made it much easier for families to stay in touch. The access this provides to information all over the world and the ability to stay connected after departure has obviously impacted the migration process. Afghans contemplating the journey can now gather information beforehand, those en route can ask for help and those who have arrived can get their families to send copies of crucial documents needed for their asylum procedure.

We thought he was joking when he said he wanted to leave, but once he got his Iranian visa, we started believing him. He used Facebook on a daily basis to read about the situation along the route. He read that the border between Turkey and Greece was open, he might have been motivated by this. He is currently in Belgium. (Brother of 30-year old migrant from Helmand)

They went illegally, so they did not take any documents with them. They took money and when they got to Europe, we sent pictures of their national ID cards (Tazkira) via mobile phone. The day they left, my eldest son took one hundred dollars from me and left without our blessings. When my younger son left, we gave him money. His father gave him 150 USD for the journey. When they were in Iran, we again sent them money. (Mother of a 15-year and an 18-year old, from Kabul)

However, not everybody has easy access to communication. One father said he only had limited contact with his son as neither of them had a smart phone (which would make them dependent on an expensive landline-to-cell phone service rather than speaking via internet services such as Skype). (But his son had also left for Europe without telling his father and had only called him later, so he may also intentionally be keeping his father in the dark.)

He said it was a very difficult journey, but he did not tell us about the details because he did not want to make us upset. Also, neither my son nor I have the device [smart phone] to enable us to talk for a long time. (Father of a 23-year old migrant from Kabul/Maidan Wardak)

Hints of regret

Most families said their relatives planned to stay where they had ended up, even though in some cases this was a different country to where they had initially intended to get to, and that they were happy there. A few, however, said their family members in Europe were unhappy.

My 17-year old brother left for Europe. He basically intended to go to Belgium but couldn’t make it, as he was trying to reach Belgium when the Paris attacks happened. So he returned to Germany and then left for Italy. Belgium was his first choice because we believed that people were accepted as migrants easily there. He is currently living in Italy. He arrived there in 2015. He is very, very unhappy there with no legal status. He intends to leave for a city in France where it is believed he would be accepted as an asylum seeker more quickly. (Brother of a 17-year old migrant from Nangarhar)

The case of the younger brother from Nangarhar was further complicated by the fact that the boy had left against the wishes of his family and that the journey had been expensive:

He decided to leave even though all the other members of our family were opposed to it. I am still encouraging him to return because, even after spending around 8,000 US dollars, he now also regrets going. He decided to go because my niece who was already in Europe kept calling him to come to Europe. Also, my brother was not happy here because when he failed the entry test to university. He wanted to join the Afghan National Army (ANA), [but] we did not want him to join the ANA, because he would have been killed if he had joined. (Brother of a 17-year old migrant from Nangarhar)

When asked what his vision for his younger brother was now that he was in Europe, the older brother was not very optimistic:

There were serious concerns about him and now we don’t have any hopes for his future. He ruined his life and all we can do is hope for something better for him. We don’t specifically know what will happen to him next; he knows this better. (Brother of a 17-year old migrant from Nangarhar)

In another case, the migrant simply seemed to be tired of moving around and affected by being away from home.

He is exhausted from traveling and he says if his case is accepted in Finland, he will stay in Finland. He is really tired of moving, so he also said if his case doesn’t get accepted, he will return to Afghanistan. (Brother of 20-year old migrant from Baghlan)

In several of the interviews it became clear that those staying behind had disagreed with their loved ones’ wish to go. In some cases they were ultimately persuaded, while in other cases they continued to disagree even after their relative had left.

Actually everyone, including his wife, opposed his going. At the same time, family members were not sure how to stop him as neither the economic nor security situations got better. He said he wanted to leave and take the risk just like other people who were leaving. (Brother of a 30-year old migrant from Helmand, who left behind a family)

My brother had been interested in going to Iran or Turkey. His classmates and friends had discussed it for a long time. They heard life was better there and they would have better job opportunities, but my family did not agree with him. We wanted him to finish his studies and to get a job with the government. It is not easy for parents to send their kids away. Parents want their children to live with them. It was hard for us, but we wanted him to live in a peaceful place. My brother began talking about this topic, but we did not agree with him. But when security began to deteriorate, the family agreed to send him abroad. (Brother of a 20-year old migrant from Baghlan)

We all disagreed with his going, all the brothers. We believe more in our own tradition rather than going to another place. We are a traditional family with our own character. I’ve been to many conferences overseas and I know about the difficulties of being a foreigner, especially those with Asian traditions and culture, and languages and religion, even the skin is different. And even if your skin isn’t different, there is racism there sometimes. There are many advantages in Europe, but people can’t count on them. (Brother of migrant from Herat, who left together with his family)

Relatives who had had misgivings before the migrants left, other than just the risks of the journey, tended to still feel conflicted even after their family members had arrived in Europe. Some of them felt they had left behind a good life and would face greater difficulties in Europe. See for instance, again, the comments of the brother of the journalist from Herat:

I would have preferred him to stay because there is an advantage here for a traditional family and a journalist in having a normal life. He goes there and for many years he will try to learn a new language and a new culture and it will take some years for his case to be accepted – and then the golden time of his life will be over. That’s why I was telling him, and persuading myself, that if there is one chance to stay, it is better to stay. If there had not been a threat, he would have stayed. For an Afghan man, this might be the maximum adventure he can have: a salary, a car, a wife, kids. What more do you want? (Brother of migrant from Herat, who left with his family)

Visions for the future

Apart from feeling relief that their relatives had safely reached Europe, family members obviously hoped that their loved ones would be allowed to stay and build a life; that they would be able to focus on their education or finding a good job, maybe start a family or bring some of their remaining family over as well and, of course, help out those who stayed behind:

He is in Germany now and has been there for around eight months. He is waiting for some sort of court to decide his case. He intends to stay in Germany. We hope he can help us take our land back [ie pay back the mortgage that was needed to pay for the journey] and that he will help us build a house for ourselves, because we are currently living in a rental house. We also want to get him engaged. We definitely had worries about the journey, but now that he is there, we have some hopes. (Brother of a 25-year old migrant from Takhar)

At least now we are relaxed that he has a peaceful life, and will not be seeing robbers or bomb blasts. My hope for him was and still is that he will have a better life and that he may get married or have children, so they would have a better future. If he has a good salary, he can maybe help us too. We don’t know what will happen to my son. It totally depends on the will of God. (Father of a 19-year old migrant from Kabul)

The mother, who had initially opposed her young sons going, now feels relief that at least two members of her family are safe. And she hopes one day she may be able to join them:

I hope that, after enduring the risks and hardships of this journey, the boys study there and have a better future – because we knew that they had no future in Kabul. I would like to go and join them in Germany. Their younger siblings would also like to join them. Afghanistan is not safe anymore and everyone wants to live in a safer place. We are happy with this decision now. If, God forbid, something happens to us in Kabul, then at least two of our family are safe and alive in Germany. (Mother of two migrants, 15 and 18-year olds, from Kabul)

But there were also relatives who had concerns about the life the migrant may lead. For instance, in the case of the man from Helmand, who had left behind his family and had initially only planned to travel as far as Iran or Turkey:

Well, we are definitely hopeful he will get a good job and can at least help support his own family and children. But we cannot forecast the future. It’s up to the Belgian government now. … The only concern we have is that he left Afghanistan and will be working in another country instead of Afghanistan, while he could have spent his energy improving his own country. Also, my parents are worried about his religious practices. Even if he continues his religious practices, they are concerned about the next generation who they think might not stick to our religious beliefs. (Brother of a 30-year old migrant from Helmand)

And then there is of course the uncertainty over whether the migrants will be allowed to stay or whether they will be sent back. Many interviewees did not dwell on this very long, most of them merely referred to the fate of the migrant now being in the hands of God and the host country. Others were more outspoken.

The goals and vision we have for him are that he will have a safe and good life. We do not have to worry about his safety anymore. We do not have to worry that Kuchis, or Daesh, or the Taleban will kill him one day. [But] we are not sure about his future. It depends on the host country and whether they give him refugee status or send him to another country or deport him. In this regard, I cannot say anything. (Father of a 23-year old migrant from Kabul/Maidan Wardak)

Based on the information I have received from friends and relatives, if he gets accepted in Finland and stays there, I think he will have a better future. He will, at least, not live in war. He will get a better education and will have a better chance of getting a good job. But if his case doesn’t get accepted, he might have a very dark future. He spent more than a year trying to get there. He has been away from his culture during this time. He has also been away from higher education so if he doesn’t get accepted, he will be devastated and will have a dark future. He will suffer psychologically as well. If he returns home, maybe my father and all of us will tell him that we spent all our money on you and you returned home with nothing and no future. So there will be a lot of pressure on him. My father will probably tell him that we don’t have any more money to invest in you and nobody else will risk giving him any money either. (Brother of a 20-year old migrant from Baghlan)

The pressure to be a “good investment”

In many cases the wish for their relatives to do well was intertwined with the hope that the risk, the stress and the expenses of the journey would ultimately turn out to have been a good investment, not just for the individual but also for the larger family. In some cases this was an important reason driving the decision to “send” a relative to Europe. In the case of the migrant from Takhar for instance, after one of the brothers was killed and their house was set on fire, the family pooled their resources to send one of them to Europe:

All the family decided together that we would send our brother to Europe so he could help out the whole family financially once he makes it. We specifically chose Germany. We expected that our brother would be accepted as an asylum seeker in Germany and that he would be able to bring the whole family to Germany, because there is nothing left for us in Afghanistan. (Brother of a 25-year old migrant from Takhar)

Similarly, in the other cases, where the decision to embark on the journey seemed primarily driven by other factors, the opportunities that Europe represented still played a role in the families’ considerations.

His employment as a driver with an organisation brought him threats, so my father persuaded my brother to leave the country for a safer place. … At first my brother decided to go to Iran. Then his friends encouraged him to go to Turkey and consequently, he was motivated to try to reach Germany after consultation with family members. We thought, if our brother stays in Turkey, all he would do was work as a labourer. So we thought he should go to Germany, continue his education there and then help us to get there too. … We always wanted to go to a safer place but we didn’t have enough money to leave as a whole family – we still owe some of our relatives for the expenses we spent on our brother leaving. (Sister of a 22-year old migrant from Kunduz)

However, the possibility that their gamble may not pay off still looms, particularly for those whose families had struggled to gather the money and those who left despite opposition from their relatives. This is neatly summarised by the older brother of the 20-year old migrant from Baghlan:

Like my brother, my cousins who left, their families also struggle financially. They sold their land and other possessions and gathered money to send their kids to a safe place with better opportunities. It hasn’t been easy on either side. The families are still waiting to hear good news from their boys and the kids live with uncertainties in Europe. The family of one of my cousins who went to Europe still hasn’t paid the smuggler in full, so the smuggler comes knocking on their door every day asking for the outstanding money. 

I have to tell you that all the families that I know of, who sent their sons abroad, are hoping that their sons will get settled in Europe and will help them in return, because they have spent all their money to get their sons there. So far, no family has received anything from their boys in Europe during the last year. The families in Afghanistan are not very hopeful because we know that the influx of refugees in Europe has made it more difficult for Afghans. (Brother of a 20-year old migrant from Baghlan)

The pressure to be a “good investment” in this case was particularly strong, given that the young man came from a family that struggled financially.

In a way, travel to Europe has always been a ‘high-end’ addition to the regular diversification and coping strategies that many Afghan families employ. For several families this was not the first child or sibling to travel abroad, nor was it the first instance of displacement. Several families had moved—to the provincial capital, another province, or to Kabul—when the situation in their own area had become too insecure, and many of them had spent long years either in Pakistan or Iran. The family from Herat had spent many years in Iran, with several other distant relatives still living there and two siblings already living abroad.

Many youngsters from the family are still in Iran. Some have left for Europe or are planning to go because of economic difficulties and new restrictions there, but there are dangerous challenges. Many hesitate to go. … I have a small brother in Iran, another in India. But they are similar cultures. There is an advantage with education and facilities and incomes that encourage people to travel to Europe. Many from our own family, however, prefer to stay. (Brother of a 29-year old migrant from Herat)

One of the sons of the family in Helmand had also already gone to Europe in 2000.

Two earlier arrivals

The migrants who arrived in Europe some months ago are still very much at the beginning of their new lives, provided they are allowed to stay. Two interviews done earlier this year for AAN by Anne Wilkens provide some insight into the difficulties the recent arrivals might still face.  Both interviews are with Afghans who were still minors when they arrived in 2010. They were accepted and are, to a certain extent, well integrated. They were quite forthcoming about their difficulties, probably much more than they will have been to their relatives. The evaluation of their stay in Europe is also informed by hindsight:

In Sweden, Jawad has done exceptionally well: he has learned the language and graduated from high school with good marks. But he still thinks his life is tough, albeit in a manner different from before. He misses his country, its nature and his home. … He is not used to living alone and feels psychologically vulnerable: “In Afghanistan we had no money but we were together and we were happy inside. Here it is the other way around: we have money, but inside we are alone.” … He wants to return to Afghanistan as soon as possible, saying again: “In Afghanistan, we were free inside.”

Unlike Jawad, Massud has been reunited with his family. After a couple of years, his mother and five siblings arrived in Sweden, but it was not a happy day for him. Massud felt overwhelmed by his feeling of responsibility for them all: “I cried and cried so much, I had to leave the house. My mother seemed so much older, and was no longer the competent person I thought she was.”… Massud says he has lost himself: “I miss myself and will never be able to find myself again.” He has seen a couple of therapists, but it has not helped him. As he sees it, he has sacrificed himself for his family: “It was not the intention but this is how it turned out.”

(1) The study consisted of twelve in-depth, semi-structured interviews that took place across Afghanistan’s regions as follows: four interviews in Kabul and Wardak province; four interviews in Takhar, Sar-e Pul, Kunduz and Baghlan; one interview in Nangarhar; two interviews in Helmand and Kandahar; and one interview in Herat. The ethnic composition and urban/rural population ratio in the provinces was taken into account in the selection of interviewees. Respondents were selected and located through a referral system where AAN researchers reached out to their networks looking for families where at least one member had left for Europe in 2015. The respondents were interviewed about the departure of their family member(s), how decisions were made prior to their departure, details of the trip to Europe and thoughts on the future of the migrant in Europe. In addition, basic household information was collected for each of the families. For a shorter summary of the study, published jointly with FES, see here.

All migrants included in the study were male, with one exception where a whole family – husband, wife and young children – travelled together. In one case, two young brothers from one household travelled together, and in one case a migrant who had been forcibly returned, was interviewed directly. All migrants included in this study were between the ages of 15 and 30 years. Most of the interviewees giving information about the migrants in question were brothers and fathers (there was one mother and one sister).

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Congressional Briefing

CSFilm’s US Congressional Briefing with live link to Kabul and participation by American Friends Service Committee and 3P Human Security

Follow these easy steps to host a screening of any of CSFilm’s locally made films or a presentation about the work of CSFilm and the value of locally produced stories.

Topics and Films available for Screenings and Presentations:

We’ve heard back from audiences that film screenings have more meaning and impact when a CSFilm staff person is present to provide context and interesting details about the issues, countries, training, filmmakers and filmmaking process.

Available Topics and Films:

A. Afghan Perspectives in Film:  A selection of films from the collection The Fruit of Our Labor, with background on the war, Afghan social and economic issues, the training and insights into the way that Afghanistan is understood when presented by Afghans versus foreign correspondents.

B. Haitian Perspectives in Film: A selection of films from the collection Owning Our Future presented within the context of Haiti’s geo-political history, man-made and natural disasters, and what outsiders generally do not hear and see about Haitian economic and social development issues and outcomes.

TEDs talk

Michael Sheridan, CSFilm Director, Tedx presentation “The Messenger is the Message-Transforming News and Views through Local Perspectives”

C. The Messenger is the Message-Transforming News and Views through Local Perspectives: A selection of films from the Afghan and Haitian-made collections in comparison to reports on similar topics by foreign media. A detailed analysis of how information about the other is still predominantly produced by a top down, externally directed, self-interested, colonial news system.

Community Supported Film’s mission is to promote a paradigm shift in our news and information by strengthening local reporting capacity and sharing the results. CSFilm believes that social stability and economic development depend on a well-informed citizenry. Global citizens can not make responsible decisions about political and developmental interventions around the world if they only understanding the situations from the outsider’s perspective.

Asia Society, NYC, screening and discussion with CSFilm director Michael Sheridan and Rina Amiry, Afghanistan Office of the Special Representative

Next Steps:

1. Purchase a DVD(s)* and review the films and issues as they relate to your audience;

2. Invite CSFilm.  If feasible we would love to attend your screening, give a presentation and lead a discussion about the filmmaking process and the issues.  (In cases where CSFilm’s attendance is requested, we ask that the venue try to cover travel expenses.)*

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9. Contact CSFilm via our contact page or at 617-834-7206 to discuss your questions and needs.

* Regarding cost: CSfilm’s primary mission is to get these films seen and discussed as widely as possible. We appreciate your understanding, however, that CSFilm’s work is underfunded. When collaborating with organizations or educational institutions that have a budget for film screenings and presentations, we ask for $250 for the DVDs.  If a presenter is requested (which we highly recommend!), we ask for a $300 – $500 stipend plus travel expenses.  In all cases, however, it is up to the venue to determine what they can afford.  One way to raise some or all of these costs is to ask your library to purchase the DVD for $250.  If money is an issue, please be in touch with us. We do not want the cost to be an impediment to these films being seen and discussed.

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