XCMG Machineries Lends a Helping Hand to the Philippines and other Belt and Road Initiative Countries

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CARAGA, Philippines, May 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Committed to bringing a better future to Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries through active participation in major infrastructure projects, XCMG’s concrete pumps and mixers have recently been put into use in a road bridge project in Caraga, Philippines that will benefit the local people’s livelihood, as well […]

National Youth Development Agency expresses shock and dismay on killing of young women and children

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Safety of women and children an urgent task towards effective youth developmentThe National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) expresses its shock and dismay on the sustained killing of young women and children. Synonymous to the passing away of Karabo Mo…

Trump’s travels, Cote d’Ivoire’s fractious army and the cost of natural disasters: the cheat sheet

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Every week, IRIN’s team of editors looks ahead at what’s on our humanitarian radar and curates a selection of the best reports, opinion, and journalism you may have missed:

How can we mitigate damage from disasters, and who will pay for it?

Next week thousands of representatives from different countries and international organisations will gather in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss one of the defining challenges of our time: how to deal with natural disasters, which are only getting worse due to climate change. It’s the first global forum on disaster risk reduction, and it comes two years after the Sendai Framework, the landmark agreement which recognizes that governments hold the primary responsibility for reducing disaster risk in their countries. That non-binding agreement set targets, including lowering death rates and economic losses from disasters. In Cancun, the experts will wrestle with the question of how to pay for those initiatives. And the forum will be an opportunity to check on the progress each country has made in putting in place risk reduction policies, which they’ve agreed to enact by 2020. As the earth continues to warm, and disasters like droughts and super-storms are more frequent, meeting those targets becomes ever more urgent.

Is drought behind drop in migration from the Horn of Africa?

It’s often assumed that the African migrants who now make up the majority of those taking boats across the Mediterranean to Europe are fleeing grinding poverty back home. But, as this article by the Nairobi-based Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat makes clear, international migration doesn’t come cheap. Journeys from the Horn of Africa to Italy can cost as much as $10,000. In other words, the poorest of the poor cannot afford to migrate. In 2015, Eritreans, Sudanese and Somalis made up a significant proportion of arrivals to Italy via the central Mediterranean. But starting in the summer of 2016, their numbers began to fall dramatically. Arrivals of Ethiopian and Somali migrants and asylum seekers to Yemen have seen a similar decrease over the past six months. Olivia Akumu and Bram Frouws of RMMS suggest that the current drought situation in the Horn could be behind the drop. While the drought has forced many households to move, most only travel a short distance and for a short period. The prolonged drought conditions have depleted the resources they would need to cross borders, let alone make it to Europe. With the drought set to worsen over the coming months and crossings of the Mediterranean usually peaking in the summer months, we should have a better idea by the end of the summer how this trend plays out.

Cote d’Ivoire’s troublesome army

Strike action can be inconvenient. But when it’s the army on the streets protesting with their weapons, that’s a whole different level of troublesome. Cote d’Ivoire’s fractious and fragmented armed forces won their demands for back pay and bonuses and returned to their barracks this week after five tense days of roadblocks and gunfire. It’s the second mutiny since January, and African Arguments does us all a favour by trying to unpick what’s going on.

It suggests there are three ways to understand the military’s rebelliousness. The first is as a straight labour dispute, part of a broader economic discontent that has seen (unarmed) teachers and civil servants down tools. Another useful lens reveals a degree of political flexing ahead of presidential elections in 2020, while a third theory looks to the tensions between the various factions within the army. From this perspective delays in addressing key reforms in the security sector since the civil war have been a crucial factor in the army’s rising disenchantment. Take your pick of the hypotheses, but all fascinating reading.

Trump hits the road

Donald Trump is to get a break from domestic drama (at least in terms of proximity) as he embarks on his first foreign trip as US president today. But he’s not exactly heading into calm waters: he’s first off to Saudi Arabia, which has been bombing Yemen for the past two years in an attempt to oust Houthi rebels and their ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, from power. While in Riyadh, Trump’s expected to announce new arms deals with the kingdom, now reported to be worth as much as $300bn. Humanitarians hope that cosying up to Saudi Arabia (and lining up more firmly against regional rival Iran) will not lead the US to further ignore the catastrophe unfolding in Yemen, worsening by the day as a cholera outbreak compounds extreme hunger. As we reported from Sana’a this week, this is zero hour for the epidemic, and fast action � with Saudi cooperation � is the only way to prevent further spread. So don’t just watch who Trump glad-hands in Riyadh or Jerusalem (Israel is his next stop). Keep an eye on whether aid workers can get garbage off the streets, bring chlorine tablets to the masses, and keep hospitals operating. And, of course, don’t forget about that critical battle at Hodeida port, which the Saudi-led coalition likely won’t jump into without massive US backing.

South Sudan’s deepening war

In October, we reported on how hundreds of South Sudanese opposition forces, including their leader Riek Machar, fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo after clashes in Juba marked the collapse of a 2015 peace accord and power-sharing plan. That deal never had a chance, according to this report, published today by the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, which describes it deeply flawed. And now the war continues to widen and metastasize into a deepening national crisis of ethnic military fragmentation. The report blames the spread of violence into Greater Equatoria (watch this space for IRIN’s forthcoming multimedia reportage) on the agreement’s security provisions. And it exposes how dilly-dallying by the UN � whose peacekeeping mission in DRC rescued Machar and his desperately malnourished troops � allowed weapons to seep back into South Sudan. Now that South Sudan’s war has spilled over into DRC, and with no viable peace deal for regional and international players to work with, there is little hope that this devastating conflict will be resolved any time soon.

Israel’s gets tougher on asylum seekers

Life for the estimated 40,000 African asylum seekers living in Israel was already hard. Although most are fleeing war or dictatorial regimes in Sudan and Eritrea, only a handful have been granted refugee status and a 2013 anti-infiltration law means they can be held for up to a year in a remote desert detention facility called Holot. Now, an amendment to the anti-infiltration law that came into effect on 1 May requires employed asylum seekers to lodge 20 percent of their earnings with the authorities, to be repaid only when they leave the country. Their employers are required to deposit a further 16 percent of the salaries into the state fund. Most asylum seekers already work in minimum-wage fields such as construction. Rights groups argue that the docking of their already low wages will result in hunger and homelessness, but a petition to the High Court to prevent the law from coming into force was rejected. The government has made no secret of the fact that it wants to induce as many asylum seekers as possible to leave the country. A voluntary deportation scheme offers them one-off grants of $3,500 and one-way tickets to safe third countries including Uganda and Rwanda.

Source: IRIN

Police in Australia Probe Case of African Girl Held as ‘Sex Slave’

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KUALA LUMPUR � Australian police said on Friday they were investigating the case of a West African girl who said she had been held as a sex slave and repeatedly assaulted before she made an escape.

The 17-year-old from Guinea told investigators she was flown to Sydney via Paris in early April after a man in her home country offered her a job as a cleaner in Australia.

The pair traveled together from Guinea and upon arrival, the man drove her to a house police believed was in the Sydney area where she was “kept in a room and sexually assaulted by a number of men,” the police said in a statement.

The teenager, who was not named, escaped from the house in the early hours of April 27. She ran until she was picked up by a woman, who drove her to an asylum seeker center.

Police officers from the human trafficking and sex crime units were looking into how and when the girl arrived in Australia, as well as the alleged sexual assaults, the statement said.

A spokeswoman for the New South Wales police contacted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation could not give further information on the case.

Police are searching for the man who the girl traveled with and urged the woman who picked up the teenager to come forward.

Australia is home to an estimated 4,300 victims of forced labor, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index by Australia-based rights group Walk Free Foundation.

Globally, nearly 46 million live as slaves, forced to work, sold for sex, trapped in debt bondage or born into servitude, according to the group.

Source: Voice of America

Government committed to supporting SMMEs

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Cape Town � Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu says hundreds of small businesses have received financial and non-financial support through several incentives over the past financial year.

Tabling her Budget Vote speech on Thursday, the Minister said the department has, through the Black Business Support Development Programme (BBSDP), supported 611 small businesses and has disbursed grants to the value of R268 million during the 2016/17 financial year.

During the same period, the Cooperative Incentive Scheme (CIS) supported 237 cooperatives and disbursed grants to the value of R64.85 million.

In total, R333 million was spent towards supporting cooperatives and small businesses, the Minister said.

Tabling the department’s Budget Vote at the Old Assembly Chamber, the Minister said in the current financial year, the department is targeting 641 beneficiaries to the value R256 million for BBSDP and for CIS which has targeted 302 beneficiaries whose projects are valued at R78 million.

In this financial year, we will review the Cooperatives Incentive Scheme and BBSDP.

The objective of the review process is to enhance the programme’s effectiveness to ensure sustainable and growing cooperatives in the economy.

These instruments are part of our strategy to design relevant policy instruments in response to the need to bring about radical economic transformation in the development of cooperatives and enterprises, she said.

SEFA plays a role in stimulating growth

The Minister said, meanwhile, that the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), an entity that falls under the department, continues to contribute to the stimulation of the economy through the financing of small enterprises.

The Minister said since its establishment in 2012, Sefa has financed over 237 000 businesses and facilitated the creation and maintenance of about 262 000 sustainable jobs.

She said during the 2016/17 financial year alone, Sefa disbursed just over R1 billion to SMMEs and Cooperatives, benefiting approximately 44 000 enterprises.

We are confident that if we proceed along the same path, we will make a meaningful contribution towards achieving the target of 90% of the 11 million jobs as per the National Development Plan.

Since 2014, Sefa has disbursed funds to over 50 583 youth-owned enterprises to the value of R955 million, of which R222.4 million was disbursed in the past financial year alone.

Women-owned businesses remain a priority

The Minister said women-owned enterprises remain a priority for the department.

She said Sefa has disbursed over R400 million to women-owned enterprises in the past year.

We are aware of the challenges that confront entrepreneurs with disabilities.

In response to this challenge and through Sefa, we launched a R30 million Amavulindlela Fund dedicated to entrepreneurs with disabilities.

Through this fund, we seek to empower existing and aspiring business owners with disability to access funding and business opportunities to enable them to participate actively in the mainstream economy. To date, a total of R9.3 million has been approved.

Provinces procure over 30% from small businesses

In January, the National Treasury gazetted the revised Preferential Procurement Regulations that encourages government and its entities to procure at least 30% of goods and services from SMMEs and Cooperatives.

The Minister said the 30% targeted procurement from SMMEs has been exceeded by provinces such as Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West, along with some national government departments such as Public Works, Tourism and Small Business Development.

The department of small business development recorded 60% procurement from SMMEs and Cooperatives, she said.

Source: South African Government News Agency