International CBI Units Put Extra Focus on Due Diligence Processes Amid Global Risks: CS Global Partners

London, May 13, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Financial Times' Private Wealth Management (PWM) magazine has hosted a virtual panel discussion on the impact of global risks on countries with Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes.

As part of its PWM Perspectives series, the four–part panel discussion shares the views and insights of notable experts from major due diligence investigation agencies including Karen Kelly, director of strategy and development at Exiger; Eddy Leviton, chief operating officer at Fact WorldWide and Heyrick Bond Gunning, chief operating officer at S–RM.

In the last instalment, the panel moderated by Yuri Bender, editor in chief of Professional Wealth Management magazine, discusses how international CBI units are putting extra focus on due diligence processes amid global risks.

Global political risks are unfortunately a reality for many people across the world and investors across a number of jurisdictions are constantly looking for ways to distance themselves from restrictive regimes. This means that suitable safeguards need to be in place to ensure that the verification of applicants from territories deemed to be of higher risk which poses potential difficulties is of the strictest measures.

In response to this, Karen Kelly, director of strategy and development at Exiger says "Any risk needs to be viewed in context "" whether its political exposure or jurisdictional risk. Each CBI country has their own risk appetite or threshold."

"Intelligence agencies are not there to make decisions on behalf of countries as to who should or should not be approved but rather, they provide client countries with the facts and information needed to arm the CBI Units with the details they need to say this person is above or below the risk threshold we have for acceptance. It is important to also keep in mind that CBI Units will also consider the information they get from other sources such as law enforcement agencies."

In response to Yuri Bender's question of whether it is necessary to apply a deeper and enhanced due diligence process on high–risk applicants and a lighter version for others, Eddy Leviton, chief operating officer at Fact WorldWide says "We carry out the same stringent levels of investigations and checks for all applicants and dependents. We do not discriminate because when we get an application, we do not know whether that applicant will be high risk or low risk "" whether they declare that they are wealthy or if they have managed to scrape enough money to purchase alternative citizenship, we apply the same verification and due diligence process to all applicants. We provide a risk profile to the client to enable them to make the ultimate decision."

There is never a scenario where a "lighter' version would be applied to an applicant when it comes to due diligence. All applicants undergo the same level of scrutiny, and should an applicant be flagged as high risk, additional due diligence will be applied.

A multi–layered due diligence system is an essential element of any successful CBI programme, as it combines internal government checks with research by specialist third–party due diligence firms and assessments by regional and international bodies. The rigour put around due diligence ensures that individuals of only the highest integrity are successful.

The Caribbean has been under immense pressure over the last few years "" with deadly hurricanes increasing in number and tourism decreasing due to the pandemic. This has led some to believe that these jurisdictions sometimes ignore red flags instituted by pan–regional anti–crime bodies because they badly need the money.

Heyrick Bond Gunning, chief operating officer at S–RM says that these Caribbean nations are taking a "longer–term view in terms of the integrity of their programmes."

"Caribbean nations have realised how vital CBI funds are to their economies and maintaining the integrity of the programmes is essential for the entire region. There's no point in having a quick win if it will jeopardise their status, which could result in the banks not wanting to do business with them meaning the programmes fall over straight away anyway.

"Caribbean nations are working very hard to fix mistakes made in the past as they are acutely aware of the scrutiny they are under at the moment, and therefore we have not seen any problematic individuals being accepted into these programmes recently."

When responding to how the COVID–19 pandemic has impacted the CBI industry and the due diligence which enables its functioning, Gunning adds, "There has been a huge reliance on tourism which has really dropped away over the last couple of years and that has certainly put a lot more pressure on the units.

"It's important to note that the units have become a lot more focused on their processes and how they run themselves to become as efficient as possible so that they can ensure that they are making the most of opportunities in terms of the applicants presenting themselves, within that there hasn't been a compromise on the due diligence as they understand how important a part it plays and they want to be able to hold their hands up and say "we have external third parties auditing all our applicants at least twice but usually three or four times when you bring in to play the security agencies or Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to ensure that there isn't a compromise on due diligence."

Proper due diligence practices show a nation's commitment to ensuring that its programme remains transparent and effective at evaluating potential candidates for citizenship. It is, therefore, a measure of that programme's integrity.

Increasingly, strict anti–terrorism and anti–money laundering legislation has prompted some governments to exclude applicants of certain nationalities from their programmes or to restrict funds transferred from certain jurisdictions, in order to ensure compliance with international sanctions.

A multi–layered due diligence system, rooted in law and subject to procedural rules and policies, is an essential element of any successful CBI programme, as it combines internal government checks with research by specialist third–party due diligence firms, and assessments by regional and international bodies. Failures in due diligence harm the reputation of a host country and its programme, and these failures often have widespread consequences for the entire industry.

Funds from CBI programmes often provide a vital source of income for some countries, especially in times of crisis "" as is often the case for Caribbean countries devastated by hurricanes "" these countries value the investment that goes into their economies as it allows them to be economically self–sustainable.

"Caribbean nations are some of the most transparent in terms of reporting on their due diligence processes which has positively impacted their brand and reputation in the international market," adds Paul Singh, director at CS Global Partners "" an international government marketing agency.

"We have been doing ongoing work to help countries realise the importance of protecting and enhancing not only their reputation in the international community but also ensuring that their citizens and applicants know that they are investing in reputable and trusted brands for their businesses and families."

Professional Wealth Management, from the FT Group, is the premier resource for private banking and mutual fund coverage in Europe, Asia and beyond.

Watch the full four–episode PWM Perspectives series on due diligence here.


Accelerated Application Processing (AAP) fast tracks Citizenship by Investment applications

Basseterre, May 13, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Citizenship by Investment Programme of St Kitts and Nevis is recognized as the fastest, safest, and most secure globally. It is the only CBI Programme that allows applicants to opt–in for an Accelerated Application Processing (AAP).

Since 1984, St Kitts and Nevis – the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere allowed individuals and their families to legally obtain citizenship in exchange for a financial contribution to the country's economy.

St Kitts and Nevis, the twin–island country in the eastern Caribbean region, is known for its sandy beaches, coral reefs as well as mesmerizing silver beaches. It has been nicknamed “Paradise of the Caribbean.”

The country is well–liked by tourists because of its stunning and beautiful sights. Tourists may be welcomed to its shores through cruise ships, and it has now established itself as one of the leading destinations for cruise ship passengers.

The exquisite twin–island Federation introduced the world's long–lasting, safe, and most secure citizenship by investment programme which ranked as the world's best by the CBI Index published by PWM Magazine of Financial Times.

Being one of the most efficient CBI Programmes, it is considered the “platinum standard” of CBI worldwide. It is now popular for helping the government of St Kitts and Nevis in running the social and economic activities in the country.

Key benefits of St Kitts and Nevis alternative citizenship:

  • Global mobility
  • Lifetime citizenship
  • Citizenship legacy
  • Alternative citizenship and citizenship for your family members
  • Dual citizenship benefits
  • Processing time is only three months
  • Free movement in the CARICOM

The Citizenship by Investment Programme of St Kitts and Nevis has been lauded for offering a guaranteed fast–track route to alternative citizenship, known as the Accelerated Application Process (AAP).

The Accelerated Application Process (AAP) fast–tracks applications, and if the applicant passes the due diligence process, they can receive citizenship in as little as 60 days from the submission of an application. Any applicant can get AAP on their application by paying an additional amount of government fee, which is as follows:

  • Main applicant– USD 25,000
  • Any family member aged 16 or over USD 20,000

It must be noted that whether applying for the AAP option or going through the normal route, all applicants undergo the same level of rigorous due diligence processing.

St Kitts and Nevis uses a multi–layered due diligence system, combining internal government checks with research by specialist third–party due diligence firms, and assessments by regional and international bodies.

The rigour put around due diligence ensures that individuals of only the highest integrity are successful.

The applicants can apply for citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship through the widely used investment option, the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF), which is also known as Fund Option. The revenue from the SGF is used to run several socio–economic initiatives in the Federation. The government established the Fund Option in the year 2018.

The investments received under “Fund Option” have provided multiple benefits to the twin–island Federation; such as:

  • Ensuring the health and well–being of a growing population
  • Enhancing the quality of education
  • Developing climate resilience, protecting the twin–island against the future effects of climate change
  • Constructing solid and resilience infrastructure that will stand the test of time
  • Promoting St Kitts and Nevis' thriving tourism industry
  • Publicizing the different cultural savour of the people

The alternative citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis can be attained by the following eligibility criteria are qualified by the investor:

  • The investor must not have involvement in any criminal record
  • The character of the applicant must be outstanding.
  • The high personal net worth of the applicant must be high.
  • The applicant must not make investments through any foul means.
  • The minimum age of the investor must be more than 18 years.

Individuals who are keen to apply for alternative citizenship may invest in the CBI Programme of St Kitts and Nevis as it has been ranked as the world's fastest, most secure in CBI Index, published by Financial Times' Professional Wealth Management magazine.

The CBI Programme of St Kitts and Nevis got a perfect score for the robust and stringent due–diligence background checks. The government makes sure that each and every application undergoes strict background checks so that only reputed as well as honest investor attains citizenship.


One Hundred Years On, Argentine State Acknowledges Indigenous Massacre in Trial

During one of the hearings in Buenos Aires, the court trying a 1924 indigenous massacre in the Chaco heard the testimony of historian Nicolás Iñigo Carrera, from the University of Buenos Aires, who has been studying indigenous history in Argentina for decades. The expert witness described in detail the conditions in the Napalpí indigenous “reducción” or camp where the massacre took place. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

During one of the hearings in Buenos Aires, the court trying a 1924 indigenous massacre in the Chaco heard the testimony of historian Nicolás Iñigo Carrera, from the University of Buenos Aires, who has been studying indigenous history in Argentina for decades. The expert witness described in detail the conditions in the Napalpí indigenous “reducción” or camp where the massacre took place. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, May 13 2022 – It’s a strange trial, with no defendants. The purpose is not to hand down a conviction, but to bring visibility to an atrocious event that occurred almost a hundred years ago in northern Argentina and was concealed by the State for decades with singular success: the massacre by security forces of hundreds of indigenous people who were protesting labor mistreatment and discrimination.

“We are seeking to heal the wounds and vindicate the memory of the (indigenous) peoples,” explained federal judge Zunilda Niremperger, as she opened the first hearing in Buenos Aires on May 10 in the trial for the truth of the so-called Napalpí Massacre, in which an undetermined number of indigenous people were shot to death on the morning of Jul. 19, 1924.

The trial began on Apr. 19 in the northern province of Chaco, one of the country’s poorest, near the border with Paraguay. But it was moved momentarily to the capital, home to approximately one third of the 45 million inhabitants of this South American country, to give it greater visibility.

In a highly symbolic decision, the venue chosen in Buenos Aires was the Space for Memory and Human Rights, created in the former Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA), where the most notorious clandestine torture and extermination center operated during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, which kidnapped and murdered as many as 30,000 people for political reasons.”What we hope is that the sentence will bring out the truth about an event that needs to be understood so that racism and xenophobia do not take hold in Argentina. People need to know about all the blood that has flowed because of contempt for indigenous people.” — Duilio Ramírez

The hearings in Buenos Aires ended Thursday May 12, and the court will reconvene in Resistencia, the capital of Chaco, on May 19, when the prosecutor’s office and the plaintiffs are to present their arguments before the sentence is handed down at an unspecified date.

“This trial is aimed at bringing out the truth that we need, and that I come to support, in the place where they brought my daughter when they kidnapped her. This shows that genocides are repeated in history,” Vera Vigevani de Jarach, seated in the front row of the courtroom, her head covered by the white scarf that identifies the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights group, told IPS.

Vera, 94, is Jewish and emigrated with her family to Argentina when she was 11 years old from Italy, due to the racial persecution unleashed by fascist leader Benito Mussolini in 1939. In 1976 her only daughter, Franca Jarach, then 18 years old, was forcibly disappeared.

“Truth trials” are not a novelty in Argentina. The term was used to refer to investigations of the crimes committed by the dictatorship, carried out after 1999, when amnesty laws passed after the conviction of the military regime’s top leaders blocked the prosecution of the rest of the perpetrators.

A petition filed by a member of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo (made up of mothers of victims of forced disappearance) before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) led later to an agreement with the Argentine State, which recognized the woman’s right to have the judiciary investigate the fate of her disappeared daughter, even though the amnesty laws made it impossible to punish those responsible.

Eventually, the amnesty laws were repealed, the trials resumed, and defendants were convicted and sent to prison.

Indigenous communities and human rights organizations held an Apr. 19, 2022 demonstration in Resistencia, capital of the Argentine province of Chaco, at the beginning of the trial for the truth about the Napalpí massacre. CREDIT: Chaco Secretariat of Human Rights and Gender

Indigenous communities and human rights organizations held an Apr. 19, 2022 demonstration in Resistencia, capital of the Argentine province of Chaco, at the beginning of the trial for the truth about the Napalpí massacre. CREDIT: Chaco Secretariat of Human Rights and Gender

Historic reparations

“My grandmother was a survivor of the massacre and I grew up listening to the stories of labor exploitation in Napalpí and about what happened that day. For us this trial is a historic reparation,” Miguel Iya Gómez, a bilingual multicultural teacher who today presides over the Chaco Aboriginal Institute, a provincial agency whose mission is to improve the living conditions of native communities, told IPS.

The trial is built on the basis of official documents and journalistic coverage of the time and the videotaped testimonies of survivors of the massacre and their descendants, and of researchers of indigenous history in the Chaco.

The Argentine province of Chaco forms part of the ecoregion from which it takes its name: a vast, hot, dry, sparsely forested plain that was largely unsettled during the Spanish Conquest. Only at the end of the 19th century did the modern Argentine State launch military campaigns to subdue the indigenous people in the Chaco and impose its authority there.

Once the Chaco was conquered, many indigenous families were forced to settle in camps called “reducciones”, where they had to carry out agricultural work.

“The ‘reducciones’ operated in the Chaco between 1911 and 1956 and were concentration camps for indigenous people, who were disciplined through work,” said sociologist Marcelo Musante, a member of the Network of Researchers on Genocide and Indigenous Policies in Argentina, which brings together academics from different disciplines, at the hearing.

“When indigenous people entered the ‘reducción’, they were given clothes and farming tools, and this generated a debt that put them under great pressure. And they were not allowed to make purchases outside the stores of the ‘reducción’,” he explained.

David García, a member of the Napalpí Foundation, created in 2006 to gather information about and bring visibility to the 1924 massacre, took part in the trial in Buenos Aires. His organization was one of the driving forces behind the historic trial in Argentina. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

David García, a member of the Napalpí Foundation, created in 2006 to gather information about and bring visibility to the 1924 massacre, took part in the trial in Buenos Aires. His organization was one of the driving forces behind the historic trial in Argentina. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Invaded by cotton

Historian Nicolás Iñigo Carrera said it was common for indigenous people in the Chaco to go to work temporarily in sugar mills in the neighboring provinces of Salta and Jujuy, but the scenario changed in the 1920s, when the Argentine government introduced cotton in the Chaco, to tap into the textile industry’s growing global demand.

“Then the criollo (white) settlers, who often had no laborers, demanded the guaranteed availability of indigenous labor to harvest the cotton crop, and in 1924 the government prohibited indigenous people, who refused to work on the cotton plantations, from leaving the Chaco, declaring any who left subversives,” Carrera said.

Anthropologist Lena Dávila Da Rosa said the Jul. 19, 1924 protest involved between 800 and 1000 indigenous people from Napalpí, and some 130 police officers who opened fired on them, with the support of an airplane that dropped candy so the children would go out to look for it and thus reveal the location of the protesters they were tracking down.

“It’s impossible to know exactly how many indigenous people were killed, but there were several hundred victims,” Alejandro Jasinski, a researcher with the Truth and Justice Program of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, told IPS.

“The official report mentioned four people killed in confrontations among themselves, and there was a judicial investigation that was quickly closed. All that was left were the buried memories of the communities,” he added.

The memories were revived and made public in recent years thanks in large part to the efforts of Juan Chico, an indigenous writer and researcher from the Chaco who died of COVID-19 in 2021.

“Juan started collecting oral accounts almost 20 years ago,” David García, a translator and interpreter of the language of the Qom, one of the main indigenous nations of the Chaco, told IPS. “I worked alongside him to bring the indigenous genocide to light, and in 2006 we founded an NGO that today is the Napalpí Foundation. It was a long struggle to reach this trial.”

Vera Vigevani de Jarach, a member of the human rights group Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, attended the hearing in Buenos Aires for the Napalpí indigenous massacre, held in the most notorious clandestine detention and torture center used by the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina. CREDIT: National Secretariat of Human Rights

Vera Vigevani de Jarach, a member of the human rights group Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, attended the hearing in Buenos Aires for the Napalpí indigenous massacre, held in the most notorious clandestine detention and torture center used by the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina. CREDIT: National Secretariat of Human Rights

Indigenous people in the Chaco today

Of the population of Chaco province, 3.9 percent, or 41,304 people, identified as indigenous in the last national census conducted in Argentina in 2010, which is higher than the national average of 2.4 percent.

Census data reflects the harsh living conditions of indigenous people in the Chaco and the disadvantages they face in relation to the rest of the population. More than 80 percent live in deficient housing while more than 25 percent live in critically overcrowded conditions, with more than three people per room. In addition, more than half of the households cook with firewood or charcoal.

Today, the site of the Napalpí massacre is called Colonia Aborigen Chaco and is a 20,000-hectare plot of land owned by the indigenous community where, according to official data, some 1,300 indigenous people live, from the Qom and Moqoit communities, the most numerous native groups in the Chaco along with the Wichi.

In 2019, mass graves were found there by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, a prestigious organization that emerged in 1984 to identify remains of victims of the military dictatorship and that has worked all over the world.

“What we hope is that the sentence will bring out the truth about an event that needs to be understood so that racism and xenophobia do not take hold in Argentina,” Duilio Ramírez, a lawyer with the Chaco government’s Human Rights Secretariat, which is acting as plaintiff, told IPS. “People need to know about all the blood that has flowed because of contempt for indigenous people.”

“We hope that with the ruling, the Argentine State will take responsibility for what happened and that this will translate into public policies of reparations for the indigenous communities,” he said.

Massive Deforestation in the Congo Basin Will Lead to Poverty

The current economic development model in Congo Basin is rooted in massive deforestation: more and more concessions are being granted with large scale land set aside for industrial agriculture such as palm oil and rubber

Sylvie Djacbou, Exchanging with indigenous communities and somes civil societies around the Impact of Cameroon growth and employment strategy through structural projects like Agro-industries on Indigenous communities. @inside their sacred forest, Assok/Mintom, South Region Cameroon

By Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue
YAOUNDÉ, May 13 2022 – Growing up amid under the leafy canopy of the Congo Basin rainforest, the woodland was more than our home. It was our playground, our medicine cabinet, our teacher, our therapist. And it was a source of livelihood with its rich biodiversity and helped shield us from the effects of climate change.

The mounting tension between economic growth and healthy forest life over years has led to the destruction of some of the world’s oldest forests and the resulting poverty of its communities. This massive deforestation has led to the expropriation of indigenous and local communities from their ancestral land without their consent, increased carbon emissions, migration and the disappearance of Indigenous communities’ culture and languages.

The current economic development model in Congo Basin is rooted in massive deforestation: more and more concessions are being granted with large scale land set aside for industrial agriculture such as palm oil and rubber.

The loss of the forest ecosystem – and therefore the spiritual and cultural heritage of the  community – is irreversible. The tropical rainforests of the Congo Basin are being eliminated.

Rather than developing our country, the changes are impoverishing forest communities and leaving the entire region more vulnerable to climate change and diseases.

The Congo Basin rainforest, larger than the US state of Alaska, refers to six Central African countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Central African Republic) and is the world’s second largest tropical rainforest after the Amazon.

Recently, just weeks after International Forest Day on 21st of March, the third part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was released showing us that there is still a lot to do on the ground to limit the effect of climate change. And the Congo Basin forest is one of the frontlines in the fight.

This report once again rang the alarm that, if nothing is done, then the world may find itself on a pathway to climate breakdown and extreme poverty.

Later this year, the annual UN climate conferences (COP 27) will take place in Egypt where the world’s leaders will meet to agree on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including its SDG 15 which aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.

We are expecting more action and fewer false promises from Africa’s leaders and for its youth to take the lead scene in holding their leaders accountable.

As we prepare for this event, it is important to think through how we can use that international platform to drive national governments, especially those from Congo Basin, to act with the same speed they took their pledges to address the climate change crisis.

The current economic development model in Congo Basin is rooted in massive deforestation: more and more concessions are being granted with large scale land set aside for industrial agriculture such as palm oil and rubber.

The loss of the forest ecosystem – and therefore the spiritual and cultural heritage of the  community – is irreversible. The tropical rainforests of the Congo Basin are being eliminated.

The impact is not just economic: When forests are cleared, the carbon they store is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. According to the recent Global Forest Watch data, in 2021, 3.75 million hectares of pristine rainforest (an area critical to carbon storage and biodiversity) was lost at a rate of 10 football fields per minute.

Cameroon, for instance, has lost more than 80 thousand hectares of its primary forests in 2021, almost twice area of the primary forest destroyed in 2019. The Democratic Republic of Congo has lost nearly half a million hectares of primary forest in 2021 (Increase of almost 29% compared to 2020). Only to enrich a small portion of selfish elites.

At this rate, there is no way to reverse forest loss by 2030, as pledged by leaders from 141 countries at last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Despite that, Cameroon is still granting a company, like Camvert SA, tax exemptions to implement an almost 60,000 hectares palm plantation project. This will result not only in deforestation but also in biodiversity destruction alongside the loss of communities’ livelihoods but also lead communities in the areas in extreme poverty.

One forest community member told me: “Before this company, I was able to collect non timber forest products and sell them. I was also able to find my treatment there when I was ill. Now, there will be no more forest and we are left to ourselves.”

Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue

The benefits of these deals, however, do not reach local residents. They are seldom hired when these concessions are developed. My research shows experienced workers in these concessions tend to come from other areas of the country and –  even when local community members are hired – they are paid a pittance.

While companies often brag that they are promoting development by opening up roads, it’s important to note that these roads are used mainly to deliver timber to the market and are not open for communities.

The Congo Basin countries are not immune: The 2022 World Bank report show the country is a long way away from achieving substantial poverty reduction, with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people below the poverty line and remaining stubbornly constant.

In DRC, a recent IGF report showed that more than USD 10 million in forest royalties were not paid to the public treasury between 2014 and 2020.

What’s worse, the climate change that this deforestation is making worse will only deepen poverty. The latest IPCC report  estimates that in the next decade alone, climate change will drive 32-132 million more people into extreme poverty.

Yes, we need development. But at what cost? And who should that development benefit? Protecting forests is a matter of preserving the livelihoods of the local community and reducing poverty. Granting more forest concessions will not make us richer than we are now.

We need alternative development models that embrace indigenous communities’ wellbeing and promote healthy forests. By taking advantage of the indigenous people’s wisdom and knowledge, in forest management there is a possibility to develop while securing communities’ land and contribute in bringing back global warming below the critical level (2°C ).

Achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty in the Congo Basin would involve effectively stopping deforestation and implementing climate policies which ensure social justice and meaningful participation of communities in decision-making.

It is time for the various policy working groups on forest issues in Congo Basin to consider more than their personal economic interests but to take more into consideration the long term need to have healthy forests for healthy life.

 

Excerpt:

Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue is Forest Campaigner with Greenpeace Africa and a 2022 Aspen New Voices Fellow.

Call to Freedom for Millions of Children Trapped in Child Labour as Global Conference Comes to Africa

A child beneficiary holding a drawing portraying domestic violence, at the Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education, Lilongwe, Malawi which partnered with the ILO/IPEC to support the national action plan aimed at combating child labour. Credit: Marcel Crozet/ILO

A child beneficiary holding a drawing portraying domestic violence, at the Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education, Lilongwe, Malawi which partnered with the ILO/IPEC to support the national action plan aimed at combating child labour. Credit: Marcel Crozet/ILO

By Joyce Chimbi
Nairobi, May 13 2022 – Children washing clothes in rivers, begging on the streets, hawking, walking for kilometres in search of water and firewood, their tiny hands competing with older, experienced hands to pick coffee or tea, or as child soldiers are familiar sights in Africa and Asia.

Child rights experts at Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation reiterate that tolerance and normalisation of working children, many of whom work in hazardous conditions and circumstances, and apathy has stalled progress towards the elimination of child labour.

Further warnings include more children in labour across the sub-Saharan Africa region than the rest of the world combined. The continent now falls far behind the collective commitment to end all forms of child labour by 2025.

The International Labour Organization estimates more than 160 million children are in child labour globally.

How to achieve the Sustainable Development Target 8.7 and the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour that focuses on its elimination by 2025 will be the subject of the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour to be held in Durban, South Africa, from May 15 to 20, 2022.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to open the conference. He will share the stage with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson and President of the Republic of Malawi Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, and Argentina President Alberto Ángel Fernández Pérez (virtual).

“There are multiple drivers of child labour in Africa, and many of them are interconnected,” Minoru Ogasawara, Chief Technical Advisor for the Accelerating action for the elimination of child labour in supply chains in Africa (ACCEL Africa) at the International Labour Organization (ILO) tells IPS.

He speaks of the high prevalence of children working in agriculture, closely linked to poverty and family survival strategies.

Rapid population growth, Ogasawara says, has placed significant pressure on public budgets to maintain or increase the level of services required to fight child labour, such as education and social protection.

“Hence the call to substantially increase funding through official development assistance (ODA), national budgets and contributions from the private sector targeting child labour and its root causes,” he observes.

UNICEF says approximately 12 percent of children aged 5 to 14 years are involved in child labour – at the cost of their childhood, education, and future.

Of the 160 million child labourers worldwide, more than half are in sub-Saharan Africa, and 53 million are not in school – amounting to 28 % aged five to 11 and another 35 % aged 12 to 14, according to the most recent child labour global estimates by UNICEF and ILO.

Against this grim backdrop, keynote speakers Nobel Peace Laureates Kailash Satyarthi and Leymah Gbowee and former Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven will address the conference, which is expected to put into perspective how and why children still suffer some of the worst, most severe forms of child labour such as bonded labour, domestic servitude, child soldiers, drug trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

Satyarthi has been at the forefront of mobilising global support to this effect.

“I am working in collaboration with a number of other Nobel Laureates and world leaders. We are demanding the setting up of an international social protection mechanism. During the pandemic, we calculated that $53 billion annually could ensure social protection for all children in all low-income countries, as well as pregnant women too,” Satyarthi emphasises.

“Increased social protection, access to free quality education, health care, decent job opportunities for adults, and basic services together create an enabling environment that reduces household vulnerability to child labour,” Ogasawara stresses.

He points to an urgent need to introduce and or rapidly expand social security and other social protection measures suitable for the informal economy, such as cash transfers, school feeding, subsidies for direct education costs, and health care coverage.

The need for a school-to-work transition and to “target children from poor households, increase access to education while reducing the need to combine school with work among children below the minimum working age” should be highlighted.

In the absence of these social protection safety nets, the  International Labour Organization says it is estimated that an additional 9 million children are at risk of child labour by the end of this year and a possible further increase of 46 million child labourers.

In this context, the fifth global conference presents an opportunity to assess progress made towards achieving the goals of SDG Target 8.7, discuss good practices implemented by different actors around the world and identify gaps and urgent measures needed to accelerate the elimination of both child labour and forced labour.

The timing is crucial, says the ILO, as there are only three years left to achieve the goal of the elimination of all child labour by 2025 and only eight years towards the elimination of forced labour by 2030, as established by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 8.7.

The conference will also see the active participation of young survivor-advocates from India and Africa. They will share their first-person accounts and lived experiences in sync with the core theme of the discussion.

The conference will also take place within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, amid fears and concerns that ending child labour became less significant on the international agenda as the world coped with the impact of the pandemic. This could reverse the many gains accrued in the fight against child labour, forced labour and child trafficking.

This is the first of a series of stories which IPS will be publishing during the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour from May 15 to 20, 2022.

IPS UN Bureau Report


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

The Time to Support the Global South is Now

General Assembly Holds Emergency Special Session on Ukraine. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
 
The abstentions of some developing and emerging countries in the vote on the Ukraine resolution in the UN General Assembly in early March is a warning signal. Among the more than 140 countries that voted for the resolution were primarily those in the Global South where Europe is particularly engaged and which tend to be democracies.

By Martin Schulz
BERLIN, May 13 2022 – While the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is shaking up the European security order, other parts of the world are being particularly affected by the war’s ‘side effects’.

The struggle against the economic consequences of the pandemic and the effects of the climate crisis were already posing major challenges for many developing countries. The war in Ukraine is now making the situation even more difficult to manage, and adding new crisis dynamics as well.

As a result of the Russian invasion, for example, the prices of bread, petrol, and fertiliser are rapidly increasing in the countries of the Global South. At the same time, many exporting countries have restricted food exports, so that in many places, food shortages are looming. In view of these developments, the risk of famine is growing, as is the risk of protests that lead to unrest.

In addition, there is concern that donor countries could become less willing and less resourced to support the Global South, due to new commitments related to the war in Ukraine. Yet these are now needed more urgently than ever. We, Europeans, must counter these fears. Support for Ukraine and a strong commitment to the Global South must not be mutually exclusive.

International solidarity and the adherence to a global commitment

Two examples from Africa show why our commitment to the Global South remains important.

First, the Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years. Up to 20 million people are acutely threatened by hunger. At the same time, due to the war in Europe, the prices for food and fertiliser are spiking.

Until now, over one third of east Africa’s grain imports have come from Russia or Ukraine; but since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, deliveries have plummeted. The region’s national budgets are massively indebted after two years of pandemic and economic restrictions, and cannot absorb the price increases.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which sources more than half of its grain from Ukraine and Russia, lacks the resources to combat impending famines. The appeals to the international community are becoming more and more desperate.

Martin Schulz

Secondly, in West Africa it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect the civilian population. The climate crisis has already led to increased risks of conflict in the Sahel region, among other places, because pastureland and water sources are shrinking.

The lack of economic prospects, non-existent public services and a lack of security are giving people greater incentives to join violent groups. The region’s military forces often fight against such groups, without regard for the civilian population. Increasingly, Russian weapons and military advisors are also being used.

Locally coordinated support for human security, which is also promoted by German and European development cooperation, and international peacekeeping missions, such as the one in Mali, can make an important contribution to protecting the local civilian population.

The continuation of the MINUSMA mission and Germany’s participation in it have been a subject of debate, especially since the withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer. The war in Ukraine now raises the question more strongly as to whether a commitment is still viable when the current threat is so close to home.

However, Germany’s withdrawal from the Sahel region would deprive the civilian population of necessary protection and make it more difficult to provide humanitarian aid. That would be a fatal signal to the local population. It would also hardly constitute convincing evidence of Europe’s willingness to assume more global responsibility in the future.

These two examples illustrate that we should intensify rather than scale back cooperation with the Global South now. Our international solidarity requires that we adhere to our global commitment to comprehensive human security both within and outside Europe.

As the Global North, we have benefited from colonialism and globalisation for centuries while we live at the expense of the countries of the Global South, who are not only suffering the most from the climate crisis, but have also contributed to it the least. It is part of our global responsibility to continue to support these countries right now – especially when they are being acutely affected by the effects of war in Europe.

Being a reliable European partner

Europe’s commitment to this is more broadly based than that of other partners of the Global South. Russia, China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates work almost exclusively with governments – regardless of whether or not they are democratic.

Europe, on the other hand, also cooperates with legislative bodies, the judiciary and civil society. Whether combatting hunger, protecting the civilian population, enforcing human and employee rights in global supply chains, or strengthening democratic scope, civil actors in the Global South count on European support.

This is not to be expected from Russia and China. In most countries in the Global South, a majority of the population wish to realise opportunities that only democracies guarantee. Continuing the common commitment to social and political rights worldwide – without being naive in terms of foreign policy – must therefore be part of the Zeitenwende.

Continuing a strong global engagement is also essential for Europe in geostrategic terms. No other region of the world benefits from the rules-based multilateral order as much as the EU, which has built its prosperity and supply chains on its reliability.

Therefore, the hitherto underestimated deglobalisation that currently poses a threat along exclusive zones of influence constitutes a particular risk, given the special integration of European prosperity into a global division of labour. This is all the more reason for Europe to commit itself to preserving this rules-based order beyond its borders.

To do this, we need partners. However, in order to find them, we will need to make more intensive efforts than in the past. The circle of the EU, the G7, NATO, and the OECD is too small.

We need to make concrete and fair offers to the Global South that will make the EU a more attractive partner than it has been thus far. This is not out of altruism, but a rational approach in mutual interest.

After all, if we want to secure majorities for a rules-based multilateral order in your own interest, we have to be the partner of first choice for the developing countries and for common political projects.

The need for critical assessment

The abstentions of some developing and emerging countries in the vote on the Ukraine resolution in the UN General Assembly in early March is therefore a warning signal. Among the more than 140 countries that voted for the resolution were primarily those in the Global South where Europe is particularly engaged and which tend to be democracies.

However, we should also look to the reasons that led certain countries to abstain, and derive constructive policy approaches from this. For many countries in the Global South, an increasingly multipolar world is also one in which they can reduce dependencies on Europe and the US and diversify partnerships.

For such countries, Russia is increasingly one of these partners – for example as the largest arms exporter to Africa, but also in the area of grain export. A clear positioning vis-à-vis Russia is therefore more difficult in the case of some countries.

Europe should respond to this in a constructive way. Future cooperation should not be based on categories of ‘reward’ or ‘punishment’ for voting behaviour. Instead, the opportunities to jointly shape global challenges should be emphasised.

Countries such as India and South Africa abstained from the vote in the General Assembly, among other reasons, because they assume that we have double standards, for example in the case of fighting the pandemic.

However, these two countries are not the only ones that remain decisive partners for rules-based multilateralism. Therefore, we need to be making more competitive offers to the Global South. For this we need a new framework of cooperation and a better understanding of the other parties’ interests.

Our cooperation must be more strategically positioned than in the past. This will require greater coherence between the various political areas in Europe. Approaches in foreign, development, climate and economic policy must mesh with each other.

Despite the increased demand for defence funding, the extensive humanitarian and development policy commitment must be maintained. In the end, every euro spent on crisis prevention saves many times the expenditure than dealing with the consequences of the crisis would entail. Every euro spent on protecting democracy creates a foundation for political stability.

A critical assessment of one’s own actions is always a prerequisite for a change in policy. In the past we have too often confused short-term security with long-term stability. For example, Europe’s cooperation with African autocrats to control migration to Europe and, supposedly, strengthen regional security was a mistake.

This cost us trust among those who – with growing success – protest against these autocrats and may soon assume government responsibilities. Establishing commercial interests that protect the interests of individual European industries but limit the creation of added value in the Global South makes it easier for other actors to make more attractive offers – for example in the establishment of economic infrastructure.

In a world in which many developing countries are being courted by various potential partners, a fairer EU trade policy takes on geopolitical importance. Through it, we can win the partners we need.

Europe’s advantage remains its capacity for multi-dimensional cooperation with the Global South. There it experiences a high degree of recognition – our partners from politics, civil society and trade unions from São Paulo to Bamako to Dhaka agree on this point.

An increasingly multipolar world needs more international commitment rather than less. This also amounts to one way in which our political approach to the new era must be measured.

Martin Schulz has been Chairman of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung since 14 December 2020. He is a former member of the German Bundestag and the European Parliament, of which he was President from 2012 to 2017. He was party leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 2017 to 2018.

Source: International Politics and Society (IPS), published by the Global and European Policy Unit of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hiroshimastrasse 28, D-10785 Berlin.

IPS UN Bureau

 


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

Russian Invasion Blamed for 44 Million People Marching Towards Hunger & Starvation

A cargo of high energy biscuits for Ukrainian refugees is offloaded at an airport in Poland. Amid reports of dwindling food supplies in embattled areas in Ukraine, the World Food Programme (WFP) has begun ramping up operations, warning that the conflict could have consequences beyond the country. Ukraine has long been the “breadbasket” of Europe, but the fighting could disrupt global wheat trade, with knock-on impacts on food prices and overall food security. Credit: WFP/Marco Frattini

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, May 13 2022 – The Russian invasion of Ukraine last February has triggered multiple crises in several fronts: the deaths of thousands of civilians, the destruction of heavily populated cities, the rise in military spending in Europe, a projected decline in development assistance to the world’s poorer nations; the demolition of schools and health-care facilities — and now the threat of hunger and starvation.

David Beasley, executive director of the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), said last week: “Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full,” while “44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation.”

“The bullets and bombs in Ukraine could take the global hunger crisis to levels beyond anything we’ve seen before,” Beasley warned during a visit to the Polish-Ukrainian border.

“The world demands it because hundreds of millions of people globally depend on these supplies. We’re running out of time and the cost of inaction will be higher than anyone can imagine. I urge all parties involved to allow this food to get out of Ukraine to where it’s desperately needed so we can avert the looming threat of famine”.

Beasley warned that unless the ports are reopened, Ukrainian farmers will have nowhere to store the next harvest in July/August. The result will be mountains of grain going to waste while WFP and the world struggle to deal with an already catastrophic global hunger crisis.

A leading producer of grain, Ukraine had about 14 million tons in storage and available for export. But Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea ports has brought shipments to a standstill. More grain is stranded on ships unable to move because of the conflict.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters May 3 the United States chaired a Security Council meeting last March focusing on the link between armed conflict and food security.

“Once again, we will bring a spotlight to the conflict as a driver of food insecurity.”

The US, which is holding the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month, has scheduled an open debate on May 19 to examine “the nexus between conflict and food security.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to preside over the meeting in-person.

Danielle Nierenberg, President, Food Tank, told IPS Russia’s war against Ukraine and their war crimes will have consequences that will last for decades. Yields of staple crops were already down in many parts of the world because of the impacts of the climate crisis and other conflicts.

“The war will only exacerbate the many crises the world is now facing—the biodiversity loss crisis, the health crisis, and the climate crisis”.

“And because Ukraine and Russia provided so much food—and cooking oils and fertilizer—to other parts of the world, including the Global South, there will be a massive hunger crisis,” she warned.

There is a chance that the war will accelerate a transition to more regenerative and local and regional food systems which was needed before the war. But in the meantime, there will be a a lot of suffering. Governments, NGOs, businesses, and other stakeholders will need to take action now to prevent a food crisis, Nierenberg said.

At a press conference in Vienna May 11, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: ” I have been in intense contact with the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Turkey, and several other key countries, in order to try to address seriously the problems of food security”.

“But once again, I do not intend to make public any of the initiatives I am having until they produce a result, because if this becomes something to be discussed, globally, I am sure that we will not be able to achieve anything,” he said.

WFP’s analysis has found that 276 million people worldwide were already facing acute hunger at the start of 2022. That number is expected to rise by 44 million people if the conflict in Ukraine continues, with the steepest rises in sub-Saharan Africa.

Daniel Bradlow, Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations in the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, told IPS the war in Ukraine will have a devastating impact in Africa because many African countries import food and fertilizer from Russia and Ukraine.

Therefore, the war will lead to increase in food and fertilizer prices as well as shortages of food and fertilizer. The impact of the war will come on top of extreme weather events– droughts, floods– in various parts of the continent that will also have adverse impacts on food prices and supplies.

“Thus. it is likely that there will be increases in the number of people going hungry across the continent which will have tragic impacts on the development and wellbeing of children”.

The only silver lining in this terrible situation is that it might lead to people across the continent increasing their reliance on more indigenous crops such as cassava, he noted.

Hanna Saarinen, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor on Food, Agriculture and Land, told IPS global hunger is soaring with the war in Ukraine seeing food prices skyrocket.

“This is catastrophic for people living in countries highly dependent on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine. Countries like Yemen and Syria in the Middle East and Somalia and South Sudan in Africa where we are seeing people pushed beyond the brink of hunger,” she said.

The reason is a broken global food system, one that is unable to withstand crises and one that is built on inequality. Many poorer countries are unable – and are too often made unable – to produce enough food to feed their people. They must rely on food imports. This dependency is dangerous, she added.

“Countries should refrain from using food export bans. They just do more harm. Countries should ensure that food can move quickly from one country to another”.

“We need a food system that works for everybody. One that can stand against shocks such as rapid food inflation and one that is built on local small-scale family farming” she declared.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);  

Inequality Tightens Its Grip on the Most Vulnerable

Every year, 570 million tons of food are wasted at the household level people. Global food waste accounts for 8–10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, May 13 2022 – Please do not say you were not aware that the world produces enough food to feed all human beings on Earth, while nearly double the combined European Union’s population go to bed hungry… every single night.

And please don’t pretend you did not know that 20% of all humans –those who live in the wealthiest countries– waste about 35% of the food they buy, throwing it in the garbage.

Poverty, armed conflicts and corruption are also to be blamed in poor countries for wasting food –although in a much lesser volume–, due to the lack of adequate stocking infrastructure.

Africa as a whole contributes to about two to three per cent of global emissions that cause global warming and climate change. However, the continent suffers the heaviest impacts of the climate crisis, including increased heat waves, severe droughts and catastrophic cyclones, like the ones that hit Mozambique and Madagascar in recent years

In short, every year, 570 million tons of food are wasted at the household level, according to the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP)’s Food Waste Index Report 2021 report.

This amount of wasted food is sufficient to feed the millions of hungry people.

Moreover, global food waste accounts for 8–10% of greenhouse gas emissions, UNEP warns.

Meanwhile, the intensive agriculture industries dump in lands and seas huge amounts of food either because they are “ugly” –therefore not nice enough to be marketable–, or to keep their prices the most highly profitable possible.

 

The triple planetary crisis

Food waste accelerates the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution, according to the world’s environmental body.

Just take the case of a vast continent like Africa –55 countries home to 1.4 billion humans– causes a negligible 2% to 3% of all global greenhouse emissions, however it falls victim to more than 80% of the world’s climate catastrophes.

All the above, and other innumerable consequences, have a common name: inequality.

Inequality is not just about a morality issue: inequality kills one person … every four seconds.

 

From billionaires to trillionaires

Add to all the above the fact that as the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the poor, the world’s 10 richest have multiplied their wealth into trillions.

The numbers are unbelievably staggering: the world’s 10 richest men more than doubled their fortunes from 700 US billion to 1.5 trillion US dollars—at a rate of 15,000 per second or 1.3 billion a day, according to a new study from Oxfam International, IPS journalist Thalif Deen reported.

“These phenomenal changes in fortunes took place during the first two years of a Covid-19 pandemic that has seen the incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall, and over 160 million more people forced into poverty—60 million more than the figures released by the World Bank in 2020.”

 

Grabbed

As this happens, conservative estimates indicate that 811 million human beings are extremely hungry, close to the abyss of famine and death.

These millions live in the poorest regions of the world, those which have enormous natural resources –oil, indispensable minerals for giant technologies, private corporations, fertile soils grabbed by big business, etc– just do not eat.

 

Playing with fire

But there is much more evidence showing how the most vulnerable are left behind in one of the worst health crises in decades: COVID-19 vaccines.

See what the World Health Organization’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on 4 May 2022: the best way to save lives, protect health systems and minimise cases of “long COVID” is by vaccinating at least 70% of every country’s population – and 100% of most at-risk groups.

Although more jabs have become available, a lack of political commitment, operational capacity problems, financial constraints, misinformation and disinformation, are limiting vaccine demand, he added while warning that COVID treatment is still often ‘out of reach’ for the poor.

 

Manufacturers’ record profits

While “we’re playing with a fire that continues to burn us”, he said that “manufacturers are posting record profits”.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that “we cannot accept prices that make life-saving treatments available to the rich and out of reach for the poor”.

 

Acute food and water shortages

Back to the staggering impacts of the climate crisis on those who contributed the least to cause it.

In East Africa only, 25 million humans now face acute food and water shortages due to the climate crisis, as already projected a few months ago by the scientific community.

 

The driest conditions

The East African region, and in particular, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya, are experiencing the driest conditions and hottest temperatures since satellite record-keeping began, the world’s environmental body reported.

“As a result, as many as 13 million people are currently experiencing acute food and water shortages and a projected 25 million will face a similar fate by mid-2022.”

Scientists are blaming climate change for the current crisis in a part of the world that is least able to cope with.

“Africa as a whole contributes to about two to three per cent of global emissions that cause global warming and climate change.”

“However, the continent suffers the heaviest impacts of the climate crisis, including increased heat waves, severe droughts and catastrophic cyclones, like the ones that hit Mozambique and Madagascar in recent years.”

 

Things will only get worse

Furthermore, scientists and experts project that things will only get worse for Africa if current trends continue.

According to the 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, “key development sectors have already experienced widespread loss and damage attributable to anthropogenic climate change, including biodiversity loss, water shortages, reduced food production, loss of lives and reduced economic growth.”

“The current drought hitting East Africa has been particularly devastating to small-scale farmers and herders across the Horn who are already vulnerable to climate related shocks.”

“At the moment in the Horn of Africa we are witnessing vulnerable communities being disproportionately affected by climate change who are least able to buffer against its impact,” said Susan Gardner, the Director of UNEP’s Ecosystems Division.

 

Famine

In the case of one East African country: Somalia, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that the drought emergency has deteriorated to a point where the country is facing the risk of famine.

And that about 4.5 million people are affected, of whom nearly 700,000 people have been displaced from their homes in search of water, food, pasture and livelihoods.

The UN relief web also informs that:

• About 3.5 million people are in acute need of water assistance, including 1.4 million internally displaced people. Water trucking activities are ongoing but are insufficient to meet increasing needs.

• Schools are closing as children are displaced with their families. At least 420,000 (45% girls) out of 1.4 million children whose education has been disrupted are at risk of dropping out of school because of the drought.

• At least 1.8 million people were reached with various forms of assistance in February, but the escalating emergency calls for sustained scaling up of response and flexibility in reprogramming.

 

Unprecedented impacts

Confirming these facts, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for its part reported that The Horn of Africa is in the grip of the worst drought in decades – parching landscapes, heightening food insecurity and causing increasingly widespread displacement.

An estimated 15 million people are severely affected by the drought in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia – approximately 3,5 and 7 million people in each country, respectively.

The unprecedented impacts of multiple failed rainy seasons are threatening to create a humanitarian crisis in a region “already negatively impacted by cumulative shocks, including conflict and insecurity, extreme weather conditions, climate change, desert locusts and the negative socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Now that you have been reminded about some of the multiple, severe impacts of inequality, which, even at different levels, takes place in the rich, industrialised countries will you take them into account when it comes to voting politicians?