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Joint NGO Briefing: Brussels Syria Conference

March 22, 2017

Today more than ever, the international community must share responsibility and stand firmly in support of Syria's civilian population. It is clear however that the aid response, as vital as it is, will only go so far and cannot fully address the needs of Syrian communities to be free from violence and the violations of international human rights (IHRL) and humanitarian law (IHL) that characterize the conflict.In this briefing, Oxfam joins with a variety of agencies and coordination fora to call on all members of the international community, in particular permanent members of the UN Security Council and the EU and EU member states who are discussing post-agreement planning, to insist on the full implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions on Syria that relate to respect for IHL and IHRL, as well as implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 2012.The Brussels conference should also set the foundation for inclusive and meaningful participation of Syrian NGOs and civil society, including youth and women's groups, as key partners in ensuring effective post-agreement planning that captures the needs and desires of the people of Syria and supports local community rebuilding and resilience.

Pakistan Floods Emergency: Lessons from a continuing crisis

February 15, 2012

The floods that began in August 2011 resulted in one of the most destructive disasters that Pakistan has experienced. Many thousands of lives have been saved by the efforts of Pakistani officials, aid workers and affected communities, and vital aid has reached millions of people. But the crisis is far from over. More than 2.5 million men, women and children lack basic necessities such as adequate food and durable shelter. This joint-agency paper argues that greater political commitment and resources are necessary to tackle the social and economic injustices that leave vulnerable groups such as women, children and elderly and disabled people at particular risk from hazards such as floods and earthquakes. And the international aid community should provide timely and adequate funding and technical support to Pakistan's efforts.

Getting it Right from the Start: Priorities for action in the new Republic of South Sudan

September 6, 2011

Amidst jubilant celebration, the new Republic of South Sudan entered the international stage in July 2011 albeit as one of the least developed countries in the world. The challenges and opportunities are enormous, and donors, the government, implementing agencies and most importantly the people of South Sudan have a lot at stake - but much more to gain. Against a backdrop of chronic under-development, the country is acutely vulnerable to recurring conflict and climatic shocks. More than 220,000 people were displaced last year due to conflict and more than 100,000 were affected by floods; and already this year, fighting in the disputed border areas, clashes between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and militia groups, disputes over land and cattle, and attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army, have forced nearly 300,000 people from their homes.South Sudan is a complex context that challenges normal humanitarian and development paradigms. Such complexity has not always been reflected in the strategies of either donors or implementing agencies. This paper presents ten areas that the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and donors must prioritise in the first years of the country's independence so as to ensure the best possible results for the people of South Sudan.The joint NGO paper was written as part of Oxfam's Conflicts and Emergencies campaign aimed at highlighting the right to appropriate assistance and adequate protection for people caught in conflicts and crises. In light of independence the Government of South Sudan and many donors are seeking to establish aid and investment priorities and strategies. These new plans must: continue support for humanitarian needs; seek to prevent conflict; support community and civil society participation; ensure equitable development across the country; prioritise vulnerable populations; promote sustainable livelihoods; strengthen government capacity; enable an appropriate transition to government authorities; provide timely and predictable funding; and engage in multi-sectoral integrated programming . This is a critical time to get aid policies and programs right in order to ensure peace, security, and prosperity for the people of South Sudan. The accompanying note summarises views presented by the SSRRC and MFAIC at a meeting between representatives of the SSRRC and 6 NGO representatives (on behalf of the 38 signatory agencies to the report) held in Juba on 31 August 2011 to discuss the joint-ngo paper Getting it Right from the Start: Priorities for Action in the New Republic of South Sudan. NGOs welcome the Statement from government representatives and invite further discussion on the recommendations in the report and the views shared in the government response.

No Time to Lose: Promoting the Accountability of the Afghan National Security Forces

May 10, 2011

By the end of 2014, the Afghan national army and police - under the authority of the Ministries of Defence and Interior, respectively - are expected to assume full responsibility for the protection of Afghan civilians.But, as international military actors prepare for withdrawal, there are serious concerns regarding the professionalism and accountability of the security forces they will leave behind. The report urges states supporting the national security forces to: Improve the quality of training for the national forces - ensuring that all components of the security forces are appropriately trained in human rights and international humanitarian law, and that training for the police includes sufficient emphasis on accountability, good governance, the rule of law, and community-based policing; Provide more substantial political and financial support to Afghan government institutions and mandated independent bodies that receive and investigate complaints against the national forces. States must also support the Afghan government to ensure that: Personnel who abuse their authority, violate codes of conduct or otherwise fail to fulfil their obligations under Afghan or international law are transparently investigated and appropriately disciplined and/or prosecuted; Incidents resulting in civilian harm are properly monitored and followed by credible investigations.

Delivering and Exceeding the MDGs: Why and How Countries Can Take Action at the UN Summit

May 4, 2011

Delivering and exceeding the MDGS - Why and how countries can take action at the UN Summit - A historic opportunity in 2005. The world's largest anti-poverty campaign - the Global Call for Action against Poverty (GCAP) - is calling on leaders to make firm commitments at the UN on poverty, peace and security and human rights.

High Stakes: Girls' education in Afghanistan

March 22, 2011

Millions of girls have entered school in Afghanistan, since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. It is one of the few good news stories of the last nine years. However, the deteriorating security situation and the international community's focus on stabilization and counter-insurgency rather than on long-term development means this good news story is in danger of turning bad. A new approach from both the Afghan government and donors is urgently required to hold onto the gains that have been made.This report is based on field research carried out in the summer of 2010 in 17 provinces out of a total of 34 in Afghanistan. It was conducted by Oxfam and 15 partner organisations, including 13 Afghan NGOs plus CARE and Swedish Committee of Afghanistan (SCA).Oxfam is calling on the Afghan government and donors to develop a new approach to girls' education to hold onto gains made, and to increase access to education for girls across Afghanistan. With NATO nations preparing for withdrawal by 2014, we also want to ensure that major donors sustain their support for development, especially in the education sector, over the long term.In particular, we want the international community to focus on improving secondary and higher levels of education. They need to support the Afghan government to increase the number of female-friendly, well-equipped schools for girls, especially in rural or remote areas; and to increase the number and quality of female teachers, especially in rural or remote areas.We also think it is important to support the Ministry of Education to improve the monitoring and accountability of schools. And the international community must ensure that girls' access to education is not sacrificed in any political settlement (with insurgent groups) and girls' access to education continues to improve.

Blind Spot: The continuing failure of the World Bank and IMF to fully assess the impact of their advice on poor people

March 8, 2011

It seems impossible that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) would give advice to developing countries without fully considering how it might affect the lives of poor people. Yet, despite it being a long-stated policy of both institutions to do so, and some recent progress on the part of the IMF, they are still failing to consistently ensure that there is a proper assessment of the likely consequences of different policy actions on the poorest people. It is particularly important that this issue is discussed as the World Bank is negotiating new funds from donors. Donors should insist on these changes being implemented to ensure that their money is more likely to result in genuine, sustainable poverty reduction.

Health Insurance in Low Income Countries: Where is the evidence that it works?

March 8, 2011

Some donors and governments propose that health insurance mechanisms can close health financing gaps and benefit poor people. Although beneficial for the people able to join, this method of financing health care has so far been unable to sufficiently fill financing gaps in health systems and improve access to quality health care for the poor. Donors and governments need to consider the evidence and scale up public resources for the health sector. Without adequate public funding and government stewardship, health insurance mechanisms pose a threat rather than an opportunity to the objectives of equity and universal access to health care.

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Protecting civilians from the LRA

December 20, 2010

Almost daily, a small band of rebels known as the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, kills, abducts and attacks people across a vast area of central Africa.The LRA has become the most deadly militia in Democratic Republic of Congo, with Christmas time over the past two years marked by appalling massacres. Since 2008, more than 400,000 people have fled their homes after the LRA rampaged across remote villages in Sudan, Central African Republic and Congo. Attacks came in retaliation to an ill-planned military offensive against the militia by regional armies.The African Union and US government have recently announced initiatives to address the threat posed by the LRA. Renewed attention is welcome and vitally needed, but international and regional governments must learn the lessons of the past and ensure that future efforts provide effective security for local people. Women and men must be able to tend to their fields, children go to school and families sleep in their homes free from fear.

Nowhere to Turn: The failure to protect civilians in Afghanistan

December 17, 2010

A Joint Briefing Paper by 29 Aid Organizations Working in Afghanistan for the NATO Heads of Government Summit, Lisbon, November 19-20, 2010Security for the vast majority of Afghans is rapidly deteriorating. As 29 aid organizations working in Afghanistan, we are deeply concerned about the impact of the escalating conflict on civilians. It is likely that in-creased violence in 2011 will lead to more civilian casualties, continue to fuel displacement, cut off access to basic services and reduce the ability of aid agencies to reach those who need assistance most.This paper does not attempt to address all aspects of the current conflict. It concentrates on those that negatively impact civilians, particularly in the context of transition to Afghan responsibility for security. While this paper primarily focuses on the actions and strategy of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), it is important to remember that armed opposition groups (AOG), who are stronger and control more territory than at any time since 2001, also have clear obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) to protect civilians. As such, this paper will make reference to AOG actions and issue recommendations to AOG where applicable.As world leaders meet in at the NATO summit Lisbon, we strongly urge them, along with all parties to the conflict, to minimize the harm to civilians and reduce threats and disruptions to basic services and development and humanitarian activities across Afghanistan. In addition, ISAF should do much more to ensure that ANSF, as they take on greater responsibility for security, fully respect human rights and the laws of war.

Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza blockade

December 17, 2010

On June 20, 2010, following concerted international pressure, the Government of Israel announced a set of measures to 'ease' its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip.Many in the international community, including Quartet Representative Tony Blair, expressed hopes that this would lead to a major change and alleviate the plight of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza. However, five months later, there are few signs of real improvement on the ground as the 'ease' has left foundations of the illegal blockade policy intact.While the Government of Israel committed to expand and accelerate the inflow of construction materials for international projects, it has so far only approved 7 per cent of the building plan for UNRWA's projects in Gaza, and of that 7 per cent only a small fraction of the necessary construction material has been allowed to enter for projects including schools and health centres.Although there has been a significant increase in the amount of food stuffs entering Gaza, many humanitarian items, including vital water equipment, that are not on the Israeli restricted list continue to receive no permits. Two thirds of Gaza's factories report they have received none or only some of the raw materials they need to recommence operations. As a result, 39% of Gaza residents remain unemployed and unable to afford the new goods in the shops. Without raw materials and the chance to export, Gaza's businesses are unable to compete with the cheaper newly imported goods. This economic development leaves 80% of the population dependent upon international aid.In order to have a positive impact on the daily lives of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, half of whom are children, Israel must fully lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Caught in the Conflict: Civilians and the international security strategy in Afghanistan

November 8, 2010

This paper makes recommendations on how the security strategy of the international community should be changed in order to minimise the harm caused to Afghan civilians and reduce the disruption to development and humanitarian activities in the current environment in Afghanistan. The paper does not attempt to address all dimensions of the current conflict, but focuses specifically on issues which concern or relate to international security strategies and military forces as they affect Afghan civilians. It therefore addresses issues of relevance to officials in troop-contributing countries, for whom the recommendations are primarily intended. In particular, the paper is directed at politicians, policymakers and military officials attending the NATO Heads of State and Government Summit on 3-4 April in Germany.