Somalia on the Path to Recovery, but Real Challenges Remain

Africa, Armed Conflicts, Civil Society, Featured, Global Governance, Headlines, Human Rights, Regional Categories, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

A Somali woman goat-seller in Hargeisa livestock market. Photo: Credit: UNDP / Said Fadhaye

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Jan 18 2022 (IPS) – I arrived in Somalia in September 2019, two decades after having worked here previously. I knew that I was taking up a challenging assignment, but I was also looking forward to seeing Somalia’s progress.


Afflicted by decades of conflict, recurrent climatic shocks, disease outbreaks and poverty, Somalia was often called a ‘failed state.’ The narrative is now changing, and although fragile, Somalia is on a path to stability and the resilience of the Somali people is second to none.

That said, we are not under any illusion: significant challenges remain, and we must work even harder to preserve the gains made to date.

Somalia’s upward trajectory is evident in the construction boom, as one analyst noted — the sound of the hammer is replacing the sound of gunfire in Somalia’s capital.

The UN has been closely supporting the Somali people since the birth of the Republic in 1960. Currently, the UN’s various mandates are implemented through 26  Agencies, Funds and Programmes (both resident and non-resident), one political mission (UNSOM) and one logistical support mission (UNSOS). 

The UN’s commitment towards the Somali cause is articulated in detail in the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF 2021-2025), mirroring the priorities of Somalia’s Ninth National Development Plan (NDP-9).

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN marshalled support to help the Somali government respond to the virus outbreak. We continue to support the Somali authorities in seeking to defeat this pandemic and encouraging people to get vaccinated.

Elections are also on-going in Somalia. The UN is supporting the process to ensure that elections are held in a peaceful and transparent manner, while at the same time advocating for 30 per cent women’s quota in the Somali legislature.

While these are encouraging signs of progress, we must not forget Somalia’s long-standing challenges. According to UN’s projections for next year, an estimated 7.7 million Somalis (nearly half of the country’s population) will require humanitarian assistance and protection.

Women and children continue to bear the brunt of Somalia’s complex humanitarian crises, especially among the internally displaced communities. In light of the current serious droughts, the Somali government declared a humanitarian state of emergency on 23 November.

Yet, neither the government nor the humanitarian community has adequate resources to respond. With a few days remaining in the year, the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan which seeks US$1.09 billion remains only 70 per cent funded. Additional resources are urgently needed to prevent the dire humanitarian situation from becoming a catastrophe, so we continue to engage partners on this subject.

In this regard, I undertook missions to Europe in October and to the Gulf in September. Throughout my interactions with partners, I stressed the need for additional funding to address Somalia’s escalating humanitarian crisis and elaborated on how inaction not only risks a reversal of the gains but puts the lives of millions of Somalis in jeopardy.

Through my field visits in Somalia, I have also seen first-hand the grim realities of adverse climate conditions. Somalia is no doubt on the frontline of climate change. The recurrent droughts and floods are driving widespread displacement, rapid urbanization, hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Climate change is also increasingly seen as the driver of conflict and a threat to the country’s security as the struggle over meagre resources deepens divisions. In addition, the loss of traditional livelihoods makes people vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups such as Al-Shabaab.

Somalia is currently experiencing a third consecutive season of below-average rainfall, with nearly 80 per cent of the country experiencing drought conditions, water shortages and livestock deaths. One in five Somalis does not have enough water to cover his/her basic needs.

On a positive note, as part of the efforts to mitigate the climate emergency, the government, with the support of the United Nations, has recently adopted an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution to achieve global climate targets, in which Somalia committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

Somalia’s crises are multifaceted, and they require comprehensive solutions from all stakeholders. It is our collective responsibility to support the efforts of the Somali people to cope with these crises and find lasting solutions that build resilience against future shocks. We must not fail the people we pledged to serve.

Adam Abdelmoula is Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. He told a press conference in December that the UN and its partners have launched a nearly $1.5 billion Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). Roughly 7.7 million people in the country will need assistance and protection in 2022, a 30 per cent rise in just one year.

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As the Pandemic Devastates the Poor, the World’s 10 Richest Have Multiplied their Wealth into Trillions

Featured, Global, Global Governance, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Poverty & SDGs, Sustainability, TerraViva United Nations

In Malawi, some students have been going to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: UNICEF/Malumbo Simwaka

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 17 2022 (IPS) – The numbers are unbelievably staggering: the world’s 10 richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion —at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3 billion a day, according to a new study from Oxfam International.


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.

“If these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet,” said Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher.
“They now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.”

“It has never been so important to start righting the violent wrongs of this obscene inequality by clawing back elites’ power and extreme wealth including through taxation —getting that money back into the real economy and to save lives,” she said.

According to Forbes magazine, the 10 richest people, as of 30 November 2021, who have seen their fortunes grow, include Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault & family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffet.

The pandemic has hit the poorest people, women and racialized and marginalized groups the hardest. For example, in the US, 3.4 million Black Americans would be alive today if their life expectancy was the same as White people —this is directly linked to historical racism and colonialism, according to the study titled “Inequality Kills” released January 17, ahead of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) online Davos Agenda.

The report finds that a new billionaire is created every 26 hours while inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds.

Other findings include:

    — The pandemic has set gender parity back from 99 years to now 135 years. 252 men have more wealth than all 1 billion women and girls in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean combined.

    — During the second wave of the pandemic in England, people of Bangladeshi origin were five times more likely to die of COVID-19 than the White British population. Black people in Brazil are 1.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than White people.

    — Inequality between countries is expected to rise for the first time in a generation. The proportion of people with COVID-19 who die from the virus in developing countries is roughly double that in rich countries.

Asked for his comments, Ben Phillips, author of How to Fight Inequality, told IPS the new report “confirms four vital truths about inequality are now proven beyond doubt.

Firstly, inequality kills. Inequality is not just inefficient and unfair. As the data shows, it is deadly.

Secondly, inequality is spiralling. The driving cause is neoliberalism, but it has now been supercharged by the pandemic.

Thirdly, inequality is a political choice. The rise in inequality is not inevitable. Governments can reduce inequality if they decide to do so.

Fourthly, policy-makers will only shift if we make them do so. A reversal in inequality depends on us, ordinary citizens, organizing to push our leaders to make them do their job and put in place the policies that will deliver a fairer, safer, world.”

Striking a hopeful note, Phillips said: “Though the crisis has made inequality even worse and even harder to bear,” he said, “the crisis also, paradoxically, has generated an opportunity for transformational shift to tackle inequality, if we seize this moment”.

“We know the policy mix needed – get the vaccine to everyone by sharing the rights and recipes, drop the debt, expand public services like free health and education, raise up ordinary people’s wages and worker’s rights, tackle discrimination, put money in the hands of ordinary people, and properly tax, and restrain the economic and political power, of big corporations and the super-rich.”

Change depends on ordinary people, Phillips said. “The myths of equal opportunity and rising tides have been busted, but the truth alone will not set us free. Left to itself, the rigged economy will continue to worsen inequality. Left to themselves, politicians will allow it, even enable it, to do so.

Only pressure from below can secure a reversal of rising inequality. The good news is that around the world, frustration is increasingly being channelled into a resurgence of organizing that has potential to shift the balance of power.

Unions, community organizations, women’s groups, progressive faith organizations and social movements are standing up and standing together. This is the source of hope. This is our chance – if enough people join in. Inequality defines this moment but need not be our fate,” declared Phillips.

According to the Oxfam report, billionaires’ wealth has risen more since COVID-19 began than it has in the last 14 years. At $5 trillion dollars, this is the biggest surge in billionaire wealth since records began. A one-off 99 percent tax on the ten richest men’s pandemic windfalls, for example, could pay:

    — to make enough vaccines for the world;
    — to provide universal healthcare and social protection, fund climate adaptation and reduce gender-based violence in over 80 countries;
    — All this, while still leaving these men $8 billion better off than they were before the pandemic.

“Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic. Central banks pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom. Vaccines were meant to end this pandemic, yet rich governments allowed pharma billionaires and monopolies to cut off the supply to billions of people. The result is that every kind of inequality imaginable risks rising. The predictability of it is sickening. The consequences of it kill,” said Bucher.

Extreme inequality is a form of economic violence, where policies and political decisions that perpetuate the wealth and power of a privileged few results in direct harm to the vast majority of ordinary people across the world and the planet itself.

Oxfam recommends that governments urgently:

    — Claw back the gains made by billionaires by taxing this huge new wealth made since the start of the pandemic through permanent wealth and capital taxes.

    — Invest the trillions that could be raised by these taxes toward progressive spending on universal healthcare and social protection, climate change adaptation, and gender-based violence prevention and programming.

    — Tackle sexist and racist laws that discriminate against women and racialized people and create new gender-equal laws to uproot violence and discrimination. All sectors of society must urgently define policies that will ensure women, racialized and other oppressed groups are represented in all decision-making spaces.

    — End laws that undermine the rights of workers to unionize and strike, and set up stronger legal standards to protect them.

    — And rich governments must immediately waive intellectual property rules over COVID-19 vaccine technologies to allow more countries to produce safe and effective vaccines to usher in the end of the pandemic.

Download the “Inequality Kills” report and summary and the methodology document outlining how Oxfam calculated the statistics in the report.

Oxfam’s calculations are based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources available. Figures on the very richest in society come from Forbes’ 2021 Billionaires List. Figures on the share of wealth come from the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Databook 2021. Figures on the incomes of the 99 percent are from the World Bank.

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SAD|| Lady Dies While On Honeymoon Just 10 Days After Wedding (Photos)

An African-American socialite by the name of Tatiana has reportedly died just 10 days after her wedding ceremony while she was on a honeymoon with her husband.

According to reports, Tatiana was said to have traveled to Cameroon to fast track her wedding with her boyfriend but unfortunately died just ten days after the wedding ceremony.

Friends of Tatiana revealed that she had complained of a stomach ache before giving up the ghost a few hours later. Her death has shaken social media as all eyes were on her and her spouse for holding what many describe as one of the plush weddings for 2021.


See her wedding photos below:

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On Nuclear Weapons, Actions Belie Reassuring Words

Armed Conflicts, Civil Society, Featured, Global, Global Geopolitics, Global Governance, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Nuclear Energy – Nuclear Weapons, Peace, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Credit: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament/Henry Kenyon

WASHINGTON DC, Jan 13 2022 (IPS) – On Jan. 3, the leaders of the five nuclear-armed members of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) issued a rare joint statement on preventing nuclear war in which they affirmed, for the first time, the 1985 Reagan-Gorbachev maxim that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”


The U.S., Chinese, French, Russian, and UK effort was designed in part to create a positive atmosphere for the 10th NPT review conference, which has been delayed again by the pandemic. It also clearly aims to address global concerns about the rising danger of nuclear conflict among states and signals a potential for further cooperation to address this existential threat.

The question now is, do they have the will and the skill to translate their laudable intentions into action before it is too late?

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price hailed the statement as “extraordinary.” A more sober reading shows that it falls woefully short of committing the five to the policies and actions necessary to prevent nuclear war.

In fact, the statement illustrates how their blind faith in deterrence theories, which hinge on a credible threat of using nuclear weapons, perpetuates conditions that could lead to nuclear catastrophe.

The statement asserts that “nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.” Yet, such broad language suggests they might use nuclear weapons to “defend” themselves against a wide range of threats, including non-nuclear threats.

Given the indiscriminate and horrific effects of nuclear weapons use, such policies are dangerous, immoral, and legally unjustifiable.

At the very least, if the leaders of these states are serious about averting nuclear war, they should formally adopt no-first-use policies or, as U.S. President Joe Biden promised in 2020, declare that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter or possibly respond to a nuclear attack.

Even this approach perpetuates circumstances that could lead to nuclear war by accident or miscalculation. The only way to ensure nuclear weapons are never used is “to do away with them entirely,” as President Ronald Reagan argued in 1984, and sooner rather than later.

But on disarmament, the statement only expressed a “desire to work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.” This vague, caveated promise rings hollow after years of stalled disarmament progress and an accelerating global nuclear arms race.

A year ago, Russia and the United States extended the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, but they have not begun negotiations on a follow-on agreement. Meanwhile, both spend billions of dollars annually to maintain and upgrade their nuclear forces, which far exceed any rational concept of what it takes to deter a nuclear attack.

China is on pace to double or triple the size of its land-based strategic missile force in the coming years. Worse still, despite past promises “to engage in the process leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” Chinese leaders are rebuffing calls to engage in arms control talks with the United States and others. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, announced last year it would increase its deployed strategic warhead ceiling.

Fresh statements by the five NPT nuclear-armed states reaffirming their “intention” to fulfill their NPT disarmament obligations are hardly credible in the absence of time-bound commitments to specific disarmament actions.

At the same time, the five, led by France, have criticized the good faith efforts by the majority of NPT non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to advance the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Contrary to claims by the nuclear-armed states, the TPNW reinforces the NPT and the norm against possessing, testing, and using nuclear weapons.

Rather than engage TPNW leaders on their substantive concerns, U.S. officials are pressuring influential states, including Sweden, Germany, and Japan, not to attend the first meeting of TPNW states-parties as observers. Such bullying will only reinforce enthusiasm for the TPNW and undermine U.S. credibility on nuclear matters.

The leaders of the nuclear five, especially Biden, can and must do better. Before the NPT review conference later this year, Russia and the United States should commit to conclude by 2025 negotiations on further verifiable cuts in strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces and on constraints on long-range missile defenses.

China, France, and the UK should agree to join nuclear arms control talks no later than 2025 and to freeze their stockpiles as Washington and Moscow negotiate deeper cuts in theirs.

Instead of belittling the TPNW, the five states need to get their own houses in order. Concrete action on disarmament is overdue. It will help create a more stable and peaceful international security environment and facilitate the transformative move from unsustainable and dangerous deterrence doctrines toward a world free of the fear of nuclear Armageddon.

Source: Arms Control Today

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, Washington DC.

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Lady Dies Whiles On Honeymoon Just 10 Days After Wedding [Photos]

An African-American socialite by the name of Tatiana has reportedly died just 10 days after her wedding ceremony while she was on a honeymoon with her husband.

According to reports, Tatiana was said to have traveled to Cameroon to fast track her wedding with her boyfriend but unfortunately died just ten days after the wedding ceremony.

Friends of Tatiana revealed that she had complained of a stomach ache before giving up the ghost a few hours later. Her death has shaken social media as all eyes were on her and her spouse for holding what many describe as one of the plush weddings for 2021.


See her wedding photos below:

In other news, Ghanaian media personality and business mogul, Deloris Frimpong Manso, affectionately known as Delay has come out with a clearer yet hilarious explanation as to why she always has trust issues.

Trusting is a decision you must make knowing there are never any guarantees that you won’t feel this way again in the future. Trust happens to be one of the most-priced values in life, hence it is very difficult for one to give it out completely.

Trusting people too much makes you vulnerable, but on the flip side, not trusting people enough makes cooperation difficult or impossible and also severely harms your odds of building meaningful relationships with people.

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Oldest surviving World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks dies at 112

Lawrence Brooks, the oldest surviving World War II veteran, who served in a segregated Army unit in the South Pacific in the 1940s has died.

He died in his New Orleans home Wednesday morning, January 5, 2022 at the age of 112.

While in service, Lawrence N. Brooks was part of the mostly black 91st Engineer General Service Regiment, which built roads, hospitals and housing in places like Horn Island, Papua-New Guinea and the Philippines, according to Military Times.

Oldest surviving World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks dies aged 112

He was drafted in 1940 at the age of 31. Even though he never saw combat, he worked as a driver and cook for his white officers. Most African Americans serving in the segregated US armed forces at the beginning of World War II were assigned to noncombat units and relegated to service duties, such as supply, maintenance and transportation, said Col. Pete Crean, vice president of education and access at the museum in New Orleans.

‘The reason for that was outright racism – there’s no other way to characterize it,’ Crean added.

Oldest surviving World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks dies aged 112

The National WWII Museum announced his death and it was confirmed by his daughter and caregiver, Vanessa Brooks. He is survived by five children, 13 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.

‘At 112 years old, he was the oldest surviving WWII veteran in the country,’ the museum wrote on Instagram.

 ‘More than that, he was a dear friend, who celebrated his birthday with us every year starting in 2014, when he was just a spry 105-year-old.

‘His consistent advice when asked for the secret behind his longevity was, “Serve God, and be nice to people.”‘

Oldest surviving World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks dies aged 112

US president, Joe Biden also tweeted a tribute to Brooks, writing;

‘I had the honor of speaking with him last year, and he was truly the best of America. I’m keeping his loved ones in my prayers.’

Oldest surviving World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks dies aged 112
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