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Lutte contre le covid-19 : Compassion International Togo au chevet des enfants vulnérables

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L’ONG Compassion International Togo
a procédé ce vendredi 29 mai à la remise de dons d’une valeur de 21 millions de
FCFA au Togo par le biais du Ministère de l’action sociale de la promotion de
la femme et de l’alphabétisation. Composés de dispositifs de lavage des mains, de
masques de gels hydro alcoolique, de sacs de riz, de mais et de pates alimentaires
etc.

La représentante de l’ONG, Sarah
Kaglan, Directrice de l’Administration et des opérations a affirmé que l’objectif
de cette action est d’aller au chevet des enfants en les soulageant à travers
ces dons qui leur donneront un peu de boom au cœur.

Un geste salué par la ministre de l’action
sociale Tchabinandi KOLANI
YENTCHARE qui est venue réceptionner les dons au nom du gouvernement
et a qualifié ce geste de « signe éloquent de l’engagement de l’organisation
dans une constante pour le bien-être des enfants, de même que la manifestation
de sa solidarité à l’endroit du gouvernement en cette période de pandémie
« .

La ministre a manifesté sa vive
préoccupation et celle du gouvernement par rapport à la protection des enfants vivant
en situation de précarité, notamment ceux qui vivent dans la rue, ceux qui sont
pris en charge dans les centres d’accueil, ceux qui sont en conflit avec la loi
ou encore ceux qui sont handicapés.

Compassion International Togo est un
ministère de défense des enfants qui associe des personnes compatissantes à des
enfants vivant dans une pauvreté extrême pour libérer les enfants de la
pauvreté spirituelle, économique, sociale et physique.

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UN Chief Warns of Deadly Germs as Potential Bioterrorist Weapons

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Credit: United Nations

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 8 2020 (IPS)

The coronavirus—which has claimed the lives of over 538,000 people and infected more than 11.6 million worldwide—has destabilized virtually every facet of human life ever since its outbreak in late December.

Providing a grim economic scenario of the devastation caused by the pandemic– including rising poverty, hunger and unemployment– UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned last week of the possibility of an even worse disaster: the risks of bioterrorist attacks deploying deadly germs.

He said it has already shown some of the ways in which preparedness might fall short, “if a disease were to be deliberately manipulated to be more virulent, or intentionally released in multiple places at once”.

“So, as we consider how to improve our response to future disease threats, we should also devote serious attention to preventing the deliberate use of diseases as weapons,” he declared, speaking at a Security Council meeting on the maintenance of international peace and security— and the implications of COVID-19.

Guterres pointed out that the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which codifies “a strong and longstanding norm against the abhorrent use of disease as a weapon”, has 183 States Parties.

“I urge the 14 States that have not yet joined the Convention to do so without any further delay,” he urged.

Opened for signature on April 10, 1972, the BWC entered into force on March 26, 1975, and currently has 183 states-parties.

Of the 14 countries outside the Convention, 10 have neither signed nor ratified the BWC, including Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Israel, Kiribati, Micronesia, Namibia, South Sudan and Tuvalu, while four countries, Egypt, Haiti, Somalia and Syria, have signed but not ratified it.

John Loretz, a former Program Director and a senior consultant with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) told IPS: “I think the Secretary-General is absolutely correct in both assessments– that the BWC is a strong treaty with widespread support, which needs to be strengthened, and that building up our public health institutions and pandemic response infrastructure would ensure that essential resources are in place should we ever have to deal with a biological weapons attack”.

That said, one of the obstacles to getting effective oversight and verification into the BWC—perhaps the biggest obstacle—has been lobbying by the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries and their allies, who have argued that it’s difficult to determine intent when assessing whether someone is using a toxin for legitimate reasons (e.g., vaccine development) or for prohibited reasons (i.e., weapons), and that intrusive inspections would compromise trade secrets and intellectual property rights.

Loretz said those who want to strengthen the BWC will have to find a way past industry stonewalling in order to give the treaty compliance tools such as those incorporated into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Jez Littlewood, a freelance researcher with expertise in biological weapons, arms control, and national security issues, told IPS the use of a biological weapon would be an act involving the deliberate use of disease.

“We know from consistent data about disease and its impacts worldwide that it can have potential devastating consequences”.

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014, the influenza pandemic of 1919 and the diseases brought by European explorers and settlers to the Americas from the 15th century onwards all had significant implications for populations, he noted, adding that 2017 data makes this clear: https://ourworldindata.org/causes-of-death

Tracing its history, Littlewood said bioterrorism certainly exists, but in the 25 years since Aum Shinrikyo launched its chemical weapons attack on the Tokyo subway system, bioterrorism has been low level and relatively unsophisticated.

Terrorists have killed far more people with vehicles, knives and basic firearms than they ever have with disease causing organisms, said Littlewood, who served under secondment to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and worked at the United Nations in Geneva.

John Hart, Non-Resident Scholar at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey, California, told IPS it seems that the Secretary-General’s basic message is that preparedness against disease outbreaks also strengthens preparedness against so-called deliberate events—not that COVID-19 per se would be used as a method of warfare or for hostile purposes.

He pointed out that health infrastructures are fragile and societal resilience is weak. Therefore, international preparedness against biological warfare requires further strengthening.

And there are those who are working to strengthen the broader global architecture, he noted.

Credit: World Future Fund

Littlewood said it is correct to note that the barriers to creating a biological weapon are lower today than they were two decades ago, or even a decade ago, but deliberately causing a large-scale outbreak of a disease is far from easy”.

He said States, rather than bioterrorists, are far more likely to have the technical, financial, and organizational capabilities to develop bioweapons of concern.

“Deliberate manipulation for weaponization and multiple attacks requires capabilities no terrorist group has yet demonstrated it has, and no known group has demonstrated it has even come close to such a capability”.

Littlewood also said that bioterrorism should not be dismissed, but empirical data from the last 25 years is clear in indicating there is far more interest in biological weapons among some terrorist groups than there is a capability to develop and use such weapons.

Purposefully manipulating the virulence of a disease-causing organism with a view to using it as a weapon is far more likely to be in the realm of a state-led program than a terrorist one, and features more prominently in Hollywood and fiction and political speeches than in reality, said Littlewood, who previously worked at Carleton University (Ottawa) and the University of Southampton (United Kingdom).

“No state openly admits to or claims to have an interest in developing biological weapons, which speaks to the strength of the normative constraints on using disease deliberately as a weapon”.

Nevertheless, Littlewood pointed out, a lack of preparedness of natural outbreaks of disease is a cause for concern and being prepared for natural outbreaks of disease is the foundation of any response to a deliberate use of a biological weapon.

Guterres said there is also need to strengthen the Convention, which lacks an oversight institution and contains no verification provisions, by enhancing its role as a forum for the consideration of preventative measures, robust response capacities and effective counter-measures.

Fortunately, the best counter to biological weapons is effective action against naturally occurring diseases. Strong public and veterinary health systems are not only an essential tool against COVID-19, but also an effective deterrent against the development of biological weapons, he added.

All of these issues must be on the agenda next year at the Convention’s Review Conference, declared Guterres.

Asked if chemical weapons, used by warring factions in Syria, were categorized as biological weapons, Hart said both the BWC and the Chemical Weapons Convention cover toxins.

The allegations of use of weapons in Syria relate to chlorine, sarin and sulphur
mustard. These agents do not meet the definition of a biological weapon under the BWC, he declared.

The Syrian government carried out toxin research which it characterized as being defensive in nature.

This work is mentioned in Syria’s declaration to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and has been discussed at Executive Council meetings and at the margins of EC meetings, said Hart.

“It is my understanding this particular matter is now largely resolved. The matter is referenced in statements, and some official public documentation, said Hart.

http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/03/coronavirus-biological-weapon-not-distant-future/

*Thalif Deen is a former Director, Foreign Military Markets at Defense Marketing Services; Senior Defense Analyst at Forecast International; and military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group.

He can be reached at thalilfdeen@aol.com

The post UN Chief Warns of Deadly Germs as Potential Bioterrorist Weapons appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Building Back Greener in Africa

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By Umberto Labate
ISTANBUL, Jul 7 2020 (IPS)

COVID-19 continues to race across the African continent. People are dying, and even more are being pushed into hunger and poverty, in many cases risking to overturn years of development gains.

The numbers are staggering. While the pandemic is only now taking root in Africa, there are at least 400,000 confirmed cases, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the outbreak is accelerating across the continent.

Add to this the risks of hunger and poverty. Three out of four people on the continent are food insecure. More than 320 million people are without access to safely managed drinking water, and over half the population lack access to any sanitation.

While this pandemic has already taken hundreds of thousands of lives, there are far greater risks on the horizon for the African people.

Left unchecked, climate change, environmental destruction, rising sea levels, droughts, floods and other environmental risks could trigger mass migration, increase conflict and disrupt, if not reverse, a decade of economic growth.

“It is imperative that post-COVID-19 stimulus packages integrate short and long term climate impacts as well as unlock significant appropriate technological and financial solution packages, for robust economic recovery and enhanced resilience for the wellbeing of people and ecosystems,” said Ambassador Seyni Nafo, Coordinator of the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI).

While international support is needed and is being programmed and reprogrammed across the UN system – with UNDP leading the global socio-economic recovery – rebuilding efforts will primarily come from African ingenuity, African resilience, African institutions and African leaders.

Africa out front

African minds are stepping up to create solutions. One noteworthy example is the purchase and deployment of Smart Anti-Epidemic Robots to fight against COVID-19 in Rwanda. Other examples include the use of blockchain technology to give online rewards for forCOVID-19 reduction efforts in South Africa and an innovative ‘solar for health initiative.’

Africa is leading the way at the political and strategic levels too. Late last month, 54 African leaders endorsed a new policy recommendation outlined in a brief on “Integrated Reponses to Building Climate and Pandemic Resilience in Africa.”

The recommendations include adaptation actions to secure the food supply for vulnerable populations and strengthen the agricultural value chain, increase access to water and sanitation in parallel with efforts to improve water governance, and the need to invest in resilient infrastructure to create jobs. These recommendations result in a triple dividend for African countries: reduced pandemic risk, increased climate resilience and strengthened economic recovery.

According to the World Bank, Africa needs about US$100 billion a year for the next decade to fill its infrastructure gap. “Low and middle-income countries alone could see a net benefit of $4.2 trillion from investing in infrastructure that prioritizes future-focused resiliency. That’s a $4 return for every $1 spent. By contrast, investing in ‘business-as-usual’ infrastructure not optimized for resilience only returns $1.5 for every $1 spent.”

The brief was champion by Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba, and created in partnership with the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) and the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI).

At last year’s Climate Talks, the European Union announced ramped up support for AAI with a EUR 1 million grant, administered by UNDP. With this catalytical seed money the initiative is now serving as a broker and catalyst to bring together key stakeholders to discuss and enact climate resilient strategies for sustainable development in Africa.

“The impact of climate change on our world is accelerating. Ambitious and coordinated actions are necessary to address this global threat. The EU is placing sustainability criteria at the centre of its recovery policies, both domestically and internationally. The African continent has an enormous potential to adapt and enhance its efforts towards a climate resilient development future, and the EU is a proud supporter of this endeavor,” said Alessandra Sgobbi, Policy Officer at the European Commission – DG Clima.

The big picture
The international community has moved swiftly to support African countries in responding to the COVID-19 crisis with over $50 billion announced thus far. This is a good start, but only a portion of the funds required to future-proof investments and build long-term resilience.

African institutions, such as AAI, are stepping up to fill this gap. Together with support from the UN system, donors, and global leaders, they are making the case and showing the way for a resilient future.

About the author
Umberto Labate is a Portfolio Management Specialist and Technical Advisor working in the ‘Nature, Energy and Climate Team’ of the UNDP Global Policy Network. He supports countries to identify and address developmental risks through integrated interventions, access to climate finance, and coordination with multiple partners, with the ultimate objectives of enhancing climate action and achieving the SDGs.

 

The post Building Back Greener in Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

African leaders highlight the opportunity for a triple dividend: reduced risk, increased resilience and strengthened recovery.

The post Building Back Greener in Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Innovative Financial Approaches Key to Unleash SIDS Economic Potential

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By Ambassador Lois M Young
NEW YORK, Jul 7 2020 (IPS)

Our world is transfixed by the great human toll and economic impact of the worst global pandemic in a century. For the 65 million inhabitants of small island developing states (SIDS), the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is reminiscent of the worst forms of extreme weather events that SIDS contend with annually. Such events cost lives, undermine our hard-earned development gains, and hamper the aspirations and quality of life of our people. Our governments are routinely compelled to shift already scarce resources from social and economic investments to recovery and sustenance in the aftermath of disasters. For decades islands have been treading a development tightrope, which is increasingly precarious with the intensification of adverse climate impacts.

The acute vulnerability of small islands to sudden systemic shocks is now being experienced by the world collectively. Ultimately, the hard decisions and tradeoffs that nations must make to secure human health are akin to the decisions that small islands have made to tackle the root causes of climate change and to advocate for planetary health. The one difference is that there is no potential vaccine to eradicate climate change, only global respect for and adherence to the Paris Agreement.

From the perspective of islands, the immediate responses to both the COVID-19 and climate change must reflect their intricate connection and profound compatibility. The current crisis is a compelling global reminder that our shared development aspirations and the climate emergency are inextricably linked. Emblematically, the world’s foremost authority on climate science, the United Nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns that inaction on climate change is likely to pave the way for more frequent pandemics and a panoply of vector-borne diseases. Much like the existential climate crisis we face, the spontaneity of more frequent and global pandemics, will be of greatest detriment to the most vulnerable – both directly through infections and by dwindling public support as governments struggle to shift resources from long-term development to crisis responses. Undoubtedly, these uncertainties are stark reminders that crisis financing is insufficient and too often pulls from development financing, leaving countries unable to address development in a sustainable way.

Ambassador Lois M Young

Our partners and the international financial institutions must be bolder. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented economic crisis for islands. We need dedicated and predictable financing for SIDS. Now more than ever, the 65 million people across SIDS, the majority of whom live in 25 Commonwealth States, call upon our Commonwealth partners and the wider global community, to affirm the special case of SIDS and support a holistic approach to the criteria for all SIDS to access concessional or grant finance. Such an approach hinges upon much needed reform of the global economic and financial system to make it responsive to anticipated and unanticipated challenges associated with economic shocks and climate change. On behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Prime Minister of Belize, Rt. Honourable Dean Oliver Barrow, has appealed to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to, inter alia, establish a special window for SIDS, expand eligibility for all SIDS irrespective of income classification to access immediate support for the health crisis, and support the call to bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments. As AOSIS Chair, I have also supported the call by the Secretary-General of the United Nations for debt relief to our countries. While these measures most immediately address the health crisis, they will also enable SIDS to focus on the climate crisis. As we have seen, debt relief can be turned into a positive incentive for ambitious action.

The Commonwealth family is invited to support islands in addressing the climate emergency by embracing the SIDS climate and oceans agendas. There is no scientific doubt that the climate emergency and ocean crisis are intricately linked. SIDS are custodians of 15 of the 50 largest Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), which account for nearly one-third of all oceans and seas. SIDS have a record of sustainable use and, as responsible stewards, are primed for direct engagement and support for the conservation and sustainable use of our Ocean. Emblematically, the United Nations Environment Programme found that SIDS are disproportionately more likely to enact bans on single-use plastics. Our strong connection and dependence upon the marine environment have inculcated in us a commitment to maintain equilibrium between economic and social progress and environmental sustainability. AOSIS, as a SIDS advocacy mechanism, has embarked on an ocean agenda that foregrounds and transcends conservation – we want the activities of SIDS to unleash economic growth and diversification. It is for this reason AOSIS strongly champions a “think blue’ strategy and amongst our members you find early pioneers of the blue economy.

The blue economy simultaneously promotes economic growth, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and the strengthening of ocean ecosystems. The value of sustainable fisheries can be seen in our artisanal fishers and in broader sectoral actions. One such instance is the declaration of no-catch or no-take zones, referred to as replenishment zones in Belize. This along with several other initiatives, in Belize and in many other SIDS, has led to historic levels of fish stock replenishment and continues to be a significant source of high value fisheries-based sport tourism and general exports. SIDS are also leading on balanced approaches to sustainable use of marine resources. My country, Belize, which chairs AOSIS, is the world’s first to ban offshore oil exploration. Belize achieved this feat with popular nationwide support and a bottom-up approach. Our actions are indicative of a trend across SIDS. Several SIDS have already adopted national blue economy strategies. In 2013, Mauritius launched its oceans’ economy road map to tap into the potential of its EEZ by consolidating existing sectors, such as tourism, seaports, and fishing, and developing emerging sectors such as aquaculture, marine biotechnology, and renewable energy. Similarly, in 2018, the Seychelles launched its blue economic roadmap using an integrated approach to the sustainable development of ocean resources. The strategy is complemented by a marine spatial plan (2014), which plans for the sustainable management and health of the Seychelles’ 1,374,000-square-kilometer EEZ. In addition to national plans, the Pacific Small Island Developing States(PSIDS) have also developed regional policies and plans, committing to sustainable ocean management, and building sustainable blue economies in the region.

Small island and low lying coastal developing states are resolutely leading the charge in innovative approaches on climate and oceans. We need innovative financial approaches to unleash SIDS’ blue economic potential and advantage. Dear partners, we welcome you. Please seize the opportunity to engage with us.

 

The post Innovative Financial Approaches Key to Unleash SIDS Economic Potential appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Ambassador Lois M Young, is Belize’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

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