UN Weekly Roundup: Oct. 31-Nov. 4, 2022

Warring sides in northern Ethiopia agree to cease-fire

The Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities on Wednesday, giving hope to millions that two years of war, displacement and severe hunger could come to an end. The agreement was signed in Pretoria, South Africa. The African Union played a lead role in the negotiations including the high representative for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, along with former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Deputy President of South Africa Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (who is also known to U.N. observers for the eight years she led U.N. Women). Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Thursday at the United Nations that the “human cost to this conflict has been devastating.” He hailed the agreement as “a critical first step” that will open the way for humanitarian access and the resumption of public services.

More shelling at Ukrainian nuclear power plant

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant lost all access to external electricity following overnight shelling Thursday and was receiving backup power from its emergency diesel generators. The International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said the development is “extremely concerning” and “again demonstrates the plant’s fragile and vulnerable situation.” The plant is in Russian-occupied territory. Ukrainian experts continue to operate the facility under the watch of Russian soldiers. The IAEA chief has been working to establish a demilitarized zone around it to lessen chances of a nuclear accident. Separately, Grossi said that his inspectors have so far not found any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at three sites they inspected, following up on Russian allegations that Ukraine is preparing to detonate a “dirty bomb” on its territory.

UN Security Council discusses barrage of DPRK missiles

The U.N. Security Council met Friday afternoon to discuss North Korea’s unprecedented series of missile launches. The United States, with fellow council members Albania, Britain, France, Ireland and Norway called for the meeting following a string of missile launches in recent days. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said North Korea’s behavior was “appalling” and called on council members to be united in responding. Pyongyang has found repeated protection this year in the 15-nation council from China and Russia.

US to press for Iran’s removal from UN Women’s Commission

The United States called on Wednesday for Iran to be removed from the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the main intergovernmental body dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Iran’s membership is an “ugly stain” on the body’s credibility. Iranian security forces have been violently cracking down on women-led peaceful protests since mid-September after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody. She was detained by the so-called morality police for wearing her headscarf “improperly.”

In brief

— The secretary-general traveled to Algiers earlier this week, where he told a summit of the League of Arab States on Tuesday that united, the bloc’s leadership can help the region make the most of its “enormous potential” and contribute to global peace and security. Guterres also said peace must advance between Israel and the Palestinians, saying “the occupation must end” and two states living side-by-side in peace and security with Jerusalem as the capital of both remains “our shared goal.”

— World Health Organization officials warned Tuesday that infectious disease outbreaks and malnutrition pose serious health threats to some 8 million Pakistani flood victims. Flood waters are receding, but waterborne diseases including malaria, diarrheal diseases and dengue fever are on the rise in communities struggling to find shelter, clean water and food.

— Floods are also impacting millions in Africa. In the central Sahel, more than 330,000 people in Niger are impacted in all eight regions of the country. The U.N. says since the rain started in July, 195 people have died and more than 200 people have been injured. Some 36,000 houses have collapsed. In neighboring Nigeria, more than 3 million people have been affected by unprecedented floods. Farmland has been damaged by the rising waters, with more than 100,000 hectares of cassava, rice and plantain crops affected. The U.N. fears this will deepen the already alarming food crisis across Nigeria.

— The International Labor Organization warned Monday that multiple economic and political crises, largely triggered by the war in Ukraine and economic disruption in China, are threatening the recovery of the global labor market. The ILO Monitor on the World of Work finds worsening labor market conditions are affecting both employment creation and the quality of jobs. The ILO estimates the number of hours worked globally in the third quarter of this year was 1.5% below pre-pandemic levels. This is equivalent to a loss of 40 million full-time jobs.

— The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday for the 30th year to condemn the United States’ economic embargo against Cuba. Only the U.S. and Israel voted against lifting the embargo, 185 countries voted for its end, and two abstained – Brazil and Ukraine. The embargo was imposed in 1960 following Fidel Castro’s communist revolution. In 2016, after President Barack Obama restored relations with then-President Raul Castro, the U.S. abstained on the vote. Washington returned to opposing the resolution in 2017, under President Donald Trump. Cuba’s foreign minister told the assembly that the blockade has cost it more than $6 billion in just the first 14-months of the Biden administration.

Good news

The U.N.- and Turkish-brokered Black Sea Grain Deal reached a milestone Thursday. Secretary-General Guterres said the initiative to get Ukrainian grain to international markets had shipped 10 million metric tons. Russia briefly paused its participation in the initiative on Saturday, after it alleged that Ukraine had used drones to attack its fleet in the Black Sea. It reversed the decision on Wednesday. The agreement signed on July 22 in Istanbul, helps Ukraine export its grain and assists Russia in removing obstacles to the exports of its food and fertilizer.

Quote of note

“Women have taken to the streets and are not only removing and waving their head scarves but setting them ablaze and cutting their hair in protest, despite knowing they will be arrested and sent to psychological reeducation centers, beaten, raped, and even killed.”

British-Iranian actor and activist Nazanin Boniadi told an Arria meeting of the U.N. Security Council Wednesday that the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for a dress code infraction was a “powder keg moment” for Iranian women, who have led weeks of protests across the country despite the dangers to themselves.

What we are watching next week

On Sunday, the Paris Climate Accord review conference, known as COP27, will open in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Secretary-General Guterres will be among the world leaders gathering for the critical discussions. Guterres warned Thursday that reaching the key goal of keeping global warming this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius is “in high danger, but it is still possible.” He hopes to galvanize political will at COP27 to avoid what he said could be a “tipping point” where it could become “irreversibly impossible” to achieve.

 

Source: Voice of America

COP27 must work out how to cut carbon and still develop African economies

Averting a climate disaster without compromising economic growth and development is a key issue for African countries. Energy production and use is the single biggest contributor to global warming, accounting for roughly two-thirds of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, electricity use and access are strongly correlated with economic development.

Many African countries are lagging behind in electricity generation and access. According to the Energy Progress Report, in 2020 the 20 countries with the lowest rates of access to electricity were all in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, just 7% of the population in South Sudan and 11% of the population in Chad have access to electricity. Even among the most populous countries in Africa, access to electricity is still limited – 55.4% and 51.1% of the populations of Nigeria and Ethiopia, respectively, have access to electricity.

To close these gaps, energy demand on the continent is expected to grow by 60% by 2040.

Sufficient energy is essential for most economic activities. Coal, petroleum and natural gas made a significant amount of productive energy available during the industrial revolution. This led to human health and welfare improvements. Cost effective and abundant energy is a key driver for economic growth.

African countries will find it hard to grow their economies and pull their people out of poverty if they can’t take advantage of their abundant energy resources. For example, Africa holds 13% of the world’s remaining recoverable gas resources.

So the global effort to cut the use of these resources presents a barrier to Africa’s growth, unless sufficient financing is available to fully transition to renewable and sustainable fuels at a scale needed to support economic growth.

Africa’s challenges

Over the past few years, the West has been taking a rather coercive approach to Africa’s decarbonisation – the removal or reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) output into the atmospher. They’ve cut back financing for gas and coal energy projects in Africa, while still pursuing their own new gas and coal deals. In addition, an analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency showed minimum global renewable energy investments in Africa (only 2% out of all the renewable energy investments in the world) over the last two decades.

Without the West’s backing, Africa’s energy decisions might solely rely on resource abundance and cost efficiency. This could lead to further dependence on fossil fuels.

Global environmental problems such as climate change require cooperation at the local, national and international level. The West’s support for Africa is essential to align global decarbonisation targets with regional realities.

Without support to maximise the available resources, economies of scale, cost efficiencies, capacity building, and the potential to electrify large numbers of the population, a focus on renewables alone becomes unjust and unrealistic for Africa.

Just electrification in a net-zero world

My research interests focus on energy production and sustainable development. The need to invest in alternative, sustainable fuels to meet the projected demand is critical.

One of the main challenges at COP27 – the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference – will be agreeing on who decides when and how countries ought to transition to net-zero emissions. Put simply, net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible.

Conversations at COP27 should centre on Africa’s interests in order to advance a “just transition” for all. A just transition is one in which social and economic opportunities of climate action are maximised, while challenges – such as inequitable distribution of benefits and costs – are minimised.

Africa bears the brunt of climate change impacts without being responsible for them. This undermines the opportunity to create a just energy transition for all with fair assignment of climate responsibility.

Negotiations must find pathways for Africa to deliver electricity for economic empowerment, while depending less on harmful fuels.

Governance

Deep decarbonisation and net-zero world goals are paramount to combating the climate crisis. However, the pace and methods of achieving them might come at the cost of leaving millions in the dark with little access to electricity.

new polycentric model of international climate governance is needed. The old one resembled an era of hierarchy and power concentration in fewer countries. This led to a lack of cooperation at the international level.

The polycentric model could help facilitate the understanding on the need to advance access to electricity while mitigating the climate crisis. This cooperative governance model could correct the past inequitable distribution of benefits and costs by implementing the following three main principles:

Let those affected by climate change decide when and how to transition to net-zero emissions.

Replace hierarchical (or “double-standard”) principles with cooperative and polycentric approaches.

Make autonomy and partnerships pillars of decentralised international cooperation.

COP27 should embrace the notion that the decisions that shape the lives of Africans should be shaped by Africans.

The people affected by climate change should decide when and how to transition to net-zero emissions. Autonomy and partnerships should characterise international cooperation.

Energy solutions

Renewable energy – such as solar, wind and hydro power – is an attractive option. In Africa, women and children die from household air pollution due to the reliance on wood, charcoal, or coal as energy sources. Citizens are further affected by forced displacements that occur to accommodate large fossil-based energy infrastructure, like power stations.

A shift away from these practices would allow for a more people-centred clean energy future. There’s an opportunity to bypass a centralised energy system based on fossil fuel. It could be based on renewable energy instead, distributed through mini grids. If done right, this could provide full electrification without the cost of creating coal or natural gas power plants. Some of these power stations will be stranded anyway in the move away from fossil fuels.

The path to just electrification

Working together to balance clean energy and electrification in Africa will be a gradual process. The key enabling factor in this process is financing. Financing is needed for new technologies, resilient infrastructure and building people’s capacity.

COP27 is Africa’s turn to map this path.

 

Source: The Conversation Media Group Ltd

Generous aid to Ukraine is diverting resources away from other refugee crises around the world

Nearly 10 months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the ongoing war has produced over 7.7 million refugees.

An additional 7 million Ukrainians have lost their homes and are struggling with acute shortages of food, water, shelter and other basic needs.

Though the delivery of humanitarian assistance has suffered as a result of Russian airstrikes and disruption of commercial supply lines, the international response to the Ukraine crisis has been remarkable.

Since January 2022, the U.S. government, for instance, has committed more than US$18.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, with approximately $17.6 billion dedicated to train and equip Ukrainian armed forces.

The humanitarian response – including policies to absorb Ukrainian refugees and provision of emergency relief – has also been remarkable. The 2022 “Stand Up for Ukraine” global pledging campaign raised $8.9 billion.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric stated: “This is among the fastest and most generous responses a humanitarian flash appeal has ever received.”

A protracted refugee crisis in Bangladesh

The international attention focused on Ukraine comes at a time when other humanitarian crises around the world are receiving less attention and assistance than they need.

As a scholar of refugees and forcible displacement, I spent the summer of 2022 researching the changes in Bangladesh’s policies toward the Rohingya, an ethnic group that is largely Muslim.

Since 2017, in what was recognized as the fastest and largest refugee influx since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, more than 773,000 Rohingya crossed the border to neighboring Bangladesh to flee the Myanmar government’s genocidal campaign against them.

Over 1 million Rohingya are currently living in the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh, where there are issues with overcrowding, insecurity and violence.

My interviews with national and international NGOs and camp administrators revealed growing anxiety about the ongoing financial and social pressures on Bangladesh as a result of serving as one of the world’s largest refugee hosts.

They also revealed concerns about the possibility that the Ukraine crisis is diverting attention and financial assistance from the protracted Rohingya situation.

Despite the fact that housing the over 1 million Rohingya in Bangladesh costs $1.21 billion per year, the Rohingya crisis has never received enough financial assistance. Instead, the amount of assistance has been decreasing over time.

In 2020, donors contributed only 65% of the required funding, down from around 72% to 75% two years earlier.

In 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reduced its funding expectations for the Rohingya in Bangladesh. The Rohingya Refugee Crisis Joint Response Plan 2022 sought approximately $881 million to support the refugees. To date, Bangladesh has received 32.9%, or about $290 million.

“It is difficult to get the world’s attention to … those places where children are suffering in the same way that the children of Ukraine are suffering,” said Gregory Ramm, a spokesperson for the international charity Save the Children in April 2022.

‘Aid void’

Funding for other protracted crises in 2022 seems to coincide with overwhelming political interest in, and donor pledges for, Ukraine.

For instance, while the 2021 Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan was very well funded, at 112.8%, so far this year it has received only 45.6% of its funding appeal.

At the 2022 international donor conference on Yemen – a country of 23.4 million people in dire crisis with war and famine – the United Nations appealed for $4.3 billion for humanitarian aid. World leaders offered less than one-third of that.

This so-called “aid void” is also increasing in Myanmarthe Sahel and Ethiopia.

The European commissioner for crisis management had explicitly stated that the European Commission would not pull funds from other crises around the world as it responds to the conflict in Ukraine. Other EU ministers made similar commitments.

But individual EU member states have already begun diverting funds, as real-time aid data shows. For instance, Sweden and Denmark have announced cuts to other aid priorities that equate to 14% and 10% of their respective 2021 aid budgets. Sweden has already reallocated $150,000 from Sri Lanka – where millions face poverty following its severe economic crisis and political turbulence since March 2022 – to Ukraine. Denmark announced that it would defer development aid it had earmarked for Syria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Bangladesh to fund the reception of fleeing Ukrainians.

The U.K. has recently announced that it will halt all “nonessential” aid spending. It is estimated this may result in that spending budget being reduced by 25% with further cuts to aid to countries like the Sudan and Syria in addition to those already implemented since 2020. Germany has shown a similar trend.

Excluding the generous support for Ukraine, the U.S. has also cut its humanitarian budget by $1 billion relative to 2021.

International assistance crisis

Even before the current Ukraine crisis, a gap between global humanitarian needs and requisite funding to address them was growing.

In West Bank and Gaza, critical programs had already been curtailed and food rations had been severely reduced in Yemen.

The COVID-19 pandemic compounded preexisting humanitarian crises and increased funding needs. Yet, in its humanitarian appeal for 2021, the U.N. received less than half of the funding it requested.

This funding shortfall is even more stark given that the number of people without food, clean water, housing and medical care has passed 300 million, according to the 2022 Global Humanitarian Assistance Report. The number is 90 million more than before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Humanitarian experts have expressed concern that the the overwhelming attention on Ukraine is diverting resources – both financial and human – from other crises that are already facing unprecedented funding shortages.

The war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia have also fueled a shortage in global food production and a spike in global food and energy prices. These spikes are already affecting emergency aid delivery and food scarcity in several conflict-affected contexts, as well as major refugee-hosting countries like Bangladesh.

As the attention to and support for Ukraine continues, the impact of the war together with other crises – economic, political and environmental – in places like the Horn of Africa continues to have devastating impacts on the lives of civilians.

The Norwegian Refugee Council noted, “The war in Ukraine has highlighted the immense gap between what is possible when the international community rallies behind a crisis, and the daily reality for the millions of people suffering far from the spotlight.”

 

Source: The Conversation Media Group Ltd

Small Military Bombing Drone to Debut on AIRSHOW CHINA 2022

ZHUHAI, China, Nov. 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The opening of the 14th China Airshow is coming soon. LoongUAV will bring a variety of cost-effective, efficient, lightweight military drones to debut, including LOONG 4 surveillance drone, LOONG 5 bombing drone, LOONG 1 targeting drone, LOONG 2 reconnaissance drone.

In recent years of local wars and armed conflicts, as an emerging air combat force, drones have highlighted their combat effectiveness. Equipping drones has become an effective means to enhance national defense strength at a lower cost.

There are various types of military drones, which can be divided into reconnaissance drones, combat attack drones, electronic countermeasure drones, decoy drones, target drones, and reconnaissance and striking drones. It can also be divided into large drones, medium drones, light drones, small drones, and micro drones by their size. Large UAVs like combat attack drones from China and USA are very expensive and have low combat efficiency. Certain Iranian UAVs have only a single function and are not recyclable. The cost for single use is more than hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although some Chinese consumer drones are low-priced, the battery life is short and the application scenarios are limited.

LOONG 5 Bombing Drone

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