VOICE humanitarian roundtable meeting in Stockholm

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March 7, 2017 | Posted in Press release | By

PICTURES: Håkan Björk

VOICE (Volontary Organisations in Cooperation in Emergencies)

What should the EU´s humanitarian priorities be in 2017/2018?

VOICE, with it’s swedish members organized a “roundtable” with the intention to bring together the national humanitarian perspectives from the Scandinavian countries with the European perspective.

Discussed 

  • EU Humanitarian Aid in 2017/2018 – Policy Framework
  • Bridging between humanitarian and development aid
  • The Grand Bargain
  • Workshop on Grand Bargain

The upcoming World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), Grand Bargain and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) all present opportunities for increased solidarity and engagement in humanitarian action.

Among other participants;

Niklas Winberg – Head of section for Humanitarian Affairs, Swedish MINISTRY For FOREIGN AFFAIRS.
Chiara Gariazzo – Director, ECHO, European Commission
Kathrin Schick – Director, VOICE
CHAIR – Floris Faber – ACT ALLIANCE EU OFFICE

Jessica Hedman – Humanitarian Aid Coordinator, PMU
Anna Garvander – Head of Humanitarian Team/International Department, CHURCH OF SWEDEN
Marek Stys – Head of Emergency & External Relation, PEOPLE IN NEED
CHAIR – Ester Asin – SAVE THE CHILDREN INTERNATIONAL EU LIASON OFFICE

Nicolas Borsinger – President, VOICE
Daniel Zetterlund – CEO, INTERNATIONAL AID SERVICES
Magali Mourlon – VOICE secretariat

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THE REFUGEE CRISIS IN UGANDA

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February 16, 2017 | Posted in Humanitarian intervention, South Sudan, Uganda | By


See the film above. IAS is on ground – responding to the South Sudan refugee crisis –  together with other sister agencies, and the challenge is huge since there isn’t sufficient funds to take care of this immense catastrophe.(Photo: Andreas Zetterlund – Edit: Håkan Björk)

Below pictures: SVT (Swedish Television) Johan Ripås interview with IAS Juliet Namukasa on the 23rd February 2017.

Above pictures: IAS is hosting SVT (Swedish Television) Johan Ripås to report to sweeds via TV-news; RAPPORT (24 Feb 2017, time 19:30) – and more at SVT. (Pictures: Julius Bitamazire)

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The young girl is called Gonya Rose (12 years). She was in Primary 4. Her mother died before the war and the Father remained in Juba. They have no idea if he is alive or dead.

Below slideshow of pic’s from IAS visit to a new refugee settlement late July 2016 – (Pictures: Julius Bitamazire and team)

Read more here  (www.mynewsdesk.com)

 

 

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World Humanitarian Day – 2016

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August 19, 2016 | Posted in Humanitarian intervention, Press release | By

REPORT BY – Milward Mwamvani – Humanitarian Coordinator – IAS

As we commemorate this World Humanitarian Day (August 19th, 2016), IAS reflects on current trends and issues in the Humanitarian circles. The Humanitarian situation around the world continues to pose many challenges, as needs increase, and the response capacity is usually limited due to financial restrictions. As natural disasters affect communities, many others are also being affected by man-made disasters, including wars and terrorism, which put humanitarian workers in harm’s way increasingly.

Despite this, IAS continues to engage in some of the most hard-to-reach areas and seek to alleviate the human suffering there. IAS is actively responding to various humanitarian situations in different countries. Notable in the past three months are rapid responses that IAS has engaged in as various disasters have unfolded.

Sri Lanka

In response to flooding that happened in Sri Lanka in May 2016, IAS partnered with local actors and rose up to alleviate the suffering of affected people. The floods led to the overflowing and back-flowing of toilet systems in the poorer areas of the city, in addition to the loss of household properties as water filled houses to about 6 feet for seven days. IAS responded by helping with the cleaning up of household and communal toilets in selected neighbourhoods of Kollonawa, Colombo, with the aim to enhance hygiene conditions and save lives. Outside the city of Colombo, in Hanwella, shallow water wells were filled with over-the-ground water, making the water unsafe for human consumption.

While a well-cleaning response was just commencing, part of the area was hit by another disaster as an army ordnance depot blew up and led to substantive destruction of property, including water wells. A response in the area has brought hope and smiles to the affected communities as they were struggling to find clean water. Above these, the dignity of women and children has been upheld by the provision of basic survival hygiene items.

Pictures: Sathees Kumar – Sri Lanka

Niger

Attacks by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region of Niger in June 2016 led to the displacement of communities in the area, with many of them flocking to the town of Diffa in Eastern Niger. IAS, being already engaged in the provision of clean water to the IDP communities there, engaged in the provision of basic household survival kits to help the newly displaced people. The basic critical household items, and some food, have helped the affected people to begin rebuilding their lives in difficult circumstances.

Pictures: Milward Mwamvani – Diffa, Niger

Ethiopia

The effects of the El Nino phenomenon have been felt in various countries in Africa, mostly indicated by severe food and water shortages. IAS has been working in the Borena Zone of Ethiopia for several years, working on alleviating the acute shortage of potable water. With the setting in of this current drought, IAS has embarked on the provision of emergency water through truck deliveries, while the longer-term solution is being sought by the drilling of boreholes and construction of water collection ponds. This will help in alleviating the suffering of communities and control the forced migration that would have occurred due to the need.

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Picture: Ketema Kinfe – IAS Ethiopia

South Sudan/Uganda

While IAS has been engaged in responding to the crisis-affected communities in South Sudan over the past two years both in South Sudan and Uganda, the fresh outbreak of hostilities in Juba on July 7, 2016 has led to new levels of humanitarian needs. Leading to the evacuation of staff and temporary suspension of activities among affected people in South Sudan itself, the flight of South Sudanese women and children across the border and influx into Uganda has challenged the humanitarian community. Conditions continue to be dire in the reception centres and newly opened villages. IAS is responding to the WASH needs of the displaced people and striving to help them rebuild their lives. With most of the men restricted from leaving South Sudan, the women and children that arrive face many challenges (see our earlier story at http://www.ias-intl.org/response-to-the-South-Sudan-crisis).

Pictures: Julius Bitamazire and team – IAS Uganda

Facing the Challenge

So, as we commemorate this day, we think of the communities that have suffered, and continue to suffer, not only in Sri Lanka, Niger, Ethiopia, and South Sudan/Uganda, but also those in other places facing dire needs. We appreciate our supporting partners, largely in Sweden and Denmark, who have encouraged us and mobilised financial resources to enable us respond accordingly. So, as IAS we will rise up, hold hands with supporting partners, and engage in saving lives in the other hard-to- reach regions of Yemen, Lake Chad Region, Syria, Somalia, and beyond, and alleviate the suffering of communities in those areas, as we remain Fit for Purpose.

Milward Mwamvani – Humanitarian Coordinator – International Aid Services

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RESPONSE TO THE SOUTH SUDAN CRISIS

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August 11, 2016 | Posted in Press release | By

REPORTER – Julius Bitamazire – IAS – UGANDA

Since Wednesday the 7th July 2016, heavy fighting broke out between the South Sudan ruling government and forces loyal to the 1 st Vice President Mr. Riak Marchar in the South Sudan capital Juba spreading to other parts of the country. Although not clearly quantifiable, huge destructions of property, loss of lives and other forms of suffering is being reported on media such Aljazeera, CNN, National Television (NTV) and much is awash in the local newspapers here in Uganda.

I travelled to the NW part of Uganda (Arua, Koboko, Adjumani and Yumbe Districts), where most of the refugees arrive in Uganda, to see for myself the refugee situation having been in a meeting at the UNHCR offices in Kampala.

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The young girl is called Gonya Rose (12 years). She was in Primary 4. Her mother died before the war and the Father remained in Juba. They have no idea if he is alive or dead. She is the only child they had. She walked together with her grandmother for a week, before they crossed the border. 

 

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Here is a Child Headed family (unaccompanied minors) of five members all from Yei.

They are; Scovia Anna (16 years – in army green blouse); Nancy Nyadi (8 years – In sleeveless Kitenge dress); Agagka Blessing (6 years – wearing shorts); Christine Akina (6 years – in red top); Subura Joyce(3 years – with a necklace)

These children share a father with different mothers. They are all total orphans; they were helped to come to Uganda by their neighbour. The older girl, who was in school while in South Sudan, is now taking care of the young ones.  Scovia was in P.4 and Nancy was in P.1.

They walked from Yei to Kaya (Approx.70km),  boarded a public vehicle paid for by their neighbour to Keri where they were picked up by a UNHCR truck to Rhino camp.

When I arrived to one Settlement called Rhino Camp, I am left without words at the suffering of the refugees from South Sudan. The situation is quite appalling that one can’t fail to shed a tear due to the magnitude of the problem, with few humanitarian actors.

Over 80% of the new arrivals consists of women and children. There are also quite a number of Child Headed families (Unaccompanied minors). The others are the aged who have managed to come over for now.

Over 71,499 refugees have crossed the border into Uganda since the 1 st of July, and the number is increasing. On a daily basis the new arrivals are in thousands. Many of those I did talk to thanked God that they managed to cross into Uganda because many didn’t make it.

The challenge right now is that the period ahead of us is the heaviest rainy season in Uganda, so a daunting task is yet to come both for the refugees and the agencies who are responding.

IAS is on ground responding to the crisis together with other sister agencies, but the challenge is huge since there isn’t sufficient funds to take care of this immense catastrophe that has befallen these people.

The below are some of the identified critical gaps as of now:

WASH

– Water is a problem. The few bore holes cannot accommodate such big population. Drilling of new bore holes is much needed.

– Immediate need for temporary communal latrines & bath shelter including hygiene facilities (hand washing facilities and soap)

– Sensitization of community on acceptable hygiene practices

– Provision of water drinking containers to at least 5000 Households.

Health, Nutrition and Psychosocial

– Psychosocial support required to mitigate trauma effects

–  Provide temporary shelter for Health Outreach

Child Protection

– Construction of huts for unaccompanied minors

– Provision of play materials for children

– Family reunions

Shelter

Temporary overnight communal shelters to be used prior to construction of household dwelling shelters.

—-

Julius Bitamazire – 11 AUG 2016 – KAMPALA – UGANDA – Pictures Julius B and team

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World Humanitarian Summit – A personal reflection

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May 27, 2016 | Posted in Press release | By

By Daniel Zetterlund, CEO, International Aid Services

— 24 May 2016, 11,000 meters above sea level, somewhere between Istanbul and Cairo —

As I write these words the closing ceremony of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) has just commenced. The culmination of a two year consultative process. A springboard. An interruption. The beginning of something new? Or the continuation of something that was? Or an exhaustive attempt to bring life into a fragile world and a broken system?

About an hour ago I boarded Egypt Air, flight MS736, bound for Cairo and then Juba. Surrounded by a ten centimeter metal shell I now gaze at the horizon. Yesterday pieces from another shell were washed up on the beaches of Alexandria. A shattered shell. The man who welcomed me on board had an empty look in his eyes. Perhaps it was one of his friends that passed away last Wednesday when Egypt Air lost sight of one its planes crossing the Mediterranean? An aura of stillness rests within the aircraft.

WHS was in many ways both a striking and well-orchestrated event. A grand finale for Ban Ki-Moon’s tenure of service as the Secretary-General. Mr. Moon was surrounded by Heads of States, celebrities, other important people and the rest of us small people. A total estimated number of 6 000 people were allegedly enjoying the spaces of WHS for the two days. The opening ceremony, one of the more impressive I have witnessed, saw great speeches and awe-inspiring performances. Ashley Judd (my all-time favorite actress in my earlier years) expressed: ‘How the world is responding to the current global crisis is a crisis in itself. We have to rethink and improve’. Mr. Bond, James Bond aka Daniel Craig, was next in line to enter the stage. Fitting to the occasion he left his firearms at home and was both ’shaken and stirred’.

Centered around the main heading of One Humanity – Shared Responsibility and with several core humanitarian themes and responsibilities, as well as hashtags such as #ReShapeAid and #Sharehumanity, people talked and tweeted away. These are big words. With big words come great expectations. Many had probably expected WHS to generate a small revolution for humanitarian action. I am afraid their expectations were not met. It is more complex than that. Many had also been overall highly skeptical of WHS as a whole. That it would be paying lip service and that their voices would not be heard. That is true. Not all voices have been heard. Nor can they realistically be.

But there were voices. Voices that spoke up on behalf of those who couldn’t. A few rows ahead of me sits a bright young lady. She is deaf and comes from South Sudan. She coordinates a network of women who fight for the rights of those with disabilities. She spoke in Istanbul, both on behalf of herself but also on behalf of others. One of the results of her and others’ fight is the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. It got traction. It got signatures. Even from Member States. A bold step forward. How we treat the most vulnerable provides a temperature gauge of our society.

The role of faith and its relevance in humanitarian action was also for the first time brought to a global level. We work in contexts of faith where people believe. Faith, not the absence of it, is the norm for most people. Faith moves us into action. Pushes us forward. Faith can move mountains. There was no consensus reached around the role of faith, but it is now on the agenda. Something which we need to take into consideration. A good initiative in this regard is the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. Its research and evidence papers around the role of faith in humanitarian action are important and worth reading.

Financing was another theme discussed at the WHS. The Grand Bargain is one of the suggested solutions. The idea is that donors will commit to more flexible, multi-year funding, with less burdensome reporting requirements, in exchange for major agencies committing to greater transparency and collaboration and reduced management costs. Today we assist more people in need than ever before. Yet, this is not enough, there are still proportionally even more people in need than previously. There simply isn’t enough cash in the system. We have to both spend it right and expand the circle of donors. This also touches on the nexus on what separates humanitarian from longer term development aid. From a practitioners perspective this is more or less irrelevant and the line is blurred. Surely there are different normative frameworks that guard the two systems, but the person at the center receiving assistance couldn’t care less if the assistance received is to be categorized as humanitarian or development aid. In light of this it was refreshing to hear at least some donors committing to allocate multi-year funding for humanitarian action, something we and the NGO community have long advocated for.

Many of the solutions proposed during the WHS are not new. They’ve been around for some time and should, to some degree, also be viewed as certainties, such as putting people at the center. Nevertheless, and something which was my personal expectation, it can hopefully provide a reference point for further dialogue. A dialogue aimed at identifying constructive commitments and decisions by Member States, UN, NGOs, corporates and individuals. There will be a need to exhort enormous political will clothed in great humility if we shall get this underway.

We have a choice. A famous and successful Swedish football coach once said: ’I choose to coach the good (jag väljer att coacha det goda)’. There’s way too much cynicism in this world. Especially and ironically among us aid folks. Too much rivalry and competition. It makes me sick. In the spirit of greater professionalism within the humanitarian sector; let us not lose sight of its historical core values and drives, such as heart, passion and true altruism. We need to change. Be transformed. The sector needs to change. This we know. We are not naive. It would be easier to surrender. Pull out. Not engage when things do not work according to one’s plans. But we all have a choice. I choose to make an active choice of continuing to stay positive. To focus on the good.

The mission is huge. Overwhelming. Suffocating. It can cause us to get paralyzed. But that’s when we need to breathe deeply. Stretch further. We have to allow ourselves to be moved. Through our own vulnerability and our own inadequacy go to the source. Renew our strength, look up and never give up the good fight.

Thank you dear committed and wonderful colleagues at IAS for taking part in this fight. Tomorrow we at IAS will formally start to address and define our commitments in regards to the outcome of WHS. But today I allow myself to reflect and pray for a broken and fragile world. To accept the things I cannot change and to receive courage, strength and assurance for the things I can.

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Daniel Zetterlund

 

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Action Against Alcohol

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December 17, 2015 | Posted in Action Against Alcohol, Civil Society Development (CSD), Uganda | By

Some years ago, Pader district in northern Uganda had a widespread alcohol abuse. It resulted in much domestic violence and many children dropped out of school. Abel Murungu is Community Development Officer at IAS and is one of those who worked hard to break the negative trend that´s been holding Pader in captive for so long.

-To start up a work in a society where alcohol was equivalent with food was tough. It was understandable that many saw this project as a mission impossible, says Abel.

Abel shows around in the village Puranga, outside the city of Pader, one of the areas that is severly affected by alcohol abuse. Much of the alcohol produced here is consumed in the districts of Pader and Agago, some of the places where IAS has worked with sustainable rural projects for several years. A quality survey showed that the effect of these projects was hampered because of alcoholism. Due to this need Action Against Alcohol (AAA) was started.

Abel points to a couple of bowls with molasses, sorghum, maize, and cassava, some of the most common products used for brewing alcohol.

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-Much of the alcohol is brewed locally and sold on the local market. It is not uncommon that people start to consume alcohol as early as 07 am, says Abel.

Because it is mostly men who spend their days drinking, the heavy agricultural work falls upon women and children. Even the elderly are affected since they have to take responsibility for children who have been abandoned by their parents.

IAS organize campaigns to increase awareness

Through the AAA project, IAS has carried out several campaigns to highlight the bad consequences of alcohol.

-One alcohol-related problem here is children dropping out of school. When the parents consume alcohol, they don´t engage in their children’s education which results in children staying at home, says Abel.

Alcohol also has a direct link to the spread of HIV / AIDS, says Juliet Namukasa, Country Director IAS Uganda.

Juliet Namukasa

– Alcohol is associated with an increased number of sexual contacts, and a greater risk-taking. This contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies, especially among the youth, says Juliet.

Alcohol also increases the risk of domestic violence. Juliet refers to a study (note)showing that alcohol is behind as much as 40% of all violence that takes place at home.

– Alcoholism leads to both physical and psychological violence. Children who grow up in homes where there is alcoholism have lower grades, higher risk of developing depression and carries a constant feeling of being socially isolated, says Juliet.

Has helped over 20 000 people

The AAA project started in 2012 and has been conducted in the districts of Pader, Abim and Agago. From the beginning the number of targeted households were 450 but today as AAA has been integrated in other IAS projects, the number of people that´s been helped has increased significantly.

– All in all, we are talking about 20 000 people, says Juliet.

In addition to awareness campaigns, IAS has also engaged local politicians to raise the discussion about alcohol and how they can influence their village to help people stop drinking.

-We collaborate with both local politicians and the police. By talking about the negative effects of alcohol and at the same time highlight stories from people who have been helped, progress is being made, slowly but surely. There is a lot of work, but when I see all the families that have been rescued and see how individuals have been helped, I am so happy and I think it is worth everything. I am convinced that when we change the attitudes towards alcohol, tomorrow’s generation will also be rescued from alcohol abuse, says Abel.

(Note: The social effects of alcoholism (March 2012) –Promises Treatment Center)

Film & Photo: Håkan Björk

Text: Rebecka Woods

Read more in The Journey (PDF-2.6MB) produced by IAS Uganda

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Second deputy prime minister of Uganda joined IAS 25 Years Celebration

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June 10, 2015 | Posted in 25 Years Celebrations, Humanitarian intervention | By

International Aid Services Uganda joined the rest of the IAS to celebrate 25 years of service in a colourful ceremony in Lira Palwo Sub County in Agago district.  Many guests attended including Second Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Rtd Gen Moses Ali.

The week-long celebration was marked by a number of activities. The activities included cleaning of Lira Palwo health Centre III by both IAS staff and the target groups, sanitation and hygiene competitions in villages and schools, rewarding best performing students in selected schools and reconstruction of an incinerator at the Health Centre.

– We also wanted to focus on challenging IAS beneficiaries to give back to their communities what´s been given to them, including the desire to make a difference, says Juliet Namukasa, Country Director Uganda.

Speech by Second Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda

The celebration had it´s climax on 1st April when the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Rtd Gen Moses Ali, attended. He held a speech where he highlighted IAS important role as one of the first organizations that opened offices in Koboko in 1994 when Uganda was faced with overwhelmed influxes of refugees from Sudan. He particularly thanked IAS and its donors for the work that’s been done during the years.

– On behalf of the government and myself, I would like to applaud and commend IAS for a job well done. I also recognize that without funding from the donors IAS and the primary stakeholders in this region would not have succeeded, Rtd Gen Moses Ali said.

Text: Rebecka Woods

Foto: Håkan Björk

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