Posts

Revolution of DignityIn November 2013, student protests in Ukraine turned into a full-fledged revolution against government corruption that has since been dubbed the Revolution of Dignity. Now, with a new government in place, the country is attempting to align itself with its European neighbors and become a stable democracy. With multiple roadblocks in the way, such as the annexation of Crimea by Russia, Ukraine will need to rely on its allies in order to achieve its goals.  

How the Revolution of Dignity Began

Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity started out as a series of student protests to pressure the prime minister to sign an association agreement with the European Union. However, as the protests raged on, they became a catalyst for the rest of the country to express its discontent with larger issues with the government like the regime’s power grabs and rampant corruption.  

Despite these issues, protests only became a revolution when violence broke out between the government and protesters on Nov. 29, 2013. After this point, the goal became to overthrow the government and establish a more democratic state, one free of corruption and acting in the people’s best interests. In 2014, the people in overthrowing the government, reinstating the previous constitution and holding new elections in May.

While the revolution was successful, it was not without consequence. The destabilization in the country helped lead to the annexation of the southeastern Crimea region by the Russian Federation. On top of that, while the previous regime was friendly to the Russian government, the new one looked for a more independent governance supported by the E.U. and other western allies. With tough challenges ahead, Ukraine needed to look to allies for help.

What Allies Are Doing to Help

Since the protests initially started to pressure the Ukrainian president to sign an agreement with the E.U., it comes as no surprise that the E.U. is a key ally in helping Ukraine handle its political turmoil. One of the first things the newly elected government did was pass the Ukraine-European Union Associated Agreement and join the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. These moves strengthen the nation’s economic, political and cultural ties with Europe through mutually beneficial relationships.  

While the U.S. is not as geographically close to Ukraine as the E.U., it has a vested interest in keeping the region stable and independent. Currently, over $204 million is planned in foreign aid for Ukraine. Among this, 33 percent is for peace and security, 32 percent goes toward human rights, democracy and governance, 29 percent is for economic development, and six percent goes toward health. With this aid, the U.S. hopes to keep Ukraine free of Russian influence and welcome them into the western world.

Through USAID, foreign aid is being used to help out local communities of Ukrainians.  In 2017, the organization helped 50 communities effectively manage resources and become sustainable without the central government. This not only fights corruption but also helps improve the everyday lives of Ukrainians who face instability in the face of recent changes.   

Continuing Progress in Ukraine

The aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity and the struggle with Russia has left many Ukrainians in a state of upheaval. With an uncertain future and violence a real possibility, it is key that allies help the country through this traumatic point in its history. The humanitarian impact of political uncertainty is often understated in the media, but it is real. While there are larger political reasons for Ukraine’s allies to help it, the aid these allies give to the Ukrainian people has an impact on the ground that can help save many lives.

– Jonathon Ayers
Photo: Flickr

The Success of Humanitarian Aid to RomaniaLocated in the far east of Eastern Europe, Romania borders the Black Sea along with its closest neighbor countries, Bulgaria and Moldova. Romania’s economic stability failed to maintain its status during and after World War II.

The events that occurred after the war had a lasting impact on Romania’s social and economic wealth. It became a communist-ruled country led by the Soviets, leading its society and economy into a crisis that is still taking place today. By exploiting its land and population, the Soviet occupation directly fed Romania’s decline.

Regardless of such a crisis, the country has tried to stay afloat. In 2007, the European Union accepted its request to become part of the E.U. This political move had a great impact on Romania, which became unified with 26 other countries willing to support the nation. The E.U. began taking action for Romania by increasing the number of medical centers and hospitals in the country.

Alongside the E.U., humanitarian aid to Romania has also been a success for the far eastern country’s population. The organization The Family International has been working toward the improvement of Romania, as well as other countries in need, for the past few decades. It has worked to aid Romania by shipping multiple medical sources and equipment to the nation.

The Family International also worked to ship clothes to Romania and provide them to those in need. The success of this NGO was, and is, undeniable. More than a hundred families received attention and care, improving their living situation. The organization has also helped through the distribution of food products, as well as clothes, shoes and other necessities that reached more than 1,500 people.

The organization Charity Baptism Mission has also pushed efforts for humanitarian aid to Romania. It provided the nation with containers full of items meant to help alleviate poverty, such as socks, shoes, blankets, sweaters and more. The same organization has also built the success of humanitarian aid to Romania by helping create 27 homes for homeless children around the world, eight of them in Romania.

The organization Clovek v Tisni has also been a pioneer for humanitarian aid to Romania. Investing in infrastructure, creating job positions and building schools to extend education to more people are just some of the many successful actions taken toward alleviating poverty in the European country.

Romania needs help, undeniably. Despite the various NGOs willing to help the poorest country in the E.U., poverty is still an issue. Thus, donations toward organizations such as Clovek v Tisni can go a long way toward assisting the country. Romania is becoming a better country day by day, and with continued effort, it won’t be long until poverty in the nation is reduced to a thing of the past.

– Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Lebanon
Lebanon hosts an ever-increasing refugee population, largely the result of an ongoing five-year civil war in Syria. Though Syrians comprise the majority of the approximately 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, Palestinians and a small number of Iraqis have also sought refuge in the country.

Here are ten important facts about refugees in Lebanon:

  1. There are over 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, principally from Syria, Palestine and Iraq. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), reports that there are currently over 1.1 million Syrian refugees seeking protection in the host country.
  2. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 1.02 million Syrian refugees as of Sept. 30 are officially registered with the Lebanese government.
  3. Lebanon, according to the CIA World Factbook July 2015, estimates the population of Lebanon to be 6.1 million. Consequently, they host the largest refugee population per capita in the world, with close to 25 percent of the population having sought refuge in the country.
  4. Lebanon is not a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the 1967 Protocol, which elucidates the international community’s responsibility to protect refugees. In addition, there is no national legislation regarding refugees, but in 2003 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) was signed between the UNHCR and the Lebanese government. The MOA gives those in need of asylum a temporary residence permit as their refugee status is decided and a permanent solution is obtained. Since there are no official refugee camps, Syrian refugees are in some of the neediest and most at-risk neighborhoods in the country.
  5. In 2016, the European Commission has promised a total of 87 million euros to Lebanon in humanitarian assistance for refugees. Fifteen million euros specifically for Palestinian refugees from Syria were allocated by the European Commission to assist the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in their effort to supply much-needed cash assistance and educational services.
  6. The UNCHR is doing an extensive amount of work with the help of partners to develop educational prospects for thousands of young Syrian refugees. The UNCHR recently reported that in Lebanon almost 158,000 children, up from 62,664 a year earlier, were enrolled in school.
  7. According to the EU, its humanitarian response to Syrian refugees in Lebanon has for the most part been in cash assistance to help people with basic necessities; and providing health care, shelter, water and sanitation support.
  8. The UNHCR has had much success with the launch of a Facebook group in 2014. The “I am Syrian in Lebanon” group has 30,000 members and it assists people on many things including school enrollment and reporting abuse.
  9. The World Bank Group (WBG) has, with the help of partners, introduced several projects to assist Lebanese communities hosting Syrian refugees. The Municipal Services Emergency Project assists local governments to address crisis issues more in terms of development rather than strictly humanitarian focused.
  10. The WBG project is assisting in the delivery of supplies, such as garbage compactors, service vehicles, water filters, water supply systems, sewage systems and the revitalization of public infrastructure.

The results of WBG projects have had an immensely positive impact on the Lebanese communities where its efforts have been directed.

Heidi Grossman

Photo: Flickr

Brexit_Implications
People across all nations are asking about the impact of Brexit on the world, but only a few are asking the very important question of, “What will be Brexit’s impact on Africa?” As powerful countries such as the U.S. and Germany wait anxiously for the final vote count, anticipating possible financial fallout, the third world has much larger concerns, especially Africa.

Brexit Implications on Africa: Humanitarian, Political and Economic

Whether or not there will be a recession in Britain following the country’s exit from the EU is unclear, but what is certain is that if an economic crisis does occur, Africa will be hit hard.

Great Britain has long been a strong trading ally for Africa, and according to The Chicago Tribune, the European Union has preferential trade agreements with every African country except for Libya and South Sudan.

Due to the Brexit, British officials will now have to rewrite many of their trade agreements with African nations, which will take extensive time and manpower. However, this could prove to be fruitful for Africa, as strict regulations such as the Common Agricultural Policy — set in place by the EU will no longer apply to trade legislation.

According to the European Commission, the Common Agricultural Policy is an EU initiative aimed at invigorating “agricultural productivity, so that consumers have a stable supply of healthy food”. Part of this policy grants subsidies to European farmers to promote sustainable agriculture and the growth of healthy food.

BBC reports that African farmers feel as though the subsidies attached to the Common Agricultural Policy “undermine the concept of a level playing field”. The U.K. agrees with their African allies and adamantly fought for policy reformation before their exit. Brexit’s impact on Africa will not only be economic, for it will also influence the political and humanitarian realm.

The U.K. and Aid to Africa

Prior to the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union, it had incredible authority over the EU’s political and humanitarian initiatives in Africa.

The European Development Fund, according to the Chicago Tribune, is “the European Union’s main vehicle for providing development aid to Africa”. Britain was a leading voice in dictating the mission of the fund, as the third biggest contributor at 14 percent.

Even more impressive was the U.K.’s power over the African Peace Facility and its backing of the African Union Mission in Somalia. Britain made sure that the EU paid for 90 percent of the program, a 22,000-strong multinational force that protects the Somali Federal Government from the extremist militant group al-Shabab.

Before the Brexit, Britain was already beginning to lose their battle over policy in Somalia as the rest of the EU voted to pull some funding, hinting at a divided opinion about African aid.

The future of European policy in Africa is ambiguous, as one of the continent’s most passionate advocates is no longer a member of the EU. While this may seem like troubling news for Africa, the Brexit could turn out to be a blessing for the entire region.

The U.K. will no longer be held back by the EU’s restrictive guidelines as it applies to foreign policy and unless recession strikes Britain’s economy, it is likely that they will stay true to their promise of providing 0.7 percent of their gross national income to African aid.

Liam Travers

Photo: Public Domain Images