Posts

Turkey_Budget_reform
Many have called for the Turkish government to spend more of the national budget on social aid as poverty rates in Turkey are over the average for countries in the European Union. Current spending on social aid policies is a paltry 1 percent of Turkey’s budget. But in addition to establishing policies that help the impoverished, some are also questioning whether Turkey is doing enough to diminish the extreme income inequality.

Even though it has maintained a 5 percent annual growth and is experiencing rising employment, Turkey has one of the highest income inequality rates among the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. This income inequality is largely due to educational problems. The poverty rate for the illiterate in Turkey was 30 percent in 2009, compared to the only .7 percent for those who graduated from a university. As a result, the many agricultural laborers are stricken with poverty. The reason for this is that the agricultural industry in Turkey accounts for 9 percent of its GDP, but is around 25 percent of overall employment.

The overall education levels need to improve in Turkey with the help of more social aid spending, but, most urgently, educational rates for girls also need to rise. The literacy rate of men is much higher than that of women, causing more women to face the risk of living in poverty.

Even though the country has gone through many phases of immigration, urbanization, population rises, and changes in family structure, the social services and aid policies have not been properly reformed to address changes adequately. The institution in charge of social spending, the Family and Social Policies Ministry, has not allocated more than 1.2 percent of the GDP on policies that combat income inequality and poverty. Many are calling for a change, the Turkish government needs to make more of an effort to engage in social intervention.

But social aid policies are of no use if not managed properly. Turkey should to transfer policy implementation to local authorities instead of the current system of having social aid policy centrally controlled. If funds are managed by individual provinces, funding and resources can be more efficiently utilized, and efficaciously target poverty and income inequality within the region.

Over the last few years, Turkey has experienced significant growth, however more than a quarter children in the country still live in poverty. Even though the total percentage rate of poverty has dropped around 8 points, the fact is that still a fifth of the population is impoverished. Turkey has been investing in sustainable technology and building urban centers, but, to fully prosper, it will have to do more than flash signs of wealth and development. A budget reform in Turkey to reallocate more resources to boosting education and employment will decrease poverty and bridge the income inequality gap in the country.

– Rahul Shah

Sources: Today’s Zaman, The Guardian, Hurriyet Daily News

hard_times_for_syrian_aid_workers_borgen_project_opt
Turkish police blame Syrian aid workers for anti-government protests.

As reported by the Pakistan Daily times, July 6, Turkish police are blaming Syrian aid workers for the region’s unrest. During a police raid of two humanitarian aid missions in Syria, four foreigners were deported, witnesses said. Although Turkish officials denied the actions as being linked to current nationwide demonstrations, similar cases suggest otherwise.

Another Syrian humanitarian source told the Pakistan Daily Times of two separate cases in the city of Antakya. Near the border with Syria, police detained one Spanish, one German and two British aid workers and interrogated them. After their interrogation they too were deported, the source claims.

The same source tells of another case. June 26, A NGO staff member was forced off the road by unmarked police cars. After trying to run, the NGO staff member was caught and searched. After being detained and interrogated for hours they were transferred to a counter-terrorism unit. The next day, another NGO office undergoing registration was raided by 20 police officers. The police charges state that the office was suspicious of fomenting unrest, the source claims.

Incidence of environmental campaigns to save central Istanbul parks happening during the registration of many humanitarian offices have led Turkish officials to blame public unrest on humanitarian aid groups. As a result, unregistered humanitarian aid missions should stop working in Turkey, the source claims.

“With only six NGOs receiving working permits thus far, and so many others waiting in line”, it is unlikely that the foreign aid will be able to prosper any time soon, the source infers.

Requests for ‘Humanitarian Pause’

In addition to the deportation of Syrian aid workers and halting of NGO humanitarian progress in Turkey, there are suggestions of a wide spread humanitarian pause for all Syrian cross-border humanitarian workers.

In response to the increased number of deaths in Syria between March 2011, and April 2013, UN Humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos requested a ‘humanitarian pause’ for all aid workers in Syria to promote aid access and appropriate cross border operations.

Amos was quoted by RT.com as saying “The security, economic, political, social, development and humanitarian consequences of this crisis are extremely grave and its human impact immeasurable in terms of the long term trauma and emotional impact on this and future generations of Syrians”.

Halting the $3.1billion of aid to the estimated 6.8 million Syrians and bordering regions needing assistance would prevent any further negative consequences for workers, Amos suggested. RT.com reported Amos’ seriousness about temporary halt to aid and the importance of cross-border aid when “appropriate”.

Although, as reported by RT.com, the Syrian ambassador to the UN claims to be shouldering the responsibility and duty of its people, prevention of humanitarian safety and aid efforts creates yet a another road block for the thousands of Syrians needing assistance. As reported by RT.com, the Syrian government strongly opposes any international cross-border operations.

Like the Turkish government officials, Syria now has blocked Syrian humanitarian efforts.

– Danielle Doedens

Sources: RT, Daily Times
Photo: Idea Stream

Food Crisis in Syria
The Syrian Civil War has created a food crisis in Syria. According to the United Nations, nearly “four million Syrians, a fifth of the population, are unable to produce or buy enough food, and farmers are short of the seed and fertilizers they need to plant their crop.”

The food shortage in Syria is a result of “massive population displacement, disruption of agricultural production, unemployment, economic sanctions and high food and fuel prices.” Overall, Syria’s poultry production has decreased by 50 percent and its wheat production is down 40 percent. As a result, food prices have spiked dramatically, with the average monthly price of wheat flour more than doubling between May of 2011 and May of 2013.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has requested $41.7 million to assist 768,000 people in Syria. So far, the agency has only $3.3 million of the requested funds. The Food and Agriculture Organization is working to assist those who are internally displaced in Syria as well as providing aid to the 1.6 million Syrians who have sought refuge from the conflict in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

In addition to creating a food shortage throughout the nation, the Syrian Civil War has created problems in maintaining health standards for both humans and animals. Before the food crisis, “9.3 percent of children suffer[ed] from wasting and 23 percent of them stunted.” It is likely that these rates have increased since the onset of the food crisis. Additionally, child vaccination coverage has decreased from 95 percent in 2009 to 80 percent in 2012, creating concerns about the spread of diseases. Likewise, “there are practically no routine drugs or vaccines for animals and no vets to administer them,” creating the potential for diseases being transmitted among livestock and intensifying the food crisis.

Jordan Kline

Sources: The Guardian, Reuters

syrian-refugees
Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, believes we have the ability to make rape a thing of the past. She sees preventing the rapes of thousands of women and children as her top priority. She is responsible for all sexual violence in conflict globally.

Bangura was asked in a recent press conference about how she is responding to the allegations that Syrian citizens are facing sexual violence in their conflict, as well as how this sexual violence has reportedly begun to spread to the refugee camps. Her response stated that the conflict in Syria hasn’t even begun.  She was invited to Syria to conduct investigations, however she has not agreed to go. Bangura would like to travel to Syria on her own terms to ensure her security, as well as her ability to complete thorough investigations into the allegations of sexual violence.

She believes that so little information about the rapes is being leaked because of the reluctance of the victims. There is a serious stigma and shame attached to rape, and people would rather kill the women than reintegrate them into society- a serious problem for women worldwide.

UN Special Representative Bangura has worked extensively in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as her home country Sierra Leone. She has hauntingly threatened perpetrators of sexual violence, warning them, “Whoever you are, wherever you are, I will get you.”

While Syria is a large problem, Bangura has stated that her top five countries to work on at the moment are the DRC, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic, Somalia, and Syria. She has expressed serious concern in Syria that women are often unable to visit the gynecologist without male accompaniment. Additionally, refugees have been fleeing in record numbers to Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, easily surpassing the 1.6 million mark. Aid workers in the refugee camps have been reciting the stories of rapes, illegitimate pregnancies, domestic violence, and abandoned children. The problem now lies in documenting, and collecting data on these cases.

As more continues to unfold from Syria and neighboring countries, Bangura and other aid workers will do as much as they can to protect and help the victims of rape, sexual assault and violence, and unwanted pregnancies to return their lives to as much a state of normalcy as possible.

– Caitlin Zusy
Source: New Europe

Defining an Emerging Market
The term “emerging markets” was coined in 1981 at the International Finance Corporation when promoting the first mutual funding investments in developing countries. While the term is sometimes considered unhelpful, it is important to identify and define these markets. Emerging markets are a hot topic as they are predicted to surpass the US, German, and UK economies in the future.

There are three factors that distinguish an emerging market from a developed market. Firstly, rapid economic growth defines emerging markets. Great examples of emerging markets are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). In recent decades, these developing countries have boosted their large economies based on global capital, technology, and talent. The GDP growth rates of these countries have outpaced those of more developed economies, lifting millions out of poverty and creating new middle classes and large new markets for consumer products and services. The large labor pools of these countries give their economies a huge advantage over more developed economies.

The second factor that defines the emergence of a developing economy is how much competition it offers in comparison to developed markets. Along with the rapid pace of development, these countries pose serious competition to current dominant economies in developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy.

Lastly, emerging markets are often defined in terms of their financial situation and infrastructure. While their rapid growth and competitiveness are positive growth indicators, the amount of red-tape and inconsistencies involved in dealing with these markets marks them as emerging. Unfortunately, some argue that the corruption in these markets will halt them all together despite other growth factors.

While the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China are well on their way to surpassing “emergence”, the predicted emerging economies of the future are Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa (CIVETs). According to John Bowler, director of Country Risk Service at the Economist Intelligence Unit, the sizeable populations of some of these countries and the wealth of natural resources in others, just might make them the economic boomers of the next decade.

– Kira Maixner

Source CNN , Forbes
Photo ACF