The CSS Blog Network

The Solferinos of Today – Views from the Field

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the event that lay the foundation for international humanitarian law and humanitarian aid. The grueling battle of Solferino saw the launch of Henry Dunant’s campaign that resulted in the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions setting today’s standards for humanitarian law.

This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC, which owes its existence to Solferino, commissioned an opinion survey about the needs and expectations of people in eight of the most troubled places in the world (Afghanistan, Colombia, DRC, Georgia, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Philippines).

Not surprisingly, the study concludes that armed conflict causes extreme widespread suffering. Almost half of the people surveyed have personal experience of armed conflict. Numbers are topping in Haiti, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Liberia, where almost everyone is affected. Around half of the people with conflict experience are displaced or have lost contact with a close relative. Almost one-third have lost family members.

Contrary to what we probably would expect, people in these eight countries are optimistic about the future. All the same, anxiety and sadness rises and trust declines as a result of conflict.
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Only 278,478 to Go

Would Her Majesty Be Amused? / screenshot: guardian.co.uk

Would Her Majesty Be Amused? / screenshot: guardian.co.uk

In a supersized version of crowdsourcing, the Guardian is asking its readers to sift through MP expense documents released by the UK government and pull out interesting nuggets and key facts.

The info goes into the Guardian’s Data Blog, which keeps a running total of some of the more eye-brow raising receipts turned in by the MPs.

A helpful suggestion from the Guardian: “Examples of things to look out for: food bills, repeated claims for less than £250 (the limit for claims not backed up by a receipt), and rejected claims.”

According to the latest stats, it seems the lawmakers spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Or at least having it decorated.

The Media – a Hostage’s Friend or Foe?

The story of The New York Times journalist David Rohde’s escape from his captors in Afghanistan raises interesting questions about the role of the media in hostage takings. As has been widely reported, the major media outlets displayed a high level of solidarity by keeping mum about Rohde’s capture for 7 months. By resisting their natural urge to report the hostage taking of one of their peers, the international journalism corps honored the request of Rohde’s family and The New York Times not to make the story public.

Some commentators refer to this “media blackout” as a mere case of “professional courtesy.” They point out the double-standard of journalists seeming to be more concerned about a hostage’s safety when the victim is a member of their own profession. At the same time, they freely report on the hostage taking of aid workers, soldiers, or tourists.

The intriguing question here is, however, did this “media blackout” strategy work in Rohde’s case? We have no way of answering this question. After all, Rohde did not get released. He escaped his captors. » More

ISN Weekly Theme: Global Trade

Tea Stall

A woman at her tea stall in India, funded by microfinancing / photo: mckaysavage, flickr

This week’s theme is global trade, with a wide-ranging selection of topics discussing the issue:

The Wild Wild South

Cover of Courrier International No 970

Cover of Courrier International No 970

Now, that’s a change. Europe has been Africa’s Eldorado for years, but it looks as if the reverse is now true, too.

Among the countless ‘boat people’ and ‘fortress Europe’ headlines, two articles caught my eye. In the same issue, Courrier International reports about Portuguese immigrants in Angola (pay site) and it reproduces a Wall Street Journal piece on French people with North African roots emigrating to Morocco.

The paper says that about 100,000 Portuguese live in Angola at the moment. They get better career opportunities there than back home, especially with the oil economy booming. That figure is pretty impressive when you think that the Angolan civil war only just ended in 2002.

At the same time, something similar is happening between France and Morocco. Many young educated French-born people with Moroccan roots  decide to migrate to the country of their parents or grandparents. They have access to better jobs and social recognition in Morocco. Life is still pretty difficult for people with an Arab name in France. » More

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