PR Observer

Latest Breaking News and Updates


Angry Iraqis, fed-up Nicaraguans, and a Mosul blooper: The Cheat Sheet

Every Friday, IRIN's team of specialist editors offers a global round-up of humanitarian trends and developments.

On our radar:

Latin America's new exodus

We've been banging the IRIN news drum regularly about Venezuela's meltdownand how it's causing regional problems as hundreds of thousands of hungry and desperate people flee south into Colombia and Brazil. Meanwhile, a bit further north another crisis has been brewing, and it hasn't been getting nearly the attention it should. As Elizabeth Gonzalez points out in this podcast for Americas Society/Council of the Americas, more people (more than 300 in fact) have been killed in protests against President Daniel Ortega's increasingly repressive regime in Nicaragua since April than were killed in similar circumstances in Venezuela during the whole of 2017. Again, the pressure is visible on the borders: this time, Nicaragua's with Costa Rica, where 100-150 Nicaraguans are reportedly crossing every daythrough one point alone � that's on top of some 23,000 who've already fled. What's the problem? In a word: Ortega. Over the past 39 years he has carefully consolidated his power, largely propped up by Venezuelan oil money. He's done that so successfully that the country now appears to be headed toward dictatorship. The current unrest was set off by his government's April attempt to pass really unpopular changes to social security policy, but it soon morphed into broader anti-Ortega protests. The ensuing crackdown � killings, arrests, disappearances � has been extended from the students leading the demonstrations to the media and even the Catholic Church. As political analyst Javier Arguello tells Gonzalez: We have a little North Korea now in Central America.

Hooked and want an alternative listen? Check out The Crisis and Politics in Nicaragua, Explained, a podcast by The Daily Signal.

Zimbabwe: votes and hope

On 30 July, Zimbabweans voted peacefully in an election that the ruling Zanu-PF party had widely promised would signal a new start after nearly four decades of repressive rule by Robert Mugabe, who was ousted as president late last year. He left an economy in shambles and nearly 2.5 million people at risk of hunger. As the vote counting began, though, so did opposition charges of vote rigging. Fingers were pointed at supporters of the incumbent president and leader of the ruling (and military-backed) Zanu-PF party, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Protesters filled the streets, the army responded, and three people were killed. Not that anyone was surprised: a survey by Afrobarometer released 20 July found that more than 40 percent of the population feared election-related intimidation, violence, and military intervention. And claims of electoral corruption and manipulation were not hard to find leading up to the polling, including accusations of the ruling party using food aid to buy votes, as IRIN reported. The electoral commission has now declared Mnangagwa the winner, with 50.8 percent of the votes. As an International Crisis Group report noted, if citizens accept credible results the election could open a path toward the country's recovery from misrule. Here's hoping.

Basra asks, where's our oil money?

Iraq's much-needed post-war recovery is on shaky ground these days, as weeks of anti-government demonstrations that rocked the south and even reached Baghdad show no signs of slowing down. Protesters are frustrated by a lack of jobs, water, and electricity. Notably, while sectarianism is still part of Iraq's system of governance and many people's thinking (have you read Searching for Othman yet?), the unrest started in Basra � that's the Shia heartland lashing out at a Shia-run central government. The protests started in early July, when Iran cut off its electricity supply to Iraq over unpaid bills, though some parts of the country had already been experiencing rolling blackouts. But there's more going on here. As this helpful briefing from Crisis Group points out, many locals of oil-rich Basra are frustrated that the wealth their natural resources provide is not trickling down. A sample protest sign (above), courtesy of Babylon FM: 2,500,000 barrels per day; $70 per barrel; 2,500,000 x 70 = 0. Sorry, Pythagoras: we're in Basra.

Same old, same old: diversity in the aid sector

The leadership of humanitarian organisations is among the world's most inclusive and diverse, right? After all, the global aid industry works to relieve suffering, improve lives, and protect some of the world's most vulnerable � and diverse � populations. Well, maybe it's time to think again, a new discussion paper from Melbourne-based Humanitarian Advisory Group suggests. After reviewing studies on leadership diversity published over the last eight years, the report's authors conclude that humanitarian leadership is not adequately diverse across gender, ethnicity, race, disability, or age. This lack of diversity includes the conspicuous dominance of Anglo-Saxon men in decision-making positions, while women are greatly under-represented in leadership roles across the UN. One recent study found 80 percent of charities in the UK had no ethnic minorities whatsoever on their leadership teams. In addition, the aid sector as a whole has done little to track and understand diversity in its ranks. The researchers suggest that a lack of diversity can hinder effective humanitarian response. Over the next two years, they plan to study whether there's evidence that more diverse leadership teams lead to better results on the ground during humanitarian emergencies.

Source: IRIN