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IRIN’s Top Picks: Gulf donors, aid worker attacks and dodgy statistics

A young boy sits amid rubble all that remains of his home – which was destroyed in an air strike – in Okash Village, near Sana’a, the capital.
April 4, 2015 
FROM UNICEF - "Permission granted for one-time use in a context that accurately represent

Welcome to IRIN's reading list. Every week our global network of specialist correspondents share their top picks of recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles to help you keep on top of global crises. We also highlight key upcoming conferences, book releases and policy debates.

Five to read:

Humanitarians Under Attack: Tensions, Disparities, and Legal Gaps in Protection

With attacks on aid workers at record levels in 2013 (155 aid killed, 178 seriously wounded, and 141 kidnapped) this paper from the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA) at the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard explores the protection of people working in insecure environments. It notes the “often overlooked disparities” in the risks faced by different humanitarian professionals depending on their designation (national or international staff), gender, and organizational affiliation. And it highlights “significant fragmentation and gaps” in the protection of aid workers under international law as well as “a culture of impunity prevailing for perpetrators of such attacks.”

Why Yemen’s peace talks failed

A good, clear analysis explaining why the recent Yemen peace talks failed, by Stephen W. Day, a professor of international affairs and author of “Regionalism and Rebellion in Yemen: A Troubled National Union”. This Washington Post piece argues that the country’s problems go back to its fundamental lack of national cohesion which, he says, has been largely overlooked by outside actors such as Saudi Arabia and the United States, “who fear greater instability and insecurity if the country breaks apart”. He says: “Before the current war, it was largely outsiders who pretended Yemeni unity was real, just as it was foreign governments and lending institutions that pumped funds into a country chronically on the verge of bankruptcy.”

The Limits of Gulf Arab Aid: Energy Markets and Foreign Policy

Arab Gulf Emirates are becoming major humanitarian and development donors. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was largest provider of overseas development assistance (ODA) in relation to Gross National Income (GNI) in 2013, and in 2014 Saudi Arabia become the world’s eighth largest humanitarian giver, thanks partly to a one-off allocation of US$500million to the crisis in Iraq. This paper examines this growing trend - along with the states’ financial and military spending - within the regional political context. Author Karen Young, a research fellow at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science, asks whether the size of these cheques are really prudent given the prevailing economic conditions.

Education in emergencies and protracted crises: toward a strengthened response

There are an estimated 37 million primary and lower secondary age children out of school in crisis-affected countries around the world. Despite education being the most effective tool to reduce poverty and build resilience among conflict-affected people, it is often overlooked (and or underfunded) in emergency settings. Prepared as a background briefing paper for the Oslo Summit on Education Development, this report by Susan Nicolai, Sebastien Hine and Joseph Wales of London’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI), it is a statistical and analytical deep dive into the state of education in emergencies, and makes a number of recommendations on how to improve low attendance rates.

17 years in a refugee camp: on the trail of a dodgy statistic

We’ve probably all quoted it at one time or another, but is the statistic that 17 years is the average length of a stay in a refugee camp really true? Blogger and academic Benjamin Thomas White says probably not. According to the 2006 edition of the UN refugee agency’s publication “The State of the World’s Refugees, “It is estimated that the average duration of major refugee situations, protracted or not, has increased: from 9 years in 1993 to 17 years in 2003”. White points out that things have changed a lot since 2003 and that in fact this number of 17 years is not about camp-specific populations.


The Gaza platform

Launched to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the 2014 war in Gaza, Amnesty International’s detailed site interactively maps attacks by Israeli forces on Gaza with text reports, photos, videos, audio recordings and satellite imagery. The idea is for the site to become a living information portal, gathering information about future attacks and providing a platform for testimonies, photographs, videos, and sound recordings. Submissions from organizations, witnesses and reporters are welcome.

One to watch:

Internal displacement: Lessons learned after 20 years and challenges ahead

This panel discussion at Brookings LSE-Project on Internal Displacement is a must-watch for anyone interested in displacement issues and global aid policy trends. Experts gave their candid views on the how the world is (or isn’t) dealing with the growing challenges of internal displacement and what needs to be done to improve the response. The speakers were: Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement; Joel Charny, vice president of humanitarian policy and practice at InterAction; Alfredo Zamudio, director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC); Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, policy director at the UN’s emergency aid co-ordination body, OCHA; and Niels Harild, a displacement development specialist at the World Bank.

From IRIN:

Araya's story

After being granted refugee status in Europe, most refugees are keen to reunite with their families as soon as possible, but family reunification procedures for refugees have become increasingly restrictive and complex in many member states. IRIN spoke to an Eritrean refugee about her experience of negotiating the system after a journey that took her through Ethiopia, Iraq, Turkey, Greece and France, before she settled in the UK.

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