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Monday, 20 November


The depths to which xenophobia and bigotry has reduced Australia "IndyWatch Feed"

Australia began to ignore its obligations under international law in 1992 and its determination to turn back asylum seeker boats and reduce the number of refugees accepted into this country grew apace until this is the situation in November 2017.

The New York Times, 18 November 2017:

Veteran United Nations officials said this month they had never seen a wealthy democracy go to such extremes to punish asylum seekers and push them away.

Papua New Guinea officials and local leaders, enraged at how the camps closure was handled, have demanded to know why Australia is not doing more to help the men.

HuffPost, 18 November 2017:

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's main medical association called on Saturday for the government to allow independent doctors and other health experts to help more than 400 asylum seekers languishing inside a recently closed detention center in Papua New Guinea.

The asylum seekers have shut themselves inside the Australian-run Manus Island Centre for the past 18 days, defying attempts by Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) to close it in a standoff the United Nations describes as a "looming humanitarian crisis".

Australia has shut access to the cente...

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Sunday, 19 November


The Veiled Threat: Australias Campaign Against New Zealand Refugee Policy "IndyWatch Feed"

Another twist in the farce over the stained treatment of refugees on Papua New Guineas Manus Island has surfaced. New Zealand has been insisting for some time that it is more than willing to welcome some 150 to its shores. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, much to the irritation of Australias Turnbull government, has been particularly

The post The Veiled Threat: Australias Campaign Against New Zealand Refugee Policy appeared first on The AIM Network.

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Friday, 17 November


Moment of truth for refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island "IndyWatch Feed"

Australia can end this human rights tragedy. Wherever they end up eventually, the Australian government needs to immediately bring these men to safety.

lead Human Rights Watch Australia Director Elaine Pearson interviewing Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani on Manus Island in September 2017. 2017 Human Rights Watch SYDNEY Since October 31, hundreds of men have barricaded themselves in an abandoned complex on a naval base where security forces have previously shot at and attacked them. Exhausted, with no power and no running water in the tropical heat, they stockpiled food, dug water wells, and collected rainwater in trash cans to drink. Now, they are dehydrated, starving, and scared.

These men are not in a war zone, though many of them have fled war in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan. They are refugees and asylum seekers trapped on remote Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. They are there because of Australias harsh refugee policies.  

The UN has described the situation as an "unfolding humanitarian emergency." On October 31, the Australian and PNG governments closed the regional processing center where these men have lived for the last four years. Other less-secure facilities are available in a town a 30-minute drive from their current location. But these men, refugees and asylum seekers, refused to leave, terrified by escalating violence against them by some local residents in the town and frustrated by the lack of a long-term solution to their predicament.

Since July 2013, male asylum seekers traveling by boat to Australia have been sent to Manus Island, while men, women and children have been sent to the isolated Pacific island nation of Nauru. As Paul Tyson wrote for openDemocracy, in real terms, it is the boat people themselves the Australian government has criminalized, dehumanized and demonized, and it is against them that Australian politicians on both sides of party power...


Heni Meke: from nurse to CEO Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

An interest in supporting people with HIV/AIDS took Heni Mekes career from the frontlines as an army nurse to working in government. Now she heads Anglicare PNG, one of Papua New Guineas biggest NGOs, which has grown over the years with support from the Australian aid program. Anglicare runs a large HIV clinic in Port Moresby, which keeps 1,300 HIV-positive patients alive through anti-retroviral treatment. It also manages a nationwide adult literacy program and other development programs. 

In the latest in our 2017 Aid Profiles seriesHeni speaks to Stephen Howes about the challenges of running a complex national NGO, the impact of recent Australian aid funding cuts, and what drives her to keep going in a role that is sometimes just sleeping and work.  

Catch up on all the Aid Profiles here.

The post Heni Meke: from nurse to CEO appeared first on Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre.


The elephant in the room: addressing corruption in PNG Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

There is a general consensus that Papua New Guinea (PNG) is in a deep financial crisis. The country is in desperate need of help from both within and outside PNG. The political and bureaucratic leadership is working hard to sustain the country under this financial climate.

The Government has reached out to the international community for financial assistance. There are some positive responses, which is encouraging for the country. However, this is a temporary measure and not sustainable. The real challenge is dealing with the elephant in the room corruption which permeates all aspects of PNG society. Unless PNG tackles this problem head on, any external or internal interventions to financially rescue the country will be futile.

The new Government has acknowledged that improving governance is crucial to the future of PNG. The Government is now embarking on several initiatives to improve governance systems to restore confidence in the government and its systems and processes. The Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC) has been party to many of these initiatives and it is in this context that I would like to share with you these proposals.

If PNG is to improve governance and encourage investment in the private sector, and strengthen its bureaucracy to deliver basic and other services to the people, the new Government must first of all combat corruption as its number one priority.

Corruption is a major problem for PNG. In 2016, it ranked 136 on the Transparency Internationals Corruption Perception Index, the same ranking as Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Myanmar and Nigeria. As one of the most corrupt countries in the world, PNG has a huge task ahead to improve this image. PNG signed on to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on 22 December 2004 and ratified it on 16 July 2007.

In 2011, the Government launched the National Anti-Corruption Strategy. After the 2102 National Elections, the ONeill Government supported the establishment of an inter-government anti-corruption unit called Task Force Sweep to investigate and prosecute crimes of corruption. This team was disbanded about two years later when the Prime Minister was implicated in a corruption scandal.

The Government, however, in 2014 proceeded to request that Parliament approve the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by amending the Constitution. A new Division VIII.3 under Section 220 of the Constitution was inserted through Constitutional Amendment No. 40, enabling the establishment of ICAC. This constitutional amendment paves the way for the enactment of an Organic Law on the Independent Commission Against Corruption and its full establishment.

In 2015, the Parliament took carriage of the proposed ICAC Organic Law Bill. The Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Committee, and unfortunately thats where it stayed.

The current Government has firmly resolved to tac...


Fortnightly links: Scott Guggenheim, the One Campaign, Missing Maps, and more Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

An intriguing Politico profile on Scott Guggenheim, enigmatic American anthropologist and advisor to Ashraf Ghani.

A doctor in PNG finds that involving men in family planning is the key to reducing maternal mortality, Al Jazeera reports.

The One Campaign offers their take on the recent DAC ODA rules negotiations.

A new report maps multi-sectoral nutrition investments and stakeholders in Ethiopia, and shows that most funding for nutrition was contributed by development partners.

India has taken a major step toward empowering and protecting girls, particularly child brides, in a landmark ruling.

Missing Maps is a humanitarian project that preemptively maps parts of the world that are vulnerable to natural disasters, conflicts, and disease epidemics. This project, founded by Ivan Gayton, can save over a billion lives in the worlds most remote slums.

The RDI Network has launched a new guide: How to partner for development research.

Video therapy could be a key method for aid workers to get help, writes Anna Mortimer.


The post Fortnightly links: Scott Guggenhe...

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Thursday, 16 November


Reducing malaria in Solomon Islands: lessons for effective aid Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

The burden of malaria in Solomon Islands remains among the highest of all countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa. But significant improvements in malaria control have been made over the last 25 years. From a peak of nearly 450 new cases per 1,000 population in 1993, by 2016 annual national malaria incidence had dropped to 81 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: National annual parasite incidence (API), 1969-2016

Data sources: 1969-1991: Over et al, 2004; 1992-2016: Ministry of Health and Medical Services, 2017

Solomon Islands is also one of the worlds most aid-dependent nations, and assistance from international donors has been particularly visible in the health sector. Foreign aid for malaria was especially prominent starting from 2003, when the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria first invested in Solomon Islands, and rose again after 2007 when AusAIDs Pacific Malaria Initiative was launched, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Estimates of Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and donor contributions to malaria, 20032016 (US$ current)


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Wednesday, 15 November


We need to do more than this "IndyWatch Feed"

Jacinda Ardern has again approached Australia with New Zealand's offer to save refugees from their concentration camp on Manus Island - and again been rejected. So instead, we're giving aid to Papua New Guinea to help them:

New Zealand will give Papua New Guinea and aid agencies up to $3 million to help care for Manus Island refugees.


"We intend to work with PNG and other agencies like the International Red Cross to financially support them with any additional needs that may need to be met while those refugees remain on the island."

Its better than nothing, but we must do more. We cannot allow people to be tortured in concentration camps. If Australia opposes them coming to New Zealand, then fuck them - we should talk directly to Papua New Guinea. The New Guineans don't want them, we do, so it should be easy to negotiate a deal. Especially as the refugees have already been assessed.

Meanwhile, while we're all celebrating Australia's vote against bigotry today, lets also remember that they are currently detaining people who fled countries where they fear persecution on the basis of their sexuality in a country which will persecute them on the basis of their sexuality. And that is blatantly failing to meet their obligations under the Refugee Convention.


Cash strapped government moves Environment Dept into plush new office "IndyWatch Feed"

Peter ONeills cash strapped government is moving it Conservation and Environment Protection Authority into plush new office accommodation in one of Port Moresbys premier real estate developments.

The Savannah Heights complex on Waigani Drive is the new home for both CEPA and its sister organisation, the Climate Change Development Authority.

The two organisations will occupy the whole eight floors in one Savannah Heights tower; quite a step up from CEPAs old accommodation in the B-Mobile building further down Waigani Drive.

The new accommodation costs are clouded in secrecy, but it is believed the government is paying at least K1,200 per square metre per month. With CEPA and CCDA spread over eight luxurious floors that could mean a bill of around K2 million a month or K24 million a year.

Other estimates have put the costs as high as K3.5 million a month or K42 million each year.

CEPA staff are rather bewildered by the move as CEPA relies on generous grants from aid donors like the United Nations and Japanese and Australian governments to maintain many of...


World Antibiotics Awareness Week: handling antibiotics with hygienic, clean and safe care Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

This week, the world turns its attention to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) for WHOs World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW). WAAW campaigns for us all to handle antibiotics with care and take urgent action to curb the spread of AMR, that could, without action, lead to an alarming 10 million deaths a year by 2050. With the recent launch of the Australian Governments Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific region, this is a timely reminder of the role the initiative must play in strengthening animal and health systems to address AMR.

At the forefront of this years WHO campaign is the critical role that infection, prevention and control (IPC) plays in preventing AMR in health care settings: every infection prevented is an antibiotic treatment averted. Health care facilities are high risk settings for the spread of infections and the development of drug resistance. If health facilities are unclean, do not have running water or soap for washing hands, do not have functioning toilets to contain human waste and do not have waste systems to safely dispose of health care waste, facilities can become epicentres for driving resistance. The very place that people go to seek care ends up making them, and the community, sicker.

As outlined in the infographic below, poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and IPC in health care facilities increases the risk of healthcare associated infections, a problem which currently affects, on average, 1 in every 10 patients in developing countries. More seriously, many of these infections are antibiotic resistant, which can more than double the likelihood of death. Vulnerable groups accessing health services, such as women around the time of childbirth, newborns, and people living with HIV are more susceptible to such life threatening conditions, further increasing the risk of infections spreading.


Friday, 28 April


Shootout at Manus "IndyWatch Feed"

About once a month in her column at The Conversation, Michelle Grattan comes to the conclusion that Peter Dutton is not a team player and not fully honest when it comes to the complicated facts and issues of asylum-seekers. This doesn't deter her from quoting his (what by now must surely be) worthless assertions: thanks to the wonders of goldfish journalism, every Dutton stuff-up is a fresh surprise to someone who sets the standard for the press gallery.

When it came to ministerial responsibility, public accountability, and other key principles underpinning democracy, Peter Dutton never had a chance. He entered parliament in 2001, at the election following hysteria about September 11 and the refugees aboard the MV Tampa. He defeated Labor's Cheryl Kernot, learning the lesson that even high-profile opponents can be brought down with enough dirt. Being a politician in a marginal seat requires a warm personality and a genuine concern for the local community; Dutton learned that fundraising can get around such shortcomings, particularly where Labor largely seemed to direct its energies elsewhere.

By the time Dutton became Assistant Treasurer under Peter Costello, the Howard government had lost its policy reform momentum; Costello had become bitter and twisted at not becoming Prime Minister. Soon afterward the Howard government lost office: any opportunity to teach young Dutton the finer points of vision, negotiation, or any other aspect of policy development and implementation simply went by the board.

He could have learned these lessons from the two Health Ministers he shadowed, Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek. Both ran rings around him, policy-wise and in terms of having things to announce, but Dutton just sat quietly for six years; eventually their job simply fell into his lap. Healthcare professionals rated Dutton the worst Health Minister in a generation, but onward he went.

Like a child raised in poverty and dysfunction who ends up addicted and/or imprisoned, there was never any possibility Peter Dutton would or could have become an effective minister. Grattan and others in the gallery who chide him for falling short of standards impossible for him look like they don't understand the people and environment they've been covering for years.

From Trump and Abbott, Dutton learned that doubling down when wrong appeals to those who confuse obstinacy with fixity of purpose. The events of this week, where Dutton implied that asylum-seekers were pedophiles and shirked responsibility for yet another riot on Manus Island, should not have been as shocking as they apparently were.

Four things arising from this were surprising, however, and none received much coverage from the supposedly alert and diverse press gallery.



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IndyWatch PNG Politics Feed Archiver

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