What's all this then?

Many aid workers keep online journals called web logs, or "blogs" for short. Blogs tend to be very personal, to present unabashedly biased opinions and to be much less formal than an organization's web site. Blogs are sometimes provocative, and some may make you feel uncomfortable -- you certainly won't agree with everything you read in blogs, including those produced by aid workers.

The AWN blog portal presents a range of aid worker-produced blogs from around the world. However, AWN is not responsible for the content of any of these blogs, and inclusion here on the AWN blog portal in no way endorses their content by AWN. If you disagree with what a blog has presented, by all means, write the blog author ("blogger") directly and let him or her know what you think.

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Admin: Spring Break

Forced migration blog - April 22, 2014 - 12:12am
This blog will be quiet until the last week of April.
Categories: AidBlogs

Regional Focus: Asia Pacific

Forced migration blog - April 22, 2014 - 12:12am

Asylum Seekers Left High and Dry in Indonesia (IRIN, April 2014) [text]

Boat People, Politics and Humanity (Agora Dialogue, April 2014) [text]

Expedited Processing of Asylum Seekers: The Future of Refugee Status Determination in Australia?, Bachelor's thesis (Murdoch University, Nov. 2013) [text]

Offshore Processing: Lessons from the ‘Pacific Solution’ (FlagPost, April 2014) [text]

Post Return Assessment in Tirah Valley: Consultation with Returnees and Mission Conducted from 25 to 29 March 2014 (Protection Cluster, April 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]

The Rohingya Refugee Making Factory (openDemocracy, March 2014) [text]

United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Statement at the Conclusion of Its Visit to New Zealand (24 March-7 April 2014) [text via Human Rights Commission]

Why Refugees Need Legal Aid (Castan Centre, April 2014) [text]

Web site:

APRRN Wiki [access]
- "This database has been created as a source to easily access information for those who work with legal aid for refugees."

Related posts:
- Regional Focus: Asia (8 April 2014)
- Regional Focus: Australia (1 April 2014)

Tagged Publications and Web Sites/Tools.
Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: Protection at Sea, esp. in the Mediterranean

Forced migration blog - April 22, 2014 - 12:12am

Migrants: Parliament Approves Search and Rescue Rules to Prevent Deaths at Sea (European Parliament, 16 April 2014) [access]
- "New search and rescue rules to clarify how border guards serving in Frontex sea operations should deal with migrants and where they should disembark them were approved by Parliament on Wednesday. The regulation, already informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators, should enter into force before this summer."  Further information is available via the links on the right side of the page.

For a bit of background, see this overview from the European Parliamentary Research Service.  See also related press releases from The Greens/European Free Alliance and Migreurop.

Upcoming events:

Heading to Europe: Safe Haven or Graveyard?, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 16 May 2014 [info via Migrants at Sea]
- "The aim of the panel discussion is to provide an overview of the legal rules and processes applicable to migration by sea in the Mediterranean and to reflect on their wider sociological implications."

'Boat Refugees' and Migrants at Sea: A Comprehensive Approach Integrating Maritime Security with Human Rights, London, 23-24 June 2014 [info]
- "This conference aims to comprehensively address the contemporary phenomenon of ‘boat migration’ with a holistic approach. We will consider its multiple facets, combining knowledge from several disciplines and regions of the world, with a view to making a decisive contribution to our understanding of current trends, against the background of the fragmentary responses adopted and innumerable tragedies occurred thus far." Registration details are not yet available.

High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges, Geneva, 10-11 December 2014
- While no official information is available yet, the HC announced the following in his closing remarks at the 2013 HC Dialogue: "I would like to announce that our intention is to have the Dialogue next year focus on Protection at Sea. I think we are all aware that this represents one of the areas with the most dramatic protection gaps in today's world. We are starting the preparations in close cooperation with the International Maritime Organization, IOM and other organizations to have a meaningful dialogue next year on this topic." UNHCR is also in the process of developing a Global Strategy on Protection at Sea.


"The Essential Role of Malta in Drafting the New Regional Agreement on Migrants at Sea in the Mediterranean Basin," Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, vol. 44, no. 1 (2013) [full-text]

"International Judges and the Protection of Human Rights at Sea," Chapter in International Courts and the Development of International Law (Asser Press & Springer, 2013) [preview]

"Irregular Migration across the Mediterranean Sea: Problematic Issues Concerning the International Rules on Safeguard of Life at Sea," Paix et Sécurité Internationales, no. 1 (Janvier-Décembre 2013) [full-text via Peace Palace Library]

Italy Rescues 6,000 People Crossing Mediterranean in Four Days (UNHCR, April 2014) [text]

Lecture Series on Migration in the Mediterranean, Brussels, 10-31 March 2014 [access]
- Although this series has now concluded, information about each of the four lectures is available via the link, as well as podcasts for two of the events.

"Strengthening the Protection of Migrants and Refugees in Distress at Sea through International Cooperation and Burden-Sharing," International Journal of Refugee Law, Advance Access, 24 March 2014 [abstract]

Related posts:
- Thematic Focus: Boat Migration & Maritime Protection (4 March 2014)
- Focus: Maritime Protection (11 Sept. 2012)

Tagged Publications and Events & Opportunities

Categories: AidBlogs

New ETDs

Forced migration blog - April 22, 2014 - 12:12am
(ETD = Electronic Theses & Dissertations)

Analysing Visual Representations in the North Korean Refugee Movement for Social Change and Justice, Thesis (Malmö University, Jan. 2014) [text]

Conditional Belonging: Listening to Unaccompanied Young Refugees’ Voices, Dissertation (Uppsala University, 2014) [text]

Education for Refugees: Examining Access to Basic Education in Dadaab Refugee Camps of Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley, Kenya, Thesis (Kenyatta University, Feb. 2014) [text]

Migration and Perceptions of War: Simultaneous Surveys in Countries of Origin and Settlement, Dissertation (Uppsala University, 2013) [text]

Therapeutic Alliance with Traumatized Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Relation to Treatment Change, Thesis (Utrecht University, July 2013) [text]

Unfolding Transitions: A Collaborative Investigation of the Education and Career Pathways of African Youth from Refugee Backgrounds in South Australia, Dissertation (Flinders University, Dec. 2013) [text]

Welfare for Unaccompanied Minors: A Comparative Study of Canada's and Sweden's Implementation of the CRC, Thesis (Linköping University, Jan. 2014) [text]

Tagged Publications

Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: Law/Policy Items, esp. Regional Institutions

Forced migration blog - April 22, 2014 - 12:12am
Conscientious Objection to Military Service, Written Statement Submitted by FWCC to the 25th Session of the Human Rights Council (Friends World Committee for Consultation, Feb. 2014) [text via Quaker UN Office]

Edward Snowden and the Right to Travel (Mint Press News, March 2014) [text]

HIRC Co-writes Amicus Brief on Gang-Based Asylum Case (HIRC Blog, March 2014) [text]

"Psychology & Refugee Status Determination: Psychological Evidence to Help Inform Refugee Status Determination," Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter, no. 47 (April 2014) [full-text]

Regional jurisprudence & refugee protection:

The ECtHR and CJEU as Refugee Law Courts: An Assessment, Presentation at EDAL Conference 2014, Dublin, 17-18 Jan. 2014 [access]

Refugees, Forced Migrants and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Oxford, 19 Feb. 2014 [info]

The Right to Seek and Obtain Asylum under the African Human Rights System, Oxford, 26 Feb. 2014 [access]
- Follow link for podcast.

Supervision of the Execution of Judgments and Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, 7th Annual Report of the Committee of Ministers 2013 (Council of Europe, March 2014) [access]
- See esp. "Issues related to Foreigners," pp. 101-109.

The Two European Courts on Seeking Asylum due to Religious Persecution (EDAL, March 2014) [text]

Urgent Need to Deal with New Failures to Co-operate with the European Court of Human Rights (PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Feb. 2014) [access]
- Scroll down for links to relevant documents.

Related posts:
- Thematic Focus: Law/Policy Items (25 March 2014)
- Thematic Focus: Asylum and European Courts (18 Oct. 2013)

Tagged Publications.  
Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: Humanitarian Assistance

Forced migration blog - April 22, 2014 - 12:12am

Analysis: Scaling Up Accountability to Communities (IRIN, April 2014) [text]

Humanitarian Aid vs Resilience Debate Should Put Priorities in Context (Global Observatory, March 2014) [text]

"Managing the 'Republic of NGOs:' Accountability and Legitimation Problems Facing the UN Cluster System," Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, vol. 47, no. 1 (2014) [full-text]

NGO-NGO Learning: What Works? (IRIN, April 2014) [text]

NGO Safety and Security Training Project: How to Create Effective Security Training for NGOs (InterAction & European Interagency Security Forum, April 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]

Reporting on Humanitarian Crises: A Manual for Trainers & Journalists and an Introduction for Humanitarian Workers (Internews Network, April 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]

Web site:

EU Aid Explorer [access]
- "EU Aid Explorer is a unique tool showing what we fund and where, with easy searches providing many different details. EU Aid Explorer is a one-stop shop for aid information – facilitating donor coordination, ensuring transparency and improving accountability to citizens in the EU and developing countries."

Related post:
- Thematic Focus: Humanitarian Assistance (8 April 2014)

Tagged Publications and Web Sites/Tools.

Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: ICTs

Forced migration blog - April 22, 2014 - 12:12am

Philippines: Information, Accountability and Media - From Yolanda to the Next Disaster, London, 15 April 2014 [info]


"Building Information Resilience: How Do Resettling Refugees Connect with Health Information in Regional Landscapes: Implications for Health Literacy," Australian Academic & Research Libraries, vol. 45, no.  1, 2014 [abstract]

Communicating with Persons of Concern in the Syrian Refugee Response (CDAC Network, April 2014) [text]

Factsheet: Mass Communication Assessment, Domiz Camp, Duhok Governorate, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (UNHCR, March 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]

"Quantifying Information Flow during Emergencies," Scientific Reports 4: Article no. 3997 (Feb. 2014) [open access]
- See also related iRevolution blog post.

"The Role of Digital Literacy Practices on Refugee Resettlement: The Case of Three Karen Brothers," Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 57, no. 5 (Feb. 2014) [abstract]

Social Media and Migration Research, Working Paper, no. 68 (UNU-MERIT, Dec. 2013) [text]

Related post:
- Thematic Focus: ICTs (7 March 2014)

Tagged Publications and Events & Opportunities
Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: Education

Forced migration blog - April 22, 2014 - 12:12am

Access to Education an Added Challenge for Refugees in Egypt (IRIN, April 2014) [text]

Applying the INEE Minimum Standards to Education in a Protracted Refugee Situation: Part I (INEE Blog, March 2014) [text]

Experiences of African Refugees Who Transition to University: A Question of Resilience, Bachelor’s Thesis (Edith Cowan University, Oct. 2013) [text]

Gender, Security and Access to Education in the Dadaab Refugee Camps, Online Discussion, 26 March-16 April 2014 [access]
- This discussion will soon be over; follow the link to view the exchanges so far.

Issues of Recognition and Participation in Changing Times: The Inclusion of Refugees in Higher Education in the UK, Paper presented at "Changing Configurations of Adult Education in Transitional Times," 7th European Research Conference, Berlin, 4-7 Sept. 2013 [text via Sussex Research Online]

"Jordan’s Response to Refugee Education Crises: Lessons from the Syrian and Iraqi Cases," The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, 7 April 2014 [text]

Web site: 

Global Education Cluster [access]
- "The Education Cluster envisions a world in which all those affected by humanitarian crisis have equitable access to education in a safe and protective environment."

Related post:
- Thematic Focus: Education (28 Jan. 2014)

Tagged Publications and Web Sites/Tools.
Categories: AidBlogs

Behold, I make all things new

Paradox Uganda - April 20, 2014 - 5:14pm
This has been a rich Easter season, so thankful to be here with the raw and tangible combination of cross and resurrection.  Sacrifice and New Life.  Blood and Glory.  The way of the cross, apparent defeat, willing laying down of life, working, moving through hard places, grief, loss, effort.  Then the waiting, the uncertainty, the hiddeness of God's work.  Finally the dawn, the surprise, the glimpse of power, the righting of wrong, the healing and hope.

Our celebration started on Thursday night with what has become possibly our family's favorite holiday, Passover.  We use a "Messianic Passover Haggadah" full of Scripture readings and responses as we gather to imitate Jesus' last supper with his closest friends, remembering the deliverance from Egypt, the unleavened bread and bitter herbs, the cups of wine.  As we meditate on these things we listen to music by Michael Card.  Our Kijabe team now includes the Massos as well as Bethany Ferguson and the Maras.  Just like Jesus, we had 13 at the "table" this year.  This is an evening full of concrete, edible, touchable lessons, geared towards the children, warm and deep, with delicious food and fellowship.

Friday shifts gears to a day of worship and fasting.  After early morning hospital rounds we went to the local AIC church service, then back to the hospital.  It is a holiday but both of us were on call, so spent a significant part of the day and night caring for patients.  Plenty of evidence for the world as a broken place in need of miracles.  At one point I was making space in our HDU for a toddler who had been injured in a car accident; his mother had been killed along with six other people, and his father was in surgery.  Then I was called to see a little girl with advanced AIDS whose mother had brought her to be checked but was reluctant for admission.  As a single mother living in one of Kenya's most notorious slums in Nairobi (Kibera) she did not have the funds.  At first I was trying to accommodate her desire to be treated as an outpatient back in Kibera, but then I thought about what would reflect Jesus' work on this day.  This little girl was crying from hunger.  I could not send her home.  I handed her mom some money to buy food and arranged for our Needy Children's Fund to pay for the admission.  Later in the evening our family watched Mel Gibson's "The Passion" which is artistically and Biblically rich, overwhelming, and helps to make the history of Jesus' crucifixion real.

I got back from resuscitating a baby who had a difficult delivery about a quarter to 1 am, then Julia and I joined a small group of missionaries up at RVA from 2am til almost 9am for the Secret Church.  A pastor in Birmingham Alabama with experience ministering in places where Christians are persecuted and come together for intense hours of Bible teaching offers this marathon of teaching and prayer for Americans on Good Friday.  In our time zone the simulcast falls in the middle of the night.  Lots of Scripture and solid instruction; the focus of giving up sleep for something more sustaining, the camaraderie of spending the night with friends.

Saturday, an interim day, between the intensity of Friday and the celebration of Sunday.  Rest, preparation, cooking, anticipating.

Then Sunday, the day when history shifts, the inevitable decay to chaos turns back towards renewal, beauty, life.

We arose with the first hint of daylight, to read the story of the resurrection and have breakfast outside as the clouds turned pink.  After a long Lent of drinking only water, our first cup of coffee was a bit of a taste of resurrection, and I made pain au chocolate for the first time, quite a treat. Then up to RVA for their 7 am Easter Sunrise service, a good sermon and fellowship as the sun peaked over
the ridge.  Then over to the Kenyan church for their Easter service, familiar hymns, beautiful music.  And then home to cook up a feast to share with friends, gathering in another dozen or so guests to join our family, visiting residents, a new Rwandan/Burundian family, team, friends.

And so we live the Good Friday and Easter Sunday, both this weekend and throughout our weeks.  And we get foretastes of resurrection over and over.  This week I returned (after our sojourn in Uganda/Rwanda/Burundi) to find some of my sickest patients, kids I had struggled to keep alive, improving and going home:
Baby H has spina bifida and other problems.  The general consensus was that he would not survive an ICU admission.  But when I talked to his mom, and prayed, we decided he deserved a chance to overcome his pneumonia.  So glad we did!
Sweet little M came to us almost two months ago with a rapidly progressive paralysis due to Guillan-Barre syndrome.  She spent a month on a ventilator, unable to move or breathe, the tube entering a tracheostomy.  Now she can sit, move a little, and SMILE.  While she has a long way to go until she's running again, we are very encouraged by her recovery, and her mom is now able to care for her at home.
And R, a teenager who came to us severely wasted, with intractable fevers and lung disease.  We reviewed his records and treated him for every infection known to man, investigated for cancer.  His heart nearly gave out, he developed blood clots, we thought he would die.  Thanks to consults-by-email, prayer, trial-and-error, we finally decided to try stopping all his anti-infective medications and treat him as a patient with auto-immune disease.  And finally, he improved, and went home for Easter. This weekend another little girl who was having a stroke from sickle-cell-anemia got a complicated all-night partial exchange transfusion, and the next morning I found her smiling and able to talk and eat.  A baby with severe lung damage from inhaling meconium who was not improving with maximal ICU care (I prayed with his weeping mother at 2 am, asking for a miracle without much faith or hope) . . . suddenly improved, oxygen levels climbing from the 30's to 100%, and looks like a survivor.  
These are the stories that keep us plugging on, the places where the all-things-new power of Jesus reaches down into real life.  Long nights, lots of cooking, house full of friends, work, and worship, the fabric of daily life, suddenly shimmers with glory.  He is risen indeed.
Categories: AidBlogs

Broken for you

Paradox Uganda - April 17, 2014 - 6:01am
This is the week we remember the way of the cross.  Redemption carries with it a physicality that we are told not to forget, not to over-spiritualize or gloss over.  The body flogged and pierced, the blood poured, with a purpose of sustenance and salvation for others.  For us.

On Sunday night we returned from a 17-day odyssey.  And Monday morning we plunged right back into the world of sick patients, inadequate resources, tragedies and small victories and hard work.  And it strikes me that those days of travel (and these days of early mornings and late nights) are a physical journey that jolts and drains and breaks, because the way of the cross is not something that only occurs on the level of thoughts or beliefs.  So we trust that even in the simple concrete act of spending our energy on the road, God brings His redemption to others.

So here are a smattering of physical facts, numbers that give a glimpse of an epic trip we are very grateful to have made.  Because redemption comes, through the lives poured out in this place, and it is our privilege to support that process as Area Directors for our mission.

  • 3631 kilometers of East African roadway.  83 hours in the Landrover.  

  • 21 relatively intense conversations leading to prayer, as we met with individuals and couples along the way to listen (mostly) and counsel (occasionally) and pray (always).   Beautiful glimpses into lives, opened to us by nature of being older now, or just because we were temporarily there, or our job now gives us the inroad to ask questions.

  • 6 border crossings, well 7 if you count walking over the new bridge over the Lamia river from Bundibugyo into Congo.  Each one bristling with the tension of officialdom, the uncertainty of procedures, filling out forms, stamping passports, questions, hawkers, backlogs of trucks.  Rwanda/Burundi at two different crossings were by far the most organized, clean, straightforward.  And the last crossing from Uganda back to Kenya the worst, a long line from a bus of people, Maasai in blankets from Tanzania uncertain with the forms, dingy and dark, then the officials motioning me back into their office and fishing for a bribe claiming our kids' immigration stamps were expired.  They weren't, I waited patiently explaining over and over, and finally they decided to clear us through.  Not fun.

  • 6 days of teaching, 3 in Uganda and 3 in Burundi, based on a wonderful little article by Henri Nouwen called "From Solitude to Community to Minsitry".  We used the image of a tree, which must be rooted in personal quiet and meeting with God, supported by the strong trunk of community built through forgiveness and celebration, in order to produce the fruit of ministry, with an emphasis on suffering that bears goodness for others.  In Uganda we pulled the Bundibugyo and Fort Portal team(s) out for a retreat and added material on understanding culture; in Burundi we blended into the new team's life on site. (This tree at sunset in Fort Portal looking west to the Rwenzoris).
  • 12 follow-ups of kids we sponsor in school, most of whom we have been surrogate foster-parents to since they were small, daily at our house, supervising their play and leading them in Bible study and providing for their needs.  Now they are young men (and one young woman), moving out in the world.  We stopped at schools, met for meals, visited homes.  They are a huge part of what keeps our hearts grounded here.

  • 20 years of remembrance, we crossed into Rwanda on the anniversary of the genocide.  Memories of listening to the radio as we heard the horror unfold only a couple hundred kilometers south of us back in 1994.  The immense privilege of staying with a Rwandan family (friend of Jack's through RVA) and hearing the mother spend a couple of hours unfolding her story of fear, escape, grief, loss, return, and the slow deliberate process of forgiveness and redemption.  In the end she went back to the village of people who killed her father and started a program to help the children develop.  Though her testimony convicted the ringleader responsible for her dad's death to jail, she now pays the school fees for his killer's children.  The Rwandan people are truly remarkable in walking through the worst and struggling to heal.

  • 5 hospital visits.  Yes, we love seeing hospital work in other countries.  Bundibugyo hosptial, with Dr. Jonah's grave.  Nyahuka health center, greeting old friends and mourning the struggle against corruption and apathy.  Kibuye hospital where our team has begun the heroic effort to upgrade, to teach, to equip. Hope Africa University and hospital where our Bujumbura team has begun to teach in the medical school.  And Kibogora hospital in Rwanda visiting our friends the Bergs, a surprisingly pleasant and well-equipped small place being stretched to grow and serve.

  • 2 days in Bundibugyo, too short for reunions with old friends.  Scott spoke to the CSB students (alive with worship, and as orderly and respectful as we have ever seen them) and to the staff, we visited and greeted and walked and prayed and rejoiced to be home. We are thankful for the hospitality of Isingoma and Christine who hosted us there.

  • 3 nights just-for-fun-and-memories along the way, stopovers at places we have often stayed, waypoints on the journey.  The green cabin at Sunrise Acres, an missionary-retreat farm in western Kenya, where we often broke the 23-hour journey from Bundibugyo to RVA when Luke and Caleb were boarding students.  Camping at campsite 2 in Queen Elizabeth National park (no lions this time, rain and peace and elephants along the way).  And our final night at the Kingfisher in Jinja.  

  • 5 Great Lakes:  Albert, Edward, Kivu, Tangyanika, and Victoria.  This region of Africa is known as the Great Lakes Region and we saw/stayed by/ate fish from all five.

  • TNTC, that's medicalese for too numerous to count:  moments of grace.  Our safety on the road, the beauty of connecting with people whom we love, the pouring out of teaching and prayer, the spectacular beauty of East Africa.  And then the unexpected wave of grief in leaving all over again, the deep ache of loss that is part of the way of the cross for us that led from our 17 years in Uganda to now over 3 here in Kenya.  A few last scenes along the way to say goodbye.

Categories: AidBlogs

The origins of "the dismal science"

Roving bandit - April 16, 2014 - 12:06pm
"This viewpoint infuriates some critics of economics, to the extent that it earned the famous nickname of “the dismal science”. Too few people know the context in which Thomas Carlyle hurled that epithet: it was in a proslavery article, first published in 1849, a few years after slavery had been abolished in the British empire. Carlyle attacked the idea that “black men” might simply be induced to work for pay, according to what he sneeringly termed the “science of supply and demand”. Scorning the liberal views of economists, he believed Africans should be put to work by force."That's Tim Harford.

Wikipedia has more:
"However, the full phrase "the dismal science" first occurs in Carlyle's 1849 tract entitled Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question, in which he was arguing for the reintroduction of slavery as a means to regulate the labor market in the West IndiesNot a "gay science," I should say, like some we have heard of; no, a dreary, desolate and, indeed, quite abject and distressing one; what we might call, by way of eminence, the dismal science. It was "dismal" in "find[ing] the secret of this Universe in 'supply and demand,' and reducing the duty of human governors to that of letting men alone." Instead, the "idle Black man in the West Indies" should be "compelled to work as he was fit, and to do the Maker's will who had constructed him."[4]"In which case I'm proud to be dismal.  
Categories: AidBlogs

Visualizing Boko Haram funding

My Liberia blog - April 15, 2014 - 8:13pm


From World Policy Journal. h/t to Jason Warner.

Categories: AidBlogs

Do teachers skip class because of low pay?

Roving bandit - April 15, 2014 - 10:08am
Teacher absenteeism is a huge problem in developing countries, wasting up to a quarter of all spending on primary education in developing countries.

The 2014 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, which was launched in London last week, puts the problem mainly down to the low pay and poor working conditions of teachers.
"While teacher absenteeism and engagement in private tuition are real problems, policy-makers often ignore underlying reasons such as low pay and a lack of career opportunities. ...  Policy-makers need to understand why teachers miss school. In some countries, teachers are absent because their pay is extremely low, in others because working conditions are poor. In Malawi, where teachers’ pay is low and payment often erratic, 1 in 10 teachers stated that they were frequently absent from school in connection with financial concerns, such as travelling to collect salaries or dealing with loan payments. High rates of HIV/AIDS can take their toll on teacher attendance."The report includes this chart, showing that in a handful of countries teachers earn below $10 a day (which they have decided is not enough to live on).

Which seems jarring when the same week there was a conference on the economics of education in developing countries, where much of the literature is focused exactly on this issue of teacher absenteeism, and finds very little evidence that low pay is the main factor (as opposed to, say, weak or non-existent systems of accountability). In India it is well documented that whereas absenteeism is roughly similar in public and private schools, teachers in public schools are paid more than 5 times as much as private school teachers.

(See for example this chart from data from Singh 2013, or similar from Kremer et al 2005Alcazar et al 2006 in Peru, or African data here)

Harry Patrinos of the World Bank writes:
"There is very little evidence that higher salaries lead to better attendance, however. Contract teachers have the same or higher absence rates. Compared to public school teachers, though, private school teachers are absent less, even though contract and private school teachers alike take home much less pay than their regular civil service public school teacher counterparts."As little as teachers might make in some countries, they are still doing well relative to most other people. In many countries public primary school teachers are the 1%.

I thought I'd take a quick look at the data presented in the GMR and see what those teacher salaries are presented as a % of GDP. In OECD countries, average teacher salary is roughly around the same level as GDP per capita. In African countries, the average teacher salary is 3 - 4 times GDP per capita.

Karthik Muralidharan summarised the state of public schools in India as facing two problems; governance and pedagogy. This probably generalises to much of the developing world. What this GMR comes across as doing is focusing almost entirely on the pedagogy problem, and sweeping the governance problem under the carpet (receiving roughly 10 pages attention out of a 300 page report). Perhaps this is a welcome counterbalance to prominent World Bank research which focuses much more on the governance problem. But really shouldn't a major flagship state of the sector report aspire to properly tackle both? Of course fixing the pedagogy problem means working with teachers to improve their capabilities and not demonising them or calling them all lazy slackers. But neither can we just ignore the reality of skiving on a massive scale (or: Don't hate the player, hate the game). 
Categories: AidBlogs

Nigerian government had no response to reports of >100 deaths in Borno

My Liberia blog - April 14, 2014 - 4:59pm

From Will Ross on the BBC:

There were reports that 135 people were killed in Borno state on Wednesday and Thursday but there was no comment whatsoever from the government or the military. To some analysts, it seems attacks in the north-east are sufficiently remote to be ignored even though entire villages are being massacred, sometimes without any military response.

Categories: AidBlogs

New Crisis Group report on Boko Haram

My Liberia blog - April 14, 2014 - 3:37pm

A bombing at an Abuja bus station, possibly coordinated by Boko Haram, killed at least 70 people this morning and inspired me to read the new Crisis Group report on Boko Haram that came out last week.

The report explains the emergence of Boko Haram as a result of a series of broken political promises, exacerbated by government extrajudicial killings of Boko Haram leaders. Mohammed Yusuf, a charismatic preacher and early leader of Boko Haram, allegedly entered into an agreement with Borno gubernatorial candidate Ali Modu Sheriff in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Yusuf and his large youth following provided much support for Sheriff’s campaign. Sheriff won, but the Sheriff-Yusuf alliance was tenuous. Sheriff followed through on some promises, but did not implement Sharia in Borno to the extent that Yusuf wanted. By 2008 the alliance had fallen apart, and the Borno state government charged Yusuf with terrorism. In 2009 Yusuf was killed, though how this happened is not totally clear.

Some more current interesting points from the report:

  • Crisis Group portrays the Civilian Joint Task Force (vigilante groups with strong state support) as both highly effective, but with the potential to become extremely dangerous in their own right.
  • “With its rank and file decimated, Boko Haram reportedly has resorted to forced conscription and recruiting of criminals and thugs (area boys), paying them for attacks, sometimes with a share of the spoils.” (page 17)
  • “Another apparent obstacle to dialogue is the involvement of fraudsters. Shehu Sani, director of the Civil Rights Congress, a prominent human rights group in the north, claims that on a number of occasions the government was deceived by people who presented peace proposals that were scams. Several shadowy individuals claiming to be speaking on behalf of Boko Haram have been disowned by the sect. Some observers assert that government officials seeking to make private gain sponsored these impostors.” (p. 36-37)

Categories: AidBlogs

Tip of the Week! National Library Week Freebies

Forced migration blog - April 14, 2014 - 2:55pm
To commemorate National Library Week in the U.S., various publishers are offering U.S.-based users free access to some of their products from 13-19 April 2014, including:

Oxford University Press USA [access]
- "Libraries are a vital part of our communities - they feed our curiosity, bolster our professional knowledge, and provide a launchpad for intellectual discovery. In celebration of these cornerstone institutions, we are offering unprecedented free access to all our Online Resources [excluding journals] to support our shared mission of education." Check out the multi-disciplinary and law resources, in particular.

ProQuest [access]
- Five databases will be freely available this week.

SAGE [access]
- "Register for a free trial to any SAGE or CQ Press library product and you will automatically be entered to win a six-month subscription to that product. All you have to do to enter is sign up during National Library Week!"

I plan to explore these databases to see what relevant items can be retrieved, so I'll add some notes about my findings accordingly!

Tagged Tips.

Categories: AidBlogs

Thematic Focus: Children

Forced migration blog - April 14, 2014 - 2:55pm
"Asylum Seeker and Refugee Children Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Childhood Educator's Role," Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, vol. 39, no. 1 (March 2014) [free full-text]

Better Protection Needed for Migrant Children in Denmark (Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, March 2014) [text]

A Case Study on Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking Children in Sweden: Migration Patterns and Reasons, Bachelor's Thesis (Södertörn University, Spring 2013) [text]

Psychosocial Support for Youth in Post-Conflict Situations: A Trainer’s Handbook (IFRC, Feb. 2014) [text via ReliefWeb]

"What's going to happen tomorrow?": Unaccompanied Children Refused Asylum (Children's Commissioner, April 2014) [text]

See also recent posts on statelessness and detention.

Related post:
- Thematic Focus: Children (27 March 2014)

Tagged Publications.
Categories: AidBlogs

Regional Focus: Africa, esp. Somalis in Kenya

Forced migration blog - April 14, 2014 - 2:55pm

FY 2014 Funding Opportunity Announcement for NGO Programs Benefiting Refugees in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania [info]
- Proposal submission deadline is 13 May 2014.


Application of the UNHCR's "Ceased Circumstances" Cessation Clauses to the Rwandan Refugee Crisis, Undergraduate Honors Thesis (Duke University, June 2013) [text]

The Conflict, Disaster, and Displacement Nexus: Implications for Protection and Resilience in the Horn of Africa, New York, 3 April 2014 [info]
- Follow link for video of event.

Persecution through Prosecution: Possible Implications of Uganda’s Anti-gay Law for Kenya’s Asylum Space (Refugee Consortium of Kenya Blog, March 2014) [text]

"Political Refugee, Diva or International Kingpin? Evolving Confidentiality Requirements of Asylum Proceedings in South Africa and Beyond," Michigan State International Law Review Forum Conveniens, vol. 2 (2014) [full-text]
- See also SSRN version.

Somalis in Kenya:

Image credit: HRW"Conflict and Migration: The Case of Somali Refugees in Northeastern Kenya," Global Social Welfare, OnlineFirst, 27 March 2014 [free full-text]
- See also related UNCRD project description.

Ethnic Somalis under Pressure in Kenyan Capital (IRIN, April 2014) [text]

"Human Security Issues of Somali Refugees and the Host Community in Northeastern Kenya," Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, vol. 12, no. 1 (2014) [preview]
- See also related UNCRD project description.

Kenya: Halt Crackdown on Somalis (Human Rights Watch, April 2014) [text]

*Kenya: Somalis Trapped in ‘Catch-22’ Amid Crackdown on Refugees (Amnesty International, April 2014) [text]


Related post:
- Regional Focus: Africa (3 April 2014)

Tagged Publications and Events & Opportunities

Categories: AidBlogs

New Issues of Africa in Fact, Austr. Intl. Law J., Comp. Migr. Stud., Diversities, FRLAN, Global Eye, JIMI, Migr. Pol. Pract., Statewatch J., WAN

Forced migration blog - April 14, 2014 - 2:55pm
Africa in Fact: The Journal of Good Governance Africa, no. 21 (April 2014) [full-text]
- The theme of this issue is "Departures and Displacements."

Australian International Law Journal, vol. 20 (2013) [contents]
- Features a mini symposium section on "Creating New Futures for All: International Law and the Protection of Migrant Children at Risk."  Includes "Of Relative Rights and Putative Children: Rethinking the Critical Framework for the Protection of Refugee Children and Youth" and "Indefinite Security Detention and Refugee Children and Families in Australia: International Human Rights Law Dimensions."
Comparative Migration Studies, vol. 2, no. 1 (2014) [open access]
- Special issue on "Canada’s and Germany's policies and approaches towards immigration and integration." Includes "Shifting Up and Back: The European Turn in Canadian Refugee Policy."

Diversities, vol. 15, no. 1 (2013) [full-text]
- Special issue on "Female Migration Outcomes II."  Includes "Casamance Refugee Women’s Engagement with Development Programming in the Gambia" and "Engendering Refugees' Livelihood Strategies: The Case of the Iraqi Diaspora in Damascus."

Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter, no. 47 (April 2014) [full-text]
- News and information for refugee legal aid providers.

 Global Eye on Human Trafficking, no. 13 (Sept. 2013) [full-text]
- Focus is on preventing human trafficking. Includes two perspectives on the efficacy of awareness-raising campaigns.

Journal of International Migration and Integration, vol. 15, no. 2 (May 2014) [contents]
- Mix of articles including "Migrant Organisations in Humanitarian Action."

Migration Policy Practice, vol. IV, no. 1 (Feb./March 2014) [full-text]
- Mix of articles including "Protecting the Rights of Migrants in Europe: The Role of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe."

Statewatch Journal, vol. 23, nos. 3/4 (Feb. 2014) [full-text]
- Theme is "Borders, Deaths and Resistance."

Women's Asylum News, no. 122 (March/April 2014) [full-text]
- Lead article is "Refused Asylum Seeking Women’s Experiences of Maternity Care in Glasgow."

Tagged Periodicals.

Categories: AidBlogs
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