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After the Famine: The Ongoing Crisis in Somalia
February 22, 2012
Introduction • Welcome and agenda • August 2011 tele-briefing covered the “expanded license” policy announced in August and Sen. Leahy's call for reforming the "material support" laws that hinder humanitarian assistance.
• Transcript, audio file and PowerPoint available on CSN website, (http://www.charityandsecurity.org/node/627) • Today’s session will be an update on developments since then.
• Transcript, audio file and PowerPoint from today will also be posted on the Charity & Security Network’s website
Allan Jury Director, US Relations Office, UN World Food Programme (WFP) •
Responsible for managing WFP’s relations with its major partners in the US government and representing WFP in dialogue with USbased civil society and private organizations interested in global food assistance issues. He also coordinates WFP’s relations with the World Bank headquarters. Previously he served as WFP’s Director of External Relations (2004-2008).
Joined WFP in 2001 after a 25 year career in the U.S. Department of State. He served as Director for Policy and Resource Planning in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration prior to joining WFP.
Vincent Cochetel Regional Representative for the U.S. and Caribbean, UN High Commission on Refugees •
Joined UNHCR in 1986, serving in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Middle East and participating in missions in Asia, West Africa and Europe. In 2002, he was appointed director of the Investigation Unit in the Inspector General's Office at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva and in 2005 became Deputy Director of UNHCR's Division of International Protection Services. In 2006 he served as Director of the Resettlement Service.
Before joining UNHCR, Cochetel served as a legal advisor on human rights in the EU.
Update on the context for NGOs Kay Guinane, Director, Charity & Security Network
August 2011 announcement by Treasury and State Departments that “expanded licenses” would be issued to USAID grantees to work in alShabaab controlled areas of Somalia (see August tele-briefing at http://www.charityandsecurity.org/node/627)
Privately Funded NGOs • Not covered by “expanded licenses” • InterAction seeks General License from Treasury Dept. (Aug. 4, 2011) as the “only efficient and effective approach” for privately funded NGOs, given the “extreme urgency of the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and the legal constraints that U.S. persons and organizations face…”
September 2011 Congressional Concern Over Barriers to Aid House of Representatives
Sept. 8, 2011 the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights held a hearing to address the “east Africa Humanitarian Emergency.” Members of both political parties expressed support for increased aid to the faminestruck area, and voiced concern about obstacles nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) face in getting licenses from the Department of Treasury that would allow them to work in areas controlled by the terrorist group al-Shabaab. Committee Chair Christopher Smith (R-NJ) promises follow up action.
Senate On Sept. 21, 2011, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) urged the Department of Justice to “remove the uncertainty” surrounding the material support statute that restricts U.S. groups from conducting peacebuilding activities and responding to emergencies like the famine in southern Somalia. .
November 10, 2011 Treasury Denies General License Request SOM-562725 November 10, 2011 Samuel Worthington President and Chief Executive Officer InterAction 1400 16* Street, NW^ Ste 210 Washington, DC 20036 Dear Mr. Worthington: Thank you for your October 3 letter regarding the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia. We share the sense of urgency that InterAction members and others feel regarding the terrible humanitarian situation in Somalia and the broader Horn of Africa region, and are working urgently alongside our partners in the U.S. Government to help address this crisis. As we have discussed, the legal, logistical, and safety issues involved in operating in areas of Somalia controlled by al-Shabaab - a designated terrorist group that has threatened and carried out violent attacks against innocents and aid workers - are serious, complex, and dynamic. This situation does not lend itself to a broad general license. That said, OFAC remains ready to work with U.S. NGOs on a case-by-case basis to review applications as necessary. To date, OFAC has received only two such applications. In one case, we have issued a specific license. The other application is expected to be accommodated by incorporating the activities described in the application into an amendment to an existing State Department or USAID grant, thereby bringing the activities within the scope of those agencies' existing OFAC license. We stand ready to work with you and your individual member organizations that are, or expect shortly to be, active in al-Shabaabcontrolled areas of Somalia to review your planned operations and safeguards and to identify- what additional authorizations may be appropriate. We will continue to treat such inquiries or license applications in this area as a priority. Thank you again for your correspondence, and for all that you and your members are doing to address this important issue. We look forward to being in touch with you again soon. Sinccrely-. Adam J. Szubin • Director • Office of Foreign Assets Control
Contrast: General License for Aid in Syria On Sept. 26, 2011 the Department of Treasury issued a “General License” that permits NGOs to provide services in Syria that would otherwise be prohibited under Executive Order 13582, signed by President Barack Obama on Aug. 17, 2011. It prohibits a wide range of financial and trade transactions, including humanitarian aid. The General License lists specific NGO activities that are permitted without the need to go through Treasury's lengthy Specific License process. •
"(1) Activities to support humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs in Syria, including, but not limited to, drought relief, assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict victims, food and medicine distribution, and the provision of health services;
(2) Activities to support democracy building in Syria, including, but not limited to, rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability, and civil society development projects:
(3) Activities to support education in Syria, including, but not limited to, combating illiteracy, increasing access to education, and assisting education reform projects; and
(4) Activities to support non-commercial development projects directly benefiting the Syrian people, including, but not limited to, preventing infectious disease and promoting maternal/child health, sustainable agriculture, and clean water assistance."
USG Takes Additional Steps Dec. 14, 2011 Letter to President Obama from 56 members of Congress expressing “deep concern over the continuing drought and famine” and asking him to “personally speak out on the crisis” Dec. 22, 2011 White House announces additional $113 million in famine aid. Jan. 24, 2012 State Dept. Press Briefing U.S. response praised, said $870 million to Horn of Africa in last 18 months, $205 of that to Somalia
Jan. 4, 2012 NPR reporter Scott Tong reports for Marketplace: Was the world late to Somalia’s famine? “As famine approached, aid was ‘frozen’…” Aid organizations grants were running out, but USG blames al-Shabaab, wiki leaks suggests U.S. terror laws a factor “By July, the U.N. declared a famine– in its words ‘the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world.’ Only then did international contributions ramp up. Only then did Washington lift terrorism restrictions on aid.” http://www.marketplace.org/topics/world/famineafrica/was-world-late-somalias-famine
Save the Children UK and Oxfam UK Report: • Indications of crisis as early as August 2010 • Warnings repeated in November 2010 and early 2011 • “The scale of death and suffering, and the financial cost, could have been reduced if early warning systems had triggered an earlier, more substantial response.”
Reasons for failure to heed early warnings • “One reason is that raising large sums of money for humanitarian response currently depends on getting significant media and public attention – which did not happen until the crisis point was reached.” • While many people on the ground knew crisis on the way “they were not always able to get traction ‘further up the chain’ from those who needed to act to avert another crisis.”
Conclusion • A transcript and audio file of this tele-briefing will be available on the Charity & Security Network website soon. • See www.charityandsecurity.org and click on “Events”