Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the safe arrival in Greece of two Greek citizens evacuated from Afghanistan

Upon relevant instructions from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias, and following continuous consultations between the competent Services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Ministries of other countries, two more Greek citizens working in Afghanistan returned safely to Greece. The first citizen arrived on Saturday night (21/08) from London where he had been transferred after a successful U.K. evacuation operation from Afghanistan and the second one arrived today from Doha where he had been transferred after a similar U.S. evacuation operation.

In both cases, the Greek authorities were in constant contact with the two citizens and our Embassies in London and Doha provided them with all possible assistance.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ statement following the trilateral meeting with his Cypriot and Israeli counterparts, Nikos Christodoulides and Yair Lapid (Jerusalem, 22 August 2021)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias’ statement following the trilateral meeting with his Cypriot and Israeli counterparts, Nikos Christodoulides and Yair Lapid (Jerusalem, 22 August 2021)It is such a great pleasure to be back in Jerusalem today.

Last time I was here, in May, there were rockets being fired against Israel.

I was the first European Minister to fly here to condemn those attacks and underline Israel’s right to defend itself.

Together, in a calmer environment, we discussed with you and with Nikos, ways of enhancing our cooperation, starting with civil protection.

And I must take this opportunity, on behalf of the government of Prime Minister Mitsotakis, to thank you deeply, both you and Nikos, for your help during the wildfires in Greece.

For the solidarity and the concrete support, you gave us.

And I have to say that this is something that has created a very positive element, our cooperation, to address climate change and the results of climate change. I will meet with the Israeli Minister of Energy, Karine Elharrar, afterwards to speak about energy cooperation, interconnectivity, renewables, gas. We can really create a lot of things, beneficial for us, our three countries, for the region and also for Europe.

Our objective today was also to find new ways to institutionalize our participation of strategic partners of our trilateral scheme. You mentioned them, thank you.

Luckily, they are many. And we believe that other countries eventually will share the same principles with us and the same values with us.

And that brings me to the other major issue we addressed today, the extremely worrying developments in the wider region.

You, Yair, have termed a phrase: “Circle of Life”. Countries that promote peaceful coexistence, moderation, prosperity, International Law.

But unfortunately, we also see a vicious circle contrary to this circle of life. Religious fanaticism, terrorism, an “arc of fundamentalism” spanning from North Africa to the Eastern Mediterranean and going as far as Central Asia and Afghanistan.

The Taliban consider Turkey an ally; they made a clear statement that Turkey is a friendly country. And Hamas, very close here, congratulated the Taliban.

There are countries in our neighbourhood that, contrary to what we believe is even in the interest of their own societies, try to revive old empires and, even worse, old understandings. Literally buried in the sand of the past.

And they’re using many tools. Military incursions in other countries, meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, asymmetrical warfare, proxy warfare. And, of course, sometimes they instrumentalise migration, which is totally unacceptable.

Our common effort is that those efforts should never succeed. Our meeting today consists also in an effort to enhance a strong bilateral relation between Greece and Israel. I am particularly happy that I will be received by President Herzog and Prime Minister Bennett later on, as we are facing difficult times ahead and it would be very interesting to hear their views.

It is clear for us that the best way to address the problems of today is being together with friends. Building bridges of stability and prosperity for all. Open to all the willing countries in Europe, in the Middle East, in the Gulf and even beyond.

Thank you, dear Yair, for your kindness and hospitality.

Thank you, dear Nikos, for the climate in our discussion.

For France’s Sahel Mission, Echoes of Afghanistan

The chaotic aftermath of Washington’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is being followed with a mix of trepidation and glee thousands of kilometers away — in Africa’s Sahel, where another foreign power, France, also vows to wind down its long-running counterinsurgency operation, at least in its present form.

As the United States continued to evacuate thousands of citizens and allies at Kabul’s airport this week, dozens of civilians and soldiers were killed in several Islamist attacks across a vast and dangerous three-border region that straddles Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. It was just another marker in a protracted fight that has killed thousands, displaced 2 million and — like Afghanistan — is considered by some as unwinnable.

If there many stark differences between America’s war in Afghanistan and France’s in the Sahel — from their size and nature to their Islamist targets — there are also haunting similarities, analysts say.

Both involve yearslong foreign involvement in countries with weak and unstable governments. Both operations have struggled against troop fatigue, casualties, and dwindling support at home. Both are against Islamist groups which, many say, are patiently confident they will outlast their enemy.

“If there’s any lesson to draw, it’s that indefinite military solutions aren’t sustainable,” said Bakary Sambe, Senegal-based director of the Timbuktu Institute think tank.

“Sooner or later, there’s got to be an exit,” he said.

Staying put

Unlike the U.S., France for now has no intention of withdrawing from the Sahel, a vast area below the Sahara. It will, however, soon begin decreasing its 5,100-troop Barkhane operation, the linchpin of a regional counterterrorist fight spanning five West and Central African countries.

Nor was the Sahel mentioned in French President Emmanuel Macron’s first major response to the Taliban’s swift victory. Rather, he warned against resurgent terrorism in Afghanistan and illegal migration to Europe.

Yet it may be hard to compartmentalize.

“I think the French cannot afford not to look at what’s going on in Afghanistan when preparing for the very gradual drawdown” of Barkhane forces, said University of Kent conflict expert Yvan Guichaoua.

Images of mayhem and anguish at Kabul’s airport and elsewhere “is something that certainly shocked French officials,” he said, “and maybe made them think about the circumstances in which they are going to leave.”

Others are not so sure.

“I don’t think [the French] are drawing this kind of direct parallel,” between Afghanistan and the Sahel, said Jean-Herve Jezequel, Sahel Project director for the International Crisis Group policy group.

“Maybe this is a mistake. But the French are downsizing, they’re not withdrawing. They’re still the biggest military force in the region,” he said.

Different — but also echoes of Afghanistan

Macron announced in July France’s Barkhane operation would formally end early next year, with troops shrinking to up to half their current numbers and shifted to other anti-terrorist missions — notably forming backbone of the European Union’s fledgling Takuba force, currently aimed at helping Mali fight terrorism in the Sahel region.

Yet France’s revamped mission with its narrowed goals — counterterrorism and beefing up local forces rather than securing large tracts of territory — comes after mounting casualties, fading support at home, a spreading insurgency and growing anti-French sentiment in some Sahel nations.

Born in 2013, France’s military intervention in that region is half as old as the U.S. war in Afghanistan was, with a fraction of its scope and troop losses. Originally aimed to fight jihadist groups in Mali, it later expanded to four other vulnerable former colonies — Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania — that together now form a regional G5 Sahel counterinsurgency operation. Meanwhile, the jihadists are moving south, into parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

While Paris pushes for greater governance and democracy — in June, Macron briefly suspended operations in Mali after its second coup in a year — the nation-building efforts seen in Afghanistan are not likely, Crisis Watch’s Jezequel said.

“It’s a failure,” he added. “But it’s a failure of the Sahel states.”

Today, some of those states, especially Mali, are watching Afghanistan’s swift unraveling with alarm, experts say, even as extremists celebrate.

The Sahel’s myriad jihadi groups lack the deep roots and experience of the Taliban, which held power in the 1990s. Yet, especially Western recognition of Afghanistan’s new rulers “will comfort the idea that the Islamist alternative is possible,” Sambe said.

“It will galvanize radical Islamist groups—and that’s the fear,” he said.

The European Union’s executive arm said Saturday it does not recognize the Taliban.

Moving forward

For France, moving forward in the Sahel means focusing southward, where the insurgency has spread, and beefing up the Takuba Task Force. Nearly a dozen European countries, including Estonia, Italy, Denmark and non-EU-member Norway have joined or promised to take part in the military mission. But many others remain on the sidelines, including Germany.

“The fear of many European countries is to commit troops and then be confronted with a fiasco or death of soldiers,” Guichaoua said.

However, he and others add, French persuasion, from raising fears of conflict-driven migration to Europe, to offering military support in other areas, appears to be working.

Not under French consideration, though, is any dialogue with extremists — an effort controversially tried with the Taliban that is earning support among some Sahel authorities, at least when it comes to homegrown groups.

“The French have considered this a red line,” Guichaoua said. “Because that would mean somewhat that French soldiers died for nothing. But it is on the agenda for Malian authorities.”

Local-level negotiations with jihadi groups have long taken place, he said — to gain access to markets, for example, or get hostages released — but not high-level ones, “and the main reason is France.”

For their part, the Sahel’s extremists appear willing to wait, as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.

Both, Guichaoua said, are convinced foreign powers will eventually leave, so time is on their side.

Source: Voice of America

Malawi President Pledges to Intervene in Fertilizer Price Rise

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera says he will take steps to mitigate the steep rise of fertilizer prices which have doubled in the last year. He says about 80 percent of Malawi farmers can no longer afford to buy fertilizer.

Farmers in Malawi say the rise in fertilizer prices is likely to affect production in this agro-based southern Africa country.

Jacob Nyirongo is Chief Executive Officer for Farmers Union of Malawi.

“Most farmers in Malawi are poor and it’s quite a struggle for farmers to access fertilizer even at the prices that they were like last year. So, the increase that we have seen this year means it is pushing more farmers to a bracket where most farmers won’t be able to access fertilizer,” he said.

Fertilizer prices have hit an all-time high in Malawi with a bag weighing 50 kilogram now selling between $40 and $50 dollars. This is almost double the prices of last year.

Agriculture experts say this would likely lead to higher costs for government subsidized fertilizers under the Affordable Inputs Program, in which ultra-poor farmers buy at $6 dollars per 50 kilograms bag.

But in his national televised address Saturday, President Chakwera vowed the keep the prices low.

He said the price hike is the result of actions by a cartel, which he did not name, and accused it of trying to undermine his Affordable Inputs Program.

He says “But what I want you to know is that I and my government cannot allow someone to kill agriculture in this country. Whether one likes it or not, farmers will buy fertilizer at a cheaper price this year.”

He, however, said the prices might be slightly higher than last year’s but not as exorbitant as they are now.

But the Fertilizer Importers Association in Malawi, a group of fertilizer importers justifies the current price rise.

Speaking in Malawi Parliament Wednesday, the group said the rise is dictated by the international market which is facing the rise in fertilizer’s raw materials like phosphate.

In response to the rise in fertilizer prices, the Ministry of Agriculture announced in July that it has trimmed the number of beneficiaries of the subsidized farm input program this year from 3.7 million to 2.7 million.

But Chakwera has reversed that decision.

“I will not allow anyone to remove any family or village from the list of beneficiaries of the cheap fertilizer. This is taking the government for granted. If there are people I vowed to fight for, they are the farmers,” he said.

Dr. Betchani Tchereni is a lecturer in Economics at Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences.

He says farmers should do organic farming which largely relies on manure.

“This organic way of farming is the way to go. We just need to propagate it to make sure that everyone understands the best way of doing it. Once we do that, I think issues of biodiversity will come in and I am very sure that at the end of the day, we are going to benefit as a country economically and also in terms of our own health,” he said.

But Farmers Union’s Nyirongo, also an agronomist, says manure cannot stand alone.

“So what we have seen as farmers is that if you use manure, you improve the health of the soil. And you enable the soil to utilize the fertilizer that you apply to a crop. So, if for example, you combine manure with inorganic fertilizer, you get the best yield,” he said.

Nyirongo says for now, farmers are keeping their fingers crossed on President Chakwera’s pledge to help control the overpricing of fertilizer.

Source: Voice of America

The Reality of Aid Report 2020/2021: Aid in the Context of Conflict, Fragility, and the Climate Emergency

A triple crisis of poverty, inequality, and a climate emergency, compounded by a global pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed disturbing limits in global solidarity, particularly on the part of the international donor community. In a matter of months, the pandemic has exposed long-standing structural inequalities both within and between countries Despite some progress, COVID has increased vulnerabilities for millions of people, pushing many into poverty, in the context of the evermore-present impacts from climate change.
Faced with these compounding global challenges, there is an unparalleled and urgent need to maximize development finance, while focusing on the rapidly worsening conditions for poor and vulnerable people. Yet the evidence in this Report, and several parallel civil society commentaries, point to largely stagnant aid flows, an aid system with systemic ineffectiveness highly resistant to change, and a growing pre-eminence of donor economic and political interests in aid priorities. The recently published UN 2021 Financing for Sustainable Development Report warns that the pandemic could lead to a lost decade for development, noting that there is a sharply diverging and unequal world emerging from the lack of access to resources by poor countries and people to combat the crisis. Their report cites growing global systemic risks arising from inter-linkages between economic, social (e.g. health, inequality), and environmental (e.g. climate) conditions. World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Director, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus fears that the world is on the cusp of a “catastrophic moral failure.” Multilateral collaboration is limited, at best, in the wake of “vaccine apartheid” and the “me-first” northern allocations of vaccines. Heightened nationalism in several donor countries, as well as rising levels of systemic racism, are very worrying trends against the vision and commitments to a Decade of Action for Agenda 2030.
The immediate pandemic-induced crisis is deep and profound. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted the deepest global recession since World War II for 2020, estimating a contraction of 3.5% in global GDP. Prospects for global recovery are highly uneven and dependent in part upon equitable access to effective vaccines. Inequalities between countries are deepening. According to estimates, the real GDP for Sub-Saharan Africa fell by 2.6% in 2020, its first continental recession in 25 years. In April 2021, the DAC reported that aid from DAC donors to this region fell by 1% in 2020. By the end of 2021 this region’s GDP is expected to drop to levels not seen since 2008. It is estimated that it may take over a decade for a full recovery. The modest progress in reducing global poverty since 2015 has proven to be highly vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic shocks. It is estimated that there was an additional 34 million people living in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020. This is on top of a prepandemic total of 433 million people already deprived of the basics to support life. Together these numbers represent almost 44% of the people of the sub-continent by 2021. The expected deepening of poverty is not limited to Sub-Saharan Africa – it will be experienced across all regions of the world.
Two-thirds of the 225 million additional people predicted to be pushed into poverty (the $3.20 poverty line) are living in South Asia. More than 200 million additional people are likely to be reduced to poverty (the $5.50 poverty line) in East Asia. Considering the likelihood of greater inequality and uncertain growth prospects throughout the Global South, the World Bank analysts predict that these trends will continue in 2021 and perhaps 2022. In their words, “the only certainty in this crisis is that it is truly unprecedented in modern history.” The theme of this Report focuses on the interconnections between expanding conditions of “fragility” affecting millions of people living in poverty, the immediate and long term impacts of climate change, now compounded by a global pandemic.
Many of those most severely affected by the pandemic in the Global South were already living in fragile contexts and the “furthest behind”. This fragility has had several interrelated characteristics: 1) high levels of poverty and inequality; 2) the breakdown of key institutions; 3) systemic discrimination of ethnic and racial minorities; 4) high levels of violence against women and girls; and 5) political volatility accompanied by repression and narrow authoritarian regimes. These conditions are often further worsened by violence and conflict, as governments are either unwilling or unable to protect the rights of their citizens. Growing impacts from climate change are increasingly being felt in these same country contexts. Combined these factors paint a dire picture for millions of affected people across the globe.
The number of protracted humanitarian crises (lasting more than five years) has more than doubled in the last 15 years, from 13 to 31.
Over one billion people are living in countries affected by these long-term emergencies. The aid trends chapter in this Report examines aid trends for 30 of the most highly fragile and conflict affected countries where 38% of the population live in extreme poverty [Tomlinson, Global Aid Trends]. As the pandemic unfolds, time is also running out in tackling the climate emergency.
The climate and environmental crises are continuing to disrupt basic conditions of life on earth. Despite the commitments of the 2015 Paris Agreement, carbon emissions are projected to continue to increase. With the accumulated effect of each year of inaction, scientists are predicting that the 1.5°C Paris Agreement limit will be breached in less than a decade, and a catastrophic 3°C heating by the end of the century. Emissions dropped by 7% during the “great pause” of 2020, but to keep global warming to 1.5°C, these emissions need to fall by 14% each year up to 2040. The medium and long-term consequences of inaction are critical for the entire world, but particularly for poor and vulnerable people.
These impacts will be much deeper and more generalized than even the pandemic, which may be seen as a dress rehearsal for the potential for human rights violations unleashed by worsening global warming in the later years of this century. Vigorous social and political movements pushing for strong coordinated government action are more important than ever in meeting these intertwined crises. In recent months, international social movements and coalitions of youth, Indigenous Peoples, References in square brackets are to chapters in this Report. environmentalists, human rights activists and scientists are calling for a major paradigm shift.
These shifts are needed to build back a more just and equitable post-pandemic world. The political stakes are high and challenging.
Shifting economies and livelihoods towards a zero-carbon world is daunting, especially with the continued resistance by powerful corporate and private interests and their commitment to a carbon dependent global capitalism.
The responses by several governments to the pandemic in the Global North have demonstrated that major shifts are possible.
Notions of “affordability,” and what might be considered “normal,” are as much a political constraint as a financial one.
The costs for climate inaction are already being paid in the lives of many of poor and vulnerable people across the Global South. They are manifest in extreme weather conditions destroying their homes and productive infrastructure, in reduced availability of scarce water resources, crop vulnerability for millions involved in small-scale agriculture, and in the inundation of their communities from storm surges as sea levels rise.
According to the World Bank, impacts from climate change are life-changing for those living in fragile and conflict affected settings. Its analysis identifies the prospect of an additional 132 million people living in extreme poverty by 2030 due to irreversible climate change. By 2050 up to 140 million people could be forced to move within their own countries due to climate-induced disruptions to their livelihoods.
In 2019 over 70% of the internally displaced persons population was the result of extreme weather events and natural disasters, more than three times the displacements caused by conflict and violence in that year.
In this Reality of Aid Report 2020/2021 the civil society contributors examine the place of aid in responding to these global crises. How donors respond will shape development opportunities for the remaining years in the decade. How will donors address the widening and persistent state fragility and conflict in the lives of people living in poverty? What role will a deepening climate and environmental emergency play in these responses? How will current patterns of cooperation in the face of the global health pandemic affect development cooperation going forward in the next five years, and perhaps for the rest of the decade?
The 2020/2021 Report provides new evidence from CSOs, both in the South and the North.
They are writing on the role of aid in the convergence of fragile contexts, escalating impacts of the climate crisis and a global pandemic. Chapters critically examine the reform of aid in these fragile country contexts.
How are donors approaching the Triple Nexus, which calls for greater coordination amongst humanitarian support, development, and peace actions? In seeking a more holistic approach, the Triple Nexus has gained increased attention since the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit and the 2019 agreement by all donors at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and c Real ODA is ODA reported to the DAC less in-donor refugee and student costs, debt cancellation and interest received for ODA loans.
Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) on a DAC Recommendation on the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus. Experience and issues in its implementation are elaborated through country case studies and thematic perspectives on peace and security, social protection and violence against women and girls.
As the climate emergency increasingly shapes humanitarian and development futures, several chapters look more closely at the priorities in international climate finance and their potential impacts on development prospects for vulnerable populations and communities.
Altogether this body of evidence accentuates the urgent call by the Reality of Aid Network for systemic aid reform. Can the pandemic be a moment of opportunity? Might the dramatic spread of COVID-19 change the future of aid?
Could it bring the needed transformations in development and humanitarian aid delivery that have eluded those seeking reform for the past ten years? The Report puts forward a number of recommendations for moving along these directions.

Source: Reality of Aid Project