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  • Written by Niamh Griffin

EU announces new more cost effective and efficient policy to prevent crises from happening

Senbetge, one of the poorest districts of Amhara, a region in Northern Ethiopia. Deforestation, soil depletion and erosion have increased the area’s proneness to droughts and flooding. The Ethiopian Red Cross Society and the Austrian Red Cross, financed by the Austrian Development Agency, are running a 3-year project that aims at building resilience and promoting community action. Photo: Flickr/EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.A new policy on increasing resistance to disaster in developing countries was announced by EuropeAid today (Wednesday).

Commissioner for Development Andris Pilbags said it is time to tackle the causes of crises rather than just responding when they occur.

“This is not only more efficient but also much cheaper. In times of economic hardship, more than ever, we must make sure every euro is spent in the most efficient way; both for the people we support on the ground and for EU taxpayers,” he said.

Announcing the policy along with Commissioner for Humanitarian aid, International Cooperation and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, he said natural disasters can delay or even destroy development work done by the EU.

Ms Georgieva said the effects of disasters are magnified by climate change, demographic growth and urbanization. “If we want our assistance to be effective and cost-efficient, we must not just put a bandage on the wound, we must help find a cure,” she said.

The policy is a ten-step programme including early-warning systems, risk management, support for affected countries to design resilience strategies and partnerships with local insurance industries.

  • Written by Niamh Griffin

Public-private partnerships needed to tackle big issues - EU Commissioner tells Gates

Bill Gates speaking about the European investments in global health and development that are saving lives in Paris last year at a Living Proof campaign event. Photo: Gates Foundation/Flickr.Collaboration between public and private initiatives is central to the fight against disease and poverty, Bill Gates was told by a European Commissioner.

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn met with the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Brussels last week to discuss research work and the foundation’s funding of EU projects.

One area of cooperation has been through the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

The commissioner said these projects are working towards important breakthroughs on treatment and prevention of diseases including tuberculosis and malaria as well as AIDS.

Only through collective efforts can we effectively tackle the really big issues affecting the world's most vulnerable, and respond to current and emerging research needs and priorities. Partnerships across regions and public-private initiatives are the way forward,” Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said.

University College Dublin is collaborating with eight African research sites and other universities to run clinical trials into therapy for HIV patients through the EDCTP.

  • Written by Ruairi Kavanagh

Battle for legitimacy in Kosovo escalates

NATO soldier at Jangjenica, scene of the most serious incident during recent clashes in Northern Kosovo. Photo: Staff Sergeant Florian Reichenbach, German Army.On January 7th, the feast of the Christian Orthodox celebration of Christmas, Serbian Prime Minister Boris Tadic made a highly publicised visit to Kosovo, to visit two important Orthodox religious sites. Visiting a country which his Government refuses to recognise, Tadic's visit necessitated a massive security operation involving the Kosovar Police, EULEX (the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) with NATO led KFOR troops on stand-by.

The visit was sanctioned by the Kosovar Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, on the basis that it was a religious visit and Tadic was not to engage in any political debate or make any political statements. Then, outside the monastery of Istok, a journalist asked the Serbian Prime Minister if his government would ever recognise Kosovo as a nation? 'Never', was his succinct reply. He also vowed not to dismantle Serbian institutions which remain in Kosovo, arguing that they were vital for the Serb minority in the country. The next day, Kosovar Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci told Kosovar television that the Serbian Prime Minister would not be welcome again in Kosovo following his comments.

This swift verbal battle, played out via the media, is just the latest salvo in a continuing escalation of hostilities in relations between Pristina and Belgrade. The situation in Kosovo is reaching a critical phase. Aware that Serbia is eager to receive a roadmap to EU membership, the Pristina Government has, since late Summer, being trying to enforce its Northern borders in ethnically Serb areas. The first attempt to do so left one Kosovar police officer dead and another wounded, along with three civilians. Since then, Serbs have blockaded the region with a series of roadblocks and stand-offs with both NATO troops and both both EULEX and Kosovar Police.

  • Written by Niamh Griffin

Prospects for EU development aid

Aid agency logosAs the economic crisis deepens in Europe, reaching budget targets for overseas development is ambitious but realistic according to a spokeswoman for the bloc’s aid programmes.

“I can’t predict accurately, I don’t know what could happen …There will be a new graded co-operation so we won’t (always) provide direct aid,” Catherine Ray, spokesperson for the EU Commissioner for Development said. “But our aim is to make sure people see that increasing aid is not a luxury.”

The commissioner has proposed cutting bi-lateral aid to 19 countries including India and Indonesia who are now deemed to be emerging economies and no longer in need of direct aid.

Ray said it is important for aid budgets to remain predictable, saying at present projects are under the 2007-2013 budget so cannot be changed.

  • Written by Niamh Griffin

Ireland committed to the rights of women and girls affected by conflict - Gilmore

Victim of kidnap and rape awaiting treatment at Panzi Hospital, Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Flickr/André Thiel. A national plan to help prevent violence against women in war-torn countries was launched recently in Dublin.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the initiative will promote recognition of violence directed specifically against women and girls in wartime, as well as increasing awareness of support needed for women from conflict areas now living in Ireland.

The plan also aims to increase the number of female gardai and members of the defense forces on peace-keeping missions.

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