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Africa’s Race Against COVID-19

March 25, 2020

With governments in Europe and the US fighting desperate national battles of their own against COVID-19, the continent may seem a remote concern. But if there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is that we are all connected in a world of shared risks.

LONDON – There are now worrying signs that the COVID-19 virus has taken root in Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region. The window of opportunity to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe is still ajar, but keeping it open will take decisive national action and international cooperation.
Insuring the Survival of Post-Pandemic Economies

Getty Images


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Closing the SDG Gap

January 17, 2020

Given the technology, knowledge, and resources now available, the gap between current progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals and what is achievable remains far too wide. Closing that gap will require smart politics, new partnerships, and bold campaigning.

LAGOS – As global business and political leaders gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, they should ask themselves one big question: Will the world achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals for 2030? Or will the SDGs – with their targets for eradicating extreme poverty, ending preventable child deaths, expanding educational opportunity, and averting a climate disaster – join the long list of enthusiastically endorsed global pledges

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The Tragedy of Gaza’s Children

August 8, 2019

Children and mothers are bearing the brunt of the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which includes widespread malnutrition. Allowing the current situation to slide into a full-fledged catastrophe would be an indefensible dereliction of responsibility by the international community.

GAZA CITY – Wrapped in her mother’s arms in a crowded doctor’s surgery, Muna (not her real name) looks at first glance like any baby waiting to be weighed by a nurse. Look more closely, however, and you see why medical staff at the Ard El-Insan pediatric clinic in Gaza are worried. Muna is nine months old, but she weighs under five kilograms – barely the normal weight for a healthy six-week-old baby.

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Stopping the War on Children

May 14, 2019

Around 420 million children are currently living in conflict-affected countries – more than at any time in the last 20 years. Many are deliberately targeted by armed combatants for heinous crimes, including killing, rape, and kidnapping.

THE HAGUE – Over a century after its construction, the Peace Palace in The Hague – home to the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague Academy of International Law, and the Peace Palace Library – stands as a monument to the soaring ambition and dashed hopes of a bygone generation. But it is also a monument to a vision that the world needs more than ever.
The Economy We Need

PS OnPoint

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Will David Malpass Trump the World Bank?

April 10, 2019

The World Bank is vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which would transform the lives of millions. That is why it is so important that the Bank’s incoming president strengthens its commitment to equity and avoids a narrow focus on economic growth.

LONDON – David Malpass has taken over as World Bank president, and he carries some heavy political baggage. He is, after all, the pick of US President Donald Trump, raising fears that he may use the position to open a new front in Trump’s trade war with China, weaken the Bank’s leadership on climate change, and undercut multilateralism more broadly.
Trump’s Most Worrisome Legacy

Win McNamee/Getty Images

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The Asset We Cannot Afford to Neglect

June 1, 2018

Improving education outcomes will demand national-level reforms underpinned by a relentless focus on quality, equity, and results. But, at a time of fiscal austerity in donor countries, the International Finance Facility for Education’s promise to stretch donor dollars further could not be more important.

LONDON – “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” wrote Benjamin Franklin. A fervent advocate for public education, and a founder of libraries, schools, and the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin viewed education as the foundation of human progress. If he were alive today, he would be horrified by the state of education in developing countries – and he would most likely be backing the International Finance

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A Better Future for the Congo

April 12, 2018

Trapped in a cycle of political uncertainty, economic recession, and escalating violence, humanitarian disaster has become a way of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Boosting productivity and creating jobs for an overwhelmingly young population are essential to put the country on a different, more hopeful path.
LONDON – The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has become synonymous with state failure. No country has endured more brutal conflicts, hosted more kleptocratic and corrupt governments, or squandered more resource wealth. Trapped in a cycle of political uncertainty, economic recession, and escalating violence, humanitarian disaster has become a way of life. Yet a better future is possible.


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Educating Myanmar’s Youngest Refugees

January 9, 2018

The Rohingya crisis is also an education crisis, as tens of thousands of refugees remain unable to access schooling in their temporary homes. Regardless of whether the Rohingya remain in Bangladesh or return to Myanmar, education of the youngest is both a right and an essential investment in the future.
COX’S BAZAR, BANGLADESH – Sofia Begum is a case study in the power of hope. Three months ago, armed vigilantes attacked the six-year-old’s village in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Sofia saw neighbors killed, an uncle wounded by gunfire, and her home razed.

The Year Ahead 2018

The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

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Saving Somalia Through Debt Relief

November 17, 2017

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Somalia needs humanitarian aid to stem its short-term suffering, but that cash will not break the country’s deadly cycles of drought, hunger, and poverty. To do that, the IMF must forgive Somalia’s crushing debt, just as it has for nearly every other heavily indebted poor country.

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Educating Nigeria’s Survivors

February 23, 2017

ABUJA – Two-year-old Bintu Mustapha is the human face behind the hidden humanitarian catastrophe now unfolding in northeast Nigeria. Her body wasted and stomach distended by hunger, Bintu’s life hangs by the nutritional drip inserted in her hand. Too weak to move, she is one of 30 children being treated at a Save the Children emergency nutrition clinic in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State – and the area worst affected by the Nigerian government’s drive to end the Boko Haram insurgency.

As aid donors gather in Oslo for a conference aimed at mobilizing support for northeast Nigeria, the stakes could hardly be higher. For tens of thousands of children like Bintu, this is – literally – a life-or-death moment. Success in Oslo could bring hope and the prospect of recovery for millions of vulnerable people. Failure will cost lives.

The scale of the crisis has yet to register with the international community. The humanitarian emergency in northeast Nigeria is the country’s most serious since the Biafra famine in the 1960s. As the Nigerian army has pushed into areas previously controlled by Boko Haram, more than two million people have been displaced. Huge pockets of previously hidden deprivation are coming into view as the military retakes territory.

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Stopping the War on Children

September 21, 2016

LONDON – Twenty years ago this month, the United Nations General Assembly received a report by former Mozambican Education Minister Graça Machel detailing the effects of armed conflict on children. Documenting a pattern of systematic and targeted attacks, including killing, rape, and forced recruitment into armed groups, Machel concluded: “This is a space devoid of the most basic human values….There are few further depths to which humanity can sink.”

Machel was wrong. A generation later, humanity is plumbing even greater depths of moral depravity. Children living in conflict zones are being targeted for violence on an unprecedented scale, and the elaborate system of UN human-rights provisions designed to protect them is violated with impunity.
On the twentieth

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Broken Promises for Syria’s Children

August 3, 2016

LONDON – If you ever lose faith in the power of hope, not to mention the importance of never giving up, remind yourself of the story of Mohammed Kosha. A 16-year-old Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, Mohammed has overcome obstacles that most of us cannot even imagine, in order to excel in his education. World leaders should take note.

Four years ago, Mohammed and his family fled their home in the town of Darya, a suburb of Damascus, to escape relentless bombardment by Syrian armed forces. Having already lost a year of primary education in his hometown, where it was simply too dangerous to attend school, he then spent another year out of the classroom when the family arrived in Lebanon, where they now reside.
Mohammed’s life changed when Lebanon’s government opened the country’s public schools to refugees. Classes were not only crowded; they were also conducted in English, meaning that he would have to learn a new language. But Mohammed seized the opportunity to learn, and threw himself into his studies. Last month, against all odds, he scored the second-highest marks in Lebanon’s Brevet secondary-school exam. And he is not done yet.

Mohammed knows that education is the key to building a better future. In his words, “Learning gives us hope.” If only world leaders had even a fraction of his wisdom.

There have been some encouraging signals.

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Empty Promises and Dead Children

March 9, 2016

LONDON – Buried among the 169 targets contained in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – adopted by the United Nations last September amid a blaze of glitzy events, celebrity endorsements, and back-slapping by world leaders, aid donors, and non-governmental organizations – was the vital pledge to eliminate “preventable child deaths” by 2030. It is a cause for our generation – but one that will take a lot more than UN communiqués to advance.
The last set of international development targets, the Millennium Development Goals, certainly brought about important progress; the number of children who died before reaching their fifth birthday dropped from ten million in 2000, when the MDGs were adopted, to 5.9 million in 2015. Some of the world’s poorest countries have registered some of the most significant gains.

This progress was driven by several factors, including falling poverty and heavy investment in community-based health systems. By deploying nurses, midwives, and other health workers, these systems extended the availability of prenatal care, simple obstetric interventions, clean cord cutting, and post-natal care. Ethiopia, for example, has deployed a small army of some 38,000 health workers over the last decade.
International cooperation was also crucial. Aid for child and maternal health has grown dramatically since 2000, and now stands at some $12 billion annually.

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