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  • Bill Aims to Promote Medical Neutrality, Impose Penalties on Violators | Charity & Security Network
    recognizes the duty to protect medical facilities and personnel as neutral during times of armed conflict Medical neutrality includes protecting the status of health care during international armed conflict and times of civil unrest and allowing unhindered access of the sick and injured to medical facilities and medical care According to Dr Deborah Ascheim Chair of the Board for Physicians for Human Rights This bill aims to stop the disturbing rise in attacks against health professionals so they can continue to do their important work and also serve as human rights defenders By banning military assistance It sends a signal that the United States does not tolerate these kinds of deliberate violations and allows for concrete actions in order to stop them said Ascheim Violations of medical neutrality include military attacks on medical facilities willful obstruction of medical supplies and medical care and coercion or detention of medical personnel The bill calls for the Secretary of State to publish a list of all foreign governments in violation of medical neutrality on the State Department website Violating governments will be prohibited from receiving military assistance including the sale of arms military training and education and will restrict visas to specific individuals who have violated medical neutrality Physicians for Human Rights led advocacy on the bill It was originally introduced in 2011 and reintroduced on May 16 2013 It was referred to the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees The bipartisan group of Representatives include Rep McDermott D WA Rep Moran D VA Rep McGovern D MA Rep Johnson D GA Mr Conyers D MI Rep Ellison D MN and Rep Jones R NC Issues Humanitarian Access Material Support Financial Action Task Force FATF Financial Access Peacebuilding Countering Violent Extremism Click Here For More Issues Solutions Principles to Guide Solutions Models to Draw

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/legislation/Medical_Neutrality_Act_2013 (2016-02-16)
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  • Humanitarian Access to Syrians Must be Respected by Assad and the U.S. | Charity & Security Network
    exemption for medicine and religious materials Medical services are not included That means that doctors who treat injured people with associations to the al Nusra Front which is on the terrorist list are violating the law While the Treasury Department has issued a General License to allow NGOs to engage with the Syrian government for the purpose of providing aid programs no such license applies to engagement with non state armed groups that are on the U S list That means that aid decisions are not being made on the basis of need alone as required by humanitarian principles Instead aid delivery decisions can be skewed by legal concerns That is not to say that the Assad regime has been cooperative It has not It must cooperate with aid groups and allow access And U S law must be made consistent with humanitarian principles President Obama during a High level Event at the General Assembly in October did not mince his words when he remarked that human progress has always been propelled at some level by what happens in civil society Nor did he when he chastised a growing number of countries that are passing laws designed specifically to stifle civil society But while this vocal support of civil society and humanitarian access from Obama and Kerry are welcome they do little to placate the concerns of humanitarians on the ground As a recent UN and Norwegian Refugee Council report points out significant factors leading to the high death toll in the Somalia famine were both the presence of the terrorist group al Shabaab and legal restrictions imposed by the U S government These issues were presented during Obama s High Level UN panel when UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson called out the rise in laws that restrict the

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/Humanitarian_Access_Syria_Must_Respected_Assad_And_US (2016-02-16)
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  • State Dept Calls for Access to Civilians, Respect for IHL in Syria | Charity & Security Network
    they could not receive permission from the Syrian government According to an aid worker from the UN Populations fund There is a restriction explicitly from the Syrian Government that no surgical items or any items that can assist the opposition be filtered into those areas The State Dept letter says that the U S has reminded all sides to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and that they urge them to allow humanitarian organizations safe access to all people in need Under IHL parties to a conflict are required to allow medical supplies be provided to any injured person regardless of what side they are on According to the Assistance Coordination Unit of the Syrian rebels medical aid is currently needed even more than food but is often restricted The WHO estimates that over 500 000 people in Syria are in need of medical assistance Valerie Amos Under Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs OCHA also called for respect of IHL In an Aug 15 visit to Syria Amos toured schools hosting displaced persons saying that The people I met today told me they need clean water sanitation medical help and food They are frightened Many have no home to return to and they desperately need more help and support Amos urged Prime Minster Wael Nader al Halqi to respect IHL and ensure the protection of innocent civilians In a July 15 statement HRW called on the UN Security Council to issue a warning to the Syrian government and opposition factions to respect IHL HRW issued the statement after an investigation revealed that restrictions on humanitarian access put in place by both the Syrian government and opposition forces led to several dozen civilian deaths

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/news/State_Dept_Urges_Syria_Respect_IHL (2016-02-16)
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  • Holding Armed Groups Accountable | Charity & Security Network
    in their territory as non governmental entitites they cannot become party to treaties such as the Geneva Conventions Additionally ANSAs are often left out of peace talks because of counterterrorism legislation that prohibits contact with a formally listed terrorist group even when they are key parties to a conflict Studies from the Overseas Development Institute Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research Berghof Foundation and the United Nations have found these rules create unnecessary barriers to humanitarian access and should be changed to reflect the important role ANSAs can play in promoting adherence to international norms Depending on the type of documents from communiqué letter or peace agreement with governments these documents can have a different legal standing ANSAs are usually not recognized as subjects of international law These documents could be used to hold the groups accountable in case of violation of IHL said Maud Bonnet the project s coordinator at Geneva Call For example one commitment is a 1995 agreement by the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK in Turkey to respect the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the First Protocol of 1977 Under the International Humanitarian Law theme there are 149 commitments It includes ones from El Salvador s Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional FMLN which pledged that its army will treat adequately PoWs and will respect the Geneva Conventions of 1949 to the Patriotes Résistants Congolais Forces d Autodéfense Populaire PARECO FAP in Congo signatories to the Des Principes Humanitaires et du Respect des Droits de l Homme The database is available for public use but Geneva Call who has compiled this resource over many years of ANSA engagement and research hopes it will encourage armed groups to follow in the footsteps of others who sought greater protection for civilian populations in armed conflict by

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/news/Holding_Armed_Groups_Accountable (2016-02-16)
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  • USAID, Treasury Plan Audits of Programs Related to PVS, Somalia Aid, and OFAC’s License Database | Charity & Security Network
    assistance provided to the Somalian people This audit will determine whether USAID has adequate controls to ensure compliance with EO 13536 in prohibiting material support for Al Shabaab in Somalia page 14 From Treasury s annual plan document OFAC s Management of the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List We plan to determine and assess OFAC s management controls over the process of listing and delisting individuals and entities from the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list and assess the effectiveness of the new data system in helping OFAC manage this process page 31 Treasury Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture s Use of Treasury Forfeiture Fund Receipts to Support Law Enforcement We plan to determine whether the Treasury Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture has appropriate controls to 1 award and distribute funds to eligible law enforcement agencies in accordance with applicable laws regulations and policies and 2 ensure that distributed receipts are used for intended purposes As part of this work we plan to determine whether selected state and local government agencies use Treasury forfeiture funds in accordance with Treasury guidelines page 30 FinCEN Implementation of USA PATRIOT Act Information Sharing Procedures The USA PATRIOT Act provides for the sharing of information between the government and financial institutions and among financial institutions regarding individuals entities and organizations engaged in or reasonably suspected of engaging in terrorist acts or money laundering activities In March 2005 FinCEN implemented a web based secure communications system to expedite sharing of this information We plan to determine the extent to which information sharing is occurring among the government and financial institutions page 30 Treasury audits under future considerations include OFAC s Licensing Database System Upgrade OFAC uses a document management system to store licensing data obtained from license applications and related correspondence In

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/news/USAID_Treasury_Audits_PVS_Somalia_OFAC_License_Database (2016-02-16)
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  • Senate Appropriations Report Requires Treasury/USAID to Address Barriers to Disaster Response | Charity & Security Network
    DISASTER ASSISTANCE Appropriations 2012 975 000 000 Budget estimate 2013 960 000 000 Committee recommendation 1 250 000 000 The Committee recommends 1 250 000 000 for International Disaster Assistance Crisis Response The Committee directs the Secretary of the Treasury in coordination with the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator after consultation with the Committee to submit a report detailing current OFAC guidelines and policies regarding humanitarian access to areas controlled by sanctioned entities including current timelines for granting licenses OFAC mechanisms for responding to crisis early warning parameters of the OFAC license for Somalia in 2011 and recommendations for how such guidelines and policies can be modified to streamline the process and enable humanitarian organizations to respond in a timely and effective manner when crises occur Somalia The Committee is concerned with the slow response to the 2011 famine in Somalia the ongoing extreme vulnerability of the Somali population and credible reports of corruption and human rights violations by the Somalia Transitional Federal Government Assistance for the STFG should be subject to financial transparency controls and respect for human rights and the Department of State and USAID should closely monitor the Famine Early Warning System and other credible reports in order to respond in a timely manner to future crises The Committee directs the USAID Administrator to submit a report describing humanitarian and other assistance for Somali civilians in areas under de facto control of the al Shabaab terrorist organization to include current and future operational plans to deliver assistance and detailing any policy or regulatory restrictions that limit USAID s ability to deliver such assistance to needy civilians For information on the impact U S national security laws and rules have on disaster response see our April 2012 report Deadly Combination Disaster Conflict and the U S

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/news/Appropriations_Report_Tres_Address_Barriers_Disaster_Response (2016-02-16)
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  • Crises in Africa Showcase Complexity of Humanitarian Access in Conflict Zones | Charity & Security Network
    attacking schools and killing nine people during an April attack on This Day newspaper In response members of the House of Representatives have called for the listing of the group as a foreign terrorist organization FTO A House Subcommittee on Homeland Security report said formally designating Boko Haram as a terrorist organization would support U S intelligence Community efforts to curb the group s financing stigmatize and isolate it internationally heighten public awareness and knowledge and signal to other governments that US takes the threat from Boko Haram seriously It would also increase the difficulty of aid groups negotiating access to areas under Boko Haram s control The Nigerian government however has chosen to pursue a diplomatic route as several high ranking officials expressed their desire to conduct talks with Boko Haram The Guardian Nigeria commended this action in an editorial arguing that Government on the one hand and all militant groups on the other for their own sake and for the sake of Nigeria must come together to address matters of disagreement Sudan and South Sudan Though also in the Sahel region the conflict in Sudan has primarily been the product of oil and factional disputes rather than drought and disease Since declaring independence in July 2011 the new state of South Sudan has been embroiled in violent disputes along its borders with Sudan particularly in the Sudanese controlled areas Kordofan and Blue Nile States The rebel group Sudanese People s Liberation Movement North SPLM N has been fighting with Sudan a U S listed State Sponsor of Terrorism for control of oil in the Korodfan and Blue Nile States The fighting has displaced over 400 000 Sudanese citizens SPLM N has also accused Sudan of starving those residents who have not been able to flee to the south According to an SPLM N officia l over half a million Sudanese are being held hostage by the government He urged the international community to remain focused on the issue of humanitarian aid for those trapped with no food no medicine and no shelter U S charities must get licenses from the Treasury Department to operate humanitarian programs in areas included in the state sponsor of terrorism sanctions On March 27 2012 the U S Senate backed the call for humanitarian relief with a resolution that urged immediate and unrestricted humanitarian access to the areas affected by the conflict The resolution calls on the government of Sudan and SPLM N to come to a mutually beneficial agreement to quell violence The resolution also supports the efforts of the Obama administration which on April 4 called for nearly 26 million in emergency funding to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to assist those fleeing from the armed conflict On May 14 Sudanese lawmakers accepted a resolution from the UN Security Council to end hostilities with South Sudan with reservations The head of the parliament foreign relations committee Mohamed al Hassan said that they would reject negotiations with SPLM N because it

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/news/Africa_Crises_Showcase_Humanitarian_Access_Difficulty (2016-02-16)
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  • U.S. Senators Call For Reforming Laws that Impede Humanitarian Assistance in Somalia | Charity & Security Network
    delivering essential humanitarian relief in the Horn of Africa Leahy also expresses concern about material support law s impact on peacebuilding and urges dialog to develop new set of guidelines Sen Johnny Isakson R GA speaking at a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on African Affairs hearing on Aug 3 said I understand is important that the Obama administration and our country do everything they can to prohibit U S aid getting into terrorist hands and that is one of the reasons for some of the restrictions But when you do reach a crisis point in a humanitarian problem like this it seems like there ought to be expedited procedures or else the people you are trying to help are going to be dead Sen John Kerry D MA Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Sen Chris Coons D DE Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs issued a joint statement on Aug 8 urging the Obama administration to expand and expedite the delivery of humanitarian aid into Somalia We encourage the administration to consider additional ways to ease and expedite the provision of explore expanding the pool of those licensed to provide assistance in southern Somalia to include U S humanitarian groups funded by private donors or other countries Specifically it should While it is absolutely imperative to restrict the flow of resources to al Shabaab we must draw on all available resources as we balance security concerns with pressing humanitarian needs Right now it s more urgent than ever that those of us who believe in robust American leadership step up and articulate the dangers of American retrenchment Many question whether we can afford foreign aid and development investments but the reality however hard to swallow is that we can t afford not to

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/background/Senators_Call_Reforming_Laws_Impede_Humanitarian_Assistance_Somalia (2016-02-16)
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