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DGI Brief - Sep 20, 2016

Good morning and happy Tuesday to all. Today's top 5 global issues are about #Syria #refugees #DRCongo #SaudiArabia and #India:

- SYRIA: The UN & Red Crescent convoy delivering humanitarian assistance for about 78,000 people was hit by airstrike near Aleppo on Monday night, hours after both sides declared a week-long ceasefire dead & resumed fighting. At least 12 aid workers were killed & 18 of the 31 trucks hit. “sickening”, “egregious violation” “disgusted & horrified” … Why it matters: The UN stresses that ALL parties received notification of the convoy, therefore the airstrike doesn’t seem to be accidental. If deliberate, it constitutes a war crime. Add that to the long list of crimes of the Syrian regime. The UN suspended all aid convoys to Syria. We can understand why, yet it is again the innocent civilians that suffer. Here’s the thing – that aid was from all of us. The money that bought it & paid for the salaries of everyone involved at the UN & NGOs came from the taxes & donations all around the world. Every country that is a member of the UN pays membership dues so technically any attack on the UN & its partners is an attack on our investment. Does that infuriate you? Then speak up, demand concrete action from your governments. To bring justice, not to stop aid. Humanitarians will never just walk away, because we do this never-ending job for the innocent people suffering at the hands of power-mongering, greed, indifference… There aren’t enough bombs nor arms in the world to stop us from being human & helping one another.

- WORLD: Billionaire George Soros, chair of the Open Society Institute, pledged to invest up 50 $500 million in businesses, projects & initiatives started by refugees & migrants in an effort to help the world’s 65.3 million displaced people around the world. He made the announcement at the UN summit on migrants & refugees. Why it matters: Investment into the enormous potential of these displaced populations and the host communities is basically the best solution next to peace & development at home. The human capital harnessed within these 65.3 million minds, skills, experiences, dreams and talents is priceless. It allows self-reliance for the migrants & contributes to the benefit of us all. Very appreciated, Mr. Soros.

- DR CONGO: At least 25 have been killed in street clashes between security forces & those protesting a delayed presidential election. The electoral commission called for a delay in elections & Congo’s high court decided President Joseph Kabila can stay in office beyond December, the end of his term. Why it matters: Kabila, in power since 2001, has yet to announce whether he will run for another term even though the Congolese constitution prohibits this. All delays in elections seem to be playing into his hands to stay in power past his mandate & this is fueling unrest throughout the country. The US & France have threatened to impose sanctions to curb the violence, but all efforts should be made to help DRC speed up the election preparations & avoid any further delays. It’s clearly what the people want.

- SAUDI ARABIA’s largest privately-owned hospital – Saad Specialist Hospital – has reportedly not paid their staff since May & faced a strike by about 200 of its employees on Monday. The hospital employs almost 5,000 people, 81% of which are foreign nationals. That complicates matters because foreign employees must sign a declaration about receiving due wages & rights before they receive an exit permit to leave the country. Why it matters: this could be a labor/human rights nightmare, but it is also a sign of deeper trouble. Due to low global oil prices, many sectors of the Saudi economy have taken a hit. Construction firms also reportedly delay wages & experience protests by employees. Economic crisis & insecurity are closely linked and we really need to watch out for that & for the rights of all the foreign workers in the Kingdom.

- INDIA: Months of violent clashes between Indian security forces & demonstrators against Indian rule of KASHMIR added a new deadly incident when a group of militants snuck into an army base over the weekend & killed 18 soldiers. The public outcry throughout India, largely fueled by the media & seized upon by government representatives, demands retaliation against Pakistan who is blamed for supporting the militant group. Why it matters: Prime Minister Modi made strong stance against any provocations by Pakistan a cornerstone of his winning campaign & is thus in a precarious situation. His support base demands military revenge, while he knows that such act would be disastrous. Pakistan claims it gives Islamic militants only “diplomatic & moral support” and would strongly respond to any forceful retaliation, then potentially spiraling into a conflict. The human & economic costs could be far greater. Diplomatic & trade restrictions are the best option in this case.

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