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South Sudan in crisis

 Wairimu Gitau, MSF.Sarah John walked hundreds of miles with her four children (pictured) to reach the Medicins Sans Frontier camps on the South Sudanese border with Kenya. Aged between two and seven, the children are among almost one million refugees fleeing conflict in the world’s newest nation.

Almost three years ago the world looked on as South Sudan celebrated independence, and looked to the future. But in December agreement between the main ethnic groups came to a violent end.

An uneasy alliance between the President and Vice-President broke in July when the VP was dismissed. Violence broke out in mid-December, and reports of armed soldiers on the streets signaled an end to peace. A ceasefire declared on January 23rd has not lessened the violence.

UNHCR estimated this month there are “over 739,000 people … internally displaced and a further 196,921 sheltering in neighbouring countries” because of the escalating conflict.

A senior MSF medic told an audience in Dublin earlier this month that the situation can now be described as a crisis.

Retired British surgeon Professor Paul McMaster worked in South Sudan for a month from Christmas, joining over 3,000 local and international staff on the ground.

‘It was just after midnight when they called me to see a young girl of about 12 who had collapsed. Sitting on the floor next to her, was her seven or eight year old brother.

‘She had walked three or four days from the North, without food or water, her father had stayed behind and they had been separated from their mother. Her only carer was her brother. It was Christmas morning,’ he said.

South Sudan in crisis

 Wairimu Gitau, MSF.Sarah John walked hundreds of miles with her four children (pictured) to reach the Medicins Sans Frontier camps on the South Sudanese border with Kenya. Aged between two and seven, the children are among almost one million refugees fleeing conflict in the world’s newest nation.

Almost three years ago the world looked on as South Sudan celebrated independence, and looked to the future. But in December agreement between the main ethnic groups came to a violent end.

An uneasy alliance between the President and Vice-President broke in July when the VP was dismissed. Violence broke out in mid-December, and reports of armed soldiers on the streets signaled an end to peace. A ceasefire declared on January 23rd has not lessened the violence.

UNHCR estimated this month there are “over 739,000 people … internally displaced and a further 196,921 sheltering in neighbouring countries” because of the escalating conflict.

A senior MSF medic told an audience in Dublin earlier this month that the situation can now be described as a crisis.

Retired British surgeon Professor Paul McMaster worked in South Sudan for a month from Christmas, joining over 3,000 local and international staff on the ground.

‘It was just after midnight when they called me to see a young girl of about 12 who had collapsed. Sitting on the floor next to her, was her seven or eight year old brother.

‘She had walked three or four days from the North, without food or water, her father had stayed behind and they had been separated from their mother. Her only carer was her brother. It was Christmas morning,’ he said.

Prioritising hunger, conflict prevention, democracy and media freedom

 eu2013.ie.Ireland is conducting a public review of its Foreign Policy and External Relations. Below would be some of our priorities in the context of Ireland's laudable current strategic objectives:

Ireland's focus on hunger should be particularly applauded. We would argue that hunger should be its number one foreign policy priority, given Ireland's history, its recent success pushing that agenda, the urgency of the problem, and the very strong empirical evidence and expert economic consensus that fighting hunger is among the most cost-effective public policies.

Ireland is right also to prioritise peace and human rights. However, it should focus on conflict prevention because a) is badly neglected and b) it is much more cost-effective than peace-keeping and peace-making.

Most of the worst recent civil conflicts have occured when power or wealth was distributed unequally between identifiable groups, which then fought to change or preserve that distribution (sometimes motivated by fear). That was the case in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and, most recently, in Iraq. It was also true in Northern Ireland and is true of Syria.

Prioritising hunger, conflict prevention, democracy and media freedom

 eu2013.ie.Ireland is conducting a public review of its Foreign Policy and External Relations. Below would be some of our priorities in the context of Ireland's laudable current strategic objectives:

Ireland's focus on hunger should be particularly applauded. We would argue that hunger should be its number one foreign policy priority, given Ireland's history, its recent success pushing that agenda, the urgency of the problem, and the very strong empirical evidence and expert economic consensus that fighting hunger is among the most cost-effective public policies.

Ireland is right also to prioritise peace and human rights. However, it should focus on conflict prevention because a) is badly neglected and b) it is much more cost-effective than peace-keeping and peace-making.

Most of the worst recent civil conflicts have occured when power or wealth was distributed unequally between identifiable groups, which then fought to change or preserve that distribution (sometimes motivated by fear). That was the case in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and, most recently, in Iraq. It was also true in Northern Ireland and is true of Syria.

The Butterfly Effect

 Joseph O'Connor.Tanzania: One butterfly farming project in the East Usambara Mountains is giving women a stronger voice in their communities.

Sitting opposite me on a small stool beside a rather primitive dwelling in the tiny village of Fanusi, northeast Tanzania, is Rosie Marishali. A soft-spoken young woman who has been working as a butterfly farmer for seven years now, I can see she is a little daunted by the microphone placed in front of her as we begin our interview. Nonetheless, she settles well into our conversation and becomes more assured of herself as we discuss a livelihood which has positively impacted her life.

Now in its tenth year of operation, the Amani Butterfly Project is a non-profit organisation based in the East Usambara Mountains which has been generating income for local butterfly farmers from six villages by helping them to farm and market native butterflies, some of which are exclusive to the region. The initial mission of the project was to reduce poverty and create an incentive for forest conservation, but it has proved to have one other major positive knock-on effect; giving women a greater voice in their communities. The project benefits from the support of the Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group, an NGO that has assisted the enterprise both financially and administratively with the help of funding from various donors, including a $5,000 donation from Irish Aid, which helped build the project's office in 2003.

The Butterfly Project is the brainchild of a young American biologist by the name of Theron Morgan-Brown. Loosely based on a similar project in Kenya, Morgan-Brown produced a body of research as part of his undergraduate degree; a feasibility study on how butterfly farming could be introduced to the East Usambara Mountains, an area renowned for its ecological importance. With this project, locals were given the opportunity to generate an alternative source of income through an activity which encourages conservation. Furthermore, it would take place in an area which was suffering from the detremental effects of logging by those seeking to produce charcoal or who were clearing forest to create farmland.

The Butterfly Effect

 Joseph O'Connor.Tanzania: One butterfly farming project in the East Usambara Mountains is giving women a stronger voice in their communities.

Sitting opposite me on a small stool beside a rather primitive dwelling in the tiny village of Fanusi, northeast Tanzania, is Rosie Marishali. A soft-spoken young woman who has been working as a butterfly farmer for seven years now, I can see she is a little daunted by the microphone placed in front of her as we begin our interview. Nonetheless, she settles well into our conversation and becomes more assured of herself as we discuss a livelihood which has positively impacted her life.

Now in its tenth year of operation, the Amani Butterfly Project is a non-profit organisation based in the East Usambara Mountains which has been generating income for local butterfly farmers from six villages by helping them to farm and market native butterflies, some of which are exclusive to the region. The initial mission of the project was to reduce poverty and create an incentive for forest conservation, but it has proved to have one other major positive knock-on effect; giving women a greater voice in their communities. The project benefits from the support of the Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group, an NGO that has assisted the enterprise both financially and administratively with the help of funding from various donors, including a $5,000 donation from Irish Aid, which helped build the project's office in 2003.

The Butterfly Project is the brainchild of a young American biologist by the name of Theron Morgan-Brown. Loosely based on a similar project in Kenya, Morgan-Brown produced a body of research as part of his undergraduate degree; a feasibility study on how butterfly farming could be introduced to the East Usambara Mountains, an area renowned for its ecological importance. With this project, locals were given the opportunity to generate an alternative source of income through an activity which encourages conservation. Furthermore, it would take place in an area which was suffering from the detremental effects of logging by those seeking to produce charcoal or who were clearing forest to create farmland.