New report shows flagrant abuse of Migrant Children in Greece

The report ‘Emergency Within an Emergency’ has documented an alarming pattern of exploitation and abuse, including physical violence and sexual abuse on migrant children in Greece and concludes with detailed recommendations about urgent reforms required to address protection gaps, coordination failures and more general humanitarian responses to one of the most serious emergencies of our time.


Unaccompanied children line up for an evening meal at a detention facility run by the Greek

The new report by the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights focuses on the situation facing refugee and migrant children in Greece, a key site of distress migration. It examines the complex factors that expose children as young as 11 to regular sexual exploitation in central Athens, and it investigates the circumstances in Greek camps that contribute to regular patterns of violence and abuse as children rely on selling sex to raise money for their survival or to pay smugglers to facilitate their onward journeys.

Jacqueline Bhabha, Director of Research and Vasileia Digidiki, Research Fellow at the FXB Center, the authors of this report, note: “The absence of an effective child protection system presents enormous hazards for migrant children, exposing some to serious risks of long term exposure to sexual exploitation.”

The report contains painful testimonies of shame, despair and depression by brave and striving children, poorly served by an inadequate institutional response to their circumstances.

Much public attention and heartache have been focused on the severe impact of the refugee and migration crisis on children. Images of toddlers drowned and washed up ashore, babies rescued from terrifying journeys, teenagers camping in bitter cold have been widely disseminated. An equally grave set of human rights problems however has not received adequate attention, the exposure of displaced children to violence and abuse, including sexual exploitation.

As the political climate in Europe and other parts of the world deteriorates for refugee and migrant populations, national and international stakeholders must come together to ensure adequate prevention measures and safe, legal paths to migration for migrant children in acute need of protection.

South Carolina hospitals see major drop in post-surgical deaths

South Carolina saw a 22 percent reduction in post-surgical deaths in hospitals that completed a voluntary, statewide program to implement the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist.

Surgery_original-470The findings of the five-year project between the South Carolina Hospital Association, Ariadne Labs, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health will appear in the August 2017 print issue of the Annals of Surgery and is published online. The study is the first to demonstrate large-scale population-wide impact of the checklist.

“That is a major reduction in post-surgical mortality and it demonstrates that when done right, the Surgical Safety Checklist can significantly improve patient safety atlarge scale,” said lead author Dr. Alex B. Haynes, associate director of the Ariadne Labs Safe Surgery Program and a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Adoption of a safe surgery checklist has been demonstrated to reduce deaths in controlled research studies since 2009. But the ability to produce improved outcomes at large scale has remained questioned.

The study found that the post-surgery death rate in the 14 hospitals that completed the program was 3.38 percent in 2010 (prior to implementation) and fell to 2.84 percent in 2013 after implementation. In the other 44 hospitals in the state, mortality was 3.5 percent in 2010 and 3.71 percent in 2013. This corresponded to a 22 percent difference in mortality between the groups. 

With these results, South Carolina offers a national model of best practices in implementing a team-based, communication checklist to drive quality improvement in the operating room.

“We are honored to be a learning lab for the rest of the country,” said Thornton Kirby, President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association. “The study validates what we hoped and believed from the outset if you change the operating room culture of how you communicate and coordinate your efforts, you can produce better outcomes.”

Ariadne Labs’ Executive Director Dr. Atul Gawande led the development of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist in 2008 with a team of international experts. The 19-item checklist prompts surgical team discussion of the surgical plan, risks, and concerns. Following surgery, patients are at risk of complications and death from a variety of causes such as infection, hemorrhage, and organ failure. Collectively, the checklist items create a culture of operating room communication that improves overall surgical care and safety.

Evidence from a 2009 pilot study with selected operating teams in eight countries around the world demonstrated a 47 percent decrease in post-surgical mortality. Further studies went on to confirm the powerful effect. But translating the checklist into population-wide mortality reduction has not been proven until now.

“Safety checklists can significantly reduce death in surgery. But they won’t if surgical teams treat them as just ticking a box,” said Gawande. “With this work, South Carolina has demonstrated that surgery checklists can save lives at large scale and how hospitals can support their teams to do it.”

Middle East ‘storm’ threatens international peace, warns UN envoy

middle east

A family displaced by fighting between ISIS and Iraqi security forces carry their belongings as they walk through the destroyed western neighbourhood of Al Mamum, near Mosul, Iraq. Photo: UNICEF/Alessio Romenzi

Reporting on the dire situation across the Middle East region, marked by the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, fractured societies, proliferation of non-State actors and unbelievable human suffering, a United Nations envoy today reiterated the need for a surge in diplomacy for peace to ease the suffering of innocent civilians.

“Let us not forget that behind the images of savagery [there] are the millions [struggling] every day not only for their own survival but for the true humane essence of their cultures and societies,” Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council today.

The UN envoy also informed the 15-member Security Council of sporadic violence that continued to claim lives and reported on Israel’s approval of the establishment of new settlements and declaration of “State land” in the occupied Palestinian territory. On the Palestinian side, he noted multiple worrying developments that are “further cementing” the Gaza-West Bank divide and dangerously increasing the risk of escalation.

Turning to the wider region, Mr. Mladenov briefed Council members on the ongoing crisis in Syria that continues to be a “massive burden” for other countries and called on the international community to do more to stand in solidarity with Syria’s neighbours. He also underlined the need for a political solution to the conflict, now into its seventh year.

Further in his briefing, the UN Special Coordinator spoke of the situation in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen as well as of social exclusion and marginalisation that tend to provide fertile ground for the rise of violent extremism.

“Today, a perfect storm has engulfed the Middle East, and continues to threaten international peace and security,” he added, noting that divisions within the region have opened the doors to foreign intervention and manipulation, breeding instability and sectarian strife.

In his briefing, Mr. Mladenov noted that developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict continued to resonate across the region and that the question of Palestine remained a “potent symbol” and “rallying cry,” one that is easily misappropriated and exploited by extremist groups.

“Ending the occupation and realizing a two-state solution will not solve all the region’s problems, but as long as the conflict persists, it will continue to feed them,” he said.

“Unity across ethnic and religious lines, reconciliation and a fair sharing of resources help heal wounds and isolate extremists,” he underscored.

Recalling Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a “surge in diplomacy for peace”, Mr. Mladenov urged UN Member States, especially through a united Security Council, to assume the leading role in resolving the crisis.

“Multilateral approaches and cooperation are necessary to address interlinked conflicts, cross-border humanitarian impacts and violent extremism,” he said.

Published courtesy of United Nations

Argentina signs enforcement agreement with International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Argentine Republic have concluded an agreement on the enforcement of sentences.

ArgentinaUnder the agreement, persons convicted by the ICC may serve their sentences of imprisonment in Argentina if so decided by the Court and accepted by Argentina.

On 18 April 2017, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, President of the Court, and H.E. Susana Malcorra, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Argentine Republic, signed the agreement at a ceremony held in Buenos Aires (Argentina).

“The signature of this agreement is timely, as enforcement of sentences is no longer a distant prospect, but an immediate necessity resulting from the increased judicial activity of the ICC”, President Fernández stated.

She further recalled that the Court has no prisons of its own and that the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, provides that sentences shall be served in a State willing to accept convicted persons.

President Fernández welcomed Argentina’s continued support to the ICC and expressed her hope that more States Parties will conclude agreements with the Court in order to share the responsibility.

“At a moment when justice and certain principles are being called into question in some places, Argentina once again shows its commitment. We will continue strengthening this commitment and we will continue working together with the ICC” stated H.E. Susana Malcorra.

Similar agreements on the enforcement of sentences are currently in force between the ICC and the governments of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Mali, Norway, Serbia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.