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Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Economists tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made people lazy. They didn't.
For as long as there have been government programs designed to help the poor, there have been critics insisting that helping the poor will keep them from working. But the evidence for this proposition has always been rather weak. And a recent study from MIT and Harvard economists makes the case even weaker. Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Gabriel Kreindler, and Benjamin Olken reanalyzed data from seven randomized experiments evaluating cash programs in poor countries and found "no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work." Attacking welfare recipients as lazy is easy rhetoric, but when you actually test the proposition scientifically, it doesn't hold up.

COP21: 'Fireworks' expected as new climate text published
A critical "clean" draft text has been published at UN climate talks here in Paris after delays. This new version, 29 pages long, marks the first time the French presidency of the meeting has pulled together an outline of a deal. The new draft has significantly reduced the options on many of the key questions after days of negotiations. One observer warned that there could be "fireworks" if countries are unhappy with the compromises proposed. Last Saturday, negotiators from 195 countries agreed on a weighty 48-page document, the summation of four years of talks that began in Durban in 2011. That document was handed to the French president of COP21, Laurent Fabius. Over the past few days he has asked pairs of ministers from around the world to try to advance aspects of the document. 

Tracking Refugees Puts A Vulnerable Population At Risk
Volker Schimmel works in Amman, Jordan, with the UNHCR — the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — on an initiative that allows asylum-seekers, many of whom have never owned a debit card, to access humanitarian aid money via ATMs that identify individuals by scanning their eyes. When this biometric cash assistance program started, 500 people signed up. Today, there are more than 32,000 displaced people participating. “When we started this, the number of refugees [in Jordan] was 16,000,” Schimmel told BuzzFeed News. “Now it’s 633,000.”

Steve Dennis and the court case that sent waves through the aid industry
Steve Dennis seems heavy with relief and exhaustion rather than elated with victory. He has just won a landmark case against his former NGO employer. Now he is trying to come to terms with what comes next. “It is a shock, and a disappointment, that it got this far,” he says. He brought the case against his former employer, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) after he and three other staff members were kidnapped while working in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya in 2012. The incident left aid worker Dennis with a gunshot wound in his leg, PTSD, and the Kenyan driver of his car dead. The Oslo courts last week found NRC guilty of gross negligence and failing in its duty of care.  The case has been hailed a landmark ruling and wake-up call for the industry. But it is one Dennis never imagined he would be filing – let alone winning. Its success, which Dennis hopes will force the industry to take security more seriously, comes at the end of a long and unforeseen journey, beginning back in 2012.

Enough! Will youth protests drive social change in Africa?
African Arguments
Young people in Africa have changed governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Burkina Faso, and recently staged major demonstrations in South Africa and the Republic of Congo. Disillusioned young people continue to take to the streets in various African cities.  But they are also reacting in other ways: some migrate and look for opportunities elsewhere, while others are lured into joining radical organisations such as Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.  Young people’s transitions to adulthood have become increasingly uncertain. Economic growth in recent decades has not translated into job creation or greater equity, and a growing number of young women and men, both educated and non-educated, find themselves unemployed or underemployed. They are unable to attain the social markers of adulthood such as a secure job, marriage and a family. Trapped between childhood and adulthood, they are living in a twilight zone, a liminal space that has now become known as “waithood”.

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite