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CGD in the News

March 7, 2019

El Salvador Kills Women as the U.S. Shrugs (Foreign Policy)

From the article:

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador—When police finally found Joselyn Milena Abarca, her body had been cut up into seven pieces and dumped across San Salvador. The 26-year-old had been a psychology major in college and a rising star in her job. She recently bought a house and a car.

But her boyfriend, Rónald Urbina, treated her like a possession. She had to ask for permission to cut her hair; he had previously tried to suffocate her to death. Rónald was subsequently arrested and charged with murdering Joselyn. (He denies all charges.)

His increasingly violent and controlling behavior, however, was allowed to fester for the 10 years they were together without any legal repercussions. That’s sadly common in a country that often dismisses crimes against women. Homicides of women in El Salvador have more than doubled since 2013 to 468 in 2017, according to the Institute of Forensic Medicine. The violence is destabilizing the country and is considered a major push factor in driving up migration to the United States. Women currently make up 27 percent of all migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics.

But while Salvadoran women’s rights advocates are trying to curb the violence and tackle the misogyny, the United States is undercutting those very efforts. The Trump administration is pulling funding from programs that support women in El Salvador and focusing funding and energy on a border wall to keep them and others out. Women seeking asylum based on domestic violence claims are now being rejected. In 2018, the United States committed only $600,000 to anti-violence programs, which was 1 percent of its aid budget to El Salvador.


Activists say one thing is clear: Slashing foreign assistance is detrimental to the work being done. “The U.S. should increase aid to the region for community-based programs that have a track record of successfully reducing crime and violence,” said Cindy Huang, the co-director of the Center for Global Development’s program on migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy. “Unlike billions for a wall, aid is a smart and cost-effective investment that will improve the security of Central Americans and the broader region.”

Some nonprofits use U.S. funding to do work specifically intended to keep people from migrating. Glasswing International’s Club for Returnees, funded through private donations and USAID, works with young women who have returned from Mexico or the United States. The organization provides trauma support, financial assistance, and referral care support. “We’ve seen real transformations take place,” de Sola said. “These women and girls are already resilient. They’re surviving every day—we just develop their skills. The more you provide them with opportunity to thrive in this context, the better they do.” Glasswing also runs clubs to equip young girls with the skills they need to navigate the daily risks they face. After one year of involvement in these clubs, nine in 10 girls could recognize signs of gender-based violence, including behaviors previously normalized, like pushing and yelling, and knew how to report it.

While there is no quick answer to El Salvador’s problem with violence against women, the United States can make a big difference by supporting anti-violence programs, Huang said, both through development assistance and diplomatic outreach. “So many threats today are transnational, from gangs to human trafficking,” she said. “They require collaboration and joint investment with other government, civil society, and private sector partners. Unfortunately, the Trump administration and other governments are dismissing lessons from the past.”

Efforts to improve violence in El Salvador won’t just help victims, but survivors, too. Joselyn’s mother, Yesenia Juárez, is still grieving her daughter’s death, but she is also spending her time creating a foundation. Set up in memory of Joselyn, the aim is to help prevent further female homicides. From schools to public institutions, she wants to ensure help is available and accessible to any Salvadoran women who need it. “I need to talk about this pain,” she said. “I have to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”


February 4, 2019

As Jim Kim steps down, a tumultuous World Bank presidency comes to an end (Devex)

From the article:

LONDON — On Oct. 2, 2012, the World Bank’s Preston Auditorium is packed with staff waiting to catch a glimpse of their new leader. Jim Kim, the 12th president of the world’s most influential development bank, enters the auditorium to cheers and applause. Some staff hold up their phones and iPads to film his remarks.

“Never has the world been more in need of what we can do,” Kim, a medical doctor and public health leader, tells the enthusiastic crowd.

Fast-forward two years and the cheers have turned to boos when Kim walks onto that same stage. Staff routinely take to the bank’s internal message system — and to the press — to rail against Kim’s deeply unpopular reform package, made worse by the revelation that the chief financial officer leading the cuts has been given a nearly $100,000 bonus. The once inspiring Kim is now seen by many as an arrogant autocrat, hiring and firing employees at will.


The Syrian refugee crisis exposed another gap in the bank’s financial arsenal. Jordan and Lebanon, middle-income countries that were ineligible for concessional financing, were buckling under the pressure of an enormous influx of refugees. Kim tasked his team with finding a solution. They created the Global Concessional Financing Facility, which allowed the bank to break its own rules in cases where individual countries were shouldering global responsibilities to host refugee populations.

Getting the bank to focus on these global shocks — the “big challenges facing our sector” — was the most important part of Kim’s legacy, according to Cindy Huang, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development.

“The strength the bank brings to these conversations [is] difficult to overestimate,” she said.

December 3, 2018

Integrating Venezuelans into the Colombian labor market (Brookings)

By Dany Bahar, Meagan Dooley, and Cindy Huang

From the article:

Before leaving office in August 2018, outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos decreed that 442,462 undocumented Venezuelans living in Colombia—most of whom had arrived since 2015 when the massive exodus of Venezuelans throughout the continent accelerated—would be regularized, enabling them to receive residency and work permits.  This is in addition to the 376,572 Venezuelans already in the country with regular migration status.  This commendable action is the largest process of migrant and refugee work regularization ever seen in the region, perhaps in the world outside of Uganda. It not only demonstrates solidarity with the country’s Venezuelan neighbors, but it is also smart policy, given the massive economic opportunity these migrants could represent for the country.

Yet, successful integration of migrants into the labor force marks an unprecedented challenge for Colombia. Despite its recent admission to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Colombia still faces important development challenges of its own. It is important that policies designed to facilitate and support the integration process seek to maximize the potential benefits and mitigate the possible costs of migrant integration.

Read the full article and download the policy brief here.

November 18, 2018

Sound Off (The Eagle Tribune)

By The Eagle Tribune

From the article:

No punishment

Here we go again. A bank robber gets probation for bank robbery. He was already on probation for bank robbery. Keep voting for liberals. Next their judges will be sending these people to Disney World.

Moral duty

President Donald Trump’s policy of cutting the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. not only hurts refugees, it hurts the U.S. Refugees make our country safer. Evidence from a study conducted by the New American Economy indicates refugees decrease our country’s crime rate. When we accept refugees, it helps our relationships with other countries. Refugees improve our economy. Research from the Center for Global Development indicates that after eight years in their new country refugees become net contributors to the tax base. In addition, refugees are not only great employees they also open businesses and become employers. We should offer asylum to refugees because they're in danger in their home countries. They are often fleeing war, persecution, starvation, economic collapse, violence and leaders who fail to protect them. We have a moral responsibility to help refugees in need.

Read the full article here.

November 8, 2018

Opinion: Granting refugees the right to work can help revitalize economies (Devex)

By Gideon Maltz, Cindy Huang

From the article:

The discussion of refugees focuses too often on high-income countries in North America and Europe. In fact, it falls to a handful of middle- and low-income countries, such as Lebanon, Kenya, and Bangladesh, to host the majority of refugees around the world — and indeed to host refugees from intractable crises, such as Syria, Somalia, and Myanmar, that are likely to prevent refugees from returning for years or decades.

These countries bear a tremendous responsibility — and deserve more credit than they get from the international community — but too often they limit their own potential by preventing the refugee populations they host from working or owning a business.

In most of these countries — where 85 percent of the world’s 25 million refugees live — there is one policy in particular that is vital but rarely utilized: those preventing refugees from working legally or starting a business. Even in places where refugees technically have the right to work, fees, permits, and other restrictions can significantly restrict conditions.

Research shows that when refugees can work formally, they have more productive work, and can make more money — which in turn means that refugees spend more money on local goods and services and generate more tax revenue. When refugees start their own businesses, they create more jobs for hosts. In Turkey, Syrian refugees have started more than 6,000 companies and created more than 55,000 jobs since 2011, to the benefit of citizens and the economy.

Read the full article here.


October 15, 2018

Morning Shift Newsletter 10/15 (Politico)

By Rebecca Rainey

From the article:

Editor's Note: This edition of Free Morning Shift is published weekdays at 10 a.m. POLITICO Pro Employment & Immigration subscribers hold exclusive early access to the newsletter each morning at 6 a.m.

Coffee Break

“One of the Least Immigrant-Friendly Nations Now Wants Them Long Term,” from The Wall Street Journal “North Dakota soybean farmers, caught in the trade war, watch the season run out on their crop,” from The Washington Post “Report: The Economic And Fiscal Effects Of Granting Refugees Formal Labor Market Access,” from the Tent Partnership for Refugees and the Center for Global Development “Why robots aren’t likely to make the call on hiring you anytime soon,” from The Washington Post “New rule: Tougher scrutiny on legal immigrants using assistance brings widespread fear,” from The Houston Chronicle

Read the full article here.


October 9, 2018

Banning refugees from having jobs hurts, not helps, local workers (Apolitical)

By Apolitical 

From the article:

Millions of refugees and asylum seekers are denied the right to work because governments are worried about their potential to displace locals from jobs and drive down wages.

But trying to ban refugees from working can magnify harmful effects by concentrating their labour in low-skilled, informal work, creating greater competition. Allowing them unrestricted access to the labour market can actually reduce the impact on wages and create fiscal benefits for government.

That’s according to a new report from the Center for Global Development and the Tent Partnership for Refugees, which argues that opening up labour markets can be a winning proposition — for both refugees and locals.

There is some evidence of negative effects on wages and employment levels from refugee flows. These effects typically occur, the report says, “when there is an especially large concentration of refugees in certain geographies and industries”.

But those conditions are often inadvertently created by governments, according to Cindy Huang, co-director of the Center for Global Development’s migration program and one of the reports co-authors. Without the right to work, refugees’ only options are in the informal economy, characterised by low-skill and insecure jobs, regardless of their qualifications and experience.

Read the full article here.


September 2, 2018

The Future of US Foreign Aid: Moving Forward (Borgen Magazine)

By Clarke Hallum 

From the aritcle: 

SEATTLE — The United States’ foreign assistance plays a major role in the international effort to alleviate global poverty. As arguably the world’s greatest power and political agenda setter, its decisions on foreign aid have major impacts throughout the globe. However, consistency and coordination among the more than 20 aid agencies have proven difficult when, every four to eight years, a new president is voted into office, bringing with them their own unique interpretation of how to orient their executive bureaucracy. The ephemeral nature of the bureaucratic system and the stark contrasts seen in presidential leadership in the recent past have made it difficult for the United States to commit to a set of “well-defined core priorities” that underlie its foreign aid system. With the millions of lives, abroad and domestically, that are affected by U.S. aid, decisions made by the Trump administration about the future of U.S. foreign aid carry heavy weight.

Recently, The Borgen Project had the chance to speak with the authors of the policy brief “A Practical Vision for U.S. Development Reform”, published by the Center for Global Development (CDG). The brief, written by CDG experts Cindy Huang, co-director of migration, displacement, and humanitarian policy and a senior policy fellow and Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow, discusses the future of U.S. foreign aid and details ways to increase coordination and incentive between the 20-plus government aid agencies. Huang and Konyndyk state in the brief: “To maintain its relevance in a changing global development landscape, U.S. foreign assistance should focus on four core development priorities: state fragility, inclusive growth, global health and humanitarian assistance.”

Read the full article here.

July 13, 2018

Humanitarian Organizations Help Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh (Borgen Magazine)

By Sarah Olk 

SEATTLE — Since August 2017, Bangladesh has accepted approximately 693,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, more than half of whom are children. Hundreds more arrive each week, fleeing state-sponsored violence against their ethnic group. Many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh live in overcrowded settlements, while others reside within local communities. Their presence has greatly impacted Bangladesh and its citizens, and organizations including UNHCR, UNICEF and Oxfam are working diligently to improve their conditions and find a long-term solution to this crisis.


To help Bangladesh find long-term solutions, the Center for Global Development has published a brief recommending that the nation find ways to “look beyond aid” in its plan to handle the refugee crisis. To keep Bangladesh’s economy strong, the center recommends expanding trade preferences with the European Union, as well as increasing opportunities for migrant workers. It may also be advantageous for Bangladesh to partner with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which finances energy projects and could expand programs to include provisions for Rohingya employment. 

Read the full article here.

July 3, 2018

Bangladesh deserves a win-win solidarity compact (Dhaka Tribune)

By Cindy Huang, Kate Gough, Nazanin Ash, Marcus Skinner

Bangladesh should pursue its dialogue with the international community with more ambition

On August 25, 2017, in retaliation to attacks on its local security forces by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the Myanmar military undertook a campaign of violence and terror against the Rohingya people that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Nearly 700,000 people have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 -- including more than 500,000 in a single month, the fastest refugee exodus since the Rwandan genocide. And while this campaign was most significant in terms of people displaced, it also capped a long history of disenfranchisement and abuse of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Read the full article here.