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GAPS Newsletter: April 2024

Welcome to GAPS April wrap up.

This month, the UK Government passed the callous Rwanda Safety (Asylum and Immigration) Bill- a clear abuse of the rule of law. This Bill directly undermines the UK’s commitments to Women, Peace and Security (WPS), an international agenda the UK claims leadership of, and joins the ongoing dehumanisation of the most vulnerable people by the UK Government. The vilifying of migrants and asylum-seekers provides with an opportunity to scapegoat others and, therefore, avoid responsibility for their failings, including the cost-of-living crisis, underfunded public services, and shrinking space for freedom of expression in the UK. Despite the development of comprehensive gender-specific policy frameworks, such as the International Strategy on Women and Girls, the gap between the domestic and international, identities worthy and unworthy of protection, and talk and action clearly remains strikingly wide from the UK Government. GAPS has released a full statement in response to this Bill that can be read here.  

April marks 1 year of the conflict and humanitarian crisis facing Sudan. Violence continues to escalate, with over 14,000 people killed and 53% of those internally displaced being women and girls.  Implementing the WPS agenda must include Sudan; it is imperative that Sudanese women are not relegated to the margins of decision-making. As Ms Hala Al Karib stated at the UN Security Council Open Debate on WPS, ‘the full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation of Sudanese women and civil society is critical to any de-escalation efforts or building future peace’. The inclusion of Sudanese women in peace-making processes, as one of the key WPS pillars, alongside ensuring their protection is essential to ending violence and ensuring sustainable peace.  

Despite the consistent calls from civil society and activists for an immediate ceasefire, the UK Government continues to aid and abet Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza. UK Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, has stated this month that the UK will not suspend arms to Israel. The UK industry provides 15% by value of the US-made F35 stealth combat aircraft, which is currently being used in the bombardment of Gaza and has made at least £489 million worth of military exports to Israel since 2015. Parallel to this, the UK has still not resumed funding to UNRWA, one of the best placed agencies to coordinate aid distribution.  

In the case of Ukraine and Sudan, the UK has exemplified what they can achieve when they want to. In February, the UK Government announced more than a further 50 new sanctions targeting businesses and individuals sustaining Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The UK has committed to a near-doubling of Official Development Assistance for Sudan to £89 million this financial year, further sanctions on businesses which support the activity of the Sudanese Armed Forces and continues to call for a lasting ceasefire. These efforts of the UK are undermined, however, if they are not applied consistently across the board. It is not too late for the UK Government to fulfil its commitments to the WPS agenda by halting arms sales to Israel and leveraging their role as a global leader to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza now.  

April Reads

Transitional justice and women’s representation in Peacebuilding

February 2024 marks three years since the start of the military coup which ignited Myanmar’s Spring Revolution. For the first time in the nation’s history, women have been at the forefront of the resistance, making up over 60 percent of the resistance movement. The unprecedented number of women in the movement signals women’s refusal to live under patriarchal military rule. The modest yet critical gains made towards gender equality during the democratic period enabled a generation of women to see the value of their participation in broader functions of society. Read the full report here.

Aftermath: Injustice, Torture and Death in Detention in North-East Syria

Amnesty International have released a report on how the region’s autonomous authorities are responsible for the large-scale violation of the rights of more than 56,000 people in their custody. This includes an estimated 11,500 men, 14,500 women, and 30,000 children held in at least 27 detention facilities and two detention camps – Al-Hol and Roj. Read the full article here.

Progress with the merger of the FCO and DFID

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has made substantial progress with the merger that created it, although more work is needed to resolve outstanding HR and IT issues, clarify capability needs and progress culture change, according to a new National Audit Office (NAO) report. In June 2020, government announced that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID) would merge into FCDO. This was intended to increase the UK’s impact overseas through combining development and diplomacy efforts. Read the full report here. 

Scarcity and fear: A gender analysis of the impact of the war in Gaza on vital services essential to women’s and girls’ health, safety, and dignity

As the war on Gaza reached its six-month mark, it continues to be a war on women. According to UN Women estimates, more than 10,000 women have been killed to date, among them an estimated 6,000 mothers who left 19,000 orphan children behind. Women who have survived have been displaced, widowed, and are facing starvation. Read the full analysis here.

The State of the World’s Human Rights: April 2024

This report documents human rights concerns during 2023 in 155 countries, connecting issues at global and regional levels and looking forward to the implications for the future. States and armed groups are breaking and bending the rules of war and racism lies at the heart of some armed conflicts and the responses to them. Economic crises, climate change and environmental degradation have disproportionately affected marginalized communities. Read the full report here. 

In case you missed it

Listen to episode 1 of “Mind the GAPS”, Season 2. Our speakers Toni Haastrup and Ray Acheson provide a deep-dive into why FFP states, like Germany & Canada, are unable to uphold feminist commitments & confront settler colonialism – from Palestine to Wet’suwet’en. Listen on Spotify here.

GAPS have released a statement in response to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact’s (ICAI) follow-up on their review: UK aid to refugees in the UK. Read the full statement here.

IWDA have launched a podcast, F! It!, bringing feminists and First Nations approaches to the forefront of foreign policy conversations. Listen on Spotify here. 

The Canadian Government has released their 2023-2029 National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. Read the full NAP here. 

Job Board

Mercy Corps
Operations Assistant (London), 6 May.

Gender, Climate Change and Conflict Consultant (Home-based), 2 May.

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