Evidence of meeting #115 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was sudan.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Chair  Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)
Gregory Queyranne  Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Canada
Atong Amos Agook Juac  Executive Director, ARUDA South Sudan
Frank Baylis  Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.
Marilyn Gladu  Sarnia—Lambton, CPC
Georgette Gagnon  Director, Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Susan Stigant  Director, Africa Program, United States Institute of Peace, As an Individual
Kelly McCauley  Edmonton West, CPC

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, ARUDA South Sudan

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Okay, we're hearing that clearly.

4:10 p.m.

Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)

The Chair

Thank you very much.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Am I done?

4:10 p.m.

Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)

The Chair

Yes.

We are now going to move to MP Sidhu, please.

November 19th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jati Sidhu Liberal Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, both, for your hard work.

Mr. Queyranne, you mentioned that on the ground humanitarian workers have a very challenging job. It's not safe. In the same breath, you were answering Mr. O'Toole on the other side that you guys have very good communication among each other. Then, you have experts for this area and for that area you can allocate. Third, you're asking for 25% of the funding to go to these humanitarian workers, if we want to call them that.

Do you have a plan for how to use that money among yourselves? Where is the most vulnerable area where you want to be spending that money?

4:10 p.m.

Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Canada

Gregory Queyranne

I'm not sure how to answer that.

Is the question, what would be the plan?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jati Sidhu Liberal Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

If you're asking that 25% of the money go to the humanitarian workers, what's the plan? I thought you were saying that you have a pretty good system among each other. You communicate and it works well, but security is the biggest issue. I can see that.

What are you going to do with all the money?

4:10 p.m.

Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Canada

Gregory Queyranne

The vision is that organizations like Oxfam don't necessarily need to be in these countries in the long term. I think that if you have these organizations doing humanitarian assistance in these crises, it means the crises are continuing. We do see an exit for these types of relief operations. I think that providing assistance to local humanitarian actors or local development actors provides that exit strategy.

As you mentioned, there needs to be a plan. What we're doing is mentoring local organizations. We also partner with them financially—you can call them subcontracts—in order to bring them up to the level acceptable to different international donors so that they can be the ones doing the work themselves.

I've worked with a number of local Congolese organizations. We partner with them—the ones that have some capacity—and then we try to train them in order to get them a little more able to respond.

In Somalia, we are starting what's called a twinning project. We are inviting local women's rights organizations to essentially job shadow with Oxfam, partner up with Oxfam or other NGOs, in order to get them used to the types of activities we do, the type of language we use. It's to get them up to speed to be able to do some of the needs assessments—

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jati Sidhu Liberal Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

Do you have a security plan involved in that plan?

4:10 p.m.

Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Canada

Gregory Queyranne

Yes, that's critical. Somalia is very insecure and Congo is very insecure, so security training has to be part of that.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jati Sidhu Liberal Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

I was wondering if those three countries have different priorities when it comes to development or if all three countries have the same priority, let's say, roads and bridges and hospitals. How do you compare the three countries?

4:10 p.m.

Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Canada

Gregory Queyranne

That's difficult to say. They all have different levels of available resources to invest in that infrastructure and different will to do so. Congo is probably the richest country on the continent with an estimated 20 trillion dollars' worth of wealth hidden in the ground. The potential is there, but we're not seeing the potential and the available resources matched with the investments in their own critical infrastructure.

South Sudan was mentioned before. They have essentially a one-resource economy and have a lot of revenue generated from that, but we're not seeing that translated into local development infrastructure for a number of reasons.

Somalia is possibly the most compromised one. A large part of Somalia's economy is remittances, money sent home from Somalis overseas. That money tends not to be channelled to authorities, because those are disbursed.

The member mentioned humanitarian aid before and other assistance going through the government. That's only part of the assistance. Our colleagues at Global Affairs Canada can describe this better. We look at a multipronged approach to development and to humanitarian work. The Government of Canada, along with other donors, supports agencies like Oxfam, multilateral agencies such as the World Food Programme, UNICEF, UNHCR, the UN agencies, as well as support to the government.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jati Sidhu Liberal Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, BC

For my last question, Mr. Chair, I'll go to Ms. Agook.

What's the status of health care systems available to children and women in the region? How accessible is it? Is it more dominated by the male population in the region? How does it work?

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, ARUDA South Sudan

Atong Amos Agook Juac

There are no proper hospitals. The few main hospitals were built last year by Canadian funds from the Canadian embassy.

They treat women and children in tents. That has resulted in a lot of deaths. The number of deaths of children, those who are malnourished and getting other diseases from the outbreaks, is not manageable.

For women, there is a high rate of premature deliveries and then death at birth because of lack of reproductive health systems. The donors invested in that, including equipment. The equipment is not based in a good place for it to be used, so it ends up getting spoiled without a proper infrastructure. The health care system is very difficult for the country.

4:15 p.m.

Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)

The Chair

Thank you very much.

MP Baylis, please.

4:15 p.m.

Frank Baylis Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.

You mentioned that local humanitarian actors obviously know what's best. You've been involved in these conflicts for decades in Congo. Do you see a path forward for local people? What is the path forward toward peace? If so, what role could the Canadian government play in that?

4:15 p.m.

Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Canada

Gregory Queyranne

If we were to start with Congo, we're seeing that a lot of the issues are starting from the top and there is this vision that if things change there, as described by the Constitution, things would then be felt on the ground. We are seeing a political situation in which the planned elections might not go forward. They've been delayed for quite a few years. That's causing tremendous anxiety in the population. We're seeing a lot of regular protests.

The peacekeeping force as well, MONUSCO, which has about 17,000 troops, the largest peacekeeping force in the world right now, is refocusing their assets, staff and other materials towards the west, towards the capital, away from the conflict zones in order to have more of a political influence. In order to help facilitate the elections, they have tried a number of times to encourage the government to accept their support because they share the belief that if you start from the top and you influence the government, you can have a real impact on the ground in the conflict areas.

Some of the nuances I've learned from working in Congo for a few years is that armed groups don't just exist out of opportunity, they tend to have political linkages. They tend to all have members of Parliament in Kinshasa who essentially represent their interests and give them a reason to exist. A lot of them are also disaffected soldiers who believe that leaving and going to the bush and killing people for a few years can give them space at the negotiation table and then ranks in the army.

I'll let my colleague speak more about South Sudan, but in Somalia as well I'd have to say that the political-diplomatic focus would be the best way forward. We want to avoid just looking at the humanitarian crises and looking at the peace and security crises and really thinking more holistically, which in my view should focus on the political dimension.

4:20 p.m.

Executive Director, ARUDA South Sudan

Atong Amos Agook Juac

For South Sudan this recently signed peace agreement is not inclusive of all the armed groups, so there are people who are still outside of the agreement and there is the possibility of another fight if this implementation doesn't go well.

The main focus should be on how this agreement should be implemented by empowering the local actors to watch over the agreement and by making the citizens own it. By owning the agreement, I think the implementation will go well, but if it's not inclusive I don't think it will go well.

4:20 p.m.

Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.

Frank Baylis

As we're sitting here—you said “diplomatic” and “top down”—what specifically should Canada be doing? We're providing ongoing humanitarian aid and it gets chewed up or stolen or whatever, and then you say that at the top we're just not dealing with it. Let's say we say, “Let's deal with it.” What should we do specifically?

4:20 p.m.

Executive Director, ARUDA South Sudan

Atong Amos Agook Juac

For the case of South Sudan I think for now there is a need for a focus on governance because if the governance system is not set, all the humanitarian aid and all the plans will not go well, and the relations won't as well.

4:20 p.m.

Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Canada

Gregory Queyranne

For Congo I would add that elections are key. Elections provide confidence in the population that their government, their representatives, respect the Constitution that they themselves have created. As I mentioned, these have been planned for several years and regularly delayed, which causes a lot of frustration and protests. Then the government comes in heavy-handedly and uses live ammunition to put down those protests.

I would say that Canada would need to redouble its efforts, at the minimum, pushing for those governance standards, which start with elections.

4:20 p.m.

Mr. Michael Levitt (York Centre, Lib.)

The Chair

We'll have MP Gladu, please.

4:20 p.m.

Marilyn Gladu Sarnia—Lambton, CPC

Thank you, Chair, and thank you to the witnesses.

Mr. Queyranne, I listened intently to your testimony. I was astounded with the statistic of about half of girls being in a forced child marriage and the horrible outcomes that result from that. I hope my Liberal colleagues were listening because they've introduced Bill C-75, which is going to reduce the penalty for that here in Canada to a less than two years summary conviction or a fine.

The reasons that people are doing forced child marriage here are different. I understand that in the area we're talking about here today, it's that people can't afford to eat. I have a college in my riding that just won the Enactus award globally for lifting 330,000 people in Zambia out of poverty by teaching 75,000 farmers how to do no-till farming and using the profits of that to put in irrigation, expand into peanuts and peanut production, and a whole bunch of stuff, but they would be afraid to do this if there were not a good security plan where they're operating.

Oxfam seems to have a good organization that can get aid to the front and get these kinds of ideas. Are there other organizations and who are they?

4:20 p.m.

Humanitarian Manager, Oxfam Canada

Gregory Queyranne

There are many organizations. I don't see them as competitors. I see them as colleagues. If you want me to list some of them—