Court of Auditors finds public aid for energy renovation to be effective

The Court of Auditors drew up on Wednesday an "encouraging" report on the payment of the "Habiter mieux" public aid, which has financed 240,000 housing energy renovations since 2010, and made recommendations to make it even more efficient. [19659002] Seized by the Senate Finance Committee in December 2016, the Court conducted a survey of the National Housing Agency (Anah), which has been managing the "Living Better" program since its inception in 2010, and scrutinized a little over a thousand cases.

The balance sheet of this premium paid to households, most of them modest homeowners, to help them renovate their homes – in addition to other assistance – is "encouraging", summed up Pascal Duchadeuil, President of the Fifth Chamber of the Court of Auditors in presenting the report, made public on Wednesday.

"It is not common that the Court", often very critical of the quality of the management of den public authorities, "should be given this type of assessment, especially in the field of housing policy", he pointed out.

If the system has "weaknesses", these can "be corrected," according to the Court, "to meet the new challenges to which" Live better "is now confronted": achieve the goal of 75,000 renovated homes per year, an increase of 50%, set by the government late November

Two of the three objectives set for the program were achieved: supporting the most disadvantaged, with very modest beneficiaries (83% of cases) and reducing the energy consumption of housing, with 43% energy gain in 2016 , much better than the 30% targeted.

Following a "prolonged heating period", in addition to the "financial gain on energy consumption", households note an "improvement of the general state of housing, a sanitation of housing, a diminutio n of the sensation of cold and an improvement of the health of the occupants ", notes the Court

-" Effective management "-

For the third objective on the other hand, to renovate the private housing stock," the balance sheet is Halftone ": on a 2010-2017 target of 300,000 homes," we exceeded 240,000 end of 2017, "said Mr. Duchadeuil.

The Court points above all a" lack of stability of resources and regulations " to "live better": the amount of its envelope, the National Fund for Thermal Renovation Assistance (FART), 500 million euros for 2010-2017, has been revised 10 times.

"This instability has not allowed the establishment of a sufficiently long-term support scheme to attract all the potential beneficiaries of these aids ", estimates the Court.

For their part, the amounts allocated have undergone five modifications in seven years, passing from 1,600 to 3,500 euros, to go down to 2,000 euros since 2016.

Highlighting the a "effective management" of a device "well evaluated and controlled" by Anah, the Court advocates a paperless management of files and a "simplification" of aid to finance work in installments – two developments in progress – to pass

For half of the working population and half of the pensioners, the beneficiaries are people with very modest incomes, housed in "old large, old houses", expensive to heat, who "impose "

The Court recommends to better accompany them, to" strengthen the link "between the levels of aid ceilings and their situation of fuel poverty, to implement multi-annual programming, to stabilize regulations and finally to "develop the partnership with local authorities".

Drought: thousands of Spanish farmers protest for aid

Thousands of farmers from southeastern Spain demonstrated in Madrid on Wednesday, calling on the government for help in the face of the "surreal" drought that is hitting them and threatening jobs in their area. Europe

The surroundings of Alicante, Murcia and Almeria, on the Spanish coast of the Levant, where fruit and vegetables are produced in all seasons for all of Europe, suffer particularly from drought. Spain is experiencing one of its worst droughts since the beginning of the 1980s.

"Without water in the Levant, desert and unemployment Let's defend Europe's kitchen garden", could be read on a banner in the parade. 19659002] "80% of the water was cut off", AFP José Antonio Diaz, manager of an agricultural company in the Almeria region, complains about the empty water supply in the area. four-fifths in the south-east of Spain, according to him.

He says he was able to grow only 15 to 20% of his usual production of salads and watermelons, a situation "surrealist."

Some farmers, he says, have even considered moving some of their production to southern France, around Montpellier, where water is more abundant.

"In 39 years, I have never known such a serious year, "says Pepe Rodriguez, a 59-year-old farmer from the Murcia region.

" What are we going to do with all immigrants there we have there? ", he wonders, worried about the jobs many families in his region live in, including many workers from Africa.

He wants the government to subsidize desalination of seawater, a very expensive technology for the time being, and put in place in the longer term a system of water transfer from the rivers of the north, wetter, to the south.

Reserves of water from the Jucar and Segura basins, the two main rivers draining southeast Spain, were 27.7% and 17.6% respectively, according to official data released on Tuesday.

UN calls for ceasefire, aid for East Ghouta

Russia objected on Thursday to a draft UN resolution that would impose a 30-day ceasefire in Syria and open a siege in eastern Ghouta City.

At a Security Council meeting held at the request of Moscow, The Great Russia rejects the proposed ceasefire and dispatch of aid, as well as large-scale medical evacuation for that reason is impossible.

Read: UN Secretary General calls for ceasefire in East Ghouta [19659002] "Here what we need is not symbolism, not just a decision, but action taken in accordance with the reality on the ground," Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told parliament. "

Nebenzia criticized media coverage of military operations in the beleaguered enclave of eastern Ghouta, as" severe psychosis "and said there was a campaign to tarnish Syria and Russia. As before, he again accused the first responders of a civil society known as the White Helmets as a group close to the terrorists and took part in a campaign to disseminate misinformation. [as/al]

UNRWA condemns trimming US aid to Palestinian refugees

The head of UNRWA – the UN agency that administers Palestinian refugees – strongly condemns the massive budget cuts by the Americans. "UNRWA commissioner Pierre Krahenbuhl says the agency is facing the worst financial crisis in its history because of America's decision to drastically reduce its financial contribution.

" Last year America provided 360 million dollars for UNRWA. This year they announced it would give 60 million dollars. So there is a difference of 300 million dollars. We need 1.2 to 1.3 billion dollars per year. This is a big enough part of what we need, "said Krahenbuhl.

American President Donald Trump announced the cuts in the UNRWA budget after the UN General Assembly voted in a majority to condemn its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Krahenbuhl told VOA, the humanitarian fund should be linked to the performance of an organization, not because of political considerations. He said the situation was so bad in Gaza that it would get worse if there was a shortage of funds, and the needs of Palestinians were not met.

"Clearly if it is not bridged, there will be an increase in instability … because of the many other problems facing the Middle East – insecurity, radicalization and other problems. On the contrary, I think the investment to stabilize UNRWA and our ability to provide services should be the main thing everyone thinks, "added Krahenbuhl.

UNRWA has just submitted an appeal for an 800 million-dollar emergency aid to help Palestinian refugees in Gaza, and Syria. The assistance will provide urgently needed food, cash and emergency medical supplies, and support for various mental health programs and assistance for victims of gender based violence. [em/ii]

Cuts Palestinian Refugees Aid, Celebrities Cry Trump

Actors Hugh Grant and Viggo Mortensen are two of the more than 25 celebrities and public figures who expressed horror at President Donald Trump's decision to cut the budget for UN agencies that deal with Palestinian refugees UNRWA, according to the statement Hoping Foundation Thursday 25/1).

"The real target of this deadly attack is the Palestinians themselves," the group said in a joint statement. "The decision was taken with the clear aim of stripping their rights (Palestine) by dismissing the institutions accused of protecting them."

Actress Gilian Anderson, Olivia Wilde, Emma Thompson and Tilda Swinton are among the celebrities who co-signed the criticism. 19659002] The criticism was released by the Hoping Foundation, an organization based in London and has been assisting Palestinian children.

Frustrated by the stalled Middle East peace process, Trump this month blamed the Palestinians for the congestion and threatened to cut American aid. America subsequently suspended the $ 65 million payment to UNRWA, the UN agency providing education, health and other social services to more than five million Palestinian refugees and their descendants spread across the Middle East.

While in Davos on Thursday, Trump said the new United States would pass the grant back if the Palestinians returned to the negotiating table. America is the largest single donor to UNRWA and the agency has launched a global fundraiser to cover the shortfall due to American action.

Overall UNRWA needs hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the Palestinians. [em/al]