ReliefWeb - Headlines

ReliefWeb - Headlines

ReliefWeb - Headlines

Humanitarian needs in Cameroon at highest level ever - UN Humanitarian Coordinator

Mon, 22 Apr 2019 18:01:55 +0000

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Cameroon

An upsurge in violence and forced displacement have left 4.3 million people needing emergency assistance, while funding for the response is at an all-time low.

Humanitarian needs in Cameroon are at their highest level ever following an upsurge in violence and insecurity in several regions of the country. Around 4.3 million people need emergency assistance, marking a 30 per cent increase compared to 2018.

The violence and forced displacement have dramatically affected the lives of women and children. Gender based violence is on a sharp increase. In some regions up to 80% of children are out of school.

Funding for the response is however at an all-time low.

Read more at unocha.org

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Deslizamiento de tierra deja 17 personas fallecidas en Rosas, Cauca, Colombia

Mon, 22 Apr 2019 17:13:22 +0000

Source: Government of Colombia
Country: Colombia

Se activará línea de subsidios de arriendo para las familias damnificadas que perdieron su vivienda o que tuvieron que evacuar de manera preventiva, señaló el presidente Colombiano.

“Estamos acá en Rosas, Cauca, en este domingo de pascua, con tristeza, dolor, por las personas que perdieron su vida. Estamos orando y acompañando a sus familiares, pero también estamos unidos para atender esta calamidad y en conjunto entre el municipio, el departamento y el Gobierno Nacional para mostrar una reacción integral” manifestó el mandatario.

Al finalizar el Puesto de Mando Unificado, el Jefe de Estado, señaló que se continuarán con las acciones que se vienen adelantando. En materia de búsqueda en las primeras horas de la mañana se retomarán las labores, dado que se deben generar las condiciones se seguridad para que los organismos de socorro y equipos expertos puedan continuar con el rescate y la recuperación.

Así mismo, se continuará realizando la Evaluación de Daños y Análisis de Necesidades y determinar así una afectación final con la que se puedan ejecutar líneas para la recuperación de las familias que se vieron afectadas por este movimiento en masa o deslizamiento.

En este sentido, se activará la línea de subsidios de arriendo para las familias damnificadas que perdieron su vivienda o que tuvieron que evacuar de manera preventiva dada la inestabilidad que se presenta en el terreno y aunado a esto la Asistencia Humanitaria de Emergencia en kits de alimentos y aseo como una respuesta inicial.

El mandatario de los colombianos quien también llegó a la zona con el Ministro de Vivienda, Jonathan Malagón, señaló que “Estamos para presentar unas soluciones de vivienda que van a permitir que 56 familias tengan rápidamente una vivienda en los próximos meses, soluciones para que las comunidades puedan salir de las zonas de mayor riesgo”.

Es importante señalar que esta zona ha sido afectada por la falla del romeral, que es una falla geológica que con las condiciones hidrometereológicas actuales genera condiciones de riesgo muy altas. Así mismo, y según el IDEAM, el día de ayer y en la madrugada en el municipio de Rosas, llovió 107 milímetros y en promedio en todo el mes de abril llueve cerca de 214 milímetros, es decir, casi lo que llueve en la mitad del mes cayó en unas pocas horas.

Con el Ministerio de Transporte, en cabeza de su ministra Ángela María Orozco, quien también estuvo allí presente, se trabaja para facilitar la movilidad en la vía Panamericana sin alterar las labores de búsqueda lo cual se hace primordial en medio de la situación de emergencia.

Con el Instituto de Bienestar Familiar, ICBF, se busca brindar asistencia y apoyo psicosocial a las familias afectadas y atender a los niños que han perdido a sus familiares y mantener los protocolos establecidos en esta materia con los menores de edad y sus familias.

De acuerdo con el Puesto de Mando Unificado, el evento deja 17 personas fallecidas, 5 heridas y la vía Panamericana cerrada por la magnitud del deslizamiento.

“Esta ha sido una situación dura y difícil, pero Colombia es resiliente y en medio del dolor estamos unidos para responder. Estoy una vez más en el Cauca con las familias, dando apoyo, expresando mi solidaridad, como lo hacemos con todos los lugares en donde se necesite la presencia integral del Estado en medio de las calamidades” finalizó el Presidente Iván Duque.

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WHO-supported vaccination campaign to immunize 2.8 million children against vaccine-preventable diseases in Syria

Mon, 22 Apr 2019 15:17:34 +0000

Source: World Health Organization
Country: Syrian Arab Republic

WHO aims to immunize children under the age of 5 against vaccine-preventable diseases and will focus on reaching almost 250 000 children who were not vaccinated during previous campaigns.

22 April 2019, Damascus, Syria ‒ Over the next 6 days, the World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the Syrian Ministry of Health and UNICEF, will conduct a series of national immunization days to immunize children under the age of 5 against vaccine-preventable diseases, including tuberculosis, pertussis, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza, measles, mumps and rubella.

WHO aims to vaccinate approximately 2.8 million children under the age of 5 in 13 governorates in Syria. The campaign will focus on reaching almost 250 000 children who were not vaccinated during previous campaigns. Over 6800 vaccinators and 2487 mobile medical teams will be deployed to 900 public health centres and 1268 temporary vaccination posts. WHO is providing technical support to the Ministry of Health and covering the operational costs of the campaign.

Routine immunization is one of the building blocks of primary health care. It offers every child the chance of a healthy life from the outset. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of vaccines and encourage parents to bring their children to be vaccinated.

‘’Immunization saves millions of lives and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions,” said Ms Elizabeth Hoff, WHO Representative in Syria. ‘’To give just one example, between 2000 and 2016, measles deaths dropped by 84% worldwide because of vaccination. WHO is committed to continuing its efforts to protect all children in Syria against vaccine-preventable life-threatening diseases,” Ms Hoff concluded.

The campaign coincides with World Immunization Week, which aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. It is celebrated globally each year in the last week of April and the theme of this year’s campaign is “Protected Together: Vaccines Work!”

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Nearly one million children affected by massive floods in Iran

Sat, 20 Apr 2019 01:24:03 +0000

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Over 1,000 health facilities and 1,000 schools have been destroyed or severely damaged forcing 100,000 children out of school and depriving thousands of essential healthcare.

Over 1,000 health facilities destroyed or damaged: UNICEF vaccines cold chain equipment arrives in country

Multimedia available here

TEHRAN, 19 April 2019 - Devastating flooding in three quarters of Iran’s provinces has affected 10 million people, of whom 2 million are severely impacted and 500,000 displaced – half of them are children. Over 1,000 health facilities and 1,000 schools have been destroyed or severely damaged forcing 100,000 children out of school and depriving thousands of essential healthcare.

UNICEF’s vaccine cold chain equipment, including 200 vaccine carriers and 100 cold boxes, arrived in-country last night. The equipment will help restore essential immunization services for children in affected provinces and prevent the spread of diseases. Eighty vaccine refrigerators have also been dispatched.

The needs of flood-affected children in Iran are getting more acute by the day and more supplies are urgently needed.

To provide emergency assistance to flood-affected children in Iran, UNICEF has appealed for US$9.8 million. To date, UNICEF is facing a US$8 million funding gap. Additional child health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies will be purchased once funding is secured.

Notes to editors

Contributions made into accounts recently established for the flood response will allow UNICEF to procure essential supplies from our overseas supply hubs and transport them into Iran. Donations can be made here.

For more information about UNICEF Iran and our work for children, visit: www.unicef.org/iran

Follow UNICEF Iran on Twitter, Instagram and facebook

Media Contacts

Juliette Touma
UNICEF Amman
Tel: +962 79 867 4628
Email: jtouma@unicef.org

Bahareh Yeganehfar
UNICEF Iran
Tel: +98-912 1059106
Email: byeganehfar@unicef.org

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Las solicitudes de asilo en México “se disparan”

Fri, 19 Apr 2019 14:45:16 +0000

Source: UN News Service
Country: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

En los tres primeros meses del año, 12.716 personas solicitaron asilo. La cifra es casi la mitad del total de 2018, cuando 29.600 personas pidieron protección.

El número de personas que llegan a la frontera sur de México huyendo de la violencia y las dificultades económicas “se está disparando”, alerta el Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), en un informe reciente.

En los tres primeros meses del año, 12.716 personas solicitaron asilo. La cifra es casi la mitad del total de 2018, cuando 29.600 personas pidieron protección.

Un 86% de los que han pedido asilo este año provienen de Honduras, El Salvador y Venezuela. “El brote de violencia en Nicaragua y el deterioro de la situación en Venezuela lleva cada vez a más personas de estos países a buscar protección en México”, dice la agencia.

Entre enero y marzo, las solicitudes de centroamericanos y venezolanos son las que más han aumentado con respecto al mismo periodo de 2018.

  • Nicaragua: 1267%
  • Honduras: 237%
  • Guatemala: 224%
  • El Salvador: 112%
  • Venezuela: 71%

El informe de ACNUR señala que, cada vez más, México es visto como un país de destino y no solo de tránsito y consideran “que es probable que esta tendencia continúe”. Una de las razones es que los refugiados encuentran fácilmente trabajo en algunas zonas del país.

Hace dos años, esta agencia inició un programa de empleo e integración con resultados muy prometedores: el 92% de los participantes en edad de trabajar encontró un empleo, el 100% de los niños y adolescentes está escolarizado y el 60% de los participantes salió de la pobreza en un año. El programa se puso en marcha en Saltillo y Guadalajara y este año se llevará a Monterrey, Aguascalientes y, de forma limitada, a Tijuana.

Obstáculos para pedir asilo

ACNUR estima que el número de personas que necesitan protección es, en realidad, mucho mayor.

La ausencia de “protocolos de evaluación adecuados” y la “detención de las personas que piden asilo en la frontera” son importantes obstáculos para acceder al procedimiento de refugio.

Uno de los principales retos ha sido la falta de información sobre cómo solicitar la condición de refugiado. ACNUR, junto a otras agencias de la ONU y la Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados (COMAR) puso en marcha una plataforma única. “Confía en el Jaguar” es una página de Facebook en la que los oficiales de ACNUR responden a dudas.

Además, COMAR tiene una presencia “limitada” en el sur del país. Ante la falta de oportunidades para pedir asilo en la frontera, muchas personas optan por entrar irregularmente. Después toman peligrosas rutas hasta llegar a una oficina de COMAR. “Las mujeres y las niñas están riesgo de sufrir violencia sexual y de género”, indica ACNUR.

Los centroamericanos y venezolanos buscan ayuda en la red de unos 140 albergues situados en las principales rutas migratorias.

ACNUR está reforzando su presencia en México para ayudar a las autoridades mexicanas a procesar el creciente número de solicitudes. Trabajan para crear mecanismos para identificar y referir a las personas vulnerables, mejorar la atención en los albergues y facilitar la integración social.

La agencia ha solicitado a los donantes 59,6 millones de dólares, de los que, por el momento solo ha recibido un 4%, aunque en el informe indican que hay contribuciones “proyectadas” para 2019 que aún no se reflejan. Aun así, a ACNUR le preocupa que no haya podido obtener fondos “suficientes, previsibles, flexibles y plurianuales”.

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‘Foreign children’ in overwhelmed Syrian camp need urgent international help, says top UN official

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 20:46:47 +0000

Source: UN News Service
Country: Syrian Arab Republic

There are around 2,500 stateless children at a camp for the displaced, in north-east Syria. Mr Moumtzis made the “special plea” to journalists, noting that 75,000 people now shelter in Al Hol camp, after fleeing ISIL extremists.

Help is needed urgently from the international community to help some 2,500 apparently stateless “foreign children” at a camp for the displaced, in north-east Syria, a top UN official said on Thursday.

Panos Moumtzis, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis made the “special plea” to journalists in Geneva, noting that 75,000 people now shelter in Al Hol camp, after fleeing ISIL extremists.

“Today I am making a special plea for the children,” Mr Moumtzis said, noting that UNICEF had estimated that they number around 2.500: “These children do have a father and a mother, and their father and mother have a nationality, and therefore a solution has to be found - particularly with this - for the children.”

In a plea to Governments whose citizens had been drawn to Syria “to find a way forward”, the UN official highlighted the massive challenges in dealing with the arrival of 65,000 desperate people in just 100 days – most of them women and children.

“This is an extreme, extraordinary situation; I don’t think we have ever seen such a large number in a complex protection situation, and clearly this requires many actors to work together to be able to find a way forward.”

Noting that humanitarian agencies in Al Hol are “still in emergency mode”, Mr. Moumtzis nonetheless insisted that the situation had “stabilized”.

His comments follow reports that well over 100 people en route to the camp or at Al Hol had died or become gravely ill after travelling for days in harsh winter conditions since fleeing Baghouz, the former ISIL stronghold in eastern Syria.

Asked about the nationalities of those in the camp, Mr Moumtzis replied that “about 43 per cent are Syrian nationals, 42 per cent are Iraqi nationals and 15 per cent are foreign nationals”. He said 90 per cent were women and children, and 66 per cent of the total were children.

Nationals “who have been suspected of having committed crimes, then they need to be treated according to national, international law, in this country,” the UN official added, before insisting that there was no question of the Organization providing help to violent extremists.

“What I can categorically say first of all is the people who we are helping are all civilians,” he said, adding that “we do not help people according to ideology.”

Civilians in Idlib, still in peril

Elsewhere in Syria, where the UN and partners help 5.5 million people every month, there is ongoing and serious concern for civilians in Idlib.

The region is home to some three million people, who rely on cross-border humanitarian supplies arriving from Turkey.

Half of these people have been displaced during the Syrian conflict, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure since it began in 2011.

Since August 2018, Idlib has been largely protected from the worst fighting by a ceasefire agreement implemented by Russia and Turkey, although clashes are ongoing.

This had forced more than 70,000 people to flee from the front line of a demilitarized areas since the beginning of the year, Mr Moumtzis said.

“A continuation of the ceasefire - it was put in place since last summer - is really crucial, in order to make sure we do not all see a catastrophe as we have all been worried given the large number and the overpopulation and also the nature of who is there,” he explained.

Turning to Rukban camp on Syria’s southern border with Jordan, Mr. Moumtzis said that while another 700 people had “spontaneously departed” on Tuesday to Government-controlled areas, significant protection and humanitarian concerns remain for the many thousands of displaced people still there.

“A key ask that is still pending is a next convoy,” Mr Moumtzis said. “We really remain concerned about the needs of more than 35,000 people who are in Rukban. The last assistance convoy that was brought in was more than two months ago, and therefore is really long overdue to be able to move forward."

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Yemen war death toll surpasses 70,000

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 20:34:15 +0000

Source: Armed Conflict Location and Events Dataset
Country: Yemen

More than 10,000 people have been reported killed in Yemen over the last five months, bringing the war’s total death toll to over 70,000 since 2016, according to ACLED.

18 April 2019: More than 10,000 people have been reported killed in Yemen over the last five months, bringing the war’s total death toll to over 70,000 since 2016 according to data collated by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). While overall reported fatalities have trended downward this year amidst the UN-backed peace process, lethal fighting continues across the country and has even intensified in key governorates like Taiz and Hajjah.

Total conflict fatalities:

ACLED records over 70,200 total reported fatalities1 from 1 January 2016 to 13 April 2019More than 7,600 have been reported so far in 2019:

Approximately 2,350 in January; 1,930 in February; 2,330 in March; and 1,000 so far in AprilFatality rates have shifted significantly across multiple governorates between the last quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019:

Reported fatalities increased most dramatically in Al Jawf and in Hajjah, though also in Taiz, Sadah, and Ad Dali

They dropped most significantly in Hodeidah, though also in Marib, Sana’a, and Al BaydaCivilian fatalities:

ACLED records 3,155 direct attacks targeting civilians resulting in over 7,000 reported civilian fatalities2 since 2016

The Saudi-led coalition and its allies are responsible for the highest number of reported civilian fatalities from direct targeting: over 4,800 since 2016

The Houthis and their allies are responsible for over 1,300 reported civilian fatalities from direct targeting

Notably, so far in quarter one of 2019, reported civilian fatalities are at their lowest point since the third quarter of 2017

Still, nearly 380 civilian fatalities have been reported this year stemming from direct targeting

Flashpoints (spotlight on three governorates):

Hodeidah

Reported fatalities continue to decline dramatically in Hodeidah:Reported combat fatalities dropped 89% from the last quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019 thus far (from nearly 2,500 reported fatalities to fewer than 300)Reported civilian fatalities dropped from nearly 250 to approximately 100

Taiz

Deadly fighting has spiked in Taiz:Reported combat fatalities have risen from approximately 850 in the last quarter of 2018 to over 1,000 in the first quarter of 2019, a more than 20% rise
Reported fatalities from civilian targeting have risen from approximately 40 to over 60 in the same period

Hajjah

In Hajjah, violence is reaching record highs:Over 1,100 combat fatalities have been reported in the first quarter of 2019 — the highest numbers ACLED has recorded in Hajjah since the start of 2016Over 80 fatalities from direct civilian targeting have been reported in the same quarter — the second-highest number of reported civilian fatalities recorded for the governorateA US-based 501c3 established in 2014, ACLED is the highest quality, most widely used, real-time data and analysis source on political violence and protest around the world.

For an explanation of ACLED’s methodology for collecting data on the Yemen conflict, click here.

For interview requests and press inquiries, please contact:

Sam Jones, Communications Manager

communications@acleddata.com

  1. Fatality numbers are often the most poorly reported component of conflict data. While ACLED codes the most conservative reports of fatality counts to minimize over-counting, this does not account for biases that exist around fatality counts at-large. As such, these figures should be considered estimates, rather than exact counts. Find more information about ACLED’s methodology for coding fatalities here.

  2. This figure includes only civilians killed as a result of direct civilian targeting. It does not include collateral civilian fatalities. As such, the number is assumed to represent an underestimate of total conflict-related civilian fatalities in Yemen.

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Without justice in the Central African Republic, ‘everything else is wrecked’ - HRW

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 19:58:47 +0000

Source: Human Rights Watch
Country: Central African Republic

Victims’ calls for accountability have been constant since the 2015 Bangui Forum. Conducting investigations where armed groups control some 80 percent of the country will be an uphill battle.

Special Criminal Court Critical to Accountability for Past Crimes

Elise Keppler

“Our brothers, who have attacked us, must be brought to justice,” a victim of the violence in the Central African Republic told me last week in the country’s capital Bangui.

“Justice counteracts this culture of violence… It can change the behavior, not only of criminals, but also of the state,” a human rights defender also told us.

Other victims, activists, and lawyers echoed these sentiments during my week in Bangui, along with deeply held concerns that vague provisions on accountability in the recent peace agreement could be used to sideline the delivery of justice for atrocities committed in the country.

Victims’ calls for accountability have been constant since national consultations, called the Bangui Forum, were held in 2015. These calls have been bolstered by the creation of a new Special Criminal Court that is, at last, gaining long-sought momentum.

The Special Criminal Court is unique in the Central African Republic as it has, in the words of one local activist, “a national jurisdiction, with an international dimension.” It has a combination of international and domestic judges, prosecutors, and other staff, and operates with significant United Nations logistical and other kinds of support.

The law creating the court passed in 2015, but legal, administrative, and bureaucratic obstacles delayed its official launch of operations until October 2018.

But investigations have opened at last. And outreach about the court to the country’s largely non-literate population, including through radio, theater, and cartoons, is underway. “We can finally see the beginning of the work of the Special Criminal Court,” one human rights defender told us.

Conducting investigations and protecting witnesses where armed groups control some 80 percent of the country will be an uphill battle. The court also lacks secure funding and is operating with a weak and limited infrastructure.

But the court is the country’s best chance to render accountability for the horrific crimes that have been committed, especially since 2013. The Central African Republic government and its international partners should firmly back the Special Criminal Court.

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UN seeks $10.2 million to reach civilians trapped in Libya conflict

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 17:04:27 +0000

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Libya

The funding is especially needed to provide health services, protection, clean water, emergency food and shelter to people forced to flee their homes.

CRISIS OVERVIEW

Clashes between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) erupted south of Tripoli on 4 April, immediately impacting the civilian population in and around Tripoli. Armed clashes have been particularly heavy in the southern districts of Tripoli, with use of heavy artillery and airstrikes on both sides.

Seventy-nine civilian casualties have been confirmed as of 17 April, including 18 civilian deaths. As this figure reflects only those civilian casualties that could be individually verified, it must be unfortunately considered a minimum.

Two weeks into the crisis, more than 27,000 people have fled their homes while thousands more remain trapped by ongoing fighting in their neighborhoods.

As of 17 April, some 28,000 people have been displaced, according to IOM displacement tracking (IOM/ DTM), and numbers continue to increase daily. Most families are staying with relatives and in private accommodation in the different neighborhoods and suburbs of Tripoli; as well as along the coastal line in Western Libya and the Nafusa mountains. Additionally, over 2,000 newly displaced persons have sought shelter in collective centers designated by the local authorities.
Use of heavy weaponry in populated areas is exposing civilians and local first responder teams to extreme risks.

Civilians in conflict-affected areas are at risk of being trapped in crossfire or subject to other forms of violence.

In some areas, the population are unable to move because of the intensity of the fighting and the inability of emergency services to reach them. The incident rate involving first responders and medical personnel is alarming – an ambulance driver and two civilian doctors are among those killed to date, one civilian doctor has been injured, and eight ambulances have so far been struck by weaponry. Civilian facilities, including schools and health units are being increasingly hit in shelling that appears to be indiscriminate.

Around 3,900 refugees and migrants in detention centers are at risk and trapped in conflict areas. Five detention centres are located in areas already engulfed by fighting. Six more are in close proximity to clash areas. There have been reports of guards abandoning detention centres with people remaining trapped inside. Already among the most vulnerable populations in Libya, these refugees and migrants now face the risk of becoming caught in cross-fire, or left without life-sustaining supplies, including food and water.

Humanitarian needs are expected to escalate significantly as hostilities continue; an estimated 1.5 million people may be impacted within weeks. This includes more than 500,000 children living in Tripoli and the western part of Libya. Based on the current displacement trends due to the conflict, humanitarian partners forsee an increase number of displaced people moving to collective shelters and urban settings. Around 144,000 people will be in-need of immediate humanitarian assistance. Regugees and migrants, including women and children, will be particularly vulnerable as the situation deteriorates.

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Spreading violence triggers ‘unprecedented’ crisis in Burkina Faso

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 12:00:56 +0000

Source: The New Humanitarian
Country: Burkina Faso

Attacks by Islamist militants, military operations, and waves of inter-communal violence have left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced since January in Burkina Faso.

‘The country has never had to deal with such massive displacement’

Philip Kleinfeld, Freelance journalist and regular IRIN contributor

Attacks by Islamist militants, military operations, and waves of inter-communal violence have left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced since January in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, triggering an “unprecedented” humanitarian crisis that has caught many by surprise.

Read more on The New Humanitarian.

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Zimbabwe: Cyclone Idai component of the Flash Appeal 17 per cent funded

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 11:00:12 +0000

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Zimbabwe

The revised Flash Appeal calls for $294 million (including $60 million for the Cyclone Idai response). Donors have contributed at least $10.1 million for the cyclone-response component.

This Situation Report is produced by the office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe and the OCHA Regional Office for Southern and Eastern Africa in collaboration with humanitarian partners. The Situation Report builds on previous Flash Updates and provides more detailed information on the situation and response. It covers the period from 10 April to 16 April 2019. The next Situation Report will be issued on or around 24 April.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Local authorities estimate that 60,000 people are displaced in the four worst-affected districts (Buhare, Chimanimani, Chipinge and Mutare).

• In light of this week’s wet weather, upcoming cold weather, and expected movement of people for Easter holiday, operational urgencies will include distribution of non-food items, especially blankets, ensuring adequate temporary shelter for all, and oral cholera vaccination.

• Oral cholera vaccination targeting 336,699 people in Chipinge and 139,635 in Chimanimani is under way.

• Food Security Cluster partners have so far assisted an estimated 155,000 people in the worst-affected areas of Chimanimani and Chipinge, out of an initial target of 270,000.

• About 70,000 people have gained access to a sufficient quantity of water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, out of an initial target of 270,000.

• Confirmed funding for the cyclone component of the flash appeal is $10.1 million, or 17 per cent of requirements.

• The UN system together with the humanitarian partners are fully engaged with the Government of Zimbabwe to provide all comprehensive humanitarian assistance across all sectors.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

One month after Cyclone Idai affected 270,000 people in eastern Zimbabwe, clusters are activated, and in the most-heavily-affected districts (particularly Chipinge and Chimanimani), aid materials are flowing and coverage is rising, although gaps remain. Humanitarian partners are working to reach all people in need with essentials such as blankets: night-time temperatures (currently around 15 degrees Celsius) will soon fall to 10° C or lower.

WHO reports an increase in acute respiratory infections, which may indicate that some people are suffering exposure.
Roads to all wards have become accessible by 4x4, although rainfall may make the dirt roads impassable again.

Bad weather is forecast for this week—thunderstorms and up to 3cm of rain—which will ground the WFP helicopter, and might threaten the temporary road repairs. OCHA and Logistics Cluster have therefore advised partners to pre-position all necessary materials in Chipinge and Chimanimani, in case their roads are cut off again.

WHO and partners are administering oral cholera vaccine in all affected areas this week, before the expected visits of many Mozambicans to their relatives in neighbouring districts of Zimbabwe for the Easter holiday.

Data from new assessments (including for early recovery) is being assimilated and compiled, which together with upcoming assessments should yield refined figures for people in need and targets. One key ambiguity for assessments to resolve is the location and intentions of displaced people whose houses were destroyed or damaged beyond habitability: many are reportedly staying with relatives or host families, but many of these may be in other districts. Host families are also likely to need support. The Government and Zimbabwe Red Cross Society are preparing three temporary displacement centres with tents, for those who have no host families; CCCM Cluster is engaging to support. Intentions regarding return or resettlement will have to be documented and considered by reconstruction actors: some people’s house plots were destroyed by landslides, others are traumatized and wish to re-settle elsewhere. The Government’s programme for house reconstruction is already in motion.

The Government launched its humanitarian assistance appeal for the cyclone response, for US$613 million, targeting 16,500 households for multisectoral support through the next harvest in May 2020.

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Dry conditions and high temperatures push more counties in Kenya into the "Alarm" drought stage - Govt

Thu, 18 Apr 2019 10:58:35 +0000

Source: Government of Kenya
Country: Kenya

The dry conditions experienced from January to March have pushed counties in the "Alarm" drought stage from one in February to five in March. Twenty counties reported a worsening trend.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The dry conditions and high temperatures experienced from January to March have pushed more counties into the Alarm drought stage, from one (1) in February to five (5) in March. 20 ASAL counties are reporting a worsening trend and only three (3) indicate a stable trend. Counties in the Alarm drought phase are Wajir, Mandera, Garissa, Marsabit and Turkana.

  • Average distances to water for both households and livestock increased in March in more counties. In most ASAL areas, reduced availability of pasture and water in March compared to February resulted in rapid deterioration in livestock body condition and decreased milk production.

  • Current milk production in 12 counties including Garissa, Turkana, Kajiado, Marsabit, Samburu,
    Tana River, Mandera, Laikipia, Narok, Makueni, Lamu and Nyeri (Kieni) is below expected season ranges compared to the long-term average.

  • Delay in the start of the long rains has affected timelines for farming activities, especially land preparation and planting. As a result, farmers have been advised to plant fast-maturing crops following the projected short rainfall season and drought-tolerant crops in areas expected to receive below-average rainfall.

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UN emergency fund releases $2 million for life-saving assistance as needs escalate in Libya

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 23:39:42 +0000

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Libya

This allocation will provide food, health, and relief items to civilians caught up in the escalating fighting in Libya, including vulnerable migrants and refugees.

New York, 17 April 2019: Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock today allocated US$2 million from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide life-saving assistance to civilians caught up in the escalating fighting in Libya, including vulnerable migrants and refugees.

"I am deeply concerned by the escalation of fighting in Libya. In the past 24 hours, Tripoli witnessed the worst violence against civilians since 2014, with several densely populated neighbourhoods hit by indiscriminate shelling," said Lowcock. "The impact of explosive weapons in populated areas is devastating. I urge all parties to refrain from the use of weapons that put more civilian lives and infrastructure at risk."

Seventy-four civilian casualties have been verified since the start of the current hostilities, including 18 deaths, over the past two weeks. First responders and medical staff doing their jobs have been among the casualties.

"The CERF funds will help hospitals and health clinics attending to the injured immediately get the emergency medical supplies they need, including surgical and trauma kits. The money will also allow aid agencies to provide food and relief items to displaced people and support the safe relocation of vulnerable migrants and refugees from detention centres in areas where airstrikes have been reported."

On 16 April, over 4,500 people were forced to flee their homes, according to the International Organisation for Migration, bringing the total number of internally displaced people to 25,000. That is the highest single-day increase in displacement in and around Tripoli and the number is expected to increase.

Aid organizations are responding to the rapidly increasing humanitarian needs wherever access allows, while people trapped in conflict affected areas are reportedly running low on basic food items, fuel, and experiencing prolonged electricity and water cuts. Requests for a temporary ceasefire to allow civilians to safely and voluntarily leave conflict affected areas have not been adhered to.

"I urge all parties to the conflict to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to allow unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to the affected areas," said Lowcock, noting that there is an urgent need to evacuate more of the most vulnerable people.

Low funding also continues to hamper the humanitarian response with just six per cent of the US$202 million required in the 2019 Libya Humanitarian Response Plan received.

"This CERF allocation can only support the immediate response to the most pressing needs. In light of the rapidly deteriorating situation, additional funding is urgently needed," said Mr. Lowcock. "If fighting moves to central Tripoli, an even greater surge in humanitarian needs is expected and humanitarian organizations will need to scale up considerably."

As the scale and intensity of emergencies increases, a larger, more robust CERF is needed so that aid can reach people, whenever and wherever crises hit.

For further information, please contact:

Russell Geekie, Spokesperson: geekie@un.orggeekie@un.org, Tel. +1 212 963 8340Ann Weru, Public Information Officer: weru@un.orgweru@un.org, Tel. +1 917 367 7094

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About 6,000 children reunited with families after years of separation in South Sudan

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 23:18:07 +0000

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: South Sudan

Save the Children, UNICEF and partners have successfully reunited 6,000 children with their families after years of separation due to conflict through FTR programme since 2014.

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN 17 April 2019 - Save the Children, UNICEF and partners have successfully reunited 6,000 children with their families after years of separation due to conflict. This is a milestone for the Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) programme in South Sudan since the first reunification of 420 children in 2014.

Seventeen-year-old Nyandor* – together with her four sisters and brothers – was reunited with her parents in Bentiu yesterday. She was the 6000th child to be reunified. The five siblings were separated from their mother and father during an armed attack in Bor in 2014. In the middle of the chaos the family ran in different directions and hadn’t seen each other since. After intense family tracing by Save the Children case workers, the family was finally made whole again yesterday.

“It was an emotional moment for everyone involved,” said Arshad Malik, Interim Country Director for Save the Children International South Sudan. “It was ululation, tears, and songs of happiness. Seeing the happiness in their faces after enduring so much fills us with hope. We won’t stop until all separated children are back home.”

Almost five years of conflict and more than four million people uprooted have combined to see children separated across the country. Almost 8,000 children in South Sudan are still missing or separated and in urgent need of family tracing. Separated and unaccompanied children are more susceptible to violence, abuse and exploitation, which makes returning them to their parents an urgent priority for UNICEF, Save the Children and partners.

The peace agreement signed in September 2018 has prompted refugees returning to South Sudan from neighboring countries and given access to areas previously inaccessible. If the peace holds, this can provide an opportunity to step up family tracing and reunification, if adequate funding for the programme is secured.

Yet, family tracing will remain labour intensive due to limited access to roads, mobile and data connection in South Sudan. The programme is heavily reliant on case workers walking long distances and knocking on doors to trace children and their parents.

“Despite all the difficulties, almost every week we see one or several children brought back to where they belong, namely with their families. This is much thanks to the all family tracing and reunification partners in South Sudan,” said UNICEF representative in South Sudan Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “To bring the rest of the children back home, we need strong partnerships and support from the international community.”

###

Notes to editors:

About family tracing and reunification (FTR):

Save the Children, UNICEF and partners work to prevent family separation amid chaos and conflict by informing people how to set up had-hock community systems keeping families together. When separation occur, missing children and parents are registered in a national database for family tracing which is done by a number of caseworkers across South Sudan. When there is a match, a verification exercise starts to ensure the parents and children are related. After, the actual reunification is initiated. The family also receives support in a transitional period, including food and clothes. The family will also receive follow-up by the caseworker in the months after the reunification to ensure everyone adjust well to the new situation.

About Save the Children international:

Save the Children has been working with and for children, their families and communities in South Sudan since 1991. We provide children with access to education, healthcare and nutrition support, and families with food security and livelihoods assistance. Our child protection programmes support vulnerable children including unaccompanied and separated children and those affected by violence, as well as advocating for children’s rights at national, state and community levels. We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights and we help them fulfil their potential.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

Media Contacts

Helene Sandbu RyengUNICEF South SudanTel: + 211 921 61 5824Email: hsryeng@unicef.org

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Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator calls for sustained support for millions in need across Sudan

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 22:21:49 +0000

Source: UN Security Council
Country: South Sudan, Sudan

“At this critical time, it is essential to ensure that the people of Darfur and the rest of Sudan receive the support they need,” Ursula Mueller said to the Security Council.

SC/13783

SECURITY COUNCIL
8513TH MEETING (AM)

Members Echo Sudan’s Representative in Describing Recent Events as Internal Matter Not Warranting External Discussion, Interference

The planned withdrawal of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) by 30 June 2020 is on track, but the political situation in Sudan has changed drastically and could affect implementation of the mission’s mandate going forward, the Joint Special Representative of the African Union and the Secretary-General for the country’s western Darfur region told the Security Council today.

Speaking via videoconference from Khartoum, where the Military Transitional Council seized power on 11 April, he said the Operation is establishing contacts and working relationships with the new authorities. The international community can also start a dialogue with the new rulers to help create a conducive environment for UNAMID’s departure and for an international follow-up engagement in Darfur, he added.

“The current situation, much as it may not be desirable, provides a chance for the Sudanese to seize the opportunity to resolve all their conflicts, including the one in Darfur,” he continued. “The Council should urge the people of Sudan to have a holistic and all-inclusive approach that is representative of all Sudanese.” Noting that the changes at the federal level have had an obvious impact on Darfur, he cited acts of violence by internally displaced persons and other protesters targeting premises associated with the previous regime. In the midst of those developments, UNAMID has remained vigilant, maintaining a particularly robust posture in Jebel Marra, where clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) faction have continued.

Briefing on the humanitarian situation, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator said the direct impact of recent political events on humanitarian operations has been limited so far and regular operations have continued, including a major campaign to vaccinate children against polio and measles. However, due to the economic crisis, the prices of food and medicines are rising, with the price of sorghum 70 per cent higher than it was a year ago and imports of medicine in 2018 down by one third from 2017, she said. An estimated 5.8 million people, including 1.9 million in Darfur, are presently food-insecure, she noted, predicting that, with the lean season due to start in May, that number will increase.

On the other hand, Darfur has seen significant improvements in security, with some displaced people returning home but 1.6 million remaining displaced, she said. Humanitarian partners are appealing for $1.1 billion to help 4.4 million of the most vulnerable people, including 2.4 million in Darfur. Noting the presence of nearly 150,000 refugees from South Sudan, she stressed that the situation in Sudan has implications for the broader region. Meanwhile, humanitarian access has improved significantly in recent years, she said, adding: “At this critical time, it is essential to ensure that the people of Darfur and the rest of Sudan receive the support they need.”

Germany’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Council President for April declared: “We cannot simply delink the political developments in Khartoum from our joint work on UNAMID.” Speaking in his national capacity, he underlined the need for a collaborative relationship among the national decision-making authorities, the international community and the United Nations. “If we want to develop a way forward for the planning post-UNAMID, it is essential that we have an in-depth conversation with Sudan,” he emphasized, while pointing out the absence of a counterpart on the Sudanese side with whom to engage in dialogue.

The United Kingdom’s representative reiterated the African Union’s call for a swift return to civilian rule in Sudan, urging the Military Transitional Council to heed the voices of the people, protect protestors and uphold human rights. The representative of the United States said the upcoming strategic review of UNAMID should take into account the impact of recent events on Darfur, including the Government’s ability to protect and provide for the region’s people. If the Government cannot do that, he added, the United States is in favour of the Council considering all options.

South Africa’s representative said the people of Sudan must seize the opportunity to address their differences in an inclusive manner because Darfur’s development is linked to that of the country and the wider region. A credible and transparent transition process will help to unify the nation, he said, urging the Council to rally behind the people’s ambitions and to be guided by regional approaches through the African Union, notably the bloc’s communiqué of 15 April.

Kuwait’s representative was among speakers who emphasized that events unfolding in Sudan constitute a domestic matter in which outside entities must not interfere. China’s delegate stressed the importance of respecting the decisions made by the people of Sudan and of adhering to the principle of non-interference, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The Russian Federation’s representative underlined the absence of grounds for linking the events of 11 April with UNAMID’s future.

Sudan’s representative emphasized the domestic nature of events in his country since December, saying that, in keeping with the United Nations Charter, there is no justification for the Council to discuss it. The exceptional situation calls for the greatest caution in order that all stakeholders can complete a smooth transition and democratic change, he added. He went on to reiterate his country’s commitment to respect all its agreements, including those with the United Nations regarding UNAMID’s deployment and humanitarian access.

Also speaking were representatives of the Dominican Republic, France, Peru, Côte d’Ivoire, Belgium, Poland, Indonesia and Equatorial Guinea.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.

Briefings

JEREMIAH NYAMANE KINGSLEY MAMABOLO, Joint Special Representative of the African Union and the Secretary-General for Darfur, spoke via videoconference from Khartoum, stating that “a lot has happened in Sudan in general and in Darfur in particular” since the issuance of the latest report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document S/2019/305). The Military Transitional Council has announced several steps to stabilize the situation, including the replacement of unpopular Government officials, he said, adding that the Head of the Council has stated that the transitional period will last no more than two years, ending with the handover of power to a civilian arrangement. However, protests continue in Khartoum and other parts of Sudan, he said, noting that the Military Transitional Council has started a dialogue with the Declaration of Freedom of Change on an all-inclusive transitional mechanism. He cautioned that the Military Transitional Council is likely to view as a setback the call on 15 April by the African Union Peace and Security Council for the Council to install a transitional civilian authority within 15 days or face suspension from African Union activities.

He said that the changes at the federal level have had an obvious impact on Darfur, with internally displaced persons and other protesters engaging in violent acts, including arson on premises of the National Intelligence and Security Services and the former ruling party, as well as the homes of community leaders seen to have collaborated with the previous regime. In the midst of these developments, UNAMID has remained vigilant and maintained a robust posture, particularly in the Jebel Marra area of responsibility where peacekeeping troops are deployed. Day-to-day operations are continuing, patrols have been intensified, and the Operation is still interacting with partners on the ground, he said, noting that United Nations staff have not been targeted so far. Since the adoption of resolution 2429 (2018), the mission is continuing its reconfiguration and drawdown, with the reduction of its military component from 8,735 to 4,050 troops by 30 June on track. The strength of UNAMID police has also decreased from 2,500 to 2,283, he said. The security situation in Darfur remained relatively calm during the reporting period, with the exception of intermittent clashes in Jebel Marra between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) faction.

Incidents of intercommunal clashes remained low, he said, noting that humanitarian partners continued to provide aid, focusing on life-saving assistance to vulnerable groups despite restrictions on access in some parts of Jebel Marra. Implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur continued to face challenges due to capacity and resource constraints, he said, noting that the Military Transitional Council’s call for non-signatory armed movements to join the ongoing dialogue has yet to draw a tangible response. However, the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Gibril Ibrahim faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM/Gibril) have indicated their intention to pursue the peace process in a manner that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict, he said. However, SLA-AW leader Abdul Wahid Nour, has rejected the Military Transitional Council as an attempt to reproduce the previous regime, he said, urging he Council to call upon him to seize the opportunity and engage politically with the authorities.

He concluded by stating that while UNAMID’s drawdown remains on track, the political situation in Sudan has changed drastically and has the potential to affect the implementation of its mandate going forward. In that context, the Operation is establishing contacts and a working relationship with the new administration at the federal and state levels, he said. “Darfur is not and cannot be immune from what is happening at the national level,” he emphasized, expressing hope that the situation does not deteriorate and have a negative impact on UNAMID’s exit. The international community has an opportunity to start a dialogue with the new authorities by helping to create a conducive environment for the mission’s departure and an international follow-up engagement in Darfur. “The current situation, much as it may not be desirable, provides a chance for the Sudanese to seize the opportunity to resolve all their conflicts, including the one in Darfur.” he stressed. “The Council should urge the people of Sudan to have a holistic and all-inclusive approach that is representative of all Sudanese.”

URSULA MUELLER, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, [said](https://reliefweb.int/node/3088133/ that humanitarian needs in Darfur and other parts of Sudan were already growing well before the latest development due to the prevailing economic crisis. The direct impact of recent political events on humanitarian operations has so far been limited and regular operations have continued, including a major campaign to vaccinate children against polio and measles. Due to the economic crisis, food and medicine prices are rising, she said, citing World Food Programme (WFP) reports that the price of sorghum is 70 per cent higher than it was a year ago, impacting people’s power to purchase the staple. According to the latest analysis, 5.8 million people, including 1.9 million in Darfur, are presently food-insecure, up from 3.8 million the previous year. With the lean season due to start in May, the number will increase, she predicted, pointing out that imports of medicine in 2018 dropped by one third from 2017.

However, Darfur has seen significant improvements in security, with some displaced people returning home but 1.6 million remaining displaced, she said. The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocated $26.5 million last week to help vulnerable people in areas increasingly affected by food insecurity. The Sudan Humanitarian Fund is providing more than $20 million in complementary funding, she said, while emphasizing that more support is needed. Humanitarian partners are appealing for $1.1 billion to assist 4.4 million of the most vulnerable people, including 2.4 million in Darfur. Noting the presence of nearly 150,000 refugees from South Sudan, she stressed that the situation in Sudan has implications for the broader region. However, humanitarian access has improved significantly in recent years, she pointed out. “At this critical time, it is essential to ensure that the people of Darfur and the rest of Sudan receive the support they need.”

Statements

NIELS ANNEN, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Germany and Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, declaring: “We cannot simply delink the political developments in Khartoum from our joint work on UNAMID.” Not all challenges can be addressed by a peacekeeping mission, he pointed out, emphasizing that the transition process from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, therefore, becomes increasingly important. There is need to ensure that the Operation delivers against its mandated tasks in the areas of mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, he said, noting UNAMID’s progress in supporting capacity-building in the areas of rule of law and human rights, as well as in finding lasting solutions for internally displaced people and host communities. “We must keep this up,” he stressed.

He went on to underline the need for a collaborative relationship among the national decision-making authorities, the international community and the United Nations. “If we want to develop a way forward for the planning post-UNAMID, it is essential that we have an in-depth conversation with Sudan,” he said, adding that the conversation has to do with strengthening the capacity of rule-of-law institutions, revitalizing the political process for Darfur – including by establishing the presence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – and cooperation with the Peacebuilding Commission. He pointed out, however, that there is currently no counterpart on the Sudanese side with whom to engage in this important conversation.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), expressing support for the African Union’s statement on the recent removal of the President, urged the Military Transitional Council to heed the voices of the people, protect protestors and uphold human rights. Noting that the Council has an opportunity to build trust with the people and the international community and end decades of oppression, he reiterated his delegation’s support for the African Union’s call for a swift return to civilian rule, emphasizing that women must play an important role in the transition process. The United Kingdom also supports calls for accountability, including through cooperation with the International Criminal Court, he emphasized. Regarding the eventual drawdown of UNAMID, he stressed the need for a gradual and sensible approach that takes developments on the ground into account. He asked how two UNAMID police units responded to the recent killing of people in a camp for the internally displaced.

JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) expressed concern over recent events in Khartoum, the uncertainty among Sudan’s people and the high humanitarian cost. Pointing out that people are only seeking to be heard, he called for calm and avoidance of bloodshed at all costs, emphasizing that the time has come to leverage this opportunity for a democratic and peaceful transition. The Sudanese people deserve political renewal and economic recovery, as well as the chance to be compensated for their suffering, he said, adding that it is also time for an all-inclusive political system that respects human rights and the norms of international law while restoring trust among the people.

JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) expressed concern over the impact of events in Khartoum on the situation in Darfur, where UNAMID must redouble its efforts in responding to acts of violence. The United States expects the upcoming strategic report on UNAMID to take into account the impact of recent events on Darfur, including the Government’s ability to protect and provide for the region’s people, he said, emphasizing that if it cannot do that, his delegation is in favour of the Council considering all options. He went on to urge all parties in Sudan to work towards the installation of a civilian transitional authority.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), noting the continued reduction in violence and the relatively calm security conditions, welcomed the allocation of funding from CERF to meet humanitarian needs. Emphasizing the importance of observing benchmarks when considering the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, he called upon Council members to ensure that any measures taken lead to stability and respond to the people’s aspirations. He went on to urge all parties concerned to prioritize national interests, while pointing out that what is unfolding is a domestic affair. No outside entities should interfere, he stressed.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France) called for the establishment of a civilian Government and the holding of free, inclusive and transparent elections. The transitional authority must be led by civilians and hear the voices of the people, she said. Justice is essential and, therefore, the perpetrators of grave crimes, including sexual violence and violence against children, must be brought to justice, she said, emphasizing that France supports cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Regarding UNAMID, he said that his delegation has always supported a gradual exit, adding that, given the situation on the ground, the Council should be even more prudent before setting the timetable for withdrawal.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) urged the Military Transitional Council to restore the constitution, lift the state of emergency and free detained prisoners. In Darfur, all sides must cease hostilities and resolve substantive matters through dialogue, he emphasized, expressing deep concern over the grave human rights situation in the region, including violations of the fundamental rights of internally displace persons. UNAMID must be able to implement its mandate throughout Darfur, including Jebel Marra, with the Government guaranteeing unfettered humanitarian access, he said. On the Operation’s withdrawal, he said it must proceed cautiously, taking the current situation into account.

GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), noting the Sudan is passing through an “alarming period of uncertainty”, urged the military authorities to spare no effort to maintain peace and security while engaging in consultations with all stakeholders. He called upon the armed groups in Darfur to work with national authorities to ensure a definitive end to hostilities. He went on to call upon the authorities and the international community – including the United Nations, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – to safeguard the gains made in the Darfur peace process so far.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) urged the Military Transitional Council to avoid violence and uphold human rights, including the rights to freedom of assembly and protest. Expressing support for the communiqué issued by the African Union on 15 April, he emphasized the urgent need for the military to hand over power to civilian authorities. Release of political prisoners can contribute to national reconciliation. The Council should support the African Union and IGAD, which play a critical role in the region, he said, adding that his delegation looks forward to a joint African Union-United Nations report and strategic review to determine whether UNAMID has a sufficient presence in Darfur. Stressing the central importance of fighting impunity, since human rights abuses are among the root causes of conflict, he said Belgium supports a Council resolution calling upon Sudan and all parties to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which has issued arrest warrants for five individuals.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) urged continued support for the Darfur peace processes and for helping internally displaced persons who depend on humanitarian assistance. Emphasizing that humanitarian aid must transition into reconstruction and development support as UNAMID eventually exits Sudan, he said the country’s people, meanwhile, must seize the opportunity to address their differences in an inclusive manner because Darfur’s development is linked to that of Sudan and the wider region. A credible transition and transparent process will help to unify Sudan, he said, stressing that the Council should rally behind the people’s ambitions and be guided by regional approaches through the African Union, notably its 15 April communiqué. In addition, support for the economy must address the population’s socioeconomic needs, which are among the root causes of the current impasse. On accountability, he stressed that the people must have the space to use their own internal mechanisms and chart their future trajectory. The Council must call for a peaceful resolution of the situation through inclusive political dialogue, he said, urging the continued leadership of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel in seeking peace in Sudan.

MARIUSZ LEWICKI (Poland) stressed the need to hold all perpetrators of crimes in Darfur to account, reiterating that there can be no other solution to the conflict there than a political one. During the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, particular emphasis should be placed on improving the socioeconomic conditions – providing basic services, jobs, education, economic infrastructure and agriculture, as well as establishing the rule of law, he said. Cooperation among the Government, local authorities in Darfur, UNAMID and the United Nations country team is key for a successful transition, he said. “We believe that the international community should join efforts on the ground and support the recovery and development of Darfur,” he said cautioning: “Otherwise, we might risk the relapse of the conflict.” Turning to UNAMID’s drawdown, he said the Council must continue to monitor the impact of its downsizing closely to ensure that the gains achieved not be compromised.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) urged Council members to avoid statements or actions that could be interpreted as interference in Sudan’s internal affairs. The situation in Darfur remains stable overall, he said, adding that, given positive developments, the drawdown of UNAMID’s military component must continue. Emphasizing that the fulfilment of donors’ pledges and the easing of unilateral sanctions will contribute to peacebuilding and security in Darfur, he said that although his delegation is satisfied that all provisions of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur are being implemented, it regrets that non-signatories are trying to start a new wave of violence. External sponsors of the Sudanese opposition should encourage it to make more responsible demands that will move the peace process forward, he said, stressing that his delegation sees no grounds for linking the events of 11 April with the future of UNAMID and the sanctions regime.

MUHSIN SYIHAB (Indonesia), welcoming the declaration of a nationwide ceasefire, said the plight of civilians in Darfur should be reason enough to revitalize the peace process. As UNAMID’s withdrawal proceeds, Sudan’s ability to bear primary responsibility for security in Darfur must be ensured, he said, emphasizing that socioeconomic development is critical to preventing a relapse into conflict. On the wider situation in Sudan, he reaffirmed Indonesia’s respect for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “No parties should take advantage of the situation in Sudan to let Darfur backslide into conflict,” he stressed, calling for calm, maximum restraint and a climate of peace.

WU HAITAO (China), noting the current stable security situation overall, recalled that discussions on reconfiguring UNAMID began in the second half of 2018, emphasizing that it is imperative to advance the peace process in Darfur in order to ensure a smooth transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. It is vital to avoid the use of force, he said, stressing that the opposition and armed groups should abandon the military option. Long-term stability demands humanitarian and economic support, including assistance to those internally displaced persons returning home, as well as the development of infrastructure and agriculture, he stressed. Urging the parties to jointly advance the political process, he underlined the importance of respecting decisions made by the people of Sudan and adhering to the principle of non-interference.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), while expressing concern over the latest violence at a camp for the internationally displaced following the President’s removal, said the latest political developments are nevertheless in favour of the Sudanese people. Commending the negotiations under way between the Military Transitional Council and political parties with a view to establishing a civilian Government, he noted the African Union’s calls for Sudan to work towards civilian rule. Emphasizing the need to end land disputes, he welcomed UNAMID’s collection of weapons in its effort to bring stability to Darfur. Given the current situation, the international community should place some trust in the Military Transitional Council to establish a transitional Government and hold peaceful elections, he said.

YASIR ABDALLA ABDELSALAM AHMED (Sudan) said that while the Sudanese Armed Forces are confronting the Abdul Wahid movement in Jebel Marra, the security situation in central Darfur has improved with the collection of weapons and the restoration of State authority in anticipation of the return of internally displaced persons and the harvest season. Describing parts of the Secretary-General’s report as obsolete in the wake of the revolution, he reiterated his remarks from the 12 April Council meeting on the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), that Sudan is committed to respecting all its agreements, including those with the United Nations regarding UNAMID’s deployment and humanitarian access. Sudan very much wants to cooperate in the implementation of UNAMID’s drawdown strategy, as per resolution 2429 (2018), so that all elements of the mission can exit by June 2020, he said.

Underlining that events in Sudan since December constitute an internal matter, he said that, in keeping with the Charter of the United Nations, there is no justification for the Council to discuss it. It is an exceptional situation that calls for the greatest caution so that all stakeholders can complete a smooth transition and democratic change, he said. The Secretariat must stick to its mandate when preparing its reports, he added. Going forward, Sudan has full confidence that the Council will take no initiatives that have negative repercussions, he said, describing Sudan’s revolution as a peaceful one that will bring the change that the Sudanese people want.

Mr. MAMABOLO, the Joint Special Representative of the African Union and the Secretary-General, took the floor again in response to questions from Council members. He explained that the clashes at the Kalma camp in South Darfur involved supporters and opponents of Abdul Wahid. UNAMID units on the scene gave first aid to the injured, engaged with community leaders and began mediation efforts to defuse the situation, he said. On whether events in Sudan will change the proposed timetable for UNAMID’s exit, he said that is up to the Council to decide on the basis of the upcoming strategic review.

For information media. Not an official record.

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Mounting concern over cholera health crisis in Yemen

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:50:54 +0000

Source: The Guardian
Country: Yemen

A major new cholera epidemic looms, exacerbated by the advent of rains and the difficulties for humanitarian workers in reaching conflict-hit areas, with no end to the violence in sight.

More than 2,000 new cases reported every day, with 25% of those affected being children under five

By Peter Beaumont

Yemen is facing a massive resurgence of cholera in what was already one of the world’s worst outbreaks, with more than 137,000 suspected cases and almost 300 deaths reported in the first three months of this year.

Read the full article on The Guardian.

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About 25,000 people displaced by ongoing hostilities in Libya

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:41:48 +0000

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Libya, World

UNHCR has transferred refugees from Abusliem detention centre in the conflict area. The aid community is still trying to ensure safe passage for civilians and medical supplies and services.

Highlights

• Heavy impact on the civilian population, as sustained fighting continues in and around Tripoli.
Displacement is now at the highest level since the crisis started

• UNHCR transferred vulnerable migrants and refugees from Abusliem detention centre in the conflict area. The humanitarian community maintains efforts to ensure safe passage for civilians and medical supplies and services

25,000 people internally displaced by ongoing hostilities

54 civilian casualties confirmed, including 14 civilian deaths

6,000 people assisted with some form of humanitarian assistance since onset of crisis

$190m current funding gap against the 2019 HRP

Situation Overview

Armed clashes, heavy artillery and airstrikes continued in multiple locations, including residential areas, in and around Tripoli. On 16 April late night shelling in various neighbourhoods of Tripoli, including Abusliem, Souq Jumaa and Hadbaa among others, killed six people, including four women, and wounded about 20, according to reliable but as yet unconfirmed sources.

If confirmed the number of civilian casualties verified since the start of hostilities is 80, including 20 killed.

The current reporting period marked the highest single-day increase in displacement, with more than 4,500 people newly displaced, bringing the total of IDPs to 25,000. Many civilians trapped in conflict areas face a dilemma of not knowing whether to remain in their homes or leave because of the uncertainty of clashes and shelling. This dilemma is further exacerbated because the supply of food and other essentials is running low in some neighborhoods.

The current conflict is set against a backdrop of vulnerability due to several years of conflict, socio-economic crisis and deficiencies in public services which has already left at least 820,000 people, including some 250,000 children, in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

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How education and children's futures were battered by Cyclone Idai

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 08:59:11 +0000

Source: Theirworld
Country: Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe

Theirworld provides an in-depth look at how the deadly storm and flooding have disrupted the schooling of half a million children in southeast Africa - and the efforts to rebuild.

Ewan Watt, Online Editor, Theirworld

An in-depth look at how the deadly storm and flooding have disrupted the schooling of half a million children in southeast Africa - and the efforts to rebuild.

First comes the shock and the terror. Then the fight for survival - to find food, water and shelter, and to avoid diseases.

But in the wake of a natural disaster, children very quickly need protection and education. Being in a safe learning environment with other youngsters is crucial if they are to begin to recover from the trauma.

Children who are out for school for a long time after a disaster are in danger of falling prey to child labour, early marriage, trafficking and other risks. Many will never return to education.

It's a scenario repeated over and over as communities around the world fall victim to floods, earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

"Nearly 40 million children a year have their education interrupted by natural disasters such as earthquakes and disease outbreaks," said Theirworld's recent report Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis.

"The impacts on children and young people’s education can be profound, with the poorest and most marginalised, including girls, most at risk. The devastation is often most severe and long-lasting in contexts where education capacity and resources are already low."

However, the report warned, "education is rarely a core focus in emergency responses". It added: "The rebuilding of school infrastructure is often considered a secondary priority, resulting in children being educated in temporary learning centres for years after the event."

What happens when disaster strikes?

The latest big-scale natural disaster was Cyclone Idai, described by the United Nations as "one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere". It struck southeast Africa a month ago, causing massive devastation and flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

More than two million people - 1.8 million of them in Mozambique - were affected, thousands lost their homes and the death toll stands at over 1,000. Thousands of classrooms were damaged or destroyed and half a million children have had their education disrupted.

"For children affected by Cyclone Idai, the road to recovery will be long," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. "They will need to regain access to health, education, water and sanitation. And they will need to heal from the deep trauma they have just experienced."

Here we look at how Cyclone Idai has affected education in those three countries and what efforts are underway to get children back into safe schools as quickly as possible.

Emergency education aid

More than 500,000 children and youth will get emergency education thanks to a $14 million funding package. Half of that will come from Education Cannot Wait - the fund for education in emergencies - $5.2 million from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development and $2 million from the organisation Dubai Cares.

“A sudden and unexpected natural disaster of this magnitude causes immense human suffering. For a child or adolescent, the losses are especially devastating,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

“Unless education services are given priority, the suffering will be prolonged and cause deeper disruption and trauma in their lives."

Psychosocial support

It's not just about providing education. Making children feel safe and able to cope with their trauma is crucial too.

"When the situation is terrible, like Cyclone Idai, education can give children a sense of normalcy," Kenji Ohira - UNICEF Education Specialist in Maputo, Mozambique - told Their News.

"UNICEF, through Save the Children, is providing psychosocial support training to teachers who would take care of their students. While the scale is not large enough in the medium term, we are planning to expand this support."

Maria Waade, Save the Children’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Specialist in Mozambique, said: “We are extremely concerned about the long-term wellbeing for the children in the aftermath of this devastating cyclone.

"Seeing everything you love and know being destroyed in the blink of an eye is a horrific experience that no child should have to live through - and the impact will be felt by children long after the floodwaters recede."

Mozambique: situation report

  • 600 schools destroyed, 3,504 classrooms damaged or destroyed, according to the government and Education Cluster.

  • 335,000 children have had their education disrupted as a result of the cyclone.

Celina, 14, wants to be back at school with her friends. The irony is that, after her family home was destroyed by the cyclone, she is living temporarily at a school in the city of Beira. Thousands like her are sheltering in those schools that survived.

“I want to go back to school. I wish I could be at home with my friends," she said. "I don’t know how things will be in the future. They want to move us out of the school so classrooms can restart and we don’t know where we will go.”

UNICEF is helping to provide emergency education in the aftermath of the cyclone and flooding.

"In the short term, UNICEF and other partners are providing educational supplies such as learners' kits, school-in-a kit, early childhood development (ECD) kits, chalkboards etc," said UNICEF's Ohira. "This is along with temporary learning centres.

"We are expecting to reach at least 107,000 children through these supports. However, this is only a third of affected children, based on the education ministry’s estimated figure - so UNICEF and partners are doing their best to mobilise funds to reach as many affected children as possible."

Tarpaulin classrooms are seen as a temporary measure and work will need to begin on more permanent solutions within a few months. Even those schools and classrooms that were not badly damaged will need to be cleaned and disinfected before children can resume lessons.

"It is not only children who suffered. So did teachers," added Ohira. "One cannot forget teachers. UNICEF is proposing the education ministry and donors include short-term financial support for affected teachers to help them re-establish their own lives and get back to school.

"The country has already been struggling with low learning achievement. Only 4.9% of Grade 3 students can read and 7.7% can do basic calculations. The ongoing disaster will not help and the dropout rate may increase."

The charity World Vision is also establishing temporary learning spaces so children whose schools are damaged or used as shelters can continue to be educated.

Carey Lodge, World Vision UK Media Manager, went to Mozambique to assess the situation after the cyclone. She told Their News: "In some areas schools are still functional but conditions are poor. Classes are being held in classrooms without roofs and or under trees.

“In Beira, the worst hit area in Mozambique, the government needs funding to repair school infrastructures and replace equipment for teachers and students. Unfortunately it’s a challenge to say how long this will take, as there is so much to be done.”

World Vision has set up a child-friendly space at a primary school in Beira.

"It's wonderful to see children playing, singing, playing sport and to hear so much laughter,” said Frieda Mwebe, World Vision's Child Protection Specialist. "The displaced children have been through so much hardship, so being able to offer this place to children means they can forget about their troubles for a few hours."

Caritas - the organisation of Catholic relief and development agencies - talked to teacher Veronica Mavundo in Beira. Her third-grade classroom was destroyed.

She said: “When I got here, it was worse than I feared - there was so much water. The classrooms were filled with water. It was overwhelming. Even all of our teacher residences have been destroyed.

“We will start teaching outside until the roofs of the other buildings are complete. It’s difficult to teach outside. We won’t have our blackboards, our maps, our clipboards. But it is a new experience we have to face.”

Aid workers in Mozambique are particularly worried about orphaned children and those separated from their families.

Rik Goverde from Save the Children said: "Children are out there on their own - without the supervision or care of a trustworthy adult. They can easily fall victim to sexual violence or human trafficking. We are aware and very concerned about it."

Zimbabwe: situation report

  • 139 schools damaged but reports have still to come in, said UNICEF.

  • 90,000 children are having their education disrupted.

Schools are currently closed for the holidays. But UNICEF is helping to ensure damaged classrooms are ready to open when the new term begins on May 8.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is also setting up temporary classrooms and getting ready to distribute learning materials.

“Tents have been procured to establish safe learning spaces where classrooms have been damaged. Teaching and learning materials including text books, along with early childhood development and recreational kits, have been ordered and will arrive soon," said Denise Shepherd-Johnson, UNICEF Zimbabwe's Chief of Communications in the capital Harare.

"Psychosocial materials have been developed by the ministry with support from UNICEF to be used by teachers in the classroom. Support to counselling for children and teachers is being provided.”

The UN agency is also working with the government and civil society organisations to coordinate child protection services.

“World Vision will train teachers and pastors on psychosocial support so that they provide care and support for those affected by the cyclone," said Carey Lodge. This will be done through a grant funded by Education Cannot Wait.

“Schools damaged by the cyclone will need to be repaired, and furniture and teaching and learning materials replaced. There are a number of risks - children are more vulnerable to abuses due to the breakdown of family structures and the lack of food and other necessities.”

Malawi: situation report

  • 104 schools hosting people displaced by floods.

  • 77,134 children out of school, according to government figures.

UNICEF has provided tents, school-in-a box kits and recreation kits to provide safe learning spaces for children whose schools have been damaged or occupied by displaced people.

The agency said over 170 schools are affected (flooded or occupied) in Chikwawa, Phalombe, Nsanje and Zomb districts. This has resulted in overcrowded or non-operational schools, affecting an estimated 77,000 students.

World Vision will establish temporary learning spaces in the same way that it's doing in Mozambique. The charity is also conducting awareness campaigns on ending child marriage as one way of keeping children - especially girls - safe until their learning resumes.

“In any crisis of this nature where schooling is disrupted, there is a risk that children and families will turn to negative coping strategies," said Carey Lodge.

"These can include early marriage, the use of substances and the development of negative social groups. Education is a lifesaving intervention as it provides immediate protection to children by providing them a safe space to spend time and learn.”

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Progress against torture in Afghan detention centres, but Government needs to do more, says UN report

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 07:34:42 +0000

Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Country: Afghanistan

The report cites a lack of legal safeguards to prevent torture, difficulties in gaining access to lawyers and the continued absence of accountability for perpetrators, with very limited referrals to prosecution.

AFGHANISTAN: PROGRESS IN TORTURE ERADICATION, BUT A LONG WAY TO GO

KABUL - In its latest report on the treatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan published today, the UN documents an encouraging reduction in the number of cases of torture since 2016 but notes its ongoing concern at the high number of detainees who continue to report torture and ill-treatment.

The joint report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office, issued on the first anniversary of Afghanistan’s accession to the Convention Against Torture’s Optional Protocol, finds that nearly a third of conflict-related detainees interviewed provided credible and reliable accounts of having been subject to torture or ill-treatment. The report is based on interviews with 618 detainees held in 77 facilities in 28 provinces across the country between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018.

The report acknowledges progress made by the Government in implementing Afghanistan’s National Plan on the Elimination of Torture, and highlights that this enforcement has had tangible results, with a reduction in torture or ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees across different security entities in the country.

Overall, among those in the custody of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, 32 percent based of the sample of the detainees reported torture and ill-treatment, compared to 39 percent over the previous reporting period (1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016). Notably, the reduction was more marked in 2018. In particular, within facilities of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the prevalence of torture and ill-treatment of those interviewed decreased from 29 per cent to 19 per cent in 2018. And among conflict-related detainees held by the Afghan National Police (ANP), the proportion of those who reported torture or ill-treatment fell from 45 per cent over the previous reporting period to 31 percent. Youngsters were at a higher risk of suffering mistreatment.

While the reduction in the number of cases is encouraging, the report notes that the “decline in use of torture or ill-treatment is not yet significant enough to indicate that the remedial measures taken are sufficient.” The most common form of torture and ill-treatment reported was beatings. The vast majority of detainees said they had been tortured or ill-treated to force them to confess and that the treatment stopped once they did so.

There are also major differences depending on the location of the detention facilities. While, on average, 31 percent of those ANP facilities reported torture or ill-treatment, the rate in the ANP facility in Kandahar was a very disturbing 77 per cent, including allegations of brutal forms of torture, such as suffocation, electric shocks, pulling of genitals and suspension from ceilings. Allegations of enforced disappearances in Kandahar also persisted during the reporting period.

While the report highlights significant improvements for the NDS facilities in Kandahar and Herat, the treatment of conflict-related detainees in some NDS facilities also remains of concern, particularly those located in Kabul, Khost and Samangan provinces, as well as by the NDS counter-terrorism department. The report also highlights instances of unlawful and arbitrary detention, including following mass arrests, by NDS Special Forces and the Khost Protection Force.

The report further raises concern about poor conditions of detention observed within the Afghan National Army-run Detention Facility in Parwan, including overcrowding, inadequate lighting, the use of solitary confinement as the sole disciplinary measure and restrictions on family visits and access to lawyers.

“We welcome the steps taken by the Government to prevent and investigate cases of torture and ill-treatment over the past two years. However, as our report illustrates, there is still a long way to go to eradicate this horrendous practice among conflict-related detainees,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Respect for the rule of law and human rights is the best way to create the conditions for sustainable peace.”

The report emphasizes violations and challenges in other areas, among them, legal limitations on the right of conflict-related detainees to judicial oversight; lack of implementation of key procedural and other legal safeguards to prevent torture (medical screening, access to lawyers, etc.); continued absence of accountability for perpetrators, with very limited referrals to prosecution; and lack of any meaningful possibility of obtaining an effective judicial or administrative remedy.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the report’s findings demonstrate that the policies put in place to combat torture and ill-treatment were having effect – but they were far from sufficient.

“A year ago, on this day, the Government of Afghanistan committed itself to the prevention of torture by acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture,” Bachelet said.

“I urge the Government to work swiftly to create a National Preventive Mechanism to ensure independent, impartial scrutiny of the treatment of detainees. A well-resourced watchdog of this sort, which is able to make unannounced visits to places of detention and raise awareness of what constitutes torture and ill-treatment according to international human rights law, can go a long way towards the ultimate goal of fully eradicating torture.”

The status and treatment of conflict-related detainees held by Anti-Government Elements is not covered by the report.

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Un año después del inicio de la crisis en Nicaragua, más de 60.000 personas se han visto forazadas a huir del país

Tue, 16 Apr 2019 15:30:19 +0000

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Costa Rica, Nicaragua

Entre estos solicitantes de asilo hay estudiantes, antiguos funcionarios, líderes de la oposición, periodistas, médicos, defensores de derechos humanos y agricultores. Asimismo, un gran número de ellos llega con necesidad de recibir atención sanitaria, apoyo psicológico, alojamiento y ayuda alimentaria.

El siguiente contenido corresponde a las declaraciones formuladas hoy por un portavoz de ACNUR en una rueda de prensa en el Palacio de las Naciones, en Ginebra.

Un año después del inicio de la crisis politica y social en Nicaragua, alrededor de 62.000 personas han huido a países vecinos, de las cuales la inmensa mayoría (unos 55.000) ha buscado refugio en Costa Rica.

Muchas de esas personas han atravesado las fronteras de manera irregular –principalmente en el marco de un flujo de refugiados- y, con el fin de evitar ser detectados, a menudo han optado por emprender el periplo a pie, caminando durante horas por terrenos difíciles, expuestos al calor, la humedad y al riesgo de contraer la malaria. Si bien al inicio quienes cruzaban esta frontera eran principalmente adultos, actualmente entre quienes huyen también hay familias, con niños pequeños inclusive.

En marzo de 2019, unos 29.500 nicaragüenses habían presentado formalmente una solicitud de asilo en Costa Rica, de acuerdo a la autoridad migratoria del país. No obstante, dado que el sistema de acogida se encuentra desbordado, hay otras 26.000 personas a la espera de poder formalizar sus solicitudes.

Entre estos solicitantes de asilo hay estudiantes, antiguos funcionarios, líderes de la oposición, periodistas, médicos, defensores de derechos humanos y agricultores. Asimismo, un gran número de ellos llega con necesidad de recibir atención sanitaria, apoyo psicológico, alojamiento y ayuda alimentaria.

Tanto la oficina de la ONU para los Derechos Humanos como la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) han expresado su preocupación en relación al deterioro de la situación en Nicaragua desde el mes de abril de 2018, denunciando graves violaciones de derechos humanos contra las personas que participaron en las manifestaciones antigubernamentales y contra aquellas que les dieron apoyo.

ACNUR, la Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados, acoge positivamente los esfuerzos de Costa Rica para permitir que las personas entren en su territorio y tengan acceso al procedimiento de asilo.Estos esfuerzos son aún más encomiables dada la considerable presión bajo la que se encuentran su sistema de asilo y las comunidades locales.

ACNUR está brindando apoyo al gobierno para mejorar las condiciones de acogida y reducir el tiempo necesario para tramitar las solicitudes de las nuevas llegadas. Para ello, la Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados ha puesto a disposición de las autoridades nacionales 30 personas para estudiar los casos, formación, instalaciones y equipamiento, con el objetivo de reforzar la capacidad de la Unidad de Refugio del gobierno, tanto en la capital, San José, como en nuestra oficina situada en Upala, cerca de la frontera, abierta desde diciembre de 2018. ACNUR también ha apoyado el despliegue de personal de organizaciones socias en la frontera y en San José para facilitar la puesta en marcha de una respuesta integral en coordinacion con las autoridades estatales.

En Costa Rica la educación primaria es universal y está abierta a todos los niños y niñas, independientemente de su situación jurídica. ACNUR ha ayudado a las escuelas situadas a lo largo de la frontera norte a absober la llegada de alumnos nicaragüenses, proporcionando pupitres, sillas y material escolar.

Sin una solución política para las crisis en Nicaragua, lo más probale es que la gente continue abandonando el país. Se necesitan fondos de forma urgente para reforzar la respuesta humanitaria de ACNUR, de forma que los solicitantes de asilo en mayor situación de necesidad puedan acceder a la ayuda, en lugar de tener que recurrir a trabajos informales para poder pagar el alquiler y la comida, que actualmente se encuentran a unos precios muy fuera de su alcance.

ACNUR está desarrollando, en colaboración con otros socios de la ONU, un plan de respuesta humanitaria interinstitucional para poder dar apoyo al gobierno para abordar las necesidades más inmediantas de los solicitantes de asilo, cada vez más vulnerables, y de las comunidades de acogida.

Para mayor información sobre este tema, por favor contacte:
En Costa Rica, Jean Pierre Mora, moraj@unhcr.org, +506 85 57 12 72
En Ginebra, Liz Throssell, throssel@unhcr.org, +41 79 337 7591

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