ReliefWeb - Headlines

ReliefWeb - Headlines

ReliefWeb - Headlines

More child soldiers to be released in South Sudan

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 19:18:28 +0000

Source: Catholic Medical Mission Board
Country: South Sudan

On February 12th, 119 child and adolescents soldiers – 48 girls and 71 boys – will be released in a ceremony in Gbudue State. This is the fifth wave of these releases.

On Tuesday, February 12th, 119 children and adolescents – 48 girls and 71 boys – formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups will be released in a ceremony in Gbudue State, South Sudan. This is the fifth wave of these releases.

CMMB continues to work closely with Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (DDR), Ministry of Education, Gender and Social Welfare, UNICEF, UNMISS, World Food Program, Food and Agricultural Organization, and World Vision to support the children from the moment of release to their reunification and reintegration into communities.

The event includes the verification of children by the DDR and issuance of certificates. The children then meet with social workers who conduct family tracing and psycho-social support (i.e. basic counseling), before children receive a medical screening and educational assessment.

CMMB will be responsible for case management after the release, a process whereby each child is assigned a social worker who visits their homes or places of residence and conducts comprehensive assessments which help identify protection concerns for each child. After the assessment, a joint plan of action is developed by the social worker, child, and family on how to meet the identified needs. This includes referring the child to various agencies that provide the specific required services – including nutrition, education, psycho-social services, and livelihood and vocational training. CMMB will provide counseling, follow-up visits, and ensure children are connected to the various services required both within CMMB and through other local partners.

If you are interested in speaking with our head of child protection, Catherine Onkware to learn more about our work on the ground and the challenges and joys of this work, please contact Laura Manni (lmanni@cmmb.org, 212.612.2579).

Child Soldiers

The global commitment to end the use of children in armed conflict led to the release and reintegration of more than 5,000 children in 2017, but tens of thousands of boys and girls are still being recruited, kidnapped, and forced to fight or work for military groups or armed forces at “alarming rates” according to the United Nations.

About CMMB – Healthier Lives Worldwide

CMMB (Catholic Medical Mission Board) is a global humanitarian organization with more than 100 years of experience in delivering the best possible health solutions to women, children, and communities living in poverty. To learn more, visit cmmb.org.

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One in five people in Central African Republic is currently displaced or a refugee

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 16:55:18 +0000

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Central African Republic

2.9 million people (63% of the population) will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019, making CAR the third largest humanitarian crisis in the world.

Highlights

  • In 2018, UNICEF and partners treated 32,232 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), the highest number of admissions reported, and a 15 per cent increase over 2017; the national nutrition survey (SMART) preliminary results released in December show that 10 of the country’s 16 prefectures have a SAM rate exceeding the 2% emergency threshold.

  • The RRM reached 237,131 people with NFIs and 162,573 with WASH in 2018, almost twice as many as in 2017; these results reflect the deteriorating humanitarian situation in CAR, as well as robust donor support (over 100% funding against the original appeal).

  • With UNICEF support in 2018, 88,327 crisis-affected children accessed quality education in 296 temporary learning spaces (TLS) countrywide.

  • 913 children including 242 girls were released from armed groups over the same period.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

Despite peacebuilding efforts, the Central African Republic (CAR) is bogged down in a cycle of violence, which in 2018 has continued spreading, including to areas considered relatively stable, increasing humanitarian needs. One in five people is currently displaced or a refugee, while 2.9 million people (63 per cent of the population), will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019, according to OCHA. This is a 16 per cent increase over 2018, and CAR is therefore the third largest humanitarian crisis in the world, after Yemen and Syria, in terms of the proportion of the total population in need of humanitarian assistance. Among those affected are about 1.5 million children, and 1.6 million people have acute and immediate humanitarian needs. CAR ranks 188th out of 189 countries on UNDP’s Human Development Index.

Abuses and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have continued to be perpetrated in a context of impunity, exacerbating tensions in several areas of the country. An average of more than 1,000 protection incidents per month were reported.

Infrastructure destruction, clashes between armed groups, attacks against the civilian population, and incidents against humanitarian actors have affected humanitarian access and operations. The number of incidents against humanitarian actors increased to 396 in 2018 (more than one per day)3 . Six humanitarian workers were killed and 21 others injured.

The persistence of conflicts has forced more than one million Central Africans to leave their homes. As of November 2018, 648,5004 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 576,9265 refugees in the neighbouring countries were reported.

More than half of the displaced persons are children. In 2018, an increasing number of unaccompanied and separated (UASC)) children (704) were identified as a result of forced population displacements.

1.9 million Central Africans, or 40% of the population, experience food insecurity (2018 IPC phases 3 & 4). Only 54 per cent of the households use a source of drinking water, 34 per cent practice open defecation because of the low coverage of sanitation services. Due to the collapse of state structures over a large part of the country following the 2013 conflict, the humanitarian community has to continue to supplement the State in terms of provision of essential services.

Finally, chronic underfunding continues to affect the ability of humanitarian actors to respond to the ever-increasing needs. Although an increase over 2017, the 2018 HRP was still only 49% funded.

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Nigerian refugees struggle in aftermath of Boko Haram attacks

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 13:34:42 +0000

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Cameroon, Nigeria

UNHCR calls for urgent support for more than 35,000 people who fled a surge in militant attacks, and now face acute needs in Cameroon’s remote desert north.

UNHCR calls for urgent support for more than 35,000 people who fled a surge in militant attacks, and now face acute needs in Cameroon’s remote desert north.

By Vania Turner, Walter Kigali, Clement Kolopp and Xavier Bourgois in Goura, Cameroon. | 11 February 2019

When Boko Haram militants stormed into her hometown, heavily pregnant Nigerian mother Mariam Adoum dropped everything and ran for her life.Four days after she reached this desert town across the border in neighbouring Cameroon, she gave birth in a flimsy tent in a makeshift refugee camp, and wonders how she will care for the baby.

“It’s so difficult to have a child here. I’m scared,” she says. “We came with nothing. We need milk and proper shelter. My baby will grow up here. We don’t have a choice.”

Mariam is among 35,000 women, children and men who have fled a surge of attacks by Boko Haram in recent days in and around Rann, in Nigeria’s restive Borno State, many streaming into Goura in Cameroon’s Makary District.

When the gunfire broke out, elderly resident Fanne Gambo started to run, and did not look back as neighbours fell around her.

“We could hear gunshots behind us ... I saw corpses lying here and there, people being killed.”

“We could hear gunshots behind us,” she says shortly after arriving in this desert settlement. “I did not really see what was happening, I only saw corpses lying here and there, people being killed.”

Violence has been ongoing in northeast Nigeria since the Boko Haram insurgency erupted in 2009, forcing more than 2.5 million people from their homes within the Lake Chad Basin in a desperate search for safety.

As the insurgency grinds on, thousands have been displaced several times within Nigeria itself, while thousands of others like Blama Tchama, have sought safety over the border on numerous occasions.

“We have been to Cameroon seven times and each time, we are sent back to Nigeria. But this time around, we are here to stay … There is no security where we are coming from,” she laments.

Her most recent escape came after the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) which came to secure the city after an attack on January 14 withdrew, leaving residents to face militants, armed with rifles and rocket launchers.

“They tried to defend themselves on their own. But how could they, with their outdated bows and arrows against heavily armed fighters?” Blama asks.

The MNJTF, which includes forces from Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Benin, aims at countering Boko Haram and preventing other insurgent groups from gaining ground across the Lake Chad region.

“In this remote and desert environment, the needs are tremendously great in number.”

The vast majority of the recent arrivals fled during a single weekend, 26-27 January, crossing the El-Beid River en masse, some with a few belongings packed on to donkey carts, others carrying them on their heads.

“In this remote and desert environment, the needs are tremendously great in number,” says Geert Van de Casteele, the assistant representative in Cameroon for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, who travelled to Goura to meet new arrivals and assess their needs.

“It is about providing healthcare, food, water and medical assistance and to rapidly find resources with which to construct temporary shelter in a region characterised by particularly rough climate conditions,” he adds.

Together with the UN Development Programme and other partners, UNHCR has launched an appeal for US$135 million to help the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the worsening Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin region.

Urgent action is needed in order to support the small West African nation, which already hosts 400,000 refugees, including some 135,000 Nigerians.

“People here make it clear to us they do not want to return to Rann, which has come under attack at least four times since September 2018,” Van de Casteele says. “They no longer feel safe, and it is on us today to offer them the protection they have a right to,” he adds. Last month, UNHCR expressed alarm at reports of the forced return by Cameroon of several thousands refugees into violence-affected Borno state.

Among those who fears she will never be safe in northern Nigeria is mother-of-four Amma Zarama Hamat, who lost her first-born son to Boko Haram violence two years ago, and has lived amid violence for the past eight years.

“They regularly come to take everything we have. They take our food, they take everything we own, and leave,” she says. “I can’t ever go back there. I barely escaped with my life. I lost my first-born son. Now I’m here and I can’t leave. I will die here in Cameroon.”

“I can’t ever go back there. I barely escaped with my life.”

Gaelle Massack, UNHCR External Relations officer in Cameroon hopes and prays that the needs of all the refugees, in all sectors, will be met.

“After having witnessed so much suffering, and after seeing the hope that they’re desperately clinging onto, we’re only thinking of one thing: To see them stand on their own two feet again, And have a better life, than the one they left behind in Nigeria.”

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DRC Ebola crisis could continue for another six months

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 12:02:15 +0000

Source: Save the Children
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Save the Children warns the death toll could rise as the number of new cases spiked in January, from 20 a week to more than 40. Of the 97 children killed, 65 were younger than five.

Deadly virus outbreak in DRC could last for at least another six months, Save the Children warns

KINSHASA – Almost one hundred children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have lost their lives to the Ebola virus since the outbreak started in August last year. Save the Children warns the death toll could be set to rise as the number of new cases spiked in January, from around 20 a week to more than 40. Of the 97 children who lost their lives, 65 were younger than five years old.

The DRC is battling the second largest Ebola-outbreak in history. Over the last six months, at least 785[i] people were believed to be infected with the virus (731 confirmed cases), of which 484 people died – 60 percent of them women. In the last three weeks of January alone, there were some 120 new cases.

The insecurity and violence in the east of the country combined with the fear and suspicion in some communities, make it difficult to contain the outbreak.

Heather Kerr, Save the Children’s Country Director in the DRC, said:

“We are at a crossroads. If we don’t take urgent steps to contain this, the outbreak might last another six months, if not the whole year. The DRC is a country suffering from violence and conflict and an extreme hunger crisis—some 4.6 million children are acutely malnourished[ii]. The main concerns for many people are safety and making sure they have enough to eat. But Ebola has to be a priority too.”

Ms. Kerr continued: “It is paramount to convince communities that Ebola is an urgent and real concern. People have disturbed funerals as they didn’t believe the deceased had succumbed to the virus. Aid workers were threatened as it was believed they spread Ebola. We have to scale up our efforts to reach out to the vocal youth and community leaders to build trust and to help us turn this tide. Treating the people who are sick is essential, but stopping Ebola from spreading further is just as important.”

Save the Children is supporting the fight against the Ebola outbreak by raising awareness among communities in the hardest-hit Beni region.

Marie-Claire Mbombo, a Child Protection officer for Save the Children, said:

“One young boy told me that his parents never spoke about the virus at home, it was a taboo, and that made him afraid. After a big awareness campaign, they started talking and he’s less afraid now that they know how to avoid it.”

“Many children are being left alone [because of the virus] for different reasons. In some cases their parents are at the hospital, or working in the field, other children were orphaned. Children left alone are at increased risk of sexual abuse, or of having to work. Some of them are selling peanuts by the side of the road to get by. We support parents and communities on how to prevent the disease, but also how to make sure children are safe.”

To curb the virus, Save the Children deployed its Emergency Health Unit to train local health workers. The organisation also raises awareness of the virus, including in health centres—42 of which are close to Goma, the largest town in the region, to help stop the virus from reaching this large urban area. It also sends out teams to raise awareness in rural communities—including training community leaders to recognise symptoms and support community-based surveillance—and to help trace people that might have come into contact with the virus.

So far, Save the Children has reached almost 400,000 people in the DRC with information on how to recognise the symptoms of Ebola and how to prevent it. As there remains a threat of cases spreading across the border to Uganda, where refugees from the DRC continue to arrive daily, Save the Children has trained more than 1,000 health workers, volunteers, teachers, village health teams and laboratory staff in Uganda on key steps to preventing and mitigating the spread.

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Child soldier levels more than doubled since 2012; exploitation of girls rising

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 09:27:05 +0000

Source: Child Soldiers International
Country: World

New analysis ahead of the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers reveals a 159% rise while the number of girls associated with armed groups was four times higher than in 2017.
London, 11 February 2019

The number of children used in armed conflict around the world has more than doubled since 2012 with a 159% rise and almost 30,000 recruitment cases verified, new analysis ahead of International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers reveals.

Child Soldiers International’s analysis of the most recent UN annual reports on Children and Armed Conflict, covering 2012 to 2017, reveals a total of 29,128 verified cases of child recruitment in 17 countries with an upward trend: the 2018 report, covering the year 2017, details 8,185 verified cases in 15 countries – a 159% rise on the 2013 report, which details 3,159 cases in 12 countries during 2012.

The exploitation of girls is rising too. Girls associated with armed groups and forces totalled 893 in the 2018 report; four times more than the 216 recorded in 2017.

However, as girls are largely used in ‘support’ roles and kept away from frontlines, they are not often perceived as associated by armed actors or communities. Consequently, they can fall outside official statistics and go unseen by child protection agencies - and thus this number is likely far higher.

Ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and persistent unrest in Somalia, South Sudan, DR Congo, Central African Republic and elsewhere are all leaving children increasingly exposed to recruitment. Boys and girls are routinely being used as fighters and at checkpoints, as informants, to loot villages and as domestic and sexual slaves.

Report data also shows a 40% increase in sexual violence; 951 cases or incidents were verified globally in the 2018 report compared to 679 in 2013. The latest report exposes how girls aged seven were raped in Myanmar, in Somalia they were assaulted when collecting firewood and 13 girls in South Sudan were gang-raped by armed actors.

The data is distressing but only represents the tip of the iceberg.

Improvements in verification methods are likely in part responsible for the rise and while numbers are not absolute due to difficulties of data collection in conflict zones, the figures show child exploitation is being increasingly observed in today’s global conflicts.

On International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers (12 February), we call on all actors to take urgent action to stem these shocking trends. From affected communities to central governments and UN Headquarters, resources must be prioritised to facilitate the protection and release of children and crucially, deliver sustainable support for those freed.

There has been positive news in recent months. The UN facilitated the release of more than 900 children in South Sudan in 2018, Nigeria’s Civilian Joint Task Force released 833 children in October, while December saw 56 boys released from the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Yet much more work is needed. The UN has backed calls for additional funding and described providing reintegration assistance to children as ‘mission impossible’ with current resources. It is estimated that of over 55,000 children since 2013 freed only 70% received support. As countless more children escape armed groups and armed forces independently, that percentage is likely to be much lower.

In 2015-2018, 17,141 children were formally released in DR Congo, according to new UNICEF data shared with Child Soldiers International in January. However, only 8,043 children (2,394 girls) have been enrolled in UNICEF support programmes since January 2015. Although this has increased by 22% over the period, the disparity in releases and reintegration support points to the challenges of delivering assistance to returning children.

Yet to reverse these trends, measures must be taken to improve prevention and assistance at the community level. Ultimately, families and communities are on the front line of prevention and cure, and our efforts must be driven by affected communities and their returning children – it cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. In doing so, we will be more effective in preventing future recruitment and giving formerly associated children the opportunity to move forward with their lives.

Isabelle Guitard, Child Soldiers International Director, said: “Child recruitment is among the most desperate human rights issues of our time. These statistics alone are shocking and probably only scratch the surface on the true scale of child exploitation by armed actors around the world. It is critical the world doesn’t turn a blind eye to this ongoing abuse and that local and international resources are amplified and combined to tackle it more effectively.”

Virginia Gamba, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said: “The reintegration of former child soldiers into their communities requires long-term commitment and extensive support from the international community. To address the urgent gaps and needs of current reintegration programmes, my Office in collaboration with UNICEF has launched the Global Coalition for Reintegration of Former Child Soldiers. We want to explore ways to ensure that every boy and girl released receives the best support possible wherever they are.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Child Soldiers International is a human rights organisation based in London. The organisation works to end the military recruitment and use of children through international advocacy, campaigns and in-country projects. For more information: www.child-soldiers.org.

Statistics are based on analysis of the UN Secretary-General’s Children and Armed Conflict Annual Reports from 2013 to 2018. The numbers do not represent absolute counts on child recruitment but are indicative of global trends. The numbers only relate to verified recruitment cases and exclude other non-verified cases referenced in the reports. In total, 23 countries are named as having recruited children over the period.

Contact: Chris Matthews at cmatthews@child-soldiers.org / +44 207 324 4641

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Food for millions in Yemen at risk of rotting in key Red Sea port, warns UN

Mon, 11 Feb 2019 06:16:30 +0000

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen
Country: Yemen

Desperately needed food aid for millions of Yemenis “is at risk of rotting” in a key Red Sea storage facility because conditions are too unsafe to reach it, UN Special Envoy and UN Emergency relief chief said on Monday.

SPECIAL ENVOY OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR YEMEN MARTIN GRIFFITH and UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS AND EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR MARK LOWCOCK

The urgency of United Nations access to the Red Sea Mills in Hodeida is growing by the day.

The World Food Programme (WFP) grain stored in the mills - enough to feed 3.7 million people for a month - has been inaccessible for over five months and is at risk of rotting. At the same time, the United Nations is in the process of scaling up to provide food assistance to nearly 12 million people across Yemen who struggle to meet their daily food needs. Our main concern is for their survival and well-being.

We are encouraged by recent engagement of all sides, working with the United Nations on the ground, to create the necessary conditions for the team to reach the mills without further delay. We acknowledge the confirmation from Ansar Allah of their commitment to implement the Hodeida Agreement. We appreciate their earlier efforts to re-open the road leading to the mills which have been carried out under difficult and dangerous circumstances.

We emphasize that ensuring access to the mills is a shared responsibility among the parties to the conflict in Yemen. With safe, unfettered and sustained access, the United Nations can make this urgently needed food available to people in need. 11 February 2019

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Up to 25,000 Venezuelans cross the Colombian border every day

Sun, 10 Feb 2019 03:50:34 +0000

Source: Action Against Hunger USA
Country: Colombia, Peru, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Although many people return in the day, the permanent arrival of an estimated 90,000 people a month puts pressure on the area. There are more than one million Venezuelans in Colombia.

The flow of Venezuelans at the northeastern Colombian border city of Cúcuta is constant.

“People come to buy food, medicines, hygiene items and basic goods, or to sell jewelry and other small technological goods - many women are even selling their hair,” says Luis Fernando Ramírez, project coordinator for Action Against Hunger in the department of Norte de Santander.

Although many people return in the day, the permanent arrival of an estimated 90,000 people every month puts a constant pressure on the area. There are currently more than one million Venezuelans in Colombia.

"We are also talking about an area where armed groups continue to operate, so it is a doubly affected area," Ramirez adds.

32 DAYS ON FOOT TO PERU

"Many people enter the country through the city of Cúcuta in order to reach Rumichaca and then their final destination is Peru,” explains Ramírez.

“Walking this route is 32 days on the road. At first we detected that there were about 20-30 people per day. Now there are around 200 or 300 people daily. The number of children making this route has increased, as well as vulnerable pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The migrants also face the risk of trafficking and hunger along the way."

Ramírez also warns of the problem of unregistered migrants: “These are people who are leaving Venezuela in very difficult situations, who often do not have legal documentation. Sometimes people are afraid because they think that these documents are going to be used to investigate them or that they may suffer reprisals because this information is recorded.”

NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND PREGNANT WOMEN

During 2018 alone, Action Against Hunger treated 189 cases of children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the area.

"In addition to the problems of malnutrition and anaemia, there is a desperate need for basic sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as cash to rent a room or buy food,” explains Benedetta Lettera, regional manager for Action Against Hunger in Latin America.

“Our teams, present in Colombia since 1998, are redoubling their efforts to address the crisis in the departments of Guajira and north of Santander, as well as in Peru, and we are finalising a humanitarian response to support migrants in other places such as Nariño and Bogotá,” she adds.

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More than 13.5 million children now uprooted in Africa

Sat, 09 Feb 2019 00:01:00 +0000

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Ethiopia, Rwanda, World, Zambia

UNICEF urges AU leaders to work together to address the negative drivers of irregular migration and respond to the needs of uprooted children across the continent.

On eve of African Union Summit, UNICEF urges African States to lead in the protection and empowerment of uprooted children

Download the UNICEF data snapshot, photos and b-roll here: https://uni.cf/2EktmCU

NEW YORK/ADDIS ABABA, 9 February 2019 - At least 13.5 million uprooted children in Africa - including those living as refugees, migrants or internally displaced - need strengthened national actions, and regional and international cooperation between states to uphold their rights, keep them safe and help them fulfil their potential. Ahead of the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, UNICEF urges AU leaders to work together to address the negative drivers of irregular migration and respond to the needs of uprooted children across the continent.

"The majority of African migrants move within Africa, and while much of this movement of people is normal and regular, negative root causes remain major drivers of irregular migration across the continent," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "Each day, children and families facing violence, poverty or the ravages of climate change make the painful decision to leave their homes in search of safety and a more hopeful future. Addressing these root causes will help reduce the need for families and children to leave in the first place."

Nearly one in four migrants in Africa is a child, more than twice the global average, and 59 per cent of the 6.8 million refugees in African countries are children. Africa's population of uprooted children includes:

  • 6.5 million international migrants, including 4 million refugees;
  • 7 million internally displaced.

At the upcoming summit, the AU is launching its year of refugees, returnees, and internally displaced persons - a regional effort to support those driven from their homes by conflict and violence, persecution, climate change, poverty, a lack of educational opportunities, and those seeking family reunification.

In addition to addressing the negative drivers of irregular migration, UNICEF is calling on African governments to implement policies and programmes to protect, empower and invest in refugee, migrant and displaced children.

"At the upcoming summit, AU leaders have a tremendous opportunity to show the rest of the world a better way by strengthening protection and support for uprooted children," said Fore. "Some countries in the region have already made great strides through the implementation of national protection guidelines, investing in alternatives to migration detention for children, or passing laws to end child statelessness and help uprooted children access services. Now, we need to see those efforts scaled up across the continent through real investment and action."

In some cases, governments are already taking concrete actions and there are many promising initiatives at regional, national and local levels throughout the continent in partnership with civil society, the private sector, multi-lateral partners and young people themselves. Some of these positive examples include:

  • Zambia's Guidelines for Protection Assistance to Vulnerable Migrants prevent unaccompanied children from being placed in detention centres;
  • Rwanda has included protections against statelessness for children in its national code; and
  • Ethiopia has updated legislation to ensure refugee children have access to essential services like education.

UNICEF is also urging AU governments to work together to collect and share better, timely and accessible data and evidence, disaggregated by age and gender, that will improve understanding of how migration and forced displacement affect children and their families.

As part of the African Agenda for Action for Children and Young People Uprooted, UNICEF is calling on governments to:

  • Protect children on the move from violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking;
  • Strengthen transnational protection responses;
  • End the immigration detention of children;
  • Keep families together and give children legal status;
  • Keep every migrant and displaced child learning and give them access to health and other quality services without discrimination based on their legal status;
  • Address the underlying causes that uproot children from their homes; and
  • Promote measures to combat xenophobia and marginalization.

###

About UNICEF

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

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit http://www.unicef.org.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Tidey, UNICEF New York, +1 917 340 3017, ctidey@unicef.org

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La ayuda humanitaria que está en la frontera debe entrar a Venezuela

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 20:03:12 +0000

Source: UN News Service
Country: Colombia, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Las Naciones Unidas han pedido este viernes que toda la ayuda posible llegue a los venezolanos, incluyendo la que se encuentra en la frontera con Colombia.

Las Naciones Unidas consideran que lo importante es que llegue la mayor cantidad de ayuda posible a los venezolanos que la necesitan, con independencia de las consideraciones políticas. Además, expertos en derechos humanos y parlamentarios de todo el mundo han pedido a Venezuela respetar la independencia judicial y acabar con el acoso de parlamentarios, que han calificado de “intolerable”.

Las Naciones Unidas han pedido este viernes que toda la ayuda posible llegue a los venezolanos, incluyendo la que se encuentra en la frontera con Colombia.

El portavoz de la organización en Ginebra explicaba que lo importante es que la ayuda, provenga de donde provenga, llegue hasta los venezolanos que la necesitan.

“Es muy simple. Queremos que los venezolanos tengan toda la ayuda posible. Y esperamos que las fuerzas que tienen que estar involucradas permitan que entre. Ese es el mensaje básico: la ayuda humanitaria tiene que llegar a la gente que la necesita”, dijo Rhéal LeBlanc en la rueda de prensa en Ginebra.

La Oficina de Coordinación Humanitaria explicó que las agencias de la ONU aumentaron en noviembre pasado la asistencia dentro de Venezuela, pero no cuentan con la financiación necesaria. El plan de emergencia requiere 109,5 millones de dólares, pero hasta el momento solo han recibido 49,1 millones, dijo el portavoz Jen Laerke.

Varias agencias de la ONU operan dentro de Venezuela: el Fondo para la Infancia (UNICEF), la rama regional de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OPS), ONUSIDA, la agencia de refugiados (ACNUR), la organización para la alimentación (FAO), el fondo de población (UNFPA) y el programa de desarrollo (UNDP).

En total, las Naciones Unidas tienen 301 trabajadores en Venezuela y el plan de emergencia pretende llegar a 3,6 millones de personas, entre ellas dos millones de niños.

Por el momento, se han repartido más de 100.000 tratamientos para madres y niños con malnutrición aguda y se han acondicionado seis refugios temporales en los estados fronterizos con Colombia.

El portavoz recalcó que esta ayuda se lleva a cabo con independencia de la situación política del país, intentando ser neutral e imparcial y "basándose sólo en las necesidades".

El Programa Mundial de Alimentos, listo para entrar la comida

El Programa Mundial de Alimentos tiene ya dispuesta comida en la frontera con Colombia y espera obtener autorización para entrar en el país. El portavoz explicó que han enviado diez especialistas a la región para preparar el trabajo y que acercar los alimentos a la frontera es el procedimiento habitual que se sigue, por ejemplo, en países como Siria y Yemen.

Una vez que consigan entrar a Venezuela, el PMA evaluará las necesidades exactas.

“¿Cómo podemos saber si la gente pasa hambre o no? Solo tienes que situarte en la frontera de Colombia y ver a los que llegan”, dijo el portavoz Hervé Verhoosel. Explicó que 1,2 millones de personas cruzaron la frontera en 2018 “muertos de hambre, sin dinero, sin comida, sin medicinas”. “No hay duda, sean cuales sean los números por supuesto que hay una crisis en el país. La gente y las agencias de la ONU necesitan comida, medicinas…”, añadió.

El portavoz dijo que se anticipa que el flujo de salida continúe aumentando.

50 toneladas de medicamentos

La Organización Panamericana de la Salud ha seguido cooperando con el Ministerio de Salud para evitar la propagación de enfermedades y, en 2018, repartió unas 50 toneladas de medicinas y equipamiento médico.

El portavoz de la OMS, Tarik Jasarevic, informó de que los casos de sarampión entre niños parecen estar disminuyendo, tras un brote que desde julio de 2017 ha afectado a 6395 personas, con 76 fallecimientos. Más de 8 millones de niños han sido vacunados, lo que supone una cobertura del 95%.

Por el contrario, han aumentado las muertes por el brote de difteria surgido en julio de 2016, ya que, tras las 17 registradas ese año, hubo 103 en 2017 y 150 en 2018. Casi cinco millones de niños han recibido vacunas contra esta enfermedad.

Independencia judicial

Por su parte el relator especial* de la ONU para la Independencia de Magistrados y Abogados ha urgido al Estado de Venezuela a adoptar todas las medidas necesarias para garantizar plenamente que jueces y fiscales puedan realizar sus funciones “con plena independencia y garantías” en aras de garantizar los derechos humanos en el país.

En un comunicado difundido este viernes, Diego García-Sayán recuerda que “el respeto y la garantía de la independencia e imparcialidad de la justicia es un pilar fundamental para la protección de los derechos humanos, la democracia y el Estado de derecho”.

Por ese motivo, ha llamado a todas las instituciones estatales a garantizar que la judicatura desempeñe sus funciones “en un entorno seguro” y resuelva los asuntos que lleguen a sus manos “sin restricción alguna, sin influencias, alicientes, presiones, amenazas o intromisiones indebidas”.

“En el actual periodo de inestabilidad, la falta de fiscales y magistrados de carrera, así como el hecho de que la mayoría de los jueces tengan nombramientos provisionales y de corta duración, produce una severa merma en la independencia del sistema judicial”, añadió el experto de Naciones Unidas.

García-Sayán también manifestó su preocupación por las presiones políticas contra juezas y jueces en el contexto de las recientes manifestaciones sociales de protesta que se han producido en el país, ya que “algunas decisiones de miembros del poder judicial han formado parte de las medidas del Gobierno para privar de libertad a cientos de personas, incluidos menores de edad.”

Inquietud por Juan Guaidó

El relator especial muestra, además, su inquietud por las últimas medidas impulsadas por el Fiscal General de Venezuela, Tarek Saab, contra el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional y presidente interino del país designado por este mismo órgano, Juan Guaidó, entre las que figuran la prohibición de salir del país y la congelación de sus activos financieros.

“Hay poderosos elementos para concluir que las medidas contra Guaidó no han sido adoptadas de acuerdo con los requisitos constitucionales, el procedimiento legalmente establecido y el respeto los estándares internacionales en materia de derechos humanos”, afirmó García-Sayán.

Todas estas inquietudes han sido trasladadas al Gobierno de Venezuela.

Acoso a los parlamentarios

Por su parte el Comité sobre los Derechos Humanos de los Parlamentarios de la Unión Interparlamentaria ha instado a las autoridades de Venezuela “a acabar inmediatamente con el hostigamiento a 60 parlamentarios de la colación de la coalición Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD)”.

La Mesa tiene la mayoría de los representantes en la Asamblea Nacional y representa la oposición al presidente Nicolas Maduro.

“Muchos parlamentarios han denunciado ataques físicos, arrestos, arbitrarios, prohibiciones relacionadas de sus viajes y una falta de respeto en general por la inmunidad parlamentaria”, según ha informado la Unión Interparlamentaria, con sede en Ginebra.

La presidenta del Comité, la serbia Aleksandra Jerkov, aseguró: “la intimidación y el acoso que mis colegas parlamentarios sufren en Venezuela es intolerable. Hacemos un llamamiento a las autoridades de Venezuela a poner fin inmediato a los ataques a nuestros colegas”.

Para Jerkov, “el respeto por su trabajo parlamentario y la integridad de la Asamblea Nacional es absolutamente crucial para encontrar una solución pacífica a la actual crisis en Venezuela”.

Con respecto a Guaidó, el Comité ha pedido al Gobierno que “justifique las restricciones” impuesta contra él después de que la Corte Suprema lanzase una investigación el 29 de enero. También ha expresado su preocupación sobre las circunstancias que rodearon “su breve, pero arbitraria” detención el 13 del mismo mes.

El Comité se reunió la semana pasada y examinó 417 casos relativos a 37 países, sobre los que tomó decisiones en 126, la mayoría de las cuales tienen que ver con parlamentarios de la oposición en Venezuela

  • - Un Relator especial es un experto independiente designado por el Consejo de Derechos Humanos para examinar e informar sobre la situación de un país o un tema específico de los derechos humanos. Esta posición es honoraria y el experto no es personal de las Naciones Unidas ni pagado por su trabajo. Los relatores especiales forman parte de los procedimientos especiales del Consejo de Derechos Humanos.

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Persons affected by conflict in eastern Ukraine to benefit from increased social cohesion and better services

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 16:29:36 +0000

Source: Government of Sweden, Government of Denmark, Government of Switzerland, UN Development Programme
Country: Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine

The initiative will support strengthening of the region’s governance and promote social cohesion until 2022 under the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme.

Kyiv, 8 February 2019 – Today the Governments of Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland announced the launch of the “Good governance and citizens engagement for justice, security, environmental protection and social cohesion in eastern Ukraine” initiative. The initiative will support strengthening of the region’s governance and promote social cohesion until 2022 under the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine, dragging into its fifth year, has had a significant impact on civilians, including over 3,300 men, women and children killed, up to 9,000 injured since 2014, 1.5 million people internally displaced and many others facing challenges of living in conflict-affected areas.

This breakdown in trust can only be overcome by job creation, poverty alleviation, anti-corruption measures, law enforcement and judicial reform, and the promotion of human rights. That’s why the “Good governance and citizens engagement for justice, security, environmental protection and social cohesion in eastern Ukraine” initiative will be fully integrated into the United Nations’ Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme. The overall contribution of Denmark (US$ 9.045 million), Sweden (US$ 3 million) and Switzerland (US$ 2 million) of US$14.045 million marks the beginning of efforts to resolve these key issues in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

In the words of Victor Munteanu, the manager of UN’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, “the trust of citizens in conflict-affected areas in governmental institutions will improve and they will feel safer if administrative, law enforcement and security capacity are strengthened, and it becomes easier for them to access justice and environmental protection. This project will help to support these changes.”

Sweden and Switzerland, which over the last 3.5 years have co-funded RPP interventions, wish to build on progress achieved and continue strengthening the region’s governance and promoting social cohesion. In addition, with this funding, Sweden intends to support activities to improve the region’s environment. Denmark’s Ukraine Peace and Stabilization Programme for 2018-2021, commits it to the region’s stability and good governance. It wishes to contribute funding, through its Peace and Stabilization Fund, to actions particularly aimed at improving justice and community security.

Background:

The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme (RPP) addresses priority needs in eastern Ukraine after armed conflict erupted in the spring of 2014. The Programme is intended to strengthen community security and social cohesion, support the economic recovery of conflict-affected communities, and further the implementation of decentralization and healthcare reforms in government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The RPP is being implemented by four United Nations agencies: UNDP, UN Women, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Programme is supported by nine international partners: the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Japan. Its total budget for 2019-2022 is over USD50 million.

Media inquiries:

Yuliia Samus, Communications Specialist, Yuliia.Samus@undp.org, communications.ukraine@undp.org

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UNHCR chief urges more international support for refugees in Tanzania

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 13:50:22 +0000

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Republic of Tanzania

Filippo Grandi called for greater investment in north-west regions where some 330,000 refugees are hosted, including for environmental protection and economic development.

Concluding a four-day visit to East African nation, Filippo Grandi urges greater investment for north-west regions hosting 330,000 refugees.

Dar es Salaam, 8 February 2019 – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi ended his four-day visit to Tanzania with a call for greater investment in north-west regions where some 330,000 refugees are hosted, including for priorities such as environmental protection and economic development. Citing Tanzania as “one of the most important refugee asylum countries in Africa,” Mr. Grandi expressed his satisfaction with government assurances that the country would continue to be hospitable to refugees.

In his meeting with President John Joseph Magufuli, Mr. Grandi commended Tanzania for its long tradition of welcoming refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in neighboring countries, including naturalizing 162,000 Burundian refugees from 1972. Citing Tanzania’s hospitality over decades to people in need of refuge, he said that the country and the people deserve greater international recognition. He pledged to mobilize more support for humanitarian efforts and also for host community development, enhanced camp security and environmental projects, such as energy sources that provide an alternative to firewood. They discussed the idea of establishing a regional framework to work on improving lives and finding solutions for the Burundian and Congolese refugees.

In his meetings with government officials, Mr. Grandi noted that sustainable refugee return happens when refugees feel confident it is safe to go back home and receive the necessary support to do so. In the last two years, 57,865 refugees from Burundi have been assisted to voluntarily return from Tanzania. However, some refugees report that perceived pressure from government officials coupled with restrictions on freedom of movement and access to livelihood opportunities has influenced their decision to return. Mr. Grandi noted in his meetings that UNHCR is prepared to work with the government to assist all those who indicate a desire to go home but that, in his experience, some restrictions can be counterproductive and that it is when refugees are convinced that conditions are safe in their home countries that they will choose to return voluntarily.

“Conditions are still uncertain in both DRC and Burundi,” Mr. Grandi said to the press following his visit to the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Kasulu, noting that nevertheless some refugees are volunteering to go back and are supported by UNHCR. “It is important that nobody is forced back, that repatriation remains a voluntary exercise.” Mr. Grandi called for more international support to ensure refugees who return voluntarily are able to successfully reintegrate in their countries of origin, noting the current return packages and the ability to follow up with returnees back in Burundi are insufficient.

Mr. Grandi pointed to Tanzania as a stable country in a troubled region and commended the country for its role as a regional peacemaker, urging the Tanzanian leadership to continue peace efforts. In a meeting in Dar es Salaam with the former President of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa, who recently served as EAC Facilitator of the Inter-Burundian Dialogue Process, Mr. Grandi expressed his hope that mediation efforts would continue. Mr. Mkapa cited concerns that the process had stalled and, although progress was made in the area of security, a political impasse remains and dialogue between the stakeholders is the only way out of the current crisis and toward free, fair and inclusive elections planned for 2020.

Seventy-four per cent of Tanzania’s refugees and asylum seekers are from Burundi, and the other 26 per cent are from the DRC. The vast majority live in camps close to the border areas, and many have been there for decades.

Mr. Grandi praised Tanzania for supporting the Global Compact on Refugees, an approach which calls for greater international support to host countries. It also calls for more refugee self-reliance, which stimulates local economies and provides opportunities for host communities, he said. During his visit to the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Congolese refugee Selemani Boaz, a trader at the market, remarked: “The common market helps us interact with different people, even from outside the camp, especially Tanzanians... We get to know each other and this helps unite us.” The market also allows refugees to access a variety of foods, beyond their World Food Programme rations.

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WHO supports five countries to fight Lassa fever outbreaks

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 13:33:33 +0000

Source: World Health Organization
Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo

WHO has intensified its technical assistance and is supporting coordination, enhanced surveillance, epidemiological analysis and risk communication.

8 February 2019, Brazzaville – With five countries in Western Africa reporting outbreaks of Lassa fever, the World Health Organization (WHO) has scaled up its efforts to support the region’s response to the disease.

While these outbreaks are occurring during the Lassa fever season in countries where the disease is endemic, the speed of escalation is of concern.

The largest outbreak thus far has affected 16 states in Nigeria. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) declared an outbreak of Lassa fever on 22 January 2019. The 213 confirmed cases to date, including 42 deaths, mark a significant increase – already a third of the total cases for all of last year, when Nigeria experienced its worst outbreak of Lassa fever. Four health workers have been infected so far in this latest outbreak.

In Nigeria, WHO is scaling up its efforts to support the Federal authorities, NCDC and the affected Nigerian states in responding to the outbreak. An important focus is on early detection and confirmation of suspected cases, providing optimal supportive care and ensuring infection prevention and control measures in designated health care facilities in the affected states. WHO has intensified its technical assistance and is supporting coordination, enhanced surveillance, epidemiological analysis and risk communication. WHO is also mobilizing experts to support case management and infection prevention and control.

A total of 12 cases have been confirmed to date in Benin, Guinea, Liberia and Togo, including two deaths, with more suspected cases being investigated. WHO is assisting health authorities in these countries with contact tracing and providing medical and non-medical supplies and technical and financial resources as needed for case management, risk communication and logistics.

“We are concerned by the high number of cases so early in the Lassa fever season, which is expected to last another four more months,” said Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, Regional Emergencies Director at WHO Regional Office for Africa. “WHO is working with the health authorities in the five-affected countries to ensure health workers have the capacity to detect cases and we are monitoring the regional spread of the disease.”

WHO has set up a regional coordination mechanism for countries to report any suspected case of Lassa fever to expedite the flow of timely information and to assess the situation, recommend actions and help organize assistance. WHO has also reached out to the six other at-risk countries – Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone – and is supporting prevention and readiness activities as needed.

“WHO continues to advise all countries in the Lassa fever belt to enhance their preparedness and response capacities, especially for early case detection, laboratory confirmation, case management under recommended barrier nursing, risk communication and community engagement,” said Dr Fall.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness that occurs predominantly in West Africa, after human exposure to the urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. More than 80% of Lassa fever cases are rodent-to-human transmission. Person-to-person transmission occurs in both community and health-care settings.

Prevention of Lassa fever relies on promoting good “community hygiene” to discourage rodents from entering homes by storing grain and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers, disposing of garbage far from the home, maintaining clean households, keeping cats and the safe handling of anyone who may have died of the disease. In health-care settings, health-care workers should always apply standard infection prevention and control precautions when caring for patients.

Lassa Fever Contacts identification and line listing at UNTH Enugu by the Hospital Infectious Disease and Control Unit, and Rapid Response Teams from Enugu State (including SMOH and WHO) and Nkanu West LGA (source: Dr Ada Erinne, WHO State Coordinator)

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:

OKA Sakuya
Communications Manager (a.i)
WHO Regional Office for Africa
Tel: +242 06 508 1009
Email: okas@who.int

Collins Boakye-Agyemang
Communications and marketing officer
Tel: + 242 06 520 6565
Email: boakyeagyemangc@who.int

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UNHCR raises alarm over humanitarian impact of continuing violence in Myanmar

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 10:41:29 +0000

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Bangladesh, Myanmar

UNHCR has also offered its support to the Government of Bangladesh to assess and respond to the needs of people who have arrived seeking safety from violence in Myanmar.

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is aware of reports of escalating violence and a deteriorating security situation in southern Chin State and Rakhine State. This has reportedly led to internal displacement and a number of new arrivals from Myanmar seeking safety in the Bandarban border region of Bangladesh.

UNHCR is deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact of continuing violence in Myanmar and the potential for both further internal displacement and the outflow of refugees.

As part of inter-agency efforts, UNHCR stands ready to support the humanitarian response in the affected areas in Myanmar. UNHCR has also offered its support to the Government of Bangladesh to assess and respond to the needs of people who have arrived seeking safety from violence in Myanmar.

UNHCR is grateful to the Government of Bangladesh for its generosity and the leadership it has shown in receiving more than 720,000 refugees from Myanmar since August 2017. We call on the Bangladesh authorities to continue to allow people fleeing violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

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African leaders call for lasting response to cope with growing crisis of forcibly displaced

Fri, 08 Feb 2019 09:14:39 +0000

Source: Government of Ethiopia
Country: World

AUC chair Moussa Faki said: “While continuing to seek the support of the international community, we should contribute more significantly to the mobilization of humanitarian" aid.

Addis Ababa February 07/2019 Renewed will of all leaders is required to find a lasting response to the issues of forced internally displaced persons (IDPs), said AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

In his opening remark of the 34th Executive Council Session, Moussa Faki said “while continuing to seek the support of the international community, we should contribute more significantly to the mobilization of humanitarian assistance.”

The session is embarked on under the theme “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.”

“We should act effectively in order to quell the various crisis and conflicts that break out here and there and persistence of the displacement of persons,” he stressed.

The Chairperson added that commitment to silence the guns by 2020 is impossible as it entails the African leaders’ genuine political will.

“The recent developments in the Horn of Africa are an eloquent illustration,” he said, adding that “I would like once again to welcome and hail the vision of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and other leaders of the region.”

Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Vera Songwe said “today in our Union we have 14.7 million internally displaced people and 7.3 million refugees.”

“How do we, as a Union, do we create the Africa we want if without shame or humiliation, we let our youth, our young women lament in camps?” Songwe asked over.

Stating that Africa grew at 3.2 percent in 2018 and prediction for 2019 is below 4 percent, the Executive Secretary noted “for a continent desperate for growth, we cannot afford to marginalize a considerable share of our population.”

According to her, the largest proportion of African refugees and internally displaced people are in Eastern Africa, at 59 and 49 percent respectively.

Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chairperson of the Executive Council, Richard Sezibera said “today, more so than yesterday, the demands on our organization are increasing. The desires for peace, security, stability and democracy have never been higher.”

“Democracy is possible only when peace is secured,” he said and emphasized “our work in this area is never done.”

Furthermore, Chairperson of the Executive Council pointed out that the theme will enable participants to have adequate time to examine the growing crisis of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and identify ways to bring sustainable solutions.

Scale of assessment and contributions, the pressing issue of peace fund scale and nomination of panel of eminent persons for the new commissioner are among the Executive Council’s deliberations.

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Mosul’s ‘3D contamination’ adds to challenges of deadly mine clearance work

Thu, 07 Feb 2019 20:27:00 +0000

Source: UN News Service
Country: Iraq

Booby-trapped buildings and large numbers of explosives buried in rubble complicate the task, with almost 2 million displaced Iraqis unable to return home due to “significant explosive hazard contamination”.

Demining and other explosives clearance operations are ongoing in former ISIL-held areas of Iraq, but the work is painstaking and even more dangerous because of “3D contamination”, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) said on Thursday.

Government-led military campaigns and conflict to retake Iraq’s cities from the extremists, also known as Da’esh, displaced more than 5.8 million people between 2014 and 2017.

Many are still homeless or unable to return home because of what UNMAS calls “significant explosive hazard contamination” linked to airstrikes and improvised explosive devices left behind by ISIL and sometimes even planted on dead fighters.

7.6 million tonnes of debris to make safe, in Mosul alone

In Mosul alone, there is an estimated 7.6 million tonnes of debris from the fighting to make safe, UNMAS believes.

In Mosul, “people want to return home, but the Old City of Western Mosul, you cannot return home to…there is nothing”, said Pehr Lodhammar, Chief of UNMAS in Iraq.

He added: “We are looking at almost two million people who are still displaced outside of their homes, their towns, their villages and our work is to ensure that they can return. We are also looking at over 100,000 houses - of the 100,000 houses destroyed or damaged - potentially with explosives assets in them.”

The update on UNMAS’s work – which complements that of the Government of Iraq – coincides with the launch of an online resource showing the status of mine action in 19 countries and territories, along with current funding status and project proposals.

The 2019 Mine Action Portfolio “constitutes a solid and UN-vetted compilation of requests for assistance put together by affected countries”, according to UNMAS, with total needs amounting to $495 million.

The highest funding requirement is in post-conflict zones including Iraq ($265 million), Afghanistan ($95 million) and Syria ($50 million).

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, UNMAS Director Agnès Marcaillou, underlined the importance of her agency’s mission to ordinary people caught up in conflict.

“Mine action is about suffering, it’s about people waking up at night with nightmares,” she said. “It’s about kids who have their future jeopardized by disabilities; disabilities being mental health or physical disabilities. It’s about a country that cannot get back on its feet, cannot have all the tools they need to revive their economies because their lands are contaminated.”

In Iraq’s Mosul – a former ISIL stronghold – much of the Old City was damaged and destroyed during months of door-to-door fighting to drive out the extremists in 2017.

‘3D contamination’ an additional danger

Countless buildings were also booby-trapped, Mr Lodhammar explained, noting the additional complications caused by having to work in an urban setting with “3D contamination”, rather than a rural location, where mines are usually buried in the ground.

“In 2018 only, we removed close to 17,000 explosive assets,” he said. “2,000 of these - it’s a staggering amount - were improvised explosive devices; 2,000 devices with pressure plate fuse triggers, trip wires, infra-red devices, anti-lift devices, remote control devices - combinations of the five. This also included 782 suicide belts, many of them actually fitted on fallen ISIS fighters in debris, in rubble.”

When clearance operations started 18 months ago, finding unexploded devices was relatively straightforward, as they were scattered on the ground, the UNMAS Iraq chief noted.

Now, the operation is much more complicated, involving the use of camera-carrying drones to assess the dangers, and heavy plant machinery.

“What we are looking at now, is that we have to sift through the debris,” Mr. Lodhammar said, noting that it was likely to take at least another eight years before Mosul was cleared of danger to an acceptable level. “We have to sift through the rubble, we have to use mechanical equipment dig out parts of the rubble, spread it out evenly, inspect it and that takes a lot longer time.”

The presence of much larger explosive weapons is also significantly altering the work that UNMAS has to do.

This includes unearthing unexploded bombs dropped by coalition airstrikes against ISIL, which are in many cases buried several metres deep in the earth.

“These are not mines any longer, an anti-personnel mine would have up to 230, 250 grammes of explosives in it,” Mr Lodhammar said. “Now we are looking at 10 to 20 kilos. People are getting injured yes, but there is also more of a tendency that people are actually getting killed by those devices rather than injured, because of the explosive weight, and the fact that many of them are within a container that is made of from metal, creating fragmentation.”

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More than seven million people in dire need of aid and protection in South Sudan

Thu, 07 Feb 2019 19:01:55 +0000

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan

The cumulative effects of years of conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods have left approximately two-thirds of the population in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis in 2019.

Highlights

  • The cumulative effects of years of conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods have left more than 7 million people, approximately two thirds of the population, in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019, the same proportion as in 2018. While the situation is no longer escalating rapidly, the country remains in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis. Overall, the revitalized peace process promises to offer new opportunities in 2019 for South Sudan’s women, men and children.

  • In 2018, UNICEF in coordination with partners reached 205,641 children suffering from SAM, approximately 257,842 children with psychosocial support (PSS), 265,312 with WASH services and 1,653,640 children with curative health services.

  • Through national and state level task forces, UNICEF and partners continue to closely monitor the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), intensifying preventive and preparedness activities in targeted high-risk areas and potential points of entry.

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

In 2018, UNICEF and humanitarian partners continued to face restrictions on humanitarian access that limited and/or prevented life-saving assistance and services from reaching vulnerable children. Over the course of the year, UNICEF and partners faced at least 80 access incidents, which limited sustained access to an estimated 400,000 people mostly women and children, while according to OCHA, the humanitarian community at large faced over 800 access incidents.

Violence and intimidation against aid workers, ongoing armed hostilities and bureaucratic impediments were the main access challenges confronted by humanitarians in South Sudan in 2018. Over 50 per cent of all access incidents (442) involved violence against humanitarian personnel and assets, including killings, abductions, illegal detention and robberies along roads and within compounds. Bureaucratic impediments and operational interference also remain key challenges for predictable and efficient emergency programmes.

Despite the overall reduction in armed hostilities following the February 2018 Ceasefire Agreement and the 12 September signing of the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (RARCSS), armed clashes and insecurity continue to impede and prevent humanitarian operations specifically within Central Equatoria. In Central Equatoria, ongoing hostilities between the SSPDF and multiple non-state armed actors, attacks against civilians and robberies/abductions along main roads are impeding access to an estimated 200,000 people in the greater Yei area.

The 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview, published December 2018, illustrates that conflict and associated economic decline have eroded the Government’s ability to provide consistent basic services to its people. Currently, one primary health center serves an average of 50,000 people. Only 40 per cent of nutrition treatment centers have access to safe water, a gap that puts more vulnerable people, particularly women, boys and girls, at risk of malnutrition and disease.
Only about one in five childbirths involves a skilled health care worker and the maternal mortality ratio is estimated at 789 per 100,000 live births. Every third school has been damaged, destroyed, occupied or closed since 2013, and more than 70 per cent of children who should be attending classes are not receiving an education.

Through national and state level task forces, UNICEF and partners continue to closely monitor the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), intensifying preventive and preparedness activities in targeted high-risk areas and potential points of entry. Priority preparedness activities include surveillance, screening at points of entry, and capacity development on case management, safe and dignified burial, pre-positioning of supplies and risk communication to increase community awareness on EVD. Following a prioritization exercise on EVD preparedness on 17 November and feedback from the joint independent monitoring mission (15-19 November), UNICEF continued providing preparedness support, primarily on risk communication and WASH activities.

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UN relief chief expresses deep concern over lack of access to grain mills in Hodeida

Thu, 07 Feb 2019 16:01:31 +0000

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

The UN has been unable to access the Red Sea Mills in Hodeida since September 2018, which houses enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month and sits inaccessible.

I am deeply concerned that the United Nations has been unable to access the Red Sea Mills in Hodeida since September 2018. Enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month has sat unused and possibly spoiling in silos at the mills for more than four months, while nearly 10 million people across the country remain just a step away from famine. No-one gains anything from this: but millions of starving people suffer.

Last month, two silos were hit by mortar shells landing in the compound of the mills, which is located in an area controlled by the Government of Yemen. The resultant fire destroyed some of the grain – probably enough to feed hundreds of thousands of people for a month. These events are to be deplored.

Access to the mills grows ever more urgent as time passes and the risk of spoilage to the remaining grain increases.

To date, forces affiliated with Ansar Allah have declined to authorize the United Nations to cross front lines into Government-controlled areas to access the mills, citing security concerns.

Discussions continue with all parties, and I appreciate the genuine efforts that have been made on all sides to find a solution. But it remains elusive. I implore all parties, in particular Ansar Allah affiliated groups, to finalize an agreement and facilitate access to the mills in the coming days.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are scaling up to reach 12 million people with emergency food assistance, which is a 50 per cent increase over 2018 targets. In December, the World Food Programme reached more than 10 million people – a record achievement.We can save huge numbers of people, most of them in areas controlled by Ansar Allah. But we need more help to do that from the authorities who control these areas.

New York, 07 February 2019

For more information, please contact:

Russell Geekie, OCHA New York, geekie@un.org, +1 212 963 8340
Jens Laerke, OCHA Geneva, laerke@un.org,+41 79 472 9750
OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org or www.reliefweb.int

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More than 160,000 displaced children protected from harsh winter in Iraq

Thu, 07 Feb 2019 13:00:34 +0000

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Iraq

"Although fighting has subsided in Iraq, an estimated 1.85 million people, including 825,000 children, remain displaced,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.

NEW YORK/BAGHDAD, 7 February 2019 – As cold winter weather sweeps across Iraq, UNICEF has provided warm clothes to over 160,000 internally displaced and refugee children, including those in hard-to-reach areas such as Sinjar, where UNICEF has maintained a strong presence since violence escalated in 2013.

“Although fighting has subsided in Iraq, an estimated 1.85 million people, including 825,000 children, remain displaced,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “One-third of all displaced children live in camps, in poorly insulated tents, often with no winter clothes or shoes. These children have little protection against flooding and the bitter cold, putting them at risk of illness, hypothermia and death.”

As part of UNICEF’s winter response, over 100,000 displaced children in camps in Anbar and in and around Mosul received supplies to keep them warm. Winter support has also included vulnerable Syrian refugees through the innovative use of vouchers.

In mountainous areas like Sinjar, temperatures drop below freezing, exposing children and pregnant mothers – many of them living in camps - to the elements. UNICEF is helping keep these vulnerable minorities warm: Nearly 50,000 Yazidi children and over 2,500 pregnant Yazidi mothers living in the area received coats, boots, hats, gloves, sweaters and trousers.

“We all need to do the best we can to make sure that vulnerable families do not spend another winter out in the cold in camps or in temporary shelters,” Fore said. “Now that the violence has subsided, and a new government is in place, Iraq has a unique window of opportunity to rebuild the country for all its children, so that they can live in peace and harmony.”

Media Contacts

Joe English
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 893 0692
Email:jenglish@unicef.org

Najwa Mekki
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 209 1804
Email: nmekki@unicef.org

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UN and partners seek $75 million to help more than half a million refugees in DRC

Thu, 07 Feb 2019 10:14:31 +0000

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan

Conflict and insecurity in neighbouring countries have resulted in continued arrivals of refugees into the DRC throughout 2018; this trend is expected to continue throughout 2019 and 2020.

Background and Achievements

For decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has maintained an “open-door policy” to refugees, welcoming on its territory hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict and violence from neighbouring countries. DRC is party to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 AU Convention. In 2002, the DRC adopted a national refugee law, establishing the CNR (Commission Nationale pour les Réfugiés – the National Refugee Commission) to process asylum applications and ensure the protection of refugees.
To date, the overall political and security situation in the region remains highly volatile with little prospect for large-scale repatriation. Many of the DRC’s nine neighbouring countries face socio-political instability, while the DRC itself is going through a turbulent period, with a lengthy pre-electoral period complicated by internal conflict, large-scale displacement and a challenging humanitarian and development environment.
At the end of 2018, the total refugee population is expected to reach over 546,000, living in communities, in camps, as well as in urban areas.
Refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) are located primarily in the provinces of North and South Ubangi and Bas-Uele; South Sudanese are largely in the provinces of Haut-Uélé, and Ituri; Rwandans live mainly in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, and Burundians mostly in the province of South Kivu.
Urban areas across the country such as Kinshasa, Goma, Bukavu and Lubumbashi also host refugees of other nationalities (including Republic of Congo, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia). Conflict and insecurity in neighbouring countries have resulted in continued arrivals of refugees into the DRC throughout 2018; this trend is expected to continue throughout 2019 and 2020, with high and low periods related to both security concerns and to seasonal changes that affect flight. These continued arrivals, coupled with a drop in voluntary repatriation numbers, create various protection and multi-sectoral needs.
In the Central African Republic (CAR), while there are some improvements in Bangui, and indications that refugees may wish to repatriate there in the coming months, new arrivals have continued to arrive in small numbers throughout 2018. It is expected that the CAR refugee population in DRC will reach around 187,000 individuals by the end of 2018. Discussions are underway regarding preparation for facilitated voluntary repatriation, which will commence if the political situation in CAR becomes more stable and refugees begin to see the situation as conducive for return. Some self organised cross-border movements serve partly to facilitate income generation for those who do not receive assistance, and partly to maintain contact with return areas to facilitate return when that becomes possible.
Despite the presence of armed groups in areas hosting refugees and IDPs, the security situation in South Kivu and the overall protection environment for Burundian refugees improved in 2018, notably in Fizi territory where Congolese forces regained control of large swathes of territory. Burundian asylum seekers continue to arrive in small numbers in DRC, with an expected refugee population of 50,000 individuals at the end of 2018. Despite considerable challenges, including late availability of funds, access and security challenges that restricted movement and an increasingly difficult security context, the new Burundian refugee site of Mulongwe (in Fizi territory, South Kivu province) opened at the end November 2017. The site aims to encourage self-reliance and community participation from the start.
Voluntary repatriation to Rwanda continued in 2018, albeit in much lower numbers than in 2017, when some 18,000 refugees were repatriated. At the request of the DRC Government, UNHCR started in 2018 a largescale verification and biometric registration of Rwandan refugees in North and South Kivu in an effort to provide a baseline for durable solutions, paving the way towards the Cessation Clause. As of the end of September, some 75,000 Rwandan refugees had been registered in the operation, which is ongoing. With some 70% of registered Rwandans having been born in the DRC, preparations for the invocation of the cessation clause will need to involve steps to facilitate legal stay arrangements for those who have established ties. It is expected that the number of Rwandan refugees in the DRC will decrease significantly in the course of 2019.
In South Sudan, the security and humanitarian situation also remains volatile. With several violations of the cessation of hostilities accord and no agreement in the former Central Equatorial State and Western Equatoria State, current expectations are that arrivals into the DRC will continue in small numbers and that there will be relatively low rates of voluntary repatriation in 2019. The two existing refugee settlements are overcrowded and thousands of refugees are living in communities along the border, facing significant security challenges, as well as a lack of services and food insecurity. A new site has been identified for a refugee settlement, with access to farm land to support self-sufficiency within a limited period. An initial registration and mass information campaign is currently being conducted in the border areas as a precursor to moving refugees to the new site. Plans reflect the expection that the population will remain at around 100,000 throughout 2019.
Many refugees and asylum-seekers in urban areas face protection risks, including access to documentation and/or expired identity documentation often leading to harassment, violations of freedom of movement, as well as arbitrary, illegal detention, extortion, etc… The vast majority of refugees in the DRC will have participated in biometric registration by the end of 2018, while some smaller communities in less accessible areas will go through the process in early 2019. All refugees in camps and urban areas have been biometrically registered and have receieved refugee ID cards issued by the Government of the DRC.
Although the right of freedom of movement and access to services including the justice system is guaranteed by law in the DRC, the government has identified designated secure areas (camps or settlements) where refugees can access regular assistance. The government does not prevent refugees who choose to do so from settling in host communities, provided these are sufficiently far from the border and do not pose a security threat for refugees themselves, or for the host country. The socio-economic situation in most of the rural zones hosting refugees is poor, with limited access to basic services, and very few employment opportunities. Medical care, education and other services are all paid for by the user, despite the national goal of making universal primary education and primary healthcare freely available. Refugees have access to the same services as nationals, on the same terms, but suffer from the same institutional weaknesses as their neighbours.
In urban areas, the cost of living is particularly high, access to services is limited, and there is a scarcity of civil society structures in place to address weak state institutions. Urban refugees rely on community networks to survive, and many seek material assistance from partners. A significant portion of education and healthcare services for Burundian and South Sudanese refugees depend on interventions by humanitarian actors, despite the possibility of access to land in rural areas. Camp-based Central Africans also benefit from food and services in the camps, while the majority live in communities and share what few resources and services are available to their hosts. Progress towards supporting self-reliance among refugees has been hampered by lack of funding and by a paucity of experienced partners willing to engage in isolated areas. With limited resources available, Country RRP partners have been forced to focus almost exclusively on the delivery of assistance and have not been able to take advantage of plans for a more robust approach toward solutions and self-reliance in order to reduce dependency on humanitarian aid.
The overall refugee response is critically underfunded. Core refugee programming in the DRC in recent years has focused on registration and other protection activities, on the development of sites, and on the provision of basic assistance and services to newly arrived populations. The remoteness of certain operational zones combined with high security risks, poor roads and other infrastructural weaknesses represent critical challenges that jeopardize timely provision of assistance in a country around two thirds the size of Western Europe. In some areas, including Haut-Uele, Bas-Uele, and South Kivu, this is further aggravated by lack or limited presence of partners able to contribute to the response with their own funding.
Without sufficient funding to support Country RRP partners in DRC, provision of and better access to protection, shelter, health and nutrition services, cannot be fully delivered. Given the size of the country, with four different refugee populations settled in different regions, and the general lack of infrastructure to facilitate access, Country RRP partners continue to need logistical support to deliver assistance and other programming.
Despite these challenges, local markets in some hosting areas have the capacity and reactivity to respond to some of the refugees’ needs in terms of goods and services, allowing for the usage of cash-based interventions as a relevant and flexible response modality. The availability and reliability of private financial service providers to support cash assistance distributions to refugee populations still constitute a challenge, especially in the most remote areas, but the situation is improving: Some Country RRP partners have developed effective partnerships with the private sector to develop this area of work.
Although DRC has not formally adopted the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), many elements of this response are consistent with the 2016 New York Declaration and the practical application of the CRRF in other settings. The response is based on a legal framework which places very few restrictions on refugee inclusion in and access to functional services in hosting areas as well as to the labour market; application of the out-of-camp policy; the availability of irrigable land for crop cultivation, and the promotion of a culture of self-reliance in all aspects of refugees’ lives. The Country RRP in 2019 will emphasize relationships with development and peacebuilding partners to improve services for all who reside in hosting areas.

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UN Secretary-General congratulates Central African Republic on new peace agreement

Wed, 06 Feb 2019 19:16:10 +0000

Source: UN Secretary-General
Country: Central African Republic

Following the signing of a peace agreement between the Government and 14 non-state armed groups active in the country on Wednesday, the UN chief, Guterres, encouraged them to now “live up to their commitments”.

SG/SM/19454

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

On the occasion of the signing of the Global Peace Agreement between the Government of the Central African Republic and armed groups, on 6 February in Bangui, the Secretary-General congratulates all stakeholders for the successful conclusion of the talks that took place in Khartoum, Sudan.

The Secretary-General commends the leadership role of the African Union in the talks, which were carried out with the support of the United Nations in the framework of the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic. The Secretary-General encourages all stakeholders to live up to their commitments in the implementation period.

The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations commitment to assist the Central African Republic at this critical stage, and calls on neighboring countries, regional organizations and all international partners to support the courageous steps that Central Africans have made to bring lasting peace and stability in their country.

For information media. Not an official record.

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