ReliefWeb - Headlines
ReliefWeb - Headlines
Act now to prevent Desert Locust catastrophe in Horn of Africa: UN agencies
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 19:05:25 +0000
With the rainy season fast approaching, countries in the Horn of Africa are in a race against time to tackle a Desert Locust invasion amidst ongoing humanitarian challenges, the United Nations warned on Monday.
The infestation in Kenya is the worst in 70 years, while Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing their worst outbreaks in 25 years, putting crop production, food security and millions of lives at risk.
Swarms crossed into Uganda overnight, and Tanzania and South Sudan are now “on the watch list”, the UN’s top humanitarian official reported.
“In this region where there is so much suffering and so much vulnerability and fragility, we simply cannot afford another major shock. And that’s why we need to act quickly”, Mark Lowcock told ambassadors, during a briefing at UN Headquarters.
“We do have a chance to nip this problem in the bud, but that’s not what we’re doing at the moment. We’re running out of time.”Ancient pest, modern problems
Locusts are the world’s oldest and most destructive migratory pest.
An average swarm, which contains up to 40 million insects, can travel up to 150 km in a single day and can devour enough food to feed 34 million people within that time.
The current infestation is threatening food security in Kenya, according to the country’s UN Ambassador, Lazarus O. Amayo.
“It is also a challenge for pasture, especially our communities that keep livestock,” he added.
“The herders will have a real challenge of pasture, and this may also cause movement from one place to another in search of pasture, with inherent risk of communal conflict over pasture or grazing land or passing territories.”
The locust threat comes as the region is recovering from what Mr. Lowcock described as recent “back-to-back shocks” which have undermined resilience, with some 19 million people at risk of experiencing severe food insecurity.
Somalia and Sudan faced a famine threat in 2017, but communities have also weathered poor rains, drought, and floods in the past two years.
“It is these weather events which are creating the environment to facilitate the current locust outbreak”, Mr. Lowcock explained. “Unusually heavy rains and increase in the frequency in cyclones in the Indian Ocean have created favourable conditions for the locusts to breed.”Looming catastrophe
So far, only around $20 million has been received; roughly half of which came from a UN emergency fund.
“Without rapid action, we will be facing a rapidly expanding humanitarian crisis. The Desert Locust swarms are growing exponentially”, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu warned in a video message.
Mr. Lowcock, the UN humanitarian chief, also underscored the urgent need for action, particularly as the rainy season begins in March.
“I’m calling on the countries concerned, the international community, the donors, to step up and to step up now,” he said. “There is a risk of a catastrophe. Perhaps we can prevent it; we have an obligation to try. Unless we act now, we’re unlikely to do so.”
UN launches PulseSatellite, a web-based tool to analyze satellite imagery in humanitarian contexts
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 16:19:54 +0000
By Felicia Vacarelu, Communications Specialist, & Tomaz Logar, Big Data Engineer, UN Global Pulse
For the past three years, we, at UN Global Pulse, have been working with UNOSAT to build a software tool that leverages artificial intelligence to identify and count structures from satellite images. From there, we expanded to a web-based toolkit that can be easily adapted to other remote sensing applications and which allows incorporation of models created by other users. Today, we officially launched the toolkit at the AAAI conference on artificial intelligence in New York.
Every day, millions of images are captured from space by an ever-growing number of satellites. In humanitarian crises or conflict areas, accurate and timely satellite image analysis is key to supporting critical operations on the ground. Use cases include monitoring population displacement, settlement mapping, damage assessment, fire detection associated with human rights violations, damage to transportation networks, flood assessment and identifying the direct impact of earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones and landslides.
Until recently, this type of analysis was done by human analysts who spent hours in front of a map manually counting and classifying structures and other elements. There are now some pay-as-you-go services which also offer automated options although these are often directed towards specific use cases, or do not have the mandate to provide information on critical areas relevant to the UN.
PulseSatellite will allow our UN colleagues to get the most out of earth imagery by putting artificial intelligence to work. We already have three models loaded into the system – one that allows users to map structures in refugee settlements; a roof density detection model that can be used for example, to infer the type of neighborhood by looking at the size and proximity of its roofs; and a flood mapping model.
Down the road, additional models will be developed to look at other phenomena such as deforestation, fires, or damage assessment.
Our web-based toolkit combines cutting edge machine learning algorithms with human expertise to extract the most relevant information. One way it does this, is by giving users without specific data science knowledge the means of improving machine learning models through simple training workflows. It also enables interactive collaboration since dispersed teams can work on the same satellite image at the same time.
What do we say?
“We wanted to build a web-based tool that is tailored to the needs of UN agencies and that is easy to use. The collaborative nature of the system is what hopefully makes it invaluable, both because it allows teams across time zones and geographies to work on the same project, and because it encourages teams to upload and use their own models, as well as share them with others.”
Tomaz Logar, data engineer, UN Global Pulse and lead of the project
What does our partner say?
“PulseSatellite is an exciting example of a system combining AI and human experience to greatly improve the use of satellite imagery in the UN system. By employing artificial intelligence and a great and intuitive interface, the power of satellite imagery is much more accessible to UN colleagues.”
Lars Bromley, geospatial specialist, UNOSAT
We wish to thank our donors, the Government of The Netherlands and the Government of Sweden, for their continued support in the development of this tool.
Es necesario proteger a las nuevas caravanas de Centroamericanos que huyen de la violencia
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 13:52:13 +0000
Muchos centroamericanos, a pesar de ser deportados en la frontera mexicana a principios de este año, se están embarcando nuevamente en un peligroso viaje en busca de seguridad.
“Fui deportado, pero decidí volver a huir. Trataré de llegar a los Estados Unidos tantas veces como sea necesario porque mi país no es seguro para mí», dijo Oscar, quien ha tratado de huir de Honduras, su país de origen, seis veces desde 2018 como consecuencia de amenazas de muerte.
Desde San Pedro Sula en Honduras han salido dos caravanas hacia México y los Estados Unidos en lo que va del año. Según informes, algunas personas que participaron de la última caravana, que partió el 31 de enero, ya habían estado presentes en la primera caravana que salió a principios de este año; esas personas habían sido deportadas.
“Algunos centroamericanos deben tomar decisiones imposibles; huir de nuevo bajo circunstancias peligrosas y correr el riesgo de secuestro, abuso o muerte a manos de grupos del crimen organizado o permanecer en sus países de origen y enfrentar la violencia que amenaza la vida y la pobreza extrema», dijo Dominika Arseniuk, Directora de País del Consejo Noruego para los Refugiados (NRC).
Para evitar las estrictas medidas de seguridad fronteriza implementadas recientemente por Guatemala y México, bajo la presión de los Estados Unidos, las personas desesperadas ahora viajan en grupos más pequeños y dispersos a pie, en camiones y autobuses.
“Con situaciones similares a las de un conflicto en sus países de origen, las mujeres embarazadas, menores y ancianos eligen emprender el peligroso viaje hacia México y los Estados Unidos una y otra vez. A lo largo de la ruta la población necesita comida, refugio seguro y asistencia médica, pero sobre todo necesitan protección”, dijo Arseniuk.
Los Estados están obligados a respetar el principio fundamental de no devolución descrito en el Derecho Internacional de los Refugiados. NRC, a través de su presencia permanente en el Centro para Migrantes Retornados en La Lima, Honduras, ha identificado y asistido a personas deportadas con necesidades de protección que han hecho parte de las caravanas.
“Nadie que necesite protección internacional debe ser deportado de regreso a Honduras o El Salvador, donde sus vidas pueden estar amenazadas directamente. Las autoridades de Estados Unidos y México deben garantizar, a las personas que huyen por su seguridad, el derecho de exponer su caso y solicitar asilo”, agregó Arseniuk.
Notas para el editor:
• NRC tiene portavoces disponibles para entrevistas en la región.
• Aquí se pueden descargar fotos e historias para uso gratuito.
• Para obtener más información, lea la última actualización de NRC sobre la situación.
• La primera caravana del año 2020 salió de San Pedro Sula, Honduras, el 15 de enero. Rápidamente el número de integrantes superó las 4,000 personas. Para evitar las barreras de seguridad fronteriza, las personas viajaban en grupos pequeños y dispersos (hasta 20 o 30 personas), a pie, camiones y autobuses.
• El 31 de enero, otra caravana salió de San Pedro Sula. Aproximadamente 100 personas se reunieron en la estación de autobuses y partieron en pequeños grupos, principalmente a pie o solicitando apoyo de transportadores.
• Los informes de organizaciones basadas en las comunidades destacan que muchas personas en esta última caravana ya habían participado en la primera caravana a principios de este año y habían sido deportadas.
• Según las estimaciones de las organizaciones socias en Guatemala, las familias, los menores no acompañados, las personas LGBTI y las mujeres embarazadas representan al menos un tercio de los miembros de las caravanas.
• Las personas que huyen tienen una necesidad urgente de alimentos, albergue, asistencia médica, información y otro tipo de asistencia humanitaria básica.
• NRC está presente a través de socios humanitarios locales en la ciudad de Guatemala y Tecun Uman, que proporcionan kits de alimentos, agua e higiene, entre otras ayudas. NRC también está distribuyendo información sobre los refugios en la ruta y los procedimientos de asilo en Guatemala y México. En El Salvador, el equipo de NRC ha distribuido kits de hidratación en la frontera con Guatemala y ha identificado casos de familias con riesgos de protección que no pudieron unirse a la caravana. Estas familias recibirán apoyo.
Nota de contacto:
Para más información, por favor contactar:
In Bogota: David García, email@example.com +57 3214957209
Global: NRC media hotline, firstname.lastname@example.org +4790562329
Dire camp conditions leading to illness among the displaced in Ituri province, DR Congo
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 13:42:32 +0000
Thousands of people are currently displaced in Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), forced to flee from their homes because of intense violence between communities.
The massacres between the Hema and Lendu communities that so violently marked the history of this province in the northeast of DRC in the early 2000s, reignited in December 2017. Estimates suggest that more than a million people have been displaced by the violence since 2017, although it is almost impossible to know the exact figure due to the frequent movement of the population.
Today, approximately 200,000 people have spontaneously gathered and settled in sites where they fundamentally lack essential needs such as water, food and healthcare. Hundreds of thousands of others are living with host families. Humanitarian agencies need to urgently step up and scale up assistance to people.
Night of terror forces people to flee
“I live in the Tse Lowi [camp site] with my son and six grandchildren,” says Yvonne, who has been displaced. “It has been two years since we had to flee our village. Armed men descended on the village after dark, setting fire to our houses and killing people in a most dreadful way.”
“My son’s wife died that night. They burnt down my house and we had no choice but to flee in the middle of the night, taking nothing but the clothes on our backs,” explains Yvonne, sitting in front of her straw hut, barefoot and wearing a tattered dress. “We walked for three days and spent three nights sleeping in the bush to get away from the attackers. I was scared. We finally reached Tse Lowi on the third day.”
Inside the hut, one of Yvonne’s grandsons is stoking the fire crackling beneath a bubbling saucepan. The hut seems fragile, as if it could go up in flames with the slightest gust of wind fanning the fire. It’s hard to imagine how eight people can sleep in this small space, which serves both as bedroom and kitchen.
Dire camp conditions leading to illness among the displaced
Dozens of makeshift camp sites have sprung up in the hills of Nizi. They can be glimpsed from each bend of the dusty roads winding through the area. One can guess how long the sites have been there based on how they have been built: the most recent sites only have straw huts while more established settlements have some sanitary facilities such as toilets and sometimes tarpaulins to protect the shelters from the rain.
The most fortunate ones live in buildings built by humanitarian agencies. Still, none of the sites can sufficiently meet the needs of the displaced; they lack food, clean water and sanitation.
People are developing preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea and malnutrition while other diseases, such as respiratory infections and malaria, can also be directly linked to the poor living conditions. Thousands of children are affected and killed by these illnesses.
According to recent surveys carried out by MSF, the mortality rate is three times above the emergency threshold among children under the age of five who arrived during spring 2019.
“When the children get sick, I take them to the community health post in the camp”, continues Yvonne.
Community-run health posts supporting MSF health centres and hospitals
Community health posts have been set up by MSF in 19 of the 24 camps in the area. They are run by a member of the community who has been trained to recognise the most common illnesses.
They measure the children’s mid-upper arm circumference using so-called MUAC tapes to detect malnutrition. They also carry out rapid tests for malaria and check for fever and diarrhoea. They have a stock of easy-to-use medicines such as paracetamol and antimalarials which they use to provide initial treatment, and if needed, refer sick children to one of the seven health centres supported by MSF.
There is an MSF nurse working in each health centre to assist the local health staff. From there, seriously ill children are referred to Nizi General Referral hospital for hospitalisation and specialist care. At Nizi hospital, MSF supports the Ministry of Health-run intensive care and resuscitation unit, the paediatric ward, the nutrition and post-natal units.
The main aim is to treat children as early as possible to avoid medical complications. Given the huge needs in the region, the occupancy rate of the paediatric ward has often gone over100 per cent, requiring us to increase the capacity of the inpatient department. Today, the paediatric ward has a total of 56 beds.
Lack of basics in camps contributes to difficult situation for people
Yvonne lives in the Tse Lowi displacement camp with her son and six grandchildren. Her tiny hut, in which she cannot even stand up, is made of straw. Whenever it rains the whole family gets wet.
Fortunately, hygiene facilities have been installed in their camp, including latrines and enclosed areas where it is possible to wash with some privacy. That is not the case in the camps that have appeared more recently with the latest waves of displaced people, such as Kambe camp, which was built seven months ago and is currently home to 426 households that share just four makeshift latrines and have nowhere to shower.
“Kambe camp is divided into four blocks; I'm responsible for the inhabitants of block 2. There are more than 300 people living in my block”, says Aimé Mave Dhesi. “The small hut at the end of the block is our only toilet; we have no shower, so we wait until it’s dark, when nobody can see us, to wash ourselves.”
“Food is very scarce here. The few plots of onions, pumpkin and potatoes that we grow aren’t enough to feed everyone and the nearest water source is a 45-minute walk away”, explains Aimé. “The displaced people in Kambe help the locals in their fields to earn a bit of money. A typical day wage is around CDF 1,000 (or €0.50), which is barely enough to buy food, and if they get sick, their families are left with empty stomachs until they are able to go back to work.”
Since December 2019, we have scaled up our activities in order to respond to the needs of the displaced people. However, the current level of assistance is not sufficient, and people are still living in extremely poor conditions. The humanitarian community in Ituri needs to urgently address this crisis and scale up assistance.
MSF is providing medical care to displaced persons, working to improve access to clean water, and distributing mosquito nets and relief items at 34 sites in the health zones of Nizi, Drodro and Angumu.
Attacks on Marib hospitals limit medical services available to thousands of displaced people in Yemen
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 13:38:37 +0000
Sana’a, 10 February 2020 – Initial reports indicate that on 7 February, Al Jafra Hospital, and Al Saudi field hospital in Majzer District in Marib, were hit during clashes. The hospitals, which lie about 75 kilometres north west of Marib City, serve a population of about 15,000, many of them displaced people.
The facilities have been badly damaged, including the intensive care unit, occupational therapy unit, inpatients unit and the pharmacy at Al Jafra Hospital, which is the main hospital in the area. The nearby Al Saudi field hospital, a mobile clinic, was structurally damaged. In addition, a paramedic was injured. Given ongoing hostilities in the area, the hospitals were closed for the safety of staff and patients.
“This is a completely unacceptable breach of international humanitarian law”, said Ms. Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “It’s terrible that facilities upon which thousands of people depend to survive have been badly damaged.”
“The health sector has been hit very hard during this war,” said Ms. Grande. “Preventing further damage and helping to rebuild it are some of our highest priorities.”
Fighting escalated in districts in Marib and neighbouring governorates in mid-January, scattering up to 4,673 families across Marib, Sana’a and Al Jawf governorates. Many of those fleeing frontline areas were displaced for the second time and have exhausted all their resources. Humanitarians have been rushing to respond to the thousands of people displaced across the region in recent weeks. This includes providing emergency kits of food, hygiene supplies, shelter materials and other essential items to 1,884 families, as well as providing life-saving water, sanitation and hygiene; health; nutrition and protection services.
Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with nearly 80 per cent of the population in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and protection. Ten million people are a step away from famine and 7 million people are malnourished.
Protection needed for new caravans of Central Americans fleeing violence
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 12:52:27 +0000
Despite being deported at the Mexican border earlier this year, many Central Americans are embarking on the dangerous journey again in search of safety.
Two caravans of people have left San Pedro Sula in Honduras towards Mexico and the US so far this year. Many people in the latest caravan, which departed on 31 January, are reported to have already participated in the first caravan earlier this year and been deported.
"I was deported but I decided to run again. I will try to reach the US as many times as necessary because my country is not safe for me," said Oscar* who has tried to flee from his home country Honduras six times since 2018 due to death threats.
"Central Americans are left with an impossible choice; flee again under dangerous circumstances and risk kidnapping, abuse or death at the hands of organised crime groups or stay in their home countries and face life-threatening violence and extreme poverty," said the Norwegian Refugee Council's (NRC) Country Director Dominika Arseniuk.
In order to avoid stricter border security measures recently put in place by Guatemala and Mexico under pressure from the US, desperate people are now travelling in smaller, dispersed groups by foot, trucks and buses.
"With situations similar to those in war zones in their home countries, pregnant women, minors and elderly choose to set out on the dangerous journey towards Mexico and the US time and again. Along the route they need food, safe shelter and medical assistance, but most of all they need protection," Arseniuk said.
States are obliged to respect the fundamental principle of non-refoulement prescribed by international refugee law.
"No one in need of international protection should be deported back to Honduras or El Salvador where their lives may be under direct threat. Authorities in the US and Mexico must guarantee people who are fleeing for their safety the right to state their case and seek asylum," she added.
*Name changed for security reasons.
Notes to editor:
NRC has spokespersons available for interviews in the region.
Photos and stories can be downloaded for free use here
The first caravan of 2020 set out from San Pedro Sula, Honduras on 15 January, and quickly grew to more than 4,000 people. In order to avoid increasing border security, people travelled in smaller, dispersed groups (up to 20 or 30 people), by foot, trucks and buses.
On the 31 January, another caravan left San Pedro Sula. Approximately 100 people convened in the bus station and set out in small groups, mostly on foot or hitchhiking, crossing the border at Agua Caliente.
Reports from community-based organisations highlight that many people in this latest caravan had already participated in the first caravan earlier this year and had been deported.
According to estimations by partner organisations in Guatemala, families, unaccompanied minors, LGBTI people and pregnant women make up at least a third of the members of the caravans.
The people fleeing are in urgent need off food, shelter, medical assistance, information and other basic humanitarian aid.
NRC is present through local humanitarian partners in Guatemala City and Tecun Uman providing food, water and hygiene kits, among other assistance. NRC is also present in the Centre for Returnees in Honduras to support people fleeing in the caravans with information on the shelters in route and asylum procedures in Guatemala and Mexico. In El Salvador, the NRC team has distributed hydration kits on the border with Guatemala and has identified cases of families with protection risks who could not join the caravan and will be supported.
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Armed groups in Mali escalate attacks on civilians
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 06:32:12 +0000
Mali: Militias, Armed Islamists Ravage Central Mali
Authorities Need to Hold Armed Groups to Account
(Bamako) – Armed groups in Mali have escalated their attacks on civilians, massacring people in their villages, and executing men pulled from public transportation vehicles based on their ethnicity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Many villagers were burned alive, while others were blown up by explosive devices. Malian authorities should urgently step up investigations and prosecutions of those responsible.
The 90-page report, “How Much More Blood Must be Spilled? Atrocities Against Civilians in Central Mali” is based on witness accounts from dozens of attacks by armed groups in 2019, during which at least 456 civilians were killed, and hundreds wounded. The epicenter of the violence was in central Mali; and 2019 was the deadliest for civilians since the advent of Mali’s 2012 political and military crisis. Attacks against civilians have continued in 2020.
“Armed groups are killing, maiming and terrorizing communities throughout central Mali with no apparent fear of being held to account,” said Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The human toll in shattered lives is mounting as the deadly cycles of violence and revenge continue.”
Human Rights watch visited central Mali and the capital, Bamako, four times in 2019, and also conducted phone interviews. Human Rights Watch interviewed 147 victims of abuses and witnesses, as well as leaders from the ethnic Peuhl, Dogon, and Tellem communities, security and justice officials, diplomats, aid workers, and security analysts, among others.
Violence in central Mali has escalated steadily since 2015, when armed Islamist groups allied to Al-Qaeda began moving from northern into central Mali. Since then, they and groups recently allied with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, have attacked government security forces and committed atrocities against civilians. The documented attacks took place in more than 50 hamlets and villages primarily near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso and have led to widespread displacement and hunger.
The recruitment by armed Islamists of pastoralist Peuhl, or Fulani, has inflamed tensions with agrarian communities, which formed self-defense groups in the face of inadequate government security. Easy access to military weapons and impunity have contributed to the lethality of the attacks.
Dogon self-defense group attacks on the Peuhl community for their perceived support of armed Islamists included 2019’s first atrocity – the January 1 killing of 39 Peuhl civilians in Koulogon – as well as Mali’s worst atrocity in recent years: the March 23 killing of over 150 Peuhl civilians in Ogossagou.
A mother from Ogossagou said that armed men set her house on fire and then ripped her 5-year-old son from her arms as she fled: “They shot my little boy and only spared my second child when they realized she wasn’t a boy.” Other survivors said armed men threw grenades into houses, including the home of a religious leader filled with villagers seeking refuge. “Windows were popping, there was the sound of fire and explosions and screaming,” one survivor said.
Communal attacks by armed Peuhl men include the June 9 massacre of 35 Dogon civilians, in Sobane-Da, and the killing of traders returning from local markets. Describing a family who perished in Sobane-Da, a witness said, “Their charred bodies were entwined, clutching each other, like it was their last moment together.”
Atrocities by armed Islamists include the killing of at least 38 civilians in simultaneous attacks on Yoro Gangafani II villages. A witness described the killing of a family member: “He grabbed his 4-year-old, but the child cried out, alerting the jihadists who kicked in the door, dragged him out, and shot him in the head.” Other civilians were executed after being dragged out of public transport vehicles.
Over 50 other civilians were killed by explosive devices allegedly planted by armed Islamists including 17 people who died when the boobytrapped body of a man with a mental disability, allegedly killed a few days earlier by armed Islamists, exploded as his family was burying him.
Human Rights Watch believes the total number of civilians killed in communal and armed Islamist attacks in 2019 is much higher than those documented, given the relentless “tit-for-tat” killings of people as they tended cattle or worked in their fields.
The Malian government promised to bring those responsible for the worst atrocities to justice. In 2019, Malian courts opened several investigations and convicted about 45 people for smaller incidents of communal violence. However, judicial authorities had yet to question let alone prosecute powerful armed group leaders implicated in numerous massacres.
Many villagers said the lack of accountability was emboldening armed groups to commit further abuses. Since 2015, Human Rights Watch has documented the killings by ethnic militias and armed Islamists of almost 800 civilians. Only two murder trials have taken place. “People have learned they can kill and burn and destroy without consequence,” said an elder from central Mali.
Malian authorities should devote greater energy and resources to appropriately investigate and prosecute all those responsible for the serious abuses, Human Rights Watch said. Mali’s international partners should increase support for the judiciary in central Mali and the Bamako-based Specialized Judicial Unit for Terrorism and Organized Crime, whose mandate was expanded in 2019 to include war crimes and other grave international offenses.
“The Malian government’s failure to punish armed groups on all sides is emboldening them to commit further atrocities,” Dufka said. “The government, with the help of its international partners, needs to do much more to prosecute those responsible for crimes and dismantle abusive armed groups.”
Comisionada Adjunta de ACNUR pide aumentar respuesta a refugiados nicaragüenses en Costa Rica
Sun, 09 Feb 2020 18:50:22 +0000
La alta comisionada adjunta para los refugiados, Kelly Clements, de visita en Costa Rica, dijo que es necesario "aumentar la respuesta" a los migrantes nicaragüenses en la vecina nación centroamericana.
La funcionaria de ACNUR hizo la afirmación en Twitter tras realizar una visita a la zona norte de Costa Rica, el sábado (8 de febrero).
"Estoy en Upala (cantón), norte de Costa Rica, donde he escuchado dramáticas historias de campesinos, estudiantes y otras personas que huyeron de Nicaragua por su opinión política. Necesitamos aumentar la respuesta a estas personas. El apoyo internacional es clave en este esfuerzo", escribió Clements en un tweet en su segundo y último día de visita a ese país centroamericano.
En su visita a esta zona fronteriza con Nicaragua, Clements conoció un proyecto agrícola que fue construido por solicitantes de asilo, quienes quieren ser autosuficientes y solidarios con quienes más lo necesitan dentro del grupo de migrantes de la zona.
Allí se reunió con Francisca Ramírez, encargada de desarrollar el proyecto en el cual, según reseñó un funcionario de ACNUR, ya casi están listas las cosechas de yuca, plátano y frijol.
Ramírez respondió a la alta comisionada adjunta manifestando la esperanza de que la visita ponga de relieve la situación y necesidades de los nicaraguenses que han tenido que dejar su país.
Al inicio de la gira de Clements por Costa Rica, el 7 de febrero, se anunció que ese país recibirá 4.1 millones de dólares en cooperación del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) para atender de forma integral las necesidades de las personas solicitantes de asilo y refugiadas en condición de pobreza en esa nación centroamericana.
Ese mismo día la Alta Comisionada Adjunta para los Refugiados también se reunió con presidente costarricense, Carlos Alvarado, autoridades seguridad y migración, así como la embajadora de Estados Unidos en Costa Rica, Sharon Day.
Tras su visita de dos días a Costa Rica, la funcionaria partió hacia El Salvador. Su última escala de su gira regional incluirá a Panamá.
More than 14 million people facing acute hunger in one of the largest food crises in Southern Africa
Fri, 07 Feb 2020 17:14:11 +0000
Severe food insecurity rates across nine southern African countries are 140% higher now than in 2018, primarily because people are being hit by weather extremes driven by climate change, according to Oxfam, CARE, Plan International and World Vision.
Across the Southern Africa region there are now 14.4 million people facing acute levels of hunger, compared to 6 million at the same time in 2018.
Southern African countries have appealed for $1.1 billion to help them cope with the food crisis but they have received only half of what is needed. The agencies said that donors must urgently fund the UN humanitarian appeals to help save lives.
“Our region is losing its part of the UN’s fight for ‘zero hunger by 2030’ – as described in its Sustainable Development Goals – because subtropical region of Southern Africa are warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and being battered by repeated weather shocks,” said Nellie Nyang’wa, Oxfam’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.
Zimbabwe is the hardest hit country by proportion, with 5.8 million people facing severe levels of food insecurity across urban and rural areas. Zambia has 2.3 million people affected; Mozambique 2 million, and Malawi 1.9 million.
In the past two years, the region has experienced three major cyclones, floods, a drought characterized by the lowest rainfall since 1981 in the months between October and December, as well as record warm temperatures in the first half of 2019.
These unusual and disruptive weather patterns have resulted in large scale crop losses which affected the availability of maize, a staple food, and driven prices up across the region in 2019.“The cyclones, flash-floods and droughts that in the past used to be extreme are now being suffered as ‘normal’ by our farmers. The climate crisis is not just hitting people in sudden spikes of humanitarian emergencies, but it is undermining their ability to build up their reserves and assets and resilience day-by-day-by-day,” Nyang’wa added.
“The climate crisis here is a permanent one, ripping away the coping mechanisms that people here have relied upon for generations to help see their communities and families through the lean times. This crisis is not an occasional headline – for the people of Southern Africa, it’s now a profound way of life.”
“This climate crisis is preying on people’s poverty and worsening levels of inequality. And we see its effects now in these rocketing malnutrition rates. And as always it is the women and children who are hit first,” Nyang’wa said.
“The scale of the drought devastation across Southern Africa is staggering. Over the past five years, continuous failed agricultural seasons meant that countries have not had adequate time to recover and their national reserves of grains have depleted. Zimbabwe alone has had a cereal deficit of 1m tonnes in the past year,” she said.
More frequent droughts have had a devastating impact on small scale farmers, in particular women who do the majority of agriculture in the Southern Africa region. Dolly Nleya, a farmer in Bulilima, southern Zimbabwe told Oxfam: “Climate change is killing our crops as the ones we planted are now drying up. Drought is also eating up the grazing land that our livestock feed on.”“Women and girls are the worst affected during times of drought and women often suffer disproportionally from climate change shocks. Women bear majority of responsibility for households including ensuring families have food and water as well as household chores and child rearing. They are also usually the last to eat and first to skip meals. We have spoken to mothers, like 18 year-old single mother Rachel in southern Zimbabwe, who say they often skip meals for 1-2 days in order to make sure their children eat” said Matthew Pickard, CARE International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.
“As CARE, we are making sure we provide a gender sensitive approach in our drought response and resilience programming, to ensure the most vulnerable groups such as women and girls are prioritised and empowered, and that their specific needs are met. This includes working with women to set up village savings and loans associations, income diversification and other climate resilience building programmes.” Pickard added.
Ndjiole from Angola, at 16, should be at school. Instead, he was forced to leave home to look for pasture and water for his family’s cattle. “We are farmers and we could not harvest since the last cropping season. We only have our cattle left. If we lose them, we will die of hunger,” Ndjiole told World Vision.
“We are extremely concerned at the increasing number of adolescent girls who are being married off so that the families can earn the next meal,” said Stuart Katwikirize, Plan International Regional Head of Disaster Risk Management.
“Alarmingly, we are seeing an increase in girls resorting to sex for payment just to put food on the table, earning as little as 40 cents each time. Increasing commodity prices and lack of available food mean some feel they have no other option. We are incredibly concerned about the long-term impact of this kind of abuse on young girls.'' said Maxwell Sibhensana, World Vision's Southern Africa Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Director.
Ahead of the AU Heads of States Summit meeting the four aid agencies are calling upon the Southern African leaders to:
- Increase investments in early warnings and early action systems on natural hazards which are accountable to communities.
- promote agro-ecological approaches to transition towards more just and sustainable food systems and increase farmers’ resilience in the face of climate change. This is crucial to achieve a positive and sustainable transformation of family farming in Southern Africa.
- implement agricultural policies that will enable people to feed themselves, in line with the AU’s Malabo Declaration’s commitment of investing 10 per cent of national budget in agriculture.
They are also urging donors to:
- increase their contributions to the humanitarian appeals, especially since only 51.2% of Zimbabwe’s needed funds and 47.2% of Mozambique needed funds and 23% of Zambia‘s needed funds, were respectively met.
- Demonstrate how the US $100bn / year climate finance promise to developing countries is being met in this deadline year.
- Commit to scale up adaptation finance in particular, which has been neglected to date and work with Southern African governments to invest in long term programmes that will help build the people’s ability to cope with future crises.
Oxfam estimates that in recent years, least developed countries – like Mozambique– have received on average as little as $3 per person per year in net assistance specifically targeting adaptation. This equates to less than a cent a day to protect themselves from climate extremes.
World Vision International
Fresh violence in northern Mozambique forces thousands to flee
Fri, 07 Feb 2020 11:53:11 +0000
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, the UN Refugee Agency, is boosting its response in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province where recent escalation of violence forced thousands to flee for their lives. At least 100,000 people are now displaced throughout the province.
There has been a dramatic increase of brutal attacks by armed groups over the past months, with the recent weeks being the most volatile period since the incidents began in October 2017. In total, at least 28 attacks were carried out in the province since the beginning of the year. The attacks have now spread across nine out of the 16 districts in Cabo Delgado. The province is one of the least developed parts of Mozambique. Attacks are now spreading towards the southern districts of Cabo Delgado, prompting people to flee to Pemba, the provincial capital. One of the latest incidents took place only 100 kilometres away from Pemba.
Armed groups have been randomly targeting local villages and terrorizing the local population. Those fleeing speak of killings, maiming, and torture, burnt homes, destroyed crops and shops. We have reports of beheadings, kidnappings and disappearances of women and children.
The attackers’ at times warn the local population where and when they will strike, creating panic as people rush to flee their villages. Most leave everything behind, having no time to take any belongings, food or ID documents. So far hundreds of villages have been burned or are now completely abandoned as attackers carry out a wide and indiscriminate campaign of terror. Government institutions have also been targeted.
Civilians have fled in many directions, including to small islands, where many have nowhere to stay. Some, among them many children and women, are sleeping rough and have limited access to clean water. The majority of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) have taken refuge with families or friends adding pressure to already meagre local resources. Many displaced live in very poor conditions. Six people died of diarrhoea last month on Matemo island.
In response to the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, and at the request of the Mozambican Government to all humanitarian agencies, UNHCR is expanding its presence in the province to better respond to the growing needs of the displaced population. Many are survivors of violence and human rights violations and in urgent need of protection and psycho-social support.
UNHCR will help coordinate all protection activities in partnership with the Government. UNHCR will be deploying additional aid and staff to meet the need, initially for 15,000 IDPs and hosts communities in the coming weeks.
Many areas affected by the attacks have also been devasted by cyclone Kenneth in April 2019. At that time, some 160,000 people had been directly impacted and were in need of assistance. People in Cabo Delgado have also been seriously affected by recent floods, which destroyed bridges, further limiting their access to food and other resources.
UNHCR is appealing for urgent and strong support to scale up its response in Mozambique. Meanwhile, UNHCR is committing US$ 2 million from its operational reserve in order to meet the initial needs.
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Violence, drought, flooding, and now a locust invasion devastates Horn of Africa
Fri, 07 Feb 2020 08:50:26 +0000
People in the Horn of Africa are increasingly caught between extremes. In 2019 the region see-sawed between crippling drought and devastating floods, eroding already-fragile livelihoods and forcing people to abandon their homes. Many of them were already displaced from their homes by violence.
Today, these communities face yet another threat: locusts.
Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya are facing their worst locust outbreak in decades.
Millions of locusts are moving from community to community, devouring hundreds of kilometres of vegetation. For farmers who already lost their crops to droughts and floods, the pests are a particularly devastating blow. Somalia declared a national emergency for fear the swarms will deepen already dire levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.
"The locusts are coming on the heels of a year marked by conditions that were either too hot and dry or too wet," said Juerg Eglin, Head of ICRC Delegation for Somalia. "People already on the run from violence saw their animals wither and die in drought, their crops washed away by floodwaters, and now what remains be eaten by locusts. There is only so much families can withstand."
A seemingly endless drought
The Horn of Africa was in the middle a drought at the start of 2019. From March to May 2019, rainfall was less than 50 percent of the annual average across the Horn of Africa.
Communities in Somalia feared that they would experience a severe drought similar to the one they faced between the years of 2016 and 2017. When the Gu rains finally came, they were late and not enough. Crops failed, and it became increasingly dicult for communities to keep their livestock alive.
"I had 400 goats and five camels in 2016," said Ali, a 63-year-old father of 11 children who lives in Somalia's Galgaduud region. "The drought ate 100 of my goats and three camels. Then came 2017: out of the 300 goats remaining, the drought again claimed 150 goats and the remaining two camels. I started 2018 with a total of 150 goats which were decimated, leaving me with only 40. This year (2019) I have a small heard of 50—weak, but alive."
After months of eking out a living on parched earth, people then faced a barrage of torrential rain that unleashed the worst floods in decades.
A case of severe flooding
The rain that fell across the Horn of Africa from October to November was three times above average. The unusually high amount of rainfall was blamed on high temperatures in the Indian Ocean that led to higher evaporation followed by precipitation inland. The result of this was heavy rainfall and severe flooding. Crops were lost, and livestock swept away.
Kenya saw 31 of its 47 counties aected by flash floods and overflowing rivers. Many suered landslides that destroyed homes and livelihoods. The Kenya Red Cross estimated in December that some 160,000 people were aected by flooding or mudslides triggered by the heavy rains. Kenya Red Cross volunteers helped families evacuate to safer areas and delivered emergency relief items.
On top of these heavy rains, Somalia was also hit at the end of the year by Cyclone Pawan, which triggered even more flooding. In the town of Beledweyne, thousands of people were displaced, their crops destroyed, and their transport systems paralyzed.
The locust invasion
Today, with communities still reeling from a tumultuous 2019, a new threat has emerged: locusts.
Desert locusts, which can eat their own weight every day, have already destroyed large swaths of crops and pasture in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. New swarms keep emerging, each with the potential to travel 150 kilometres a day. If unchecked, the pests could spread even further, threatening communities in neighbouring South Sudan and Uganda.
Climate scientists say that the wet weather at the end of 2019 created perfect conditions for the pests. For people like Asha, who live in Ethiopia's Somali Regional State, the locusts destroyed what remained of her crops after being forced to flee her home because of violence and enduring droughts and floods.
When back-to-back climate shocks collide with violence, the results can be devastating. People can find themselves uprooted again and again from their homes.
Their livelihoods and assets dwindle away. 2019 saw thousands of people in the region displaced from their homes by climate shocks or violence.
This locust invasion comes at a time when farming communities are preparing to harvest their crops between the months of March and April. The current situation could aect their livelihood and their means of survival in the coming months.
The true impact of the locust invasion is yet to be seen, but one thing is clear: climate extremes are increasingly becoming the norm in the Horn of Africa.
Over 55,000 grave violations against children in conflict affected areas in Africa since 2013
Fri, 07 Feb 2020 08:14:09 +0000
There have been more than 55,882 grave violations against children in conflict affected areas in Africa between 2014 and 2018 according to new analysis by Save the Children . This includes children being killed, maimed or sexually assaulted - despite commitments by African leaders to end all wars on the continent by 2020.
The last five UN Children and Armed Conflict Annual Reports reveal there has been limited progress made towards protecting children in Africa, since the African Union's flagship campaign to "Silence the Guns" was launched in 2013. The agency is concerned that while some steps have been taken by African leaders to curb violent attacks on children, progress has been too slow.
Revealed ahead of the African Union's (AU) 33rd Assembly in Addis Ababa on 9-10 February, the figures show there has been an increase in incidents of four out of the six UN-mandated grave violations against children in Africa in times of war since 2014.
The greatest increase has been in the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, which has more than doubled in Africa in five years .
Since 2014 in Africa:
- Over 11,000 children have been killed or maimed in conflict
- Over 24,000 children have been recruited and used by armed groups
- Over 4,600 children, mostly girls, have been sexually assaulted in conflict
- There have been more than 3,500 attacks on schools and hospitals .
Stephen, 16, is from South Sudan. He survived an attack on his village but lost one of his friends in the chaos. He told Save the Children:
"*Fighting started immediately and everyone ran. We all ran into the bush. After that, we came back. I found the parents of that boy [my schoolmate], and I asked them, how is my colleague? They said, we have not seen him and we don't know where he has gone... I said to the parents, this is so painful to me.*
"Our government should ensure that children stay in a safe place, and not join armed groups. Our parents should advise children not to join armed groups but to go to school... Like this friend of mine, where we don't know he has gone, and he has lost a lot of opportunities."
Save the Children is calling on AU member states and all parties to conflict on the continent to work towards ending wars and to protect children during conflicts. Any child who has been forcibly displaced must be protected from recruitment into armed groups, trafficking and smuggling, violent extremism and radicalisation.
AU member states must also prioritize meaningful and sustained engagement of boys and girls affected by conflict in the decision-making processes that lead to actions to protect them, including in prevention, response and post-conflict reconstruction programs.
Mariam, 18, is a member of the Advisory Council for Children and Young People of Mali.
"*In Mali the situation of the children is really critical. We see children being killed, raped; some of them have seen brothers and parents killed in front of them. So many fields, schools and hospitals have been destroyed.*
"When I have met forcibly displaced children in camps, they were so traumatized they could not even talk about what happened. Some of them don't have anything to eat, where they stay they are at risk of infection and disease."
In light of the more than 3,000 attacks on schools across the continent over the past five years, Save the Children calls on all AU Member states to take stronger steps to protect education from attack and for those countries who have not done so to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration. Current signatories to the Safe Schools Declaration must ensure it's implemented.
Doris Mpoumou, Save the Children's Representative to the African Union, said:
"*In 2013 African leaders came together at the AU in Addis Ababa with an ambitious plan to end violence and conflict on the continent by 2020 and create the conditions for a more peaceful and prosperous continent for all. Sadly, while some limited progress has been made, what we see today is an Africa still plagued by conflict and insecurity. As always, children are on the frontline.*
"This African Union summit is an opportunity to revisit this ambition of 2013 and reflect on why the situation has largely stayed the same, despite commitments by leaders. AU member states and all parties to conflict on the continent must find consensual, meaningful and sustainable ways to end wars and protect children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. While we thank African leaders for the ongoing commitment to Silencing the Guns, we call on them now to add a sense of urgency to their work -- real action needs to be taken to stop the war on children."
Save the Children has been advocating for stronger national and regional mechanisms to protect children affected by armed conflict in Africa for nearly a decade. In October 2019, Save the Children co-hosted the inaugural Pan-African Conference on Children and Armed Conflict, in order to reinvigorate policy action in conflict-affected African countries, and develop a Road Map for action to protect children in during conflicts.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 Save the Children analysed verified data from the African countries featured in the five most recent UN CAAC Reports [2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018], which monitor, document and report on "six grave violations" committed against children in situations of concern around the world. The six grave violations are based on their suitability for monitoring and verification, their egregious nature and the severity of their consequences on the lives of children. The CAAC Reports only include violations verified by the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM), meaning they are just the tip of the iceberg as many violations are underreported. Save the Children's analysis assessed the number of violations in each African country in the reports, by violation, across five years. The analysis reveals that in 2014 there were 6620 grave violations; 2015 -- 12,359 grave violations; 2016 - 11,516 grave violations; 2017 -- 13,613 grave violations; 2018 -- 11,774 grave violations.
 Save the Children's analysis described in  reveals that there has been an increase in killing and maiming of children (1880 cases in 2014; 2161 cases in 2018); Recruitment or use of children as soldiers (2285 cases in 2014; 5520 cases in 2018); abduction of children (711 cases in 2014; 2358 cases in 2018); and denial of humanitarian access for children (325 cases in 2014; 415 cases in 2018).
 Save the Children's analysis described in  reveals that since 2014 in Africa there have been at least 24,183 verified instances of recruitment and use of children in conflict; at least 11,369 children killed or maimed in conflict; at least 4,678 verified instances of sexual violence against children in conflict; at least 3,062 verified attacks on schools; at least 473 verified instances of attacks on hospitals; at least 9,284 verified abductions of children; and at least 2,833 verified instances of denial of humanitarian assistance.
CERF releases $30 million to urgently save lives and reduce civilian suffering in northwest Syria
Thu, 06 Feb 2020 21:50:35 +0000
(New York, 06 February 2020): UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock today announced, at a UN Security Council meeting, the release of US$30 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to immediately scale-up shelter and other critical assistance to thousands of civilians bearing the brunt of the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria.
Air strikes and shelling have forced an estimated 586,000 people, mostly women and children, to move in the attempt to find safety. Some 200,000 people moved in the 8 days between 26 January and 2 February. An additional 280,000 people from urban centres in the region, face an imminent risk of displacement if military operations continue.
“We have seen chaotic pictures in town after town as vehicles line up in every direction trying to flee. People who have just moved cannot find adequate shelter. Tens of thousands are crammed into schools, mosques and unfinished buildings. Many are in tents in the mud, exposed to wind, rain and freezing weather,” said Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock.
The CERF funds will help to provide shelter and other essential relief items in the harsh winter.
UN and humanitarian partners are doing everything possible to address the significant needs of some 3 million people in north-west Syria. In January, 1,227 trucks filled with humanitarian aid were sent through Bab alHawa and Bab al-Salam border crossings. Some 900 trucks carried food assistance for 1.4 million people.
Others carried health supplies for about half a million people, and other relief items for over 230,000 people. “This is the most aid the UN has sent across the border in any month since the operation was authorized in 2014,” said Mr. Lowcock.
This week, the humanitarian community released a $336 million Humanitarian Readiness and Response Plan for northwest Syria to address the needs of up to 800,000 people over a six-month period. The CERF allocation will help kick start the plan.
Despite immense efforts by humanitarian organisations, needs are growing exponentially in northwest Syria.
How severe the crisis becomes will depend on whether a solution can be found to ease the situation for those still in harm’s way and those crammed into an ever-smaller area in the northwest of Idlib. “A ceasefire would be a first step, as would the implementation of obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure,” said Mr. Lowcock.
This $30 million for Syria is in addition to the $44 million allocated in December in response to the Syria crisis, which also covered the needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
CERF funds kick-start or reinforce emergency lifesaving response across the world. Since its inception in 2006, CERF has assisted hundreds of millions of people by providing more than $6 billion to over 100 countries and territories thanks to generous and consistent donor support.
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UN remains concerned about conflict impact on Libyans
Thu, 06 Feb 2020 19:44:56 +0000
The United Nations remains concerned about the continued impact of fighting in Libya on civilians.
Rocket attacks and heavy artillery shelling continued on 5 February, in the Abusliem and Salaheddine districts of Tripoli. At least one civilian was killed and five others injured.
Local schools in Abusliem district are due to re-open next week. The United Nations reminds all parties of their obligation under international humanitarian law to take constant care to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools.
Read more on UNOCHA.
Hope and anxiety as Congolese refugees return home from Angola
Thu, 06 Feb 2020 09:17:47 +0000
UNHCR is supporting thousands of displaced Congolese to return from exile as relative calm returns to their homeland.
By Alexandra Stenbock-Fermor and Lubiana Gosp-Server in Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo | 06 February 2020
Although UNHCR gave them cash assistance, registered their numbers and helped them with transport where possible, many still face extremely difficult conditions. They walked for days, sleeping on roadsides and carrying all their belongings. Some families who returned spontaneously are uncertain about where to go, or fear going back to their homes.
“Many pregnant women, old and vulnerable people started going on the roads to leave Angola,” recalls Rose, 54, who also decided to come back with her husband and children before organized convoys started.
“When, we arrived, we stayed with host families and in churches. Some churches were hosting five families, some hosted ten,” she adds.
The organized returns began in October last year, following a Tripartite Agreement between UNHCR and the Governments of Angola and DRC. UNHCR aims to complete the exercise in the first quarter of 2020, reaching roughly 19,000 returnees.
A few weeks after their return, UNHCR visited families in Tshikapa, a city in Kasai where many chose to return to.
Being home is a relief but even with the assistance to cover their basic needs, many are still struggling.
Chadrack Neta lives in a rented house with four of his children; one of his daughters went missing during the conflict. He also lost his farm and property when they fled Kasai. Another daughter now walks with crutches after she was attacked by armed men and his wife was shot and still needs critical medical assistance.
“Before the war, I owned a farm where I had pigs, chicken, sheep and many other things,” says Chadrack. “I even had a fish farm. I once received a call saying that my farm had now been given to someone else. I do not know how I will ever get it back.”
He adds that when the family returned, they received some money from UNHCR which he used to pay school fees for his children.
“However, it is too little to buy shoes, clothes or school uniforms,” he explains. “I have a disabled daughter – how can I even buy crutches? They are expensive here. Their mother has a bullet in her body and she needs surgery, X-rays and medical exams. It is expensive.”
Assiya, another returnee who came back to Tshikapa with her husband Moussa and their three children, adds that the cash assistance is not enough.
“We paid four months of rent in advance with the money given to us,” she says. “We are wondering what we will do afterwards, since we are renting and our money is running out.”
Thousands of returnees are looking for lasting solutions to help them restart their lives.
The DRC needs more investment and support in its efforts to improve public infrastructure like schools, health centers and social services, which in turn will ensure a safe and dignified return for Congolese refugees who choose to come back home.
Global measles vaccination drive to protect up to 45 million children
Thu, 06 Feb 2020 04:33:26 +0000
Vaccination campaigns in seven countries to tackle rise in measles cases worldwide
London, 5 February 2020 – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance will help vaccinate up to 45 million children in seven developing countries over the next six months in a series of major vaccination campaigns to help halt a recent surge in global measles cases.
The campaigns will be carried out by governments with funding from Gavi and support from Vaccine Alliance and Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) partners, including World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF. They will target children under five years old, the age group most vulnerable to the disease, with Bangladesh also aiming to reach children under nine years old.
In addition Gavi, with support from Vaccine Alliance partners, will help Madagascar and Mauritania introduce a second dose of measles-containing vaccine into their routine immunisation programmes. Over a million children every year in the two countries will receive this vital second dose, which increases the vaccine’s effectiveness from around 84 per cent to per cent.
Reported measles cases worldwide fell from over 850,000 in 2000 to 132,000 in 2016, largely as a result of increases in vaccine coverage in the world’s poorest countries. However, in recent years cases have surged dramatically. In 2018 there were nearly 360,000 cases recorded globally. Provisional data reported to WHO shows this climbed again in 2019, with almost 430,000 cases reported for the year to date.
“The measles vaccine is safe, effective and low-cost – there is no reason children should still be dying of this disease,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “While the headlines might focus on rising cases in Europe and the US, it is sadly still the case that the vast majority of measles deaths are happening in the world’s poorest countries, where poor health systems mean children are often left to fight the disease without treatment or support. That’s why these vaccination campaigns are so important, protecting the next generation so they can survive and thrive in later life. The use of tailored and targeted approaches in these campaigns is vital to ensure we leave no child behind.”
“Measles is a devastating disease that is causing severe sickness and taking lives,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “No matter where they live, vaccination helps children survive, thrive, and lead a long and healthy life. WHO is proud to be working with Gavi and partners to ensure lifesaving measles vaccines reach where they are needed most.”
“Measles cases rose alarmingly in 2019, affecting hundreds of thousands of children and claiming many young lives,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “We need to vaccinate every child. These measles outbreaks have taught us that we need to stay vigilant. We can’t afford to wait and watch.”
The vaccination campaigns will take place in the following countries:
Bangladesh, where Gavi will fund measles-Rubella vaccines for over 15.5 million children under five years old. The government of Bangladesh will also support the vaccination of a further 17 million children up to nine years old.
Central African Republic, where around 1 million children will receive the measles vaccine in the second phase of a campaign that began last year.
Ethiopia, where nearly 15 million children will receive the measles vaccine.
Kenya, where up to 7 million children will receive the measles-rubella vaccine.
Nepal, where nearly 3 million children will receive the measles-rubella vaccine.
Somalia, where around 1.4 million children will receive the measles vaccine in the continuation of a campaign that began last year.
South Sudan, where over 2.5 million children will receive the measles vaccine.
As well as funding preventive measles and measles-rubella vaccination campaigns, Gavi supports the introduction of measles-containing vaccines into routine immunization programmes across the developing world. In order to encourage countries to strengthen routine immunization and reach unvaccinated children, Gavi also supports subnational measles campaigns and enhanced routine immunization activities targeted at reaching previously missed children.
The Vaccine Alliance also provides funding to the M&RI to support their work responding to measles outbreaks in developing countries. With Gavi's support, M&RI has vaccinated 54 million children during measles outbreaks alone between 2012 and 2018.
Between 2000-2018 the Vaccine Alliance’s support for measles vaccinations has reached over 118 million children through routine immunisation and more than 524 million children through measles and measles-rubella vaccination campaigns.
In June this year, the UK will host Gavi’s donor pledging conference in London, where donors will aim to raise at least US$7.4 billion to help vaccinate a further 300 million children against 18 diseases between 2021-25.
“Measles kills tens of thousands of children worldwide every year,” said UK International Development Secretary Alok Sharma. “Yet with vaccines these deaths are entirely preventable. I’m proud the UK will help vaccinate millions of children through Gavi’s campaigns, and will bring together donors in London in June to pledge even more support for future vaccinations.”
Notes to editors
About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing equitable use of vaccines in lower-income countries. The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. Gavi uses innovative finance mechanisms to secure sustainable funding and adequate supply of quality vaccines. Since 2000, Gavi has contributed to the immunisation of over 760 million children and the prevention of more than 13 million future deaths. Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is supported by donor governments (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Principality of Monaco, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the State of Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States), the European Commission, Alwaleed Philanthropies, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as private and corporate partners (Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., The Audacious Alliance, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, China Merchants Group, Comic Relief, Deutsche Post DHL, the ELMA Vaccines and Immunization Foundation, Girl Effect, The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW), the Gulf Youth Alliance, JP Morgan, Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Mastercard, Majid Al Futtaim, Orange, Philips, Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, UPS and Vodafone).
James Fulker, email@example.com, Mob: +41 79 429 5505
Frédérique Tissandier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sabrina SidhuUNICEF New YorkTel: +1 917 476 1537Email: email@example.com
One year on from peace agreement, millions of children in the Central African Republic remain at risk
Thu, 06 Feb 2020 04:26:22 +0000
Statement attributable to UNICEF’s Representative in CAR, Christine Muhigana
NEW YORK/BANGUI, 6 February 2020 – “One year since a peace agreement was signed between the Central African Government and other parties to the conflict, the lives of millions of children across the country continue to be threatened by violence and a lack of access to food, health care, education, water and sanitation.
“More than 500 grave child rights violations  were reported between January and December 2019 . As these are just the verified instances, the true numbers are almost certainly far higher. Whilst it is incredibly difficult to estimate how many children remain associated with armed groups, these children are among the most vulnerable in the country and their fate remains unclear.
But there are also signs of hope.
“We welcome the formal commitment of more armed groups to prevent grave violations against children and the fact that children continue to be released, either through joint advocacy efforts or through the national demobilization programme.
“We also welcome the country’s efforts to adopt a national Child Protection Code. When this code is adopted, it will be a critical tool to ensure and enforce the protection of Central African children from all forms of violations of their fundamental rights, including recruitment and use in armed groups and forces. Through joint advocacy efforts of UNICEF and its partners, including the ‘ACT to protect children affected by conflict’ campaign that was launched last May, a draft code is now in front of the Parliament for adoption. The introduction of this code will represent a historic moment for this country, and for the lives of children today and tomorrow.”
“A transition towards peace and more stability also translates into better access to the most vulnerable children for UNICEF and its partners: special immunization activities are reaching more children and through our mobile clinics programme, we have been able to access even the most isolated and remote communities and deliver critical support to thousands of children suffering from malnutrition. Latest data show a significant decrease in the cases of acute malnutrition among children under five compared to 2018, with a 5.8 per cent prevalence of general acute malnutrition in 2019 , down from 7.1 per cent in the previous year . Progress on addressing chronic malnutrition rates, however, has been stagnant for the past 20 years , which shows the need to put more efforts and investments into long-term preventive measures for mothers and their children.”
“Additionally, we see a growing number of initiatives that have the potential to create life-changing opportunities for Central African children: in a country where the primary school dropout rate is estimated at 40 per cent as a result of insecurity , initiatives like teaching programmes on the radio, which are being piloted by UNICEF in Bangui and Bambari, can be a lifeline for children whose school attendance has been disrupted by years of conflict and displacement.”
“These preliminary results, although encouraging, should not make us complacent: the path towards making the rights of every Central African child fully understood, respected, and promoted, is long and steep. UNICEF remains committed to working alongside the government and its partners to make sure no child, young person or mother are left behind”.
Notes for editor:
More than 500 grave violations against children (incl. Killing and maiming, recruitment and use, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, abduction and denial of humanitarian access) were reported for the period January-December 2019;
1,253 children associated to armed groups were released in 2019. This figure includes children who were released thanks to UNICEF’s joint advocacy efforts with MINUSCA; children who left the armed groups on their own initiative; children who were freed through the national demobilization programme and then referred to UNICEF for reintegration;
The 2019 national rate of global acute malnutrition was estimated to be 5.8%, compared to 7.1 per cent in 2018 and 7.8 per cent in 2012, based on the preliminary results of a national nutritional survey (SMART) that was conducted between September and December 2019, with the support of UNICEF and WFP;
 Grave violations include: Killing and maiming, recruitment and use, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, abduction and denial of humanitarian access
 Source: UNICEF and MINUSCA
 Number of cases of acute general malnutrition in CAR in 2019;
 Preliminary results of the national nutritional survey (SMART) for CAR, January 2020;
 Chronic malnutrition rates are currently at around 40% (two out of five children).
 Humanitarian Needs Overview 2020 – Central African Republic, October 2019;
Tel: +212 616-422011
UNICEF New York
Tel: +1 917 893 0692
UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office
Tel: +221 77 819 2300
Education initiative reaches more than 300,000 disadvantaged children in Rakhine and Chin States
Thu, 06 Feb 2020 02:09:32 +0000
SITTWE, 4 February 2020 – A high-level Government ceremony in Sittwe, Rakhine State, marked the end of the Education Post Flood Response which ran for four years following Cyclone Komen in 2015. Led by the Ministry of Education with the support of the Government of Japan and UNICEF, the programme benefitted over 300,000 children in Rakhine and Chin states, reaching some for the first time.
A major achievement of the programme was the construction, repair and rehabilitation of 78 schools in Rakhine State with a provision of 37,350 roofing sheets to a further 263 schools in both Rakhine and Chin States. In addition, over 11,000 teachers were provided with training on a more inclusive approach to teaching and learning in the classrooms in both states. This included volunteer teachers from camps for the Internally Displaced Persons receiving for the first time the government-led Child Friendly School teacher training, bringing benefits to children’s learning at temporary learning classrooms in IDP camps.
The Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP) has inclusion and equity as one of the cross-cutting issues, and education is one of the priority areas. “Strong long-term partnership between the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, with both soft and hardware interventions, result in a holistic child friendly environment which goes far beyond just the construction of schools,” said the Director General of the Department of Basic Education, U Ko Lay Win. “The Rakhine State Government guidance and support to the Ministry of Education has ensured the safety and access of Government staff, UNICEF staff, and contractors involved in construction, monitoring and training activities, even in conflict afflicted areas.”
The half-day closing ceremony took place at Hsattyoeka A Post Primary School, constructed in December 2017, and was one of the 78 schools constructed, repaired or rehabilitated under this programme. The school building is flood and earthquake resistant, as are all the new school buildings built under the programme, reducing the risk of disaster in flood prone areas. This includes the upgrading of the main school building structure, toilet facilities and water supplies. All 78 schools are provided with high quality furniture.
At the event, delegates had the opportunity to interact with students, parents and the community at the school and learn more about the benefits of the programme. H.E. Ichiro Maruyama, Japan’s Ambassador to Myanmar said, "I just observed the classrooms reconstructed by UNICEF with support from the Government of Japan, and saw students learning using textbooks provided through JICA with Japan’s support. This is a good example of UNICEF and Japanese Government collaboration in Myanmar, which I hope will continue in the future.”
On his part, the Planning and Finance Minister of Rakhine State, U Kyaw Aye Thein said, “Investing in children’s education helps break the cycle that traps children in the same poverty their parent’s experience and create a better future for children. Children, teachers, and parents will all use the newly constructed schools and support the creation of enabling environments that are conducive to learning for all.”
“Under our overarching goal of ensuring that ‘every child learns’, this programme has enabled us to reach children affected by floods and in some cases by conflict,” said UNICEF Representative to Myanmar, June Kunugi. She added that the achievement is to be celebrated, “not just because education is the right of all children, but also having a safe and inclusive environment, gives children a sense of stability where they can thrive and be given a chance to develop to their full potential, bringing hope and a strong foundation for a capable and peaceful new generation.”
In addition to 21,000 children learning in newly constructed, rehabilitated or repaired schools, and 59,000 children learning in classrooms reinforced by roofing sheets, the following achievements were made under the Education Post Flood Response programme:
- Over 31,000 students in 252 schools (198 in Rakhine and 54 in Chin) received flooded-school kits and essential learning packages containing stationary and learning materials, so they could continue their education after the floods.
- Over 372,000 children are studying in schools where teachers have benefitted from more inclusive, child friendly schools training and head teachers have broadened their knowledge and skills in education planning and management and community involvement.
Htet Htet Oo
Tel: +95 9250075238
'The conflict is intensifying and the needs are massive' - MSF Head of Mission in Nigeria
Wed, 05 Feb 2020 18:02:11 +0000
Luis Eguiluz, has been the MSF Head of Mission in Nigeria since September 2017. He talks about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the northeast of the country.
Do you think the situation for people in Borno has improved since your arrival in 2017?
After more than 10 years of conflict between non-state armed groups and the Nigerian military, the situation is only getting worse. The conflict is intensifying, and the needs are massive. The United Nations estimates that there are more than two million people who have been displaced from their homes due to violence, and more than seven million who depend entirely on humanitarian aid to survive.
The most serious problem is that there are more than a million people living in areas controlled by non-state armed groups – humanitarian organisations do not have access to these areas, and the people living there do not receive any kind of aid at all.
The conflict may be nothing new, but this crisis is extreme, and it is happening right now; in our projects we witness the impact that it has on human beings.
What are the main problems in providing humanitarian assistance in Nigeria?
The security situation has clearly deteriorated in recent months, and it is a challenge for humanitarian organisations to provide adequate assistance to people.
On one hand, organisations face the risk of violence – unfortunately, the killings and abductions of humanitarian staff have increased in recent months – and because of this, the presence of aid is very limited outside the state capital, Maiduguri.
On the other hand, counter-terrorism laws in Nigeria impose real limitations on humanitarian action and principles.
What are the main needs of people?
In ‘garrison towns’ – towns controlled by the Nigerian military – there are still critical needs that are not covered, especially when it comes to healthcare, clean water, shelter and protection. In many cases, people are totally dependent on humanitarian aid to survive.
In the case of Pulka, the population has tripled since the beginning of the conflict and there isn’t enough farmland to cultivate food. In addition, people cannot go beyond the town’s military perimeter. If they do, they run the risk of being attacked by non-state armed groups or being considered part of the armed groups by the Nigerian military.
And outside the garrison towns, the needs are expected to be even higher since there are more than one million people that have not received humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the conflict.
In locations such as Pulka or Gwoza, MSF projects have a protection component. What exactly does this consist of?
In our projects we run outreach programmes, which identify people who are more vulnerable and at risk of violence, exploitation or the loss of basic rights or services. Our first priority is to ensure medical care.
Then, based on their needs we identify organisations that ensure access to appropriate assistance and services, such as child protection. This is especially important in the case of unaccompanied minors who reach these garrison towns. Often these children have experienced several episodes of violence and may easily become victims of further abuse.
Have you seen an increase in cases of sexual violence?
We are seeing more cases because we have been able to finally reach people – often, survivors of sexual violence do not seek attention due to stigma and fear, so in our outreach and protection activities we have worked to build a relationship with the community based on trust.
We know that in situations of conflict, women and children are usually the most exposed to violence, and we are increasingly seeing victims of sexual violence perpetrated by all parties to the conflict.
In this context there are no protection mechanisms that would serve to prevent these abuses in normal situations, or at least to mitigate their consequences.
Does the lack of economic resources increase the vulnerability of these people?
Of course; displaced people who do not have enough food or fuel or water are far more vulnerable to exploitation or abuse. As I said before, going outside the security perimeter to obtain food or essential items like firewood entails significant risks – those who do go beyond the perimeter are often attacked by armed groups.
Despite such risks, and the fact that this situation remains an emergency, some actors have started implementing development programmes instead of providing humanitarian aid.
This pushes people to expose themselves to additional risks in a context where security is not guaranteed. For example, some food distributions have reduced, due to a change in parameters to reflect development needs; this makes people far more likely to try and source their own food, often beyond the security perimeter.
Are displaced people still arriving to the garrison towns?
Although they continue to arrive to garrison towns such as Pulka and Gwoza, there are now fewer displaced people arriving from areas controlled by non-state armed groups. Now we see more people who move for a second or third time from another military-controlled area and end up here.
We are concerned that government-endorsed policies are encouraging people to return to, or settle in, locations where there are not enough basic services and where insecurity is growing.
After two and a half years as Head of Mission in Nigeria, what is your impression of the humanitarian crisis in Borno?
Right now, the situation shows no signs of improving. The most urgent, abundant and clear needs are simply not being met in Borno. We know that the conflict is only intensifying and that our work – to provide emergency medical humanitarian assistance – must continue.
But the severity of this crisis simply is not being addressed properly by the Government of Nigeria and international organisations. We must continue working and pressing for humanitarian action.
At this stage, the most basic needs must be the priority, saving lives must be the priority, and we must not underestimate the urgency of this crisis that remains one of the most acute in recent years.
Only 4.5 per cent of global resettlement needs met in 2019
Wed, 05 Feb 2020 11:48:25 +0000
Out of 1.4 million refugees estimated to be in urgent need of resettlement worldwide, only 63,696 were resettled through UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, last year.
While the number of refugees resettled in 2019 increased modestly by 14 per cent when compared to the previous year, in which 55,680 people were resettled, a tremendous gap remains between resettlement needs and the places made available by governments around the world.
"Resettlement is not a solution for all the world's refugees but it is a life saving measure to ensure the protection of those most at risk and whose lives often depend on it," said Grainne O'Hara, UNHCR's Director of International Protection.
The largest number of UNHCR-facilitated resettlement departures last year were to the United States, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany.
Out of the more than 63,000 refugees resettled last year, the largest number originated from Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Myanmar.
Increasing refugee resettlement opportunities and other complementary pathways for admission, including through family reunification, work and study routes, is one of the key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees. It is a tangible way for states to share responsibility and show solidarity with host countries supporting large refugee populations.
To work towards increasing the number of resettlement places and admissions, as well as expanding the number of countries offering these programs, a Three-Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways was launched last year by governments, non- governmental organizations, civil society and UNHCR.
While the Strategy's target of 60,000 resettlement departures to 29 states in 2019 has been achieved, UNHCR is worried that based on current projections, fewer refugees will be resettled this year. In 2020, the goal is for 31 countries to resettle up to 70,000 refugees referred by UNHCR.
Among UNHCR's priorities this year are to increase the number of resettlement places and the pool of countries admitting refugees on resettlement and other complementary pathways, as well as safeguarding the integrity of the resettlement program.
UNHCR and IOM have launched a joint initiative, the Sustainable Resettlement and Complementary Pathways Initiative (CRISP), to implement activities required to reach resettlement and complementary pathway objectives and are appealing to States to provide the necessary financial support of USD 19.9 million.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
- In Geneva, Shabia Mantoo, firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 79 337 76 50