ReliefWeb - Headlines

ReliefWeb - Headlines

Descriptive text is not available for this image

ReliefWeb - Headlines

World failing to provide children with a healthy life and a climate fit for their future

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 01:11:31 +0000

Source: World Health Organization, UN Children's Fund
Country: World

No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures, finds a landmark report released by the WHO, UNICEF and The Lancet.

As climate and commercial threats intensify, WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission presses for radical rethink on child health

No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures, finds a landmark report released today by a Commission of over 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world. The Commission was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and The Lancet.

The report, A Future for the World’s Children?, finds that the health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at children.

“Despite improvements in child and adolescent health over the past 20 years, progress has stalled, and is set to reverse,” said former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Co-Chair of the Commission, Helen Clark. “It has been estimated that around 250 million children under five years old in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential, based on proxy measures of stunting and poverty. But of even greater concern, every child worldwide now faces existential threats from climate change and commercial pressures.

“Countries need to overhaul their approach to child and adolescent health, to ensure that we not only look after our children today but protect the world they will inherit in the future,” she added.

Intensifying climate change threatens every child’s future

The report includes a new global index of 180 countries, comparing performance on child flourishing, including measures of child survival and well-being, such as health, education, and nutrition; sustainability, with a proxy for greenhouse gas emissions, and equity, or income gaps. [Top & Bottom 10 countries; Full Global Index on pp. 35-38] [1]

According to the report, while the poorest countries need to do more to support their children’s ability to live healthy lives, excessive carbon emissions – disproportionately from wealthier countries – threaten the future of all children. If global warming exceeds 4°C by the year 2100 in line with current projections, this would lead to devastating health consequences for children, due to rising ocean levels, heatwaves, proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue, and malnutrition.

The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea, and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds. However, when authors took per capita CO2 emissions into account, the top countries trail behind: Norway ranked 156, the Republic of Korea 166, and the Netherlands 160. Each of the three emits 210% more CO2 per capita than their 2030 target. The United States of America (USA), Australia, and Saudi Arabia are among the ten worst emitters.

“More than 2 billion people live in countries where development is hampered by humanitarian crises, conflicts, and natural disasters, problems increasingly linked with climate change,” said Minister Awa Coll-Seck from Senegal, Co-Chair of the Commission. “While some of the poorest countries have among the lowest CO2 emissions, many are exposed to the harshest impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Promoting better conditions today for children to survive and thrive nationally does not have to come at the cost of eroding children’s futures globally.”

The only countries on track to beat CO2 emission per capita targets by 2030, while also performing fairly (within the top 70) on child flourishing measures are: Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Viet Nam.

Harmful commercial marketing preys on children – with childhood obesity increasing 11-fold

The report also highlights the distinct threat posed to children from harmful marketing. Evidence suggests that children in some countries see as many as 30,000 advertisements on television alone in a single year, while youth exposure to vaping (e-cigarettes) advertisements increased by more than 250% in the USA over two years, reaching more than 24 million young people.

Professor Anthony Costello, one of the Commission’s authors, said: “Industry self-regulation has failed. Studies in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA – among many others – have shown that self-regulation has not hampered commercial ability to advertise to children. For example, despite industry signing up to self-regulation in Australia, children and adolescent viewers were still exposed to 51 million alcohol ads during just one year of televised football, cricket and rugby. And the reality could be much worse still: we have few facts and figures about the huge expansion of social media advertising and algorithms aimed at our children.”

Children’s exposure to commercial marketing of junk food and sugary beverages is associated with purchase of unhealthy foods and overweight and obesity, linking predatory marketing to the alarming rise in childhood obesity. The number of obese children and adolescents increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 – an 11-fold increase, with dire individual and societal costs.

A manifesto for immediate action on child and adolescent health

To protect children, the independent Commission authors call for a new global movement driven by and for children. Specific recommendations include:

  1. Stop CO2 emissions with the utmost urgency, to ensure children have a future on this planet;
  2. Place children and adolescents at the centre of our efforts to achieve sustainable development;
  3. New policies and investment in all sectors to work towards child health and rights;
  4. Incorporate children’s voices into policy decisions;
  5. Tighten national regulation of harmful commercial marketing, supported by a new Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet family of journals, said: “The opportunity is great. The evidence is available. The tools are at hand. From heads-of-state to local government, from UN leaders to children themselves, this Commission calls for the birth of a new era for child and adolescent health. It will take courage and commitment to deliver. It is the supreme test of our generation.”

“From the climate crisis to obesity and harmful commercial marketing, children around the world are having to contend with threats that were unimaginable just a few generations ago,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “It is time for a rethink on child health, one which places children at the top of every government’s development agenda and puts their well-being above all considerations.”

“This report shows that the world’s decision makers are, too often, failing today’s children and youth: failing to protect their health, failing to protect their rights, and failing to protect their planet,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization said. “This must be a wakeup call for countries to invest in child health and development, ensure their voices are heard, protect their rights, and build a future that is fit for children.”

Notes to editors

[1] About the index; please see pp. 35-38 of the report, with technical details in the Annex, pp. 19-72

[2] This Commission was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For more information or to set up interviews with report authors, please contact any of the listed media contacts.

Media Contacts

Laura Keenan
Communicaitons officer
World Health Organization
Telephone: +41 79 500 65 64

Sabrina SidhuUNICEF
Telephone: +12128246583
Mobile: +1 917 476 1537

Anne ColemanThe Lancet
Telephone: +44 7468708644

Full Story

Opening people’s access to life-saving aid in CAR

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 20:33:54 +0000

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Central African Republic

Hindered by insecurity and poor roads, the humanitarian community has been slowly trying to gain access to the affected people in the Central African Republic.

For the past three years, persistent violence and damaged roads had made Mingala town in Basse-Kotto, a district in the Central African Republic (CAR) inaccessible for aid workers. The affected people of the town had not received humanitarian assistance for a long time and felt abandoned.

That changed in November 2019, when a team of humanitarian workers arrived to assess the condition of the 400 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and their host families in the town. The team had chartered a helicopter to asses flood-affected areas and decided to seize the opportunity to evaluate the needs of people in hard-to-reach areas.

The team not only identified what people most wanted but brought supplies of essential household items, education supplies and dignity kits for girls and women.

Read more on United Nations OCHA.

Full Story

EU boosts assistance to drought-affected people in Lesotho

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 17:36:30 +0000

Source: World Food Programme
Country: Lesotho

With maize production declining by 78% in 2019, the EU's €1.5 million contribution will allow the World Food Programme to expand drought aid to an additional 22,100 people.

MASERU – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes the European Union (EU) contribution of €1.5 million (equivalent to about M24 million) in humanitarian support, enabling WFP to expand ongoing emergency drought assistance to an additional 22,100 people on top of the 77,880 people that are already receiving assistance.

“The situation in Lesotho is very worrying. Climate change has been the driving force behind recurrent droughts that have pushed more than half a million people into a major food security crisis,” said UN Resident Coordinator Salvator Niyonzima. “It is imperative that comprehensive action is taken now to address the negative effects of climate change and ensure that the most vulnerable people are not left behind,” he noted.

The EU’s funding comes at a time when over 30 percent of the population across the country is experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity during the ongoing lean season as a result of drought. The production of maize, the staple food, declined by a whopping 78 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year. Rural communities have been worst-affected, with the vast majority of the country’s more than 500,000 food insecure people living in rural areas.

“We are happy to assist the government and UN agencies in addressing the immediate emergency, but we also contribute to overcoming recurrent food insecurity through long-term resilience building", said Christian Manahl, the European Union Ambassador to Lesotho.

Last year, a national drought emergency was declared, and a flash appeal was made to support of the Government-led Drought Response and Resilience Plan. The flash appeal requires € 74 million (M 1.2 billion) to target 261,000 people in 10 districts between November 2019 and April 2020.

Thanks to donors like the EU, WFP is reaching 100,000 people every month with a combination cash and food assistance. This assistance ensures that people have access to nutritious, healthy food, while also giving them the choice to buy what they need most at local markets.

“We urge the international community to respond to the government’s appeal for humanitarian assistance to ensure that the most vulnerable people in the country receive life-saving assistance,” said Mary Njoroge, WFP’s Country Director in Lesotho. “We are only 33 percent funded and urgently require an additional € 10 million to assist communities affected by emergency levels of food insecurity,” she added.


The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media @wfp_africa


For more information please contact:

Kathleen McCarthy, WFP/Lesotho
Mob. +266 58853000

Malehloa Letsie, WFP/Lesotho
Mob. +266 50668018

Full Story

Children dying in freezing conditions in camps as more than a quarter of Idlib displaced

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:15:40 +0000

Source: Save the Children
Country: Syrian Arab Republic

As many as seven children – including one seven-month-old – have died from freezing temperatures and horrific living conditions in camps, Save the Children’s partner in Idlib has confirmed.

As many as seven children – including one baby only seven months old – have died from freezing temperatures and horrific living conditions in camps, Save the Children’s partners in Idlib, Hurras Network, have confirmed.

An aid worker from Save the Children’s partner, Hurras Network, said:

“*Two sisters, aged four and three, died when their tent burned down because their heater was unsafe. Their pregnant mother sustained burns on her body.*

“*A 14-year-old boy who was living with his family of seven in a small tent succumbed to freezing temperatures.”*

Hurras Network also recorded the deaths of two girls aged ten and three, who died from asphyxiation from their heating equipment, alongside a one- year-old girl and a seven-month-old boy who died from cardiac arrest during the severe cold.

Since December 1st 2019, as many as 450,000 children have been forced to flee their homes in Idlib, Syria, due to a brutal escalation in the ongoing conflict. The region has seen more than a quarter of its population displaced.*

Mira, a 13 year-old girl displaced to a camp, said:

“I did not like the snow in the camp because it was really cold and both my sister and I got sick. Part of our tent collapsed because of the weight of the snow on it. I did not have clothes or anything to keep me warm in our tent. I want shoes to play in the snow like my friends.”

Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria Country Director, said:

“*As more civilians desperately seek safety on Syria’s border with Turkey, we’re worried that the death toll will increase given the absolutely inhumane living conditions that women and children are finding themselves in, with sub-zero temperatures, no roof over their heads and no warm clothes. Even when they do manage to find a tent, a heater and a mattress, they risk being asphyxiated by their heating equipment or seeing their shelter burn down*.”

Over the course of just three days earlier this month nearly 145,000 people fled their homes to rush to the Turkish border.*** More than 80,000 people are now living in open fields covered in snow, exposed to northern Syria’s freezing winter.

The vast majority of people displaced are children and women, who have been forced to flee with just the clothes they are wearing. To keep warm, they resort to burning plastic and other combustible materials, when they can’t find wood.

Save the Children is calling on all warring parties to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws and to protect schools, hospitals and other vital civilian infrastructure from attacks. Particular effort should be given to protecting children who are extremely vulnerable to the impact of explosive weapons.

Names have been changed for safety reasons.

Spokespeople are available. To arrange an interview please contact Joelle Bassoul in Beirut 00961 81 600696 or Davina Hagan in London 0044 7732 601762. During out of office hours, please contact the 24-hour press office in London 0044 7831 650 409.

Notes to editors:

* Idlib’s population is three million. According to the United Nations, 900,000 people have been displaced since December 1st 2019. Save the Children estimates that at least half of these are children.

** More than 40% of the schools and education facilities in Idlib are either damaged, destroyed or out of service for proximity to hostilities, with the remaining classrooms recording more than 80 students per class in some areas. By the end of January, more than 3,700 teachers have also been displaced, overburdening an overstretched education system.

*** According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, from 9th to 12th February 2020 some 142,000 people were displaced.

Full Story

Food security fears grow as locusts swarm towards South Sudan

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:41:41 +0000

Source: Save the Children
Country: South Sudan

The huge plague of locusts, which has already decimated the crops of countries in the Horn of Africa, has been spotted close to Eastern Equatoria on the border with Kenya and Ethiopia.

FBRUARY 18, 2020 - JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN: The food supplies of some of the most vulnerable children and families in South Sudan are under threat as massive swarms of desert locusts head towards the country’s border with Kenya and Uganda, Save the Children warns.

The huge plague of locusts, which has already decimated the crops of countries in the Horn of Africa, has been spotted close to Eastern Equatoria on the South Sudanese border with Kenya and Ethiopia. Out of 78 counties in South Sudan, 15% of those in ‘extreme need’ are located in Eastern Equatoria.

South Sudan has been frequently beset by conflict since it gained independence in 2011 and, coupled with drought and flooding, this has led to the displacement of 1.47 million people, who live in temporary camps with basic shelter and often non-existent sanitation. It’s estimated that more than six million South Sudanese people – or just under 60% of the total population - face severe food insecurity and are in need of humanitarian assistance. Thousands of families already face severe food shortages which lead to death and very high and increasing malnutrition in children - including in Kapoeta North, Budi and Pibor counties which are most likely to be infested by desert locusts.

Save the Children is warning that without coordinated preparedness and control measures for the locusts, as well as an increase in funding for surveillance and community mobilisation, the locusts could contribute to a further drop in nutrition levels. Even without the locusts, it is projected that more than 1.3 million children aged under five will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2020 including close to 292,000 from severe acute malnutrition.

The current locust outbreak is expected to continue until June 2020 due to anticipated ongoing favourable conditions for locust reproduction. Climate shocks remain a driving factor for acute food insecurity in the Horn of Africa and continues to severely affect several countries in the region. Rainfall between March and mid-May 2019 was less than 50 per cent of the annual average across the region, and subsequent, heavy rainfall and flooding impacted nearly 2.8 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia affecting and destroyed large swathes of crops.

Save the Children’s Country Director in South Sudan, Rama Hansraj, said:

“*Our team in South Sudan has been watching the devastating progress of the desert locusts across the Horn in despair. We fear that the situation in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, which is already serious, will be magnified if the locusts reach South Sudan. Last year we had a prolonged, damaging drought, followed by floods, which displaced thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of homes, and the country is still reeling from years of conflict. A swarm of locusts could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back*.

“*We are calling on donors to increase their funding for community resilience programming and to support community-led surveillance and preparedness. Critically, more funds are needed for already cash-strapped food programs in South Sudan, and we are calling on the government of South Sudan and humanitarian actors to invest more resources in the agricultural sector to avert the devastating impact of the locusts infestation in South Sudan*.”

More than 10 million people already facing severe food insecurity in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan are located in areas currently affected by the desert locust infestation. A further 3.24 million in Uganda and South Sudan are under threat from expanding swarms.



Save the Children has been working in South Sudan since 1989 and our teams are reaching children and their families in some of the areas that have been worst-affected by food insecurity and violence. We currently have operations in seven of the former-states, with Country Office operations in Juba.

Responding to the current hunger crisis, Save the Children has reached nearly 138,000 people, including more than 58,000 children, through cash and foods distribution to meet their own needs and feed their families using available local resources. In addition to cash and food distributions, we are distributing emergency livelihood kits that include crop and vegetable seeds, hand tools, and fishing kits; restocking goats, to help replenish herds and recover livelihoods; and providing veterinary services to support pastoralists.

For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

  • Kangu Tito Justin in Juba | +211922844458[Mobile & Whatsapp]| Tito.Justin@savethechildren.

  • Daphnee Cook in Nairobi: +254 717 524 904 [Mobile & Whatsapp] or

Full Story

Siete millones de personas en necesidad de asistencia humanitaria en Venezuela, alerta OCHA

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 20:57:49 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

La escasez de combustible ha afectado el acceso humanitario y la entrega de asistencia en zonas fronterizas y remotas. Más de 2,3 millones de personas recibieron asistencia desde julio hasta diciembre 2019.


  • Más de 2,3 millones de personas recibieron asistencia humanitaria desde julio hasta diciembre dentro del Plan de Respuesta Humanitaria 2019.

  • La escasez de combustible afectó el acceso humanitario y la entrega de asistencia en zonas fronterizas y remotas.

  • En diciembre, OCHA lanzó el Panorama Humanitario Global 2020 que por primera vez incluyó a Venezuela, con mención de las necesidades tanto dentro como fuera del país.

  • En 2019 se recibieron $180,9 millones para actividades humanitarias, incluyendo fondos movilizados antes de la publicación del Plan de Respuesta o proyectos fuera del Plan.


Panorama de la situación

Los socios humanitarios reportan que las condiciones operativas y de seguridad en el terreno, como en Bolívar, Táchira y Zulia siguen viéndose afectadas por cortes de energía, problemas de telecomunicaciones, acceso intermitente al agua, escasez de combustible y actividades de grupos irregulares, principalmente en los estados fronterizos y remotos.

Según la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO), debido a la falta generalizada de acceso, Venezuela se encuentra entre los 42 países a nivel global que necesitan ayuda externa para alimentos. Al cierre del año, se estimó que la producción total de cereales en 2019 disminuiría con respecto al nivel ya bajo del 2018. La disminución prevista se debe principalmente a una importante contracción de la superficie sembrada, como consecuencia de los altos costos de producción y la falta general de insumos agrícolas en los mercados internos. El Gobierno de Venezuela y FAO firmaron un acuerdo para fortalecer la "visión integral de la seguridad alimentaria" del país con una financiación adicional de 3,6 millones de dólares "para apoyar la producción, la compra de semillas, los programas de comidas escolares y la resistencia a los problemas del cambio climático".

En el estado de Zulia, socios del Clúster de Alojamiento, Energía y Enseres hicieron una evaluación de necesidades en la comunidad indígena Marewua, en el municipio de Machiques de Perijá. Se identificaron varias necesidades, como falta de agua potable, acceso limitado a los servicios médicos y dificultades para acceder a los alimentos. Además, los miembros de la comunidad expresaron su preocupación por la salud de los niños, niñas y adolescentes (NNA), especialmente el riesgo de desnutrición. Se identificó otro problema en términos de acceso a la educación de calidad, dado que la escuela local carece de suficientes maestros e infraestructura adecuada. El riesgo de Violencia de Género, así como la falta de servicio eléctrico durante los últimos cuatro meses, se resaltaron como preocupaciones importantes para la comunidad.

En diciembre, las agencias de Naciones Unidas, ONG Internacionales y la Cruz Roja Venezolana, en conjunto con las autoridades locales del estado Táchira, desarrollaron un Plan de Contingencia para atender el congestionamiento de personas en movilidad por la temporada decembrina en los terminales terrestres de San Cristóbal y San Antonio. De acuerdo con la estimación de las autoridades, al menos 350.000 personas se movilizaron por estos terminales. Los socios humanitarios brindaron asistencia con diferentes insumos: pastillas potabilizadoras de agua, bidones para agua, lámparas de emergencia, pañales, kits de higiene y suministro de agua en camiones cisternas. La Cruz Roja Venezolana realizó jornadas de atención integral a los viajeros.

Full Story

Two years after ISIL defeat, some Iraqi children still not in school

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 19:01:22 +0000

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

Some children in the areas formerly controlled by ISIL still cannot access schools or get the necessary documentation required for enrolment, a UN report finds.

GENEVA (17 February 2020) – A United Nations report published today finds that some children in Iraq are still unable to receive education in the aftermath of the territorial defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant over two years ago, saying they cannot access schools or obtain key civilian documentation necessary for enrolment in state schools.

The Right to Education in Iraq: The legacy of ISIL territorial control on access to education is jointly released by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report is based upon 237 interviews and group consultations with children, youth, parents and teachers in areas that were controlled by Da’esh/ISIL until their territorial defeat in December 2017.

Several of those interviewed said that they could not move freely in and out of IDP camps due to restrictions on their movement, preventing them from daily activities such as attending schools outside the camps. One boy from a displacement camp in Ninewa Governorate said: “There is no future in the camp anyway, what am I going to do here? Why do I need an education for this life? It has been so long since we were at school, our minds feel closed to learning, some of us can no longer even read and write. We have no support to overcome these things. Even if I could take the exams, I would not pass them. I don’t see a future for myself.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the importance of the right to education for children and young people cannot be overstated. “When the full enjoyment of this right is impaired for any reason, their lives and futures are severely impacted,” she said. “Inclusive, quality education is not just a right in itself but it is essential for the full realisation of a range of other human rights. Education literally has the power to transform lives and make dreams come true.”

While acknowledging the steps taken by the Government to ensure access to education, the report identifies two main challenges specific to the community. Firstly, the absence of appropriate programs aimed at reintegration of students into the state education system, particularly given that many have suffered a significant time gap in their schooling. Secondly, the impact that limited access to civil documentation is having on school enrolment. The report indicates that these issues have been compounded by the fact that many adolescents have now reached an age that where traditional primary or junior education may no longer be appropriate, that there are an insufficient number of schools or accelerated learning programmes, inadequate teaching hours, and movement restrictions.

The report calls on the Government of Iraq to take measures to overcome existing administrative and security clearance challenges for children to obtain civil documentation and to revise existing provisions of accessible forms of education for children who have missed years of education due to ISIL control.

The report was shared with the Government of Iraq and integrates comments received from the Ministry of Education, annexed to the report.

“Access to education must be guaranteed for every Iraqi child,” said Danielle Bell, Chief of UNAMI Human Rights Office. “Alternatives for those who missed out on their school years due to conflict must be found.”


For the English and Arabic versions of the report, please click here

For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / or Jeremy Laurence - + 41 22 917 9383 / or Liz Throssell - + 41 22 917 9296 / or Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 /

Full Story

Crisis in north-west Syria reaches 'horrifying new level' - UN Humanitarian Chief

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 15:29:25 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Syrian Arab Republic

Since 1 December, 900,000 people have been displaced, the vast majority women and children. A huge relief operation across the border is under way but overwhelmed by the violence.

New York, 17 February 2020

The crisis in north-west Syria has reached a horrifying new level.

We now believe 900,000 people have been displaced since 1 December, the vast majority women and children.

They are traumatized and forced to sleep outside in freezing temperatures because camps are full. Mothers burn plastic to keep children warm. Babies and small children are dying because of the cold.

The violence in northwest Syria is indiscriminate. Health facilities, schools, residential areas, mosques and markets have been hit. Schools are suspended, many health facilities have closed. There is a serious risk of disease outbreaks. Basic infrastructure is falling apart.

We are now receiving reports that settlements for displaced people are being hit, resulting in deaths, injuries and further displacement.

A huge relief operation, across the border from Turkey is under way, but it is overwhelmed. The equipment and facilities being used by aid workers are being damaged. Humanitarian workers themselves are being displaced and killed.

The biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st Century will only be avoided if Security Council members, and those with influence, overcome individual interests and put a collective stake in humanity first. The only option is a ceasefire.


For further information, please contact:
In New York, Zoe Paxton,, + 1 917 297 1542
In Geneva, Jens Laerke,, +41 79 472 9750

Full Story

Aid agencies in Yemen voice shock at high numbers of civilian casualties in military escalation

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 13:04:57 +0000

Source: Danish Refugee Council, Adventist Development and Relief Agency International, ZOA, Norwegian Refugee Council, CARE, Handicap International - Humanity & Inclusion, Action Contre la Faim France, Médecins du Monde, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children
Country: Yemen

Since mid-January, heavy fighting in Nihm, Al Jawf and Marib in northern Yemen, including the resumption of air strikes, has forcibly displaced 28,000 civilians now in urgent need of help.

"We are shocked and saddened to hear about the deaths of as many as 31 civilians, and 12 other people injured, in strikes on Al Jawf governorate in northern Yemen on 15 February.

This latest tragic incident closely follows an attack on 7 February on Marib’s main hospital which serves up to 15,000 people. In addition, a nearby hospital and mobile clinic were also structurally damaged. Indiscriminate attacks like this on health facilities deny access to lifesaving health care to thousands of vulnerable Yemenis and are illegal under international law.

Our deepest condolences go to the families who have lost their loved ones, and wish a quick recovery to those who have been injured.

Aid organisations call on warring parties to uphold the laws of war, to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure including hospitals, and to provide safe and unhindered access to displaced families so that they can access food, water, shelter and other assistance.

Since mid-January, heavy fighting in Nihm, Al Jawf and Marib in northern Yemen, including the resumption of air strikes has already forcibly displaced 28,000 civilians who are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The current violence is threatening to tilt the country towards a major escalation, potentially reversing chances to bring the conflict to an end. We are calling on warring parties not to jeopardise the recent progress and reduction in violence, to agree a nationwide ceasefire and restart long-overdue peace talks. Yemen needs a political solution to end the violence and suffering once and for all."

Signed by

Action contre la Faim

Adventist Relief and Development Agency

CARE International

Danish Refugee Council

Handicap International - Humanity and Inclusion

International Rescue Committee

Medecins du Monde

Norwegian Refugee Council


Save the Children


Full Story

UNMISS urges parties to form transitional government

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 10:51:55 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan
Country: South Sudan

The announcement by the Presidency to return to 10 states is an important compromise to enable the timely formation of the transitional government as promised to South Sudan citizens.

The announcement by the Presidency of South Sudan to return to 10 states is an important compromise to enable the timely formation of the transitional government as promised to the citizens of South Sudan.

Under a new transitional government, a process can be initiated so parties can work together to make a collective decision on the appropriate number of states, administrative areas, and demarcation of boundaries. “Compromise is possible when the political will exists. We urge all parties to reach out and embrace each other’s positions so that the peace deal can be fully implemented,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, David Shearer. “People have been telling me of their mounting disillusionment in the wake of two previous delays to the implementation of the 2018 peace deal.”

“The formation of an inclusive transitional government will inspire greater trust and confidence amongst citizens that the peace process will succeed and that the parties will come together to make decisions collectively.” “The start of the transitional government will pave the way for elections in three years’ time. This will enable the people of South Sudan to fully participate in the democratic process – a right they have been looking forward to exercising since they won independence nine years ago.” David Shearer said the government’s decision may not be welcome everywhere and could cause short term disruption as local boundaries and administrations are determined. “It may not be the preferred option of some people. However, they should also recognize it has been done in the spirit of compromise to secure durable peace for the whole country,” he said.

Communications & Public Information Section Spokesperson: Francesca Mold

Full Story

Politicians continue to bicker while Zimbabweans are starving

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 10:08:56 +0000

Source: Institute for Security Studies
Country: Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is teetering on the edge of a large-scale humanitarian crisis and South Africa and SADC cannot afford to ignore it. Half the population (7.7 million) is at risk of starvation.

Drought doesn’t necessarily translate to food insecurity – poor governance and failing infrastructure do.

Zimbabwe is teetering on the edge of a large-scale humanitarian crisis and South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) cannot afford to ignore it. Half the population (7.7 million) is at risk of starvation, making this the country’s worst food insecurity in a decade.

Maize meal is disappearing from shop shelves and the country is setting up a maize meal committee to preside over the procurement and distribution of the staple. Establishing committees has been the Zimbabwe government’s strategy when it is left without answers. Too often, such committees and commissions of inquiry merely lead to more opportunities for patronage – for example the Motlanthe Commission.

While Zimbabwe, like most parts of Southern Africa, has experienced recurrent drought in the past three seasons, its crisis goes beyond the vagaries of weather and climate change. A drought doesn’t necessarily translate into food insecurity. Zimbabwe’s crisis is largely due to policy and infrastructure failure. The country has less than a month’s supply of grain in the national reserves. How did Zimbabwe get to this point?

Corruption, policy distortions, inconsistencies and outright elitist and partisan policies have been the bane of the agricultural sector and are indicative of how the country has been managed. Investment in agriculture has been low since the advent of fast-track land reform. Both the current and previous administrations failed to provide security for land tenure or make the guaranteeing of property rights a priority.

Although the number of farmers has risen, grain production has plunged to its lowest in years

The government issued 99-year leases for all land appropriated under fast-track land reform. The lease is neither transferrable nor bankable. The lease can be revoked at will by the state. Recent cases of threats to withdraw 99-year leases to people who have fallen out with the establishment serve only to scare away would-be investors. This has made agricultural land a dead asset.

Chasing away white commercial farmers during land reform has seen an increase in the use of land as a tool for electioneering. While a considerable number of landless peasants benefited from the process, land was also parcelled out as an instrument of patronage.

Almost every senior civil servant, military top brass and ruling party functionary has become a farmer. These ‘cellphone farmers’ (who direct farm operations remotely via cellphones) have access to government inputs including fuel, which they trade instead of using it for farming.

In addition, many taxpayer-funded agriculture support schemes have been churned out, including the infamous command agriculture which saw the treasury part with US$3 billion. The government has failed to account for these schemes.

A month after scrapping maize subsidies, the government was forced to reverse its decision

It was also recently revealed that part of the command agriculture money was used to procure top-of-the-range vehicles for ‘monitoring’ the scheme. Notwithstanding the increase in the number of farmers and the money invested, grain production has plunged, and the country cannot feed itself. Grain production is at its lowest for years.

The government in the past year has issued contradictory policies and public pronouncements in relation to grain. Maize has for decades been subsidised, with grain millers procuring maize for a song at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB). The GMB has the monopoly over grain and by law all farmers must sell their produce to it.

The maize producer price has been capped way below what would make economic sense for a smallholder farmer. At present a ton of maize is pegged at Z$1 400 which would translate to just below US$80. The producer prices and GBM monopoly have become a disincentive for grain farmers. Grain production has become less viable as a business, hence production levels remain supressed, affecting the country’s grain reserves.

During his 2020 budget speech Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube announced the scrapping of maize subsidies among a host of other measures to reduce government’s unsustainable expenditure budget. One month later the government was forced to reverse its decision as maize prices spiked beyond the reach of many.

No one is getting maize at the gazetted price and the commodity has become scarce

The continued subsidies have created an opportunity for arbitrage for a few select companies. The gazetted retail price for a 10kg bag of maize meal in Zimbabwe is currently pegged at Z$70. This is below the market price of Z$90 and less than half of the going price on the black market.

Seven companies have been granted access to government-subsidised grain at less than half the price of importation and market price. Because the system is created to be porous, the same companies with access to subsidised grain allegedly engage in inside marketing and the product finds its way onto the black market. Ultimately no one is getting maize at the gazetted price and the commodity has become scarce.

Zimbabwe has been a victim of successive droughts, but poor policies with anti-market economics, abuse of state resources and corruption have affected the country’s capacity to prepare and stock up reserves for the drought seasons.

In the absence of political conflict and violence, the humanitarian crisis is escaping the radar of regional leaders’ attention. Given the scale of the disaster, South Africa and SADC cannot afford to ignore it. Already millions of Zimbabweans are in South Africa as economic migrants. With the crisis looming there, millions more hungry Zimbabweans are bound to join them.

Since the last South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission, South Africa’s government hasn’t been visible regarding the unfolding events in Zimbabwe. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government should use the 2020 Bi-National Commission to be upfront with Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration regarding the link between food insecurity and macro-political and economic instability.

As South Africa and regional leaders continue to pamper the Mnangagwa administration instead of nudging it towards reforms, Zimbabwe moves closer to a fully-fledged humanitarian emergency with ripple effects across the region. A collaborative approach is urgently needed as the implications run across SADC.

Ringisai Chikohomero, Researcher, Peace Operations and Peace Building Programme, Pretoria

This article is written as part of a project funded by UK Aid. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

Full Story

Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya seeks $115 million

Sun, 16 Feb 2020 09:48:12 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

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

In 2020, the humanitarian community in Libya will aim to reach around 345,000 people, 39 per cent of the 893,000 people identified to be needing humanitarian assistance.

Launch of the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya

Tripoli, Benghazi, Sebha, 16 February 2020 – Since the outbreak of military hostilities in and around Tripoli on 4 April 2019, the already-dire humanitarian situation in Libya further deteriorated at alarming rates, affecting the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of civilians. With the aim to respond to the mounting humanitarian needs, the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan was launched today in Tripoli, Benghazi and Sebha. A total of US$115 million is being sought to provide support to those in need, particularly the 345,000 of the most vulnerable people in Libya.

The 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan is the result of comprehensive analysis, a robust consultation process and joint efforts by national and international stakeholders. The plan projects that an overall number of 900,000 people will require some form of humanitarian assistance in 2020.

“While the humanitarian situation is even more difficult than it was last year, we are appealing today for less financial resources compared to 2019. This does not mean that the humanitarian needs have reduced, but enormous effort made by humanitarian actors and our Libyan counterparts helped us produce a more focused and prioritized plan designed to act as a catalyst for Libyan institutions, both national and local, to provide the assistance required by affected people” said Yacoub El Hillo, Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya.

Tens of thousands of Libyans, in addition to an increasing number of vulnerable migrants and refugees, continue to endure appalling hardship and suffering. The increasing use of explosive weapons has resulted in unnecessary loss of life, displacement, destruction and damage to vital civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools. “The already fragile national systems, which are responsible for delivering basic services, have been pushed to the limits by the protracted conflict, resulting in an unprecedented level of shortages in essential services.” El Hillo added

Protection is at the core of the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan, together with the provision of lifesaving food, shelter, health, water and sanitation and hygiene assistance. The Response Plan will also enable livelihoods support and improves access to basic services for the most vulnerable.

Twenty-five organizations, comprising nine United Nations agencies, 12 international and four national non-governmental organizations, will work in partnership with over 40 local community-based organizations in the implementation of 85 projects prioritized in the Humanitarian Response Plan this year.

“We are witnessing a protracted conflict in Libya, severely impacting civilians in all parts of the country on a scale that Libya has never seen before. We are committed to working closely with national and local authorities, and with the communities to complement Libyan efforts to address the increasing needs of those most affected by the conflict.” El Hillo pledged.

“Financing the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan, from both Libyan and international donor sources, is an expectation we hold high and one that, when realized, will help save lives and reduce the suffering of civilians impacted by this senseless conflict in Libya.” concluded El Hillo.

Full Story

UNICEF deeply concerned about alarming increase of killings and injuries of children in Myanmar

Sun, 16 Feb 2020 03:51:43 +0000

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Myanmar

UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to ensure full respect of the civilian character of schools, and to prevent any interference of armed actors with education infrastructures, personnel and students.

YANGON 14th February 2020 - On 13 February in the morning, an artillery shell landed on the Basic Education Post-Primary School, Kha Mhwe Chaung village, in Buthidaung township, injuring at least 17 school children. We are shocked and saddened at an incident of such tragic magnitude and our utmost sympathy goes to the children and families affected.

UNICEF is deeply concerned about the alarming increase of reports of killings and injuries of children and the frequent infringements on the civilian character of schools, as a result of intensified fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army in the conflict-affected areas of Rakhine State.

UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict to ensure full respect of the civilian character of schools, and to prevent any interference of armed actors with education infrastructures, personnel and students, in line with national legal frameworks such as the Child Rights Law and the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement as well as obligations under international law. The presence of armed actors in or around schools increases the risk of schools being targeted and students and school personnel may be harmed, and school facilities damaged. It prevents children from accessing education, and it associates schools with violent and traumatic events. We owe it to children to keep them safe at school and we urge all parties to the conflict, to exercise maximum restraint and to protect children at all times.

UNICEF further calls on the Government of Myanmar to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and to adopt the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict, into domestic policy and operational frameworks.

We call on the Government to join the other 101 countries that have already endorsed the Declaration, and for all parties to the conflict to express their commitment to the protection of students, teachers, and schools during military operations.

Media Contacts

Htet Htet Oo
Communication Officer
Tel: +95 9250075238

Full Story

UN says settlements deprive Palestinians of ‘land base for genuine state and viable economy’

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 21:18:59 +0000

Source: UN Human Rights Council
Country: occupied Palestinian territory

A human rights expert applauds a database of businesses linked to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as important step towards accountability and end to impunity.

GENEVA (14 February 2020) – An independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council applauded the release of a database on business enterprises involved in certain activities relating to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank "as an important initial step towards accountability and the end to impunity".

Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, said: "While the release of the database will not, by itself, bring an end to the illegal settlements and their serious impact upon human rights, it does signal that sustained defiance by an occupying power will not go unanswered."

The expert said that the 240 Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory have been repeatedly determined to be a 'flagrant violation under international law' by the international community.

"The Israeli settlements are a significant source of human rights violations against the protected Palestinian population in the occupied territory," said Lynk. "Because of the settlements, thousands of hectares of Palestinian land have been expropriated, thousands of Palestinian homes and properties have been destroyed, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced, natural resources are confiscated, freedom of movement is curtailed, and the land base for a genuine Palestinian state and a viable economy is undermined.

"These Israeli settlements are supported by the economic activity of scores of Israeli and foreign companies," Lynk said. "Without these investments, wineries, factories, corporate supply and purchase agreements, banking operations and support services, many of the settlements would not be financially and operationally sustainable. And without the settlements, the five-decade-long Israeli occupation would lose its colonial raison d'être."

Hundreds of millions of dollars (US) of goods produced by Israeli settlements are exported to international markets each year. "The international community has rightly condemned the illegal status and harmful impact of the Israeli settlements," the Special Rapporteur said. "But by engaging in trade and commerce with the settlements, the international community sustains their viability and undercuts its own pronouncements."

Lynk noted that the database was developed and released within the broader context of the United Nations' efforts to promote strong business practices with respect to human rights. In 2011, the Human Rights Council adopted the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to address human rights abuses committed during business operations. Among other features, the Guiding Principles recognize that businesses have the responsibility to respect human rights wherever they operate, and states have the duty to protect against human rights abuses by all actors in society, including businesses.

The Special Rapporteur called for the database to become a living tool, with sufficient resources to be updated annually. To this end, he urged the Human Rights Council to renew the resolution supporting further work on the database. As well, he welcomed the recommendation in the High Commissioner's report that an expert committee should be established to report to the Human Rights Council with recommendations on its updating. In welcoming this recommendation, the Special Rapporteur urged the Human Rights Council to explore whether the database has captured all meaningful business enterprise activity in the occupied Palestinian territory which sustains the Israeli settlement project.

Finally, the Special Rapporteur called upon the member states of the United Nations to enact domestic legislation that would ban the importation of goods produced in illegal settlements domiciled in any occupied territory. "Given the designation of civilian settlements in occupied territory as a war crime under the 1998 Rome Statute, it is imperative that states accept their international legal responsibilities and end all trade with these sources of human rights violations."


***Mr. Michael Lynk** was designated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. Professor Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, where he teaches labour law, constitutional law and human rights law. Before becoming an academic, he practiced labour law and refugee law for a decade in Ottawa and Toronto. He also worked for the United Nations on human rights and refugee issues in Jerusalem.*

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel

*For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Renato De Souza, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 9289855.* )

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

Concerned about the world we live in?

Then STAND UP for someone's rights today.


Full Story

Four countries in the African region license vaccine in milestone for Ebola prevention

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 17:10:22 +0000

Source: World Health Organization
Country: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Zambia

With this licensing, the manufacturer can stockpile and distribute the vaccine to African countries at risk of Ebola outbreaks, circumventing clinical trials and research protocols.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, Ghana and Zambia have licensed an Ebola vaccine, just 90 days after World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification. Registration of the vaccine is expected in additional countries in the coming weeks.

The licensing of the vaccine means that the manufacturer can stockpile and widely distribute this vaccine to African countries at risk of Ebola virus disease outbreaks. Once licensed doses are available, use of the vaccine will not require clinical trial or other research protocols.

"The approval of the Ebola vaccine by these countries is another milestone in the fight against this unforgiving disease," said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Africa has rallied to cement hard-fought progress to keep its people safe from Ebola."

WHO accelerated the licensing and roll-out of the Ebola vaccine by certifying that it met the organization’s standards for quality, safety and efficacy in its fastest vaccine prequalification process ever, announced in November 2019.

The speed with which this has been achieved has been made possible by a different approach, where national licensing procedures were done in parallel based on one single scientific review process. Usually, these process are done one by one, which can take years. The process was led by WHO with the participation of the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (an African network of national regulatory authorities and ethics committees), the European Medicines Agency, and Merck.

“The rapid approval of the Ebola vaccine by countries in the Africa Region helps ensure this critical prevention tool will be available when and where it is needed most,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “This kind of collaboration and innovation is a model for other health priorities.”

The injectable Ebola vaccine, Ervebo, is manufactured by Merck (known as MSD outside the US and Canada). Preliminary study results have shown a 97.5% vaccine efficacy. Data also suggests that vaccinating people who are already infected reduces their chances of dying.

In response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC, over 290 000 people have been vaccinated under compassionate use protocols. Once licensed doses are available, use of the vaccine in DRC will no longer require these protocols.

Media Contacts

Margaret Harris
Mobile: +41 792906688
Mr Collins Boakye-Agyemang

Communication Advisor
Telephone: +4724139420
Mobile: +242065206565

Full Story

Approximately 32,000 people still homeless in Albania three months after devastating earthquake

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 14:00:31 +0000

Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
Country: Albania

The earthquake damaged more than 11,500 homes beyond repair and at least another 84,000 are in need of significant repair. In all, 222,000 people were directly affected.

Tirana/Budapest/Geneva, 14 February 2020 – At least 32,000 people remain homeless and need additional urgent assistance almost three months on from the devastating 6.4 magnitude earthquake that shook central Albania.

An estimated 10,000 of these people are living in winterized tents, even as night-time temperatures plummet below zero, while others are staying with relatives or in temporary accommodation such as hotels or rented apartments.

According to authorities, more than 11,500 homes were damaged beyond repair by the earthquake and at least another 84,000 are in need of significant repair. Ninety schools remain closed due to damage. In all, an estimated 222,000 people were directly affected, according to the Albanian Red Cross.

The Secretary General of Albanian Red Cross, Mr. Artur Katuci, said:

“Our volunteers and staff have been on the ground since the beginning to ensure that basic needs are met. But it is clear that despite the efforts of the Red Cross and other responders, many people are still in desperate need of support.”

In response, the Albanian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are expanding their emergency operation. They are appealing for an additional 2.1 million Swiss francs on top of the 3 million Swiss francs already raised to support relief efforts, bringing the total appeal figure to 5.1 million Swiss francs.

These new funds will go towards a cash assistance programme and helping communities reduce their risk to future disasters. Around 1,100 families will receive monthly grants of 120 Swiss francs (13,450 Albanian lek) per family member for a period of five months – an intervention designed to help people bridge the time until more permanent shelters become available.

“We are thankful for all assistance from the Red Cross Red Crescent family and beyond. This appeal will enable us to directly help 10,000 of the most vulnerable people, and 50,000 people in total through community-based activities for a period of 12 months,” Mr Katuci added.

More than 350 local Red Cross volunteers have been involved in the response, providing first aid, psychosocial support and food and water, as well as relief supplies such as blankets and hygiene items in almost 100 locations affected by the earthquake.

The Red Cross has supported more than 25,000 people since the disaster.

Donations can be made here\Photos are available here and video here

Media contacts

In Tirana: Mr Zamir Muca, +355 694 092 740,

In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506,

Full Story

Brutal cold intensifies desperation for rising numbers of displaced in north-west Syria

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 12:23:27 +0000

Source: International Organization for Migration
Country: Syrian Arab Republic

“Over 80,000 people forced to flee violence in the last few months are sleeping under trees or in open areas in the snow,” said Joseph Ashmore, IOM’s Global Shelter Coordinator.

Geneva – Sub-zero temperatures and increased snowfall are further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria where more than a quarter of a million people have been displaced in the past four days. Over 830,000 people have been displaced in the region in the last two months and more than 1.2 million since April 2019, according to the United Nations.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is extremely concerned about this rapid and ongoing rise in displacement which continues to rise in the tens of thousands every day, particularly as conflict spreads northward to highly populated urban areas.

“Over 80,000 people forced to flee violence in the last few months are sleeping under trees or in open areas in the snow,” said Joseph Ashmore, IOM’s Global Shelter Coordinator.

"Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and many more may die as extreme winter conditions take hold, provoking one of the most severe shelter crises the humanitarian system has faced in the last decade,” he added.

The majority of the uprooted are staying with host families, in camps or unfinished buildings. As displacement rises, there are less places to house people seeking refuge.

IOM has been assisting partners on the ground to reach nearly 300,000 people with humanitarian aid since mid-December 2019. In the past weeks, IOM’s partners have delivered emergency items – including blankets, hygiene kits and other goods – as well as shelter materials to 129,000 people in need.

However, insecurity has impeded access of some partners – compromising the ability for affected populations to receive the most basic services.

Health centres, schools, markets and camps have been targeted by violence with increased civilian casualties reported every day.

The Organization is seeking increased funding from the international community to adequately respond to rapidly rising needs. IOM also reiterates the UN Secretary General’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and attacks of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The Syrian conflict, approaching its tenth year, has displaced more than six million people within the country and provoked more than 5.5 million people to flee to neighbouring countries in the region.

For more information, please contact: Angela Wells at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 7940 35365,

Full Story

Education Cannot Wait launches initiative to school children affected by crises in Ethiopia

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 11:37:20 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Source: UN Children's Fund, Save the Children, Education Cannot Wait (ECW)
Country: Ethiopia

The three-year, $165 million investment will provide education to 746,000 children in areas affected by conflict, displacement and drought across Ethiopia.

The three-year, US$165 million investment will provide education to 746,000 children in areas affected by conflict

Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the global fund dedicated to education in emergencies, has announced a three-year, US$165 million initiative to provide education to 746,000 children affected by crises in Ethiopia. Simultaneously, ECW announced a planned seed grant of US$27 million to support initial efforts that include mobilizing US$138 million needed to fully fund the programme.

Speaking at the launch in the Ethiopian capital, ECW Director Yasmine Sherif said the programme is designed to address the specific challenges holding back access to quality education of children and youth in communities – these are the children left furthest behind due to violence, drought, displacement and other crises.

The multi-year resilience programme was developed by the Ministry of Education with support from Education Cannot Wait and a range of partners - United Nations agencies, civil society organisations, and donors - to address the educational needs of displaced children. Ethiopia has an estimated 1.4 million displaced, returnee, and refugee children, mostly resulting from conflicts and natural disasters. One million of these children are out of school, 527,000 of them girls. Latest data shows that 728 schools have been damaged by conflict or natural disasters.

The ECW programme will provide educational opportunities to 746,000 children - 380,000 boys and 365,000 girls, including 74,600 children with disabilities. Of these, 213,000 children will access early childhood education and 532,000 will receive primary education. The programme will further build the capacity of 1,200 refugee teachers to achieve diploma level certification.

ECW has earmarked seed funding of US$27 million to address the educational needs of 60,487 displaced children, returnees, and children from host communities in Amhara, Oromia and Somali regions. Part of this money will also support efforts to mobilize the funding gap of US$138 million needed to fund the whole programme.

The Ministry of Education will lead the programme in partnership with Save the Children International, UNICEF, Education Cannot Wait, and the Education Cluster. UNICEF and Save the Children will implement Education Cannot Wait's planned $27 million three-year grant.

To access video and pictures from the visit, go here.

Media Contacts

Kent PageEducation Cannot WaitTel: +1-917-302-1735Email:

Victor ChinyamaChief of Communication, Advocacy and PartnershipsUNICEF EthiopiaEmail:

Wossen MulatuCommunication OfficerUNICEF EthiopiaTel: +251 115 184028Email:

Hiwot EmishawSave The ChildrenTel: +251 911 124996Email:

Full Story

Journey from Horn of Africa to Yemen remains world's busiest migration route

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 11:06:57 +0000

Source: International Organization for Migration
Country: Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen

Data collected by IOM shows that more than 138,000 people crossed the Gulf of Aden to Yemen last year. More than 110,000 migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean in the same period.

Nairobi – On average, 11,500 people boarded vessels each month from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in 2019, making it the busiest maritime migration route on earth.

Data collected by the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) shows that over 138,000 people crossed the Gulf of Aden to Yemen last year. More than 110,000 migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean to Europe during the same period.

This is the second year in a row that the so-called Eastern Route has reported more crossings than the Mediterranean. In 2018, roughly 150,000 people made the journey.

Nearly 90 per cent of those who arrived in Yemen in 2019 intended to continue on to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Often coming from the rural regions of Oromia, Amhara and Tigray, approximately 92 per cent of people making the journey were Ethiopian nationals.

“While tragedies along the Mediterranean routes are well reported, our staff bear witness daily to the abuse suffered by young people from the Horn of Africa at the hands of smugglers and traffickers exploiting their hopes for a better life,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa.

Not only has migration on the Eastern Route not been reduced by five years of conflict in Yemen, migrants appear undeterred by the Gulf’s strict immigration policies for undocumented migrants.

“To get to Yemen, they crammed about 280 of us into one boat,” a thirty-two-year-old Ethiopian man told IOM in Aden, Yemen. “There was no oxygen, and some people committed suicide by throwing themselves into the sea.”

Most are unaware of the security situation in Yemen where they face serious protection concerns, including active fighting or abuses such as kidnapping, torture for ransom, exploitation and trafficking.

“When we arrived in Yemen, smugglers held us for a month,” said one eighteen-year-old Ethiopian migrant. “We were beaten, tortured, abused and threatened for ransom. My family sent USD 900 to save my life so I was released with some other people who had paid.”

IOM works across the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Gulf, providing life-saving emergency support to migrants in need and supporting development in home communities.

“However, the most effective protection mechanism for migrants remains the establishment of legal pathways for migration. IOM is committed to supporting all authorities along the Eastern route to better manage migration, ensuring the safety and dignity of migrants.”

A 2019 agreement between KSA and the Government of Ethiopia on a recruitment system for domestic workers, followed by a first request for 100,000 Ethiopian workers to travel to KSA, is an encouraging step towards harnessing the economic and development potential of migration from the Horn of Africa, while protecting migrants.

Those making the perilous journey to the Gulf cross deserts with little food or water and territories controlled by armed groups. Most are travelling in search of economic opportunities unattainable at home, while others are fleeing insecurity, human rights abuses and adverse living conditions.

Smugglers and traffickers operate boats from Obock in Djibouti and Bosasso in Somalia. Last year, thirty-eight per cent of migrants arrived from Djibouti, while the majority (62 per cent) arrived at Yemen’s southern coast from Somalia. For most migrants, the journey from their home to KSA can take a few months. However, it can be longer depending on whether the person stops to work or is detained along the way.

IOM’s efforts in the Horn of Africa and Yemen address three migration-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth; SDG 10.7: Facilitating orderly, safe and regular migration and mobility; and SDG 17.18, Increasing significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable migration data.

For more data on migration movements between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Gulf, please visit: and

For more information, please contact:

IOM’s Regional Office in Nairobi: Yvonne Ndege, Tel: +254 797735977, Email:

IOM Yemen: Olivia Headon, Tel: +967730552233, Email:

Full Story

World Food Programme and the Iraqi Ministry of Education relaunch school feeding

Thu, 13 Feb 2020 15:41:03 +0000

Descriptive text is not available for this image

Source: World Food Programme
Country: Iraq

Under the School Feeding Programme, the World Food Programme will distribute fresh meals to 330,000 Iraqi children in 1,200 primary schools across 11 governorates.

BAGHDAD – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its implementing partners in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MoE), WFP have relaunched its school feeding programme, following the successful 2018 pilot in West Mosul.

Under the School Feeding Programme, WFP is distributing fresh meals to 330,000 children, in 1,200 primary schools across the country during the academic year. The simple meal provided ensures the children have enough energy to start the school day. The schools were selected in coordination with the Ministry of Planning. The programme covers 11 governorates across the country including Mosul, Basra, Anbar and Diyala.

Although over two years have passed since the areas controlled by the Islamic State were retaken, the education system in Iraq is still recovering from decades of underinvestment and instability.

“The school feeding programme for 2019-2020 is the start of a new, comprehensive, and long-term initiative which reflects the value we place on our dear students and helps us fulfil our obligation to provide students with a suitable school environment, especially in the context of the current situation that the country is experiencing,” said Senior Chief of Research, Ministry of Education Dr. Ali Salman Hassan.

“Education is a powerful tool for young generations. It can help them develop their country and the world. By providing children with fresh, nutritious meals at school, WFP supports their growth and nutritional intake, as well as encouraging their families to send them to school regularly,” said WFP Country Director in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag.

The school meal includes a bottle of water or fruit juice, fresh Iraqi bread, cheese and a piece of fruit. This balanced meal provides the energy that school children need to focus during classes. In addition, all the food is purchased from local suppliers, bakeries, fruit markets and small businesses. This strengthens the capacity of small business owners, facilitates the creation of hundreds of livelihood opportunities in areas where the programme is implemented, and invigorates national and local food systems.

“The school feeding programme is the cornerstone of the education and health system in any country. There is no education without health, and no health without nutrition. To complete this cycle and achieve this goal, there should be a rich, nutritious and balanced food basket, appropriate for Iraqi students. School feeding is a natural right, that should be fulfilled by the state,” said Head of Environmental Awareness and School Health Dr Fawzi Rajab Tawfeeq.

WFP continues to work in coordination with sister UN agencies and partners to ensure that education and learning have a lasting impact on the future of Iraq’s children, improving their opportunities, health and wellbeing, and boosting equality.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

For more information please contact (email address: Rapose, WFP/Baghdad, Tel. +964 780 915 0962

Full Story