ReliefWeb - Updates

ReliefWeb - Updates

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ReliefWeb - Updates

Philippines: DSWD DROMIC Report #34 on Typhoon “URSULA” as of 18 February 2020, 6PM

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:53:08 +0000

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Source: Government of the Philippines
Country: Philippines

Situation Overview

“PHANFONE” entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on 23 December 2019 and was named “Ursula” as the 21st Philippine tropical cyclone for 2019. On 24 December 2019, “Ursula” intensified into a typhoon as it moved toward Eastern Visayas; hence, also affecting Northeastern Mindanao, Bicol Region, Central Visayas, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Western Visayas. On 28 December 2019, “Ursula” weakened into a Tropical Storm (TS) and exited PAR.

Source: DOST-PAGASA

I. Status of Affected Families / Persons

A total of 799,912 families or 3,313,577 persons are affected in 3,133 barangays in Regions MIMAROPA, VI, VII, VIII and CARAGA (see Table 1).

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World: South-South Cooperation at the Advent of Great Power Competition: The Capacity of IGAD and ECOWAS to Deal with Threat Proliferation in Africa

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:47:49 +0000

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Source: Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
Country: World

Rolandsen, Øystein H. & Marie Sandnes (2019) South-South Cooperation at the Advent of Great Power Competition: The Capacity of IGAD and ECOWAS to Deal with Threat Proliferation in Africa, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

ECOWAS and IGAD are two African sub-regional organisations that are expected to play a crucial role in prevention and resolution of conflicts as well as peacebuilding. Their track-records are uneven, but especially ECOWAS is contributing significantly in terms of democratic transitions, and preventing coup d’états and civil wars.

In this report, the authors argue that the dissimilarities between the two organisations are largely due to difference in institutional strength and the relative distribution of power among the member states. The advent of great power competition and the proliferation of transnational threats poses challenges to both ECOWAS and IGAD.

To respond to these challenges, deeper integration and better modalities for collaboration between such sub-regional organisations are needed. The report provides a comparative analysis of these organisations and points to the challenges and possible implications of these new threats.

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South Sudan: South Sudan: Reform Abusive Security Agency

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:42:44 +0000

Source: Human Rights Watch
Country: South Sudan

Restrict Powers, Free Detainees, Hold Violators to Account

South Sudan’s National Assembly should urgently enact reforms of the National Security Service (NSS) to end arbitrary detention and abuse of detainees, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also ensure that the security agency releases all those arbitrarily detained in Juba, the capital, and elsewhere in the country and hold all those responsible for abuses to account.

“South Sudan’s national security agency has for years carried out a full-blown assault on critics of the government and political opponents in brazen disregard for basic rights,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “With the formation of a unity government, South Sudan’s leaders should now show they are serious about ending these abuses and holding those responsible to account.”

South Sudan’s government and opposition leaders are supposed to form a new unity government on February 22, 2020, in accordance with the terms of the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement. The National Assembly, South Sudan’s parliament, is to consider new legislation to revise structure, policies, and procedures of the security service amongst others in the coming days, before the new government is formed.

Lawmakers should prioritize revising the National Security Service Act (2015) to prohibit the agency from carrying out arrests and detaining people and ensure adequate and broad-based discussions on the reforms. The authorities should also close all unauthorized detention sites and release or appropriately charge detainees and transfer them to police custody, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the South Sudanese authorities to limit NSS powers to intelligence gathering, as envisioned by the Transitional Constitution of 2011, which mandates the agency to “focus on information gathering, analysis and to advise the relevant authorities.”

Human Rights Watch, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission, and others have documented and reported on the pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances by the National Security Service, with little to no accountability for the abuses. NSS detainees are often kept in poor conditions in unauthorized, ungazetted, secret detention facilities and in congested cells with inadequate access to food, water, and medical care.

Prior to the formation of the new government, the NSS has increased repression of critics, eroding the space for opposing views and critical public dialogue.

In early February, NSS officers in Maridi allegedly detained a sports journalist for “spreading wrong information against the state” and beat him with a stick and pipe, credible sources told Human Rights Watch. In January, NSS officers arrested Ijoo Bosco, a journalist working with a local radio station in Torit, reportedly for airing news on United States government sanctions against the first vice president, Taban Deng Gai, for human rights abuses.

In December 2019, NSS officers arrested and detained an assistant lecturer at the University of Western Bar el Ghazal in Wau for reportedly mobilizing rebel fighters against the peace agreement’s security arrangements. He was released in January without charge.

At least 100 people are being held in the main NSS detention facility, known as the Blue House, in Juba. They include both security sector personnel held for disciplinary purposes and civilians held without charge, often for long periods, according to credible sources. One such detainee is Riek Malual Kuei, a trader in his late 30s, arrested by NSS officers in Juba on October 9, 2017. He was arrested because he was reportedly engaged in financial transactions for the armed opposition, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A-IO). Kuei remains detained at NSS headquarters in Juba without charge or trial.

The NSS Act grants the agency broad powers of arrest, detention, search, seizure, and surveillance. It does not include guarantees to prevent arbitrary detention and torture or other ill-treatment, and includes provisions providing NSS offers with immunity to arrest for human rights violations. And while it requires the NSS to bring detainees before a magistrate or judge within 24 hours of their detention, the NSS seldom does.

As part of the revitalized peace deal signed in September 2018 the government agreed to reform the agency, along with other security organs. In January 2019, the constitutional review commission submitted proposed amendments to the NSS Act to the Justice Ministry for deliberations and for presentation before the National Assembly.

The proposed amendments limit, but do not eliminate, the agency’s powers of arrest and detention, and criminalize torture. They retain the agency’s surveillance powers, without sufficient oversight, and permit an overly broad “crimes against the state” as a basis for arrest. The proposed law defines the crime as “any activity directed at undermining ... the government” and references the same crime in the 2008 Penal Act, which is equally vague.

South Sudan’s leaders should now revise the law to genuinely limit the role and powers of the NSS. They should order closed all unauthorized places of detention and release detainees or hand them over to legitimate law enforcement officials for charge and trial. South Sudan authorities should also hold those responsible for serious NSS abuses over the years to account, Human Rights Watch said.

“South Sudan’s leaders need to rein in the abusive NSS, an outgrowth of the old, repressive Sudanese system that society has so clearly rejected,” Henry said. “South Sudanese legislators should go beyond the proposed amendments to the security law and bring this agency in line with international standards.”

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Thailand: Novel Coronavirus 2019 Pneumonia Situation: Thailand situation update on 17 February 2020

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:37:13 +0000

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Source: Government of Thailand
Country: China, Thailand

3. The Disease Situation in Thailand

3.1 Surveillance protocol for COVID-2019

From 3-23 January 2020, the Department of Disease Control has been implementing its surveillance protocol by fever screening of travelers from all direct flights from Wuhan, China to the Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi airports. On 24 January, the screening protocol began to be implemented at Chiang Rai Airport. The screening protocol has expanded to cover all arrival and departure flights at Suvarnabhumi airport since 29 January 2020. The accumulated data, until 16 February 2020, showed 928 flights and 81,435 passengers and air crew members from China were screened for the disease. For the screening protocol outside the airports, there were 7,101 people from 326 ships arriving from affected areas that were screened at five sea ports (Bangkok, Laem Chabang, Chiang Saen, Phuket and Samui) from 1 January 1 to 16 February 2020.

The screening implementation at Suvarnabhumi Airport has also been applied among arrival travelers from all countries for both arrival and departure flights. From 29 January to 16 February 2020, an accumulated number of screening people was 1,542,474 and found 12 of those people met a case definition criteria of PUI. There were 73,533 people screened at five seaports. Since February 1, 2020, there were 490,176 people that were screened at 34 ground ports. A total of 33,456 people renewing their passports at the Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty at Chaengwattana Road were also screened from 30 January to 15 February 2020.

Among 138 Thai people traveling back from Wuhan, China since 4 February 2020, there were four PUI and all of them were referred for treatment at Queen Sirikit Naval Hospital.
The laboratory testing of all PUI showed negative results for the virus causing COVID-19. All four PUI were in good health conditions on 16 February 2020. One person got sick during the quarantine period and the laboratory results showed positive results for the virus causing COVID-19 and the patient is being treated at Chonburi Hospital. This patient is still in good health. However, the virus causing COVID-19 was still detected from the laboratory testing on 14 February 2020 and the sample was collected to repeat the laboratory testing on 17 February 2020.

3.2 Situation of patients with suspected symptoms of COVID-19 in Thailand.

On 17 February, 2020 at 18.00, 35 additional people met the criteria for patients under investigation raising the total to 872 PUI as shown in Table 2.

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Sri Lanka: COVID-19 - Situation Report – 2020.02.18 – 10.00am

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:29:45 +0000

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Source: Government of Sri Lanka
Country: Sri Lanka

  • An outbreak of pneumonia of unknown reason was first reported on 31st December 2019 from Wuhan City in Hubei Province of China. On 7th Jan 2020, it was diagnosed as “Novel Corona Virus”. On 30th Jan 2020, World Health Organization has declared it as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). On 11/02/2020 the WHO has introduced a short form for the diseases as COVID-19.

  • The incubation period is reported as 2-14 days.

  • R0 (Basic reproduction number) is estimated as 1.4 to 2.5. (R0= the number of cases one case generates on average over the course of its infectious period, in an otherwise uninfected or not immune) Ref. European Respiratory Society- www.ersnet.org 29/01/2020

  • In the current Sri Lankan context, there is no scientific justification to wear face mask routinely by the general public including children.

Local Situation quarantined

  • One (1) confirmed patient at NIID

  • Total number of individuals under observation - 2

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Sri Lanka: Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health: Dengue Update, 18 February 2020

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:27:58 +0000

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Source: Government of Sri Lanka
Country: Sri Lanka

For the year 2018, 51659 and in the month of February, 2020, 13570 suspected dengue cases were reported to the Epidemiology Unit from all over the island. Latest Disease Trends,

Approximately 26.0 % of dengue cases were reported from the Western province. The highest numbers of dengue cases were reported during the 29th week of 2017.

The outbreak situation in 2017 warranted extensive and regular removal of possible mosquito breeding sites from the environment, along with strengthened patient education on management of fever which resulted in a relatively low mortality.

It is very important to seek medical attention in the event of fever and to do relevant laboratory investigations at least by day three of the illness.

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World: Human rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Review of 2019 [EN/AR]

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 05:02:54 +0000

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Source: Amnesty International
Country: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, occupied Palestinian territory, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, World, Yemen

MENA: Renewed wave of mass uprisings met with brutality and repression during ‘year of defiance’

  • Report reviews human rights in 19 MENA states during 2019

  • Wave of protests across Algeria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon demonstrates reinvigorated faith in people power

  • 500+ killed in Iraq and over 300 in Iran in brutal crackdowns on protests

  • Relentless clampdown on peaceful critics and human rights defenders

  • At least 136 prisoners of conscience detained in 12 countries for online speech

Governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) displayed a chilling determination to crush protests with ruthless force and trample over the rights of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets to call for social justice and political reform during 2019, said Amnesty International today, publishing its annual report on the human rights situation in the region.

*Human rights in the *Middle East and North Africa: Review of 2019 describes how instead of listening to protesters’ grievances, governments have once again resorted to relentless repression to silence peaceful critics both on the streets and online. In Iraq and Iran alone, the authorities’ use of lethal force led to hundreds of deaths in protests; in Lebanon police used unlawful and excessive force to disperse protests; and in Algeria the authorities used mass arrests and prosecutions to crack down on protesters. Across the region, governments have arrested and prosecuted activists for comments posted online, as activists turned to social media channels to express their dissent.

“In an inspiring display of defiance and determination, crowds from Algeria, to Iran, Iraq and Lebanon poured into the streets – in many cases risking their lives – to demand their human rights, dignity and social justice and an end to corruption. These protesters have proven that they will not be intimidated into silence by their governments,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Director for MENA.

“2019 was a year of defiance in MENA. It also was a year that showed that hope was still alive – and that despite the bloody aftermath of the 2011 uprisings in Syria, Yemen and Libya and the catastrophic human rights decline in Egypt – people’s faith in the collective power to mobilize for change was revived.”

The protests across MENA mirrored demonstrators taking to the streets to demand their rights from Hong Kong to Chile. In Sudan, mass protests were met with brutal crackdowns by security forces and eventually ended with a negotiated political agreement with associations who had led the protests.

Crackdown on protests on the streets

Across the MENA region authorities employed a range of tactics to repress the wave of protests – arbitrarily arresting thousands of protesters across the region and in some cases resorting to excessive or even lethal force. In Iraq and Iran alone hundreds were killed as security forces fired live ammunition at demonstrators and thousands more were injured.

In Iraq where at least 500 died in demonstrations in 2019, protesters showed tremendous resilience, defying live ammunition, deadly sniper attacks and military tear gas grenades deployed at short range causing gruesome injuries.

In Iran, credible reports indicated that security forces killed over 300 people and injured thousands within just four days between 15 and 18 November to quell protests initially sparked by a rise in fuel prices. Thousands were also arrested and many subjected to enforced disappearance and torture.

In September, Palestinian women in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories took to the streets to protest against gender-based violence and Israel’s military occupation. Israeli forces also killed dozens of Palestinians during demonstrations in Gaza and the West Bank.

“The shocking death tolls among protesters in Iraq and Iran illustrate the extreme lengths to which these governments were prepared to go in order to silence all forms of dissent,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for MENA. “Meanwhile, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel’s policy of using excessive, including lethal, force against demonstrators there continued unabated.”

In Algeria, where mass protests led to the fall of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after 20 years in power, authorities sought to quash protests through mass arbitrary arrests and prosecutions of peaceful demonstrators.

While the mass protests in Lebanon since October, which led to the resignation of the government, began largely peacefully, on a number of occasions protests were met with unlawful and excessive force and security forces failed to intervene effectively to protect peaceful demonstrators from attacks by supporters of rival political groups.

In Egypt, a rare outbreak of protests in September which took the authorities by surprise was met with mass arbitrary arrests with more than 4,000 detained.

“Governments in MENA have displayed a total disregard for the rights of people to protest and express themselves peacefully,” said Heba Morayef.

“Instead of launching deadly crackdowns and resorting to measures such as excessive use of force, torture, or arbitrary mass arrests and prosecutions, authorities should listen to and address demands for social and economic justice as well as political rights.”

Repression of dissent online

As well as lashing out against peaceful protesters on the streets, throughout 2019 governments across the region continued to crack down on people exercising their rights to freedom of expression online. Journalists, bloggers and activists who posted statements or videos deemed critical of the authorities on social media faced arrest, interrogation and prosecutions.

According to Amnesty International’s figures, individuals were detained as prisoners of conscience in 12 countries in the region and 136 people were arrested solely for their peaceful expression online. Authorities also abused their powers to stop people accessing or sharing information online. During protests in Iran, the authorities implemented a near-total internet shutdown to stop people sharing videos and photos of security forces unlawfully killing and injuring protesters. In Egypt, authorities disrupted online messaging applications in an attempt to thwart further protests. Egyptian and Palestinian authorities also resorted to censoring websites including news websites. In Iran social media apps including Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and YouTube remained blocked.

Some governments also use more sophisticated techniques of online surveillance to target human rights defenders. Amnesty’s research highlighted how two Moroccan human rights defenders were targeted using spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO Group. The same company’s spyware had previously been used to target activists in Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as an Amnesty International staff member.

More broadly, Amnesty International recorded 367 human rights defenders subjected to detention (240 arbitrarily detained in Iran alone) and 118 prosecuted in 2019 – the true numbers are likely to be higher.

“The fact that governments across MENA have a zero-tolerance approach to peaceful online expression shows how they fear the power of ideas that challenge official narratives. Authorities must release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally and stop harassing peaceful critics and human rights defenders,” said Philip Luther.

Signs of hope

Despite ongoing and widespread impunity across MENA, some small but historic steps were taken towards accountability for longstanding human rights violations. The announcement by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that war crimes had been committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and that an investigation should be opened as soon as the ICC’s territorial jurisdiction has been confirmed offered a crucial opportunity to end decades of impunity. The ICC indicated that the investigation could cover Israel’s killing of protesters in Gaza.

Similarly, in Tunisia the Truth and Dignity Commission published its final report and 78 trials started before criminal courts offering a rare chance for security forces to be held accountable for past abuses.

The limited advances in women’s rights, won after years of campaigning by local women’s rights movements, were outweighed by the continuing repression of women’s rights defenders, particularly in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a broader failure to eliminate widespread discrimination against women. Saudi Arabia introduced long-overdue reforms to its male guardianship system, but these were overshadowed by the fact that five women human rights defenders remained unjustly detained for their activism throughout 2019.

A number of Gulf states also announced reforms to improve protection for migrant workers including promises from Qatar to abolish its kafala (sponsorship system) and improve migrants’ access to justice. Jordan and the United Arab Emirates also signalled plans to reform the kafala system. However, migrant workers continue to face widespread exploitation and abuse across the region.

“Governments across the region must learn that their repression of protests and imprisonment of peaceful critics and human rights defenders will not silence people’s demands for fundamental economic, social and political rights. Instead of ordering serious violations and crimes to stay in power, governments should ensure the political rights needed to allow people to express their socio-economic demands and to hold their governments to account,” said Heba Morayef.

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China: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Singapore Red Cross’ relief operations in China commences, expected to reach 100,000 healthcare workers and residents

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 04:55:42 +0000

Source: Singapore Red Cross
Country: China, Singapore

  • Phase 1 relief efforts target healthcare workers and patients; vulnerable children

  • Government and public donations surpass S$6M

Singapore, 19 February 2020 - The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) in a media briefing today announced progress made in its humanitarian operations towards the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Worth S$2,260,000, the first tranche of aid will directly support hospital staff and healthcare services providers through the procurement and distribution of essential personal protective equipment (PPE). The aid will also go towards medical equipping for three hospitals in Hubei Province; as well as the distribution of hygiene items and communication of health messages to seven social welfare homes in Tianjin and Nanning Cities, to be implemented over a period of five months (till June 2020). (See Annex A for details) Part of the funds will also be used to support other areas of intervention such as risk communication, community engagement, health and Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) promotion, information management, interagency coordination, and Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Reporting (PMER).

Expected to reach over 100,000 residents in China, the emergency response aid will be delivered by implementing partners, the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and World Vision. The remaining funds will be committed to additional projects in the coming months, as the SRC works closely with its ground partners to identify suitable projects that will directly benefit the most vulnerable.

Since the launch of its public appeal on 4 February, SRC has received over S$6M in donations from corporate organisations and members of the public, including S$1 million from the Singapore Government. (See Annex B for donation channels)

Mr Benjamin William, SRC Secretary General / CEO, said, “Over the past two weeks, we have seen an outpouring of support from individuals and organisations, for which we are grateful. The needs on ground are growing, and so are the resources required to support affected and at-risk communities in China. We are focused on maximising the impact of these donations, to help strengthen communities to eventually overcome the outbreak. As stewards of the donations, we are committed to the highest standards of accountability and transparency in our fund disbursement and project management.”

At a cheque presentation today, the SRC received US$2M from clients of Signature Consulting Pte Ltd, represented by director Mr Youw Rui Xiong Alvin. He said, “Together with our clients at Signature Consulting, we believe that the best joy in life is not about achieving personal success, but also to bring joy to those who are in need.”

Monitoring & Reporting

Separately, SRC has deployed a personnel to the IFRC Asia Pacific Regional Office in Kuala Lumpur and will deploy another to the IFRC Beijing Office this week to coordinate the response. The appointed persons will assist with sourcing, procurement and delivery of PPE, as well as monitoring the implementation of projects funded by SRC.

Local Community Efforts

Blood is required daily to support the needs of patients in Singapore. Despite the good response over the last few days, blood stocks are still low. The SRC thanks all donors and urges those who are healthy and eligible to step forward to support the national transfusion needs during this challenging time.

On the home front, SRC has also ramped up the frequency of befriending calls to 119 isolated seniors, from fortnightly to weekly, to allay their concerns on the coronavirus outbreak. SRC volunteers are pressing on with regular home visits to another 94 seniors identified as high-risk clients. The Red Cross Youth, as part of ongoing ‘disaster risk reduction’ efforts, will reach out to some 200 elderly in the neighbourhoods to advocate good hygiene practices in the next two months.

SRC took steps to safeguard its beneficiaries, as well as volunteers and employees working on-the-go, across its local social services. Preventive measures include: providing TransportAid drivers and Medical Chaperones with masks and gloves, equipping all transporters with hand sanitisers, and conducting daily disinfection of all vehicles. Together, SRC’s TransportAid and Medical Chaperone & Transportation services serve 488 clients.

SRC’s weekly Young Hearts Programme at Nee Soon East continues, with mandatory temperature taking for all participants - children and youth. At a recent visit to the Red Cross Home for the Disabled, Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan commended the team on their vigilance, citing, “The team was well prepared for the COVID-19 situation.”

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Pakistan: 75 polio cases reported in 2019 with Bannu, Lakki Marwat topping the list: PA told

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 04:52:42 +0000

Source: Frontier Post
Country: Pakistan

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly with speaker, Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani in the chair was informed on Tuesday that total 75 polio cases have been reported in the province during 2019 as against eight cases reported in 2018.

To a question of Sirajuddin of JI during question hour, the house was informed that Bannu and Lakki Marwat topped the list of polio cases with 24 each followed by eight in North Waziristan, seven in Torgher, two each in DI Khan, Tank and Hangu and one each in Shangla, Charsadda, Swabi, Khyber, Bajaur and South Waziristan district.

To another question of Siraj-ud-din about unavailability of anti rabies and anti snake venom the house was told the house was told that there is no such shortage of these life saving vaccines. Recruitment process in police department would be carried out through Accredited Testing Agency and KP Public Services Commission.

Similarly, in other reply house was informed that Peshawar city is facing grave traffic issues due to BRT mega project. An additional deployment of about 800 traffic officials has also been made at BRT construction sites to mitigate traffic issues.

To a query of Sahibzada Sanaullah of PPP, the house was told as per PMDC code of ethics 2002 the doctor can do private practice, however the doctors working in management cadre cannot perform private practice.

The government agreed admitted that no legislation could be enacted for determining the fee structures of doctors practicing in private clinics

In a written reply to the question of Humera Khatoon of JI, house was informed that Rs179649000 has been spent over sports competition held in Peshawar in which 7020 players took participation.

In written reply to the question of Rehana Ismail of MMA informed that that there were total 26 hair transplants centers in the province among which eight were registered and notices were served to remaining 17 illegal hair transplant centers.

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Myanmar: Myanmar Opium Survey 2019: Cultivation, Production and Implications

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 04:51:49 +0000

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Source: UN Office on Drugs and Crime
Country: Myanmar

Myanmar opium cultivation drops again as the regional drug economy continues to evolve

Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar), 5 February 2020 - Opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar declined a further 11 per cent in 2019 to 33,100 hectares (ha), according to the Myanmar Opium Survey released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Decreases were observed in all areas except Kachin State, where cultivation increased slightly. Shan State, which accounts for 85 per cent of cultivation in Myanmar, dropped 14 per cent to 28,000 ha, continuing a downward trend that started in 2015 when Shan had an estimated 50,300 ha of cultivation. Kachin accounted for 12 per cent or 3,900 ha in 2019, and Chin and Kayah states together for 3 per cent or 1,200 ha. The national average yield per ha was estimated at 15.4kg/ha in 2019, a 9 per cent increase on 2018.

Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative, noted, "the drop in cultivation was again significant last year. We will continue to work with Myanmar and communities in Shan to assist the transition from opium to sustainable economic alternatives. We are also discussing options to help Kachin given the situation and needs there."

The report also highlights opium price data, finding that average farm-gate values of fresh and dry opium decreased by 4 per cent and 7 per cent between 2018 and 2019 - over the last four years farm-gate prices dropped a staggering 63 per cent and 51 per cent. The decline in values combined with the reduction in supply again suggests that demand for heroin in the region is dropping, and that the drug market continues to shift strongly to synthetic drugs. At the same time, lower farm-gate prices make opium cultivation less attractive and viable, contributing to declining cultivation.

Although demand for heroin continues to drop, organized crime groups still generate substantial revenues from the drug in Myanmar. Domestic heroin consumption of 6 tons is valued at up to US$290 million, and the export of heroin generates approximately US$1 billion locally. At the same time, opium cultivation and heroin production in Myanmar continue to pose a significant public health and security challenge for Southeast Asia and neighbouring East Asia and Australia. An estimated 3 million heroin users remain in the region, with the retail market generating approximately US$ 10 billion annually.

The report also reconfirms the link between conflict and opium, with the highest levels of cultivation continuing to take place in unstable and conflict prone areas of Shan and Kachin. Opium cultivation, heroin production and trafficking, and the evolving illicit drug economy, are affecting peace and stability in the country and surrounding border areas.

Regional Representative Douglas commented, "major international organized crime groups are using conflict areas in the north to source heroin and produce and traffic synthetic drugs. They have the access to territory and relationships they need to do business." He added, "the situation here is having a profound impact on the broader Asia Pacific region - it is in everyone's interests to address the illicit drug economy in Myanmar and the Mekong."

The influence of opium poppy cultivation is being mitigated in some areas through alternative development programmes that provide viable sources of legitimate income.

Vice Minister of Home Affairs Aung Thu remarked, "the Government is pleased to see further declines, but we need to provide more support to opium producing areas if we are going to continue to make progress and ensure sustainability. We will also expand collaboration with Mekong MOU countries and UNODC to address organized crime and the production and cross-border trafficking of drugs and precursor chemicals."

Other UNODC programmes are helping address different aspects of the drug challenge, including by increasing regional cooperation to address organized crime and trafficking, control precursor chemicals, improve border management, and to provide access to health and social services.

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World: Gender and Recovery Toolkit: Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Crisis and Recovery Settings

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 04:49:02 +0000

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Source: UN Development Programme
Country: World

This Toolkit on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Crisis and Recovery Settings provides guidance on how to enable the leadership of women and girls while making sure that their specific needs are met. It consists of seven thematic Guidance Notes covering UNDP’s main areas of work in crisis and recovery contexts. Each Note offers concrete entry points and proven approaches for gender-equitable, transformative recovery and resilience programming. Additional Tip Sheets complement the Notes with fast facts and overviews of policy frameworks, concepts, indicators and innovative practices.

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Indonesia: Hundreds affected by floods within location of Indonesia’s future capital

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 04:29:26 +0000

Source: The Jakarta Post
Country: Indonesia

Dyaning Pangestika

At least 422 residents of Penajam district in North Penajam Paser regency – the planned location of Indonesia’s new capital in East Kalimantan – have been affected by floods that hit the area on Tuesday morning.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNBD) said in a statement that authorities were still assessing damages in the affected areas of the district’s Riko subdistrict and Bukit Subur village as of 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

The flood, which affected 379 people in Bukit Subur village and 43 people in Riko subdistrict, severely damaged a wooden bridge above a river in the area, preventing locals from easily crossing it by car or motorbike, the BNPB said.

A joint task force comprising North Penajam Paser Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) personnel and local officials had installed safety ropes on the bridge to help residents cross it and made sure that supplies were properly distributed.

Local authorities also used canoes in several areas to evacuate residents.

“The water level was 0.8 to 1.9 meters high,” BNPB Disaster Information Center head Agus Wibowo said on Tuesday.

Siltation and a large amount of garbage in the river were among the main factors behind the flooding in Bukit Subur, while the flood in Riko subdistrict was mostly due to high-intensity rainfall, Agus said.

He said that the areas had poor cellular connections as result of the floods, which made it difficult for local authorities to submit timely reports on the situation to the agency’s emergency operation center.

Affected residents faced difficulties cooking meals due to a lack of resources, Agus said, adding that they were currently in dire need of food supplies, hygiene products and mattresses.

According to BNPB data, North Penajam Paser regency was hit by floods at least 31 times between 2010 and 2019. A flood in 2013 saw one casualty while three houses were damaged during a flood in 2018.

North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kertanegara regencies in East Kalimantan were chosen as the locations of the country’s future capital city, which is to replace the heavily populated and polluted Jakarta.

The project is estimated to cost Rp 466 trillion (US$32.7 billion) with construction to begin this year.

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Sri Lanka: Situation Report - Sri Lanka 18th February 2020 at 1800hrs

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 04:27:17 +0000

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Source: Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka
Country: Sri Lanka

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Lebanon: Lebanon: 30,000 Syrian refugees affected by Snowstorm Karim

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:51:00 +0000

Source: Action Against Hunger USA
Country: Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic

Nearly 30,000 Syrian refugees are struggling to adapt to harsh winter weather conditions in the border town of Arsal, in northern Bekaa, Lebanon. For many refugees, this is their eighth winter displaced from their homes, and some say it is the worst yet in Lebanon.

Since May, many Syrians who have settled in the area have been forced to comply with new regulations and to dismantle the homes they had built. These families now live in shelters constructed of plywood and plastic sheets, which are not suitable for harsh and extreme weather conditions.

After Winter Storm Karim brought heavy snow and winds to Arsal, Action Against Hunger’s emergency response team, together with partners -- the UN’s Refugee Agency, the Municipality of Arsal, the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Union of Relief & Development Agencies -- met to coordinate a response to families impacted by the snowstorm.

To quickly open roads and access to communities, Action Against Hunger’s emergency team worked with local providers to clear the way to more than 40 locations. Additionally, we have distributed more than 10 tons of salt to melt snow and ice and to prevent refugees from becoming isolated again due to the storm.

Weather conditions remain extremely harsh, with temperatures falling as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Icy roads are expected throughout the next week, which could jeopardize residents’ movement and access to essential services.

Lebanon, which hosts the most refugees per capita worldwide, is facing its worst economic and financial crisis in years. Winter is getting harder for vulnerable people, both Syrian and Lebanese, who can barely make ends meet.

Increased costs and decreased vital services are affecting individuals’ ability to pay for fuel. Syrian refugees are now burning plastic, nylon and garbage to keep warm, which can further deteriorate their health conditions. Help is urgently needed to provide emergency kits to the most vulnerable people in Arsal.

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Philippines: UNICEF-WHO Philippines: Polio Outbreak Situation Report #16 (19 February 2020)

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:41:57 +0000

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

Highlights

  • On 15 February, DOH confirmed a new cVDPV2 case, a one-year-old boy from Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, bringing the total number of polio cases in the country to 17.

  • Currently, there are 14 cases of cVDPV2, one case with cVDPV1; one case with VDPV1; and one case with immunodeficiency related VDPV type 2 (iVDPV2).

  • DOH also reported that an environmental sample collected from Butuanon River, Cebu tested positive for the poliovirus as confirmed by the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine.

  • The first Poliovirus Outbreak Response Assessment (OBRA) was held from 8-14 February. The team visited NCR, Mindanao and Davao City.

  • Third mOPV2 round started in Mindanao on 20 January targeting 3,102,973 children under 5. In the first 14 days of the campaign, 3,061,732 children under 5 were vaccinated (98.7%).

  • First mOPV2 round in NCR started on 27 January targeting 1,404,517 children under 5. A total of 1,386,5731 children under 5 were vaccinated (98.7%). The second round is planned for 24 February-8 March 2020.

  • Philippines is affected by both cVDPV1 and cVDPV2. cVDPV is considered a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

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Libya: Libya Joint Market Monitoring Initiative (JMMI), 1 - 8 January 2020

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:36:56 +0000

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Source: REACH Initiative
Country: Libya

INTRODUCTION

In an effort to inform cash-based interventions and better understand market dynamics in Libya, the Joint Market Monitoring Initiative (JMMI) was created by the Libya Cash Working Group (CWG) in June 2017. The initiative is guided by the CWG Markets Taskforce, led by REACH and supported by the CWG members. It is funded by OFDA and UNHCR.

Markets in key urban areas across Libya are assessed on a monthly basis. In each location, field teams record prices and availability of basic food and non-food items (NFIs) sold in local shops and markets.

This factsheet presents an overview of price ranges and medians for key food items and NFIs in the assessed areas, as well as the costs associated with key elements of the Minimum Expenditure Basket (MEB).

METHODOLOGY

  • Field staff familiar with the local market conditions identified shops representative of the general price level in their respective locations.

  • At least four prices per assessed item were collected within each location. In line with the purpose of the JMMI, only the price of the cheapest available brand was recorded for each item.

  • Enumerators were trained on methodology and tools by REACH. Data collection was conducted through the KoBoCollect mobile application.

  • Following data collection, REACH compiled and cleaned all partner data, normalising prices, crosschecking outliers and calculating the median cost of the MEB in each assessed market.

  • More details are available in the Methodology section of the Appendix.

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Nigeria: Borno - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): Assessment of Hard-to-Reach Areas in Northeast Nigeria, January 2020

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:33:50 +0000

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Source: REACH Initiative
Country: Nigeria

Overview

The continuation of conflict in Northeast Nigeria has created a complex humanitarian crisis, rendering sections of Borno state as hard to reach. To address information gaps facing the humanitarian response in Northeast Nigeria and inform humanitarian actors on the demographics of households in hard-to-reach areas of Northeast Nigeria, as well as to identify their needs, access to services and movement intentions, REACH has been conducting a monthly assessment of hard-to-reach areas in Northeast Nigeria since November 2018.

Using its Area of Knowledge (AoK) methodology, REACH remotely monitors the situation in hard-toreach areas through monthly multi-sector interviews in accessible Local Government Area (LGA) capitals with the following typology of Key Informants (KIs):

  • KIs who are newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have left a hard-to-reach settlement in the last 3 months

  • KIs who have had contact with someone living or having been in a hard-to-reach settlement in the last month (traders, migrants, family members, etc.)

Selected KIs are purposively sampled and are interviewed on settlement-wide circumstances in hard-to-reach areas, rather than their individual experiences. Responses from KIs reporting on the same settlement are then aggregated to the settlement level. The most common response provided by the greatest number of KIs is reported for each settlement. When no most common response could be identified, the response is considered as ‘no consensus’. While included in the calculations, the percentage of settlements for which no consensus was reached is not displayed in the results below.

Results presented in this factsheet, unless otherwise specified, represent the proportion of settlements assessed within a LGA. Findings are only reported on LGAs where at least 5% of populated settlements in the respective LGA have been assessed.

The findings presented are indicative of broader trends in assessed settlements in January 2020, and are not statistically generalisable.

Assessment Coverage

343 Key Informants interviewed

160 Settlements assessed

8 LGAs assessed

4 LGAs with 5% or more coverage

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Nigeria: Borno - Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI): Assessment of Hard-to-Reach Areas in Northeast Nigeria, January 2020

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:31:40 +0000

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Source: REACH Initiative
Country: Nigeria

Overview

The continuation of conflict in Northeast Nigeria has created a complex humanitarian crisis, rendering sections of Borno state as hard to reach. To address information gaps facing the humanitarian response in Northeast Nigeria and inform humanitarian actors on the demographics of households in hard-to-reach areas of Northeast Nigeria, as well as to identify their needs, access to services and movement intentions, REACH has been conducting a monthly assessment of hard-to-reach areas in Northeast Nigeria since November 2018.

Using its Area of Knowledge (AoK) methodology,
REACH remotely monitors the situation in hard-toreach areas through monthly multi-sector interviews in accessible Local Government Area (LGA) capitals with the following typology of Key Informants (KIs):

  • KIs who are newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have left a hard-to-reach settlement in the last 3 months1

  • KIs who have had contact with someone living or having been in a hard-to-reach settlement in the last month (traders, migrants, family members, etc.)

Selected KIs are purposively sampled and are interviewed on settlement-wide circumstances in hard-to-reach areas, rather than their individual experiences. Responses from KIs reporting on the same settlement are then aggregated to the settlement level. The most common response provided by the greatest number of KIs is reported for each settlement. When no most common response could be identified, the response is considered as ‘no consensus’. While included in the calculations, the percentage of settlements for which no consensus was reached is not displayed in the results below.

Results presented in this factsheet, unless otherwise specified, represent the proportion of settlements assessed within a LGA. Findings are only reported on LGAs where at least 5% of populated settlements in the respective LGA have been assessed.

The findings presented are indicative of broader trends in assessed settlements in January 2020, and are not statistically generalisable.

Assessment Coverage

343 Key Informants interviewed

160 Settlements assessed

8 LGAs assessed

4 LGAs with 5% or more coverage

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Nigeria: Borno - Health: Assessment of Hard-to-Reach Areas in Northeast Nigeria, January 2020

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:23:49 +0000

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Source: REACH Initiative
Country: Nigeria

Overview

The continuation of conflict in Northeast Nigeria has created a complex humanitarian crisis, rendering sections of Borno state as hard to reach. To address information gaps facing the humanitarian response in Northeast Nigeria and inform humanitarian actors on the demographics of households in hard-to-reach areas of Northeast Nigeria, as well as to identify their needs, access to services and movement intentions,
REACH has been conducting a monthly assessment of hard-to-reach areas in Northeast Nigeria since November 2018.

Using its Area of Knowledge (AoK) methodology,
REACH remotely monitors the situation in hard-toreach areas through monthly multi-sector interviews in accessible Local Government Area (LGA) capitals with the following typology of Key Informants (KIs):

  • KIs who are newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have left a hard-to-reach settlement in the last 3 months1

  • KIs who have had contact with someone living or having been in a hard-to-reach settlement in the last month (traders, migrants, family members, etc.)

Selected KIs are purposively sampled and are interviewed on settlement-wide circumstances in hard-to-reach areas, rather than their individual experiences. Responses from KIs reporting on the same settlement are then aggregated to the settlement level. The most common response provided by the greatest number of KIs is reported for each settlement. When no most common response could be identified, the response is considered as ‘no consensus’. While included in the calculations, the percentage of settlements for which no consensus was reached is not displayed in the results below.

Results presented in this factsheet, unless otherwise specified, represent the proportion of settlements assessed within a LGA. Findings are only reported on LGAs where at least 5% of populated settlements in the respective LGA have been assessed.

The findings presented are indicative of broader trends in assessed settlements in January 2020, and are not statistically generalisable.

Assessment Coverage

343 Key Informants interviewed

160 Settlements assessed

8 LGAs assessed

4 LGAs with 5% or more coverage

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Nigeria: Borno - Food Security and Livelihoods (FSL): Assessment of Hard-to-Reach Areas in Northeast Nigeria, January 2020

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:20:57 +0000

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Source: REACH Initiative
Country: Nigeria

Overview

The continuation of conflict in Northeast Nigeria has created a complex humanitarian crisis, rendering sections of Borno state as hard to reach. To address information gaps facing the humanitarian response in Northeast Nigeria and inform humanitarian actors on the demographics of households in hard-to-reach areas of Northeast Nigeria, as well as to identify their needs, access to services and movement intentions, REACH has been conducting a monthly assessment of hard-to-reach areas in Northeast Nigeria since November 2018.

Using its Area of Knowledge (AoK) methodology, REACH remotely monitors the situation in hard-toreach areas through monthly multi-sector interviews in accessible Local Government Area (LGA) capitals with the following typology of Key Informants (KIs):

  • KIs who are newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have left a hard-to-reach settlement in the last 3 months

  • KIs who have had contact with someone living or having been in a hard-to-reach settlement in the last month (traders, migrants, family members, etc.)

Selected KIs are purposively sampled and are interviewed on settlement-wide circumstances in hard-to-reach areas, rather than their individual experiences. Responses from KIs reporting on the same settlement are then aggregated to the settlement level. The most common response provided by the greatest number of KIs is reported for each settlement. When no most common response could be identified, the response is considered as ‘no consensus’. While included in the calculations, the percentage of settlements for which no consensus was reached is not displayed in the results below.

Results presented in this factsheet, unless otherwise specified, represent the proportion of settlements assessed within a LGA. Findings are only reported in the respective LGA have been assessed.

The findings presented are indicative of broader trends in assessed settlements in January 2020, and are not statistically generalisable.

Assessment Coverage

343 Key Informants interviewed

160 Settlements assessed

8 LGAs assessed 4 LGAs with 5% or more coverage on LGAs where at least 5% of populated settlements

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