Violence in CAR spotlights ‘extremely fragile' situation, UN official tells Security Council
Source: UN Security Council
Country: Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon
François Lounceny Fall said the violence also demonstrated the threat that the continued presence of armed groups in the Central African Republic posed to the entire subregion.
7 DECEMBER 2016
7828TH MEETING (AM)
Acting Special Representative Briefs on Armed Groups, Border Dispute, Piracy
Despite a peaceful and successful transition in the Central African Republic earlier in 2016, the recent outbreak of violence there had demonstrated the extremely fragile situation in the country, the Secretary-General’s Acting Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), told the Security Council today.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Central Africa and the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (document S/2016/996), François Lounceny Fall noted that the violence had resulted in high numbers of casualties. The violence had occurred as the country embarked on recovery and efforts to consolidate peace, he pointed out, adding that it had also demonstrated the threat that the continued presence of armed groups in the Central African Republic posed to the entire subregion.
He went on to state that the Secretary-General’s report presented the main threats to peace and security in Central Africa, as well as an update on UNOCA’s activities in the last six months. Despite those challenges, however, the Government had made progress by engaging with armed groups and by adopting a national strategy on disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation which most of them supported.
However, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) remained a threat to regional security, he said, adding that its attacks had caused “unspeakable” suffering to civilians. The group was also linked to poaching and trafficking in wildlife. UNOCA, in cooperation with the African Union, would organize the next semi-annual meeting of focal points on the LRA, to be held in Entebbe, Uganda later this month.
He recalled that in August 2015, a team comprising UNOCA as well as the African Union, United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) had visited the Central African Republic to assess the LRA threat. In October 2015, a joint UNOCA-African Union mission had also visited the country to discuss measures to counter the group with civilian and military partners. However, the United Nations was concerned about Uganda’s intention, announced on 31 December, to withdraw its troops from the African Union regional task force, he said, cautioning that such an action would lead to a security void that the LRA could exploit to attack populations.
Further afield, he said that collective efforts by the Lake Chad Basin countries had met with success in the fight against terrorism, while noting that Boko Haram remained a serious threat to regional stability as its asymmetric attacks targeted mainly civilians. Its activities had greatly undermined development and exacerbated economic hardship. The situation of refugees and the internally displaced, particularly women and children, remained a cause of serious concern as Boko Haram’s activities continued to hinder humanitarian access to affected areas.
He went on to point out that the resources available to the Lake Chad Basin countries were not enough to finance operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force, emphasizing the urgent need to ensure funding for early recovery and development in liberated areas, including through measures to reintegrate defectors and their families. He voiced hope that the planned Joint Summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Boko Haram would develop a regional strategy to address political, security, humanitarian and development challenges, underling the readiness of the United Nations to support the region in that endeavour.
He went on to state that incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea had been rising in 2016, with 50 cases registered at the time of speaking. It was unfortunate that the interregional centre for the coordination of maritime security was not yet operational. It would complete the recruitment of one permanent staff member by the end of 2016, he noted. An extraordinary summit of the African Union on 15 October had led to the adoption of a charter on security and maritime safety and development aimed at preventing piracy, national and transnational crime, especially terrorism as well as trafficking in protected wildlife.
Regarding the border dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, he expressed hope that its submission to the International Court of Justice would lead to a peaceful settlement that would inspire other countries facing similar challenges by demonstrating that a peaceful and legal settlement was both available and possible.
Since the last briefing to the Council by his predecessor, elections had been held in Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe, he noted. In some countries of the subregion, however, political tensions arising from recent or upcoming political processes underlined the importance of genuine and inclusive political dialogue, including on meaningful democratic reforms to foster long-term stability, he stressed.
He concluded by emphasizing that the Security Council’s continued support remained critical for peace and security in Central Africa, and pledging that UNOCA would continue to work with the subregion to realize that objective.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:21 a.m.
For information media. Not an official record.
States pledge US$700 million to UNHCR for 2017 operations
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
The pledges will help provide support to people fleeing major conflicts – including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and South Sudan – as well as operations in more than 100 countries.
In the biggest show of support ever, donor governments today promised an initial US$700 million to fund UN Refugee Agency operations next year.
By: Kitty McKinsey | 7 December 2016
GENEVA – In the biggest show of support ever, donor governments today pledged an initial US$700 million for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to help nearly 69 million displaced or stateless people in its operations worldwide in 2017.
The pledges made at the donor meeting in Geneva will help UNHCR provide support to people fleeing major conflicts – including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and the Lake Chad region – as well operations in more than 100 countries around the world. UNHCR’s budget for all operations for 2017 stands at US$7.3 billion.
Today’s pledges do not cover all needs, but they provide an important signal to the organization of the anticipated funding for next year, allowing it to plan and continue operations without interruption. It represents a large increase over the US$687 million pledged a year ago, which was then a record.
“We are calling on our government donors to work with us to make sure that all displaced people can access protection and build a secure future,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“Our top priority is saving lives and protecting the rights and dignity of refugees, people displaced within their own countries, and stateless people. That means offering practical support over the longer term – including to the countries and communities that host them.”
What is new in UNHCR’s approach this year, Grandi added, is an increased emphasis on working with development agencies.
“We are placing an ever greater emphasis on working in partnership,” he said. “That calls for partnership with development actors like the World Bank, the International Labour Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, partnership with the private sector and – obviously – partnership with displaced people themselves.”
“Refugees’ needs have never been greater,” Grandi added, “but the countries of the world have also shown their commitment to work together to find lasting solutions.”
UNHCR’s budget is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from governments and, increasingly, from individuals, corporations and foundations. For 2016, UNHCR expects to receive the highest proportion ever of what it asked for – 54 percent, or some US$4 billion out of the US$7.51 billion currently budgeted.
UN Refugee Agency updates protection ‘toolkit’ for a world on the move
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
In response to a sharp increase in global flows of both refugees and migrants, the UNHCR has updated its ‘toolkit’ for protecting vulnerable people on the move.
A decade on from the launch of the UN Refugee Agency’s 10-Point Plan, Protection Chief Volker Türk outlines the latest update to its best practices framework.
GENEVA – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has updated its ‘tool kit’ for protecting vulnerable people on the move, in response to a sharp increase in global flows of both refugees and migrants in the decade since it was published.
UNHCR issued its original 10-Point Plan of Action in 2006, setting out a framework to help countries ensure that people in need of international protection travelling within broader mixed migratory movements could be identified and assisted.
The updated Plan - issued today – provides an overhauled set of best practises for states, civil society organizations and other UN partners, taking into account larger and more complex flows of people in today’s world.
“What this10-Point Plan on mixed movements does is collect practices, good examples, and ways and means to deal with the phenomenon of human mobility in all its dimensions – in its refugee dimension, but also its migratory dimension,” UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk said.
Türk noted that, since 2006, the number of people on the move worldwide as a result of conflict, violence and persecution has roughly doubled to 65 million, including over 21 million refugees.
The increase has accelerated some already emerging dynamics in human mobility. These include an increase in the number of people seeking safety beyond the countries of first asylum - in Europe, and other parts of the world such as the Northern Triangle of Central America, and Southeast Asia – and the growing use of smuggling and trafficking routes by mixed flows of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants.
“It is clear that countries and organizations such as UNHCR and NGOs will have to deal with these new realities,” Türk said. “The 10-Point Plan shows practically, on the basis of over 100 new examples that were added to make the case, that indeed you can manage and address these phenomena,” he added.
It provides a “nuts and bolts” approach to help states and humanitarian workers identify vulnerable people on the move and in need of international protection, and respond appropriately to their needs, Türk said.
He gave as an example identifying and safeguarding women who are victims of human trafficking, so that they can testify against the traffickers. Other examples included providing alternatives to custody for children - especially unaccompanied and separated children – and meeting the special needs of particularly vulnerable people, including refugees suffering from trauma.
“Sometimes we have people who are very traumatized as a result of what they went through and we need to launch a proper response to that. You need to take care of people in an appropriate manner,” Türk said.
“So all of these examples that are collected in this document will hopefully help practitioners around the world to deal with human mobility in a humane and positive manner that shows that we can, if we do it collectively, address the challenges together,” he added.
UN and partners seek US$2.66 billion for emergency needs in Sahel
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal
The appeal aims to provide lifesaving assistance to 15 million people in eight countries of the Sahel region, which will remain the site of one of the world's major humanitarian operations in 2017.
(Dakar, 7 December 2016): The United Nations and non-governmental partner organizations launched today in Dakar a US$ 2.66 billion appeal for aid to provide lifesaving assistance to 15 million people across eight countries in the Sahel region.
"The Sahel faces considerable challenges and will remain the site of one of the world's major humanitarian operations in 2017," said UN Assistant-Secretary General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, M. Toby Lanzer. "Millions of people still live in conditions of deplorable human suffering. Their lives and livelihoods will be at stake unless the humanitarian community, governments and donors renew their engagement to assist and protect those in urgent need and help these communities become less vulnerable to shocks."
One in five families in the Sahel continues to be extremely vulnerable and 4.9 million people have fled from their homes. In 2017, more than 30 million people will face food insecurity, of which 12 million will urgently need aid. Malnutrition continues to reach critical levels in the region, particularly in Chad and north-east Nigeria, where the prevalence of global acute malnutrition is as high as 30 per cent, which is double the emergency threshold.
"In the Lake Chad Basin, where the crisis is most acute, 11 million people require emergency assistance and financial needs have almost tripled since last year. Half a million severely malnourished children need our immediate help to survive. In Mali, the humanitarian situation is stable but remains extremely worrying due to insecurity, "said Mr. Toby Lanzer.
"In Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal, the absence of violence coincided with two relatively good rainy seasons. This has allowed communities, with the help of humanitarian actors, to recover from previous shocks and become more resilient," said the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator.
"And we must, more than ever, shift ‘from providing aid to ending needs’ because extreme vulnerability in the Sahel is the most visible symptom of the triple crisis of governance, insecurity and climate change that affects this region. The demographic explosion, which will see the region’s population double in the next twenty years, exacerbates the situation still further, " said Toby Lanzer. "UN agencies and their partners are committed to doing everything they can to respond quickly and effectively to the urgent needs of affected individuals, families and communities. And we continue to strengthen our collaboration with governments, development and stabilization actors, without whom humanitarian assistance will continue to be needed indefinitely and at an ever greater cost."
Note to the editor
The funds required for this appeal are based on the country Humanitarian Response Plans in Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, as well as humanitarian work plans in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal.
The appeal involves more than 100 partner organisations working together to save lives and protect the assets of most vulnerable communities. It is part of a strategy which complements lifesaving relief operations with early response and closer partnerships with governments and development organisations.
This appeal was presented at a round table on the prospects for humanitarian aid in the Sahel, with contributions from the following experts and representatives: Dr Arame Tall, Regional Representative of the Global Framework for Climate Services for Africa (GFCS), Anne Moltes, Regional Director of Interpeace, Mabingue Ngom, Regional Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Mario Samaja, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Mauritania.
An online version of the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plans and humanitarian work plans for the Sahel is available at http://www.unocha.org/sahel
For further information please contact:
Eve Sabbagh, Office of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, +221 77 569 96 54, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ivo Brandau, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),+ 221 77 450 62 32, email@example.com
OCHA press releases are available on www.unocha.org/rowca and www.reliefweb.int
The mission of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is to mobilize and coordinate effective and
principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors
Five reasons why disability matters in a humanitarian crisis
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
An estimated 20 million people with disabilities are affected by crises . So far, 139 stakeholders have endorsed the new Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.
In 2012, Kholoud was walking from her home in Syria to a small patch of land to pick vegetables when she was shot by a sniper. “Suddenly, a bullet hit my neck,” she said. “I fell down and lost sensation. I couldn’t move anymore.”
See more with photos and video
Libyans twice uprooted by war call for urgent help
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
UNHCR is particularly concerned about the deteriorating prospects for thousands of families uprooted by the ongoing conflict in Sirte, some of them forcibly displaced several times.
Driven from their homes by fighting in 2011 and then again this year, displaced Sirte residents face dire need even as their city is recaptured from militants.
By: Taha Zargoun | 7 December 2016
TRIPOLI, Libya – Displaced Libyan father of three Mohmed wants to return to his home in the coastal city of Sirte, but the destruction wrought by two fierce battles that drove him to flee twice is too complete.
Pounded by shellfire, mortars and rockets in 2011 and then again this year in brutal street fighting, much of the once-thriving city of 100,000 people lies in ruins, the streets littered with unexploded bombs, with key services and vital infrastructure smashed. “It’s a stricken and demolished city,” says Mohmed. “If all the mines and explosives are not cleared, a lot of lives will be lost. We also need help to rebuild the infrastructure of the city.” More than five years of violent upheaval in Libya began with the uprising that removed ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Current estimates of the number of men, women and children uprooted by the turmoil are at around 313,000, although the residents of Sirte like Mohmed have had it tougher than most.
The first wave of destruction to engulf the city of wide boulevards, plush hotels, conference centres and apartment blocks, was unleashed in 2011 as rebel militias fought street by street to oust Gaddafi, who was from the city and made his bloody last stand there.
Sirte’s gradual recovery stalled in June last year when extremists taking advantage of Libya’s instability, seized the city. Eleven months later, militias loyal to the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli launched an all-out assault with artillery and air support, finally retaking the city in the past week.
This time around, residents and authorities in Sirte, which lies on the Mediterranean coast, midway between Tripoli and Benghazi, say destruction is worse and displacement greater.
According to the city council, some 19,000 families have fled since June 2015 alone. Residents are now scattered to 18 cities around the country - the majority in Tarhona, Bani Walid, and Misrata, while 4,000 families are now living in Tripoli, many in dire conditions.
“It’s really tragic. You leave to another city as a displaced person, and then rent and expenses are really difficult,” says a state employee Taher, who escaped Sirte with his wife and young daughter amid “random shelling,” and now struggles to pay rent on an apartment in the Libyan capital.
Many uprooted Sirte residents live with family members, often in overcrowded conditions. Among them is Mokhtar, who says he and his family also faced public ridicule for submitting to the rule of the extremists in Sirte, many of them foreigners from Syria and Iraq. “We had to escape,” he says. “We knew it was better to face insults from people here than facing war and death.”
With little or no help from authorities, some residents saw no option but to return home to the outskirts of the stricken city, even as pro-government militia pounded extremists with artillery and fought house to house for control of the centre.
“The families in the outskirts are suffering from an acute lack of medical care, gasoline, cooking gas, and have no money coming in, which is a national crisis,” said Mohamed Al Amien, a member of Sirte’s local council.
Al Amien also said that the council is mobilizing medical convoys to aid the returned families with supplies from Misrata, a city that lies 250 kilometres to the west of Sirte.
“We are preparing for meetings with international organizations to get help with fast repairs to schools, hospitals and government buildings once the war is over,” he said in a recent interview.
For twice displaced residents like Mohmed, with no means to support their families and dependent on their relatives, that help cannot come soon enough.
“We need immediate assistance,” he says. “I think that the international community should help us in these demands because the Libyan state is incapable of doing this now.”
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is particularly concerned about the deteriorating prospects for thousands of families uprooted by the ongoing conflict in Sirte, some of them forcibly displaced several times. “As time goes on, the protection needs of these families are becoming more critical,” said Samer Hadaddin, UNHCR Chief of Mission in Libya. “The cost of rent for Libyans displaced in their own country continues to rise, combined with hyperinflation and liquidity of Libyan banks. At the same time, opportunities for employment are scarce for everyone. Life is getting more and more difficult for people in Libya.”
With partner Mercy Corps, UNHCR is currently undertaking a rapid needs assessment in Sirte in order to identify the needs of internally displaced and returning families. As explosive remnants and improvised explosive devices render much of Sirte inaccessible and hinder reconstruction, the most pressing priority remains demining.
Over the summer months, UNHCR, together with Libaid, distributed blankets, jerry cans, solar lamps and kitchen sets to over 3,000 people displaced from Sirte to Benghazi. The 500 families targeted were amongst the most vulnerable, having no family links in their area of displacement and living in makeshift accommodation.
Jordan’s sealed border forces closure of MSF clinic for war-wounded Syrians in Zaatari
Source: Médecins Sans Frontières
Country: Jordan, Syrian Arab Republic
Zaatari clinic is shut and MSF’s wards in Ramtha hospital stand nearly empty, while the fighting and airstrikes in southern Syria continue unabated, and the need to provide lifesaving treatment to severely-wounded Syrians grows.
A clinic for war-wounded Syrians in northern Jordan is being forced to close just six months after Jordan shut its borders with Syria, says international medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
At the clinic in Zaatari refugee camp, some 80 km northeast of Amman, MSF provided post-operative care to refugees recovering from surgery carried out in nearby Ramtha and other hospitals.
Jordan’s decision to seal its borders with Syria on the 21st June halted the medical evacuation of war-wounded Syrians from southern Syria’s Dara’a governorate to MSF’s surgical project in Ramtha hospital, where MSF has provided emergency surgical care for more than three years alongside the Jordanian Ministry of Health.
Currently its wards are almost empty. As a result, referrals to MSF’s Zaatari clinic have plummeted.
MSF’s team in Ramtha hospital continues to treat the limited specific cases of war-wounded allowed into the country. But should the border remain shut, MSF is concerned that its surgery program in Ramtha may also be forced to close.
Field hospitals in southern Syria are overstretched and short of staff and equipment. Injured patients may be transferred from one field hospital to the next in pursuit of the required medical expertise or equipment to perform complex surgeries that could otherwise be performed in Jordan, risking their chances of survival.
Luis Eguiluz, MSF’s head of mission in Jordan says:
“With fighting and airstrikes intensifying in south Syria since late September, MSF has received information that the number of Syrians injured in this brutal conflict has mounted. However, MSF’s ability to save lives has been seriously restricted now that war-wounded are not allowed in, and while we can continue to wait for the borders to open, the seriously wounded do not have the option to wait.”
MSF opened its 40-bed post-operative care clinic in Zaatari refugee camp in late March 2014 as an overflow facility for its surgical project in Ramtha to provide convalescent and rehabilitative care to Syrian patients, including prosthesis, physiotherapy and psychosocial support. A total of 531 war- wounded patients referred from Ramtha hospital and other medical facilities were admitted to the clinic, while staff provided 2,143 outpatient consultations, 1,454 physiotherapy sessions and more than 2,500 mental health consultations.
Today, Zaatari clinic is shut and MSF’s wards in Ramtha hospital stand nearly empty, while the fighting and airstrikes in southern Syria continue unabated, and the need to provide lifesaving treatment to severely-wounded Syrians grows. Yet, the Jordanian borders stay fortified and firmly sealed, forcing wounded Syrians either to find alternative solutions to stay alive or else to die.
Marjan Besuijen, MSF project coordinator in Zaatari says: “Knowing that there are probably patients dying just a few kilometres away on the other side of the border because of lack of access to essential medical care is shameful. The wards inside the Zaatari clinic are silent, no longer filled with conversations or laughter. But this is not because the violence in Syria has diminished in any way, nor that there are no wounded in need of medical treatment. This is solely due to a physical barrier depriving those desperately in need of lifesaving medical care from receiving it.”
Through its medical partners in southern Syria, MSF has recorded at least 70 cases of war-wounded Syrians – 16 of them children – being denied permission to cross the Jordanian border, despite being in need of lifesaving surgical treatment.
MSF reiterates its calls on the Government of Jordan to reverse its decision and to open its borders to war-wounded Syrians to enable them to access urgent lifesaving medical care unavailable to them in Syria.
For more information or interview requests please contact Charlotte Morris, Press Officer, MSF UK on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 7587 553539
Médecins Sans Frontières in Jordan: MSF has been working in Jordan since August 2006 when it set up a reconstructive surgery project in the capital, Amman. Since 2013, MSF has been running an emergency trauma surgical project in Ramtha hospital, as well as a mother and child hospital and two non-communicable disease projects in Irbid and Ramtha, to support both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians.
Winning the war against yellow fever in Angola and DRC
Source: World Health Organization
Country: Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Four months have passed without a single case of yellow fever in Angola and DRC, thanks to the joint response activities of health authorities, local health workers, WHO and partners.
Four months have passed without a single case of yellow fever related to the outbreak in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, thanks to the joint response activities of national health authorities, local health workers, WHO and partners.
"It is incredible that such a large and diverse group of partners have come together to protect people against yellow fever," said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. "I’m also proud of the Organization-wide support. Staff from across all three levels of WHO – country offices, the Regional Office for Africa and headquarters – have come together under one integrated incident management system. Each level has played an important role: starting from the country level where the outbreak is occurring, to the Regional Office for oversight, command and control and the global level coordination support."
The outbreak, which was first detected in Angola in December 2015, had caused 962 confirmed cases of yellow fever across the two countries (884 in Angola 78 in DRC) by 16 November 2016, with more than 7300 suspected cases. The last confirmed case reported in Angola was on 23 June and DRC’s last case was on 12 July.
More than 41 000 volunteers and 8000 vaccination teams were involved in the mass immunization campaigns. The vaccines used came from a global stockpile co-managed by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF and WHO. In the first 6 months of 2016 alone, the partners delivered more than 19 million doses of the vaccine – three times the 6 million doses usually put aside for a possible outbreak. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance financed a significant proportion of the vaccines.
"This is the result of a gargantuan effort," said Dr Margaret Lamunu, Yellow Fever Incident Manager at WHO HQ. "30 million people have been vaccinated across the 2 countries – can you imagine the sheer logistics of getting vaccines out to that many people? Many of these people live in dense urban areas or remote rural settings. But we worked tirelessly with the respective governments and our partners – notably Gavi, UNICEF, CDC and all the GOARN partners – and together, we pulled it off."
A new approach to vaccination for yellow fever outbreaks
When, given the unprecedented nature of the outbreak, more vaccine was needed, WHO consulted global experts on the introduction of an innovative new strategy: an emergency fractional dose of the yellow fever vaccine.
"We had seen studies showing that one fifth of the usual dose of the yellow fever vaccine would provide immunity for at least a year and probably longer," explained Sergio Yactayo, WHO expert on yellow fever.
"In an urban emergency situation like this one and to ensure greater coverage with the limited available global vaccine stocks, we knew that a fractional dose strategy should provide more people with the protection required to stop the outbreak. And fortunately the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo were willing to take advantage of this new approach to interrupt transmission in the sprawling capital city of Kinshasa where more than 10 million people were at risk ahead of the rainy season. Their support is one of the key reasons why the country has not seen an outbreak-related case since July."
Broad support for the yellow fever response
In addition to supporting mass vaccination campaigns, WHO has worked with the governments of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 56 global partners to strengthen laboratory capacity and disease surveillance, control the spread of mosquitoes and engage communities on how to protect themselves.
The Organization’s response to the outbreak has been possible thanks to financial support from Angola, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, BioManguinhos, CERF, Germany, the ICG Revolving Fund, Japan, USAID, and the newly created WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies.
"We’re thankful to the governments of both Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for their leadership of the response to date. We’re not finished yet, however," Dr Moeti continued. "We need to keep a close eye on the situation in both countries, particularly with the coming rainy season – this is a peak time for yellow fever-carrying mosquitoes. We need to continue working together to ensure this outbreak is truly over, and to prevent future outbreaks."
Preventing future yellow fever epidemics
Outbreaks like the one in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could become more frequent in many parts of the world unless coordinated measures are taken to protect people most at risk. Climate change, the mobility of people within and across borders, and the resurgence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, have combined to increase the likelihood of yellow fever epidemics.
Awareness of this increased global risk brought together a broad coalition of partners in Geneva, Switzerland, recently to develop a new global strategy for the "Elimination of Yellow fever Epidemics" (EYE). Key components of the strategy include preventive vaccination (both in routine immunization schedules and mass campaigns), an expanded global vaccine stockpile for outbreak response and support for greater preparedness in the most at-risk countries.
"The current battle against yellow fever in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is coming to a close," Dr Moeti explained. "But the broader war against the disease is just getting started."
Sharing water, the gift of life, in Haiti
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
Country: Dominican Republic, Haiti
Following Hurricane Matthew, the Dominican Red Cross mobilized 29 of its staff with three water trucks and five water treatment plants and distributed more than 700,000 liters of clean water to affected communities.
By Kate Roux
Following the devastation of Haiti after Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the Dominican Red Cross mobilized 29 of its staff with 3 water trucks and 5 water treatment plants. For four weeks they worked across the border in Haiti, distributing more than 700,000 liters of clean water to communities affected by the hurricane.
“When the hurricane hit, we knew that clean water would be critical for the Haitian people and that the capacity of the Haiti Red Cross would be surpassed,” explains Gustavo Lara, executive director of the Dominican Red Cross. “We already have 29 water purification plants ready to be sent across the border, and teams trained on how to use them, and who also know how to teach communities good hygiene practices.”
The water that the Dominicans are providing makes all the difference to Haitians who have been impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Clean, reliable sources of water reduce the spread of cholera and other water-borne illnesses, and it makes it possible to do everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning and washing.
Dominicans also understand the local context in Haiti. The journey from the capital of Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince is only 6 hours by road, across the island of Hispaniola, and in 2004 both countries were severely affected by devastating floods. From 2004 to 2007 the European Union provided funding for the emergency response, focusing specifically on water and sanitation. Several water emergency response units were deployed to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, assisting thousands of people.
Following the floods operation in 2007, the International Federation and the Spanish Red Cross received funding from the European Union to refurbish and adapt the emergency water units into locally sustainable water units run by technical support teams. They were stationed in the Dominican Republic, in order to build local capacity for emergency response in the future. As a result of this investment, when Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, everything was ready for deployment.
Jose Dipre is a technical expert in water and sanitation with the Dominican Red Cross. He is leading the team who has been operating on the ground in Haiti since 12 October. “In Les Cayes we have been working with the regional committee. It was a big moment for us when we purified the first 3,000 liters of water,” he explains. “We have worked hard to make this happen. The local Red Cross staff here now understand how to carry this forward, without our assistance,” he says.
Jose and his team, along with the Spanish Red Cross, are producing enough water to assist around 2,244 families or 11,220 people in Camp-Perrin and Anse d’Hainault. The rain often makes it difficult for the trucks to distribute the water in certain areas, but they have still managed to reach places that are extremely remote and in desperate need of help, such as Les Irois and Anse d’Hainault.
In 2015 the Dominican Red Cross and the Haiti Red Cross signed a bilateral cooperation agreement. The cooperation agreement gives way for both Red Cross national societies to continue sharing their mutual expertise, so gaps during the response to a disaster such as Matthew can be met efficiently and effectively.
“The investments in local resources as we have seen between mutual support of both Red Cross national societies in the Dominican Republic and Haiti can make a tremendous difference in the long-term,” explains Ines Brill, head of IFRC Country Cluster for Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. “This is the kind of model for humanitarian response to emergencies that we discussed at the World Humanitarian Summit earlier this year, and seeing its success here today, the International Federation is going to continue to push this agenda in years to come.”
Yemen just a few months away from running out of food, Oxfam warns
Yemen’s population is at risk of catastrophic hunger as food imports continue to plunge. On current trends the war-torn country will effectively run out of things to eat by April, Oxfam said.
Vital food imports have plunged below half the level the country’s needs
Yemen’s population is at risk of catastrophic hunger as food imports continue to plunge and on current trends the war torn country will effectively run out of things to eat in a few months, Oxfam warned today.
The international agency said that in August, the amount of food imported into Yemen fell below half the level needed to feed the country’s people and remained below that ever since.
A 20 month long war, waged between a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf countries and the Government of Yemen against the Houthis, has killed and injured over 11,000 civilians, forced more than 3 million people to flee their homes and brought the economy to near collapse.
Oxfam is calling on the Saudi-led coalition to lift shipping restrictions to allow food and other vital imports to increase, and on all parties in the conflict to allow food to move freely around the country and agree a meaningful ceasefire and restart peace talks. It is also calling for rich countries to increase support to the UN aid effort which is currently only 58 per cent funded and short of over $686 million (£540m).
Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB Chief Executive, said:
“Yemen is being slowly starved to death. First there were restrictions on imports - including much need food - when this was partially eased the cranes in the ports were bombed, then the warehouses, then the roads and the bridges. This is not by accident - it is systematic.
“The country’s economy, its institutions, its ability to feed and care for its people are all on the brink of collapse.
“There is still time to pull it back before we see chronic hunger becoming widespread starvation. The fighting needs to stop and the ports should be fully opened to vital supplies of food, fuel and medicine. As one of the principle backers of this brutal war Britain needs to end its arms sales and military support to the Saudis and help put Yemen on the road to peace.”
Even before the conflict started, nearly 90 per cent of Yemen’s food had to be imported. With the country’s agriculture hit by the fighting, that reliance on food imports has only increased. However restrictions on shipping which are punishing the Yemeni population and the destruction of many port facilities by the Saudi-led coalition means that meeting the country’s food needs has reached a critical juncture.
In November 2015 the country was importing just over what it required, by October this year that had plunged to 40 per cent of its needs. Without a massive increase in food imports this trend is likely to continue in which case, by April next year there will virtually be no food imports.
Reduced ability of ports to handle cargo means ships have a lengthy wait at anchorage before they can berth to off-load their cargo. In November average delays at ports in the north-west were considerable - 53 days in Saleef and 23 days for Hodeidah.
There is some smuggling of food on the black market across the land border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. This is an important source of food but not on a scale to resolve the hunger crisis.
According to the UN, malnutrition is on the increase and more than 14 million people - half the country’s population - are ‘food insecure’, without a reliable source of enough food. The World Food Programme is warning that the numbers may rise to 21 million people.
People are doubly hit with food prices increasing – cereal prices are over 50 per cent of pre-crisis levels - and income falling. Some 31 per cent of the work force are civil servants and have not been paid or have received irregular payments in recent months. The most vulnerable of the population, 1.5 million people, who had relied on welfare payments, have received no payments since the crisis started over a year ago.
Besides a food import crisis there is also a fuel import crisis. Yemen used to be a fuel exporter but the conflict has effectively shut down production though recently there has a slight resurgence of oil production in the southern port of Aden. The country is now dependent on fuel imports and is only importing a quarter of what it needs.
Once food is in the country there is a challenge to distribute it to where it is needed, not only due to fuel shortage but because bridges on vital trade routes have been deliberated bombed. Fuel is also essential to pump water, run hospitals, light homes and keep Yemen’s ailing economy from collapsing completely.
Food imports to Yemen against pre-crisis levels of 2013. Food imports are tracked by the World Food Programme. Since May 2016 UNVIM (the United Nation’s shipping and import verification department) has also been tracking imports.
For more information contact:
Ian Bray 01865 472289, 07721 461339
Senior Press Officer
+44 (0)1865 472289
+44 (0)7721 461339
Skype: Ian-Bray aqss