Israel’s destruction of Palestinian property, ‘not compatible’ with international humanitarian law, UN says
United Nations, July 22 (Canadian-Media): Following “with sadness” the Israeli authorities’ destruction of homes in the Palestinian community of Sur Bahir, three top United Nations officials issued a statement on Monday underscoring that the move was “not compatible” with Israel’s “obligations under international humanitarian law”, UN Reports said.
The three-year-old girl in the photograph had been twice displaced with her family in the West Bank over the past year. (2018). Credit: UNRWA/Lara Jonasdottir
Israel’s Supreme Court has reportedly ruled that the houses were built too close to the separation barrier in the occupied West Bank, violating a construction ban.
“Among other things, the destruction of private property in occupied territory is only permissible where rendered absolutely necessary for military operations, which is not applicable”, said Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Gwyn Lewis, Director of West Bank Operations for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and James Heenan, Head of the UN Human Rights Office in the area.
“Furthermore”, the statement continued, “it results in forced evictions, and contributes to the risk of forcible transfer facing many Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem”.
The statement said that Israeli forces entered the community early on Monday morning, while it was still dark. The large-scale operation forced families out of their homes and demolished a number of residential buildings on the East Jerusalem side of the Barrier.
“Among those forcibly displaced or otherwise impacted are Palestine refugees, some of whom today are facing the reality of a second displacement in living memory”, the UN officials flagged.
They stated that while humanitarian partners are poised to provide emergency response to those displaced or otherwise affected by the destruction of their private property, “no amount of humanitarian assistance can replace a home or cover the massive financial losses sustained today by the owners”.
Several of the affected people report having invested their life savings in the properties, after securing the required building permits from the Palestinian Authority.
“What happened today in Sur Bahir is of even greater significance, as many other homes and structures now risk the same fate” said the senior UN officials.
Against international law
In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruled against constructing the Israeli Barrier and found that the parts running inside the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – including the Sur Bahir homes – “cannot be justified by military exigencies and thus violates Israel’s obligations under international law”, said the statement.
Moreover, in a resolution of 20 July 2004, the UN General Assembly, demanded that Israel comply with its legal obligations as stated in the ICJ’s advisory opinion.
“Had there been concrete action to ensure respect for these principles, and for international humanitarian and human rights law, generally, the people of Sur Bahir would not be experiencing the trauma they are today, and violations of their rights”, the statement concluded.
In Mozambique, it’s ‘a matter of the heart’ says Guterres, lauding the cyclone-struck nation’s ‘undeniable moral authority’
New York, July 11 (Canadian-Media/UN): Arriving in Mozambique to express solidarity and see for himself the damage wrought by two back-to-back cyclones earlier this year, UN chief António Guterres on Thursday said “undeniable moral authority” lay with its people, who had borne the brunt of a disaster linked inexorably to climate change, and a warming world.
“For me, visiting Mozambique is a matter of the heart”, he told reporters after meeting President Filipe Nyusi, recalling previous trips as Portugal’s Prime Minister, as High Commissioner for Refugees, and now as Secretary-General, where he “always felt at home” among friends, “I would even say, among brothers.”
It was clear that Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which affected well over two million Mozambicans when they struck with deadly force last March and April, were natural disasters made worse by chaotic extremes of weather: “Despite that, Mozambique does not really contribute to global warming, but it is at the forefront of the victims of global warming”, said Mr. Guterres, who hours earlier, had received a warm welcome on the tarmac of the capital Maputo’s main airport.
Secretary-General António Guterres meeting with H.E. Mr. Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique at the Office of the President in Maputo. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
The international community must ‘double its efforts’
Mr. Guterres said the vulnerability of the impoverished southern African State gave its people “the right to demand strong solidarity and strong support from the international community both in response to the dramas created by the storms that plagued the country, and in preparing the country for the reconstruction and preparation for future situations.”
"More aid and more support will be needed from the international community in Mozambique to respond effectively," said António Guterres
UN agencies which have been leading the relief and recovery effort in support of the Government, consider the nation “an absolute priority”, he added. He praised the very effective organization thus far, and “the extraordinary courage” of the people.
With the initial relief and recovery effort now behind them, he said they were now “launching the reconstruction process with what is now called resilience, that is, the ability of communities to be armed to better withstand these catastrophes in the future.”
The UN would be “with the Mozambican people in all these phases. Naturally, asking the international community to support the people of Mozambique, and support Mozambique [to address the] scale of the problems of both response and reconstruction”, he added.
Less than half of the $3.2 billion requested by the Government at a recent pledging conference in Mozambique had been pledged, and a UN appeal for $280 million in aid was also “far from being fully funded.”
"More aid and more support will be needed from the international community in Mozambique to respond effectively”, said the UN chief. “And not just more support, but the swift implementation of that promised support. That is another crucial issue, regarding the solidarity of the international community. We must not only support, but support on time.”
President Nyusi commends UN solidarity
President Nyusi, in his remarks to reporters alongside the UN chief, thanked Mr Guterres and the UN, saying, they "were the first person and the first institution to join the Mozambicans”, in the aftermath of the natural disaster.
He highlighted the work of several UN agencies, and added that they "worked to save more lives and mitigate the suffering of Mozambicans."
The President also attributed some of the help the country has received, directly to the UN and Mr. Guterres, saying they were "a result of the appeals that the Secretary-General did personally, but also as an institution."
After Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique, some displaced children in the city of Beira are having to study without a roof over their heads. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Beira visit on Friday, the eye of the storm
Right upon arrival in Maputo on Thursday for his two-day visit, the UN Chief was warmly received with a military parade, traditional dances and the presentation of flowers by a group of children.
He has also participated in a meeting about fighting discrimination against persons with albinism. He heard directly from several experts and children living with albinism regarding the issues they have to deal with.
On Friday morning, the UN Secretary-General will visit Mozambique’s second-largest city, Beira, which was most affected by cyclone Idai. The UN estimates that 90% of all of Beira’s infrastructure has been damaged.
In the large coastal city, Mr. Guterres will meet local authorities, visit one of the affected schools, hold a meeting with people with disabilities, a women’s group and also visit a resettlement camp.
Speaking in Portuguese, the UN chief noted that "Mozambique almost does not contribute to global warming, but it is at the forefront of the victims of this global warming."
“This gives it the right to demand strong solidarity and strong support from the international community, both in the response to the traumas created by the storms that plagued the country and in preparing for the reconstruction and preparation for future situations”, he added.
‘Nothing left to go back for’: UN News hears extraordinary stories of loss, and survival as Mozambique rebuilds from deadly cyclones
New York, Jul 11 (Canadian-Media/UN): As UN Secretary-General António Guterres arrives in the southern African nation of Mozambique on Thursday for a two-day visit, he will be surveying the damage wrought by the deadly back-to-back cyclones earlier this year. UN News reports from the ground, on some of the extraordinary stories of loss, courage, survival and recovery, that have defined the months since then.
Macomia district, in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, has been hard-hit by Cyclone Kenneth, which made landfall on 25 April. Credit: OCHA/Saviano Abreu
When the winds started blowing across Mozambique on the night of March 14, reaching a maximum speed of 195 kilometers per hour, the tin roof was the first thing to blow away at the home of the Mutizo family.
Inside the tiny coastal house, held together with pieces of plastic, cardboard, and bricks, 62-year Laurinda, her two adult children, Teresa and Ernesto, together with Teresa’s one-year old baby and the two teenagers the family adopted years ago, hugged and huddled together.
In a quick moment, Teresa’s hair salon, adjoining their house, simply flew away, she told UN News.
Moments later, it was Ernesto’s business shop, where the cyclone destroyed the copy machine and computer he had invested in, with the precious savings he had managed to put away, working as a barber.
The family hoped their remaining source of livelihood, the two little machambas where Laurinda grew rice, would survive, but in the morning, they found out that had been destroyed as well.
As the Mutizos realized their livelihoods had vanished, many other families came to the same conclusion. The deadly cyclones had left behind only debris where there had been businesses.
According to UN, Cyclone Idai affected 1.85 million people in the provinces of Inhambane, Manica, Tete, Zambézia and Sofala. In the bustling coastal city of Beira in particular, 90% of all the infrastructure was damaged.
Pledging conference falls short
Just six weeks later, as people struggled to recover, a second devastating monster storm - Cyclone Kenneth hit the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula, affecting more than 400,000 people.
Both cyclones were then followed by weeks of torrential rains. At one point, a UN humanitarian worker described the flooded area as “an inland ocean” that was as big as Luxembourg - about 125km by 25km across.
Mr. Guterres will begin his mission on Thursday by meeting President Filipe Nyusi, and receive updated briefings from UN agencies in the field, before visiting some of the affected areas.
Last month, the country hosted a donors’ conference, hoping to raise $3.2 billion to facilitate the reconstruction of the affected areas. International donors pledged only US$ 1.2 billion.
At the time, the UN Secretary-General stated that “this is the moment to translate into concrete gestures our solidarity with a country affected by one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in African history.” For him, the disaster “also warns us about the urgency of tackling climate change.”
After Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique, schoolchildren in Beira, Mozambique, study in a damaged classroom, whose roof has largely been blown away. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Resilience, and building back
In Mozambique’s second-largest city, Beira, one of the places Mr. Guterres will visit, is the School 25 de Junho. It’s in the neighbourhood where the Mutizos live, although now they sleep in crowded classrooms and eating meals distributed by UN agencies and partners, until they can patch up their damaged home, and move back.
The principal of this school is Frederico Francisco. The school now hosts about 5,000 children, aged five to around 14. Organized in three shifts, starting at 6am, boys and girls dressed in dark and light blue uniforms, fill classrooms which take up to 90 students.
“Before the cyclone, our priority was to build some bathrooms. We only have one toilet for boys and one for girls”, Mr. Francisco said this week. “But now the roofs are our main concern.”
The school has five different pavilions. One was completed last year, built by the community. Windows remain broken and the tin roofs have been blown away, with some pieces that got ripped off, which UN News observed was hanging over the students as they learn maths and sciences under the beating sun.
In the middle of the campus, one pavilion survived intact. It opened in February, one month before the cyclone, and was built by UN-Habitat, the urban development agency, with admirable consideration given to concerns for resilience to extreme climate events.
That’s where Ivanilda Samuel, 10 years old, is studying Portuguese, her favorite subject. She wishes her school had a new roof. But she’s also happy she was back in school after only two weeks. She said she was “very scared” during the cyclone and getting back in class, with all her friends, helped her not think of that night.
Back to life
As Ivanilda tried to get back to normal life, so have most Mozambicans. The Mutizos are preparing “bolinhos”, a fried butter pastry, which they sell on the street with other candy. Beira was cleaned up, with the help of more than 40 trucks made available by private companies. In the areas most affected by Idai, the distribution of emergency food is coming to an end, after a period of three months and some extensions. The same is happening at the end of July in the districts hit by Kenneth.
The World Food Programme (WFP) emergency coordinator for Idai, Peter Rodrigues, said the agency has reached about 1.6 million people so far. In the second phase of food distribution, which will last until next crop season, around March 2020, WFP will help “around 600,000 to 700,000 more vulnerable people”, at a cost of US$110 million.
Right now, all the temporary housing is being closed down. In Beira, there are around 46,000 people still living in 15 permanent resettlement camps. In the areas that have been badly affected by the second cyclone, there around 1,300 displaced in camps.
‘Nothing left to go back for’
Hortênsia Arnaldo Abreu Júlio, 26, and her three children are one of the families who are not going home. She lived in Mataquari, a neighborhood in Beira, but her house got completely destroyed. “I have nothing left to go back for”, she told us.
When the cyclone hit, she and her kids, ages 5 to 11, moved to her mother’s place. When that house became unsafe, they took refuge in her brother’s car for a couple of days. She then lived in a temporary shelter at a school and was then moved to one in a community center.
"I prayed for a house and a piece of land. A place where I and my sons could be safe," said cyclone survivor, Hortênsia Arnaldo Abreu Júlio
She says she “no longer had a way to find something to feed the children.” At these centers, she could “have something to feed them, at least a little bit of rice, flour, beans, something that we could eat.”
She was then given a permanent place to live in the Mandruzi camp, some 40 minutes north of Beira, along with some 375 other families. They live in tents given by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, International Organization for Migration, IOM, and other partners. Many come from villages that flood constantly and were deemed no longer safe to live in.
Hortênsia’s three children have started having classes again at the camp supported by the UN, but she worries it’s not “a permanent school”, where they’ll get a certificate for their studies and progress in classes. She shows us around, and her tent is perfectly organized, with a division in the middle, and clothes perfectly folded and organized in little piles: there are pots and pans by the entrance closer to the fire, which she lights a few times a day to cook the rice and beans she’s given.
Around the tent, she has been able to cultivate about a dozen different varieties of vegetable, in just a few short weeks. There are beans, sweet potatoes, onions, and she has even started harvesting some greens.
Dreaming of a house again
“A piece of land has always been my dream”, she says. She said she “cried a lot” after the cyclone, when her kids had to sleep with dozens of strangers in crowded rooms. “I prayed for a house and a piece of land. A place where I and my sons could be safe.”
At the camp, she started dreaming about a house again. She’s hoping for materials and then she would build it herself. It was also at the camp that she discovered she has the name of a flower, hydrangeas, and marveled at how pretty they are when shown pictures on a smartphone.
“Maybe one day I’ll plant them in front of my house”, she said. “Can you imagine, after all this, having a house and flowers? People wouldn’t believe it.”
#poverty; #environmentalgoals; #SDGs
New York, Jul 9 (Canadian-Media/UN): The global response to realizing poverty and environmental goals agreed by world leaders in 2015 has not been “ambitious enough” according to the UN Secretary-General.
Secretary-General António Guterres visited the low-lying island of Tuvalu in May 2019 to see how Pacific Ocean nations would be effected by the rise in sea levels/UN Photo/Mark Garten
In his latest report on the progress towards meeting the targets of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, the UN chief António Guterres said that while a “wealth of action” had been taken by governments across the world “the most vulnerable people and countries continue to suffer the most.”
The 17 SDGs commit countries to mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. Read more here about the goals.
The report tracks progress across 17 goals in the UN’s 193 Member States and largely takes a global view, however while many trends regarding the SDGs are common to all regions, there are significant regional differences. Here are six things you need to know about progress towards some of the key SDGs.
Launching the report at UN Headquarters on Tuesday, at the start of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the UN Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) chief, Liu Zhenmin, said that the clock for taking decisive action on climate change is ticking. He stressed the importance of strengthening international cooperation and multilateral action.
“The challenges highlighted in this report are global problems that require global solutions,” said Mr. Liu. “Just as problems are interrelated, the solutions to poverty, inequality, climate change and other global challenges are also interlinked.”
A family left homeless by cyclone Aila wait for assistance in Koira, Khulna District, Bangladesh/Credit: UNICEF/Uddin
Described by Mr Guterres last year as an “existential threat” to humanity, the outlook for meeting targets to reduce climate change is grim. With rising greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is occurring at rates much faster than anticipated and “its effects are clearly felt world-wide.”
The target, and remember this was agreed by world leaders, is to keep the rate of global warming to below 2°C and, if possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The average global temperature is already 1°C above pre-industrial levels but if not enough is done then warming will continue at an unsustainable pace and could well exceed 3°C by the end of the century.
While there are positive steps in terms of individual countries developing climate plans and the increase in the amount of money being found to finance those activities, Mr Guterres said that “far more ambitious plans and accelerated action is needed” on climate mitigation and adaptation.
A displaced family sits in their tent in the Khamir IDP settlement in Yemen. The father, Ayoub Ali, is 25 years old and has four children with his wife Juma'a. Credit:OCHA/Giles
Extreme poverty, which the UN defines as a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, continues to decline but the decline has slowed to the extent that the world is not on track to achieve the target of less than three per cent of the world living in extreme poverty, by 2030. It’s more likely on current estimates to be around six per cent; that’s around 420 million people, a situation of “grave concern” according to the UN chief.
Violent conflicts and disasters have played a role here. In the Arab region, extreme poverty had previously been below three per cent. However, the conflicts in Syria and Yemen have raised the region’s poverty rate and left more people hungry and homeless.
Historically speaking, there are reasons for optimism. The share of the world population living in extreme poverty was 10 per cent in 2015, down from 16 per cent in 2010 and 36 per cent in 1990.
A mother feeds her malnourished son at an Médecins Sans Frontières clinic in the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya/Credit: OCHA/Meridith Kohut
Hunger is on the rise again globally, with an estimated 821 million people undernourished in 2017, up from 784 million in 2015. So, one in nine people across the world are not getting enough to eat.
Africa remains the continent with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, affecting one fifth of its population, that’s more than 256 million people. Public investment in agriculture is declining globally, a situation that needs to be reversed according to the Secretary-General. “Small-scale food producers and family farmers require much greater support and increased investment in infrastructure and technology for sustainable agriculture, is urgently needed.”
The developing world is most acutely affected by this lack of investment. The share of small-scale food producers in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America ranges from 40 per cent to 85 per cent, compared to less than 10 per cent in Europe.
Mothers at the maternity health center in the village of Nassian, in the north-east of Côte d'Ivoire wait to have their children vaccinated against tuberculosis and other diseases. (file March 2017)/© UNICEF/Frank Dejongh
Major progress has been made in improving the health of millions of people, increasing life expectancy, reducing maternal and child mortality, and the fight against the most dangerous communicable diseases. Despite those improvements, an estimated 303,000 women around the world died due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth in 2015, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa.
Progress has stalled or is not happening fast enough in addressing major diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, while at least half of the global population, that’s some 3.5 billion people, do not have access to essential health services.
Mr Guterres said that “concerted efforts are required to achieve universal health coverage, sustainable financing for health and to address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases including mental health.”
In the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, Rawan Majali commemorates the opening ceremony of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women with her hand print pledge/UN Women/Lauren Rooney
Gender violence persists. Globally, about a fifth of women aged 15 to 49, experienced physical or sexual partner-inflicted violence in the last 12 months. The prevalence is highest in the 47 poorest countries in the world, a group the UN calls the Least Developed Countries or LDCs.
While some indicators of gender equality are progressing, such as a significant decline in the prevalence of female genital mutilation and early marriage, the overall numbers continue to be high. Moreover, insufficient progress on structural issues at the root of gender inequality, such as legal discrimination, unfair social norms and attitudes, decision making on sexual and reproductive issues and low levels of political participation, are undermining efforts to achieve targets.
The UN Secretary-General has said “there is simply no way that we can achieve the 17 SDGs without achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls.”
Jobs and employment
Workers at an integrated youth development skills center in Delhi, India/Credit: World Bank/Enrico Fabian
Experts agrees that economic growth which includes all sections of society and which is sustainable, can drive progress and generate the means to implement the SDGs. Globally, labour productivity has increased and unemployment is back to levels seen before the financial crash of 2008, however, the global economy is growing at a slower rate. And young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.
Mr Guterres said that “more progress is needed to increase employment opportunities, particularly for young people, reduce informal employment and the gender pay gap, and promote safe and secure working environments to create decent work for all.”
Syria’s Idlib ‘on the brink’ of a nightmare, humanitarian chiefs warn, launching global solidarity campaign
#SyriaHumanitarianTaskforcemeetinginGeneva; ##TheWorldIsWatching; #OCHA
New York, Jun 27 (Canadian-Media/UN): The heads of 11 global humanitarian organizations warned on Thursday that the embattled rebel-held province of Idlib in Syria, stands on the brink of disaster, with three million civilian lives at risk, including one million children, United Nations (UN) media reports said.
Kafr Nubl surgical hospital is seen after it was put out of service by attacks in early May 2019. The building and an ambulance lie in ruins. (3 May 2019)/ Credit of: © UNICEF/Khalil Ashawi
In a direct video address to launch a worldwide campaign in solidarity with civilians trapped there, dubbed #TheWorldIsWatching, the humanitarian leaders said that they face the constant threat of violence. “Too many have died already” and “even wars have laws” they declared, in the face of multiple attacks by Government forces and their allies on hospitals, schools and markets, together with fierce resistance from extremist fighters that have gained control of much of the territory.
“Idlib is on the brink of a humanitarian nightmare unlike anything we have seen this century”, they warn.
UN relief chief and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said that “our worst fears are materializing…Yet again innocent civilians are paying the price for the political failure to stop the violence and do what is demanded under international law – to protect all civilians.
A huge influx of civilians - many displaced by fighting during urban offensives in places such as Aleppo and eastern Ghouta – has seen the northwestern Governorate double in population since 2015.
At least 330,000 have been forced to seek shelter elsewhere within the region, during the huge uptick in violence of the past two months. Many of them have nowhere left to run.
“Our campaign expresses solidarity with the families under attack and tells everyone that we are watching and witnessing what is happening”, said OCHA chief Lowcock.
Universal principles and values must prevail’: Rochdi
With more than 300 civilians have been killed in the so-called de-escalation area in northwestern Syria since the latest Government offensive, including many women and children, said the Senior Humanitarian Adviser on Syria, Najat Rochdi.
During a Syria Humanitarian Taskforce meeting in Geneva on Thursday, she noted the ambulance that had been hit by aerial bombardment just last week, and the death of three medical workers, who had been attempting to rescue a female patient who also died, while they were trying to reach a local hospital.
“Everything needs to be done to protect civilians”, she said. “Universal principles and values must prevail when so many innocent lives are at stake.”
In Rukban camp on the Jordanian border, she said around 27,000 displaced civilians still lacked the most basic services, in dire need of assistance. “We continue to call for humanitarian access to Rukban to be able to deliver life-saving aid and to assist those who would like to leave”, she added.
UN envoy urges Russia and Turkey to ‘stablize’ Idlib
The UN Special Envoy for Syria, on Thursday urged the Security Council to “work at the highest level to stabilize the situation in Idleb” as the guarantors of the de-confliction zone in and around Idlib, set up last September.
Gier Pedersen told the Council that both countries “have reassured me that they remain committed” to the Memorandum of Understanding and had set up a working group.
“We must see this assurance reflected on the ground” said the Envoy, adding that he hoped Syria would be a main item for discussion at this weekend’s G20 Summit of nations, taking place in Japan.
“We hope that Russia and the United States can build on recent talks and deepen their dialogue at the highest level too”, he said, noting that five international armies were still present in war-torn Syria, making the need for a nationwide ceasefire critical.
Mr. Pedersen also highlighted the “significant presence” of terrorist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham inside the de-escalation area as another major drawback: “Its attacks must cease. But all due protection must be afforded to the up to three million civilians in Idlib.
“Undoubtedly, there is no easy solution for Idlib. But the only way to find one, is for hostilities to stop, and for key stakeholders to engage in a cooperative approach towards countering terrorism – an approach that safeguards the protection of civilians.”
UNICEF ramps up humanitarian assistance to children in Venezuela, delivers 55 tons of health supplies since January
NEW YORK, Jun 7 (Canadian-Media/UN): – Fifty-five tons of UNICEF health supplies have reached Venezuela since the beginning of the year, the United Nations children’s organization (UNICEF) said today. The items were distributed in 25 hospitals in the most affected states of Caracas, Miranda, Zulia, Bolivar and Táchira. They include midwifery kits, antibiotics and malaria treatment.
“One-third of children in Venezuela need help accessing basic nutrition, health and education services, according to preliminary UN estimates,” said Paloma Escudero, UNICEF Director of Communication, who has just finished a three-day trip to the country. “UNICEF has been working in Venezuela for almost 30 years. As the country grapples with the impact of a devastating economic and political crisis, we will continue to provide its most vulnerable children, wherever they are, with the humanitarian support they need. Children’s needs must always remain above politics.”
UNICEF is concerned that the current situation in Venezuela has reduced children’s access to essential services and increased their vulnerability, rolling back decades of progress. According to United Nations estimates based on official and other sources:
At a health care center in the outskirts of Caracas, Escudero met with health workers and mothers who spoke of the daily challenges of giving, and receiving, medical care.
“People I spoke to painted a very grim picture of the health situation in the country,” Escudero said. “Many doctors and nurses have left the country. Medical centers are functioning at minimum capacity due to the shortage of medicine. Lack of spare parts has grounded mobile health units and ambulances. Pregnant women, many of them too young and anaemic, are struggling to get the care they need. With worsening fuel shortages, they are sometimes not even able to get to the health centers. Women in labour need to bring their own midwifery supplies when they check into the hospital. For a country that made remarkable progress for decades on the quality of its health care, this is quite dramatic.”
The recent shipments of heath supplies raise to nearly 200 tons UNICEF’s humanitarian assistance in the country in the past year. Working with partners on both sides of the political spectrum, UNICEF has, so far this year, provided:
“We are barely scratching the surface,” Escudero said. “Millions of children need to be immunized, go to school, drink safe water and feel protected. We have plans in place to further scale up our response, but we need increased flexible funding that would allow us to reach the children in need with the services they need.”
UNICEF has strengthened its presence on the ground, with offices close to the borders with Colombia and Brazil, making it one of the agencies with the biggest operational footprint in the country.
UNICEF’s funding requirements have increased, with plans to provide more vaccines, rehabilitate the water and sanitation system, provide malnutrition treatment and medical supplies, and make sure that children have the education and protection support that are essential to their future and well-being.
“We are committed to making sure that we reach children in need with quality support in a timely manner and we rely on our donors’ support while we continue to increase our response and strengthen our monitoring mechanisms on the ground,” Escudero said.
Around 52 million in Near East, North Africa, suffering chronic undernourishment, new UN food agency report reveals
#UnitedNations; #NENA; #UNFoodandAgricultureOrganization; #SDGs; #ZeroHunger; #subsistencefarming; #boostruralemployment; #commercialanddiversifiedproductionsystems;
United Nations, May 9 (Canadian-Media/UN); Hunger continues to rise as conflicts and protracted crises have worsened in the Near East and North Africa region (NENA), which is likely to affect food security for years to come, warned the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) yesterday, UN reports said.
Image Credit: © UNICEF/Taha Almahbashi: Millions of children across Yemen face serious threats due to malnutrition, (file 2018)
“Conflicts and civil instability have long-lasting impacts on the food and nutrition security of both affected and surrounding countries in the regions”, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, Assistant Director-General and NENA Representative of the (FAO) said, noting that more than two-thirds of hungry people there live in conflict-affected countries, threatening efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the key goal of Zero Hunger.
FAO’s Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in the Near East and North Africa underscores that since 2011, 52 million people across the region now suffer from chronic undernourishment – with stunting, wasting and undernutrition amplified by fighting.
“The impact of conflict has been disrupting food and livestock production in some countries and consequently affecting the availability of food across the region”, Mr. Ould Ahmed said.
"Rising hunger is also compounded by rapid population growth, scarce and fragile natural resources, the growing threat of climate change, increasing unemployment rates, and diminished rural infrastructure and services", he added.
The report also highlights that as the region hosts the highest obesity rates, it puts pressure on people’s health, national health systems and economies. Addressing this means raising public awareness and ensuring access to healthy nutritious food.
Abolishing rural-urban differences
The report shows that not only do conflicts undermine the region’s Zero Hunger efforts, but also rural development.
“Countries that are not in conflict and have gone furthest in transforming rural areas in a sustainable way including through better management of water resources, have achieved better food security and nutrition outcomes than those in conflict or with lower levels of rural transformation”, Mr. Ould Ahmed observed, noting that more efforts are needed to boost rural employment, stimulate economic growth, reduce urban-rural gaps and improve agricultural productivity and rural infrastructure and services.
The report also highlights that unemployment in NENA, particularly for young people and women, is a significant regional challenge and that while rural areas accommodate some 40 per cent of the population, the average agriculture wage is generally far lower than those outside the sector. This factors into why rural poverty is about twice as high as that in urban areas.
Looking towards solutions, improved market access for farmers, investments in agriculture, technology transference and key policy changes that shift from subsistence farming to commercial and diversified production systems, can all help improve food production.
Highlighting the region’s potential to produce products that require less water and more labour, Mr. Ould Ahmed concluded: “There is a great need to encourage our region’s farmers to produce according to the comparative advantage of the region”.
Hundreds of wounded Gaza protesters risk limb amputation without immediate help, warns top UN official
#UnitedNations; #amputations; #demonstrations
United Nations, May 8 (Canadian-Media/UN): Millions of dollars in emergency funding is needed in Gaza to save the shattered limbs of some 1,700 people who have been seriously injured in demonstrations against Israel along the border fence, a top United Nations (UN) humanitarian official said today, UN reports said.
Image Credit: UNRWA/Khalil Adwan: UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Jamie McGoldrick (centre), visits patients in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, along with doctors and WHO's representative.
In an appeal for $20 million to help victims hurt during protests dubbed the Great March of Return – weekly rallies on Fridays by Gazans that began a year ago, leaving 29,000 people injured, many by live ammunition - Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), said that more resources were urgently required.
“The health structures really are in bad shape and that’s why we have put this appeal out for $20 million to address the needs of those 1,700 people, but also to support the health system”, he said.
“Of that 29,000, 7,000 have been shot with live ammunition and those are the ones who have been treated at facilities that are under very serious stress anyway”, Mr. McGoldrick added.
To date, some 120 amputations have taken place since the beginning of the demonstrations, according to the UN official, with 20 children among the amputees.
‘Running against the clock’
“We are running against the clock for some of these cases and osteomyelitis - bone infection - will be a crisis, and the need is to treat that, prevent that, otherwise we will have amputations,” he said. “The technical abilities of doctors on the ground to carry out treatment required for the 1,700 (injured demonstrators) just doesn’t exist.”
Speaking in Geneva following a lull in deadly violence over the weekend at the Israel-Gaza border between militant groups in Gaza – which is controlled by Hamas - and Israeli security forces, Mr. McGoldrick insisted on the need for dialogue to address the dire economic and humanitarian situation there.
He confirmed that UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, was in Cairo to reinforce the fragile Gaza ceasefire deal reportedly mediated by Egypt, adding that he hoped this would allow humanitarian deliveries to resume “because we were prevented from doing work, because of the insecurity and instability”.
Today, average household debt in Gaza is $4,000, the UN official explained, noting that average salaries are $400 a month. The situation has been made worse by chronically high youth unemployment and the fact that the UN’s $350 million humanitarian appeal for 2019 is funded at only 14 per cent.
“It’s not going to get any better, it’s getting worse,” he said. “If you look at the number of shops that have closed because of debt…people are using all sorts of means, selling assets, doctors going abroad leaving the family and sending remittances back, we’re hearing that the indebted nature of some of the poorest families is quite heavy.”
During the recent military activity, hundreds of rockets were launched from Gaza by Palestinian militants into southern Israel, and hundreds of airstrikes and tank rounds were fired in return, causing 29 fatalities in Gaza and four in Israel, along with some 200 casualties on each side.
“The situation is very precarious,” Mr. McGoldrick said. “And I think the need for a political solution is all the more highlighted because of how easy it is to slip into something very quickly.”
#UNHCR, #TripoliClashes; #migrants
Libya, Apr 30 (Canada-Media/UN): Since fighting broke out on the edge of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, earlier this month, over 42,000 people have been displaced and thousands are believed trapped in the city’s southern outskirts, United Nations (UN) reports said.
Image Credit: OCHA/Giles Clarke: Destruction in Tripoli, Libya.
As UN humanitarian teams work around the clock to provide life-saving assistance, human rights chief Michelle Bachelet stressed on Tuesday the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire, and humanitarian corridor for civilians.
The escalation of attacks in residential areas, including the use of artillery, rockets and airstrikes is deeply worrying. Thousands of children, women and men’s lives are at risk,” Ms. Bachelet said, calling on all parties to fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law.
“I remind all parties to the conflict that the use of explosive weapons with indiscriminate effects, in densely populated areas is a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” she stated.
In her statement released on Tuesday, human rights High Commissioner Bachelet also expressed serious concerns about the safety of around 3,350 migrants and refugees, still held in detention centres near the conflict areas. “Migrants should be released from detention centres as a matter of urgency, and should have access to the same humanitarian protection as all civilians, including access to collective shelters or other safe places,” she stressed.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) echoed her call for a “temporary humanitarian truce to allow for the provision of emergency services and the safe and voluntary passage of civilians out of conflict-affected areas”.
Fighting broke out in Tripoli at the beginning of April, when General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, began a military campaign to take Tripoli from fighters loyal to the UN-recognized Government. By the second week of the month, casualties were in the hundreds, and the number of displaced, in the thousands.
To date, the UN has recorded close to 350 people killed, including 22 civilians, and over 1,650 wounded, including 74 civilians. Ms. Bachelet noted that the actual number of civilians killed or injured “is likely to be higher”.
“The hospitals are overwhelmed with injured people requiring surgery,” said Dr. Hussein Hassan, Health Emergencies Team leader for the World Health Organization in Libya. “WHO’s emergency medical teams are helping them save lives,” he explained, adding that the “EMTs work into the wee hours to handle complicated surgical cases.”
“Some specialists, like the vascular surgeon, are travelling from one place to another to cover two hospitals,” he added. In just over a week, WHO’s three medical teams have performed 144 major surgeries and 104 minor surgeries in a little more than a week.
As conflict intensifies, the UN is lacking funding to carry out critical interventions. Along with other humanitarian partners, it launched a common flash appeal for US$ 10.2 million to assist about 100,000 people specifically affected by the surge in violence around Tripoli.
#CycloneIdai; #UNICEF; #WorldMalariaDay; #Mozambique; Cyclone Kenneth
NEW YORK/BEIRA, Apr 26 (Canadian-Media): More than 14,800 cases of malaria have been reported since 27 March in Mozambique’s Sofala Province, one of the areas hardest hit by Cyclone Idai, The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), originally known as the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, said yesterday on World Malaria Day.
The UN children’s agency went on to warn of the risk malaria poses to the health of children, particularly to those who are malnourished or whose immune system is already compromised.
Among all communicable diseases globally, malaria is the third largest killer of children between the ages of one month and five years. Even before the cyclone, Mozambique was 1 of 15 countries that account for 80 per cent of malaria deaths around the world.
“We are deeply concerned about an increase in malaria transmission because receding muddy waters and standing pools left in the wake of Cyclone Idai are ideal breeding grounds for the mosquito population,” said Michel Le Pechoux, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Mozambique. “These conditions could lead to an explosion in the number of mosquitos carrying the disease which would put children at grave risk.”
UNICEF and its partners are ramping up efforts to prevent transmission of malaria. Approximately 1 million mosquito bed nets are needed for cyclone-affected areas, and UNICEF has so far procured 500,000 and distributed more than 116,000. Schools and health centres are also being treated with disinfectant and anti-mosquito spray as part of a campaign led by the Ministry of Health to complement the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets.
The situation could be made even worse if Mozambique is significantly affected by Cyclone Kenneth – a new tropical cyclone which will likely make landfall today in the northern part of the country. UNICEF has already deployed emergency staff and prepositioned emergency supplies ahead of this next storm.
The needs in Mozambique remain massive, with 1 million children in need of assistance. UNICEF has launched an appeal for US$122 million to support its humanitarian response for children and families affected by the storm and its aftermath, in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the next nine months.