#UNRWA; #RegisteredPalestineRefugees; #MiddleEast;
UNRWA, Jan 31 (Canadian-Media): The Acting Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Christian Saunders, today called for a minimum of US$ 1.4 billion to fund the Agency’s essential services and assistance, including life-saving humanitarian aid and priority projects, for 5.6 million registered Palestine refugees across the Middle East for the year 2020, UNRWA news release said.
Photo credit: UNRWA
The presentation of the Agency’s 2020 priorities and financial requirements comes in the wake of the recent extension by the United Nations General Assembly of the UNRWA mandate for another three years until June 2023.
“The immense support that UNRWA received at the General Assembly in December of last year was an overwhelming validation of the Agency and of our mandate,” said Mr. Saunders. “We now need our donors and partners to match that support with the necessary funding to allow us to provide Palestine refugees with protection and those critical services considered a basic human right. In return, we commit to upholding the values and principles enshrined in the UN charter and to ensuring that every penny of public funding we receive is used wisely, properly and effectively.”
In 2020, Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria will continue to face a range of daunting human development and protection challenges. Central to these pressures is the ongoing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza, the continuing conflict in Syria, the political crisis in Lebanon and the growing needs in Jordan, all of which continue to dramatically impact the lives of Palestine refugees.
Of the required US$ 1.4 billion, the Agency will use US$ 806 million for essential core services, which encompass education, health, infrastructure and camp improvement, relief and social services, protection and microfinance and contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. UNRWA will be able to provide education to over half a million girls and boys in some 700 schools across the region, and enable 8.5 million patient visits in its health facilities, like it did in 2019.
An additional amount of US$ 155 million is required to provide emergency humanitarian aid to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and US$ 270 million is needed in support of the Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal (in Syria and for Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon and Jordan).
An estimated US$170 million is required for priority projects, in particular, rehousing and reconstruction initiatives in response to conflicts in Syria and Gaza, as well as, initiatives designed to complete and strengthen programme reforms and delivery.
“Until there is a just and durable solution to the plight of Palestine refugees, we are the only agency able to provide the type of essential services that Palestine refugees are entitled to. I humbly call on our donors and partners to strongly support UNRWA this year; your investment is very well-placed, it is an investment in a beleaguered people deserving of your continued support and it is an investment in the region’s stability,” said Mr. Saunders.
#HumanitarianAid; #UN; #OCHA; #HumanitarianHub; #Nigeria; #BurnedInAttack
Nigeria, Jan 20 (Canadian-Media): The top UN aid official in Nigeria has condemned a weekend attack against a major humanitarian facility in the north-east of the country, UN reports said.
Pictured is some of the damage caused to the humanitarian hub in Ngala town, Borno State, Nigeria. Image credit: United Nations
Non-State armed groups targeted the humanitarian hub in Ngala, Borno state, on Saturday evening, burning an entire section of the facility as well as a vehicle used in aid deliveries.
Five UN staff were staying there at the time but escaped unharmed due to security measures in place.
Edward Kallon, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, expressed outrage over the incident.
“I am shocked by the violence and intensity of this attack, which is the latest of too many incidents directly targeting humanitarian actors and the assistance we provide,” he said on Monday.
“I am relieved all staff is now safe and secure. Aid workers, humanitarian facilities and assets cannot be a target and must be protected and respected at all times.”
Northern Nigeria has been in the grip of a Boko Haram insurgency for about a decade, which has led to widespread displacement.
Last year, more than 10,000 people arrived in Ngala, searching for security and basic services, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, reported.
‘Disastrous effect’ on vulnerable
Mr. Kallon said attacks against humanitarians have a “disastrous effect” on the vulnerable people they support.
“Many of them had already fled violence in their area of origin and were hoping to find safety and assistance in Ngala. This also jeopardizes the ability for aid workers to stay and deliver assistance to the people most in need in remote areas in Borno State,” he said.
Overall, the UN and partners are bringing vital assistance to more than seven million people in three states affected by the crisis. Besides Borno, they also are operational in neighbouring Adamawa and Yobe states.
OCHA said aid workers in Nigeria are increasingly being targeted in attacks. Twelve were killed last year, which is double the number killed in 2018.
Meanwhile, the UN and its humanitarian partners continue to call for the safe release of two aid workers who remain in the hands of non-State armed groups after being abducted in separate incidents in Borno state.
Grace Taku, a staff member with Action Against Hunger, was abducted alongside five male colleagues near Damasak in July 2019. The men were all killed, according to media reports.
The other aid worker, Alice Loksha, a nurse and mother, was kidnapped during an attack in Rann in March 2018.
#UN; #HumanitarianAid; #AidToVulnerableIraquis; #UNAMI; #ShortageOfFood; #Morethan2460HumanitarianMissionsCancelled
United Nations, Jan 18 (Canadian-Media): Aid to vulnerable people in Iraq risks being completely blocked within weeks, warned the UN’s humanitarian chief in Iraq, Marta Ruedas, on Tuesday, as a result of the suspension of government documents allowing humanitarians to carry out critical missions, UN reports said.
Humanitarian partners distribute emergency assistance in Ibrahim Khalil village in Iraq. Image credit: OCHA/Themba Linden
In a statement released on Thursday by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Ms. Ruedas declared that “our operations are at risk. Without predictable, continual access authorization, humanitarian aid is in danger of rotting in warehouses, putting lives in jeopardy and wasting badly-needed donor funds”.
Prior to November 2019, humanitarian organizations based in Iraq, including the UN and its NGO partners, were granted monthly letters, allowing them to pass through checkpoints unhindered. As of January 2020, almost all of these letters had expired and, with no alternative measures in place, the flow of aid deliveries in Iraq had slowed considerably.
A survey of NGO partners showed that more than 2,460 humanitarian missions have been cancelled or prevented from reaching their destinations. Some 2.4 million people are believed to be affected as a result.
More than 100 NGOs were active in Iraq in 2019, working under a coordinated, $700 million plan to assist some 1.75 million internally displaced persons, those returning home, and host communities. It is estimated that around $520 million is needed to continue vital humanitarian work through this year.
UNAMI says that, unless partners are allowed to immediately resume full, unimpeded movement of their personnel and supplies, humanitarian operations in Iraq “may come to a complete halt within a matter of weeks”, leading to the possibility of hundreds of thousands of people in conflict-affected areas going without food, medicine and materials to get them through the coldest months of the year.
“We request that the Government of Iraq provide clarity on the procedures for granting access authorizations for humanitarian organizations”, said Ms. Ruedas, “and allow us to resume delivering aid effectively and efficiently for the people of Iraq”.
#UN; #HumanitarianAid; #UNCrossBorderAid
United Nations, Jan 11 (Canadian-Media): The Security Council on Friday evening renewed a UN operation delivering humanitarian aid across the Syrian border to millions of civilians, but some of the body’s members expressed disappointment that the “watered down” measure cut in half the number of crossing points and duration of the authorization, UN reports said.
The UN has been delivering aid across the Syrian border to millions of civilians for six years. Credit: OCHA/David Swanson
Failing last month to extend the cross-border authorization after permanent member Russia vetoed one draft resolution and failed to gain enough support for its own rival measure, the Council faced a midnight deadline Friday for the expiration of its six-year-long mandate along with the possibility of yet another “no” vote from Russia.
With 11 votes in favor, 0 against, and with four of its permanent members abstaining – China, Russia, United States, and United Kingdom – the Council re-authorized only two of the four existing border crossings (Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa in Turkey) for a period of six months (instead of 12), while dropping re-authorization for use of crossings in al-Ramtha (Jordan) and Al Yarubiyah (Iraq).
Negotiating cross-border humanitarian aid
An upsurge in hostilities in north-west Syria, has displaced some 300,000 people since 12 December.
Meanwhile, against the backdrop of new Council members joining the peace and security body in the New Year, negotiations had been ongoing with permament members the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France meeting four times since last week, without reaching a compromise.
The main point of contention, according to news reports, revolved around the Al Yarubiyah crossing.
Resolution sponsors Germany, Belgium and Kuwait pushed for the continued delivery of aid through two crossing points in Turkey and one in Iraq.
But the competing resolution from Russia, Syria’s closest ally on the Council, advocated the closure of the Al Yarubiyah crossing in Iraq.
The UN cross-border aid delivery mechanism was first established in 2014 through resolution 2165. Its mandate was most recently renewed in resolution 2449 of 2018.
During the heated exchanges this evening, several Council members said they were disappointed that a scaled-down text had been adopted and that a better compromise was not reached.
Germany’s representative lamented that the decision had come “at a heavy price” for 1.4 million people in north-eastern Syria who would “wake in the morning up not knowing if they would be able to get the medical aid they needed.”
US Ambassador Kelly Craft described the resolution as “watered down” and said that it ignored the needs of millions of Syrians. While the text was a “body blow” to the Council’s credibility, the crisis it would create was “solely of Russia’s making.”
But Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the situation on the ground had changed dramatically and that any resolution adopted by the Council should specify that providing humanitarian assistance must be provided with the consent of the recipient and host governments.
UK Ambassador Karen Pierce accused Russia of “playing dice” with the lives of Syrian people in the north-east. The Council had been left with no choice but to approve a resolution that did not meet the needs of all Syrian people. “Aid is not a political tool to be bargained with,” she declared.
‘An immediate end of aid’
Last Friday, Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council in closed consultations on developments in Idlib.
Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians -- UN Humanitarian Coordinator
During the meeting, several members cited the province’s deteriorating humanitarian situation to illustrate the urgent need to renew the cross-border aid mechanism before it expires.
And in November, Mr. Lowcock had told the Chamber that four million people across northern Syria were supported by UN cross-border humanitarian assistance.
“Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians”, he had said.
Unacceptable status quo
Prior to the meeting, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia expressed his hope that a solution could be found, saying “we are close, but not there yet”.
“I must tell you that all these cries about the imminent catastrophe, disaster which North-East faces if we close one cross-border point are totally irrelevant because humanitarian assistance to that region is coming from within Syria – for a long time, by the way. And it will continue to come”, he stated.
He maintained that as the situation on the ground has changed dramatically, “the status quo is inacceptable”.
“We have to close those cross-border points that are not relevant anymore”, upheld Mr. Nebenzia.
#AustraliaBushfireCrisis; #FireCrisis, #UNICEF; #HumanitarianAid; #ClimateChange;
Australia, Jan 6 (Canadian-Media): Raging bushfires wreaking havoc across Australia have prompted the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, to offer its support to the Australian Government and its partners which are battling the “unprecedented disaster”, UN reports said.
Two firefighters in Queensland, Australia, where the worst wildfires seen in decades are devastating large swathes of the country. Courtesy: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
While acknowledging “the selflessness, professionalism and dedication” of first responders and all organizations working on the ground, UNICEF issued a statement on Monday extending its condolences to the children and families affected by the fires that continue to devastate the country.
Flagging its experience in providing crucial long-term support to children across the world through the three stages of relief, recovery and rehabilitation, UNICEF expressed it “very real desire” to assist Australia.
“UNICEF has significant expertise and experience globally in responding to emergencies, including natural disasters”, the statement said. “From decades of work with millions of people around the world, we know that children are always among the most vulnerable in circumstances such as these”.
In many situations, UNICEF added that climate change is making scenarios “worse and more enduring”.
Looking out for children“Our recent experience in working with children and young people affected by the drought in New South Wales brings this current bushfire crisis into sharp focus and that is why UNICEF Australia is currently prioritizing internal resources, speaking with partners and other agencies to ensure that we can continue to be a back-up to first-responders and committing support where possible to the immediate and long term needs of children”, the statement spelled out.
UNICEF upheld the vital importance that children who have lived through disasters “return to normal life as quickly as possible”, which is best done by resuming their education.
“In the longer term it is also vital that the views of children are taken into consideration when decisions are being made”, which is why UNICEF Australia has been in discussion with the Fund’s international offices, and other local organizations and government agencies “to plan the provision of our support and expertise into the future”.
Firefighters in Queensland, Australia, tackle a blaze which is threatening local communities. Credit: Queensland Fire and Emergency Services
As the situation continues to unfold, needs are yet to be fully determined. While a needs assessment is pending, key initiatives are likely to include assisting relief partners, said UNICEF, so that affected children may to return to school, provide them with psychosocial support and convene forums to ensure children’s voices shape future responses.
Pointing out that in addition to those children who have been directly affected, the agency is also highly concerned for those children witnessing traumatic events relating to the bushfires through media and social media.
We encourage all parents to consider talking to their children about what is happening and to take steps to make their children feel safe – UNICEF
“We encourage all parents to consider talking to their children about what is happening and to take steps to make their children feel safe”, UNICEF stated.
On top of the toll taken on human lives and the destruction of thousands of homes, the months-long blazes have also killed millions of animals.
Acknowledging that it may be a difficult time for some of its regular supporters directly affected or living in or near bushfire-affected areas, UNICEF Australia encouraged them to suspend donations to ensure they have the means to provide for their families.
“The recovery process from such an unprecedented disaster will take a long time and UNICEF Australia calls for more child-centred responses and for the needs of children to continue to be prioritized”, the statement continued.
As disaster response and planning should include children’s views and experiences, UNICEF Australia “intends to ensure that children who have been affected by this disaster are consulted as a consequence, and their views and opinions taken to decision makers”.
#UN; #HumanitarianAid; #WorldFoodProgramme; #SubSaharanAfrica; #EscalatingHunger
Africa, Jan 1 (Canadian-Media): At the dawn of the next decade, a new World Food Programme (WFP) forecast of global hunger hotspots has revealed that escalating hunger will challenge sub-Saharan Africa in the first half of 2020.
UN reports said.
In Mali, recurrent floods and droughts have made life difficult for farmers.
Image credit: WFP/Simon Pierre Diouf
According to the WFP 2020 Global Hotspots Report, millions of people in Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region will require life-saving food assistance in the coming months – the sheer scale and complexity of which will stretch the UN food relief agency’s capacity to the limit and require generous donor support for a ramped-up humanitarian response.
WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020 – WFP chief
WFP Executive Director David Beasley spelled out: “WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020”.
“In some countries, we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work”, he elaborated. “In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside economic collapse and leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger.”
Against the backdrop of an imploding economy and when Zimbabwe is entering the peak of its lean season and food is at its most scarce, WFP observed that the country has more hungry people now than it has had over the past decade.
And as concerns grow over the impact of a regional drought that could drag even more countries down in the first months of the year, WFP is planning assistance for some four million people in Zimbabwe.
“Last year, WFP was called upon to bring urgent large-scale relief to Yemen, Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, Burkina Faso and many other crises to avert famine,” said Margot Van Der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies. “But the world is an unforgiving place and as we turn the page into 2020, WFP is confronting new, monumental humanitarian challenges that we need to address with real urgency.”
In El Salvador, farmers have received training in soil conservation in order to improve crop yields. Credit Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud
Turning to the Americas, Haiti is undergoing a rapidly evolving crisis with escalating unrest paralyzing the economy and driving food prices out of many people’s reach.
And in Asia, insecurity and drought in Afghanistan is leaving over one-third of the population, or more than 11 million people, severely food insecure.
In the Middle East, WFP has had success in Yemen where it scaled up food assistance by 50 per cent and supported eight million people a month at the beginning of 2018 to 12 million by the end of the year.
Looking towards 2020, WFP remains alert to growing food needs in Iraq and Lebanon, where civil unrest and macro-economic crisis are leading to an increase in food insecurity.
WFP estimates it will require more than $10 billion to fully fund all its operations in more than 80 countries around the world in the coming year.
“Every year at WFP we plan ahead for the next 12 months and ask for support from the generous governments, private sector institutions and members of the public who help us reach our humanitarian and development goals,” said Mr. Beasley.
“As an agency that depends entirely on voluntary donations, we have a responsibility to show WFP can continue to be the most efficient and effective global organization delivering the kind of food assistance that saves lives and changes lives across the world”, concluded the UN food relief agency chief.