#UN; #UNHumanitarianAid; #Africa; #MedicalEquipment;#Covid19Pandemic; #WHO; #WFP
Geneva, Apr 14 (Canadian-Media): The first of the UN’s “Solidarity Flights” carrying urgently needed medical equipment to Africa, has arrived in Addis Ababa, agencies said on Tuesday, UN reports said.
Medical equipment is loaded into an aircraft in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of a UN “Solidarity Flight” to deliver supplies to African countries fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Image credit: WFP/Edward Johnson
On board the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Ethiopian Airlines charter, are one million face masks, along with gloves, goggles, ventilators and many other essentials.
The Government of #Ethiopia and @WFP_Ethiopia opened a hub in Addis Ababa from where #COVID19 supplies, equipment and humanitarian staff will be transported by air across Ethiopia and Africa.
WFP launches Ethiopian Air Hub for COVID-19 response
“We have seen time and again our health workers fall victim to infectious diseases as they work in hospitals and sometimes pass away”, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “This is unacceptable. This personal protective equipment will help keep them safe. WHO is committed to protecting those on the front-lines of healthcare.”
There is enough equipment to protect health workers while they treat more than 30,000 patients across the continent, WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs said:
“This is by far the largest single shipment of supplies since the start of the pandemic and it will ensure that people living in countries with some of the weakest heaths systems are able to get test and treated, while ensuring that health workers on the frontlines are properly protected.”
95 countries targeted The supplies will be distributed in five other African countries initially - Djibouti, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Tanzania – as part of a wider effort to reach 95 countries most at risk from the new coronavirus with medical equipment and humanitarian workers.
WHO reported that its logistics hub in Dubai has been working tirelessly to dispatch mo
re than130 shipments of PPE and laboratory supplies to 95 countries, across all six WHO regions.
“Commercial flights are grounded and medical cargo is stuck. We can stop this virus in its tracks, but we’ve got to work together”, said David Beasley, WFP’s Executive Director.
“WFP is committed to getting vital medical supplies to front lines and shielding medical workers as they save lives. Our air bridges need to be fully funded to do this, and we stand ready to transport frontline health and humanitarian workers as well as medical cargo.”
To sustain such a massive logistical operation, WFP has appealed for $350 million, but it has so far only received a quarter of that amount. “We badly need funding and we stand ready to set up a logistical backbone for (the) global response effort”, Ms. Byrs said.
Solidarity is key, says WHO Partnering in the enterprise, the UN health agency is highlighting the need for solidarity between countries and organisations to overcome the pandemic.
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“This is an indication of how crucial it is and how important it is that we are all working across agencies and how this COVID response has to be an across UN response. This is how the world is going to beat it,” said Spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris.
In addition to face masks, gloves and goggles, other vitally needed personal protective equipment being transported includes face shields, medical gowns, aprons and thermometers.
The UN health agency said in a statement that the cargo also includes “a large quantity” of medical supplies donated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Jack Ma Foundation Initiative, started by the Chinese billionaire who founded the Alibaba Group. The African Union, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), is providing technical support and coordination for the distribution of the supplies.
In addition to dispatching vitally needed medical equipment and workers across Africa as part of the COVID-19 response, the Addis Ababa Humanitarian Air Hub will also ensuring medical evacuations for humanitarian workers.
A team of 25 WFP aviation and logistics staff is based at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa to manage the 24-hour operation, the agency said.
#UN; #HumanitarianAid; #TropicalCycloneHarold; #PacificIslands; #Covid19Pandemic; #WHO
New York, Apr 13 (Canadian-Media): The United Nations stands ready to support four Pacific island nations devastated by the passing of Tropical Cyclone Harold last week, UN reports said.
A student takes a selfie with Secretary-General António Guterres during the UN chief's visit to Fiji in May 2019. Image credit: UN/Charlotte Scaddan
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was deeply saddened by reports of the loss of lives and destruction in Vanuatu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Tonga, according to a statement issued on Sunday by his Spokesperson.
"The Secretary-General expresses his deep solidarity with the people of the Pacific as they face the impact of this cyclone, along with other climate-related challenges, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, which adds a worrying new dimension to existing vulnerabilities", said Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
The monster storm has left more than two dozen people dead, according to media reports, while homes, buildings and food crops were destroyed.
Thousands urgently need shelter, water, sanitation and food.
"The Secretary-General commends the governments and first responders in the affected countries for their pre-emptive work to make people safe ahead of the storm and to meet their immediate needs afterwards", Mr. Dujarric continued.
"The United Nations stands ready to support these efforts".
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is assisting authorities in Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon islands to reach those children most in need, the agency's Representative in the region, Sheldon Yett, said on Twitter.
Cyclone Harold hit as countries worldwide are working to contain the spread of COVID-19.
There have been nearly 1.7 million cases of the new coronavirus disease globally, and more than 105,000 deaths, according to latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
#HumanitarianAid; #DisplacedMigrants; #Covid19; #HumanitarianDisaster
New York, Apr 7 (Canadian-Media): UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has warned more lives are at a risk in Burkina Faso’s Centre Nord and Sahel regions where hundreds of thousands of displaced people, including small children, are being forced to sleep out in the open at the mercy of the elements, UNHCR reports said.
An estimated 350,000 people now need urgent access to adequate shelter and water to help them cope with desert-like conditions in remote parts of Burkina Faso. Fresh insecurity is driving more people from their homes every day.
UNHCR was already alarmed that a chronic lack of resources was threatening a major humanitarian disaster. The COVID-19 pandemic is now further aggravating what is already a complex mix of crises.
We are in a race against time to prevent more human suffering. People are in desperate need of shelter in remote locations and facing harsh weather conditions. We are calling on all humanitarian actors to increase resources.
Burkina Faso is currently the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis with close to 840,000 people have been displaced by conflict and drought in the last 16 months. Nearly 60,000 were forced out of their homes in the month of March alone.
Despite the increased deployment of security forces, armed groups continue to wreak havoc in the country’s Centre Nord and Sahel regions, attacking police and military, civilians, schools, health centres, teachers and health workers alike.
UNHCR staff are regularly hearing harrowing accounts from survivors on the run. People speak in horrifying details of attacks on their villages, where men and boys are killed, women raped, homes pillaged and schools along with other infrastructure are destroyed.
UNHCR is working with the local authorities and its other humanitarian partners to rush additional shelter and relief supplies to the displaced, but with increasing insecurity and limited resources, it is going to be hard to reach all of those in need. Many displaced are living in dire conditions in overcrowded locations. Many are sleeping and living under trees.
Rampant insecurity is having an adverse impact on the humanitarian response as it severely hinders access by humanitarian actors to reach people in need - those forced to flee and the communities hosting them all desperately need shelter, food, water, protection, health, education.
The health system of Burkina Faso has been dramatically affected, at the time when the country is also facing the COVID-19. Borders have been closed since last week, and movement has been restricted to and from towns and cities with confirmed coronavirus cases.
While stepping up our efforts in the Sahel to ensure the protection of those fleeing violence, UNHCR is also adapting its operations on the ground to support the national response to the public health emergency to include refugees and IDPs and host communities.
So far, we have provided shelter to some 50,000 displaced people and work continues round the clock to cover all in need.
The lack of water in the Sahel region is also a significant challenge. UNHCR is building facilities to store some 15,000 litres of water near the town of Dori in the Sahel region as work continues with the local authorities to allow connecting displacement sites to the national water supply network.
In coordination with Burkinabé authorities, we are also exploring relocating displaced people to Goudoubo refugee camp in Dori in the Sahel region – as some of the displaced are living in and around the city, a few kilometres away. The camp emptied less than a couple of weeks ago, after Malian refugees rushed back to Mali following attacks and ultimatum. At the camp, water, sanitation and health facilities are already available.
Relevant broadcast-quality footage is available for download on UNHCR's content platform Refugees Media
#Loblaws; #$5MillionDonation; #FoodBanksCanada, #SecondHarvest, #CommunityFoodCentresCanada
Toronto, Apr 4 (Canadian-Media): Loblaw Companies Limited (TSX:L, “Loblaw”) will provide $5 million in gift cards to certain food banks and community charities, including Food Banks Canada, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada and others.
Loblaws. Image credit: Facebook
Due to COVID-19, these groups are seeing growing community hardship, while also addressing the challenge of social distancing and increased food safety measures. Some are increasingly relying on grocery and drug store gift cards to help community members in need.
Through this new initiative, Loblaw will add an additional $5 million of value, to the $15 million worth of gift card purchases by select charities, increasing their buying power. The cards will be available for use in Loblaw’s 2,500 Shoppers Drug Mart and grocery store locations, including Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Your Independent Grocer, Zehrs and more.
“Usually our donations quickly become a hot meal at a community food centre or a care package at a neighbourhood drop-in. With physical distancing some of those options have disappeared,” said Sarah Davis, President, Loblaw Companies Limited. “With a gift card in hand, someone facing hardship can visit a store to buy the items that matter most right then and there.”
“Food Banks Canada has made a $150 million-dollar appeal on behalf of food banks in Canada from coast to coast to coast. We are anticipating a record number of individuals in need, and we must all work collaboratively to provide essential food support to them,” said Chris Hatch, CEO, Food Banks Canada. “We all rely on the generosity of individuals and businesses to donate funds, and Loblaw’s offer will stretch those funds further.”
"It will take many creative approaches to battle this ever-deepening food crisis and the distribution of discounted grocery cards to our low income neighbours is definitely one of them," said Nick Saul, CEO, Community Food Centres Canada. "Enabling people to make their own food choices preserves dignity in a time of great stress and anxiety. We applaud Loblaw for stepping up to support our communities in this important way."
“In a time of greater crisis and uncertainty, simply being able to stock your fridge and cupboards with staples can help bring a sense of stability and hope,” says Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest. “We are proud to be partners with Loblaw in bringing food and support to communities across the country so that no Canadian is left behind.”
About Loblaw Companies Limited
Loblaw Companies Limited is Canada's food and pharmacy leader and the nation's largest retailer. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial services, and wireless mobile products and services. With more than 2,400 corporate, franchised and Associate-owned locations, Loblaw, its franchisees, and Associate-owners employ approximately 200,000 full- and part-time employees, making it one of Canada's largest private sector employers.
Loblaw's purpose – Live Life Well® – puts first the needs and well-being of Canadians who make one billion transactions annually in the companies' stores. Loblaw is positioned to meet and exceed those needs in many ways: convenient locations; more than 1,050 grocery stores that span the value spectrum from discount to specialty; full-service pharmacies at nearly 1,400 Shoppers Drug Mart® and Pharmaprix® locations and close to 500 Loblaw locations; PC Financial® financial services; affordable Joe Fresh® fashion and family apparel; and three of Canada's top consumer brands in Life Brand®, no name® and President's Choice®.
More inclusive measures and aid needed for refugees and migrants from Venezuela during COVID-19 crisis
Joint UNHCR-IOM Press Release
Geneva, 1 April (Canadian-Media): With the Coronavirus pandemic testing health care systems around the world, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are calling attention to the challenges facing refugees and migrants from Venezuela, IOM reports said.
“At a time when the world’s attention is focused on COVID-19, and as governments and populations, particularly health workers, heroically come together to combat this virus, we should not lose sight of the needs of the millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants,” said Eduardo Stein, joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for refugees and migrants from Venezuela.
“COVID-19 has brought many aspects of life to a standstill – but the humanitarian implications of this crisis have not ceased, and our concerted action remains more necessary than ever. We are urging the international community to boost its support for humanitarian, protection and integration programmes, on which the lives and welfare of millions of people depend, including host communities.”
The current global public health emergency has compounded an already desperate situation for many refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and their hosts. Funding to support them is urgently needed.
Many depend on insufficient daily wages to cover basic needs such as shelter, food and healthcare; others have no roof over their heads. With growing fear and social unrest, Venezuelan refugees and migrants are also at risk of being stigmatized.
Governments in the region have been leading and coordinating the response to ensure those leaving Venezuela can access rights and documentation. But as national capacities become stretched to a breaking point, the wellbeing and safety of Venezuelans and their host communities is at risk.
Millions of refugees and migrants, and the communities hosting them, continue to need urgent support, particularly as the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic begins to be felt across Latin America and the Caribbean.
The coordination of the humanitarian response for refugees and migrants from Venezuela is conducted through a Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (Response for Venezuelans-R4V), complemented by eight national or sub-regional platforms. Platforms are operating through a sector approach with the participation of 137 partners. In addition, WHO-PAHO leads the health-related aspects of the COVID-19 response.
The Regional Platform has activated a critical revision of all operations in the region to prioritize essential protection and life-saving actions and promote the inclusion of refugees and migrants in national programmes. In close coordination with WHO-PAHO, the R4V is also collaborating with national and local authorities to address the new challenges and deliver basic support to Venezuelan refugees and migrants, as well as to host communities.
While maintaining physical distancing measures, partners are implementing a number of prevention and response activities in the main locations where refugees and migrants from Venezuela are hosted. These activities ensure people can adequately access information, clean water, soap and appropriate waste disposal. Organizations are working around the clock to find innovative ways to continue supporting the most vulnerable individuals in the current context while also supporting national authorities to set up observation and isolation spaces for potential positive COVID-19 cases.
So far, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) launched in November 2019 to respond to the most urgent needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in 17 countries, as well as the local communities hosting them, has received only three per cent of the requested funds, which could put at stake the continuity of lifesaving programmes throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.