#UN; #Chad; #IOM; #Migrants; #HumaitarianAid
Chad/UN, Aug 28 (Canadian-Media): More than 360,000 internally displaced persons in Chad’s Lake province are facing a “double” crisis, exposed to security and environmental risks, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported, highlighting the need to strengthen resilience of affected communities.
Women walk at a camp sheltering internally displaced persons in Mellia, Lac region, in western Chad. (file photo). Image credit: OCHA/Ivo Brandau
According to Paul Dillon, an IOM spokesperson, while the region has been a target of repeated attacks by insurgents since 2015, the situation has worsened dramatically in 2020.
"Recurrent security attacks and incursions by non-State armed groups since the beginning of the year prompted the Chadian Government in March to declare the departments of Fouli and Kaya, two of Lake Chad’s borderlands departments ‘war zones’,” he said.
Since April, the number of the displaced has increased by almost 22 per cent, according to the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix, a tool to monitor displacement and movement of people in emergency or crisis situations.
Located in the western part of Chad, the Lake (or Lac) region borders Nigeria and Niger. The three nations along with Cameroon form the Lake Chad Basin, where thousands have lost their lives and millions forced to flee their homes due to attacks by non-State armed insurgents.
The crisis has also exacerbated food security, leaving many dependent on humanitarian assistance.
This is a worrying trend as the displacement is recurrent, protracted due to the deterioration of security and environmental situations, and involves large in numbers of people – IOM spokesperson
In addition to the security challenges, the situation in the Lake region has been further complicated by some of the heaviest rainfall in nearly 30 years, with roughly 400 millimetres of rainfall that resulted in flash floods in villages and fields.
“This is a worrying trend as the displacement is recurrent, protracted due to the deterioration of security and environmental situations, and involves large in numbers of people,” said Mr. Dillon.
In response, IOM is providing emergency assistance to vulnerable populations. It has delivered more than 2,500 transitory and semi-permanent shelters to nearly 13,000 persons; and over 2,700 non-food item packages including hygiene kits, sleeping mats, clothes and basic cooking equipment for over 14,000 persons.
However, much more is needed immediately as many families are facing heavy rainfall without proper housing, with the added complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, three-quarters of the displaced persons IOM identified live in displacement sites, most of which are made of straw and metal shelters.
Many of them sleep in the open without adequate protection from bad weather, with limited access to amenities such as water, hygiene facilities, health services and COVID-19 protective equipment.
#UN; #Kenya; #HumanitarinAid; #WFP
UN/Kenya, Aug 23 (Canadian-Media): Hundreds of tons of fresh and edible vegetables which are typically dumped because they do not meet the aesthetic requirements for export are ending up on the plates of hungry Kenyan students thanks to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).
Vegetables which don't meet certain aesthetic standards set by importers are often destroyed. Image credit: Unsplash/Markus Spiske
Each day, farms in Kenya reject up to 83 tons of perfectly nutritious vegetables simply because they are considered too ugly and off-putting for consumers, especially in the developed world, to buy.
WFP has piloted a project in three schools in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, which has provided 11,000 pounds or 5.5 tons of green beans, peas, and broccoli which has been tuned into lunch for 2,200 children over 75 school days.
Read more here about how ugly veggies are feeding Kenya’s hungry kids.
What does food waste have to do with childhood malnutrition? Consider these two facts:
Over four months, the U.N. World Food Programme helped rescue more than 11,000 pounds of green beans, snow peas, snap peas and broccoli — enough to feed 2,200 children for 75 school days.
Protecting people from conflict, cyclones and COVID-19 in Mozambique: a UN Resident Coordinator blog
#UN; #Mozambique; #Conflict; #HumanitarianAid; #cyclones; #Covid19
United Nations/Mozambique, Aug 23 (Canadian-Media): By the UN Resident Coordinator Myrta Kaulard, Laura Tomm-Bonde, IOM Chief of Mission and Samuel Chakwera, UNHCR Resident Representative, all based in Mozambique.
Zaina's mother, Cremesta, has moved into her daughter's home in Montepuez after fleeing from conflict. Image credit: UN Mozambique/Philip Hatcher-Moore
In the town of Montepuez, Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, Zaina, a mother of four, is hosting her elderly mother, sister, and ten nieces and nephews, all of whom fled their villages due to the escalation of violence in the province. Now the relatives live together in Zaina's two-bedroom home and Zaina has welcomed them to stay while they are unable to return.
Normally, Zaina makes and sells popcorn and cakes to support her children. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, street sales are no longer allowed and she is currently seeking alternatives to provide for her household which has grown from five to 17 people.
The UN Secretary-General, in the Policy Brief: COVID-19 and People on the Move, points out that COVID-19 hits the most vulnerable people the hardest, including refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs). They are at increased risk, many having fled conflict and natural disasters, living in potentially crowded conditions in host communities or camps with limited resources to protect themselves, and often with a precarious livelihood.
COVID-19 compounding existing problems
These risks are also present in Mozambique. Just last year, Mozambique experienced two severe cyclones, Idai and Kenneth. As a result of the cyclones, over 100,000 people live now in resettlement sites, and hundreds of thousands more are still recovering. At the same time, drought has affected southern parts of the country while insecurity in the north has displaced over 250,000 people. The health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are worsening these already complex dynamics.
Kiza Onesphor, a 49-year-old refugee and physician from Democratic Republic of the Congo, lives in Maratane Refugee Camp in the Province of Nampula. He was recruited as a Community Health Volunteer, along with other members from the refugee and local communities, to disseminate COVID-19 prevention measures.
Kiza describes COVID-19 as a bomb for which no one was prepared. He believes the dangers of COVID-19 are not fully understood and aims to expand the understanding and self-protection capacities of around 9,500 refugees and asylum seekers living in Maratane.
For Zaina, Kiza and their families, COVID-19 is a crisis on the top of other crises. Yet, they share the little they have, demonstrating the power of solidarity and how it is key to defeating COVID-19. Recognizing their contributions, the contributions of people on the move, is very important for COVID-19 response plans to include refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs and host communities.
Together with the Government and partners, the UN is working in full coordination with local and national authorities on harmonizing providing life-saving and life-sustaining assistance for all people living in Mozambique.
Preventing the virus spreading in displacement camps
When providing humanitarian assistance, the priority is to save lives, ensuring that those who are most vulnerable are protected. To this end, the UN is supporting the national authorities-led health response to COVID-19 in scaling up Mozambique’s preparedness and response operations, especially by helping to prevent the spread of the virus in resettlement, transit and refugee camps; it is also supporting food assistance interventions.
The UN, humanitarian community, Mozambican institutions and partners are coming together and - along with host communities and local leaders – fostering a dialogue on how to strengthen communities’ support networks and resilience.
Peacebuilding and health education programmes in northern Mozambique are working in communities with large numbers of displaced families, to educate on COVID-19 prevention and promote community dialogue to strengthen social cohesion and mitigate social tensions induced by displacement. The UN is also providing shelter support for displaced families in northern Mozambique, to reduce crowding in host communities, and enable improved adherence to physical distancing precautions.
We need to prioritize the creation of income-generating opportunities with focus on a recovery process that builds back better. From supporting tailors and community members in resettlement sites and refugee camps to produce hand-made face masks and providing families in resettlement sites with training and equipment to rear chickens and boost their livelihoods, UN Mozambique recognizes and is responding to the need for people on the move and host communities to support themselves and their families during and after the pandemic.
We need to truly engage communities and harness their power, particularly the power of youth, to successfully trace the path towards a resilient society that can overcome COVID-19, security challenges and support people on the move with lasting peace. It is only through trust building and cohesion that we will be able to continue protecting and empowering people on the move and host communities.
National institutions’ response to contain and prevent the COVID-19 outbreak was swift, focused, and effective in reducing the spread of the disease. Three months after identifying the first case, there are currently over 2,000 cases in Mozambique. This demonstrates the urgency of continued preventive measures against the coronavirus.
UN $103 million appeals
The UN and humanitarian community recently launched two appeals, the COVID-19 Flash Appeal and the Rapid Response Plan for Cabo Delgado, totaling approximately $103 million, to address the most critical needs of millions of people facing severe humanitarian conditions, who would be unable to withstand the health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic, including those who have been displaced by the increasing insecurity in northern Mozambique.
Through these plans, the United Nations and the humanitarian community will continue to support Mozambique with progress toward sustainable development through the COVID-19 response. The UN has joined efforts with the international community to support cohesion in policies and engagement and to complement resource mobilization to provide Mozambique with the vital support needed during the COVID-19 period.
We have done all we could with the resources we had. A lot has been done, but additional efforts and resources are urgently needed. This is a time for true solidarity; a time for partners worldwide to stand together with Mozambique and to help protect the lives of the most vulnerable, to protect the lives of the many Zainas, Kizas and their families across the country.
The United Nations is committed to continue working together hand in hand with Mozambican institutions and civil society to act and advance the lives of people on the move and the most vulnerable in Mozambique during this crisis and beyond.
The UN Resident Coordinator
The UN Resident Coordinator, sometimes called the RC, is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level. In this occasional series, UN News is inviting RCs to blog on issues important to the United Nations and the country where they serve.
Rohingya crisis needs lasting solutions, renewed commitment amid COVID-19 pandemic, UN refugee agency
#UN; #Bangladesh; #UNHCR; #Refugees; #Covid19
Bangladesh/UN, Aug 22 (Canadian-Media): Three years after violence in Myanmar forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to seek refuge in Bangladesh, the international community must adapt its assistance to the critical needs of those displaced and the host communities supporting them, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.
August 2020 marks three years on from the last exodus of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar and sought sanctuary in Bangladesh.
Image credit: © UNHCR/Areez Tanbeen Rahman
“The COVID-19 pandemic has added additional complexities,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told journalists the regular news briefing in Geneva.
Bangladesh hosts 9 of 10 Rohingya refugees
Mr. Mahecic said UNHCR and the Government of Bangladesh have individually registered over 860,000 Rohingya refugees in the Cox’s Bazar settlements.
The country now hosts nine out of 10 Rohingya refugees registered in the Asia-Pacific region, ensuring their protection and offering life-saving support. “This generosity must be acknowledged through continued investment in both Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi host communities,” Mr. Mahecic said.
Holistic approach to safe return
Creating conditions that are conducive to the Rohingya people’s safe and sustainable return to Myanmar will require whole-of-society engagement, he said, as well as resumed dialogue between Myanmar authorities and Rohingya refugees.
It will also require measures to build trust, Mr. Mahecic said, such as lifting restrictions on freedom of movement, reconfirming that internally displaced Rohingya can return to their villages and providing a clear pathway towards citizenship.
Outside Myanmar, UNHCR said collective efforts must aim to both ensure dignity and improve long-term prospects. Advancing lasting solutions in Myanmar will be pivotal. Mr. Mahecic also called for providing study and work opportunities outside of asylum countries, and third-country pathways for the most vulnerable.
Solution lies in Myanmar
Ultimately, the agency said,the solution to the plight of Rohingyas lies in Myanmar - and fully implementing recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine state, to which the Government has committed.
The strength of the Rohingya in exile in Bangladesh and elsewhere have formed the backbone of UNHCR’s humanitarian response,Mr. Mahecic said. Recognizing their courage means ensuring they are not forgotten as the crisis enters a fourth year.
COVID-19 pushes Rohingya towards Malaysia
Since the global health crisis began, the agency has reported an increase in the number of Rohingyas moving from Bangladesh and Myanmar, towards Malaysia and other countries in Southeast Asia.
“No solution, great poverty and lack of opportunities in the camps in Bangladesh, now maybe also couple with the lockdown that was made necessary by COVID that has added to the hardship,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said in comments coinciding with World Refugee Day, commemorated annually on 20 June.
#UN; #Lebanon; #HumanitarianAid; #UNHCR; #Covid19
Lebanon/United Nations, Aug 22 (Canadian-Media): The UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Friday urged the international community to continue to stand by the people of Lebanon as they recover from the blast that devastated the capital, Beirut, earlier this month.
The UN refugee chief, Filippo Grandi, looks at damage caused to the apartment of a Syrian refugee in the aftermath of the explosion at the port in Beirut, Lebanon.
Image credit: © UNHCR/Sam Tarling
Filippo Grandi, the head of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, concluded a four-day visit to the country during which he affirmed the agency’s immediate support to over 100,000 Lebanese, refugees and other affected populations.
“The situation is very difficult. Lebanon is enduring multiple challenges - the swirling economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of the Syrian conflict – and now, this horrible explosion. All of us have a role to play in the response – we cannot let people sleep in the open, without a roof and privacy, exposed to food insecurity, lack of water and medicine,” he said.
UNHCR is mobilizing $35 million for emergency response to the hardest-hit and most vulnerable households in Beirut for the next three months.
The funding will be used in the areas of shelter and protection.
‘Shocking’ scale of destruction Mr. Grandi was shocked to see the impact of the 4 August blast, which destroyed large areas of Beirut. Nearly 200 people were killed and more than 6,500 were injured, while hundreds of thousands have been left homeless.
The High Commissioner also witnessed the emergency response UNHCR and partners have delivered in one of the devastated neighbourhoods, where they have distributed over 3,140 shelter kits to the worst-affected households, benefiting more than 10,000 people so far.
“It was shocking to see first-hand the scale of the destruction, but it is the human cost of this disaster that is truly heartbreaking,” said Grandi.
“The families I met have suffered terrible physical and psychological injuries, but despite everything they remain determined to rebuild their homes and their lives.”
Supporting COVID-19 response While in Lebanon, Mr. Grandi also assessed his agency’s support to national response to COVID-19.
UNHCR previously allocated $40 million for these efforts, which will be reinforced with an additional $3 million.
The High Commissioner visited Tripoli Governmental Hospital where UNHCR has funded a 43-bed expansion, as well as an isolation centre in Akkar, in northern Lebanon, supported by the agency. The facility is fully equipped to receive people who need to self-isolate but are unable to do so at home.
Fast-tracking deployment of equipment Overall, UNHCR support to hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic will cover some 900 additional beds, including in Intensive Care Units (ICU), as well as ventilators and other advanced equipment, and medicine stocks.
Since February, teams have been building dedicated hospital expansion facilities, or rehabilitating existing unused sections and refurbishing them with new medical equipment which will remain the property of the hospitals after the pandemic.
Due to the recent rapid spread of the virus, UNHCR is fast-tracking the deployment of ventilators and other ICU equipment to hospitals across Lebanon.
Hardship among refugees Throughout his visit, Mr. Grandi met with refugee families and heard accounts of growing hardship and challenges.
Lebanon, which has a population of around six million, hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world. More than one million refugees, mainly Syrians and Palestinians, have found shelter there.
As a result of the deepening economic and financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the proportion of refugees living under the extreme poverty line has jumped from 55 per cent to over 75 per cent, according to UNHCR.
“Refugee and Lebanese communities are pushed further down into poverty and vulnerability as a result of the economic crisis, the consequences of the pandemic and now the tragic explosion in Beirut, and need our urgent help today”, Mr. Grandi.
“We are working with humanitarian partners and the donor community to ensure that all people in Lebanon are not forgotten – they need our help now more than ever before.”
As Burkina Faso grapples with COVID-19, new UN data reveals ‘alarming deterioration’in food security
#UN; #BurkinaFaso; #FoodInsecurity; #WFP; #FAO
United Nations, Aug 21 (Canadian-Media): An estimated 3.3 million people in Burkina Faso are facing acute food insecurity, two United Nations agencies warned on Friday.
In Kaya, Burkina Faso, 27-year-old Mariam Sawadogo serves a meal to her family with food from the World Food Programme (WFP). Image credit: WFP/Mahamady Ouedraogo
Citing alarming new data, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), stressed that “urgent and sustained action” is needed to address the worsening food and nutrition situation throughout the country.
Hunger trending upwardSince the situation in Burkina Faso was last assessed in March, acute food insecurity has increased more than 50 per cent, according to the latest analysis.
And in a country already reeling from conflict and climate change, the UN survey points out that COVID-19 has intensified people’s inability to earn money to cover their daily needs.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is further exacerbating a crisis that was already deteriorating at a worrying pace, pushing more and more people into severe food crisis and acute food insecurity,” said Dauda Sau, FAO Representative in Burkina Faso.
Meanwhile, the provinces of Oudalan and Soum in the Sahel region have been driven into the emergency phase of food insecurity, as defined by the analysis.
Some three per cent of people in these northern areas are said to be experiencing catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity and facing extreme food consumption gaps, which are also resulting in alarming levels of acute malnutrition.
“We’re seeing an alarming deterioration in food security across the worst-hit parts of the country,” said David Bulman, WFP Country Director and Representative in Burkina Faso.
And many of those worst affected have been displaced from their homes by fighting in the region.
“We need to take immediate action to reverse this trend in the two provinces. It would be nothing short of a disaster were a whole generation to be crushed by conflict, displacement and hunger,” he added.
Changing the courseMany of those most at risk are subsistence farmers and livestock herders.
While urgent humanitarian life-and livelihood-saving assistance is essential to address immediate needs, so too are longer-term investments in rural livelihoods and social services which, experts say can help reinforce social cohesion and contribute to peace.
“We can reverse this trend if we act now by supporting the Government to protect livelihoods, rapidly increase local food production and availability, and support rural populations to access food,” the FAO Representative stated.
Both FAO and WFP have been responding to the crisis in Burkina Faso by providing food assistance coupled with livelihood protection and support for displaced people and the host communities that receive them.
#UN; #Indonesia; #HumanitarianAid; #Earthquake
Growing up in Indonesia in the shadow of an active volcano, Agus Haryono has witnessed the deadly risks of living in a disaster-prone region. This prompted him to join the country’s Search and Rescue Agency, in the hope of saving lives, when disaster strikes, UN reports said.
Agus Haryono, International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) member from Basarnas, Indonesia. Image credit: NSARAG
Mr. Haryono was born in Klaten, a small town in Central Java, near Mount Merapi. Many people live on the flanks of the mountain, even though it is the most active volcano in the country, and has claimed many lives during its frequent eruptions.
Mr. Haryono shares his story as part of the #RealLifeHeroes campaign, by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), ahead of this year’s World Humanitarian Day, on 19 August.
“When I was young, I dreamed of being a soldier, because I thought that soldiers are tough, brave and loyal. Because of my poor eyesight, I had to give up that dream, and instead joined the Ministry of Transport after graduating from college.
Whilst there, I found out about maritime search and rescue (SAR) and realized that saving the lives of others is a very noble profession. Rescuers would fight to save people they don’t know, and even sacrifice themselves in the attempt. Today, I’m the Deputy Director of Search and Rescue at Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency.
Living in the 'ring of fire'Growing up in Klaten, disaster is something usual for me. The threats to my hometown don’t only come from Mt Merapi, but also from earthquakes. Situated in “the ring of fire”, an area of the Pacific Ocean Basin which sees many earthquakes and volcanoes, Indonesia is a disaster-prone country. The Search and Rescue Agency was set up in 1972, the year I was born, to provide 24-hour assistance, in case of aviation and maritime accidents, natural disasters as well as other life-threatening situations.
The most shocking earthquake to hit my region struck on May 27, 2006, claiming some 5,800 lives, and causing severe damages to buildings. Another shocking volcanic strike on October 26, 2010 when Mount Merapi erupted, killing around 353 of Klaten’s inhabitants. I saw with my own eyes how such a catastrophe can change someone’s life, the desperation and hopelessness when family members and property are lost. At these moments, they need the assistance and care of others to rise up again.
Working as a humanitarian has taught me about caring, empathy, cooperation, and brotherhood, regardless of race and nationality. I’m 47 now, which might sound too old to be a rescuer, but what matters is having a strong spirit, and the will to give the best service to other people who are in the need of assistance, particularly, those whose lives are in imminent danger.
Saving lives is not a matter of heroism, it is about our commitment to humanity, and making an effort to give back, and giving others the opportunity to live their lives. There is no happier moment than when you can return someone to their family, alive.
#BeirutBlast; #UN; #HumanitarianAid
Lebanon/UN, Aug 9 (Canadian-Media): To help Lebanon overcome the tragedy and recover better, “we will need all hands on deck”, deputy UN chief Amina Mohammed told virtual donors conference on Sunday, convened to rally international assistance and support in the wake of last week’s massive explosion at the Beirut port, which killed some 150 people, wounded thousands and caused destruction throughout much of the city.
Beirut Port after an explosion on 4 August 2020. @UNOCHA
“The explosion in Beirut last Tuesday shocked the world,” leaving neighborhoods flattened, a large part of Lebanon’s grain reserves obliterated, six hospitals damaged or destroyed, hundreds of thousands have been made homeless - many of them children, the Deputy Secretary-General told the donors teleconference, co-convened by French President Emmanuel Macron and the UN.
The deputy UN chief offered her condolences to those who lost loved ones, and a full recovery to the thousands of injured. “Above all,” she said, “I give my pledge that the United Nations is committed to helping the people of Lebanon in every way we can.
Since the blast, the UN system has been working around the clock, delivering medical supplies, shelter kits and food parcels, and helping reunite separated families, and Ms. Mohammed expressed gratitude to the donors that had enable the Organization to jump into action.
“Financial support leveraged in record time – in particular from regional partners – is already making a difference. But of course, this is just the beginning,” she cautioned.
MORE TO COME ON THIS EVOLVING STORY...
#UN; #BeirutBlast; #UNIFIL; #UNOCHA; #WHO; #IOM; #OHCHR; #WFP; #UNICEF
Beirut (United Nations), Aug 9 (Canadian-Media): The comprehensive network of specialist UN agencies are working together to help the people of the Lebanese capital get back on their feet, but if you are wondering what you can do to help, we’ve put together this list of what they are doing, and where you can donate, to ensure that any aid you can give, reaches the people most in need. This Friday and into the weekend, the UN continues to mobilize emergency assistance, including relief items such as temporary shelters. for approximately 300,000 displaced people.
A deadly explosion at Beirut Port wreaks havoc throughout Lebanon's capital city.
Image credit: © UNOCHA
The horrific blast has brought into sharp focus the need for the international community to step up and help Lebanon and its people at their time of greatest crisis, suffering the impact of economic collapse, political turmoil and uncertainty, rising infection rates from COVID-19, and the terrible destruction wrought by Tuesday’s explosion.
UN Humanitarian Affairs office, OCHAThe blast ripped through “a country already facing civil unrest, economic hardship, the coronavirus outbreak, and a heavy burden from the Syrian refugee crisis”, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, pointed out on Friday.
As more supplies are arriving each day to support operations, OCHA has released $6 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to fund trauma care, support to hospitals, repair damaged homes and provide logistical support.
Meanwhile, within 36 hours of the blast, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, Najat Rochdi, had released $9 million from the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund to address primary health needs and provide food assistance to the most vulnerable.
Funds given to UN and partners ‘will go directly to the people’In a specially recorded audio message for UN News, Ms. Rochdi gave an assurance that all funds that members of the public around the world feel moved to donate to the UN, and its NGO partners, “will go directly to the people who suffered from this horrendous blast’.
Any donation that can be provided “will help alleviate the immediate suffering and support the Lebanese people as they start the process of rebuilding”, said Mr. Lowcock.
WFP: Feeding people
Amid concerns that the explosion will worsen an already grim food security situation that has coincided with a profound financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it is in “close” discussions with Lebanese authorities to coordinate its emergency food response.
As the country works to rebuild Beirut Port, WFP announced on Friday that it would help boost food security across the country by importing wheat, flour and grain as huge cereal silos were destroyed in the epicentre of the blast.
Already providing cash and food programmes in Lebanon, WFP will also help with logistical and supply chain expertise and any donation you can spare would be greatly appreciated.
WHO: Working with health partners
The day after the massive blast, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent 20 tonnes of health supplies to cover 1,000 trauma and 1,000 surgical interventions for those injured in the explosion.
“We are working closely with national health authorities, health partners and hospitals treating the wounded, to identify additional needs and ensure immediate support,” said WHO Representative in Lebanon, Dr Iman Shankiti.
And on Friday afternoon WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus released $2.2M from the Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) to support the immediate response while ensuring the continuity of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to support the UN agency’s work in dealing with the on-going outbreaks in countries dealing with multiple disasters like Lebanon.
UNHCR: Needing shelter
As they rush to support the Government-led response, “shelter, health and protection” are the top priorities for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), spokesperson Charlie Yaxley told reporters on Friday.
“The need for shelter is massive”, he said, adding that the explosion may have also impacted refugees living in Beirut.
As UNHCR continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, it is also working to decrease the pressure on overwhelmed hospitals and allow more patients to be treated promptly. Any contribution you can make will be used to help achieve this.
IOM: Missing refugees
While the impacts of the explosion on Lebanon’s estimated 400,000 labour migrants and approximately 1.5 million refugees are yet to be seen, those already living in precarious situations will certainly be at greater risk, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The UN migration agency is working alongside UN partners to conduct a rapid assessment to further understand the magnitude of the damage and the specific needs of the most vulnerable people – including Lebanese citizens, migrants and refugees.
“Now more than ever we must guarantee the health, safety and security of Lebanon’s most vulnerable people”, said IOM Director General António Vitorino, stressing the need to incorporate the needs of migrants and refugees in broader emergency response plans. Click here to donate to IOM’s general relief efforts.
UNICEF: No water, COVID surges
Against the backdrop of massive damage to homes, and COVID-19 cases spiking to a record 255 infections registered on Thursday, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) cited latest available figures on Friday estimating that up to 100,000 children might be homeless, or living without water or electricity.
“The needs are immediate, and they are huge”, UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado told journalist in Geneva on Friday, appealing for an initial $8.25 million for the emergency response.
Among other things, UNICEF is working to replace PPE and other medical products lost in the blast while procuring critical health supplies; distribute water; reunite children separated from their families, and provide them with psychosocial support.
Emergency cash assistance is needed and damaged health care facilities and schools require rehabilitation, please consider donating here.
UN human rights office highlights ‘calls for accountability’With large swathes of the city unfit to live in, the country's principle port all but destroyed and the health system on its knees, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) called the situation “dire”.
“Victims' calls for accountability must be heard, including through undertaking an impartial, independent, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion”, OHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville said, calling for “a swift international response and sustained engagement”, to prevent many more lives from being lost.
Click here to assist the UN human rights agency protect the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable.
UN staff: A family matterUN staff across the world have also stood shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with their Lebanese colleagues.
The UN Staff Unions in New York, Nairobi and Vienna, as well as the Staff Associations of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), have raised $32,000 in funds so far from workers, to support the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon), both headquartered in Beirut.
Click here to donate to the Go Fund Me page set up by UN Staff Unions and Associations.
#UN; #Lebanon; #WHO; #UNOCHA; #HumanitarinAid
Lebanon/UN, Aug 7 (Canadian-Media): Across Lebanon, “the needs are immediate, and they are huge” in the aftermath of the explosion that destroyed Beirut city port, UN agencies said on Friday.
The explosion at Beirut port caused extensive damage in neighbouring residential areas. Image credit: © UNOCHA
Latest reports indicate at least 150 fatalities and thousands of wounded, but that figure is likely to rise, as rescuers search the port for survivors.
World Health Organization (WHO) Spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said that many people were still missing and that hospitals were overwhelmed.
Three facilities are “non-functional” and two more have been partially damaged, he told journalists via videoconference in Geneva, adding that the disaster took a total of hospital 500 beds out of action.
People still under rubble
“The immediate focus now is on the trauma care and the search and rescue of course still, that’s very important, there’s still people under the rubble and there’s still people alive under the rubble from what we can see from the media reports; and that is the first priority now, and of course bringing in supplies, food, shelter also, medicines, medical equipment for trauma situations but for all the other diseases that cannot be treated now in hospitals”, he informed the journalists.
Amid concerns about the potentially harmful dust created by the explosion of some 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, the WHO spokesperson noted that the Lebanese health ministry had reported a decrease in toxicity level two hours after the blast.
Assisting the most vulnerable
The most pressing priority is to get assistance to the most vulnerable, including those requiring emergency medical help from hospitals already overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
This task has become even more challenging in that many shipping containers carrying personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the pandemic response were lost in the blast.
“What we know so far is that 10 containers of PPE material that was procured by the ministry of public health have been destroyed”, said UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesperson Marixie Mercado. “These contained hundreds of thousands of masks, gloves, gowns, all critical for the response. We have already placed orders to replace some of this material and we have prioritised the delivery of pre-existing orders of PPE for Lebanon now”.
To ensure immediate ongoing help, WHO has appealed for $15 million.
No water or electricity
The homes of at least 80,000 children had been damaged in the blast, Ms. Mercado continued, noting that many houses were now without water or electricity.
At the same time, COVID-19 cases have spiked, she added, with a record 255 infections registered on Thursday.
To date, Lebanon has seen 70 COVID-19 deaths and 5,672 cases in total, while the areas around the blast site are among the most active clusters of transmission.
“It is impossible for those affected to practise safe distancing and there is desperate need for masks, but for most people right now COVID is not top of mind”, the UNICEF official said, in an appeal for an initial $8.25 million for the emergency response.
Also assisting in the response, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it feared that several of the casualties “may also include refugees living in Beirut”.
In total, Lebanon hosts 1.5 million people displaced by conflict, many from neighbouring Syria.
“Some of the areas severely affected by the powerful blast included neighbourhoods that hosted refugees”, said UNHCR Spokesperson Charlie Yaxley.
“We have received initial, yet unconfirmed reports of several deaths among refugees in Beirut. We work with the rescue teams and other humanitarian workers to help with identification and support to grieving families”.
Initial assessments indicate that hundreds of thousands of people have had their homes destroyed or damaged, creating a “massive” need for shelter, the agency believes.
“UNHCR is making available its in-country stocks of shelter kits, plastic sheets, rub-halls, and tens of thousands of other core relief items including blankets and mattresses for immediate distribution and use”, Mr. Yaxley said.
In a bid to boost the UN’s health response to COVID – and now to Tuesday’s disaster – the Geneva-based agency has provided medical supplies and equipment, ventilators, and patient beds.
“A second phase is being expedited in light of the saturation of hospitals”, said Mr. Yaxley. “This support will help decrease the pressure on the currently overwhelmed hospitals and allow more patients to be treated promptly” .
Food security boostIn a related development, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it will import wheat flour and grain to help boost food security across Lebanon as the country works to rebuild Beirut port, where huge cereal silos were destroyed.
Announcing the move on Friday, the UN agency said it is in “close” discussions with authorities to coordinate the emergency response.
Already providing cash and food programmes in Lebanon, WFP also offered to help with logistical and supply chain expertise.
The move comes amid concerns that the explosion will worsen an already grim food security situation that has coincided with a profound financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
One-in-two fear hunger
A recent WFP survey found that food has become a major source of concern in Lebanon since the lockdown, with one-in-two people worried about not having enough to eat.
To help some of the most vulnerable, the agency is allocating 5,000 food parcels for blast-affected families.
Each food package is enough to feed a family of five for one month, with basic food items such as rice, chickpeas, tuna, salt and tomato paste.
From bad to worse
Highlighting the dire situation affecting Lebanon’s people even before Tuesday’s disaster, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) urged the international community “to step up” and help the country “at their time of crisis”.
“With large swathes of the city unfit to live in, the country’s principle port all but destroyed and the health system on its knees, the situation is dire”, OHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville said.
With large swathes of the city unfit to live in, the country’s principle port all but destroyed and the health system on its knee -- OHCHR
Spiralling out of control
Just a month ago, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned that amid a longstanding economic and political crisis and the effects of the COVID pandemic, Lebanon was “fast spiralling out of control”.
She urged the Government and others to enact urgently needed reforms, Mr. Colville said, while also calling on the authorities to address needs, such as shelter, food, electricity, health and education.
Any investigation into the disaster must be fast, impartial and thorough, the OHCHR spokesperson continued, and it should also satisfy the “anger” of all those affected towards the Lebanese Government, he insisted, referring to the public mood during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the blast site on Thursday.
Underscoring that the investigation must satisfy the public, he maintained: “It’s important to be fast, it’s equally important to be thorough, impartial and transparent – not necessarily international”.
Some elements have been “aired” extensively, Mr. Colville continued, in reference to the apparent origins of the ammonium nitrate that exploded, “how it got there” and “why it’s been in that warehouse for seven years”.