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UN strongly condemns the harassment of humanitarian staff and looting of humanitarian premises in North Darfur (23.01.2020)

Zalingei/Khartoum, 23 January 2020- “This emerging trend of harassment of UN and NGO staff and subsequent looting and vandalization of UN and NGO premises and assets is not only very disturbing but totally uncalled for. UN and NGO staff are in Darfur to provide critical humanitarian and peacekeeping support in the region and deserve the full support and appreciation from the communities they serve,” UNAMID’s Joint Special Representative/Joint Chief Mediator, Jeremiah Mamabolo stated in response to reports received about the wanton destruction of property in Kabkabiya, North Darfur.

On 22 January, a large crowd of men, women and children harassed staff from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) who were on mission to distribute non-food items to victims of flooding that occurred in Kabkabiya, North Darfur last October. The distribution commenced on 20 January at the premises of an implementing partner and was supposed to conclude on 22 January. However, towards the end of the distribution program, some looters attacked the IOM staff alleging that they were not included in the distribution matrix. It was later reported that the premises of five other local NGOs were also looted.

Later in the day, government security forces intervened whilst UNAMID’s Pakistan Contingent based in the area, also secured the World Food Programme (WFP) premises and four local staff remaining in the offices.

“We appeal to both federal and state government authorities to thoroughly investigate above incidents and bring all persons responsible for these unwarranted actions to book,” JSR Mamabolo added.

The Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Gwi-Yeop Son, condemned the attacks on humanitarian offices, assets and looting of humanitarian supplies in Kabkabiya, North Darfur.

“I condemn these acts and call upon the Government authorities to launch a swift investigation and bring those responsible to account,” Ms. Son said. “Attacks against humanitarian actors and operations endanger lives, violate the protection of civilians, including humanitarian workers, under international humanitarian law, and jeopardize the provision of life-saving aid to people in need.”

Over the past year there were several other incidents of looting of humanitarian supplies in Darfur.

UNAMID continues to monitor the situation and will take taking appropriate measures to continue to facilitate humanitarian access in Darfur, in line with its protection of civilians’ responsibilities as mandated by the United Nations Security Council.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) calls South Sudan to increase its public spending in education (20.01.2020)

2.2 million children do not have access to quality education in South Sudan, jeopardizing the future of the entire country.

JUBA, South Sudan, January 20, 2020 – South Sudan is not sufficiently prioritizing children’s education, UNICEF said today. While the internationally agreed international standard for education allocations is 20 per cent of the national budget, South Sudan only spends 5.6 per cent for 2019-2020, according the national budget. This is the lowest public education spending in East Africa, recent studies say.2.2 million children do not have access to quality education in South Sudan, jeopardizing the future of the entire country. As the country prepares for a new academic year, UNICEF is calling on the Government of South Sudan to prioritize education in its government spending.

“Education must be a top priority for the Government in South Sudan and sufficient allocations must be made to ensure every child in the country can go to school and learn,” said UNICEF Representative in South Sudan Dr Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “By investing in the education of its children, South Sudan is investing in the future and development of the whole country.”

The call for more public spending on education in South Sudan, comes as UNICEF is launching the global report ‘Addressing the learning crisis: an urgent need to better finance education for the poorest children’. Nearly 1 in 3 adolescent girls from the poorest households around the world has never been to school, the report says – launched as education ministers from all over the world are gathered at the Education World Forum, ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting.

Poverty, discrimination due to gender, disability, ethnic origin or language of instruction, physical distance from schools and poor infrastructure are among the obstacles that continue to prevent the poorest children from accessing quality education. Exclusion at every step of education perpetuates poverty and is a key driver of a global learning crisis.

The paper notes that the lack of resources available for the poorest children is exacerbating a crippling learning crisis, as schools fail to provide quality education for their students.

In South Sudan, lack of public investment in education is contributing to the critical shortage of qualified teachers. An estimated 62 per cent of primary teachers and 44 per cent of secondary teachers are not qualified. Also, many teachers leave the profession due to salaries not being paid on a regular basis.

UNICEF calls the Government of South Sudan:

  • to progressively increase the education share of the national budget to the international agreed standard of 20 per cent.
  • to ensure salaries of qualified teachers are paid and paid on time to increase teacher retention.
  • to allocate adequate resources to pre-primary education to ensure children are starting primary school well prepared.

“With South Sudan’s academic year commencing in a few weeks, it is prudent to commit to realizing every child’s right to an education, by ensuring the education sector has the necessary resources,” said Ayoya.

UNHCR seeks international solidarity for refugees and hosts in Sudan (14.01.2020)

Sudan has a long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers but also struggles with its own internal displacement.

GENEVA, Switzerland, January 14, 2020 –This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for increased support for Sudan with the launch of a new funding appeal that seeks US$477 million to help over 900,000 refugees in the country together with nearly a quarter million of their Sudanese hosts in the coming year.

The Sudan Refugee Response Plan, launched in Khartoum this morning, foresees humanitarian activities by UNHCR with over 30 other partners.

Sudan has a long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers but also struggles with its own internal displacement, while facing a severe economic crisis. Our call comes at a time when the country is going through a historical political transition, and requires international solidarity to achieve peace and stability.

The largest group of refugees hosted in Sudan are South Sudanese with some 840,000 seeking shelter in the country since 2013. Resources are also needed for other refugees from nine countries who have sought safety from violence and persecution.

In the meantime, Sudan also continues to receive new refugees. In Darfur, an ongoing influx of CAR refugees into remote parts of South and Central Darfur States has seen the number of refugees swell from just over 5,000 to nearly 17,000 in three months since September 2019.

Refugees in Sudan live in over 130 locations across the country’s 18 States. About 70 per cent live outside of camps in villages, towns and settlements. The majority of refugees and asylum-seekers in Sudan face high levels of poverty, limited access to livelihood opportunities, and are hosted in some of the poorest regions of the country, where host communities are also struggling.

While refugees often benefit from generous support provided by host communities, the ongoing economic crisis in Sudan has exacerbated the situation as local resources remain scarce.

UNHCR is also part of inter-agency humanitarian efforts to assist some 1.9 million internally displaced people inside Sudan, leading on protection and working on displaced peoples’ rights, emergency shelter and relief distributions. Since last year, the transitional government has facilitated the delivery of aid to areas which were out of reach to humanitarians previously including in parts of South Kordofan and Blue Nile and Darfur’s Jebel Marra.

Years of conflict and unrest have also displaced more than 600,000 Sudanese as refugees in neighbouring countries – including over 300,000 refugees from Darfur in in eastern Chad. Since a Tripartite Agreement between the Government of Sudan, Chad and UNHCR signed in May 2017, nearly 4,000 Sudanese refugees have chosen to return home. More are expected to return this year.

In 2019, UNHCR operation in Sudan remained one of the most under resourced with only 32 per cent funds being available out of the needed US$269 million.

Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo (03.01.2020)

40 confirmed cases were reported from 10 health areas within five neighbouring active health zones in North Kivu province.

GENEVA, Switzerland, January 3, 2020 – Since the last disease outbreak news published on 19 December 2019, 29 new confirmed cases were reported from 18 to 31 December in the ongoing Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in North Kivu province. The confirmed cases in this week were reported from eight health areas in four health zones: Mabalako (62%, n=18), Butembo (14%, n=4), Kalunguta (17%, n=5), and Katwa (7%, n=2). Three of the four cases reported in Butembo in the past fourteen days are linked to a transmission chain of more than 50 people that originated in Aloya Health Area, Mabalako Health Zone. One individual classified as a relapse case of EVD, infected several other individuals within the family and through nosocomial transmission (for more information, please see the disease outbreak news published on 19 December 2019). In Kalunguta Health Zone, the five cases reported between 24 and 28 December 2019, are a distinct epidemiologically linked chain of transmission, although the source of exposure is currently under investigation.

In the past 21 days (11 December to 31 December), 40 confirmed cases were reported from 10 health areas within five neighbouring active health zones in North Kivu province (Figure 2, Table 1): Mabalako (68%, n=27), Butembo (13%, n=5), Kalunguta (13%, n=5), Katwa (5%, n=2), and Biena (3%, n=1). The majority of the cases (75%, n=30) are linked to known chains of transmission.

As of 31 December, a total of 3380 EVD cases were reported, including 3262 confirmed and 118 probable cases, of which 2232 cases died (overall case fatality ratio 66%) (Table 1). Of the total confirmed and probable cases, 56% (n=1900) were female, 28% (n=953) were children aged less than 18 years, and 168 (5% of all reported cases) were healthcare workers.

Cameroon: Nji rather lie, than tell the truth about the extent of anglophone crisis!

Slim Charles: “Don’t matter who did what to who at this point. Fact is, we went to war and now there ain’t no goin’ back. I mean, shit, it’s what war is, you know? Once you in it, you in it. If it’s a lie, then we fight on that lie. But we gotta fight” (The Wire, Season 3 Episode 12 – “Misson Accomplished”, 09.12.2004).

He is not the first, nor the last, who wants to save the face of his government and show blind loyalty to his Head of State. Still, Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji is willing lie to save face. The Minister is willingly and without any effort claiming that the efforts made in Anglophone regions are not as bad as it seems. Not as dire and crisis as the reports have been told.

However, the Minister doesn’t come with facts, just mere numbers, which is contrary to all United Nations reports on the matter and also Multi-National NGOs. By all means, the I will drop it here and then come with reports. Showing, that it must have been made up from him. As there are things not adding up. Unless, he wants to show old numbers and not the freshest. In that regard make the picture more rosary, than what it really is.

According to the Minister, Cameroon currently has around 152,000 internally displaced persons in the North West and South West regions, and about 6,000 to 9,000 internally displaced persons in other regions of the country. To these needy people fleeing various abuses, the government allocated an envelope of 12.7 billion FCFA. “Faced with this dangerous traffic from certain partners or those working on behalf of separatist groups, the government now demands more transparency and more responsibility in their operations in the North-West and South-West regions,” he emphasized while being in charge of the Territorial Administration” (DevDiscource – ‘Cameroon has no humanitarian crisis, says Paul Atanga Nji’ 30.12.2019).

While he states this inferior number, which by all means is a lot of people. Towns upon towns with IDPs, whose has to flee their home. The ghost towns, the people fleeing armed forces and the army violating the regions right to exist. Therefore, it is insulting, that he tries to mask over the situation, instead of giving the real deal.

Like the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) reported a total of 668,000 IDPs by 31st December 2018 and new displacements during that year (2018) was alone 459,000. These numbers are much more significantly higher, than what the Minister said and shows the discrepancy here.

Also, OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) own North-West Flash Update from 20th December 2019 states this: “Between 9 and 15 December 2019, an estimated 5,475 people (782 households) were forced to flee their villages following a series of military operations and community clashes throughout the North West region. Military operations in the Momo, Mezam, Boyo, Ngo Ketunjia, Donga Mantung and Bui Divisions have led to the displacement of 2,775 people, while community clashes in the Boyo division has led 2,700 people to flee their homes. There are consistent reports of military burning houses and other civilian infrastructure in supposed retaliation for communities harbouring NSAGs” (OCHA, 20.12.2019).

However, those numbers are only the limited time frame of 9th to 15th December. Not even the hole year. Yes it is closer to the numbers of the Minister, but still not grasping the whole situation. As this is only one week of the whole year and not counting the time from when army and others violently entered the Anglophone region.

USAID states this December: “Since 2016, worsening insecurity in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions had internally displaced nearly 680,000 people, as of November” (Cameroon: Food Assistance Fact Sheet – Updated December 17, 2019).

So, again the numbers of the Minister doesn’t add up and is closer to the numbers of IDMC, which is one year older. Therefore, the various numbers just shows what intent and whose losing the bargain. Surely, the citizens and the ones harmed are in the dire need of help. The whole region doesn’t need the state warfare, neither the fake special status. Neither, does it need the fraudulent dialogue, which is only a smoke-screen, while the state violates people rights, land and livelihood on a daily basis.

Than, we have the World Food Programme with their Emergency Dashboard of November 2019, which states that the Anglophone regions have 536,107 IDPs. Another big number, which the Minister clearly doesn’t verify. It is hard to know exact the numbers, as each of those numbers would represent a person, an individual who deserves a peaceful life and opportunities to live, without fear, without war and without conflict in general.

However, the reality is that Minister doesn’t care. His just trying to mask over a crisis, a self-inflicted crisis, by the army and by the government. Instead of fixing it and listening, they are trying to burn the two regions, the North-West and South-West to the ground and hoping no one cares.

Supposed Honourable Nji is lying. Lying out of his teeth. A disgraceful act, an despicable one, as he tries to deflect the damage his government does on a daily basis. That is the reality in the scheme of things. It is just a reminder, of what extent people do to live on a lie. Going to war on a lie and sticking to it. Peace.

Zimbabwe: International community must step up support to millions of desperately hungry Zimbabweans (30.12.2019)

HARARE – Millions of Zimbabweans pushed into hunger by prolonged drought and economic crisis face an increasingly desperate situation unless adequate funding for a major relief operation materialises quickly, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned.

With nearly eight million people – half the population – now food insecure, WFP plans to double the number of people it assists – up to 4.1 million – but needs over US$200 million for its emergency response in the first half of 2020 alone.

“As things stand, we will run out of food by end of February, coinciding with the peak of the hunger season – when needs are at their highest,” said Niels Balzer, WFP’s Deputy Country Director in Zimbabwe. “Firm pledges are urgently needed as it can take up to three months for funding commitments to become food on people’s tables,” Balzer added.

Years of drought have slashed food production in Zimbabwe, once an African breadbasket. This year’s maize harvest was down 50 percent on 2018, with overall cereal output less than half the national requirement. By August of 2019, WFP was forced to launch an emergency lean season assistance programme to meet rising needs, months earlier than anticipated.

Since then, food shortages have become ever more pronounced. This month, maize, was only available in half of the markets WFP monitors countrywide.

Worryingly, runaway inflation – a symptom of the wide-ranging economic crisis Zimbabwe is experiencing – has propelled the prices of basic commodities beyond the reach of all but the most privileged. Amid dire shortage of foreign exchange and of local currency, Zimbabwe has seen drastic price increases – bread now costs 20 times what it cost six months ago, while the price of maize has nearly tripled over the same period.

The deepening hardship is forcing families to eat less, skip meals, take children out of school, sell off livestock and fall into a vicious cycle of debt. There is little respite expected for the most vulnerable, including subsistence farmers who grow most of Zimbabwe’s food and depend on a single, increasingly erratic rainy season.

This season’s rains are again late and inadequate, with planted seeds having failed to germinate in many areas. Forecasts of continuing hot and dry weather in the weeks ahead signal another poor harvest in April, putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

WFP’s operational scale-up is challenging in many respects. Owing to the acute shortages of local currency and rapid inflation, it entails a large-scale switch from cash-based assistance to food distributions. WFP is uniquely positioned to make this switch in times of crisis but can only do so with sustained donor support.

Because drought and flooding have tightened the availability of food across much of Southern Africa, much of the nearly 200,000 metric tons of food required to deliver assistance to the 4.1 million people targeted by WFP must be sourced beyond the continent, shipped to neighbouring South Africa or Mozambique and moved by road into land-locked Zimbabwe.

“While WFP now has the staff, partners, trucking and logistics capacity in place for a major surge in Zimbabwe, it is essential that we receive the funding to be able to fully deliver,” Balzer said. “The lives of so many depend on this.”

RDC: Le Gouvernement Congolais et la Communaute Humanitaire dressent le Bilan de 2019 et Sollicitent plus de Fonds pour la Response Humanitaire en 2020 (19.12.2019)

South Sudan hunger deepens due to drought, floods and uncertain political future (12.12.2019)

ROME/JUBA The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is in a race against time to mobilize vital funds to feed millions of people in South Sudan as hunger advances on a population in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Catastrophic flooding over recent months is pushing the country and its people towards a precipice as the year ends amid intense political instability.

Up to 5.5 million South Sudanese are projected to be going hungry in early 2020 – according to forecasts from the last food security data prepared by Government and United Nations experts [1]. The number of people in need is likely to increase because of the catastrophic level of destruction caused by floods since October following a drought that hammered parts of the country earlier in the year.

“With all the catastrophes around the world, the last thing we need is another,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “We know the problems that we’ve been having in South Sudan, but the rains and the floods have led to a national disaster and are much worse than anyone could have anticipated.”

“In fact, if we don’t get funding in the next few weeks and months, we are literally talking about famine. We need support, we need help and we need it now,” he added

Close to 1 million people have been directly affected by flooding that destroyed 73,000 metric tons of potential harvests and wiped out tens of thousands of cattle and goats on which people depend for survival.

Humanitarian assistance provides a lifeline in most areas of South Sudan. In 2019, WFP ramped up its assistance to reach 4.6 million with life-saving support but now needs US$270 million for the first half of 2020. Of this, WFP needs US$100 million in the next month to buy and pre-position food ahead of the rainy season in May 2020.

The Government declared a state of emergency in late October in Bahr El Ghazal, Greater Upper Nile and Greater Equatoria because of the floods, calling for international assistance to be stepped up.

Famine in South Sudan was defeated after four months in 2017 by a concerted large-scale humanitarian response. Experts now say the country’s food security outlook has never been so dire.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) appeals for US$180 million to respond to children’s immediate needs in South Sudan (05.12.2019)

In 2020, UNICEF is expecting an increase in number of children suffering from acute malnutrition, increasing from 860,000 in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2020.

JUBA, South Sudan, December 5, 2019 – 4.1 million children will need urgent assistance in South Sudan in 2020. Years of conflict have destroyed critical infrastructure hindering access to basic services such as clean water, health care and education. Gender-based violence is prevalent and unaccompanied children are at risk of exploitation and abuse. The unresolved political conflict and lack of essential services prevents displaced people from returning home to rebuild their lives.At the same time, the floods affecting 78 counties across the country, have devastated crops making an already difficult food situation worse. Critical infrastructure, including schools and health centres, will need to be rebuilt when the water subsides. In 2020, UNICEF is expecting an increase in number of children suffering from acute malnutrition, increasing from 860,000 in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2020. This includes 292,000 children under five years of age suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

UNICEF is appealing for US$180 million to respond to the most immediate needs of women and children in South Sudan the coming year.

“How can we expect children to grow if the water they are drinking is makes them sick?’’ asked UNICEF South Sudan Representative, Dr Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “While the country is struggling with finding a sustainable and peaceful solution to the conflict, our focus remains on the future which means the children of South Sudan.”

In 2019, UNICEF and partners were able to treat 186,000 children for severe acute malnutrition, provide clean water to some 460,000 people, delivered education to 610,000 children and vaccinated over 430,000 children against measles. Meanwhile, the overall humanitarian funding in South Sudan decreased. For 2019, UNICEF appealed for US$179 million, by end of August just over half was funded. This hampered UNICEF’s efforts to respond to the needs of women and children, including supporting demobilization of children from armed forces and groups and provide water and sanitation to some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

“The only thing that I am 100 per cent sure of is that the children growing up in South Sudan cannot be blamed for the situation in the country. Yet, they are paying the highest price – with their futures,” said UNICEF South Sudan Representative, Dr Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “If we want to see a prosperous South Sudan, we need to continue to invest in the current and coming generation of children, ensuring they are not only surviving but thriving. For that we need all partners and all donors to join in.”

In 2020, UNICEF is aiming at:

  • 268,045 children under five years of age treated for severe acute malnutrition
  • 518,000 children vaccinated against measles
  • 340,000 pregnant women and children provide with mosquito nets
  • 817,000 people have access to safe water and 303,500 people have access to safe and appropriate sanitation facilities
  • 127,000 reached with psychosocial support
  • 709,000 children accessing quality formal or non-formal education
  • 2,500 teachers trained on education
  • 42,030 households reached through the cash transfer programme

World Food Programme expands emergency operation in Zimbabwe as drought and economic hardship plunge millions into hunger (03.12.2019)

Funds are required immediately if WFP is to meet the growing needs of the hardest-hit Zimbabweans.

HARARE, Zimbabwe, December 3, 2019 – The World Food Programme (WFP) is rapidly expanding an already sizeable emergency operation in Zimbabwe where drought, flooding and macro-economic meltdown have plunged 7.7 million people – half the population – into severe hunger.Funds are required immediately if WFP is to meet the growing needs of the hardest-hit Zimbabweans.  It plans to more than double the number of people it is helping by January to 4.1 million, providing life-saving rations of cereal, pulses and vegetable oil and a protective nutrition ration for children under 5 years of age.

“We’re deep into a vicious cycle of sky-rocketing malnutrition that’s hitting women and children hardest and will be tough to break,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “With poor rains forecast yet again in the run-up to the main harvest in April, the scale of hunger in the country is going to get worse before it gets better.”

Zimbabwe’s hunger crisis – the worst for more than a decade – is part of an unprecedented climate-driven disaster gripping southern Africa. Temperatures in the region are rising at more than twice the average global rate and ever more erratic rainy seasons are hitting the country’s subsistence farmers hard.

The crisis is being exacerbated by a dire shortage of foreign currency, runaway inflation, mounting unemployment, lack of fuel, prolonged power outages and large-scale livestock losses, afflicting urban residents and rural villagers alike.

WFP’s planned scale-up is a huge logistical undertaking, with the limited availability of Zimbabwean dollars and surging prices for basics presaging a near wholesale switch from cash assistance to food distributions.

It envisages the sourcing, purchase and delivery to the land-locked country of more than 240,000 metric tons of commodities through June, a challenge all the more daunting because drought and flooding have eroded food supplies across much of Africa.

An estimated US$293 million is required for WFP’s emergency response with less than 30 percent of that sum secured.

“We must not let our immediate focus on emergency aid distract us from investing in the resilience programs that will help chronically hungry people cope with the ever-more severe impacts of erratic weather,” Beasley said. “We urge the international community to step up funding to address the root causes of long-term hunger in Zimbabwe.” 

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