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Archive for the category “Aid”

Uganda Paediatric Association: Press Release (16.10.2019)

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UNHCR aids thousands of Congolese refugees returning home from Angola (08.10.2019)

UNHCR is providing returnees with transport, as well as cash assistance to help them reintegrate.

GENEVA, Switzerland, October 8, 2019 – This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Thousands of Congolese refugees are returning from Angola to the Kasai region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where fighting amongst armed groups has lessened and security conditions have improved.

The first group of a few hundred people will return as part of a voluntary repatriation, which will officially being this week, following the signing on 23 August of a tripartite agreement between UNHCR and the Governments of Angola and DRC on voluntary returns.

In total, more than 4,000 refugees are expected to be assisted to return home in the coming weeks. UNHCR is providing returnees with transport, as well as cash assistance to help them reintegrate.

Meanwhile, since 18 August, some 12,000 Congolese refugees, including nearly 7,000 children, have spontaneously returned home from the Lovua settlement in Angola’s Lunda Norte province. UNHCR is grateful to the Angolan authorities for swiftly providing the returnees with trucks to assist them with their journey back to DRC.

Many of those returning spontaneously are facing extremely challenging living conditions. UNHCR is providing them with cash assistance, as well as humanitarian aid together with provincial authorities and NGO partners, at the border town of Kalamba Mbuji, where UNHCR has set up an emergency transit centre.

Similar assistance is also being provided to returnees who have reached Kananga, the capital of Kasai Central province.

Although fighting amongst armed groups has calmed, some refugees are still uncertain about the condition in which they will find their homes. Some are unwilling to return to their homes and are moving elsewhere, as they fear a return of inter-ethnic violence.

Public infrastructure, such as schools and health centers, have been badly damaged during multiple periods of fighting and are yet to be repaired. Existing facilities lack the capacity to meet all of the needs of returnees.

UNHCR continues to support the Government of DRC’s efforts to provide and restore basic services, and to promote social cohesion and reintegration efforts. UNHCR, through our partner War Child UK, is also conducting protection monitoring in Kananga and surrounding areas to identify and profile protection concerns, and ensure adequate responses.

However, massive financial support is needed from the international community, to humanitarian organisations and to the Government of DRC, to create sustainable conditions for returnees.

Current levels of funding are far below the amount needed to allow for a major rebuilding programme. For 2019, UNHCR has received just 57 per cent of US$150 million needed to help people affected by the DRC crisis.

Somalia Partnership Forum: Communique (02.10.2019)

Somalia: The International Somalia Partnership Forum – Press Release (30.09.2019)

DRC Ebola outbreaks: Crisis update – 23 September 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared their tenth outbreak of Ebola in 40 years on 1 August 2018. The outbreak is centred in the northeast of the country, in North Kivu and Ituri provinces. With the number of cases having surpassed 3,000, it is now by far the country’s largest-ever Ebola outbreak. It is also the second-biggest Ebola epidemic ever recorded, behind the West Africa outbreak of 2014-2016.

During the first eight months of the epidemic, until March 2019, more than 1,000 cases of Ebola were reported in the affected region. However, between April and June 2019, this number has doubled, with a further 1,000 new cases reported in just these three months. Between early June and the beginning of August, the number of new cases notified per week was high, and averaged between 75 and 100 each week; in recent weeks, this has decreased slightly, but the number of new cases are still averaging around 70-75 per week.

Latest figures – information as of 19 September 2019; figures provided by DRC Ministry of Health via WHO.

  • 3,157 TOTAL CASES
  • 3,046 CONFIRMED CASES
  • 2,111 TOTAL DEATHS

Contributing to this is the difficulty in identifying and following up contacts of people diagnosed with Ebola. Since the beginning of the epidemic, only around half of the new reported Ebola cases have been identified as contacts of previous confirmed cases before falling ill and seeking treatment, or dying without receiving proper treatment for Ebola.

On 11 June 2019, Uganda announced that three people had been positively diagnosed with Ebola, the first cross-border cases since the outbreak began. After several weeks with no recorded cases, the Ugandan government announced a new case on 29 August; the patient, a young girl, sadly died.

On 14 July, the first case of Ebola was confirmed in Goma, the capital of North Kivu, and a city of one million people. The patient, who had travelled from Butembo to Goma, was admitted to the MSF-supported Ebola Treatment Centre in Goma. After confirmation of lab results, the Ministry of Health decided to transfer the patient to Butembo on 15 July, where the patient died the following day.

On 30 July, a second person in Goma was diagnosed with Ebola; they died the next day and two more cases were announced.

In reaction to the first case found in Goma, on 17 July 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the current Ebola outbreak in DR Congo represents a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

In mid-August, the epidemic spread to neighbouring South Kivu province – becoming the third province in DRC to record cases in this outbreak – when a number of people became sick in Mwenga, 100 kilometres from Bukavu, the capital of the province.

Given the ongoing challenges in responding to the outbreak, MSF believes that Ebola-related activities should be integrated into the existing healthcare system, in order to improve proximity of the services to the community and ensure that it remains functional during the outbreak.

Background of the epidemic

Retrospective investigations point to a possible start of the outbreak back in May 2018 – around the same time as the Equateur outbreak earlier in the year. There is no connection or link between the two outbreaks.

The delay in the alert and subsequent response can be attributed to several factors, including a breakdown of the surveillance system due to the security context (there are limitations on movement, and access is difficult), and a strike by the health workers of the area which began in May, due to non-payment of salaries.

A person died at home after presenting symptoms of haemorrhagic fever. Family members of that person developed the same symptoms and also died. A joint Ministry of Health/World Health Organization (WHO) investigation on site found six more suspect cases, of which four tested positive. This result led to the declaration of the outbreak.

The national laboratory (INRB) confirmed on 7 August 2018 that the current outbreak is of the Zaire Ebola virus, the most deadly strain and the same one that affected West Africa during the 2014-2016 outbreak. Zaire Ebola was also the virus found in the outbreak in Equateur province, in western DRC earlier in 2018, although a different strain than the one affecting the current outbreak.

First declared in Mangina, a small town of 40,000 people in northern North Kivu province, the epicentre of the outbreak appeared to progressively move towards the south, first to the larger city of Beni, with approximately 400,000 people and the administrative centre of the region. As population movements are very common, the epidemic continued south to the bigger city of Butembo, a trading hub. Nearby Katwa became a new hotspot near the end of 2018 and cases had been found further south, in the Kanya area. Meanwhile, sporadic cases also appeared in the neighbouring Ituri province to the north.

Overall, the geographic spread of the epidemic appears to be unpredictable, with scattered small clusters potentially occurring anywhere in the region. This pattern, along with the lack of visibility on the epidemiological situation, and now cases appearing in Goma and in South Kivu province, is both extremely worrying and makes ending the outbreak even more challenging.

Burundi: World Bank to finance the [Insignificant] NKURIZA

On Friday 20th September 2019, the World Bank forwarded an advance to start the Nkuriza or the Advance Agreement for Preparation of Proposed Investing in Early Years and Fertility Project Project Preparation Advance No. V2270-BI. The letter of the advance was sent to Minister of Finance, Budget and Development Planning Domitien Ndihokubwayo.

Clearly, the World Bank has been planning this project with the authorities for over a long time. Where they want to help the people of Burundi and the get the fertility rate down. Also, secure the food and nutrition in the 6 provinces of the Republic. What is also striking, the minimal advance of $350,000 USD is going to see the progress of the project and the International Development Association (IDA) going to later give a grant of $30m USD.

The World Bank knows how this regime is going about. So the WB is dropping funds and granting funds to them, as they are going into elections and having a project, which isn’t that viable. The idea and the possible plans of is ideal, but the own documentation proves that they don’t believe it themselves.

Expectation from the World Bank:

This overall project is classified as a category “B” given that activities are not expected to produce any large-scale, significant, and/or irreversible impacts” (World Bank, 30.08.2019).

Where and what:

The main project beneficiaries will consist of children under-two and women of reproductive age in 6 provinces (Bubanza, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, Kirundo, Makamba and Muyinga) to reach them in the critical 1,000day window of opportunity, as most cognitive and physical development occur between conception and two years of age. Interventions related to FP will focus on both women of reproductive age and men. Other beneficiaries will include adolescent girls to reach women early and to improve their health and nutrition status prior to entering their reproductive health years. The poorest households will benefit from improvements in access to water, hygiene, sanitation and small-scale agriculture interventions” (World Bank, 30.08.2019).

What it will do:

(a) Carry out a program of technical assistance to: (i) develop Project related safeguards

instruments; (ii) study the determinants of chronic malnutrition and high fertility in project areas; (iii) develop a food composition database; (iv) undertake institutional and capacity building needs

assessments; and (v) prepare a Project implementation manual.

(b) Workshops between religious leaders and the Ministry of Health and Fight against HIV/AIDS” (World Bank, 20.09.2019).

So, its not that expect anything out of it. The project itself is positive and the needs for it surely there. However, I get automatically sceptical, when the organization donating to it, doesn’t think it will give any results. That is why you can wonder, why does the IDA grant possibly these funds and why will the WB give an advance in the first place?

Shouldn’t the same organization give funds to other projects, which is classified in another bracket, where they actually think it will have effect and get results. I understand, also that this sort of projects is hard to establish the possible results or the change in society. However, if they believe in this sort of activity. I would be as sceptical anywhere, because this seems like they are testing out something random and hoping they are able to make a difference.

In addition, they will be lucky if that happens. Since, they are not anticipating this to be the remedy. So, in one way it giving money down a wishing well, hoping someone see their prayer. Peace.

WHO responds to cholera cases in Sudan (11.09.2019)

Two cholera treatment centres are treating patients in Blue Nile State and a dedicated isolation centre has been established for cholera case management.

KHARTOUM, Sudan, September 11, 2019 – The World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with national health authorities and partners to respond to cases of cholera in Blue Nile State in south-eastern Sudan.

Between 28 August and 10 September, Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health reported at least 51 cases of acute watery diarrhoea in Blue Nile State, including at least 3 deaths. Samples taken from 6 patients and sent for analysis to the Ministry’s National Public Health Laboratory showed that 4 of the 6 samples tested positive for Vibrio cholerae.

“Due to suboptimal health conditions and poor safe water and sewage system structures, exacerbated by polluted water sources caused by recent floods, there is a risk of cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases spreading if no immediate response interventions take place,” said Dr Naeema Al Gasseer, WHO Representative in Sudan.

To monitor and contain the outbreak, WHO has surged a team of public health experts to Blue Nile State; other international experts will soon follow. The WHO team is working with health authorities to strengthen disease surveillance, provide medical treatment for patients, distribute laboratory supplies, monitor water quality and chlorinate public water supplies, and promote health education and hygiene among affected and at-risk communities. Two cholera treatment centres are treating patients in Blue Nile State, and a dedicated isolation centre has been established for cholera case management. To date, 30 patients have been discharged after receiving treatment.

Early and effective response is the best means to stopping an outbreak in its tracks. Given the timely recognition of the cholera cases by the Federal Ministry of Health with full transparency in reporting to WHO under the International Health Regulations, and the swift scale-up of response, we are hopeful that we can soon contain this disease and minimize the number of cases,” added Dr Al-Gasseer.

South Sudan: One year after peace deal, violence and humanitarian needs haven’t decreased (11.09.2019)

A statement from James Reynolds, ICRC’s head of delegation in South Sudan, on the situation in the country one year after the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

JUBA, South Sudan, September 11, 2019 – One year after the signing of the peace deal, violence is still pervasive in South Sudan, as clashes between communities threaten lives and the fragile stability.

Surgical teams from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continue to treat a large number of patients with gunshot wounds, while needs of the most affected communities remain high. Redoubled efforts are needed to bring a durable peace.

The number of patients with injuries from violence admitted to our surgical units have increased since the signing of the peace deal. From October 2017 to June 2018, 526 patients were admitted, mostly with gunshot wounds. The same period a year later (October 2018 to June 2019) we had 688, an increase of nearly 25 percent. In only one week in April, the ICRC evacuated by air 39 patients with weapon wounds to a hospital we support, forcing us to increase the number of beds in the unit by a third to accommodate the needs.

Violence is also impacting health centres. ICRC teams have collected information on 24 incidents in which facilities were looted or staff threatened since the signing of the peace deal, and this data may only reflect part of the incidents affecting health structures and personnel. In a country where so few health care facilities are functioning after decades of war and under-development, the closure of even one clinic means entire communities go without care, turning preventable, treatable diseases deadly.

The last year has also seen little improvement for most South Sudanese. There are more people facing food insecurity today in the country than at any point since the armed conflict between government forces and the opposition started more than five years ago. People are living in limbo, and recent clashes in some parts of the country, such as Equatoria, continue to displace thousands of people who are then unable to harvest their crops and instead rely on humanitarian aid.

Families have been torn apart by decades of conflict. Today, the ICRC is searching for more than 4,200 South Sudanese whose relatives have reported them as missing. Tragically, with four million South Sudanese still displaced inside the country and across its borders, the number of people who do not know where their loved ones are is likely much higher. Knowing the fate of their missing relatives would offer many South Sudanese the opportunity to move on.

The ICRC has been in South Sudan since its independence in 2011. We also served the needs of South Sudanese during the Sudan’s long war. We can say through firsthand experience that it is impossible to exaggerate the toll that decades of war, violence and uncertainty have had on communities.

It is our hope that the peace deal holds. The return to full-scale conflict in South Sudan could mean that civilians are again exposed to deliberate attacks and displacement, despite being protected under international law.

However, even if today’s current conditions hold, the levels of violence in South Sudan between communities, made possible by the easy access to guns in the country, will continue to threaten the peace and stability that South Sudanese need to recover and rebuild a country that has largely only known war.

More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopa (11.09.2019)

More than eight million people in Ethiopia need food, shelter, medicine or other emergency assistance.

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 11, 2019 – Ethiopia is beset by “persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems”, the United Nations relief chief said on Tuesday, calling for more international funding as well as support for the Government-led response to the country’s displacement crisis.

More than eight million people in Ethiopia need food, shelter, medicine or other emergency assistance.

“Drought and flooding, disease outbreaks and inter-ethnic violence” have in recent years “forced millions of people to flee their homes”, said Mark Lowcock, who heads Humanitarian Affairs coordination office OCHA, at the end of a two-day mission to Ethiopia. He was accompanied by senior UN peacebuilding official, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, and Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, independent UN expert on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.

The delegation met with recently returned families and other conflict-affected people in Chitu Kebele in the Yirgachefe district in Gedeo, which is one of the zones most affected by intercommunal violence that has caused displacement and loss of livelihoods since 2018.

“I support the Government’s desire to find durable solutions to displacement problems and am under no illusion as to how difficult that is”, attested Mr. Lowcock. “While many people have now been able to return to their home areas, some remain in limbo, living close to their destroyed or damaged homes and worried they will not have the opportunity to restart farming and other livelihoods they lost when they fled last year”.

And while the Government is trying to deal with the situation, he maintained that “many people in host communities are displaying enormous generosity and humanitarian agencies are supporting them, but more international support is needed too.”

Humanitarian organizations are working with the local authorities and development partners to ensure internally displaced people have access to emergency assistance and basic services.

During the mission, the UN officials reaffirmed their commitment to the Government in helping the voluntary and safe return of all displaced people, or that they be integrated into new settlement areas.

Prior to the Government’s efforts to return people to their areas of origin, some 3.2 million internally displaced remain in Ethiopia, including 2.6 million who fled conflict and 500,000 who were displaced because of climate-related causes.

‘Break the cycle’ of crises

The 2019 Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires $1.3 billion, is only 51 per cent funded and more is urgently required for nutrition, health, shelter, protection, education and other needs.

While aid is a critical lifeline for millions of Ethiopians, most humanitarian needs there are recurrent and predictable, requiring long-term solutions build resilience.

During the mission, the delegation discussed with the authorities and partners how to better support humanitarian and recovery programmes to bolster the Government’s efforts. They also discussed ways to reduce conflict, which require holistic and inclusive peacebuilding approaches to address the root causes of violence.

“Donors have historically been extremely generous to Ethiopia during its worst crises”, Mr. Lowcock acknowledged. “Now, we hope they will also invest more in prevention and long-term recovery efforts so that we can build resilience and break the cycle of recurrent crises – in Ethiopia the next emergency may be only one failed rainy season away”.

The humanitarian chief also expressed concern over the safety of aid workers following the murder of two staff of a highly respected international non-governmental organization in Gambella last week.

“We condemn this terrible attack and are discussing the implications with all concerned,” he flagged.

Somalia: UN warns of lowest cereal production since 2011 (02.09.2019)

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