The changing norms of child marriage in conflict
Source: Women's Refugee Commission
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, World
A new research suggests that when girls have access to education and other humanitarian programming, and when families have their basic needs met, child marriage can be reduced.
Parents' decision to marry off their young daughters is influenced by concerns about poverty, protection from rape and its stigma, prevention of pregnancy outside marriage, and from the influence of other communities – all issues exacerbated by displacement. Rather than solving these problems, child marriage isolates girls from what opportunities exist.
Nine of the top 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are fragile states. Yet married girls are invisible in humanitarian programming.
This research suggests that when girls have access to education and other programming and when families have their basic needs met, child marriage can be reduced.
Donors, national governments, policy makers, and programmers should ensure that the basic needs of families are met.
Donors, national governments, policy makers, and programmers should invest in girls in order to build and reinforce girls’ intrinsic value within communities.
Programmers should ensure that adolescent girls, including child-brides and adolescent mothers, are identified and reached with programming.
Policy makers and donors should recognize that child marriage is best addressed across a variety of sectors.
Policy makers and donors should understand the importance of, and provide support to, assessment and adaptation.
Donors and policy makers should support the piloting of child marriage interventions and the documentation of learning.
Education can't wait: Proposing a fund for education in emergencies
Source: Overseas Development Institute
Country: Lebanon, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World
Launching at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, the platform aims to deliver a more collaborative, agile and rapid response to fulfil the right to education for children and young people affected by crises.
Research reports and studies May 2016
Susan Nicolai, Romilly Greenhill, Maria Ana Jalles d'Orey, Arran Magee, Andrew Rogerson, Leni Wild, Joseph Wales
75 million children aged 3-18 years, living in 35 crisis-affected countries, are in desperate need of educational support. Education for these children has long been neglected, but there is a growing recognition of its central importance.
Built on extensive consultation and dialogue among a range of stakeholders, Education Cannot Wait is an education crisis fund designed to transform the global education sector, including both humanitarian and development responses. Launching at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, the platform aims to deliver a more collaborative, agile and rapid response to education in emergencies in order to fulfil the right to education for children and young people affected by crises. It is about both restoring hope to millions of children and demonstrating that the governments who signed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal pledge intend to keep their promise.
‘Education Cannot Wait: proposing a fund for education in emergencies’ outlines the potential operation of Education Cannot Wait, while ‘A common platform for education in emergencies and protracted crises’ provides the background evidence that informed the process.
Read the full report and evidence paper, "A common platform for education in emergencies and protracted crises"
Europe and Central Asia set sights on better nutrition, sustainable agriculture
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
Country: Turkey, World
The absolute number of hungry people in the region - measured in terms of caloric energy intake - has dropped by at least 40 percent since 1990, FAO Director-General said.
Full week of discussions planned as FAO regional conference kicks off in Turkey
4 May 2016, Antalya, Turkey - Having made major strides in reducing the prevalence of hunger, many countries in Europe and Central Asia are now looking to improve the quality of people's diets and transform their food systems in order to adapt to climate change, optimize the use of natural resources, and cut waste.
The absolute number of hungry people in the region - measured in terms of their caloric energy intake - dropped by at least 40 percent since 1990, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva noted in a policy speech made today at the start of the biennial FAO Regional Conference for Europe.
"But despite overall positive trends regarding food security, others forms of malnutrition still persist and continue to be a problem, affecting all the nations in this diverse region," Graziano da Silva added.
For example, in 48 of 53 countries in the wider Europe and Central Asia region, the combined overweight and obesity prevalence in the adult population exceeds 55 percent, while relatively high rates of stunting continue to be seen among children in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The good news, Graziano da Silva said, is that many governments in the region have already started taken steps that move beyond just producing more food and seek to transform food systems to improve food quality and people's nutrition.
Pointing out that a substantial number of the region's poor and malnourished people live in the countryside, the Director-General said that fostering dynamic rural economies must remain at the heart of development efforts.
To support such work, FAO has embarked on two priority regional initiatives.
The first focuses on empowering smallholders and family farmers in order to improve their livelihoods and resilience to disasters and shocks, including climate change. Spillover benefits include bettering people's nutrition and making the use of natural resources in food production more sustainable.
The second regional initiative aims at improving the agriculture and food trade-policy environment in ways that can help small- and medium-sized farm operations thrive and expand.
Dealing with the drivers of migration
Against the dramatic backdrop of Turkey, now struggling to cope with more than 2.5 million international refugees and migrants, Graziano da Silva emphasized the need to combat at their roots phenomena that put stress on populations and trigger migration, both within countries and across borders.
Armed conflicts are one cause, but climate change, food-chain threats such as agricultural pests and diseases, rural poverty, climate-induced natural disasters and other harsh realities also put pressure on families and communities, he said in remarks made this morning.
Prioritizing food security, agriculture, and rural development can help support the establishment of peaceful and stable societies, Graziano da Silva argued, describing sustainable development as an essential element for building a safer, more peaceful world.
FAO Regional Conferences take place every two years, bringing together in the case of Europe and Central Asia delegates from 53 member countries and one member organization (the European Union). Numerous observer organizations representing civil society and the private sector also participate. The Conference sets regional priorities for food and agriculture, and oversees FAO's active field programme and other work in the region.
Highlights of this week's sessions include a ministerial-level discussion on how FAO members in Europe and Central Asia will respond to the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, which lay heavy emphasis on food security, nutrition, sustainable food production, and other issues that intersect with FAO's work.
Promotion of a group of foods known as pulses - dried beans, peas, lentils and other edible seeds that grow in pods - is another central agenda item. Food losses and waste, nuclear techniques for controlling insect pests, and the upcoming World Census of Agriculture will also be discussed.
Sharon Lee Cowan
FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia
(+36) 1 4612000
Yemen foes resume face-to-face peace talks: UN
Source: Agence France-Presse
It is only the second round of face-to-face talks in the hard-won negotiations to end a conflict that has killed more than 6,400 people and displaced 2.8 million since March last year.
Kuwait City, Kuwait | AFP | Wednesday 5/4/2016 - 09:46 GMT
Yemen's warring parties resumed face-to-face peace talks on Wednesday after a three-day break triggered by a walkout by the government delegation, the United Nations said.
It is only the second round of face-to-face talks in the hard-won negotiations to end a devastating conflict that has killed more than 6,400 people and displaced 2.8 million since March last year.
"The plenary session has started. All are present including the government delegation," the UN envoy's spokesman, Charbel Raji, told AFP.
The negotiations, which began on April 21, broke off on Sunday after the government delegation quit in protest at the apparent surrender of one of the few loyalist bases in the northern mountains to Iran-backed rebels.
UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said the two sides had agreed that a monitoring committee supervising an April 11 ceasefire would launch a fact-finding mission into the rebels' takeover of the Al-Amaliqa base in Amran province, one of their strongholds.
The committee will submit a report within 72 hours with practical recommendations that all sides pledge to carry out, Ould Cheikh Ahmed said.
Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, who heads the government delegation, has demanded a rebel pullout.
The United Nations stressed the need to strengthen ceasefire monitoring committees on the ground, particularly in and around battleground third city Taez, where loyalist troops have been under siege for months, trapping tens of thousands of civilians.
Human Rights Watch, which has been deeply critical of alleged violations of the rules of war by the government and its supporters in a Saudi-led military coalition as well as the rebels and their allies, called for justice for the victims from the UN-brokered talks in Kuwait.
It urged the warring parties to "support international investigations, transitional justice and victim compensation as key elements of any agreement".
"The armed conflict in Yemen has been characterised by numerous violations of the laws of war by all sides, which have not been investigated nor have resulted in any redress for victims of unlawful attacks," the New York-based watchdog said.
Despite a Saudi-led military intervention in support of the government launched in March last year, the rebels and their allies still control the capital, as well as much of the northern and central mountains and Red Sea coast.
The United Nations says that most of the civilians killed in the conflict in the past 14 months have died in Saudi-led bombing raids.
HRW accused the coalition of carrying out "indiscriminate air strikes" against civilian areas even as rebels "committed various abuses."
"It's crucial for the Yemen peace talks to address past atrocities as well as future political arrangements," said HRW's Middle East director Joe Stork.
"A mechanism should be put in place to investigate abuses, prosecute those responsible and assist the victims," he said.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
World Bank examines water-related climate risks
Source: World Bank
According to a new report, the impacts of climate change will be channeled primarily through the water cycle, with consequences that could be large and uneven across the globe.
The impacts of climate change will be channeled primarily through the water cycle, with consequences that could be large and uneven across the globe. Water-related climate risks cascade through food, energy, urban, and environmental systems. Growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will converge upon a world where the demand for water rises exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain. If current water management policies persist, and climate models prove correct, water scarcity will proliferate to regions where it currently does not exist, and will greatly worsen in regions where water is already scarce. Simultaneously, rainfall is projected to become more variable and less predictable, while warmer seas will fuel more violent floods and storm surges. Climate change will increase water-related shocks on top of already demanding trends in water use.
Reduced freshwater availability and competition from other uses—such as energy and agriculture—could reduce water availability in cities by as much as two thirds by 2050, compared to 2015 levels.
Economic growth is a surprisingly thirsty business. Water is a vital factor of production, so diminishing water supplies can translate into slower growth that cloud economic prospects. Some regions could see their growth rates decline by as much as 6 percent of GDP by 2050 as a result of water-related losses in agriculture, health, income, and property—sending them into sustained negative growth. Economic modeling described in this report suggests that bad water-management policies can exacerbate the adverse growth impacts of climate change, while good policies can go a long way towards neutralizing them (map ES.1). Some regions stand to see growth accelerate as much as 6 percent with better water resource management. The impacts of water mismanagement are felt disproportionately by the poor, who are more likely to rely on rain-fed agriculture to feed their families, live on the most marginal lands which are more prone to floods, and are most at risk from contaminated water and inadequate sanitation. Ensuring a sufficient and constant supply of water under increasing scarcity will be essential to achieving global poverty alleviation goals.
Changes in water availability and variability can induce migration and ignite civil conflict. Food price spikes caused by droughts can inflame latent conflicts and drive migration. Where economic growth is impacted by rainfall, episodes of droughts and floods have generated waves of migration and statistical spikes in violence within countries. In a globalized and connected world, such problems are impossible to quarantine. And where large inequities prevail, people move from zones of poverty to regions of prosperity which can lead to increased social tensions.
This is why water management will be crucial in determining whether the world achieves the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aspirations for reducing poverty and enhancing shared prosperity. Water is the common currency which links nearly every SDG, and it will be a critical determinant of success. Abundant water supplies are vital for the production of food and will be essential to attaining SDG 2 on food security; clean and safe drinking water and sanitation systems are necessary for health as called for in SDGs 3 and 6; and water is needed for powering industries and creating the new jobs identified in SDGs 7 and 8. None of this is achievable without adequate and safe water to nourish the planet’s life-sustaining ecosystem services identified in SDGs 13, 14 and 15.
Water is to adaptation what energy is to mitigation, and the challenges the world will face in adapting to water issues are enormous. It calls for recognizing the interlinkages between water for food, energy, cities, and the environment through an “expanded water nexus,” which acknowledges that the fortunes of these sectors are tied through a common dependence on water.
The costs of policy inaction are high, and prudent stewardship of water resources will pay large dividends. Although significant challenges exist, the right actions need not be costly. Thoughtful policies and well-placed investments can yield large benefits in improved welfare and increased economic growth.
There are three overarching policy priorities that can help lead countries down the road to a water secure and climate resilient economy. None of these will be a panacea, however, just as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In practice, hybrid solutions will be needed, determined by country and regional risks and circumstances.
Argentina: 41,560 people affected by floods since January
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Argentina, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Panama
The floods that hit the Northeast and center zones of the country in 2016 have particularly damaged the province of Corrientes, where the total number of people affected is 20,903.
EARTHQUAKE IN ECUADOR: The death toll from the earthquake rose to 660 people dead and 31 still missing. The government of Ecuador, local emergency services, the Red Cross and other organizations continue to provide food, potable water, shelter, emergency medical services and other basic services to the affected people.
Humanitarian partners continue deploying national and international assistance and performing multi sector initial rapid assessments (MIRA) in coordination with local counterparts.
- RAINS AND FLOODS: Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Panama and Argentina, report floods in various regions due to heavy rains in the last weeks.
The death toll from the earthquake on 16 April rose to 660 people. 31 are still missing and 51,376 received sanitary attention. Presently, 22421 people are sheltered in 39 active shelters and 64 temporary camps. There is concern about the uncertain number of non-sheltered people that were affected by the earthquake, particularly those located in remote and dispersed zones.
The government of Ecuador, local emergency services, the Red Cross and other organizations continue working together to provide food, potable water, shelter, emergency medical attention and other basic services to the affected people.
Humanitarian partners continue deployments of national and international assistance, and making multi sector initial rapid assessments (MIRA) in coordination with local counterparts.
An urgent Flash Appeal was launched on 22 April for USD $72.7 million to the donor community, public in general – through the media – and humanitarian partners. These funds will help to assist some 350,000 people for the next three months
Indian women worst hit by water crisis
Source: Inter Press Service
A staggering 330 million Indians, a quarter of the country’s population, are reeling under the effects of a severe drought, resulting in an acute drinking water shortage and agricultural distress.
NEW DELHI, May 3 2016 (IPS) - A staggering 330 million Indians, making up a quarter of the country’s population (or roughly the entire population of the United States), are currently reeling under the effects of a severe drought, resulting in an acute drinking water shortage and agricultural distress.
State governments are resorting to emergency measures like rushing water trains carrying billions of litres to thirsty hinterlands and doling out food rations to the starving poor.
As primary stakeholders in water resource management, Indian women have always borne the brunt of such shortages. Travelling long distances to fetch the precious commodity, balancing heavy pitchers on their head while juggling households, children and cattle, working on farms as well as well as giving care to the elderly, they have had to do this drudgery for decades.
In many rural areas, women walk over 2.5 kms to reach water sources. According to a report by noted environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, on average, a rural Indian woman traverses 14,000 km a year just to fetch water.
“In every household, in the rural areas in the desert state of Rajasthan, women and girl children bear the responsibility of collecting, transporting, storing, and managing water….Natural sources are drying up which adds the kilometres for women everyday to quench the thirst of their family as well as animals,” writes Shiva.
Ironically, women continue to slog for clean water even today, when India has emerged as Asia’s third largest economy helmed by a prime minister who aspires to put the country at the global high table. In the central state of Madhya Pradesh this summer, women are leaving their homes at the crack of dawn to procure water. Government schools are being shut early just so that children, especially the girls, too can pitch in.
In some regions, the impact of the water crisis has been so devastating that people are dying. An 11-year-old girl died of heatstroke and dehydration while collecting water from a village pump in the western state of Maharashtra earlier this month. Yogita Desai had spent close to four hours in 42C temperatures.
In the Beed district of Maharashtra, Chabubai Khamkar lost her balance and fell into a 40-foot-deep well and died while drawing water from the well whose level had plummeted perilously low.
According to Dr Shashank Shekhar, an associate professor at the Department of Geology, Delhi University, New Delhi, “The water scarcity is largely the result of stress on multiple water resources across India. On the one hand, the rapidly rising population and changing lifestyles of Indians have increased the need for fresh water. On the other, intense competitions among users in agriculture, industry and domestic sector are pushing the ground water table to abysmal levels.”
According to Dr. Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, a New Delhi-based think tank, women suffer disproportionately from the impacts of disasters because of cultural norms and the inequitable distribution of roles, resources, and power which apply to them in developing countries.
“These factors are altering economies, economic development, and patterns of human migration, all of which are contributing further to women’s vulnerability,” Kumari told IPS.
“While touring Latur district in Maharashtra, I’ve come across children with their skin scaling off due to lack of personal hygiene. Water is so scarce here that people barely get enough to drink, forget bathing. Often, entire families have to make do with just one bucket of water a day.”
According to the study “Effects of Drought on Livelihoods and Gender Roles: A Case Study of Meghalaya”, which analysed the effects of climate change on India’s north-eastern state of Meghalaya, changing weather has serious repercussions on food security, availability, accessibility and utilisation and food system stability. When climate change-related disasters strike, women are more vulnerable than men, and the workload of women and girls increases, the survey concludes.
Like many rural Indian women worldwide, Manorama spends hours each day hauling water for her family to drink and wash, as well as for her livestock and crops.
The 40-year-old resident of Latur district in Maharashtra, one of the worst hit with drought, is helpless. “The drought has destroyed my family,” she told IPS by phone. “My husband has been admitted to hospital because of a heart problem while my daughters’ weddings have been put off. I’m the only bread earner, managing home and children between endless rounds of the hospital.”
Pallavi Kirkire’s fate is no better. The 38-year-old widow’s once swaying green fields in Bundelkhand in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh now resemble parched and cracked earth plots. They were once the source of income for her and her two children. A frustrated Kirkire is now planning to sell the land, her cattle and move to the city to “look for a better life”.
Apart from economic and social ramifications, doctors are discovering an alarming impact of the water crisis on women’s health, both mental and physical. Whether it’s the physical stress of collecting water from tankers in dozens of pots daily, or the emotional stress of managing with very little water or maintaining menstrual hygiene in times of acute water scarcity, it’s a tough haul for the ladies.
Activists say women struggle most from inadequate sanitation, the often unspoken part of the water crisis. The double whammy of lack of water and of inadequate sanitation leads to an inevitable downward spiral, especially for young girls. They cannot attend school, leading to lack of employability and subsequent loss of income even as they battle ill-health.
As a part of policy framework to achieve universal access of water, the Indian government has accorded the highest priority to rural drinking water. Yet despite the installation of more than 3.5 million hand pumps and over 116 thousand piped water supply schemes, most Indians continue to face water scarcity almost every year.
Not that the situation is any better in cities. Here, women have to queue up in front of public water taps for hours. Being at the end of the pipeline system, they get water only after the users ahead in the pipeline finish have collected their quota. Water fights are common among harried women waiting in queues for hours, especially in slums.
Experts caution that unless India’s portable water shortage problem is addressed in a long-term, sustainable manner, its impact on women will get more and more acute.
“In India, women are actively engaged in agricultural activities, including paddy cultivation and fishing, which are both affected by changing weather patterns and deficit water. Loss of livelihood increases women’s vulnerability and marginalisation. However, the impacts of a water crisis can be minimized by empowering women with requisite knowledge of their rights, relevant information and vocational skills,” sums up Kumari.
“If we leave, we are killed": A new report examines lessons learned from South Sudan PoC sites
Source: International Organization for Migration
Country: South Sudan
By opening its gates, UNMISS, alongside humanitarians, has saved thousands of lives. The sites represent one of the only sources of safety for civilians who continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.
South Sudan - “If We Leave We Are Killed” is an independent report that analyses the unprecedented protection and humanitarian response at UN peacekeeping bases in South Sudan, where as many as 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sought shelter from a vicious civil war since December 2013.
By opening its gates, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), alongside humanitarians, has saved thousands of lives. Conditions for IDPs within the Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites can be crowded and harsh, but the sites represent one of the only sources of safety for civilians as they continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.
Despite cautious optimism as implementation of the peace agreement moves forward, key stakeholders recognise that PoC sites are likely to remain necessary in the years to come.
In face of this reality, the Government of Switzerland and IOM commissioned this report to objectively examine the response at PoC sites, identify lessons learned in the past two and a half years and recommend key steps for improvement.
“My sincere hope is that this report leads to an open discussion among key actors, improving the response and protection offered to IDPs in UNMISS bases,” said Dr. Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, in his foreword to the report.
The report is informed by dozens of interviews with key stakeholders, including UNMISS and humanitarian staff, donors and IDPs themselves.
Among key takeaways, the report recommends that both UNMISS and humanitarians embark upon longer-term planning and strengthen coordination to ensure a safe and secure environment for IDPs, noting that the protection needs of IDPs must be addressed realistically by all.
Apon, an elder currently living the PoC site in Malakal, is one of the IDPs interviewed by the report’s author, Michael Arensen. While describing the perilous course he undertook to reach the site in 2015, he acknowledged the very hard choice that many IDPs must make between living in crowded conditions and risking their lives outside the sites: “The PoC is hot, but it is better than death—if we leave we will be killed,” he observed.
The crisis in South Sudan has killed more than 50,000 people, internally displaced nearly 1.7 million and forced another 711,000 to flee to neighbouring countries. Confronted by multiple displacements and an unpredictable security environment, civilians in the country remain in dire need. The UN estimates that more than 6.1 million people will require humanitarian assistance this year.
Download the report at: https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/if_we_leave_0.pdf.
For further information, please contact Ashley McLaughlin at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211 922 405 716, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ramping up support for Ecuador earthquake victims
Source: International Organization for Migration
Thousands left homeless by the quake are now living in temporary shelters, spontaneous settlements and with host families, while some 29,000 are living in temporary shelters managed by the government.
Ecuador - IOM is ramping up its support to the Government of Ecuador to help people affected by the earthquake that struck the country's Pacific coast on April 16, leaving 659 dead and at least 720,000 people in need of humanitarian aid.
IOM will this week start to distribute 10,000 shelter grade tarpaulins and 1,000 shelter toolkits to help people rebuild their homes. It has also deployed emergency specialists to advise in areas of camp coordination and camp management (CCCM), shelter and early recovery.
Initial assessments indicate that thousands of people who were left homeless by the quake are now living in temporary shelters, spontaneous settlements and with host families. Some 29,000 people are living in temporary shelters managed by the government.
IOM has been working closely with the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES), local authorities including the Decentralized Autonomous Governments, and other aid agencies to identify the number of people in spontaneous settlements and with host families, and to identify their needs.
In some of the worst-affected rural areas, the number of people living with host families is huge, according to IOM staff on the ground. If these families do not receive assistance immediately, the situation may worsen to the point to force them to leave and return to their places of origin or to move to spontaneous settlements.
Many other families decided to stay on the land where their homes were located before the earthquake and are now living either in tents, or in precarious and overcrowded conditions in the rooms not affected. Many of these buildings are structurally unsound and at risk from aftershocks.
This is the case of Peter Vera’s family. The earthquake destroyed his home. He, his wife, his five children and his mother-in-law, are crammed into a tiny space without walls and with items that he managed to rescue from the rubble. Peter said that he will not leave his land and needs aid to rebuild his home himself.
IOM is also working to identify and assist vulnerable people, including people with disabilities, and people at risk of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in displacement sites. It is also facilitating access to specialized care for GBV survivors.
Minister of Interior José Serrano and Defence Minister Raul Patiño on Sunday visited La Chorrera, a devastated small fishing village located in Pedernales and met with IOM, the UN Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator and the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team.
Despite the efforts being made by the Ecuadorian government to help all the affected population, major outstanding needs include shelter, non-food relief items, CCCM training for local authorities, and help for displaced families living in spontaneous settlements and with host families.
IOM made a contribution of USD 500,000 from its Migration Emergency Funding Mechanism (MEFM), but it needs at least USD 9.25 million to carry out all its planned emergency response and early recovery humanitarian activities.
For more information please contact Juliana Quintero or Jimena Almeida at IOM Ecuador, Emails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +593 99 9666640
Greater assistance needed to help tackle Iraq’s humanitarian crisis
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic
Overall funding for the 2016 plan to help nearly 250,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq is just 23% funded, while the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for the country this year is only 22% funded.
Baghdad, Iraq, 02 May 2016 - Iraq will continue to need greater humanitarian assistance as the country’s displacement crisis shows no sign of easing, with more than 3.4 million people displaced and ongoing conflict causing thousands more families to leave their homes in search of safety, said Amin Awad, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Bureau for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, concluding a visit to Erbil and Basra .
During talks in Erbil with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, and other senior ministers, UNHCR's MENA Director acknowledged the generosity of the KR-I authorities in providing humanitarian assistance to both Syrian refugees and displaced Iraqis despite facing serious economic challenges. Around 98% of Syrian refugees in Iraq are living in the Kurdistan Region, in addition to more than one million Iraqis displaced due to conflict – a figure accounting for 25% of the population of KR-I.
Mr Awad visited Debaga camp in Makhmour district in KR-I, where more than six thousand newly displaced people have sought shelter and are living in overcrowded conditions. UNHCR is going to provide additional shelter for 550 families at a new tented camp set up by the agency at the football stadium.
Families in Debaga have fled their villages as the Iraqi Security Forces continue their operations to re-take control of villages held by extremist groups.
UNHCR’s MENA Director acknowledged that the situation was likely to worsen. "As the Iraqi security forces continue their advance towards the Tigris river, civilians continue to flee their homes to avoid being caught up in military clashes. We anticipate that there could be up to 30,000 newly-displaced arriving in Makhmour in the next few weeks”, he warned. He said UNHCR was drawing up contingency plans to be able to prepare for the fresh displacements. "UNHCR will have to build additional capacity to receive displaced people, and we are surveying areas for possible location of new camps to shelter an additional 20,000 individuals”, he added.
In Basra, UNHCR’s MENA director visited a collective centre hosting 90 displaced families in a market structure rehabilitated and partitioned to ensure privacy and dignity to families. He also met families receiving emergency relief items from UNHCR staff.
Meeting with senior officials from the Governorate, Mr Awad paid tribute to efforts by the authorities to provide assistance to asylum seekers, especially Syrian refugees in Iraq, while at the same time having to deal with large-scale internal displacement. Basra has received more than 3,500 families - an estimated 21,000 individuals - who have been displaced from Anbar and Ninevah provinces since 2014.
"What I have witnessed in Basra is very encouraging: generosity and solidarity from Iraqi to Iraqi across sectarian and tribal lines", said Mr Awad. "This solidarity gives us some hope for the future", he concluded.
Despite the likelihood of increased demands for humanitarian assistance, overall funding for the 2016 plan to help nearly 250,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq (the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan, or 3RP) is just 23% funded, while the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq this year is only 22% funded.
For more information please contact:
Caroline Gluck, Senior Public information officer, Tel. +964 780 920 7286; email: email@example.com
Reem Suwaed Tel. + 964 780 195 8468 ; email firstname.lastname@example.org