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  • Latest humanitarian snapshot highlights local storm in Myanmar, drought in Philippines and flooding in Indonesia
    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines

    In Myanmar, over 58,000 people have been affected and 21 people killed by strong winds, hail and heavy rains in various parts of the country since 19 April.

    MYANMAR According to the Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD), over 58,000 people have been affected and 21 people killed by strong winds, hail and heavy rains in various parts of the country since 19 April. The severe weather destroyed 1,900 houses and damaged a further 20,000 homes. Authorities are continuing to validate the impact of the disaster. The RRD is providing cash assistance and relief items to households whose homes were destroyed or damaged. The Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) and humanitarian agencies are also providing non-food items and shelter materials to the affected communities including 550 displaced families in Kachin State.

    On 29 April, storms that hit parts of Kachin, Mandalay, Magway and Bago killed an additional three people and injured 21 people, according to initial reports from MRCS.

    24 people killed
    58,000 people affected

    JAPAN As of 30 April, an estimated 30,800 people remain in evacuation centres following the 14 and 16 April earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture. With the resumption of services including water, gas, electricity, supermarkets and transportation networks, many people have returned home or found alternative housing. On 29 April, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that construction of temporary houses had begun in some of the affected areas including Nishihara-mura and Kosa-machi.

    30,800 evacuees

    PHILIPPINES With an estimated 40 per cent of the Philippines affected by drought, states of calamity have been declared in 11 provinces, 10 cities and 26 municipalities across the country, mostly in Mindanao. In Zamboanga City, farmers’ production has decreased by up to 75 per cent. Low water levels in the city’s reservoir is also affecting water delivery to some 23,000 people who remain displaced over two years since the fighting between the military and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front in September 2013. The national weather bureau forecasts that the current dry conditions may last until July in parts of Mindanao. Authorities continue to provide cash and food assistance to drought-hit farmers, however, scaling up the response is challenging due to a halt on most new projects until after the elections in May.

    40% of the country affected

    INDONESIA On 28 April, heavy rains triggered a landslide in Lebong District, Bengkulu Province on the southwest coast of Sumatra Island. Authorities confirmed one death and four people are still missing, with search and rescue operations ongoing. Flooding was also reported in Aceh, Central Sulawesi, Banten and West Java provinces which inundated more than 1,500 houses. Local governments have provided relief assistance with support from the national government.

    1,500 houses flooded

  • Using drones in refugee search and rescue efforts
    Source: Al Jazeera
    Country: World

    As the high season of boat journeys begins again, rescuers are exploring the idea of adopting what were once reputed as high-tech killing machines - drones - to help them save lives.

    Humanitarian organisations and volunteers advocate for the use of drones technology to locate refugees at sea.

    Rosie Scammell

    After being stranded in the Mediterranean for three days, fear had overcome Alou Sango. "I thought that we would all die, because there was nothing left, the petrol had finished," he says of his journey from Libya.

    Read the full article

  • Death toll rises above 50 in bombing of MSF-supported hospital
    Source: Médecins Sans Frontières
    Country: Syrian Arab Republic

    The situation is critical as airstrikes leave no part of Aleppo untouched and an estimated 250,000 people are in danger of being cut off from aid, including medical care, warned MSF.

    More than 50 people have died in the April 27 airstrikes on the Al Quds hospital and surrounding areas of Aleppo, Syria, including numerous patients and at least six medical staff members, according to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which is one of several organizations that support the hospital.

    The situation in Aleppo is critical as airstrikes leave no part of the city untouched, and an estimated 250,000 people are in danger of being cut off from aid, including medical care. Today there are reports of another health center, which is not supported by MSF, being struck in the city.

    "The sky is falling in Aleppo," said Muskilda Zancada, MSF head of mission in Syria. "The city, consistently at the front lines of this brutal war, is now in danger of coming under a full offensive. Attacks on hospitals and medical staff are a devastating indicator of the brutal ways in which civilians are targeted in the war in Syria."

    Al Quds is one of numerous hospitals that MSF supports in Aleppo and across Syria. MSF has been supporting the hospital since 2012 with medical donations.

    "It has been an incredible honor for us to be able to work so closely with such dedicated people," Zancada said. "We see day in and day out how they risk their lives through this living hell of a war to ensure people can access medical care. Their loss is our loss, and we remain committed to helping the hospital restart activities."

  • Conflict and 2015 El Niño drought remain major drivers of acute food insecurity in East Africa
    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen

    South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen face Emergency(IPC 4) and Crisis(IPC 3) food insecurity and some parts of Unity State in S.Sudan expected to face Catastrophe(IPC 5).

    Conflict and 2015 El Niño drought remain major drivers of acute food insecurity in the region

    Key Messages

    Conflict-affected areas in Greater Upper Nile in South Sudan remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity during the spring and summer. Some smaller populations in central Unity State are expected to be facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Areas in Greater Bahr El Ghazal and Greater Equatoria that were less directly impacted by the Government and Opposition conflict are seeing their food security threatened by very high staple food prices, brought on by restricted trade and the depreciation of the South Sudanese Pound, in addition to sporadic violence/clashes.

    In Ethiopia, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes continue in agricultural and agropastoral eastern areas of Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and SNNPR Regions, as well as in pastoral areas of Afar Region and Sitti Zone in the Somali Region. Following the 2015 El Niño-related drought, there has been a slow start to 2016 rains across much of central and eastern Ethiopia. More than 10 million people in central and eastern Ethiopia will be in need of emergency food assistance this year.

    Conflict in Darfur in Sudan has displaced approximately 130,000 people since January.Restricted access to humanitarian assistance, markets, and labor opportunities in Central and South Darfur and SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan is contributing to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes for many where availability of and access to food is extremely limited.

    In Yemen, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue for many through at least September 2016. Protracted conflict since early 2015 has contributed to eroding livelihoods and restricting market access for many. Household purchasing power will remain weak due to atypically high food prices and livelihood disruptions. While many households will attempt to cope by selling assets and reducing the quantity and diversity of meals, these efforts are not expected to enable households to meet basic food needs.

  • Struggling to survive as drought deepens in Somaliland
    Source: AlertNet
    Country: Somalia

    Islamic Relief warned that Somaliland risks descending into famine, adding there were reports of some women being set upon by hyenas after collapsing from hunger.

    By Emma Batha

    LONDON, April 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Somaliland risks descending into famine amid a severe drought that has killed thousands of livestock, an international aid agency warned on Friday, adding there were reports of some women being set upon by hyenas after collapsing from hunger.

    Read the full article on the Thomson Reuters Foundation

  • Drought continues to affect vulnerable women and children in Zimbabwe
    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Zimbabwe

    As the rainfall season ended with no significant improvement in food and nutrition security, the number of people who are food insecure is highly likely to increase, reported UNICEF.


    • Nationally, 7,058 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) have been admitted to therapeutic treatment programmes since December 2015. Almost 17% (1,162) of these admissions took place in emergency response districts where active nutrition screening is taking place. In these same districts the number of children admitted for SAM treatment has more than doubled from 364 during the period January 2015 to March 2015 to 834 during the period January 2016 to March 2016 (these figures exclude referrals and transfers).

    • 62,000 drought affected children, women and men were provided with access to safe water to prevent water and sanitation related diseases through the rehabilitation of piped water schemes and boreholes.

    • There has been a significant decline in new typhoid cases comparing weekly epidemiological data. To date, 1, 206 typhoid cases have been reported, out of these 75 have been laboratory confirmed, with 5 typhoid related deaths reported. UNICEF is continuing its response to the typhoid outbreak with the provision of Health and WASH services, including the drilling and rehabilitation of boreholes, hygiene promotion interventions and the distribution of medical supplies.

  • "Monstrous disregard for civilian lives” in Syria as hospitals and markets bombed
    Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Country: Syrian Arab Republic

    The latest reports of civilian deaths and injuries in Syria revealed a “monstrous disregard for civilian lives by all parties to the conflict,” the United Nations human rights chief said today.

    GENEVA (29 April 2016) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Friday said the latest reports of civilian deaths and injuries, including bombings of Syrian marketplaces and medical facilities, revealed a “monstrous disregard for civilian lives by all parties to the conflict,” and urged all sides to step back from a return to all-out war.

    “Reports are coming in from Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and Rural Damascus, Idleb and Deir ez-Zour of mounting civilian casualties,” Zeid said. “In Idleb last week, on 19 April, bombs were reportedly dropped in a vegetable market in Maarat al-Nu’man, the busiest area in town, during the busiest part of the day, killing at least 44 people and destroying dozens of shops. In the town of Kafr Nabel, bombs were again dropped on a market in the busiest area of the town, narrowly missing an after-school centre containing 50 children aged 6 to 10.”

    “In the opposition-controlled part of Aleppo over the past few days, pro-Government aircraft have destroyed a key hospital and other medical facilities reportedly killing a number of medical personnel, including the only remaining paediatrician in the area, as well as many patients. In the Government-controlled part of Aleppo, another hospital was struck and many civilians killed in attacks launched in a number of neighbourhoods.”

    “In short, the violence is soaring back to the levels we saw prior to the cessation of hostilities. There are deeply disturbing reports of military build-ups indicating preparations for a lethal escalation.”

    The High Commissioner said the UN Human Rights Office has over the years documented numerous attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities as well numerous strikes on marketplaces during busy shopping times — which, depending on the circumstances, may amount to war crimes.

    “In any case, these indicate a serious, alarming disregard for one of the cornerstones of international humanitarian law: the duty to protect civilians,” he said.

    Civilians also remain trapped in besieged villages, towns and cities across Syria. Many innocent civilians are at risk of starvation and have no access to adequate medical care. The towns of Fu’a and Kefraya, outside the city of Aleppo are a case in point. “The inhabitants of these towns remain at grave risk of revenge attacks by opposition groups, should truce agreements collapse,” Zeid said.

    While information is much more difficult to gather from ISIL-occupied areas, the High Commissioner expressed deep concern at the numerous allegations of civilian casualties due to air strikes.

    “Urgent action is needed by all relevant actors to ensure the protection of civilians and their right to life, and to fight the impunity that has done so much to encourage the multitude of horrendous breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that have taken place in Syria over the past five years,” Zeid stressed.

    “In the context of such an abysmal situation, the persistent failure of the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court is an example of the most shameful form of realpolitik. In the minds of a many, the world’s great powers have in effect become accomplices to the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of human beings, and the displacement of millions. There is currently no disincentive for any of the many war criminals in Syria to stop contributing to the wild spiral of killing and destruction that has engulfed the country.”

    The High Commissioner urged the international community to address the terrible suffering of the Syrian people with the resolve that has been so absent for so long. “The cessation of hostilities and the Geneva talks were the only game in town, and if they are abandoned now, I dread to think how much more horror we will see in Syria,” he said.

  • Rising malnutrition is overwhelming nutrition centres
    Source: International Committee of the Red Cross
    Country: Somalia

    Around 300,000 children in Somalia are suffering from malnutrition, with close to 60,000 under the age of five years in critical condition and in need of urgent therapeutic feeding.

    Four-year-old Osman came to the Kismayo Stabilization Centre earlier this year. Suffering from Kwashiorkor, a nutritional disorder caused by lack of protein, he developed a flaky rash all over his body giving his skin a rusty look.

    Osman's family lives in a flood-prone area along Juba River that is known to suffer from a disruption in food security. But with help from the stabilization centre, he has responded positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

    Osman is just one of 300,000 children in Somalia who are suffering from malnutrition, with close to 60,000 under the age of five years in critical condition and in need of urgent therapeutic feeding. The southern Somalia port city of Kismayo is home to the only feeding centre in the region, and is currently overwhelmed by the sheer number of children in need of its nutritional therapeutic feeding program.

    The Kismayo Stabilization Centre has seen an influx in cases of malnutrition, sometimes treating up to 150 children in its 90-bed capacity facility. In January and February alone, 386 children were admitted to the centre, forcing Bashir Mohamed, the centre's general supervisor, to convert some of the offices into wards.

    "We began by converting the isolation ward to a normal ward and now we had to make room in some offices to deal with the high admissions," said Mohamed. "Also, children are accompanied by the parents or caregivers who will stay with them for the duration of the treatment."

    The ICRC begun supporting the Kismayo Stabilization Centre in 2014, and another in Baidoa, Bay region, which opened in May 2015. However three similar centers in the region closed down in recent years causing the increase in patients in the remaining centres.

    Like Osman, Abdi Ibrahim was diagnosed with Kwashiorkor at the stabilization centre. But the two-year old is also suffering from anemia and a lack of appetite. He must be fed through a nasal tube.

    What makes Abdi's case worse is the fact that he is actually overweight due to oedema, a condition characterized by swelling of the body due to fluid retention. He arrived at the stabilization centre weighing 7 kilograms, which is one kilogram overweight, but the nurses expect his weight to come down soon.

    Abdi is one of eight children who travelled 90 kilometers with his mother from Kanjaron district to receive treatment at the centre. The family leads a nomadic life and depends on livestock for sustenance. However, a recurring drought in Somalia's Lower Juba region has forced the family to resort to a diet of maize and water to survive.

    Two-year-old Timiro was severely malnourished and suffering from tuberculosis when she arrived at the Kismayo Stabilization Centre. She is at the centre with her 13-year-old sister because her mother is taking care of her seven siblings at one of the 42 displacement camps around Kismayo city.

    Timiro is slowly recovering and gaining weight under the therapeutic feeding program and is expected to be discharged soon.

    According to a 2016 humanitarian needs overview report, acute malnutrition rates in internally displaced settlements like Timiro's are frequently above the emergency threshold of 15 percent.

    This is why these stabilization centres are needed. When patients are discharged, their care givers are provided with nutritional advice and supplementary foods such as a peanut-based paste called Plumpy'nut to help their children stay healthy.

    Families are provided with seeds and training on how to grow tomatoes, beans and carrots to sustain a healthy diet. The ICRC also provides 300 USD cash assistance to allow mothers to make up for the lost income for the treatment period. The transport cost to the centre is reimbursed and fare to return home is also provided.

    Last year, these two centres treated over 3,000 cases of severely malnourished children. In a time of rising malnutrition, the centres remain critical to the care of the children.

  • Despite booby traps, Iraqis risk all on return to Ramadi
    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Iraq

    According to estimates, several dozen people have been killed in recent weeks since they returned to the city, which sprawls along the banks of the Euphrates River west of Baghdad.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 29 (UNHCR) – Iraqi father-of-two Khairallah Farhan fled his home in Ramadi when it was overrun by extremists in 2015. But despite the fact that it was retaken by Iraqi forces at the end of last year, he is in no rush to go home.

    Not only was his house severely damaged, but two close relatives who hurried home to rebuild their lives were killed by exploding booby-trap devices left behind by militants.

    "I'm very cautious about returning. I will not rush back yet," says the 30-year-old, who is among 1,200 displaced Iraqis living at the sprawling Al Salam camp in the capital, Baghdad.

    He is among thousands of people from Ramadi weighing the risks of returning home. The Iraqi government announced at the start of the year that it had re-taken the city from extremist forces, although it has not yet declared the city, Iraq's third largest, "clear" for return.

    UN assessment teams found "staggering" destruction in the city. Thousands of buildings in Ramadi and its outskirts had been damaged, and the city was also littered with improvised explosive devices.

    According to estimates, several dozen people have been killed in recent weeks since they returned to the city, which sprawls along the banks of the Euphrates River west of Baghdad. Having lost relatives to blasts, Farhad is looking for greater assurance before going home.

    "If the government can declare the city safe and offer us help, we will return," he says.

    The upsurge in casualties has prompted the Iraqi authorities to issue a temporary directive, telling civilians not to return for the time being – and to wait until the deadly booby traps and explosives in the city can be cleared.

    Some 3.4 million Iraqis are internally displaced by the conflict. Despite the lingering hazards, many families are risking all to head home. Hikmat Jassim, manager at Al Salam camp, shows photographs taken days earlier on his cell phone of farewell ceremonies for families in the camp as they prepared to set off on the uncertain journey to the once-bustling city of nearly half a million residents.

    "Around 200 families have left here to go back to Ramadi," he says. "We do not encourage them to go, but we do not prevent them from going either."

    In fact, many departing families had been allowed to take their tents with them, if their homes had been damaged, and were given food parcels by well wishers.

    The photos showed trucks lined up, laden with blankets and other basic necessities for the families, with people crying and being hugged on departure.

    Amer, a father of 10, from Ramadi's Al Jamhuria neighbourhood, is among those who have returned to the city. "We celebrated leaving the camp," he said when UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, contacted him in the city by phone. "Everyone was very excited to return home. We were crying at the prospect of going back, we were so happy."

    He returned to a house that was habitable, although the second story had been destroyed, leaving 16 family members to live crammed into two rooms. Amer has also reopened the small hardware shop that he ran. And, in a city that needs extensive rebuilding, he said business is brisk.

    "My work is very good; better than before because every family wants cables for electricity, motors for fridges and other building materials."

    While there was no power, leaving families to rely on generators, he said most services were functioning in his neighbourhood and schools were opening again. He has no regrets about returning.

    By Caroline Gluck in Baghdad.

  • El Niño-induced drought likely to be followed by flooding
    Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
    Country: Philippines

    Some 42 per cent of the Philippines is experiencing drought or dry spells brought on by El Niño. The La Niña phenomenon is expected to follow later this year, bringing excessive rainfall.

    This bulletin is being issued for information only, and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The Philippine Red Cross, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has determined that external assistance is not required, and is therefore not seeking funding or other assistance from donors at this time.


    Some 42 per cent of the Philippines is currently experiencing drought or dry spells brought on by El Niño effect. As of 15 April, 39 provinces, cities, municipalities and villages have declared a state of calamity. The worst affected areas are Mindanao and the Visayas regions. According to UN OCHA, around 181,687 farmers and 224,834 hectares of agricultural land have been affected since January 2016. Already, an estimated CHF 81 million in agricultural production has been lost. Rainfall for March was again well below normal.

    So far, the Government has released funds to implement mitigation-and-response strategies addressing food security, energy security, as well as health and safety in affected communities.
    Humanitarian agencies are supporting with emergency food security assessments.

    The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has been responding to affected areas by supplying safe drinking water and food relief assistance to some of the most affected areas.

    The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has also warned the public on the possibility of a La Niña event occurring later this year, after El Niño ends. La Niña is the opposite of El Niño and is characterized by above normal rainfall, strong monsoon activity, and formation of more tropical cyclones.

    The situation

    According to the World Meteorological Organization, this is one of the most powerful El Niño events in modern times and its impact will remain for several months to come. Since the first quarter of 2015, most areas of the country have experienced below normal rainfall attributed to the El Niño effect. PAGASA states that 29 per cent of the country experienced drought in March 2016, while the prediction is that 40 per cent of the country will experience drought in April, and 31 per cent in May. Most of the affected areas are in Mindanao. According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as of April 16, a total of 457,497 families or 2,124,790 persons from Regions NCR, I, II, III, IV-A, IV-B, VI, VII, X, XI, XII, and ARMM have been affected by El Nino.

    Less rainfall has reduced access to clean drinking water and water available for agricultural use. Parts of the country, such as Mindanao, are also experiencing a shortage of power supplied by hydroelectric dams due to the low water level. Also in Mindanao, a state of calamity was declared in Zamboanga City on 13 January 2016 due to low dam water levels. The Philippine News Agency reported that 9 out of 25 dams in the city have dried up, 6 are at critical levels, and another 10 below normal water levels.

    The Department of Agriculture estimates that 181,687 farmers have been affected by the drought. Of this, 54 per cent are rice farmers, 38 per cent are corn farmers, and 8 per cent are high value crop (HVC) farmers. In terms of land area, 224 834 hectares were affected. Pest infestation is affecting 1,704 farmers in Region III, with armyworm damaging 1,060 hectares of HVCs while and rat infestation is affecting Region XII (South Cotabato, Sarangani, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat) and Region XV (Maguindanao).

    Due to insufficient rainfall, few farming activities have been undertaken in other areas of the country particularly in Ilocos, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Misamis Occidental, Davao Region,
    SOCCSKSARGEN1 , and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The Performance of Philippines Agriculture report by Philippine Statistics Authority states an 11 per cent drop in production from the same period in 2014. Consequences are far-reaching as not only Mindanao, but the rest of the country also depends on rice supplied from these areas. Serious concerns in food security may arise, considering Mindanao’s central provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani are the rice granary of southern Philippines.

    Aside from crops, fisheries have been negatively affected as well by the extreme heat and prolonged drought. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), reports a 20 per cent decline in fish catch due to warmer waters, citing that at least 100,000 fisherfolk would need to look for alternative sources of income.

    Another effect of the drought season is the threat of forest fires. Forests on Mt. Apo, Mt. Kanlaon and Bud Bongao have been decimated due to burning caused by both direct and indirect effects of El Niño. Fires on Mt. Kanlaon were reportedly ignited due to heat discharged from superheated rocks. Grass fires were also reported in General Santos and Cotabato City.

    It is also forecast that the La Niña phenomenon will follow once the El Niño season has ended. La Niña is predicted to bring stronger monsoon and excessive rainfall resulting in flooding. This will obviously help with the drought situation but flooding will cause damage to crops and hinder replanting, hence exacerbating the current situation.

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