South Sudan: Deliberate killings by government troops
Source: Amnesty International
Country: South Sudan
A new Amnesty report highlights the crimes under international law committed by government forces, as well as the UN’s disappointing and inadequate response.
South Sudan: Deliberate killings by government troops as UN forces fail to protect civilians
- Guns turned on civilians
- Targeted killings and rape
- UN failure to adequately protect civilians
- Call for arms embargo
South Sudanese government forces are responsible for deliberately killing civilians, raping women and girls and looting property in July in Juba, the country’s capital, Amnesty International said in a new report launched today.
“South Sudanese government troops killed men from the Nuer ethnic group, raped women and girls, and carried out a massive campaign of pillage,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.
“These attacks by government forces are further proof of the urgent need to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, with the aim of stopping the flow of weapons, and establish an effective mechanism to monitor compliance. States should not be profiting off weapons that are being used to kill civilians.”
The report is released ahead of a field mission to South Sudan by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), scheduled to take place between 28 and 30 October.
Amnesty International is calling on the AUPSC to look into the July violence during its visit, and to take steps to ensure the establishment of an independent hybrid court able to investigate and prosecute these and other crimes.
Guns turned on civilians
The new report, “We did not believe we would survive”: Killings, rape and looting in Juba, highlights the crimes under international law committed by government forces, as well as the UN’s disappointing and inadequate response. Based on field research conducted by Amnesty International in July, August and September 2016, it details deliberate killings, indiscriminate attacks, rapes and massive looting carried out by South Sudanese forces.
Six-year-old Joy Kamisa was killed by a rocket shot from a helicopter gunship, which hit her grandmother’s house in Juba’s Gudele neighbourhood.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Nyamuch died from wounds sustained when a piece of shrapnel hit her in the head. She and several of her siblings, who lived in a protected site specifically designated for civilians (protection of civilians site) at the UN base in Juba’s Jebel neighbourhood, were hit by an explosive device as they tried to flee to the main UN base. Her siblings survived, but were injured.
Biel Gat Kuoth, 26, was sitting in his grandfather’s compound when, according to an eyewitness, a “bullet came out of nowhere” and hit him in his right leg, breaking his shin bone. The wound became infected and he died a few days later.
Lili died in her home in the Gudele neighbourhood when it was deliberately flattened by a government tank.
“It is shameful that the South Sudan government can still freely acquire weapons when it has repeatedly used them to commit crimes under international law and human rights violations. The international community must impose a comprehensive arms embargo or risk being seen as complicit in these violations,” said Joanne Mariner.
Possible human shields
The report also describes abuses by armed opposition forces, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO). It details how opposition fighters entered the protection of civilians sites at the UN base in the Jebel neighbourhood several times on 10 and 11 July, at least once in large numbers.
It is not clear whether in doing so the fighters intended to shield themselves from attack or impede military operations—which would constitute the war crime of using human shields—but regardless of their intention, such maneuvers endangered thousands of civilians sheltering in the sites.
Another problem was the location of the SPLA-IO base in the Jebel neighbourhood adjacent to the protection of civilians site, which placed civilians in proximity to clashes between government and opposition troops.
Targeted killings and rape
Fighting began at the presidential palace on 8 July with an exchange of gunfire between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and fighters allied to First Vice-President Riek Machar. Soon government troops were targeting people based on ethnicity and perceived political loyalties.
John Gatluak Manguet Nhial, a 32-year-old journalist with Nuer facial scarring, was shot dead by a government soldier during a raid on the Terrain Hotel on 11 July, as other soldiers tauntingly shouted “Nuer, Nuer.”
A 24-year-old Dinka woman whose Nuer husband has been missing since July told Amnesty International that government troops stormed the family compound and arrested her husband and brother-in-law. When she told the soldiers that the two men worked for the government, she said that the soldiers responded that even if they worked for the government, they were still Nuer and “‘Nuer are rebels.’”
“My life is shattered,” she told Amnesty International. “Life without him is hopeless.”
Soldiers also sought out Nuer women for rape, not only to harm them, but also to humiliate and punish their husbands. A 35-year-old Nuer woman who was raped by three soldiers said the men emphasised: “Your husband is a Nuer man, our enemy.” She said her clothes were full of blood when they finally released her.
Government soldiers also raped other non-Dinka women and girls. A member of the Kuku ethnic group described how his two sisters, ages 14 and 17, were raped by soldiers on 11 July at their family compound in Juba’s Munuki neighbourhood. He said that the soldiers, who also looted the compound, accused the family of supporting Machar.
Amnesty International’s research reveals serious failings in the conduct of UN peacekeeping forces. Criticising the UN’s response to the violence as “disappointing and inadequate,” the new report details how UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians from being killed or raped.
A 24-year-old Nuer woman who was raped by five government soldiers just in front of the UN base in the Jebel neighbourhood told Amnesty International that UN peacekeepers and private security guards could see the attack but did not come to her aid. UN troops also failed to intervene during the attack on the Terrain Hotel, during which several women were gang-raped, even though it was only a kilometre away from their base.
During the fighting, UN peacekeepers also abandoned their positions when they came under fire at one of the protection of civilians sites, POC 1, leaving civilians undefended.
UN forces put civilians at risk by their actions as well as their inaction. In one incident, UN police shot tear gas canisters into a crowd of frightened Nuer civilians at the UN base in the Jebel neighbourhood.
“UN forces faltered in their mission to protect civilians, standing by as people were killed and raped,” said Joanne Mariner.
The new report also criticises the use of military courts to try soldiers suspected of abuses. It concludes that the chronic lack of real justice in South Sudan for crimes such as deliberate killings of civilians underscores the need for the speedy establishment of an independent hybrid court that will have jurisdiction over such crimes.
“These killings and systematic gang rapes must not go unpunished. The government of South Sudan must ensure that they are promptly, impartially and independently investigated and all those suspected of responsibility brought to justice in fair civilian trials without recourse to the death penalty.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, please call:
For Amnesty International: Seif Magango, +254 788 343897 or +254 20 428 3020, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New report calls for continued efforts to protect all children affected by conflict in Colombia
Source: UN Office of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict
The peace process has contributed to a decrease in the number of violations committed against children, shows a new report by the UN Secretary-General, who reiterates his full support.
New York – In a new report on the situation of children affected by the armed conflict in Colombia, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his full support for the peace process and encouraged all parties to continue to address the impact of conflict on children. He also called on the Government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) to continue the current process of separation for all children under 18 associated with the FARC-EP and to ensure that their reintegration needs are addressed as a matter of utmost priority.
The report, covering the period from September 2011 to June 2016, is the third by the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Colombia. The period covered by the report was marked by the peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP and the start of the implementation of the agreement on the separation and reintegration of children signed in Havana, Cuba on 15 May 2016.
The data presented illustrates that the peace process has contributed to a decrease in the number of violations committed against children, particularly towards the end of the reporting period. It also highlights significant advances related to the strengthening of the legal framework and the adoption of protection policies, although concerns remain about the challenges triggered by the presence of post-demobilization groups and the need to fill the gaps between policy commitments and implementation.
“I am heartened by the parties’ commitment to continue implementing the agreement to release all children associated with the FARC-EP, despite the results of the referendum,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. “It is an important humanitarian trust-building measure and I join the Secretary-General in calling upon all those involved to do their utmost to provide adequate support and care to children and their communities who have suffered too much in this conflict.”
In his recommendations, Ban Ki-moon urged the Government of Colombia to redouble its efforts to strengthen family reunification, gender-sensitive protection and care services as well as support for communities receiving the children to ensure the reintegration process is successful in the long term. He pointed out the importance of providing socio-economic alternatives and psychosocial support to children to prevent their re-recruitment by other armed groups.
The report also welcomes the announcement of a roadmap for the peace talks between the Government and the Ejército de Liberacion Nacional (ELN). As negotiations are scheduled to begin this week in Quito, Ecuador, the Secretary-General invites the parties to consider including the issue of the protection of children as soon as possible in view of developing a commitment ahead of the demobilization phase.
“The agreement between the Government and the FARC-EP illustrates how the protection of children, the universal desire to build a better future for our children, can truly serve as an entry point to negotiate peace and it is my hope that what has been accomplished will be emulated in future negotiations in Colombia and elsewhere,” concluded Leila Zerrougui.
For more information please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay – Communications Officer
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict
Tel: +1 212 963-8285
Mobile: +1 917 288-5791
Floods, loss of crops raise food security concerns for over a million people in Haiti
Source: World Food Programme, Government of Haiti, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Country: Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti
About one-quarter of the expected total 2016 cereal crop is estimated to have been lost because of Hurricane Matthew. Cereal import requirements are expected to reach their highest level since 2010.
• On 4 October 2016, Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 event with sustained winds of 230 km/h, made landfall in southwestern Haiti, with impact also on parts of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.
• Haiti was by far the most affected country. Early reports point to 473 confirmed deaths, with some unconfirmed reports putting this number at more than 1 000, and severe damage to at least 1 855 homes. About one-quarter of the expected total 2016 cereal crop is estimated to have been lost because of the Hurricane.
• Haiti’s cereal import requirements are expected to reach their highest level since the 2010 earthquake as a result of the anticipated production losses.
• It is estimated that 1.4 million people, or 13 percent of Haiti’s population, are in need of food assistance, of which 58 percent are in the most urgent need. FAO is seeking USD 9 million to provide urgently‑needed support to 350 000 affected people.
Delivering emergency winter items to refugees in Greece
Source: European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
Country: Greece, World
“Distributing winter clothing and bed linen is one mechanism to support people who continue to be housed in substandard conditions” in camps, said the President of the Hellenic Red Cross.
As winter beckons, temperatures in Greece are beginning to drop. Last week, the Hellenic Red Cross distributed urgently needed winter items to migrants and refugees who will remain in camps throughout the winter months.
Enabled by funding under the EU Emergency Support Instrument, the Red Cross distributions included items such as thermal blankets, sleeping bags, raincoats, leggings, winter socks, warm hats, gloves and scarfs. These were given to migrants and refugees at seven different camps on mainland Greece.
“As part of its €15 million assistance provided to the Red Cross through the Emergency Support Instrument, the European Commission continues to help refugees in Greece by supporting the Red Cross to deliver these critical items. This will ensure that people living in camps stay warm and dry throughout the winter,” said Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.
“As the wetter and colder months begin to set in, the Red Cross is increasingly concerned about the welfare of refugees and migrants living in camps,” said Antonios Avgernions, President of the Hellenic Red Cross. “Distributing winter clothing and bed linen is one mechanism to support people who continue to be housed in substandard conditions.”
Since 2015, more than 1 million refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece. On 9 March 2016, the border between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece was officially closed. This led to the interruption of the transit route through the Western Balkans, resulting in around 60 000 refugees and migrants becoming stranded in Greece. The need for humanitarian assistance greatly increased on mainland Greece, as people required proper shelter, provision of clean drinking water and adequate primary health care.
To date, the European Commission has allocated €198 million under the EU emergency support instrument for assisting Greece with the current refugee and migration crisis. This aid comes in addition to relief deliveries by 19 European countries to Greece and on top of EU financial support through the funds for internal security and for asylum and migration.
Major campaign to immunize 5.8 million Iraqi children against polio
Source: World Health Organization, UN Children's Fund
Today, on World Polio Day, the Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF and WHO, launched a week-long nationwide campaign to immunize Iraq’s children against polio.
Bagdhad, Iraq – Today, on World Polio Day the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a weeklong nationwide campaign to immunize Iraq’s children against polio.
Under the slogan “two drops can change a life,” the five-day campaign aims to reach an estimated 5.8 million children below the age of five in Iraq, regardless of previous vaccination status.
Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the nervous system. Children under five years of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, but timely immunization can prevent infection.
“The Government of Iraq is committed to polio eradication, and conducted 16 campaigns to that end in 2014 and 2015 as part of the Middle East Polio Outbreak response,” said UNICEF Representative in Iraq Peter Hawkins.
Since April 2014, no new polio cases have been reported in Iraq, thanks to the government’s strong commitment and the hard work of frontline workers. In May 2015, Iraq was removed from the list of infected countries.
However, the risks of a resurgence persist due to possible surveillance and immunization coverage gaps among Iraq’s displaced populations as well as those living in inaccessible areas and informal settlements.
“There is still a risk of polio returning to Iraq,” said WHO Representative to Iraq Altaf Musani. “Polio transmission is ongoing in Pakistan and Afghanistan and new cases of polio have also been confirmed in Nigeria,” he said. ”Until transmission is stopped globally, we need to maintain high levels of vaccination coverage and keep surveillance systems strong, to be on the alert for the virus,” he added.
The Iraq Polio partnership conducted 2 national immunization rounds in February and April this year, reaching over 91% of the targeted population.
This month’s vaccination campaign will be conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) with support from WHO and UNICEF, with special attention to the most vulnerable children in Internally Displaced Persons and Syrian Refugee camps, informal settlements, host affected communities and newly retaken areas. More than 25,000 vaccinators will go from house to house during the campaign, visiting families.
WHO will cover the operational cost, intra and post campaign monitoring, while UNICEF will provide support for focused social mobilization services. In coordination with the Federal Ministry of Health (MOH), the KRG Ministry of Health, Zain and Korek Telecommunications Company will contribute into social mobilization and communications campaign with a focus on IDPs.
Ajyal Sultany, Communications Officer, WHO, Iraq. +974 7510101469, email@example.com
Sharon Behn Nogueira, Chief of Communications, UNICEF, Iraq. +964 (0) 782 782 0238, firstname.lastname@example.org
Latest humanitarian snapshot highlights flooding and displacement across Southeast Asia
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: China, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines, Viet Nam
Approximately 159,000 people are displaced and an estimated eight have been killed in the Philippines due to Typhoon Haima; 250 hectares of rice have been damaged in Indonesia.
On 19 October, Category 4 Typhoon Haima (locally named Lawin) made landfall in Cagayan province. After landfall, the storm left a broad path of debris, causing flooding and landslides, and damaging about 46,000 houses. As of 24 October, authorities have confirmed eight fatalities and approximately 159,000 people remain displaced (38,000 people are staying inside evacuation centres and 121,000 people outside of evacuation centres). The Government is leading the humanitarian response and has declined an offer of international assistance.
On 18 October, Typhoon Sarika made landfall on China's southern island of Hainan as a Category 2 typhoon with torrential rain and winds of up to 162 km/h. Nearly 500,000 people were evacuated from coastal and low-lying areas. Just days later on 21 October, Typhoon Haima made landfall in Guangdong province as a Category 1 typhoon. Nearly 1.7 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haima, with some 668,000 evacuated ahead of the storm's arrival. No casualties have been reported. The provincial government provided relief goods to the affected communities.
Following days of torrential rainfall and high tides, at least 1,000 houses were flooded in coastal areas of Palopo City, South Sulawesi province on 21 and 22 October, affecting about 3,000 people. Flood waters also damaged around 250 hectares of rice fields and farm land. The local government provided basic relief assistance to the affected communities.
On 20 October, flooding due to tropical depressions Aere and Sarika affected over 131,000 households and temporarily displaced about 1,800 households in central Viet Nam. While local media reported that flood waters were receding, initial damage assessments indicate significant damage to agricultural land and livestock with impacts for the livelihoods of affected communities. The equivalent of US$67 million in damages were initially reported by authoritis. No international support has been requested. 4
Humanitarian partners estimate that between 10,000 to 15,000 people have been displaced from villages in northern Rakhine State since armed attacks on 9 October and the subsequent security operations. As of 24 October, there is no humanitarian access to these affected people. In addition, another 3,000 ethnic Rakhine people are also displaced and are currently staying at monasteries, schools and camps in the town centres of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Sittwe. WFP reports that 50,000 food-insecure people in Maungdaw, who normally receive assistance, cannot be reached and 65,000 children in Maungdaw and Buthidaung are not receiving WFP's normal school feeding support.5
On 21 October, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck Tottori Prefecture. The quake caused 24 injuries and damaged 346 houses in Tottori and Okayama prefectures. As of 23 October, 655 people remain in 25 evacuation centres in Tottori due to fear of aftershocks. The Government continues to provide emergency support to the the most affected areas.6
Fighting displaces 75,000 people in north-central Somalia
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
The impact of the conflict is putting a strain on depleted aid supplies meant to respond to the needs of those affected by effects of natural hazards such as flooding and drought.
Fighting continued for the third week in Gaalkacyo, leaving 18 people killed and 60 injured since 7 October 2016, according to local authorities. By 23 October, humanitarian partners in Gaalkacyo now estimate that over 75,000 people have been displaced, but local authorities have indicated that the number could be higher as more people continue to flee the violence. Renewed heavy fighting erupted on 22 October 2016, leaving six people dead, 21 injured and displacing thousands of people to the outskirts of the town, according to local authorities. Renewed clashes were also reported the morning of 24 October. An estimated 20 per cent of the fatalities and injuries are civilians, many of them due to stray bullets. All the internally displaced (IDPs) settlements in south Gaalkacyo with an estimated population of 20,000 have been vacated. An estimated 60 per cent of the IDPs in north Gaalkacyo have faced secondary displacement from their settlements. Altogether, some 40,000 displaced people have faced secondary displacement. The displaced have moved to villages and settlements in the outskirts of the town on both sides. Gaalkacyo town has an estimated population of more than 270,000 people, according to UNFPA figures. The Federal Government of Somalia’s efforts to restore peace in Gaalkacyo are under way. In December 2015 when a similar conflict broke out, efforts from the political leadership at Federal level and the regional bodies such as IGAD spearheaded talks led to the cessation of hostilities. A recommendation from the 2015 fighting after negotiations that a joint committee be established to look into the root causes of the fighting and avoid future conflicts did not take off.
An inter-agency assessment conducted on 19 October 2016 by humanitarian partners and local authorities established that all IDP and host community settlements around the Garsoor area where the fighting is concentrated have been vacated. Locals have expressed concern about the lack of progress on the peace process. The fear that the conflict may last longer than anticipated is driving more people out of their homes. The conflict in Gaalkacyo will worsen the situation of IDPs, especially those facing secondary displacement. The impact of the conflict is putting a strain on depleted humanitarian supplies meant to respond to the needs of those affected by effects of natural hazards such as flooding and drought in the region as the Deyr rainy season begins.
Humanitarian impact and needs
Assessments by humanitarian partners and estimates from the fighting of 22 October indicate that over 75,000 people have been displaced. All 13 IDP settlements in south Gaalkacyo and another eight in the north of the city have been abandoned. Most of the displaced have fled to the villages and settlements in the outskirts of the town.
Some of the displaced local residents from the host community have fled to rural villages and other outlying towns where they are staying with friends and relatives. The displaced people are in need of shelter/NFIs, food, water/sanitation services, health, nutrition and protection related interventions. The onset of the rainy season is likely to affect the displaced especially those spending nights in the open. Some 80 per cent of the displaced are women, children and elderly. Since the fighting started, UNHAS has been forced to cancel four scheduled flights to Gaalkacyo as a safety precaution. The fighting has affected over 20,000 learners as all schools remain closed.
Insecurity due to the fighting has resulted in most humanitarian organizations limiting staff movements as a safety precaution. The disruption and partial closure of businesses and commercial activity continue to affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people who depend on the markets for survival. The conflict has also impacted livestock owners and traders who rely on Gaalkacyo as the transit center for trucks carrying livestock to the port of Bossaso. The only known hindrance to the movement of humanitarian supplies between the two sides, are concerns regarding staff safety and security. Gaalkacyo provides the access network to central regions such as Hiraan, Galgaduud and South Mudug for commodities from the port of Bossaso. Conversely agricultural products and livestock from South Central pass through Gaalkacyo onward to northern towns.
Rebuilding Haiti after Hurricane Matthew
Source: Inter Press Service
Country: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti
Neighboring nations did not experience such devastation, with only four deaths in the Dominican Republic and none in Cuba. So why did Haiti take such a hard hit?
By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 23 2016 (IPS) - As Haiti reels from another disaster once again, many are questioning the humanitarian system and looking for long-term solutions with Haitians at the heart of response.
Since Hurricane Matthew made landfall in early October, over 500 Haitians have reportedly died, thousands of homes have been left destroyed, and vital farm land overturned. This devastation has affected over 19 percent, or 2.2 million, of the Caribbean nation’s 10 million citizens. More than 12 percent of the population is in need of immediate assistance, especially in the southern part of the country.
In response, the United Nations launched a flash appeal of $119 million to provide urgent life-saving aid to 750,000 people in the next three months. This appeal is in addition to $194 million for the 2016 Haiti Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requested early this year.
Neighboring nations however did not experience such devastation, with only 4 deaths in the Dominican Republic and none in Cuba. So why did Haiti take such a hard hit?
“Fundamentally, the problem is that Haiti is very poor,” David Sanderson, a Professor at the University of New South Wales specialising in humanitarian responses told IPS.
Haiti, a nation formed following a slave rebellion, has long struggled with extreme poverty, after beginning its existence in debt to its former coloniser France. Meanwhile aid delivered to Haiti has often been criticised for being insufficient and inefficient and at times even counter-productive.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere with more than a quarter of its people living in extreme poverty. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction found that poverty and disaster mortality often go hand in hand, reporting that the majority of the 1.35 million killed by natural disasters between 1996 and 2015 occurred in low-income countries.
Many have also noted the impacts of decades of political instability and corruption in creating a weak government that has not enacted key disaster preparedness policies such as necessary improvements to infrastructure.
According to a report from the American Institute of Architects, there is no national building code and a lack of enforcement of building construction standards. Instead, engineers often use standards from other countries that do not account for Haiti’s own context.
The government was only weakened further following the devastating magnitude 7 earthquake in 2010 which claimed over 200,000 lives and left over 1.5 million people homeless. Now over six years after the earthquake, almost 60,000 people are still displaced.
A Byproduct of the International Development System
However, many are pushing back on this narrative, pointing to the international aid regime as a major source of the country’s inability to withstand and recover from such disasters.
“The weakness of the government is a byproduct of the entire international development system,” said France Francois, a former development worker in post-earthquake reconstruction efforts, to IPS.
“It’s easy to point the finger and say well the Haitian government should have done this or should have done that, but what you have to look at is the larger structure…It’s not simply because [the government doesn’t] want to do things, it is because they don’t have the capacity and they don’t have the capacity because they only get one percent of foreign aid,” Francois continued.
Haiti-American development consultant Jocelyn McCalla echoed similar sentiments to IPS, noting that the international aid regime has lead to very few assets being provided “in order to build the capacity of Haitians themselves to own the process of rebuilding.”
According to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, the Haitian government received less than one percent of humanitarian aid after the 2010 earthquake while humanitarian agencies and international non-governmental organisations received the other 99 percent. Provisions for long-term recovery funding to the Government of Haiti was slightly higher at approximately 15 percent.
This failure to assist and coordinate with the government creates a “vicious cycle” in which Haitians are left relying on forces “outside of their control,” said Haiti-American development consultant Jocelyn McCalla to IPS.
“Haiti has become a Republic of NGOs—so international NGOs have created this complete parallel of government that always bypasses the Haitian government,” said Francois.
She also pointed to the disconnect between donor priorities and Haitians’ needs.
As part of efforts towards reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake, the Bush-Clinton Haiti Fund, created by former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, invested $2 million in the Royal Oasis Hotel aimed to house aid workers and foreign investors.
Though the project was meant to create jobs for Haitians, it failed to address the permanent, seismic-proof housing needs of thousands of Haitians.
“If you asked the Haitian people…they would have said that [being] safe during a hurricane is a priority for them, not hotels for foreigners,” Francois told IPS.
The Center for Global Development also found that donor concerns trumped the Haitian government’s post-earthquake priorities as funding requests for reconstruction, education and health fell significantly short.
The failure to focus on resilience and disaster preparedness is not isolated to Haiti. Sanderson, who is one of the editors of the 2016 World Disasters Report, found that only 40 cents to every $100 spent on development aid was invested in disaster risk reduction activities.
“That’s wrong—there should be way more going in advancement to stop disasters from happening in the first place,” Sanderson told IPS, adding that there is a shared responsibility towards such action.
As a result of past failures, many have said that greater transparency and accountability is “sorely needed.”
Francois particularly pointed to the American Red Cross’ alleged mismanaged funds and unfulfilled promises to build homes for Haitians. Though the group received nearly $500 million in donations following the earthquake, ProPublica and National Public Radio released an investigative report claiming the Red Cross only built six permanent homes.
In response, the Red Cross denied allegations and called the misrepresentation “disappointing.”
“Despite the most challenging conditions, including changes in government, lack of land for housing, and civil unrest, our hardworking staff—90 percent of whom are Haitians—continue to meet the long-term needs of the Haitian people. While the pace of progress is never as fast as we would like, Haiti is better off today than it was five years ago,” Red Cross said in a statement.
Francois said that beneficiaries must hold organisations and donors accountable for aid flows, and that organisations must work with and involve communities in every step of the way.
“That’s standard best practice,” she told IPS.
“What I hope will happen is that those who want to support Haiti and the Haitian government will sit down with the proper authorities and put together what the long term sustainable plan will look like for this reconstruction effort,” she continued.
McCalla highlighted the need to ensure there is no repeat of the cholera epidemic that was introduced to the waterways following the 2010 earthquake.
UN peacekeepers have been blamed for the outbreak which has so far killed over 10,000 people. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found “an exact correlation” between arrival of Nepalese peacekeepers to the appearance of first cases in the Meille river. In August, a UN spokesperson said that the UN was convinced it needed to do more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak, however the UN has continued to claim immunity
“Because of a number of past failures, we should respond clearly and say we are accountable…we want to work with the Haitian people to do it…and also make every effort possible to commit to remedying the situation,” McCalla told IPS. However, no effort has been made thus far, he added.
Investing in Local Institutions and People
As the three week mark approaches along with the fading interest and relief resources that often goes with it, the push for long-term solutions is underway, one that gives control to Haitians.
“Business as usual is not an option,” said Sanderson, urging for a focus on long-term recovery that puts local citizens in charge.
McCalla and Francois made similar comments, highlighting the need to invest in Haitians.
“When you cast (Haitians) aside, and say we’re going to take care of everything…that is demeaning,” McCalla told IPS.
He also stressed the need to challenge the “charity” narrative of Haiti.
Francois said that organisations should hire and train Haitians not only as a way to build trust, but also to show their investment in communities.
“You build the local capacity so that you are no longer needed…you are supposed to grow and change and show results but only in the development world, remaining stagnant is something to be proud of,” she told IPS.
Though Haiti will continued to need funds, “people are not helpless,” McCalla told IPS, noting that many are already trying to rebuild their livelihoods and country whilst asserting their position at the forefront of disaster relief and recovery.
Ambassador of Haiti to the U.S. Paul Altidor released a statement at the wake of the disaster, urging for a coordinated and strategic relief effort “to avoid mistakes from the past.”
“As the country continues to assess the extent of the damage, the state of Haiti strongly encourages all who wish to help to work with the local organisations and institutions on the ground in order to gain their input on the actual needs of the affected communities,” he said in a statement, adding that local institutions can also be good partners too and should not be bypassed.
UN envoy urges 72-hour extension of ceasefire in Yemen
Source: UN Department of Public Information
Special Envoy reminds all parties of an obligation to allow unhindered access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to all parts of Yemen, in addition to a comprehensive halt to military activities of any kind.
With the 72 hour Cessation of Hostilities in Yemen coming to an end, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail OuldCheikh Ahmed, urges all parties to agree to its extension for at least another renewable 72 hours.
"The ceasefire was largely holding despite reported violations from both sides in several areas. We noted over the last days that food and humanitarian supplies were provided to several affected neighborhoods and that UN personnel were able to reach areas that were previously inaccessible. We would like to build on this and we aim for a wider outreach in the next few days", said the Special Envoy.
The Special Envoy reminds all parties that the terms and conditions of the Cessation of Hostilities include an obligation to allow free and unhindered access for humanitarian supplies and personnel to all parts of Yemen, in addition to a full and comprehensive halt to military activities of any kind. “This must be respected at all times, in all areas”, said the Special Envoy.
The Special Envoy reiterated his call for the immediate reactivation of the De-escalation and Coordination Committee (DCC) and the deployment of its members to Dhahran Al Janoub as agreed during the Kuwait talks. “I expect all sides to strictly adhere to their commitments and work toward a definitive cessation of violence through a political process. In case parties agree to the extension, the Cessation of Hostilities must be fully respected. Our aim is that it will lead to a permanent and lasting end to the conflict," he added. "Yemenis deserve to live in peace and have access to their basic rights and all parties must assume their responsibility in protecting them."
IFRC launches emergency appeal to assist people affected by Typhoon Haima
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
IFRC seeks funding to bring immediate and medium-term aid to 20,000 people in North and Central Luzon, as well as to support their recovery and increase their resilience to future shocks.
This Emergency Appeal is being issued on preliminary basis and seeks 2,994,770 Swiss francs to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in delivering assistance and support to 20,000 people affected by Typhoon Haima over 10 months. The operation will focus on the following sectors: health; water, sanitation and hygiene; food, nutrition, and livelihoods; shelter; disaster risk reduction and National Society capacity building. The Appeal budget also includes 111,452 Swiss francs to support the IFRC’s role as convenor of the inter-agency shelter cluster. The Appeal will be revised in the coming weeks to further align interventions with new and more detailed assessments. Details will be available in the Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) to be linked.
The operational strategy
While there has not been a formal request for international assistance from the Government of Philippines, members of the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), along with local humanitarian partners, are responding to bilateral requests from national and local levels, mainly using in-country resources. As a leading humanitarian actor, and in pursuit of its mandate outlined in Republic Act No. 10072 [Philippine Red Cross Act of 2009], the PRC is mounting an operation to deliver humanitarian assistance to people affected by Typhoon Haima. This Emergency Appeal is being launched to enable the IFRC and member National Societies to support PRC in its response.
The Emergency Plan of Action is being developed jointly by PRC and IFRC, with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Partner National Societies (PNSs) with in-country presence fully updated about the interventions and their rationale. The plan will be adjusted in the coming weeks based on recommendations of ongoing assessments.
The relief phase will focus on providing essential household items, emergency shelter assistance, and multi-purpose cash grants to affected communities as well as psychosocial support and the prevention of water and vector-borne diseases. In the early recovery phase, PRC will accompany affected vulnerable households to repair their damaged homes, support livelihoods recovery and rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities in communities and schools.
The intensity of the typhoon raised concerns that it would have a massive humanitarian impact and the authorities evacuated more than 18,100 families (approximately 90,600 people) pre-emptively to get them out of harm’s way. So far, there have been seven confirmed deaths, with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reporting that at least 2,600 families (around 10,999 people) remain in evacuation centres. There is a need to provide essential services to displaced people, including psychosocial support and restoring family links.
There is also a need for sleeping materials, water storage containers and hygiene items. Furthermore, since it has been observed that markets are functioning in areas reached by PRC teams, provision of cash grants will enable affected people to obtain the items they need, especially as their income sources have been disrupted.
It is still early to quantify the extent of damage caused on shelter and livelihoods by Haima as reports from isolated areas will only be received in the coming two days. However, initial reports from PRC chapters and assessment teams across the affected areas indicate that thousands of families have been left without a roof over their heads while some schools – which are used as evacuation centres – are exposed after typhoon strong winds blew roofing sheets away.
Water and sanitation facilities were also damaged and will need to be rehabilitated. Livelihoods have also been significantly impacted as crops have been flooded or damaged by typhoon winds, including rice crop that have been lost just a few weeks before harvest.
Typhoon Haima is the third major weather disturbance to affect North Luzon within a span of weeks. The collective impact of the three typhoons has left significant humanitarian needs. It is projected that up to five more typhoons may affect Philippines before year-end. This situation calls for urgent action to ensure that affected vulnerable populations are accompanied to get back on their feet and have a roof over their head the soonest.
PRC will ensure that interventions are aligned with its own as well as the IFRC minimum standard commitments to gender and diversity in emergency programming, for example by targeting women-headed households, pregnant or lactating women, men and boys made vulnerable by the disaster, families that have not received any or sufficient assistance from the government or other organizations, those belonging to the socially vulnerable households, and those who lack relevant resources to cope with basic humanitarian needs on their own. These groups will be considered according to level of impact.
Coordination and partnerships
The PRC works with the IFRC and ICRC as well as American, Australian, British, Canadian, Finnish, German, Japanese, The Netherlands, Norwegian, Spanish, Swiss and Qatar Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in-country.
All these partners are coordinating with PRC on how and where they can provide support.
In addition to IFRC which has provided financial support via a DREF allocation of 48,659 Swiss francs, ICRC has indicated that it could cover some PRC mobilization costs if required. Three personnel of IFRC are embedded to two of the teams that were deployed closer to the affected areas prior to the typhoon’s landfall while additional personnel in Manila are supporting the National Society in operational planning, logistics planning and coordination. ICRC and PNSs also have technical specialists who can be made available to support the PRC response if required.
Thus far, three meetings of all Movement partners have been held, including one on 21 October. In the latest meeting, PRC invited all the partners to participate in a teleconference held to update the wider Movement counterparts – especially those without presence in the Philippines – about the situation, needs, action and plans with regard to Typhoon Haima. During the teleconference, the leadership of PRC reiterated the approach of having a ‘One Movement Plan’ so as to reach more together.
In addition to coordinating with Movement partners, PRC has assigned dedicated personnel to represent the National Society in NDRRMC meetings. IFRC and PRC participate in meetings of the HCT. Furthermore, IFRC is supporting the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in activities relating to the Shelter Working Group. In readiness to fulfil the IFRC role as co-convenor of the shelter cluster, a fraction of this appeal’s budget is a provision for the deployment of a shelter coordination team if a request for the same is received.
This operation aims to assist 20,000 people affected by Typhoon Haima in North and Central Luzon with appropriate immediate and medium-term assistance in a timely, effective, and efficient manner, as well as accompany them to recover from the impact of the typhoon and increase their resilience to future shocks.