UNICEF more than doubles funding appeal for children in north-east Nigeria
Source: UN Children's Fund
The agency has revised its appeal from $ 55 million to $ 115 million to assist an additional 750,000 people who can now be reached across conflict-affected areas in the northeast of the country.
ABUJA/DAKAR/NEW YORK, 29 September 2016 – UNICEF has revised its humanitarian appeal for Nigeria from US$ 55 million to US$ 115 million to assist an additional 750,000 people who can now be reached across conflict-affected areas in the northeast of the country.
As new areas open up to humanitarian assistance, the true scale of the Boko Haram related crisis and its impact on children is being revealed.
An estimated 400,000 children under five will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in three states across the northeast this year. More than 4 million people are facing severe food shortages and 65,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, mostly in Borno, the worst affected state.
“Children’s lives are literally hanging by a thread,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes. “We are reaching new areas to provide critical humanitarian assistance but we need greater international support to further scale up and reach all children in dire need,” she added.
The destruction of whole towns and villages further complicates the response. Sixty percent of health clinics have been partially or completely destroyed and 75 percent of water and sanitation facilities require rehabilitation in Borno state.
Nearly one million children are now displaced across the northeast, a million are out of school and hundreds of thousands psychologically affected from the horrors they have lived through.
The conflict-related lack of access to children has also lead to an outbreak of polio in Borno state, where three cases of wild polio virus were confirmed in August and September. UNICEF’s funding appeal comes as a series of massive coordinated emergency polio immunisation and nutrition campaigns in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries is underway, targeting 1.8 million children in Borno state alone. The immunisation campaign is also identifying and treating children with severe malnutrition.
UNICEF has increased its response in the areas worst-affected by the Boko Haram conflict since April, supporting basic health care and nutrition for children and mothers, and helping provide safe water and sanitation, child protection services and learning opportunities.
Since the beginning of 2016, 2.6 million conflicted-affected people have been given access to UNICEF-supported preventative healthcare services and nearly 75,000 children have been treated for severe acute malnutrition in northeast Nigeria. The construction and rehabilitation of boreholes has provided nearly half a million people with improved access to safe water. Safe learning spaces, teacher training and educational supplies have helped over 72,000 children to restart their education and some 133,000 children have been provided with psychosocial support.
To date, just US$ 28 million of the US$ 115 million appeal has been received and this presents a serious obstacle to UNICEF’s scale up plan.
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Stakeholders call for more funding to strengthen drought response in Zimbabwe
Source: UN Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe
“We need to keep our radars active and prepare a contingency plan for any eventuality that may arise from the effects of La Nina,” the UN Resident Coordinator said when meeting with partners today.
Bulawayo, 29 September 2016 -The Office of the President and Cabinet and the United Nations System in Zimbabwe jointly convened today some 150 partners representing Government at central, provincial and district levels, traditional leaders, development partners and NGOs in Bulawayo.
The meeting appraised the ongoing drought response in four provinces of Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Bulawayo. The meeting also allowed participants to share good practices in the drought response to strengthen monitoring and accountability to reach the most vulnerable, and to identify preparedness priorities for the impending La Nina response. This first provincial consultative meeting is part of a resolution agreed-to at the regular national level multi-stakeholders’ drought response consultative meeting held on 7 July 2016 in Harare.
Addressing the first provincial consultative drought response meeting, Mr Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said, “The Government, humanitarian partners and local administrators have jointly agreed to strengthen the existing monitoring and accountability mechanisms through adopting standard operating procedures to strengthen our response and accountability to the most vulnerable communities worst affected by the drought.” “We need to keep our radars active and prepare a contingency plan for any eventuality that may arise from the effects of La Nina.”
Results from the latest Rural Livelihoods Assessment report released by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee in July 2016 show that approximately 4.1 million rural Zimbabweans will be food insecure during the peak hunger period of January to March 2017. Recognizing the negative effect of the drought amongst the urban population, Urban assessment is currently being undertaken to determine the number of food insecure people.The results of the urban assessment are expected to increase the total population affected.
Thanking the UN, development partners and other humanitarian actors for their active engagement in the drought response, Senior Principal Director at the Office of the President and Cabinet Ozias Hove who was standing in for Deputy Chief Secretary Rtd. Col. Christian Katsande, said, “Government has put in place structures to ensure well-coordinated drought response including through facilitating food importation; food distribution to vulnerable groups; and provide emergency water supply; micronutrient feeding of the under-five and school feeding; emergency irrigation and rehabilitation; livestock and wildlife support.”
According to updates from the four provinces:
- In Matabeleland North of the 413,000 people affected all are receiving assistance.
- Of the 340,725 affected populations in Matabeleland South, over 225,000 people are being supported with relief assistance.
- In Midlands out of the estimated 630,000 food insecure people over 350,000 are receiving assistance.
- Over 14,000 drought affected people have been receiving assistance since July 2016 in Bulawayo, while awaiting the final findings of the ongoing urban assessment.
Participants called for the ongoing school feeding programme to cover all school-going children and POTRAZ to increase connectivity to ensure smooth running of the cash transfer programmes.
Since the onset of the drought in 2015, the Government, UN, NGOs and other humanitarian actors have been providing life-saving relief assistancein cash and in kind.
Stephanie Funk, USAID Mission Director welcomed the agreements made by all stakeholders and said "We support the UN principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. We consider these principles necessary to making sure that our assistance is delivered in an accountable and transparent way, regardless of political affiliation, religion or gender." She emphasized that "the El Niño induced drought is bigger than all of us, we must continue to work together to make our efforts as effective as possible."
Of the $352 million being sought for the Humanitarian Response Plan, nearly $192 million have been committed so far. This funding includes generous donations from USAID, DFID, China, Netherlands, EU, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, India, Switzerland and the UN Central Emergency Fund.
Appreciating the strong financial and in kind support from donors and humanitarian partners, UN Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli said, “There is still a funding gap of $160 million including in food and agriculture and other sectors such as water, sanitation and hygiene; health and nutrition; and protection”, the UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli said.
Expressing gratitude for the generous support from USAID and many other partners, Eddie Rowe, WFP Representative said, “There is an urgent need for additional $111 million for the Food Security sub-sector to address the needs of the 1.9 million most food-insecure people through to the end of the lean season, in March 2017.”
Humanitarian response has so far reached approximately 1.5 million most vulnerable people. There is an urgent need to fund the non-food sectors to ensure that the positive impact that has been achieved in food assistance is not affected by the inadequate funding in the other sectors. United Nations managed humanitarian assistance is guided by the principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality where any and all who are in need are targeted for humanitarian assistance irrespective of their political and other affiliation. The UN has put in place rigorous monitoring, accountability and complaints mechanisms.
The ongoing humanitarian response is linked to recovery, resilience building and medium term development. The UN System together with development partners is supporting national efforts through the 2016-2020 Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF).
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East Aleppo, a humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed in Syria - UN relief chief
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Syrian Arab Republic
Stephen O'Brien appealed to the UN Security Council to take "whatever steps necessary" to end the violence and to allow the delivery of assistance to those who desperately need it.
Thank you very much indeed. Where to start? It is with raw grief, with dismay, intense sadness, frustration, and an unquenchable anger at the excess of sheer and unbridled horror – way beyond even the apex of horror of a fortnight ago – that I report today to you, the Security Council, on the ultimate humanitarian shame that is Syria today, and in east Aleppo in particular. The people of Syria – and most immediately, the people of east Aleppo – are being subjected to deprivation, disease and death in increasing numbers and with increasing ferocity. This is not an unforeseen result of forces beyond our control. This is due to the action of parties to the conflict and it is the direct result of inaction – be it through unwillingness or inability – by the international community, including most notably those present in this chamber.
It is now a legitimate question to ask whether there is any level of disaster and death that can be visited upon the Syrian people that might prompt the parties to this conflict, and by extension the international community, to identify a red line that will not be crossed. This is not a distant conflict in which we as a community have only a passing stake – this is a critical test of the capacity and willingness of those in this chamber to make a decision and take action. To manifestly uphold the words of the Charter of the UN to which all nations are bound: to save the Syrian people from the scourge of war.
The last seven days have seen an intensification of attacks across the country. From airstrikes in Deir ez-Zour, to airstrikes and ground attacks in Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Idleb and Rural Damascus and other governorates, fighting has intensified despite a one-week lull when the cessation of hostilities was reinstated, albeit with violations on all sides.
Nowhere has the fighting been more intense in the last days than in east Aleppo. Following the announcement by the Syrian Ministry of Defence of an offensive on 22 September, estimates are that some 320 civilians were killed and 765 injured in the first days. Over 100 children have been killed. These are not simply numbers to be added to a tally, these are individuals, family lives that we have collectively failed to save. The alleged use of new “bunker busting” bombs has reportedly caused mass destruction in an area that has already been decimated. This means there are bodies of babies, children, women and men stuck unrecovered in the rubble of basements up to 20 metres down where they had taken refuge – and where they had been safe until the use of these recently introduced weapons. Airstrikes are reported to have hit three of the four civil defence centres in east Aleppo, injuring staff, and severely limiting their capacity to respond. On 22 September, attacks rendered the Bab Al-Nayrab water pumping station inoperable, stopping water to most of east Aleppo. On 24 September, multiple airstrikes struck the Jisr Al-haj area in eastern Aleppo City, reportedly damaging warehouses belonging to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and killing one of the few remaining doctors in east Aleppo, as well as his wife - a senior midwife. Just yesterday, two of the eight remaining hospitals, including two of four surgical units, were attacked and rendered out of service. I echo the words of the Secretary-General who briefed you yesterday: “Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly what they are doing. They know they are committing war crimes”.
And let it be said, the evidence is being collected, the eyewitnesses’ accounts recorded – even if not today, one day there will be no hiding place for the individuals and institutions callously, cynically perpetrating these war crimes: that is as much our UN responsibility on behalf of all the worlds’ Member States, as it is the UN’s duty to preserve that evidence to point the finger at any one or more Member States and their leaders and officers, come the day. The only remaining deterrent it seems is that there will be real accountability in the court of world opinion and disgust – goodness knows, nothing else seems to be working to stop this deliberate, gratuitous carnage of lives lost and smashed.
Let me be clear, east Aleppo this minute is not at the edge of the precipice, it is well into its terrible descent into the pitiless and merciless abyss of a humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed in Syria, with no access by the UN since 7 July; and the health sector in east Aleppo is reportedly on the very verge of total collapse. Hundreds of critical medical evacuations are urgently required. I have received alarming reports of patients being turned away or treated on the floors of the few remaining health facilities. What little intensive care unit (ICU) capacity there was, has now been completely overwhelmed. Four people (three of them children) who did not have access to ventilators died as a result. There are also reports of severe shortages of surgical items, blood bags, anaesthetics and other critical medical items. As a result, the priority for assistance is as acute for medical items as it is for food.
Because of this state of siege, food remains scarce, with rations only sufficient to feed 40,000 for one month. Despite the presence of limited food stocks, the impact of limited food access is already being felt. Deaths have been reported from malnutrition, disease, and poisoning by those scavenging for food. Fresh water is also now in short supply, and waterborne illnesses and preventable killer diseases are expected imminently to rise dramatically –as unnecessary as that is tragic.
There are more than 100,000 children trapped in east Aleppo, and it is they who are among the most vulnerable, who suffer first and who suffer the greatest. The images of Alan Kurdi, Omran Daqneesh and now Rawan Alowsh might have captured fleeting global attention and be seared into our consciences, but they are neither isolated nor exceptional cases, but emblematic of the horrific murder and abuse of children by the parties to this conflict. Rescue teams are finding children every day under piles of rubble amid the inferno and choking dust of east Aleppo. Meanwhile, indiscriminate attacks are also being launched by non-state armed groups into western Aleppo, so of course this is not just one-sided, but the overwhelming weight of forces is against the people pinned down in east Aleppo. We must end this nightmare.
We have been ready, and we remain ready to deliver assistance to eastern Aleppo through cross-border and cross-line support. Despite the distraction - as it sadly turned out - in the attempt to get a full cessation of hostilities, which crowded out negotiations for a shorter humanitarian pause, but as I have been calling for since July, a minimum of 48 hours weekly humanitarian pause must be urgently implemented to allow humanitarian aid to enter, to let medical evacuations take those in critical condition out, and to provide civilians respite from the barrage of bombs and attacks causing untold suffering. Now is not the time for political grandstanding or protection of one’s political or, indeed, military position. Now is the time to recognise the horror unfolding before our eyes, agree upon our common humanity and restore the cessation of hostilities to protect civilians and save lives. That is the best for humanitarian action. And at a minimum, the weekly 48-hour humanitarian pauses. Anything less will leave this Council today on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of avoidable deaths. It is the responsibility of the parties to the conflict, but it is the united will of each and every member of this Council that will unlock the chance to make this happen.
As you heard me say before, there are few words left to describe the horrors for people living under siege. Theirs is a daily struggle for survival as they remain trapped and beyond our reach, subjected to collective punishment. This revolting situation in east Aleppo must, please, be the SOS, the Mayday call, to the international community, that they meet the criteria for besiegement, including: (1) being militarily encircled; (2) a lack of humanitarian access; and (3) lack of freedom of movement for civilians is clear. They now do - it is now besieged east Aleppo.
This is not based on conjecture, but the facts on the ground that I have just reported to you. The area is militarily encircled by Syrian forces. In addition, armed opposition groups continue to conduct military operations from within the city, placing those trapped within the city at greater and continued danger. Despite all our collective efforts which have been discussed in great detail in this Council, there has been virtually no humanitarian access through cross-border or cross-line actors since early July. It should be noted that this is as result of constraints by both the Syrian authorities and non-state armed groups. Furthermore, despite the assertion of there being “corridors” available, civilians wishing to travel in and out of eastern Aleppo are unable to do so in any significant numbers. You’d do the same, you just don’t do it if you have nowhere to go voluntarily, and if the sniper is likely to take the shot any way. As we have long said, civilians cannot move when there are such levels of insecurity. We have also assessed this lack of movement based on the military presence at entry and exit points and specific security concerns, not just about sniper fire and detainment when traveling through humanitarian corridors that were established by the Russian Federation. The status of another 275,000 people besieged in Syria is truly unconscionable; we all must do everything possible to bring this medieval practice to an end once and for all. This means the number of people besieged in Syria has grown from 586,200 to 861,200, even after deducting the 4,000 who were required to leave Darayya as of late August. This is in addition to the millions of Syrians in hard-to-reach locations today.
Besiegement is not a weapon of war; it is a flagrant, unjustifiable breach of the law – the law which the besieging parties have signed up to. As the Syrian people struggle for survival and a political solution remains out of reach, the best that communities under attack can immediately hope for is the indiscriminate attacks to stop and that humanitarian assistance can reach them. The role of humanitarians is not to be part of a political solution, but to provide food, shelter and the tools of survival to those in need, while that solution is sought. Those efforts – to protect the vulnerable, to deliver to communities in need, to step in to fill the gap where no alternative exists – were dealt a cruel blow last week.
After half a decade of conflict, it should not be necessary to explain to any party that the laws of war afford protection to humanitarian aid workers. In 2016, I should not have to brief this chamber on violence committed against those who are aligned to no side in this conflict, those who are willing to enter the most challenging environments imaginable to help those suffering beyond imagination. Yet last week, while leaders from around the world met to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Syria, we suffered a devastating attack on a humanitarian convoy.
In the early evening of 19 September, as 31 trucks delivered lifesaving assistance just kilometers west of Aleppo city in Urum al-Kubra, humanitarians came under attack in yet another shocking example of the disregard parties have for civilian life and humanitarian space. Over the course of two hours, the area around a clearly marked UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian convoy became a killing zone. 18 humanitarians: 12 volunteers, 5 drivers, and Omar Barakat – the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Urum al-Kubra – brutally killed. Another 15 drivers were wounded, many civilians were killed and injured, and the warehouse where the supplies were being unloaded as well as a nearby medical clinic were both severely damaged. The local population has been further traumatized by witnessing what happens to those who try to help them. And of course, they didn’t receive the desperately needed life-saving help – a double jeopardy defined.
I have passed my deepest condolences to the families, colleagues, and loved ones of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and pledge to do my upmost to ensure that their deaths were not in vain. I call on all of us to take hold of this moment, I call on this council to urgently act to protect the humanitarian actors, be they UN staff or our NGO partners who face violent responses almost daily. I also call on you to push against all blockages and delays that are hindering the deployment of assistance, and ensure the rapid, safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to all those in need. Most importantly I call on you to end the bloodshed.
The humanitarian convoy to Urum al-Kubra was a meticulously organized movement, as are all deployments of humanitarian aid. When crossing a conflict line to deliver assistance, the UN and its partners first receive authorization by the Syrian authorities. Advanced notification is given to all sides, and ongoing updates of the convoy’s location and status is provided throughout its movement. These UN humanitarian aid convoys include informing all actors on the ground of the humanitarian delivery being undertaken. Such de-confliction is done to ensure that the delivery is safe from attack.
We do not yet have all the details. However, it is not too early to make clear the consequences of this shameful attack. If the attackers knew of the humanitarian convoy and intentionally directed an attack against it, they committed a war crime. Regardless of the reason and regardless of the party responsible, these people must know that they will be held to account. Accountability is important for the sake of justice, but it is also necessary to end the culture of impunity. This is as much a matter of practicality as it is of principle. If there are no guarantees that humanitarian convoys will be safe, the ability of humanitarians to deliver assistance will be jeopardized and those in need will continue to suffer. As I have said before, those on the front lines delivering aid are brave, but they are not suicidal. Sufficient security guarantees for the delivery of aid must be in place. Yes, that means engaging with all parties impartially, even to the distaste of some – those are the humanitarian principles in which I and others in the UN and beyond involved in humanitarian action rely upon to give us our license to operate – for us access is everything, without it, as we go far and wide across Syria we can’t make the difference that the world’s citizens call on us to make. The Secretary-General has called for a vigorous investigation to ascertain the facts of the incident and for accountability for those responsible. And the Secretary-General is currently reviewing options for the most effective format of this investigation, and I call on all parties to stand up, demonstrate their desire to protect humanitarian space and support the investigation process, with full transparent accountability, and to banish impunity.
While it is true that the UN and its partners support millions of people with assistance each month through regular programming and cross-border activities, those who are in the most acute need are often those who cannot be reached through either modality. While we focus much of the attention on ensuring humanitarian access via cross-line convoys, this is not to take away from other modalities which do most of the actual aid delivery, but to ensure attention is focused on the locations we cannot otherwise reach.
In both hard-to-reach and besieged locations we have continued to reach communities in need through inter-agency cross-line convoys in September. On 19 September, we reached 84,000 people in Talbiseh; on 22 September, we reached 35,000 people in Moadamiyeh; on 24 September, we reached 70,000 people in Al Waer in Homs; and the following day we reached some 60,000 people in the Four Towns – Madaya, Zabadani, Foah and Kefraya. And we continue to reach people through the air – both by airdrops and air-bridges. We have now completed 126 air drops to Deir ez-Zour since April, dispatching food, nutrition, health and WASH to people in need. This includes two full rounds of food distribution, each reaching a total of 110,000 people in need. A third round began on 12 August. We have now completed 90 airlifts to Qamishly, providing a combination of food, WASH, nutrition, education, shelter and NFI assistance, including over 50,000 full food rations. As for the berm along the Syrian-Jordanian border, which I have stood on and visited earlier this month, we have received positive indications from the Jordanian authorities that humanitarian organizations may be able to resume aid operations to reach those stranded there by early next month, so we look forward to all the security and other arrangements being put into place so that can happen, until longer-term solutions are found. And I am grateful to all those working hard to achieve this.
While we welcome these deliveries which provide a lifeline to people largely trapped beyond our reach, these last weeks have been especially frustrating to see pass without access improving, particularly since the re-instatement of the cessation of hostilities should have provided an opportunity to extend our reach. Instead, the delays in cross-line deployments are becoming commonplace. The first inter-agency cross-line convoy in September deployed on the 19th of this month. The first cross-line convoy in August only deployed on the 23rd of the month. This means that no aid reached many of those most in need through inter-agency cross-line convoys for the first three weeks of each of the last two months.
The delivery of assistance to the Four Towns, the first after the five months since aid was last admitted on 30 April, occurred only after numerous hurdles and delays caused by the last-minute removal of medical items, which required an additional set of negotiations with the parties to reach a final agreement. Beyond the Four Towns, medical supplies have continued to be removed from humanitarian convoys, with more than 200,000 items having been removed this year alone. And linking humanitarian assistance of any kind to the tit-for-tat provisions of the Four Towns agreement remains unconscionable.
As I have said many times, the UN has been and continues to be ready to deploy. Our requests are submitted and trucks are ready to move, but they have been delayed by the same bureaucratic tactics: late responses, lack of facilitation letters, negotiations over the number of beneficiaries. While such problems are being faced with alarming regularity, this month also brought further delaying tactics to deny aid to those in desperate need, such as the slow clearance by Syrian security forces in the warehouses, and in the case of Moadamiyeh, the damaging of items by security forces, trucks had to be re-loaded in the presence of Russian officers to ensure the cooperation of Syrian security personnel. Just yesterday, a convoy intended for Douma, despite having received all necessary guarantees and approvals, was denied access at the last government checkpoint. After waiting over eight hours at the last Syrian checkpoint, it was forced to return to the warehouse.
Of course, insecurity has also continued to be a significant factor in limiting deployment. Just two days ago, on 27 September, a convoy to ar-Rastan was cancelled by the UN, when the trucks were at the last checkpoint of Syrian armed forces, due to airstrikes over the town that the UN and its partners were attempting to reach. This is yet another convoy where all sides were informed of the movement, and all sides provided assurances of security, but failed to deliver safe passage. Surely you can imagine the hell for the civilians, who woke up that morning hoping to finally receive life-saving aid, but finding themselves instead under relentless attack.
We are now awaiting the response from the government to the October inter-agency convoy plan, submitted on 19 September. The UN has requested to reach 962,800 people in 29 besieged, hard-to-reach and priority cross-line areas. A response is expected in the next day, and I call on the Syrian authorities to respond positively and on time to this request, and to see the request response implemented in a timely manner. We cannot allow another month to go by where we wait three weeks before the first cross-line convoy. As insecurity increases, civilian suffering does as well. Sustained and safe access must be granted, based on the UN’s assessment of need.
Syria is bleeding. Its citizens are dying. We all hear their cry for help. As humanitarians we are doing all we can. Last week world leaders came to New York, sat around this very table and met in ministerial level meetings, all with no tangible results. Instead, while the world leaders were meeting, violence actually increased – more civilians and more humanitarians were killed. It is time to place blame. It is time this Council stops tolerating the utter disregard for the most basic provisions of international humanitarian law.
So I call on the Council to act now, to do right by those who sacrificed their lives, and take whatever steps necessary to end this violence. The alternative simply does not bear considering. The depravity we see will only get worse. If the parties to this conflict won’t, then the world’s only hope is you: the collective, united will and measures of this Security Council. It is up to you to turn the tide, to create the conditions for aid to reach all in need. To end the sieges. To restore political dialogue. And to bring an end to the war.
Record carbon dioxide levels to fuel more disasters
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Underlining this month’s record carbon dioxide readings, UNISDR chief Robert Glasser today urged world leaders to increase their level of commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
29 September 2016, GENEVA – The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, today urged world leaders to take note of the profound implications of this month’s record carbon dioxide readings and to increase their level of commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is deeply disturbing to learn that global levels of 400 parts per million have now been reached in September for the first time. The last time CO2 levels were this high was 15 to 20 million years ago.
“September is traditionally when the lowest levels are recorded. This means that we are unlikely to see levels below 400 parts per million for the foreseeable future. We know that the safe level is well below this.
“It also means that we are systematically raising levels of disaster risk for future generations and we can expect more severe weather events in the years ahead. Climate disasters already account for 90% of all disasters caused by natural hazards.
“This is potentially catastrophic especially for low and middle-income countries that contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions but have huge populations exposed to drought, floods and storms.
“Much more vigorous action is necessary for a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 2°C while the Paris Agreement recognises that limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”
A 2009 study in the journal Science found that the last time in Earth’s history when CO2 levels in the atmosphere were this high for a sustained period was between 15 and 20 million years ago. Then, according to the study, temperatures were between 3C and 6C warmer than today. Ice sheets, the study said, had melted to the point where sea levels rose between 25 and 40 metres.
Flash floods and landslides strike West Java, displacing thousands
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
According to the Indonesian Red Cross Society, at least 37 people have died and 20 others are still missing after flash floods and landslides struck Garut and Sumedang regencies in West Java.
By Paulus Enggal, IFRC
As heavy rains continued through the night, 52-year-old E’en was cleaning her house in the village of Haurpanggung, West Java, while her husband and children slept. She never imagined that she would lose her home that night.
“I’ve lived here for 40 years, and this was the first time we experienced flash floods in this village,” she explained. “I heard shouting outside and when I opened the door to investigate, water rushed in. Thankfully, we were rescued and no one in my family was hurt.”
According to the Indonesian Red Cross Society, at least 37 people have died and 20 others are still missing after flash floods and landslides struck Garut and Sumedang regencies in West Java.
Reports from the National Disaster Management Agency indicate that 858 houses were destroyed and 1,600 others were damaged. Nearly 6,400 people have been displaced in the Garut regency, where water reaching 2 meters high in some areas inundated at least eight sub-districts. Landslides displaced 1,300 people in the villages within the Sumedang regency.
Irfran Hendriansyah, 35, witnessed floodwaters sweeping houses off their foundations in his village at Haurpanggung. “The water was massive like ocean waves. It reached nine meters high along the Cimanuk River and destroyed everything in its path,” said the night guard. Irfan and his group of friends have managed to help at least 50 people who were trapped in their houses in Haurpanggung.
“We evacuated them using rubber tubes commonly used by sand miners,” he explained.
“We moved everyone to the second floor of a building, but the water kept rising so everyone had to be evacuated to a temporary camp.”
Like many of the villagers in the area, E’en and her family have little choice but to move back to Haurpanggung when the water recedes. “This is where I work, and my children go to school here,” she said. “But we won’t build the house so close to the river next time.”
Red Cross volunteers have been on the ground providing support to the displaced communities since the onset of the floods, particularly for those living in the temporary camp. To date, the volunteers have distributed more than 50,000 litres of clean water, blankets, toiletries and clothing.
“Communities living in the area were eager to help us build temporary latrines and bathing areas,” said Den Eky Julianto, the Water and Sanitation Coordinator for the Indonesian Red Cross. “We’ve also provided psychosocial support and a mobile clinic for the communities, and we distribute 7,000 litres of clean water each day.”
Afghan women bear brunt of violent extremism devastating communities
Source: UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
“The protection of women in conflict, the prevention of violence against women, the participation of women in conflict resolution and ... in preventing violent extremism are essential to sustainable peace,” said the UN.
JALALABAD - Women are inordinately affected by the violent extremism that has devastated many eastern Afghan communities, the deputy UN envoy told participants at a UN-backed ‘Global Open Days’ event in the capital of Nangarhar province.
Around 40 people -- including the Provincial Governor of Laghman, Abdul Jabar Naeemi and Deputy Governor of Nangarhar, Muhamad Hanif Gardiwal, along with women’s rights activists, and civil society representatives from the eastern provinces of Kunar, Laghman, Nuristan and Nangarhar, attended.
“The protection of women in conflict, the prevention of violence against women, the participation of women in conflict resolution and their role in preventing violent extremism are essential to sustainable peace,” said Pernille Kardel the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“I hope that in time our collective efforts and determination to move forward on preventing violent extremism will lead to results that will have a real and profound impact on women and men of this region,” said Ms. Kardel.
A five-member panel -- drawing on perspectives related to human rights, youth, local government and civil society -- presented the concept of violent extremism in its different forms and contexts, putting it into the context of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
The Global Open Days events are designed to raise awareness about the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict, and to stress the importance of women’s participation in maintaining and promoting peace. Open Days were launched in 2010 on the 10th anniversary of resolution 1325.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides good offices; promotes coherent development support by the international community; supports the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.
At least 96 children killed, 223 injured in eastern Aleppo since Friday
Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Syrian Arab Republic
The health system in eastern Aleppo is crumbling. A doctor on the ground told UNICEF that children with low chances of survival are too often left to die due to limited capacity and supplies.
NEW YORK, 28 September 2016 – At least 96 children have been killed and 223 have been injured in Eastern Aleppo since Friday, UNICEF said.
“The children of Aleppo are trapped in a living nightmare,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth. “There are no words left to describe the suffering they are experiencing.”
The health system in Eastern Aleppo is crumbling with some 30 doctors left, hardly any equipment or emergency medicine to treat the injured, and an ever increasing number of trauma cases.
A doctor on the ground told UNICEF that children with low chances of survival are too often left to die due to limited capacity and supplies.
“Nothing can justify such assaults on children and such total disregard for human life. The suffering – and the shock among children – is definitely the worst we have seen,” said Forsyth.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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UN chief calls on Security Council for decisive steps to end attacks on hospitals, medical staff
Source: UN Security Council
Country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen
Ban Ki-moon stressed that international law is clear that medical workers, facilities and transports must be protected and the wounded and sick, civilians and fighters alike, must be spared.
7779th Meeting (AM)
Speakers Urge Appointment of Special Representative to Document, Assaults as Secretary-General Decries ‘Affront to Shared Humanity’
Ending attacks on medical workers, facilities and transports in conflict hotspots — including by several of its own permanent members — must remain an urgent priority for the Security Council, speakers emphasized today as the body convened to consider hospital bombings in embattled Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
Briefing the 15-member Council, representatives of humanitarian organizations described the daily struggles faced by medical workers who risked their lives to keep patients alive amid conflicts in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and other regions. The Council also considered a number of recommendations outlined by the Secretary-General in an August letter (document S/2016/722), and intended to protect medical personnel, as well as the sick and wounded.
Opening the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the international community’s failure to act against such crimes would constitute an “affront to our shared humanity” and undermine the legal obligations of States and the multilateral system as a whole. While the Council’s adoption of resolution 2286 (2016) in May, condemning attacks on medical personnel in conflict situations, there had since been a surge in horrific attacks against hospitals, clinics and medical professionals, he noted. “International law is clear: medical workers, facilities and transports must be protected,” he said, emphasizing that the sick and wounded must be spared.
Describing deliberate attacks on hospitals as war crimes, he said that denying people access to essential health care constituted a violation of international humanitarian law. The carnage continued in Syria, in particular, where no one was spared. Noting that Aleppo had recently faced the most sustained and intense bombardment since the beginning of the conflict, he said that an estimated 95 per cent of the city’s medical personnel had fled, been detained or killed. Resolution 2286 (2016) urged parties to armed conflict, as well as Member States, to take concrete action, he said, adding that his own recommendations provided detailed steps in that regard.
Joanne Liu, International President of Médecins sans frontières/Doctors without Borders, said “the conduct of war today knows no limits”, and resolution 2286 (2016) had done little to change the situation on the ground. “This failure reflects a lack of political will among Member States fighting in coalitions and those who enable them,” she said. Describing a number of attacks against her organization in recent months, she said that, in both Syria and Yemen, four of the five permanent members of the Council had been implicated in attacks against medical facilities. Médecins sans frontières was still awaiting an independent investigation into the deaths of 42 patients and medical workers in Kunduz, Afghanistan, a year ago, she said, urgently requesting that the Secretary‑General appoint a special representative mandated to document and report attacks on medical facilities, health personnel and patients.
Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, (ICRC) said that, while resolution 2286 (2016) provided a solid foundation on which to make progress, more must be done. He recommended strengthening national legislation to improve access to health care, emphasizing the critical importance of Member States establishing national data-collection systems to gather information about patients and health facilities. Regarding accountability, he called upon Member States to ensure that those responsible for attacks and access restrictions on medical care were brought to justice. In that regard, resources must be allocated for capacity-building and effective investigations, he said, stressing also that it was essential for Member States to develop contingency plans in accordance with international standards.
Following those briefings, many Council members voiced support for resolution 2286 (2016) while several others expressed frustration over the lack of action to implement the resolution, citing a lack of political will. Still others underlined the need for swift, independent investigation of all allegations of attacks against medical facilities, and called for the urgent deployment of fact-finding missions in that regard.
Malaysia’s representative said today’s briefings had provided a harrowing glimpse into the struggles of health-care workers in armed conflict situations. Evidence of attacks against the sick and wounded, as well as medical personnel and facilities, underscored the grim reality that international humanitarian law had been flagrantly violated by a number of belligerent armed parties. Calling attention to such attacks in Syria and Yemen, he called on the Council to take urgent action beyond mere condemnation.
The representative of the United States warned that medical facilities in Aleppo were running out of medicines, baby milk and respirators, even as people died in the streets. The Council could not allow the systemic targeting of such facilities by the Bashar al-Assad regime, she said, adding that the actions of the regime and the Russian Federation ran contravened resolution 2286 (2016). She recalled that in July, President Barack Obama had issued an Executive Order — the first of its kind — on pre- and post-strike measures to address civilian casualties involving the use of force.
Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s representative expressed support for resolution 2286 (2016), but nevertheless emphasized the responsibility of the conflict parties to uphold the safety of medical personnel. It was unfortunate that some States blamed Moscow and Damascus after every attack when, in fact, such incidents, as well as the destabilization in the region, were the result of the careless policies pursued by the United States and its allies.
Venezuela’s representative said it was inconceivable that the “mistake” of bombing medical facilities could be made at a time when high-tech precision weapons were available. Joining other speakers in endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendations, he called upon countries with influence to compel parties to conflict to end attacks against medical facilities. Venezuela, for its own part, had never participated in any military coalition implicated in such attacks, he said, stressing that it endorsed no double standard on the matter.
Also speaking were representatives of Spain, Senegal, Uruguay, France, Egypt, China, Angola, Japan, Ukraine, United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins sans frontières played a critical role in providing health care in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Since the Council’s adoption of resolution 2286 (2016), there had been a surge in horrific attacks against hospitals, clinics and medical professionals. “International law is clear: medical workers, facilities and transports must be protected,” he said, emphasizing that the sick and wounded must be spared. Describing deliberate attacks on hospitals as war crimes, he said that denying people access to essential health care violated international humanitarian law.
“Since May, there has been no let-up,” he said, noting that civilians had been killed in attacks on hospitals from Yemen to Pakistan. In Syria, the carnage continued and no one was spared. In fact, Aleppo had faced the most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the conflict. According to Physicians for Human Rights, 95 per cent of medical personnel in the city had fled, been detained or killed. Recalling that the World Humanitarian Summit and the Agenda for Humanity reaffirmed that safeguarding humanity in armed conflict must be a priority, he said the Security Council had a unique responsibility and wielded influence in that area. Resolution 2286 (2016) urged parties to armed conflict and Member States to take concrete action, he pointed out, adding that his own recommendations provided concrete and detailed steps on improving protection for medical staff and facilities, as well as the sick and wounded.
Stressing the importance of prevention efforts, he said Member States must do their utmost to promote respect for medical care and align national legislation with international humanitarian law. It was essential to establish dialogue among medical personnel, civil society organizations and the authorities. At the same time, it was critical to ensure that foreign policy decisions respected the provision of medical care in conflict. Moreover, Member States and parties to conflict must take precautions to safeguard medical facilities and personnel when they planned and conducted military operations, he said, noting that his recommendations covered military orders, the location of targets, visible military presence in and around medical facilities, and the issuance of advance warnings and evacuations.
He went on to underline that those responsible for violations must be prosecuted and punished, adding that Member States must conduct systematic and impartial investigations into specific incidents, and analyse better and more extensive data. In that context, he urged the Security Council to overcome its divisions and meet its responsibilities to prevent and reduce conflict, while building peace and stability. “Failure to act is an affront to our shared humanity,” he said. “It undermines States’ legal obligations and the multilateral system as a whole.”
JOANNE LIU, International President of Médecins sans frontières/Doctors without Borders, recalled last week’s savage attack on a United Nations and Syrian Red Crescent humanitarian convoy and on a hospital near Aleppo, saying “the conduct of war today knows no limits”. It was a race to the bottom, she said, noting that the unrelenting assault on Aleppo by Russian and Syrian forces in recent days was evidence of that fact. In adopting resolution 2286 (2016) last May, the Council had pledged to protect civilians and the medical services they needed to survive; five months later, however, the resolution had failed to change anything on the ground. “This failure reflects a lack of political will among Member States fighting in coalitions and those who enable them,” she said, urging the Council to make its pledges operational.
Describing a number of horrific attacks against Médecins sans frontières in recent months, including one that had killed 19 people — health workers and patients among them — at a hospital in Abs, Yemen, she said that as a result of four such attacks, the organization had been forced to withdraw from the north of the country, leaving scores of people behind with reduced medical care. The area then had been hit by Saudi carpet bombing, she said, underlining the negligence of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia, as well as that of its opponents. Many attacks had been brushed off as mistakes, she said, rejecting the use of that term.
In Syria, the attacks had never stopped, she continued. Doctors in Aleppo pulled their weakest patients off ventilators “so someone else gets a chance”. Just this morning, two more hospitals in the east of that city had been struck, leading to their temporary closure. In both Syria and Yemen, four of the five permanent members of the Council had been implicated in such attacks, she said, calling on those nations to revoke the “licence to kill” they had issued. Military action and humanitarian needs must be balanced, and attacking hospitals and medical workers was a non-negotiable red line.
Emphasizing the need for accountability and credible investigations, she said Médecins sans frontières was awaiting an independent investigation into the deaths of 42 patients and medical workers in Kunduz, Afghanistan, a year ago. She urgently requested that the Secretary-General appoint a special representative mandated to document and report attacks on medical facilities, health personnel and patients.
PETER MAURER, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that attacks and access restrictions on medical care undermined international law. In Syria, civilians and medical staff were under attack, many hospitals were not functioning, and electricity and water resources had been disrupted. While expressing concern about the deteriorating situation, he commended the Council’s leadership. “We must remain confident in our actions and make a difference on the ground,” he said.
Drawing attention to Council resolution 2286 (2016), he said that, while the international community had a solid foundation on which to make progress, more must be done. He recommended strengthening national legislation to improve access to health care, emphasizing also the critical importance of Member States establishing national data-collection systems to gather information about patients and health facilities, and convening multistakeholder meetings.
Regarding accountability, he called upon Member States to ensure that those responsible for attacks and access restrictions on medical care were brought to justice. In that regard, resources must be allocated for capacity-building and effective investigations, he said, emphasizing that it was also essential that Member States develop contingency plans in accordance with international standards.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), recalling that his delegation had co-sponsored resolution 2286 (2016), expressed his full support for the Secretary‑General’s recommendations, citing in particular to reform of the rules of conduct and the prohibition against storing weapons near hospitals and clinics. Calling urgently upon all States to put those measures into practice and adopt new technology to prevent attacks against health-care facilities, he said, that while no single resolution could end such attacks, resolution 2286 (2016) could serve as a basis for changing the culture within the Council. Spain sought to leave behind a guide of good practice for other Council members, and had joined the Group of Friends of Resolution 2286 (2016), which should meet at least once a year. The Council must recognize that it was failing doctors and patients, and that it owed them a response, he said, adding that, while it had the necessary tools, it lacked the political will to take action. Expressing support for proposals to impose sanctions in response to serious attacks against medical facilities, or to refer such cases to the International Criminal Court, he said Spain was prepared to contribute to rapid, impartial investigations against suspected perpetrators.
ABDOULAYE BARRO (Senegal) said today’s briefings demonstrated once again the need for the Council to take up the issue of protecting medical personnel, facilities and equipment in conflict zones. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s recommendations for ending attacks against such persons and facilities, as well as opening investigations and prosecuting perpetrators, he said the role of United Nations peacekeeping missions should also be strengthened, emphasizing that the Council must ensure that resources were adapted to their mandates. Urging the lifting of all barriers to health care in conflict areas, he called for increased support for local health facilities and for the provision of proper training for military personnel in order to reduce the disruption of health care to a minimum. In addition, he expressed support for more Council briefings on attacks against health-care workers and facilities.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), noting that there appeared to be no end in sight to such tragic attacks, said resolution 2286 (2016) had not been worded strongly enough to protect patients and medical staff against the cowardly attacks they faced. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations, as well as for the proposal to establish the post of special representative to investigate such attacks, he endorsed the statement by Spain’s representative and underscored the importance of the commitment to investigate and punish the perpetrators of such horrendous acts. “War crimes must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he stressed.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), while expressing concern about attacks against medical facilities and staff in Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan, stressed that resolution 2286 (2016) had laid the groundwork for addressing that problem effectively. Drawing attention to the recent air strikes on hospitals, he said “if these are not war crimes, I don’t know what else is”. In that regard, he called on those who had not done so to ratify the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. Among other efforts, it was essential to conduct impartial investigations to bring perpetrators to justice, he said.
MICHELE SISON (United States) said two hospitals had been hit by air strikes in eastern Aleppo, which had killed and injured patients, as well as medical staff. “Hospitals have no room to receive patients,” she said, noting that facilities were running out of medicine, baby milk and respirators. Unable to find help, people were dying in the streets. The Council could not allow the systematic use of the same tactics by the Bashar al-Assad regime, she said, noting that more than 300 attacks had been documented since 2011. “Actions taken by the Russian Federation and the Assad regime are contrary to the demands of resolution 2286 (2016),” she added. Turning to Yemen, she expressed regret over incidents involving humanitarian workers, medical staff and facilities, saying the Council must use its influence to convince the parties to stop the violence. In July, the President of the United States had issued an Executive Order on pre- and post-strike measures to address civilian casualties involving the use of force, she recalled. As the first policy of its kind, it aimed to reduce civilian casualties in partnership with relevant stakeholders.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) expressed regret that some parties to conflict continued to obstruct the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Recalling the principle of protecting civilians in armed conflict, he said further measures must be taken to meet the needs of the sick and wounded. Given the situation on the ground, it was critical that parties avoid taking any divisive action. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations, he said Member States must do all in their power to promote respect for medical care in armed conflict, and ensure that those responsible for violations were prosecuted and punished.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) echoed calls for all parties to conflict to stop bombing hospitals, health workers and patients, which could not be justified under any circumstances. Now was the time to comply with resolution 2286 (2016). At a time when high-tech precision weapons were available, it was inconceivable that such “mistakes” could be made. Condemning attacks against medical facilities in Palestine, Yemen and Syria, he said it was unacceptable that such entities as ICRC had become military targets. He endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations and called upon all Member States to adhere to relevant international treaties. Emphasizing that peacekeeping and special political missions should play a more active role in creating an environment conducive to the protection of health workers and patients, he also called upon countries with influence to compel parties to conflict to end attacks against medical facilities. For its own part, Venezuela had never participated in any military coalition implicated in such attacks, he said, stressing that it endorsed no double standard on the matter.
WU HAITAO (China) said resolution 2286 (2016) underscored the importance of ending attacks against medical facilities, health workers and patients. Political efforts were needed to end conflicts in hotspots around the world, he said, urging the Council to promote dialogue and negotiation, and the international community to take a fair and objective view. It was incumbent upon Governments and parties to conflict to protect medical personnel and facilities, he said, noting that the former bore primary responsibility for protecting civilians within their borders. For their part, humanitarian agencies must win the trust of the parties concerned and adhere to the United Nations Charter, including the principle of sovereignty, and avoid becoming involved in conflict. Among other things, he called on the United Nations to establish an effective mechanism for communicating with humanitarian agencies, taking into account the views of the countries concerned.
RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) said today’s briefings had provided a harrowing glimpse into the struggles of health-care workers in armed conflict situations. Evidence of attacks against the sick and wounded, as well as medical personnel and facilities, underscored the grim reality that international humanitarian law had been flagrantly violated by a number of belligerent armed parties. Resolution 2286 (2016) had failed to change anything on the ground, which meant that the Council now faced the urgent task of implementing the Secretary-General’s recommendations. He noted that medical facilities in Syria continued to be targeted despite the recent agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States. The conflict in Yemen had seen similar attacks as recently as mid-August, he said, calling on the Council to take urgent action beyond mere condemnation. Going forward, the Secretary-General’s recommendations should act as a guiding framework, and the Council should work to ensure that attacks against medical facilities were swiftly investigated. He called for the establishment of fact-finding missions, stressing that all perpetrators must be held accountable.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) condemned attacks and access restrictions on medical care, which had devastating impacts on civilians and medical staff. The deliberate obstruction of humanitarian assistance had undermined Council efforts mandated by the United Nations Charter. Calling attention to recent trends, he pointed out that vital medical supplies continued to be damaged and destroyed in South Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria, prolonging people’s suffering. Meeting the basic needs of citizens was the main responsibility of Governments, he said, urging Member States to comply fully with international law.
YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) said attacks on medical facilities for strategic purposes were “malicious beyond human decency and absolutely unacceptable”. Resolution 2286 (2016) demonstrated the Council’s strong commitment to ensure that such facilities were fully protected and secured, even during combat. A lack of accountability was a main factor behind the failure to prevent attacks on medical facilities. Facts were difficult to ascertain, different sides blamed each other and no thorough investigations were ever carried out. In that regard, the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission had an important role to ensure the objective and fair application of international humanitarian law. The Council should play an active role in fact-finding and ensuring accountability, he said, adding that Japan would collaborate with the United Nations and other concerned parties on the issue.
EDUARD FESKO (Ukraine) said that, while international humanitarian and human rights law had sufficient provisions on legal protection for medical and humanitarian personnel and facilities, they were often violated by parties to armed conflict. He expressed support for the Secretary-General’s recommendations on enhancing the collection of data on attacks against medical care, conducting independent investigations into serious violations and ensuring accountability for those responsible. In cases where domestic accountability mechanisms were inadequate, Member States should cooperate fully with existing international criminal justice institutions in order to help combat impunity and ensure respect for international humanitarian law, he said.
EVGENY ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) acknowledged that medical staff and humanitarian personnel were risking their lives to address the needs of the sick and injured. Like the majority of States, the Russian Federation had supported resolution 2286 (2016), yet responsibility for upholding the safety of such personnel rested on the parties to the conflict. Turning to the Secretary-General’s report, he emphasized that the suffering of civilians in Syria must be verified. It was unfortunate that some States blamed the Russian Federation and Damascus after every attack, when, in fact, such incidents, as well as the destabilization in the region, were the result of the careless policies of the United States and its allies. Stressing the need for an effective solution, he said there was more than one way to end the conflict. Drawing attention to anti-Russian propaganda, he said it was intended to divert attention from failed policies. “Falsified information is being spread,” he said, calling for an end to provocative rhetoric.
PETER WILSON (United Kingdom), describing today’s briefings as a “wake-up call” for the Council, said that, sadly, five months after the adoption of resolution 2286 (2016), the overwhelming danger facing medical personnel and patients was still painfully apparent, adding that attacks were most starkly on display in Aleppo. “We cannot hide behind the passive voice,” he said. Syrian and Russian air forces were carrying out attacks against medical facilities in that city, whose name had become synonymous with suffering. While 400,000 people had lost their lives as a direct result of the conflict in Syria, the secondary death toll was likely to be much higher. Together with the forced removal of medical supplies from humanitarian convoys, attacks on medical facilities amounted to a calculated dismantling of Syria’s health-care system. Calling on all parties to improve the flow of humanitarian supplies to the 14 million people in Yemen who needed it, he urged thorough investigations into all allegations of international humanitarian law violations in that country. Groups such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) were no exception to the law, which was why the United Kingdom would propose a new plan to preserve and gather evidence of the group’s crimes in Iraq, he said.
GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand), Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, saying that the past few months had been “more than dispiriting” as attacks against medical workers, facilities and humanitarian convoys had increased. In Yemen, attacks had forced Médecins sans frontières to withdraw its support from six hospitals. In Syria, there had been a clear pattern of systematic targeting of medical workers and facilities, he said, citing reports that all hospitals in eastern Aleppo had been subjected to military attacks. The apparently deliberate attack on a humanitarian convoy last week had set a new low, demonstrating that some Member States were willing to show reckless disregard for international law in order to reach their military and political goals. States should do more to ensure their domestic regulatory frameworks protected medical care in armed conflict, he said, adding that they should also promote understanding of international humanitarian law among their armed forces. As for the Council, it must hold accountable those responsible for attacks on health-care providers and facilities.
Mr. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) took the floor a second time to point out that the part of his statement saying, “suffering of civilians must be ended” had been interpreted incorrectly.
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WFP reaches town in northern Iraq after two-year siege
Source: World Food Programme
Country: Iraq, United States of America
The people of Shirqat have been living under very harsh conditions, struggling to access water, food and healthcare. WFP distributed supplies to an initial 1,000 people.
BAGHDAD – For the first time in more than two years, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed urgently-needed food for people in and around the northern Iraqi town of Shirqat, 80 kilometres south of Mosul. Until this month, the town was under siege and cut off from humanitarian access since 2014.
Through its local partner Muslim Aid, WFP distributed a one-month supply of food for families in the Khadhraniya area of Shirqat.
“Families in Shirqat are in a desperate need of humanitarian support after being cut off from the outside world for more than two years,” said Sally Haydock, WFP Country Director in Iraq. “Thanks to a major contribution from USAID’s Food for Peace and Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, WFP will be able to continue providing support for newly displaced families from the larger Mosul area.”
The people of Shirqat have been living under very harsh conditions, struggling to access water, food, medical services and a functioning local market. WFP distributed rice, lentils, wheat flour, bulgur wheat, beans and vegetable oil for an initial 1,000 people. WFP will monitor the situation and support people in the town and surrounding villages over the coming weeks.
“This latest contribution of US$25 million to WFP continues and reinforces our support to displaced and conflict-affected Iraqis,” said Douglas Silliman, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq. “Now, more than ever, it is important to partner with WFP in Iraq to reach those in need. Since 2014, the United States, through USAID's Office of Food for Peace, has provided more than US$113 million in life-saving emergency food assistance to the people of Iraq."
More than 3 million Iraqis have been displaced by conflict since mid-June 2014. In response, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 1 million vulnerable, displaced Iraqis across all 18 governorates.
WFP is scaling up its assistance to support people displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas as part of an inter-agency humanitarian response. To continue assisting displaced families in Iraq until the end of the year, WFP urgently requires US$68 million.
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Indiscriminate bombings the overriding factor forcing millions of Syrians to flee
Source: Handicap International
Country: Syrian Arab Republic
The new Handicap Int'l report identifies the large scale use of explosive weapons in populated areas as the most significant cause of the mass displacement of Syrians.
NEW REPORT: VIOLENT ATTACKS FORCING MILLIONS OF SYRIANS TO FLEE
Silver Spring, MD -- A new report identifies indiscriminate bombings as the overriding factor forcing millions of Syrians to flee their homes. Qasef: Escaping the bombing takes an intimate look at the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Based on interviews with Syrian refugees in July 2016, a document review, and expert interviews, the report identifies the large scale use of explosive weapons in populated areas as the most significant cause of the mass displacement of Syrians. More than 10.9 million Syrians have been affected, equivalent to more than half of the country’s population.
Syrians interviewed for the report said they were subject to multiple displacements within Syria—up to 25 times after successive attacks—before seeking refuge abroad. Repeated displacement causes extreme poverty and serious psychological distress.
“War does not justify everything,” says Anne Héry, head of advocacy at Handicap International. “There are international rules that must be enforced, such as the law requiring belligerent parties to protect civilians from the effects of war. Attacks using explosive weapons with a wide-area impact in populated area have indiscriminate effects. All States have a responsibility to ensure that international humanitarian law is upheld and enforced.”
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas is the main cause of civilian deaths. In 2012, according to a study released by the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) and cited in the report, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas was responsible for 48% of civilian casualties. That figure rose to 83% in 2016.
Some weapons, such as barrel bombs and elephant rockets are indiscriminate by nature. Their lack of precision causes large numbers of civilian casualties. The report also underlines the seriousness of the injuries caused by these attacks: 47% of people injured by explosive weapons have complex fractures.
“Combined with the absence of appropriate medical care and psychological support in Syria, this practice has had a devastating effect on people’s lives,” Héry notes. “With more than 1.5 million casualties in Syria, an entire generation is going to suffer the sequelae [of these injuries] for many years to come.”
Syrians who were not directly affected by the attacks are also forced to flee in order to rebuild their lives: bombing destroys key infrastructure (homes, hospitals, water and electricity networks, etc.) and social and economic life.
“Weapons clearance will take decades in Syria, which is highly contaminated by explosive remnants of war,” Héry adds. “The parties to the conflict must immediately end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, particularly weapons with a wide-area impact. The international community must take action against this practice, which has become the rule in the Syrian conflict.”
In September 2015, Handicap International launched an international campaign to end attacks on civilians. The organization is calling on States to sign a political declaration to bring an end to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and to recognize the suffering of civilians. To this end, the organization has co-founded the INEW (International Network on Explosive Weapons) coalition of international and national organizations.
Qasef: Escaping the bombing is based on interviews recorded in Jordan in July 2016, with Syrian refugees from Aleppo, Damascus and the surrounding region, Deraa and Homs, as well as a review of existing literature on the crisis, and interviews with managers of international organizations.