OCHA allocates $10 million to assist IDPs in Syria
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey
In the Aleppo governorate, tens of thousands of people have been displaced. About 80 per cent of the
displaced are women and children.
Intensified fighting between the Government of Syria (GoS) and its allies and Non-State Armed Opposition Groups (NSAG) in Aleppo governorate cause displacements of tens of thousands of people
Humanitarian assistance affected by fighting and border closures; aid organisations are working to respond to the thousands of internally displaced and in need. According to initial assessments up to 80 percent of the displaced are women and children
OCHA launched a Humanitarian Pooled Fund (HPF) allocation for USD10 million to scale up assistance to areas with high IDP influx The map below illustrates areas of concentration of Government of Syria (GoS) and allied forces airstrikes on civilian infrastructure as of 08 February 2016 see map in attachment)*
Thousands Displaced in Aleppo Governorate as GoS Forces Advance
Last week GoS and allied forces launched a major military offensive against NSAG-held positions in the northern Aleppo countryside. A surprise offensive, started from the eastern flank of Aleppo city, linked GoS held territories to the NSAG-surrounded villages of Nubul and Zahra. This action severed main supply routes to NSAG-controlled eastern Aleppo City, and surrounding areas, from the Bab al Salam border crossing point.
According to sources in the area, while troops advanced on the ground, GoS and allied forces intensified airstrikes over key territory north of the city; thousands of households were displaced from Tel Rifaat, Hariyatan, and Azaz sub-districts.
Currently, the GoS and GoR air campaign is focusing on Haritan and Bayanoun, just south of the newly-established corridor linking western Aleppo city to government-held Nubul and Zahara. The campaign is expected to continue until the GoS take Haritan and the last remaining access route from NSAG-controlled areas into the city. The Al Nusra Front (ANF) and allies are launching a counter-offensive towards Aleppo prison in order to defend Haritan.
Current dynamics mean the conflict is difficult to predict but continued fighting between NSAG and GoS and its allies is expected over the next few weeks.
UN Human Rights Office alarmed by escalating inter-communal violence in North Kivu
Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tensions between the Hutu and Nande communities seem to have reached an alarming level with the latest incidents and could lead to large-scale violence and further displacement.
GENEVA (8 February 2016) - We are alarmed by reports of escalating inter-communal violence in the Lubero and Walikale territories, North Kivu province, with at least 21 people killed, 40 wounded and 70 houses burned down over the week-end. We have also received reports of massive displacement of civilians, looting, abductions and of at least three rapes during the past few days.
Tensions between the Hutu and Nande communities, which have been increasing since November 2015, seem to have reached an alarming level with these latest incidents and could lead to large-scale violence and further displacement.
Civilians from both communities are supported by armed groups - the Hutus by the FDLR armed group (Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda) and the Nandes by traditional Mayi Mayi fighters - which makes the situation even more potentially explosive.
We call upon the Congolese Government to do its utmost to ensure the protection of civilians and eradicate the threat of armed groups. We urge all sides to exercise restraint and engage in a meaningful dialogue in order to de-escalate tensions.
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Syrian civilians suffering large-scale and widespread executions and deaths in detention centres on all sides of the conflict
Source: UN Human Rights Council
Country: Syrian Arab Republic
The Commission of Inquiry on Syria details how Syrian civilians have been arbitrarily arrested, unlawfully detained, taken hostage, or kidnapped, since the conflict erupted nearly five years ago.
Syrian Civilians Suffering Large-Scale and Widespread Executions and Deaths in Detention Centres on All Sides of the Conflict
Geneva, 8 February 2016 – Over the past four and a half years, thousands of detainees have been killed while in the custody of warring parties, according to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
The latest report, “Out of sight, out of mind: Deaths in detention in the Syrian Arab Republic”, released today, is based on 621 interviews, as well as extensive documentary material, and examines the killing of detainees by all parties to the armed conflict between 10 March 2011 and 30 November 2015.
The Commission details how Syrian civilians have been arbitrarily arrested, unlawfully detained, taken hostage, or kidnapped, since the conflict erupted nearly five years ago. Eyewitness accounts and documentary evidence strongly suggest that tens of thousands of people are detained by the Syrian Government at any one time. Thousands more have disappeared after initial arrest by State forces or while moving through Government-held territory.
“Nearly every surviving detainee has emerged from custody having suffered unimaginable abuses”, said Commission chair, Paulo Pinheiro. “For ordinary Syrians, the spectre of arrest or abduction, and the near-inevitable horrors that follow, have paralysed communities across the country”.
The report describes, sometimes in gruesome depictions, how thousands of detainees held by the Syrian Government have been beaten to death, or died as a result of injuries sustained due to torture. Many other detainees perished as a consequence of inhuman living conditions and deprivation of medical care. These killings and deaths, the report stresses, occurred with high frequency, over a protracted period of time and in multiple locations controlled by the Syrian State apparatus, with significant logistical support involving vast State resources.
Government officials intentionally maintained such poor conditions of detention for prisoners as to have been life-threatening, and were aware that mass deaths of detainees would result. These actions, in the pursuance of a State policy, amount to extermination as a crime against humanity.
The Commission determines that the Government of Syria has further committed the crimes against humanity of murder, rape or other forms of sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts. These violations constitute war crimes, where the acts were committed after the start of the armed conflict.
As anti-Government armed groups and terrorist groups have come in control of territory, they too have held prisoners under brutal conditions. Some anti-Government armed groups established makeshift places of detention where captured Government soldiers were ill-treated, and executed.
“We have heard shocking evidence of how people have been summarily executed following illicit trials, while some individuals taken hostage died in the custody of armed groups”, said Commissioner Vitit Muntarbhorn.
Jabhat Al-Nusra and anti-Government armed groups control places of detention, holding Government soldiers as well as civilians. The torture and deaths of detainees have been recorded in some of these facilities. Both the terrorist group Jabhat Al-Nusra and some anti-Government armed groups committed the war crimes of murder, cruel treatment, and torture, the report finds.
In areas of the Syrian Arab Republic under the control of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the terrorist group subjected detainees to serious abuses, including torture and summary executions. Detainees were frequently executed after unauthorised courts issued death sentences. ISIS has committed the crimes against humanity of murder and torture, and war crimes.
Through this report, the Commission hopes that efforts will be strengthened to find a path to justice for Syrian civilians, as well to assist prosecutorial and judicial authorities seeking to bring cases, whether at a national or international level. “Accountability for these and other crimes must form part of any political solution,” said Commissioner Carla del Ponte. “Instead, these violations are being committed with total impunity”.
Among the paper’s recommendations was a call to the UN Security Council to adopt targeted sanctions against persons, agencies, and groups suspected of being responsible for or complicit in custodial deaths, torture, and enforced disappearance.
“The situation of detainees in Syria is critical, and represents an urgent and large-scale crisis of human rights protection,” stated Commissioner Vitit Muntarbhorn. “With thousands of persons still in custody, urgent steps need to be taken by the Syrian Government, armed groups, the external backers of various belligerents, and the wider international community to prevent further deaths”.
The Commission of Inquiry on Syria was established by the Human Rights Council in August 2011 to investigate and record all violations of international human rights law and allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Commission is also tasked to identify, where possible, those responsible for these violations with a view to ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable.
The Commission comprises of Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro (Chair), Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd, Ms. Carla del Ponte, and Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn.
The Commission of Inquiry on Syria will publish its eleventh comprehensive report in February 2016 and present that to the Human Rights Council in Geneva during an interactive dialogue at its 31st session in March.
Additional information about the Commission of Inquiry and links to all available reports can be found on their website:
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UN agencies warn of escalating food crisis in South Sudan
Source: World Food Programme, UN Children's Fund, Food and Agriculture Organization
Country: South Sudan
Nearly 25 percent of the country's population — 2.8 million people — remain in urgent need of food assistance, and at least 40,000 people are on the brink of catastrophe.
Rise in hunger at harvest time; harsh and prolonged 2016 lean season approaching
8 February 2016, Juba - South Sudan is facing unprecedented levels of food insecurity, as 2.8 million people — nearly 25 percent of the country's population — remain in urgent need of food assistance, and at least 40,000 people are on the brink of catastrophe, three UN agencies warned today.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) stressed that these numbers are particularly worrisome because they show an increase in hunger during the post-harvest period — a time when the country is traditionally most food secure.
The number of food insecure people is expected to peak during the coming lean season — traditionally worst between April and July — when food availability is lowest. Humanitarian partners have released an update to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, which projects that the lean season will start early this year, and the hunger period will be longer than in previous years.
The three UN agencies noted that the dry season, which is now beginning, could bring additional hardship to people facing the most severe levels of hunger. People displaced in conflict-affected Unity State, who have been living on fish and water lilies to survive, are running out of their only remaining sources of food as the floods recede. Livestock raiding has robbed many people of essential animal products like milk, which were their main means of survival during last year's lean season. Unless humanitarian assistance can reliably reach them during the dry season, they face catastrophe in the coming months.
For this reason, the UN agencies are calling for a speedy implementation of the peace agreement signed last year, and for unrestricted access to conflict areas to deliver much needed supplies to the most affected areas.
"It is not only areas directly affected by conflict that are food insecure — some 200,000 people in Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Warrap states have also seen their access to food deteriorate, owing to factors such as price inflation and market disruptions that are tied to the conflict," said Serge Tissot, Acting FAO Representative in South Sudan. "Prompt implementation of the peace agreement is absolutely critical to improving the food situation."
"During the dry season, we must make a massive pre-positioning effort so that we can continue assisting people after roads become impassable once the rains come," said WFP Country Director Joyce Luma. "Rising insecurity in Greater Equatoria is hampering delivery of humanitarian assistance through major routes, setting back our efforts to prepare and respond to people who are most in need."
Today's IPC report also highlights the overall prevalence of emergency levels of malnutrition as an issue of grave concern. Malnutrition in South Sudan is attributed mostly to inadequate food consumption, along with other factors such as disease, dietary habits, as well as constrained health and nutrition service delivery.
"Families have been doing everything they can to survive but they are now running out of options," said Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF representative in South Sudan. "Many of the areas where the needs are greatest are out of reach because of the security situation. It's crucial that we are given unrestricted access now. If we can reach them, we can help them."
Working with a large number of international and local non-governmental organizations, FAO, UNICEF and WFP continue to deliver life- and livelihood-saving support under difficult circumstances.
FAO plans to assist 2.8 million people in producing food and protecting their livestock assets in 2016, compared to 2.4 million people reached last year. FAO emergency livelihood support includes crop kits, vegetable kits, fishing kits and livestock vaccinations of more than 5 million head of cattle.
UNICEF has set a target of treating more than 165,000 children for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2016. Last year the number of children treated for SAM surpassed 144,000, which was a 53 percent increase over 2014.
WFP delivered food and nutrition assistance to some 3 million people across South Sudan in the last year, working with 87 NGO partners and using every tool at its disposal, including airdrops, river barges, cash-based transfers, local food purchases and specialized nutritious foods.
Food security and malnutrition situation in Somalia is "critical and could get worse"
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia
Latest assessment confirms persistently high and alarming levels of food insecurity and malnutrition, with an estimated 4.7 million people, nearly 40 per cent of the population, needing assistance.
(Mogadishu, 8 February 2016): The food security and malnutrition situation in Somalia is alarming, especially in parts of Puntland and Somaliland, which have been hard hit by drought exacerbated by El Niño and require urgent attention. This is according to the latest food security and nutrition assessment for Somalia, which was released today in Mogadishu by the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) in collaboration with Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). The situation is critical and could get worse.
This latest assessment confirms persistently high and alarming levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in Somalia, with an estimated 4.7 million people — nearly 40 per cent of the Somali population — in need of humanitarian assistance. Nearly 950,000 of these people are acutely food insecure and struggle every day to meet their food needs. Internally displaced people make up more than two thirds, or 68 per cent, of acutely food insecure people and are in dire need of assistance.
“We are deeply concerned that the proportion of severely food insecure people remains alarmingly high, especially people who are unable to meet their daily food needs. Some 3.7 million people will be acutely food insecure through mid-2016. With severe drought conditions intensifying in Puntland and Somaliland, many more people risk relapsing into crisis,” said Peter de Clercq, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
“The level of malnutrition, especially among children, is of serious concern, with nearly 305,000 children under the age of five years acutely malnourished. We estimate that 58,300 children face death if they are not treated. The drought could push these numbers higher in the months to come. We must act now. Partners are ready to scale up response, but funding is urgently needed to ensure this is done in a timely manner,” he added.
While acute food insecurity and malnutrition is prevalent across the country, the drought situation in Puntland and Somaliland is of particular concern. Erratic rains during the 2015 Gu (April to June) and the Karan (August to September) seasons in Puntland and Somaliland resulted in a near-total failure of cereal production (87 per cent below the five-year average). The 2015 Deyr rains (October to December) were also below average in these areas, putting pressure on pasture and livestock and leading to the migration of 60-70 per cent of households along with their animals to areas with better pasture and water. Poor availability of pasture and water for livestock has significantly exacerbated the humanitarian situation. Increasing movement of livestock – including from Ethiopia and Djibouti – are putting stress on adjacent areas.
“We must do more to address recurrent hunger” stressed de Clercq. “Humanitarian assistance is vital and has achieved enormously positive food security results in recent years. But this alone will not free Somalia from the scourge of hunger. We must look to remove the underlying causes of hunger. Fighting hunger is development priority, as well as a humanitarian one,” he added.
Positive food security results along the Shebelle River, resulting from timely and well-targeted preparedness work that significantly reduced El Niño-related flooding shows, once again, that early action saves lives and livelihoods. These lessons must be carried forward into drought affected areas.
The 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia calls for US$885 million to address the most urgent needs of 3.5 million people. It seeks to reduce preventable deaths, provide basic services and strengthen the protection of vulnerable people, including the internally displaced.
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Latest humanitarian snapshot highlights Taiwan quake, drought in Marshall Islands and Philippines
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: China - Taiwan Province, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Tonga
As of 8 Feb, Taiwan authorities confirmed at least 37 deaths caused by a 6.4M earthquake. The Marshall Islands has declared a state of emergency in relation to El Niño.
A 6.4M earthquake of shallow depth (28 km) struck Taiwan Province of China at 03:57 (local time) on Saturday 6 Feb. The southern city of Tainan (population approximately 2 million) near the epicentre has been most affected, with a number of structures severely damaged by the earthquake including a 16-story residential complex, which has been the focus of search-and-rescue efforts. As of 8 Feb, local authorities confirmed at least 37 deaths, all but two from the collapsed residential complex. Some 530 people had been reported as injured, 87 of whom remain hospitalized, with another 117 people unaccounted for. Search and rescue operations are ongoing at the site of the collapse residential complex, supported by some 3,500 local responders. No request for international assistance has been received to date.
37 people dead
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
While the arrival of mid-January rains have temporarily eased the water supply situation in certain parts of the country, severe food and water insecurity persists in various locations including remote Western Province, inland Gulf Province, and high-altitude locations. The situation is particularly aggravated in communities living in dispersed remote areas, which can only be reached by foot or air, and where access remains a major logistical and financial challenge. Last week, the Government facilitated the provision of US$ 130,000 worth of food relief to Western Province while an additional 345 metric tons of food supplies (purchased by the Ok Tedi Foundation) arrived in the Province for onward distribution to three districts.
REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS (RMI )
The Marshall Islands has become the first country in the Pacific to declare a State of Emergency in relation to the El Niño drought. The RMI Government has developed a US$8.25 million Drought Response Plan aimed at mitigating the impacts of extremely low rainfall forecast through until July 2016. The RMI Government estimates that approximately 12,231 people, or 23% of the total population, are experiencing severe drought conditions. Priority needs include improving access to clean drinking water and basic hygiene to reduce disease outbreaks.
12,000 people affected
Tonga has officially declared an outbreak of Zika Virus following the first positive test results from 265 suspected cases that are under investigation. Tongan Health officials advise that public messaging is underway, and an Epidemic Taskforce has been established. A national clean-up of breeding sites has been initiated and surveillance has been stepped up, especially for pregnant mothers. Zika has been seen in various parts of the Pacific since 2007. WHO advises that all countries and territories in the Pacific are vulnerable to the introduction of Zika virus because the main Aedes mosquito vector is present in most parts of the region.
About 27,300 farmers across 4 provinces are affected by drought and rat infestation in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Maguindanao province declared a state of calamity on 29 Jan due to widespread drought affecting farming villages. Priority needs are food, drinking water supply and medical aid. In light of El Niño continuing to affect the Philippines, authorities in Maguindanao met with humanitarian partners to plan for assessments and response.
Peacekeeping force needs strengthening to prevent renewed violence in CAR
Source: Amnesty International
Country: Central African Republic
A new report analyses how major gaps in personnel and equipment resulted in UN peacekeepers failure to prevent and contain a serious outbreak of violence in Bangui.
CAR: Peacekeeping force needs strengthening to prevent renewed violence
Civilians in Central African Republic (CAR) remain at risk of deadly violence and instability unless serious weaknesses in the United Nation’s peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA, are urgently addressed, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.
With a new president to be elected in less than a week, Amnesty’s report Mandated to protect, equipped to succeed? Strengthening peacekeeping in Central African Republic analyses how major gaps in personnel and equipment resulted in UN peacekeepers failure to prevent and contain a serious outbreak of violence in Bangui in September 2015 that led to the death of over 75 people, including many civilians.
The organisation is calling for a major review of the apparent failure to protect civilians in September 2015, including of MINUSCA’s capacity to carry out its mandate, covering factors such as training, equipment, coordination and the number of operational uniformed and civilian personnel.
“MINUSCA's presence in CAR has saved many lives and prevented much bloodshed, but the extreme violence that erupted in Bangui in September 2015 exposed the Mission’s weaknesses. However today, it still lacks the resources it needs to adequately protect civilians,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa
“Ensuring the peacekeeping force is well-equipped to prevent and contain large scale violence, as well as support the government in ensuring justice, must be an absolute priority to help end the cycle of conflict and injustice that has blighted CAR for so much of its history.”
On 31 January 2016 the French Minister of Defence announced that the majority of the country’s 900 troops present in CAR will be withdrawn by the end of the year, adding urgency to such a review.
September’s outbreak of violence
Despite the presence of 2,660 UN police and military personnel in Bangui, MINUSCA forces were unable to adequately contain violence that erupted there on 26 September. At least 75 people, mostly civilians, were killed over a period of three days. Homes were destroyed, 42,000 others were displaced and at least a dozen women were raped in a single district on the first day alone. One 18 year old women told Amnesty International how she was raped on 26 September: “I went to the market for shopping… I heard gunfire. I ran back home but near the office of the local red cross, I was stopped by six… men wearing military uniforms…They put some cardboard on the ground. A young man and an old man raped me."
Amnesty International found that MINUSCA were unable to respond to some requests from medical personnel to help transfer casualties on 27 September.
One medic told the organization: "We received 25 wounded, of whom 13 severely so, and we could not take them to the hospital with our vehicle because access was blocked due to insecurity. My staff called MINUSCA for help and MINUSCA said they couldn’t come…The day after we lost six of those severely injured.”
According to witnesses interviewed by Amnesty International, MINUSCA did not intervene in key areas of conflict until the second day of violence, and did not take action to take down roadblocks manned by armed groups until the third day.
Under-equipped to respond
While the weakness of the CAR state was regularly cited as an important factor hindering efforts to protect civilians, key experts interviewed also raised a series of concerns with MINUSCA’s capacity to respond to violence. They identified major gaps in training and equipment and an alleged lack of troops available to peacekeepers.
One senior MINUSCA source told Amnesty International: “When there’s gunfire, we can only send the guys in armored vehicles. But several of these are currently out of service.”
Experts also cited significant coordination problems between different parts of the peacekeeping force. Such problems led to 450 UN troops in Bangui being left unused during the opening days of violence.
Interviews with communities highlighted how suspicion and hostility towards MINUSCA has grown. One 45-year old man from Bangui told Amnesty International: “People expected a lot. MINUSCA told us to wait. That soon they’d be 12,000. But today, with 12,000 men, we don’t see them on the ground…When people wait on them to intervene, they never come. And when they do, it is too late.”
Interviews with leaders of armed groups showed that they use the absence of protection by MINUSCA in many areas as justification of their own continued existence to ‘protect’ populations.
Opportunity to strengthen
Measures taken by MINUSCA following the September 2015 violence, including the arrival of some additional troops to Bangui and a change in command structures, enabled them to react more effectively to a number of violent episodes in October 2015. Major outbreaks of violence have been avoided between October 2015 and January 2016 even during the visit of the Pope, the constitutional referendum and the first round of Presidential elections.
Yet there remains little guarantee that MINUSCA would be able to adequately respond to a further large scale outbreak of violence. The UN Security Council is due to consider the renewal of MINUSCA’s mandate in April.
“Central African Republic has one of the world’s most challenging peacekeeping environments and it is vital that MINUSCA has the means to implement its mandate to protect civilians, ensure justice and support the new government,” said Steve Cockburn.
“There has been a major investment by the international community to try to end decades of instability in CAR, and now is the time for the UN Security Council to redouble its commitment and work with a newly elected government to put the country on a more stable path once and for all.”
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in West and Central Africa, Dakar, Sénégal, on +221 77658 62 27
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MINUSCA was deployed in CAR in September 2014, taking over duties from the African Union-led International Support Mission (MISCA).
Between 14 October and 23 November 2015, Amnesty International conducted interviews with 85 people in Bangui and Carnot. These included senior MINUSCA military and civilian staff, government officials, diplomats, international and national NGO staff, members of armed groups, as well as witnesses and victims of crimes under international law and human rights violations and abuses.
In recent months, international forces in CAR, including UN peacekeepers, have been the subject of a number of allegations of sexual abuse. The UN’s response to these investigations was criticized by an expert panel in December 2015, and they have since promised a number of actions to investigate the reports. In August 2015 the head of the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic resigned after Amnesty International revealed the rape of a 12-year-old girl and apparent indiscriminate killing of a 16-year-old boy and his father by MINUSCA forces.
IFRC launches emergency appeal to assist drought victims in Guatemala
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
IFRC plans to support the Guatemalan Red Cross in delivering assistance to 12,000 people with food security, livelihoods, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene promotion.
This Emergency Appeal seeks a total of 2,037,059 Swiss francs (CHF) to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Guatemalan Red Cross (GRC) to deliver assistance and support to some drought affected 12,000 people (2,000 families), with a focus on food security, livelihoods, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene promotion. The planned response reflects the current situation and information available at this point of the evolving operation, and will be adjusted based on further developments and more detailed assessments.
The disaster and the Red Cross Red Crescent response to date
Mid-2015 to early 2016: The ongoing El Niño phenomenon worsens existing drought conditions, affecting 110,000 families in Guatemala’s dry corridor.
4 November 2015: CHF 245,273 allocated from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the execution of assessments and the delivery of assistance.
5 January 2016: Emergency Appeal launched for CHF 2,037,059 to reach 12,000 vulnerable people (2,000 families).
The operational strategy Needs assessment and beneficiary selection:
- Food Security and Livelihoods:
The 2015 drought caused extensive crop loss, with families reporting crop losses of 50 per cent and more. In addition to the drought, families use inadequate planting, harvesting and soil conservation practices. Due to the crop losses, corn and bean crops in particular, it is estimated that only 35 per cent of families will still have some limited food reserves by May 2016, while 64.8 per cent will have exhausted their reserves by April 2016. If weather forecasts for 2016 come to pass and no adequate technical assistance is provided, agricultural production will not improve and families will suffer drought effects for the third year in a row.
In total, 64 per cent of families in Chiché and Patzité municipalities stated that agricultural activities are their main source of income; 93.4 per cent of surveyed households engage in agriculture and other livelihoods include occasional non-agricultural activities such as trade, house work, wage labour, self-employment, support from relatives and the manufacturing of textiles. After the drought, the number of families that reported that their main source of income was "agricultural activities" dropped by almost 20 per cent, and the number who claimed that their income came mainly from the "sale of agricultural production" dropped by 6.6 per cent.
Health and Nutrition:
Due to the changes in food consumption, there is an increased risk of acute malnutrition in children less than five years of age. In order to identify these cases and provide timely assistance, a screening of the nutritional status of children between the ages of 6 and 60 months was conducted in November 2015, using average midupper arm circumference measurements and the World Health Programme (WHO)'s new growth curve standard as established in the Sphere Manual.
Water, sanitation and hygiene promotion:
In general, families expressed that water sources have remained the same despite the drought affecting the region. It is estimated that nearly 45 per cent of families have drinking water delivered over the public network (28.8 per cent inside the home and 15.8 per cent to basins); however, 22 per cent still get their water from rivers and springs. Only one of the households surveyed has an irrigation system to ensure adequate crop growth.
Beneficiary selection: Response actions will be conducted in 15 communities in the municipality of Chiché and in 2 communities in Patzité. At the request of local Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare authorities, these communities were selected based on the food insecurity predicted for October to December 2015, through coordination with the Quiche Area Directorate and the districts of Patzité and Chiché districts and results from the rapid assessment and the operational capacity of the Guatemalan Red Cross.
Families will be selected/prioritized based on the following criteria:
Families for which 60 per cent of livelihoods depend on corn crops
Households with total or partial crop loss (bean and corn)
Households led by single mothers
Households made up of many family members
Households with elderly dependents
Households with children under five and/or pregnant women
Households with disabled members
Families with acutely malnourished children
Taiwan Red Cross dispatches rescue and relief teams after 6.4 magnitude earthquake
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
Country: China - Taiwan Province
A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Tainan City on 6 February.The city government has established a level one emergency response centre and emergency services crews are leading the search and rescue efforts.
By Hler Gudjonsson, IFRC
A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Tainan City in Kaohsiung province in the south of Taiwan this morning at 3:57 AM. The quake was very shallow at a depth of 10 km and caused damage to buildings in parts of Yunlin county, Kaohsiung city, Pingtung, Tainan city and Chiayi. A number of buildings in Tainan city in Kaohsiung province collapsed, including nine multi-storey buildings. Five people are known to have died and almost 400 people have suffered injuries following the earthquake.
The Taiwan Red Cross Organisation has dispatched rescue and relief teams to support the efforts of the government and military in Tainan city. The teams are providing much needed relief to affected people who have been evacuated to emergency shelters. Volunteers and staff have been preparing hot meals for hundreds of people who are staying in the shelters and they have also distributed blankets, sleeping bags and warm jackets. More relief supplies are being transported to the affected areas.
Over 50 Red Cross staff and volunteers are currently working in the disaster area and more volunteers will be deployed during the course of the day. Their headquarters staff including the President of the Taiwan Red Cross Organisation is also in the affected area overseeing the response.
The city government has established a level one emergency response centre and firefighters and emergency services crews are leading the search and rescue efforts. They are supported by Red Cross emergency teams who have deployed with specialist rescue equipment including electric drills, hammers and cutting equipment. Over one hundred people are thought to be trapped in the collapsed buildings. Aftershocks continue to be felt in the area and electricity supply to more than 120,000 households has been disrupted.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is monitoring the situation closely and is communicating closely with the Taiwan Red Cross Organisation. The Red Cross Society of China has donated two million Yuan (300,000 Swiss Francs) in support of the relief efforts of the Taiwan Red Cross Organisation.
Migration and multilateralism will be hallmarks of 2016 - UN
Source: UN News Service
Country: France, Jordan, Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, World
Peter Sutherland, the United Nations' top migration official, called today for decisive multilateral action to tackle “the global issues lurking behind today’s vast movement of people."
5 February 2016 – The world is facing a political, economic, moral and social crisis as governments and communities struggle to provide effective solutions for the unprecedented numbers of people fleeing war, instability or persecution, the top United Nations migration official said today, calling for deceive multilateral action to tackle “the global issues lurking behind today’s vast movement of people.”
The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, Peter Sutherland, said today in Geneva that 2016 “is the year of migration and multilateralism,” and that series of comprehensive initiatives is needed to drive home – and effectively address – the global nature of the issue.
Indeed, he told reporters, while there has been an understandable focus on migrants arriving on the shores of European countries, this has often obscured the fact that the global dimensions of the phenomenon are very real; 85 per cent of the total numbers of global migrants are moving from developing to developing country.
Yet the response in Europe, for instance to the crisis in Syria, has at times sparked “incipient nationalism,” which is evidenced in xenophobic and racist reactions rather than anything to address the challenges of free movement of people, he said. “But this is not just a European issue, we’ve seen this in the Andaman Sea, in Asia […] in movements from Latin America into North America,” said Mr. Sutherland.
He noted that the conference yesterday in London on the Syria crisis achieved substantial commitments to financial support, particularly to frontline States – Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan –which are “close to the scene of devastation” and carry an “enormous proportion” of the global refugee population. “European States in comparison are taking minuscule amounts of refugees, and refusing to share in the concept of solidarity that one might have expected,” he stressed.
Highlighting the presence of new razor wire fences, the UN official warned that borders “challenge the moral responsibility” of States to help refugees and provide asylum.
Against this background, one of the main messages that Mr. Sutherland conveyed was that migrants bring significant benefits to their host communities, and that European countries in particular stand to benefit from the influx. “We have to have a greater understanding of the positive values that the migrant communities are bringing to countries who badly need them," Sutherland said.
“The 10 countries with the lowest population growth in the world are in Europe. In 30 or 40 years’ time those who are retired as opposed to those who work will massively have increased in Europe. We have to learn to integrate into our societies those who seek refuge in them,” he added.
As an example, Mr. Sutherland noted that “migrants in general, and in every country in Europe, make greater fiscal contribution than they take in benefits. They have lower levels of unemployment, and in general a greater interest in education. They do not contribute to the current narrative create terrorist threats in large numbers. The handful of those who have been involved in terrorism in Europe have in general been born and brought up in Europe.”
Questions from the audience turned the discussion to the situation in northern France, where the UN refugee agency earlier sounded the alarm on behalf of thousands or refugees and migrants crowding into informal camps in Calais in need of both shelter and adequate protection.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern about some 4,000 refugees and migrants currently reported to be living in the Calais "jungle" and almost 2,500 in Grande-Synthe, on the edges of Dunkerque, often in dire circumstances, aggravated by the winter conditions.
At present there are limited facilities that attend to the specific protection needs of children, including those under the age of 15. Among the few is the Maison du jeune réfugié centre in St Omer, which is run by France terre d’asile.
At an earlier press conference, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, underscored that addressing the situation is “primarily a French responsibility. But since the people are seeking asylum in [United Kingdom], and they are in France, it is a matter of a societal response – French, British and European.”