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Yemen is currently the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world
by Jamie McGoldrick
UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, agencies
UN, Aid agencies call for complete end of humanitarian blockade in Yemen, by UN News, Red Cross, WFP, WHO, Unicef, Aid Agencies
11 million Yemeni children are today in acute need of humanitarian assistance. (Unicef)
Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa:
Today’s briefing has been triggered by our successful delivery yesterday of 1.9 million doses of vaccines to Sana’a airport.
It was our first delivery of humanitarian supplies to Sana’a airport since the 6th of November.
If you allow me, I will give you a little bit of a brief and then I will definitely take time for questions.
Today, it is fair to say that Yemen is one of the worst places on earth to be a child.
More than 11 million Yemeni children are today in acute need of humanitarian assistance. That’s almost every single Yemeni boy and girl.
The reason behind this is very straightforward: decades of conflict, decades also of chronic underdevelopment.
Yemen is the country with the most depleted water sources across the globe; Yemen today is also the country with almost the highest level of malnutrition. What has happened in the last two and a half years, throughout Yemen has of course only exacerbated what was already a very sad reality. Today we estimate that every ten minutes a child in Yemen is dying from preventable diseases. The massive and unprecedented outbreak of acute watery diarrhea and cholera this year is no surprise. As you know, close to one million Yemenis have been affected by acute watery diarrhea and cholera.
It’s not a surprise, because of the almost entirely devastated water and sanitation system throughout the country. Not a surprise, because in Yemen the health system is on its knees.
The war in Yemen is sadly a war on children. Thousands of children have died. Thousands of schools and health facilities have been damaged or completely destroyed.
Two million children today in Yemen suffer acute malnutrition.
Enough reasons for humanitarian organizations like UNICEF to have stepped up our efforts to assist Yemeni children, to assist the Yemeni people and I really would not want to miss this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation, admiration even, for all humanitarian workers today in Yemen, particularly our Yemeni colleagues. They have shown unprecedented examples of heroism over the last months.
Access to children however is a daily challenge, today more than ever. We therefore welcome yesterday’s reopening of Sana’a airport. It allowed us to send in a first humanitarian convoy, as I said 1.9 million doses of vaccines, vaccines that are urgently needed for a planned campaign to vaccinate 600,000 children across Yemen. Vaccinate them against: diphtheria, meningitis, whooping cough, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
We are grateful for what we could achieve yesterday. However, this is not enough, much, much more is needed.
Let me make three simple pleas:
1. Far more humanitarian supplies are needed today. Yesterday’s success cannot be a one-off. Far more supplies are indeed needed. We have, as UNICEF, vessels on their way to Hodeida port. Vessels carrying ready-to-use therapeutic food for assisting malnourished children, chlorine tablets for chlorinating water wells in order to ensure drinking water, medical supplies to support the prevention and also treatment of acute watery diarrhea and cholera.
More vaccines are urgently needed to treat the outbreak of diphtheria; as you may be aware we have an outbreak of diphtheria mainly concentrated in the governorate of Ibb but spreading and spreading rapidly so more vaccines are needed urgently to prevent and treat diphtheria. More vaccines are equally needed for our routine immunization.
Unfortunately, the vaccines stocks, despite the 1.9 million that we delivered yesterday, are running out, vaccine stocks are depleted. So, we urgently need to get more routine vaccines in.
2. We also need access to affordable fuel. As you know access to drinking water in Yemen is achieved mainly, if not exclusively, through pumping water. With the absence of a national power grid we need to pump water using generators and therefore access to affordable fuel is equally in huge need.
This implies that getting the supplies is one part, ensuring that the supplies whatever they are reaching every single vulnerable girl and boy throughout Yemen is another challenge. We need access, we need unimpeded access atany given moment in time to those millions of children in need.
3. And a third request, is another straight forward one: it’s the war on children to stop. It’s the war to stop. On behalf of every single boy and girl in Yemen, let me conclude by appealing once again to all parties responsible for today’s situation in Yemen, to all parties and all those with a heart for children: Please take your responsibility, don’t take it tomorrow, take your responsibility now. http://uni.cf/2AfvppO
Unhindered access to all airports and ports is vital to end the dire situation in Yemen. (WFP)
“The situation in Yemen is currently the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world and aid is urgently required in order to avoid famine,” said Bettina Luescher, spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP), at a press briefing in Geneva.
She said two daily flights to the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, from Jordan’s Amman and one from Djibouti will continue until the end of this month, and a WFP-chartered vessel carrying 25,000 metric tons of wheat grains, now docked at Saleef port, will be unloaded over the coming days.
Ms. Luescher stressed that it is essential that commercial imports, which accounts for 90 per cent of the country’s food requirements, also be allowed in to Yemen, as the UN can not feed the entire population, and that continued access to Hudaydah and Saleef is especially vital as those ports are equipped with unloading, storage and milling facilities.
23 Nov. 2017
NGOs warn partial lifting of blockade not be enough to avert famine.
On Monday, the Saudi-led military coalition announced it would allow aid to re-enter Yemen''s main port and United Nations flights to resume, more than two weeks after they imposed a total blockade on the country. The UN and international aid agencies have repeatedly urged the coalition to lift the Yemen blockade.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) described the move as a "half measure at best" warning that aid alone cannot feed the country.
"We cannot celebrate this partial easing of access restrictions," Paolo Cernuschi, Yemen''s IRC director, said.
"Access by commercial shipments of food and fuel must be resumed immediately, otherwise this action will do little to turn Yemen back from the brink of famine and crisis."
Caroline Anning from Save the Children said if the move does not include commercial supplies then there is still the strong potential of famine in Yemen.
"If its just a small, short-term announcement of humanitarian aid being allowed in, that certainly will not be enough to avert famine," she said.
"Before this blockade even started our team estimated that 130 children a day were dying of preventable disease and hunger in Yemen."
"Reopening the ports to aid but not to commercial imports is pitiful bartering with people''s lives," Shane Stevenson, Oxfam''s director in Yemen, said.
"We''re facing the worst famine seen in decades, and that won''t change unless commercial shipments of food and fuel are allowed in.
"This brinksmanship has to stop. All sea and air ports must be fully reopened immediately to both humanitarian and commercial access to save millions of innocent Yemeni people."
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was vital to get commercial traffic resumed.
"Yemenis will need more than aid in order to survive the crisis and ward off famine," spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet said.
Jan Egeland, a former U.N. aid chief who now heads the Norwegian Refugee Council, said of the blockade: "In my view this is illegal collective punishment."
"Even if both the flights and humanitarian shipments will go through now, it is not solving the underlying crisis that a country that needs 90 percent of its goods imported is not getting in commercial food or fuel."
Some 7 million people in Yemen — out of a population of 27 million — depend entirely on food aid and 4 million rely on aid groups for clean water.
* NGO leter: http://bit.ly/2jAoSy2 http://www.rescue.org/press-release/yemen-collective-punishment-must-end-now http://www.oxfamamerica.org/press/millions-of-yemenis-days-away-from-losing-clean-running-water-oxfam/ http://www.irinnews.org/news/2017/11/22/editor-s-take-yemen-needs-commercial-imports-avoid-famine-lettradein
UN leaders, aid agencies appeal for immediate lifting of humanitarian blockade in Yemen – lives of millions are at risk. (WFP)
Statement by WFP Executive Director David Beasley, UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, and WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“While the Saudi-led military coalition has partially lifted the recent blockade of Yemen, closure of much of the country’s air, sea and land ports is making an already catastrophic situation far worse. The space and access we need to deliver humanitarian assistance is being choked off, threatening the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families.
“Together, we issue another urgent appeal for the coalition to permit entry of lifesaving supplies to Yemen in response to what is now the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The supplies, which include medicines, vaccines and food, are essential to staving off disease and starvation. Without them, untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die.
“More than 20 million people, including over 11 million children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. At least 14.8 million are without basic healthcare and an outbreak of cholera has resulted in more than 900,000 suspected cases.
“Some 17 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from and 7 million are totally dependent on food assistance. Severe acute malnutrition is threatening the lives of almost 400,000 children. As supplies run low, food prices rise dramatically, putting thousands more at risk.
“Even with a partial lifting of the blockade, the World Food Programme estimates that an additional 3.2 million people will be pushed into hunger. If left untreated, 150,000 malnourished children could die within the coming months. To deprive this many from the basic means of survival is an unconscionable act and a violation of humanitarian principles and law.
“Fuel, medicine and food – all of which are now blocked from entry – are desperately needed to keep people alive. Without fuel, the vaccine cold chain, water supply systems and waste water treatment plants will stop functioning. And without food and safe water, the threat of famine grows by the day.
“We are already seeing the humanitarian consequences of the blockade. Diphtheria is spreading fast with 120 clinically diagnosed cases and 14 deaths – mostly children – in the last weeks. We have vaccines and medicines in transit to Yemen, but they are blocked from entry. At least one million children are now at risk of contracting the disease.
“The world’s largest cholera outbreak is waning and the number of new cases has declined for the 8th consecutive week from a peak of more than 900,000 suspected cases. If the embargo is not lifted cholera will flare up once again.
“All of the country’s ports – including those in areas held by the opposition – should be reopened without delay. This is the only way that UN-chartered ships can deliver the vital humanitarian cargo that the population needs to survive. Flights from the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service - into and out of Yemen - should be given immediate clearance to resume. UN staff who are based in Yemen have been unable to move, even if they need urgent medical attention.
“The clock is ticking and stocks of medical, food and other humanitarian supplies are already running low. The cost of this blockade is being measured in the number of lives that are lost.
“If any of us in our daily lives saw a child whose life was at immediate risk, would we not try to save her? In Yemen we are talking about hundreds of thousands of children, if not more. We have the lifesaving food, medicine and supplies needed to save them, but we must have the access that is currently being denied.
“On behalf of all those whose lives are at imminent risk, we reiterate our appeal to allow humanitarian access in Yemen without further delay.”
http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/un-leaders-appeal-immediate-lifting-humanitarian-blockade-yemenlives-millions-a http://www.unicef.org/media/media_101496.html http://www.fews.net/east-africa/yemen/alert/november-20-2017
Yemen facing largest famine the world has seen for decades, warns UN aid chief. (UN News)
Yemen will be gripped by famine – one the likes of which the world has not seen in years – if the blockade on basic supplies into the country imposed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is not lifted immediately, the top United Nations humanitarian official has warned.
“It will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades,” Mark Lowcock, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the media late Wednesday, after briefing the Security Council.
Three years into a brutal conflict, Yemen depends on imports – amounting to up to 90 per cent of its daily needs – and millions in the country are being kept alive by humanitarian aid.
The fighting has also all but collapsed the country''s health, and water and sanitation systems. Combined with the lack of food, millions of lives – including those of children – will be lost as their bodies will simply not have the strength to fight off disease.
“What kills people in famine is infections […] because their bodies have consumed themselves, reducing totally the ability to fight off things which a healthy person can,” added Mr. Lowcock.
Underscoring that an immediate resumption of regular UN and relief organizations air services to the capital, Sana''a, and Aden are critical to save lives, Mr. Lowcock, also the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that a clear and immediate assurance is also urgently needed that those services will not be disrupted.
Furthermore, all vessels that have passed inspection by the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism should not be subjected to interference, delays to or blockages so that they can proceed to port as rapidly as possible, he added.
“This is really important because humanitarian access through the ports was inadequate even before the measures that were announced on 6 November,” said the senior UN official.
He also called for an immediate agreement to the prepositioning of the World Food Programme (WFP) – the UN''s emergency food relief agency – vessel in the waters off Aden, assurances that there will be no further disruption to the functions the vessel supports, as well as resumption of humanitarian and commercial access to all the seaports of Yemen.
Mr. Lowcock, also underscored the Organization''s condemnation of the missile attack on the Saudi capital, Riyadh, over the weekend, terming it an outrageous act. The coalition imposed the restrictions following the attack, effectively closing air, sea and land access to the war-torn country.
The humanitarian community in Yemen also warned that the current stock of vaccines in the country will only last one month and if not replenished, outbreaks of communicable diseases are to be expected with fatal consequences, particularly for children under five and those already suffering from malnutrition.
“The humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely fragile and any disruption in the pipeline of critical supplies such as food, fuel and medicines has the potential to bring millions of people closer to starvation and death,” said humanitarian organizations, including the UN, working in Yemen in a joint statement Thursday.
“The continued closure of borders will only bring additional hardship and deprivation with deadly consequences to an entire population suffering from a conflict that it is not of their own making,” they added.
Calling for the immediate opening of all air and seaports to ensure the entry of food, fuel and medicines into the country, the humanitarian community ask the Saudi-led Coalition to facilitate unhindered access of aid workers to people in need, in compliance with international law, by ensuring the resumption of all humanitarian flights.
“We reiterate that humanitarian aid is not the solution to Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe. Only a peace process will halt the horrendous suffering of millions of innocent civilians,” they stressed. http://bit.ly/2iIpMIB
The UN, the Red Cross and humanitarian agencies have called on the Saudi-led coalition to immediately reopen humanitarian aid channels into Yemen, after a decision was taken to seal the stricken country’s air, sea and land borders.
The UN described the closure of aid channels as “catastrophic”. Food, medicine and other essential supplies are “critical for the survival” of the country’s 27 million population, weakened by war, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) added. Yemen is in the grip of the world’s worst cholera outbreak and 7 million people are already on the brink of famine.
Humanitarian operations, including UN aid flights, are blocked because the air and sea ports, including Hodeidah, where most aid is delivered, are closed.
The UN reported it was not permitted flight clearance for two humanitarian flights bound for Yemen on Monday. A Red Cross shipment of chlorine tablets, to prevent cholera, was not allowed in at the country’s northern border, the ICRC said. Medical supplies, including insulin, are expected.
Yemen has been named the UN’s number one humanitarian crisis.
“We hear reports this morning that prices of cooking gas and petrol for cars and so on are already spiralling out of control,” Jens Laerke, from the UN office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told a news briefing. “So this is an access problem of colossal dimensions.”
Johan Mooij, Yemen director of Care International, said: “For the last two days, nothing has got in or out of the country. Fuel prices have gone up by 50% and there are queues at the gas stations. People fear no more fuel will come into Hodeidah port.”
He explained that food insecurity was helping cholera to spread. “People depend on the humanitarian aid and part of the cholera issue is that they do not eat and are not strong enough to deal with unclean water.”
Robert Mardini, ICRC’s regional director for the near and Middle East, said: “Insulin cannot wait at a shuttered border since it must be kept refrigerated. Without a quick solution to the closure, the humanitarian consequences will be dire.”
Mardini said he was also concerned at the “steadily growing” number of civilian casualties and the targeting of non-military infrastructure, such as water treatment plants and civilian airports. “Such actions are in violation of international humanitarian law,” he said.
Rupert Colville, a spokesman from the UN high commissioner for human rights, told Reuters the agency would study whether the blockade amounted to “collective punishment”, unlawful under international law, and said he hoped it would be temporary. The agency has expressed concern over a series of recent attacks on markets and homes that have killed scores of civilians, including children.
http://bit.ly/2yf4d8Q http://bit.ly/2zpaBxP http://tmsnrt.rs/2ArYq19 http://www.icrc.org/en/document/yemen-urgent-call-keep-borders-open-health-medical-supplies http://bit.ly/2hiF0qT
Yemen: Fastest growing cholera epidemic ever recorded brings number of cases to 895,000.
Yemen is facing one of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, including the fastest growing cholera epidemic ever recorded. As of 1 November, there were some 895,000 suspected cholera cases with nearly 2,200 associated deaths since 27 April. More than half of the suspected cases are children.
The outbreak is affecting over 90 per cent of districts across 21 of the 22 governorates. Despite the enormous challenges, humanitarian partners have established 234 Diarrhoea Treatment Centres and 1,084 Oral Rehydration Corners in 225 affected districts in 20 governorates. Some 3.6 million people have been connected to disinfected water supply networks in 12 governorates. Over 17 million people in all governorates were reached with cholera prevention messages.
Yemen is also facing the world’s largest food emergency and widespread population displacement. Nearly 21 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance, seven million of whom are severely food insecure, staving off the threat of famine. Despite challenging conditions and limited funding, UN and humanitarian partners provided direct assistance to more than 7 million people this year.
“The humanitarian response to the world’s worst hunger crisis and its worst cholera outbreak must be fully resourced”, said the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/statement-humanitarian-community-yemen-complete-closure-yemen-s-borders-enar http://www.unocha.org/story/yemen-dire-humanitarian-situation-worsen-amid-continued-blockade http://www.unicef.org/media/media_101471.html http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/yemen_85651.html http://www.icrc.org/en/document/yemen-urgent-call-keep-borders-open-health-medical-supplies http://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_rul_rule55 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2017/yemen-ports-aid/en/ http://www.unfpa.org/press/statement-unfpa-united-nations-population-fund-situation-yemen
http://www.msf.org/en/article/yemen-saudi-coalition-urged-immediately-allow-humanitarian-access-during-blockade http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2017-11-08/humanitarian-agencies-condemn-closure-yemens-air-sea-and-land http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2017-11-14/hasten-peace-or-be-complicit-in-yemen-famine http://www.acaps.org/country/yemen/special-reports#container-959 http://www.acaps.org/country/yemen http://www.undispatch.com/uns-nightmare-scenario-currently-unfolding-yemen/ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/12/millions-on-brink-of-famine-in-yemen-as-saudi-arabia-tightens-blockade http://reliefweb.int/country/yem http://www.unocha.org/yemen
Visit the related web page
WFP appeals for humanitarian access to besieged Syrians amid reports of severe hunger
by World Food Programme, OHCHR, agencies
Syria / DR Congo
Thousands suffering amid harrowing conditions in east Ghouta and Afrin – UN News
The United Nations in Syria is appealing urgently for help to ease the catastrophic situation for tens for thousands of people impacted by fighting in Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, and the northern town of Afrin.
Having seen first-hand the desperate conditions of people from east Ghouta and Afrin, who are tired, hungry, traumatized and afraid, we need to provide them with urgent aid,” Ali Al-Za’tari, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria, said Monday.
“These civilians are facing harrowing humanitarian conditions,” he continued. “Many remain trapped by conflict inside East Ghouta and Afrin. All are in desperate need.” The fighting in both places has killed hundreds of civilians in the past month and displaced tens of thousands.
Insecurity and fierce hostilities continue to endanger the people of East Ghouta, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres has referred to as “hell on earth.”
Meanwhile, nearly 100,000 people have been displaced by hostilities in Afrin District. The majority, some 75,000 people, have fled to Tal Refaat and the remainder to Nubul, Zahraa and surrounding villages.
The massive influx of internally displaced people is putting a strain on host communities, which are already overwhelmed.
The UN and its partners, notably through the tireless efforts of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, are mobilized to deliver aid on the spot.
“We appeal to all parties to facilitate access to all people in need; and to protect civilians, medical workers, service providers and humanitarian workers”. http://bit.ly/2FNdgG0 http://bit.ly/2DGlJVF
4 March 2018
Statement by Panos Moumtzis, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, on Implementation of UN Resolution 2401 calling for a one month humanitarian ceasefire. (OCHA)
I remain deeply concerned for the safety and protection of millions of civilians across Syria, one week after the UN Security Council voted in favour of Resolution 2401, calling for a one-month cessation of hostilities across the war-ravaged country.
Not only has this not happened, in some cases the violence has escalated, particularly for the close to 400,000 men, women and children of East Ghouta. Instead of a much needed reprieve, we continue to see more fighting, more death, and more disturbing reports of hunger and hospitals being bombed. This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable.
Since February, over 1,000 people have reportedly been killed in air and ground-based strikes on the besieged enclave, while over 4,000 people have been injured. At the same time, ground-based strikes and mortar shelling from eastern Ghouta have killed and injured scores of civilians in neighbouring Damascus.
To the north in Idleb, fighting continues to kill and injure civilians, destroy civilian infrastructure, and result in large population movements. Since December, some 385,000 people have been displaced, many of them multiple times.
Thousands of ordinary Syrians, many with just the clothes on their backs, now live in make-shift camps or out in the open, while formal camps remain overwhelmed.
At the same time, we continue to receive disturbing reports out of Afrin of civilian deaths and injuries, and restrictions on civilian movement as a result of ongoing military operations.
I remain deeply concerned about tens of thousands of people stranded in Rukban in south-eastern Syria. We continue to seek the necessary agreements for convoys of life-saving assistance to them.
The UN and humanitarian partners stand ready to assist the 13.1 million of people in need inside Syria, but cannot do it alone. We certainly cannot do this while the fighting continues.
I continue to call on all parties to the conflict to facilitate unconditional, unimpeded, and sustained access to all people in need throughout the country, particularly for the close to 3 million people in hard-to-reach and besieged areas, and to take all measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools and medical facilities, as well as allow for the urgent medical evacuation of those in need, as required by international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Last Saturday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously in favour of Resolution 2401 and an end to the human suffering of the Syrian people. It cannot be ignored. It was a call for action. I reiterate that call today. After close to seven years of conflict, we must not fail the Syrian people. We must act now to save lives. http://bit.ly/2oLUXqn
17 January 2018
Intensification in hostilities across Syria is having a “devastating” impact on civilians, United Nations agencies in the war-ravaged country said this week, warning that the fighting is also severely limiting life-saving humanitarian operations.
“In the last few weeks, increasing indiscriminate bombing, shelling and fighting forced tens of thousands of people to be uprooted,” said the UN agencies in a statement.
“Accessing camps and other makeshift sites where internally displaced people are in dire need of aid is also urgently required. All affected civilians, wherever they are, must be protected, provided with assistance and accorded safe freedom of movement,” they added.
The violence has severely affected almost all life-saving and economic sectors and medical and healthcare facilities throughout the country are operating at a fraction of the pre-crisis level.
At the same time, the little resources that internally displaced persons and affected communities had have been exhausted, noted the UN agencies, calling on all parties – both inside and outside the country – to prevent further violence and enable humanitarian organizations to assist people in need.
“Agreement by all parties and their allies is needed to facilitate the immediate and safe delivery of UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian convoys to people in need across Syria including those in besieged and hard-to-reach areas,” they underscored.
“The UN in Syria reminds all parties of their obligation under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians,” said the agencies, calling also for unrestricted humanitarian access to enable aid workers reach people in need with care, food and medical support.
“Nearly seven years into the conflict, children continue to be the hardest hit by unprecedented destruction, displacement and death. They have lost lives, homes and childhoods.. Wars have laws and these laws are being broken every single day in Syria,” said Fran Equiza head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) operations in the country, underscoring the need on all parties to the conflict to honour obligations to protect children at all times and to allow safe passage to all people wishing to leave areas under attack.
According to estimates, altogether 13.1 million people are in need of protection and humanitarian assistance, including 6.1 million people who are displaced within the country and a further 5.5 million people have become refugees in neighbouring countries. http://bit.ly/2prwhUm
WFP appeals for humanitarian access to Besieged Syrians amid reports of Severe Hunger. (WFP)
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is extremely concerned by reports emerging from Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area not far from the Syrian capital. These reports signal extreme cases of hunger and malnutrition among conflict-affected families.
Humanitarian access to the Eastern Ghouta enclave in Rural Damascus has decreased drastically this year compared to the previous year, leaving tens of thousands of people cut off from assistance.
The last time WFP reached Eastern Ghouta was in September, but so far this year only 70,000 people have received food assistance, out of an estimated population of nearly 400,000.
WFP and partners stand ready to deliver life-saving assistance and assess the level of need as soon as safe access is guaranteed.
WFP appeals for unconditional and safe access to the millions of people in need across the country, no matter where they are. An estimated 420,000 people in Syria live in besieged areas, and the vast majority of them are in Eastern Ghouta where food is limited and out of their reach. http://tmsnrt.rs/2A34kWN http://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/ngos-call-de-escalation-violence-and-increase-access-eastern-ghouta
26 Oct. 2017
Suffering of civilians in Eastern Ghouta “an outrage” – UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The situation of at least 350,000 besieged civilians in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, is an outrage, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday, as he called on the parties to the conflict to allow badly needed food and medical supplies to get into the area.
“The shocking images of severely malnourished children that have emerged in recent days are a frightening indication of the plight of people in Eastern Ghouta, who are now facing a humanitarian emergency,” said Zeid.
Eastern Ghouta has been under siege by Government forces for more than four years. Residential areas, including those areas previously spared attack, are now being hit on an almost daily basis by ground-based strikes by government forces and their allies, with reports speaking of scores of civilian casualties.
This is despite Eastern Ghouta being considered one of the “de-escalation areas” brokered in May by Iran, Russia and Turkey under the Astana process, with the stated aim to put a prompt end to violence and improve the humanitarian situation. The Astana memorandum on the de-escalation areas further adds that rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access shall be provided.
The UN Human Rights Office has also received reports of armed opposition groups conducting ground-based strikes on Damascus, including on 15 October when several mortars hit Old Damascus and killed at least four civilians.
In addition, various armed groups controlling Eastern Ghouta have restricted the work of humanitarian organisations, and clashes between these groups have for months limited civilians’ freedom of movement within the region.
“The parties to the conflict must allow the free, regular and unimpeded passage of food and other humanitarian relief and not take actions that would deprive civilians of their rights to food and health,” the High Commissioner said.
The UN last reached Eastern Ghouta on 23 September with help for some 25,000 people in the besieged towns of East Harasta, Misraba and Modira. Between January and September, the Government only accepted 26% of requests to deliver assistance to besieged and hard-to-reach areas.
“I remind all parties that the deliberate starvation of civilians as a method of warfare constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law, and may amount to a crime against humanity and/or a war crime. I also call on all those with involvement or influence in the conflict to facilitate the access of humanitarian workers so they can deliver the aid that the people of Eastern Ghouta so desperately need,” Zeid said.
The prices of basic goods have sky-rocketed. With the local economy destroyed, many people can simply no longer afford to buy food supplies even when they are available.
The Government has also reportedly imposed severe restrictions on medical evacuations, which is said to have resulted in the death of several civilians. While a few isolated cases were evacuated, the UN Human Rights Office received a list of several hundred people in need of evacuation, including dozens of cases deemed urgent.
“Just as food and medical supplies must be allowed in, sick and injured people must be allowed to access medical care whenever and wherever they need it. I remind all parties of their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law to protect civilians at all times, and to care for the sick and wounded,” Zeid said.
“If parties to a conflict cannot meet the needs of the population under their control, they must allow and facilitate efforts by impartial humanitarian agencies to provide aid, including by granting them the right of free passage,” he added.
http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/wfp-appeals-access-besieged-syrian-enclave-amid-reports-severe-hunger http://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/syria-suffering-civilians-eastern-ghouta-outrage-zeid http://bit.ly/2ldrcPB http://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/note-correspondents/2018-01-18/note-correspondents-statement-adama-dieng-un-special
Children starving in DR Congo reports WFP.
Hundreds of thousands of children in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will starve to death in the next few months without emergency food aid, the head of the WFP has said.
About 7.7 million people are on the verge of starvation in the DRC, of which 3.3 million are in Kasai, an eastern province where 1.4 million have been forced to flee their homes over the past year after clashes broke out between the Kamwina Nsapu armed group and security forces. More than 3,300 people have been killed in the violence.
"It''s about as bad as it gets," David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), told the Al Jazeera news agency from the regional capital, Goma.
"If we don''t receive funds, food and access immediately, hundreds of thousands of children will die over the next couple of months."
Earlier in the week, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said about 710,000 people had gone back to the Kasai, only to "find their property in ruins and family members killed". Farmers in Kasai have missed two consecutive planting seasons because of the violence.
The WFP has appealed for an immediate $17.2m to distribute food aid in the Kasai from September to December 2017. So far, it has only raised one percent of that figure. "We are asking donors to step up, and to step up now," Beasley told reporters.
The onset of the rainy season will increase the cost of delivery of food by up to 17 times as aid will have to be flown in due to impassable roads, he said.
"The situation in the Kasai is desperate," he said. "All because of nothing but man-made conflict. And it is wrong, it''s unacceptable."
The UNHCR says the total number of people displaced by conflict in the DRC has nearly doubled in the past six months to 3.9 million.
The country is also having to cope with the arrival of about 500,000 refugees fleeing fighting in Burundi, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. http://bit.ly/2iPYcwQ http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/kasai-drc-millions-risk-funding-dries http://www.nrc.no/news/2017/december/dr-congo-mega-crisis-forcing-millions-to-flee/ http://tmsnrt.rs/2j4XJaz http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2017-12-13/millions-face-severe-hunger-drc-funding-crisis-threatens-delivery
24 October 2017 (UN News)
Some 3.9 million people across several regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been displaced from their homes, and amid growing violence and unrest, the United Nations refugee agency warned on Tuesday that the number could rise even further.
According to a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over the last three months alone, more than 428,000 people have been displaced.
“With widespread militia activities, and unrest and violence fuelled by ethnic and political conflict affecting many areas, the risk of further displacement is high,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told journalists at a regular briefing in Geneva today.
“The challenges of getting aid to people in need are growing fast,” he added.
In particular, the regions of Tanganyika, North and South Kivu, and Kasai are the worst affected due to intercommunal clashes, fighting between armed groups and increasing number of armed militia.
Complicating the matters is the onset of the rainy season, that has necessitated the need to beef up public health, sanitation and water supplies to prevent the outbreak of disease. Psychosocial support as well as care for people with specific needs is also urgently required.
In light of the worsening conditions, the UN agency and humanitarian partners have declared the situation in DRC to ''level 3'' – the highest level of emergency.
In addition to the people displaced within DRC, over 620,000 Congolese refugees are sheltering in more than 11 African nations.
And at the same time, the number of refugees from neighbouring countries seeking refuge inside the DRC has grown by a third since early 2016 and now stands at 526,000 people.
Bettina Luescher, for the World Food Programme (WFP), said the agency is scaling up capacities in the provinces of Kasai (proper) and Kasai Central – the hardest-hit of Greater Kasai''s five provinces, with a threefold increase in the number of severely hungry people over the past 18 months. Two thirds of the severely hungry are in Kasai province alone, she added.
Of the $236.2 million required for the needs of refugees, IDPs and other people of concern in the DRC, only $49.7 million has been received so far – a fifth of the amount required. http://bit.ly/2iZ4wiu
http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/10/congos-wake-call/ http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1028934/icode/ http://bit.ly/2BkaAdg http://www.msf.org/en/aggregator-content-type/testimonies-and-stories-field http://www.unhcr.org/en-au/news/latest/2017/7/596765c84/violence-engulfs-congos-once-peaceful-kasai-region.html http://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-republic-congo/850000-children-displaced-waves-violent-conflict-greater-kasai http://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-republic-congo/drc-malnutrition-threat-grows-aid-groups-leave http://unocha.exposure.co/kasai-in-crisis http://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-republic-congo/food-insecurity-soars-conflict-ridden-democratic-republic-congo http://webtv.un.org/watch/-briefing-on-the-humanitarian-situation-in-the-democratic-republic-of-congo-and-central-african-republic/5534067738001/ http://reliefweb.int/country/cod
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