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South Sudan’s communications authority issued its first two licences for nationwide mobile money services in ...
|UN appeals for record $4 billion to help the people of Yemen Cache Translate Page|| |
The UN appealed Tuesday for $4 billion to cover humanitarian needs in Yemen in 2019 – its largest country appeal ever – and announced its first appeal related to Venezuela, calling for $738 million to help those who have fled the country’s economic meltdown and health crisis.
The UN appeal to help some 2.2 million Venezuelans living in neighbouring South American countries was one of 31 humanitarian response plans released for 2019 by the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, in an overall $21.9 billion donor funding request.
The total price tag is swollen by Yemen, where the UN’s call to help 15 million people is the largest country appeal in the UN’s history. The equivalent appeal for aid within Syria was $3.64 billion in 2018, while costs for Syrian refugees across multiple countries was an additional $5.6 billion.
Intensifying conflict and displacement, hunger, irregular imports, and a macro-economic crunch have driven 24 million people – nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s population – into need, and half of those may require food assistance in the months ahead, according to the UN.
UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said “the extreme edge could get taken off the suffering” in Yemen if peace talks and the military outlook improve, but the UN planning is looking at “what the situation will actually be, rather than wishful thinking”.
Vittorio Infante, humanitarian advocacy advisor for the NGO Islamic Relief, said that given the scale of Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, especially in the province of Hodeidah where recent fighting has made conditions worse, the UN’s record ask was merited.
“$4 billion is a lot of money, but this pales in comparison to the dire need in Yemen, where [the majority] of the population are relying on humanitarian aid to survive,” Infante told IRIN.
“Our staff in Hodeidah are helping people with literally nothing left because they have sold all their belongings just to make sure that their families are fed. However, as long as this conflict continues, this amount will merely be a plaster on a fragile humanitarian situation.”
The Venezuelan appeal, meanwhile, is set to help Colombia and other host countries, but it does not cover needs inside Venezuela, where the government resists any labelling of events as a humanitarian crisis.
A UN-managed emergency fund released $9.2 million to UN agencies to step up humanitarian-related responses within Venezuela in November.
“People describe what’s going on in different ways,” Lowcock told IRIN, referring to Venezuela’s reluctance to term it a humanitarian crisis, adding that inside the country the UN is only “trying to scale up our support” and expand its “normal activity”.
In Geneva to launch the package, dubbed the Global Humanitarian Overview, Lowcock said the UN and its NGO and governmental partners had drawn up plans to help 93.6 million people in 2019 – about one in 70 of the world population. The number of people in need and the value of total appeals would be about the same as in 2018, reaching a price tag of around $25 billion once Syria’s plan was completed, he said.
Syria’s response plan is as yet uncosted. Lowcock said finishing it was delayed until February while the UN attempts to gather fresh data on needs inside the country. The update will require Syrian government flexibility on in-country surveys and access to boost the credibility and data behind funding requests – a measure demanded by donors on which Lowcock has been seeking Damascus’ cooperation.
According to OCHA, a number of situations around the world have eased this year, including in Burundi, Iraq, and Somalia. Others have improved and no longer require emergency plans: Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal.
But some situations have worsened. in Cameroon, the number of people in need has jumped 77 percent thanks to a brewing civil war, while Afghanistan’s appeal, due in part to conflict and drought, is 41 percent higher.
A third category contains countries where the situation remains serious but relatively unchanged: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Sudan.
UN-coordinated humanitarian response plans are a compendium of projects from UN agencies and NGOs on the assistance they will provide, such as supplying food, running clinics, providing clean water, and setting up shelter.
Even though they are presented as meeting only the highest priority needs, the plans are, on average, only 56 percent funded in 2018. Some emergencies struggle to capture donor interest (Haiti got only 11.2 percent of the requested funding), while others, like Afghanistan and Iraq, which command greater international attention, tend to do better.
Separately on Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced its 2019 emergency appeal, for 2.1 billion Swiss Francs, for which Syria, South Sudan, and Iraq are the largest country operations.
(TOP PHOTO: Displaced families from Hodeidah receive UNHCR assistance in Bajil district, Hodeidah province, Yemen. CREDIT: Haitham al-Akhali/UNHCR)
bp/agDisplacement from Hodeidah News Aid and Policy UN appeals for record $4 billion to help the people of Yemen Ben Parker IRIN Cameroon's conflict and Venezuela’s exodus also highlighted by 2019 fundraising drive Geneva Cameroon Venezuela United Nations HQ Yemen
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|South Sudan: UN condemns ‘brutal’ sexual assaults on roads to Bentiu Cache Translate Page|
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has condemned a series of brutal sexual assaults on women and girls, travelling on the road to Bentiu, a town in the north of the war-ravaged country.
According to the UN mission there, over the last ten days around125 women and girls have sought treatment after having been sexually assaulted, as they walked along roads near Nhialdu and Guit on their way to the town near the Sudanese border. They were also robbed and beaten.
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|SOUTH SUDAN / BENTIU SEXUAL VIOLENCE Cache Translate Page||The United Nations Mission in South Sudan has reinforced its Human Rights team in Bentiu to help with investigations following a series of brutal sexual attacks on women and girls travelling from their villages to the town of Bentiu in the Unity region of South Sudan. UNMISS|
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Africa Heavy on Security Council Agenda as Cote d'Ivoire Takes Over December Presidency
Africa is high on the agenda of the Security Council's program of work in December as Cote d'Ivoire takes over the council's presidency for the month.
There will be a debate among Security Council members on post-conflict reconstruction on Wednesday, which will be attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki, said Cote d'Ivoire's ambassador to the United Nations Leon Adom.
The council debate would be followed by an open debate -- a debate that includes non-Security Council members -- on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional groups for the purpose of conflict prevention and resolution.
Thursday's open debate will be chaired by Cote d'Ivoire's Foreign Minister Marcel Amon Tanoh with the participation of Guterres and Faki as well as Marcel Alain de Souza, the president of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States, a key player in regional peacekeeping and peacebuilding, said Adom.
Both debates would focus heavily on Africa as shown by the high-level representation.
Half of the 14 UN peacekeeping operations are in Africa, including the largest and most costly ones.
In addition to the two "flagship events," the Security Council will also hold briefings or consultations on Guinea Bissau, South Sudan, the Sahel region and the Central African Republic, said Adom.
"Ending the crises in these countries as well as the security and humanitarian situations will be at the heart of our briefings and consultations."
Also on the Security Council agenda is the Middle East, particularly Syria, said Adom.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will brief the council for the last time before he steps down by the end of the year.
De Mistura has expressed disappointment at the lack of progress on the issue of a constitutional committee for Syria at last week's Astana meeting between Russia, Turkey and Iran -- the leading countries of the Astana process, a parallel process to the UN-led Geneva process.
He had insisted on convening the constitutional committee by Dec. 31.
|UN Secretary-General's Spokesperson on South Sudan Cache Translate Page||The Secretary-General strongly condemns the brutal sexual attacks perpetrated against women and girls in the last ten days in the Unity region of South Sudan. These horrific acts are a distressing reminder of how, despite recent recommitments by South Sudan’s ...|
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|AU delegation meets National Dialogue Committee in Juba, pledge support Cache Translate Page||A team of African Union delegates met South Sudan’s National Dialogue Committee on Monday and reiterated its support for peace efforts in the country including the recently signed peace agreement. The high-level African Union delegation, led by South Africa’s Ambassador to the AU Ndumiso Ntshinga comprised representatives from five countries namely Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Rwanda, […]|
|Outcome of Kiir’s efforts for peace in Sudan will be discussed next week: security official Cache Translate Page||December 4, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The results of meetings between South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and armed movements fighting the government in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan will be on the negotiating table next week, a senior Sudanese intelligence and security official said on Tuesday. NISS deputy head Jalal al-din al-Sheikh President Salva […]|
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|Co-exist peacefully with host, S. Sudanese refugees advised Cache Translate Page||December 4, 2018 (ADJUMANI) – South Sudanese refugees living in Nyumanzi, a refugee camp in Uganda’s northwestern district of Adjumani have been urged to co-exist peacefully with the host community. South Sudanese pupils at Nyumanzi refugee settlement camp in Adjumani, Uganda (Getty Image) About 43,000 South Sudanese refugees live in Nyumanzi, officials say. Speaking at […]|
|Venezuela gold rush feeds a growing malaria epidemic Cache Translate Page|| |
Handsome and with neatly slicked hair, Victor Gonzales looks like he belongs more in a boy band than among the dirt-clad miners around El Callao.
Originally from Caracas, the 25-year-old made the journey to the mining town in Bolívar state with his wife five months before IRIN encountered him in August.
“You can’t live in the city anymore; there's no cash, that’s why so many people are coming to the mines. If not, they are leaving the country,” he says. But behind his meek smile, Victor is carrying a daily burden that is preventing him from working each day: malaria.
Alongside Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen, Venezuela is one of four countries worldwide that has seen an alarming increase in cases of the mosquito-borne disease.
The World Health Organization raised the alarm in April after a report found that cases of the malaria had jumped 69 percent in 2017 from the previous year. In October, the president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation said the number so far in 2018 was more than 650,000 – if confirmed that would represent an additional 60 percent increase on 2017, with several months still to go.
(Source: WHO, PAHO, Federación Médica de Venezuela)
In the Sifontes municipality, next to El Callao, the towns of Las Claritas and Tumeremo, where illegal mining thrives, have the highest number of reported cases in the country. As far back as 2013, 60 percent of Venezuela’s malaria cases were found in Sifontes.
Last year, the estimate for the whole country was 406,000 cases, five times higher than 2013. Now, hospitals in Caracas, which has long had a very low number of cases, are seeing a rapid increase in patients sick with the disease, and most come from mines in Bolívar state.
“I have already been sick for six days,” says Victor. “Because I sleep in the mine I got infected. This is the fourth time in five months I have had it.”
‘Survival of the fittest’
Away from the scant food shelves and despondent queues seen throughout many of Venezuela’s major cities, El Callao, on the country’s eastern frontier with Guyana, is booming.
“Here in El Callao, thank God, we don’t suffer this crisis; we are blessed with the richness of gold,” says Alberto Garcia, one of the many Venezuelans to have flocked here.
El Callao is Venezuela’s gold capital, and it never sleeps. Gold dealers operate a 24-hour service seven days a week and Garcia is one of them, getting in on the rush. Having arrived two years ago from the city of Valencia, he managed to get connected fast and now works as a buyer. He is one of the lucky ones.
Along the side-street where Garcia works, Syrian, Israeli, and Iranian flags can be seen draped inside shop windows. “People from all over the world are here in El Callao,” says Garcia. “It’s a very profitable place.”
Like Garcia, dealers buy gold from local miners then sell it outside the country. Despite this operation being illegal, the transactions take place in broad daylight in front of the authorities.
But this thriving economy comes at a price: a conflict between the military and local mafias is raging, the mining has brought widespread environmental devastation, and the malaria epidemic is threatening to engulf the entire region. “Here in El Callao,” says Garcia, “it’s survival of the fittest.”
A rapid resurgence
Venezuela was once internationally celebrated for its robust eradication programme. The country waged a vigorous campaign in the 1930s against the virus, which was considered to be endemic.
Led by physician Arnoldo Gabaldón, a nationwide prevention programme using the insecticide DDT was launched throughout the 1940s. By 1955, 10 years after the programme started, the rate was lowered to one per 100,000 people, and in 1961 the WHO declared malaria eradicated from 68 percent of a malaria zone that included two thirds of the country.
Today, it's a different story.
Foreign imposed sanctions are tightening against the government of Nicolás Maduro, who still downplays the severity of the malaria problem. The means to counter the growing epidemic remain slim as money runs out and years of import controls have caused a lack of mosquito nets and other preventative equipment.
After years of wild spending that pumped money into Cuban-style health missions for the poor, the public healthcare system has been neglected for years and is in deep crisis.
Other factors that have helped malaria’s spread include the breakdown of water-pumping systems that increased breeding grounds for mosquitoes, the end of the fumigation programme, and internal migration within Venezuela to affected areas.
Plasmodium vivax is the most common of the three species of the malaria-carrying parasite that circulate in the area.
Medicine shortages and a lack of prevention programmes have serious consequences for those infected.
Victor wakes up at around 5am to join the queue at the Juan German Hospital. Each day from dawn until dusk the hospital car park fills with families, couples, and single men of all ages, most of them wear their mining boots.
Despite the prospect of free medicine, there is no guarantee a day's wait outside the hospital will get you treatment. Medicine shortages are so acute now that self-treatment options are becoming increasingly common. Children as young as four can be seen among the miners who lie out sick across the tarmac.
Health workers say that even in the smaller clinics they can receive up to 200 new patients daily. Age, a delay in seeking treatment, and self-treatment prior to professional care all affect the number of the parasites in the blood.
Plasmodium vivax is particularly difficult to treat, as it can lie dormant in the liver for months, in some cases years. The medicine Primaquine should be taken for 14 days to treat vivax; but low supplies and unpredictable delivery leave many patients unable to complete the full treatment. Stories of patients in desperate need of cash selling their prescriptions, only to relapse a few weeks later, are also common.
With plasmodium falciparum – the deadliest of the three types of malaria in the area – also prevalent, dozens of people reportedly die each month in El Callao. Obtaining statistics on exact numbers is very difficult due to the reluctance to release reliable data. At Juan German Hospital on one August day, an old Cadillac serving as a mortuary vehicle came and went several times.
A short walk from Juan German Hospital, the medicines needed to treat malaria are easily bought on the black market along with the plastic strips used for the blood smear microscopy examinations.
Primaquine and Chloroquine pills taken from the hospital are sold on the black market for up to two grams of gold on the street corners. Five Venezuelan military personnel guard the hospital doors, but medicines always find a way out.
“Everyone knows who is profiting from the blackmarket trade here, the mafias and the army work together,” says Victor. For miners like Victor who are too sick to work and therefore to pay black market prices, it’s an agonising wait to receive medicine from the hospital.
Despite recent government efforts to dispel the criminal networks that have long reigned in Venezuela´s wildcat mines, little on the ground changes. Military generals lay claim to freshly captured mines and mafias are replaced with new armed groups. An effective response to the malaria epidemic seems to fall behind the long list of priorities in present-day Venezuela.
fg/agscreenshot_2018-12-05_at_18.45.23.png News feature Health Politics and Economics Venezuela gold rush feeds a growing malaria epidemic Frederick Gillingham IRIN EL CALLAO/Venezuela Americas Venezuela
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