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Uganda: South Sudan refugee influx overwhelms Ugandan reception centres

Uganda - ReliefWeb News - 5 hours 51 min ago
Source: IRIN Country: South Sudan, Uganda

Samuel Okiror

Uganda has received 30,000 refugees in just three weeks and reception facilities are overflowing. Recent fighting in South Sudan has caused a new wave of arrivals, putting pressure on its southern neighbour, which was already hosting half a million refugees.

Read the full article on IRIN

Afghanistan: Expert group commends Afghanistan’s progress in polio eradication

Pakistan - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 50 min ago
Source: World Health Organization Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

Kabul 17 July 2016 - The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on polio eradication convened in Kabul to review Afghanistan’s progress in polio eradication, provide recommendations for intensifying efforts to stop the circulation of wild poliovirus by the end of this year and review the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio for 2016–2017. The TAG appreciated the significant progress achieved so far and highlighted major improvements in Afghanistan’s polio eradication efforts.

The second TAG meeting of 2016 brought together senior leaders from the Ministry of Public Health, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, donor agencies and national and provincial polio teams as they presented the gains and achievements of the programme in the last 6 months since the group last met.

“Afghanistan has seen significant progress in polio eradication. We acknowledge the extremely challenging situation in Afghanistan and appreciate the hard work done by all involved in the polio programme,” said TAG Chairman Jean-Marc Olive. “We commend the Government of Afghanistan and partners for strengthening programme management and coordination structures to accelerate progress.”

Minister of Public Health Dr Ferozuddin Feroz underlined the government’s commitment to stopping the circulation of wild poliovirus by the end of 2016.

Gains in a challenging environment

The TAG noted that Afghanistan has witnessed significant progress in its polio eradication programme as demonstrated by polio epidemiology, improvements in population immunity and the quality of supplementary immunization activities and vaccination campaigns.

Most of Afghanistan is now polio-free. Transmission is limited to a small geographical area in Kunar province in the East and the northern parts of Helmand and Kandahar in the south. Transmission in the east illustrates the importance of common reservoir transmission between Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and the area bordering Afghanistan; however, Afghanistan has been able to limit the transmission to a fairly small area. No wild poliovirus has been detected in environmental samples through surveillance in 2016.

The TAG highlighted that Afghanistan has a sensitive polio surveillance system and the circulation of poliovirus is therefore unlikely to be missed.

New achievements and initiatives commended by TAG include the revision and validation of micro plans in 47 very high-risk districts, revision and implementation of a new training module for frontline health workers and a modified revisit strategy that ensures that more children are reached during vaccination campaigns.

“There have been significant improvements in coordination between Pakistan and Afghanistan on polio eradication efforts with regular exchange of information, coordination and face-to-face meetings between Emergency Operations Centres at national and local levels,” said Dr Olive.

Despite these achievements, many challenges remain on the road ahead to reaching a polio-free Afghanistan. The recent deterioration of the security and access situation, particularly in the northeast and eastern regions, is a cause for concern. The proportion of under-immunized children remains high in Helmand and Kandahar and has increased in Kunar.

The programme is actively addressing accessibility issues through for example installing permanent vaccination points around inaccessible areas, ensuring vaccination from all nearest health facilities and engaging with communities to guarantee access while maintaining strict neutrality.

“I would like to acknowledge the contributions of our brave and heroic frontline health workers who often put their lives at risk to ensure that life-saving vaccines reach everyone,” said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Country Representative. “WHO remains committed to bringing Afghanistan across the finish line for polio eradication and we will continue our efforts with partners toward that goal. We have a narrow window of opportunity to stop polio once and for all.”

Closer to the finish line

In 2015, 20 polio cases were reported, down from 28 cases in 2014. 6 cases have been reported so far this year. In the coming year, the programme will focus on consolidating the new interventions introduced this year to further improve vaccination campaign quality. Gaining access to inaccessible areas is a priority.

The TAG urged the programme to continue its strict adherence to programme neutrality and intensify efforts to reach children who cannot currently be accessed during vaccination campaigns. The Group called for sustained engagement with local influences, such as religious leaders and community elders, and efforts to explore new forums for discussions to gain access in the eastern and northeastern regions.

Recommendations were also made to further strengthen the links and coordination between the polio programme and routine immunization services. The TAG recommended that efforts continue to rapidly operationalize the full-time deployment of the Immunization Communication Network to boost ongoing social mobilization and community outreach activities. TAG members also endorsed the 2016–2017 National Emergency Action Plan for Polio which will guide the programme’s interventions in the coming year.

“We are responsible to protect our children no matter where they live in Afghanistan. We are having an all-time low of polio cases in 2016 and most of the country is free of this virus. We thank the TAG for their guidance towards achieving a polio-free Afghanistan and will implement their recommendations in full spirit,” said Dr Hedayatullah Stanekzai, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Public Health in his closing statement to the TAG.

UNICEF Representative Dr Adele Khudr highlighted that the government has UNICEF’s full support in the implementation of the National Emergency Action Plan. “We renew our commitment to accompany Afghanistan in the last few miles to eradicate polio. We will work together as one team towards our common goal,” she said.

A joint statement from donors, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada, Rotary International, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JICA and USAID, provided further recommendations and acknowledged that the hard work carried out by the polio programme is paying off with visible results.

“There is ample evidence to suggest that the opportunity to interrupt poliovirus transmission this year is a very real one. Our support to polio eradication will continue until the very last case of polio is seen,” said Waqar Ajmal, Senior Programme Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About the Technical Advisory Group

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was established to review progress towards polio eradication in specific countries, assess implementation of previous TAG recommendations, discuss planned activities and issue recommendations to address constraints facing national programmes in achieving their targets. TAG meetings are attended by country-specific TAG members, national representatives and partner organizations, both international and regional. The TAG meets twice a year in Pakistan and Afghanistan to review progress and provide expert advice on the final road to polio eradication.

Afghanistan: Expert group commends Afghanistan’s progress in polio eradication

Afghanistan - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 50 min ago
Source: World Health Organization Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

Kabul 17 July 2016 - The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on polio eradication convened in Kabul to review Afghanistan’s progress in polio eradication, provide recommendations for intensifying efforts to stop the circulation of wild poliovirus by the end of this year and review the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio for 2016–2017. The TAG appreciated the significant progress achieved so far and highlighted major improvements in Afghanistan’s polio eradication efforts.

The second TAG meeting of 2016 brought together senior leaders from the Ministry of Public Health, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, donor agencies and national and provincial polio teams as they presented the gains and achievements of the programme in the last 6 months since the group last met.

“Afghanistan has seen significant progress in polio eradication. We acknowledge the extremely challenging situation in Afghanistan and appreciate the hard work done by all involved in the polio programme,” said TAG Chairman Jean-Marc Olive. “We commend the Government of Afghanistan and partners for strengthening programme management and coordination structures to accelerate progress.”

Minister of Public Health Dr Ferozuddin Feroz underlined the government’s commitment to stopping the circulation of wild poliovirus by the end of 2016.

Gains in a challenging environment

The TAG noted that Afghanistan has witnessed significant progress in its polio eradication programme as demonstrated by polio epidemiology, improvements in population immunity and the quality of supplementary immunization activities and vaccination campaigns.

Most of Afghanistan is now polio-free. Transmission is limited to a small geographical area in Kunar province in the East and the northern parts of Helmand and Kandahar in the south. Transmission in the east illustrates the importance of common reservoir transmission between Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and the area bordering Afghanistan; however, Afghanistan has been able to limit the transmission to a fairly small area. No wild poliovirus has been detected in environmental samples through surveillance in 2016.

The TAG highlighted that Afghanistan has a sensitive polio surveillance system and the circulation of poliovirus is therefore unlikely to be missed.

New achievements and initiatives commended by TAG include the revision and validation of micro plans in 47 very high-risk districts, revision and implementation of a new training module for frontline health workers and a modified revisit strategy that ensures that more children are reached during vaccination campaigns.

“There have been significant improvements in coordination between Pakistan and Afghanistan on polio eradication efforts with regular exchange of information, coordination and face-to-face meetings between Emergency Operations Centres at national and local levels,” said Dr Olive.

Despite these achievements, many challenges remain on the road ahead to reaching a polio-free Afghanistan. The recent deterioration of the security and access situation, particularly in the northeast and eastern regions, is a cause for concern. The proportion of under-immunized children remains high in Helmand and Kandahar and has increased in Kunar.

The programme is actively addressing accessibility issues through for example installing permanent vaccination points around inaccessible areas, ensuring vaccination from all nearest health facilities and engaging with communities to guarantee access while maintaining strict neutrality.

“I would like to acknowledge the contributions of our brave and heroic frontline health workers who often put their lives at risk to ensure that life-saving vaccines reach everyone,” said Dr Richard Peeperkorn, WHO Country Representative. “WHO remains committed to bringing Afghanistan across the finish line for polio eradication and we will continue our efforts with partners toward that goal. We have a narrow window of opportunity to stop polio once and for all.”

Closer to the finish line

In 2015, 20 polio cases were reported, down from 28 cases in 2014. 6 cases have been reported so far this year. In the coming year, the programme will focus on consolidating the new interventions introduced this year to further improve vaccination campaign quality. Gaining access to inaccessible areas is a priority.

The TAG urged the programme to continue its strict adherence to programme neutrality and intensify efforts to reach children who cannot currently be accessed during vaccination campaigns. The Group called for sustained engagement with local influences, such as religious leaders and community elders, and efforts to explore new forums for discussions to gain access in the eastern and northeastern regions.

Recommendations were also made to further strengthen the links and coordination between the polio programme and routine immunization services. The TAG recommended that efforts continue to rapidly operationalize the full-time deployment of the Immunization Communication Network to boost ongoing social mobilization and community outreach activities. TAG members also endorsed the 2016–2017 National Emergency Action Plan for Polio which will guide the programme’s interventions in the coming year.

“We are responsible to protect our children no matter where they live in Afghanistan. We are having an all-time low of polio cases in 2016 and most of the country is free of this virus. We thank the TAG for their guidance towards achieving a polio-free Afghanistan and will implement their recommendations in full spirit,” said Dr Hedayatullah Stanekzai, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Public Health in his closing statement to the TAG.

UNICEF Representative Dr Adele Khudr highlighted that the government has UNICEF’s full support in the implementation of the National Emergency Action Plan. “We renew our commitment to accompany Afghanistan in the last few miles to eradicate polio. We will work together as one team towards our common goal,” she said.

A joint statement from donors, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada, Rotary International, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JICA and USAID, provided further recommendations and acknowledged that the hard work carried out by the polio programme is paying off with visible results.

“There is ample evidence to suggest that the opportunity to interrupt poliovirus transmission this year is a very real one. Our support to polio eradication will continue until the very last case of polio is seen,” said Waqar Ajmal, Senior Programme Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About the Technical Advisory Group

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was established to review progress towards polio eradication in specific countries, assess implementation of previous TAG recommendations, discuss planned activities and issue recommendations to address constraints facing national programmes in achieving their targets. TAG meetings are attended by country-specific TAG members, national representatives and partner organizations, both international and regional. The TAG meets twice a year in Pakistan and Afghanistan to review progress and provide expert advice on the final road to polio eradication.

Colombia: Monitoring Emergencies: Colombia - 07/22/2016: National Unit of Risk Management, rainy season summary

Colombia - Chad - 6 hours 59 min ago
Source: Pan American Health Organization Country: Colombia

As of July 22, 2016, there have been 585 events and nearly 25,000 families have been affected throughout the entire country. The attention and preparation of the communities, through the implemented contingency plans, has reduced the vulnerability and impact. (OS: UNGRD)

  • Department of Chocó: Quibdó declares State of Emergency for gales. Departmental authorities declared a State of Emergency in Quibdó, Chocó due to gales that have affected more than 600 families and 2,500 homes. (M: EL ESPECTADOR)
  • Department of Antioquia: The Municipality of Algeria was affected by gales. In half an hour, a gale destroyed the roofs of 11 educational centers, a cultural center, and 40 homes. The events occurred in both urban and rural areas. (M: RCN)
  • Department of Santander: The capital, Bucaramanga was affected by thunderstorms and hail. The metropolitan area was affected by winds, large-sized hail, and fallen trees, which caused damage to homes and streets. (M: VIDEO CARACOL)

Syrian Arab Republic: Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien Statement on Syria to the Security Council, New York, 25 July 2016

ReliefWeb - Press Releases - 7 hours 12 min ago
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Syrian Arab Republic

Mr. President,

Every time I have briefed this Council, I have described the horrors of a brutal conflict characterized by the complete failure to protect civilians, which has generated gargantuan levels of suffering for most civilians. Truth be told, words are not adequate to depict the grim and gruesome reality for the people of Syria today. We have seen the hopes of ordinary Syrians for an end to their nightmare raised and then dashed time and again as the Government, non-State armed groups, and terrorist groups have relentlessly continued on a military path that has further devastated cities, towns, communities, and families. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently said, “The number of war crimes already committed surpasses our worst nightmares”.

Fighting and violence have escalated across several parts of the country over the last few weeks resulting in widespread civilian deaths, injury and displacement. Strikes, by all sides, continue to be launched on and from heavily populated areas from air and ground without regard for civilian presence. Attacks on other civilian infrastructure remain an almost daily occurrence in some areas. A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report indicated that healthcare is attacked in Syria more than any other place on earth.

The undeniable fact is that, today, in many places, civilians in Syria are as much at risk as they have ever been, due to the parties’ continuing blatant disregard for international humanitarian law, whose primary and overarching principle, as advocated by but also supposedly enforced by the Security Council, is under the obligation to protect civilians from the effects of armed conflict.

Mr. President, I am deeply alarmed by the disturbing developments in and around Aleppo city. Hundreds of mortars, missiles and projectiles were launched on both eastern and western Aleppo in past weeks, resulting in scores of deaths and hundreds of injuries. Since 7 July, civilian, humanitarian and commercial movements in and out of eastern Aleppo city have come to a halt. Castello Road, the last remaining access route in and out of the east of the city as I alerted you in my two previous briefings, where an estimated 250,000-275,000 people reside, has now been cut off due to fighting. The United Nations and our partners pre-positioned stocks in sad, but all too real, anticipation of such developments; food in east Aleppo is expected to run out by the middle of next month. While medical supplies are available for a longer period, I am extremely worried about the continuing attacks on medical facilities in eastern Aleppo, such as a hospital in Al-Maadi neighbourhood which has now been hit three times in the last month alone. Indeed, over the last 48 hours, we have received reports – in the process of being verified – of attacks on or near several facilities in Aleppo city and countryside. These attacks have a devastating multiplier effect, not only killing people and destroying facilities, but leaving thousands unable to get even basic care at a time when they need it most.

I cannot stress enough how critical the situation is for those trapped in eastern Aleppo city. This population is at serious risk of besiegement as the fighting closes in and their access to basic necessities runs out. Our highest priority is to ensure access through both cross-line or cross-border operations under the Security Council’s existing Resolutions so that we can replenish stocks and ensure people’s access to the basic necessities of life. The international community simply cannot let eastern Aleppo city become yet another – and by far the largest - besieged area. This is medieval and shameful. We must not allow this to happen. But, the clock is ticking. I urgently call on the parties, and those with influence, to act now to establish a weekly, 48-hour humanitarian pause for eastern Aleppo city so that the UN and partners have safe, regular and sustained access to the quarter of a million people trapped behind the front lines. This must be a full United Nations call – not just from me as the UN’s humanitarian chief – this has to come from you, the Security Council.

Mr. President,

I am equally alarmed by reports of deteriorating humanitarian conditions and urgent medical evacuation needs in Madaya, Foah, Zabadani and Kefraya, where over 62,000 people are and continue to be besieged. Despite approvals granted by the Government of Syria over the last three months for the UN and humanitarian partners to provide assistance to besieged civilians in the Four Towns, the UN and partners have not been able to access the towns because of tension amongst parties to the agreement, heavy aerial bombardment in Idlib, and shelling on Foah and Kefraya.

We should all remember the disturbing images of starving children in Madaya earlier this year, many of whom have died even after aid was finally allowed in. Let me be clear: we will see such images again unless the parties enable immediate and unconditional humanitarian deliveries to the Four Towns. This is no hollow warning – this is highly likely to occur again unless you enforce access.

Urgent medical evacuations must also be immediately available where needed. The current tit-for-tat arrangement - which has led to children dying in one of the towns because there is no equally sick child in another location to evacuate at exactly the same time - should be a shameful blot on the conscience of the parties and those who support them. In any event such a callous tit-for-tat arrangement is not in compliance with international humanitarian law – the only measure for humanitarian access and action is to meet needs, not reciprocity. I call on all parties to allow the sick and wounded to exit the Four Towns and all other besieged areas to get the medical care they need to survive and put an end to the tit-for-tat approach. Medical evacuations are not a question of politics or military advantage, but of basic humanity.

Mr. President,

I have highlighted Aleppo city and the Four Towns today, but you will find similar conditions in many more places: the tens of thousands trapped and exposed to fighting in Menbij with no humanitarian support or the reports of dozens of civilians killed in strikes in Tokhar in rural Aleppo; the continued bombardment of Douma, Darayya and Khan El-Shieh in Rural Damascus; and relentless ISIL attacks on the besieged parts of Deir ez-Zor city. I am also gravely concerned about the situation at the Berm along the Jordanian border, where the number of people, seeking shelter from the fighting inside Syria, has increased exponentially in recent months. The vast majority of those stranded are children, women, elderly people, as well as those in need of medical care, including hundreds of pregnant women. It is baking hot, totally arid, a no-man’s land of a barely living hell.

The fact is, Mr. President, that across Syria, around 5.5 million people are in need in hard-to-reach and besieged areas with little physical protection and limited access to basic life-saving assistance. Of that number, some 590,000 people remain totally trapped in besieged areas.

Let me take a moment to describe what it is actually like to live in these areas. Most of these people are completely desperate for an escape from the constant fighting, shelling and snipers that engulf their lives. Parents have no food for their near starving children. Malnutrition so severe, that children die as a result. No running water or electricity. Prices for the little commodities that reach these areas are dozens of times higher than in neighbouring communities and thus simply not affordable for those already reduced to nothing. They are places with little education, where sexual violence, child recruitment and early marriage are commonplace. Imagine a place where a pregnant woman cannot give birth safely because she cannot receive the necessary pain killers or care that is needed. Places where those fortunate enough to find care all too often die in their beds when their medical facility is hit. And yes, in Syria, unspeakable sexual crimes against children – it’s abhorrent and on our collective watch.

When you look beyond the numbers, Mr. President, this is the reality that people are facing in these areas day in and day out. It is not the fighters or those at checkpoints who are suffering and dying in such ways. It is the civilian population, the most vulnerable, children, women, disabled and the elderly. These are indisputable facts. And they speak for themselves. Surely none of us, none of you are immune to these horrors that constitute daily life for so many of our fellow human beings who just happen to have been Syrian, in Syria, when their world exploded around and over them over 5 years ago.

Mr. President,

The life or death situation in many parts of the country is exactly why we press from every possible angle to get regular and sustained access to all besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

It is true that some progress has been made this year. Overall, we have now reached over one million people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, but, please remember, that is out of 5.5 million, just 1 in 6 people in need reached. We have reached each besieged area at least once this year, including 400,000 of the 590,000 people living in besieged areas; including through on-going airdrops to 110,000 people in Deir-ez-Zor city. Significant progress was made on approvals by the Government of Syria for the July inter-agency convoy plan, with 34 out of 35 locations approved for convoys, including, for the first time, all requested besieged areas with the full package of assistance. These breakthroughs - however incremental - are proof that when there is enough political will, it is really possible to reach people in desperate need of life-saving assistance. I thank those with influence on the parties for bringing their weight to bear on the issue, especially recent initiatives by the United States and the Russian Federation, not least the Russian Federation’s Ambassador and his team in Damascus.

At the same time, we have to recognize the enormous access challenges still in front of us. The escalation of fighting and insecurity continues to further constrain access. Beyond Aleppo and the Four Towns, we have seen this very clearly in July, as even with Government of Syria approvals, we have been unable to reach many other locations, such as Darayya and Douma, due to bombing and shelling and fighting along key access roads. UN and partners cross-border operations from Turkey and Jordan have also been affected by insecurity along border areas and key access routes, affecting our ability to reach tens of thousands of people.

Arbitrary restrictions and obstructions continue to limit or obstruct where we deliver aid, to whom and how often. Notwithstanding the high level of approvals for the July inter-agency convoy plan, the Syrian authorities only authorized us to deliver to 75% of the UN’s estimated population in these areas. The team on the ground continue to press for the delivery of aid based on independent UN needs assessments, as called for by this Council in its resolutions

Even when approvals are granted and the large amount of paperwork is completed, permits given by the Government centrally do not always translate down to their security forces. In particular, despite repeated calls for the free passage of all medicines and surgical equipment in aid convoys, from this Council and others, medical and surgical items continue to be excluded or removed from midwifery kits, paediatric kits, and diarrhoeal disease sets, depriving thousands of people each month. This deliberate denial of essential medicine and surgical equipment undermines the very basis of humanitarian action.

Meanwhile, some non-State armed groups have also attacked, threatened and refused to cooperate with humanitarian workers. And sustained UN access to areas under the control of ISIL – such as parts of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor governorates - remains extremely limited.

Mr. President,

Throughout Syria, UN agencies and NGO partners continue their tireless efforts to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the Syrian population often at great personal risk. We saw this first hand on 29 June, when during a convoy to Arbeen and Zamalka, one of the drivers of a supply truck was shot in the chest and another round struck an armoured vehicle. I would like to recognise the bravery of those who risk their lives every time they cross conflict lines, borders, or enter active conflict areas to provide much needed life-saving assistance to those in need and to remind those who sometimes carp that gaining the Government of Syria’s permission is the only way to mitigate these live and present mortal dangers to our brave UN colleagues and their partners, many of them local Syrians.

Collectively, through these efforts, we are reaching millions of people per month through regular programming, cross-border and cross-line activities, as well as air operations. It is vital that all humanitarian organizations, personnel and other assets– no matter where they are based, where they are operating, or how they deliver assistance in Syria – are provided all necessary protection by all parties to the conflict, as afforded under international humanitarian law.

Mr. President,

Let me be frank: we need to urgently regain the momentum on protection and access. The momentum created in the first half of the year, and since the creation of the ISSG Humanitarian Task Force, must be the platform for a step change in the protection and access situation for civilians into the second half of the year. This must include:

  • A restoration and consolidation of the cessation of hostilities; an end to indiscriminate attacks that recklessly kill and injure civilians. It is well within the power of all parties – and those who back them – to minimize civilian casualties and avoid further crimes and atrocities. They must do so. Civilians and civilian infrastructure are not pawns to be sacrificed, but are specially protected under international law.

  • All necessary action from the parties and their supporters to ensure safe, sustained, unhindered and unconditional access. This must include humanitarian truces and pauses in the fighting so that we can reach those civilians trapped behind the front lines and they can reach life-saving services not available in their areas. Better still, of course, is for all the fighting to stop.

  • An immediate end to the sieges which still collectively punish hundreds of thousands of civilians mercilessly. Anything less than the full lifting of the sieges will never be enough and we cannot pretend otherwise.

Mr. President,

I will close by repeating what I and my colleagues have said many times: this crisis must end with a political solution, not a military victory. But, make no mistake as to the current humanitarian trajectory: despite some sentiment and even rhetoric within the international community, the available protection space is shrinking; humanitarian conditions are worsening, and the level of despair is rising. These cannot, must not become accepted trends to which the international community seemingly resigns itself as the search for a political solution continues. The international community has shown unity of purpose before and must show it again, before it’s too late and we face the prospect of losing another generation of Syrians to conflict and misery.

Thank you.

occupied Palestinian territory: Israel advances plans for 770 settlement homes

oPt - ReliefWeb News - 7 hours 16 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: occupied Palestinian territory

Jerusalem, Undefined | AFP | Monday 7/25/2016 - 14:36 GMT

Israeli authorities have advanced plans for 770 new settlement homes in annexed east Jerusalem, officials and rights groups said Monday, drawing condemnation from Palestinian leaders and the United Nations.

The homes would expand the Gilo settlement on the southern perimeter of east Jerusalem. They are part of a larger plan for around 1,200 units approved some three years ago, said Ir Amim, an NGO that monitors Israeli settlement activity.

The land where they are to be built requires technical approval known as "reparcelisation" by Jerusalem's local planning and building committee in order for the process to advance, according to Ir Amim.

The committee has now deposited the plans for public objections ahead of possible approval.

"The plans in question are not new, and were approved three years ago," a statement from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's office said.

"Recent deliberations in the municipal planning committee concerned technical details of plot distribution within the previously approved project."

The move to further advance the plans drew condemnation both from UN and Palestinian officials.

Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank are viewed as illegal under international law.

They are also considered major stumbling blocks to peace efforts as they are built on land Palestinians view as part of their future state.

A recent report by the diplomatic Quartet -- the United States, European Union, Russia and the UN -- said settlement expansion was eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict.

"I strongly condemn the recent decision by Israeli authorities to advance plans to build some 770 housing units in the settlement of Gilo, built on the lands of occupied Palestinian towns and villages between Bethlehem and east Jerusalem," Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said in a statement.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said the decision "further reflects the failure of the international community to stop Israel's settlement expansion".

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem, which Palestinians view as their future capital.

The status of Jerusalem has been among the most contentious issues in peace negotiations, which have been at a standstill since April 2014.

mjs/srm

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Afghanistan: Afghanistan: Save the Children Urges Greater Protection of Children as New UN Report Reveals Record Civilian Casualties in Last Six Months

Afghanistan - ReliefWeb News - 7 hours 20 min ago
Source: Save the Children Country: Afghanistan

Media Contact
Erin Taylor 267.250.8829 (M)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (July 25,2016) — Almost 400 children were killed and another 1,121 maimed between January and June this year in a six-month period that saw the highest number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan since the United Nations began counting in 2009.

According to the report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, nearly a third of all civilian deaths or injuries were children, with the total number of child casualties up 18 percent compared to the same period last year.

"These findings are truly shocking, and represent a significant backtrack on progress for Afghan children," said Save the Children’s Afghanistan Country Director Ana Locsin.

"Save the Children condemns any attacks on children, and we urge all parties in Afghanistan to make the protection of civilians, especially children, a priority."

"Aside from the obvious risk to their lives, witnessing civilian attacks can cause a great deal of distress for children, often leading to psychosocial issues and impacting their longer term development," Locsin said. "Children are seeing their family members killed or injured, which can have huge knock on effects on their lives, especially if the breadwinner can no longer work or take care of them."

"Children are always innocent victims — they have no part in conflict and, as such, must be protected from harm."

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan between January and June, 2016, totaled 5,166, reflecting a four percent increase on the same period last year. More than 155,000 Afghans became displaced during the six month period, representing a 10 percent increase on 2015.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Afghanistan: Afghan and U.S. governments team up to focus on farmers in boosting Afghanistan’s agricultural sector

Afghanistan - ReliefWeb News - 7 hours 50 min ago
Source: US Agency for International Development Country: Afghanistan, United States of America

Kabul, Afghanistan Today, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan (MAIL) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed agreements to roll out new agricultural projects and extend a few ongoing initiatives. This partnership will contribute to the Government of Afghanistan’s new strategy toward a “farmer-focused” approach to develop the country’s agricultural sector.

Agriculture is critical to Afghanistan’s food security and a key driver of economic growth. U.S. assistance to Afghanistan’s agricultural sector focuses on creating jobs, increasing incomes and productivity, enhancing food security, creating export markets and strengthening the Afghan government’s ability to promote broad-based growth. Through implementation of the new projects and the extended ones, MAIL and USAID will continue to collaborate on projects that involve: production and marketing of high value horticultural and livestock products; rehabilitation of irrigation canals, and greater use of agricultural technologies.

“With support from USAID, the “farmer-focused” approach will enable MAIL's efforts to result in improved food security and increased incomes for farmers and agribusinesses in financially-sustainable and environmentally-friendly ways,” said MAIL Minister Assadullah Zamir.

“Over the past year, USAID’s partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture has helped more than 55,000 households through training and alternative development interventions in targeted areas, and our support for farms and agribusinesses has resulted in over $30 million of sales,” reported USAID Mission Director Herbert Smith in his remarks at the event.

The announcement comes at an opportune time as MAIL prepares for the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan this October. The conference, as per a European Union press release, will be an opportunity for the “government of Afghanistan to set out its vision and track record on reform. For the international community, it will be the opportunity to signal sustained political and financial support to Afghan peace, state-building and development.”

With almost $17 billion spent on development programs in Afghanistan since 2002, USAID provides the largest bilateral civilian assistance program to Afghanistan. USAID partners with the government and people of Afghanistan to ensure economic growth led by the country’s private sector, to establish a democratic and capable state governed by the rule of law, and to provide basic health and education services for all Afghans. For more information about USAID's programs in Afghanistan, please visit:www.usaid.gov/afghanistan.

occupied Palestinian territory: End of mission statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967

oPt - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 19 min ago
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Jordan, occupied Palestinian territory

Geneva (20 July 2016) - “I have just concluded my first official visit as the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. I travelled to Amman, Jordan where, over the course of 10-15 July, I met with a range of civil society groups, community representatives, UN officials, and Palestinian government officials to discuss the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

I was struck by a sentiment repeated by almost all of those with whom I met: that, in the face of an increasingly difficult situation, people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem are, more and more, struggling with feelings of hopelessness, particularly among the young. It is clear that the longstanding Occupation is more entrenched than ever, and that this is having an impact across the broad spectrum of human rights and the development trajectory of the OPT.

I am concerned about the escalation of violence that began last September, and about the many deaths, both Palestinian and Israeli, that resulted from this violence. I would urge the Israeli authorities to thoroughly investigate cases which may have amounted to an excessive use of force or to an extrajudicial killing, and to ensure that genuine accountability is made a priority. I am particularly concerned by the recently published police regulations which state that Israeli police forces may react to stone throwing with live ammunition. Use of deadly force should only be used in extremely limited cases – only when a law enforcement officer is faced with a life-threatening danger.

It is clear that the longstanding Occupation continues to affect a broad spectrum of rights under international law, and to hinder the economic and social development of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The existence and spread of the Israeli settlements amount to a grave breach of international law, and they spawn a host of other violations under international human rights and humanitarian law. This has been long stated by the international community, and as the 50th year of the Occupation approaches in 2017, more of the world’s attention should be focused on reversing the seeming intractability of this situation.

I heard from several individuals about the impact of movement restrictions and closures of entire towns, which not only limit the daily activities of affected persons, but also deprive children of the right to education by preventing consistent access to schools and keeping teachers from getting to their students. They endanger the right to health by preventing people from accessing life-saving medical care, and keeping doctors from traveling for much-needed training and educational opportunities. Commerce and business are adversely affected when markets for goods cannot be consistently accessed, and when much-needed resources cannot be reached due to challenges such as exclusion zones or access-restricted areas.

I would like to emphasize that the work of the civil society organizations with whom I met is critical to ensuring respect for human rights in the OPT. The worldwide problem of shrinking space for the work of human rights defenders is clearly evident, for example with Israel’s recent passage of the so-called NGO Transparency law, which appears to disproportionately affect organizations working to advocate for human rights, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

I met with the groups in Amman because I did not receive a response from Israel’s Permanent Mission in Geneva to my request to be permitted to travel to the Occupied Palestinian Territory in order to assess the human rights situation first-hand. This lack of response by Israel, the occupying power, is a matter of deep concern, given the specific obligations under the Charter of the United Nations to allow those who represent the United Nations to enjoy such privileges and immunities in the territory of States Members as are necessary to for the independent exercise of their functions in connection with the Organization (Article 105, paragraph 2).

I will present my first report to the United Nations General Assembly at its 71st session in October 2016.”

*******

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council designated Michael Lynk (Canada) as the seventh Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

Professor Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, where he teaches labour law, constitutional law and human rights law. Before becoming an academic, he practiced labour law and refugee law for a decade in Ottawa and Toronto. As well, he worked for the United Nations on human rights and refugee issues in Jerusalem. Professor Lynk has written widely on labour law and human rights issues in Canada, and he has also published articles on the application of international law to the Middle East conflict. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/PS/Pages/SRPalestine.aspx

Check the previous Special Rapporteur’s last report to the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session31/Pages/ListReports.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Katharine Marshall (+41 22 917 9695 / kmarshall@ohchr.org) or write to sropt@ohchr.org

Syrian Arab Republic: Implementation of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014) and 2258 (2015) - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2016/631) [EN/AR]

oPt - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 32 min ago
Source: UN Security Council Country: occupied Palestinian territory, Syrian Arab Republic

I. Introduction

1. The present report is the twenty-ninth submitted pursuant to paragraph 17 of Security Council resolution 2139 (2014), paragraph 10 of Council resolution 2165 (2014), paragraph 5 of Security Council resolution 2191 (2014) and paragraph 5 of Council resolution 2258 (2015), in which the Council requests the Secretary-General to report, every 30 days, on the implementation of the resolutions by all parties to the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic.

2. The information contained herein is based on the data available to United Nations agencies on the ground, from the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, other Syrian sources and open sources. Data from United Nations agencies on their humanitarian deliveries have been reported for the period from 1 to 30 June 2016. More recent data have been included when available.

II. Major developments

A. Developments on the ground

3. During the reporting period, military activities continued to threaten the viability of the cessation of hostilities. Military activities, including air strikes, continued, mainly in the northern part of the country, as well as in Rif Dimashq and other governorates. In line with resolution 2258 (2015), the following description of developments on the ground reports on the compliance by all parties in the Syrian Arab Republic with resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191 (2014). This information is without prejudice to the work of the International Syria Support Group Task Force on the Ceasefire.

4. Fighting continued throughout the reporting period in Damascus and Rif Dimashq governorates, particularly in eastern Ghutah, where clashes between Government forces and non-State armed opposition groups continued along several fronts. Air strikes and shelling resulting in civilian casualties and injuries were reported in several towns, including Duma, Maydaʻa, Marj, Hammurah, and Utaya. According to information received by reliable sources, on 29 June, ground strikes hit an ambulance which was en route from Duma to Hammurah. A female physiotherapist was reportedly killed. On 30 June, air strikes struck residential buildings in Utaya, reportedly killing at least 18 civilians.

5. In western Ghutah, Government forces conducted an offensive on the besieged town of Darayya. After the delivery of humanitarian aid on 1 June, Darayya town witnessed a military escalation and was reportedly hit with air strikes and ground attempts to advance inside the town. On 6 June, air strikes hit residential areas of Darayya, allegedly killing one civilian and injuring five others. A second humanitarian convoy with food aid went into Darayya on 10 June and the town came under ground strikes and air strikes while the convoys were still on the ground. On 19 June, non-State armed opposition groups reopened a corridor with the neighbouring town of Muʽaddamiyah al-Sham, before Government forces restored control over the area several hours later. Meanwhile, in Muʽaddamiyah al-Sham, three civilians were reportedly killed and at least two others injured when residential areas of the town were hit by ground strikes on 21 June.

6. Government forces reportedly intensified air strikes and artillery shelling on Khan al-Shih area of Rif Dimashq almost on a daily basis during the reporting period, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries to civilians, as well as damage and destruction to civilian homes. For example, according to information received by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on 29 June, air strikes hit two civilians’ houses in Khan al-Shih, allegedly killing six civilians, including a five-year-old child and a woman, and injuring at least 10 other civilians.

7. In Yarmuk camp, fighting resumed between Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Nusrah Front in June, placing civilians at further risk. The Nusrah Front made slight advances after launching counter-attacks to recapture the areas it lost in April. As noted in my most recent report (S/2016/546), on 11 June, in the Damascus suburb of Sayyidah Zainab, two explosions resulted in the death of at least 12 people and wounded many others. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks through its Aamaq Twitter posts. The attack was the fourth such incident perpetrated by ISIL against the Sayyidah Zainab shrine area in 2016.

8. Military activity intensified in Aleppo governorate in June. Government and pro-Government forces launched attacks on non-State armed opposition group-controlled eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo city. OHCHR received reports of scores of civilians, many of them children, being killed in June. For example, on 8 June, an air strike reportedly hit Bayan Hospital, allegedly killing at least 15 civilians. On 14 June, 26 civilians were allegedly killed after air strikes hit several neighbourhoods in eastern Aleppo city, according to information received by OHCHR. On 18 and 20 June, air strikes reportedly hit two health-care centres in Fardous and Tariq al-Bab, causing substantial damage to the facilities, although no casualties were reported.

Iraq: CCCM - Iraq - 3Ws of Settlements, July 2016

Iraq - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 59 min ago
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees, CCCM Cluster Country: Iraq

South Sudan refugee influx overwhelms Ugandan reception centres

East Africa - IRIN - News - 8 hours 59 min ago

Uganda has received 30,000 refugees in just three weeks and reception facilities are overflowing. Recent fighting in South Sudan has caused a new wave of arrivals, putting pressure on its southern neighbour, which was already hosting half a million refugees.

“The new refugee influx of South Sudan refugees is a huge burden to the government. We are constrained in terms of providing social services to these new refugees,” Titus Jogo, a refugee official at the Ugandan prime minister’s office, told IRIN. “We are looking for additional resources to provide them with social services like medical care, water, shelter and other basic necessities.”

By early December 2015, Uganda had become home to almost 511,000 refugees and asylum seekers, making it the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, after Ethiopia and Kenya.

As of 24 July, more than 30,000 refugees had crossed into Uganda to flee uncertainty and fighting in South Sudan between government troops of President Salva Kiir and forces loyal to First Vice President Riek Machar. Humanitarian agencies say the sudden influx has severely stretched the resources and capacity of refugee collection points, transit centres and reception centres in the northwestern part of the country.

I have been trying to call my dad’s telephone number, but it has been off.

Interview: Felix T*, 15-year-old unaccompanied child from Juba "At the time when the fighting started in Juba, my brother and I were playing with our friends. We heard bullets. We all got confused. I held my brother’s hand and told him to run. There was no way we could go back home. I don’t know whether our parents are alive or dead. I have been trying to call my dad’s telephone number, but it has been off. I don’t know what could be the problem? I still don’t know what caused the fight. We spent two days running and walking to Jabelem. We were so tired. I thought we would have some rest at Jabelem. But it was unfortunate. It was another terrible experience and nightmare. The day when we arrived there the soldiers started shooting and beating people. We had no option but to hit the road again, running. We had no food to eat. We spent another two good days to get Gore. My younger brother was tired and kept crying. I kept encouraging him, for us to move for our own safety and security. As we were stranded, some driver helped us out. He put us in his car and dropped us in Nimule. We walked from Nimule to here [Elegu] on foot. My legs are in pain. I am hungry. I haven’t eaten. I have nothing to give my brother. I don’t know who is going to help us out when we reach the settlement. I don’t know how we can get in touch with our parents. We hear there is still some fighting in Juba. I hope the fighting will stop so that we [can] go back home and study."

“Our collection points and reception centres are severely over capacity. This is a significant challenge as we've received nearly as many refugees in the last week as we had done in the first six months of 2016,” Charles Yaxley, associate external relations officer at the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, told IRIN.

On 22 July, when IRIN visited Elegu collection point on the South Sudan-Uganda border, it had more than 10,000, ten times its 1,000 person capacity. Heavy rains were further hampering registration efforts.

The sanitation is poor and the site is littered with garbage. The pit latrines can’t handle the numbers, forcing thousands to defecate in the open nearby.

“The situation is much worse: alarming and appalling. The numbers are overwhelming. Yet the number of humanitarian agencies on the ground to provide critical aid is small,” John Bosco Komakech, executive director of the Catholic charity Caritas in Gulu archdiocese, told IRIN at Elegu.

“The influx was not expected to be this big and, as it stands now, it has burst the resources available, especially at Elegu refugee collection point,” Justine Abenaitwe, humanitarian manager for Save the Children Uganda, told IRIN.

The visibly tired and hungry children and women, who compose 90 percent of the new influx, said they had only received biscuits provided by humanitarian agencies.

“The children are crying for food to eat, but we can’t provide anything,” Jovin Bako, a refugee  from Torit in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State, told IRIN. “We are tired of running. We appeal to President Kiir and his vice [president] to consider the plight and suffering of the innocent civilians. We need peace and security in our country. We are tired of violence and war,” she said.

Nyumanzi transit centre in Uganda’s northwestern district of Adjumani was built in early 2014 to hold some 2,000 people for no more than two weeks. It now has more than 20,000 refugees. Kuluba collection point is hosting about 1,500 refugees, compared to its 300-person capacity.

Susan Keji: ‘I told my kids: let’s run” We were seated at home near UNMISS [UN Mission in South Sudan] compound in Juba. We started hearing gunshots. The shooting intensified. After about 30-45 minutes, armed men surrounded our home. They shouted and shot in the air. We got scared. They ordered us to get out of the house immediately. We accepted to come out. They told us to run. We took off. Unfortunately, these people killed my husband and two sons, 16 and 13 years old. The man first shot my husband before turning his gun to my two sons. They died in cold blood. I survived with the two kids by God’s mercy. I am still wondering why they killed the three. What wrong did they do? I told my kids: let’s run. They might kill us. We ran and ran. We slept that night in the bush. We were all terrified. We spent five days moving from Juba to Nyarabanga, south of Rajaf. We were hungry and thirsty. When we arrived at Nyarabanga, we got some Good Samaritan who helped us out. A driver of a trailer stopped and picked us from the road side. He gave us a lift. It saved us from more walking. It’s still hard to believe they are gone. I will continue to mourn my husband and children. I will never see them again. There was no decent burial for them. I am told their bodies were picked and buried in a mass grave. This is the fourth time I am fleeing into Uganda. We have suffered a lot. Can’t these people sympathise with innocent people? We have never enjoyed peace. We are tired of continued violence and wars. I can’t do anything to stop the fighting. I can’t risk to go back home again."  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t do anything to stop the fighting.

Susan Keji's husband and children were killed in Juba Samuel Okiror/IRIN Susan Keji's husband and children were killed in Juba

Last week, the Ugandan government and UNHCR evaluated a number of potential new sites for longer-term settlement as well as new collection points.

“The Adjumani settlement is full. We are planning to reopen one settlement in Yumbe, which last operated in 1990, in the next 45 days. This is now a new place where we don’t have any structures and services at all,” Jogo told IRIN.

“It will require us to put up all the social services like water, shelter, setting up of health facilities, drilling boreholes, pit latrines and constructing structures for security personnel. This will require additional logistics and financial resources, which we don’t have at the moment.”

UNHCR too is seeking funding: it has revised its appeal for the South Sudan refugee operation, seeking $701 million. The earlier appeal for $638 million was only 17 percent funded.

How can I manage these children alone? Where could my husband be?"

Interview: Maria Anguwa, from Nyaza "When shall we ever have peace in South Sudan? I am tired of running and being a refugee. Every time it’s war and violence. I came here because of the disturbance, fighting and killing of people. Since the unrest broke out on 7 July, we couldn’t remain home. We had to run for our dear lives. Some gunmen took advantage of the fighting in Juba and started killing people in our village. Some children and youths were being forcefully taken. I couldn’t handle the situation. I decided to flee with my six children. I can’t locate my husband. He took off and left us behind. He didn’t bother to help me with the children. How can I manage these children alone? Where could my husband be?"

 

 

so/bp

Facilities for new refugees in Uganda are "bursting" thousands_of_new_arrivals_of_south_sudan_refugees_at_elegu_collection_centre.jpg Samuel Okiror Feature Aid and Policy Migration Conflict ELEGU UGANDA IRIN Africa East Africa South Sudan Uganda

South Sudan refugee influx overwhelms Ugandan reception centres

Uganda - News - 8 hours 59 min ago

Uganda has received 30,000 refugees in just three weeks and reception facilities are overflowing. Recent fighting in South Sudan has caused a new wave of arrivals, putting pressure on its southern neighbour, which was already hosting half a million refugees.

“The new refugee influx of South Sudan refugees is a huge burden to the government. We are constrained in terms of providing social services to these new refugees,” Titus Jogo, a refugee official at the Ugandan prime minister’s office, told IRIN. “We are looking for additional resources to provide them with social services like medical care, water, shelter and other basic necessities.”

By early December 2015, Uganda had become home to almost 511,000 refugees and asylum seekers, making it the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, after Ethiopia and Kenya.

As of 24 July, more than 30,000 refugees had crossed into Uganda to flee uncertainty and fighting in South Sudan between government troops of President Salva Kiir and forces loyal to First Vice President Riek Machar. Humanitarian agencies say the sudden influx has severely stretched the resources and capacity of refugee collection points, transit centres and reception centres in the northwestern part of the country.

I have been trying to call my dad’s telephone number, but it has been off.

Interview: Felix T*, 15-year-old unaccompanied child from Juba "At the time when the fighting started in Juba, my brother and I were playing with our friends. We heard bullets. We all got confused. I held my brother’s hand and told him to run. There was no way we could go back home. I don’t know whether our parents are alive or dead. I have been trying to call my dad’s telephone number, but it has been off. I don’t know what could be the problem? I still don’t know what caused the fight. We spent two days running and walking to Jabelem. We were so tired. I thought we would have some rest at Jabelem. But it was unfortunate. It was another terrible experience and nightmare. The day when we arrived there the soldiers started shooting and beating people. We had no option but to hit the road again, running. We had no food to eat. We spent another two good days to get Gore. My younger brother was tired and kept crying. I kept encouraging him, for us to move for our own safety and security. As we were stranded, some driver helped us out. He put us in his car and dropped us in Nimule. We walked from Nimule to here [Elegu] on foot. My legs are in pain. I am hungry. I haven’t eaten. I have nothing to give my brother. I don’t know who is going to help us out when we reach the settlement. I don’t know how we can get in touch with our parents. We hear there is still some fighting in Juba. I hope the fighting will stop so that we [can] go back home and study."

“Our collection points and reception centres are severely over capacity. This is a significant challenge as we've received nearly as many refugees in the last week as we had done in the first six months of 2016,” Charles Yaxley, associate external relations officer at the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, told IRIN.

On 22 July, when IRIN visited Elegu collection point on the South Sudan-Uganda border, it had more than 10,000, ten times its 1,000 person capacity. Heavy rains were further hampering registration efforts.

The sanitation is poor and the site is littered with garbage. The pit latrines can’t handle the numbers, forcing thousands to defecate in the open nearby.

“The situation is much worse: alarming and appalling. The numbers are overwhelming. Yet the number of humanitarian agencies on the ground to provide critical aid is small,” John Bosco Komakech, executive director of the Catholic charity Caritas in Gulu archdiocese, told IRIN at Elegu.

“The influx was not expected to be this big and, as it stands now, it has burst the resources available, especially at Elegu refugee collection point,” Justine Abenaitwe, humanitarian manager for Save the Children Uganda, told IRIN.

The visibly tired and hungry children and women, who compose 90 percent of the new influx, said they had only received biscuits provided by humanitarian agencies.

“The children are crying for food to eat, but we can’t provide anything,” Jovin Bako, a refugee  from Torit in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria State, told IRIN. “We are tired of running. We appeal to President Kiir and his vice [president] to consider the plight and suffering of the innocent civilians. We need peace and security in our country. We are tired of violence and war,” she said.

Nyumanzi transit centre in Uganda’s northwestern district of Adjumani was built in early 2014 to hold some 2,000 people for no more than two weeks. It now has more than 20,000 refugees. Kuluba collection point is hosting about 1,500 refugees, compared to its 300-person capacity.

Susan Keji: ‘I told my kids: let’s run” We were seated at home near UNMISS [UN Mission in South Sudan] compound in Juba. We started hearing gunshots. The shooting intensified. After about 30-45 minutes, armed men surrounded our home. They shouted and shot in the air. We got scared. They ordered us to get out of the house immediately. We accepted to come out. They told us to run. We took off. Unfortunately, these people killed my husband and two sons, 16 and 13 years old. The man first shot my husband before turning his gun to my two sons. They died in cold blood. I survived with the two kids by God’s mercy. I am still wondering why they killed the three. What wrong did they do? I told my kids: let’s run. They might kill us. We ran and ran. We slept that night in the bush. We were all terrified. We spent five days moving from Juba to Nyarabanga, south of Rajaf. We were hungry and thirsty. When we arrived at Nyarabanga, we got some Good Samaritan who helped us out. A driver of a trailer stopped and picked us from the road side. He gave us a lift. It saved us from more walking. It’s still hard to believe they are gone. I will continue to mourn my husband and children. I will never see them again. There was no decent burial for them. I am told their bodies were picked and buried in a mass grave. This is the fourth time I am fleeing into Uganda. We have suffered a lot. Can’t these people sympathise with innocent people? We have never enjoyed peace. We are tired of continued violence and wars. I can’t do anything to stop the fighting. I can’t risk to go back home again."  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t do anything to stop the fighting.

Susan Keji's husband and children were killed in Juba Samuel Okiror/IRIN Susan Keji's husband and children were killed in Juba

Last week, the Ugandan government and UNHCR evaluated a number of potential new sites for longer-term settlement as well as new collection points.

“The Adjumani settlement is full. We are planning to reopen one settlement in Yumbe, which last operated in 1990, in the next 45 days. This is now a new place where we don’t have any structures and services at all,” Jogo told IRIN.

“It will require us to put up all the social services like water, shelter, setting up of health facilities, drilling boreholes, pit latrines and constructing structures for security personnel. This will require additional logistics and financial resources, which we don’t have at the moment.”

UNHCR too is seeking funding: it has revised its appeal for the South Sudan refugee operation, seeking $701 million. The earlier appeal for $638 million was only 17 percent funded.

How can I manage these children alone? Where could my husband be?"

Interview: Maria Anguwa, from Nyaza "When shall we ever have peace in South Sudan? I am tired of running and being a refugee. Every time it’s war and violence. I came here because of the disturbance, fighting and killing of people. Since the unrest broke out on 7 July, we couldn’t remain home. We had to run for our dear lives. Some gunmen took advantage of the fighting in Juba and started killing people in our village. Some children and youths were being forcefully taken. I couldn’t handle the situation. I decided to flee with my six children. I can’t locate my husband. He took off and left us behind. He didn’t bother to help me with the children. How can I manage these children alone? Where could my husband be?"

 

 

so/bp

Facilities for new refugees in Uganda are "bursting" thousands_of_new_arrivals_of_south_sudan_refugees_at_elegu_collection_centre.jpg Samuel Okiror Feature Aid and Policy Migration Conflict ELEGU UGANDA IRIN Africa East Africa South Sudan Uganda

South Sudan refugee influx overwhelms Ugandan reception centres

Uganda was already hosting half a million refugees. It needs urgent help to feed and shelter 30,000 new arrivals from South Sudan.

Categories: RSS feeds

South Sudan: WFP South Sudan Market Price Monitoring Bulletin - 1-30 June 2016

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 9 hours 14 min ago
Source: World Food Programme Country: Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan

Market Highlights

  • The cost of living in South Sudan sustained rising trends during the reporting month. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased in June by 310% year-on-year, the highest in the world and historic ever recorded in the country. The recent fighting in Juba disrupted markets and trade, significantly reducing food availability and consequent remarkable increase in food prices in the capital to as high as 45-80% for legumes, 12-58% for cereals and up to 70-80% for fuel within one week following the cessation of hostilities.

  • The South Sudanese pound (SSP) weakened further against the United States (US) dollar in the black market exchanging at an average 48 SSP/1US$ down from 38SSP/1US$ in May. The SSP lost further ground against the dollar in the immediate aftermath of renewed armed fighting in the capital, exchanging at an all-time high of 60 SSP/1US$.

  • The country is still experiencing acute fuel shortages, characterized by erratic supply and unwillingness of dealers to sell at government controlled price of SSP 22/litre. Accordingly, hoarding and black market sales of fuel at premium prices was on the rise all over the country. Fuel problem was aggravated by the recent fighting in Juba and consequent disruption of Nimule border operations.

  • High cost of transportation, unpassable roads due to seasonal rains and insecurity reversed expected price reduction gains for locally produced cereals following the start of early green harvests in parts of Equatoria, Unity, Lakes and Jonglei. Notably June-July marks the peak of the lean season in many areas in Eastern Equatoria, Upper Nile, Northern Bhar el Ghazal and Warrap, partly explaining the price increases for locally produced cereals. Aweil Town in Northern Bhar el Ghazal has the highest (about SSP 100/ 3.5 kg malwa) cereal prices in the country. Prices of most imported commodities also sustained rising trends across the country in line with currency depreciation, dollar shortages and difficult business environment.

  • In the outlook, food prices are expected to increase seasonably in July-August period in line with reduced functionality, low market stocks and poor road access. Households rely highly on markets particularly the urban poor will be the worst hit. The expected early green harvests will bring temporary reprieve for many households in localized net producing areas but the effect will not be widely felt in deficit producing areas due to poor market integration- insecurity and poor roads will prevent trade flows. Beyond August, household food availability and access is expected to improve especially during the main harvest in November-December in parts of Warrap, Northern Bhar el Ghazal and Upper Nile. The recent looting of WFP food and other items in the main warehouse in Juba by armed elements will likely put considerable strain on vulnerable populations in PoCs and IDP camps who rely on humanitarian assistance.

South Sudan: WFP South Sudan Market Price Monitoring Bulletin - 1-30 June 2016

Kenya - ReliefWeb News - 9 hours 14 min ago
Source: World Food Programme Country: Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan

Market Highlights

  • The cost of living in South Sudan sustained rising trends during the reporting month. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased in June by 310% year-on-year, the highest in the world and historic ever recorded in the country. The recent fighting in Juba disrupted markets and trade, significantly reducing food availability and consequent remarkable increase in food prices in the capital to as high as 45-80% for legumes, 12-58% for cereals and up to 70-80% for fuel within one week following the cessation of hostilities.

  • The South Sudanese pound (SSP) weakened further against the United States (US) dollar in the black market exchanging at an average 48 SSP/1US$ down from 38SSP/1US$ in May. The SSP lost further ground against the dollar in the immediate aftermath of renewed armed fighting in the capital, exchanging at an all-time high of 60 SSP/1US$.

  • The country is still experiencing acute fuel shortages, characterized by erratic supply and unwillingness of dealers to sell at government controlled price of SSP 22/litre. Accordingly, hoarding and black market sales of fuel at premium prices was on the rise all over the country. Fuel problem was aggravated by the recent fighting in Juba and consequent disruption of Nimule border operations.

  • High cost of transportation, unpassable roads due to seasonal rains and insecurity reversed expected price reduction gains for locally produced cereals following the start of early green harvests in parts of Equatoria, Unity, Lakes and Jonglei. Notably June-July marks the peak of the lean season in many areas in Eastern Equatoria, Upper Nile, Northern Bhar el Ghazal and Warrap, partly explaining the price increases for locally produced cereals. Aweil Town in Northern Bhar el Ghazal has the highest (about SSP 100/ 3.5 kg malwa) cereal prices in the country. Prices of most imported commodities also sustained rising trends across the country in line with currency depreciation, dollar shortages and difficult business environment.

  • In the outlook, food prices are expected to increase seasonably in July-August period in line with reduced functionality, low market stocks and poor road access. Households rely highly on markets particularly the urban poor will be the worst hit. The expected early green harvests will bring temporary reprieve for many households in localized net producing areas but the effect will not be widely felt in deficit producing areas due to poor market integration- insecurity and poor roads will prevent trade flows. Beyond August, household food availability and access is expected to improve especially during the main harvest in November-December in parts of Warrap, Northern Bhar el Ghazal and Upper Nile. The recent looting of WFP food and other items in the main warehouse in Juba by armed elements will likely put considerable strain on vulnerable populations in PoCs and IDP camps who rely on humanitarian assistance.

Afghanistan: EU Calls for an Immediate End to the Killing of Afghan Civilians

Afghanistan - ReliefWeb News - 9 hours 27 min ago
Source: European Union Country: Afghanistan

The UNAMA Report for the half of 2016 draws a grim picture in terms of Afghan civilian casualties noting that the highest number of civilian casualties have occurred so far this year since reporting began in 2009. Even more concerning is that children compose one-third of civilian casualties, which is also the highest figure for children killed or wounded in the same period since reporting began.

The EU is seriously concerned about the report's findings and the state on non-combatants, primarily children, in Afghanistan. The EU calls on all parties to exert the utmost effort to prevent civilian casualties and combatants to cease from engaging in operations were civilian casualties are likely, if not intended.

"The increasing number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan is a big concern. The horrific attack on the civilian protesters in Kabul on Saturday showed that use of indiscriminate and random attacks kills and injures more and more innocent Afghans. This is a clear breach of international humanitarian law and must stop immediately. The increasing trend of civilian casualties must be reversed," said the European Union Special Representative and Head of Delegation to Afghanistan, Ambassador Franz-Michael Mellbin.

The UNAMA report lists 1,601 civilian casualties in first six months of 2016 including 507 women and 388 children killed. Ground engagements continued to cause the highest number of total civilian casualties followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide and complex attacks.

Pakistan: Monsoon 2016 Daily Situation Report No. 14 (Period Covered: 24 – 25 July 2016)

Pakistan - ReliefWeb News - 9 hours 36 min ago
Source: Government of Pakistan Country: Pakistan
  1. Rivers Flow Situation Reported by Flood Forecasting Division. River Indus at Kalabagh and Guddu is in Low Flood Level. All other major rivers are flowing at normal level.

Pakistan: How the Right Vaccines and the Right People Are Protecting the Vulnerable in Pakistan

Pakistan - ReliefWeb News - 9 hours 59 min ago
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Pakistan

In Pakistan, two vaccines and thousands of skilled workers are making a real difference by boosting the immunity of the most at-risk children to protect them against polio.

In Pakistan, and many other countries around the world, two vaccines – and the committed people delivering them - are working hand in hand to boost immunity in the most vulnerable children and to finish the poliovirus for good.

The vaccines

The oral polio vaccine (OPV), which is the vaccine that has been used to interrupt polio around the world, builds immunity in the gut, meaning children who are vaccinated actually spread immunity between them, helping to protect the wider community. The inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) affords blood immunity, building protection for an individual child and is now being used to boost immunity in Pakistan’s most vulnerable children. “OPV and IPV are both safe and effective forms of vaccination against polio. Both confer immunity, but do so in different ways. One way is not better than another; using both forms of vaccine however, is a way of achieving optimal protection against polio,” said Michel Zaffran, Director of Polio Eradication at WHO.

In 2015, Pakistan introduced one dose of IPV into the routine immunization system, in preparation for the global vaccine switch from trivalent OPV to bivalent OPV. The switch, one of the most ambitious projects in the history of vaccines, has been carried out globally as the world gets closer to the worldwide eradication of all strains of poliovirus.

The vaccinators

With a second vaccine now being given to children alongside OPV, the role of vaccinators to get vaccines to every child and to answer the questions and concerns of parents is crucial. “Two women from a polio team came to our home and told me that a vaccination team is sitting in one of the hujra (a separate area in many Pakistani homes that is often used for men’s gatherings) nearby to give vaccination to our children, ” said Muhamad Ameen, a 30 year old father from Cantonment area in Peshawar. “I wanted to know why they are giving the same vaccine in syringes now after my children got them in shape of drops few days back. The polio team that came to my home explained to me that it was important for my children’s immunity, and that the two vaccines will protect my children in different ways.”

Unlike OPV campaigns, where the polio teams go door-to-door in Pakistan to reach every child, children can only be vaccinated with IPV by trained vaccinators at specific outreach centers. This means that families have to be informed and able to bring their children to healthcare centres. This can have a huge impact on the number of children that it is possible to reach with the vaccine.

In March, April and May, the parents of more than 2 million of Pakistan’s most vulnerable children lined up at hospitals, health centres, outreach sites and local hujras in parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta to ensure their children aged between 4 and 24 months received the injection. Amid the regular monthly campaigns, thousands of skilled vaccinators at hundreds of outreach sites vaccinated 2,677,256 children.

The communities

Scorching temperatures, difficult terrain and insecurity are not the only challenges facing vaccinators carrying out their task of delivering the life-saving vaccines. Vaccinators and social mobilisers also battle misconceptions and suspicion about the ongoing immunization campaigns. “Finding a place to vaccinate children is also not easy here because people are suspicious if someone asks to make a vaccination center in his hujra. But I really appreciate work of polio teams working in such harsh conditions,” Muhamad says.

The role of community based social mobilisers during an IPV campaign is critical. It is their job to increase care-givers knowledge of the campaign, to inform them where they can take their child to receive the vaccine, to address any misconceptions and to create an enabling environment where vaccination against vaccine preventable diseases is not only accepted, but expected. “I brought my child when I heard from the team coming to my house that polio injection is provided at the nearby center”, said one mother who did not want her name mentioned. Another father, Gul Hameed from Sufaid Dheri village in Peshawar, says he vaccinated his 12 month old daughter on the first day of the campaign. ”This is important for our children; I do not know why people are resistant to give this vaccine to their children. The polio teams are working very hard in the field. I have deeply observed their work.”

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