ReliefWeb Latest Reports for Country Office

Somalia: The African Union led high-level consultation on the future of AMISOM and support to security sector institutions and reform in Somalia

Somalia - ReliefWeb News - 1 hour 23 min ago
Source: African Union Mission in Somalia Country: Somalia

On March 23, 2017, the African Union Commission, under the leadership of the Commissioner for Peace and Security, H.E. Ambassador Smail Chergui, convened a high-level consultation on the future of AMISOM and support to security sector institutions and reform in Somalia. Senior representatives of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, European Union, United Nations, and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States were present. The consultation formed part of the consultative work ahead of the London Conference, scheduled for May 2017. It sought to exchange views and garner political consensus on the critical security and security-building tasks in the coming period, identification of responsibilities for priority tasks, and options for appropriate funding.

The meeting discussed and observed as follows:

  1. An inclusive and consensual political framework at three levels should underpin international support, notably:

a. Strong Somalia ownership, accountability, and a clear vision based on an inclusive political agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and the federal member states consistent with an inclusive national security architecture;

b. African Union, IGAD, and relevant international partners will continue to facilitate dialogue between Somalia and its neighboring states;

c. Greater political responsibility, mutual accountability between the Federal Government of Somalia and broadly defined international partners.

  1. An exit strategy and transition plan for AMISOM with a clear roadmap should be put in place for the assumption of primary responsibility by Somalia security forces. Within this strategy, AMISOM’s role will continue to be relevant beyond 2018. It was further recommended that support should be based on burden sharing.

  2. The meeting discussed the need for supporting AMISOM and non-AMISOM troops (through the provision of fuel, rations, medical and transport), for a limited period of six months, in the conduct of simultaneous offensive operations in the Jubba Valley corridor and the North East Coastline.

  3. Enhanced coordination of support by international partners to security institutions in Somalia is imperative. In this respect, consideration should be given to the development of an enhanced cooperation through agreed arrangements on how partners provide support to the security sector and institution building in Somalia.

  4. The upcoming joint AU-UN review should provide an opportunity for the review and redefinition of tasks, as well as options for the reconfiguration of AMISOM.

  5. Supporting the Somalia national security forces is critical to facilitate their take-over of primary security responsibility in Somalia. Somalia national responsibility in the support of its security institutions will be required. In addition, international support should be coordinated and premised on transparency and a comprehensive verified assessment of current capabilities and requirements of the Somalia security institutions.

  6. Partnership between the AU and UN will be central in the future presence of AMISOM. Options to enhance this partnership should be explored in the upcoming joint AU-UN review.

In addition, the meeting took note of the AU recommendation that the UN should consider the possibility of enhanced UN participation in the substantive civilian component functions of AMISOM, including the prospect for a joint Special Representative for Somalia and the full support to AMISOM uniformed personnel through UN-assessed contributions.

Finally, the consultative meeting expressed its commitment to support Somalia on its road towards recovery, and paid tribute to AMISOM T/PCCs and the international community for their dedicated support and sacrifices in the promotion of reconciliation, peace, and stability in Somalia.

For more information

Gaffel Nkolokosa – Spokesperson,,

Email: nkolokosag@africa-union.org

Cell phone: (Somalia) +252 616 982 416; (Nairobi) +254 700 333 415

Philippines: Surigao quake survivors receive psych first aid, psychosocial support

Philippines - ReliefWeb News - 1 hour 24 min ago
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, March 21 -- Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), in partnership with the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), tapped Xavier University Psychology Department to take the lead in organizing a team of volunteer experts from Cagayan de Oro City who would be sent to Surigao del Norte to provide psychosocial support to the survivors who are in the “state of shock” after the disaster.

From March 3 to 6, 12 psychologists-psychometricians and the members of PAP from Bukidnon, Iligan City, CDO, and Butuan City stayed in Surigao del Norte to offer their expertise in the field of providing psychological first aid and psychosocial support.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, psychological first aid “can help change people into active survivors rather than passive victims. Psychosocial support responds to the psychological and physical needs of the people concerned, by helping them to accept the situation and cope with it.”

The participants completed a creative activity called "Color my Emotion" which allowed the facilitators to assess how the traumatic event affected the survivors' current state of emotion. This small group sharing activity also served as a springboard for the survivors to share their ideas on the disaster and release their psychological tension. It was then processed by the facilitators, highlighting their strengths, collective support, and the decision to move forward.

Selected participants underwent one-on-one counseling sessions with Xavier University (XU’s) resident psychologists, while those survivors who needed further psychological intervention were referred to the Department of Health.

During the plenary session, Xavier University (XU) faculty member and registered psychologist Jayme Leonen elaborated on possible coping strategies that the survivors could follow to process the effects of the trauma from the disaster.

Participants were also taught how to do a "mindfulness exercise" to calm down the tension and anxiety. In an emergency response, providing psychosocial support is an essential part to help the survivors in healing the psychological wounds brought about by the disaster.

The PFA session culminated with a community ritual to foster social support, led by XU Psychology Department chairman Jason Manaois. Participants were asked to write positive messages and letters of encouragement to one another. They also held hands during a community singing to elicit a sense of companionship and support, carrying the message, “We are all together in this journey towards recovery.”

At 10:03 p.m. on the 10th of February 2017, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake had shaken Surigao del Norte and its nearby provinces in Northeastern Mindanao.

Due to the destructive intensity of the quake, a series of strong aftershocks occurred in the areas, affecting more than 16,000 people from 60 barangays. (Rio Rosal Baliling/XU)

Somalia: A 24-member delegation from the AU Peace and Security Council delegation arrives in Somalia on an assessment mission

Somalia - ReliefWeb News - 1 hour 24 min ago
Source: African Union Mission in Somalia Country: Somalia

Mogadishu, 23 March 2017 – A delegation from the African Union Peace and Security Council arrived in Somalia today, to assess the level of progress made in the defence and security institutions, especially efforts to build a formidable national army, capable of securing the whole country.

Ambassador Ntshinga Ndumiso, the Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council is leading the 24-member delegation.

He said their consultations would focus on “efforts to build national defence and security institutions”, which he explained would ultimately have the primary responsibility of maintaining peace and security in Somalia,”

At a meeting with the Prime Minister for Somalia H.E Hassan Ali Kheyre, shortly after arrival in the capital, Mogadishu, Amb, Ndumiso said the consultations with various stakeholders would be extensive and would be able to guide African Union’s future activities in Somalia.

“The area we are interested in is the transparency, coordination and complementary efforts among all partners who are providing capacity building support to the Somali National Army,” he told the Prime Minister and other senior government leaders, during a meeting held at Villa Somalia – the presidential palace.

“The need for state authority and control in all areas liberated by Al Shabaab, the challenges facing the AU Mission in Somalia and the next steps required to defeat Al Shabaab and bring about security”.

The delegation also met with Speaker of Parliament Prof. Mohamed Osman Jawari and diplomats accredited to Somalia, from Troop Contribution Countries to AMISOM.

The Prime Minister agreed with the delegation that the national army needed strengthening, for it to satisfactorily provide peace and security in the country. He said the new government had set itself a target of two-years to achieve its priority goals, of which security takes precedence.

“We are in a path where this nation finds itself with an immense opportunity to move forward. We are in situation where our youth, women, religious leaders are active in politics once again. So despite all the challenges you will see, or you have already seen, there is a sense of optimism in this nation,” the Prime Minister noted.

He acknowledged the critical support provided to the country, by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

“Without AMISOM, we wouldn’t be sitting here today,” he said.

“We will forever be grateful”.

The Prime Minister added that lasting peace and security would also guarantee access to populations most affected by drought and called for support from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), to mitigate the effects of the biting drought.

“We have a major challenge in terms of drought and we would want all the necessary support that you can provide at this critical juncture but we also want long term solutions to this recurring problem. So we would want to teach our people how to fish instead of giving them fish and that is the support we need from you. That is what we would want you to focus on,” he said.

Later, Ambassador Ndumiso and the Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (SRCC), for Somalia Amb Francisco Caetano Madeira laid wreaths in honour of AU fallen troops, at AMISOM Force Headquarters.

“To a very large extent the backbone of Al Shabaab has been broken and of course there are a number of things that we need to be looking at. Now that we are nearing exterminating Al Shabaab, if you will, what next is for Somalia to see to it, that it does not slide back,” Amb Ndumiso noted. “There is some Al Shabaab to clean and we still have a lot of work, in preparation for the exit of AMISOM,” concluded.

Yemen: Yemen: 34th session of the Human Rights Council - Introduction to country reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner under item 10

Yemen - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 11:23pm
Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Country: Yemen

​Addresses by Ms. Kate Gilmore United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

Geneva, 22 March 2017

Salle XX, Palais des Nations

Mr. President, Members of the Human Rights Council,
Excellences, Ladies and gentlemen,

This [afternoon] you have before you two reports submitted under item 10, concerning Afghanistan and Yemen.

Let me first provide an oral update on Yemen.

One of the world’s worst humanitarian crises – one entirely man-made is underway in Yemen.

Over 21 million Yemenis – 82 per cent of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance. 14 million are suffering from food insecurity. At least 1.3 million children are acutely malnourished.

Almost three million people have been internally displaced while the country’s infrastructure has been extensively destroyed and its economy decimated.

Excellencies, the living conditions of people in Yemen, simply put, are miserable, deplorable and untenable.

t has now been two years since the conflict intensified, and information gathered by my Office indicates that as of 15 January 2017, at least 4,726 civilians had been killed, while at least 8,217 had been injured.

I wish to stress that our estimates of the lives lost to this conflict are substantially lower than those published by other entities, mainly because under our rigorous methodology we record casualties only after multiple corroboration or through confirmation of death by the victim’s next-of-kin. The extent

The absence of a credible and viable political solution to the conflict, combined with the relentless escalation in violence witnessed over the last three months, is undermining prospects of an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of humanitarian aid.

The fighting in and around the port cities of Mokha and Hodeida has left thousands of civilians trapped in the crossfire, without any safe passage away from the fighting. Furthermore, the substantive destruction of the ports, particularly in Hodeida, severely compromises the delivery of desperately-needed humanitarian assistance.

Excellencies,

In accordance with this Council’s resolution 33/16, OHCHR presented a budget proposal to the General Assembly for the recruitment of eight staff members to support the Yemen Country Office. The Fifth Committee of the General Assembly approved the proposal in end of December, and our Office immediately reached out to the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Yemen in order to request authorization to deploy additional international staff to Yemen. In the light of the security restrictions, the UN Resident Coordinator so far has only authorized temporary deployment of four international staff to Yemen, who have now been recruited to assist the Yemen Office in the implementation of your resolution.

Since the adoption of resolution 33/16, we have also re-established our engagement with the National Commission agreeing together a programme of joint activities and a list of thematic priorities. The first of these activities was a capacity-building workshop on international humanitarian law, investigative methodologies and lessons learnt from United Nations commissions of inquiry, which took place from 21 to 23 February, in Doha, Qatar.

We encourage the Yemeni National Commission to make progress on all aspects of its mandate to investigate all allegations of violations of international law and Yemeni law, including those that go beyond the extent of the Commission’s cooperation with OHCHR.

The de facto authorities in Sanaa have officially communicated their intention not to extend cooperation to the national commission or to any OHCHR team tasked with implementing the Human Rights Council resolution. In response, we have urged the de facto authorities in Sanaa to reconsider that decision and we call on all parties to follow through on their commitment to cooperate with the national commission and with OHCHR so as to enable the implementation of resolution 33/16, including by facilitating access to the support team.

Mr. President,

Calls for an international and independent commission of investigation have been dismissed by some as potentially undermining the existing national commission. Let me briefly address those concerns:

First, there are no persuasive reasons to believe that an international and independent investigation could not operate alongside a national commission of inquiry - the existence of one does not exclude the other.

Second, the National Commission so far has failed to live up to the standards with which it must comply in order to carry out its duties with credibility. Not only did its first publications reveal a failure to comply with internationally recognised standards of methodology and impartiality, but the Commission has yet to clarify how its work could facilitate viable mechanisms of accountability.

Third, the violations allegedly committed in the ongoing conflict are of such gravity that continued impunity simply cannot be accepted. In the absence of credible mechanisms for national remedy, international and independent alternatives are essential.

The High Commissioner has no choice but to reiterate his call for an international and independent commission of inquiry into all allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law, regardless of the alleged perpetrators. Such an approach would also support the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Yemen to reach a negotiated and durable settlement of the conflict.

Let me now introduce our report on Afghanistan (A/HRC/34/41).

It is with deep sense of regret, that we must report that between 1 January and 30 November 2016, the highest number of civilian casualties in one year since 2009 we recorded: a total of 10,533.

Children continued to suffer from the direct and indirect consequences of conflict-related violence, and further, we documented 80 attacks against, or impacting on, hospitals and health workers, as well as increasing attacks against religious figures and places of worship.

Even more recent developments confirm the alarming trend of targeted killings of civilians.

On 7 February 2017, in Kabul, at least 22 people were killed while over 41 were injured in a suicide attack outside the Supreme Court. On 9 February 2017, ICRC suspended its operations in Afghanistan following the killing of six of its employees. On 8 March 2017, at least 50 people were reportedly killed and 91 injured in a complex attack on the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital in Kabul. Attackers reportedly disguised as medical doctors entered the building and targeted patients and medical workers. Islamic State operatives claimed responsibility for these heinous attacks. Our report also underscores the enduring prevalence of violence against women, which remains of utmost concern. We further describe the persisting practice of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention and the continued impunity for perpetrators.

Moreover, in relation to the 22 September 2016 peace agreement between the Government of Afghanistan and Hezb-i-Islami, we are concerned about the amnesty provisions applicable for the leadership and members of armed groups with regard to past political and military actions as well as the absence of vetting processes.

Yet, there were positive developments and we welcome the important steps taken by the Government of Afghanistan to uphold its commitments under international human rights law, including the adoption of the strategy and action plan on the elimination of violence against women as well as the recognition of women’s role in the peace process.

Another positive development is the Government’s development of the policy on civilian casualty mitigation which is now awaiting promulgation. The Government also committed itself to establish new mechanisms to address violence against journalists. We stand ready to continue our support on these and other matters of significance for the future of the people of Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This concludes my introduction of country reports and updates under item 10.

Thank you for your attention.

World: From coast to coast: Africa unites to tackle threat of polio

Niger - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 10:04pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, World

116 million children to be immunized from coast to coast across the continent, as regional emergency outbreak response intensifies

More than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize over 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent.

The synchronized vaccination campaign, one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa, is part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.  All children under five years of age in the 13 countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent. In August 2016, four children were paralysed by the disease in security-compromised areas in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, widely considered to be the only place on the continent where the virus maintains its grip.

“Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela launched the pan-African ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.  “At that time, every single country on the continent was endemic to polio, and every year, more than 75 000 children were paralysed for life by this terrible disease.  Thanks to the dedication of governments, communities, parents and health workers, this disease is now beaten back to this final reservoir.”

Dr Moeti cautioned, however, that progress was fragile, given the epidemic-prone nature of the virus.  Although confined to a comparatively small region of the continent, experts warned that the virus could easily spread to under-protected areas of neighbouring countries. That is why regional public health ministers from five Lake Chad Basin countries – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – declared the outbreak a regional public health emergency and have committed to multiple synchronized immunization campaigns.

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, stated that with the strong commitment of Africa’s leaders, there was confidence that this last remaining polio reservoir could be wiped out, hereby protecting all future generations of African children from the crippling effects of this disease once and for all. “Polio eradication will be an unparalleled victory, which will not only save all future generations of children from the grip of a disease that is entirely preventable – but will show the world what Africa can do when it unites behind a common goal.”

To stop the potentially dangerous spread of the disease as soon as possible, volunteers will deliver bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) to every house across all cities, towns and villages of the 13 countries.  To succeed, this army of volunteers and health workers will work up to 12 hours per day, travelling on foot or bicycle, in often stifling humidity and temperatures in excess of 40°C.  Each vaccination team will carry the vaccine in special carrier bags, filled with ice packs to ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8°C.

“This extraordinary coordinated response is precisely what is needed to stop this polio outbreak,” said Michael K McGovern, Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee .  “Every aspect of civil society in these African countries is coming together, every community, every parent and every community leader, to achieve one common goal: to protect their children from life-long paralysis caused by this deadly disease.”

The full engagement of political and community leaders at every level – right down to the district – is considered critical to the success of the campaign.  It is only through the full participation of this leadership that all sectors of civil society are mobilized to ensure every child is reached.

World: From coast to coast: Africa unites to tackle threat of polio

Guinea - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 10:04pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, World

116 million children to be immunized from coast to coast across the continent, as regional emergency outbreak response intensifies

More than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize over 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent.

The synchronized vaccination campaign, one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa, is part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.  All children under five years of age in the 13 countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent. In August 2016, four children were paralysed by the disease in security-compromised areas in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, widely considered to be the only place on the continent where the virus maintains its grip.

“Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela launched the pan-African ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.  “At that time, every single country on the continent was endemic to polio, and every year, more than 75 000 children were paralysed for life by this terrible disease.  Thanks to the dedication of governments, communities, parents and health workers, this disease is now beaten back to this final reservoir.”

Dr Moeti cautioned, however, that progress was fragile, given the epidemic-prone nature of the virus.  Although confined to a comparatively small region of the continent, experts warned that the virus could easily spread to under-protected areas of neighbouring countries. That is why regional public health ministers from five Lake Chad Basin countries – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – declared the outbreak a regional public health emergency and have committed to multiple synchronized immunization campaigns.

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, stated that with the strong commitment of Africa’s leaders, there was confidence that this last remaining polio reservoir could be wiped out, hereby protecting all future generations of African children from the crippling effects of this disease once and for all. “Polio eradication will be an unparalleled victory, which will not only save all future generations of children from the grip of a disease that is entirely preventable – but will show the world what Africa can do when it unites behind a common goal.”

To stop the potentially dangerous spread of the disease as soon as possible, volunteers will deliver bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) to every house across all cities, towns and villages of the 13 countries.  To succeed, this army of volunteers and health workers will work up to 12 hours per day, travelling on foot or bicycle, in often stifling humidity and temperatures in excess of 40°C.  Each vaccination team will carry the vaccine in special carrier bags, filled with ice packs to ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8°C.

“This extraordinary coordinated response is precisely what is needed to stop this polio outbreak,” said Michael K McGovern, Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee .  “Every aspect of civil society in these African countries is coming together, every community, every parent and every community leader, to achieve one common goal: to protect their children from life-long paralysis caused by this deadly disease.”

The full engagement of political and community leaders at every level – right down to the district – is considered critical to the success of the campaign.  It is only through the full participation of this leadership that all sectors of civil society are mobilized to ensure every child is reached.

World: From coast to coast: Africa unites to tackle threat of polio

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 10:04pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, World

116 million children to be immunized from coast to coast across the continent, as regional emergency outbreak response intensifies

More than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize over 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent.

The synchronized vaccination campaign, one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa, is part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.  All children under five years of age in the 13 countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent. In August 2016, four children were paralysed by the disease in security-compromised areas in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, widely considered to be the only place on the continent where the virus maintains its grip.

“Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela launched the pan-African ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.  “At that time, every single country on the continent was endemic to polio, and every year, more than 75 000 children were paralysed for life by this terrible disease.  Thanks to the dedication of governments, communities, parents and health workers, this disease is now beaten back to this final reservoir.”

Dr Moeti cautioned, however, that progress was fragile, given the epidemic-prone nature of the virus.  Although confined to a comparatively small region of the continent, experts warned that the virus could easily spread to under-protected areas of neighbouring countries. That is why regional public health ministers from five Lake Chad Basin countries – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – declared the outbreak a regional public health emergency and have committed to multiple synchronized immunization campaigns.

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, stated that with the strong commitment of Africa’s leaders, there was confidence that this last remaining polio reservoir could be wiped out, hereby protecting all future generations of African children from the crippling effects of this disease once and for all. “Polio eradication will be an unparalleled victory, which will not only save all future generations of children from the grip of a disease that is entirely preventable – but will show the world what Africa can do when it unites behind a common goal.”

To stop the potentially dangerous spread of the disease as soon as possible, volunteers will deliver bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) to every house across all cities, towns and villages of the 13 countries.  To succeed, this army of volunteers and health workers will work up to 12 hours per day, travelling on foot or bicycle, in often stifling humidity and temperatures in excess of 40°C.  Each vaccination team will carry the vaccine in special carrier bags, filled with ice packs to ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8°C.

“This extraordinary coordinated response is precisely what is needed to stop this polio outbreak,” said Michael K McGovern, Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee .  “Every aspect of civil society in these African countries is coming together, every community, every parent and every community leader, to achieve one common goal: to protect their children from life-long paralysis caused by this deadly disease.”

The full engagement of political and community leaders at every level – right down to the district – is considered critical to the success of the campaign.  It is only through the full participation of this leadership that all sectors of civil society are mobilized to ensure every child is reached.

World: From coast to coast: Africa unites to tackle threat of polio

Côte d’Ivoire - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 10:04pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, World

116 million children to be immunized from coast to coast across the continent, as regional emergency outbreak response intensifies

More than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize over 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent.

The synchronized vaccination campaign, one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa, is part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.  All children under five years of age in the 13 countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent. In August 2016, four children were paralysed by the disease in security-compromised areas in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, widely considered to be the only place on the continent where the virus maintains its grip.

“Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela launched the pan-African ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.  “At that time, every single country on the continent was endemic to polio, and every year, more than 75 000 children were paralysed for life by this terrible disease.  Thanks to the dedication of governments, communities, parents and health workers, this disease is now beaten back to this final reservoir.”

Dr Moeti cautioned, however, that progress was fragile, given the epidemic-prone nature of the virus.  Although confined to a comparatively small region of the continent, experts warned that the virus could easily spread to under-protected areas of neighbouring countries. That is why regional public health ministers from five Lake Chad Basin countries – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – declared the outbreak a regional public health emergency and have committed to multiple synchronized immunization campaigns.

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, stated that with the strong commitment of Africa’s leaders, there was confidence that this last remaining polio reservoir could be wiped out, hereby protecting all future generations of African children from the crippling effects of this disease once and for all. “Polio eradication will be an unparalleled victory, which will not only save all future generations of children from the grip of a disease that is entirely preventable – but will show the world what Africa can do when it unites behind a common goal.”

To stop the potentially dangerous spread of the disease as soon as possible, volunteers will deliver bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) to every house across all cities, towns and villages of the 13 countries.  To succeed, this army of volunteers and health workers will work up to 12 hours per day, travelling on foot or bicycle, in often stifling humidity and temperatures in excess of 40°C.  Each vaccination team will carry the vaccine in special carrier bags, filled with ice packs to ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8°C.

“This extraordinary coordinated response is precisely what is needed to stop this polio outbreak,” said Michael K McGovern, Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee .  “Every aspect of civil society in these African countries is coming together, every community, every parent and every community leader, to achieve one common goal: to protect their children from life-long paralysis caused by this deadly disease.”

The full engagement of political and community leaders at every level – right down to the district – is considered critical to the success of the campaign.  It is only through the full participation of this leadership that all sectors of civil society are mobilized to ensure every child is reached.

World: From coast to coast: Africa unites to tackle threat of polio

Chad - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 10:04pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, World

116 million children to be immunized from coast to coast across the continent, as regional emergency outbreak response intensifies

More than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize over 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent.

The synchronized vaccination campaign, one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa, is part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.  All children under five years of age in the 13 countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent. In August 2016, four children were paralysed by the disease in security-compromised areas in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, widely considered to be the only place on the continent where the virus maintains its grip.

“Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela launched the pan-African ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.  “At that time, every single country on the continent was endemic to polio, and every year, more than 75 000 children were paralysed for life by this terrible disease.  Thanks to the dedication of governments, communities, parents and health workers, this disease is now beaten back to this final reservoir.”

Dr Moeti cautioned, however, that progress was fragile, given the epidemic-prone nature of the virus.  Although confined to a comparatively small region of the continent, experts warned that the virus could easily spread to under-protected areas of neighbouring countries. That is why regional public health ministers from five Lake Chad Basin countries – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – declared the outbreak a regional public health emergency and have committed to multiple synchronized immunization campaigns.

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, stated that with the strong commitment of Africa’s leaders, there was confidence that this last remaining polio reservoir could be wiped out, hereby protecting all future generations of African children from the crippling effects of this disease once and for all. “Polio eradication will be an unparalleled victory, which will not only save all future generations of children from the grip of a disease that is entirely preventable – but will show the world what Africa can do when it unites behind a common goal.”

To stop the potentially dangerous spread of the disease as soon as possible, volunteers will deliver bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) to every house across all cities, towns and villages of the 13 countries.  To succeed, this army of volunteers and health workers will work up to 12 hours per day, travelling on foot or bicycle, in often stifling humidity and temperatures in excess of 40°C.  Each vaccination team will carry the vaccine in special carrier bags, filled with ice packs to ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8°C.

“This extraordinary coordinated response is precisely what is needed to stop this polio outbreak,” said Michael K McGovern, Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee .  “Every aspect of civil society in these African countries is coming together, every community, every parent and every community leader, to achieve one common goal: to protect their children from life-long paralysis caused by this deadly disease.”

The full engagement of political and community leaders at every level – right down to the district – is considered critical to the success of the campaign.  It is only through the full participation of this leadership that all sectors of civil society are mobilized to ensure every child is reached.

World: From coast to coast: Africa unites to tackle threat of polio

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 10:04pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, World

116 million children to be immunized from coast to coast across the continent, as regional emergency outbreak response intensifies

More than 190 000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize over 116 million children over the next week, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent.

The synchronized vaccination campaign, one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa, is part of urgent measures to permanently stop polio on the continent.  All children under five years of age in the 13 countries – Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone – will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent. In August 2016, four children were paralysed by the disease in security-compromised areas in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, widely considered to be the only place on the continent where the virus maintains its grip.

“Twenty years ago, Nelson Mandela launched the pan-African ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.  “At that time, every single country on the continent was endemic to polio, and every year, more than 75 000 children were paralysed for life by this terrible disease.  Thanks to the dedication of governments, communities, parents and health workers, this disease is now beaten back to this final reservoir.”

Dr Moeti cautioned, however, that progress was fragile, given the epidemic-prone nature of the virus.  Although confined to a comparatively small region of the continent, experts warned that the virus could easily spread to under-protected areas of neighbouring countries. That is why regional public health ministers from five Lake Chad Basin countries – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – declared the outbreak a regional public health emergency and have committed to multiple synchronized immunization campaigns.

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms Marie-Pierre Poirier, stated that with the strong commitment of Africa’s leaders, there was confidence that this last remaining polio reservoir could be wiped out, hereby protecting all future generations of African children from the crippling effects of this disease once and for all. “Polio eradication will be an unparalleled victory, which will not only save all future generations of children from the grip of a disease that is entirely preventable – but will show the world what Africa can do when it unites behind a common goal.”

To stop the potentially dangerous spread of the disease as soon as possible, volunteers will deliver bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) to every house across all cities, towns and villages of the 13 countries.  To succeed, this army of volunteers and health workers will work up to 12 hours per day, travelling on foot or bicycle, in often stifling humidity and temperatures in excess of 40°C.  Each vaccination team will carry the vaccine in special carrier bags, filled with ice packs to ensure the vaccine remains below the required 8°C.

“This extraordinary coordinated response is precisely what is needed to stop this polio outbreak,” said Michael K McGovern, Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee .  “Every aspect of civil society in these African countries is coming together, every community, every parent and every community leader, to achieve one common goal: to protect their children from life-long paralysis caused by this deadly disease.”

The full engagement of political and community leaders at every level – right down to the district – is considered critical to the success of the campaign.  It is only through the full participation of this leadership that all sectors of civil society are mobilized to ensure every child is reached.

Afghanistan: Turmoil Puts Schooling at Risk for Afghan Children

Afghanistan - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 9:44pm
Source: Voice of America Country: Afghanistan

By Ayeesha Tanzeem

ISLAMABAD —

More than 1,100 children per day could drop out of school in 2017, an international children’s rights organization warned Thursday, the first day of the new Afghan school year.

Save the Children cited ongoing violence and instability, a lack of employment opportunities for parents, and an increase in Afghans forced to return from neighboring Pakistan as prime reasons for the dire prediction.

“We know that children who aren’t going to school are at increased risk of early marriage, entering the workforce where they can be exploited, or even recruitment into armed groups or being trafficked. And the longer they are out of the education system, the less likely they’ll ever go back,” said Ana Locsin, Save the Children country director in Afghanistan.

No access to education

Approximately 42 percent, or five million, of the estimated 12 million school-aged children and youth did not have access to education, according to the website of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education.

The ministry’s data showed that over 5,000 schools were without usable buildings, boundary walls, safe drinking water or sanitation facilities, while hundreds of schools have been damaged or closed due to ongoing fighting during the last few years.

More than half a million Afghans, most of them children, were internally displaced last year due to conflict, according to the United Nations. In addition, more than one million Afghans, both documented or undocumented, returned from Pakistan and Iran last year putting additional pressure on the education and health ministries.

Many children work the streets

According to Save the Children, half of all returnee children were working on the streets due to economic hardship — children like Jawid, who was forced to collect garbage for a living.

“When I am collecting rubbish I feel really sad and wonder why I’m working at this age when I should be going to school. It is my time to get an education not to work,” Jawid told Save the Children.

The number of returnees to Afghanistan this year is expected to surpass last year.

According to the Afghan education ministry, the country has made strides in its education sector since the fall of the Taliban government. At the time, less than a million kids went to school, almost all of them boys.

Today, according to the ministry, that number has risen to millions, with girls making up almost 40 percent of that number.

The ministry acknowledged that millions more needed help and cited several challenges, including the lack of resources, for its failure to provide quality education to all of Afghanistan’s children.

Myanmar: Kayin State IDP camp call for emergency medical aid

Myanmar - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 9:36pm
Source: Myanmar Peace Monitor Country: Myanmar

Urgent medical attention is needed at the Ee Tu Hta displaced persons camp in Kayin State amid an outbreak of diarrhea among children and the elderly, camp officials have said.

The outbreak began on February 20 and has so far affected around 30 internally displaced persons (IDPs). Camp officials are calling for emergency aid, including medicine, to be provided in order to prevent dehydration fatalities as well as to stop the spread of any infection. The Hpapun township camp is home to some 3,000 displaced persons.

“Children under two-years-old have been suffering from diarrhea since last month until now. They have had both diarrhea and vomiting. It is difficult for us to treat them since we don’t have any medicine,” said Saw Mya Ku, a camp official responsible for health care.

The Ee Tu Hta IDP camp normally receives a delivery of medical supplies every six months from the Karen Department of Health and Welfare, which is under the umbrella of the Karen National Union (KNU). But Saw Mya Ku said that no medicine has been provided since last July.

As the number of people affected by diarrhea began to increase in the camp, local organizations came and provided information and sanitation and hygiene on March 8.

Sri Lanka: Daily Situation Report - Sri Lanka, 23 March 2017 at 1800 hrs

Sri Lanka - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 9:04pm
Source: Disaster Management Centre of Sri Lanka Country: Sri Lanka

Yemen: Kuwait launches USD 500,000 water projects in Yemen

Yemen - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 8:44pm
Source: Kuwait News Agency Country: Kuwait, Yemen

RIYADH, March 23 (KUNA) -- The "Kuwait by your side" campaign launched six water projects in Marib governorate in Yemen with a cost of USD 500,000.

A statement by the Yemeni-Kuwaiti Relief Agency said on Thursday that these water projects will be implemented in 4 districts in the Yemeni governorate, where more than 60,000 persons are waiting for assistance.

The Undersecretary of Marib governorate Abd Rabo Moftah thanked Kuwait's people and government for the donation, affirming that the Kuwait by your side campaign was making a visible difference on the ground.

On his part, member of the Yemeni-Kuwaiti Relief Agency Tarek Abdul Wasea said that the Kuwaiti campaign has delivered more than 4,900 food baskets in Marib governorate, adding that it also gave shelter to many displaced Yemenis. (end) mdm.mys

Indonesia: Dozens of journalists participate in disaster mitigation training

Indonesia - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 8:42pm
Source: Jakarta Post Country: Indonesia

By Safrin La Batu

The Social Affairs Ministry conducted disaster mitigation training for journalists on Wednesday in an effort to promote disaster vigilance and the ability to have quick responses during emergency situations.

More than 30 journalists have joined the training that is being conducted on Pramuka Island in Thousand Islands regency, Jakarta, and will last until Friday. Participants were involved in a set of simulations including how to help minimize impact. They were also trained in post-disaster trauma healing.

"Journalists are always at the forefront of every incident," Harry Hikmat, the ministry’s director general for social security and protection, said during the opening of the training, emphasizing the reason why journalists should take part in such a training.

Thousand Islands is also no stranger to disaster. In September, last year, a whirlwind hit Tidung Island and damaged 117 houses.

An archipelagic country with at least 17,000 islands, Indonesia has issues with quick responses to natural disasters, especially in remote areas with limited access.

According to the National Disaster and Mitigation Agency (BNPB), 323 cities and regencies in Indonesia are prone to disaster. The agency recorded 162 disasters in 2015, killing 9,333 people and injuring 22,855 others. (bbs)

Myanmar: SSPP Urges Govt to Allow By-Elections to Proceed as Planned

Myanmar - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 8:38pm
Source: The Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By Lawi Weng

The Shan State Progress Party (SSPP) has asked the National League for Democracy (NLD) government to let by-elections proceed as planned, amid discussions of postponing voting in almost 40 villages in northern Shan State due to security concerns.

Col Sai Su, an SSPP spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy that the Shan State Army-North—the armed wing of the SSPP—would not interfere with the elections, leaving any concerned candidates and parties free to contest the election in area under its control.

“Our Shan people did not get to vote in the elections in 2010 or 2015,” he said.

“We want to ask the government, the Election Commission, and other authorities to allow our ethnic people the right to vote. We ask that they listen to the voice of our people, and not to others who hope to block our rights under false pretenses,” he said.

Some NLD members who planned to run in the by-election in Mong Hsu Township said security in the SSPP-controlled area was insufficient.

The NLD-led government will discuss the issue on Thursday.

“We will not interfere. We will not threaten other parties or tell people who to vote for. We have told our members not to interrupt. If someone does, we will take action,” said Col Sai Su.

Candidates from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party and the NLD will run in northern Shan State, where there are eight open seats in the two chambers of Parliament.

The SSPP issued a statement last month stating that they would not interfere with the election in any way.

But, Sai Su said his group questions why the NLD is listening to its sources on the ground as opposed to the SSPP statement.

Myanmar: Reservoir leakage rumours spark fears in Pyay

Myanmar - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 8:30pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

By Min Nyo

News that water was leaking from a reservoir in Pyay District, Pegu Division, caused panic among local villagers, prompting a number of families to lock up their homes and move elsewhere in the meantime.

On Tuesday, at least a dozen villages in Paungde Township were practically evacuated after news circulated that a landslide had caused water to leak from the 252,500-cubic-feet capacity reservoir known as Weigyi dam [not to be confused with the 5,000-megawatt Weigyi Dam on the Salween River].

Local villager Aung Win, who is from Themae village, the closest settlement to the reservoir, said, “I was in the paddy field last night when someone from my house called me to come back home. In the village, everybody was frightened and didn’t know where to go. We went to the reservoir and saw soil sliding down. Water was leaking under the wall.”

However, speaking to DVB yesterday, local Irrigation Department official Tun Tun Win said there was nothing to worry about.

“The dyke of the dam was eroded in October 2016 during rainy season when it had too much water. Reparations started on 3 January this year,” he said. “But some locals have been talking and getting afraid through hearsay. There is nothing to worry about. The water is stored securely. It is just that some of the land around the walls has slid. We are working on the site and will finish in five days.”

On Wednesday, volunteers from NGOs, police officers and local civil servants gathered at the site of the reservoir to help workers repairing the damaged wall.

China: Laogai fighting intensifies, shells land on Chinese soil

Myanmar - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 8:28pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: China, Myanmar

The conflict between Burmese government forces and Kokang rebels intensified in the Laogai area yesterday.

According to a TV report on China’s Nansan News, the road between Nansan (Nansanzhen) and Mengdui (Mengduixiang) in China was closed after artillery shells landed nearby.

“Many shells landed. They were fired across the border and landed about two miles inside Chinese territory,” a local said when interviewed by the TV station.

“Usually, vehicles take just one hour to drive this road,” Nansan local Wan Aik Tin said. “But today, it took me four hours. We had to stop many times because of the shelling. Chinese soldiers have set up security checks every 10 miles along the 40-mile stretch of road.”

He added: “There was also heavy fighting in previous days and a lot of shells landed here. Today [22 March], we heard heavy fighting between 7am and 7pm. I can’t even count how many shells dropped on the Chinese side [of the border].”

Though not specifically alluded to in the broadcast, it is most likely that the artillery shells were fired by Burmese forces taking aim at Kokang positions. The Kokang army, officially known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), generally occupies mountain bases along the Burma-China border, while government troops hold the city of Laogai.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 30,000 local civilians have fled Burma’s restive Kokang autonomous zone since the MNDAA launched assaults earlier this month on Laogai in an attempt to take back control of the city, which is a vital trade hub and strategic military position.

A 6 March attack by the MNDAA targeted police stations and a handful of casinos in the town. It was alleged that the Kokang soldiers abducted 80 female staffers from the casinos, though ethnic allies of the MNDAA counter-claimed that the women were being evacuated to safety.

Significant fighting between the MNDAA and government troops last flared in February 2015. In April and May that year, the Tatmadaw brought in heavy artillery and employed airstrikes to try to dislodge the MNDAA from its mountain bases.

The MNDAA is a member of the so-called Northern Alliance – alongside the Kachin Independence Army, Arakan Army and Ta’ang National Liberation Army – which has been excluded from the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement between the government and other ethnic militias, and from the peace process in general.

Thailand: Government to ask 70,000 refugees to go home

Myanmar - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 8:16pm
Source: Bangkok Post Country: Myanmar, Thailand

WRITER: WASSANA NANUAM

PHITSANULOK - Thailand will ask nearly 70,000 refugees displaced by skirmishes in Myanmar to return home, but only on a voluntary basis. Those ready to make the trip back home will be sent only gradually, 3rd Army chief Lt Gen Vijak Siribansop said Thursday.

Nay Pyi Taw has prepared areas for them and current peace talks with armed ethnic groups in Myanmar look promising, he said.

Their return will focus on their "safety and dignity" to ensure there will be no danger to them and that they receive good treatment, Lt Gen Vijak said. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will coordinate and fund the refugees' return, while the Thai government wiBan Um Piam in Phop Phra district and Ban Nu Pho in Umphang district.

The other four camps are in remote villages in Mae Hong Son - Ban No Soi in Muang district, Ban Mae Suri in Khun Yuam district, while Ban Mae Lama Luang and Ban Mae La Lun are in Sop Moei district.

"We will also teach the refugees about King Rama IX's sufficiency economy," Lt Gen Vijak said, hoping these principles would be able to inspire them to pursue productive lives in Myanmar.

Republished with permission. © Post Publishing Plc. www.bangkokpost.com

Central African Republic: Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 23 March 2017 - Central African Republic

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 23 March 2017 - 6:23pm
Source: UN Department of Public Information Country: Central African Republic

**Central African Republic

The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has received reports of heavy fighting between the FPRC [Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique] and the UPC [Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique] in Nzako, some 50 km north of Bakouma in Mbomou prefecture yesterday.

The Mission conducted an aerial reconnaissance flight over Nzako and the surrounding areas, but was not able to locate the presence of armed elements. UN peacekeepers also conducted a patrol from Bria to Bakouma earlier today, after being unable to access the town earlier in the week following the deliberate destruction of a bridge. The UN Mission denounces the actions of armed groups which continue to cause instability in the country.

Separately, in Ndélé, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) yesterday destroyed the entire stock of explosive ammunition collected since the onset of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme in June 2016. The materials included some 60 grenades, 40 rockets and 1,000 ammunition clips.

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