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Updated: 16 min 42 sec ago

Afghanistan: A Resilient Present and Future are Possible

1 hour 55 min ago
Source: Oxfam Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam

Mapping of resilience work in Asia

Asia Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, AMCDRR 2016 ² World Poverty Organization, http://world-poverty.org/povertyinasia.htm Asia is exposed and vulnerable to a wide range of natural and manmade hazards. In many respects, it is the global epicenter for disasters.¹ Its location makes it prone to destructive hazards that are exacerbated by climate change, leading to an increasing number of cyclones, sea level rises, severe drought, and other extreme climate effects. This vulnerability is compounded by poverty. The majority of the world’s poorest today are in Asia,² thus protection and recovery from these disasters remain difficult.

In Asia, Oxfam continues to work with partners and vulnerable communities to promote resilience against existing risks and new risks from natural and human induced disasters that impact disadvantaged poor people in Asia. This map provides an overview of the extensive work in 11 countries in Asia and features different kinds of approaches towards building resilience: small holder agriculture and enterprises; water resilience; urban resilience; natural resource management; working with the private sector to build resilience; and climate finance and gender justice, among others.

Pakistan: Pakistan Market Price Bulletin, April 2017

22 April 2017 - 1:27pm
Source: World Food Programme Country: Pakistan

Highlights

  • In March 2017, the average retail price of wheat and wheat flour negligibly decreased by 0.14% and negligibly increased by 0.04%, respectively;

  • Headline inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) negligibly increased by 0.8% from the previous month (February 2017), whereas it has increased by 4.9% from the same month last year (March 2016);

  • There were slight to significant fluctuations in the prices of non‐cereal food commodities compared to the previous month; the price of sugar slightly decreased (by 3.9%), the price of eggs decreased significantly (18%) and the price of live chicken also significantly increased (30.6%);

  • In March 2017, the average ToT negligibly decreased from the previous month;

  • In April 2017, the total global wheat production for 2016‐2017 is projected at 751.36 million MT, showing an increase of 0.3 million MT compared to the projection made last month.

Pakistan: 500 Baloch militants surrender, abandon armed struggle

22 April 2017 - 2:40am
Source: DAWN Group of Newspapers Country: Pakistan

SALEEM SHAHID

QUETTA: Around 500 militants belonging to different banned Baloch militant organisations surrendered themselves to authorities concerned on Friday.

At a ceremony held on the lawns of the Balochistan Assembly building, the militants announced that they had abandoned the armed struggle against the government and would join mainstream politics.

The ceremony was attended by Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Commander of Southern Command Lt Gen Aamir Riaz, Nawab Changez Khan Marri and tribal elders.

Those who surrendered themselves included 12 ‘commanders’ and 16 ‘sub-commanders’ of the militant organisations.

The militants belonged to the Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Lashkar-i-Balochistan and some other Baloch militant groups.

One of the ‘commanders’, Abdul Samad alias Sarbaz Baloch, claimed to have been a spokesman for the BRA. “I had been operating from Afghanistan since 2012 as a spokesman for the BRA,” he said.

The militants were involved in attacks on security forces, national installations, targeted killings and other subversive activities in Dera Bugti, Sui, Uch, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad and Sibi districts.

Zehri says steps will be taken to withdraw cases against those abandoning fighting against the govt Around 1,500 militants of these banned organisations have surrendered since the government announced a political reconciliation programme in the province.

Under the programme, the government is not only paying compensation to them, but also providing jobs, education and security to them.

“The government has paid compensation to 484 tribesmen who have abandoned the armed struggle, including commanders,” a senior government official told Dawn.

Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri, while welcoming the decision of the members of the banned organisations to join the mainstream, said that disgruntled Baloch tribesmen had decided to become a part of mainstream politics as a peaceful and shining Balochistan was waiting to welcome them.

He said that steps would be taken to withdraw cases against those abandoning fighting against the government.

Referring to insurgents, the chief minister said: “I feel sorry for them after seeing their pathetic conditions as they are deprived of even two meals a day while their masters are living a luxurious life in Switzerland and London.”

Nawab Zehri said that the CPEC would bring prosperity and development throughout the province as poverty and backwardness was not the fate of the mineral-rich Balochistan.

Addressing so-called leaders of Balochistan independence movement, the chief minister said that they should return to their respective areas to serve the masses instead of using these innocent people for their vested interests.

“These so-called leaders are using you (insurgents) as a tool to mint millions of rupees while they themselves are sitting abroad,” the chief minister said.

Speaking on the occasion, the Commander of Southern Command, Lt General Aamir Riaz, welcomed the tribesmen for abandoning the armed struggle and said: “Political and military leadership is standing with you and under the plan the government will give you full help and cooperation for your rehabilitation.”

He said that Balochistan had entered an era of development and prosperity and there were ample opportunities for jobs and other facilities in the country, but several elements, including some countries around Pakistan, did not like development and prosperity of the country and “are busy in misguiding our youths”.

He urged Baloch youths who had joined militants to come back and join their people and understand the plot that the enemies of the country wanted to block the pace of development in Balochistan and the country and they were using them for this purpose.

Earlier, militant commanders Abdul Samad, Dur Muhammad Munshi and Sher Muhammad Baloch said that their so-called leaders had misguided them and used them for achieving their nefarious designs.

“We were misguided and deceived by our leaders living abroad and enjoying a luxurious life,” Abdul Samad said, adding that “we fought against the government but now we have joined the mainstream after abandoning the armed struggle”.

World: Communicable Disease Threats Report, 16-22 April 2017, week 16

21 April 2017 - 3:49pm
Source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Country: American Samoa, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Curaçao (The Netherlands), Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, French Polynesia (France), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Kenya, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Caledonia (France), Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Martin (France), Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, World

The ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) is a weekly bulletin for epidemiologists and health professionals on active public health threats. This issue covers the period 16-22 April 2017 and includes updates on influenza, cholera, poliomyelitis, measles, legionnaires' disease and yellow fever.

World: Explosive Violence in March 2017

21 April 2017 - 10:55am
Source: Action on Armed Violence Country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

Last month, March 2017, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 3,053 deaths and injuries from explosive violence around the world, as reported in English-language media. Civilians accounted for 79% (2,402) of the deaths and injuries recorded.

At least one death or injury from explosive violence was recorded in 22 countries in March. The top five worst impacted countries were Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan, according to civilian casualties from explosive violence.

AOAV recorded 972 civilian deaths and injuries from explosive violence in Syria. 46% of all civilian deaths and injuries in Syria occurred in Damascus. These are primarily accounted for by suicide attacks on March 11th and 15th, which together account for over 350 civilian casualties in the city last month.

March 11th saw twin bomb attacks targeting Iraqi Shia pilgrims near the Bab al-Saghir cemetery. The blasts were initially reported to have killed 40 and wounded 120 – the death toll later rose to 74. The attacks on March 15th saw a suicide attack at the Justice Palace kill 39, including seven armed actors actors, and wound over 100. A second suicide bomber wounded 28 in the Rabweh area of Damascus.

Despite these large-scale IED attacks, air-launched attacks across Syria still accounted for the majority of deaths and injuries caused by explosive violence, accounting for 51% (499) of all civilian casualties.

Similarly, whilst IEDs still caused the most civilian deaths and injuries in Iraq (51%), air-launched attacks caused significantly more deaths and injuries than usual in Iraq in March. At least 252 civilians casualties were caused by air-launched weapons. This is a 288% increase from the previous month or 227% greater than the monthly average recorded last year.

Most of the casualties from air-launched explosives in Iraq were the result of the airstrikes in Mosul. Though there is still a lack of clarity behind the incidents, up to 240 civilians are thought to have been killed in the airstrikes on March 17th.

In Afghanistan, IEDs continued to account for the most civilian harm. Just 3 IED incidents in Kabul account for 87% (226) civilian casualties from explosive violence across the country. Two of these attacks were suicide attacks in populated areas, causing over 200 civilian death and injuries between them.

Whilst the levels of reported civilian harm from explosive weapons has decreased in Yemen over the last year, Yemen remains amongst the most impacted countries. Significantly, over 99% of all civilian casualties from explosive violence in Yemen last month were caused by air strikes.

In Pakistan, 79% of all civilian deaths and injuries recorded in March, occurred during one attack by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, when a powerful car bomb detonated near a Shiite place of worship killed 22 and injured 90.

When explosive violence was perpetrated in populated areas in March, 95% of the casualties were civilians. AOAV strongly condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area affects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.

World: New hepatitis data highlight need for urgent global response [EN/AR/ES/FR/RU/ZH]

21 April 2017 - 5:30am
Source: World Health Organization Country: China, Egypt, Mongolia, Pakistan, World

21 April 2017 | GENEVA, AMSTERDAM: New World Health Organization (WHO) data reveal that an estimated 325 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The WHO Global hepatitis report, 2017 indicates that the large majority of these people lack access to life-saving testing and treatment. As a result, millions of people are at risk of a slow progression to chronic liver disease, cancer and death.

“Viral hepatitis is now recognized as a major public health challenge that requires an urgent response,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Vaccines and medicines to tackle hepatitis exist, and WHO is committed to helping ensure these tools reach all those who need them.”

Increasing mortality, new infections

Viral hepatitis caused 1.34 million deaths in 2015, a number comparable to deaths caused by tuberculosis and HIV. But while mortality from tuberculosis and HIV has been declining, deaths from hepatitis are on the increase.

Approximately 1.75 million people were newly infected with HCV in 2015, bringing the global total of people living with hepatitis C to 71 million.

Although overall deaths from hepatitis are increasing, new infections of HBV are falling, thanks to increased coverage of HBV vaccination among children. Globally, 84% of children born in 2015 received the 3 recommended doses of hepatitis B vaccine. Between the pre-vaccine era (which, according to the year of introduction can range from the 1980s to the early 2000s) and 2015, the proportion of children under 5 years of age with new infections fell from 4.7% to 1.3%. However, an estimated 257 million individuals, mostly adults born before the introduction of the HBV vaccine, were living with chronic hepatitis B infection in 2015.

Epidemics in regions and "hotspots"

Hepatitis B levels vary widely across WHO regions with the African Region and Western Pacific Region sharing the greatest burden.

• Western Pacific Region: 6.2% of population (115 million)
• African Region: 6.1% of population (60 million)
• Eastern Mediterranean Region: 3.3% of population (21 million)
• South-East Asia Region: 2% of population (39 million)
• European Region: 1.6% of population (15 million)
• Region of the Americas: 0.7% of population (7million)

Today, unsafe injections in health care settings and injecting drug use are considered to be the most common routes of HCV transmissions. HCV prevalence by WHO region is:

• Eastern Mediterranean Region: 2.3% of population (15 million)
• European Region: 1.5% of population (14 million)
• African Region: 1% of population (11 million )
• Region of the Americas: 1% of population (7 million)
• Western Pacific Region: 1% of population (14 million)
• South-East Asia Region: 0.5% of population (10 million)

Treatment access is low

There is currently no vaccine against HCV, and access to treatment for HBV and HCV is still low.

WHO’s Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis aims to test 90% and treat 80% of people with HBV and HCV by 2030.

The report notes that just 9% of all HBV-infections and 20% of all HCV-infections were diagnosed in 2015. An even smaller fraction— 8% of those diagnosed with HBV infection (1.7 million people) were on treatment, and only 7% of those diagnosed with HCV infection (1.1 million people) had started curative treatment during that year.

HBV infection requires lifelong treatment, and WHO currently recommends the medicine tenofovir, already widely used in HIV treatment. Hepatitis C can be cured within a relatively short time using the highly effective direct-acting antivirals (DAAs).

“We are still at an early stage of the viral hepatitis response, but the way forward looks promising,” said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO's Department of HIV and the Global Hepatitis Programme. “More countries are making hepatitis services available for people in need - a diagnostic test costs less than US$1 and the cure for hepatitis C can be below US$200. But the data clearly highlight the urgency with which we must address the remaining gaps in testing and treatment.”

Country Progress

WHO’s Global hepatitis report, 2017 demonstrates that despite challenges, some countries are taking successful steps to scale-up hepatitis services.

China achieved high coverage (96%) for the timely birth dose of HBV vaccines, and reached the hepatitis B control goal of less than 1% prevalence in children under the age of 5 in 2015. Mongolia improved uptake of hepatitis treatment by including HBV and HCV medicines in its National Health Insurance scheme, which covers 98% of its population. In Egypt, generic competition has reduced the price of a 3-month cure for hepatitis C, from US$900 in 2015, to less than US$200 in 2016. Today in Pakistan, the same course costs as little as US$100.

Improving access to hepatitis C cure received a boost at the end of March 2017, when WHO prequalified the generic active pharmaceutical ingredient of sofosbuvir. This step will enable more countries to produce affordable hepatitis medicines.

Baseline for elimination

WHO’s Global hepatitis report, 2017 aims to provide a starting point for hepatitis elimination by indicating baseline statistics on HBV and HCV infections, including mortality, and coverage levels of key interventions. Hepatitis B and C – the 2 main types out of 5 different hepatitis infections – are responsible for 96% of overall hepatitis mortality.

Notes for editors

World Immunization Week (24–30 April): WHO recommends the use of vaccines against 26 diseases, which include 3 vaccine-preventable types of viral hepatitis ( A,B and E ) out of 5 types of viral hepatitis ( A,B,C,D,E)

World Hepatitis Day 2017 and World Hepatitis Summit 2017: WHO and partners will organize 2 high-profile global initiatives to advocate for an urgent response to viral hepatitis. World Hepatitis Day 2017 will be commemorated on 28 July under the theme “Eliminate hepatitis”. The World Hepatitis Summit 2017, the principal convention of the global hepatitis community, is being co-organized by WHO, the Government of Brazil and the World Hepatitis Alliance. It will be held on 1–3 November 2017 in São Paulo, Brazil.

http://www.who.int/hepatitis/publications/global-hepatitis-report2017/en/
http://www.who.int/hepatitis/strategy2016-2021/portal/en/
http://www.worldhepatitissummit.org/
http://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/en/
http://www.who.int/campaigns/immunization-week/2017/en/

Media contacts:

Tunga (Oyuntungalag) Namjilsuren
Information Manager
Department of HIV, Global Hepatitis Programme
Mobile: +41 79 203 3176
Email: namjilsurent@who.int

Christian Lindmeier
WHO Spokesperson
Department of Communications
Telephone: +41 22 791 1948
Mobile: +41 795 006 552
Email: lindmeierch@who.int

World: Briefing Paper: Tracking Conflict-Related Deaths (March 2017)

21 April 2017 - 5:03am
Source: Small Arms Survey Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Libya, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, World, Yemen

Overview

In the framework of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, states have pledged to track the number of people who are killed in armed conflict and to disaggregate the data by sex, age, and cause—as per Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Indicator 16.1.2. However, there is no international consensus on definitions, methods, or standards to be used in generating the data. Moreover, monitoring systems run by international organizations and civil society differ in terms of their thematic coverage, geographical focus, and level of disaggregation. By highlighting these variations and related limitations, this Briefing Paper aims to contribute to the development of a standardized methodology for this indicator.

Key findings

  • Data on conflict-related deaths is collected and disseminated mostly by UN missions, academic projects, research institutes, and civil society organizations. Only one country’s national statistical office (NSO)—Colombia’s—currently acts as a source of data on conflict-related deaths.

  • Only one-third of the reviewed monitoring systems offer disaggregated data on the sex and age of victims and on the type of weapon used, and even fewer sources gather detailed data on victims’ profiles.

  • In the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, partnerships between NSOs and other monitoring systems, including international and non-governmental organizations, can allow for the incorporation of valuable additional data on conflict-related deaths.

  • To ensure accuracy and comparability of data on conflictrelated deaths—especially if integrative monitoring approaches are to be implemented—common definitions and guidelines must be established to promote the standardization of the collection, verification, and disaggregation of data.

Download Briefing Paper: Tracking Conflict-Related Deaths

Pakistan: Pakistan: WASH Cluster- KP/FATA Monthly Dashboard, March 2017

21 April 2017 - 3:53am
Source: UN Children's Fund, WASH Cluster Country: Pakistan

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Total number of beneficiaries reached is 75,501 including 17,388 men, 18,098 women, 19,608 boys and 20,407 girls out of the targeted population of 596,628.

  2. Detailed Needs Assessment (DNA) of the WASH Cluster has been completed reaching out to 3,456 HH in 5 Agencies of FATA (Kurram, Orakzai, Khyber, South Waziristan and North Waziristan) and 3 districts of KP (Bannu, Hangu and Kohat).

  3. WASH working group has been established covering Bannu & North Waziristan led by Care Int. along with DDMU-Bannu & FDMA.

  4. TWGs on Water supply, Sanitation, Hygiene and Inclusiveness have been established to develop technical Cluster guidelines.

  5. WASH selected as one of the 5 thematic areas under the first PHPF allocation, 2017.

World: Humanity has no borders

20 April 2017 - 1:51pm
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council Country: Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

“Internal displacement must be brought back on to the global agenda”, urges NRC’s Secretary General Jan Egeland ahead of the NRC Global Displacement Conference 2017. “Humanity has no borders, and no group should be neglected.”

“We need the full picture of global displacement to be acknowledged. Two-thirds of all people currently displaced by conflict around the world are internally displaced. To limit access to assistance and protection according to lines on a map would be a failure of humanity,” says Egeland.

Lack of attention and investment

The NRC Displacement Conference 2017 "Behind borders and walls: ensuring internally displaced people are not left behind" takes place in Oslo on Monday 24 April.

The conference aims to push internal displacement up on the global policy agenda and to seek better solutions to the needs of people displaced within their own country.

The lack of global attention for and investment in internally displaced people are the two main topics that will be addressed and discussed at the conference.

IDPs off the agenda

In 2016 global policy commitments to internally displaced people lost momentum. That happened in stark disconnection from the reality and scale of internal displacement.

40.8 million people were displaced within their own country at the end of 2015 as a result of conflict. This is not a new development: since 1990, the number of people internally displaced by conflict measured at the end of each year has been nearly twice the number of refugees.

Today, Colombia and Syria are the countries with the highest number of people living in displacement, both seeing more than six million people displaced within their own borders. Iraq and Sudan follow with over three million internally displaced people. The figures are also high in Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan.

Pakistan: Polio this week as of 19 April 2017

20 April 2017 - 1:37pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Afghanistan, Chad, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan

Over the next two weeks, key global meetings will take place to review the global polio epidemiology and examine what additional efforts must be implemented to achieve a lasting polio-free world. Next week, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization (SAGE) will meet in Geneva, as well the next meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee on the spread of poliovirus (via teleconference). These meetings will be followed the week after by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), convening in London. Reports and outcomes of the meetings will be made available on www.polioeradication.org

Summary of newly-reported viruses this week: no new viruses reported this week.

Pakistan: Pakistan: FATA Return Weekly (from 07 to 13 April 2017) - Humanitarian Snapshot

20 April 2017 - 7:17am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Pakistan

Pakistan: Pakistan: Afghan Refugees and Undocumented Afghans Repatriation (9 to 15 April 2017)

20 April 2017 - 7:09am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

During the reporting week, repatriation of registered refugees to Afghanistan increased by 50% compared to last week’s figure of 2,450. The return of undocumented Afghans also increased by 27% compared to 6,628 individuals that returned between 2 and 8 April 2017. Some 66% (5,600 individuals) of the undocumented returnees were provided needs-based assistance by WFP, WHO, UNICEF, and UNFPA in Afghanistan. Registered Afghan refugee returnees were provided with cash assistance by UNHCR Afghanistan.

Pakistan: Thar drought may worsen if dry spell continues

20 April 2017 - 1:35am
Source: DAWN Group of Newspapers Country: Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government has expressed the fear that the situation in Mithi of Tharparkar district (Sindh) where five infants have recently died of diseases and malnutrition may further deteriorate if the area does not receive rains in the coming monsoon season.

In a report submitted before the Supreme Court in compliance with a suo motu notice taken by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on the death of five infants at the Mithi Civil Hospital, Health Secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho stated that the area was mainly vulnerable due to water scarcity, lack of healthcare facilities and remoteness. He said the situation was same as vulnerability still existed in the communities of the area.

The notice was taken on a news report published in a section of the media that more than 11,000 ailing children had been brought to six health facilities in Mithi district for treatment since the beginning of this year and at least five infants had lost their lives due to malnutrition and diseases at the Civil Hospital, raising this year’s death toll to 64.

The report stated that problems pertaining to a water crisis, healthcare shortcomings and remoteness were the most crucial factors and that the parents had complained of lack of facilities at hospitals.

The total population of Tharparkar district is 1,308,368 of which 217,659 are infants/children under the age of five years.

According to the report of the Tharparkar’s district health officer which was submitted before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, none of the five infants died due to malnutrition, instead they expired due to causes like neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, birth asphyxia and pre-term / low birth weight.

In 2016, total deaths of children in Tharparkar were 479 of which 404 died in the district headquarters Mithi whereas 87 infants died in Mithi in the first quarter of 2017 out of the total of 98 in the district.

The report conceded that the area of Mithi received limited assistance over the past six months due to which no action was taken on the recommendations of the United Nations Observation Mission pertaining to Tharparkar, Umerkot and Sanghar districts.

The health department’s report suggested short-term and long-terms steps being taken by the Sindh government to improve health services in Tharparkar.

In the short-term steps, the report highlighted the need of increasing the number of lady health workers, lady health supervisors and community midwives along with mobility support to cover the uncovered areas.

The short-term steps also called for providing conditional cash transfers to below poverty line population for seeking quality maternal new born child health services under the accelerated action plan for reduction of stunting.

Increase of social mobilisation activities through NGOs for increase of demand creation from community is an ongoing process and is being done by the Sindh health department through HANDS (Health and Nutrition Development Society) in addition to recruitments of special cadre like gynecologists, paeds and anesthetist on attractive packages.

Likewise, the long-term steps suggest multi-sectoral approach for the development in order to increase socio-economic conditions, infrastructure up-gradation and drought area specific health policy formation.

“There is still much to be done in District Tharparkar,” the report admitted, adding that the health department was trying hard to address all health related issues in the area to make it at par with other settled districts of Sindh.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017

Afghanistan: Thousands of unregistered refugees return from Pakistan to Afghanistan

19 April 2017 - 10:47pm
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council Country: Afghanistan, Pakistan

In the first two weeks of April, an average of 1,000 unregistered refugees returned from Pakistan to Afghanistan daily: a sharp increase compared to the beginning of the year. “We are concerned that without proper registration documents Afghan refugees are unprotected,” said Kate O'Rourke, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Afghanistan.

In 2016, over 225,000 unregistered Afghan refugees returned from Pakistan. The number of people returning fell between December 2016 and March 2017, with less than 150 unregistered Afghans on average returning each day. However, since the end of March, the numbers have increased sharply.

“Unregistered Afghan refugees are now again returning from Pakistan in concerningly high numbers. Families are telling us that without registration documents they felt forced to leave,” said O’Rourke.

“I only have my late father’s national identity document, which is now 60 years old. I don’t have land. I don’t have a house. I only have children. If anyone even puts a tent on a mountain, we will live there. If not, only Allah will protect us,” said Rustam, an unregistered refugee returning from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Because these people have not been formally registered as refugees in Pakistan, they do not have access to the same support as registered refugees when they return to Afghanistan.

“Without documentation proving their refugee status, they had limited protection in Pakistan. Now, when they report feeling forced to return to Afghanistan, they are again being deprived of sufficient support because they lack the right piece of paper”, said O´Rourke.

Many Afghans who are now returning, originally sought refuge in Pakistan during the 1980s Soviet-era conflict. They state that there were endemic problems hindering their formal refugee registration.

“They gave registration cards to some people, but they were asking for too much money. That’s why we couldn’t receive a Proof of Registration card. We were not able to afford it,” said Kimia Gul, an unregistered refugee who returned to Afghanistan at the beginning of April.

Many returnees are uninformed or even misinformed about the conditions they are returning to, and many explain that they did not feel like they had a choice. They cite increased harassment, detention of family members, inter-communal tensions, threats of eviction or actual evictions, as reasons to why they returned, as outlined in the Human Rights Watch report ‘Pakistan Coercion, UN Complicity’.

“The international response to this protection failure is not sufficient: Without refugee status, unregistered Afghan refugees are largely unprotected. As a result, many now report that they are returning involuntarily, to an uncertain future, in a country struggling with escalating conflict and widespread poverty,” said O’Rourke.

“The governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the international community, must ensure that Afghan refugees—whether they are registered or unregistered—are protected and fairly treated on both sides of the border."

Facts:

  • Over 2016, approximately 380,000 registered and 225,000 unregistered refugees returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan, the vast majority between July and December 2016.

  • For the unregistered Afghan refugees, humanitarian assistance is limited and humanitarian protection nearly non-existent.

  • The security situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan. US authorities report that at least 30% of the country is not under the control of the formal government, and over 600,000 Afghans were newly displaced within the country due to conflict over 2016; a large increase compared to previous years.
    Approximately a quarter of the internally displaced are not in government-held areas.

  • The report “Pakistan Coercion, UN Complicity: The Mass Forced Return of Afghan Refugees” by Human Rights Watch released in February 2017 concluded that many refugees in Pakistan were left with no choice but to return to Afghanistan.

  • NRC in 2016 distributed over 950 tents to unregistered refugee returnees who were living in ‘open shelter’ conditions in eastern Afghanistan, and erected over 1,100 transitional shelters. NRC also established over 120 temporary learning spaces for Education in Emergency to returnee children. In total, NRC rapidly scaled up to assist over 35,000 unregistered women, girls, boys and men who had returned, thanks to financial support from Sida, NMFA, the Common Humanitarian Fund, and ECHO.

  • In total, over 2016, NRC directly assisted 300,000 displaced persons through its wider programme in Afghanistan.

Note to editors:

Updated figures related to return of unregistered refugees to Afghanistan are available here: https://afghanistan.iom.int/sites/default/files/Reports/iom_return_of_undocumented_afghans_weekly_situation_report_9-15_apr_2017.pdf

Video B-roll from Tokham Border crossing by NRC collected on 3, 4 and 9 April 2017 can be found here, freely used with appropriate accreditation to NRC: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zbbly331qji213d/AADbkezsc9x5mFCdfYwwWhNXa?dl=0

NRC Photography from the return may be found, and freely used with appropriate accreditation: https://nrc.smugmug.com/Country-Programs/Afghanistan/Afghanistan-2017/Undocumented-returnees-at-Torkham-crossing/n-2ff9h2

If you would like interviews or more information, please contact:

Serbia: UNHCR Serbia Update, 10-16 April 2017

19 April 2017 - 1:05pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Afghanistan, Croatia, Hungary, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia, Syrian Arab Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, World

HIGHLIGHTS AND STATISTICS

  • Fearing prolonged detention in Hungary before being expelled back to Serbia, more refugees and migrants tried to re-enter the EU through Croatia, now also Romania, while spontaneous returns to Greece through fYRo Macedonia continued. Three cases of collective expulsions from Hungary were reported during this week, as well as 109 from Croatia.

  • On 10 April, UNHCR in Geneva issued a press release calling for temporary suspension of transfers of asylum-seekers to Hungary from other European countries under the Dublin Regulation (an EU instrument determining which European state is responsible for examining an asylum seeker’s application), qualifying the situation for asylum-seekers in Hungary, already a concern for UNHCR, as becoming worse since the introduction of mandatory detention for asylum-seekers. The Press Release is available here.

  • On 16 April, almost 7,600 refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants were counted in Serbia. 85% (6,412) were sheltered in 18 government facilities, while the rest were counted sleeping rough in Belgrade city centre or close to the borders with Croatia and Hungary.

  • Security incidents in and around Transit Centres that host high numbers of unregistered migrant men remained a concern. In response to one of such incidents, the citizens and local authorities in Sid petitioned the Government to close the Transit Centre in Sid.

  • On 11 April, the police rounded up around 180 unregistered men (mainly Afghan and Pakistani, around half of which were minors) sleeping rough in/around Sid and transported 160 to Presevo Reception Centre (RC), while 20 were taken to Magistrates court. In Presevo RC, the newcomers were received by camp management, UNHCR and partners, who provided medical check-up, NFIs, registration etc.

  • On 12 April, Crisis Response and Policy Centre (CRPC) conducted another profiling exercise in Belgrade city centre where refugees/migrants squat. From the total of 1,322 counted, 340 (all male) were surveyed. Vast majority were Afghans (78%), some Pakistani (21%) and very few others. Among them were 164 children (48%), aged 8-17, of which 96 were identified as UASCs, originating mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Around 75% have been in Serbia for up to six months, the rest longer. Compared to the previous profiling exercise implemented in March 2017, there is an increase in the number of respondents willing to be accommodated in one of the state-run accommodation centres.

  • Among some 107 new arrivals that were met and assisted by UNHCR and partners during the week, six were unaccompanied and separated refugee children (UASC), boys from Afghanistan and Pakistan. All were referred by UNHCR and partners to Centres for Social Work. Currently, over 900 UASCs are in Serbia, with at least 750 accommodated in government centres (334 in Obrenovac, 150 in Presevo, 18 in Bujanovac, and 248 in other governmental shelters), as well as close to 200 in Belgrade city centre.

  • 121 intentions to seek asylum in Serbia were registered in the reporting period.

Pakistan: Pakistan: Community Restoration (CoRe) Cluster - Monthly Dashboard, March 2017, FATA - Complex Emergency 2017

19 April 2017 - 8:14am
Source: Government of Pakistan, UN Development Programme Country: Pakistan

Pakistan: Thar officials stop sharing data of children’s deaths with media

19 April 2017 - 1:48am
Source: DAWN Group of Newspapers Country: Pakistan

MITHI: Two days after the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of unabated deaths of children in Tharparkar district due to malnutrition and unavailability of proper and adequate health facilities over the past couple of years, relevant officials have stopped sharing details of such cases with the media.

After failing to get the data of fresh cases reported at various health facilities of different towns, this correspondent contacted Thar district health officer (DHO) Dr Mohammad Akhlaq Khan, who said that he was strictly forbidden to share such details with the media. “My high-ups have told me to report all such cases only to them and no one else,” he said.

The health department and its officials in the district believe that the media reporting over the past few years regarding the drought-like situation and position of medical facilities at hospitals and other healthcare centres etc has been ‘irresponsible’ and the number of deaths exaggerated. They also disagree that the cause of mortality among the children, as well as expectant mothers, who died at government hospitals and health centres happened to be malnutrition, unavailability of proper medical support or official negligence.

DHO Khan preferred to say “no comment” when he was asked whether he received the directive in the context of the apex court’s suo motu notice.

Only recently, Dr Khan, sharing official data with Dawn, had put children’s reported death toll in the district up to April 16 this year at 99.

“A total of 31,744 ailing children were brought to six health facilities of the district and 145 of them were referred to various hospitals in Karachi and Hyderabad during the period,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017

Pakistan: Water crisis to hit country if reservoirs not built: Ahsan Iqbal

19 April 2017 - 1:45am
Source: DAWN Group of Newspapers Country: Pakistan

HYDERABAD: Federal Minis­ter for Planning and Development Dr Ahsan Iqbal has warned that there is a potential threat from climate change and other factors which may cause a water crisis in the country within the next 10-15 years.

He was speaking to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers and briefly talking to journalists at a reception hosted for him by senior party colleagues Jamal Arif Soharwardi and Shah Mohammad Shah.

“Climate change has placed Pakistan among seven top vulnerable countries. Therefore, we cannot afford laxity considering the fact that glacial line will melt within the next 10 to 15 years. The rainfall pattern has already changed. So, reservoirs should be built after consensus [of all stakeholders] under an anti-drought strategy,” he said.

Referring to the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam having 6MAF storage capacity, he said the federal government was actively working on it. “In addition, Pakistan is trying to safeguard its rivers through diplomacy ... no power on earth can rob us of our water,” he said.

Dr Iqbal said that besides the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), there were agreements of international arbitration in which the international community stood guarantor. Pakistan would defend its right at all forums to protect every drop of its water, he said, adding that simultaneously, Pakistan must ensure water efficiency and complete construction of its reservoirs.

The PML-N leader insisted that the credit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) went to his party and challenged other claimants to produce a copy of the relevant documents. “I am ready to produce a copy of the agreement signed by me in July 2013 in the presence of two premiers,” he said. He sought to discredit the PPP leadership on CPEC, saying: “Success has many fathers”.

The minister said that Keti Bandar project was included in CPEC while Thar coal and the Karachi Circular Railway had been resurrected.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced establishment of a university in Hyderabad and the federal government intends to start its classes in September.

The minister stated that the federal government was working in a close relationship with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, whom he described as “a professional and an educated leader”.

“We will never allow anything that may cause misgiving [betw­een the two governments],” he said.

By levelling allegations against the federal government, the Sindh leadership could not absolve itself of the responsibility of service delivery, he said, citing failure of governance of successive governments in Sindh. He said the federal government never blocked transfer of resources of any province and it would never do that in future as well.

Earlier, speaking at the inaugural ceremony of a three-day international conference on ‘CPEC: political, economic and social perspectives’, at Sindh University in Jamshoro, the federal minister said that CPEC would bring prosperity, help curb unemployment and extremism and alleviate poverty in the country.

“CPEC is not a military or security pact; it is a mega project of economic cooperation and prosperity,” he said

Dr Iqbal said the government had decided to focus on geo-economics instead of geopolitics because “Pakistan is situated on an ideal location in South Asia ie next to China and Central Asia with a population of three billion”.

He said that without Pakistan, these regions could not be integrated because direct links of these states could not be made or it would not be possible geographically. Pakistan’s inclusion would shape them into a huge economic block, he added.

He said CPEC was also addressing power generation issues because $35 billion out of the basic investment of $40bn was allocated for the energy sector.

He said light engineering, labour intensive work pattern and low-cost production mechanism were responsible for rapid growth of economy in China and relocation of 85 million job opportunities in the global setting.

“We need to cash in on these opportunities so that Pakistani youth could also profit,” he said.

He stated that agricultural economy was being transformed into industrial economy.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017

Greece: Migration/ refugee Crisis - Arrivals to Greece and Italy 2015 - March 2017 - ECHO Daily Map | 18/04/2017

18 April 2017 - 10:27pm
Source: European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Gambia, Greece, Guinea, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Italy, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic

Afghanistan: Monthly Migration Movements - Afghan Displacement Summary - February 2017

18 April 2017 - 10:51am
Source: Danish Refugee Council, Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat Country: Afghanistan, Germany, Greece, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Pakistan, Turkey, World

Smuggling Networks

Introduction

The Mixed Migration Monitoring Initiative (4Mi)1 in Central Asia and South West Asia (CASWA) region aims at gathering data on displaced Afghans on the move. Data is collected in Afghanistan as well as with Afghans on the move toward the East and West and trend analyses are produced on a monthly basis. The purpose is to increase knowledge about drivers of movement and protection risks faced by Afghans on the move.

This paper zooms in on the smuggler networks used by Afghans on the move. The findings are based on a sample size of 25 interviews. 18 standardized surveys were conducted with smugglers in Afghanistan by 4Mi field monitors in Kabul, Zaranj, Kandahar & Jalalabad; 3 informal interviews in Iran and 4 in Zaranj, Afghanistan2. The informal interviews were conducted to gain insight about the smuggler network in places where it is highly sensitive to collect such data and covered similar themes as in the standardized survey: Demographics, migration trends, personal motivation and smuggling as a profession, routes & costs, the smuggling network, services provided and risks associated with smuggling.

The sample size only represents a small section of the smuggler networks used by Afghans. Any generalizations must be made with an understanding of the sampling methodology of 4Mi. For more information about the 4Mi methodology please visit: http://4mi.regionalmms.org/4mi.html.

Profile of Smugglers

According to the 4Mi data and based on discussions with the monitors, almost all of those involved in smuggling are married men between 25-45 years old. Smugglers at all levels have basic education: Out of the 25 smugglers, 15 have finished primary or middle school education. For those engaged in smuggling, it is a primary source of income: The majority of interviewees named smuggling as their main profession, and only a few were engaged in other businesses. Not one ethnic group dominates smuggling networks; those interviewed include Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Herati and Baluch. However, the proportion of ethnic groups varies in different areas of Afghanistan; for example, most smugglers in south and east Afghanistan are Pashtun while in Zaranj, the starting point for irregular migration towards Iran, Baluchis and Heratis dominate.

Smuggling Networks

Based on 4Mi data, most smugglers in Afghanistan are part of a smuggling network (21 smugglers). These networks can be divided into three categories according to the scope of activities carried out:

  • a) Local networks; mostly active at the border points and consist of locals who have connections to people on the other side of a border. The main activity for these networks involve smuggling goods such as oil, drugs, weapons, etc; assisting people from one side of a border to another is a minor side activity. These networks are prevalent on the border with Pakistan.

  • b) Regional networks; cover smuggling to neighboring countries and counties in the region. Thus, these networks mostly smuggle people from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. Sometimes, regional networks also provide visa and safe transfer via air to countries like India and Indonesia.

  • c) Global networks; are collaborating with regional networks and manage smuggling to countries outside of the region. Previously, these networks to a large extent focused on smuggling Afghans to Australia whereas today there is an increased focus on smuggling to Europe.

According to the report ‘Migrant smuggling data and research: A global review of the emerging evidence base’, the principal smuggling agents are usually stationed outside of Afghanistan and employ a network of facilitators around the point of origin. Thus, within Afghanistan, almost all smugglers are of Afghan nationality but they collaborate with smugglers from other nationalities in transit and destination countries.

Naturally, the tasks of each person within a smuggling network differs, for example some people are responsible for finding customers while others gather the migrants at certain meeting points. The mid-level employees usually have their own team consisting of drivers, recruiting agents, Hawaladars, etc. Those who are responsible for the entire network are supervising and coordinating the activities from the beginning till arrival at destination country. The main means of communication among people in a network and with customers are phones and social media, especially Viber, Whatsapp and Facebook. In order to secure anonymity smugglers often buy unregistered simcards in Bazars and throw them away after some time.