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Philippines: Influencing in Emergencies: A Joint After Action Review

27 May 2016 - 9:01am
Source: ActionAid, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision Country: Philippines

Nearly two years since typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, advocacy teams from ActionAid, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision take a step back to evaluate their respective advocacy engagements. This report puts together what different agencies saw as strengths and successes in their respective advocacy work. It looks at gains in achieving both formal policy changes and behavior changes of relevant sectors or communities. It also reflects on key challenges encountered, key lessons learned at different levels that were engaged (national and local), and the various implementation mechanisms utilized (direct, through partners, through consortia).

This report makes a strong case for advocacy in humanitarian work in the Philippines by highlighting how it has become instrumental in pushing for key reforms after Haiyan. Effective advocacy is critical in bridging reforms that should cut across both the humanitarian and development phases. It is likewise significant in hastening recovery and building resilience. Moreover, this report also highlights that there is much more that needs to be done. Best practices and areas for improvement are appropriate cues for moving forward, and are significant for forming the future agenda not just for the agencies involved in this study, but for all key stakeholders as well.

World: WHO Zika Virus, Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome Situation Report, 26 May 2016

26 May 2016 - 12:51pm
Source: World Health Organization Country: American Samoa, Argentina, Aruba (The Netherlands), Barbados, Belize, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (The Netherlands), Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao (The Netherlands), Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, French Guiana (France), French Polynesia (France), Gabon, Guadeloupe (France), Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Maldives, Martinique (France), Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico (The United States of America), Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (France), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sint Maarten (The Netherlands), Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, United States Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, World

Summary

  • As of 25 May 2016, 60 countries and territories report continuing mosquito-borne transmission of which:
    • 46 countries are experiencing a first outbreak of Zika virus since 2015, with no previous evidence of circulation, and with ongoing transmission by mosquitos.
    • 14 countries reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, with ongoing transmission.
  • In addition, four countries or territories have reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, without ongoing transmission: Cook Islands, French Polynesia, ISLA DE PASCUA – Chile and YAP (Federated States of Micronesia).
  • Ten countries have reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus, probably via a sexual route.
  • In the week to 25 May 2016, no new country reported on mosquito-borne or person-to-person Zika virus transmission.
  • As of 25 May 2016, microcephaly and other central nervous system (CNS) malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection or suggestive of congenital infection, have been reported by ten countries or territories. Infection of the mothers took place in eight different countries, for one additional case the precise country in Latin America is not determined. Spain is the latest country to report a case of microcephaly associated with Zika virus in a returning pregnant traveller. 
  • Two cases of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities are currently under verification in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Costa Rica. 
  • In the context of Zika virus circulation, 13 countries and territories worldwide have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases. One GBS case associated with Zika virus infection in a returning traveller to the Netherlands has been reported. A case of GBS from Guadeloupe is under verification.
  • Sequencing of the virus that causes the Zika outbreak in Cabo Verde showed that the virus is of the Asian lineage and the same as the one that circulates in Brazil. The precise implication of this finding is yet to be determined.
  • Based on research to date, there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and GBS. 
  • The global Strategic Response Framework launched by WHO in February 2016 encompasses surveillance, response activities and research. An interim report has been published on some of the key activities being undertaken jointly by WHO and international, regional and national partners in response to this public health emergency. A revised strategy for the period July 2016 to December 2017 is currently being developed with partners and will be published in mid-June.
  • WHO has developed new advice and information on diverse topics in the context of Zika virus. WHO’s latest information materials, news and resources to support corporate and programmatic risk communication, and community engagement are available online.

Philippines: NorthCot LGU fast tracks rice distribution to drought-affected families

26 May 2016 - 6:20am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato, May 26 (PIA)---In an effort to help drought-affected families in the province, the provincial government has fast tracked rice distribution to over 200,000 family beneficiaries.

Per report of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), the relief operations which started on April 25 and will end today has benefited families from over 300 villages in the province’s lone city and 17 municipalities.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) headed the distribution in line with the May 9 local and national elections prohibition for local government units to distribute relief goods.

It can be noted that on January this year, the province was placed under state of calamity due to the effects of the El Niño which affected a total of 263,773 families and damaged around P1.1 billion worth of agricultural crops.

Meanwhile, aside from the rice distribution, the provincial government has initiated cloud seeding operations to combat drought.

Further, North Cotabato LGU has also strengthened the implementation of the Animal Dispersal Program to augment the qualified and affected families’ source of income.

Also, seeds assistance such as corn, rice and vegetables for farmer-beneficiaries has been regularly implemented in the province. (SJDuerme-PIA12 with report from LGonzales&RASotto-NorthCot Media Center)

Philippines: Philippines: DavNor PDRRMC proposes province-wide State of Calamity due to El Niño

25 May 2016 - 5:22am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte, May 25 (PIA) - - After the declaration of three municipalities, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) passed a resolution earlier today to declare the whole province under a State of Calamity due to El Niño phenomenon.

The municipalities identified were Kapalong, Carmen and Asuncion.

According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council Memorandum Order No 04 series of 1998, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan can declare the entire or a portion of the province under a state of calamity if there are two or more municipalities affected by a disaster.

PDRRMC Executive Director and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Romulo Tagalo said that the province waited for the municipalities’ declaration as it is a requirement for the provincial declaration.

According to the resolutions, the municipal government of Kapalong declared its area under a state of calamity last February 2016, while Carmen and Asuncion just declared last April.

Tagalo stressed that reports on the damages may take time because El Niño is a slow concept type of climate anomaly.

“Hindi ito kagaya ng baha na makikita mo kaagad ang emergency kasi binabaha na (This is not like flooding that you can immediately see the emergency because it already flooding.)” he said.

Based on the reports, the families affected by the drought in the province reached to 57,244 or about 228,976 individuals, while it also damaged a total of P883-million in agriculture.

In the agriculture, the biggest impact was felt by the Exported Banana farmers with damages reaching to P408.61-million, followed by Rice farmers with P202.82-million and Local Banana farmers with P150.94-million.

Included in the resolution is the P10-million worth of intervention of the province, which includes seed and fertilizer assistance, fingerlings, medicines and relief goods. (PIA11, Michael Uy)

World: Implementing Sendai to reduce humanitarian burden

25 May 2016 - 3:53am
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Country: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, World

By Denis McClean

ISTANBUL, Turkey, 25 May 2016 - The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction has peppered the speeches of government representatives making commitments at the World Humanitarian Summit which closed yesterday.

In particular, the ten ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries which have been at the centre of some of the world’s worst recent disasters led a debate yesterday on how building resilience to disasters can help reduce the humanitarian burden.

ASEAN was the first region in the world to adopt a legally binding framework on disaster risk management which entered into force in 2009, said Ms. Adelina Kamal, Director, ASEAN Secretariat.

The new five year plan for ongoing implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response is based on the Sendai Framework which was adopted in March 2015 by UN Member States as a guide to reducing the impact of both man-made and natural hazards.

Ms. Kamal said that as a result of experiences in responding to disasters such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Cyclone Nargis and Typhoon Haiyan which together claimed over 370,000 lives and devastated many countries across the Indian Ocean, ASEAN was now a world leader in disaster risk management.

The region which comprises Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam was in a position to share what it had developed with the rest of the world and to reduce the humanitarian burden through leadership and partnership.

In a keynote address to the gathering, UNISDR head, Mr. Robert Glasser, praised the ASEAN agreement as remarkable and in line with the focus in the Sendai Framework on disaster risk management as opposed to disaster management.

He said disaster risk reduction was essential in a world where we are no longer meeting humanitarian needs even as these needs rise. The distinction between conflict and natural hazard related disasters was becoming increasingly blurred given the interconnectedness of the underlying risk drivers including poverty, exposure, population growth, drought and climate change.

Ms. Monique Pariat, Director General of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department, ECHO, said the ECHO, said that implementation of the Sendai Framework has to be a collective effort and that 2016 must be year of delivery.

“Disaster risk reduction is a global challenge. We have a unique opportunity to ensure coherence with other 2015 agreements, with what was decided in New York, the sustainable development goals, and in Paris, the COP 21 climate change agreement. And with what will be agreed in Istanbul where disaster risk reduction is a key priority,” she said.

Ms. Pariate added that in June the European Commission will publish an action plan on Sendai implementation which will identify a number of key areas to strengthen the implementation of the Framework at EU level and the four priorities of the Sendai Framework will be translated across EU policies.

Ms. Farah Kabir, chair of the GNDR Global Board, Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction, said that GNDR now has over 800 members and that the Sendai Framework is at the core of GNDR’s thinking about how to build resilience to disasters. While the State has the primate responsibility for reducing disaster risk community resilience is the foundation and civil society has many roles to play including implementation, capacity building, knowledge sharing and advocacy.

Ms. Kabir said it was vital to reduce the vulnerability of marginal groups and to enhance their resilience so they graduate out of poverty. This can be done by focusing on local capacities and knowledge gained through experience of disasters. Women have to be “front and centre” of efforts to build back better.

Mr. Said Faisal, Executive Director, ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, said ASEAN now had a five year work plan to implement the Sendai Framework. He emphasised that disaster risk reduction is cross sectoral and there is a need to share the sense of ownership of disaster management and that sustainable financing is important to achieve the ASEAN vision of a disaster resilient society.

Dr. Faizal Perdaus, President, MERCY Malaysia, and chair of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), said disaster risk reduction became a model of operations after the Indian Ocean tsunami with the adoption of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

Dr. Perdaud said there was a challenge in getting communities to understand that disaster risk reduction was something which they could benefit from. “We fully embraced the Sendai Framework when we saw the word resilience coming to the fore and the word sustainable coming to the fore.”

Philippines: Dispatches: Filipino Children Promised Better Disaster Relief

24 May 2016 - 4:56pm
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Philippines

Carlos H. Conde
Researcher, Asia Division

Last week, outgoing President Benigno Aquino III approved a law that makes children’s needs and welfare a top priority during disaster relief operations. The Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act tasks the Department of Social Welfare and Development to come up with a plan to “be used as the basis for handling disasters and other emergency situations to protect children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and support their immediate recovery.”

The law directs the department to integrate the program into disaster planning and responses of local government units (LGUs), which are often the first-responders in a crisis. Under the new law, responders are required to plan for the provision of evacuation centers, transitional shelters and the immediate delivery of services for orphaned, separated, and unaccompanied children, and pregnant and lactating mothers.

The law is urgently needed for one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction rates the Philippines as one of the 10 countries worst affected by weather-related emergencies. Children often suffer the most in these disasters, such as in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Children are also highly vulnerable in humanitarian crises created by armed conflict, such as the displacement of tens of thousands of residents in Zamboanga City in 2013 and Surigao del Sur province in 2015.

Signing this law, however, needn't be President Aquino's last effort on behalf of protecting the Philippines' children. He still has time to have the Philippines join the Safe Schools Declaration, which marks its one year anniversary this weekend. The Declaration outlines concrete measures all governments can take to better protect students, teachers, and schools from attack during armed conflict.

The disaster relief law’s passage is a good first step toward ensuring that the most vulnerable in Philippine society get the necessary resources to mitigate the dangers and disruption of natural and man-made disasters. The ball is now in the government’s court to ensure that the relevant agencies implement the law. More and more children are affected by disasters in the Philippines. They need all the help they can get.

Philippines: WFP Philippines Country Brief, April 2016

24 May 2016 - 3:52pm
Source: World Food Programme Country: Philippines

Highlights

  • The Government of the Philippines and WFP inaugurated the Visayas Disaster Response Center, which aims to enhance the emergency response capacity in the Philippines.

  • WFP released the initial results of its Emergency Food Security Assessment to determine the impact of El Niño on households in Mindanao and their livelihoods.

  • It is anticipated that with the upcoming elections in May, this period could be potentially turbulent and affect WFP operations.

World: WFP El Niño 2015-2016: Preparedness and Response, Situation Report #4, 24 May 2016

24 May 2016 - 3:38pm
Source: World Food Programme Country: Chad, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, World, Zambia, Zimbabwe

IN NUMBERS

60 MILLION people affected globally at present.

32 MILLION people food insecure in Southern Africa.

10.2 MILLION people in Ethiopia need emergency food assistance.

50 PERCENT crop losses in Haiti due to El Niño-influenced drought.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • With its onset in early 2015, the current El Niño event is one of the strongest on record.
    At present, it has affected an estimated 60 million people globally and their food security is severely impacted.

  • Despite the weather phenomenon winding down in the second quarter of 2016, the number of people affected is expected to increase through to early 2017.

  • WFP is rapidly scaling up relief operations but resources are stretched.

SITUATION UPDATE

  • With its onset in early 2015, the current El Niño event is one of the strongest on record. At present, it has affected an estimated 60 million people globally. Despite the weather phenomenon winding down in the second quarter of 2016, the number of people affected is expected to increase through to early 2017.

  • Food security of vulnerable populations is severely impacted. Particular areas of concern include nearly all of Southern Africa which is the hardest hit region; Ethiopia and its neighbours Somalia and Sudan in East Africa; Central America’s ‘dry corridor’, nearby Haiti and the northern region of South America while floods affect the southern region; and many of Asia’s island nations including Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Philippines.

  • Countries will continue coping with the effects on harvests and livestock through the end of 2016, with the humanitarian impact expected to increase. In some locations, the current droughts and adverse weather conditions have only added to consecutive harvest failures, in some cases for the second or third successive time.

  • El Niño is expected to aggravate the already serious chronic malnutrition situation in particular for hardhit communities and for vulnerable groups such as young children and the elderly. Reduced food access, resulting from falling food production and food price increases, will reduce dietary diversity.
    This will impact the quality of infant and young child feeding and increase the risk of acute malnutrition. Access to essential protein and iron-rich foods may also be reduced, particularly in rural areas, as a result of drought impact on livestock.

Philippines: Vaccine rolled out in Philippines offers new hope against dengue

24 May 2016 - 1:05pm
Source: IRIN Country: Philippines

Over a two-year period, Annie Bojas-Imperio’s entire family was stricken by dengue, a debilitating and sometimes deadly mosquito-borne virus.

“Mommy, daddy and my two sons. It’s like dengue mosquitos love us,” Bojas-Imperio said with a laugh in her home in the Philippine’s capital, Manila.

But she wasn’t laughing when the first family member to get the flu-like illness was her son Lucky, who was little more than a year old in 2012.

Her son remained true to his name and was discharged from the hospital after three days. Bojas-Imperio, now 42, was next to contract dengue, followed by her husband and then her youngest son in 2014.

While the whole family survived without major complications, the chances of it becoming more severe on a second occurrence are high. Bojas-Imperio said she is now “very paranoid” whenever one of her children gets a fever.

With a 30-fold increase in dengue cases over the past half a century, according to the World Health Organization, millions of people live in fear of the virus. But a new vaccine should help ease those concerns.

Read the entire article here.

World: Innovative technology and tools the key to revolutionising humanitarian responses

24 May 2016 - 8:39am
Source: World Vision Country: Philippines, World
  • A coordinated approach is urgently needed when it comes to technologies, tools and models in humanitarian innovation.

  • The establishment of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation will complement each organisation’s efforts, addressing innovations that can’t effectively be addressed alone.

  • World Vision continues to pioneer new humanitarian responses using technology, including its flagship Last Mile Mobile Solutions (LMMS) platform for beneficiary registration and aid distributions.

  • The aid agency established an iCash, or ‘innovations for Cash’, hub in the Philippines, for best learnings in use of cash in emergencies.

  • An agreement with MasterCard will drive World Vision’s cash-based responses still further, giving aid recipients new dignity and control.

Tuesday, May 24th 2016 – A coordinated approach is urgently needed when it comes to technologies, tools and models in humanitarian innovation, says World Vision International President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Jenkins.

Speaking at a Special Session at the World Humanitarian Summit, Mr Jenkins welcomed the establishment of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation (GAHI).

The Alliance, which brings together people and organisations with differing expertise, aims to implement innovative tools and practices around humanitarian preparedness and response.

“What do we expect from a good humanitarian innovation? It must help us reach the people who most need us, while improving lives and strengthening communities,” Mr Jenkins said.

“It must equip us to personalise our services and make us more accountable to affected communities and the donors who support us. Humanitarian innovation must increase our coordination with partners and it must allow us to document the work, deriving lessons we can all put into practice.

“The launch of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation is therefore welcome.”

Mr Jenkins said there was “a lot of talk about innovative technologies, tools and models”.

“The Alliance will help us develop standards and principles and will provide the hub we need to disseminate evidence and best practices.”

The special session discussed World Vision’s innovation programmes – which are one of the most robust of any international non-governmental organisation. The session asked those present what they hoped to see as a result of World Vision’s efforts and how its work can be complemented with that of the GAHI.

“The desire to do the best we can for vulnerable children drives World Vision. When everything in their lives goes wrong, we must do all we can to put things right, for them and their communities,” Mr Jenkins said.

“More than ever, we are responding to relief emergencies, long-lasting conflict and political crisis. Yet resources for emergency response are insufficient to address the number of global crises and the complexity and risk of working in them.

“This means that it’s more important than ever to find new ways of working, for World Vision and for our humanitarian peers.

“We are committed to deploying new and creative tools, improving the way we operate and seeking strategic collaborations which would have been hard to conceive a decade ago.”

Mr Jenkins stated that World Vision made a deliberate decision to pioneer new humanitarian responses.

“Developing our flagship Last Mile Mobile Solutions platform for aid distributions was important – but spreading its use globally, with partners, was a breakthrough,” he said.

“To propagate the best learnings in the use of money in emergencies, we established an iCash, or ‘innovations for Cash’, hub in the Philippines.

“Recently, I signed an agreement with MasterCard to drive our cash-based responses still further, giving aid recipients’ new dignity and control, and us more transparency.”

Mr Jenkins stated that in a time of fewer resources, greater problems and a changing landscape, there were also new opportunities.

“I’m proud that World Vision is a founding member and I’m happy that we are a partner in one of its first initiatives, an inter-agency innovation unit we can deploy in emergencies, called the Crisis Response Innovation Lab.

“We must do better for the people who are at the heart of every emergency – the children, families and communities who are the real reason we are here. Let’s be nimble and creative about it.”

The World Humanitarian Summit is being held in Istanbul from May 23rd to May 24th.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Tanya Penny – Director Global Humanitarian Communications from World Vision on +971 50 550 5803 or tanya_penny@wvi.org.
Follow @wv_humanitarian on Twitter for more news and updates.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. For more information, visit http://wvi.org/disaster-management/media-centre

Philippines: EU confirms continued support for peace and development in the southern Philippines

24 May 2016 - 6:02am
Source: Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Country: Philippines

The leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) welcomed confirmation today by the European Union (EU) of its continued support for promoting stability, peace and development in the region of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines.

On 23-24 May 2016, senior leaders from the MILF met representatives of the EU during a visit to Brussels to discuss the latest developments and prospects in the peace process between the MILF and the Government of the Philippines. The visit also sought to raise awareness around the importance of peace in the Philippines to national, regional and global security, as well as the pressing development needs in Mindanao.

The visit was organised jointly by the EU and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), a private diplomacy and conflict mediation organisation. The MILF delegation was led by its Chairman, Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF Peace Panel Chair and chief negotiator, Mohagher Iqbal, and MILF member, Abhoud Syed Lingga. The MILF delegation met representatives of the European Commission, including those from the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development and the External Action Service, to request continued support from the EU and the rest of the international community for the peace process, and to discuss how best to address current development needs in Mindanao.

In March 2014, after seventeen years of talks, a final peace agreement – the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) – was signed by the Government of the Philippines and the MILF, the country’s largest rebel group. The CAB seeks to establish a new autonomous regional government in the south of the Philippines. Unfortunately, progress on the implementation of the Agreement has been slow, and this, as well as limited progress on development in Mindanao, has resulted in tensions rising again in the southern region.

“The visit of the MILF leadership to the EU comes at a crucial time. It raises awareness in Europe about the importance of the peace process in Mindanao as well the risks which its stalling poses to sustainable development and (inter)national security,” said Gunner Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific of the European External Action Service. “Finding a lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict in Mindanao should be a priority for all of us,” he added.

HD has been supporting the peace process between the MILF and the Government of the Philippines since 2007. Camilo Miguel Montesa, HD’s Country Representative in the Philippines, highlighted that the MILF will “continue to demonstrate its commitment to peace both in Mindanao and abroad”.

END

For more information, please contact Mr Camilo Miguel Montesa at pr@hdcentre.org.

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) is a private diplomacy organisation founded on the principles of humanity, impartiality and independence. Its mission is to help prevent, mitigate, and resolve armed conflict through dialogue and mediation.

For more information on the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, please visit www.hdcentre.org

World: UNFPA Responding to Emergencies across Asia and the Pacific

23 May 2016 - 5:04am
Source: UN Population Fund Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Vanuatu, World

Asia-Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world. It is also home to a number of long-running conflicts that exact a human toll. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) places women and girls at the center of humanitarian response. Every year the number and frequency of disasters (whether natural or conflict-related) is increasing, with millions of people displaced from their homes. UNFPA works to fulfill the pledge of the Sustainable Development Goals, leaving no one behind: focusing on the needs of women and girls for a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

Globally, 60 per cent of all preventable maternal deaths occur during conflict, natural disasters and displacement. Too often women die because they simply don’t have access to basic reproductive health care. Emergencies also exacerbate gender-based violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse, when populations are forced to move whether through natural disasters, drought and famine, or conflict.

When health infrastructure and support services break down during emergencies, services to safeguard women’s health and address gender-based violence are as essential as food, water and shelter to save lives. They must be prioritized in humanitarian response.

Advocacy is used to create awareness among humanitarian actors, policymakers and donors; and can be used to influence policy change. Additionally, advocacy is used to ensure funds and other essential resources are available to address sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence services during times of crisis. UNFPA focuses on fully integrating these services into preparedness actions, response and recovery plans, which contribute to saving the lives of women when they are most vulnerable.

UNFPA works closely with governments, communities, young people and partners to:

  • Support preparedness, disaster risk reduction and long-term resilience building, in order to reduce the impact of disasters and conflicts;

  • Ensure reproductive health needs are met in emergencies through the implementation of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for reproductive health; and

  • Promote the safety and wellbeing of women, girls, boys and men by implementing UNFPA’s Minimum Standards for prevention and response to gender-based violence in emergencies.

UNFPA works to uphold the dignity and rights of every person in a crisis. Without the generous support of donors it would be impossible to carry out this critical work. We thank the governments, civil society partners and private sector entities who work with us. And we invite those who wish to support UNFPA including our humanitarian response activities to contact us at apro.office@unfpa.org

Philippines: Leaving the Philippines after having “Built Back Better”

22 May 2016 - 5:07pm
Source: Medair Country: Philippines

Lausanne/London, 23 May 2016 - In November 2013, the most powerful typhoon to make landfall in recorded history, Haiyan, struck the Philippines killing 6,000 people, and leaving four million people in need of shelter.

Within 48 hours, Medair had sent its emergency team to assess the damage and start a reconstruction project in communities which were completely destroyed around Dulag, on the island of Leyte, eastern Visayas.

Through its Build Back Better project, Medair gave 1,680 families new homes which are stronger, more durable and more resilient than their previous ones. Over 10,000 people were trained in Disaster Risk Reduction techniques, and many of the lessons were seen being used by the wider community to strengthen their homes and businesses against future typhoons.

Kaoruko Seki, from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said: “It was our pleasure to assist Medair in support of its shelter project - a very timely and well-planned initiative that no doubt provides a vital support to the people of Dulag.”

In August 2015, to respond to the sanitation crisis caused by the typhoon, Medair hired local contractors and construction teams to rebuild new and stronger latrines for 1,250 families who had lost access to a useable latrine.

With the help of a local charity, Medair was also able to give wheelchairs to people in the community who needed this assistance. Some homes were even built with special designs to include wheelchair ramps to give disabled people a greater degree of mobility.

Now, two and a half years later and having reached its objectives, Medair is leaving the country confident that the communities are equipped to face future natural catastrophes.

Alberto Livoni, Medair’s Head of programme for the Philippines in Lausanne says: “It has been a privilege to help rebuild rural communities on Leyte Island and restore hope for those whose lives were devastated by the Typhoon. Our commitment to our beneficiaries was not to simply restore what had been damaged or destroyed, but to make sure affected families are better prepared to endure any future disaster. Having fulfilled this objective and achieved our mandate, we believe now is the right time for us to leave the Philippines.”

Medair’s humanitarian response to the Philippines was supported by All We Can (UK), Swiss Solidarity, EO Metterdaad (NL), ERICKS Development Partner (SE), Transform Aid International (AU), Tearfund (BE), Tearfund (UK), and generous private donors.

Media

For more information, please contact Nath Fauveau, Press Relations Officer (French, English, German) nathalie.fauveau@medair.org +41 (0)78 635 30 95.

MEDAIR
Nath Fauveau
Press Relations
Chemin du Croset 9 - 1024 Ecublens - Switzerland
Tel +41 (0)21 694 84 72 - Mob +41 (0)78 635 30 95
​Skype: nathfau
Twitter @MedairPress

Philippines: Philippine communists kill farmers despite peace moves: military

22 May 2016 - 7:55am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Sunday 5/22/2016 - 11:40 GMT

Communist rebels on Sunday killed two farmers in the central Philippines despite peace overtures from incoming president Rodrigo Duterte, the military said.

About 20 guerrillas of the New People's Army raided a bunkhouse used by farmers in the central island of Negros and killed two of them before fleeing, said military spokeswoman Second Lieutenant Revekka Roperos.

"They sowed terror as part of their extortion strategy against the farmers," she said. "Because they did not want to pay, to frighten them they did this inhuman act."

Duterte, winner of the May 9 presidential election, has made moves to restart talks with the communists and end one of Asia's longest insurgencies.

In the southern city of Davao, where he is preparing to assume office on June 30, he again reiterated his plan for peace with the communists.

"We share the same vision," he told reporters on Sunday.

Asked if he would grant amnesty to the guerrillas, Duterte said: "It will be depending on the result of the talks, if we can agree together to make this a peaceful country."

Last week Duterte met a communist negotiator about reopening the talks three years after outgoing President Benigno Aquino ended them.

The insurgency has claimed 30,000 lives over almost half a century, according to military estimates.

Aquino revived talks soon after taking office in 2010 but shelved them in 2013, accusing the rebels of insincerity.

strs-mm/sm

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: Children now protected during disasters, calamities

19 May 2016 - 10:44pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

MANILA, May 20 -- The measure that will provide utmost protection to Filipino children during disasters, calamities and armed conflicts is now a law, according to Sen. Bam Aquino.

In a simple ceremony in Malacanang Tuesday, President Aquino signed Republic Act 10821, or the “Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act.

“We welcome the enactment of this measure into law. This is timely especially with the La Nina phenomenon expected to hit the country in the coming months,” said Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Youth and a co-author of the measure in the Senate.

The law provides utmost priority to children during and after every disaster as they are the most vulnerable and are worst affected during disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and flash floods.

It will also establish child-centered training to disaster first responders, teachers, psychologists and other volunteers in disaster recovery, relief and rehabilitation, with special modules for different stages of children and youth development.

It mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to formulate a Comprehensive Emergency Program for Children and local government units to integrate the said program in their development and Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LDRRM) plans and budget.

“While we have already made big improvements in the field of disaster risk reduction on a national and local level, now we have the opportunity to target our Filipino children, one of the most vulnerable sectors during times of calamity,” said Sen. Bam.

According to Sen. Bam, existing policies will also be reviewed to give better support to Filipino children, especially during disasters, calamities or in armed conflict to help lessen trauma, restore normalcy quickly and build their resilience better.

“We will continue to work in protecting our Filipino children during disasters, calamities, or armed conflict, but also to reduce trauma and build their resistance to these threats,” he added.

During the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda, Aquino said an estimated six million children were affected, according to data from Save the Children.

“A national program is crucial in the most vulnerable areas of the country, where the experience of prolonged displacement would have a profound impact on the children’s sense of security, physical and emotional well-being,” Sen. Bam said.

This is Aquino’s 13th law in less than three years as senator. (SENATE)

World: WHO Zika Virus, Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré Syndrome Situation Report, 19 May 2016

19 May 2016 - 9:35am
Source: World Health Organization Country: American Samoa, Argentina, Aruba (The Netherlands), Barbados, Belize, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (The Netherlands), Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao (The Netherlands), Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, French Guiana (France), French Polynesia (France), Gabon, Guadeloupe (France), Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Maldives, Martinique (France), Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), New Caledonia (France), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico (The United States of America), Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (France), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sint Maarten (The Netherlands), Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, United States Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Viet Nam, World
  • As of 18 May 2016, 60 countries and territories report continuing mosquito-borne transmission (Fig. 1) of which:

  • 46 countries are experiencing a first outbreak of Zika virus since 2015, with no previous evidence of circulation, and with ongoing transmission by mosquitos (Table 1).

  • 14 countries reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, with ongoing transmission.

  • In addition, four countries or territories have reported evidence of Zika virus transmission between 2007 and 2014, without ongoing transmission: Cook Islands, French Polynesia, ISLA DE PASCUA – Chile and YAP (Federated States of Micronesia).

  • Person-to-person transmission (Table 2):

  • Ten countries have reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus, probably via a sexual route.

  • In the week to 18 May 2016, Argentina is the latest country to report mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission. Germany is the latest country to report person-to-person Zika virus transmission.

  • Microcephaly, and other fetal malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection or suggestive of congenital infection, have been reported in eight countries or territories (Table 3). Puerto Rico is the latest territory to report a case of microcephaly associated with Zika virus.

  • Two cases of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities are currently under verification in Spain and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).

  • In the context of Zika virus circulation, 13 countries and territories worldwide have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases (Table 4). One GBS case associated with Zika virus infection in a returning traveller to the Netherlands has been reported.

  • Based on research to date, there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and GBS.

  • The global prevention and control strategy launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Strategic Response Framework encompasses surveillance, response activities and research. Key interventions are being undertaken jointly by WHO and international, regional and national partners in response to this public health emergency (Table 5). A draft of the Strategic Response Framework for the second half of 2016 will be shared with partners mid-May and finalized by mid-June.

  • WHO has developed new advice and information on diverse topics in the context of Zika virus. WHO’s latest information materials, news and resources to support corporate and programmatic risk communication, and community engagement are available online.

Malaysia: Dengue Situation Update 491, 17 May 2016

19 May 2016 - 8:23am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Australia, Cambodia, China, French Polynesia (France), Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Viet Nam

Northern Hemisphere

China (No updates)

As of 31 March, there were 91 cases of dengue reported in China in 2016 (28 in January, 45 in February, 18 in March). Compared with the same period of the previous three years (2012 to 2015), the number of dengue cases reported in China has increased in 2016 (Figure 1).

Malaysia (No updates)

For the week from 17 April to 23 April, the number of dengue cases was 1,607, a decrease from 1,854 cases reported in the week prior. The number of cases was higher than that reported during the same period in 2015, and far exceeded the median for this week between 2011 and 2015. Within the same period there were two dengue-related deaths reported, bringing the total number of deaths for 2016 to 94, compared to a total of 120 deaths during the same reporting period in 2015.

Philippines (No updates)

As of 20 February 2016, there were 18,790 suspected cases of dengue reported in 2016, including 65 deaths. This is higher than that reported during the same period in 2015 (n=16,606) (Figure 3).

Singapore

From 17 to 23 April 2016, 231 dengue cases were reported, an increase from the previous week (n=225) and higher than the number reported for the same period in 2015 (Figure 4).

Cambodia (No updates)

As of 20 February 2016, there were 663 cases of dengue (with no deaths) reported in Cambodia. The number of cases remains stable and in line with case numbers observed between 2012 and 2015. In week eight, there were 15 cases reported, compared to 75 cases reported in the week prior (Figure 5).

Lao PDR

As of 6 May, there were 442 cases of dengue with 3 deaths reported in Lao PDR in 2016. From 30 April to 6 May 2016, 90 new dengue cases were reported, which has been increasing above the seasonal trend (2011-2015) (Figure 6).

Viet Nam (No updates)

As of 29 February 2016, there were 16,967 cases of dengue, including 7 deaths, reported in 39 of 63 provinces in Viet Nam. The cumulative number of cases reported in 2016 is higher than that reported during the same period in 2015 and higher than the median for the same reporting period between 2010 and 2014 (Figure 7). The number of cases reported in February 2016 was 30% lower than that reported in January 2016 whilst the number of deaths increased by 5 (13,086 cases and 2 deaths).

World: From Brazil to Singapore: Containing Zika in Southeast Asia

19 May 2016 - 4:11am
Source: Nanyang Technological Univ. Country: Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Viet Nam, World

By Celina Y. Loyzaga

Synopsis

On 13 May 2016, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environmental Agency (NEA) reported Singapore’s first imported case of the Zika virus. Although the case of patient zero is likely to be a one-off instance,
Singaporeans and ASEAN nations alike should be concerned about the implications and consider upcoming medical technologies to curb the spread of the disease.

Commentary

GIVEN EXTREME weather patterns affecting Southeast Asia, states are now more susceptible to outbreaks of vector diseases. The region is currently in transition from the dry, El Niño season to the wet, La Niña period. In particular, the transition from dry to wet weather brings about days of extreme heat and torrential downpour.
Stagnant rainwater deposits provide the perfect breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries not only Zika, but dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya as well.

Only a certain percentage of Zika-affected patients exhibit symptoms that are milder than that of dengue. These include, but are not limited to rash, fever, and joint or muscle pain. While the virus is barely noticeable in some, it is gravely detrimental to others. In adults Zika has been related to cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and in pregnant women there is a strong scientific consensus that Zika is linked to fetal microcephaly: a disease that causes debilitating brain defects in babies.

Social factors in Spread of Zika

Since the Zika virus takes time to exhibit symptoms, if any at all, temperature checks at regional airports implemented during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic remain impractical to catch the virus. This will pose challenges in monitoring and tracking the emergence of the virus within the region. In order to counter surveillance difficulties, rapid diagnostic testing through advanced medical technologies will be key to containing the spread of Zika.

Difficulties in disease surveillance compounded during changes in seasonal temperatures point to the likelihood that the Zika virus will be established within ASEAN. At which point, preparedness will be vital to curb social anxiety and the spread of the disease in this sub-tropical region.

The social risks of the Zika virus are particularly dire to poorer communities located in jam-packed urbanised ASEAN mega-cities. Tight communities, with poor infrastructure and sanitation services provide the enabling breeding grounds for spread. What is more, education on the spread of Zika is vital as the disease can also be sexually transmitted. Marginalised communities in ASEAN like those in Latin America are therefore likely to bear the burnt of the effects of the disease.

That said, ASEAN communities, inspired by Singapore have lead-time to prepare and mitigate disease spread. Strengthening and building up defences in the public health infrastructure in addition to environmental monitoring can ease social tensions, and will undoubtedly better mitigate Zika within the region.

Economic Risks

Without curbing social tensions, economic risks of the Zika virus can shock the region like that of the SARS epidemic. Regionally, a direct downturn in tourism and flight revenues can be expected to disturb economic growth. In addition difficulties in the surveillance of Zika can lead to transparency issues that are vital to the business making process. For example, if a country cannot tell investors whether or not there is an epidemic, this lack of information demonstrates uncertainty amongst investors and hinders the reputational risk of national companies.

Nationally, the economic cost of Zika will undoubtedly put pressure on healthcare systems that are already overburdened by limited funding and the number of patients they need to serve.Further, the economic burden of the virus will be directly borne by Zika-affected families. Raising children with microcephaly and other brain and developmental defects are expensive, and costs arguably escalate depending on the severity of the disease.

Time for Regional Cooperation on Zika?

Yes. Now that Singapore has joined other ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Cambodia,
Indonesia, and Philippines in identifying Zika cases within the last year, all regional nations need to be on high alert. With extremely porous national borders and the change in weather patterns, disease spread within the region can easily be on the rise. It is imperative that ASEAN member states collaborate now that the virus is still contained.

In order to jumpstart collaboration national governments and national healthcare institutions in countries where Zika is found need to frame the virus as a security threat to the region. In turn, this should mobilise country representatives in the ASEAN Working Group on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (APWGPPR).
For its part the APWGPPR needs to overcome operational constraints by considering medical technology innovation as a way to rapidly diagnose the Zika virus.

This past week Jim Collins, professor of biological engineering at MIT and his team successfully adapted a paper-based diagnostic test for Zika that was previously used to diagnose Ebola in 2014. In their scientific paper, the inventors of the paper-based test showed that their invention can distinguish not only between Zika and dengue, but also identify differentiated Zika strains. This is critical to healthcare workers as genetic variations of Zika could mean different symptoms for patients.

For example, in the case of a strain in Brazil, specialists behind the paper-based diagnostic test have indicated that a certain strain of Zika has a higher incidence of microcephaly and Guillain-Barre than others. According to the specialists, the diagnostic test can: process a sample in approximately three hours, be kept in room temperature for up to a year, and costs less than US$1 to make. This type of efficient, cost effective, and climate friendly diagnostic test would be vital to tracking Zika within ASEAN.

ASEAN governments may want to allocate funds for this paper-based rapid test, as it can be valuable tool for healthcare workers in more remote and underdeveloped parts of the region where complicated diagnostic technology is unavailable.

Professor Collins and his team assert that their test could be ready for use in a matter of months. If ASEAN nations invest in such technologies, use of such products could just be in time to avoid the Southeast Asian spread of the Zika epidemic.

Celina Y. Loyzaga is a Research Analyst with the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Philippines: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons on his mission to the Philippines (A/HRC/32/35/Add.3)

18 May 2016 - 5:37pm
Source: UN Human Rights Council Country: Philippines

Note by the Secretariat

The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, on his mission to the Philippines from 21 to 31 July 2015.

Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as “Yolanda”) made landfall in November 2013, killing thousands and displacing more than 4 million people from their homes. The Government must be commended for its reconstruction efforts to date and its initial responses to the massive internal displacement challenges. Given the extent of the devastation, significant progress has been made in providing transitional and permanent homes and restoring infrastructure. Progressive policies seek to mitigate the impact of future events, recognizing that the Philippines is on the front line of climate change-related extreme weather events.

Full recovery will take time following a disaster of such magnitude. However, two years on, attention and resources allocated to internally displaced persons, their housing and livelihoods, appear to be waning before durable solutions have been achieved for them. Many thousands lack adequate housing and the provision of basic services, including water, sanitation and electricity. Some have fallen entirely through the protection net and require urgent assistance. Following a decade of deliberation, the law on the rights of internally displaced persons should finally be adopted to provide essential legal protection to them.

In Mindanao, over the last four decades, multiple displacements due to conflict and disaster have become the common pattern in some localities. Intensified efforts are required to achieve lasting peace and to provide durable solutions to the many internally displaced persons who face relative neglect. Armed conflict and extractive and logging activities on indigenous ancestral territories have a devastating impact on indigenous peoples (Lumads), displacing them and subjecting them to gross violation of their rights and to conditions that threaten their unique communities, cultures and lifestyles.

I. Introduction

  1. In accordance with his mandate under Human Rights Council resolution 23/8 and at the invitation of the Government of the Philippines, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, conducted an official visit to the Philippines from 21 to 31 July 2015.

  2. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for its cooperation with his mandate. He consulted numerous national and local government officials and thanks them for their time and information. He looks forward to maintaining a constructive engagement with the Government ahead.

  3. He met many internally displaced persons and others, including indigenous peoples, at risk of displacement in different regions. He thanks the Office of the Resident Coordinator, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), among other United Nations agencies, for facilitating his visit and meetings. He is grateful to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and many civil society organizations that provided information and assistance. The present report reflects on numerous causes and situations of internal displacement and provides an independent and impartial assessment.

World: Snapshot: Focus on gender and diversity in disaster risk reduction

18 May 2016 - 9:19am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, World

The Asia Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world. Each year, the region experiences a full range of disasters, from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods and drought. Central to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent’s (IFRC) humanitarian mandate, and in line with the Red Cross Red Crescent’s Fundamental Principles, the IFRC is committed to ensure that all women, men, girls and boys, irrespective of age, disability, health status, social, religious, migrant or ethnic group are protected before, during and after disasters.

Through the implementation of these frameworks, our member National Societies strive to ensure that disaster risk reduction and humanitarian programmes and services are conducted in a non-discriminatory way.

Together with the support of partners such as the Canadian Red Cross and the Government of Canada, our focus is to reach those made most vulnerable, and disproportionately affected by disasters in a way that promotes gender equality, protection, inclusion, and respect for diversity. Through the Resolution on prevention of sexual and gender based violence in disasters and crisis, the IFRC and its members commit, together with States, to mitigate sexual and gender based violence in times of disaster as a priority. We achieve this through operational research, application of minimum standards and working in partnerships to determine root causes of sexual and gender based violence in disasters in each context.