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Bangladesh: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (3 - 9 Feb 2015)

9 February 2015 - 3:04am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Micronesia (Federated States of), Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand

BANGLADESH

Political instability in Bangladesh has led to incidents of violence and vandalism in several areas of the country including the capital. On 5 Feb, a truck was firebombed in the northern city of Bogra, killing the driver and a passenger, as activists enforced a month-long nationwide blockade of roads, railways and waterways ordered by former premier Khaleda Zia in pursuit of a general election. The fresh wave of violence has resulted in the deaths of at least 42 people. This instability is currently disrupting working modalities for UN staff.

42 people killed

6,620 people displaced

THAILAND

The drought crisis has expanded to more areas in the central, north-eastern and southern regions. In Chainat province, the declining water levels have prompted fish breeders to abandon their aquaculture and search for alternative livelihood opportunities. In Kalasin province, fish farmers have resorted to relocating their breeding pools to deeper waters. In Trang province, authorities are preparing to dispatch rescue teams and deliver water to residents living in higher altitudes and who depend on unreliable rain water. The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has declared 12 districts as disaster zones in Nakhon Ratchasima province, where at least 63,000 families have been affected by the crisis.

63,000 families affected

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Heavy rainfall on 3 Feb caused floods and landslides in West New Britain province. Media report two people killed and several roads and bridges damaged.

2 people killed

MYANMAR

More than 1,000 people remain displaced from Aung Bar Lay and surrounding villages from fighting that broke out between the Government of Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army on 14 Jan. Immediate needs have been met by national NGOs, local authorities and the Myanmar Red Cross, with support from the UN and INGOs. However, there are still serious concerns for the protection, safety and security of those displaced and other civilians who remain in close proximity tothe conflict area.

1,000 people displaced

PHILIPPINES

On 3 Feb, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team met with partners in support of the national Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which conducted a fact-finding mission on the armed clash between the Philippine National Police - Special Action Force, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano municipality. It was recommended that a joint investigation be conducted by the national CHR and the Regional Human Rights Commission, in full respect of international humanitarian law and human rights.

NORTH-WEST PACIFIC

As of 9 Feb, Typhoon Higos is located around 620 km north-east of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. No islands are currently threatened. The typhoon is expected to intensify until 10 Feb and then decrease in intensity over the following four days. Higos is predicted

Philippines: PHIVOLCS Participates in the PacWave15

9 February 2015 - 1:45am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) joined the Exercise Pacific Wave 2015 (PacWave15) on 03-06 February 2015. PacWave15 aims to test the new Operational Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) Enhanced Products of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Service (PTWS). It simulated Pacific countries, of which, the Philippines is a member, receiving Tsunami Information with the earthquake parameters, forecasted tsunami height and arrival time.

For the Philippines, two scenarios were used. First, a M9.0 earthquake from off the coast of Peru generating a distant tsunami that will reach the eastern coast of the country in 22 hours with tsunami heights of 0.3m to 1.0m above the tide level. Secondly, a M8.6 earthquake from the Manila Trench generating a local tsunami that will affect the west Philippine coast within few minutes. The warning information was used to test the current PHIVOLCS Tsunami Standard Operating Procedures in assessing the tsunami threat in the country, and issuing timely as well as accurate information for early action.

Philippines: PHL Consulate General and Macau Architects Cooperate for Post-Yolanda School Reconstruction Project

9 February 2015 - 1:43am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

09 February 2015 – The Philippine Consulate General in Macau and Architecture Sans Frontières - Macau (ASF-M) have joined together in a project to rebuild some school buildings in Roxas City, Capiz which were damaged by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in 2013. ASF-M was founded by several of Macau’s most prominent architects and professionals and the initiative to reconstruct community infrastructure in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda is the group’s pioneer project in the Philippines.

The project has created awareness among members of Macau’s civil society and has generated multi-sectoral support. Cooperating with ASF-M in its objective to reconstruct schools in the Yolanda-affected communities are the University of St. Joseph, Macau Rotary Central, Macau’s Catholic community as well as several local and international schools.

Last year, ASF-M carried out an assessment mission and visited seven schools in Roxas City to identify the most urgent needs. The group’s observations and recommendations were shared with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) in the Philippines as well as Shelter Cluster, a mechanism convened by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support people affected by natural disasters and conflicts.

On January 31, ASF-M conducted a two-day workshop to discuss ideal features of the classrooms and buildings that are being proposed to be built by the group in the affected areas. The “Design Bootcamp” had participants from the School of Architecture of the University of Saint Joseph who were supervised by professional architects. Philippine Consul General Lilybeth R. Deapera and other officers of the Consulate General also attended the “Design Bootcamp”. END

Philippines: SURGE calls for inclusiveness in DRR law sunset review, OCD leads RA 10121 sunset review

9 February 2015 - 1:23am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

BUTUAN CITY, Feb. 8 - Scaling Up Resilience in Governance (SURGE) reiterates anew the need for inclusiveness in all aspects of disaster risk reduction (DRR). The call coincides with the ongoing sunset review or the mandatory review of Republic Act 10121, otherwise known as the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010 after five years.

“Since 2010, typhoons and other natural disasters have been a litmus test on the law’s relevance. This is especially so among the poor and many others who have been rendered vulnerable. While there is a marked improvement on preparedness among some local government units (LGUs), there are still inconsistent and in some places, sub-standard results in addressing the specific needs of the more marginalized groups such as women and girls,” Nina Somera of Oxfam asserted. In an Oxfam post-typhoon Yolanda analysis, it appears that as girls and boys have been forced to become adults, there have also been more pregnancies.

Meanwhile, as typhoon Ruby passed through Caraga and other parts of the Philippines, many people voluntarily headed to designated evacuation centers. However, this highlighted another concern as the capacity of some evacuation centers was not able to match an increase of the population. Some also lacked appropriate water and sanitation facilities.

RA 10121 mandates LGUs to develop DRRM plans, establish DRRM offices and tap DRRM funds. It also provides for the coordinating mechanisms between and among LGUs, and science-based institutions. However, the implementation of the law does not always address the specific needs of sectors which most badly affected by disasters. Many evacuation centres have limited water and sanitation services which are quite critical for women and girls. Not early warning systems can be used by persons with disabilities. The absence of a disaggregated data means that some cash for work initiatives may be missing those most in need. Some DRR plans and budgets are also not inclusive as marginalized individuals and communities were not consulted.

“Communities in Caraga have benefitted from the participatory vulnerabilities and capacities assessment (PCVA) tools and methods, which identifies the sources of insecurities and resilience especially of marginalized individuals and communities. However these can only be effective when there is sufficient ownership and support, including funds from LGUs and when initiatives are sustained over a long-term period,” Esteban Masagca of the People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN) shared.

PCVA maps the vulnerabilities and capacities of individuals and communities. It locates women, children, elderly, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups, with details such as their occupation, educational attainment and the roles they typically play. It is the basis of contingency plans and the broader development plans of LGUs.

Together with the Peoples Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN) and the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP), SURGE organized a workshop from February 5-6, 2015, with the aim of identifying changes which would advance the mainstreaming of inclusive community-based disaster risk reduction (ICBDRR) within the law. The workshop was also a platform to strengthen a civil society position for the upcoming 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.

“A public consultation on RA10121 will not only raise awareness on the rights of everyone to have the wherewithal to survive and recover from disasters in the Philippines. It can also strengthen the country’s position in influencing international DRR frameworks and actions. At the same time, should the WCDRR proved to be substantive, then it can also force the Philippine government to ensure inclusiveness in the implementation of RA10121,” Malu Fellizar Cagay of CDP explained.

For her part, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Caraga regional director Liza Mazo shared SURGE’s call for inclusiveness during the sunset review. “The sunset review is a chance to have all the voices, especially those who bear the brunt of disasters. We commend SURGE and its partners for reaching out to marginalised groups and extending the opportunities to meaningful participation. This is one of the first steps in advancing ICBDRR and influencing the law in the most positive way,” she said.

SURGE is a consortium composed of Christian Aid, Handicap International, Oxfam and Plan International. It aims to build and increase the resilience of high-risk communities by promoting inclusive community-based disaster risk reduction (ICBDRR) practices and taking the learning to other communities in the Philippines. SURGE also lobbies for improvements in disaster risk management policies and practices by using evidence from experience. SURGE is supported by the European Union humanitarian aid. (Oxfam/PDRRN/PIA-Caraga)

Philippines: Urban agri can boost food security in cities—DA

8 February 2015 - 10:27pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

QUEZON CITY, Feb. 9 -- A mixture of urban agricultural production technologies can enable cities to produce their own food, complementing the government’s efforts in the countryside to maintain food security in the country, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

At the launching of DA's urban agriculture project in Las Piñas City on February 4, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that urban agriculture can provide additional source of fresh and safe food and extra income for urban residents, among other benefits.

The project is implemented in partnership with the DA Regional Office for CALABARZON, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Office of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

Among the production technologies proposed by DA are edible landscaping, green riprapping, aquaponics and container gardening.

Norby De La Cruz, a resident of Las Piñas and a container gardening enthusiast cited the benefits his family has gained from urban agriculture.

“On the financial aspect, we are able to save since we no longer have to buy some of the vegetables, herbs and spices we need in our kitchen,” De La Cruz said.

He also mentioned that during emergencies, they have a ready source of food. He likewise shared that having more plants in their house gives them more fresh air, and that gardening has become his way to exercise and contribute to the clean and green program of the city.

Alcala said that urban agriculture may not be able to produce all what city dwellers need but this is a way to increase awareness on agriculture and the government’s programs to ensure food security.

“Through urban agriculture, we can demonstrate that a small space can be maximized; so how much more with lots of open spaces we have that are not being used? We also want those from urban communities to participate in agricultural production. This way, city residents can be assured of ready source of food, especially vegetables when their supply and distribution get affected by unforeseen events and force majeure in the nearby production areas. This is not to mention yet the contribution of urban farming to improve biodiversity,“ Alcala said.

Senator Cynthia Villar, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food added that urban agriculture can also help the Philippines cope with the challenges of climate change, being the most disaster-prone country in the world.

“If we plant our own sources, we would be assured of food supply even when disaster hits us and supplies from the countryside cannot be delivered to Metro Manila,” Villar said.

One of the highlights of the project is the strengthening of the Gulayan sa Paaralan in public schools. Alcala said that he has lobbied for vegetable gardening to be restored in the curricular or extra-curricular programs of public schools believing that children should be exposed and educated early on the value of agriculture and caring for the environment.

“Through this project, we also hope to enhance the aesthetics of urban communities, improve solid waste management, improve nutrition, and reintroduce the practice of ecological living within cities,” Alcala said.

After the launching, DA will conduct periodic assessment in its pilot areas and will send teams to follow up and conduct organic farming seminars, and deliver other forms of logistical and technical support.

The program shall also be launched in other Metro Manila cities and other major urban centers in the country. ( DA-AFID)

Philippines: Typhoon Mario victims get aid from wind power firm

8 February 2015 - 10:23pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

By Freddie G. Lazaro

LAOAG CITY, February 9 (PIA) - A wind power firm has turned over some P6.2 million in health, sanitation and livelihood support for communities devastated by storm Mario last year.

The Northern Luzon Renewable Energy Corp. (NLREC), a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation (AC) Energy Holdings, Inc., turned over the support package during simple ceremonies last week.

The NLREC is also behind the construction and management of the 81 megawatt capacity wind farm in Barangay Caparispisan, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

NLREC Chief Operating Officer Miguel De Jesus said the support package consisted of assorted medicines and 100 toilet bowls, which will be distributed to the various municipal health offices and public schools, respectively.

“Livelihood assistance in the form of 1,100 sacks of complete fertilizers and assorted vegetable seeds will go to Ilocano farming communities,” he said.

The renewable energy company likewise donated 12,500 bags of cement to help augment the needs of the province in its rebuilding program after the devastating impact of Typhoon Mario.

“NLREC continues to work closely with the provincial government of Ilocos Norte under its three-year corporate social responsibility program which started in 2014,” he said. (MCA/FGL, PIA-1 Ilocos Norte)

Philippines: IOM Philippines - Response to displacement due to conflict and natural disaster in Mindanao, 2 February 2015

6 February 2015 - 1:17am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Philippines

ARMED CONFLICT BETWEEN PNP-SAF AND ARMED GROUPS ERUPTS IN MAMASAPANO

BACKGROUND

At least 44 police officers from the elite Philippine National Police (PNP)-Special Action Force (SAF) were killed during the 11-hour firefight with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Barangay Tukanalipao in the town of Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Sunday, 25 January. The PNP-SAF reportedly launched the operation in order to serve an arrest warrant against Jemaah Islamiyah leader Zulkifli bin Hir also known as Commander Marwan and whose presence had been confirmed in the area. Marwan is one of the most wanted JI leaders operating in Southeast Asia. He was believed to be involved in several bombing and terror attacks in Mindanao involving the JIassisted Abu Sayyaf group.

Philippines: Philippines Muslim rebels considering returning seized weapons

6 February 2015 - 12:43am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | AFP | Friday 2/6/2015 - 05:10 GMT

Philippine Muslim rebels said Friday they were considering returning dozens of high-powered firearms that they seized from some of the 44 police commandos killed in a botched anti-terror operation in the south.

The gesture would show the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are committed to a peace treaty they signed with Manila last year, the group's chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told AFP.

"We are discussing the very sensitive issue of returning the firearms.... A decision will be made very soon," Iqbal said.

"We are assuring the government that on the part of the MILF, we did not mean for it to happen," he said. "We are in mourning too. We lost 18 of our men. We are also in pain."

Iqbal could not immediately say how many police guns were seized by the MILF.

Forty-four police commandos hunting one of the world's most wanted terrorists were killed after more than 10 hours of fighting in remote marshlands in Maguindanao province on January 25 -- the single biggest loss of life among government forces in recent memory.

Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, a top militant in Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah and a key suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings, is believed to have been killed in the police assault, according to authorities, citing an initial DNA test by the FBI.

Zulkifli's lair was surrounded by communities controlled by the MILF and another rebel group that did not sign the peace accord, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and police commandos engaged both groups.

"This is one step towards accountability," national police spokesman Generoso Cerbo told AFP when asked to comment on the MILF's statement.

"This is a good development, although it won't be complete unless the perpetrators are identified," he added.

The Philippine justice department, parliament, and security establishments are conducting parallel investigations into the incident, which put the peace treaty in peril and opened up President Benigno Aquino to savage criticism.

"The peace process remains on track, though delayed," Iqbal said.

The symbolic decommissioning of a first batch of rebel firearms was scheduled for March, he said.

The peace deal, aimed at ending a decades-old rebellion that has claimed more than 120,000 lives, binds Manila to passing a law that will create an autonomous area in the South and give the country's Muslim minority self-rule.

jfg/kb

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Philippines: Progress on Reconstruction of Leyte Medical Society Building/ Emergency Relief Station in Tacloban

5 February 2015 - 10:10pm
Source: Association of Medical Doctors of Asia Country: Philippines

LEYTE MEDICAL SOCEITY BUILDING GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY WAS FEATURED ON THE WEBSITE of JAPAN TIMES and ABS-CBN.

Click here to view web article of Japan Times on PDF
Click here to view web article of ABS-CBN

Since November 2013 when Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines, AMDA has been supporting relief and reconstruction of the affected people. One of our reconstruction projects is "Reconstruction of Leyte Medical Society Builing/Emergency relief Station in Tacloban" in collaboration with Leyte Medical Society.

Before the typhoon, Leyte Medical Society (LMS) used to hold monthly free medical missions and many events such as community health education, continuous medical education for medical professionals and others at LMS building located in Tacloban City. After the typhoon, the building swept away and LMS no longer had place to meet and organize events for their community.

During AMDA's emergency relief with the support from local organizations in Samar in December 2013, AMDA had a chance to meet and talk with the president of Leyte Medical Society. After hearing what functions LMS played before the Typhoon and their current situation, it turned out that there was a need to rebuild their building not only for what they used to do at the building but also for preparedness against future disasters.

In cooperation with Japan Medical Association and Fukuyama Medical Association, AMDA decided to support Leyte Medical Society to rebuild their building for their community as well as for emergency relief station.

After the groundbreaking ceremony on 9 November 2014, construction is now in progress, and the expected completion date is the beginning of March 2015. LMS is planning to hold the opening ceremony on March 8th, 2015.

Philippines: Inside Story: Understanding the risk of flooding in the city: The case of Barangay Potrero, Metro Manila

5 February 2015 - 12:03pm
Source: Climate and Development Knowledge Network Country: Philippines

Malabon City is in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region of the Philippines. It is part of a sub-region called CAMANAVA (composed of the cities of CAloocan, MAlabon, NAvotas and VAlenzuela) located in the northern part of Metro Manila Bay and situated in the estuary of several river deltas. Malabon is one of the most densely populated cities in the country and its low-lying, flat terrain makes it prone to frequent flooding, especially during high tides, heavy rains and when river and dams overflow. The four cities in CAMANAVA are commonly affected by interconnected rivers, one of which is the Tullahan River.

The river system used to be navigable and fishing was the major livelihood activity in the area. The river used to be wider, deeper, had better quality water and was a regular source of different species of fish, which were an important food source for local residents. Also, trees and crops like palay (rice) and vegetables used to be grown along the riverbanks. However, these agricultural plots have been replaced by industrial yards, which also became home to thousands of informal settlers who built make-shift dwellings without legal claim to the land.

In recent years, floods have worsened, occurring more frequently and reaching levels of several feet deep. Most affected are families in the communities that are along or near the riverbanks. The river has become narrower and shallower over the years, and its capacity to hold water has decreased. With more frequent intense rains, the riverbanks flood regularly and flooding reaches farther into low-lying and densely populated areas of the city.

Key messages:

  • Dialogues among neighbouring local government units as facilitated by the Partners for Resilience (PfR) programme can be used to address disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation holistically, especially for transboundary concerns such as river basin management.
  • The involvement of various levels of government – from national to subnational and even including village leaders – will yield more positive results. Participation of multiple stakeholders with varying exposure to and understanding of particular issues, such as flooding, can generate action.
  • Climate and weather forecasts and other related information issued by the national meteorological agency should be customised and localised for better understanding, access and use by communities

World: Philippines, UNDP Conclude Agreement on PHL’s PhP 90-Million Donation to Global Ebola Response

5 February 2015 - 12:32am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Guinea, Liberia, Philippines, Sierra Leone, World

05 February 2015 - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario and United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, ad interim Terence D. Jones signed on February 04 the Standard Administrative Arrangement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the management of the Philippines’ contribution to the Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF).

In his statement, Secretary Del Rosario underscored the Philippines’ commitment to assist in the ongoing Ebola outbreak response efforts, as well as in initiatives for the prevention of future outbreaks. He noted that the Php 90-million contribution is a step in this direction. “This is but one way for us to give back to the international community for the outpouring of support in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan” and also “part of our commitment to protect and promote the welfare of Filipinos overseas.”

For his part, UNRC, a.i. Jones lauded the Philippines for its continuing commitment to jointly addressing not only the challenges posed by Ebola, but also challenges posed by other pressing cross-border issues, such as climate change, disaster risk reduction and management and the post-2015 sustainable development goals.

The simple ceremony was witnessed by World Health Organization Representative Julie Lyn Hall, Philippine Health Undersecretary for Administration and Finance Dr. Nemesio T. Gako, and the 14-member Ebola Rapid Response Team, led by Ambassador Ricardo M. Endaya, that recently returned from West Africa to assist Filipinos in the Ebola-affected areas.

The Ebola Response MPTF was launched by the UN Secretary General as a common financing mechanism to ensure the coherent response of the UN System and rapid and transparent mobilization of funding from all stakeholders. It is administered by the UNDP MPTF Office in New York. END

Philippines: DSWD, WFP provide cash assistance to 6,717 families affected by Hagupit

4 February 2015 - 12:54pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

From the Department of Social Welfare and Development

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is extending P17-million cash assistance to 6,717 families or roughly 33,000 people affected by Typhoon Hagupit (local name: Ruby), in close partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Through DSWD’s social safety net program called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), WFP has provided a one-time add-on amount of P2,600 each to the most affected households in the municipalities of Can-Avid, Dolores, Jipapad, and Taft in Eastern Samar. The cash distribution to affected households began in January.

“As we welcome the new year, we wish to let those affected by Typhoon Hagupit know that we haven’t forgotten them,” said WFP Philippines Representative and Country Director Praveen Agrawal. “We hope that with this cash support, the people of Eastern Samar will be able to meet their daily food requirements and have access to a variety of nutritious food available in the local market.”

“When these areas got hit by ‘Hagupit’, they were actually still trying to recover after Typhoon Yolanda ravaged them just a year ago. So, this cash to be given to our partner-beneficiaries on top of the regular cash grants they receive will definitely be able to help them get back on their feet again and assist them restore what they lost during these disasters,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman shared.

Aside from cash support, at the onset of Hagupit, DSWD and WFP also provided food assistance in Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, and Western Samar.

Typhoon Hagupit was one of the strongest typhoons to pass through the Philippines in 2014, which affected four million people. It slowly crawled through the country and caused P5 billion worth of damages in infrastructure and agriculture.

World: United Arab Emirates Foreign Aid 2013

4 February 2015 - 6:37am
Source: Government of the United Arab Emirates Country: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Guinea, Indonesia, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, World, Yemen

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The report seeks to continue to provide a comprehensive overview of all UAE foreign aid, whether developmental, humanitarian or charity, in both public and private realms. Within that, a detailed breakdown of Official Development Assistance (ODA) as more narrowly defined and recorded by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), allows for easier comparison with other international donor countries and organizations and encourages the UAE to intensify its efforts to be among the top echelon of donor countries world-wide.

The highlight for 2013 has undoubtedly been the stellar success of the UAE in attaining this status, with an exponential rise in Official Development Assistance (ODA) as measured against Gross National Income (GNI) from 0.33 percent in 2012 to 1.33 percent for 2013, a more than four-fold increase. This figure also compares very favorably with the global benchmark as determined by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) of 0.7 percent, which only a small number of United Nations member states have historically managed to reach, and in a very few cases exceed.1 Beyond official aid as defined by the OECD, and as has been the case in previous editions, the report captures the generosity of the UAE donors. This includes the extensive private fund-raising that continues to enable the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) and other UAE humanitarian organizations to offer humanitarian relief assistance to countries and populations in need, and to react quickly and effectively to dire emergencies.

The report also reflects the strong and active commitment of the UAE toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) identified by global leaders at the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York in 2000, for fulfillment by the end of 2015. The eight strategic tasks framed by the MDGs were identified by the international community as critical to an accelerated and sustained effort to rid the world of poverty.

The UAE continued in 2013 to work with partner countries and international organizations to meet international MDG targets through its foreign aid program, in areas such as health, education, agriculture, economic and social development. In 2013, the UAE launched various projects contributing to improved food supply in poor countries, greater environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation, as well as better water management, child vaccination campaigns, and meaningful support for global polio eradication efforts and other campaigns against disease.

As before, the report provides detailed information about the activities of each UAE donor organization and their impact on the ground in the many countries where they serve. In total for 2013, UAE donor entities disbursed AED 21.63 billion (US $5.89 billion) in grants and loans to development, humanitarian relief and charity programs and activities in 145 countries. Almost all of this aid total, AED 20.46 billion or 94.6 percent, was of a developmental nature and directly linked to UAE programs and activities supporting the attainment of the MDGs in a wide range of recipient countries.

The UAE Government was the largest UAE donor entity for 2013, accounting for AED 17.85 billion (US $4.86 billion), or just over 80.0 percent of total funds. In terms of geographical distribution, Egypt was by far the largest singlecountry recipient of foreign aid from the UAE, to finance development projects and support the foreign currency reserves and strengthen the financial system. A total of AED 16.99 billion (US $4.63 billion) was disbursed to Egypt, almost all of it, 98.6 percent, coming from the UAE Government. Countries which have received foreign aid from the UAE in recent years, such as Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, saw no diminution in the levels of UAE foreign aid provided to them in 2013.

Philippines: DepEd, USAID to expand educ access for OSYs, students in conflict-affected areas

3 February 2015 - 10:56pm
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

MANILA, Feb. 4 --The Department of Education (DepEd) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed the bilateral agreement for Basic Education Programs aiming to increase access to quality education for vulnerable populations such as out-of-school youth (OSY) and students in conflict-affected areas.

Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC said that through this partnership, the Department will be able to open opportunities not only for students with special needs and pre-primary students but also to OSYs and students who reside in conflict-affected areas. He added, “Our mandate is to provide every Filipino child with access to quality education.”

DepEd Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Alberto Muyot said, “Education is the primary driver of development.” He added that education should be inclusive and should serve everyone, “especially the least, the lost, and the last.”

US Embassy deputy chief of mission Brian Goldbeck said, “This bilateral education agreement will sustain and reinvigorate our combined efforts to ensure that the Philippines continues its rise as regional and global leader in this new century.”

“Education is a shared responsibility,” Muyot said. He urged the public to take a stand in education and take an active part in shaping the future that every Filipino learner deserves.

Under the agreement, DepEd and USAID will provide life skills training to youth, promote community engagement and peace education, increase capacity of teachers and youth leaders to meet the education needs of youth and vulnerable population through alternative learning areas affected by crisis and conflict.

The partnership intends to strengthen education governance at both national and local levels. It also aims to empower the local government units, communities, and stakeholders to deliver education and training service for OSYs and to increase OSY employability by providing equitable access to relevant education and skills training.

The program also aims to improve learning outcomes in reading, science and mathematics instruction, diagnostics, and teaching and learning materials.(DepEd)

Philippines: GIEWS Country Brief : The Philippines 30-January-2015

3 February 2015 - 2:17pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Philippines

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • 2014 aggregate rice and maize harvests set at record level

  • Cereal imports in 2014/15 marketing year (July/June) forecast to increase from last year’s record level

  • In January prices of rice continued their decrease from record highs of previous months

2014 aggregate rice and maize harvest set at record level

Harvesting of the 2014 secondary rice season, accounting for about 45 percent of annual production, is currently underway and will conclude in mid-April. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics forecasts this season’s rice output at a record level of 8.6 million tonnes, up 2 percent from the corresponding season of last year. Sufficient irrigation water supply, expansion of irrigated areas, improved seeds and higher fertilizer use has resulted in higher yield forecasts this season which compensate for the lack of growth in the area sown. Including the revised official estimates of the main season harvest, completed in December 2014, FAO forecasts the 2014 aggregate rice production at a record level of 19.1 million tonnes, up 2 percent year-on-year and 523 000 tonnes more than previously projected.
The 2014 maize production, including the main and secondary seasons, is officially estimated at a record level of 7.8 million tonnes, 6 percent above last year’s reduced level. The increase is the result of a 2 percent expansion in plantings, as well as higher yields, following favourable weather during the cropping season and use of improved seeds.

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot 28 January – 3 February 2015

3 February 2015 - 9:20am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Snapshot 28 January – 3 February 2015

DRC: 30,000 refugees have fled CAR for Equateur province since December. In North Kivu, 18,000 new IDPs need humanitarian assistance; another 21,000 are in need in South Kivu. Nationwide, food security is worsening: over one-third of territories are in Crisis or Emergency phases.

South Sudan: The number of Sudanese refugees arriving in Yida is more than double that of the same time last year, and 15,000 could arrive by June. In Unity state, 9,000 new IDPs registered in Bentiu Protection of Civilians site in less than a week due to renewed clashes.

Sudan: Attacks by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in North Darfur and fighting between government and opposition forces in Jebel Marra has resulted in up to 92,000 newly displaced. Further heavy bombing has since been reported in Jebel Marra.

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

World: Crisis Watch N°138, 1 February 2015

3 February 2015 - 4:42am
Source: International Crisis Group Country: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Western Sahara, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

The year opened with a worsening of the ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Nigeria and Ukraine, each with potentially major regional implications. Violence escalated in Sudan, as well as in Lebanon's Tripoli and along its southern border with Israel, and a deadly clash between police and militants in the southern Philippines threatened to derail the peace process there. In South Asia, both Bangladesh and Nepal saw political tensions intensify. On a positive note, the Sri Lanka elections resulted in a peaceful transition of power from long-time President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Maithripala Sirisena, despite initial fears of election-related violence.

Yemen’s downward spiral took yet another dramatic turn. President Hadi and the government resigned on 22 January after Huthi rebels consolidated control over Sanaa and put Hadi under virtual house arrest. The entire political process established with the signing of a UN-backed peace and power-sharing agreement in September has been thrown into question, raising the prospect of territorial fragmentation, economic meltdown and widespread violence – as outlined in our Conflict Alert. There is little external actors can do at this point, except possibly Saudi Arabia and Iran, to influence Yemen’s internal political dynamics. The Huthis have set a 4 February deadline for all parties to reach a power-sharing agreement or they will assume control of the state through a “revolutionary leadership”. Yemen again made international headlines for its connection with global terrorism as al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Yemen’s local branch, claimed responsibility for the 7 January Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.

The significant increase in Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria’s north throughout 2014 was compounded by what may have been the insurgent group’s deadliest attack yet. Reports suggest in early January they killed anywhere between 150 and 2,500 civilians in Borno state. As the February elections loom, there is a danger that ongoing insecurity in the north could worsen potential political violence and undermine the credibility of the polls, as discussed in our recent report on violence and the elections.

The most intense fighting for many months in eastern Ukraine resulted in heavy civilian and military casualties and a significant increase in internally displaced civilians, and further undermined peace talks. It also led to heightened concern in Western capitals that Russia has not abandoned the idea of open military intervention. The stated aim of the separatists is to seize the totality of Donetsk oblast, but there is so far no conclusive change in the balance of military power in the east. The possibility of a resumption of full-fledged hostilities, and the risk of a humanitarian crisis during winter, were discussed in our recent report. Without immediate and forceful international intervention to end the fighting, the current offensive could herald the beginning of a new and very costly military conflict.

As anticipated last month, violence once again increased in Sudan following the collapse of peace talks between the government and rebel groups in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, as both sides launched major offensives in the disputed areas. (See our new report). In late January, a Hizbollah attack on an Israeli military convoy along Lebanon’s southern border – retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that killed six of its fighters in the Golan Heights – caused fears of an impending all-out confrontation, although both parties said they wanted to avoid a costly escalation. Earlier in January, a deadly suicide attack in Tripoli shook the relative calm that had prevailed in the city for months. In the southern Philippines, 44 police and at least seven civilians were killed in a clash between police and MILF militants, undermining support for last year’s historical peace agreement between the government and the longstanding rebel group at a critical time in its implementation.

In South Asia, the first anniversary of Bangladesh’s disputed January 2014 elections saw dozens killed in clashes between government and opposition groups, and marked the start of a new phase of the political deadlock between the ruling Awami League and opposition Bangladesh National Party. Tensions between Nepal’s political parties worsened when they failed to reach consensus on a draft constitution before a self-imposed 22 January deadline. Sri Lanka’s long-time President Mahinda Rajapaksa surprised many observers when he conceded defeat to opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in the 8 January presidential election, following a largely peaceful election day. Sirisena has promised reform, including more meaningful devolution of power and accountability. However, international pressure and support will be needed for those promises to be met and the political transition to succeed (as discussed in our recent briefing).

World: Test of Pacific Ocean tsunami warning system

2 February 2015 - 10:30pm
Source: UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Country: Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Japan, Peru, Philippines, Tonga, World

Countries bordering the Pacific Ocean will test their readiness to face a major tsunami event in a simulated alert exercise from 2 to 6 February. This will allow them to assess the efficiency of the Pacific Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System established under the auspices of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

More than 40 countries will take part in the exercise named PacWave15. They will be able to choose one of six scenarios concerning earthquakes off the shores of southern and northern Japan; Tonga; Philippines; Chile/Peru; or Colombia/Ecuador. The exercise is designed to assess the effectiveness of the communication systems used for warnings. Messages will be issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Hawaii and the Northwest Pacific Tsunami Advisory Centre in Japan to focal points in every country.

The exercise will test enhanced forecasting products developed by PTWC and introduced in 2014. They provide detailed forecasts concerning the maximal Tsunami wave amplitude, their direction and power. They aim to allow each country to assess threats with greater precision and determine the appropriate level of alerts.

The PTWS was established in 1965 by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission following the deadly tsunami that hit the coasts of Chile and Japan in 1960. The purpose of the warning system is to facilitate the speedy dissemination of alerts across the region and to support countries’ ability to respond to and mitigate tsunamis locally. Simulation exercises were carried out in 2006, 2008 and 2011.

Nearly 75% of deadly tsunami events occur in the Pacific Ocean and connected seas. Local tsunamis occur in the Pacific every two years on average. Major events affecting the whole Pacific Ocean occur several times every century. Over the past six years, four devastating tsunamis hit the region: 2009 in Samoa and Tonga, 2010 in Chile, 2011 in Japan, and 2013 in the Solomon Islands.

Media contact: Agnès Bardon, UNESCO Press Service. +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 64, a.bardon(at)unesco.org

Philippines: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (27 Jan - 2 Feb 2015)

2 February 2015 - 4:40am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bhutan, Indonesia, Myanmar, New Caledonia (France), Philippines

PHILIPPINES

On 25 Jan, an armed encounter between the Philippine National Police (PNP) - Special Action Force (SAF), field forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) erupted in Mamasapano municipality, Maguindanao province in Mindanao. In total, 44 members of the PNP-SAF, 8 MILF fighters and 2 civilians were confirmed dead as a result of this fighting, and 2 others were wounded. The incident displaced around 6,620 people, of which 66 families are in a local madrasah while others are staying with relatives and friends. Classes in nearby schools were suspended. 54people killed 6,620people displaced The municipal and regional authorities provided food packs to the displaced. As of 2 Feb, most IDPs are accessing their homes and livelihoods during daytime.

INDONESIA

On 31 Jan, flooding from five rivers (Laju, Silo, Soa, Raba Baka and Toi Rivers) in West Nusa Tenggara Province inundated approximately 4,000 houses in villages of Dompu Sub District and Woja Sub District following heavy rains. Those temporarily displaced are sheltering in mosques and schools in Poto and Wowondoro Villages. The local disaster management authorities, with support from local military, police, and Ministry of Social Affairs Disaster Response Teams, has established an incident command post to provide assistance. The Indonesian Chapter of the Red Cross, Palang Merah Indonesia, has deployed 25 personnel to undertake assessments and assist with evacuations.

4,000 houses inundated

MYANMAR

On 14 Jan, fighting broke out in the Hpakan area of Kachin State between the Government of Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army. More than 1,000 people were displaced from Aung Bar Lay and surrounding villages to Kan See village, north-east of Hpakan. Some assistance (including food, blankets, mats and other basic items) has been provided to those affected by national NGOs, local authorities and the Myanmar Red Cross, with support from the UN and international NGOs. However, there are still serious concerns for the protection, safety and security of those displaced and other civilians in Kan See, as they remain in close proximity to the conflict area. Access to the area remains severely restricted.

1,000 people displaced

BHUTAN

On 31 Jan a forest fire started near the capital, Thimphu. The fire lasted for over a day despite prompt intervention from the Royal Bhutan Army, the Royal Bhutan Police, dessups (trained volunteers), and local volunteers. There were no human settlements in the vicinity of the fire and no casualties reported. The cause of the fire is not known. The fire is now contained but the extent of damage is not yet known. Based on records (2008-2013), Thimphu district in the western region has the highest number of fire incidents followed by the districts of Mongar, Trashigang, and Samdrup Jongkhar in the eastern region.

SOUTH PACIFIC

On 1 Feb, eight towns in Belep archipelago in northern New Caledonia were placed on alert in anticipation of Tropical Cyclone Ola. According to local authorities sustained winds in excess of 95km per hour and heavy rains caused no significant damage. OCHA continues to monitor the cyclone as it travels in a southerly direction across the South Pacific.

Philippines: Press Statement of the United Nations in the Philippines on Sustaining the Peace in Bangsamoro in the context of the Mamasapano incident

1 February 2015 - 10:27pm
Source: UN Country Team in The Philippines Country: Philippines

31 January 2015, Manila – The United Nations team in the Philippines joins in mourning those who lost their lives in the tragic incident of 25 January in Mamasapano in Mindanao, and expresses its condolences to the affected families.

We welcome the conduct of investigations by the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) into the incident, and the commitments expressed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, MILF Chairman Ebrahim Murad and other concerned parties in regard to sustaining focus on the peace process. We welcome also the reaffirmation yesterday by the Peace Negotiating Panels to ‘strengthen their cooperation and coordination in addressing security concerns in the most effective and appropriate manner, and also in rebuilding trust and public confidence in the peace process’.

In that context the United Nations through the U.N. Peace Building Fund will be releasing resources to support various aspects of the peace process and looks forward to further progress through the combined efforts of all involved parties.

Contact Information:
Ms Teresa Debuque
UN Information Centre
Mobile: 0917-5000622
Landline: 336-7720 to 22
debuque@un.org