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South Sudan: Famine response and prevention in Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen

27 March 2017 - 10:56pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen

The world faces the largest food crises in 70 years, with more than 10 million people in four countries — northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen — on the brink of famine, and a further 30 million severely food insecure.

Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, where 100 000 people are at risk, and more than 5.5 million people will not have any reliable source of food by July. The current levels of food insecurity in the four at-risk countries reflect continued under investment in agriculture and livelihoods within the wider humanitarian assistance. Conflict and drought are forcing people to abandon their homes and their lands. As agricultural seasons are repeatedly missed and livelihoods abandoned, the humanitarian caseload builds and the number of people on the brink of famine rises. With approximately 80 percent of the affected populations relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, we must invest now in pulling people back from the brink. Often famine starts in rural areas and must be prevented in rural areas – agriculture cannot be an afterthought.

FAO is on the ground, working around the clock in these countries to deliver emergency livelihood assistance to kickstart food production. This assistance includes inputs like crop and vegetable seeds, fishing and dairy kits – which are crucial for providing highly nutritious food. In parts of remote South Sudan, the fishing kits are the only lifeline to food for many families, while in Yemen, dairy kits are helping to provide lifesaving milk for children.

To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the four countries over the coming months, we need to scale up livelihood support and income opportunities to affected families. Supporting agriculture now is not only investing in food production today, but food security tomorrow.

Yemen: Famine response and prevention in Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen

27 March 2017 - 10:56pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen

The world faces the largest food crises in 70 years, with more than 10 million people in four countries — northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen — on the brink of famine, and a further 30 million severely food insecure.

Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, where 100 000 people are at risk, and more than 5.5 million people will not have any reliable source of food by July. The current levels of food insecurity in the four at-risk countries reflect continued under investment in agriculture and livelihoods within the wider humanitarian assistance. Conflict and drought are forcing people to abandon their homes and their lands. As agricultural seasons are repeatedly missed and livelihoods abandoned, the humanitarian caseload builds and the number of people on the brink of famine rises. With approximately 80 percent of the affected populations relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, we must invest now in pulling people back from the brink. Often famine starts in rural areas and must be prevented in rural areas – agriculture cannot be an afterthought.

FAO is on the ground, working around the clock in these countries to deliver emergency livelihood assistance to kickstart food production. This assistance includes inputs like crop and vegetable seeds, fishing and dairy kits – which are crucial for providing highly nutritious food. In parts of remote South Sudan, the fishing kits are the only lifeline to food for many families, while in Yemen, dairy kits are helping to provide lifesaving milk for children.

To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the four countries over the coming months, we need to scale up livelihood support and income opportunities to affected families. Supporting agriculture now is not only investing in food production today, but food security tomorrow.

Yemen: Humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, statement on the humanitarian situation in Yemen two years into the escalation of the conflict [EN/AR]

27 March 2017 - 8:00pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Yemen

Sana'a, 28 March 2017

Two years of relentless conflict in Yemen have devastated the lives of millions of people. An alarming 18.8 million of them- almost two thirds of the population- need some kind of humanitarian or protection support. This man-made disaster has been brutal on civilians. Some seven million women, children, and men could risk famine in 2017.

Ordinary Yemenis are bearing the brunt of a conflict which is not theirs; caused by warring parties who are conducting themselves in a manner that totally disregards their responsibilities to do their upmost to protect civilians while they wage a war that is pushing Yemen further into despair. Over 50,000 civilians have been killed, injured or maimed. Atrocities, including at least 1,540 children killed; 2,450 children injured; and over 1,550 children recruited to fight or to perform military related duties have been reported. Hundreds of people have been killed in mosques, markets, funeral wakes, schools and hospitals.

Deliberate military tactics to shred the economy have moved an already weak and impoverished country towards social, economic, and institutional collapse. Half of the population lack access to basic healthcare. Thousands have died from preventable diseases, which shockingly include one child every ten minutes. With malnutrition amongst children at an all-time high and at least two million children out of school, the conflict and its consequences is jeopardizing the future generations in Yemen More than eleven per cent of Yemen’s entire population has been forced to move from their homes in search of safety and livelihoods. One million of these people have sought to return to their areas of origin only to find destruction and lack of opportunities to re-start their lives. Prolonged displacement and lack of sustainable return options are putting people in greater jeopardy, as humanitarians struggle to meet their daily needs and host families deplete their resources. In the past few weeks alone, intensified fighting in Yemen’s Western Coast has forced more than 48,000 people to move.

A continuation of this conflict only increases the suffering across Yemen and makes matters worse.
Despite the lack of money and adequate humanitarian access, humanitarian partners have provided coordinated aid to millions of people across Yemen’s 22 governorates during the past two years. Donors can now help us avert this humanitarian catastrophe, including famine, by funding the US$2.1 billion requirement to help deliver life-saving food, nutrition, water, shelter and protection support to over 12 million people that are in desperate need of help.

Granting humanitarians safe and unhindered access to those in need and safe movement to those seeking assistance is also something I call on all warring parties to ensure.

The people of Yemen have suffered long enough and no humanitarian response can meet the increasing needs that the war is causing. Only peace can end the suffering and I continue to call on all the parties to return to the negotiating table and to make effective their responsibilities to civilians across Yemen. The time has come for the warring parties to place the very people they claim to be fighting for at the center of their concerns and end the fighting.

For further information, please contact:

George Khoury, Head of OCHA Yemen, khouryg@un.org, Tel +967 712 222 207 Ahmed Ben Lassoued, Public Information Officer, benlassoued@un.org, Tel. +967 712 222 855 OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org or www.reliefweb.int.

Yemen: Yemen Factsheet Summary 2016 [EN/AR]

27 March 2017 - 3:09pm
Source: Save the Children Country: Yemen

Since March 2015, conflict has spread to 21 of Yemen’s 22 governorates, prompting a large scale protection crisis and aggravating an already severe humanitarian situation brought on by years of poverty, poor governance and instability. Today, 18.8 million people, or 70 per cent of the population, are in need of some form of humanitarian and protection assistance. This includes 10.3 million children.

Every day, the death and injury toll rises, the number of internally displaced people increases, communicable diseases such as cholera spreads and over half the population has no access to basic healthcare, water and sanitation services and enough food to eat. As a consequence, a child is dying every ten minutes from preventable causes such as malnutrition, diarrhoea and respiratory tract infections.

Yemen: ACAPS Briefing Note – Yemen: Food security and Nutrition, 27 March 2017

27 March 2017 - 1:12pm
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Yemen

Crisis overview

The UN has warned that Yemen is at risk of falling into famine if the international community does not take immediate steps to address the severe food and nutrition crisis. 6.8 million people (25% of the population) are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity, only one phase before the declaration of famine. A further 10.2 million (38% of the population) are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The population in Crisis and Emergency has increased by 20% compared to June 2016.

Key findings

Anticipated scope and scale

Without a significant upturn in the food security situation, 6.8 million people are in danger of falling into famine, and 10.2 million people are at risk of falling in to IPC Phase 4.

Priorities for humanitarian intervention

  • Food security is rapidly deteriorating and the situation is now close to famine, with 17.1 million people in need of urgent lifesaving assistance.

  • Nutrition levels are critically low, particularly in the west and south of the country. 4.5 million people need assistance to treat or prevent malnutrition, including 2.2 million children suffering from acute malnutrition, 462,000 of whom are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

  • Health services severely weakened by conflict are struggling to provide treatment for malnutrition, feeding centres are under-resourced. Cholera, diarrhoea, measles, malaria and other diseases are present, and treatment is often unavailable and hard to access due to widespread damage to infrastructure and insufficient medical supplies coming into the country.

Humanitarian constraints

  • Damage to infrastructure is severe and widespread, and therefore many areas are difficult to access, particularly in the south and west where humanitarian needs are the most severe. Humanitarian workers face insecurity and movement restrictions.

  • Getting a sufficient amount of aid into the country is very challenging due to the blockade on imports and conflict in port areas, as is the distribution of aid once it has entered the country.

South Sudan: Focus on famine in Africa and Syrian crisis - Finland channels over EUR 61 million in humanitarian aid

27 March 2017 - 8:38am
Source: Government of Finland Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Finland, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Ukraine, Yemen

Press release 56/2017 27 March 2017

By decision of Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen, Finland’s humanitarian aid will amount to EUR 61.4 million, of which approximately EUR 20 million will be channelled to the famine-hit countries in the Horn of Africa and to Nigeria and Yemen.

“The Horn of Africa is facing the worst food crisis in recent history. Approximately 20 million people suffer from shortage of food and water. The spread of such contagious diseases as cholera and malaria is aggravating the situation. The number of refugees has tripled since the humanitarian crisis of 2010–2011. Finland must be among those that are providing assistance,” Minister Mykkänen says.

Famine has been declared in two States in South Sudan. The conflict has led to a wide-scale flow of refugees especially to Uganda, where approximately 2,000 refugees arrive every day at present. At the same time Uganda is affected by drought.

Finland will channel a total of EUR 7.6 million to relieve the refugee situation in South Sudan and the Horn of Africa and EUR 2.2 million to Uganda.

In Somalia’s southern and central areas, food security has rapidly deteriorated and the country is on the brink of slipping into widespread famine. Finland will support humanitarian work in Somalia by EUR 5.5 million.

In Ethiopia, more than five million people will be in need of emergency assistance this year. Finland will channel EUR 755,000 to Ethiopia.

North-eastern parts of Nigeria are also at risk of famine; the UN estimates that 8.5 million people there are in need of humanitarian aid. Finland will channel EUR 2 million to Nigeria.

It is estimated that two thirds of the population of Yemen, that is, 18.8 million people are affected by the conflict and in need of humanitarian aid and protection. Nearly 3.3 million people suffer from starvation, 2.1 million of whom are children. Finland will channel EUR 1.5 million to Yemen.

At the same time, the humanitarian situation remains serious in the Middle East. Finland’s current assistance focuses on Syria and its neighbouring countries, which will be supported by a total of EUR 11.5 million. In Iraq, fight against ISIL, for instance, has increased the number of people in need of humanitarian aid to 11 million. Additionally, if the battle to reclaim Mosul continues, the number of internally displaced persons is expected to grow. Finland will channel a total of EUR 3.7 million to Iraq.

Other recipients of humanitarian aid from Finland are Afghanistan (EUR 1 million), Myanmar (EUR 500,000), North Korea (EUR 300,000), Central African Republic (EUR 575,000) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (EUR 300,000) and Ukraine (EUR 900,000).

EUR 38.4 million of the funding will be directed to civil society organisations’ country- and region-specific operations. The funding will be channelled through the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR and the World Food Programme WFP and via the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The following Finnish civil society organisations will also receive funding: Finnish Red Cross, Finn Church Aid, Fida International, World Vision Finland, Plan International Finland and Save the Children Finland.

Finland will grant EUR 23 million of the assistance in the form of core funding to UN agencies capable of flexible and rapid decisions on the allocation funding. Core funding will be channelled to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

Inquiries: Claus Lindroos, Director, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance and Policy, tel. +358 295 351 234.

The Foreign Ministry's email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi.

Yemen: Crisis escalation marks second Yemen conflict anniversary

27 March 2017 - 8:05am
Source: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development Country: Yemen

The crisis in Yemen, the largest in the world, is a perfect storm of humanitarian, protection and economic crises with each fuelling the other. For two years, Yemen has been devastated by a bloody war, killing at least 7,600 people and injuring close to 42,000*. The UN estimates that nearly 19 million people - 70 per cent of the population - need some sort of humanitarian or protection assistance, including more than 10 million people who are in acute need of live-saving assistance. More than three million people have been displaced and two-thirds of the population is food insecure, which means they don’t have regular access to nutritious food**.

This is the result of two years of conflict escalation:

Food security and Nutrition:

Even before the escalation of conflict, Yemen had 10.6 million people going hungry***, and one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world.

Following 24 months of airstrikes and fighting, the number of food-insecure people has increased by 60 percent and jumped by three million over the past nine months according to the latest IPC analysis on Yemen. Now an estimated 17 million people are food insecure, this includes 6.8 million people who are severely food insecure (or who do not know where their next meal will come from). They are one step away from famine.

In the same context, the number of acutely malnourished children and pregnant or lactating women (PLW) has tripled to reach 3.3 million, including 462 000 severely acute malnourished children, an increase of 136% since 2015.

Displacement:

The war has forced over 3 million people out of their homes. Because of airstrikes or fighting, thousands of families had no option but to flee and leave everything they owned behind them.

Crowded in camps or hosted by local communities, IDPs are among the most vulnerable people in Yemen. The majority have no source of income and they are highly food insecure.

Children:

Yemen’s children bear the brunt of the war and their prospects of survival are being diminished day by day. Over 10 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 6.2 million children in need of protection. Approximately 1.4 million children have been displaced. Every day children are going hungry and thirsty; being displaced from their homes; being forced out of school; or face the risk of abuse, exploitation, injury and death.

At least 1,564 children have been killed and 2,450 wounded since the start of the conflict according to UNICEF. There were also at least 1,572 verified cases of child recruitment, resulting in children forced into more active roles in combat and manning checkpoints, including on front lines. These verified cases are considered to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Children’s futures are also in jeopardy with approximately 2 million currently unable to access education. Displaced children are particularly vulnerable and today over half a million internally displaced children are out of school due to a lack of school certificates and/or their family’s inability to pay indirect education costs such as transportation, uniforms, books and other school materials. Attacks on schools and education facilities are also a factor hindering children in Yemen from accessing education. Between March 2015 and January 2017, there have been over 200 verified attacks on schools and about 2,200, or 14 percent of schools in Yemen, have been affected since the conflict escalated: damaged by bombs and ground fighting, used as shelters for internally displaced people or occupied by armed groups.

Child mortality has risen by nearly 20 % since the conflict escalated. At least one child dies every ten minutes from preventable causes such as diarrhea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections.

Even those who escape injury or illness are deeply affected. Thousands of children are dealing with traumatic experiences which will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on their mental health in the short and long-term. Hundreds have seen friends and families injured or killed.

Health:

Harsh living conditions and a crippled health system has had catastrophic implications for Yemen’s sick. The impact of the war has had particularly acute consequences for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, newborn babies and young children. Today in Yemen easily treatable diseases can become a death sentence.

An estimated 14.8 million people now lack access to basic healthcare, including 8.8 million living in severely under-served areas. As of October 2016, at least 274 health facilities had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict, 13 health workers had been killed and 31 injured. Medical materials are in chronically short supply, and only 45 per cent of health facilities are functional. Most are doing so at a reduced capacity.

Employees of the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health, along with most government staff, have not been paid in 6 months, and most of the 1,200 foreign health practitioners present in Yemen before March 2015 have left the country due to insecurity. This, together with the blatant disregard for International Humanitarian Law by all parties to the conflict are two major impediments to the delivery of health care and overall significant elements of the crisis.

Children’s lives are on the line before they are even born. Women face huge difficulties in accessing antenatal, delivery and postnatal care, including a lack of ambulances, few female hospital staff, and frequent checkpoints and roadblocks encountered on way to hospitals.

Deadly diseases like cholera, measles and dengue fever are on the rise and children, many of whom are increasingly vulnerable due to a lack of food, are paying the highest price.

Access:

While needs grow, securing humanitarian access in Yemen continues to prove extremely challenging owing to a dynamic security situation and constantly changing bureaucratic demands from the authorities.

Fragmentation of authorities and unclear chains of command mean that NGOs often have to negotiate access at national level and then repeat the process at local level, delaying the delivery of vital assistance to people in need. Restrictions and delays in granting permissions for INGO visas, travel, training workshops and other standard activities are common. In some areas, air strikes and ground fighting are regular obstacles to aid delivery.

Of growing concern is the air and sea blockade imposed on Yemen; the country imports 90% of its food and imports are not coming in at the rate needed due to persistent delays and restrictions. The resulting scarcity of imports is pushing up prices, so ordinary Yemenis cannot afford to buy the food that is available. Humanitarian organisations can only cover a fraction of the needs.

There is now a strong likelihood that ongoing ground fighting on the west coast will reach the country’s main port, Al Hodaydah, potentially cutting the port off from the rest of the country. With the country on the brink of famine, this will have devastating consequences.

The continued closure of Sanaa Airport to commercial flights means much-needed medicines are not being imported in the quantities needed, and that Yemenis in the north of the country cannot leave to seek medical treatment abroad.

Humanitarian Response

Only 60 per cent of the $1.6 billion requirement, amounting to $977 million was received for the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan.

The 2017 Plan for the Humanitarian Response was launched in Geneva on 8 February 2017 and the appeal requires $2.1 billion to target 12 million people. As of 15 March it is 7.4 per cent funded at 154 million USD. A Donor Pledging Conference is organised for April 25 in Geneva.

While the humanitarian response must be scaled up and protection of civilians prioritized, these will not address the underlying drivers of the conflict.

Peace

The only lasting solution for this situation is to put an end to the conflict. Warring parties must go back to the negotiating table. An immediate and effective ceasefire and durable political solution is needed to stop the violence against children, women and their families and to let aid agencies do their jobs in safety.

It is necessary that any peace agreement provides a meaningful political solution, which involves all sections of society, including women, youth and marginalised communities.

WHO (23 February 2017) http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/yemeni-health-system-crumbles-millions-risk-malnutrition-and-diseases
“Food insecure” refers to people who lack reliable access to sufficient quantities of nutritious food. - Yemen 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview (November 2016) http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/YEMEN%202017%20HNO_Final.pdf
Yemen 2015 Humanitarian Needs Overview https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/system/files/documents/files/2015_HNO_Yemen_Final_0.pdf

Sudan: Sudan: 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview, Dec 2016

27 March 2017 - 5:29am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen

Humanitarian Needs & Key Figures

This document identifies the needs of people based on their vulnerabilities. Rather than assuming that all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are in need because they are displaced, only vulnerable IDPs have been considered. The main humanitarian needs in Sudan result from several factors. New and protracted displacement due to conflict affects access to basic services and disrupts the livelihoods and food security of many people. Acute malnutrition in children under the age of 5 is above emergency thresholds in different areas across the country. Refugees and asylum seekers continue to arrive in Sudan seeking protection and humanitarian assistance. Returnees (both refugee and IDP returnees) are also vulnerable. Natural hazards in Sudan (in particular floods and droughts) impact food security and livelihoods of vulnerable people. The total number of people estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2017 is 4.8 million, a reduction of 1 million compared to 2016. This is attributed to food security being severely affected by El Niño and other factors in 2015, but in 2016 agricultural performance was better due to improved rainfall, reducing the number of people in need of food and livelihoods assistance to 3.6 million.

Humanitarian Impact

Sudan faces two major overlapping humanitarian challenges: one triggered by conflict leading to wide-scale population displacement and another due to climatic and socio-cultural conditions leading to crisis levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. The scale and long-term nature of displacement, especially in Darfur, which has not been matched by economic opportunities, has exposed displaced people to hardship and uncertainty about their future. This is putting an additional strain on the 3.6 million people currently suffering from food insecurity, and the 2.2 million children suffering from acute malnutrition. Refugees and asylum seekers living in both emergency and protracted situations remain largely dependent on humanitarian assistance, with very limited access to livelihood opportunities.

Large scale and protracted internal displacement

In 2016, considerable new displacement occurred and a large number of those who have fled their homes since 2004 remain displaced.

In Darfur some 1.6 million displaced people are registered as living in camps. For unregistered IDPs i.e. displaced people living in rural settlements and urban areas, estimates vary considerably, especially as there is no systematic registration of displacement outside camps. The official government estimate is that an additional 0.5 million internally displaced persons live outside camps in Darfur and a further 0.2 million internally displaced people live in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. According to the government, the overall total number of IDPs across Sudan is 2.3 million in government-controlled conflict-affected areas.

The UN and partners estimate that a further half a million displaced people live in host communities and settlements in Darfur.

In many parts of Darfur, inter-communal conflict is another main cause of insecurity and recurrently causes substantial civilian displacement. Such localised armed violence takes place most frequently between sedentary-farming and nomadic-pastoral communities, as well as between nomadic communities, clashing over access to, use of and management of resources, especially land.

Armed movements in South Kordofan and Blue Nile estimate that an additional 545,000 people are displaced in areas under their control.

Nearly every community in conflict-affected areas, whether sedentary rural farmers, nomadic pastoralists, public sector workers or urban dwellers, has been impacted, further undermining their capacity to host displaced people.

Protracted displacement has disrupted traditional livelihood activities and eroded community resilience to withstand shocks. Displaced people are more vulnerable due to their reduced access to natural resources such as land and water, and a chronic shortage of basic services. Conflict impacts pastoralists’ traditional migration routes and farmers’ capacity to transport their crops. Newly displaced people lose their livelihood opportunities. As a result they seek safety, food, water, shelter, healthcare, education for their children and new livelihoods.

World: Alarming levels of attacks on schools must end, Save the Children says ahead of key global safe schools conference

27 March 2017 - 2:15am
Source: Save the Children Country: occupied Palestinian territory, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

World leaders must take decisive action to immediately stop the targeting of schools and students in dozens of conflict-affected countries worldwide and hold perpetrators accountable, Save the Children is warning.

The call comes ahead of the Second International Conference on Safe Schools taking place on 28 and 29 March in Buenos Aires, which will bring together representatives from more than 60 countries and aims to secure firm commitments to protect students, teachers and schools from attacks. This global moment will also be an opportunity for states to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration that vows greater protections for students and teachers during war.

Regular attacks on schools, students, or teachers, or the military use of schools, have happened in 21 countries which all saw at least 10 incidents in the last four years, ongoing research has shown. A dozen countries saw more than 100 attacks or incidents of military use since 2013, research by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), a coalition of United Nations and non-governmental organisations, has shown.

While bombing and shelling of schools is common, students are also vulnerable when they make their way to class; soldiers have been known to snatch children off the streets and forcibly recruit or rape them. In the majority of countries affected by conflict over the past decade, armed factions have also used schools and turned them into barracks, arms depots and detention facilities, in effect converting educational facilities into military targets and exposing children to increased risk of bombing or recruitment.

The situation in the Middle East has become particularly bleak, with attacks on education in Syria, the occupied Palestinian territories and Yemen on the rise.

In Syria, more than 4,000 schools have been destroyed, damaged or taken over by armed groups since the war began six years ago. Last week, a school near Raqqa was reportedly bombed and at least 30 people were killed, while three students from a Save the Children partner-supported school were killed in a separate attack in Idlib. Yemen has also been devastated by conflict and it is estimated that more than 1,600 schools can no longer function.  

Amal* a 13-year-old girl from Yemen, barely survived when a bomb ripped through her school late last year, killing her friends and teacher, and injuring her brother. Now their father says his children cannot sleep at night because they cannot forget the image of blood and shrapnel-torn skin. "I screamed, I couldn't get out. I was so frightened. No one was able to come in and help me," Amal recently told Save the Children.

By joining the Declaration, countries pledge to restore access to education when schools are attacked, investigate and prosecute war crimes involving schools and minimize the use of schools for military purposes. So far at least 60 states -- including a majority of both EU and NATO members - have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration and officially committed to amending their military doctrine, training, and legislation to ensure better protection for children in war, while also guaranteeing better reporting of abuses.[1] "Every day, our staff are seeing children bear the brunt of war and violence across the world. Far too many children are being prevented from accessing education or are being killed, brutalized or maimed while they study or try and go to school," said Patricia Erb, President and CEO of Save the Children in Canada.

"These senseless attacks on students and their schools must end immediately. While we have seen some steps in the right direction, much more must be done. This is why Save the Children is calling on all states to join and implement the Safe Schools Declaration"

"We are on the ground in many countries, directly supporting access to safe learning, and training teachers and communities to increase their capacity to protect education, but global leaders need to take action and ensure children's voices are not ignored."

Spokespeople are available. Please contact media@savethechildren.org.uk or our 24-hour media line to arrange an interview +447831650 409.

[1] On Wednesday 22 March, Save the Children welcomed Armenia's announcement that it had endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, becoming the 60th country to do so.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITOS

  • The countries most heavily affected by attacks and saw more than 100 incidents are: Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

  • The research is being conducted for the GCPEA's next edition of its Education under Attack report, scheduled for release in 2018

  • According to the UN, 2.1 children are out-of-school children inside Syria along with 700,000 Syrian children in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

  • The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack is researching abuses in 90 countries worldwide and will issue a full report next year

Belgium: Alexander De Croo has decided to double the donations to “Famine 12-12”

26 March 2017 - 11:22pm
Source: Government of Belgium Country: Belgium, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo, in charge for humanitarian emergency aid, announced that the federal government will double the population's donations to the campaign “Famine 12-12”. Minister De Croo has also planned international demarches. He will look, together with the United Nations, into a way to better tackle the structural causes. “We cannot look away when children are dying of hunger”.

During his last briefing in the Security Council, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien rang the alarm bell. In the coming months, hunger is threatening 20 million lives in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia. In total, 5.6 billion dollars are necessary to provide immediate humanitarian aid, but 4.4 billion dollars are still missing.

More than a million children are in acute need

Alexander De Croo: “In those four countries, two deadly powers reinforce one another: war and drought. Today, more than a million children are already severely malnourished and in immediate need. This money must come quickly. The international community cannot look away”.

During the past weeks and months, our country has already released 60 million euros in humanitarian aid for specific interventions and humanitarian funds from amongst others the United Nations and the International Red Cross which operate actively in the four countries. Furthermore, 20 million were already released to help Syria, where humanitarian needs remain high.

Minister De Croo has now decided to double people’s donations to “Famine 12-12”. The Consortium 12-12, a cooperation of important Belgian NGOs (Caritas International, Handicap International, Doctors of the World, Oxfam-Solidarity, Plan Belgium and UNICEF Belgium), launched a common call last week for the victims of famine.

Alexander De Croo: “We are going to double each euro that people donate to “Famine 12-12”. I call each and every one to make a donation. NGOs save lives and deserve our full support.”

On Monday, Minister De Croo will examine with the Consortium 12-12 and the Red Cross how to improve cooperation in order to mobilize more means and save lives.

More international action

Minister De Croo has also planned demarches at the international level. In the beginning of April, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien will come to Brussels. Minister De Croo will discuss a better approach to humanitarian aid and to the structural causes of this humanitarian crisis.

Alexander De Croo: “The international community musts take robust actions towards these crises. Our first concern shall be to save lives but we must also do more to tackle the structural causes: war and drought due to global warming. This is only possible with more European and International action.”

People who wish to donate to “Famine 12-12” can do so via the bank account BE19 0000 0000 1212 or the website 1212.be.

Somalia: IGAD Summit: UNHCR appeals for continued and strong support to Somalia and countries hosting Somali refugees

26 March 2017 - 11:11pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Yemen

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appealing for support for efforts aimed at bringing stability inside Somalia and to the countries hosting Somali refugees.

Speaking at the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) Special Summit of Regional Heads of State on durable solutions for the protracted Somali refugee situation in Nairobi, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo, commended Somalia’s neighbours for their generosity in providing international protection to refugees in spite of their own socio-economic, national security and environmental challenges.

“UNHCR is delighted by this unprecedented regional effort that commits to providing collective protection and assistance to Somali refugees. said George Okoth-Obbo, welcoming the outcomes of the Summit. 

UNHCR called for global responsibility sharing with the region, where communities have been hosting and sharing limited resources with Somali refugees for years.

The UN Refugee Agency also appealed for the need to preserve asylum space for Somali refugees, unable to return home.

“Countries hosting Somali refugees have to find alternative solutions for them locally, focusing on the socio-economic inclusion of refugees side by side with resilience support for host communities. We invite the countries to also consider local integration, especially for refugees who have integrated, for example, those married to nationals.”

Though voluntary returns continue, security, access and absorption limitations restrict the scale of returns to Somalia, at the present moment. Thus, UNHCR highlighted the importance of creating predictable peace, security, social and community conditions, for Somalis in the country and refugees whose decision to return, can thus be more sustainable.

At the same time the summit highlighted that voluntary return is not the exclusive option and has urged heightened international solidarity and responsibility sharing through continued resettlement of Somali refugees and provision of complementary pathways for third country admissions - such as medical evacuation and humanitarian admission programmes, family reunification and opportunities for skilled migration, labour mobility and education. 

More than two million Somalis have been displaced in one of the world’s most protracted displacement crises. There are an estimated 1 million internally displaced persons within Somalia and 900,000 Somali refugees - many now third generation -in Kenya (324,000), Ethiopia (241,000), Yemen (255,000), Uganda (39,500) and Djibouti (13,000).

George Okoth-Obbo said at the same time, the drought is a serious issue and finding solutions must be accelerated.

“We need to recognise that the region faces new challenges, such as the current drought and food insecurity, gripping the region, threatening starvation and death.”

Some 6.2 million people, half of Somalia’s population, are in need of humanitarian aid and levels of malnourishment among children are high, with 944’000 children in acute or even severe malnourishment. 

Severe drought conditions across the region have led to food crises in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Yemen. Countries are facing the worst drought in 60 years.

UNHCR is urging the need for an immediate scale up of the response to the drought to mitigate and avert famine to reduce its adverse humanitarian impact, including with regard to displacement. 

“Time is of the essence and resolute action by humanitarian actors, strongly supported by the international community, is required,” UNHCR’s Okoth-Obbo emphasized.

END

Media contacts:

Yemen: KRCS launches donation campaign for Yemen

26 March 2017 - 8:25pm
Source: Kuwait News Agency Country: Yemen

By Arwa Al-Wagayan

KUWAIT, March 26 (KUNA) -- Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) launched Sunday a campaign to collect donations for people affected by the ongoing war in Yemen, said KRCS' Chairman of Board of Directors Dr. Hilal Al-Sayer.

This campaign aims to ease living conditions for Yemenis, as there are over 18 million Yemenis were affected by the war and more than two million children suffering from lack of food and medical items, Al-Sayer told KUNA.

Yemen is facing one of the worst famines in the world, he said, calling on philanthropists and organizations to contribute to the donation campaign held at KRCS' headquarters.

Al-Sayer also called to support KRCS' projects aiming to develop services for Yemenis in need. These projects include education, health, water resources and food.

The society will receive cash and Knet donations from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, as well as online donations through KRCS' website, he noted. (end) akw.ss

Yemen: Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien - Statement on Yemen

26 March 2017 - 8:16pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Yemen

This week sadly marks two years since the terrible escalation of the conflict in Yemen.

Despite international efforts to bring about a comprehensive negotiated political settlement, the sounds of airstrikes, bombs, bullets and artillery are now familiar sounds of daily life. They are too often the sound of another death.

Many thousands of civilians have been killed, including well over 1,400 girls and boys – more than a few of these children left their homes to attend school one morning and never returned. Tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians have been injured.

But, casualty figures belie the magnitude of the tragedy unfolding in Yemen.

Conflict, insecurity, and the cynical tactics of the warring parties have wrecked Yemen’s economy, made food increasingly scarce, displaced 3 million people from their homes, and impeded the work of humanitarians – whose only aim is to alleviate suffering and save lives.

Man-made conflict has brought Yemen to the brink of famine. Today nearly 19 million Yemenis – over two-thirds of the population – need humanitarian assistance. Seven million Yemenis are facing starvation.

During my third visit to Yemen only weeks ago, I saw the terrible and terrifying evidence of looming famine. In the hospital ward, the complete stillness of the tiny malnourished child whose eyes focus on nothing. The grim realization that these patients were the fortunate ones who could access a hospital and might survive.

What about all the others – out of sight? Out of mind? That is precisely what we cannot allow to happen. There is still time to avert catastrophe in Yemen.

The UN and partners are already providing life-saving assistance in all of Yemen’s 22 governorates. We reach almost 6 million people every month. We can and must do more, but urgent funding is needed in coming weeks – or it will be too late.

The parties to the conflict must also facilitate immediate, timely, and unimpeded humanitarian access. They must also facilitate commercial access, which will be critical to reversing the massive food insecurity and ensuring that people’s basic needs can be met.

Most of all, the Yemeni people need the parties to commit to political dialogue, or this man-made crisis will never end. In the meantime, together we can – we must – avert this famine, this human catastrophe.

New York, 26 March 2016

Yemen: UNICEF Yemen Humanitarian Situation Report (February 2017)

26 March 2017 - 6:55pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Yemen

Highlights

· With 17.1 million food-insecure people in Yemen - 7.3 million of them in need of emergency food assistance to survive – the country is currently on the brink of famine. 462,000 children under 5 are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition and require immediate assistance.

· Intense hostilities continued in the western coast forcing more than 55,000 people to leave their homes. UNICEF and partners continue providing life-saving assistance to displaced children and their families and supporting basic services. Some locations are unreachable due to security constraints.

· Contributing to maintain the polio-free status in the country despite the ongoing crisis of the health system, UNICEF supported a nationwide polio vaccination campaign, reaching over 4.5 million children in all governorates. During the campaign, over 4.3 million children received Vitamin A supplementation.

· As part of the ongoing Cholera Outbreak Response, chlorination of water sources and water storage tanks reached over 171,000 people in at-risk communities. Distribution of hygiene kits and water tanks, as well as community awareness sessions are part of the integral response.

· Eight schools were rehabilitated in February bringing the total number of schools renewed by UNICEF to 618, allowing more than 456,000 children to access education during the 2016-2017 school year.

Yemen: Falling through the cracks - the children of Yemen

26 March 2017 - 6:42pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Yemen

Number of children injured, recruited in Yemen conflict nearly doubles in one year

SANA'A, 27 March 2016 – After two years of brutal conflict, families in Yemen are increasingly resorting to extreme measures to support their children, said UNICEF in a report released today as the war in the Middle East’s poorest country enters its third year.

Coping mechanisms have been severely eroded by the violence, which has turned Yemen into one of the largest food security and malnutrition emergencies in the world. Families are eating much less, opting for less nutritious food or skipping meals. Close to half a million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition - a 200 per cent increase since 2014 - raising the risk of famine.

The number of extremely poor and vulnerable people is skyrocketing. Around 80 per cent of families are in debt and half the population lives on less than US$2 a day, according to the report.

As family resources diminish, more and more children are being recruited by warring parties and pushed into early marriage. Over two thirds of girls are married off before they reach 18, compared to 50 per cent before the conflict escalated. And children are increasingly being used by armed parties as the fighting intensifies.

Yemen’s health system is on the verge of collapse, leaving close to 15 million men, women and children with no access to health care. An outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea in October 2016 continues to spread, with over 22,500 suspected cases and 106 deaths.

Up to 1,600 schools can no longer be used because they are destroyed, damaged, being used to host displaced families or occupied by parties to the conflict. Some 350,000 children are unable to continue their education as a result, bringing to 2 million the total number of children out of school

“The war in Yemen continues to claim children’s lives and their future,” said Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen. “Relentless fighting and destruction has scarred children for life. Families have been left destitute and are struggling to cope.”

The number of children killed in Yemen’s conflict increased by 70 per cent, and nearly twice as many children were injured and recruited into the fighting since March 2016 compared to the same period last year, the report says.

Citing United Nations-verified data, the report “Falling through the Cracks” notes that in the past year alone:

  • The number of children killed increased from 900 to more than 1,500;

  • The number of children injured nearly doubled, from 1,300 to 2,450;

  • The number of children recruited in the fighting neared 1,580, up from 850 this time last year;

  • Attacks on schools more than quadrupled, from 50 to 212;

  • Attacks on hospitals and health facilities increased by one third, from 63 to 95.

Working with partners, UNICEF continues to provide urgent life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable children, including vaccinations, therapeutic food, and treatment for severe malnutrition, education support, psychosocial counselling and cash assistance.

On behalf of the children of Yemen, UNICEF is appealing for the following urgent measures:

  • An immediate political solution to the war in Yemen. Parties to the conflict must work to reach a negotiated solution, prioritizing and upholding the rights of children in the war-torn country.

  • An end to all grave violations of children’s rights. Children must be protected at all times.

  • An immediate and massive scale up of the multi-sectoral response to combat malnutrition among children and pregnant and lactating women. Improving humanitarian access throughout Yemen is a must to reach the most vulnerable.

  • Strengthening family coping mechanisms by supporting the provision of free and quality basic services - where possible at local levels - and the provision of cash assistance at scale.

“We need to act now to pull families back from the brink. The risks for generations to come are extremely high,” said Relaño.

Yemen: Families turning to extreme survival measures as war hits two year mark [EN/AR]

26 March 2017 - 6:42pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Yemen

Number of children injured, recruited in Yemen conflict nearly doubles in one year

SANA'A, 27 March 2016 – After two years of brutal conflict, families in Yemen are increasingly resorting to extreme measures to support their children, said UNICEF in a report released today as the war in the Middle East’s poorest country enters its third year.

Coping mechanisms have been severely eroded by the violence, which has turned Yemen into one of the largest food security and malnutrition emergencies in the world. Families are eating much less, opting for less nutritious food or skipping meals. Close to half a million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition - a 200 per cent increase since 2014 - raising the risk of famine.

The number of extremely poor and vulnerable people is skyrocketing. Around 80 per cent of families are in debt and half the population lives on less than US$2 a day, according to the report.

As family resources diminish, more and more children are being recruited by warring parties and pushed into early marriage. Over two thirds of girls are married off before they reach 18, compared to 50 per cent before the conflict escalated. And children are increasingly being used by armed parties as the fighting intensifies.

Yemen’s health system is on the verge of collapse, leaving close to 15 million men, women and children with no access to health care. An outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea in October 2016 continues to spread, with over 22,500 suspected cases and 106 deaths.

Up to 1,600 schools can no longer be used because they are destroyed, damaged, being used to host displaced families or occupied by parties to the conflict. Some 350,000 children are unable to continue their education as a result, bringing to 2 million the total number of children out of school

“The war in Yemen continues to claim children’s lives and their future,” said Meritxell Relaño, UNICEF Representative in Yemen. “Relentless fighting and destruction has scarred children for life. Families have been left destitute and are struggling to cope.”

The number of children killed in Yemen’s conflict increased by 70 per cent, and nearly twice as many children were injured and recruited into the fighting since March 2016 compared to the same period last year, the report says.

Citing United Nations-verified data, the report “Falling through the Cracks” notes that in the past year alone:

  • The number of children killed increased from 900 to more than 1,500;

  • The number of children injured nearly doubled, from 1,300 to 2,450;

  • The number of children recruited in the fighting neared 1,580, up from 850 this time last year;

  • Attacks on schools more than quadrupled, from 50 to 212;

  • Attacks on hospitals and health facilities increased by one third, from 63 to 95.

Working with partners, UNICEF continues to provide urgent life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable children, including vaccinations, therapeutic food, and treatment for severe malnutrition, education support, psychosocial counselling and cash assistance.

On behalf of the children of Yemen, UNICEF is appealing for the following urgent measures:

  • An immediate political solution to the war in Yemen. Parties to the conflict must work to reach a negotiated solution, prioritizing and upholding the rights of children in the war-torn country.

  • An end to all grave violations of children’s rights. Children must be protected at all times.

  • An immediate and massive scale up of the multi-sectoral response to combat malnutrition among children and pregnant and lactating women. Improving humanitarian access throughout Yemen is a must to reach the most vulnerable.

  • Strengthening family coping mechanisms by supporting the provision of free and quality basic services - where possible at local levels - and the provision of cash assistance at scale.

“We need to act now to pull families back from the brink. The risks for generations to come are extremely high,” said Relaño.

Syrian Arab Republic: Regional Overview of Food Insecurity: Near East and North Africa [EN/AR]

26 March 2017 - 12:16pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Egypt, Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen

Conflicts and protracted crises hamper progress made to end hunger in the Near East and North Africa

Severe food insecurity affects more than 30 million people

27 March 2017, Cairo - Food security and nutrition levels in the Near East and North Africa have sharply deteriorated over the last five years, undermining the steady improvement achieved before 2010 when food production had increased and the prevalence of undernourishment, stunting, anemia and poverty had decreased, a new FAO report said today.

The FAO Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in the Near East and North Africa noted that the deterioration is largely driven by the spreading and intensity of conflicts and protracted crises.

The assessment made by FAO using Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) shows that the prevalence of severe food insecurity in the adult population of the Near East and North Africa was close to 9.5 percent in 2014-2015, representing approximately 30 million people.

“The region is facing unprecedented challenges to its food security due to multiple risks arising from conflicts, water scarcity and climate change. Countries of the region need to implement long-term and comprehensive sustainable water management to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030,” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa. “A peaceful and stable environment is an absolute pre-condition for farmers to respond to the challenges of water scarcity and climate change.”

The Syria crisis in particular has deepened during the period 2015-2016, leaving more than half of the population in need of food assistance and 4.8 million refugees, mostly in neighboring countries. The numbers of food insecure and the internally displaced are also rising in Iraq and Yemen.

Beyond conflicts and crises, the report argues that water scarcity and climate change are the most fundamental challenges to ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030. Water scarcity is the binding factor to agricultural production in the Near East and North Africa region and the driver of the region’s dependency on food imports.

Building on the evidence accumulated in the framework of FAO’s Regional Water Scarcity Initiative in the Near East and North Africa, the report shows that climate change is expected to affect food security in terms of availability, access, stability and utilization. Most of the impacts of climate change will affect water availability.

The FAO Regional Overview underlines the urgency to develop and implement strategies for sustainable management of water resources and to adapt to the impact of climate change on water resources and agriculture. It documents several positive experiences in sustainable management of water resources and climate change adaptation in the region and highlights the importance of accelerating investments aimed at improving water efficiency and water productivity as well as the need for a shift in cropping patterns towards less water-consuming crops.

The report explores other major options for the adaptation to climate change impacts on water and agriculture, including the need for designing and implementing social protection measures for building resilience of farmers to extreme events, cutting food losses and improving trade policies.

The report stresses on the importance of building a strong evidence base for assessing the impact of climate change on food security and for the formulation of sound and flexible water adaptation measures and agricultural policies. It calls for strengthened regional collaboration to face the massive challenge of water scarcity and climate change, building on the strong political will expressed by the leaders of the region and building on the positive experiences in many countries.

Ould Ahmed noted that “sustainable agriculture and water management should include strategies and policies to improve irrigation efficiency, establish sustainable ground water management, promote incentives for farmers to shift to crops with higher economic returns per drop, cut food losses and waste, promote sustainable consumption of cereals and enhance resilience of vulnerable population and farmers to food price and climate shocks.”

“Achieving food security is still al hand, provided we take concerted efforts and make the right moves now,” he added.

For more information, please contact:
FAO Communication Officer Mowaffaq Al-Refai
E-mail: mowaffaq.alrefai@fao.org
+9647801627585

Syrian Arab Republic: Conflicts and protracted crises hamper progress made to end hunger in the Near East and North Africa [EN/AR]

26 March 2017 - 12:16pm
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Country: Egypt, Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen

Severe food insecurity affects more than 30 million people

27 March 2017, Cairo - Food security and nutrition levels in the Near East and North Africa have sharply deteriorated over the last five years, undermining the steady improvement achieved before 2010 when food production had increased and the prevalence of undernourishment, stunting, anemia and poverty had decreased, a new FAO report said today.

The FAO Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in the Near East and North Africa noted that the deterioration is largely driven by the spreading and intensity of conflicts and protracted crises.

The assessment made by FAO using Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) shows that the prevalence of severe food insecurity in the adult population of the Near East and North Africa was close to 9.5 percent in 2014-2015, representing approximately 30 million people.

“The region is facing unprecedented challenges to its food security due to multiple risks arising from conflicts, water scarcity and climate change. Countries of the region need to implement long-term and comprehensive sustainable water management to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030,” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa. “A peaceful and stable environment is an absolute pre-condition for farmers to respond to the challenges of water scarcity and climate change.”

The Syria crisis in particular has deepened during the period 2015-2016, leaving more than half of the population in need of food assistance and 4.8 million refugees, mostly in neighboring countries. The numbers of food insecure and the internally displaced are also rising in Iraq and Yemen.

Beyond conflicts and crises, the report argues that water scarcity and climate change are the most fundamental challenges to ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030. Water scarcity is the binding factor to agricultural production in the Near East and North Africa region and the driver of the region’s dependency on food imports.

Building on the evidence accumulated in the framework of FAO’s Regional Water Scarcity Initiative in the Near East and North Africa, the report shows that climate change is expected to affect food security in terms of availability, access, stability and utilization. Most of the impacts of climate change will affect water availability.

The FAO Regional Overview underlines the urgency to develop and implement strategies for sustainable management of water resources and to adapt to the impact of climate change on water resources and agriculture. It documents several positive experiences in sustainable management of water resources and climate change adaptation in the region and highlights the importance of accelerating investments aimed at improving water efficiency and water productivity as well as the need for a shift in cropping patterns towards less water-consuming crops.

The report explores other major options for the adaptation to climate change impacts on water and agriculture, including the need for designing and implementing social protection measures for building resilience of farmers to extreme events, cutting food losses and improving trade policies.

The report stresses on the importance of building a strong evidence base for assessing the impact of climate change on food security and for the formulation of sound and flexible water adaptation measures and agricultural policies. It calls for strengthened regional collaboration to face the massive challenge of water scarcity and climate change, building on the strong political will expressed by the leaders of the region and building on the positive experiences in many countries.

Ould Ahmed noted that “sustainable agriculture and water management should include strategies and policies to improve irrigation efficiency, establish sustainable ground water management, promote incentives for farmers to shift to crops with higher economic returns per drop, cut food losses and waste, promote sustainable consumption of cereals and enhance resilience of vulnerable population and farmers to food price and climate shocks.”

“Achieving food security is still al hand, provided we take concerted efforts and make the right moves now,” he added.

For more information, please contact:
FAO Communication Officer Mowaffaq Al-Refai
E-mail: mowaffaq.alrefai@fao.org
+9647801627585

Yemen: Two years since escalation of war, Yemen left isolated and starving

26 March 2017 - 2:09am
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council Country: Yemen

Two years of full-scale war has driven Yemen to the verge of famine. 17 million people, or two out of three Yemenis, do not know from where they will get their next meal.

“People have started dying quietly in their homes,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council's Secretary General, Jan Egeland. “We are witnessing ruthless war tactics against civilians by both parties to the conflict, resulting in civilians starving. Now we are also extremely concerned that the country’s main port will cease functioning and Yemen’s last lifeline will be lost.”

More than three million women and children are already suffering from acute malnutrition in the poorest country in the region. Earlier this month, hunger took the life of 15-year-old Mohammed in Taiz. From being one of almost half a million children at immediate risk of starvation, he became one of the tens of thousands making up the grim statistics of the silent deaths in the poor country. Mohammed died alone in his room while his father was out looking for some odd jobs to get food for his children.

A displaced mother of five children living in an abandoned building in Amran said: “I would rather be killed by an airstrike than see my children die slowly of starvation,” one mother told NRC.

“Without aid, the situation in Yemen would be even worse, but humanitarian organisations alone cannot meet the enormous scale of the needs,” Egeland said.

Yemen imports 90 per cent of its food. Restrictions on imports mean that food is not coming in in the volume needed. Severe food shortages and a complete collapse of the economy have left humanitarian organisations trying to fill the gap left by a crumbling commercial sector Aid is difficult to deliver on the ground, with organisations facing constant bureaucratic constraints and regular interference by authorities as they try to provide assistance.

“We as humanitarians are faced with a blockade imposed by the Saudi-led Coalition that hinders aid from reaching Yemen, in addition to security and bureaucratic barriers to deliver lifesaving assistance within the country. We are ready to respond, but without an end to the fighting, Yemenis will continue to suffer, and it will only get worse,” Egeland said.

There are now mounting concerns that the ongoing fighting could halt the supply of lifesaving goods through the country’s main port in Al Hudaydah at the Red Sea coast. A staggering 70 per cent of Yemen’s imports enter through the port, making it the most important lifeline for commercial and humanitarian supplies into the country.

“Suggestions that adequate alternative routes could be found if Al Hudaydah port were to be closed are just fantasy,” Egeland said. “Closing that port will literally mean cutting off a lifeline for millions of Yemenis.”

Governments that have the influence and leverage to change the situation are also to blame for their tacit, and at times direct, complicity. It has been more than one and a half years since the UN Security Council produced a meaningful new resolution on Yemen.

“The UN Security Council has been shamefully absent on Yemen,” Egeland said. “While children die, world leaders appear to be sitting idly by, as if this was inevitable. This is all man-made. Some governments that should have concentrated more on promoting peace have rather poured fuel onto the fire. They must insist on a political solution to the conflict and on keeping land, sea and air routes into Yemen open. A continuation of the blockade will starve an entire nation.”

Key facts:

Some 19 million people – over two thirds of the total Yemeni population – require some form of humanitarian assistance or protection to meet their basic needs.
More than 3 million people have been displaced by violence.
Around 17 million people suffer from food insecurity, including more than 3 million children, pregnant and lactating women suffering from acute malnutrition.
An additional 462,000 children face immediate risk of death from severe acute malnutrition.
Achieving all targets in the Humanitarian Response Plan will cost an estimated USD2.1 billion. Only 8 per cent of that funding has been received thus far.

NRC in Yemen:

In 2016, NRC reached 1,2 million people with lifesaving assistance NRC’s assistance in Yemen includes food, shelter, water, and education.
NRC serves people in the governorates of Amran, Hajja, Taiz, Al Hudaydah, Lahj, Aden and Amanet Al Asima

Note to editors:

NRC has spokespeople available for interviews in Yemen and in the region.
Photos and B-roll for free use and distribution can be downloaded from here: INSERT LINKS

Press Contacts:

Yemen: Yemen: Attack on Refugee Boat Likely War Crime

26 March 2017 - 12:17am
Source: Human Rights Watch Country: Somalia, Yemen

Failed Investigations into Abuses as War Turns 2

(Beirut) – An apparent Saudi-led coalition attack on a boat carrying Somali civilians off the coast of Yemen highlights the need for accountability on the second anniversary of the Yemeni armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said today. Several witnesses reported that on March 16, 2017, a helicopter fired on the boat, killing at least 32 of the 145 Somali migrants and refugees on board and one Yemeni civilian. Another 29, including six children, were wounded, and 10 more remain missing. Photos of the boat taken the next day show damage consistent with gunfire from an aerial attack.

All the parties to the conflict denied responsibility for the attack. Only the Saudi-led coalition has military aircraft. The Houthi-Saleh forces do not. Somalia, which supports the coalition, called on the coalition to investigate. But the coalition has repeatedly shown itself unable or unwilling to credibly investigate its own abuses.

“The coalition’s apparent firing on a boat filled with fleeing refugees is only the latest likely war crime in Yemen’s two-year-long war,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Reckless disregard for the lives of civilians has reached a new level of depravity.”

One of the boat’s four Yemeni crew members told Human Rights Watch that the boat was about 50 kilometers off the coast of the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, traveling away from Yemen, when it was attacked. That evening the captain had told the passengers to be quiet as they were transiting through “a very dangerous place,” two people onboard told Human Rights Watch. Earlier in the journey a vessel had approached and told the crew to stop the boat, but the boat continued.

Four people aboard the boat said that at about 9 p.m. they saw a helicopter repeatedly shoot at the boat. A Somali woman refugee, 25, who was wounded in the attack, said, “All of a sudden, I saw a helicopter above us. ... They attacked abruptly. … When they kept firing at us, those of us who spoke Arabic kept saying, ‘We are Somalis!’” Another woman said that she was hit by a fragment from an explosive weapon. A crew member and others said a large naval ship also fired on the boat.

After the attack, the boat docked at Hodeida port at about 4:30 a.m. The head of the fishing port, Daoud Fadel, said, “We couldn’t find a place to put the bodies, so we had to put them in the place where we store the fish.” Another witness said that, in addition to those who had been taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, about 15 men were wounded from bullets or fragments during the attack.

Both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi-Saleh forces denied carrying out the attack. The official state news agency of the United Arab Emirates reported that a UAE military source denied that its forces had been involved and welcomed an international investigation into the incident. Coalition members have naval vessels patrolling access to the Hodeida coast, while Houthi-Saleh forces maintain control over the port. The US, which has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also denied carrying out the attack.

Under the laws of war, attacks against civilians that are deliberate or reckless are war crimes.

Since March 26, 2015, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has carried out military operations, supported by the United States, against Houthi forces and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The coalition has conducted numerous airstrikes that have unlawfully struck homes, markets, hospitals, and schools.

The Houthi-Saleh forces have indiscriminately shelled civilian neighborhoods, recruited child soldiers, and arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared scores of civilians. Since the start of the current conflict, at least 4,773 civilians had been killed and 8,272 wounded, the majority by coalition airstrikes, according to the United Nations human rights office.

Human Rights Watch has documented 62 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes, some of which may amount to war crimes, that have killed nearly 900 civilians, and documented seven indiscriminate attacks by Houthi-Saleh forces in Aden and Taizz that killed 139 people, including at least eight children. Human Rights Watch has also documented the Houthi-Saleh forces use of banned antipersonnel landmines and the coalition’s use of widely banned cluster munitions. Both parties have blocked or restricted critical relief supplies from reaching civilians.

On March 23, 2017, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an international, independent commission of inquiry into allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all sides in Yemen, a call repeatedly made by national, regional, and international organizations over the past two years.

The UN Human Rights Council fell short of establishing a full stand-alone inquiry in September 2016, but passed a resolution mandating the UN human rights office to deploy additional human rights experts to investigate abuses by all sides. Governments should fully support the office’s expanded investigative mandate in the absence of a standalone international inquiry, Human Rights Watch said.

The Saudi-led coalition-appointed Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) has failed to meet international standards. It has absolved the coalition of responsibility in nearly all of the 17 incidents it has so far investigated and released findings that differed drastically from those of the UN and others.

Although the coalition has conducted widespread unlawful attacks, the United States, United Kingdom, and France continue to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch was not able to determine which coalition member carried out the attack on the refugee boat, but the US State Department has approved licenses for the sale or servicing of military helicopters to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Jordan. Governments should suspend all weapon sales to Saudi Arabia or risk complicity in future unlawful coalition attacks, Human Rights Watch said.

“Despite the growing mountain of evidence of coalition abuses, the US, UK, and France seem more focused on selling arms to the Saudis than on their possible complicity in coalition war crimes,” Whitson said. “After two years of unlawful attacks on civilians and civilian structures, Saudi Arabia’s allies should reconsider their support and use their leverage with Riyadh to end the violations.”