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South Sudan: Full transcript of Secretary-General's Joint Press Conference on Humanitarian Crises in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen

22 February 2017 - 11:10pm
Source: UN Secretary-General Country: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen

[with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark; Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Stephen O’Brien; Ms. Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (by video conference); Ms. Carla Mucavi, Director of FAO Liaison Office in New York, and Mr. Justin Forsyth, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF]

Spokesman: Good afternoon. We are joined by the Secretary-General, by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Administrator, Helen Clark; the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien – who are here at the front table; and you see behind me Ertharin Cousin [by video conference], the Executive Director of the World Food Programme. And we also have here in the front row, Carla Mucavi [Director] of the FAO Liaison Office [in New York], and Justin Forsyth, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. We will let the Secretary-General open up, and then we will take your questions.

Sir, you have the floor.

Secretary-General: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you very much for coming.

I am here with my colleagues to draw the world’s attention to the fact that today, more than 20 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and north-east Nigeria are going hungry, and facing devastating levels of food insecurity.

Famine is already a reality in parts of South Sudan. Unless we act now, it is only a matter of time until it affects other areas and other countries. We are facing a tragedy; we must avoid it becoming a catastrophe. This is preventable if the international community takes decisive action.

The situation is dire. Millions of people are barely surviving in the space between malnutrition and death, vulnerable to diseases and outbreaks, forced to kill their animals for food and eat the grain they saved for next year’s seeds.

Throughout South Sudan, almost 5 million people desperately need food; famine has already been declared in two counties. Across North-East Nigeria, some 5.1 million people face serious food shortages. Women and girls are disproportionately affected, and nearly half a million children are suffering severe acute malnutrition. Even if they survive, this may affect their health and development throughout their lives.

In Somalia, food prices are rising, animals are dying, and almost one million children under the age of 5 will be acutely malnourished this year. Yemen is facing the largest food insecurity emergency in the world, with an estimated 7.3 million people needing help now.

United Nations agencies are deployed with plans in place for all these countries, and we are scaling up the response. In North-East Nigeria, humanitarians are reaching more than two million people with food assistance. In South Sudan, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners aim to assist 5.8 million people this year; in Somalia, 5.5 million people and in Yemen 8.3 [million].

We are also stepping up cooperation between humanitarian and development agencies, including the World Bank, strengthening collaboration, coordination and alignment and working [towards] common goals. Saving lives is the first priority, but we are also looking to build longer-term resilience to shocks.

I have asked the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and the Emergency Relief Coordinator to take immediate action to ensure a coordinated long-term approach. They will set up a steering committee to link the United Nations Development Group and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee for humanitarian assistance.

One of the biggest obstacles we face now is funding. Humanitarian operations in these four countries require more than $5.6 billion this year. We need at least $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe. Despite some generous pledges, just $90 million has actually been received so far – around two cents for every dollar needed. We are in the beginning of the year but these numbers are very worrying.

Funding shortages have already forced the World Food Programme to cut rations in Yemen by more than half since last year. Without new resources, critical shortages will worsen within months.

These four crises are very different, but they have one thing in common. They are all preventable.

They all stem from conflict, which we must do much more to prevent and resolve.

But even now, we can prevent the worst effects, if we act urgently and strongly.

I urge all members of the international community to step up and to do whatever is in their power, whether that is mobilizing support, exerting political pressure on parties to conflict, or funding humanitarian operations.

I want to make a personal appeal to the parties to conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and allow aid workers access to reach people in desperate need. Without access, hundreds of thousands of people could die, even if we have the resources to help them.

The lives of millions of people depend on our collective ability to act. In our world of plenty, there is no excuse for inaction or indifference. We have heard the alerts. Now there is no time to lose.

Thank you. I would like to ask my two colleagues to complete my introduction. We will be distributing also a small fact sheet with the key data relevant to this crisis.

Mr O'Brien: Secretary-General, thank you very much, indeed. And I use this opportunity very briefly to re-emphasise how much working together with development partners we want to both help people to survive, but also to have the opportunity to build a more durable solution so that they can have the opportunity to not be left in vulnerability.

More than 20 million people in South Sudan, in Somalia, in Yemen, and in Northeastern Nigeria are facing famine or at risk of famine or starvation over the next six months. And that includes 1.4 million children, who are currently at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition.

And the point that is so important to emphasise, which the Secretary-General has outlined, is these famines can be averted if we act now. The lesson from the 2011 Somalia famine was, by the time we declared famine broadly as a world, half those who died had already died. So, this is why we're sounding the alarm now so that we can actually make the difference to avert the catastrophe.

And it builds on the enormous advocacy for all four countries, which is why we already have in place many of the aid workers and agencies and implementing partners, both at international and national level, and working with and through governments where they have that capacity to respond to make sure that we are averting what we can see is a famine through these many causes, different as they are, but with the common theme of conflict, which has to be in the context of trying to prevent, as well.

We basically need at least $4.4 billion of funds to come in by the end of March in order for us to make that scale-up and that difference. And I can give the assurance that we are ready to scale up, providing those funds are forthcoming and providing the access in order to reach all the people in need wherever they are is made available to the very brave and committed aid workers, both in place and who we can surge on the back of increased funding.

And it's to focus on food, nutrition, water, and sanitation and hygiene and health. Those will be the interventions, and, to the extent that we need to reprogramme from already the very detailed plans for meeting humanitarian needs in these countries, they are being reprogrammed to make sure that we meet these immediate needs but, at the same time, sew in the opportunity to build a more durable resilience to the shocks of the future.

I think I'll leave Helen Clark very much at that point as that segues, I think, into how we want to look at this in a comprehensive way.

Ms Clark: Thank you very much. And, definitely, there's a total commitment on the part of the development actors to work extremely closely with OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and the humanitarian actors on the new way of working in crisis which was agreed at the World Humanitarian Summit between us.

Clearly, the primary objective here is to save lives in the face of extremely dire circumstances, and part of saving lives is also about building the resilience for the future. A lot is underway. What we are doing is being retargeted, reprioritized. Everything can be scaled up.

Now, you may say, what does resilience actually involve in circumstances like this? I want to give you just a very brief flavour of what is involved. Take South Sudan. A number of the agencies are working together -- that's UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), World Food Programme, FAO -- on a comprehensive approach around stabilisation and recovery, access to basic social services, reinvigorating livelihoods locally, and enhancing the capacity of the local governments to deliver the services they need to deliver.

Another aspect of it, in Somalia, where UNDP and OCHA are jointly supporting the research and disaster preparedness agency to do its job in Somaliland and also in Puntland, supporting humanitarian affairs and disaster management agencies and supporting formation of local disaster committees. The local actors are incredibly important in this.

In Yemen, a number of the agencies, including UNICEF, including UNDP, are enormously supported now by major World Bank programming, coming in to support water distribution systems, solar water pumps and greenhouses, to support agricultural production. There's a lot that can be done.

So the joint focus on saving lives, the food, the nutrition support bridging into saving the lives of animals, supporting the agricultural production, where possible, this joined-up approach can be done. It will work, but it does need the support that the Secretary-General is appealing for. Thank you.

Spokesman: Ertharin, do you want to add a few words?

Ms Cousin: Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate with you here today. I have very few words, to avoid repeating anything my colleagues have said.

In each of these four countries as… as the parties… as my colleagues noted, the plans are in place. The people are prepared to perform the work that is necessary. What we need are the financial resources that have been identified by my colleagues as well as the access.

This is a very different situation than even in Somalia than we were in in 2011. In Somalia today, as compared to 2011, you have a functioning government. The markets are functioning. What we need are the resources to ensure that we can give access to the food that is available to those who have suffered from two years of drought and also, as the meteorologists are telling us, that there… that the next rains will also fail.

And so acting now before we reach the height of the lean season, in each one of these countries, will ensure our ability to provide the support that is necessary.

So I am prepared to answer any questions about the plans that we have in place. And [audio gap] with the 1.2 billion that's required from WFP to meet the needs of those through this lean season will be deployed to scale up, to address the challenges, to avoid what we all see on the horizon, which is a famine in each one of these countries if we fail to act. Thank you very much.

Questions and Answers

Spokesman: Thank you. Sherwin, go ahead.

Question: Thanks, Steph. It's quite an esteemed panel led by the Secretary-General himself. On behalf of the UN Correspondents Association, thank you very much. And I think it speaks to the seriousness of the issue. I guess the short question would be: How on earth did we get here again? I think it's unconscionable that we are again seeing starving black children on television screens around the world. This was something that happened in the '90s, at the beginning of the century. It's unconscionable that in 2017 we are again seeing these images. So the question, I think, is: What role does race and region have to play in this conversation we're having today?

Secretary-General: Well, first of all, these things are repeating themselves, and I believe there are two very important factors that explain why they are repeating themselves. One is conflict, and conflict is, of course, having devastating humanitarian consequences. The second is a number of situations of drought are being accelerated by climate change. We always had drought. We always had desertification. But climate change works as a key enhancer of other factors -- desertification, food insecurity, water scarcity. And so, not only we have the repetition of crisis, but we risk to have more and more and with more devastating consequences. In this area, it is obvious that the cooperation with regional and national and local entities is absolutely crucial. And I think that we can clearly underline that… namely the African context, with the cooperation of the UN, with the African Union is today an example of cooperation. We are more and more also relying on the different sub-regional organisations.

Spokesman: Thank you. Rosiland, Al Jazeera.

Question: Thank you, Mr Secretary-General. Rosiland Jordan with Al Jazeera English. A multipart question, and it goes to the funding. In light of concerns that the new US Government may cut its spending on foreign aid, including on humanitarian relief, and in light of the fact that recent appeals to help the people of Syria, for example, haven't been met 100 per cent, how confident are you that the world will step up, fully fund this latest appeal? Can the UN count on the same level of support from the US as it has in previous years? And, finally, how worried are you in general about this concept of donor fatigue? Have people simply said, we need to take care of our own people and countries where these crises are happening, where the risk of famine is so great, they need to find a way to take care of their own people? How do you answer that?

Secretary-General: First of all, I don't think there is donor fatigue. There is a lot of talk about donor fatigue, but if you look at the numbers, humanitarian aid has been growing every year. And my experience at UNHCR for ten years was that, indeed, our resources have been growing every year. The problem is that they are not growing as quickly as the needs are growing. This is the drama. It's not a donor fatigue. It's an increasing impact of different factors to make humanitarian needs exploding in our worlds. Now, we had a combination of factors. We had El Niño. We have now different other weather patterns with similar effects. We have a multiplication of conflicts that became particularly dramatic from the point of view of access. So we are facing now in this regard a situation in which either we act now or we will have a devastating situation of famine widespread in several parts of Africa and in Yemen. Now, if we act now, it will be cheaper. And so, raising awareness now, when we have the capacity in place and where the resources can be used in the most effective way, is the best way also to avoid a much bigger humanitarian assistance and unfortunately coming too late. And I don't want to need the images of children dying in big numbers alerting the public conscience of states to allow for them to finally come with their support. This is the moment in which this support cannot solve naturally many of the problems that exist and they are already very dramatic but prevent the worst. So, what we are appealing for is not only something that human conscience should guide governments to deliver, independently of the country that we are talking about, but it is also the smart way. It limits the suffering, and it allows for a better use of resources and not to have… coming too late to then spend much more but with much less effective impact on the ground.

Spokesman: Thank you. Nizar?

Question: Thank you, Mr Guterres. Nizar Abboud, Al-Mayadeen Television in Lebanon. The conflict in Yemen started with the humanitarian crisis, of course. There is an inspection and verification mechanism in the Red Sea and it doesn't look like it is working for some time. You've been to Saudi Arabia recently and visited United Arab Emirates. Did you raise this issue with them? And what's hampering aid from reaching the dying children in Yemen? They are dying at a rate of ten, every ten minutes a person.

Secretary-General: Humanitarian access is vital. I mentioned that very clearly in my statement. We are appealing simultaneously for funds, and for all those that are parties to the conflict to grant humanitarian access. Unfortunately, we have seen in Yemen and in many parts of the world where conflicts take place limitations to humanitarian access for different kinds of pretexts. My appeal is that the situation is so dire, the consequences are so dramatic, this is the moment in which international humanitarian law must be respected by all and access must be granted to all areas where people are suffering these kind of problems.

Spokesman: Herman, BBC Afrique.

Question: Right, thank you. Herman Houngbo from LC2 and BBC Afrique. And I'm going to ask my question in French. I would appreciate if you could answer me in French. Les conflits sont l’une des causes des crises humanitaires que vous évoquez aujourd’hui. L’une des priorités de l’Organisation des Nations Unies, c’est de protéger les civils, tout comme ce fut le cas en Libye. A quand une résolution ou un engagement international aujourd’hui, pour tacler Boko Haram par exemple qui affecte des millions de personnes dans la zone du Lac Tchad et dans la zone ouest-africaine par exemple? Et que répondez-vous à ces organisations non-gouvernementales qui, pour le cas dun Soudan du Sud, estiment que les autorités sud-soudanaises are not qualified for the job?

Secretary-General: C’est vrai que nous avons de sérieux problèmes de protection des civils. Non seulement à cause des actions des forces armées et des milices, mais aussi à cause des limitations des missions, notamment des Nations Unies. Vous avez mentionné le [Soudan du Sud], le mandat de la mission des Nations Unies limite strictement la capacité de mouvement de la mission, notamment pour la protection des civils. C’est une des questions que d’ailleurs je viens de discuter à Addis [Abeba] pendant le sommet de l’Union africaine et avec les autorités sud-soudanaises, et avec l’IGAD [Autorité intergouvernementale pour le développement] et l’Union africaine. Je crois qu’il nous faut, ce n’est pas l’objet de cette conférence de presse, mais c’est évident que la protection des civils et le respect du droit international humanitaire sont des conditions essentielles pour que l’aide humanitaire soit efficace.

Spokesman: Pam, yes.

Question: Thank you. Thank you to the panel. It's Pamela Falk from CBS News. Secretary-General, you've mentioned that all of this is preventable. Tony Lake said yesterday it was man-made. And I'm going back to Sherwin's question a bit. How did it get this far so that, in one month's time, I mean, there's over a million children that are about to die? Was it neglect? Was it the combination that you mentioned? I mean, Ms Clark also mentioned it. What… what made it happen… what… what happened, neglect? I mean, how did it get this bad so urgently? And then, just as a piece of that, do you think in a few weeks’ time, you will get $4 billion and where are you looking? Thank you.

Secretary-General: First, this has been a combination of factors. We are not starting to act. In all these areas, our people together with the NGOs, the Red Cross-Red Crescent movement are acting. Now, what we are now seeing is an overwhelming growth of the problem. And before it explodes, we are alerting the world to make sure that we can scale up the action to meet the requirements of this worsening of the situation we are now witnessing. I do believe that we are in the beginning of the year. Many countries still have a lot of budget resources available. I do believe that, if there is a clear conscience of the problem we are facing and the clear conscience of the problems we might face if we do not act, I do believe that governments will step up and that other donors will step up, and we will be able to fund the operations that are already taking place but will be scaled up as soon as resources allow it.

Question: And just a clarification. Is the 1 billion that Ms Cousins talked about part of the four…

Secretary-General: Yes, yes.

Question: Does that offset the four…

Secretary-General: Yes, yes.

Spokesman: Kyodo News.

Question: Thank you, Secretary-General. I'm Takagi from Kyodo, Japan's news agency. I have a question on South Sudan. United Nations Security Council failed to adopt a resolution to import arms embargo on South Sudan last December, and Japanese Ambassador said it's counterproductive for peace and security in South Sudan. On the other hand, United States and UK and France and other countries said it’s only way to prevent possible genocide. So Security Council seems to be divided still now. So what is your stance on arms embargo? Thank you.

Secretary-General: Well, first of all, that is a decision of the Security Council, and we don't control the Security Council and its decisions. But immediately after I went to the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development)… to the African Union summit, and we reached in a summit between IGAD, the regional organisation, African Union and the UN a total agreement on a strategy aiming at, on one side, create conditions for the prevention of the kind of genocide you are talking about. And until now, we have been relatively successful on that, with full support of all the countries of the region putting pressure on the authorities in South Sudan in that regard. Second, we have now a common strategy in relation to the need for an inclusive national dialogue, and Mr [Alpha Oumar] Konaré, President Konaré, the envoy of the African Union, together with our own envoy, and the envoy of IGAD are shuttling between the parties and between the countries of the region to make sure that this condition is met. And, at the same time, we are revitalizing the conditions to allow for the mission to be more effective and for the regional protection force to be implemented. So we do not stop just complaining about the fact that one or another decision doesn't correspond to our aims. We act in order to create the conditions to prevent underground the kind of catastrophic development that you have mentioned.

Spokesman: Raghida.

Question: Yeah. It’s Raghida Dergham, Al Hayat. Mr Secretary-General, during your recent trip to the region to the Middle East, to the Gulf area, I'm sure you raised the issue of the need that they should contribute generously to not only Yemen but also Somalia and Sudan. Did you get any pledges? Did you get any commitments that made you feel that, yes, they are serious about giving on these issues? And, secondly, what strategy might you be thinking about to engage the private sector? I know that there has been the strategy of engaging the celebrities to come in every now and then and help out when you're putting out such a plea. Have you been thinking about a new strategy to engage the private sector in these countries and outside these countries? Because many of them get away with it. They just claim that they want to contribute, and they really don't do as much as they should. Thank you.

Secretary-General: Well, this visit was not to seek financial commitments. It was a political visit. But I must say that I am pretty confident that the countries of the region that you mentioned will step up also and respond to this appeal. And in relation to the private sector in general and to the private sector in particular in the Gulf, there is a number of initiatives that several of our agencies have already launched, and there are forms of cooperation that have been quite positive. I can tell you, for instance, in my past capacity, we were in contact with a group of companies based… the group was based in Dubai, that allowed for a very important mobilisation of private sector support from the area. And I believe that all agencies are doing the same, and I'd like to ask Stephen O'Brien to give eventually some details that I'm not yet entirely aware of.

Mr O'Brien: Well, I think it's very clear that already being present in these countries and having already had the agencies working with international, local national NGOs, millions of lives have already been saved. It's the compound effect which the Secretary-General has highlighted which has brought us to this point in trying to avert the worst as so many things have come together at once and in the context of conflict. But, even within that, particularly -- and Ertharin Cousin may want to add -- WFP has been working extensively and very effectively with the contributions of the private sector both in terms of a sense of partnership but also, not just in terms of finance, also in kind and skills and ensuring that we have the ability to extend into the latest technological opportunities to give us the most efficient way to reach people in need wherever they are and in line with our humanitarian principles. So, with your indulgence, sir, Secretary-General, as I say, Ertharin Cousin may want to give a specific example which might help you.

Spokesman: Ertharin?

Ms Cousin: Thank you very much, Stephen, and Mr Secretary. Let me just tell you that WFP has ongoing relationships with private sector companies both in the region, in the Middle East, as well as globally. Those companies are now being mobilised by our private sector division and along with part… the other UN agencies, including in… UNICEF in particular where we're working together to drive out messaging… messages to the private sector in support of nutrition and food security in each these countries. I can tell you that it's not just about cash, as Stephen said. We also have a partnership… an ongoing partnership with both Facebook and Google who are providing us with information about those individuals who are in need of our assistance in areas where we don't have regular access. So we are using the private sector to increase our capacity to serve as well as to provide us with additional financial resources.

Spokesman: Thank you. Abdelhamid.

Question: Thank you. My name is Abdelhamid Siyam from the Arabic Daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi. That's based in London. And my question, Mr Secretary-General, about the report had been put by a number of UN agencies, it's called Gaza 2020. This report says that life will not be sustainable in Gaza in the year 2020 if nothing could be done to alleviate the suffering and the disastrous consequences of conflicts in Gaza in particular. First, why there is no more… no shedding light on this disaster? And are you prepared to do something about the disaster situation in Gaza? And have you raised the issue of Gaza in your meeting with the leaders of the region? Thank you very much.

Secretary-General: The answer is obviously in reference to your last question. Yes, of course. This is about situations that correspond to an immediate emergency. We are not talking here of all the protracted humanitarian situations in the world, and Gaza is one of the protracted humanitarian situations in the world. And, of course, this report corresponds exactly to our position and to our appeal. This is an immediate answer to situations that can explode, from the humanitarian point of view, tomorrow. But the protracted crises remain, and they also need to be effectively supported with the adequate response, and Gaza is obviously one of our priorities in that regard.

Spokesman: Thank you. Majeed.

Question: Thank you, Mr Secretary-General, and the panel. This is Majeed Gly from Rudaw Media Network. Mr Secretary-General, from day one, you focussed on… one of your priorities has been prevention of conflict, and I wanted to ask you about that with regard to Iraq. The US and other international partners with the UN are rightly so focussed on the humanitarian and the military aspect of the war against ISIS in Iraq. But there seems to be all the international actors forgot about the political future of Iraq after ISIS, which is… many call it a ticking time bomb, what's going on there. Why the UN didn't… don't take the initiative to start talking of a… starting a framework talk about the future of Iraq after ISIS just like we are seeing the same process in Syria? Totally different situation, but it's a political process the UN can take charge of. And my other related question is, last week, you met with of President of Kurdistan region of Iraq, Masoud Barzani. What did you talk about with him? And did he raise the issue of the prospect of the independence of Kurdistan, as he raised it with Vice President [Michael] Pence? Thank you very much.

Secretary-General: Well, I don't see a direct link between your question and what we are dealing today. And, obviously, we can discuss all problems in the world, but I will answer your question. But the objective is not to divert the attention from this, because obviously, we have a very clear message. There is a dramatic emergency situation, and it needs a response. There are many other problems in the world. We are dealing with them. I met recently with the Prime Minister [Haider al] Abadi and President Barzani, and we have been saying consistently there is no way to defeat terrorism if you don't find political solutions to the different crises. And, obviously, one of the things we need in Iraq is an inclusive political solution in which all Iraqis feel that they are part of the new Iraq. Obviously, this was in the centre of my discussions with both Prime Minister Abadi and President Barzani.

Spokesman: Let's go to the next question. Associated Press, please.

Question: Thank you, Jennifer Peltz from the Associated Press. It's a bit of a technical question. What is the threshold for declaring a situation to be a famine? And how close are the other places to that status, other than the counties where it's already been declared?

Mr O'Brien: We use a number of measures. There's some very technical terms I'm going to… in terms of actual famine, it's very important because the people who absolutely have to interpret when the famine is declared are, of course, the main people who can do something about it. So I'm going to turn to Ertharin Cousin, because I think it's really important you hear it from where the trigger point happens. But we use number of inputs, not least FuseNet and others who categorize where we are in terms of people who are either starving, who are on the brink of famine and those who absolutely are not getting any kind of access to sufficient nutrition and people who are on the verge of dying or where we have had a number of deaths which are clearly attributable. But I think it's very important you hear directly from Ertharin Cousin.

Spokesman: Ertharin?

Ms Cousin: Thank you very much for turning to me on this. As you said, it's a very technical answer. There is a technical group that we call the IPC that includes WFP, FAO, FuseNet, and the surveys are performed. And what the data that is required is that there's a certain number of deaths per thousand that determine exactly when a famine is… has occurred. That is the situation in these two counties in Unity State in South Sudan today is that they have met that threshold number of deaths required to actually call a hunger situation a famine situation.

Spokesman: Thank you. Sam Oakford and that will have to be the last question.

Question: Thanks. I want to ask a question on Yemen given this is meant to be an emergency press conference in a way and not just the usual request for humanitarian funding. There's a situation in Hudaydah and the potential situation in Hudaydah, the port, where a lot of the food comes in currently, some of it is not getting in, but there's also the potential for military action there. And I'm wondering if you can comment on that and what effect that could have on the situation in Yemen going forward.

Secretary-General: Well, we have no information about what kind of military operations will be or not launched. What we are always saying is that what matters is that all parties to a conflict respect international humanitarian law and the law for access in relation to populations in dramatic situations, as it is the case, obviously, in Yemen.

Question: Can I ask a follow-up on Yemen, just a quick follow-up on Yemen? Okay. Thank you. It's Joseph Klein, Canada Free Press. According to this handout, 462,000 children are currently suffering severe acute malnutrition in Yemen. And, as you know, Saudi Arabia, which is a party to the conflict, leading the Coalition that has caused a number of… quite a number of civilian deaths, they were removed from a list of countries that were found to have committed violence against children. And I'm wondering to what extent -- you mentioned engaging parties to the conflict -- that you are going to specifically interact with the leaders of Saudi Arabia to try to influence them in relation to how they are conducting their operations. Thank you.

Secretary-General: In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I had occasion to ask for and to interact with the actors exactly in relation to the measures that can be taken in order to avoid the kind of collateral damage in a war that can have the consequences that you mentioned. It was one of the key points I have discussed with the Saudi authorities, in relation to which I had an extensive briefing on the situation and education to express my concern and the concern to make sure that everything is done to limit… in a war there is always, unfortunately, collateral damage but to limit maximum as possible death that collateral damage.

Spokesman: Great. Thank you very much.

[Briefing concludes at 2:40 p.m.]

Yemen: Paving the road for safer access in Alkhaisheen-Lahj

22 February 2017 - 8:51pm
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Yemen

Four people from Ta’iz died on the eve of Eid Al-Adha (a Muslim holiday celebrated every year) last year after their car plunged off the road. They were travelling from Aden to Taiz to spend the holiday with their families. People still remember the horrible car accident that took the life of Ziad Abdullah from Alqabaitah, Lahj, and badly injured three other passengers who were riding with him.

Such heartbroken stories are not but many. People lost their loved ones because of the steep and bumpy road connecting Taiz to Lahj. It had been reported that approximately twenty cars had crashed and overturned just recently on the Alkhasheen road killing and injuring people.

Taiz to flee the conflict in Taiz to Lahj and Aden. It is also the only way in and out from Taiz as both Haifan and Karish roads are blocked most of the time by the warring factions. It has been estimated that at least 200 cars and trucks use this rough road everyday for travelling between Taiz and Lahj and then to Aden and for moving goods.

Funded by the World Bank, UNDP has partnered with the Public Works Project (PWP) under the Emergency Crisis Response Project (ECRP) to rehabilitate community infrastructure and assets to benefit crisis-affected communities from temporary income through labor intensive activities.

PWP visited and met with people living in the area to know about their priority need prior to the project. They all insisted on paving the bumpy and steep parts of Alkhaisheen road to make it safe for people and families to travel. Benefiting around 37, 282 people, including 574 IDPs, the project will set up a retaining wall up along 50 linear meters and pave an area of 450 meters.

South Sudan: "In our world of plenty, there is no excuse for inaction or indifference" - UN Secretary-General

22 February 2017 - 5:05pm
Source: UN Secretary-General, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen

More than 20 million people in North-East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen are facing famine or a credible risk of famine over the coming six months. With access to people in need and sufficient funding, the United Nations and its partners can avert famine and provide the necessary relief and support where famine already exists.

To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the four countries over the coming months, the United Nations and its partners will continue to scale up humanitarian operations. Lifesaving assistance in the areas of food and livelihoods, nutrition, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene will be prioritised as these represent the key sectors of famine response and prevention.

"One of the biggest obstacles we face now is funding. Humanitarian operations in these four countries require more than $5.6 billion this year. We need at least $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe. Despite some generous pledges, just $90 million has actually been received so far – around two cents for every dollar needed", said UN Secretary-General António Guterres today addressing a packed press briefing at UN headquarters. "Funding shortages have already forced the World Food Programme to cut rations in Yemen by more than half since last year. Without new resources, critical shortages will worsen within months."

The United Nations is also stepping up cooperation between humanitarian and development partners. Strengthening such links, we are seeking not only to save lives but to build the resilience necessary for people to withstand future shocks.

Effective and efficient humanitarian delivery relies on access to reach people in need. The UN and its partners call for full, safe and unimpeded access to all those in need, wherever they are.

"The lives of millions of people depend on our collective ability to act", Mr Guterres stressed. "We have heard the alerts. Now there is no time to lose."

North-East Nigeria

  • 5.1 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance

  • 450,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition

  • In 2016, humanitarian partners reached more than 2.3 million people with food and agriculture assistance and 1.1 million with water, sanitation and hygiene assistance

South Sudan

  • 100,000 people already facing famine

  • 1 million people on the brink of famine

  • 5 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance

  • 270,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition

  • In 2016, humanitarian partners reached more than 5 million people with aid, including nearly 3.6 million with food assistance or emergency livelihoods support and more than 2 million people with access to clean water

Somalia

  • 2.9 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance

  • 185,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition

  • In 2016, humanitarian partners reached over one million people with food and livelihoods support, treated nearly 140,000 children for severe acute malnutrition, and provided water and sanitation to over one million people

Yemen

  • 7.3 million people urgently need food assistance

  • 462,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition

  • Humanitarian partners reached 5.3 million people with assistance in 2016, including an average of 3.8 million people with food assistance every month and 5.3 million people with direct health services

Nigeria: Famine Response and Prevention: North-East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen

22 February 2017 - 3:04pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen

More than 20 million people in North-East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen are facing famine or a credible risk of famine over the coming six months.

With access to people in need and sufficient funding, the United Nations and its partners can avert famine and provide the necessary relief and support where famine already exists.

To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the four countries over the coming months, the United Nations and its partners will continue to scale up humanitarian operations.

Lifesaving assistance in the areas of food and livelihoods, nutrition, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene will be prioritised as these represent the key sectors of famine response and prevention.

The United Nations is also stepping up cooperation between humanitarian and development partners. Strengthening such links, we are seeking not only to save lives but to build the resilience necessary for people to withstand future shocks.

Overall, humanitarian operations in the four countries require more than US$5.6 billion in 2017, of which $4.4 billion is required for the key sectors by March. These figures may rise as the crises unfold.
Effective and efficient humanitarian delivery relies on access to reach people in need. The UN and its partners call for full, safe and unimpeded access to all those in need, wherever they are.

Yemen: WFP Yemen Situation Report #26, 21 February 2017

22 February 2017 - 11:15am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Yemen

Highlights

  • So far in February, WFP has reached 3.9 million people in 16 governorates with food assistance through general food distribution (GFD), its Commodity Vouchers through Trader’s Network (CVTN) programme as well as through its food assistance to Horn of Africa refugees at the Kharaz refugee camp in Lahj governorate.

  • From January 2017 WFP is scaling up its GFD to reach 6 million beneficiaries per month. However, critical resourcing challenges, delays in food shipments into Yemen and multiple access challenges country-wide has led to a shortage of key food commodities (such as cereals) and severely limited WFP’s ability to reach its 6 million target in January while also causing challenges for February.

  • According to newly released preliminary results from the joint WFPFAO-UNICEF-implemented Emergency Food Security and Nutrition Assessment (EFSNA), 17 million Yemenis are food insecure (an increase from 14.4 million as assessed by the June 2016 Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis), of which 7.3 million are severely food insecure (an increase from 7 million as assessed by the IPC).

Situation Update

  • In February, WFP is continuing to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian and food security situation across the country. Escalated fighting in the Mokha and Dhubab districts of Taizz governorate has led to new civilian displacement, while WFP has experienced an unusually high number of incidents of food assistance-transporting trucks being delayed or detained at checkpoints en route to Taizz - resulting in a slower rate of deliveries and distributions. To respond to new displacements in Mokha and Dhubab, in January and February WFP distributed food to 12,000 people from Mokha and Mawza districts as well as 7,200 people in eight districts of Hudaydah that are hosting large numbers of displaced people.

  • In addition to resourcing constraints, vessels carrying commercial and humanitarian supplies have been experiencing protracted delays in accessing Hudaydah port (the principal entry point for humanitarian aid for Yemen’s northern governorates), which has discouraged several shipping lines from serving the port. Efforts to transport four WFP-procured mobile port cranes to Hudaydah to boost the port’s capacity are ongoing and cranes are temporarily being stored at the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) in the United Arab Emirates pending Coalition clearance for transport to Hudaydah.

South Sudan: Oxfam response to UK Government announcement to give £200m in aid to South Sudan and Somalia

22 February 2017 - 7:15am
Source: Oxfam Country: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Yemen

In response to the UK Government’s announcement to give an additional £200 million in aid to help prevent famine in South Sudan and Somalia, Oxfam’s Chief Executive, Mark Goldring, said: “We welcome this additional funding which will certainly make a difference to the dire humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Somalia.

“In South Sudan half country is expected to be affected by extreme hunger by July. Millions of people have been pushed to the brink and desperately need help. In Somalia, over six million people are in need of emergency food aid and the country is only weeks away from famine.

“Others must now follow the UK’s lead and provide more funding, to help prevent these crises from turning into catastrophes.

“We believe that Yemen and Nigeria are also on the brink of famine. In all four countries, we need urgent action to increase emergency funding and ensure greater access for humanitarian agencies so we can get help to all those that desperately need it."

Notes to editors:

Oxfam spokespeople are available. To arrange an interview please contact: Sarah Dransfield on 01865 472269 / 07884 114825

Oxfam’s response

In South Sudan we are currently helping 425,000 people with humanitarian assistance.

An assessment mission has been in Somalia and Oxfam is planning to launch a humanitarian response as soon as possible.

In Yemen we are helping over 1 million people. In Nigeria we have helped nearly 140,000 and are opening up new areas of work to reach more displaced people.

South Sudan: UK outlines new humanitarian support and urges international community to save lives before it's too late

22 February 2017 - 3:55am
Source: Department for International Development Country: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Yemen

The International Development Secretary Priti Patel has today announced new packages of life-saving UK aid for South Sudan and Somalia and issued a call to action to the international community to step up their support before it is too late.

Before this week there has been only one certified famine globally since 2000. Parts of South Sudan are now in famine and in 2017 there is a credible risk of another three famines in Yemen, North East Nigeria and Somalia. Drought and conflict in these countries are pushing families to the brink of starvation and there is also no end in sight to the six-year conflict which has ripped Syria apart.

As the world faces an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises, Priti Patel outlined how the UK will lead the world in supporting famine stricken areas. In response to famine warnings in Somalia and South Sudan she announced new UK support to provide lifesaving food, water and emergency healthcare which will save more than a million lives.

This is alongside continued life-saving aid to Yemen and North East Nigeria which provided food, medical supplies, water and emergency shelter to over two million people in 2016.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:

The world faces a series of unprecedented humanitarian crises and the real threat of famine in four countries. These crises are being driven by conflict and drought and we must respond accordingly. Our commitment to UK aid means that when people are at risk of dying from drought and disaster, we have the tools and expertise to avoid catastrophe.

In times of crisis, the world looks to Britain not just for our work on the ground, but also for our leadership internationally. While we step up our support for emergency food, water and lifesaving care to those in need, our message to the world is clear – we must act now to help innocent people who are starving to death.

In Somalia, more than six million people have no reliable access to food and there are 360,000 acutely malnourished children. All the signs are pointing to a famine as bad, or worse, than the one in 2011 which killed 260,000 people. The UK is acting now to prevent this.

Today’s announcement of new support to Somalia will provide:

  • emergency food to up to one million people
  • life-saving nutritional support to more than 600,000 starving children and pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • safe drinking water for one million people
  • emergency healthcare for 1.7 million people

In South Sudan, famine has now been declared and more than half the population is in desperate need. Almost five million face the daily threat of going without enough food and water and three million people have been forced from their homes because of ruthless violence and widespread rape. The UK is leading the way by providing:

  • Food assistance for over 500,000 people
  • Life-saving nutritional support to more than 27,500 children
  • Safe drinking water for over 300,000 people
  • Emergency health services for over 100,000 people
  • Livelihood support for over 650,000 people
  • Vaccinations for over 200,000 livestock

In North East Nigeria, as Boko Haram is pushed out, we are increasing our humanitarian support. The UK is providing:

food to more than 1 million people treatment to 34,000 children at risk of death from hunger access to clean water and sanitation for more than 135,000 people In Yemen, the UK is delivering life-saving aid to the most vulnerable people which included supplying food, medical supplies, water and emergency shelter to over one million people last year.

To stop famine spreading and help support stability in these regions the system needs urgent reform. The UK is pushing for a faster, more effective international humanitarian system fit for the 21st century, which is firmly in our interests.

-ENDS-

Notes to editors:

  1. The UK is providing £100m in new support in Somalia and another £100m in South Sudan for 2017/18.
  2. In addition to South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and North East Nigeria, the UK is at the forefront of the response to the Syria crisis. UK aid is helping millions of civilians caught up in the war; supporting Syrian refugees to remain in host countries in the region; and is enabling host countries to accommodate them.
  3. The UK has committed £2.3 billion to the Syria Crisis Response between 2012 and 2020. Since February 2012, across Syria and the region, we have distributed over 21 million food rations that feed a person for a month, over 6.5 million relief packages, over 6.2 million vaccines and provided over 4.8 million medical consultations
  4. We are supporting the governments of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to better cope with a protracted refugee presence, and enable Syrian refugees to remain in the region until they can safely return to Syria. Our programmes are aimed at meeting immediate humanitarian need. In addition, we are improving people’s lives by helping support children into school to avoid a lost generation, creating job opportunities and improving skills.

General media queries Email: mediateam@dfid.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 7023 0600
Follow the DFID Media office on Twitter - @DFID_Press

Yemen: Violence, a part of daily life in Yemen

22 February 2017 - 1:22am
Source: Handicap International Country: Yemen

“With more than 50,000 people killed or maimed in Yemen, and three million displaced since the start of the conflict two years ago, humanitarian needs remain high," explains Arnaud Pont, head of Handicap International’s emergency operations in Yemen. "Thousands [of people] need physical and functional rehabilitation care or psychological support. The crisis is still largely ignored by the international community."

That's not the case for Handicap International. “Since the end of 2015, Handicap International has been tireless in providing response in these areas by assisting rehabilitation departments in three hospitals in Sana’a.”

Handicap International teams have trained 235 medical staff, and donated nearly 7,000 mobility devices–wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches–as well as consultation tables, and other necessary supplies. Since August 2015, we’ve assisted more than 4,500 people in the Yemeni capital.** **

Teams provide psychological support to individuals who are injured in explosions, and to those who witness the death of a relative. Staff organize one-to-one and group discussion sessions to help people manage their depression, stress, or shock that comes from the traumatizing experiences that come with conflict.

Allowing the individual to discuss their trauma or other day-to-day problems, and connecting them with others who have similar experiences can often help them recover and rebuild their lives.

Handicap International in Yemen

Handicap International worked in Yemen from the early 2000s up to 2012, focusing on physical rehabilitation. Since 2014, we support individuals affected by the ongoing conflict and assess the impact of the explosive remnants of war left by the current bombings. Learn more about our work in Yemen. 

Jordan: UNHCR Jordan Factsheet - February 2017

21 February 2017 - 12:28pm
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Iraq, Jordan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen

HIGHLIGHTS

2
Jordan hosts the second highest number (87) of refugees per 1,000 inhabitants in the world

6
Jordan is the sixth highest refugee-hosting country in the world

93
Percentage of Syrians living outside of camps under the Jordanian poverty line

1 in 5
Refugees registered with UNHCR in Jordan receive cash assistance to help meet essential needs like shelter and food

WORKING WITH PARTNERS

  • UNHCR coordinates the refugee response under the leadership of the Government of Jordan and through the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), in a collaborative effort between the donor community, UN agencies, international and national NGOs, community-based organizations, refugees and host communities.

MAIN ACTIVITIES

Access to Energy

  • All refugee households at Zaatari camp in northern Jordan are now connected to the national grid thanks to the completion of 8.67-megawatt UNHCR project in July 2016. This represents a major step forward in dignifying the lives of refugees through the provision of more reliable, efficient and safer energy. Meanwhile, Azraq camp is set in March 2017 to become the first refugee camp in the world to be powered by a large-scale source of renewable energy thanks to a project being developed by UNHCR. At the beginning of February, all the shelters in “Villages” 3 and 6 are connected to the grid providing electricity to over 19,000 refugees.

Camp Coordination and Camp Management

  • UNHCR supports the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate (SRAD) in the management and coordination of Zaatari and Azraq camps to ensure that assistance is provided in the most effective and efficient way possible in accordance with international humanitarian standards and protection principles.

Community Empowerment and Self-Reliance

  • 38,000 Syrians have obtained valid work permits as a result of the Government of Jordan granting them free of charge to registered refugees - a first step towards securing livelihood opportunities for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Durable Solutions

  • UNHCR Jordan is the largest resettlement operation in the world with 24,000 vulnerable refugees submitted in 2015 and a further 32,000 individuals by the end of 2016.

Health

  • UNHCR provides comprehensive primary, secondary and tertiary health care services free of charge for vulnerable Syrians and for all non-Syrians in urban areas. A comprehensive health care package for refugees in Azraq and Zaatari camps includes primary health care, reproductive health, dental, mental health and nutritional care, and secondary and tertiary out of camp referrals.

Protection

  • UNHCR Jordan was the first operation to introduce iris-scanning biometrics to assist in refugee registration. 98% of registered Syrians are processed using biometric technology which enables UNHCR to process up to 5,000 refugees a day at the largest urban registration centre in the region, UNHCR’s Anmar Hmoud Registration Centre in Amman.

  • UNHCR Jordan is the second largest refugee status determination operation in the world, processing 13,000 individual asylum claims in 2015 and 20,000 in the first half of 2016.

Shelter and Non-Food Items

  • 145,000 out of camp refugees, a fifth of the registered population, currently receive cash assistance from UNHCR using iris-scanning biometric technology at cash machines to verify their identities. This innovative approach helps achieve record low overheads with 98 per cent of the assistance donated going directly to refugees in a fraud-proof way.

Yemen: Letter dated 27 January 2017 from the Panel of Experts on Yemen addressed to the President of the Security Council - Final report of the Panel of Experts on Yemen (S/2017/81) [EN/AR]

21 February 2017 - 10:39am
Source: UN Security Council Country: Yemen

The members of the Panel of Experts on Yemen have the honour to transmit herewith the final report of the Panel, prepared in accordance with paragraph 6 of resolution 2266 (2016).

The report was provided to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014) on 11 January 2017 and considered by the Committee on 27 January 2017.

We would appreciate it if the present letter and the report were brought to the attention of the members of the Security Council and issued as a document of the Council.

(Signed) Ahmed Himmiche
Coordinator
Panel of Experts on Yemen

(Signed) Dakshinie Ruwanthika Gunaratne
Expert

(Signed) Gregory Johnsen
Expert

(Signed) Adrian Wilkinson
Expert

Final report of the Panel of Experts on Yemen

Summary

The Panel of Experts on Yemen considers that, after nearly two years of conflict in Yemen, an outright military victory by any one side is no longer a realistic possibility in the near term. The country has fractured into competing power centres, with the Houthi-Saleh alliance controlling much of the northern highlands and the legitimate Government, backed by forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, seeking to build capacity to administer parts of the south and the east. To date, the parties have not demonstrated sustained interest in or commitment to a political settlement or peace talks.

The Panel assesses that the Houthi and Saleh forces continue to operate as part of a military alliance, while maintaining separate lines of command and control at the operational level. The Panel has identified the increased use by the Houthis of battle-winning weapons, such as anti-tank guided missiles that were not in the pre-conflict Yemeni stockpile. These missiles are covertly shipped to the Houthi-Saleh alliance over land, along a new main supply route from the border with Oman. The Houthis have also continued to use short-range ballistic missiles and free-flight rockets against Saudi Arabian towns within 300 km of the border, to some political and propaganda effect.

The air campaign waged by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia, while devastating to Yemeni infrastructure and civilians, has failed to dent the political will of the Houthi-Saleh alliance to continue the conflict. Maritime attacks in the Red Sea in late 2016 have increased the risk of the conflict spreading regionally. The Houthi-Saleh alliance has demonstrated that it has an effective anti-ship capability, with one successful attack against a United Arab Emirates naval ship, and other attacks eliciting a cruise missile response by the United States Navy against Houthi land radar stations. There has also been a failed improvised explosive device attack by an as yet unidentified party against a large liquid nitrogen gas tanker heading north through the Bab al-Mandab strait.

Although the military front lines have remained largely the same, the near-constant clashes and casualties notwithstanding, the political landscape has shifted. The Panel has identified a tightening of the Houthi-Saleh political alliance, culminating in the establishment of a Sana’a-based supreme political council. On 28 November, this body announced a new 42-person government. The Panel believes this to be an attempt by the alliance to create “facts on the ground” by establishing a functioning, de facto government that will be difficult to uproot. It is, in effect, a new “bureaucratic” front to the conflict. Throughout 2016, the alliance has constantly undertaken acts that are exclusively within the authority of the legitimate Government.

The transfer of the Central Bank to Aden by the Government has effectively opened an “economic” front to the conflict, aimed at denying the Houthi-Saleh alliance the resources necessary to support continued hostilities or to administer the territory under its control. It has also significantly reduced the provision of material and services that are indispensable to the survival of civilians. The move may result in accelerating the impending humanitarian catastrophe in areas under the control of the alliance.

Terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) affiliate in Yemen are now actively exploiting the changing political environment and governance vacuums to recruit new members and stage new attacks and are laying the foundation for terrorist networks that may last for years. The Panel assesses that AQAP is pursuing a two-track strategy of seeking to control and administer territory in Yemen to serve as a base, while simultaneously looking to plot and execute attacks against the West. ISIL experienced a leadership restructuring early in 2016 and is looking to attract new recruits after a wave of defections in the first half of the year. The improvised explosive device threat from terrorist groups has also increased significantly, with the introduction of new technology and tactics into Yemen in 2016. It cannot be assumed that the use of this technology is now the preserve of a single group in the light of the movement of fighters and thus the exchange of technical knowledge between AQAP, ISIL, Houthi or Saleh forces and “resistance” forces affiliated to the President. Improvised explosive devices are also acting as a force multiplier for armed groups operating outside the control of the Government, reducing their current and future dependence on conventional weapons. This has all significantly increased the overall risk to civilians from explosive remnants of war.

The conflict has seen widespread violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. The Panel has undertaken detailed investigations into some of these incidents and has sufficient grounds to believe that the coalition led by Saudi Arabia did not comply with international humanitarian law in at least 10 air strikes that targeted houses, markets, factories and a hospital. It is also highly likely that the Houthi and Saleh forces did not comply with international humanitarian law in at least three incidents when they fired explosive ordnance at a market, a house and a hospital.

There have also been widespread and systematic violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights law and human rights norms by officials and security forces affiliated to the Government and to the Houthis. The Panel has investigated cases of forced displacement of civilians and concludes that there are indications of a governorate-level policy, with clear violations by the Government in Aden and Lahij. The Panel has concluded that the Houthis, as well as Hadrami Elite Forces aligned with the Government and the United Arab Emirates, have violated international humanitarian law and human rights law and norms on at least 12 and 6 occasions, respectively, by forcibly disappearing individuals. The Houthi security forces in particular routinely use torture and commit international humanitarian law violations and human rights abuses relating to deprivation of liberty. The Panel also documented many cases of violations against hospitals, medical staff, children and religious minorities. It concludes that the violations by the Houthi-Saleh alliance are sufficiently routine, widespread and systematic to implicate its top leadership.

All parties to the conflict have obstructed the distribution of humanitarian assistance within Yemen. The methods of obstruction vary, including the denial of movement, threats to humanitarian staff and the placing of conditions that seek to influence where and how aid is distributed.

The Panel continued its investigations into the financial networks of designated individuals and has identified that Khaled Ali Abdullah Saleh has a significant role in the management of financial assets on behalf of listed individuals Ali Abdullah Saleh (YEi.003) and Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh (YEi.005). The Panel has identified suspicious transfers of significant funds during the period 2014-2016, involving six companies and five banks in five countries, that certainly fall well outside the normal fund management practices of high-wealth individuals. The Panel has also identified a company named Raydan Investments and accounts used by Khaled Ali Abdullah Saleh to launder $83,953,782 within a three-week period in December 2014.

The financial activities, in terms of regional black market arms trafficking, of Fares Mohammed Mana’a (SOi.008) have also come to the attention of the Panel, in particular since he was appointed as minister of state in the new Sana’a-based government of 28 November and has known connections to both Ali Abdullah Saleh (YEi.003) and the Houthis. He is freely travelling on a Yemeni diplomatic passport, including within the Schengen area. This case is just one illustration of how opportunistic businesspeople and criminal entities are benefiting from the conflict using governmental privileges and immunities. It is in their vested interest to use their influence to undermine any prospect for peaceful settlement.

Only the continuation and effective implementation of the targeted sanctions regime will deter such individuals and their supporters from participating in acts that threaten the peace and security of Yemen. If well implemented, delisting within the sanctions regime could offer incentives for those who are willing to engage constructively for a better Yemen.

Yemen: Palais Briefing Notes: Yemen – Polio campaign, 21 February 2017

21 February 2017 - 9:40am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Yemen

Yemen – Polio campaign

A nation-wide polio immunization campaign was launched yesterday in Yemen by national health authorities with support from WHO and UNICEF, aiming to immunize more than 5 million children under the age of five.

The campaign started in all governorates except Sa’ada (north west of the country) where it would take place next week and it would be combined with Measles and Rubella vaccination campaign due to the measles outbreak there.

More than 40 000 health workers (fixed teams in health facilities and mobile teams), are taking part in the three-day campaign. More than 5000 vehicles have been rented to conduct the campaign. In addition, religious and local council’s officials as well as health educators are also mobilizing support for the campaign.

This is the first polio immunization campaign since April 2016. The security situation in Yemen has limited accessibility of many parts of the country, leaving many children at risk of vaccine preventable diseases.

Polio has been reduced 99.9% worldwide, with only 3 endemic countries remaining (Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan).

As long as polio circulates anywhere in the world, children anywhere are vulnerable, especially those in conflict-affected areas where health systems are fragile and immunity is weak. Experience shows that campaigns such as this one can prevent further spread of polio and ultimately eradicate it from the world.

WHO helped with training of teams and the planning of the campaign. We are also paying incentives for vaccination teams and supervisors at all levels. WHO cover the costs of transportation (car rentals).

WHO and UNICEF also provide fuel, generators and solar-powered refrigerators to ensure the functionality of vaccine storage as well as cold chain (for example by transferring them from the conflict areas into safer places).

WHO deployed more than 47 independent supervisors to the most of the governorates. We are contracting external monitors (around 160 medical students) to independently survey the campaign.

In hard to reach conflict areas like Taizz and Hajja, an agreement was reached between parties to let vaccination teams circulate

WHO facilitated contacts between Sana’a and Aden health authorities in order that campaign starts simultaneously across the country.

Yesterday the campaign was launched at the same time by both health authorities.

WHO has also delivered medicines and supplies to functioning health facilities sufficient to cover primary health care needs for 20,000 beneficiaries for 3 months. To ensure medical care for injured civilians, WHO has deployed a surgical team to Hays hospital in Al-Hudaydah Governorate to support trauma care services, and has provided trauma kits sufficient for 400 surgical interventions to four main hospitals.

Yemen: Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment of IDPS, Returnees and Host Communities in Yemen Task Force on Population Movement (TFPM) February 2017

21 February 2017 - 7:52am
Source: International Organization for Migration, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Yemen

IOM/UNHCR: Yemen’s Brutal Conflict Pushing One Million Displaced to Return to Danger

Yemen - Unabated conflict and rapidly deteriorating conditions across Yemen are pushing millions of displaced Yemenis further into danger and adversity, IOM, the UN Migration Agency and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, warned today, following the release of the latest data on the country’s displacement crisis.

Since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015, more than 11 percent of Yemen’s population, some 3 million people, have been forced to flee their homes for safety. Almost two years later, however, prolonged hostilities and worsening conditions are now forcing 1 million of those uprooted to return to the homes from which they fled, despite danger and insecurity across the country.

Two reports issued by the Task Force on Population Movement (TFPM), a technical working group co-led by IOM and UNHCR, show that there are currently 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Yemen and 1 million IDP returnees; and that as conditions across the country further deteriorate, many more IDPs are contemplating a return home, where challenging security and socio-economic conditions persist.

Comprising a Multi-sectoral Location Assessment report released today and a periodically updated population movement tracking report (TFPM 12th report) published last month, the TFPM reports furnish the most comprehensive and detailed estimates of displaced populations and their circumstances in Yemen, and inform humanitarian response planning for 2017.

The reports highlight that a lack of access to income and basic services in areas of displacement are the main reasons pushing IDPs to return to their areas of origin, with 40 percent of key informants indicating that IDPs now intend to return home within the next three months.

UNHCR’s Country Representative for Yemen, Ayman Gharaibeh, said: “It’s testament to how catastrophic the situation in Yemen has become, that those displaced by the conflict are now returning home because life in the areas to which they had fled for safety is just as abysmal as in the areas from which they fled.”

“Those attempting to return face tremendous challenges,” Gharaibeh added. “They often return to homes that have been damaged, in areas lacking essential services. They still need humanitarian aid and are often forced to flee their homes again. These returns cannot be viewed as sustainable.”

Noting that all of Yemen’s governorates, with the exception of the island of Socotra, have been affected by conflict, Gharaibeh said: “The overwhelming majority of Yemen’s 1 million IDP returnees have returned to Aden, Amanat Al Asimah, Taizz, Lahj and Shabwah, which have been particularly impacted by hostilities and insecurity.”

“For those that are returning home, food, financial assistance and psycho-social support remain priority needs,” he added.

The TFPM reports also provide indications of how dire life has become for the 2 million IDPs across the country. Shortages of food and malnutrition are widespread and reported in 84 percent of IDP locations identified. In addition to malnutrition, diarrheal diseases and malaria are cited as the most common health concerns for Yemen’s displaced.

IOM Yemen’s Chief of Mission, Laurent De Boeck, noted the distress of those in collective centers and spontaneous settlements. “IOM, alongside its partners, remains committed to support IDP families who have sought shelter in these camp-like settings and are living in unbearable conditions with limited to no access to services and are exposed to health risks and environmental hazards on a daily basis,” he said.

“When I recently visited some of these spontaneous settlements and IDPs in schools in Taizz, Hajjah, Lahj and Ibb governorates, I saw just how imperative it is for the humanitarian community to adapt its response to address lifesaving needs, while also working to rebuild the damaged infrastructure to improve access to services, such as health, shelter, NFIs, water and food, and to alleviate the pressures on communities hosting large IDP populations,” he added.

“With the most recent large scale displacement seen in Taizz, which is not yet reflected within the TFPM reports, IOM and all partners must scale up their response to support the newly displaced, as well as those whose displacement is becoming increasingly protracted with shifting needs, as indicated in the released reports. This motivates IOM to scale up and access the most remote areas in country,” he noted.

So far, 71 percent of those displaced have been seeking refuge in Yemen’s central and western governorates – including Hajjah, Amanat Al Asimah, Sana’a, Dhamar, Ibb and Taizz, all of which are experiencing intense hostilities – and multiple displacement is increasingly being observed. In the absence of livelihood opportunities and insufficient assistance, many IDPs are also resorting to harmful practices to cope in displacement, including child labour and early marriage.

Yemen’s local communities, which are overwhelmingly absorbing the burden of the displacement crisis, are also under intense strain with alarming scarcities of food and insufficient access to water and sanitation services reported. Eighty-four percent of Yemen’s 2 million IDPs have been displaced for more than a year and scarce resources are increasingly overstretched.

The Location Assessment report also provides insight into difficulties in accessing conflict-affected populations across Yemen and the perceptions among IDPs and returnees of humanitarian assistance. Though the majority of IDPs and returnees perceive humanitarian assistance as partially supporting them in meeting priority needs, negative perceptions of aid and considerable gaps in the engagement of humanitarian actors with local communities are also reported.

In response, the humanitarian community in Yemen has adopted an “Accountability to Affected Populations Framework” as part of the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017, requiring all humanitarian partners to create mechanisms to ensure that affected populations can provide feedback or complain about the assistance they have received.

In addition, IOM and UNHCR are continuing to engage with all parties to the conflict for improved access to populations in need across Yemen, and with donors for increased international support for life-saving humanitarian programs.

Assessments for the two TFPM reports were conducted in all of Yemen’s governorates. Displacement tracking for the 12th report covered 98.5 percent of Yemen’s 333 districts and data for the Location Assessment report was collected through physical site visits by field teams where key informants representing the community were interviewed.

Copies of the full reports can be downloaded here:

Multi-sectorial Location Assessment Report

TFPM 12th Report

For further information, please contact Joel Millman at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email: jmillman@iom.int Or IOM Yemen: Esam Al-Makhzomi, Email: ealmakhzomi@iom.int, Tel: + 967 737 789 120 or Saba Malme, Tel: + 967 736 800 329, Email: smalme@iom.int

Yemen: Statement by the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, on the Impact of the Conflict and Ongoing Food Crisis [EN/AR]

21 February 2017 - 7:49am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Country: Yemen

Sana'a, 21 February 2017

Sana'a, 21 February 2017 I am deeply concerned with the escalation of conflict and militarization of Yemen’s Western Coast. It is coming at a great cost to civilians.

Increased fighting along the Western Coast which is effectively limiting the flow of life-saving commodities, including food staples, into Al Hudaydah Port is aggravating an already terrible humanitarian situation in Yemen. Over 17 million people are currently unable to adequately feed themselves and are frequently forced to skip meals - women and girls eat the least and last. Seven million Yeminis do not know where their next meal will come from and are ever closer to starvation.

For almost two months, conflict has escalated from the ground, air and sea in the Dhubab and Al Mukha areas in Taizz Governorate. Scores of civilians have been either killed or forced to flee from their homes. Airstrikes have destroyed or damaged critical roads and bridges across Al Hudaydah Governorate. Unexploded rockets have also landed inside the Al Hudaydah Port, reducing even further the number of ships and imports. Only a limited number of shipping companies now use the port, with vessels being forced to redirect their shipments, including humanitarian supplies, to Aden.
Yet, the Aden Port does not have the required capacity or infrastructure to accommodate Yemen’s import demands. Furthermore, the transport of goods from Aden to the rest of the country is not guaranteed given the additional costs, blocked or damaged roads, lack of fuel, and ongoing conflict.

The availability of food in markets and the food pipeline are at imminent risk. We are witnessing food shortages, rising food and fuel prices, disruptions to agricultural production, and plummeting purchasing power, especially brought about by the lack of salary payments in the public sector for over six months. Given that the country is 80-90 per cent dependent on imported food staples; I am compelled to raise the alarm. If left unabated, these factors combined could accelerate the onset of famine.

Humanitarian partners are working hard to prevent the suffering of hundreds of thousands of children from crippling malnutrition, which could stunt a generation if not confronted now. Close to half a million children are prioritized for assistance; a nearly 200 per cent increase since 2014. Yet, despite all the efforts, humanitarians cannot replace a functioning commercial sector.

The inhumanity of using the economy or food as a means to wage war is unacceptable and is against international humanitarian law. I urgently call on all parties to the conflict and on those that have influence over the parties to facilitate the rapid entry of critical life-saving food staples into all Yemeni ports; to refrain from or not contribute to the damage and destruction of critical infrastructure required to transport food staples throughout the country; and to find or support a way to pay public sector salaries so that the needy can purchase what is available.

The best means to prevent famine in Yemen is for weapons to fall silent across the country and for the parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table. The international community must also assume its responsibility and provide the needed funds to enable a timely and principled humanitarian response. The people of Yemen are counting on it.

For further information, please contact:
George Khoury, Head of OCHA Yemen, khouryg@un.org, Tel +967 712 222 207 Zaid Al Alayaa, Information Officer OCHA Yemen, al-alayaa@un.org, Tel. +967 2222 835 Jessica J. Jordan, Head of Communication (OIC), jordanj@un.org, Tel. +962 79867 4617 OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org or www.reliefweb.int

Yemen: National polio immunization campaign launched in Yemen

21 February 2017 - 5:20am
Source: World Health Organization Country: Yemen

SANA'A, 20 February 2017—A nationwide polio immunization campaign was launched today in Yemen by national health authorities with support from WHO and UNICEF, aiming to immunize 5 019 648 children under the age of 5.

More than 40 000 health workers are taking part in the 3-day campaign. In addition, religious and local council’s officials, as well as health educators are also mobilizing support for the campaign. High-risk groups, such as internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, will also be reached.

“WHO is working closely with UNICEF and health authorities to keep Yemen polio-free. The threat of virus importation is serious and this campaign aims to curb any possible return of the virus to Yemen,” said Dr Nevio Zagaria, WHO Acting Representative in Yemen.

“WHO and its partners will continue to support the health authorities in increasing the vaccination coverage across Yemen.”

This is the first polio immunization campaign since April 2016. The security situation in Yemen has limited accessibility of many parts of the country, leaving many children at risk of vaccine preventable diseases.

As the nearly 2-year-old armed conflict in Yemen has been posing threats to the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), WHO has supported the programme to keep polio vaccines safe through providing fuel, generators and solar-powered refrigerators to ensure the functionality of vaccine storage as well as cold chain transferring them from the war-torn areas into safer places.

"Despite huge security challenges, WHO is committed to supporting polio immunization campaigns and all activities of the EPI to maintain the polio-free status achieved by the country in 2006" said Dr Zagaria.

Media contacts:
Tarik Jasarevic
Media Relations
World Health Organization
Mobile: +41 793 676 214

E-mail: jasarevict@who.int

Yemen: Yemen: Access Constraints as of 20 February 2017

21 February 2017 - 3:22am
Source: World Food Programme, Logistics Cluster Country: Yemen

World: At least 65,000 children released from armed forces and groups over the last 10 years, UNICEF

20 February 2017 - 9:50pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan, World, Yemen

NEW YORK/PARIS, 21 February 2017 – At least 65,000 children have been released from armed forces and armed groups in the past 10 years, UNICEF said today as leaders from around the world gather in Paris on the anniversary of the Paris Commitments to end the use of children in conflict.

“Ten years ago the world made a commitment to the children of war and matched it with action – action that has helped give 65,000 children a new chance for a better life,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “But today’s meeting is not only about looking back at what has been accomplished — but looking forward to the work that remains to be done to support the children of war.”

Exact data on the number of children used and recruited in armed conflict are difficult to confirm because of the unlawful nature of child recruitment. However, UNICEF estimates that tens of thousands of boys and girls under the age of 18 are used in conflicts worldwide:

  • Since 2013, an estimated 17,000 children have been recruited in South Sudan and up to 10,000 have been recruited in the Central African Republic.

  • In Nigeria and neighbouring countries, data verified by the United Nations and its partners indicate that nearly 2,000 children were recruited by Boko Haram in 2016 alone.

  • In Yemen, the UN has documented nearly 1,500 cases of child recruitment since the conflict escalated in March 2015.

The number of countries that have endorsed the Paris Commitments nearly doubled in 10 years, from 58 countries in 2007 to 105 at present, signaling an increasing global commitment to end the use of children in conflict.

Estimates show that of the 65,000 children who have been released in the past 10 years, more than 20,000 were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 9,000 in the Central African Republic, and over 1,600 children in Chad.

The Paris International Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflicts will look at ways to build on this momentum. These include calling for the unconditional release of all children, without exception, and putting an end to child recruitment; increased resources to help reintegrate and educate children who have been released; and urgent action to protect internally displaced children, child refugees and migrants.

“As long as children are still affected by the fighting, we cannot give up the fight for the children,” Lake said.

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Note to editors:

Adopted 10 years ago, the Paris commitments and the Paris principles and guidelines lay out guidance for protecting children from recruitment and use by armed forces or armed groups, and assisting their release and reintegration, with other vulnerable children affected by armed conflict in their communities.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information and for interview requests, please contact:

Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, +1917 209 1804, nmekki@unicef.org

Maud Saheb, UNICEF France, +33 6 83 99 05 67, MSAHEB@unicef.fr

Yemen: Nearly 1.4 million children at imminent risk of death as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen – UNICEF

20 February 2017 - 9:48pm
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen

NEW YORK/DAKAR/NAIROBI/AMMAN, 21 February 2017 – Almost 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition this year, as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, UNICEF said today.

“Time is running out for more than a million children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We can still save many lives. The severe malnutrition and looming famine are largely man-made. Our common humanity demands faster action. We must not repeat the tragedy of the 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa.”

In northeast Nigeria, the number of children with severe acute malnutrition is expected to reach 450,000 this year in the conflict-affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobi. Fews Net, the famine early warning system that monitors food insecurity, said late last year that famine likely occurred in some previously inaccessible areas of Borno states, and that it is likely ongoing, and will continue, in other areas which remain beyond humanitarian reach.

In Somalia, drought conditions are threatening an already fragile population battered by decades of conflict. Almost half the population, or 6.2 million people, are facing acute food insecurity and in need of humanitarian assistance. Some 185,000 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year, however this figure is expected to rise to 270,000 in the next few months.

In South Sudan, a country reeling from conflict, poverty and insecurity, over 270,000 children are severely malnourished. Famine has just recently been declared in parts of Unity State in the northern central part of the country, where 20,000 children live. The total number of food insecure people across the country is expected to rise from 4.9 million to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis.

And in Yemen, where a conflict has been raging for the past two years, 462,000 children are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition – a nearly 200 per cent increase since 2014.

This year, UNICEF is working with partners to provide therapeutic treatment to 220,000 severely malnourished children in Nigeria, over 200,000 severely malnourished children in South Sudan, more than 200,000 severely malnourished children in Somalia, and 320,000 children in Yemen.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook

For more information, please contact:

Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, +1917 209 1804, nmekki@unicef.org

Patrick Rose, UNICEF Regional Office in Dakar, +234 70 6418 4023, prose@unicef.org

James Elder, UNICEF Regional Office in Nairobi, +254 71558 1222, jelder@unicef.org

Tamara Kummer, UNICEF Regional Office in Amman, +962 797 588 550, tkummer@unicef.org

Yemen: Yemen - Conflict: ETC User Feedback Survey results - Survey period 20/11/16 to 7/12/16

20 February 2017 - 1:18pm
Source: Emergency Telecommunications Cluster Country: Yemen

Continuing conflict, compounded by natural disaster, has exacerbated Yemen's prolonged humanitarian crisis, rendering an estimated 21.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Collapsed social infrastructure and basic services mean that millions of people have no access to healthcare, safe water and sanitation services.

Following the Level 3 emergency declaration by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) was activated in Yemen in April 2015 to provide vital security telecommunications and internet connectivity services to the humanitarian community.

The ETC conducted a User Feedback Survey in November 2016 to assess the satisfaction of users in the five common operational areas where the ETC provides its services: Sana’a, Sa’ada, Aden, Ibb and Al Hudaydah.

The survey was also used to encourage feedback and identify areas of improvement in line with evolving needs on the ground. The results will help the ETC better understand the needs of humanitarians responding to this emergency and adapt its activities.

Key Findings

Existing ETC Services The ETC User Feedback Survey resulted in an overall user satisfaction rate of 83.6% across the five ETC services provided across the country. 100 humanitarians responded to the survey. The survey highlighted:

  • 74% of the respondents have been involved in the Yemen operation for over a year, 16% have been in the country for less than six months and 10% were no longer in the operation.

  • 65.38% satisfaction rate for Internet services.

  • 100% satisfaction rate for ICT helpdesk services.

  • 72.72% satisfaction rate for security telecommunications services.

  • 90% satisfaction rate for radio programming services.

  • 90% satisfaction rate for radio training services.

Djibouti: WFP Djibouti Country Brief, January 2017

20 February 2017 - 12:04pm
Source: World Food Programme Country: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen

Highlights

  • WFP’s ability to maintain assistance to newly arrived Ethiopian asylums seekers, already existing refugees and vulnerable local populations in drought-affected and urban areas continues to be undermined by limited funding.

Operational Updates

  • Djibouti is currently hosting 21,119 refugees from Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea and Ethiopia. According to UNHCR and ONARS, a total of 6,063 Ethiopian asylum seekers have arrived in Djibouti in the last five months. WFP continues to provide food assistance to all registered refugees and asylum seekers living in Ali Addeh, Holl Holl and Markazi camps, in the form of general distributions, nutrition interventions and take home rations for school girls to encourage school attendance. The general distributions include a cash component to diversify refugees’ diet, increase their purchase power and boost the local markets.

  • WFP provides food assistance to the rural and urban food insecure households affected by drought in the form of general rations. In addition, WFP supports asset creation activities as part of building the resilience of affected communities. Nutrition interventions are ongoing for the prevention and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition and for people living with HIV/AIDS and those on TB treatment.

  • In January 2016, WFP provided food assistance to a total of 67,295 beneficiaries, among them refugees and asylum seekers and vulnerable local households in the rural and urban areas under the PRRO, while a total of 16,322 school children received school meals under the Development Operation.

  • According to FEWSNET, The Xays/Daada coastal rains (October to February) have largely replenished water sources and restored rangeland conditions despite being below-average in some areas. Food security has improved significantly due to improved livestock body conditions and productivity, increasing food and income access for the predominant, rural, pastoral population, but Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persist. However, some poor households in Central Pastoral-Lowland and Southeast Pastoral-Border zones remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as below-average rainfall this sea

Jordan: Jordan: UNHCR Operational Update, February 2017

20 February 2017 - 11:01am
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Country: Iraq, Jordan, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen

KEY FIGURES

655,732 Syrians registered with UNHCR in Jordan, half children growing up in exile

61,405 Iraqis registered with UNHCR in Jordan, half originating from the Baghdad Governorate

38,000 Work permits issued over the past year to Syrians in a livelihoods initiative supported

93 Percentage of Syrians living outside of camps and below the poverty line in Jordan

78 Percentage of Syrians registered with UNHCR in refugee camps who are women and children

40 Percentage of the registered refugee population receiving protection against the cold this winter from UNHCR

FUNDING

US $ 277 million requested for the Jordan Operation in 2017

HIGHLIGHTS

  • UNHCR’s Helpline experienced a 19% increase in calls from refugees following the suspension of the United States resettlement programme on 27 January. Some were from families in the process of being resettled to the United States, including those who had sold their belongings or had withdrawn their children from school ahead of their imminent transfer. The Jordan operation was the largest resettlement operation in the world in 2016.

  • UNHCR conducted a series of nationwide consultations with refugees in January to discuss challenges and progress in the areas of education and livelihoods, two major commitments outlined in the Jordan Compact. Since the launch of the Compact a year ago at the London Syria Conference, over 38,000 Syrians have been issued with work permits and 15 per cent more Syrian children are attending school.

  • UNHCR and several other UN agencies completed a first round of humanitarian aid distributions in mid-January reaching over 46,000 vulnerable Syrians on the north-east border with food, water and items including blankets and plastic sheeting. The delivery of assistance to the population has been intermittent since a deadly attack in the area in June 2016.

UPDATE ON ACHIEVEMENTS

Operational Context

The Government of Jordan (GoJ) and the international community approved the latest chapter of the Jordan Response Plan (JRP) for the Syria crisis on 12 January. The “JRP for the Syria Crisis 2017 – 2019” reinforces commitments made through the Jordan Compact presenting the refugee challenge as an opportunity rather than an encumbrance. Two priorities set out in the Compact are better and increased access to education and livelihoods for refugees, each sectors where UNHCR has noted progress over the past year.

The Ministry of Education estimates the enrolment of 167,000 Syrian children in formal education in the 2016/2017 school year, a 15 per cent increase on the previous year. One hundred additional schools also opened their doors and there are now 198 double-shift schools operating. The new JRP pledges to complement these achievements by constructing and maintaining more schools, as well as and training and investing in more teachers.

The number of Syrians accessing formal employment (all in sectors precluding competition with Jordanian workers) increased over the year with 38,000 Syrians granted work permits. One important factor behind the rise is the GoJ periodically extending grace periods for Syrians wishing to access free work permits. Other positive news for Jordan includes concessional World Bank funding and the European Union relaxing its rules of origin regulations to allow Jordanian products access to its markets.

To build on these achievements, and to help confront those factors preventing the fuller realization of the Compact, UNHCR has initiated a series of nationwide consultations to hear from refugees on the difficulties they encounter in their daily lives, as well as to hear their proposed solutions. The first round was held in mid-January at locations in Amman, Aqaba and Irbid, bringing together refugees and their representatives from each of the 12 governorates.

With an estimated 64,000 Syrian refugee children of school age out of school, refugees stated that the main obstacles to school attendance were economic hardship, the distances to school, and limited transport options. For children in rural areas, accessing school was reported to be especially difficult, particularly for families engaged in transient agricultural work. The same applies to refugees without the necessary documentation, such as refugees without “bail-outs” from camps, or a fixed address.
Refugees also repeated their worry that engaging in regularized work may result in the reduction or cessation of assistance from humanitarian agencies, despite UNHCR assurances to the contrary through various information channels. Others were reluctant to access work permits because, they believe, daily or seasonal informal work allows more flexibility in generating income and more scope for salary negotiation. One additional deterrence, similar to access to education, centres on documentation - a prominent UNHCR protection concern.

UNHCR is planning more refugee consultations in February, this time with Iraqis and other smaller refugee communities, to assist in the formulation of responses to overcoming barriers to opportunity for refugees. What already underpins each of the sessions are two fundamental asks: for the empowerment to reward the generosity of their hosts and for assistance in accessing skills that will one day help in the reconstruction of their countries - both critical aims of the Compact.