News in Brief 29 September 2017 (PM)

29 Sep 2017

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An aerial shot of hurricane-battered Dominica. Photo: WFP/Norha Restrepo

Flash appeal to help hurricane-affected Dominica

Humanitarians are appealing for US$31 million to support the Caribbean island of Dominica, hit hard by Hurricane Maria, the United Nations has announced.

The category five storm caused catastrophic damage, leaving every one of the 71,000 inhabitants affected.

UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York on Friday that with nearly everything on the island destroyed or damaged, needs are “monumental.”

“Through this $31-million appeal, the United Nations and its partners plan to provide humanitarian assistance and early recovery interventions over the next three months. Our colleagues at the World Food Programme (WFP) said they have delivered some 10 metric tons of high-energy biscuits to Dominica this week, including to communities in the remote interior by helicopter and to coastal communities by boat.  Overall, the World Food Programme plans to provide a range of food assistance to some 25,000 people for three months.  WFP is also providing critical logistics, air service and telecommunications support to Dominica and the humanitarian relief response.  The UN has been airlifting critical emergency supplies, including mobile storage units and pallets, tarps, boats, and electric generators from Panama.”

Protect rights of Honduras displaced: UNHCR

Authorities in Honduras are being urged to defend thousands of people displaced by gang violence who have been robbed of their lands and homes.

The appeal by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) comes in a report launched on Friday which contains measures to ensure rights are better protected.

UNHCR said Honduras has one of the world’s highest murder rates, and the displacement is linked to criminal gangs known as “maras” who battle each other over territory and control of illegal activities.

Official figures reveal that at least 174,000 people in 20 urban municipalities were displaced by violence during the decade ending in 2014, but the real number is expected to be higher.

Around 7,000 of these internally displaced people, or IDPs, cited dispossession and occupation of their land and property as their main reason for fleeing.

Andrej Mahecic is a UNHCR spokesperson:

“The report makes a number of recommendations to ensure that government policies take into account and protect the property rights of displaced people, especially in procedures to regularize title deeds. One of the main recommendations is the creation of a registration system for abandoned land and housing, to guarantee the legal protection of the rights of IDPs and the establishment of restitution mechanisms linked to durable solutions.”

Central Africa economic diversification focus of expert meeting

Experts met this week in Cameroon to brainstorm ways to diversify the economy in the Central African region.

Representatives from national ministries responsible for industry, mining, trade and other sectors, joined counterparts from UN agencies, the private sector, civil society and academia for the four-day event which wrapped up in Douala on Friday.

It was organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) where Antonio Pedro is the Director of the Sub Regional Office for Central Africa.

“Central Africa is very rich in natural resources which could serve as a basis to promote industrialization. And at the same time, the region has potential in terms of market opportunities, especially if all the tariffs and non-tariff barriers are removed which is part of the agenda of establishing the continental free-trade area in Africa.”

Young leaders urged to make older people’s rights “a reality”

Younger generations in power today need to act now to provide decent futures for older people.

The UN Independent Expert on older people’s rights, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, made the appeal in a statement marking the International Day of Older Persons, observed annually on 1 October.

She called for concrete action to strengthen protection of the human rights of older people.

She added that these citizens should also remain integrated in society, and involved in shaping policies that affect their well-being.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 4’23″

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News in Brief 28 September 2017 (PM)

28 Sep 2017

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IDP women in one of the camps in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, collect their share of stock cubes to prepare the day’s meal. The women are paid a salary to cook the meals. Photo: OCHA/Jaspreet Kindra (file)

Many “just a step away from starvation” around Lake Chad: UN relief chief

Many citizens of the countries that surround Africa’s Lake Chad are “just a step away from starvation” and in need of sustained international support.

That’s the view of UN relief chief Mark Lowcock, who took up his post at the beginning of this month.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator was talking to journalists at UN Headquarters, having visited two of the countries in the region, Niger and Nigeria, a few days ago.

Along with Chad and Cameroon, he said the region had been badly affected by violence at the hands of Boko Haram extremists, as well as harsh economic and environmental conditions.

Around 11 million now need assistance, of which 7 million are severely food insecure, and close to two million displaced.

“I was incredibly impressed with the work of courageous aid workers. There are thousands of aid workers supporting the relief effort in the region, often under difficult and dangerous circumstances and they are reaching millions of people with life-saving aid. The scale-up of assistance this year which is being led by governments in each of the countries and supported by the international community, has averted what I think could have been a famine in north-east Nigeria but there are still millions of people who have suffered a lot and continue to suffer, many of them just a step away from starvation.”

“Tragic accident” costs lives of at least 15 Rohingya: UN agencies

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the migration agency, IOM, reported on Thursday that a “tragic accident” had claimed the lives of at least 15 Rohingya refugees, in the waters off the Bay of Bengal.

At least 100 people were packed onto the boat when it capsized.

Nine children, five women and a man were confirmed dead, with dozens missing.

Hundreds of thousands have made their way across the Myanmar border into Bangladesh, to escape reprisal attacks by government forces, since 25 August.

UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder said that “dozens of others are believed to have perished making similar journeys,” and a quarter of a million children have now taken refuge.

UNICEF is calling for greater international support to deliver urgent aid and ensure the protection of children’s rights.

Palestinian Authority efforts to re-engage Gaza welcomed by Quartet

Efforts by the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank to regain a presence in the Gaza Strip, have been welcomed by the Envoys of the Middle East Quartet.

The quartet, which comprises Russia, the United States, the European Union and the UN, also thanked Egypt for its diplomatic efforts to reunite the Authority and Gaza, which has been run by the Hamas extremist group since they won elections in 2006.

The West Bank-based Fatah party split with Hamas in 2007.

In a statement, the quartet envoys urged the parties to take “concrete steps” to reunite, under the legitimate Palestinian Authority.

More details from Deputy UN Spokesperson, Farhan Haq.

“This will facilitate lifting the closures of the crossings, while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns, and unlock international support for Gaza’s growth, stability and prosperity, which is critical for efforts to reach lasting peace. The Quartet envoys stand ready to engage with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the region in support of this process.”

Senior UN officials arrive in Dominica to assess hurricane damage

Senior UN officials arrived on the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean island of Dominica on Thursday to assess the damage first-hand.

Hurricane Maria pounded the island last week, when it landed as a Category 5 storm, collapsing buildings and leaving 27 dead, according to news reports.

Many other Caribbean countries have suffered heavy damage from a series of hurricanes that have swept across the region.

The UN Resident Coordinator and World Food Programme Regional Directorwere due to meet the Prime Minister of Dominica and UN staff already on the ground to discuss the government-led recovery effort.

More from Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq again.

“Humanitarian organizations are delivering aid and carrying out assessments. Although access to Dominica is gradually being restored, internal access along key roads is limited and hindering the delivery of crucial aid to cut-off communities. There are now 21 UN staff in the capital Roseau.”

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3’34″

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CGAP Launches Guide for Financial Service Providers to Better Meet the Needs of Low-Income Customers

Washington, D.C., Sept. 28, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — CGAP today launched the Customer-Centric Guide, a web-based collection of toolkits and experiments to help financial service providers deliver products and services that better meet the needs of low-income customers. The number of people with a financial account grew by 721 million between 2011 and 2014, reducing the […]

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Lake Chad Basin: Vulnerable people ‘a step away from starvation,’ says UN aid chief

The scale up of international assistance to the Lake Chad Basin this year has averted a famine in north-east Nigeria, even though millions of people are still suffering, according to the United Nations aid chief.

Having visited Niger and Nigeria earlier this month, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, told reporters today at UN Headquarters in New York: There are still millions of people who have suffered a lot and continue to suffer, many of them just a step away from starvation.

He said that in field visits to Ngagam in Diffa � the poorest region in the poorest country in the world � and to Maiduguri, Pulka, and Gwoza in Borno state in Nigeria, he met extremely vulnerable people displaced by conflict.

Those people want to go home, they want a chance to rebuild their lives. But they want to do that when it’s safe to do so, stressed Mr. Lowcock.

About 1.8 million people in Niger are food-insecure. Some 800,000 children are affected by acute malnutrition and almost 250,000 people are either internally displaced persons, returnees or refugees from Nigeria, he highlighted.

In north-east Nigeria, around 6.5 million people need life-saving assistance. Nearly 5.2 million are severely food-insecure and 450,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, this year.

The crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, which covers Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, is complex as countries grapple with insecurity, climatic shocks, extreme poverty, the legacy of inadequate governance across vast parts of the region.

But the way forward is also clear, he asserted, highlighting the need to sustain the effective humanitarian response, and to ensure see better protection for people.

Access has improved in many towns, but there’s also been a recent upsurge in horrific attacks on civilians in all four countries. In Niger, hostage-taking has increased, while in Nigeria children have been used as ‘human bombs,’ he said.

Turning to other areas of the world, Mr. Lowcock said so far in Somalia, famine has been averted while in South Sudan, there was a famine declaration in a couple of counties in Unity state, that affected about 50,000 people earlier in the year, but that situation was brought under control pretty quickly.

Calling it the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis, Mr. Lowcock pointed out that in Yemen, we have so far again averted formal famine declaration, but the levels of suffering in Yemen are really astronomical. I mean, there’s a really dreadful situation.

Source: UN News Centre

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