UN Warns Yemen On Brink Of Famine Again

A protester holds a Yemeni flag-themed placard in Parliament Square in London on July 5, 2020, as she demonstrates against the continued conflict in Yemen. - Yemen has been locked in conflict since the Huthis took control of Sanaa in 2014 and went on to seize much of the north. The crisis escalated when the Saudi-led coalition intervened the following year to support Yemen's internationally-recognised government. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian disaster. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
A protester holds a Yemeni flag-themed placard in Parliament Square in London on July 5, 2020, as she demonstrates against the continued conflict in Yemen. – Yemen has been locked in conflict since the Huthis took control of Sanaa in 2014 and went on to seize much of the north. The crisis escalated when the Saudi-led coalition intervened the following year to support Yemen’s internationally-recognised government. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

 

War-torn Yemen is once again on the brink of famine as donor funds that averted catastrophe just 18 months ago have dried up, the country’s UN humanitarian coordinator said.

With much of the country dependent on aid, a coronavirus pandemic raging unchecked, and countless children already facing starvation, Lise Grande said that millions of vulnerable families could quickly move from “being able to hold on to being in free fall.”

The United Nations raised only around half the required $2.41 billion in aid for Yemen at a June donor conference co-hosted by Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition backing the internationally recognised government against Huthi rebels who control much of the north.

Yemen is already gripped by what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with tens of thousands killed, an estimated four million people displaced by war and 80 percent of the country’s 29 million people dependent on aid for their survival.

Grande said in an interview from Sanaa that critical programmes providing sanitation, healthcare and food were already closing down because of a lack of cash, just as the economic situation is looking “scarily similar” to the darkest days of the crisis.

A critical fuel shortage, for which the Huthis and the government are trading blame, is now threatening the operation of the electricity grid, water supply, and key infrastructure like hospitals.

“Ships aren’t being allowed to bring in life-saving commodities, the currency is depreciating very quickly. The central bank is out of money. The price of a basic food basket… has increased by 30 percent in just the past few weeks alone,” Grande said.

“We’re seeing the same factors driving the country towards famine that we saw before. We don’t have the resources we need to fight it and roll it back this time. It’s something to be profoundly worried about.”

– Empty promises? –
Saudi Arabia emerged as the biggest donor at the June event, pledging $500 million. Britain and the United States, both major weapons suppliers to Saudi Arabia, also stepped in with large packages.

However, Grande said that only nine of the 31 donors had actually provided the funds — a pattern that the UN has sounded alarm over before, and which will worsen as the world sinks into a coronavirus-induced recession.

“It’s very clear that the COVID pandemic has put pressure on assistance budgets all over the world … They’re just not going to be able to do what they’ve done previously. And the impact of that is going to be very significant, very severe,” she said.

Yemen has so far officially recorded some 1,300 cases of the disease, with 359 fatalities, but testing is scant, most clinics are ill-equipped to determine causes of death and there are ominous signs that the real toll is much higher.

Modelling by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine indicates there could have been over one million coronavirus infections by last month, and that 85,000 people could die in a worst-case scenario.

But as the country’s needs escalate, the ability to meet them has diminished.

– Programmes cut –
Grande said that in the next few days, the UN faced the “unbelievable situation” of having to stop providing fuel to hospitals as well as water supply and sanitation systems across the country.

The World Food Programme, which has been providing staples to 13 million people, has had to scale back with deliveries to only about 8.5-8.7 million people per month, and many of those have been put on half rations.

And the week the coronavirus crisis started, the WHO ran out of funds to pay 10,000 public health workers across the country.

A year and a half ago when Yemen last stood on the brink, the situation was very different.

The central bank was recapitalised by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — then an active partner in the coalition — paid schoolteachers’ salaries, the currency was stabilised and commodity imports were supported.

“Eighteen months ago, we were one of the best-funded humanitarian operations in the world,” Grande said.

“The country is right back where it was. The difference is that now we don’t have the resources we need in order to push it back.”

Buhari Sets Up Committee To Coordinate Humanitarian Actions

Atiku, Ezekwesili Absent As Buhari And Other Candidates Sign Peace Accord
File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari signing a document.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the constitution of a National Humanitarian Coordination Committee (NHCC) to oversee all humanitarian actions in the country.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, announced this in a statement on Monday.

According to Adesina, the committee will, among others, provide a national vision for humanitarian actions and advise on coordination between the security services and humanitarian actors.

The committee is also mandated to settle disputes that may arise from interactions between security services and the humanitarian community.

Its other functions include to propose policies that enhance coordination and seamless delivery of humanitarian aid to affected communities, facilitate delivery of humanitarian interventions to vulnerable persons, as well as promote transparency and accountability in all aspects of humanitarian delivery in the country.

The NHCC would be chaired by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk, as well as co-chaired by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno.

Other members are Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, as well as the Ministers of Defence, Interior, Justice, and the Minister of State Budget and Planning.

The committee also has as members the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspector General of Police, and Governors of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

The Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, and United Nations Resident Coordinator, among others, are also listed as members.

Adesina said the NHCC would be inaugurated by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in due course.

Insurgency: UN Condemns Attack On Humanitarian Facility In Borno

PHOTO: United Nations

 

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, has condemned the attack by ‘non-state’ armed groups against a humanitarian accommodation in Ngala, Borno State.

The attack on the humanitarian hub was said to have been carried out by heavily armed men on Saturday in the north-eastern state of the country.

An entire section of the facility was reportedly razed, as well as one of the few vehicles being used by UN agencies for movement and aid delivery.

“I am outraged by the extremely violent attack on this key humanitarian facility where five United Nations staff were staying at the time of the incident.

“I am shocked by the violence and intensity of this attack, which is the latest of too many incidents directly targeting humanitarian actors and the assistance we provide,” stressed the Humanitarian Coordinator.

READ ALSO: Pipeline Explosion: If Acts Of Vandalism Continues, They Will Kill Us All – Kyari

Mr Kallon, however, stated that no lives were lost during the attack.

He noted that protective security measures deployed at the humanitarian hub prevented any harm to the workers that were in the facility.

The UN envoy said, “I am relieved all staff is now safe and secure. Aid workers, humanitarian facilities and assets cannot be a target and must be protected and respected at all times.

“Such incidents have a disastrous effect on the lives of the most vulnerable people who depend on our assistance to survive.”

“Many of them had already fled violence in their area of origin and were hoping to find safety and assistance in Ngala.

“This also jeopardises the ability of aid workers to stay and deliver assistance to the people most in need in remote areas in Borno State,” he added.

UN Court Tells Us To Ease Iran’s Sanction On Humanitarian Goods

 

The UN’s top court ordered the United States Wednesday to lift sanctions on humanitarian goods for Iran in a stunning setback for US President Donald Trump.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague handed Iran a major victory, saying that the stinging economic sanctions put Iranian lives at risk.

The ruling is likely to rile Trump, who reimposed the sanctions in May after pulling out of Iran’s international nuclear deal to the dismay of his allies.

But it was unclear whether the judgment will be anything more than symbolic because both Washington and Tehran have ignored them in the past.

The ICJ judges ruled that the sanctions on some goods breached a 1955 “Treaty of Amity” between Iran and the US that predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

“The court finds unanimously that… the United States of America… shall remove by means of its choosing any impediments arising from the measures announced on 8 May to the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food, and agricultural commodities” as well as airplane parts, chief judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said.

The court said sanctions on goods “required for humanitarian needs… may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.”

US sanctions also had the “potential to endanger civil aviation safety in Iran and the lives of its users.”

‘In the right’

Iran’s foreign ministry hailed the shocking judgment as proof that Tehran was “in the right”.

Ahead of the decision, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the sanctions were a form of “psychological warfare” aimed at regime change.

Trump slapped the first round of sanctions on Iran in August after pulling out in May of the international deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, to the dismay of his European allies. The second round of punitive measures is due in November.

Iran dragged the US to the ICJ in July, and during four days of hearings in late August, its lawyers accused Washington of “strangling” its economy.

Washington however forcefully told the court that it has no jurisdiction to rule on this case as it concerns a matter of national security.

Wednesday’s ruling is, in fact, a decision on so-called provisional measures ahead of a final decision on the matter, which may take several more years, experts said.

Rulings by the Hague-based ICJ, which rules on disputes between United Nations members are binding but it has no mechanism through which it can enforce its decisions.

In 1986 Washington disregarded the court’s finding that it had violated international law by supporting the pro-US Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Iran, in turn, ignored the ICJ’s ruling in 1980 to release hostages taken during the Iran hostage crisis.

Nazi disposition

There was no immediate reaction from the United States, but Trump has previously shown his disdain for overarching international organizations that limit US sovereignty, including the UN.

He recently heavily criticized the separate International Criminal Court in The Hague over a probe into alleged US abuses in Afghanistan.

The 2015 nuclear deal saw Iran agree to limit its nuclear programme and let in international inspectors in return for an end to years of sanctions by the West.

But Trump argues that funds from the lifting of sanctions under the pact have been used to support terrorism and build nuclear-capable missiles.

European allies have pledged to keep the deal alive, with plans for a mechanism to let firms skirt the US sanctions as they do business with Iran.

Despite that, France alleged on Tuesday that the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind a foiled plot to bomb an exiled opposition group near Paris.

US-Iran relations have plunged to a new low since Trump’s election in 2016, even as the US president reaches out to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over his nuclear programme.

Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani faced off at the UN in September, with Rouhani denouncing leaders with “xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition”.

Despite their 1955 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic ties since 1980.

The case is the second brought by Tehran against Washington since 2016. That year it brought a suit at the ICJ against the freezing of around $2 billion of Iranian assets abroad which US courts say should go to American victims of terror attacks.

Hearings, in that case, are due to start next week.

AFP

U.S. Announces $533m Humanitarian Aid For Nigeria, Others

U.S. Announces $533m Humanitarian Aid For Nigeria, Others
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks about the US relationship with Africa and his upcoming trip to the continent at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on March 6, 2018. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

The United States government has announced about $533million in humanitarian assistance for Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan, as well as countries in the Lake Chad region.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, announced this on Tuesday during a presentation at the George Mason University, Fairfax in Virginia, ahead of his ‘very important’ trip to Africa.

The government explained on its Nigerian embassy’s website that the fund is meant to support countries where millions of citizens are facing life-threatening food insecurity and malnutrition as a result of ongoing conflict or prolonged drought.

“As we support important security efforts, we must work to find long-term diplomatic solutions to conflicts that cause so much human suffering. Until we do, the United States, as the world’s largest provider of humanitarian assistance, will continue to stand with those most vulnerable,” Tillerson said.

“As a testament to that commitment, today I’m announcing $533 million in additional humanitarian assistance to fight famine and food insecurity and address other needs resulting from conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Lake Chad Basin.

“The alarming levels of hunger in these areas are largely man-made, as conflicts erupt and people flee their homes. Under these conditions, people cannot produce crops and often lose access altogether to food, education, and healthcare.

“Many lose everything. And regrettably, Mother Nature can still be cruel, such as in the Horn of Africa, where a prolonged drought is contributing to grave food insecurity,” he added.

With this new funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. is providing emergency food and nutrition assistance to help vulnerable populations, including tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid.

The funding, according to the statement, also supports safe drinking water programmes, emergency healthcare, and hygiene programmes to treat and prevent the spread of disease, as well as the reunification of families separated by conflict.

A breakdown of the newly announced funds shows that about $184million is for affected populations from South Sudan, more than $110million for affected populations from Ethiopia, at least $110million for affected populations from Somalia, while more than $128million is for affected populations from Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region.

The United States, however, called on all parties to allow aid workers safe and unhindered access to help communities in need.

World Faces Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since 1945 – UN

Maiduguri, United NationsThe United Nations says the world is facing its largest humanitarian crisis since 72 years, issuing a plea to avoid “a catastrophe”.

UN Humanitarian Chief, Stephen O’Brien, said at least 20 million people faced threat of famine and starvation in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria.

Mr O’Brien noted that $4.4 billion was needed by July to avert the disaster.

“We stand at a critical point in history; already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations.

“Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine.

“Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death,” the Humanitarian Chief told the UN Security Council on Friday.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) had warned that about 1.4 million children could starve to death in 2017.

ECOWAS Focuses On Human Trafficking And Child Protection

ecowasThe ECOWAS commission has commenced plans to establish a regional communication network that will help fight human trafficking and promote child protection in the sub region.

This effort is coming in view of the security crisis in different states in the region which the commission says leave women and children exposed to dangers of deprivation and forced labour.

The ECOWAS Director of Humanitarian and Social Affairs, Dr Dianel Eklu said nations must be made to assume responsibility for the protection of this vulnerable section of their societies, through agenda setting by the media, demands on accountability and promotion of alliances.