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South Sudanese surgeon wins 2018 Nansen Refugee Award
by UNCHR staff in Nairobi, Kenya
UN Refugee Agency
Evan Atar Adaha, surgeon and medical director at a hospital in north-eastern South Sudan, is the 2018 winner of the Nansen Refugee Award, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, announced this week.
The award is in recognition of Dr. Atar’s outstanding commitment and self-sacrifice in providing medical services to more than 200,000 people, including approximately 144,000 refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile state, the agency said.
His team carries out an average of 58 operations per week in difficult conditions at the hospital in Bunj, Maban County, with limited supplies and equipment.
The only x-ray machine is broken, the only surgical theatre is lit by a single light, and electricity is provided by generators that often break down. Since it is the only hospital in Upper Nile State, it is often crowded with patients and wards extend into the open air.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after a peaceful referendum.
A civil war now in its fifth year has created South Sudan Africa’s worst refugee emergency in terms of numbers and the world’s third biggest refugee crisis.
“Dr. Atar’s work through decades of civil war and conflict is a shining example of profound humanity and selflessness,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
“Through his tireless efforts, thousands of lives have been saved, and countless men, women and children provided with a new chance to rebuild a future.”
Originally from Torit in southern South Sudan, Dr. Atar studied study medicine in Khartoum, Sudan, and afterwards practised in Egypt. In 1997, as war ravaged Blue Nile State, Dr. Atar volunteered to work there, establishing his first hospital in Kurmuk in the midst of a large-scale conflict, often under direct aerial bombing.
In 2011, increasing violence forced Dr. Atar to pack up his hospital in Sudan, fleeing to South Sudan with his staff and as much equipment as he could transport, a journey that took a month.
Arriving in Bunj, he set up his first surgical theatre in an abandoned local health centre, stacking tables to create a raised operating table. Since its establishment, Dr. Atar has worked tirelessly to secure funding and train other young people to become nurses and midwives.
“We treat everyone here regardless of who they are — refugee, internally displaced, host community,” says Dr. Atar. “I am most happy when I realize that the work that I have done has saved somebody from suffering or has saved his life.”
South Sudan hosts nearly 300,000 refugees, of whom 92 per cent are Sudanese from the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions close to the South Sudanese border.
UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award honours extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced.
# UNHCR: Highlighted under-funded situations in 2018
The most underfunded situations for UNHCR in 2018 are indicative of the staggering cost of inaction when displaced people and humanitarian needs are at a historic high, and underline the all-but impossible situation in which UNHCR has less funds with which to do more, and in which it needs to invest to stabilise volatile situations and alleviate human suffering.
As of September 2018, UNHCR’s budget needs are currently only 45% funded. Although the levels of funding are similar to 2017 at the same period, the budget is larger—reflecting much greater needs. There are other signs of concern: significant though the level of contributions is, the amount is plateauing and not keeping pace with needs. Additionally, UNHCR is seeing a continuing decline in the percentage of flexible income—unearmarked or softly earmarked funding.
This document outlines the overall situation regarding UNHCR’s budget and income in 2018, and highlights six situations in particular—four of which are in Africa—which are in urgent need of funding before the end of the year in order to implement critical and high priority programmes. The costs of inaction are high. Needs worsen, become more compounded. Emergencies become protracted. Solutions are put off. Crises become forgotten. People suffer. But timely support by donors may still avert the worst.
This growth is concurrent with the unabated levels of global displacement, and as a result of new emergencies. At the beginning of 2018, there were some 71.4 million people of concern to UNHCR worldwide—refugees, IDPs, returnees, and stateless persons.
The funding gap is widening, now standing at $4.5 billion. Based on indications received from donors and analysis of funding trends, UNHCR estimates the gap may reduce to $3.7 billion by year’s end. Such a funding gap would have a devastating impact on people of concern—the number of which is projected to grow to 79.8 million by the end of 2018—and would require radical reprioritization of support for critical needs. http://bit.ly/2OwfFZT
* Access the 36pp report: http://bit.ly/2O2x7Fn
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Conflict and Hunger: How the UN and Member States can help to break the cycle
by Veronique Andrieux
CEO of Action Against Hunger France
September 25, 2018
Remarks made by Veronique Andrieux, CEO of Action Against Hunger France, at the UN General Assembly 2018
Hunger is on the rise for the third year in a row, driven in part by conflict. On September 25, as part of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, representatives from several countries, UN agencies, and Action Against Hunger held a high-level discussion on conflict and food security, with a focus on the recently adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2417, which establishes a link between hunger and conflict.
The meeting, called Exploring the Link Between Conflict and Global Hunger, was co-hosted by The Netherlands, the United States, the European Union, Sweden, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme.
Humanitarian organizations Action Against Hunger, Concern, Norweigan Refugee Council, Oxfam, Save the Children, and World Vision shared their recommendations to operationalize Resolution 2417 and to break the cycle of hunger and conflict in a briefing paper. Remarks were given by Secretary-General António Guterres, USAID Administrator Mark Green, World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley, CEO of Action Against Hunger France Véronique Andrieux, and more.
Below, find Ms. Andrieux''s remarks as prepared.
On behalf of Action Against Hunger, I would like to echo the statements made here today about the importance of Security Council Resolution 2417 to prevent and eradicate conflict-induced hunger. It is indeed a historic resolution. We welcome the recognition that ending hunger depends on ending conflict. Indeed, humanitarian action and technical solutions can mitigate the effects of a food crisis. But we desperately need political solutions and we need to implement 2417, if we are to reverse the shameful upward trajectory of hungry people in the world—primarily resulting from conflict.
In passing Resolution 2417, the Security Council has recognized that hunger and conflict fuel each other in a vicious cycle, and that conflict-induced food insecurity is a threat to international peace and security. We deem it essential that UN Member States take the following four steps to break the cycle:
1. Improve early warning, to systematically identify starvation as a method of warfare and enable early response
We need to respond earlier and more effectively to food security crises. The current analytical tools that we use — namely the IPC (Integrated Phase Classification) and the Cadre Harmonise — are plagued by political and technical constraints. These tools are meant to be independent but, in reality, national governments can influence the collection and dissemination of data and analysis. It can then be difficult for actors to mount an effective and timely response, based on needs. There is a critical need for an independent, data-driven, early warning mechanism that can enable early action and prevent a further worsening of the situation.
2. Prioritize investment on food security, livelihoods, and resilience-building
The deliberate blockade, targeting or destruction of food, livelihoods, productive assets, markets, critical infrastructure necessary for people to farm and trade and earn a living is a tactic that is all too common in many of the countries in which we operate. By using economic warfare tactics, parties to conflict methodically erode local economies, force people to flee, collapse production, destroy livelihoods, and worsen food security, thus undermining access to food and increasing the risk of famine.
2417 addresses conflict-induced food insecurity as a peace and security issue. To build and sustain peace, to prevent hunger from being a driver of conflict, to avoid the relapse, outbreak or spread of conflict, donors should increase investment in food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and resilience-building.
3. Minimize the impacts of military/security responses to conflict on livelihoods and access to food
Military and peace-keeping operations can threaten livelihoods, worsen food insecurity, and fuel political instability and violence, especially when political objectives — such as anti-migration or counter-terrorism policies — are mixed with humanitarian and development objectives.
This impacts the quality and efficiency of the aid provided and hinders humanitarian access from people in need to lifesaving assistance. States must minimize the impact of their security responses to conflict on livelihoods and access to food.
Furthermore, counter-terrorism restrictions and other policies that criminalize the provision of humanitarian assistance severely curtail our ability to assist people in need. An exemption on these restrictions granted to impartial, independent, and neutral humanitarian actors would facilitate the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance in conflict-affected settings.
4. Uphold respect to International Humanitarian Law by creating a Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General and considering prosecution against International Humanitarian Law violations
The use of hunger as a weapon of war is a war crime according to Geneva Conventions. Yet, in some conflict settings, parties to conflict use siege tactics, weaponize starvation of civilians, or wilfully impede life-saving humanitarian supplies to reach those desperately in need.
This is unhuman, unacceptable. The UN and member states should hold parties to conflict to account for upholding their legal obligations by imposing targeted sanctions in response to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law — including through the prosecution of these crimes in the national and international legal systems.
The creation of a Special Advisor to the Secretary General on respect of International Humanitarian Law could support compliance with International Humanitarian Law and enhance accountability. Indeed, there is a moral imperative to avert major famines caused by conflict through negotiated political solutions to end conflict or, in the meantime, to enforce respect to International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.
Millions of people are trapped in a deadly, man-made cycle of conflict and hunger. Action Against Hunger welcomes the unanimous condemnation of starvation as a weapon of war and the renewed call to upholding International Humanitarian Law; and remains committed to collaborate to translate 2417 into actual implementation.
* Briefing Paper - Conflict & Hunger: How the UN and Member States Can Help Break the Cycle: http://bit.ly/2IBkfQF http://bit.ly/2IBOEOz
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