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Humanitarians across Yemen renew call to end conflict
by OCHA, Unicef, agencies
Sep. 2019
Humanitarian programmes in Yemen forced to shut due to lack of funding
Commitments made by donor countries at the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen have failed to materialize. At the event convened by the UN Secretary General in February 2019, the United Nations and humanitarian partners were promised USD 2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis. To date, less than half of this amount has been received.
“We are desperate for the funds that were promised,” said Ms. Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “When money doesn’t come, people die.”
Of the 34 major UN humanitarian programmes in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start. A staggering 22 life-saving programmes will close in the next two months unless funding is received.
The UN was forced to suspend most of the country’s vaccination campaigns in May. Procurement of medicines has been stopped and thousands of health workers are no longer receiving financial support. Plans to construct 30 new nutrition centres have been shelved and 14 safe houses and four specialized mental health facilities for women have closed. A treatment plant that purifies the water used to irrigate agricultural fields shut in June.
Unless the funds promised at the pledging conference are received in coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut-off from the services which keep them alive.
19 million people will lose access to health care including one million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health.
Clean water programmes for five million people will shut at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.
“This is the largest humanitarian operation in the world addressing the worst humanitarian crisis,” said Ms. Grande. “When we receive funding, we make a huge difference.”
“A number of donors have lived up to their promises and we are grateful to them. With these monies we’ve been able to increase the amount of assistance we’re providing. The impact when we do so is immediate. In half of the districts where people were facing famine, conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation,” said Ms. Grande.
“Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive,” said Ms. Grande. “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”
Aug. 2019
Humanitarians across Yemen renew call to end conflict
“Every humanitarian working in Yemen knows that the only solution to this senseless, terrible tragedy is to end the conflict,” says Ms. Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.
“This is why we are using World Humanitarian Day to ask everyone to lay down their weapons, work towards peace and give humanitarians immediate, unimpeded and safe access to the people who need our assistance.”
“Across Yemen, humanitarian workers are doing everything we can to help people survive a war that has gone on too long, claimed too many lives and damaged too many homes, schools, hospitals, farms and businesses across the country.”
“Even though we work in one of the most difficult environments in the world, humanitarians are reaching millions of people who would not survive without us,” said Ms. Grande. “Every month nearly 12.5 million people receive life-saving aid.”
Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Nearly 80 per cent of the total population, 24.1 million people, requires some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.
The 2019 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP) requires US$4.2 billion to assist more than 20 million Yemenis, including 10 million people, who rely entirely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs each month.
As of today, the operation is only 34 per cent funded. Humanitarian agencies are appealing to donors who promised to fund the operation to provide support as quickly as possible.
UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children 2019: Yemen
The conflict-driven humanitarian crisis in Yemen is the largest emergency globally, with more than 24.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
Conflict has led to internal displacement of 3.6 million people, including 2 million children, left millions of public sector workers without salaries for years and undermined humanitarian access to many vulnerable populations.
An estimated 12 million Yemenis, including 7 million children, will depend on food assistance in 2019.
The economic deterioration continues, with the rial losing nearly 50 per cent of its value since September 2018, and affected families struggling to purchase food.
The escalation of violence in the port of Hudaydah has threatened the delivery of essential food and medicines throughout the country.
Nearly 358,000 children under 5 years suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), and require treatment. Only 10 per cent of children under 6 months are exclusively breastfed and majority of children are deprived of a healthy diet.
Only 15 per cent of children are eating the minimum acceptable diet for survival, growth and development.
Rising food insecurity, with poor sanitation and lack of safe water has increased preventable diseases.
Immunization coverage has stagnated at the national level with declines seen in many areas resulting in outbreaks of measles, diphtheria and other vaccine preventable disease.
Access to primary healthcare for mothers, their newborns and children remains an issue.
Since late 2016, over 1.3 million cases of suspected cholera have been reported, with over 311,000 cases reported in 2018.
UNICEF and partners integrated cholera response has been effective, however, cholera remains endemic in Yemen, and resurgence remains a real risk during 2019.
Children are the primary victims of the crisis. According to the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on grave child rights violations, more than 6,700 children have been verified as killed or maimed since the start of the conflict.
Children remain under extreme risk of death or injury from unexploded ordinances, landmines and explosive remnants of war.
The damage and closure of schools and hospitals are threatening children''s access to education and health services, rendering them vulnerable to serious protection concerns. At least 2 million children in Yemen are out of school.

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Millions of Congolese without aid as ongoing conflicts rob hope for peace
by OCHA, UNHRC, NRC, Unicef, agencies
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Oct. 2019
Hundreds of thousands who have fled violence in DR Congo, in desperate need, 11 aid agencies warn. (Reliefweb)
Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo are in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medicines, 11 aid agencies warned today.
Five months on from a resurgence of horrendous violence people are dying every day from preventable diseases because of the appalling conditions they are living in, a statement from the agencies including the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam and Tearfund said. The situation is deteriorating as the approach of lean season has already doubled some food prices forcing more people to go hungry.
The majority of people who have been displaced are living with vulnerable host families, stretching already poor communities, with little or no resources, to breaking point. Others are living in cramped conditions in public places, such as churches and schools or barely surviving in overcrowded makeshift camps.
The agencies said that in some instances, up to 500 people are having to share one toilet, while others are having to drink dirty water that infects them with potentially deadly water-borne diseases. Many are sleeping on bare floors in flimsy shelters that offer very little protection from heavy rains. The conditions also increase the risk of sexual violence for women and girls.
Since May this year, hundreds of people have been killed during frenzied attacks by armed men in the Djugu and Mahagi territories with over 360,000 forced to flee for their lives leaving their entire villages destroyed. The aid agencies are calling for the protection of all civilians and an end to the violence. Almost all of the displaced people they spoke to had witnessed atrocities.
One woman, Marie, faced the unimaginable horror of losing her mother, two teenage daughters and infant sons - age three and two - who were all brutally beheaded by an armed group.
Marie said: “All my children have been beheaded. My mother too. The men came at 10 in the morning. Some were shooting in the air, while others cut off people’s heads with machetes and knives. They surrounded the village and burned all the houses. They murdered everyone who tried to flee and hunted down anyone hiding in the forest. It is a miracle I escaped.”
Another woman, Rachel, tragically lost her four children and husband, when they were attacked. She is trying to survive by working in the fields, but says she fears for her life every day.
Rachel said: “I came here (to the host community) a few months ago to escape the violence in my village. It was the second time I had to flee. I lost my four children and my husband because they were of a different ethnicity. Here, to live, I go to do daily work in the fields, but it’s not safe.”
The increased violence, which has multiple complex causes, has re-ignited tensions between different communities, with devastating consequences.
People are no longer able to travel to the market, for fear of being attacked. Many were about to harvest but have been forced to abandon their fields and crops. They have now lost a fourth agricultural season in a row, which, in a largely rural economy means no food or income.
The arrival of the lean season will put even more stress on what little food is available; in some places the price of beans and other staple food has already more than doubled. Nearly half of the population in the affected area is facing crisis levels of hunger.
Corinne N’Daw, Oxfam’s Country Director in DR Congo, said: “The situation is dire and many children are suffering from malnutrition. Most people have lost everything they own and have witnessed horrendous atrocities, now they face a deadly dilemma, do they go without food or risk their lives to go back to their fields.”
Since people are scattered across vast distances in remote areas, the 11 agencies said it is extremely challenging to reach all of those in need.
The majority of humanitarian need in DR Congo is not being met in Ituri and other conflict-stricken areas across the country, leaving many to die from illness, hunger or exhaustion. Lessons have not been learned from a previous crisis in 2018 when lack of funding and insecurity meant agencies were not able to reach all of those in need.
Ten months into 2019, DR Congo has only received 35 percent of funding needed, in a country where 15.6 million people are severely food insecure. The situation in Ituri is one of several humanitarian crises in DR Congo, including the Ebola outbreak, which was declared an international emergency three months ago.
Benjamin Vienot, Country Director for Action Against Hunger in DR Congo, said: “Aid agencies weren’t able to reach everyone who needed help during the last crisis in 2018 because of lack of funding and insecurity, which made access extremely challenging. We are now facing a similarly bleak picture.”
July 2019
The World Food Programme (WFP) has described the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the world’s second largest hunger crisis in the world, after Yemen.
In addition to worsening hunger, communities in north-east DRC face a deadly Ebola outbreak and inter-ethnic clashes that claimed at least 117 lives between 10 and 13 June, according to a recent report by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.
WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel warned that “people are dying of hunger, or, malnutrition is such that they are dying”. He added that although there is no accurate data on the total number of deaths from hunger in the Ituri province of the DRC, 13 million people are food insecure nationally, including five million acutely malnourished children.
The situation has worsened because of an increase in clashes between Hema herders and Lendu farmers that have driven people from their homes, along with rising food prices; a lack of income and access to a varied diet; and disease epidemics.
Addressing the rising violence, Mr. Verhoosel said: “This senseless cruelty comes right at harvest time, where the newly displaced have had to flee their homes in rural villages with very little or nothing”. He added that “many victims of this increase in violence are malnourished and have been forced to move numerous times…they are seeking security in urban centres and in the bush.”
According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, inter-ethnic violence has led to the mass displacement of 300,000 people since June.
Together with North Kivu province, people in Ituri are also living through the DRC’s worst recorded Ebola virus outbreak.
In its latest Ebola update, the UN and authorities reported that since the outbreak began on 1 August 2018, 2,338 people have been infected with Ebola. A total of 1,571 people have died and 653 have recovered from the illness.
To help 5.2 million people across DRC for the next six months, the UN food agency said that it needs $155 million, including $35 million to respond directly to Ebola.
Multiple humanitarian crises are unfolding in Ituri province, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and hundreds of thousands of people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, according to international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The recent upsurge in violence across the regions of Djugu, Mahagi and Irumu have forced thousands to flee their homes. Despite MSF’s repeated calls on international aid organisations to scale up humanitarian aid, the majority of the displaced still haven’t received even the most basic assistance.
“This is not the first time there are urgent humanitarian needs in the area,” says Dr Moussa Ousman, MSF Head of Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “But this time we are seeing not only mass displacement due to violence, but also a rapidly spreading measles outbreak and an Ebola epidemic, all at the same time. This is unprecedented.”
Intercommunal violence has been increasing in Ituri since December 2017, and the large majority of people displaced as a result have been in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, some for more than a year. Since October 2018, MSF has conducted three mortality surveys in the locations of Drodro, Nizzi and Angumu. All showed that the mortality rates in these communities were far above emergency levels.
Mar. 2019
With the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) facing one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock have called for urgent and sustained funding to meet the needs of children, families and vulnerable communities.
"The relatively peaceful political transition taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is an opportunity that we must seize on. We can beat back the massive and protracted humanitarian crisis. But we urgently need donors to provide further generous funding as needs continue to outpace resources," said Mr. Lowcock, adding that DRC needs sustained international engagement to create the conditions for peace, security and long-term development.
While DRC has made progress in recent years in some areas, including a drop in the number of children dying before age 5 and larger numbers being enrolled into school, the overall humanitarian situation remains alarming. The number of people facing hunger jumped from 7.7 million in 2017 to 13 million last year. At least 4 million children are malnourished. Cholera, measles and Ebola continue to blight many lives.
"Severe acute malnutrition is expected to hit 1.4 million children under the age of five this year and put them at imminent risk of death," said Ms. Fore. "In conflict-affected areas of the country, children and young people have been recruited as fighters, sexually assaulted and denied education, health and protection services. Together, the international community and the new government can - and should - do better for children."
The acute humanitarian crisis in the country is made worse by sporadic conflict involving dozens of armed groups in parts of the huge country.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 12.8 million people are now food insecure in DRC, including 4.3 million malnourished children, of whom 1.3 million face severe malnutrition this year.
A number of armed groups continue to hamper access for aid teams, which are also tackling endemic cholera – which threatens two million people - combined with a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease in North Kivu and Ituri.
Dec. 2018
Millions of Congolese languish without aid - as the country heads towards elections. (Norwegian Refugee Council)
As the world turns its attention to the elections in Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Norwegian Refugee Council cautions not to lose sight of the millions of Congolese men, women and children whose humanitarian needs have yet to be met. "Regardless of the outcome of the election Sunday, the country and its leaders will have a challenging job ahead to be able to tackle the daunting humanitarian needs, and will depend on substantial support from the international community to avoid unnecessary loss of lives," said Pauline Ballaman, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This year alone, 1.4 million people have been forced to flee violence in DR Congo. At the end of 2017, there were already a total of 4.5 million people displaced in several parts of the country. The waves of displacement are mainly due to the re-emergence and escalation of violence around Congo''s eastern frontier, in Ituri and the Kivus. More than 13 million people depend on humanitarian assistance.
"Our teams on the ground see horrific violence daily and we are often struggling to keep up with the humanitarian needs. The scale of the crisis and the lack of sufficient support leave many people in need without necessary assistance."
Although there has been a security improvement for some pockets of the country such as the Greater Kasai Region and Tanganyika province where at least 1.5 million people have returned to their places of origin, security incidents have increased by 33 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to the International NGO Security Organization (INSO).
Additionally, there have been over 530 security incidents targeting NGOs since the beginning of the year, translating into two incidents against humanitarian organizations per day.
The needs in DR Congo are daunting. Over 13 million people across the country are living on one meal or less a day. A fertile country, of which 70 per cent of the population live on agriculture, is struggling to produce food because farmers are constantly on the run and cannot access their fields for fear of being attacked, kidnapped or killed by armed groups.
As a result, local markets have suffered from food shortages while prices are skyrocketing, and 4.3 million children are malnourished.
Dec. 2018
OCHA: Global Humanitarian Overview 2019.
The humanitarian crisis in DRC is projected to remain acute, due to socioeconomic challenges and persistent conflict in parts of the country. Major humanitarian challenges remain. Due to declining agricultural activity, some 12.8 million people will face food insecurity, including 4.3 million malnourished children, of whom at least 1.3 million will be suffering from severe malnutrition.
The risk of epidemics will remain significant as well in the first quarter of 2019, with the persistence of cholera and the Ebola outbreak that was declared in August 2018 in North Kivu and Ituri. At least 8.5 million people are at risk of epidemics, including 2 million from cholera.
As a result of security improvement in parts of the country, some 2.9 million people should return to their areas of origin, exceeding the new displacements which are expected to be about 1.3 million. This massive return will create significant needs, especially in protection, health, agricultural production and livelihoods. However, insecurity will remain high in several parts of the country, and some 5.7 million people will also need protection, while 9.8 million vulnerable people will need multisectoral assistance related to the loss of access to essential services and goods.
This year’s humanitarian response plan will aim to assist 9 million of the most vulnerable people in DRC, significantly fewer than the total people in need. This gap is the result of factors such as access, funding constraints and operational capacities.
Spiralling violence puts millions at risk in Ebola-hit eastern DRC, reports UNHCR
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is alarmed by the latest escalation of violence in already volatile and Ebola-hit North Kivu province in east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The cumulative effect of conflict and the outbreak of the deadly disease is threatening millions of Congolese.
The fighting involving a number of armed groups operating in the area has intensified in all six territories in North Kivu, a province bordering Rwanda and Uganda. Thousands of civilians have fled their burned out villages, bringing reports of brutal attacks. The already dire humanitarian situation has been further aggravated by an outbreak of Ebola virus in parts of the province.
Forced displacement in this part of the country remains massive. It is estimated that more than a million people are displaced in North Kivu. This is the highest concentration of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the DRC. An estimated half a million people have been forced from their homes this year alone.
UNHCR is particularly worried about the deteriorating situation in the Ebola-hit northern territory of Beni. The area is home to some 1.3 million people. Spiralling conflict has left the population living there virtually in a state of siege since October 2017. Reports of increased human rights violations and restrictions of humanitarian access are frequent. Estimates are that more than 100 armed groups are active in the province, continually terrorizing the population.
Despite a large-scale military offensive of the Congolese Army against one of the main rebel groups, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) since January, there has been no let-up in the violence.
Despite security challenges, a UNHCR team accessed the area north of Beni earlier this month and conducted humanitarian assessments in Oicha and Eringeti districts. Residents told our staff about brutal attacks against the civilians carried out with machetes. Stories of massacres, extortion, forced displacement and other human rights violations are frequent.
Sexual and gender-based violence is rampant across the Beni territory. Many children are being recruited as child soldiers. The violence is particularly rampant in the so-called “triangle of death,” between the towns of Eringeti, Mbau and Kamango, on the Uganda-DRC border, as well as in the towns of Beni, Oicha and Mavivi.
UNHCR teams witnessed empty villages, countless torched and abandoned houses, as well as burnt cars. Those who fled found shelter mostly in Beni and Oicha, where both host and displaced communities fall prey to brutal and unpredictable attacks. Beni town hosts more than 32,000 displaced people, with the majority forced to live with host families or in schools or churches. More than two thirds have been forced to flee in the last three months.
UNHCR teams found the vulnerable displaced indigenous communities to be in some of the most critical situations. Forced out of their areas of origin in the forests, their living conditions in makeshift sites are abysmal. Families are sleeping rough, barely protected from the elements by their flimsy shelters.
They have few or no means of survival as they can no longer hunt in the forests, now under the control of armed groups. There’s a genuine risk of these people losing their culture and way of life.
UNHCR is scaling up its capacity in North Kivu to respond to the growing humanitarian needs. We are arranging additional emergency shelters and other humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of the displaced in Beni. While UNHCR’s humanitarian response is continuing despite the outbreak of Ebola, the prevailing security situation and drastic funding shortfall severely hamper our efforts. UNHCR’s DRC 2018 appeal totalling USD 201 million is only 17 per cent funded.


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