Tag Archives: United Nations

Has the Global Community Failed the Central African Republic?

A view of internally displaced children at the main mosque in Bangui during the Secretary-General’s visit.

It comes as no surprise that many in the international community are now admitting that the Central African Republic, which many believe now rests on the brink of genocide, has been failed entirely. For one, sectarian fighting and ethnic cleansing have not let up. Only 29% of requested funds have been provided for relief, and even though the United Nations approved a peacekeeping mission that will comprise 10,000 troops, 1,800 police and 20 corrections officers, those troops will not arrive in the landlocked African country until September. It’s not certain if the Central African Republic can wait that long.

“The situation continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate in terms of firstly, security for the ordinary people and secondly, their humanitarian plight as a result of the huge amount of displacement that has already taken place and continues to take place,”  said John Ging, Operations Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) this week in New York. “The scale has grown in terms of the impact on the population.”

A disturbing trend of late due to the rampant violence in CAR is humanitarian workers are no longer seen as “off limits”. Three staff members from Doctors Without Borders were killed in April as well as a national staff member for the UNHCR this week.

While there is movement to help both the Christian and Muslim communities in the Central African Republic, the movement is slow-going despite early efforts from France and the African Union to donate money and soldiers to quell the violence. 150 European Union soldiers reached the Central African Republic in April and has taken over control of Bangui’s airport. That number will increase to 800 by next month.

With several raging conflicts on the African continent and around the world, the Central African Republic, while in dire need, is not the only conflict that needs resolving. The global community is stretched thin, to be sure. The United Nations’ World Food Programme has, however, ramped up a large-scale feeding operation and has provided food assistance to 200,000 people as of April numbers. Children, who are especially susceptible to violence, have received special nutrition from the WFP as food becomes more scarce not only in Bangui, but in pockets around the country.

“WFP is expanding its operations geographically inside the Central African Republic,” said WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs from Geneva. “In December, WFP reached four urban centres with food assistance, by March it expanded to 21 locations and in April to 35.

Reports out of the Central African Republic seem to bear the same story: the violence is not ceasing or even waning for the best interest of the country. In fact, an escalation of the violence is the norm. Ging reiterated this week in New York that blame is no longer being placed on the anti-balaka or Séléka, but now on entire communities – Christians against Muslims.  Just this week, 15 people were killed in border towns. And even though  less than 3000 people have been killed in the ethnic violence nearly 600,000 people have become internally displaced (see PDF). These numbers will be incredibly impacted as the rainy season begins.

While there are steps being taken by the global community to ease the violence and restore order in the Central African Republic even though there is an interim government, the urgency does not appear to be present. Today, however, in Bangui, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, spoke to reporters about the roll-out of  the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission, to be known as MINUSCA, mission.

“We will spare no efforts…and I think we have the desire to work with all stakeholders in the international community, with our partners in the African Union, in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and major regional actors, all in a unity of vision,” said Hervé Ladsous, adding that the CAR Government must also play a key role in easing the crisis.

Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

11 Photos of the South Sudanese Crisis You May Not Have Seen

An Update on Central African Republic’s Growing Violence, Humanitarian Response

Since I last wrote about the growing violence in the Central African Republic, things have made a marked turn for the worse. Even with a reported 7600 French (1600) and African Union (6000) troops on the ground and with United States’ air support inter-religious violence between Muslims and Christians has escalated into all-out militia and vigilante warfare. Children as young as eleven are picking up makeshift weapons and machetes to defend themselves against their brothers who do not share their religious beliefs. Torture and amputations have also been reported.

In one week 600 people have been killed according to the United Nations. UNHCR, which was recently called out for a lack of humanitarian support by Doctors Without Border, has made a plea of its own to the leaders of the Central African Republic: to give them access to aid unarmed citizens.

A reported 40,000 people are taking refuge at Bangui’s airport where there is absolutely no sanitation even though some youth have been digging holes where people can relieve themselves.

It is widely expected that French and AU forces can ultimately put an end to the violence that has already killed so many. Conventional wisdom says it will take far more than one week.

Today Marks World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian DayToday, and for a full month, the world will remember the humanitarians and aid workers who work tirelessly around the globe to better the lives of others. Being an aid worker is often a thankless job and a dangerous one to boot. Today marks a day to solemnly remember all of those who have given their lives to make the world a better place such as the 14 people who died in Somalia this June after the horrendous attack on the UN compound in Mogadishu.

Today also marks the tenth anniversary of the first World Humanitarian Day that was designated in 2003 by the General Assembly to remember the bombing that year of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq that took the lives of 22 humanitarians.

Watch this year’s official message.

This year, while we remember those who have lost their lives, it is also a time to spread the message about what the world needs more of in a one-of-a-kind, month-long digital campaign that quite literally turns words into action. On Twitter you can share what you think the world needs more of. Here’s how:

Visit worldhumanitarianday.org.

Scroll down until you see trending words to click and share. What do you think the world needs more of? Here’s our tweet:

For every word you share on Twitter, one of the World Humanitarian Day sponsors, including Western Union, Gucci, Intel, and Barclays Bank, will donate money to aid organizations like Care and UNICEF.

Beyoncé and Kid President

Following her stellar performance at the UN General Assembly Hall last year and subsequent video for I Was Here that reached 1 billion people,
Beyoncé once again lent her voice to a worthy cause, this time with the now-famous Kid President who interviewed her about what World Humanitarian Day means to her.

For more information visit worldhumanitarianday.org.

Photo Credit: Marshall Douglis

Somalia: A Country in Flux

A rough approximation of a Greater Somalia inc...

Photo: Ramadan in Somalia: Men pray at a mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia, during the holy month of Ramadan. UN Photo/Ilyas A Abukar

Even though there was much fanfare and optimism coming out of Somalia a year ago as a new government was put in place and a new constitution was ushered in , the Horn of Africa country is now mired in an internal fight between the government and the Islamist group, Al Shabab, and is making worldwide headlines again. This time the news isn’t favorable.

Last week Doctors Without Borders announced it had pulled out of Somalia after 22 years working in the country. Vital medical services across Somalia have been halted and Somalian workers who have partnered with Doctors Without Borders throughout the years have lost their jobs. Attacks on its staff was cited as the primary reason for the pullout.

Additionally, another Somalian journalist was killed on Saturday in Mogadishi. Eighteen journalists were killed last year alone in Somalia according to the New York Times based on information from Reporters Without Borders.

Last week the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also declared an increase in sexual and gender-based violence in Somalia during the first six months of the year. Over 800 cases of sexual and gender-based violence were reported. Many of these cases involved children.

“Rapes continue to be perpetrated by unknown armed men and men wearing military uniform,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke stated in a UN News Center press release. “Sexual and gender-based violence also includes domestic violence, harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, and early and forced marriage, he said, adding that the majority of the survivors were women aged 18 and above.”

Due to the increased violence UNICEF has stepped in to provide help to women and girls such as distributing fuel-efficient stoves because most attacks occur while gathering fire wood for cooking and bathing. UNICEF has also provided socio-economic support as well as psychological services for victims of violence.

And finally and somewhat even more troubling is the recent outbreak in Somalia and neighboring Kenya in a mostly Somali refugee camp, Daddab. 105 polio cases were confirmed on Friday, more than all of the polio cases reported elsewhere in the world.

English: Greater Somalia drawn on old politica...

Push the Envelope for International Youth Day

To celebrate International Youth Day today, join Catapult.org, the leading crowdfunding site for girls’ and women’s issues, and fund a program that will specifically help girls in developing countries. Projects can be funded quickly and simply on Catapult.

  •  OXFAM: Provide education for 6,000 girls in Pakistan’s flooded regions by flood-proofing 30 schools and campaigning for the right of girls in education: http://shorefi.re/1exHyDd

  • Global Fund for Children: Help 42 girls living with HIV/AIDS in Dominican Republic with medical care, tutoring and psychological workshops: http://shorefi.re/136f83u

  • Seed Global Health: Train 200 nurses in Uganda to prevent newborn asphyxiation: http://shorefi.re/19nFssP

UN Photo/Evan Schneider: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre) visits a girls’ education project.

Unicef USA’s Children With Disabilities Webinar

On Thursday, August 1, Unicef USA conducted a webinar with Cara E. Yar Khan, UNICEF Haiti Disability Focal Point and Mark Engman is currently the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

From UNICEF

The issue of disability is not new to UNICEF, however the agency has moved from just focusing on the protection of children with disabilities (CWD) to promoting their rights the same as other children

According to the WHO, disability is neither purely biological nor social rather the interaction between health condition, environmental and personal factors

New Report: The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities

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Somalia Celebrates 53rd Independence Day

While we celebrated our Independence Day here in the United States today, Somalia — a country that is currently undergoing a transition to a more stable government — celebrated its Independence on July 1st, 53 years after achieving freedom from British and Italian colonial rule. A colorful celebration took place at Konis Stadium in Mogadishu after several years of internal turmoil with Al-Shabaab, its eventual ousting, and the gradual transition to a new government last year.

President Hassan Sheik Mohamud was in attendance at the newly resurfaced Konis Stadium along with military and government officials. The ceremony and celebration were televised live on national television. “I’d like to congratulate all Somali people, everywhere, on the 53rd anniversary of our independence and unity. It’s the day when the name of Somalia was established in the world,” said President Mohamud.

AMISOM

There was much to celebrate this year as the the UN mandated presence in Somalia of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has taken hold of most of Somalia save for a few Al-Shabaab strongholds. AMISOM congratulated Somalia on its independence, but duly noted the future challenges of the country.

“The Somali people have demonstrated their unwavering resolve to take charge of their country’s destiny and they are working hard to see their ideal state take shape. Despite all the challenges facing the country, recent developments are encouraging and show that the gains are irreversible,” said Ambassador Annadif while promising AMISOM’s unwavering commitment to Somalia.

While celebrations rang out in Somalia, global celebrations took place around the world. Somalians in Minneapolis, where the largest population of Somalis live in the United States, celebrated at the Somali Independence Festival on June 30.

This year’s Independence Day ushered in another year of freedom from colonial rule for Somalia, but it still has other foes to contend with. Just last month the United Nations Common Compound in Mogadishu was attacked by Al-Shabaab and deadly feuds still occur in cities where Al-Shabaab still holds power or are clinging to it. Nevertheless, Somalia is fighting for country-wide autonomy with the help of the African Union and the United Nations. Perhaps its Independence celebration next year will be absent of any news of continued internal turmoil within its borders.

World Food Programme Releases First Logistics Report

When you think of the logistics of humanitarian aid there is no better United Nations agency in the world that documents, shares, and reports on the remarkable work they do than the World Food Programme (WFP). With a separate department devoted entirely to logistics, the WFP shares multiple ways in which they deliver food aid to those who desperately need it.

WFP Logistics in 2012The WFP recently released its first annual logistics report that provides minute details about the air, sea, and surface transport used to deliver food as well as the cost-cutting measures they are taking to ensure monies that can be used for food aid is not frivolously spent on transport. For logistics geeks, the annual report is an eye-opening look into the way humanitarian food – most of which goes to Africa –  is moved through the world. It is not easy nor is it inexpensive. In fact, the average cost to transport food is $100 per metric ton for sea delivery, $180 per metric ton per land delivery, and a whopping $3500 per metric ton for air drops. The World Food Programme’s logistics budget for 2012 was $986 million reaching 70 countries according to the report.

With such a massive workload of global humanitarian food distribution the World Food Programme is also tightening the way in which it monitors the food it provides to hungry populations. With a new system called LESS, the World Food Programme will be able to monitor all of its commodities  online in one single system.

“LESS has empowered WFP country offices in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and their remote sub-offices and warehouses, with real-time supply chain management and commodity reporting capabilities. As two post-conflict countries, they are not the simplest places to deploy high-tech solutions, reaching far beyond the capitals. LESS accurately accounts for every kilogram of food; it records supply chain transactions all the way to the
beneficiaries’ own neighbourhoods. Extending this powerful capability throughout WFP will dramatically boost our efficiency and accountability,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, WFP.

The report also lays out the country donors that collectively provided $177 million to WFP Special Operations in 2012. The European Union donated the most with the United States coming in third place in donor monies. Additionally the private sector has donated to the humanitarian efforts including Caterpillar, PepsiCo, UPS, and Renault Trucks.

Visit the World Food Programme Logistics to learn more at www.wfp.org/logistics.

Recognizing the World’s Refugees

Today is World Refugee Day, a day created by the United Nations in 2000 to bring awareness to the more than 45 million people who have been displaced internally or across borders from their homes forcibly. Based on numbers released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees a person becomes a refugee, loses everything and is forced to flee  every minute. In Syria where a civil war is ravaging the country, there are now over 750,000  refugees and 1.1 million  new refugees worldwide this year alone.

“There are now more than 45 million refugees and internally displaced people – the highest level in nearly 20 years,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a special message for the day. “Figures give only a glimpse of this enormous human tragedy. Every day, conflict tears apart the lives of thousands of families. They may be forced to leave loved ones behind or become separated in the chaos of war.”

The graph below from Thomson Reuters shows the number of refugees overall as well as the countries that have the largest number of refugees. The infographic also shows the countries where most refugees head once they leave their homelands.
Infographic - World Refugee Day

On Monday at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland President Obama pledged increased monetary resources to aid Syrian refugees. A total of $300 million will go towards humanitarian efforts in Syria as well as neighboring Lebanon. Nearly 900,00 children are refugees in Syria according to UNICEF. In 2012 6 million internally displaced people lived in the Middle East and North Africa. Most refugees live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Today events commemorating World Refugee Day took place all over the world from concerts to art exhibits. Click here to learn more about World Refuge Day.