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News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: news.europawire.eu

BERN, 24-Feb-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — Switzerland has pledged to take direct action to help populations facing starvation, especially in South Sudan. The decision follows a call issued by the United Nations Secretary-General on 22 February 2017. Swiss Humanitarian Aid, a department of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), is to release CHF 15 million from its fund for humanitarian emergencies for countries hit by famine in the beginning of this year. “Switzerland is calling for the rapid mobilisation of aid. Some 100,000 people are already facing starvation in South Sudan, and famine looms in other countries in the region,” declared Didier Burkhalter, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The funds released by Switzerland are earmarked for humanitarian efforts in South Sudan, where the situation is most critical, and in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, which are also on the brink of famine. The funds will be divided among a range of programmes and humanitarian organisations working on the ground in these regions, where the lack of food security could affect more than 20 million people by summer 2017 if nothing is done. South Sudan not only suffered a drought in 2016 but it also has also been in the grip of civil war for the last three years, which has driven 3.5 million people from their homes. The country is now facing a food crisis on an unprecedented scale. Switzerland has been working in this region for several years. “The threat of famine has been looming over this country for quite some time now. Swiss Humanitarian Aid has regularly stepped up its efforts in response to growing needs on the ground,” explains André Huber, head of the Africa Division of Swiss Humanitarian Aid. Work on the ground, which is coordinated by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid office in the capital Juba, aims to offer long-term support and assistance to communities affected by conflict and adverse climate conditions. The CHF 15 million released from the emergency aid fund is on top of the CHF 50 million in humanitarian aid which the SDC already provides in these four countries. The 2017 budget for South Sudan, which totals CHF 20 million, will fund efforts in the water and civilian protection sectors, as well as projects to improve food security and livelihoods. A share will also be allocated to the ICRC and to UN agencies, such as the World Food Programme and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to support their operations on the ground. Swiss Humanitarian Aid itself runs a programme in Aweil, a city in the north of the country, which aims to provide the local population with access to drinking water and sanitation. Switzerland’s contribution will also support NGOs distributing food and providing medical care. The Secretary-General warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people dying of hunger, adding that the timely delivery of sustained and adequate assistance could improve the situation within a few months and mitigate further suffering.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

BARCELONA, Spain--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The GSMA today launched the first Humanitarian Connectivity Charter Annual Report, highlighting efforts by mobile network operator (MNO) signatories to support disaster preparedness and response activities around the world during 2016. This annual report maps the progress made under the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, capturing global efforts to address humanitarian emergencies ranging from the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe to reducing the impact of natural disasters. It highlights the critical role of the mobile industry in supporting resilience and serves as a baseline against which to measure progress in the coming years. The GSMA also announced a new humanitarian supporter of the Charter, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which joins 108 MNO members and six endorsing humanitarian and technical partners, with the potential to reach more than 1.3 billion people. “We launched the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter two years ago and since that time, mobile has played an important role in how the global community responds to crises, facilitating advancements in early warning systems, reuniting loved ones, and connecting affected populations to information and assistance,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “The Charter has been an important platform for supporting our industry’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, whether addressing natural disasters or the effects of war and conflict. We thank the many organisations supporting the Charter over the past two years and look forward to expanding its impact in the years to come.” The Charter, launched by the GSMA at Mobile World Congress 2015, leverages mobile connectivity to improve access to communication and information for those affected by crisis, reduce the loss of life, and positively contribute to humanitarian response. The increase in displaced communities and sudden onset of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods, continue to impact communities globally. Innovation by Charter signatories demonstrates how mobile can play a role in mitigation, early warning, response and recovery, and the newly published report highlights some of the actions undertaken by signatories: MNOs have worked with the wider ecosystem to provide support to displaced communities. In 2016, Turkcell launched an app called Merhaba Umut (‘Hello Hope’) to help facilitate the integration of Syrian refugees living in Turkey, while Asiacell (Ooredoo Group) worked with Ericsson to implement ‘Connect to Learn’ programmes for children in refugee camps in Iraq, providing ICTs and connectivity to schools to enhance learning. In June 2016, Zain partnered with the MIT Enterprise Forum1 to launch the ‘Innovate for Refugees’ Initiative, a competition intended to promote innovative entrepreneurial businesses, providing tech-driven solutions that cater to the needs of refugees. Following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on 16 April 2016, Movistar Ecuador (Telefónica Group) mobilised 190 technicians and sent out 40 vehicles equipped with satellite phones, enabling more than 82,000 people to call relatives and friends. In addition, MNOs Claro, CNT and Movistar Ecuador provided free voice minutes and SMS to customers in affected areas. After the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes in Japan, NTT DOCOMO provided free Wi-Fi service, constructed an emergency IP network and deployed ‘base stations on wheels’ to restore network coverage. During the period of earthquake activity, Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued 19 earthquake early warning alerts and it is estimated that over 1 million customers received these messages from their operator. Customers of Ncell (Axiata Group) living in areas at high risk of floods and landslides in Nepal are now receiving early warning alerts thanks to an innovative partnership between Ncell and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), implemented in July 2016. SMS alerts are sent when water levels are dangerously high or when severe weather conditions are forecast, enabling citizens to take necessary precautions. In recognition that partnerships are essential to meet the growing humanitarian needs globally, in addition to the MNO signatories, the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter is supported by a number of organisations and agencies. Key supporting organisations include the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Ericsson and Nokia are technical partners of the Charter. A full copy of the report is available at: www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programme/disaster-response/hcc-annual-report and further detail on the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter is available at: www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/disaster-response/humanitarian-connectivity-charter. The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences. For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.


Bilukha O.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Howard C.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Wilkinson C.,Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Bamrah S.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Husain F.,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Nutrition Bulletin | Year: 2011

Background. Anemia remains a significant public health problem in refugee settings. Home fortification with micronutrient powders has been proposed as a feasible option to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies; its efficacy in reducing anemia in children aged 6 to 24 months has been demonstrated in several trials. Objective. To evaluate the effectiveness of a large-scale micronutrient powder distribution program in reducing anemia prevalence and promoting growth in refugee children aged 6 to 59 months. Methods. Four representative cross-sectional surveys were conducted 13 months before and 7, 14, and 26 months after initiation of the supplementation program. Data collected on children aged 6 to 59 months included hemoglobin concentration, anthropometric indicators, morbidity, feeding practices, and information on the micronutrient distribution program. The study had a pre-post design with no control group. Results. The overall prevalence of anemia in children did not change significantly between baseline (43.3%) and endpoint (40.2%). The prevalence of moderate anemia decreased over the same period from 18.9% to 14.4% (p < .05). The levels of severe anemia were negligible (< 1%) in all surveys. The prevalence of stunting decreased significantly from 39.2% at baseline to 23.4% at endpoint (p < .001), a relative decrease of 40%. Reported coverage, use, and acceptance of micronutrient supplements remained consistently high throughout the study. Conclusions. In the absence of a control group, changes in key outcomes should be interpreted with caution. The minor effect on hemoglobin status requires further investigation of underlying causes of anemia in this population. The large positive effect on linear growth may be a significant benefit of supplementation if confirmed by future studies. Copyright © Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation. All rights reserved.


De Pee S.,Nutrition and HIV AIDS Policy Unit | Spiegel P.,Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Kraemer K.,In.Sight | Wilkinson C.,Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | And 10 more authors.
Food and Nutrition Bulletin | Year: 2011

Introduction and Objective. The World Food Programme and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees organized a meeting of experts to discuss evaluation of micronutrient interventions under special circumstances, such as emergency and refugee situations. Results. Multimicronutrient interventions for groups with higher needs may include home fortification products for young children or supplements for pregnant and lactating women. The choice of preparation should be guided by target group needs, evidence of efficacy of a product or its compounds, acceptability, and costeffectiveness. Different designs can be used to assess whether an intervention has the desired impact. First, program implementation and adherence must be ascertained. Then, impact on micronutrient status can be assessed, but design options are often limited by logistic challenges, available budget, security issues, and ethical and practical issues regarding nonintervention or placebo groups. Under these conditions, a plausibility design using pre- and postintervention cross-sectional surveys, a prospective cohort study, or a step-wedge design, which enrolls groups as they start receiving the intervention, should be considered. Post hoc comparison of groups with different adherence levels may also be useful. Hemoglobin is often selected as an impact indicator because it is easily measured and tends to respond to change in micronutrient status, especially iron. However, it is not a very specific indicator of micronutrient status, because it is also influenced by inflammation, parasitic infestation, physiological status (age, pregnancy), altitude, and disorders such as thalassemia and sickle cell disease. Conclusion. Given the constraints described above, replicability of impact in different contexts is key to the validation of micronutrient interventions. Copyright © Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation. All rights reserved.


van Ommeren M.,World Health Organization | Hanna F.,World Health Organization | Weissbecker I.,International Medical Corps | Ventevogel P.,Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal | Year: 2015

Armed conflicts and natural disasters impact negatively on the mental health and well-being of affected populations in the short- and long-term and affect the care of people with pre-existing mental health conditions. This paper outlines specific actions for mental health and psychosocial support by the health sector in the preparedness, response and recovery phases of emergencies. Broad recommendations for ministries of health are to: (1) embed mental health and psychosocial support in national health and emergency preparedness plans; (2) put in place national guidelines, standards and supporting tools for the provision of mental health and psychosocial support during emergencies; (3) strengthen the capacity of health professionals to identify and manage priority mental disorders during emergencies; and (4) utilize opportunities generated by the emergency response to contribute to development of sustainable mental health-care services. © 2015, World Health Organization. All rights reserved.


Crisp J.,Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Refstie H.,Norwegian Refugee Council
Disasters | Year: 2012

Rapid urbanisation is a key characteristic of the modern world, interacting with and reinforcing other global mega trends, including armed conflict, climate change, crime, environmental degradation, financial and economic instability, food shortages, underemployment, volatile commodity prices, and weak governance. Displaced people also are affected by and engaged in the process of urbanisation. Increasingly, refugees, returnees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are to be found not in camps or among host communities in rural areas, but in the towns and cities of developing and middle-income countries. The arrival and long-term settlement of displaced populations in urban areas needs to be better anticipated, understood, and planned for, with a particular emphasis on the establishment of new partnerships. Humanitarian actors can no longer liaise only with national governments; they must also develop urgently closer working relationships with mayors and municipal authorities, service providers, urban police forces, and, most importantly, the representatives of both displaced and resident communities. This requires linking up with those development actors that have established such partnerships already. © 2012 Overseas Development Institute.


Spiegel P.,Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Khalifa A.,Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees | Mateen F.J.,Massachusetts General Hospital | Mateen F.J.,Harvard University
The Lancet Oncology | Year: 2014

Treatment of non-communicable diseases such as cancer in refugees is neglected in low-income and middle-income countries, but is of increasing importance because the number of refugees is growing. The UNHCR, through exceptional care committees (ECCs), has developed standard operating procedures to address expensive medical treatment for refugees in host countries, to decide on eligibility and amount of payment. We present data from funding applications for cancer treatments for refugees in Jordan between 2010 and 2012, and in Syria between 2009 and 2011. Cancer in refugees causes a substantial burden on the health systems of the host countries. Recommendations to improve prevention and treatment include improvement of health systems through standard operating procedures and innovative financing schemes, balance of primary and emergency care with expensive referral care, development of electronic cancer registries, and securement of sustainable funding sources. Analysis of cancer care in low-income refugee settings, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is needed to inform future responses. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


PubMed | University of Liverpool and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Type: | Journal: Public health | Year: 2017

This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of modern contraceptive use (MCU), and to identify socio-economic factors that are associated with MCU among married men in Kyrgyzstan.A cross-sectional study based on the 2012 Kyrgyzstan Demographic and Health Survey data.This study used data from 460 married men aged 20-49 years. Descriptive statistics, Pearsons Chi-squared test and logistic regression were used to estimate the prevalence of MCU, and to define factors that influence MCU among married men in Kyrgyzstan.The prevalence of MCU among married men aged 20-49 years was 22.2%. Men in the richer quintile were less likely to use modern contraceptives than men in the poorest quintile (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.267, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.100-0.715). Men with three living children had higher odds of MCU than men with no children or one child (aOR 3.534, 95% CI 1.221-10.229). Men who were unemployed were more likely to use modern contraceptives than men who were employed as manual labourers (aOR 4.511, 95% CI 1.104-18.442).Top priority should be given to strengthening family planning communication programmes among married men and male education. There is a need to pay attention to the socio-economic determinants of MCU among men in the development of family planning programmes. Emphasis should be placed on increasing MCU among men with high socio-economic status.


PubMed | International Medical Corps, World Health Organization and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Eastern Mediterranean health journal = La revue de sante de la Mediterranee orientale = al-Majallah al-sihhiyah li-sharq al-mutawassit | Year: 2015

Armed conflicts and natural disasters impact negatively on the mental health and well-being of affected populations in the short- and long-term and affect the care of people with pre-existing mental health conditions. This paper outlines specific actions for mental health and psychosocial support by the health sector in the preparedness, response and recovery phases of emergencies. Broad recommendations for ministries of health are to: (1) embed mental health and psychosocial support in national health and emergency preparedness plans; (2) put in place national guidelines, standards and supporting tools for the provision of mental health and psychosocial support during emergencies; (3) strengthen the capacity of health professionals to identify and manage priority mental disorders during emergencies; and (4) utilize opportunities generated by the emergency response to contribute to development of sustainable mental health-care services.

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