Humanitarian Aid in Nagorno-KarabakhNagorno-Karabakh is a region in the country Azerbaijan and is home to an Armenian majority. While the region is within Azerbaijan’s borders, Armenia has claimed the region for itself. The first intense conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region was in 1988 when the Soviet Union was nearing the end of its existence. Recently, conflict in the region began again in late September 2020 and lasted for about a  month until a ceasefire was brokered by Russia. Additional ceasefires were brought into fruition by France with the help of Russia and the United States. Despite the ceasefires, the conflict in the region is continuing. The fighting in the region has drastically impacted the civilian population of the region. This has in turn created a strong need for humanitarian aid in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The European Union Assists

The European Union (EU) is actively providing aid to the civilian populace affected by the conflict and has done so since early October 2020. The initial amount of aid provided by the EU was €900,000. Then, in November, the EU commissioned an additional €3 million to the civilians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. According to the EU, this humanitarian aid will provide the necessary assistance that humanitarian organizations partnered with the EU need to carry out their duties. This includes providing food, winter clothing and medical assistance.

The United States’ Aid

The United States is also providing its share of financial assistance. In total, the United States has provided around $10 million in humanitarian assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan since the 2019 fiscal year. Of the $10 million, $5 million has been allocated to the International Committee of the Red Cross and similar humanitarian organizations to help civilians caught in the crossfire of the conflict. Assistance coming from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will also be used for humanitarian aid in Nagorno-Karabakh. The support these two institutions will be providing will come in the form of food, shelter and medical support for the people impacted by the conflict.

People in Need

There are also NGOs that have provided humanitarian aid in Nagorno-Karabakh as well. One organization, People in Need, has done just this. People in Need is an organization dedicated to providing immediate aid to countries should a natural disaster or war take place.

People in Need has provided support, not to Nagorno-Karabakh, but to the city of Goris in Armenia. People in Need directed its humanitarian aid to this Armenian city because many of the displaced civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh have gone there for refuge. The displaced people either move on or stay in the city. People in Need have been able to provide hygienic supplies to 1,200 displaced families in Goris. Additionally, People in Need have provided 480 children, 600 women and 110 seniors with their own individual hygienic kits. People in Need have also taken into consideration the psychosocial needs of children impacted by the conflict. To help these children, People in Need opened a child-friendly space in the city library where children can engage with other children and partake in other activities.

While the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh continues, international institutions, individual countries and humanitarian organizations are trying to provide all the support possible to help the civilians impacted by the conflict.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Relief Efforts in Indonesia
On September 28th, 2018 Indonesia was hit with a 7.4 magnitude earthquake; three days later and as a consequence of the earthquake, a massive tsunami devastated the Central Sulawesi province in Indonesia. Palu and Donggala were amongst the areas worst hit in the province. On October 21st, 2018, the death toll sat at 2,113 people. In fact, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman, Sutopo Nugroho, stated that 1,300 people were reported missing, 223,751 people were displaced from their homes and communities and 4,612 were reported injured. Relief efforts in in Indonesia began almost immediately and are still underway today.

Need for Relief

Fall 2018 wasn’t the first time relief efforts in Indonesia have been needed. Back in 2004, the country faced another devastating tsunami, known famously as the “Boxing Day Tsunami” — the deadliest recorded tsunami in history. Indonesia geographically sits in the “Ring of Fire” — a horseshoe-like basin that sits in the pacific ocean — that is notorious for earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its high tectonic movement. As a result of this proximity, the country faces constant natural threats.

The government of Indonesia has accepted foreign aid in hopes of accelerating recovery and relief efforts. Twenty-six countries have reported to offer help, and different organizations have stepped in as well. Three of which are stated below:

The Australian Council for International Development

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) works closely with the Indonesian government and local partners to mobilize search-and-rescue and medical teams, and provide food, shelter and clean water.

ACFID has also made sure to create safe spaces for children — especially those missing parents and guardians. Keeping in mind the psychological effects of this disaster, the organization has offered psychosocial support to affected inhabitants.

Malteser International

Malteser International aids Indonesia by providing health facilities with medical equipment and medicine. The organization has made emergency funds available to help deliver relief materials.

Malteser International is dedicated to making sure that the affected have access to clean water in order to avoid the spread of disease. Unfortunately, the group finds it challenging to transport clean water to remote areas due to the destruction of roads and infrastructure.

The World Bank

The World Bank — perhaps offering the largest aid — has declared a $1 billion relief fund available to the Indonesian government. Based on scientific, economic and engineering analyses, the World Bank has estimated the physical loss in Sulawesi at $531 million with $181 million of that for residential housing, $185 million for nonresidential and $165 million for infrastructure.

The fund is piloted by a $5 million grant for technical assistance to ensure that the reconstruction is planned out and executed with efficiency and accuracy. It could offer cash transfers to 150,000 of the poorest families affected, which will support the local economy and employment levels during the recovery process.

The relief efforts in Indonesia are extensive, but the donations from these three organizations will go far in helping Indonesia get back on its feet and ensure that the inhabitants impacted by this natural disaster are taken care of safely and effectively.

– Mary Spindler

Photo: Pixabay

Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), issued 410 delivery kits to internally displaced pregnant women housed at camps in Maiduguri, Borno State. Among the delivery kits were a wax print and infant feeding bottles along with a mattress, a blanket and a net for the expected newborns.

The kits also included a baby bag, diapers, a basket, a towel, baby soap, and supplements for the mother such as milk and cocoa drink. The supplies come at a vital time since some of these women are due to give birth in late August or September.

The north-eastern Nigerian Borno State has been the worst affected in the conflict against the Boko Haram insurgency which began in 2009. Sani-Sidi, NEMA’s director general, says insurgent attacks have displaced many people, leading to the creation of 23 IDP camps in Borno State.

“In all the camps in the state, 60 percent of the IDPs are women and children classified as vulnerable and needing more support,” he said. “As a result, 410 pregnant women were selected [to receive delivery kits] out of 1,980 identified pregnant women in 13 female IDP camps in Maiduguri.”

Aid from NEMA comes a month after a July donation by Deluxe Childbirth Services coordinated in partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Population Fund, and two USAID projects – THE Expanded Social Marketing Project in Nigeria and the Targeted States High Impact Project.

During this donation, UNFPA’s Ratidzai Ndhlovu underlined an expected high in births among Nigerian IDPs, stating that there would be an expected 60,000 births by the end of 2015.

According to UNICEF, a Nigerian woman’s chances of death during pregnancy and childbirth are 1 in 13. Additionally, newborn Nigerian mortalities, which occur among the first week of life, make up about one-fourth of total deaths of children under five years of age.

A majority of these deaths arise from complications during birthing or pregnancy, which serves to highlight the importance of maternal and newborn health care access, especially within vulnerable and displaced populations.

Jaime Longoria

Sources: Premium Times 1, Premium Times 2, UNICEF

This February, SocialBoost partnered with USAID in Kyiv, Ukraine to host a hackathon in order to generate innovative ideas on delivering services to internally displaced people.

Since February, the number of internally displaces people in Ukraine has reached over 1.2 million because of violence in the Donetsk region. The Ukrainian government supports the internally displaced people; but their methods are inefficient, so they looked towards the young, bright innovators for a better solution.

SocialBoost is a tech nonprofit that promotes Ukraine’s open data law, a newly adopted law that stimulates the startup business environment through free and accessible data, democratic power in taking on problems like corruption, decision-making and public service. With this, SocialBoost hosts hackathons to support socially meaningful IT projects. In this case, it’s how to deliver services to 1.2 million internally displaced people.

Because of the open data laws, all data is at the hacker’s fingertips as they try to create a prototype to help Ukraine’s government. “In Ukraine, the IT community is strong and patriotic,” says SocialBoost founder Denis Gursky. Ukraine’s IT sector is influential to the economy and has been vital in bringing about political change.

Before the hackathon, SocialBoost created a multimedia campaign that allowed people to share their prototype ideas and publicly vote on their favorites. The top ten finalists competed in the Ukrainian hackathon. After two days, the finalists presented their prototypes to the judges, who voted based on five criteria: reach, potential impact, sustainability, technical components and teamwork.

The winning prototype was LifeTag, an SMS service that navigates internally displaced people to the nearest government or volunteer station based on their needs, which can be selected from a drop-down menu. LifeTag was developed by a team of university students.

Jonathan Katz, USAID’s deputy assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia presented the award to LifeTag at the end of the Ukrainian hackathon and concluded with an air of hope, saying, “It really gives me confidence that despite all the challenges, these young people will work tirelessly to ensure a brighter future for the people of Ukraine.”

– Hannah Resnick

Sources: IDMC, SocialBoost, UNDP, UNHCR, USAID
Photo: UNDP

Syrian childWith over nine million Syrians displaced by the ongoing conflict, it is no surprise that there is a dire need for medical services in refugee camps. The situation for Syrian refugees is worsening due to a lack of international funding in the healthcare sector. According to Amnesty International, some families are becoming so desperate that they have resorted to going back to Syria to receive proper treatment.

In 2013, the United Nations initiated a $4.4 billion humanitarian appeal, one of the largest aid requests made by the organization. However, it is estimated that just over one-third of the requested funding has been received.

As more people flee to neighboring countries, including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, hospital care and specialized treatment is becoming more insufficient. The healthcare of Syrian refugee children is particularly concerning, with millions at risk of becoming malnourished, dehydrated and exploited.

In Lebanon, the health system is highly privatized and expensive, thus leaving the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to take care of the majority of the population. With limited funds, UNHCR has implemented strict eligibility criteria in order for Syrian refugees to receive medical treatment. Even if the criteria are met, many of the refugees have to pay a portion out of pocket.

In many cases, refugees often go untreated. Arif, a 12 year-old boy who suffered from severe burns to his legs, was denied hospital access after UNHCR decided he did not qualify for subsidized care. Consequently, his health started to deteriorate as his legs swelled and became infected. Volunteer doctors were eventually found to perform his operations, but they did not have the specialized equipment to continue.

Unfortunately, Arif’s story is not unique. The healthcare of Syrian refugees has not been improving and there needs to be a push to strengthen the capacity of health institutions where the Syrian refugee population is predicted to accelerate. Patients with chronic illnesses have strained the existing health services in the affected countries and UNHCR is struggling to find solutions without international assistance.

Leeda Jewayni

Sources: Syrian Refugees, World Vision, Amnesty International, UNHCR
Photo: Beauty Programs

The Great East Japan Earthquake ripped through Japan on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:25 in the afternoon. Within hours, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert that took effect in 50 countries and territories. Japan was hardest hit. In the end, 19,000 people lost their lives.

Later that night, cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant began to fail. Radiation levels steadily rose, and by 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, a nuclear emergency had been declared.

The radiation that seeped from the plant in the first week of the disaster totaled 770,000 terabequerels, which is 20 percent of the radiation emitted from the Chernobyl meltdown. The U.N. recently dismissed fears of ill-effects for the evacuees; their exposure to the radiation was simply too low.

Though thousands were evacuated, not everyone had the luxury of leaving. With three melted reactors and a defunct cooling system, the situation had to be contained, and so hundreds of plant workers stayed on. Even now they suffer myriad health problems, among them burns, radiation sickness and cancer.

Reconstruction within the plant and in affected areas is slow going. The decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant may take up to 40 years to complete. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials are faced with the disposal of hundreds of thousands of gallons of contaminated waste water. Proposed solutions have included creating an underground “ice-wall” surrounding the plant, as well as treating the water and releasing it into the ocean. This latter proposal has not been popular among the area’s fisherman.

Nearly one-third of an estimated one million displaced people remain in temporary accommodation. The news outlet Asahi Shimbun predicts that as many as 60 percent of the exclusion zone evacuees will not return to their hometowns for at least four years. A nuclear scientist with Green Peace considers the contamination to be too great, in some areas, for anyone to return.

Many of the survivors are receiving stipends from the Japanese government. People who lived within the exclusion zone receive about $1000 dollars monthly. Those who are unable to find adequate housing live in federally constructed encampments.

Contrary to expectation, it is when the bans on their towns are lifted that many residents will find themselves in trouble. People are mistrustful of the government and of TEPCO, which assured them of the safety of the nuclear plants years ago. They dislike the idea of living in such an irradiated area.

When they can officially return home, the stipends will stop. Retired and unemployed individuals will have no choice but to live once again in the shadow of the Daiichi plant.

Olivia Kostreva

Sources: World Nuclear Association,, BBC News: Asia, Christian Science Monitor
Photo: Flickr

Human Rights
In October, 400 families (approximately 2,500 individuals) were forced out of their village and homes in Southeastern Zimbabwe in order to make room for a new dam. The Tokwe-Mukosi dam is being constructed by Sanlin, an Italian company, with funding from the Zimbabwean government.

The dam is intended to provide irrigation to the local area of Chibi where people have been vulnerable to famine and food insecurity as a result of little rainfall. The dam will also provide irrigation to the nearby city of Masvingo where water shortages have caused problems in recent years.

The construction of the dam began in the 1990s but was abruptly halted because of Zimbabwe’s economic hyperinflation. The construction resumed after the formation of the government of national unity in 2009.

The families that were displaced as a result of the construction were moved from Chibi to Nuanetsi Ranch, an area located in the Mwenezi district 100 kilometers away. Each household was given a four hectare plot of uncultivated land that is worth between $3000-$8000 as compensation.

Many families believe that this compensation is not enough to make up for the loss of land they have owned for generations. Richard Tarunvinga, 66, stated “[that was] my ancestral home and not even any amount of compensation will make me happy.”

The newly inhabited area does not have reliable access to water and the displaced families are forced to live in mud huts. The families are also busy clearing the trees from their land instead of planting maize, their staple crop, during prime planting season.  The new location is said to be a location unsuitable for anything except livestock farming. The relocation has also had a negative effect on children in these families are they are not going to school and unable to receive an education.

It is undetermined when the dam’s construction will be completed.

Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: All Africa, World Food Report

Khartoum has faced many challenges since the early 1800s and, as a result of rapid urbanization since the 1970s, has thousands of migrant families living in poverty. The influx of these displaced families, who occupy the greater Khartoum region, was so sudden that the government never developed a physical planning model. With a growing population and insufficient resources, the city now has various areas of extreme poverty.

The people of Khartoum face several obstacles including lack of food, water, education and health centers. There are no jobs available and the dwindling unemployment rate maintains this state of poverty. In fact, after the civil war with the South, Khartoum’s post-conflict condition never reached a point of stability. Instead, environmental factors in neighboring cities such as heavy droughts, forced several families to move from rural to urban areas. Currently, there are about two million displaced people living in Khartoum, approximately 28% of its total population.

The lack of job availability and trained individuals has led the Governor of Khartoum to demand skills training for the youth. Several organizations such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the European Commission are working to create projects that will allow young individuals to acquire vocational training. Furthermore, though most of the current vocational training centers are run down, these organizations will offer funding for renovating existing centers. These centers will enable young men and women to acquire training in some of the following disciplines:

  • Engineering design
  • Building & construction
  • Auto-mechanics
  • Metalwork & welding
  • Electrical engineering
  • Food processing
  • Hotel & catering services
  • Hair care & related services

By giving so many individuals the opportunity to learn skills, the mindset of the entire community will shift gears since more and more people become employable. This training will foster an entrepreneurial mindset that will surely spur more businesses and bring innovation to a city lacking hope.

Maybelline Martez

Sources: UNIDO, Thinkquest
Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

On Wednesday, U.N. officials and diplomats reported that a peace deal could be signed this month and end two decades of conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The resurging violence in the Congo has forced communities from Rwanda and Uganda to periodically relocate for nearly 20 years. Last May, Red Cross Workers registered close to 3,000 displaced people in one week.

A lasting peace deal between the Congolese government and the rebels would save these communities from further displacement.

African leaders did not sign the deal last week because of a dispute over the command of a newly created regional force that will fight armed groups operating in the eastern Congo.

Herve Ladsous, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping said the brigade would be under the same command as the regular United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission’s (MONUSCO) troops. The regular MONUSCO troops conduct patrols and support the Congolese security forces

South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique; 3 out of 15 member states in the South African Development Community (SADC), argue the enforcement brigade should have its own command separate from MONUSCO. The diplomats of these three countries note the failure of MONUSCO’s current command in the 11-day occupation of the eastern city Goma by M23 rebels.

Ladsous said on Tuesday that all key countries seem ready to sign the deal. He did not state when or where it would be finalized, though discussions have considered mid-February in Africa. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon may be present.

If approved by the U.N. Security Council, the deal would include a three-pronged mandate to prevent the growth of armed groups in the eastern Congo and to disarm them.  Unmanned surveillance drones would also track armed militias that are difficult to detect.

U.N. officials said that the creation of an enforcement brigade and the drones within a peacekeeping mission is new for the United Nations. But, U.N. officials insist that an increase in U.N. military activity is not enough to end the fighting without a signed peace agreement between Kinshasa and its neighbors in eastern Congo.

Promisingly, the Congolese government has been negotiating with the M23 rebels, and last week the rebels said they wanted to sign a peace deal with Kinshasa by the end of February.

Kasey Beduhn

Sources: Reuters, allAfrica
Photo: Press TV