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Five Facts About Development Projects in South SudanSouth Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, sits along one of civilization’s oldest landmarks: the Nile River. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan. Its path to stability and sustainability has not been easy.

The South Sudanese government originally planned to use its oil-rich regions to stabilize and grow the country’s economy, but due to disagreements with Sudan, oil production was shut down in 2012. Since then, civil war and rouge militias have ravaged the people of South Sudan, causing a humanitarian crisis. However, this has not slowed the success of aid in the nation. Here are five facts about development projects in South Sudan.

  1. Development projects in South Sudan see long-term international aid. In 2014, the British government allocated 442 million pounds for the development of South Sudan. Instead of directly involving itself in the process, the government has allowed various international aid organizations to use the money to carry out their missions on its behalf. These organizations include the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Danish Refugee Council and the Norwegian Refugee Council. Over 60 percent of spending was allocated to providing food, medical supplies and material aid. The project is on track to end in 2020.

  2. The South Sudanese health services are overwhelmed and underfunded. According to the World Bank, the South Sudanese Ministry of Health is underfunded. As a result, the World Bank began a project in 2016 to help the South Sudanese government cope with its rising need to provide healthcare to its citizens, called the South Sudan Health Rapid Results Project. Funding has been set at $40 million. The project has succeeding in providing healthcare to South Sudanese citizens in the Upper Nile conflict area, an area that only a few development projects in South Sudan continue to work.

  3. Food security is in jeopardy. Food is in short supply in South Sudan, and the World Bank has attempted to alleviate the crisis with a food and agriculture project in 2016. The project is called Southern Sudan Emergency Food Crisis Response Project. Overall, this project has had mixed results when measured against its target goals. It has reached its target for farmers adopting new technologies to increase output and surpassed its goal of constructing new food storage facilities. However, less than half of the targeted families have been helped by their funding. Unfortunately, this project did not receive funding again in 2017, but the infrastructure it created and the new technologies introduced will help drive development in South Sudan for years to come.

  4. May 4, 2017, saw the approval of the South Sudan Emergency Food and Nutrition Project. The project was granted $50 million and is set to run until July 2019. Its goals are similar but more comprehensive than the previous food aid project. This time, more focus is being given to the re-engagement of farmers, which is exceedingly important for the stability of the country’s food supply. Using the infrastructure and technologies of the last project will help provide the basics for the beginning of this new development project in South Sudan. To compensate for the shortcomings of the last project, more funding has been given to focus on supplying food while the farmers begin to produce their new crops.

  5. South Sudan development has improved at the community level. USAID is providing support to South Sudan at the community level, focusing on the availability of safe and sanitary drinking water and the health and education of children. Manual water drills and pumps are being provided to villages around the country along with education on waterborne illnesses. To protect and educate children, USAID has implemented three programs. The first aims to protect the rights of children against child-labor and provide equal access to education for boys and girls. Encouraging nonviolent play is another implemented program which focuses on keeping children away from violence. Safe spaces for children are often hard to come by in war ridden nations. With the third program, USAID seeks to provide more of these spaces for children to receive medical treatment away from conflict.

Conflict has displaced 2.2 million South Sudanese citizens. Fortunately, the world has not forgotten about its newest country. International aid will continue to help fund development projects in South Sudan, hopefully leading the nation and its people to a brighter better future.

– Nick DeMarco

Photo: Flickr

Hurricane relief in Puerto RicoAfter weathering Hurricane Irma (the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic) and Hurricane Maria (the fifth largest hurricane ever to hit the U.S.), Puerto Rico is in desperate need of hurricane relief. The island still lacks power, as the storm knocked out 80 percent of the island’s power transmission lines, and the only electricity is coming from generators. Fuel, food and water shortages are creating a massive humanitarian crisis and are driving the urgent need for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

The storms affected an already economically crippled Puerto Rico, which is under a regime of debt-driven austerity measures. In May, Puerto Rico declared bankruptcy, and it has since been trying to restructure more than $70 billion in debt. An already stagnating economy will struggle even more under the financial burden of reconstruction after the hurricane.

The call for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico has already been answered, although much more support is needed. Some 5,000 active-duty troops and National Guardsmen members have been deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has 600 people on the ground coordinating relief efforts. FEMA reports that “more than 4.4 million meals, 6.5 million liters of water, nearly 300 infant and toddler kits to support 3,000 infants for a full week, 70,000 tarps, and 15,000 rolls of roof sheeting [have been sent] to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria’s landfall.”

In addition, the current administration granted a 10-day waiver from the Jones Act, a maritime regulation that requires all shipping from one U.S. port to another be carried on American-made and American-operated shipping vessels. This regulation itself is economically draining for Puerto Rico as it drastically increases the price of shipping. A 2010 study by the University of Puerto Rico found that the Jones Act cost the island $537 million per year.

Luckily, the waiver will allow goods to enter Puerto Rico more efficiently; however, the long-term effects of the raised prices in the U.S. territory will still be felt if the Act stays in place. It is unlikely that the Jones Act will be repealed without broad support because President Trump has stated, “We have a lot of shippers and a lot of people that work in the shipping industry that don’t want the Jones Act lifted.”

Hurricane relief in Puerto Rico must be a priority for the U.S. going forward, but it must also be coupled with a renewed sensitivity to the ever-present economic struggles that the small island faces. Puerto Rico is a territory created in the legacy of U.S. colonialism and their short and long-term suffering must be treated with urgency. Hopefully, in the wake of this disaster, the U.S. government will continue to work with Puerto Rico beyond the immediate recovery efforts and towards alleviating the poverty and austerity created by the debt crisis.

Jeffery Harrell

Photo: Google

Crisis in YemenThere is currently a devastating humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Many factors are intensifying the suffering being experienced by the Arab world’s poorest nation. The civil war is going on its third year and created conditions for famine, disease and terrorism to flourish. A variety of people and organizations are helping Yemenis in need, yet, it will be a long path to stability.

In September 2014, a group of Yemeni rebels, supported by Iran, overthrew Yemen’s government. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia supplied military forces to reinstate the government, with help from the U.S. The country remains in a civil war.

At least 10,000 people were killed, and two million people were displaced as a result of the war. Those evading conflict are who suffer most. The civil war led to famine, the collapse of Yemen’s healthcare system and a cholera outbreak.

Currently, almost half of Yemenis are food-insecure. Almost 2.2 million children are malnourished, 462,000 of whom have severe acute malnutrition. Furthermore, the cholera outbreak which impacted more than 300,000 people.

The civil war made these issues worse because it caused the healthcare system in Yemen to collapse. Poverty also exacerbates the crisis. Many Yemenis lost all their wealth because of the conflict. They are forced to work more and cannot take time off to stay with sick family in the hospital, nor can they necessarily afford travel expenses and treatment. Furthermore, the malnourishment experienced by a generation of children may set the stage for another impoverished generation in Yemen.

Fortunately, some are stepping in to help. U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN), is pleading for a policy of aiding the country. He wrote a resolution that addressed the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia. He is also asking the U.S. to reprimand its ally Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is blamed for much of the suffering in the civil war. For instance, the country bombed cranes which were used to deliver food and medical aid. Saudi Arabia then proceeded to block the delivery of new cranes.

However, the new Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman recently allocated $66.7 million to the WHO and UNICEF to fight the cholera epidemic. While bin Salman was defense minister, he oversaw the bombing of Yemen. It is unclear if the donation is personally from bin Salman, or from the government budget.

Many other governments are also addressing the crisis in Yemen. Through USAID, President Donald Trump offered $192 million for Yemen. This will add to the $275.2 million the U.S. already gave for Yemeni assistance in 2017. The European Union is also funding humanitarian aid in Yemen. Since 2015, the European Commission gave approximately $199.5 million to help with malnutrition, water sanitation, healthcare, homelessness and more.

The WHO and UNICEF, Oxfam, Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders are among the organizations contending with the crisis in Yemen. Oxfam has been in Yemen for 30 years, building better infrastructure and working towards women’s rights and ending poverty. Save the Children has worked in Yemen since 1963 and fights for children’s rights by offering education, healthcare and food. Doctors Without Borders offers free healthcare and is working hard to alleviate the cholera epidemic.

Life has been shattered in Yemen. One of the poorest countries in the world is being made worse by civil war. Much of the world understands, that as fellow humans, it is our obligation to help end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. This ideal must spread and continue.

Mary Katherine Crowley

Crisis in Yemen
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is reaching new heights. The war is a proxy war fought between the Sunni Muslim state of Saudi Arabia and the Shiite Muslim state of Iran. More than 10,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed and roughly 2.1 million have been displaced.

According to the U.N., 80 percent of the population is in need of some form of humanitarian aid. There is a water shortage that may completely deteriorate in 2017. There are now 21 million people dependent on international aid to survive.

The Houthi uprising began in the wake of the Tunisian civil war in 2011. This was a major security concern for the Saudi government, as it shares its southern border with Yemen. Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was backed by Saudi Arabia and the U.S., was forced to resign from office in 2011. This occurred after widespread protests were held in opposition to his illegal business dealing and his amassed $60 billion. A U.N. expert panel stated in a report than“Many have argued that the country’s spiraling debt and economic problems would be alleviated with a repatriation of these alleged stolen assets.”

Power was ceded to Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in February 2012. Houthi rebels then took control of Sana’a, the capital city, through a string of terrorist attacks. Hadi fled the country.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen continued to worsen with a growing food deficit, increasing drought and terrorism concerns. Half of Yemen’s population was living below the poverty line, and almost half of the population was under the age of 18 and unemployed. Saudi Arabia led a U.S., U.K., and France-backed coalition in support of Hadi’s internationally recognized government against the Houthi rebels.

Former secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon announced that the U.N. had documentation of widespread violations of children’s rights in Syria that were committed as part of the Houthi child soldier recruitment efforts, as well as the child casualties from the Saudi air strikes. Saudi Arabia threatened that if it were not removed from the report, they would cut off its funding to the U.N. and incredulously, the threat succeeded. This miscarriage of justice has hurt the U.N.’s reputation as an impartial mediator in the conflict.

War crimes are being committed on both sides as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen carries on. Unfortunately, these crimes will likely continue without reprimand or sanctions as Saudi allies, like the U.S., have vetoed the U.N.’s independent international investigation into these war crimes. This effectively kills any charges against the Saudi’s or Houthi rebels, endangering countless more children’s lives.

Joshua Ward

Photo: Flickr

Three Myths About Refugees
In Chinese, the word “crisis” consists of the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” With more than 20 million refugees in the world and more being added each week, the refugee situation is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. To many, refugees can appear to be a threat. This kind of mentality is often undergirded by misheard myths about refugees. However, these myths can be dispelled when the refugee crisis is viewed as an opportunity rather than a danger.

  1. Refugees are a burden on the economy. In the most recent election, voters ranked the economy as the most important issue. Naturally, then, the expected effect of refugees on the economy will influence the types of resettlement policies that people support. Though refugees may initially be a financial burden as they resettle, economists have found that the immigrants have a net positive fiscal impact on the countries that receive them. The tax revenue gained from immigrants outweighs the costs of the benefits they consume. Columbus, Ohio is proof positive that pro-refugee policies are economically beneficial. Refugees in Columbus have not only taken jobs, but they have also helped to create them. In Central Ohio, refugees are about twice as likely to start new businesses compared to native residents.
  2. Refugees are more likely to be dangerous extremists. This myth about refugees could not be further from the truth. To be considered a refugee, an individual must have a reasonable fear of persecution due to ethnicity, religion, politics or social class. In the past decade, only 27 percent of refugees to the United States have been from the Middle East. Of these, more than 60 percent have been women or children under the age of 14, hardly the type likely to be violent extremists. In the United States, the probability of being killed by a terrorist refugee is one in 3.64 billion. Even in light of such statistics, suspicions about refugees remain, in large part because of another myth about refugees.
  3. Refugees are not adequately vetted. An application for resettlement to the U.S. can take up to two years to process. Individuals seeking resettlement must apply with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR then refers the individual to the U.S. government, which conducts multiple security checks and interviews. Five separate background checks and three in-person interviews are just a couple of the components of the vetting process. If the government determines the candidate qualifies for resettlement, it assigns the refugee to one of nine agencies that assist with successful integration.

Despite what these myths about refugees might lead one to believe, receiving countries need to see the tremendous opportunity, not the questionable danger, in the refugee crisis.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

Children in Crisis AreasAccording to a recent UNICEF report, approximately one in four children of school age resides in countries affected by war and humanitarian crises. There are around 462 million children in crisis areas whose education suffers, particularly areas in Syria and Eastern Ukraine.

Of this number, 75 million children are out-of-school, and the situation worsens for school-aged girls. UNICEF reports that over 63 million girls do not attend school and the numbers continue to rise. School-aged girls are in desperate need of a support system to improve their access to education and their chances at a successful future.

An education system not only provides basic instruction but also incorporates a daily schedule, food access and safe shelter for children during times of conflict. Conflicts in Eastern Ukraine have destroyed one out of every five schools and conflicts in Syria have rendered 6,000 schools unusable for education. The sites that can no longer be used as schools are now used as shelters for families or bases for armed forces.

As a result of the humanitarian crises in these areas, many children often receive no chance at an education. However, a recent emergency education fund will help to provide better education for the students facing difficulty, improving their family life and reactions to local conflicts as a result.

The World Humanitarian Summit was held in Istanbul in late May, where an emergency education fund called ‘Education Cannot Wait’ was proposed. The fund will provide for the educational needs of children who are suffering as a result of living in conflict zones.

Education Cannot Wait will attempt to raise $4 billion in the next five years for children in crisis areas struggling with education access and quality. This will support the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals which include a proposal for all school-aged children to have access to free and quality primary and secondary education by 2030. Improving the education systems for children in conflict zones will minimize or mitigate the issues of poverty on a larger scale.

Amanda Panella

Photo: Flickr

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, called for this year’s first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. He scheduled the summit for May 23-24 as a response to levels of humanitarian crisis around the world.

The goal of the World Humanitarian Summit is to bring together world leaders and the international community in order to address the issues facing those in crisis. The United Nations listed such problems as lack of food, shelter and medical care. Furthermore, violent conditions and lack of care for pregnant women and young children threaten families in crisis regions.

Also on the agenda is the issue of education. The WHS will see the launch of a new platform designed to provide funding for education specifically in crisis situations. This program, titled Education Cannot Wait, is the first of its kind.

After recognizing that education is a basic human right and that war and other humanitarian crises disrupt children’s education, ECW developed a multi-pronged strategy. This strategy includes calling on the international community to accept more financial responsibility. Additionally, the community should take part in the planning and execution of strategies to improve access to education in crisis areas. It also holds the other nations and people involved accountable for their actions.

Financial pledges are certainly of primary importance. According to A World at School, less than two percent of humanitarian funding has gone to education each year since 2010. Consequently, this lack of funds results in the deprivation of schooling for tens of millions of children in crisis situations.

The website details the “Breakthrough Fund” component of ECW, with key points including the necessity for multi-year financial commitments. These commitments adequately meet the needs of funding education for those in crisis without taking funding from other humanitarian projects.

UNICEF will take charge of the Breakthrough Fund for its first year. Afterwards, the Breakthrough Fund will transition to a more permanent administrative host. The fund will attempt to raise $3.85 billion USD by year five of the project.

The WHS website reports that the World Humanitarian Summit held a roundtable discussion of Education Cannot Wait at a Special Session. It was open to the media and webcast live.

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: UN Multimedia

Amnesty International
On May 4, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General Shalil Shetty met with the President and Prime Minister of the Kurdistani Regional Government, or KRG, to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the region and collaborate to prevent human rights abuses by all parties.

This meeting, taking place in Kurdish Iraq, came just months after Amnesty International published a report in January accusing the KRG of rights abuses. Amnesty International’s report earlier in the year accused Kurdish allied forces of demolishing Iraqi homes and preventing Arab Iraqis from returning to their communities after they were recaptured from the Islamic State.

The report argued that displacements without military justification could be considered a war crime, but also acknowledged that many of the territories had been disputed prior to the Islamic State, with many ethnically cleansed of Kurds by Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Amnesty International also acknowledged that the alleged abuses were occurring in the context of an unprecedented security, humanitarian and financial crisis for the Kurdistani Regional Government. Still, they asserted that the government cannot allow that to justify turning a blind eye to abuses within its territories.

More than a million foreign refugees and internally displaced persons are currently seeking shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The KRG immediately responded to Amnesty International’s report, contending that it is the policy of its armed forces not to allow immediate return to recently recaptured territories for civilians of any ethnicity, due to proximity to continued conflict and due to the Islamic State’s tendency to leave IEDs behind when it withdraws.

In a further expression of concern for human rights, the KRG promised to conduct a full investigation into the reports compiled by Amnesty International. They granted AI and other rights groups full access to its territories in order to conduct their own independent investigations to ensure the protection of human rights.

Shetty thanked the KRG for its commitment to preventing abuses in the face of tremendous adversity, and acknowledged the long history of Kurdish cooperation with AI and other rights groups.

Hayden Smith

Photo: Flickr

 

yemen
United Nations Humanitarian Chief Stephen O’Brien called a meeting of multiple U.N. agencies in July to discuss immediate action regarding deteriorating humanitarian conditions within the conflict-ravaged nation of Yemen, as fears of widespread famine within the country continue to grow.

Officials agreed to raise the caution of humanitarian emergency in Yemen to Level 3, the highest humanitarian crisis level within the United Nations, after the World Health Organization (WHO) provided updated statistics regarding the severity of conditions within the Arab world’s most impoverished country.

The WHO recently announced that an estimated 21.1 million Yemenis currently require significant humanitarian aid, with an additional 13 million people faced with a food security crisis and 9.4 million people exercising limited to no access to basic water resources.

Health officials have stressed the adverse effects these conditions will have on the national population, as inadequate access to these essential resources will increase the risk of water-borne disease such as cholera and the persistence of widespread malnourishment.

In addition to Yemen, the United Nations has placed the nations of Iraq, Syria and South Sudan at Level 3 of humanitarian emergency in recent months due to consistently escalating conflicts within these regions. The U.N. Humanitarian Office states that declaring a top-level humanitarian emergency allows for the mobilization of extended aid funding and an organization-wide deployment of staffing personnel.

A U.N. official familiar with agency operations within Yemen stated after this summer’s emergency meeting that an additional 11.7 million citizens will be targeted for humanitarian assistance provided by additional resources mobilized by the Level 3 declaration.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the U.N. envoy for Yemen, stated last week in a press release that Yemen is, “One step away from famine,” after noting that only two million Yemeni citizens were in need of humanitarian assistance two years ago.

Houthi Shiite rebels and military forces allied with former President Ali Abduallah seized Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, in September and have been conducting military operations against Sunni militants, local separatists and tribal militias allied with current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. President Hadi was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia after the invasion of Sana’a by Houthi forces last year

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has been conducting airstrikes within Yemen against Houthi rebel forces since March. The conflict has resulted in 3,083 fatalities and 14,324 casualties since its onset last year, according to the most recent estimates of the WHO.

Ahmed also urged all contingents within the regional conflict that erupted earlier this year to participate in a humanitarian ceasefire during the month-long celebration of the Muslim holiday Ramadan in order to ease the delivery of humanitarian aid resources.

The U.N. envoy to Yemen outlined multiple solutions to the conflict, which included, “The need for a ceasefire, an orderly withdrawal of Houthi forces from cities, monitoring and verification mechanisms, an agreement to respect international humanitarian law and not to hinder the deployment of humanitarian aid operations; and a commitment to engage in talks mediated by the United Nations.”

James Thornton

Sources: Big Story, Middle East Monitor
Photo: The Telegraph

Malnutrition-in-Lesotho
Like many countries in Africa, Lesotho faces a multifaceted humanitarian crisis in which issues are intertwined and often exacerbated by each other’s presence. The Lesotho government estimates that around 725,000 people, or about a third of the population, are in need of some form of humanitarian aid. Lesotho has the third highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS with almost a full quarter of adults ages 15-49 infected with the virus.

Furthermore, the United Nations estimates that almost 9,000 children under the age of 5 are severely malnourished in Lesotho. In 2009, a study conducted by the World Food Program (WFP) estimated that 39 percent of children under 5 years old exhibited signs of stunted growth resulting from malnutrition. UN research shows that school attendance for young boys and girls has been decreasing in recent years as well. This is likely due to families reliance on children to assist with increasing agricultural responsibilities.

Unpredictable weather conditions such as floods and droughts have burdened the production and availability of food in addition to other necessary resources. These factors have also contributed to increases in soil erosion and infertile lands. Minimal access to secure, high yielding seeds has also been an obstacle. These fluctuations of climate, coupled with the constant demand for staples such as maize, oil and sugar have caused prices to increase. All of these factors have contributed to malnutrition in Lesotho.

In an effort to combat the drastic price increases, UNICEF, WFP and the Lesotho government are working to implement relief measures. Efforts to adapt to irregular climate conditions are also in place. The Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN has created the Emergency & Resilience Program along with the Lesotho government to implement long term procedures such as subsistence farming and agro-conservation tactics. So far, the program has aided almost 20,000 farmers in Lesotho.

In 2007, UNICEF helped create the Lesotho Child Grants Program that affords impoverished families 40 U.S. dollars each quarter to purchase basic necessities. The program helps over 10,000 families and is being expanded to provide assistance to over 15,000. In addition, the dollar amount allocated to each family will be increased by 94 U.S. dollars.

Puseletso Tsiu is a recipient of the child grant who has greatly benefited from the program’s assistance. Tsiu’s two daughters died of AIDS and she has assumed responsibility for their childrens’ care. As a result of the extra support, she has been able to buy pairs of shoes for her orphaned grandchildren to wear to school. A commonplace purchase in the first world, such as the purchase of shoes, is viewed as a crucial investment in countries like Lesotho.

The National School Feeding Policy, sponsored by the WFP, provides two meals per day for students who can meet attendance requirements. For many families, the program provides an added educational and economic incentive to send young children to school. Families like Tsiu’s rely heavily upon the meals provided in schools so they can save money by not feeding them at home. In total, this program provides meals for over 400,000 students in Lesotho.

In the case of Lesotho, it has been demonstrated that international unity between organizations and governments can make a positive difference. “Kopano ke matla” is an old saying in Lesotho that roughly translates to “unity is power.” When faced with such adverse conditions, the meaning and power of this phrase must not be underestimated.

– Frasier Petersen

Sources: UNICEF, WFP, UNECOSOC, FAO
Photo: World Food Programme