Hunger continues to rise in the Near East and North Africa where over 52 million people are undernourished
Conflicts and widening rural-urban gaps hamper the regions efforts to end hunger by 2030
8 May 2019, Cairo/Rome – Hunger in the Near East and North Africa region (NENA) continues to rise as conflicts and protracted crises have spread and worsened since 2011, threatening the regions efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Zero Hunger.
The Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in the Near East and North Africa, published today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), indicates that 52 million people in the region are suffering from chronic undernourishment.
Conflict continues to be the main driver of hunger across the region. More than two-thirds of hungry people in NENA, approximately 34 million people, live in conflict-affected countries, compared to 18 million hungry people in countries that are not impacted directly by conflict.
Stunting, wasting, and undernutrition are also far worse in conflict countries than in the other countries.
“Conflicts and civil instability have long-lasting impacts on the food and nutrition security of both affected and surrounding countries in the regions” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa.
“The impact of conflict has been disrupting food and livestock production in some countries and consequently affecting the availability of food across the region,” he added.
“Rising hunger is also compounded by rapid population growth, scarce and fragile natural resources, the growing threat of climate change, increasing unemployment rates, decreased agricultural productivity and diminished rural infrastructure and services” Ould Ahmed underscored.
The report highlights that the region is not facing just a hunger crisis as some of the highest rates of obesity are also found in countries within the region, putting pressure on peoples health, lifestyles and national health systems and economies. Addressing obesity requires food systems that ensure that people have access to healthy nutritious food and also increased public awareness and information on the risks associated with overweight and obesity.
Inadequate rural transformation hampers efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by 2030
The report shows that not only do conflicts undermine the regions Zero Hunger efforts, but also the degree of rural transformation.
“Countries that are not in conflict and have gone furthest in transforming rural areas in a sustainable way including through better management of water resources, have achieved better food security and nutrition outcomes than those in conflict or with lower levels of rural transformation,” Ould Ahmed said, noting how the report stresses that more efforts are needed to boost rural employment, stimulate economic growth in rural areas, reduce urban-rural gaps, and improve agricultural productivity and rural infrastructure and services.
The report highlights how unemployment, particularly for young people and women across all age groups is a significant challenge in the NENA region and is often higher than in others regions of the world. This is aggravated by rural-urban gaps – with significant disparities in living standards and poverty rates between rural and urban areas – and differences in labour productivity between traditional agriculture and industry and services. This gap is deepened by differences in access to education, health as well as other public services and housing.
At the same time, rural areas accommodate around 40 percent of the population, where the majority of poor are living.
The report shows that the average wages for those employed in agriculture are likely to be far below those of workers outside the sector. Partially as a result of lower wages in agriculture, rural areas in the NENA region generally have higher income poverty rates than urban areas. On average, rural poverty is about twice as high as poverty in urban areas.
Transforming agriculture to achieve Zero Hunger
At a regional level, there are significant opportunities for transforming agriculture in a sustainable way, starting with the provision of improved access to markets for farmers, promoting investments in agriculture, transfer of technology and other innovations, more efficient and effective management of water resources, as well as key policy changes that support the shift from subsistence farming to commercial and diversified production systems.
“There is a great need to encourage our regions farmers to produce according to the comparative advantage of the region,” Ould Ahmed said, highlighting that the NENA region has a great potential in the production of crops and livestock products that are least intensive in arable land and water and more intensive in use of labour.
The report highlights that greater efforts and actions are needed to support the development and implementation of policies and programmes to abolish rural-urban differences.
Registration gives many Rohingya refugees identification for the first time
By Alex St-Denis in Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh | 17 May 2019
Nasima Aktar is among hundreds of thousand..
By Alex St-Denis in Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh | 17 May 2019
Nasima Aktar is among hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingya — many of whom have spent a lifetime without official documentation — for whom getting an official identity card is a significant step.
“We want documents for Rohingyas. This is our document,” says Aktar, who recently received a plastic identity card bearing her basic biodata, photo and country of origin in a registration drive in Bangladesh.
There are more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees like Nasima living in crowded settlements in southeast Bangladesh of whom an estimated 741,000 have fled a violent crackdown by the Myanmar military since August 2017.
“Having an identity is a basic human right … its also an incredible step into a more dignified life.”
Despite living in Myanmar for generations they were not able to acquire formal citizenship and documentation that comes with this, leaving them stateless and deprived of basic rights.
She is now among more than a quarter of a million Rohingya refugees who have been registered in a push since June last year by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in support of the Bangladesh government, in an effort that also helps to safeguard their right to voluntarily return home to Myanmar.
“Having an identity is a basic human right,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi during a recent visit to Coxs Bazar. “And remember: many of these people, all their life, did not have a proper identification. So, for them, its also an incredible step into a more dignified life.”
To date, a total of 270,348 refugees have been registered in the settlements of Ukhia and Teknaf Upazilas. On average, over 4,000 refugees are being registered a day in the exercise, with the aim of concluding the registration of all those in the settlements late this year.
The exercise also improves the accuracy of data on refugees in Bangladesh, which will help the authorities and humanitarian partners to better understand the needs of the refugee population. It will allow them to plan and target assistance more effectively, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children, women, and those with disabilities.
Refugees are registered using biodata and biometric data, including fingerprints and iris scans to provide them with a unique identity. At the end of the registration process, refugees receive a plastic ID card that includes a photo, and basic information such as date of birth and gender. Only refugees over the age of 12 receive the card but families also receive an attestation showing the details of all family member.
All information on the documents is in English and Bengali and indicates Myanmar as the country of origin. The documents were developed in cooperation with the Bangladesh government and carries both government and UNHCR logos.
“They understand that this exercise has nothing to do with forcible return,” UNHCR registration officer Nurul Rochayati explains. “This exercise is to establish their protection in here, and to establish their right to return. They will return when theyre safe, in safety and dignity.”
To better explain the benefits of registration, UNHCR and the Bangladesh authorities in recent months held meetings with the community including with leading Rohingya figures, such as imams, elders and teachers. Community outreach teams, that include refugees, go out regularly to talk about the registration process and encourage people to attend.
With the cyclone season underway, registration will also help reunite families in case they get separated during storms.
Violence has pushed thousands of children in Honduras and El Salvador out of school
Almost half of all children surveyed living in neighbourhoods where criminal gangs are present in Ho..
Almost half of all children surveyed living in neighbourhoods where criminal gangs are present in Honduras and El Salvador do not have access to education, according to new reports by the Norwegian Refugee Council.
“Criminal violence is wreaking havoc on the lives of countless children in El Salvador and Honduras. Bright futures are being stolen every time that children are too afraid to attend school, and are forced to drop out. The future of an entire generation of boys and girls is at risk,” warned Christian Visnes, country director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Colombia.
Two new reports called “A Generation Out Of School” found that children living in areas with violence in El Salvador and Honduras experience pressure, intimidation, sexual harassment and traumatic abuse by criminal groups. Their daily walk to school is dangerous and involves passing through gang territory or staying limited to one side of the community to not stray into rival gang territory.
Violent criminal groups are also present in classrooms and playgrounds. Gang members have succeeded in infiltrating the schools themselves and routinely promote the sale of drugs to minors, extort teachers and students, and carry out recruitment, surveillance and intelligence activities.
“My older kids werent able to study. I wanted them to graduate, but it wasnt possible. All my children have fled from the violence”, said a parent in Tegucigalpa.
In some areas, families are pressured to pay war taxes to criminal groups. They are then often unable to pay for uniforms and school materials for the children who continue to attend classes despite the many risks. Many families surveyed said that they do not feel safe in their homes. Only one third plan on staying in their homes, the rest plan on leaving their neighborhoods to find somewhere safer to live in their countries, or are completely unsure about their futures.
“Ending the systemic violence starts in the classroom. We need international support to make schools safe places to learn and grow, so that the next generation of Hondurans and Salvadorans dont turn to criminal gangs,” said Visnes.
- For the past four years, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) interviewed more than 5,000 households in communities affected by violence in Honduras and El Salvador, to identify children who have been forced to drop out of school, in order to provide opportunities for them to return to school.
- The reports reveal that half of all children interviewed are out of school in Honduras while 40 per cent are out of school in El Salvador. In total, 3,400 children surveyed living in neighbourhoods where criminal gangs are present in both Honduras and El Salvador are out of school.
- Families reported that they do not feel safe, and only a third plan on staying in their current homes in Honduras, while in El Salvador one of every two families plan on staying in their current homes.
- The impact of violence on daily life was tangible throughout NRCs research. As a result of violence, such as homicides in the community or tensions after police raids, NRC had to suspend its activities several times during the research period, and the whole operation took double the amount of time planned.
- Reports were funded by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and NORAD.
Growing insecurity in Tripoli endangers displaced civilians and migrants as armed clashes enter second month
Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is concerned about the deteriorating hum..
Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Tripoli and neighbouring areas.
According to IOM Libyas Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), there are now over 66,000 displaced individuals, approximately 13,310 families, from affected areas in Tripoli since the onset of the armed conflict on 4 April. The rapidly increasing displacement figures are worrying as fighting intensifies in the absence of a humanitarian ceasefire. DTMs Emergency Event Tracking, activated on 05 April, is helping to identify instances of displacement, as well as consolidating and disseminating vital information IOM uses to plan the broader humanitarian communitys response.
The situation is especially alarming for over 3,300 migrants, among them children and pregnant women.
“While our teams on the ground continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected populations, we recognize that more needs to be done from all sides to ensure the safety of civilians,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya Chief of Mission. “We are worried about the dramatically deteriorating humanitarian situation in Tripoli and reiterate that there is an urgent need to end the detention of migrants in Libya and stop displacement.”
On 10 May, a migrant boat departing Zwara, Libya capsized off the Tunisian coast, and 59 lives were lost. This brings the death toll in the Central Mediterranean Route to 316 so far this year, and 502 for all Mediterranean Sea routes. Since the beginning of the clashes, 871 migrants have been returned to Libya and placed in detention, bringing the total number of migrants repatriated to Libya to 2,813 this year.
IOM is concerned about the return of migrants to an unsafe port and their placement in often overcrowded detention centres where conditions are not acceptable. While we provide health assistance, non-food items, emergency food assistance and Voluntary Humanitarian Return support to migrants wishing to return home, we reiterate that IOM cannot guarantee the protection of detained migrants and continues to call for an urgent end to detention.
Despite security challenges, IOM emergency interventions continue, in 11 detention centres within and near Tripoli; in locations for internally displaced families, and across Libya. Since 4 April 1,402 migrants have returned to 19 countries of origin with support from IOMs Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme.
The joint Rapid Response Mechanism launched by IOM, UNFPA, WFP and UNICEF, has reached so far 18,210 individuals with much-needed core relief items. Moreover, 2,511 migrants and internally displaced persons have been provided with health assistance including 58 hospital referrals.
IOM Tunisia reported that Fridays tragedy began about 60 kilometers from Tunisian waters 7 May, when a vessel carrying 75 migrants, mainly Bangladeshi nationals, made an attempt to reach Europe. During the night of 9 May, Tunisian fishermen were able to rescue 16 people from the overcrowded craft. Tunisian naval units continue to seek information on the voyage; to date only three bodies have been rescued. One of those victims has been identified.
Tunisian authorities took four survivors to Zarzis Hospital, where two remain in critical condition. Of the rescued, 14 are Bangladeshi (including two unaccompanied minors) one is Egyptian, one is Moroccan. Those not hospitalized have been hosted by the Tunisian Red Crescent.
A second rescue took place on Saturday, 11 May. Tunisian fishermen rescued sixty-nine migrants, including Moroccans, Eritreans, Somalis, Bangladeshi and an Egyptian. Among them, were four women and at least 25 minors, including children aged three to seven years.
Those 69 rescued migrants, since transferred to Sfax, are thought to have left Libya on 7 May, at the same time those on the shipwrecked boat departed.
IOM teams mobilized to provide medical, psycho-social and food assistance to survivors. “It is essential to put in place efficient mechanisms to respond to humanitarian emergencies, not the least of which are attempts of irregular crossings on the Mediterranean,” said Lorena Lando, Head of IOM mission to Tunisia. “We must act now and together,” she added.
From 9-12 May, the Tunisian coastguard and naval units conducted prevention operations that thwarted attempts at irregular crossings from Sfax, Sousse, Monastir, Bizerte and Tunis, with more than 100 migrants at the beginning of the season.
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