UN launches $1 billion appeal for northeast Nigeria

With the scale of human suffering in north-eastern Nigeria becoming clearer as the Government has pushed Boko Haram insurgents from more and more areas, the United Nations launched a $1 billion funding appeal to address the needs of those in crisis, and announced that nearly 75 partner agencies are on standby to respond where areas are accessible.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) throughout 2016, human suffering has become more apparent as the Nigerian Armed Forces pushed Boko Haram out of areas the group had held. The response area shifted from Abuja to Borno state, enabling easier access to the vulnerable population for the humanitarian teams, however, the conflict scaled up and so did the urgent need for more assistance.

“This is the largest crisis on the African continent and I am confident that with the support of the international community and the private sector, we can begin to bring hope to the people of the north-east,” stressed Peter Lundberg, the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, while also complimenting the Government of Nigeria and the initiative behind the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on their full cooperation to address the humanitarian situation.

While fear of unexploded improvised devices prevents farmers from planting for a third year in a row, nearly 5.1 million people are expected to face serious food shortages.

“The narrative on this humanitarian crisis can no longer be ignored and we are appealing to the international community to help us prevent the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians over the coming 12 months,” stated Mr. Lundberg.

[UN News Centre]

Utah and Mormons are the most generous givers in America

Utah is tops among all 50 US states in generosity, according to a new report released this week at WalletHub. The report breaks down “generosity” into two main categories–a state’s rate of volunteerism and the percentage of income its people spend on charitable donations.

In Utah, people donate an impressive 6.6% of their income to charity. New Hampshire was the stingiest, with just 1.6% of income given away.

Utah also ranks first in the percentage of people who say they donated their time (56%) and the total number of hours they volunteered (75.6 per person, nearly four times the volunteer hours of the lowest state, Kentucky).

Given Utah’s majority Mormon population it’s not surprising that the state came first in charitable giving. According to social science research, Mormons rank first among all religious groups in the United States in terms of charitable giving, donating 5.2% of income.

That’s barely half of the 10% “gold standard” that Christians are taught to strive for. But it’s nearly two percentage points higher than the next-most-generous group, Pentecostals who give 3.4%, not to speak of Roman Catholics (1.5%), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (.9%).

The nonreligious average 1.1%.

[Religion New Service]

Climate change could spark major humanitarian crisis, experts say

Climate change—and resultant natural disasters, droughts, and sea level rise—”could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,” senior military figures told the Guardian on Thursday.

Specifically, the experts echoed a recent warning from the United Nations that without radical action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, “we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy,” as the number of global climate refugees climbs.

“We’re going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people,” Maj. Gen. Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on climate change and a former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh, told the Guardian.

“Climate change could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,” added Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, a member of the U.S. State Department’s foreign affairs policy board and CEO of the American Security Project. “We’re already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity, and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal.”

Such a crisis would serve “as an accelerant of instability,” Cheney said—even more so than it has already.

[Read full Common Dreams article]

World AIDS Day Statement from USAID Administrator

Every year on December 1st, we celebrate the tremendous progress the world has made in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), … and driven by cutting-edge research and data, our collective efforts have saved millions of lives and are beginning to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS. Building on the leadership of President George W. Bush and bipartisan champions in Congress, President Obama has expanded antiretroviral therapy treatment more than five-fold over the last eight years.

Today, PEPFAR is supporting 11.5 million people around the world with life-saving treatment, exceeding its 2016 target. Our efforts have reduced new pediatric infections globally by nearly 70 percent since 2000.

[However] our work is far from finished. Only 18 million out of the 37 million people living with HIV worldwide are currently on treatment, and thousands of people cannot access proper care because they suffer the indignity of stigmatization and isolation.

[But] together, we can end AIDS worldwide by 2030.

[USAID]