Projected Food Assistance Needs

Here is a link for a summary of projected emergency food assistance needs in various countries. The projected size of each country’s acutely food insecure population  is compared to last year and the recent five-year average and categorized as Higher ( p), Similar ( u), or Lower ( q).

Countries where external emergency food assistance needs are anticipated are identified.

Projected lean season months highlighted in red indicate either an early start or an extension to the typical lean season.

Additional information is provided for countries with large food insecure populations, an expectation of high severity, or where other key issues warrant additional discussion.

[ReliefWeb]

Huge numbers of internally displaced people across Africa

There are more than 40.8 million people around the world on the run within their own countries, according to recent figures by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, (IDMC).

Nearly one third of these displaced people are on the African continent. At the end of 2015, 12.4 million people in 21 African countries were living in ongoing displacement as a result of conflict and violence.

A little acknowledged issue, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) across Africa is more than twice as many as the continent’s total refugee population of 5.4 million, which only accounts for those who have crossed national borders.

In the eyes of the law the internally displaced are different from refugees. Not having crossed any borders, IDPs remain under the jurisdiction of their state, while refugees fall under international humanitarian refugee laws.

“We are always flabbergasted at just how little people actually acknowledge this issue,” says Alexandra Bilak, Director at IDMC. “There are twice as many conflict IDPs as there are refugees in the world. The figures are quite staggering, the problem is far bigger.”

Nigeria tops the list of African countries with the most new displacements in 2015 when 737,000 uprooted. More recent figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) show that the situation is still dire, with 1.8 million people estimated to have been on the move at the end of 2016. Conflict and violence caused by the Boko Haram insurgency make up more than 90 percent of displacements, according to IOM.

[CNN]

Ebola vaccine likely to stop the next outbreak

When Ebola struck West Africa a few years ago, the world was defenseless. There was no cure. No vaccine. And the result was catastrophic: More than 11,000 people died. Nearly 30,000 were infected.

Now it looks like such a large outbreak is unlikely to ever happen again. Ever. The world now has a potent weapon against Ebola: a vaccine that brings outbreaks to a screeching halt, scientists report in The Lancet.

“We were able to estimate the efficacy of the vaccine as being 100 percent in a trial,” says Ira Longini, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, who helped test the vaccine.

The 100% value reflects the fact that they just haven’t tested the vaccine on enough people yet. So it is likely to decrease as the vaccine is used over time. In the end, the efficacy is likely to sit somewhere between about 70 percent and 100 percent, Longini says. By comparison, the flu vaccine last year was about 50 percent effective.

And the Ebola vaccine works lightning fast, within four or five days, he says. So it could even be given after a person is exposed to Ebola but hasn’t yet developed the disease.

[NPR]

Thousands of refugees trapped in freezing temperatures in Europe

Freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall are making life even harder for thousands of refugees living in limbo across Europe. The cold snap gripping Europe has left dozens of people dead, including refugees in Bulgaria, according to Agence France-Presse. Snow blanketed the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, home to more than 4,000 people.

More than 7,500 people are currently stranded in Serbia, living in overcrowded camps and informal settlements. Serbia has agreed with the European Union to host up to 6,000 people, of whom only 3,140 live in facilities adapted to winter. In Belgrade, about 2,000 young people, mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria, are currently sleeping in abandoned buildings in the city center, while temperatures plummet far below freezing.

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said, calling again on the authorities to improve conditions for people suffering in below-freezing temperatures.

“Today, people are severely lacking appropriate assistance and this is putting their lives in danger,” said Stefano Argenziano, MSF operations coordinator on migration. “We are witnessing the most cruel and inhumane consequences of European policies, which are being used to deter and victimize those who are only seeking safety and protection in Europe.”

Over the last year, European authorities have sought to stop people from seeking protection in Europe as they flee active war zones, including through an agreement between the European Union and Turkey and the official closure of the Balkan route for migrants and refugees.

[CNN / MSF]

Humanitarian aid no longer needs-based?

Year on year, we’ve witnessed an increase in the frequency and ferocity of natural, man-made and complex crises and disasters. The trend is set to continue in 2017, with an estimated 100 million people likely to be in need of aid. The United Nations has just released its largest ever funding appeal, seeking over $22 billion across 33 countries.

Half of the 65.3 million forcibly displaced people in the world — the highest number since World War II — are children; children in conflict-affected countries are more than twice as likely to be out of school as those in other countries; in emergency situations, instances of sexual violence increase, yet the reported figures are just the tip of the iceberg — practitioners estimate that for each rape reported in connection with a conflict, 10 to 20 cases go undocumented.

In the face of competing crises and dwindling resources, the EU is making deliberate choices about which crises and conflicts it directs its funds toward. Humanitarian aid is supposed to be based on the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. But, increasingly, it is being repurposed to meet political objectives, based more on the self-interest of EU member states than on these humanitarian principles. Halting migration to Europe is apparently the number one aim.

It begs the question: how have countries been prioritized and funds allocated? The underlying and fundamental principle that humanitarian aid is needs-based is, it seems, no more.

[Read full Devex article]