Acute malnutrition threatens half of children under five in Yemen in 2021: UN

Nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, four United Nations agencies warned on Friday. Of these, 400,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment.

The new figures, from the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Acute Malnutrition report released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, mark an increase in acute malnutrition and severe acute malnutrition of 16 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, among children under five years from 2020. 

The agencies also warned that these were among the highest levels of severe acute malnutrition recorded in Yemen since the escalation of conflict in 2015.

Malnutrition damages a child’s physical and cognitive development, especially during the first two years of a child’s life. It is largely irreversible, perpetuating illness, poverty and inequality.

Preventing malnutrition and addressing its devastating impact starts with good maternal health, yet around 1.2 million pregnant or breastfeeding women in Yemen are projected to be acutely malnourished in 2021.

Years of armed conflict and economic decline, the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe funding shortfall for the humanitarian response are pushing exhausted communities to the brink, with rising levels of food insecurity. Many families are having to resort to reducing the quantity or quality of the food they eat, and in some cases, families are forced to do both.

“The increasing number of children going hungry in Yemen should shock us all into action,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “More children will die with every day that passes without action. Humanitarian organizations need urgent predictable resources and unhindered access to communities on the ground to be able to save lives.”

Fighting in Yemen has lead to death, destruction and diseases

“Families in Yemen have been in the grip of conflict for too long, and more recent threats such as COVID-19 have only been adding to their relentless plight,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “Without security and stability across the country, and improved access to farmers so that they are provided with the means to resume growing enough and nutritious food, Yemen’s children and their families will continue to slip deeper into hunger and malnutrition.”

“These numbers are yet another cry for help from Yemen where each malnourished child also means a family struggling to survive” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “The crisis in Yemen is a toxic mix of conflict, economic collapse and a severe shortage of funding to provide the life-saving help that’s desperately needed. But there is a solution to hunger, and that’s food and an end to the violence. If we act now, then there is still time to end the suffering of Yemen’s children.”

‘Compelling case’ for urgency around global disarmament, UN-led forum told

Michael Møller, head of the UN in Geneva, has warned delegates to the Conference on Disarmament that cyber-security challenges, and the existence of new weapons systems and technologies, are not being sufficiently addressed or reflected in current arms control regimes.

UN Photo/Violaine Martin
Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, briefs the press at the Palais des Nations. (file)

Mr Møller, who acts as the Secretary-General of the Conference, was speaking at the opening of the first 2019 meeting of the Geneva-based Conference, which, although it is the only multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations, has been deadlocked for over 20 years: the last arms control agreement successfully negotiated by the body was the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, in 1996.

The UN Geneva chief said that the realities of today make a compelling case for a renewed sense of urgency, and a collective commitment and determination in pursuing disarmament. He warned that the nuclear threat remains high: nuclear programmes continue to be pursued, and nuclear arsenals enhanced, and that military and security expenditures have reached record levels. Despite these, and other risks, multilateralism is “under fire at the time we need it most,” and “meaningful dialogue on the right approach to a host of disarmament issues continues to elude us.

2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the Conference on Disarmament, described by Mr. Møller as an occasion to “recall why these mechanisms, with their regulations and rules of procedures and (spoken and unspoken) codes of conduct, were established.” They are important, he continued, because they provide a neutral place for dialogue, where different positions can be acknowledged and transcended.

Striking a positive note, Mr. Møller pointed to progress made in 2018 – when, for the first time in several years, four reports were adopted by consensus, paving the way for further work including technical discussions – and the hope that momentum generated by these developments will continue in this and future Sessions of the Conference.

The Conference on Disarmament, established as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, is not formally a UN body but reports annually, or more frequently as appropriate, to the UN General Assembly.

Currently, the consensus-based body focuses primarily on the following issues: cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters, prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; and  new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons including radiological weapons; comprehensive programme of disarmament and transparency in armaments.

Articled is published courtesy of the United Nations

IOM’s Director General Swing Praises Spain for Bringing 600+ Migrants to Safety

IOM, the UN Migration Agency praises Spain’s action bringing over six hundred migrants stranded on Mediterranean rescue ships to safety.


Spanish medical staff carried out preliminary health checks on the migrants at Valencia’s port. Photo: Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

“I’m glad Spain has stepped forward to defuse this crisis, but I fear a major tragedy if states start refusing to accept rescued migrants as was threatened,” said IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing. “Keeping the rescued people at sea is not, of itself, going to dissuade other migrants from crossing to Europe and they too will need to be rescued sooner or later,” he added.

IOM believes that all EU Member States need to do more to support front-line states and welcomed the Spanish initiative to bring the migrants to safety. Mr. Swing emphasized Monday that the total numbers of irregular migrant arrivals have fallen dramatically from their peak during a 12-month period in 2015 and 2016, when over one million men, women and children crossed the Mediterranean bound for Greece, Italy and Spain.  “This is a political crisis, not a migrant crisis,” Director general Swing added.

“Stopping one boat or more in the Mediterranean Sea is not an answer to Europe’s migration challenges,” Director General Swing explained. “A comprehensive approach to migration governance is needed, combining opportunities for safe and orderly movement, humane border management and countering migrant smuggling and trafficking.”

IOM urges the EU to re-consider a revision of the Dublin regulation based on the European Parliament’s proposal, and to reach agreement in Council to ensure solidarity among member states fully respecting the provisions of the Treaties.

“The best way forward is for the EU to reach a common response and shared governance of the migration flows,” explained Eugenio Ambrosi, Director of IOM’s regional office for the EU.  “Fair distribution of migrants via a coordinated, humane and shared EU response from all European countries – not just those of the Mediterranean – is the only solution which saves lives, upholds rights and preserves European unity,” he added.

“Saving lives should always be our top concern. We must urgently find a means to help these rescued migrants and work for a comprehensive method of supporting migrants and States throughout Europe,” Director General Swing concluded.

Sustained cooperation vital to address Somalia’s challenges, says UN envoy

In a year which saw millions of Somali civilians displaced by armed conflict and thousands more killed and wounded in violence, the United Nations envoy to the country has called for sustained cooperation to tackle a number of pressing challenges.


Residents of the Bulo Isak camp for the internally displaced persons wait to collect safe drinking water. Baidoa, Somalia. Photo: UNICEF/Makundi

“No one should underestimate the many challenges ahead, and the serious issues that continue to retard and even threaten further progress,” said Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia.

“These include pervasive corruption, most obviously in politics, and powerbrokers’ willingness to use violence, or the threat of violence, against opponents,” he added. <p

Severe and growing humanitarian needs

At the same time, there is “severe and growing” humanitarian needs across the Horn of Africa nation.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), food security needs are nearly double the five-year average due to limited rain, increased displacement, lack of access to basic services, and continuing insecurity and conflict.

“The number of people in [humanitarian] emergency [phase] have increased tenfold from 83,000 in January to 866,000 people in November 2017,” OCHA said in a humanitarian bulletin.

“Humanitarian Emergency” is a state in which the acute malnutrition rate has surpassed the “emergency threshold” of 15 per cent. In Somalia, the rate stands at 17.4 per cent.

Across the country, some 6.2 million are in need of humanitarian and protection assistance and more than half that number require urgent life-saving assistance. This year witnessed the displacement of a further one million Somalis, taking the total across the country to more than two million.

Prospects of humanitarian recovery in 2018 ‘grim’

However, with forecasts for poor rains during the two main crop seasons and as well as a heightened risk of the La Niña weather phenomenon in early-mid 2018, the prospects for recovery next year look “grim,” said the UN relief wing.

Life-saving assistance will, therefore, remain an urgent priority, it said, noting the need to also address the underlying causes of recurring humanitarian crises.

“In line with the New Way of Working and building on efforts since 2012 to create household resilience, humanitarian and development partners are pursuing more sustainable mid- to longer-term investment in reducing risk and vulnerability,” said OCHA.

In the same vein, Mr. Keating, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), underscored the need the need for greater cooperation to overcome the obstacles.

“Lessons can be drawn from 2017, both good and bad. A central one may be that when the most powerful actors cooperate, whether the Federal Government, Federal Member States, parliamentarians, clan elders, business or the international community, great progress can be made,” he said.

“When they do not cooperate, the risks are enormous.”

Donors pledge over $344 million in response to Rohingya refugee crisis

The international donor community today announced pledges for more than US$344 million to urgently ramp up the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh.


Thousands of new Rohingya refugee arrivals cross the border near Anzuman Para village, Palong Khali, Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR/Roger Arnold

Funding was also pledged for the humanitarian response inside Myanmar where violence, insecurity and growing humanitarian needs have sent nearly 600,000 Rohingya from the northern Rakhine state into Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh since 25 August. This ongoing exodus is the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

“Humanitarian donors have today expressed their solidarity and compassion with the families and communities in need. These very generous pledges must now quickly translate into life-saving relief for the vulnerable refugees and support to host communities who have been stretched to the limit,” said Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

35 pledges were made at the conference in Geneva which was co-organised by the UN Migration Agency (IOM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and with Kuwait and the European Union as co-hosts.

“More than 800,000 stateless Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh aspire to a life that meets their immediate needs for food, medicine, water, and shelter. But beyond that, a life that has hope for the future where their identity is recognised, they are free from discrimination, and are able to return safely to their homes in Myanmar. As we come together in solidarity, I want to thank Bangladesh and its refugee hosting communities and the donors for supporting them,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

The Government of Bangladesh, local charities and volunteers, the UN and NGOs have been working around the clock in recent weeks to help the stateless refugees who depend on humanitarian assistance for food, water, shelter, health services and other essentials.

The UN and partners have launched a response plan for six months (Sept 2017 – Feb 2018) to meet the needs of a combined 1.2 million newly arrived and existing refugees and their Bangladeshi hosts. The appeal requests $434 million, and pledges made today will increase the funding level of this plan. A preliminary list of pledges announced today is available here

“Today’s pledges from the international community will help rebuild Rohingya refugees’ lives. Without these vital funds, humanitarians would not be able to continue providing protection and life-saving aid to one of the most vulnerable groups in the world. While we are thankful, I hope that the end of this conference does not mean the end of new funding commitments. We have not reached our target and each percentage point we are under means thousands without food, healthcare and shelter,” said William Lacy Swing, UN Migration Director General.

Conference participants stressed that the international community must help bring a peaceful solution to the plight of the Rohingya and ensure conditions that will allow for their eventual voluntary return in safety and dignity. The origins and the solutions to the crisis lie in Myanmar.

“The mere convening of this humanitarian conference is a message of hope sent to the Rohingya refugees and their host communities in the friendly Republic of Bangladesh, reaffirming that the international community stands by them and supports them in their humanitarian plight. The State of Kuwait is always willing to take any initiative that is likely to alleviate humanitarian crises that strike affected populations, and to support humanitarian programmes in line with all efforts exerted at an international scale to assist the Rohingya refugees,” said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait, His Excellency Mr. Khaled Al-Jarallah.

“Today, we stand united for the right cause,” said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides. “The cause of stateless people who have suffered for too long: the Rohingya. The Rohingya deserve nothing less than every other human being in the world. They deserve a future. We have a moral duty to give these people hope.”

Statement from the UN Migration Agency Director General William Lacy Swing on Pledging Conference for the Rohingya Refugee Crisis


Geneva – Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Good morning excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentleman.

Having just returned from Bangladesh this weekend, I have three very distinct impressions that I would like to share with you as urgent for our consideration.

First of all, the sheer speed, size and scope of the Rohingya refugee crisis that has occurred over the last nearly two months has resulted in a shocking humanitarian emergency that is, I believe, unparalleled in this region and in many parts of the world. You have heard the statistics and it is almost trite to repeat them, but we now have approaching  900,000 people being cared for by the Bangladesh Government, people and local communities at great cost to the country,  and being done in a very professional way. The situation therefore requires an unparalleled response on the part of all of us.


Soaked to the skin a Rohingya mother tries to protect her child with her drenched scarf, as it pelted down with rain yesterday (19/10). They were among the 6,900 Rohingya refugees who arrived in Cox’s Bazar from no man’s land. Photo: UN Migration Agency/Timothy Wolfer 2017

Second, as a consequence, Bangladesh Prime Minister, her Government, the people, and numerous local host communities, despite their laudable generosity, and UN agencies, ICRC, NGOs and other partners, despite a massive scaling up of our staff and resources,  we are now faced with the challenge of enormous proportions that requires an enormous response over the foreseeable future. To be quite frank, everything is a priority. If you had to look at the top priorities, however, it would probably be above all else shelter – building shelter for 900,000 people, 600,000 of whom have arrived in the last two months – protection, including proper registration, food security, basic health services and water and basic sanitation facilities.

Third point, we are grateful to all of you today for this very strong turnout, and I hope that we are here today to commit ourselves to stay the course in support of the incredibly resilient Rohingya  refugees. We must in parallel also, however, urge world leaders to engage a political process that will allow these Rohingya refugees to return home voluntarily and to do so in conditions of safety, security, dignity and social cohesion, and we should insist with Myanmar officials that these conditions are met.

Now, we all know that there are no durable humanitarian solutions to political crises and political problems. The Rohingya refugee situation clearly represents a humanitarian situation that currently cries out the loudest for our help but we also note that we are in fierce competition for resources that are very scarce, including resources for those, who are stretched from Africa to South-Asia in armed conflict. So, we need to give our attention specifically today to making sure that the Rohingya refugees are not somehow lost in this arc of suffering across this area of the world. We need to move quickly to ensure sustainable life-saving assistance to the refugee population in Bangladesh, to help the Government, the people and particularly the numerous host communities in Cox’s Bazar, whose resources are already under considerable strain. Simultaneously,  we must also urge international leaders to support the peaceful resolution of this decade long crisis in Myanmar and insist that the Myanmar authorities create conditions of safety, security and dignity in Rakhine state to one of the world’s most persecuted populations.

Now, we have a road map, the Advisory Commission on Rakhine state that was established by the Office of the State Council and the Kofi Anan Foundation. The recommendations have been accepted by all authorities, this is the way forward to peaceful co-existence in Rakhine state, and we need to insist that we start implementing these right away, step by step, starting with the first step, which is to allow humanitarians to resume their work in the northern part of Rakhine state.

So with that, I will stop here and look forward to our time together today.

Thank you very much.

UN Principals call for solidarity with Rohingya refugees

After violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine state on 25 August, more than 500,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh in less than five weeks. Tens of thousands of refugees have arrived since, fleeing discrimination, violence and persecution, as well as isolation and fear.


Thousands of new Rohingya refugee arrivals cross the border near Anzuman Para village, Palong Khali, Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR/Roger Arnold

The speed and scale of the influx made it the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis and a major humanitarian emergency. The Government of Bangladesh, local charities and volunteers, the UN and NGOs are working in overdrive to provide assistance. But much more is urgently needed. The efforts must be scaled up and expanded to receive and protect refugees and ensure they are provided with basic shelter and acceptable living conditions. Every day more vulnerable people arrive with very little — if anything – and settle either in overcrowded existing camps or extremely congested makeshift sites.

They are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance for food, water, health and other essential needs. Basic services are under severe strain. In some sites, there is no access to potable water, and sanitation facilities are absent, raising health risks for both the refugees and the communities hosting them.

Bangladesh has kept its borders open, offering safety and shelter to fleeing families. We have been moved by the welcome and generosity shown by the local communities towards the refugees. Now a critical Pledging Conference in Geneva on 23 October 2017 is being organized by OCHA, IOM and UNHCR and co-hosted by the European Union and Kuwait. It provides Governments from around the world an opportunity to show their solidarity and share the burden and responsibility. Their further generous support for the Joint Response Plan, which was recently launched by the UN and partners, is urgently needed to sustain and scale up the large humanitarian effort already under way. The plan requires US$434 million to meet the life-saving needs of all Rohingya refugees and their host communities – together an estimated 1.2 million people – for the difficult months to come.

We call on the international community to intensify efforts to bring a peaceful solution to the plight of the Rohingya, to end the desperate exodus, to support host communities and ensure the conditions that will allow for refugees’ eventual voluntary return in safety and dignity. The origins and, thus, the solutions to this crisis lie in Myanmar.

Let us all come together on 23 October at the pledging conference and send a strong message to the Rohingya refugees and their generous hosts in Bangladesh that the world is there for them in their greatest time of need.