UN Secretary General ramps up Haiti cholera response rhetoric | 

UN Sec Gen Ban visits with people in Los Palmas, Haiti.
UN Sec Gen Ban visits with people in Los Palmas, Haiti.
UN/Paulo Filguerias

In what has become an all too familiar dance, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti to draw attention to the ongoing cholera outbreak. He again threw his verbal support behind the $2.2 billion plan to eliminate cholera from the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in 10 years. He stressed the need for global support to address the challenges of clean water and sanitation in Haiti in order to put to a halt an epidemic that has infected more than 700,000 people and killed 8,500 since October 2010.

“I know that the epidemic has caused much anger and fear. I know that the disease continues to affect an unacceptable number of people,” said Ban while speaking at a church service in the village of Los Palmas, last week. “Whatever I say today will not lessen the despair you have felt over the loss of your loved ones.”

What he did not say was that the outbreak is the UN’s fault. He did not say that it was UN peacekeepers from Nepal who accidentally brought cholera into Haiti and spread it because the UN mission was not properly disposing of its fecal waste. He did not apologize on behalf of the UN for the error that cost thousands of lives.

Continue reading

News in the Humanosphere: Boko Haram Nabs a High Profile Hostage in Cameroon | 

A COCIN church newsletter on the ground outside the church gates after the bomb blast, Feb 2012. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombing.
A COCIN church newsletter on the ground outside the church gates after the bomb blast, Feb 2012. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Carmen McCain

The Cameroonian military says members of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram have abducted the wife of the country’s deputy prime minister in the northern Cameroonian town of Kolofata. A local religious leader and mayor was also abducted from the same town. (BBC)

A group of developing countries brought a tectonic shift at the World Trade Organization by turning the tables against the industrialized countries, when they offered a positive trade agenda to expeditiously arrive at a permanent solution for food security and other development issues, before adopting the protocol of amendment of the contested Trade Facilitation Agreement. (IPS)

The exceedingly high cost for the new hepatitis C wonder drug, sofosbuvir, has sparked protests. (VOA)

Africa

The United Nations has reported alarming rates of malnutrition in the Somali capital where aid agencies cannot meet the needs of 350,000 people due to insufficient funds, drought and conflict. (Reuters)

A 33-year-old American doctor working for a relief organisation in Liberia’s capital has tested positive for Ebola, according to a statement from Samaritan’s Purse. (Reuters)

Continue reading

Lose weight, fight hunger on the 850-calorie African refugee diet | 

Muslim refugees rest inside the Catholic church in Carnot, Central African Republic. Nine hundred Muslims forced from their homes in sectarian violence are sheltering at the Catholic church.
Muslim refugees rest inside the Catholic church in Carnot, Central African Republic. Nine hundred Muslims forced from their homes in sectarian violence are sheltering at the Catholic church.
AP Photo/Jerome Delay

It’s an outrage that anyone today should ever go hungry, but the outrage persists.

That’s why I have chosen, along with my better half, to join the 850 Calories campaign and eat less than half of what the human body needs per day for five days. I’m sometimes a skeptic of the value of ‘awareness raising’ projects, but something about this one seems to work for me.

You may have noted recent news reports that thousands of refugees in Africa have already seen their rations cut in half to a mere 850 calories a day.

People who have already experienced hardship because of the very fact that they had to flee their homes now must find a way to get by on less than half of the amount of calories recommended for the average person. To put that into perspective, that is about as many calories as a chicken burrito with rice and beans from Chipotle (815 calories).

A $186 million shortfall in funding led the UN’s World Food Programme to announce cuts in food rations for 800,000 refugees in Africa. Media reports, including one I wrote, shared the announcement and then moved on. More than three weeks have passed since the announcement as hundreds of thousands of people struggle to get enough food to eat each day.

The lack of attention on the issue has given rise to a new campaign, 850 Calories. It is pretty straight forward. The world should not stand by while refugees are reduced to eating less than what they need to get by.

“The UN can announce that hundreds of thousands of them will go hungry within their own camps, and it barely makes the news. It’s as though we’ve lost any capacity for empathy with Africa’s refugees,” say organizers of the campaign.

Continue reading

News in the Humanosphere: Israeli artillery strikes shelter, killing at least 15 | 

A boy looks through a schoolbook as he sits in the rubble of a home destroyed during an Israeli air strike on the city of Khan Yunis.
A boy looks through a schoolbook as he sits in the rubble of a home destroyed during an Israeli air strike on the city of Khan Yunis.
UNICEF

At least 15 people were killed when artillery struck a UN school functioning as a shelter for displaced Gazans. The death toll also includes an untold number of UN workers. Meanwhile, John Kerry drafted a ceasefire proposal while in Cairo. He leaves the region, but the negotiations go on. (AFP)

New Human Development Report is Out..Norway is first and Niger is last. Some 2.2 people are in or on the brink of poverty, says UNDP. Global investments are needed now to ensure that fewer people are below the poverty line. (Humanosphere)

Valerie Amos Wants Relief Funding Reform…The supply has not kept up with the demand. “The U.N.’s top humanitarian official called Thursday for major changes in the delivery of relief, as funding falls short because of a growing number of conflicts and disasters…In an interview in Tokyo, she offered several ideas for improving aid delivery and addressed the crisis in Gaza.

Ebola Makes its Way to Nigeria…A Liberian man in his 40s is being tested for the deadly Ebola virus in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, a megacity of 21 million people. If confirmed, this would be the first time Ebola is found in Nigeria.

International AIDS Conference

The US ambassador to Australia said it should not be a crime to be a member of the LGBT community. Ambassador John Berry told the 20th international AIDS Conference that the fight against the disease cannot be won by relegating segments of the population to the shadows. (VOA)

Africa

An Air Algerie flight that went missing en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed, said an Algerian aviation official. (Reuters)

Continue reading

Visualizing progress against HIV, TB and malaria | 

A newly-diagnosed HIV positive woman, who arrived at the hospital with symptoms of tuberculosis (TB), lies in the treatment ward of the Mildmay Uganda clinic, which receives funding from the US government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Kampala, Uganda.
A newly-diagnosed HIV positive woman, who arrived at the hospital with symptoms of tuberculosis (TB), lies in the treatment ward of the Mildmay Uganda clinic, which receives funding from the US government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Kampala, Uganda.
AP

First, the good news: Death rates for people with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria all have decreased globally since the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were established in 2000, according to a report published Monday as part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD).

Also, in regions such as Latin America and Eastern Europe, researchers found that the HIV epidemic was smaller than previously thought. The study found that interventions such as antiretroviral therapy (ART) and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV saved 19.1 million years of life. That represents all the years that all the people who might have contracted and died from HIV/AIDS were able to live instead. The vast majority of these years of life were in developing countries.

The bad news? HIV infections in 101 countries continue to rise — more than half of the countries in the study — and not all ART programs are saving as many lives as they could. Researchers found that the quality of treatment varied widely across programs.

Continue reading

Global action needed for 2.2 billion ‘poor or near-poor’, says UN | 

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the HDR 2014 launch event in Tokyo.
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the HDR 2014 launch event in Tokyo.
UNDP

Some 1.5 billion people in 91 countries are living in poverty right now. An additional 800 million are on the brink of poverty. The global community needs to get in order and work together so that fewer people are living in poverty, says the United Nations Development Programme.

The UN agency released its annual Human Development Report today. It takes stock of the progress of development in every country in the world each year. The accompanying Human Development Index that is a part of the report acts as a sort of scorecard for countries.

This year’s report that steady progress against poverty has come under threat. Natural and man-made disasters have led to significant set-backs over the past few years. Last year saw the Central African Republic and South Sudan descend into a violent political crisis. Meanwhile, the Philippines was slammed by a typhoon, taking thousands of lives and causing billions of dollars in damage and economic loss. Income inequality and changing food prices are also held to blame for some of the more recent challenges.

“If people remain at risk of slipping back into poverty because of structural factors and persistent vulnerabilities, development progress will remain precarious,” says Helen Clark, Administrator for UNDP, in the report introduction. “The eradication of poverty is not about ‘getting to zero’ – it is about staying there.”

Continue reading

News in the Humanosphere: #BringBackOurGirls, 100 Days On | 

14187199794_809638be1c_z
Stephen Melkisethian

And the more than 200 missing girls are still no-where in sight. “The only information comes from Boko Haram’s leader, who said in a video they are being held captive as “slaves” and will not be returned unless the government swaps imprisoned militants for girls. “The sadder thing is the conversation between the citizens and our government leaves a lot to be desired. Leaves a lot to be desired,” says Obi Ezekwelizi, one of the leaders of Bring Back Our Girls. Activists say they plan to continue near daily “sit-outs” in Abuja until the girls are rescued. But the group and the kidnapped girls are also now in the center of Nigerian politics, with the government accusing Bring Back Our Girls of being agents of the opposition.” (VOA)

UN Human Rights Council Authorizes Gaza Probe…“Twenty-nine countries voted for an investigation to be carried out by the body, notably including China, India, and several South American countries. There were 17 Abstentions, mostly from EU member countries. There was a single, definitive vote against an investigation: the United States. The EU abstentions speak to the political influence of their relationship with the United States. The votes for investigation by South American countries is no surprise either, given their poor trade and diplomatic relations with Israel. The blatant vote against investigation by the U.S. was expected, but interesting nonetheless given the fact that the vote is just for an investigation, not an automatic accusation. “ (UN Dispatch)

HIV/AIDS

The vast majority of AIDS patients are of working age, according to statistics from UNAIDS. And so, as the working population changes, AIDS activists say the workplace also needs to adapt. (VOA)

Africa

Gambia has taken steps to improve its poor human-rights record after the European Union suspended 150 million euros in development aid this year, activists said, urging tougher action by the international community. (TRF)

Continue reading