Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – October 1

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Cover Image: JOAQUIN SARMIENTO AFP/File

Latest News for September 24 – October 1, 2021

Afghanistan

Drought, pandemic and economic freefall: Afghanistan’s looming humanitarian crisis. More than half of Afghanistan’s population, 18 million people, require humanitarian assistance. The food crisis has been worsened by the effects of climate change with droughts and increasing temperatures, with one in three people in the country going hungry. Meanwhile, the pandemic continues with a critical shortage of medical supplies, high contagion rates and only 5% of the population vaccinated. As banking systems collapse the World Bank warns that “seven out of ten Afghans will soon be living below the poverty line.” (ReliefًWeb)


Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

Myanmar’s currency has lost more than 60% of its value in the last month. The World Bank has predicted that Myanmar will “see the biggest contraction in employment in the region and the number of poor would rise.” This economic fallout comes alongside a second wave of coronavirus and an upsurge in clashes between the armed militias and Myanmar army. Around three million people in Myanmar now require humanitarian assistance. (Reuters)


Colombia/ Venezuela 

Tens of thousands of migrants have been stranded on the border of Colombia and Panama on their journey to reach the United States. 19,000 migrants, primarily Haitians, await their turn to get a boat with only 250 tickets available each day. After crossing, people continue on a very dangerous path which passes through jungles, rivers and criminal gangs known to prey on people in transit. (France 24)

More than 75% of Venezuelans are now living in extreme poverty. The 10% rise from last year is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and chronic fuel shortages, limiting people’s access to employment. The hyperinflation causing this context has been going on for seven years. (Reuters)


Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

Gaza will begin to repair the thousands of homes destroyed and damaged by air strikes in May. The 11 day conflict in May left around 2,200 homes destroyed and 37,000 damaged. Israel limits Palestinian’s access to construction materials by blocking their entry into the territory, but has agreed to allow in $20 million in aid from Qatar this month based on an agreement between the United Nations and Qatar. It will take $479 million to rebuild all the damaged infrastructure and homes. (Reuters)


Haiti  

At least 2,853 Haitians deported from Texas, some returning for the first time in years or decades, join the thousands displaced by violence. Port-au-Prince is a “archipelago of gang-controlled islands” with most of the population having no access to basic public services, drinking water, electricity or garbage collection. More than 18,000 people have been displaced since the May uptick in gang violence. (NBC News)


India  

Lowest daily COVID cases since March reported in India. India’s COVID situation has improved throughout the past few months despite the limited vaccination program. Only 23% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, and 66% have been given at least one dose. (Al Jazeera)

Hundreds of people from Myanmar seek refuge in an Indian border village. This month, heavy fighting wiped out an entire town on the Indian-Myanmar border. Since the violence began in mid-September, 20 to 25 people have crossed the border daily. Due to the lack of framework for asylum in India, many may be deported back to Myanmar. (DW)


Lebanon  

Fuel and medication shortages continue in Lebanon as economic crisis worsens. Lack of basic medicine and supplies, 8-9 hour fuel queues for petrol stations and hospitals turning off lights and air conditioning to save fuel for operating rooms and patient wards, and unaffordable food staples; These are some of the conditions which Lebanese face daily. The economic crisis in Lebanon is the world’s worst economic crisis in 150 years and millions are facing poverty. (Al Jazeera)

Mental health challenges in Lebanon, NGOs report a “suicide surge.” With 74% of the population affected by poverty and 82% affected by “multidimensional poverty,” Lebanese are facing micro stressors (fuel, power cuts) and the effects of traumatic events such as the 2020 Beirut explosion. The surge in suicide rates are connected to these conditions. (TRT World)


Pakistan

100 families on a hillside near the Afghan border are unable to return home after fleeing seven years ago due to conflict. Clashes between the Pakistani army and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2014 left many families internally displaced, and this violence has been revived in the last month as the Taliban’s power grew in Afghanistan. This community has been stuck in a limbo, living in caves, and unable to return home or receive aid due to their lack of recognition as internally displaced people. (The Guardian)


Sudan

300,000 people affected by extreme flooding and heavy rain in Sudan. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says flooding has destroyed 15,000 houses and damaged 45,000. Aid has only been able to reach 183,000 people and OCHA warns that relief stocks are diminishing. Fear has been raised that these floods will affect a pipeline break, leaving even more people without access to critical needs in a flood emergency, such as water, sanitation and hygiene support, and health services. (The Weather Channel)


Syria

The UN releases its first report on the Syrian conflict since 2014, with a new death toll of at least 350,000. Due to the large number of missing persons and the strict methodology used, the UN has stated that rather than reflecting the reality it ‘indicates a minimum verifiable number, and is certainly an under-count of the actual number of killings.’ The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights notes that this violence continues, with shelling around Daraa just last month. (Al Jazeera)

COVID-19 delta variant cases are surging in Syria and hospitals are struggling to cope. Hospitals are completely overwhelmed as they report the biggest spike in cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Vaccination campaigns have been slow, leaving many vulnerable to the virus. (Reuters)


Yemen

Children in Yemen endure endless suffering due to the ongoing conflict. The new UN report shows that more than 3,500 children have suffered due to denial of humanitarian access, killing and maiming, and recruitment and use of children. Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said that this suffering would leave Yemeni children “scarred for life.” (United Nations)

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen: starvation, conflict, and COVID. David Gressley, the UN coordinator in Yemen, describes the humanitarian situation. Access to freshwater is difficult across front lines, towns are uninhabitable due to land mines, and people face difficulties to carry out daily tasks. He calls for more political will and humanitarian assistance. (NPR)

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