Weekly Humanitarian News Digest – October 8

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Cover Image: World Vision/Guy Vital-Herne

Latest News for October 1 – October 8, 2021

Afghanistan

Afghanistan risks losing 78% of its electrical power. The state power company of Afghanistan made appeals to the UN to help settle unpaid bills before electricity gets shut off. Unpaid bills stand at $62 million, and will jump to $85 million in a week. Domestic power sources only meet 22% of the country’s needs, and only 38% of people in Afghanistan currently have access to electricity. (Al Jazeera)

New investigation by Amnesty International reveals the unlawful killing of 13 ethnic Hazaras. Eleven of the victims were members of the Afghan National Defense Security Forces and had surrendered. The other two victims were civilians, including a 17-year-old girl. The Taliban-appointed chief of police in the Daykundi province has denied the killings. (Amnesty International)


Bangladesh/ Myanmar 

Rohingya refugee activists face threats and violence in Cox’s Bazar camps. On September 29, Rohingya refugee leader, Mohib Ullah, was killed. In the months leading up to his death, Ullah expressed concern about the growing threats to his life. Activists are demanding more protection from local authorities. (Human Rights Watch)

Myanmar is facing an economic collapse alongside the COVID-19 pandemic and human rights catastrophe. Access to essential foods, medicine, wifi, and fuel has been limited due to the depreciation of Myanmar’s currency and escalation in conflict. At least 206,000 people have been internally displaced between February and September 2021. (World Vision)


Colombia/ Venezuela 

Millions of Venezuelan refugees are fleeing south. Since 2014, more than 5 million Venezuelans have fled hunger, crime, violence, and the collapse of public services. Within the past year, the number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Bolivia has doubled to 10,000 people, while Peru is home to 1.1 million Venezuelans, and Chile hosts about 480,000. Countries in the global south now host 86% of the world’s displaced people. (National Geographic) 

95,000 have crossed one of the most dangerous immigration routes in South America in the last nine months. The willingness to cross the treacherous land bridge connecting Colombia and Panama may indicate a historic displacement of people in the Americas towards the United States. (NY Times)


Gaza/ Palestinian Territories

UNRWA, the UN agency helping Palestinian refugees, faces an “existential” buget crisis. The agency is appealing for urgent funding of $120 million to keep education, health, and social services running this year. However, $800 million is needed annually to keep the organization afloat. UNRWA currently provides for 550,000 Palestinian children in school, supports health care for thousands, and pays the salaries of 28,000 staff members. (The National News)


Haiti  

Asylum applications may jump 70% this year in Mexico where Haiti is the second-most common country of origin. Thousands were pushed back to Mexico from the U.S. to avoid being deported back to Haiti. Due to the increased demand, asylum applications are taking twice the time they should take to process. Many don’t qualify for asylum or are not interested in being refugees, but have no other option than to apply. (Reuters)

Haiti faces insecurity amid stalled elections, increased kidnappings, and damaged infrastructure. About 70% of schools are still damaged or destroyed in the Southwest since the 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the country. This leaves more than 230,000 children at risk of dropping out. (UN News)


India  

One in seven of 15 to 24-year-olds in India report feeling depressed. The report by UNICEF demonstrates that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on children’s mental health. India is also one of only 21 countries where the majority of young people felt they should not reach out to others when experiencing mental health issues. South Asia has the highest number of adolescents with mental health issues. (UNICEF)

India may soon be facing electricity shortages due to coal stocks running low. More than half of the country’s coal-fired power plants are running on fumes as coal stocks run critically low. This is a major concern, as 70% of India’s electricity is generated by coal and global coal prices have increased by 40%. India is already facing one of the worst recessions among the world’s major economies. (BBC)


Lebanon  

Passport applications are peaking at 8,000 a day in Lebanon in what is being called a “third exodus.” The General Security Directorate has been overwhelmed with passport applications and is only able to process 3,500 per day. Lebanon’s dire economic crisis has forced many into poverty and led many families, doctors, and workers to leave the country. (Reuters)


Pakistan

Pakistan and India are among the 17 countries where water scarcity is “extremely high.” Both countries also faced massive flooding in 2020-21 due to unexpected rainfall, however there is no capacity to store water from the rainfall for later use. Nearly 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries. (Dawn)


Sudan

Members of Ethiopia’s Qemant minority ethnic group flee to the UN-run refugee camp in Sudan. About 2,000 people have fled to the camp since late July, with 261 arriving within a four-day period in September. Reports of raids by Ethiopian soldiers, killing of civilians, and destruction of homes have forced people to flee to Sudan. (Al Jazeera)

Sudanese government warns of looming medicine and food shortages. Protests against the deteriorating political and economic conditions have blocked ports in east Sudan. This closure is likely to create a shortage of fuel and wheat as the crisis in eastern Sudan has escalated in the last three weeks. (The East African)


Syria

Nine out of ten Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in extreme poverty. The inflation rate, Beirut blast, and COVID-19 lockdowns have all contributed to this increase. Child labour and marriage is on the rise, with one out of five girls age 15 to 19 married. Primary school attendance for Syrian children has dropped by 25% in 2021. Aid workers warn of increased risk with evictions in winter as rent prices increase. (TRT World)

Crop production in northeast Syria suffers due to low rainfall. In Hasakah, crop production dropped by more than 95%. The low rainfall has also depleted water levels, which affects electricity production and drinking water. Currently, 12.4 million people in Syria are food insecure and a further increase is expected. (France 24)


Yemen

Two children killed and 33 civilians injured in a missile strike in Marib. The state news agency reported a four-year-old girl and her two-year-old brother were killed when a missile hit their home. In total, 33 people were injured in the attack. This comes as the latest tragedy in a long conflict that has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, causing what the UN describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. (Reuters)

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