Yemen escalation, COVID in the Pacific, and community asylum in the UK: The Cheat Sheet
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AFGHANISTAN: Aid groups are asking for nearly $5 billion in emergency funding for Afghanistan this year, but sanctions and other economic measures imposed after the Taliban takeover make it “impossible” to transfer or receive money on a large scale, the Norwegian Refugee Council warns in a new report.
BAHAMAS/UNITED STATES: Thirty-nine people have likely died after a boat carrying would-be migrants from the Caribbean island nation of the Bahamas capsized off the coast of Florida on 22 January. The wreck is drawing attention to an increase in the number of people – especially Haitians and Cubans – attempting to reach the US by sea driven by economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, rising political instability, displacement caused by hurricanes, and hardline policies at the US southern border.
GREECE: Around 6,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in camps in Greece do not have access to food aid after the Greek government decided to stop providing cash assistance to people who have been recognised as refugees or had their protection claims rejected, according to a number of NGOs. The move is part of a broader approach aimed at deterring asylum seekers and migrants from attempting to reach Greece, the aid groups said.
HAITI: Still reeling from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed 2,200 people in August, Haiti’s southern peninsula was struck again by a 5.3-magnitude earthquake on 24 January. At least two people were killed, dozens were injured, and more than 800 homes and buildings were either damaged or destroyed. The Caribbean country is grappling with numerous overlapping humanitarian crises – problems compounded by escalating gang violence that has hampered aid delivery. Some 4.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
THE PHILIPPINES: More than 1.5 million homes were damaged or destroyed during December’s Typhoon Rai, known as Odette in the Philippines, according to updated assessments. The toll exceeds that of 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan – one of the strongest storms ever recorded. Affected areas face a long recovery, with livelihoods disrupted and some $261 million in damages to the agriculture sector. Reproductive health and gender-based violence are still “under-assessed”.
RUSSIA/UKRAINE: US President Joe Biden has warned of the “distinct possibility” of a Russian invasion into Ukraine in February, as diplomatic efforts to avert a new conflagration amid a massive Russian troop build-up flounder. And it’s not just Ukrainians that need be concerned. Food experts warn that disruption to Ukraine’s vital cereal exports could affect millions in countries like Lebanon, Libya, and Yemen.
SOUTH SUDAN: At least 32 people were killed in eastern Jonglei state on 23 January after armed Murle youth carried out attacks on the Dinka Bor community. Recent violence in the state has been framed as inter-communal but is often closely connected to national political dynamics.
SYRIA: Kurdish-led forces say they have taken back control of a prison that held an estimated 3,500 alleged members of the so-called Islamic State in northeastern Syria, after a car bomb that may have been intended to free them, an attempted jailbreak, and days of fighting, including airstrikes and ground support from US troops. UNICEF said some 850 children, some as young as 12, were inside the Hassakeh prison during the clashes. Local authorities have severely limited aid access, and around 45,000 people were forced to flee the violence.
SYRIA: After last week’s deadly weather, which destroyed hundreds of tents and damaged thousands more, another round of snow and freezing temperatures has created dangerous conditions in northern Syria’s displacement camps, as well as in places like neighbouring Lebanon, where many refugees live in flimsy shelters.
WHO: WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was approved as the nominee for another term at this week’s annual Executive Board meeting in Geneva. Tedros called for a more sustainable funding model for the persistently underfunded organisation – which primarily relies on assessed fees of member states based on their income and population size. Voluntary contributions from private institutions or governments top that up, but are earmarked for certain projects, limiting its flexibility. The WHO faced a significant drop in US funding under the Trump administration. It’s still unclear if that will be reversed under Biden.
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