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Updated: 4 hours 10 min ago

Lebanon registers 1 million Syrian refugees

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 06:35
The U.N. refugee agency says the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has exceeded 1 million, calling it a "devastating milestone" for the tiny Arab country with depleted resources and an explosive sectarian mix of its own. Three years after Syria's conflict started, Lebanon has become the country with the highest per-capita concentration of refugees worldwide, struggling to cope with a massive crisis that has become an unprecedented challenge for aid agencies.

WFP, UNHCR expect millions to be hungry if crisis continues

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 06:34
The heads of the World Food Program and the UN Refugee Agency say millions of people will face hunger in the coming months if the situation in South Sudan doesn’t improve. The Executive Director of W-F-P, Ertharin Cousin, and the UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, paid a two-day visit to the country. They met conflict-affected people and reviewed the on-going response and humanitarian needs. Addressing a press conference in Juba, Madam Cousin appealed to the international community to support the UN agencies to help the people affected by the conflict.

South Sudan Urgently Needs Help to Stave Off Famine, U.N. Warns

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 06:31
South Sudan needs $230 million in international aid in the next 60 days or it will face the worst starvation in Africa since the 1980s, when hundreds of thousands of people died in Ethiopia’s famine, the United Nations official coordinating humanitarian aid in South Sudan warned on Thursday. In a statement released during a visit to western Ethiopia, where close to 90,000 South Sudanese have fled, Ertharin Cousin, head of the World Food Program, said, “This is a political crisis that is now evolving into a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Worsened security leads to further displacement in Central African Republic

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 07:47
The deteriorating security in the Central African Republic (CAR), especially in its capital city, Bangui, has triggered further displacement within the country and beyond its borders, a UN spokesman told reporters here Tuesday. "The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed its concern today about the deterioration of the security situation in Bangui since the High Commissioner's recent visit, with at least 60 people killed since March 22," said Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq at the daily briefing.

Today’s Central African Republic: It Really Doesn’t Get Much Worse Than This

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 07:46
The Central African Republic (CAR) – torn apart since December by widespread conflict and killings of civilians by armed groups – is unravelling. The consequences are already catastrophic for many people. Almost the entire population is in desperate need of food. As the World Food Programme’s chief economist, I went to Bangui to analyse how the overall economy is affected, particularly the food sector, and where we are in terms of the humanitarian response. I was shocked by what I saw and how deep the crisis extends. It really doesn’t get much worse than this.

Greater Tragedy Looms Over South Sudan, Aid Officials Warn

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 07:45
- Insecurity in South Sudan along with obstructions to aid delivery and a huge funding shortfall will result in a massive tragedy in the coming months in the young country, where millions face hunger as the conflict drags on, U.N. officials warned Tuesday. “Ordinary people are bearing the brunt of this conflict and agencies like ours are facing far too many obstacles in trying to assist them," said World Food Program (WFP) chief Ertharin Cousin at the end of a two-day visit to South Sudan with the head of the U.N. refugee agency, Antonio Guterres. The two agency chiefs discussed the crisis with President Salva Kiir and other government officials and were given the president's commitment that South Sudan will support the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country.

UNHCR, WFP chiefs due in Ethiopia

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 07:00
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) chief Antonio Guterres and World Food Program (WFP) chief Ertharin Cousin are both slated to visit Ethiopia on Tuesday to assess the situation of South Sudanese refugees there, a spokesman for the UNHCR's Ethiopia office said Monday. According to spokesman Kisut Gebregziabher, the two officials have already arrived in South Sudanese capital Juba, from where they are expected to travel to Ethiopia.

Climate impacts 'overwhelming' - UN

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 08:40
The impacts of global warming are likely to be "severe, pervasive and irreversible", a major report by the UN has warned. Scientists and officials meeting in Japan say the document is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world. Members of the UN's climate panel say it provides overwhelming evidence of the scale of these effects. Our health, homes, food and safety are all likely to be threatened by rising temperatures, the summary says.

Q&A: the World Food Programme on inclusive business - video

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 08:39
In this video, Jay Aldous, director of private sector partnerships at the World Food Programme speaks about the importance of building a case for why inclusive business is not only good for development, but also makes business sense.

Hatred festers as Muslims and Christians suffer in Central African Republic

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 08:35
Now Boda is the Central African Republic’s miniature Sarajevo, a once-wealthy town of diamond, gold and coffee traders, irrevocably marred by ethnic cleansing. Under the watchful eye of French peacekeepers, the Christians are trying to starve out the Muslims. Lorries carrying supplies from the Muslims of Bangui, who are also besieged, sometimes sneak through the anti-balaka checkpoints by tagging along behind convoys of French or African peacekeepers. An eagerly awaited shipment from the World Food Programme is expected today. But it’s not enough. Many of Boda’s Muslim children suffer from malnutrition.

$40 million needed each week to help Syrians

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 08:34
The delivery of humanitarian assistance, particularly to women, in crisis situations requires more innovative and cost effective tools and strategies, a UN official has said. Commenting on the Syrian humanitarian crises, Muhannad Hadi, WFP regional emergency coordinator for Syria and neighbouring countries, said: “The WFP moves around 40,000 metric tonnes of food each month to feed close to four million people across Syria. This is one of the WFP’s largest and most complex operations worldwide. We are grateful for the generous contributions that have enabled us to save lives. The WFP requires $40 million each week to assist affected people in Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries.”

Here’s What UNICEF and WFP’s New Relief Operation in South Sudan Looks Like

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 08:32
This is an airdrop of food. The airdrop is part of a new humanitarian operation by UNICEF and the World Food Program that launched today in South Sudan. The operation aims to reach some of 250,000 people over the next month.

South Sudan war displaced in 'acute' need: UN

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 08:31
War-torn South Sudan is in a "spiralling humanitarian crisis", the UN warned Monday, as top aid chiefs visited the young nation, where more than a million people have fled months of conflict. "People are in acute need," UN World Food Programme (WFP) boss Ertharin Cousin said as she arrived for a two-day assessment. "Large-scale population displacement and disruption of markets and trade routes are creating a food security crisis," she said in a statement. WFP says it needs $224 million in South Sudan over the next six months, while UNHCR has called for more than $370 million to help refugees in neighbouring countries.

Meet Ertharin Cousin: the woman who feeds the world

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 08:30
Ertharin Cousin often wakes up at night, haunted by things she’s seen. It’s part of her job, as the executive director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), to travel to some of the poorest countries in the world, and one particular experience has stuck with her: seeing two children in Somalia, the age of her own grandchildren, who were so malnourished they couldn’t move. Born and raised in the Chicago ghetto, she now runs the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, with a $4.5 billion (£2.7 billion) annual budget (entirely from voluntary donations) and a staff of 13,000. Last year the WFP fed more than 97 million people. No wonder Forbes magazine named her one of the 50 most powerful women in 2013.

WFP Chief Calls for Humanitarian Intervention in CAR

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 09:16
The executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urges the international community to address the disaster in the Central African Republic (CAR) where hundreds of thousands have fled violence and instability to neighboring Cameroon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “It is a crisis situation,” says Ertharin Cousin of WFP, who recently returned from tours of the CAR and Cameroon. The WFP executive director says the influx of refugees is creating a regional crisis because of food shortages and lack of resources.

In Central African Republic, a ‘very desperate situation’ in makeshift camps

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 09:15
The U.N. World Food Program, which operates in war-torn nations such as Syria, can’t distribute food within the camp because it’s too dangerous, said Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Program. She recently returned from a week-long visit to the Central African Republic and could see the camp from her airplane window. Some of the people who live there, including armed fighters involved in the country’s conflict, get violent when food, water or anything marketable arrives, Cousin explained, so it’s too risky for the residents and the aid workers. “When we go into those kinds of areas, we make ourselves prey for those who are participating in the conflict.

Pontiff and President Seek Common Cause Amid Prickly Issues

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 08:53
They are an unlikely pair with seemingly much in common: an Argentine pope and an American president who each burst onto the global scene as a history-making change agent, each promising to promote a new post-partisan ethos, each having made the cover of Rolling Stone. But when President Obama and Pope Francis meet on Thursday, the question is whether the common arcs of their political biographies also amount to true political common ground. Having spent the first leg of his European tour consumed by the Ukraine crisis, Mr. Obama arrives at the Vatican hoping to change the subject to income inequality and America’s struggling middle class, a topic in which his aides see similarities to the antipoverty economic themes embraced by the pope in his first year.

Nigeria braced for potential food crisis as forecasters predict short rainy season

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 08:49
Nigeria is facing a possible food supply crisis this farming season, according to traders, as the agricultural sector grapples with a predicted shorter rainy season, sectarian violence and greater demand from Niger. Food experts have raised the alarm after the country's meteorological agency said this year's rainy season could be shorter than usual, compounding a likely fall in production due to insecurity. Nigeria's agricultural sector is heavily dependent on the rains, with the bulk of its produce cultivated in the north and central region.

Women: Victims of conflict or agents of change?

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 08:47
Women are the biggest victims in natural disasters and conflicts, yet they are also the most resourceful. Thus, aid agencies should do more to develop women as agents for change and development. This is the takeaway message from this year’s Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition (DIHAD), where hundreds of delegates from UN agencies, NGOs, donor agencies, regional organizations and Red Cross and Red Crescent societies gathered on 25-27 March to discuss women and aid. “It is women who most often bear the crippling consequences [of crises] - be they physical, psychological, social or economic,” Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), told delegates.

Humanitarian crisis looms as refugees from South Sudan pour into Ethiopia

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 08:29
Refugees from South Sudan are also escaping south to Uganda and Kenya and north to Sudan, but with the onset of the rainy season, options will be limited and many more civilians will be driven towards Ethiopia. Transporting food and other supplies to the refugees will become more difficult and expensive as the few existing roads, many of them little more than dirt tracks, become impassable. Then there are the additional threats around sanitation and health – malaria, diarrhoea and cholera included.