A commentary from 10 leading academics and humanitarian professionals
Six years after a famine killed a quarter of a million people in Somalia, the country is threatened with another. Famines only occur if political decision-makers allow them to; it is imperative that the right decisions are made now. But have we learnt enough from the mistakes of 2011?
27 March 2017
Donors and UN agencies who agreed to provide at least one quarter of humanitarian aid funding "as directly as possible" to local NGOs are struggling to deliver on their pledge.
Nearly one year after the commitment made at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016, signatories of the so-called Grand Bargain, a package of reforms to emergency aid delivery and financing, have yet to agree on three key points: the definition of “local”, what should be counted in the 25 percent, and how direct is “directly”.
Samuel Oakford, Freelance journalist based in New York, and regular IRIN contributor
A look at the options, mission by mission
BANGUI, 23 March 2017
Freelance journalist and IRIN contributor
The first time the Séléka rebels captured Danielle* she was visiting the shallow grave where her husband, father, and brothers were all buried. Danielle had witnessed the rebels kill the men outside her home just a few hours earlier. When she returned to show her mother what had happened, the fighters – still lingering outside – turned on her.
Ten months on from the signature of a landmark agreement to reform emergency aid, critics worry that the process of translating 51 separate commitments into action is creating new layers of bureaucracy – the very thing the initiative was supposed to reduce.
Sara Elizabeth Williams
Last February, Jordan and the international community agreed on a radically new approach to the Syrian refugee crisis. Instead of viewing refugees as a burden that could only be alleviated by humanitarian aid, the new agreement described them as “a development opportunity” that, with sufficient levels of investment and structural reforms, could benefit Jordan’s entire economy.
The declaration of famine in two counties of South Sudan last month led to immediate pledges of aid. Grave editorials called on Western governments to prioritise relief efforts to the needy, despite the shortcomings of the government and the ongoing civil war.
By Obi Anyadike, Editor-at-Large and Africa Editor
Farmers, traders and consumers across East and Southern Africa are feeling the impact of consecutive seasons of drought that have scorched harvests and ruined livelihoods.
By James Jeffrey, Freelance journalist based in Addis Ababa and regular contributor to IRIN
Under the early morning sun in the most northern region of Ethiopia a motley group of Eritrean men, women and children arrive dusty and tired at the end of a journey – and at the start of another.
It’s flying under the radar, but the Libyan capital is shuddering through its worst violence since fighting first broke out mid-2014, while oil wars rage out east amidst signs of increased Russian involvement. What does this battle for economic and political power mean for Libya’s civilians?
As a galaxy of militias battle for control of central Tripoli, residents cower from tank and artillery fire. For the city’s population of 1.5 million, the clashes come after two years of growing violence and deprivation as basic services fall apart.
Refugees in Greece finally swap canvas for bricks and mortar
John Psaropoulos Freelance journalist based in Athens, and regular IRIN contributor
By the time Ilida Alali was 16, she had been a prisoner in her own home for four years. Both government and rebel ordnance fell without warning on the hotly contested Karm al-Myassar neighbourhood near Aleppo’s airport where she and her family lived. In any case, she had nowhere to go. Opposition groups had occupied the area’s schools since she was 13.
A thin, dark column of figures winds across the barren hills on the outskirts of west Mosul, through clouds of dust thrown up by mortars falling around them. With wide, fearful eyes in faces drawn from months of malnutrition, some stagger out of exhaustion or hobble in broken plastic sandals. Others walk barefoot. Many women carry young children or are heavily pregnant. Aged grandparents are pushed across the rough terrain in rusty wheelbarrows or makeshift carts.
IRIN contributor in Zimbabwe
RUSAPE/ZIMBABWE, 8 March 2017
Chengetai Zonke lost much of her maize crop to drought last year. When it came to planting again, she decided to reduce her stake in what has become a recurrent climate change gamble.
The fighting in Syria isn’t even nearly over yet, but the international community is already starting to look ahead to post-war reconstruction—or rather, wartime reconstruction. Many are working on the assumption that while the country will be trapped in violence for years to come, the basic outline of Syria’s future is known, and it includes President Bashar al-Assad as the country’s central figure. The real question is who will cough up the money for such a politically fraught project.
Magnus Boding Hansen
Regular IRIN contributor based in Latin America
The church’s roof peeled off an hour before dawn, killing three of the villagers sheltering under it and forcing the rest into a flooded field where they sat hand-in-hand waiting for the hurricane to pass. The next morning, they took stock. Most people had lost their homes, livestock and all their crops.
By Julia Steers, East Africa-based multimedia journalist
The drought in Somalia is so severe it threatens not only to trigger famine, but also the viability of the age-old pastoralist way of life.
Somalis are tough and resourceful, but this is the third consecutive year of failed rains. Whatever resilience remains is being tested to the limit.
An emergency assessment obtained by IRIN outlines failed crops, debt and hunger
Close to one million people in drought-hit Sri Lanka are in “urgent need of food assistance” with tens of thousands needing “life-saving support”, according to an assessment by the government and the UN that has yet to be made public.
It was a modest intervention — a drop in the ocean of global climate finance — yet it has made the difference between profit and loss for a group of businesswomen in southeast Kenya’s Makueni County.
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In the middle of a vast expanse of grey scrubland a rapidly growing population of more than 120 families huddle under parched trees. Escaping the latest wave of conflict on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, they walked two days to get to this camp southwest of Taiz city.
He had known they were going to die for weeks. He could tell by the dullness in their eyes and the way their ribs poked through the skin. Knowing their fate didn’t make it any easier for Guyole Elema to watch as half his cows starved to death, one after another.
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