Crisis in north-eastern Syria sends thousands over border to Iraq

Source: Medair
Country: Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic

More than 14,000 refugees from north-east Syria have fled across the border into Iraq, carrying with them nothing but a few personal belongings. Tens of thousands more people are expected.
Written by Amy Van Drunen, Communications Officer in Iraq - 11 November 2019

For most people living in north-eastern Syria, the recent military operations launched in early October were completely unexpected. With no time to prepare, people had to flee immediately to save their lives, often being separated from family members in the process.

Since then:

  • Over 14,000 refugees from north-east Syria have fled across the border into Iraq, carrying with them nothing but a few personal belongings.
  • Tens of thousands of more people are expected to arrive in the coming weeks and days.
  • 75 percent of refugees are believed to be women and children (UNHCR), which are among the most vulnerable in crisis situations.

Fleeing for the first time

As we edge closer to the ninth year of the Syria Crisis, for many this is still the first time they have been forcibly displaced from their homes.

Mohammed, a former construction worker, knew he needed to flee his community in north-eastern Syria immediately after a bomb landed just 75 meters from where he stood.

“I rushed home and told my family to pack their bags and we left. It’s not safe to be in Syria,” says Mohammed.

That was the last time he would step foot into the place he and his family called home—the place where he imagined his two daughters, Yasmine and Dibler, growing up.

No safe place

Others have had to flee multiple times, unable to find true security anywhere.

Layla and Razum’s arrival into northern Iraq marks their third time being displaced because of the ongoing crisis in Syria.

This time, they crossed the border into Iraq, Razum carrying their nearly 2-year-old baby, Jude, and their 3-year-old daughter, Haifa, walking alongside.

Before all of this, Layla was a math teacher in north-eastern Syria after having studied nursing. Razum worked as a dental assistant and was studying engineering.

“When we left home, we knew we could never go back. Shortly after we ran, our son, Jude, was born. He was a gift—our hope during this time,” says Layla.

“We try to cope, but we keep being displaced,” adds Razum. “The first time it was painful, now it is adding more pain. I hope we can find safety for our family in Iraq.”

New refugees need urgent medical care

New refugees are arriving at the border every day tired, weak, and in pain, after travelling long distances—often on foot. Medair is currently one of two organisations providing emergency health services along the Iraqi border. Through the mobile clinic, our medical staff treat new arrivals with viruses and bacterial infections, chronic diseases—including high blood pressure and diabetes—and basic first aid.

Yet, it is much more than that. Refugees are arriving in a very vulnerable mental state—fearful, stressed, and often traumatised. The presence of people eager to help them demonstrates that even in the midst of adversity, they are not forgotten. Their needs are known and we will continue to do our best to help them cope in their circumstances.

Leaving home to a foreign land is no one’s first choice. While people may have found temporary safety in Iraq from the crisis in their nation, their futures remain uncertain.

Estimated 4.1 million people require humanitarian assistance in Iraq

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic

Fifty per cent of those in need are concentrated in Ninewa and Al-Anbar governorates while 1.5 million people remain internally displaced, most for more than three years.
Executive summary

The situation in Iraq remains unstable with widespread humanitarian concerns. Years of conflict uprooted millions of people, eroded social cohesion, disrupted access to basic services, destroyed livelihoods and led to increased protection risks. With weak central governance and limited progress towards recovery and development, the situation has become protracted and millions of people across Iraq remain in need of humanitarian assistance.

In 2020, Iraq is simultaneously categorized as an upper middle-income country and one that INFORM’s Global Risk Index labels as “very high risk” of a humanitarian crisis. More than two years after Iraq’s military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) ended, social, ethnic and sectarian tensions persist on multiple fronts. Political uncertainty and natural disasters continue to intensify humanitarian needs. In October 2019, protests against the recently-elected federal government erupted in Baghdad and other governorates, threatening the fledgling stability and narrowing the national focus. Also in October, a military offensive by Turkey against Kurdish forces in north-east Syria increased insecurity and uncertainty on Iraq’s western and northern borders and created an influx of Syrian refugees.

The most vulnerable people in Iraq and those in acute need of humanitarian assistance are those directly affected by the 2014-2017 conflict against ISIL, particularly those who were displaced and whose lives and livelihoods were uprooted and destroyed. In August 2019, the Government of Iraq consolidated and closed a number of IDP camps, with a stated goal of all IDPs returning home by the end of 2020. The humanitarian community in Iraq supports voluntary, dignified, informed and sustainable returns and will continue to encourage and facilitate returns in line with the agreed Principled Framework for Returns, and to support government and development partners in identifying durable solutions in areas of origin with high severity for those who wish to return.

IDPs are increasingly moving to non-camp locations or returning to their areas of origin, with unsuccessful attempts at the latter increasingly leading to the former. The needs both of returnees in areas of origin, and out-of-camp IDPs in need of assistance (mostly in areas in northern and central Iraq), are particularly severe. Ninetythree per cent of districts in northern and central Iraq report access constrains including, but not limited to, intimidation, presence of armed actors, checkpoint issues, explosive ordnance, and bureaucratic and administrative restrictions.

Scope of Analysis

The humanitarian landscape in 2019 was characterized by a postconflict environment witnessing very slow returns and unaddressed stabilization and development needs. The 2019 Multi-Cluster Needs Assessments were conducted in two thirds of districts nationally and with all affected population groups. Significant population movements took place in the latter half of 2019 with government-initiated camp closures resulting in significant reductions in in-camp populations, considerable increases in out-of-camp displaced populations and returnees, and movements of people between governorates.

Humanitarian Consequences

The impact of the conflict continues to affect the physical and mental well-being, living standards, and capacity for resilience and recovery of millions of Iraqis. Exposure to violence and explosive ordnance resulted in many people sustaining physical and psychological injuries. Vulnerable people, including people with perceived affiliation to extremists, are among the most in need of assistance and at risk of rights violations. Considerable secondary displacement has been caused by forced and premature returns and forced or coerced departures from camps and informal settlements in Ninewa, Salah AlDin, Al-Anbar, Kirkuk and Diyala governorates.

Many people, especially the most vulnerable, are unable to independently meet their basic needs like food and shelter. They lack access to services such as health care, potable water, improved sanitation, and education, and livelihoods opportunities remain limited. In addition, many affected people witnessed traumatic events which caused severe psychological harm requiring highly specialized assistance in order to have a safe and dignified life.

With reconstruction of vital infrastructure and the re-establishment of essential services facing major delays, at-risk populations increasingly resort to negative coping mechanisms, including debt accrual and dangerous, harmful practices, further undermining resilience and increasing dependence on humanitarian assistance.

Severity of Needs

Nearly half of all people in need – more than 1.77 million people – have acute humanitarian needs. IDPs in and out of camps, and returnees, experienced partial or full collapse of living standards and disrupted access to basic goods and services, exhausting their capacities to cope and frequently resorting to negative coping strategies, including liquidation of livelihoods assets. The most acute needs continue to be found in governorates that witnessed direct conflict, such as Al-Anbar, Ninewa, Kirkuk and Salah Al-Din, and in governorates that received significant numbers of the displaced, such as Duhok. Without intracommunal reconciliation, large-scale reconstruction and widespread economic rejuvenation — all of which are outside the humanitarian sphere — these numbers will persist in 2020. The most vulnerable include people with perceived affiliation to extremist groups, who are unwelcome in their areas of origin, face stigma and discrimination, and have significant protection needs.

People in Need

Out of the 6 million people displaced during the 2014-2017 conflict against ISIL, humanitarian partners estimate that 4.1 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance. Of the people in acute need, 50 per cent are concentrated in only two governorates – Ninewa and Al-Anbar. Approximately 1.5 million people remain internally displaced, 70 per cent of whom have been displaced for more than three years. Return rates have also slowed from the peak period, but the vulnerabilities of the returnees remain -- overall, an estimated 514,000 returnees across 286 locations in eight governates live in areas of high severity. Some 23 per cent of all people in acute need are concentrated in three districts of 63 assessed: Al-Mosul and Telafar in Ninewa and Al-Falluja in Al-Anbar. While the needs analysis is based on current caseloads, humanitarian partners are, in parallel, also able to respond to changes in the context, including natural disasters or arrivals of Iraqi citizens of Syrian refugees from Syria.

Nigeria launches campaign to protect more than 28 million children against Measles and Meningitis

Source: World Health Organization
Country: Nigeria

Nigeria has experienced repeated outbreaks of measles in recent years due to low routine immunization coverage and is also in the meningitis belt where the incidence rate is very high.
Children in 19 Northern states to be vaccinated in largescale campaign implemented by the Government of Nigeria and WHO with Gavi support

Abuja, 16 November 2019 - In efforts to continue boosting the immunity of children against measles and meningitis, Government, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, today kicks off a campaign to reach more than 28 million children with lifesaving vaccines.

They will be vaccinated across 19 Northern states, namely: Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Kano, Katsina, Plateau, Taraba, Niger, Adamawa, Kaduna and Sokoto. Others are Gombe Jigawa, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Kwara and the Federal Capital Territory.

Speaking on preparations for the campaign, Dr Joseph Oteri, Director of Disease Control and Immunization, NPHCDA said, “Measles is a highly contagious respiratory viral disease with increased mortality and morbidity in children under five years, and Nigeria has experienced repeated outbreaks of measles in recent years due to low routine immunization coverage. In addition, Nigeria is within the meningitis belt, where the incidence rate is very high, especially in the North”.

He further stated, “Government is committed to ensuring every eligible child is reached with these lifesaving vaccines. We will go to markets, schools, churches, mosques and everywhere we can get good catchment to reach our target population. No child deserves to die from any vaccine preventable disease.”

“Gavi is committed to supporting Nigeria in achieving its goal of improved immunisation coverage. Diseases like measles are both devastating and easily preventable – more than 21 million lives around the world have been saved with the measles vaccine,” said Thabani Maphosa, Gavi Country Programmes Managing Director. “Furthermore, with so many Nigerians at risk from meningitis every year, immunisation with the MenA vaccine can help to limit outbreaks. Gavi’s work vaccinating more than 279 million children in Africa’s meningitis belt has shown the ability of the vaccine to reduce prevalence of the disease.”

Gavi is supporting the Government of Nigeria by funding measles and MenA vaccines, as well as operational costs for these campaigns. These resources are provided for integrated MenA and Measles campaigns in 17 states and in Kano (Measles and MenA stand-alone), Yobe (Measles) and five other southern states (e.g., Oyo, Imo, Cross River, Eboyni and Anambra) that are planning MenA campaigns in December 2019.

For its part, WHO Nigeria has trained over 44,000 health workers and is mobilizing over 17,000 vaccination teams to support these campaigns.

Dr Fiona Braka, the WHO Team Lead of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) reiterated that, “The measles vaccine remains the most cost effective preventive measure against measles and WHO is committed to supporting the Nigerian government in reaching every eligible child in the country with the needed vaccines irrespective of their location.”

Note to editors:
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, measles and rubella are targeted for elimination in five WHO Regions by 2020. WHO is the lead technical agency responsible for coordination of immunization and surveillance activities supporting all countries to achieve this goal.

Technical Contact:
Anne Eudes Jean Baptiste; Email: Tel: +234 813 173 6281

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:
Ms Charity Warigon
Tel: +234 810 221 0093

Mandate renewal for cross-border assistance mechanism critical to help millions of Syrian civilians, top official tells Security Council

Source: UN Security Council
Country: Syrian Arab Republic

Millions across northern Syria — including 2.7 million who cannot be reached from within the country — continue to receive support from the UN cross‑border humanitarian assistance mechanism.
14 NOVEMBER 2019

Permanent Representative Demands End to Violations of Syria’s Sovereignty by Useless Cross-Border Aid Operations

More than eight years into Syria’s complex and evolving conflict and despite an uptick in air and ground strikes, a growing number of people — including millions in hard‑to‑reach areas — receive food, medicine and other aid through a closely monitored cross‑border assistance mechanism, whose mandate renewal remains crucial to ward off an even worse humanitarian crisis, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council today.

Mark Lowcock, who is also Under‑Secretary‑General for Humanitarian Affairs, briefed the 15‑nation Council on recent developments across north‑east and north‑west Syria — both of which saw increased violence in recent months. Although hostilities in the north‑east have decreased following recent agreements signed between the United States, Turkey and the Russian Federation, air and ground‑based strikes around the north‑west Governorate of Idlib have increased.

However, millions across northern Syria — including 2.7 million who cannot be reached from within the country — continue to receive support from the United Nations cross‑border humanitarian assistance mechanism, first authorized under Council resolution 2165 (2014). “It is through these operations that we have been able to stave off an even worse humanitarian crisis in northern Syria,” he said, noting that the cross‑border mechanism has grown by over 40 per cent in the last year.

Describing them as some of the world’s most closely scrutinized aid delivery systems, he recalled his own recent trip to Turkey, where he saw monitors climbing into trucks, opening boxes and cutting into bags of rice. While “nothing in life is completely risk‑free”, he expressed confidence that help is reaching civilians who need it and urged the Council to reauthorize the cross‑border operation when its mandate expires in early January.

As Council members took the floor, many echoed that call, with some speakers citing a lack of viable alternatives to the cross‑border instrument. Several welcomed the recent agreements that halted hostilities in the country’s north‑east, while appealing to parties to end violence and honour their international obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Belgium’s representative, also speaking for Kuwait and Germany, stressed that the United Nations and its humanitarian partners should be allowed to continue to deliver humanitarian assistance to Syrians in need in a timely, safe, sustained and unimpeded manner using all means, including cross‑border, cross‑line and regular programming. Since those operations began in July 2014, they have brought life‑saving aid to millions of people.

The representative of the United States said the Council has an obligation to respond to the suffering brought about by the Assad regime. Affirming the continuing need for the cross‑border mechanism, she called for its technical rollover for another 12 months, while also condemning Russian Federation air strikes that have killed civilians and humanitarian workers and demanding that the regime stop withholding humanitarian aid as a weapon.

The representative of the United Kingdom, Council President for November and speaking in her national capacity, said that humanitarian actors must have unrestricted access to those in need. Joining other speakers in calling for a technical rollover of the cross‑border aid mechanism, she also paid tribute to the humanitarian volunteer organization known as the “White Helmets” and its founder, James Le Mesurier, who passed away this week.

Several speakers struck a different tone, underlining the need to prioritize Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and describing illegal occupation by other actors as the root cause of the country’s humanitarian crisis.

In that vein, the representative of the Russian Federation warned foreign military forces that “[Syria’s] oil does not belong to you, it belongs to Syrians”. A return of oil resources will improve the Government’s ability to provide humanitarian aid, he stressed, noting that Idlib remains a hotbed of terrorism with civilians held as human shields. As the situation in Syria continues to normalize and the country’s Constitutional Committee begins its work, he pledged the Russian Federation’s support.

Syria’s delegate, stating there was “a big elephant in Syria”, expressed similar concerns, particularly about a United States occupation and the armed robbery of his country’s oil, as well as the recent Turkish presence along the Turkish‑Syrian border aimed at changing demography. Calling for an end to foreign forces in his country — and for Governments to cease sponsoring militias — he decried the unilateral, coercive economic sanctions imposed against Damascus and demanded an end to violations of Syria’s sovereignty by useless cross‑border aid operations.

Also speaking today were representatives of France, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Poland, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Dominican Republic and Equatorial Guinea.

The meeting began at 3:18 p.m. and ended at 4:54 p.m.


MARK LOWCOCK, Under‑Secretary‑General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that after eight and a half years of war some 11 million people in Syria — more than half the population — require humanitarian assistance. The United Nations and its partners have reached an average of 5.6 million people each month in 2019, with over half of that response in areas under Government control. Expressing concern over the situation in the north‑west of the country, he outlined a recent increase in air strikes and ground‑based strikes — mostly in parts of southern and western Idlib Governorate — and cited reports from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) which found a high number of civilian casualties. In the last two days, over 100 air strikes were reported in Idlib and surrounding areas, and OHCHR noted that four separate health facilities were damaged on 4 and 6 November.

“Civilians in those areas not only have to endure the impact of hostilities, but they continue to suffer under the presence of Hayat Tahrir al‑Sham, a United Nations‑listed terrorist organization,” he continued. Civilians in Kafr Takharim were besieged and shelled following protests against that group, and there are reports that civilians have been killed and civilian infrastructure dismantled and sold. Removing such infrastructure affects basic services now, but will also make any future recovery more difficult. More than half of Idlib’s residents have already been displaced from other parts of the country and hundreds of thousands are living in camps and informal shelters close to the border with Turkey. “There is little space left to absorb additional displacement,” he warned, adding that the onset of winter — and the rain, cold and mud it brings — will compound the dire humanitarian situation.

The internal United Nations Headquarters Board of Inquiry established by the Secretary‑General has begun working to investigate a series of incidents that occurred in north‑west Syria since September 2018, he continued. The Organization continues to closely follow developments in the north‑east, where hostilities have decreased since the agreements reached on 17 and 22 October. However, clashes continue in border areas, and OHCHR verified reports that 49 civilians were killed by a combination of air strikes, ground‑based strikes, sniper fire and executions by armed groups. An additional 31 civilians were killed by improvised explosive devices or explosive remnants of war since the beginning of October. Expressing concern about the impact that changes in administrative control could have on humanitarian operations in north‑east Syria, he said that continuity in aid delivery must be ensured.

Meanwhile, millions of people — including 2.7 million who cannot be reached from within Syria — are supported by the United Nations cross‑border humanitarian assistance mechanism, he said. Describing his recent visit to Turkey, he said he witnessed aid delivery and assessed the work of the United Nations Monitoring Mission. More trucks are using the cross‑border mechanism today than ever before and the operation has grown by over 40 per cent in the last year. “It is through these operations that we have been able to stave off an even worse humanitarian crisis in northern Syria,” he said, adding that they are one of the world’s most closely scrutinized aid delivery systems. Monitors in Turkey climb into every truck, open boxes and cut into bags of rice; aid is then examined by third‑party monitors when upon arrival in Syria and tracked using geotagging and other technologies. “Nothing in life is completely risk‑free”, but he is confident that help is reaching the civilians who need it. Emphasizing that there is no alternative to the cross‑border operation, he said the Council’s renewal of resolution 2165 (2014) — which first authorized it — is critical.


MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), also speaking for Kuwait and Germany, stressed that the United Nations and its humanitarian partners should be allowed to continue to deliver humanitarian assistance to Syrians in need in a timely, safe, sustained and unimpeded manner using all means, including cross‑border, cross‑line and regular programming. Since the United Nations began these operations in July 2014, pursuant to resolution 2165 (2014), this mechanism has allowed the Organization and its partners to ensure that life‑saving assistance reaches millions of people. The current mandate for these operations ends by the beginning of 2020. Therefore, its renewal is of primary importance. He urged the international community to renew the resolution so that the Organization and its humanitarian partners can continue to alleviate the humanitarian needs of all people in Syria.

Turning to the situation on the ground, he called on all parties to ensure the functioning of the Allouk water station, as it provides water to almost half a million people in Al‑Hassakeh. He also called for continued, full humanitarian access to the Al‑Hol camp — where 68,000 residents remain, 94 per cent of whom are women and children — and for the specific protection needs there to be addressed. No lasting peace is possible without justice and accountability, he added, expressing support for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism in Syria. He called for all returns of refugees to be safe, voluntary, dignified and well informed and for a nationwide cessation of hostilities in accordance with Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2401 (2018).

KELLY CRAFT (United States), recalling the large number of meetings devoted to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, said that the Council has an obligation to respond to the suffering that has been brought about by the Assad regime. Affirming the continuing need for the cross‑border mechanism, she called for a technical rollover for another 12 months. She also condemned Russian air strikes that have killed civilians and humanitarian workers, underlining the need for accountability for those who committed such crimes and adding her support for the Board of Inquiry’s effort in that regard. The regime must cease using the withholding of humanitarian aid as a weapon; aid must go to all those in need. She saluted humanitarian workers who risk their lives for the Syrian people every day, in particular the late founder of the “White Helmets” organization. She also called for the soonest possible resolution to the suffering of the Syrian people through a sustainable political solution.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France) said that cross‑border humanitarian assistance remains vital in Syria. In that light, she called for another technical rollover of its authorization, particularly on the eve of the eighth winter of the Syrian conflict. Stakeholders with influence on Damascus must encourage unfettered access to all of Syria, including areas where the regime had regained control. She also condemned all attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, and extended her full support to the related Board of Inquiry. In the north‑east of the country, it is essential to continue to combat terrorism while facilitating the humanitarian response. The fight against terrorism must not be invoked to allow egregious violations of international law. Only an inclusive political solution can end the suffering of the Syrian people. The Constitutional Committee alone will not bring that about; also needed is a safe, neutral environment and confidence‑building mechanisms such as release of detainees. Until those conditions are in place, neither France nor its European Union partners will contribute to rebuilding in Syria, she warned.

ZHANG JUN (China) said that the onset of winter should spur action to prevent further suffering. At the same time, it is necessary to safeguard Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Affirming that a political settlement is the only way out of the conflict, he welcomed steps towards convening the Constitutional Committee, leading to a Syrian‑led peace process. He called on the international community to support the Syrian Government in reconstruction and humanitarian aid and in assisting the voluntary return of refugees. He also called for the lifting of sanctions on the country. Outlining aid that China has provided to Syria, he recounted a recent ceremony celebrating the latest deliveries of needed technologies. In addition, terrorist forces must be countered and all parties must refrain from actions that allow gains against terrorism to be lost. On cross‑border aid operations, he said that they must respect Syrian sovereignty and prevent abuse of such activity. Neutrality must be agreed and all provisions of related Council resolutions must be respected, he stressed, calling for greater transparency and enhanced cooperation with the Syrian Government for that purpose.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said that OHCHR reports of 49 civilian deaths in the north‑east and more than 1,000 casualties in the north‑west due to hostilities since early October are extremely troubling. “These numbers are not merely statistics that need to be put in regular reports. We are talking about people’s lives, and it is important to ensure that these numbers do not increase,” he said, appealing to “those with guns” to permanently cease hostilities and attacks affecting civilians. He commended United Nations efforts to continue delivering humanitarian aid to people in need, emphasizing the importance of efficient cross‑border assistance, with a strong monitoring mechanism. The Security Council must address the humanitarian situation in Syria through a common response, he said, adding that Member States’ opposing and contradictory positions should not prevent them from saving lives. Dialogue and consensus are critical to ensure a well‑targeted aid operation. He commended efforts by Special Envoy Geir Pedersen to facilitate dialogue and build trust between all relevant parties. Indonesia is closely following progress regarding the Constitutional Committee talks in Geneva and looks forward to the next round of discussions later in the month.

MARTHINUS VAN SHALKWYK (South Africa) said the sustained threat of violence and destruction, particularly against women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, is not acceptable. He reiterated his call for all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, including the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. Security Council members must ensure the recent developments in northern Syria do not jeopardize the cross‑border humanitarian operations of the United Nations. Commending the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and its partners for their vital work in challenging environments, he said that the mandate for this cross‑border assistance is scheduled for renewal at year’s end. In that regard, South Africa will work with all interested parties to find common ground and unity, he said.

PAWEŁ RADOMSKI (Poland) said that it is civilians, including children, who have been killed and injured by the dozens in hostilities in north‑eastern and north‑western Syria in air strikes and ground‑based attacks, and by improvised explosive devices. He called again upon all parties to the conflict to implement ceasefire agreements and ensure unhindered humanitarian access to the entire Syrian territory. All parties must fully comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, including the obligation to protect civilians and children. He reiterated strong support for the cross‑border humanitarian assistance mechanism, the only way to ensure lifesaving aid for millions. With over 6 million internally displaced persons in a highly vulnerable population, he stressed the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe, including a serious threat of sexual violence.

GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire) expressed his concern regarding the protracted, persistent violence that continues in north‑east and north‑west Syria, which threatens to stymie attempts to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need. Spotlighting recent agreements that halted hostilities in the country’s north‑east, he appealed to parties to end violence and honour their obligations vis‑á‑vis civilians and civilian infrastructure. He also welcomed efforts to ensure that deliveries of cross‑border humanitarian assistance reach those in need and called for the renewal of the mandate. Meanwhile, he expressed hope that the ongoing Geneva talks will advance a political solution to the conflict more broadly.

PAUL DUCLOS (Peru) noted his concern over the suffering and risks facing Syrian civilians every day, which makes the delivery of aid — including cross‑border aid — even more crucial. Adding his support for the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism overseeing the delivery of that aid, he highlighted the lack of viable alternatives and called on the Council to address the matter by renewing the mandate of the cross‑border mechanism in the next few weeks. It is also crucial to prioritize the basic needs of civilians in Al‑Hol and Rukban camps and to ensure the conditions for their safe, voluntary and dignified return home, he said.

JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) added his support for the renewal of the cross‑border aid mechanism, which has been a fundamental instrument for the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Syria since 2014. Noting with regret the new uptick in hostilities in Idlib Governorate — where the imminent arrival of winter imposes a moral obligation to meet the needs of the population — he stressed that hampering aid and attacking civilians’ health, water and other infrastructure are flagrant violations of international law. Meanwhile, the situation in the country’s north‑east has become a source of grave concern, as has the plight of millions of Syrians displaced to neighbouring Turkey. In that regard, he called for arrangements to ensure their safe, dignified and voluntary return to their homes.

AMPARO MELE COLIFA (Equatorial Guinea), expressing continued concern about the humanitarian situation in Syria, surveyed the harms done by continued attacks in areas of conflict. She said that international humanitarian law must be adhered to by all parties. She also expressed concern about conditions facing women and children in displaced person camps in Syria and called on the United Nations to respond appropriately through an adequate response plan for water, hygiene and nutrition. She affirmed that cross‑border aid continues to be a priority. A consensus renewal of the authorization would be welcomed. Welcoming political progress in the formation of the Constitutional Committee, she urged further progress towards reaching a peace under the provisions of Council resolution 2254 (2015).

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) concurred with the assessment of the humanitarian difficulties in areas not under the Syrian Government’s control. The root cause, he argued, is largely the illegal occupation of those areas and the perilous experiment to undermine the Government. He called for respect for the country’s sovereignty and for liberation from the foreign military presence. “The oil does not belong to you. It belongs to Syrians,” he stated, calling for the return of oil resources to improve the Government’s ability to provide humanitarian aid. Describing the Russian Federation’s contributions to stabilizing areas from which Kurds have withdrawn, he said Idlib remains a hotbed of terrorism, with civilians held as human shields and bombardments that inflict civilian casualties.

He cautioned against playing into the hands of terrorists by choosing good and bad ones. The White Helmets, in fact, were the source of allegations of Russian and Syrian attacks against hospitals, which had been shown to be fake. He said his country would continue to work with OCHA in fine‑tuning the deconfliction information, assist the Mine Action Service and support voluntary returns of refugees. He called on the United Nations and its partners to assist in the latter effort and to press for relief from sanctions. Meanwhile, he said that the situation in the country continues to normalize as the Constitutional Committee begins its work. The Russian Federation will continue to support the work of the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy to make further progress.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), Council President for November, speaking in her national capacity, said that the situation in Syria does not sound like normality to her, listening to the latest humanitarian report. She echoed all those who have urged a technical rollover of the authorization for cross‑border aid. Noting that her country is one of the largest donors in the humanitarian response, she pledged to ensure that those contributions are delivered and that the structures to do that are maintained. Humanitarian actors must have unrestricted access. She also said she shared deep concern about returnees, lack of respect for humanitarian laws and the resurgence of attacks in Idlib and its consequences on civilians. In that context, she called for the findings of the Board of Inquiry to be made public. She finally paid tribute to the White Helmets, defending them and their founder against accusations of the Russian Federation. “James Le Mesurier was not a spy, he was a humanitarian,” she said.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), responding to the statement by the Russian Federation, said that there was news today that there was Russian pressure to keep the findings of the Bboard of Inquiry secret. He asked the representative of the Russian Federation if he will support publication of the important findings.

Mr. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), replying to the comment of the representative of Germany, advised him to read more reliable sources than The New York Times for his information. It is up to the Secretary‑General to do what he wants with the information, he asserted.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) called attention to the “big elephant in Syria” that some in the Council did not see, pointing to a United States occupation and armed robbery of Syrian oil; a Turkish occupation aimed at changing the demography along the Turkish‑Syrian border; terrorism in Idlib; and Governments, represented in the Council, encouraging separatist groups in Syria while refusing to take back terrorists from that country. This “big elephant” is ignored by some who only care about extending resolution 2165 (2014) and its mandate for cross‑border operations, he said. These attempts reflect a sad reality about the Council; it does not seek to implement its own resolutions that stress respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. He called for an end to the presence of foreign forces in his country and for Governments to cease sponsoring militias and colluding to rob Syria of its resources.

He also observed that the boasting of some countries regarding operations in Idlib that led to the death of the leader of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) reaffirms what the Government of his country has said regarding terrorist control of that city. It is hypocritical for some in the Council to represent themselves as heroes for operations there while, at the same time, targeting the Syrian army as it attempts to reach the eastern Euphrates to eradicate ISIL/Da’esh. Further, the unilateral coercive measures on the Syrian people must be lifted as they constitute an act of economic terrorism. The efforts of his country’s Government and its institutions at the humanitarian level must be recognized for improving the situation despite challenges. Indeed, the Organization and its agencies would not have been successful but for the help of the Syrian Government. Calling for the end of violation of Syrian sovereignty by useless cross‑border operations, he spotlighted the link between the occupation of Baghdad and al‑Baghdadi, the occupation of the Golan Heights and al‑Golani and the claims of chemical weapons and the founder of White Helmets James Le Mesurier, a British military officer.

Ms. PIERCE (United Kingdom), taking the floor a second time, stressed that the late James Le Mesurier was not a serving British officer. Though he did begin his career with the British military, he later left the armed forces and became a humanitarian with the White Helmets. Regarding the point raised by the representative of Syria that the Council’s resolution authorizing cross‑border operations somehow contravenes Syrian sovereignty, she emphasized that the resolution exists precisely because of respect for sovereign equality and territorial integrity.

For information media. Not an official record.

IOM provides more than one million health consultations in Yemen since start of 2019

Source: International Organization for Migration
Country: Yemen

Only half of Yemen’s health facilities are currently operating due to four years of conflict, causing people to travel long distances in search of essential services and forcing many to go without.
Sana’a – With more than four years of conflict pushing the public sector to a breaking point, people in Yemen are struggling to access health care. As part of its emergency lifesaving services and support to the health sector to ensure it continues to function, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has carried out 1,095,072 health consultations for displaced and conflict affected Yemenis and migrants in 2019 (as of 09/11).

Only half of Yemen’s health facilities are currently operating, causing people to travel long distances in search of essential services and forcing many to go without. Prior to the conflict in 2015, public facilities were already strained. Today, the lack of financial resources, doctors, medicine and medical equipment has caused further deterioration, while the increased number of people seeking medical assistance in certain areas has overwhelmed health facilities.

“Our lives are difficult in terms of income, education, health services, water and transportation,” said Maryam, a Yemeni woman living in Birali, Lahj governorate, where IOM helped get the local health centre back up and running. “When there was no health centre, we had to travel to Hadramout or Aden (approximately 120 and 450 kilometres away, respectively); a woman in labour couldn’t do that,” she added.

IOM’s health programming strengthens key public institutions and helps ensure they survive the crisis. To support the re-establishment of Yemen’s primary health care systems, IOM ensures that public health facilities can provide a minimum servi ce package to their target population through provision of human resource, medicines and medical supplies.

IOM is supporting the restoration and operational needs of 86 facilities across Yemen, ensuring effective, safe and quality free health care through over 120,000 consultations per month.

The organization also operates nine mobile health teams, which reach migrants and displaced people who do not have access to traditional health facilities. Four of these mobile teams provide newly arrived migrants with emergency health services along Yemen’s coast.

Complications with import and internal transportation of items, such as medical stock, puts further pressure on Yemen’s health system by causing critical medications to be unavailable in much of the country. IOM has stockpiles of critical medicines, such as antibiotics or medication for management of Type 2 diabetes, in warehouses across Yemen to ensure IOM-run and supported facilities have a constant supply.

“With health needs rising and many people living in locations with virtually no health services, IOM’s provision of health care to conflict-affected communities, internally displaced people and migrants is vital to the continuation of accessible health services and the strengthening of the overall health system in Yemen,” said Dr Nedal Odeh, IOM’s Health Programme Coordinator in Yemen.

Within the over 1 million health consultations, over 19,000 people were provided with psychosocial counselling, 113,000 others received reproductive health consultations, and more than 71,000 people were reached through health awareness-raising activities.

IOM’s health programming in Yemen is made possible through contributions from the Governments of Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Slovakia, the United States and the United Kingdom. IOM also works in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Yemen Humanitarian Fund and is a principal recipient for the Global Fund in Yemen.

For further information, please contact Olivia Headon in IOM Sana’a, Tel: +967730552233, Email:

Number of people hit by flooding in CAR rises to 57,000

Source: Norwegian Refugee Council
Country: Central African Republic

"The flooding is so severe in some parts of the capital Bangui that the only way to get around is by canoe,” said Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) David Manan.
More than 10,000 homes have been destroyed and already impoverished neighbourhoods are under water due to flooding caused by heavy rain in Central African Republic. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is calling for urgent funding to scale up the emergency response and help those affected.

“Thousands of homes have been destroyed, and this disaster is affecting many people who were already struggling to make ends meet. The flooding is so severe in some parts of the capital Bangui that the only way to get around is by canoe,” said Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) David Manan.

Torrential rain has pummelled parts of the country since October 21 and has impacted at least 57,000 people so far according to the latest UN update. In Bangui and surrounding areas, several neighbourhoods are submerged under water after the river Ubangi burst its banks.

The government has declared a natural catastrophe and is appealing for national and international solidarity to support its emergency response efforts.

“People are currently living in overcrowded displacement sites as they seek protection from the rain. There is an urgent need for clean drinking water, mosquito nets and materials to set up temporary shelters to ensure people are kept healthy and safe,” said Manan.

“Stagnant water left by floods are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. We fear there could be a rise in the number of people affected by malaria and an outbreak of waterborne diseases like cholera if emergency assistance isn’t received in time,” he added.

“The flood waters invaded our house and completely destroyed it,” said Nelly Kogbene, a displaced mother from Bangui, to NRC’s staff on the ground.

The recent flooding has exacerbated an already difficult situation for people living in the Central African Republic, the poorest country in the world. More than half of the population is in need of humanitarian support and 600,000 are displaced by ongoing conflicts in several parts of the country. UN and humanitarian partners have appealed for $430 million to meet the needs this year, but so far only 67 per cent has been funded.

“The humanitarian assistance people are receiving is far from enough. There is an urgent need for more funding to scale up the emergency response and to ease the suffering of thousands of vulnerable people,” said Manan.

Note to editors:

** For interviews or more information, please contact:**

Country director David Manan:, +236 72 03 17 40 / +236 75 36 67 89

NRC’s media team:, +4790562329

El dengue alcanza su máximo histórico en América Latina

Source: UN News Service
Country: Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, World

Según la última actualización epidemiológica, Brasil registró el mayor número de casos, con más de dos millones, seguido, a mucha distancia por México, con 213.822; Nicaragua, con 157.573; Colombia, con 106.066; y Honduras, con 96.379.
En América Latina, la dolencia ha alcanzado su máximo histórico. En un esfuerzo por frenar esta enfermedad, junto con otras transmitidas por mosquitos, como el Zika, varias agencias de la ONU han creado una guía dirigida a los países que deseen probar la técnica de esterilización de insectos, que contribuye a reducir sus poblaciones.

"La mitad de la población mundial está ahora en riesgo de padecer el dengue", ha afirmado este jueves el doctor Soumya Swaminathan, científico jefe de la Organización Mundial de la Salud.

De hecho, el dengue ha llegado a su máximo histórico en América Latina, con 2,7 millones de casos, incluidos 1206 mortales hasta finales de octubre de 2019, según la última actualización epidemiológica de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud.

La frecuencia de los brotes de dengue ha crecido drásticamente en todo el mundo en las últimas décadas y actualmente es la enfermedad viral transmitida por mosquitos de propagación más rápida en el planeta.

Según los datos recopilados por la Organización Mundial de la Salud, se sabe que el dengue, en la década de 1970, existía solo en nueve países; ahora es endémico en 128 países y afecta a hasta 96 millones de personas cada año.

“A pesar de nuestros mejores esfuerzos, las medidas actuales para controlarlo se están quedando cortas. Necesitamos desesperadamente nuevas estrategias”, explicó Swaminathan.

Entre esas estrategias figura la de una técnica que esteriliza a los mosquitos transmisores del virus del dengue usando radiación.

La técnica de esterilización fue desarrollada por primera vez por el Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidosy se ha utilizado con éxito para controlar las plagas de insectos que atacan los cultivos, como la mosca mediterránea de la fruta, y el ganado, como la mosca del gusano barrenador. Actualmente se usa globalmente en el sector agrícola en seis continentes.

Nueva aplicación

La novedad es que ahora va a utilizarse contra el mosquito de la especie Aedes, que transmite no solo el dengue, sino también el zika y el chikungunya.

“Esta iniciativa es prometedora y emocionante ", aseguró el experto de la Organización Mundial de la Salud al anunciar que junto con el Organismo Internacional de la Energía Atómica, la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación y el Programa especial para la investigación y la formación en enfermedades tropicales, se ha desarrollados una guía dirigida a los países que quieran probar la técnica.

La técnica reduce las poblaciones de mosquitos y con ellas las posibilidades de picaduras en los humanos.

En las últimas décadas, la incidencia del dengue ha aumentado exponencialmente debido a los cambios ambientales, la urbanización no regulada, el transporte y los viajes, y la falta de herramientas para controlar los mosquitos que actúan como vectores del virus.

El dengue en América Latina y el resto del mundo

Según la última actualización epidemiológica, Brasil registró el mayor número de casos, con más de dos millones, seguido, a mucha distancia por México, con 213.822; Nicaragua, con 157.573; Colombia, con 106.066; y Honduras, con 96.379.

Además de en América Latina, los brotes de dengue se producen actualmente en varios países, especialmente en el subcontinente indio. Bangladesh se enfrenta al peor brote de dengue desde su primera epidemia registrada en el año 2000.

La nación del sur de Asia ha visto aumentar el número de casos a más de 92.000 desde enero de 2019, y las admisiones diarias en los hospitales alcanzan un máximo de más de 1500 nuevos pacientes con dengue en las últimas semanas.

"El aumento de los brotes este año es un llamado de atención para los Gobiernos, los encargados de formular políticas públicas y los investigadores sobre la necesidad de fortalecer los programas de vigilancia y control, así como para intensificar las estrategias de prevención de esta propagación fenomenal del dengue y otros virus transmitidos por vectores", declaró Raman Velayudhan, coordinador del programa de gestión de vectores de la Organización Mundial de la Salud en Ginebra.

El virus del dengue causa una enfermedad similar a la gripe, que puede convertirse en potencialmente mortal. No existe un tratamiento específico, pero la detección temprana y el acceso a la atención médica adecuada pueden evitar que los casos graves se vuelvan fatales.

Más de 700.000 muertes anuales

Las enfermedades transmitidas por mosquitos como la malaria, el dengue, el zika, el chikungunya y la fiebre amarilla representan aproximadamente el 17% de todas las enfermedades infecciosas a nivel mundial, cobrando más de 700.000 vidas cada año e infligiendo sufrimiento en muchas más. El brote de Zika en 2015 en Brasil estuvo relacionado con un aumento en el número de bebés que nacen con microcefalia.

La guía sobre el uso de la técnica para controlar enfermedades en humanos recomienda **adoptar una aplicación de la estrategia por etapas **que permita tiempo para probar la eficacia de los insectos esterilizados.

Los indicadores epidemiológicos monitorean el impacto del método en la transmisión de enfermedades. También proporciona recomendaciones sobre la producción en masa de los mosquitos estériles, el compromiso del Gobierno y la comunidad, midiendo el impacto de la técnica y evaluando la rentabilidad.

"Los países gravemente afectados por el dengue y el zika han mostrado un interés real en probar esta tecnología, ya que puede ayudar a suprimir los mosquitos que están desarrollando resistencia a los insecticidas, que a la vez están afectando negativamente el medio ambiente", dijo Florence Fouque, científica del Programa especial para la investigación y la formación en enfermedades tropicales.

"El uso de la técnica de esterilización de insectos en el sector agrícola en los últimos 60 años ha demostrado que es un método seguro y efectivo", dijo Jérémy Bouyer, entomólogo médico de la División Conjunta de la FAO y la OIEA.

GeoPoll survey results on Ebola in DRC available

GeoPoll has been active in the DRC for many years and runs multiple surveys, including collecting data related to the on-going Ebola crisis.  GeoPoll has just completed an SMS survey in North Kivu, surveying community members on a range of issues.  Some of the questions they have gathered feedback from community members on include:

  • Do you know what the symptoms of Ebola are?
  • What is your primary source of news/information on Ebola? (Friends/Family, TV, radio, newspaper, social media)
  • Which social media channel is your primary source of information?
  • How do you communicate with friends about Ebola?
  • Have aid or healthcare organizations been more present in your area than usual in the past two weeks?

GeoPoll has now completed the survey and shared the results, free, online at


Sisu Global Health joins as corporate partner

We are pleased to announce that Sisu Global Health has joined HLA as a corporate partner. Sisu is an award-winning company that designs world-class, clinically proven, patented, medical device technologies for emerging markets. Sisu’s portfolio of devices are rigorously tested and built to ISO 13485 standards in addition to austere environments. Sisu introduces Hemafuse™, a highly effective alternative to cell processors and donor blood for cases of internal bleeding. Hemafuse™ is a completely mechanical device that can salvage, filter and recycle multiple units of blood from where it is pooled internally to be re-transfused.  Without needing electricity, this device can replace the heavy infrastructure of blood banks in mobile/remote hospital settings to treat trauma.

For more information on the company, click here: