Dec 12, 2018

UPDATE: CARE's Support for Refugees Worldwide

SANAA – (December 6, 2018) – As pockets of famine-like conditions are announced in parts of Yemen and the majority of the population are shown to be suffering from emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, CARE urgently calls for more funding to prevent further catastrophe in Yemen. After almost four years of brutal conflict the country has now reached close to breaking point.

“Today’s report should be a wake-up call for the world,” says Johan Mooij, CARE’s country director in Yemen. “Almost a quarter of a million people would immediately be in famine, and a staggering 20 million people would not have enough to eat here in Yemen without humanitarian assistance – all because of a manmade crisis. The tragedy here grows worse by the day, stretching the limits of what CARE and other humanitarian groups can do to alleviate misery and prevent more deaths.”

According to the just-published Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) report, 240,000 people are living in famine-like conditions in Yemen. Over 70% of the population – 20 million people – are living in emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, with 9.8 million in need of immediate assistance.

“The areas experiencing catastrophic food insecurity are those affected the most by conflict and fighting,” says Mooij. “We know for example that Hodeidah and Sa’ada governorates have seen the highest levels of airstrikes and ground attacks, and this is where the most severe food insecurity is found. This is the clearest indication of the link between war and famine in Yemen.”

Humanitarian workers at the frontline of the response in Yemen have been witnessing severe malnutrition, hunger and food insecurity for many months now. As Mooij notes; “the vast majority of humanitarian workers are Yemeni, and over the past four years they have been watching their own people starve to death in front of them. Not to mention experiencing increasing hardship themselves.”

Nearly half of Yemen’s population are women and girls, who are bearing the brunt of food insecurity; often giving up meals so that other family members can eat. As more and more men are killed by the ongoing conflict Yemen has also seen an increase in female-headed households. Many women have told CARE staff how soaring food prices and insecurity mean they and their families often go days without eating. One woman – Samira – told CARE field staff how the price of water has increased so much that she can no longer afford to water her crops and grow food to feed her ten children. There are currently around 1.1 million pregnant or breast-feeding women and 1.8 million children who are acutely malnourished, including 400,000 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

“There is no question that people would be dying faster and in much greater numbers without humanitarian aid,” adds Mooij. “Humanitarian agencies in Yemen like CARE are doing everything they can in unimaginable circumstances to deliver aid to millions of people. CARE is currently helping one million people a month and is willing and able to reach more if funds are available.”

The IPC report also coincides with the announcement of the UN’s biggest ever single country appeal, with a record $4 billion requested to help the people of Yemen. CARE is also calling for an additional $20 million to scale up its food assistance and other humanitarian work. Through cash and voucher transfers CARE supports the most vulnerable and conflict-affected households to meet their basic and immediate needs. CARE is also directly providing food, in partnership with the World Food Programme, in governorates in the north and south of Yemen.

The burden on the Yemeni people is relentless. Aid organizations are desperately trying to fill the gaps, working tirelessly to provide food and supplies to those who have no alternative. “However, we must never forget that humanitarian aid is a short-term solution,” says Mooij. “The only way to turn the tide of suffering for the Yemeni people is to bring an end to the conflict. Warring conflict must engage in good faith with the peace process being led by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen in Sweden. Hunger and famine in Yemen is absolutely caused by war and it can only be stopped by bringing an end to the war.”

CARE has been working across Yemen since 1992 focusing on women’s and youth economic empowerment; prevention of gender-based violence; social inclusion; water resource management; civil society strengthening; good governance; and providing humanitarian assistance. CARE has a long history of implementing both development and humanitarian programming aiming to increase people’s ability to cope with crises and preparedness. CARE overall has 255 international and national staff in Yemen.

Source: https://www.care.org/newsroom/press/press-releases/almost-four-years-conflict-leads-to-declaration-catastrophic-food

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Sep 17, 2018

UPDATE: Repatriation of Myanmar Refugees

COX’S BAZAR (August 20, 2018) — As refugees from Myanmar complete one year in Bangladesh, their return to Myanmar with safety and dignity still remains a major concern for CARE and other humanitarian organizations. Many, including the refugee population, have already voiced their concerns for not being more involved in the return negotiation process.

“CARE calls out to all parties involved to ensure refugee returns are voluntary, informed, respectful, and conducted with safety and dignity. The key principle of ‘non-refoulement’ must be upheld and returns should commence only if there are no significant ongoing security risks in the area of return,” stresses Zia Choudhury, country director of CARE Bangladesh.

Since August 25, 2017, over 700,000 people from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh[1], following an escalation of violence in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State. An estimated 919,000 refugees are now living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, close to the Myanmar border.

In response to the recent agreement on the return of refugees signed on November 23, 2017 between Bangladesh and Myanmar, CARE is urging both the governments to ensure safe return of the refugees.

Given the extreme levels of violence refugees have experienced, returns in the near future will be extremely challenging. “We will go back if our homes are rebuilt like they used to be before they were burned down; if we are given citizen rights as Rohingyas and as Muslims, and if we are given the freedom of movement,”says Omar a 22-year-old refugee living in Potibonia, Cox’s Bazar.

Most of the refugees who fled Myanmar since August 2017 are traumatized and lost everything. Many lost their family members.

“It was a Thursday night, and we heard some distant gunshots. But we didn’t bother much and went to sleep. Then in the morning they came and started burning down all our houses. We only managed to escape with our lives. People who couldn’t leave their homes were burnt alive. I don’t even know how many people died, so…so many,” tells Khatiza (40), a refugee living in Cox’s Bazar.

CARE urges both the governments to ensure that the challenges associated with safe returns are recognized in the ongoing negotiations. One way of doing this could be to consult with affected communities to make their voices heard. Also a transparent process should be followed at all times so that humanitarian agencies are aware of all major developments regarding safe and successful returns.

“Since my husband is not alive, life there (in Myanmar) will be very difficult. I won’t be allowed to work and it will be very difficult for me to support my children,”shares Tosmin, a 30-year-old refugee whose husband went missing while going to work in Myanmar and now assumed dead.

The speed and scale of the influx of refugees has resulted in a critical humanitarian situation. The vast majority of refugees are reliant on humanitarian assistance for food, shelter, health and other life-saving services. Despite this, most refugees are reluctant to go back since the situation and quality of life back home in Myanmar would be worse in comparison.

“We feel safe even if we leave the doors open, but back in Burma (Myanmar), even locking the doors failed to make us feel safe. We are able to live here with peace,” shares Fatema, 27 years old.

“We couldn’t move freely, we had difficulty even going to the market for basic supplies,” adds Elias, 22 years old.

CARE has been active on the ground since the early stage of the refugee crisis and directly reached nearly 250,000 people by providing support and services as to health and nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation, site management, protection of women and girls against gender-based violence (GBV) and distribution of food and non-food items.

“CARE’s work with refugees globally underlines the importance of ensuring that all returns must be based on well-informed voluntary decisions and international standards must be upheld at the time when a voluntary return of refugees becomes possible. Security must be ensured at the area of return before returns are commenced,” says Choudhury.

[1] ISCG Report, July 19, 2018

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Sep 14, 2018

UPDATE Syrian Refugee Crisis: Catastrophe in Idlib

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are at immediate threat of displacement and their lives could be endangered by a large scale military offensive on Idlib. The area is home to 3 million people, two thirds of whom are already in need of aid. And nearly half of the population has already been displaced from other parts of Syria and lives in difficult conditions. They might not have a place to go, no refuge from bombs and airstrikes. If those men, women and children have to move again in search for safety, they will slip more into vulnerability and will be at risk of diseases, not to mention death. We could be witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe unlike anything we have seen in Syria since the beginning of the conflict.

  • Close to 3 million people are estimated to be in the Idleb de-escalation zone, which comprises parts of Idleb, western Aleppo, northern Hama and eastern Latakia governorates.
  • Out of this total, 1.4 million people are internally displaced and 1 million are children (according to Unicef).
  • 2/3 of this total are people who need aid.
  • Up to 900,000 people could be displaced in the case of a large scale military offensive on the area.
  • The UN and humanitarian partners require US $311 million for the cross-border response and the response from within Syria for people affected by the crisis in the North-West.

CARE works in Idlib through Syrian organizations that have been our partners for years. Syrian aid workers are at the front line of the response, distributing much needed food and non-food items, clean water, clothes, blankets, cash, rehabilitating collective shelters, and extending psycho-social support to thousands of people in need. But CARE does not stop there. Since the start of the year, CARE and its partners have reached more than 300,000 people, extending support to the most vulnerable for their basic needs but also working with people to restore livelihoods, particularly agriculturally based ones, protect maternal health, and repair small infrastructure.

We are in the process of positioning stocks and assistance to respond to the immediate needs of 75,000 people at the onset of mass displacement. We are planning to distribute food baskets, ready to eat food rations, non-food and shelter items for newly displaced people, hygiene items, clean water and jerry cans, emergency latrines, cash, as well as providing psychosocial support.

CARE is at the front lines of the refugee crisis in Syria, and we thank you again for your generosity.  As we deliver on our mission by providing assistance, we encourage you to fight with CARE through your continued support.

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