Weekly News Feb 6 - Feb 12, 2017

Humanitarian Emergency Weekly News

Militants Kill 6 Red Cross Workers in Afghanistan

Six employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross were killed and two others were missing on Wednesday after an attack in northern Afghanistan that officials attributed to local affiliates of the Islamic State. The Taliban, who still inflict the largest share of violence in a 15-year war that has escalated in recent years, quickly denied that they were behind the attack. The Red Cross has a 30-year history of helping war victims in Afghanistan, providing crucial medical aid to areas near the battlefield, among other things. The Red Cross had begun a mission to distribute livestock material in the Qush Tepah area of Jowzjan Province, where the attack happened, but that its work was paused by recent avalanches. When workers went to resume giving out aid, they were targeted. Read more.

Bolivia declares emergency over locust plague

The Bolivian government has declared a state of emergency in a vast agricultural area affected by a plague of locusts. President Evo Morales has announced a contingency plan, which includes $700,000 in extra funds for fumigation. The swarm first appeared over a week ago near the low-lying eastern city of Santa Cruz, where most of Bolivia's food and meat is produced. It has spread quickly, destroying pasture and fields of corn and sorghum. The authorities estimate more than 1,000 hectares of agricultural land have been devastated by the locusts. The government says fumigation must begin straight away. Read more.

Earthquake in southern Philippines kills four, damages infrastructure

Four people died and more than 100 were injured after a powerful earthquake struck the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines late Friday, damaging some structures and cutting power in many areas. The 6.7 earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 km and the epicentre was about 13 km east of the city of Surigao. On Saturday morning 89 aftershocks had been recorded and more could be expected but were unlikely to cause significant damage. Friday's quake was the strongest since the city was rocked by a 6.9 quake in 1879. Read more.

Kenya: Government declares drought a national disaster

The Government of Kenya has declared the current drought affecting 23 arid and semi-arid counties and pockets of other areas a national disaster. Speaking after being briefed on the situation, President Uhuru Kenyatta called on all stakeholders to support the Government by upscaling drought mitigation programmes. The President also called on the local and international partners to come in and support the Government’s efforts to contain the situation which has not only affected human being and livestock but also the wild animals. He said the government would fast track and upscale its mitigation programs to ensure the situation is properly contained. To stabilize the high prices of cereals, the Government would allow maize importation by the licensed millers but would strictly monitor the situation to ensure it is done in a very transparent manner. The Government intends to enhance intervention including doubling of food rations and cash transfers among other measures. Read more.


This Sunday was Red Hand Day - also known as the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers. Children across the world share red hand prints to call on world leaders to stop the use of children in armed groups. There's lots of misinformation out there about children associated with armed groups. The article reviews 5 of the most common myths and misconceptions. Read more.

Life inside a refugee reception center in Croatia

Hotel Porin, a large socialist style hotel on the outskirts of Zagreb, serves as a reception center for asylum seekers. It’s a large concrete building surrounded by a park. This time of the year it’s covered in snow. Caritas Croatia and Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) are two organizations working together to support asylum seekers and increase their chances to integrate in Croatia. The article provides a profile of the work going on inside a refugee reception center. Read more.

Humanitarian Health Updates

Venezuelan girl's diphtheria death highlights country's health crisis

Shortages of basic drugs and vaccines, emigration of underpaid doctors, and crumbling infrastructure make it easier for diseases to spread. A wider Venezuelan outbreak of diphtheria, once a major global cause of child death but increasingly rare due to immunizations, shows how vulnerable the country is to health risks amid a major economic crisis that has sparked shortages of basic medicines and vaccines. Venezuela controlled diphtheria in the 1990s, but it reappeared in the vast jungle state of Bolivar in mid-2016. At least two dozen children died last year, doctors say, and cases are now thought to have spread to a half-dozen other states. The unpopular leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro said in October there were no proven cases of diphtheria and admonished those seeking to spread "panic." It has since informed the World Health Organization of 20 confirmed diphtheria cases and five deaths, and emphasized there is a major vaccination drive under way, but has yet to provide a full national picture of the disease's effects amid a generalized clampdown on data. Read more.

As Yemen Food Crisis Deteriorates, UN Agencies Appeal For Urgent Assistance To Avert A Catastrophe

The number of food insecure people in Yemen has risen by three million in seven months, with an estimated 17.1 million people now struggling to feed themselves, according to a joint assessment by three UN agencies. Of the 17.1 million food insecure people, about 7.3 million are considered to be in need of emergency food assistance. The preliminary results of the Emergency Food Security and Nutrition Assessment (EFSNA) show that food security and nutrition conditions are deteriorating rapidly due to the ongoing conflict. More than two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27.4 million people now lack access to food and consume an inadequate diet. Rates of acute malnutrition were found to have passed the “critical” threshold in four governorates, while agricultural production is falling across the country. The current level of hunger in Yemen is unprecedented, which is translating into severe hardship and negative humanitarian consequences for millions of Yemenis, particularly affecting vulnerable groups. Read more.

Kenyan closure of Dadaab refugee camp blocked by high court

A directive to shut the Dadaab camp and forcibly repatriate about 260,000 Somali refugees living there was issued last year. The deadline for its closure had been extended until May, but a high court judge ruled the decision was tantamount to an act of group persecution. The government says it will appeal against the ruling on security grounds.It said that attacks on its soil by the Somalia-based al-Shabab group had been planned in the camp. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and lobby group Kituo Cha Sheria challenged the decision in court, saying it was discriminatory and contrary to international law. Read more.

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Andrea L. Wirtz

Faculty Member JHSPH Faculty Page | SciVal Research Page Bio: Dr....

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Gilbert Burnham

Core Faculty Member JHSPH Faculty Page | SciVal Research Page Bio: Dr....

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James C. Cobey

Graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in History specializing in Thai...

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Leonard S. Rubenstein

Core Faculty Member JHSPH Faculty Page | SciVal Research Page Bio: Lawyer...

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Catherine Lee

Faculty Member JHSPH Faculty Page | SciVal Research Page

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