News in Brief 09 February 2016 (AM)

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Syrian children stand in the entryway of their tent shelter in the Bab Al Salame camp for internally displaced persons in Aleppo Governate. File Photo: UNICEF/Giovanni Diffidenti

Food aid disrupted amid upsurge in fighting in Aleppo

A surge in violence in the Syrian city of Aleppo has forced some 30,000 people from their homes, affecting aid deliveries to people in need, the UN’s humanitarian coordinating agency, OCHA, said Tuesday.

The crisis has been triggered by renewed fighting between government and opposition forces in northern Aleppo, with supply routes into eastern Aleppo city and surrounding areas now cut off.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is continuing to help those who have been displaced by the violence, but expressed concern about reaching all those in need.

Here’s spokesperson Bettina Luescher:

“Basically the situation has been just escalating in and around Aleppo, so people have been on the run, they’re trying to flee to Turkey and we’re helping those who have been fleeing but also still need to be able to get into the areas that have been cut off.”

Latest figures from UN agency OCHA indicate that of the tens of thousands of people on the move in and around Aleppo, 80 per cent of them are women and children.

Thousands of displaced people have gathered in the small town of A’zaz in north-west Syria, seeking refuge close to the Bab al-Salam frontier point with Turkey.

WFP currently feeds around four million people in Syria but cannot access 18 besieged locations in the country.

El Nino and drought blamed for Haiti’s worsening food insecurity

Food insecurity in the Caribbean state of Haiti has doubled in six months, the World Food Programme said Tuesday.

It has blamed three consecutive years of drought and the current El Nino weather phenomenon.

Around 3.6 million Haitians now have too little food to eat, and more than 1.5 million are described as severely food insecure.

The UN agency says it needs USD84 million to support those in need.

In some areas of Haiti, still reeling from a catastrophic earthquake in 2010,  up to 70 per cent of the population faces hunger, with malnutrition rates above emergency level.

The 2015 harvest was poor, with losses of up to 70 per cent, and WFP fears that without rain this spring, farmers will lose their fourth consecutive crop.

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals in 2016 Pass 76,000; Deaths Top 400

The number of migrants and refugees making the sea crossing to Europe is almost 10 times higher than it was a year ago, latest figures show.

With more than 76,000 arrivals so far this year, the data from UN partner agency the International Organization for Migration, or IOM, indicates a daily average of nearly 2,000 people.

To date this year, IOM also recorded a total of 409 fatalities on the two principal Mediterranean Sea routes.

That is close to the total number of deaths over the whole of 2015.

More than 75 per cent of the dead or missing attempted to cross from Turkey to Greece, while the remaining 25 per cent set out from North Africa for Italy.

These latest figures bring the total number of arrivals to the Greek islands to more than 900,000 since Europe’s migrant crisis began.

According to IOM, Greece is likely to receive its one millionth migrant since the beginning of 2015 next month.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

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