News in Brief 17 January 2018

Humanitarian situation in DRC deteriorates due to enormous funding gap: IOM

The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is spiralling out of control due to a “massive escalation” of conflict and insecurity, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) said on Wednesday.

Some 4.3 million people are displaced throughout the DRC, 1.7 million of whom were violently forced to flee their homes last year.

IOM representative, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, said that the “recent spike of displacement has made the DRC the country with the highest number of internally displaced people in Africa”.

And he added that the situation is “not only a humanitarian crisis but it’s a protection crisis, as human rights violations are happening every day”.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) one out of seven Congolese will be in need of assistance in 2018, while the number of those relying on aid for their survival is set to double compared to last year, to 10.5 million people.

This massive deterioration in conditions requires considerably more funding: $1.68 billion.

Mr. Chauzy stressed the consequences of failing to increase aid:

“If we don’t get that level of funding then people will die. I have to be clear with this. They will die. I mean, the severe acute malnutrition rates in the Kasai, have increased by 750 per cent. The reason for that is not because of drought or anything, it’s just because people have been displaced so often in the Kasai, they have missed now three planting seasons, and if you don’t provide that kind of food assistance now, to kind of bridge that gap, people who have been living off foraging in the forest, they will suffer, and the most vulnerable will die first. Children will die first. And that’s a fact.

Funding cut creates “dramatic financial crisis” for Palestine refugee agency

Major funding cuts on the part of the United States for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) have created the most “dramatic financial crisis” in its history.

That’s according to Pierre KrA�henbuhl, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, who said the revised US contribution of $60 million, was down from more than $350 million last year.

Mr. KrA�henbuhl noted that the US has consistently been UNRWA’s largest single donor, something he sincerely thanked the American people for.

But he added that the severe cut “threatens one of the most successful and innovative” human development programmes in the Middle East, and would impact the stability of the region.

More details on the UNRWA chief’s statement, from UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

“He called on the Agency’s partners to rally in support and join UNRWA in creating new funding alliances and initiatives to ensure Palestine Refugee students continue to access education in its schools and the dignity of Palestine refugee children and their families is preserved through all its services. Mr. KrA�henbuhl will launch in the next few days a global fundraising campaign to capture the large-scale commitment to keeping UNRWA schools and clinics open throughout 2018 and beyond.”

Syria’s warring parties invited to Geneva next week for peace talks

The UN Special Envoy for Syria has invited government and opposition leaders to attend a special meeting next week, under the auspices of the stalled UN-backed Geneva peace process.

Separate invitations have been sent to attend the talks, which will be taking place in Austria, on 25 and 26 January.

Veteran envoy Staffan de Mistura said he was looking forward to both delegations taking part and expected they would come “prepared for substantive engagement” with a specific focus on constitutional reform towards a lasting peace settlement.

Here’s Stephane Dujarric again.

“As he prepares for the session in Vienna, the Special Envoy reiterates the view of the United Nations that any political initiative by international actors should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the UN-facilitated Geneva political process and the full implementation of resolution 2254The UN in Syria has issued a statement today urging all parties, inside and outside of the country, to prevent further violence and enable humanitarian organizations to access and assist people in need.”

Source: United Nations Radio