From the Field

2016 humanitarian world news headlines

Water inundates Boudain, a community on La Gonâve island, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew on the island nation. Ivonne and her daughter Cindia, 8, walk toward their collapsed home. “I really do not know what I will do,” she says. World Vision supports 100 children in Boudain through sponsorship and is bringing relief supplies. (©2016 Claudia Martinez/World Vision)

The humanitarian world news briefs bring you a regularly updated selection of events and trends impacting people and the humanitarian community worldwide. This is an archive of what happened in 2016; click here for our most recent news briefs. Our topic-based FAQs are also a great way to stay up-to-date on a specific topic or issue.

About 194 major natural disasters affected millions of people worldwide in 2016. Armed conflicts claimed tens of thousands of lives; this year saw a record 65.3 million people forcibly displaced. Most notable:

November 23, 2016

Fewer U.S. households were food insecure in 2015

The number of hungry households in the U.S. continued a downward trend in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s household food security report. It estimates that the percentage of food-insecure American households decreased to 12.7% — or 15.8 million households — in 2015, down from 14% in 2014. This means more families can afford enough groceries to feed each member without cutting meals or the size of their meals. U.S. hunger reached its highest point in 2011 when 14.9% of households reported being food insecure at some point during the year. The USDA also reports that 5% of U.S. households “very low” food security in 2015, down from 5.6%. World Vision and partners around the country work to help food-insecure families by providing food kits through schools, churches, and in response to disasters.

Land-mine casualties at 10-year high globally

Land mines and other unexploded ordnance killed or maimed almost 6,500 people around the world in 2015. That’s the most recorded since 2006 and a 75% increase in casualties over 2014, the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines said in its Nov. 22 report. About 38% of victims in 2015 were children. The uptick in casualties was largely driven by militant groups’ increased use of improvised explosive devices. While the group counted victims in 56 countries, the vast majority of casualties were recorded in just five countries: Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Ukraine. The mine-action group reports that about 66 square miles of minefields were cleared worldwide last year, mostly in Cambodia, Croatia, and Afghanistan.

November 18, 2016

Children’s lives and futures at risk in Africa’s Lake Chad region

Hunger and conflict are taking a heavy toll on children and families in the areas of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad near the Lake Chad water basin. More than 9.2 million people are affected, including 475,000 children with signs of malnutrition. About 2.6 million people have fled increasing violence emanating from northeast Nigeria to live in primitive camps or crowded host communities. World Vision provides assistance to 195,000 people in the Diffa region of Niger. We are scaling up operations in water and sanitation, food and cash programming, child protection, and youth engagement to include Baga Sola, a region of Chad.

New toll-free child helpline in Rwanda

A new toll-free child helpline system makes it easier for children to call the police and report child rights issues in Rwanda. Now a fundamental part of World Vision’s child protection systems in Rwanda, the helpline instantly links children to resources and emergency assistance. “There is no way children can enjoy life in all its fullness when they still face abuse and violence,” said George Gitau, World Vision’s national director in Rwanda. World Vision conceived the helpline and developed it in partnership with the Rwanda National Police.

November 7, 2016

A new study reports that children’s stunting starts before birth

Researchers at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health say that in addition to childhood malnutrition, lack of sanitation, and infectious diseases, the biggest factor determining whether a child is stunted may be his or her mother’s diet during pregnancy. The problem is likely inter-generational, experts say, with stunted mothers giving birth to stunted children. Globally, one-third of children younger than 5 are stunted, which limits their long-term physical and cognitive development. U.N. member states have pledged to reduce the global rate of stunting by 40% by 2030.

Myanmar allows aid to Rakhine communities displaced by violence

Myanmar’s leaders allowed humanitarian aid to resume last week to reach people displaced by violence in Rakhine state, Reuters reported Nov 3. About 15,000 people have been cut off from outside efforts to provide help since a militant group attacked a police border station and sparked clashes with the military. “We talked to two groups of villagers who haven’t had any food for a while,” said U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel, who was part of a group of diplomats visiting the area. “So the government has agreed to restoring humanitarian assistance to them, which is a good step.” The recent violence was the worst to affect Rakhine state since communal clashes killed hundreds in 2012. Myanmar is home to 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, who make up the majority of Rakhine state and are particularly vulnerable due to widely held prejudices among majority groups and lack of legal rights. World Vision operates four community development areas in Rakhine state.

October 28, 2016

Global Slavery Index: 45.8 million modern slaves worldwide

Nearly 46 million people are caught up in some form of modern slavery, according to the Walk Free Foundation’s 2016 Global Slavery Index. The index ranks 167 countries based on the percentage of their population estimated to be enslaved. The top five countries with the most people per capita in slavery include North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India, and Qatar.

Fifty-eight percent of all people in slavery live in five countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. Of the countries listed, 150 of their governments provide some form of services for victims of modern slavery, and 124 have criminalized human trafficking in line with U.N. standards. The index estimates more than 57,000 people are modern slaves in the United States.

A situation is considered modern slavery if a person takes away another person’s freedom to control their body or their freedom to choose or refuse certain work in order to exploit them. Explore the Global Slavery Index.

October 24, 2016

Tackling urban poverty

By 2050, more than 75% of the world’s population will live in cities. Many cities don’t have the infrastructure and services to meet the needs of poor families who flock to them in search of opportunities. Habitat III, a recent U.N. conference on sustainable urban development in Quito, Ecuador, outlined new, pro-poor ways to build, manage, and live in cities in a New Urban Agenda. They include extending basic services to all residents and creating “safe, accessible, and green” public spaces. World Vision co-chaired the conference activities related to better city living for children and youth.

October 14, 2016

Girls spend 40% more time than boys on domestic chores

Somali girls ages 10 to 14 spend an average of 26 hours per week doing household chores. That’s the most anywhere in the world, according to an Oct. 7 UNICEF report that estimated the time children ages 5 to 14 spend on chores. The findings show that girls spend 40% more time than boys doing unpaid work in the home. That pans out to an estimated 160 million more hours per day of chores than boys their age do. “As a result, girls sacrifice important opportunities to learn, grow, and just enjoy their childhood,” said UNICEF’s Principal Gender Adviser Anju Malhotra.

World Bank: 385 million children live in extreme poverty

Almost 1 in 5 children in developing countries survives on $1.90 or less per day, according to a new analysis from the World Bank and UNICEF. That amounts to about 385 million children living in extreme poverty worldwide, more than the entire U.S.population of 321 million. The 2013 data the groups studied also suggests that children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in such circumstances.

“Children are not only more likely to be living in extreme poverty; the effects of poverty are most damaging to children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “They are the worst off of the worst off — and the youngest children are the worst off of all because the deprivations they suffer affect the development of their bodies and their minds.”

Among the worst and most damaging effects of poverty for children, especially those younger than 5, is severe malnutrition that results in stunting. Stunted children tend to be short for their age, have learning difficulties, and ultimately can lose out on economic opportunity later in life.

October 3, 2016

No more measles in the Americas

The Pan-American Health Organization announced on Sept. 27 that the spread of measles has been eliminated in the 47 countries of North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean. If a case occurs now, the infection will have come from outside the region. Measles is highly contagious and is a leading cause of death in young children, though it can be prevented by vaccination. Worldwide, some 115,000 children died from measles last year. The latest outbreaks in the Americas were in January 2015 in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil.

Air pollution: Dirty air kills

Ninety-two percent of the world’s population breathes unhealthy air, according to the World Health Organization in a new report. Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing and traffic-choked urban centers are among the worst-affected areas. Each year about 3 million deaths from cardiovascular, pulmonary, and other non-communicable diseases can be attributed to outdoor air pollution. Among the major polluters are coal-fired power plants, inefficient modes of transportation, and burning trash piles. The WHO’s director for public health and the environment, María P. Neira, told The New York Times that “the trends are still going in the wrong direction.”

September 23, 2016

Are the world’s 2030 health goals out of reach?

A baseline study of global health indicators casts doubt on the world’s ability to meet the Sustainable Development Goal to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” with measurable results by 2030. Using health data covering the past 25 years, researchers with Seattle’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations looked at health trends in 188 countries. Somalia, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic showed little progress. Others, including Syria and Libya, saw health indicators decline due to war. One exception to the gloomy outlook is maternal and child health. The study’s authors say 60% of countries have already met their 2030 goals for preventing maternal and child deaths.

September 16, 2016

Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school

The U.N. refugee agency reports that more than 6 million child refugees have no school to attend. For primary grades, 50% of children have education opportunities, compared to a global average of 90%. The education gap widens significantly as refugee children age. More than half of out-of-school refugees are in seven countries: Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Alliance of U.S. NGOs announces $1.2 billion humanitarian investment

Ahead of the U.N. refugee summit and a Sept. 20 global leaders meeting called by President Obama, 31 U.S.-based humanitarian organizations — including World Vision — have pledged to collectively invest more than $1 billion from private sources to assist refugees over the next three years. The announcement was made by Sam Worthington, CEO of InterAction, the largest U.S. alliance of aid organizations. Participating humanitarian groups will provide urgent medical assistance, food and nutrition security, shelter, education, and other services to refugees and displaced people.

September 9, 2016

Report: Half of the world’s refugees are children

Half of the refugees in the world are children, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a report released Sept. 7 highlighting the plight of children displaced by conflict or as migrants. The report, “Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children,” seeks to bring together the best available data on displaced children’s lives to help address their rights and needs when they’re most vulnerable.

The report shows that more than 50 million children worldwide have been uprooted from their homes, including 28 million displaced by conflict or violence. About 1 in 3 children living outside their home country is a refugee, and there were twice as many refugee children in 2015 as in 2005. In 2015, more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 78 countries — triple the number of child asylum seekers in 2014. World Vision works in some of the most difficult humanitarian crises affecting displaced children, including Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

U.S. gives Laos $90 million to clear unexploded Vietnam War-era bombs

The U.S. government announced Sept. 6 it would give Laos $90 million to continue efforts to clear unexploded ordnance dropped during the Vietnam War. The pledge came during President Obama’s visit to the country for a regional summit and aims, in part, to continue programs that support victims of the leftover bombs over the next three years. From 1964 to 1973, U.S. warplanes dropped more than 270 million cluster munitions on Laos; 1 in 3 bombs did not explode.

A land-mine monitoring group estimates that 50,000 people in Laos have been killed or injured by air-dropped ordnance since 1964. Contaminating workable fields, it has hindered economic progress for the country, which relies heavily on agriculture.

Thanks in part to U.S. help over the past 20 years, Laos has reduced annual casualties from unexploded ordnance from about 300 people to fewer than 50. Along with awareness training, World Vision cooperates with the Laos government and Mine Action Group to remove mines and certify land released for agriculture and development. So far, more than 1,000 acres have been cleared and more than 2,120 bombs and mines destroyed.

WHO declares Sri Lanka malaria free

Once one of the most malaria-affected places in the world, Sri Lanka is now free of the virus, the World Health Organization said Sept. 5. About 80% of Sri Lankans live in rural areas vulnerable to malaria. The country struggled to quell malaria in the 1970s and 1980s, while cases soared. Health officials redoubled efforts in the 1990s and saw significant reductions in the virus. By 2006, according to the World Health Organization, Sri Lanka saw less than 1,000 cases of malaria per year, and since October 2012, the country has not recorded a single locally transmitted case.

Haiti sees huge increase in cholera cases in first half of 2016

Between January and July, the number of deaths due to cholera in Haiti rose 32% over the same period last year, the U.N. humanitarian office reported in July. The total number of cases is up 22% from that same period. In all, Haiti experienced more than 24,500 new suspected cases of cholera in the first half of 2016, with 227 resulting in death. The agency anticipates the total number of cases could reach 50,000 by the end of the year.

It blamed dwindling resources, poor water and sanitation infrastructure, and high population density in urban areas for the disease’s persistence since the devastating 2010 earthquake. Between October 2010 and July 2016, nearly 9,400 Haitians died from cholera, and health officials documented about 785,000 cases. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by consuming contaminated food or water. It can result in severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. With rehydration and antibiotics, it can be cured quickly and easily.

Remembering a fallen humanitarian worker

On Sept. 6, Silvano Garisano, a World Vision staff member in South Sudan, was killed along with his wife, one of their children, and another family member. Silvano worked on health projects in the embattled country. Join us in thanking God for his life and the lives of others killed, and pray for Silvano’s two surviving children, his extended family, colleagues, and those he faithfully served.

September 2, 2016

More than 1 million children risk losing school meals in West and Central Africa

School children in West and Central Africa who rely on meals from the World Food Programme could miss out on lunch, the organization said Aug. 30. Budget tightening could affect 1.3 million children in those regions, as resources for school feeding programs dwindle and donors’ priorities shift. Students in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and 12 other countries may have to start the year without vital school meals unless the U.N. food agency receives a new infusion of funds in September.

“In most countries in west and central Africa — in the grip of chronic hunger and malnutrition, and increasingly affected by conflict — school meals have been a lifeline for children, as they are often the only regular and nutritious meals they receive,” said World Food Programme’s regional director for West Africa Abdou Dieng. The agency’s school meal programs in Chad, which once assisted 200,000 children, have shrunk by about 90% in three years because of funding shortfalls.

Thailand jails man for 35 years in high-profile trafficking case

A Thai court sentenced a man to 35 years in prison Aug. 31 for smuggling people from Myanmar, the Thompson Reuters Foundation reported. The high-profile trafficking investigation led authorities to hidden jungle camps, mass graves, and an international trafficking ring. The sentencing came 19 months after Thai police discovered a group of nearly 100 ethnic Rohingya men, women, and children at a checkpoint being transported in five vehicles.

The Rohingya people have been caught up in deadly religious violence in Myanmar since 2012 and have been vulnerable to human traffickers who exploit families displaced by violence or seeking job opportunities.

10 countries with the highest out-of-school rates account for 18 million non-attenders

Eighteen million primary school-age children in 10 countries are out of school this year, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a Sept. 1 report. The 10 countries with the highest rates of children not attending primary school include Liberia and South Sudan. In Liberia, nearly two-thirds of primary school-aged children are out of school. South Sudan has the second-highest out-of-school rate among elementary school students — 59%; 1 in 3 schools there is closed. UNICEF also highlights Afghanistan, Sudan, Niger, and Nigeria among the top countries with the highest primary out-of-school rates, at 46%, 45%, 38%, and 34%, respectively.

August 29, 2016

Los Angeles sting nets nearly 300 trafficking arrests

A massive, three-day sweep led to recent arrests of 286 persons in the Los Angeles area, most on charges of prostitution. Victims are receiving care in protective custody. Among U.S. states, California has the largest number of human trafficking cases reported; more than 500 sex trafficking cases have been reported there this year.

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Person Report, the top three countries of origin for persons trafficked for sex or labor in the United States are the U.S. itself, Mexico, and the Philippines.

August 19, 2016

Attacks on aid workers down in 2015

The year 2015 saw the second straight drop in attacks against aid workers, per the 2016 Aid Worker Security Report. The report shows that 287 aid workers were affected in 148 incidents recorded in 25 countries last year. That’s 42 fewer victims and a 22% drop in the number of attacks in 2014.

Afghanistan remained the most dangerous country for aid workers, accounting for 53 incidents and 101 victims. Somalia was the second-worst and South Sudan the third-most dangerous place. Syria and Yemen were among the top five most dangerous places for aid workers. Of the victims recorded in 2015, 109 were killed, 110 injured, and 68 survived being kidnapped. The majority of workers affected in Afghanistan were kidnapped. In Somalia, most were affected by shootings. And aid workers in South Sudan most often experienced shootings or bodily assaults, including rape.

World Vision operates in four of the five most dangerous countries for aid workers. The deadliest year in the past five years — 2013 — saw 475 workers affected by 265 incidents.

Worst of El Niño over, but 60 million still feel the effects

The strongest El Niño climate-warming phenomenon in nearly 20 years is over, say scientists at the World Meteorological Organization. But that will provide little comfort to the 60 million people whose crops and livelihoods were negatively impacted by increased and more severe droughts since 2014.

The most vulnerable people are families that rely on farming or wages from jobs as day-laborers. People in Central America, Southern Africa, and the Pacific Islands are particularly hard-hit. Humanitarian groups say these families will feel the effects into the next planting season. The meteorological organization predicts a fair chance of a La Niña cooling trend lasting through 2016. Areas now experiencing drought could face flooding, and areas that have received excessive rainfall could experience drought.

World Vision has so far provided assistance to 5 million people affected by El Niño, including emergency aid and programs to increase long-term resilience.

High water brings destruction in south Louisiana

At least 13 people have died and some 40,000 homes are damaged from Louisiana’s worst flooding since Hurricane Katrina. Twenty parishes have been declared disaster areas. And the worst is not over; water is still rising in southern Louisiana as floodwaters continue to drain, causing rivers and backwaters to overflow.

World Vision has sent a truckload of emergency goods, including hygiene items and cleaning supplies, to Baton Rouge. A network of partner churches will distribute aid to families in need.

August 12, 2016

Refugee agency seeks extra funding to resettle displaced Somalis

The United Nations Refugee Agency is asking for an additional $115 million to ramp up its efforts to provide assistance to and repatriate tens of thousands of Somali refugees living in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab. Earlier this year, the Kenyan government announced its intent to close the camp due to increased security threats it said originated from activity in the camp.

The refugee agency says it could help reduce the population in Dadaab by about 150,000 people by the end of 2016. The camp lies near Kenya’s eastern border with Somalia and has been a refuge for more than 300,000 people fleeing conflict and severe drought in Somalia since the 1990s. World Vision provides ongoing support to refugees there, including food assistance.

Colombia expands efforts to return land lost during conflict

More displaced Colombians will soon be able to return to their property that was stolen or abandoned during five decades of civil conflict, Reuters reported Aug. 9. In the wake of a historic peace agreement in June, the government is ramping up its land-restitution program to help families recover almost 39,000 square miles of land that was abandoned during fighting or stolen by armed rebel groups. The land restitution program began in 2011 and has, until now, struggled to process the 80,000 claims. It has already awarded about 494,000 acres worth of land titles to about 20,000 Colombian citizens.

India investigates child deaths in mica mines

Officials in India have begun investigating seven child deaths in illegal mica mines, highlighting concerns over child labor practices in the country. The deaths were revealed in a recent Thompson Reuters Foundation investigative report that found evidence that mine owners and parents covered up the incidents to preserve economic opportunity in their communities.

India law forbids children under the age of 18 to work in mines and similar hazardous enterprises. But, as interviews in the extensive multimedia report highlight, children of extremely poor families often join their parents in the work at the mines to help the household make ends meet. Global demand for mica — a shiny, silicate mineral — has significantly increased in recent years due to its prolific use in electronics, automotive paint, and environmentally friendly cosmetics.

New polio cases in Nigeria set back global eradication efforts

The drive to wipe out polio worldwide was dealt a major setback when health workers discovered two cases of paralysis caused by the virus in Nigeria, the World Health Organization announced Aug. 11. The organization had hoped to declare the continent polio-free and focus on eliminating the virus in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the only areas known to have the strain that paralyzes.

It had been two years since Nigeria had reported any polio cases, only a year shy of being declared free of the virus. “The overriding priority now is to rapidly immunize all children around the affected area and ensure that no other children succumb to this terrible disease,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.

August 7, 2016

Tanzania court rules against child marriage

In July, Tanzania’s highest court outlawed marriage for girls and boys under 18. The landmark ruling raised the legal age for marriage for girls from 14. A week earlier the court imposed a punishment of up to 30 years for men who marry a primary- or secondary-school-age girl. Tanzania has one of the world’s highest child marriage rates. About 37% of girls there marry by their 18th birthday.

The court decision is considered a win for advocacy groups. According to Reuters and BBC reports, rights groups say the new policy is not a full solution and needs to be taken further by helping communities change their minds about marrying off their daughters at a young age.

July 21, 2016

Airstrike damages World Vision child protection center in Syria

Syria, child protection, damaged school building.
An airstrike damaged a World Vision children’s center located in a northern Syria school. No children in the program were hurt, but an 11-year-old boy nearby died. (©2016 World Vision)

A World Vision-supported child protection center based in a school in northern Syria was damaged by an airstrike Saturday, July 16. Though the impact was about 100 yards from the school, the intense blast blew out the school’s windows and doors, crumbled exterior steps, and punched holes in the walls.

None of the 400 children who come there for psychosocial support were at the center, “but tragically, an 11-year old boy who was nearby was killed,” says Dr. Christine Latif, World Vision’s response manager for Turkey and northern Syria.

“The children of Syria have experienced more hardship, devastation, and violence than any child should have to in a thousand lifetimes,” she says.

In July, World Vision took over operation of the center from another international nongovernmental organization. The program will continue without interruption.

July 11, 2016

Super Typhoon Nepartak slams Taiwan and rain-soaked China

Taiwan and mainland China are reeling from the impact of Typhoon Nepartak, which skirted the Philippines’ coast last week with 170-mph winds. Though Nepartak was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached southern China, people there are still in jeopardy, having experienced rainstorms and flooding since May.  Earlier rains affected 26 Chinese provinces. More than 180 people died, and nearly 1.5 million evacuated. World Vision distributed quilts, relief kits for families and children, and set up Child-Friendly Spaces where children can gather and play. We expect to assist with recovery for at least 15 months.

U.S. Congress passes the Global Food Security Act

A bipartisan bill that saw final passage last week will help alleviate hunger and malnutrition, which affect 795 million people around the world, including 159 million children. The Global Food Security Act of 2016 supports a country-led approach in agriculture development to help fight chronic hunger and food insecurity. The bill has a strong focus on nutrition for mothers and children and providing agricultural resources for smallholder farmers, including women. World Vision implements agriculture development and food assistance programs in 35 countries.

July 4, 2016

UNICEF child report challenges the world to stay on task

If the world fails to tackle the root causes of poverty, 167 million children will live in extreme poverty by 2030 and 69 million children younger than 5 will die between now and then, according to UNICEF’s 2016 State of the World’s Children report. The agency paints a picture of what life for millions of children worldwide might look like by 2030, the deadline for the new Sustainable Development Goals adopted by United Nations member states in 2015.

Despite major gains since 1990 in the fight against poverty, growing social and economic inequality could hinder future progress, per the report. Both the number and rate of child deaths has been cut in half, but still, each year, about 5.9 million children die from preventable causes. The poorest children are twice as likely as their richest peers to be chronically malnourished and die before their fifth birthday. Based on current trends, the report predicts that sub-Saharan Africa will account for nearly half of the 69 million children who may die before age 5 between now and 2030 and more than half of the 60 million primary school-aged children who will still be out of school.

India water issues spur communal clashes

Authorities in India are reporting a rise in violent clashes among communities because of water shortages, the Thompson Reuters Foundation reported June 29. Disputes are common, and as resources continue to dwindle, the incidents are more frequent and deadly. The country has faced below-average rainfall each year for the past decade. Two consecutive severe droughts and heat waves have made it worse for millions in northern and central India who struggle to find reliable water sources. Monsoon rains recently began throughout much of the country, but it will take time for the dozens of nearly depleted reservoirs to replenish.

Trafficking report calls for prevention against $150 billion business of human slavery

This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report, released by the U.S. State Department on June 30, examines 188 countries’ progress in eliminating human trafficking. Countries are rated, and those with the worst rating are subject to economic sanctions by the U.S. government. This year’s report emphasizes prevention, with the hopeful message that, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, “… just because a certain abuse has happened in the past doesn’t mean we have to tolerate that abuse in the future.” Preventive measures include public campaigns to spread awareness of trafficking practices and laws, along with national and community networks to intervene on behalf of children and others who could be vulnerable to abuse.

June 20, 2016

Number of displaced in Afghanistan doubles since 2013

Today more than 1.2 million people are displaced within Afghanistan which has a total population of about 30 million. That’s more than double the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) as of three years ago, human rights group Amnesty International reported May 31. There were about 500,000 people displaced within Afghanistan in 2013. In addition to internal displacement, Afghans make up one of the largest groups of refugees in the world — about 2.6 million currently live outside of the country. The sharp rise is due to Western forces withdrawing from the country, according to the BBC. Exacerbating the situation for IDPs is a 2014 government policy that promised better access to food, water, and education, which has not delivered. World Vision began working in Afghanistan in 2001.

June 13, 2016

More Nigerians displaced after extremist attacks

Another 50,000 to 75,000 Nigerians have been displaced by extremist attacks since May 19 and need immediate assistance across the border in Niger, according to ACAPS, a humanitarian information agency. This puts the total number of people displaced by Nigeria’s conflict at more than 240,000 people, nearly half of whom have sought refuge in neighboring Niger, near Diffa. World Vision has been responding to the crisis by providing displaced families with clean water, food assistance, help meeting their most pressing needs, and educational opportunities for children.

Honduras gang violence forcing more to flee

Thousands of people are fleeing their homes in Honduras every month because of gang violence, the Thompson Reuters Foundation reported June 3. The mass displacement has been on the rise since December and is fueled primarily by urban violence between rival gangs. Many families are resettling in other parts of Honduras. Many, including unaccompanied children from other Central American countries, are fleeing similar circumstances and attempting to get into the United States. More than 27,700 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border between September 2015 and March 2016, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Global Peace Index shows growing gap between most, least peaceful countries

The world has become slightly less peaceful since 2015, and the gap continues to grow between the most and the least peaceful nations, according to the 2016 Global Peace Index, released June 8. While 81 countries improved according to the index, the 79 that became less peaceful fell far enough to outweigh the improved countries’ gains. The report also highlighted a historic decline in world peace over the past decade, compared with the significant progress in the decades since World War II. This was largely driven by global terrorism and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.

The index measures 163 countries by looking at factors such as the impact of terrorism; the number of deaths due to internal conflict, violent demonstrations, and military expenditure; and the number of refugees and internally displaced people. The report also noted that the world invests only $15 billion per year on peacekeeping and peacebuilding, which is only 2% of the $13.6 trillion in economic losses due to conflict.

June 6, 2016

Refugee host communities in Horn of Africa get financial boost

Communities hosting refugees and displaced people in the Horn of Africa will soon get help after leaders at the World Bank approved $175 million in funding May 31. The financing, mostly in the form of low- to no-interest loans, seeks to mitigate the economic effects on host communities, such as strain on infrastructure, public utilities, and schools, as well as promote stability and more economic opportunity.

Ethiopia will receive $100 million, Uganda is slated to get $50 million, and Djibouti will receive $20 million. The remaining $5 million is intended as a grant to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa.

About 9.5 million people are displaced in the Horn of Africa, including 6.5 million displaced within their own countries and about 3 million who have fled their home countries as refugees.

Aid workers killed in Afghanistan, South Sudan

Gunmen shot and killed three aid workers in eastern Afghanistan June 1, reported the Thompson Reuters Foundation. All three were local employees working for an international nongovernmental organization and were driving along a rural road north of Kabul, the capital. Another humanitarian aid worker was killed May 15 after she was attacked while driving an ambulance from a medical center in Yei, South Sudan, OCHA reported in its May 30 Humanitarian Bulletin from South Sudan. In 2014, according to the 2015 Aid Worker Security Report:

  • 121 aid workers killed
  • 88 aid workers wounded
  • 120 aid workers kidnapped

Afghanistan was the most violent place for aid workers, accounting for 54 attacks. South Sudan was the third most dangerous place, with 18 attacks.

May 30, 2016

World Humanitarian Summit gets mixed reviews

World leaders have talked. Now people want action. That’s the sentiment coming from aid experts after the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit concluded May 24 in Istanbul, Turkey. Governments and aid groups gathered May 23 and 24 to discuss and make commitments toward reforming humanitarian finance, preventing conflict, reducing forced displacement, understanding the impact of emergencies on women and girls, and managing natural disaster risk and preparedness.

Participants pledged toward a new emergency schooling fund aimed at raising $3.8 billion and a deal between major donors and agencies to save up to $1 billion by more efficiently administering aid, among other pledges.

World Vision leaders participated in some high-level panels and discussions, offering a mixed review. “Despite many positive outcomes at the summit, the lack of attention to child protection remains particularly disappointing in the face of multiple protection crises around the world, in places like Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic,” World Vision leaders said after the summit.

World Bank reports cities are ‘woefully unprepared’ for rising disaster risk

The world is not adequately prepared for the adverse effects of growing urban populations and increasingly frequent natural disasters, the World Bank and a leading disaster risk reduction agency said in a report released May 16. By 2050, rapid urbanization and lack of preparedness could put 1.3 billion people and $158 trillion in assets at risk from flooding. A driving risk factor is a lack of planning and risk assessment in urban development. Substantiating the claim that decision-makers must plan more carefully, the report cites data from the international disaster database EM-DAT that says annual damages from natural disasters worldwide have increased from $14 billion in the decade 1976 to 1985 to more than $140 billion from 2005 to 2014.

May 23, 2016

Humanitarian aid funding hit a record $28 billion in 2015

The total value of humanitarian assistance given out in 2015 hit a record high of $28 billion, according to a report released May 19 by Development Initiatives, an independent development organization that focuses on using data to drive poverty eradication efforts. This is the third straight year the organization has recorded a rise in global humanitarian giving. Private contributions accounted for about $6.2 billion, while governments gave about $21.8 billion to humanitarian crises.

While this funding set a record, the world would need to give almost twice as much to fully fund current U.N.-coordinated aid appeals. The report notes that 677 million people who live in extreme poverty are highly vulnerable to crisis. At the World Humanitarian Summit May 23 and 24 in Istanbul, leaders will consider, among other things, how to deliver humanitarian funding more efficiently and effectively.

330 million affected in India drought

Nearly a quarter of India’s population, 330 million people, is feeling the effects of a drought worsened recently by an oppressive heat wave. Temperatures have reached 107 degrees Fahrenheit for days on end in some areas, exacerbating water shortages, ruining crops, and causing at least 100 deaths due to heatstroke. World Vision is mounting a response over the next six months to help the communities of as many as 33,500 children registered in its sponsorship programs. So far, World Vision staff have reached more than 22,500 people with food, water, and materials to help maintain their livelihoods.

Five countries where child soldiers are still recruited

With the largest rebel group in Colombia recently agreeing to release all of its soldiers under age 15, independent humanitarian news agency IRIN News published a report May 17 highlighting how child soldiers have been used in five other countries. Featured countries include South Sudan, Myanmar, Britain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Yemen. Britain was cited due to its historical practice of recruiting 16-year-olds and deploying some 17-year-olds in the 1991 Gulf War and Kosovo in 1999. The government later barred deployment of anyone younger than 18. Britain’s army still recruits under-age soldiers but requires parental consent for enlistment. Learn more about child soldiers in Myanmar, South Sudan, Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

May 16, 2016

World Humanitarian Summit tests aid community’s will to grow, change

Government and humanitarian leaders from around the world meet May 23 and 24 in Istanbul for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit. The summit aims to reinvigorate the world’s commitment to humanitarian principles, share ideas on how to improve aid and development work, and create plans for action. Key themes covered at the summit will include reforming humanitarian finance, preventing conflict, reducing forced displacement, understanding the impact of emergencies on women and girls, and managing natural disaster risk and preparedness. World Vision will participate in high-level talks at the event and has played a significant role in getting talks about faith in humanitarian response on the agenda.

Kenya plans to close largest refugee camp amid security concerns

Kenya announced in early May it plans to close Dadaab refugee camp, which hosts more than half of the 600,000 people taking refuge inside the country. Government leaders cited national security as the reason. They said the deadly 2013 attacks in Nairobi and the 2015 massacre in Garissa were planned and launched in Dadaab, near the Somali border. Various governments and aid agencies, including World Vision, have decried the decision, asking Kenya’s leaders to reconsider.

Home to as many as 350,000 people, Dadaab is considered the world’s largest refugee camp. Most Dadaab residents fled drought and conflict in Somalia over the past 25 years. Kakuma refugee camp, in the northwest, was originally considered for closure, but Kenya’s government changed its mind, deciding to focus on closing Dadaab by November. South Sudanese make up more than half of the 190,000 refugees in Kakuma. The camp was enlarged in 2015 to accommodate as many as 80,000 refugees from the civil war in South Sudan.

May 9, 2016

Global water shortages to deliver ‘severe hit’ to economies, World Bank warns

By 2050, water shortages could diminish gross domestic product in the Middle East by 14%, according to World Bank analysts. Increasing demand for water in cities and for agriculture could lead to a:

  • 12% reduction in GDP in West Africa’s Sahel region
  • 11% loss throughout central Asia
  • 7% reduction in Asia

The bank says worsening water shortages will lead to more conflict and migration over the next few decades. Economies in North America and western Europe will not see much impact due to water shortages, per the report. It cites warming temperatures, more erratic weather patterns, and increased demand from growing populations as key factors in its predictions.

New fund for education in conflict areas

About 1 in 4 school-age children in the world lives in a country affected by war or disaster, according to UNICEF as the agency announced a new fund to educate children during emergencies. The Education Cannot Wait fund will launch later this month during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, with a goal of raising nearly $4 billion to reach 13.6 million children in its first five years. “Going to school keeps children safe from abuses like trafficking and recruitment into armed groups, and is a vital investment in children’s futures and in the future of their communities,” said Josephine Bourne, UNICEF’s education chief. About 75 million children ages 3 to 18 living in 35 countries are most in need of educational support.

Polio vaccine swap complete

In a two-week period, health workers in 155 countries swapped out their entire stock of a polio vaccine considered harmful to eradication efforts, said leaders with the World Health Organization’s polio program. In many developing countries, an oral vaccine that had been used for more than 60 years has brought the world to the cusp of eradicating polio.

But a problem has arisen: Children take the vaccine, but due to poor sanitation systems, when they defecate, the virus’ cells get into the water supply via their feces. Then if someone drinks from that supply, it can cause them to get the disease if they aren’t already vaccinated.

In recent years, dozens of children contracted a version of the virus in this manner that was spread through poor sanitation. In 2015, 74 children were paralyzed by wild polioviruses in the only two countries where the virus persists — Pakistan and Afghanistan. So far, only 10 cases have been reported in 2016. That compares with the 350,000 children who contracted the paralyzing virus in annually in the 1980s. (The U.S. uses a different polio vaccine than this one.)

Yellow fever outbreak spreads to DRC, Zambia

A yellow fever outbreak that began in Angola earlier this year has spread to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and an increasing number of cases in Zambia is raising concerns about a full-on outbreak there, the World Health Organization and various groups reported in early May. World Vision staff in all three countries are on high alert as they prepare to help affected communities.

Yellow fever is spread by the same mosquito that transmits the Zika virus — Aedes Aegypti. Between early January to March 22, officials in DRC reported 453 cases and 45 deaths from yellow fever. The virus causes jaundice, kidney failure, and bleeding. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Half of the severely affected patients who don’t receive treatment die within 14 days.

May 2, 2016

Shots fired and missed in the war on childhood diseases

Almost two-thirds of the world’s unimmunized children live in conflict zones, said the U.N. children’s agency ahead of last week’s observance of World Immunization Week. Many pay with their lives by missing out on protection from measles, mumps, diphtheria, pneumonia, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough.

Almost one-third of deaths among children under 5 are preventable by vaccine. The global push for universal immunization has helped many developing countries to put in place systems and controls required that are the building blocks of successful community health services, the World Health Organization says.

April 25, 2016

India drought affects 330 million people

After two years of meager monsoon rains, the government of India says at least 330 million people are suffering the effects of drought, hunger, water shortages, and a severe heat wave.

“This drought could turn disastrous for children if we don’t act fast,” says Cherian Thomas, World Vision’s national director for India. “Malnutrition and mortality rate among children could rise rapidly. Migration is forcing children to drop out of school, increasing instances of child labor, and causing them to live in unsafe environments.”

World Vision’s initial response includes work in 15 program areas of seven states where it is already engaged in child-focused community development. Activities include distribution of food kits, livelihoods support, and supply of fodder and water to farmers.

April 18, 2016

First-ever World Humanitarian Summit

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on governments, aid groups, private enterprises, and people affected by humanitarian crises to meet in Istanbul May 23 and 24 to discuss the state of global humanitarian action. The meeting will convene with three stated goals: global re-commitment to humanitarian principles, national and local preparation for disaster management, and sharing of best practices. As an international nongovernmental organization, World Vision has been involved in setting the agenda and will participate in discussions.

Violence against women a fixture of war and peace

A recent U.N. report accuses both sides of the South Sudan civil war of systematic rape and violence against women. In South Sudan, “massive use of rape as an instrument of terror and weapon of war … has been more or less off the international radar,” says Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

Globally, 1 in 3 women will experience sexual or physical violence, according to the U.N., and in some countries, the figure is as high as 70%. While better laws, policies, and education are needed, women’s advocates say a “breakthrough generation” of men and women willing to interrupt sexual violence is necessary to make a lasting difference.

April 11, 2016

Parents of Nigerian schoolgirls to mark kidnapping anniversary with prayer

On April 14 two years ago, militants abducted 276 girls from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, northeast Nigeria. The shocking incident set off a worldwide outcry and viral campaign — #bringbackourgirls. Only 57 girls escaped; the rest have not been found. This year, parents have organized a Muslim-Christian prayer service at the school site to remember the lost girls. Amnesty International says the militants responsible for the Chibok kidnapping have captured thousands of boys and girls and used them as cooks, porters, sex slaves, and even suicide bombers over the past seven years.

Every day, 10 people die from explosive war remnants

In observance of Mine Action Day on April 4, the United Nations called for renewed efforts to eliminate land mines, bombs, and other explosive war remnants around the world. The legacy of conflict is often civilian deaths, sometimes decades after wars end, the U.N. says. Last year alone, U.N. agencies destroyed 168,000 explosive devices and 10,000 land mines. The top five countries for U.N. mine action were Afghanistan, Laos, Iraq, Angola, and Cambodia.

Pakistan and Afghanistan make a pact to end polio

Polio has been cornered in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last two countries where the disease is endemic. Now health officials are fighting not only the disease itself but cultural norms and ignorance that have led parents of about 100,000 children on both sides of the border to refuse vaccination for their children. Local leaders and religious scholars have been enlisted to promote vaccination, and children will now receive the vaccine at border crossings. So far in 2016, only 12 cases of polio paralysis have been identified globally, down from 33 at the same time last year.

April 4, 2016

Central African Republic elects parliament

A day after its newly elected president was inaugurated, the war-torn Central African Republic went back to the polls last week to finalize parliamentary elections. Restoring a functional national government under a new constitution will be necessary for the Central African Republic to overcome the ethnic conflict that’s caused thousands of deaths and displaced more than 400,000 people since 2013.

President Faustin-Archange Touadera has vowed to “preserve peace” so the nation can chart a new course toward development. In addition to political progress, Doctors Without Borders reports that more than 73,000 of the country’s children younger than 5 were recently vaccinated in a campaign to protect against diseases like polio, hepatitis, measles, pneumonia, and meningitis.

Myanmar swears in first civilian government in 50 years

Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party has taken the reins of government from the military in Myanmar. Suu Kyi will serve as foreign minister and one of her aides, U Htin Kyaw, holds the president’s office. The military retains significant power through control of the police and security services. U Htin Kyaw promises constitutional changes that will enhance the development of democracy and a higher standard of living.

March 28, 2016

Nearly 90 million children at risk of toxic stress due to conflict

Globally, more than 86.7 million children younger than 7 have spent their entire lives in conflict zones, endangering their mental development, according to the United Nations children’s agency. The first seven years of life are critical for a child’s mental health, emotional well-being, and ability to learn. Living in conflict puts them at risk of toxic stress, a condition that inhibits brain cell connections. In many places, World Vision provides child protection, psychosocial support, and educational opportunities for children affected by conflict.

$100 million loan from World Bank will help Lebanon educate its children, Syrian refugees

Lebanon just got $100 million from the World Bank to boost its strained education system. The bank’s board approved the loan last week to recognize and help Lebanon’s efforts to host more than 1 million Syrian refugees, providing schooling for their 400,000 children, according to a Thompson-Reuters Foundation report.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said it has already agreed to provide as much as $1 billion to the country of four million people, but government gridlock has held it back. Many have not been in school for years, or struggle to keep up in classes taught in English or French rather than their native Arabic.

In October, the World Bank and United Nations aid groups announced they would provide the Lebanese with enough funding to double the number of Syrian refugees enrolled in schools, from 100,000 to about 200,000 children. Lebanon received another boost to its efforts to help refugees in early March when the World Food Programme said new funding would enable it to restore emergency food aid deliveries, school meals, and monthly food baskets for millions of Syrians displaced in the region. World Vision provides support to early childhood education and gives refugee children the opportunity to learn and play in Child-Friendly Spaces.

Colombian government and rebels miss peace-deal deadline

Government and rebel negotiators missed the self-imposed March 23 deadline to reach a peace deal that would end Latin America’s longest war. Peace talks between the Colombian government and leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, began in Havana, Cuba more than three years ago. Both sides said they remain committed to finding a peaceful solution to their differences and intend to resume talks April 4. They have reached agreements on issues such as land reform and justice for conflict victims. More than 40 years of civil war has killed 220,000 people and displaced millions within Colombia.

March 21, 2016

Violence against religious minorities the Middle East is ‘genocide’

Extremists in Iraq and Syria have committed genocide against minority Christians and Yazidis, as well as Shi’ite Muslims, Reuters reported that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said March 17. The declaration does not obligate the U.S. to do more in its fight against extremists in the region, but it does make it easier to push for more action.

“[Extremists] kill Christians because they are Christians. Yazidis because they are Yazidis. Shi’ites because they are Shi’ites,” Kerry said.

About 3.3 million Iraqis are displaced inside their country because of ongoing violence. About 250,000 Syrians have taken refuge there, too. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 11 million displaced during the Syrian civil war. In 2015, World Vision assisted Iraqi refugees living in churches in Jordan with winter clothing. Inside Iraq, World Vision staff there supported churches’ efforts to care for displaced families.

Child labor numbers in India reduced 60% in 10 years

India had 64% fewer child laborers age 14 or younger in 2011 than it did a decade earlier, the country’s labor minister said March 13. The number dropped from about 12.6 million working children in 2001 to about 4.5 million in 2011. The minister cited the most recent census numbers as he urged lawmakers to amend existing child-labor laws to promote child protection.

According to a 2015 report by the International Labor Organization, more than 5.7 million 5- to 17-year-olds are involved in child labor in India and about 2.5 million 15- to 17-year-olds engaging in hazardous work. If Parliament passes the proposed changes, it would outlaw child labor for children younger than 14 in all sectors. The ILO estimates there are 168 million children caught up in child labor worldwide.

March 14, 2016

Hunger intensifies in conflict-, drought-affected areas worldwide

Drought, flooding, and civil conflict have forced 34 countries to seek help from neighbors to meet their own food needs, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report released March 9. Twenty-seven of those countries are in Africa.

Development and aid organizations cite prolonged drought and persistent flooding due to El Niño weather patterns as the cause for significantly reduced crop-production outlook for 2016 in Southern Africa. Families throughout Central America and the Caribbean are heading into a precarious planting season for the third year in a row. War and conflict in countries like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Central African Republic have created similar food crises. In many cases, those food crises affect neighboring countries, who feel the economic strain of hosting refugees.

Health leaders want outbreaks like Zika, Ebola treated like earthquakes

Disaster planning and global health experts are pushing to make countries’ responses to health emergencies — like the Ebola and Zika outbreaks — as high a priority as earthquakes, floods, and storms. The World Health Organization and the UN’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) asked national disaster management agencies March 10 to improve the way they prepare for and respond to public health crises.

“It is understandable that there is a strong disaster management focus on earthquakes and extreme weather events which affect over 100 million people every year,” said Robert Glasser, the head of UNISDR, “but this machinery must also be ready for deployment in public health emergencies where the trigger is a virus like Zika.”

March 7, 2016

U.S. bans imported goods made with forced labor

The United States has banned the import of goods produced by forced labor, Reuters reported in late February. The new law, which President Obama signed Feb. 24, closes a legal loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930, which allowed goods produced by forced labor to enter the country if U.S. demand exceeded domestic production. Shipments of goods commonly produced by slave labor, like fish, cocoa, and electronics, will be kept out of the U.S. under the new law.

“It’s a really big deal,” said Annick Febrey, senior associate at the advocacy group Human Rights First. “While we as a country have said that we are against slavery, we’ve had this little-known rule in the Tariff Act.” The International Labor Organization estimates there are almost 21 million people trapped in forced labor around the world.

February 29, 2016

Humanitarian reform: Doing good, but better

Most humanitarian aid goes to alleviate suffering in crises that go on for years — think drought in Ethiopia and the Syrian civil war. Yet long-term, complex needs are often addressed with short-term relief. That’s only one of the challenges U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hopes to sort out in May during the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. Representatives of governments and aid agencies from around the world will be looking for ways to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and cooperation as they seek the answer to what Ban says is the knottiest problem of them all — humanitarian financing.

Hungry in Haiti

According to the U.N.’s World Food Programme, 3.6 million of Haiti’s 10.4 million people can’t afford minimum daily calories. A three-year drought is driving more and more rural people to abandon their farm plots and relocate to urban areas in search of employment to feed their families. Haitians have long struggled with poor nutrition because of widespread poverty. Maternal and child health, nutrition, and access to clean water are top priorities of World Vision’s programs in Haiti.

February 22, 2016

El Niño’s tragic wake

A powerful El Niño-driven drought and erratic rains across eastern and southern Africa during the last two years has left nearly 1 million children needing treatment for severe acute malnutrition, according to a UNICEF report released last week.

“The El Niño weather phenomenon will wane, but the cost to children — many who were already living hand-to-mouth — will be felt for years to come,” said Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, UNICEF regional director for eastern and southern Africa. “Governments are responding with available resources, but this is an unprecedented situation. Children’s survival is dependent on action taken today.”

Families have resorted to skipping meals and selling what they own to deal with water shortages, disease, and rising food prices. Most provinces in South Africa have declared a state of disaster due to shortages and, in Ethiopia, the number of people in need of food assistance is expected to rise from more than 10 million to 18 million by the end of the year.

February 8, 2016

U.S. trafficking hotline calls increase significantly

More human trafficking survivors in the United States are getting help thanks to a significant increase in calls to a national hotline in 2015. The Polaris Project, which runs the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline and a BeFree Textline, said about 1,600 survivors contacted the hotline last year. That’s a 24% increase from 2014. The hotline received reports of 6,000 cases in 2015. As many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year. The International Labor Organization estimates that 20.9 million people globally are trapped in forced labor.

February 1, 2016

Malaria fight gets financial boost

Bill Gates and the British government plan to spend $4.3 billion to help end malaria deaths in the next 15 years, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported Jan. 25. The money will help scale up efforts to fight the disease that killed about 438,000 people out of 214 million people infected worldwide last year. The fight against malaria has seen significant progress over the past 15 years; malaria death rates fell 60% between 2000 and 2015. But the disease is both preventable and curable. About 90% of malaria deaths occur on the African continent.

Ethnic violence in Burundi spurs international concerns

The United Nations Security Council said it is concerned about mass atrocities and ethnic violence stemming from Burundi’s deteriorating political and security situation. Nearly 236,000 people have fled their homes for neighboring countries, and 400 people have been killed since political violence erupted last spring in the east African nation of about 10 million. As many as 645,000 Burundians face persistent food insecurity.

Conflict escalated when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, despite the constitution’s two-term limit. He then survived a coup attempt and won a disputed election.

January 18, 2016

Ebola epidemic ends

Two years after the first Ebola case cropped up in Guinea, the West Africa Ebola outbreak has been declared at an end. The World Health Organization (WHO) made the announcement last week that all known chains of transmission were stopped. The virus killed more than 11,000 people, primarily in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. Strengthening health systems in low-income countries will be key to curbing future disease epidemics, according to the WHO.

The celebration was muted a day later after Sierra Leone reported one new case.

“Our burial teams and ambulance fleet are once again on standby to help as the situation unfolds,” said Samuel Fonnie, acting national director at World Vision Sierra Leone. “Ebola has taken its toll on Sierra Leone, and it will take time to contain the situation once again.”

January 11, 2016

Insurance cost of natural disasters lower in 2015

Global economic losses from natural disasters in 2015 were the lowest of any year since 2009 and well below the inflation-adjusted average of the past 30 years, Munich Re, a reinsurance organization, reported Jan. 4. Overall losses totaled about $90 billion in 2015, of which about $27 billion was insured. The annual average from 1985 to 2014 was about $130 billion in overall losses and about $34 of that being insured. The deadliest and most costly event in 2015 was the April Nepal earthquake, which killed more than 8,800 people and resulted in about $4.8 billion in losses.

Part of the reason the 2015 totals are down is that while climate phenomenon El Niño brought stronger floods and droughts to developing countries, it led to fewer and smaller storms in the North Atlantic.

January 4, 2016

Hunger looms for millions in throes of harsh El Niño season

Millions throughout East Africa, Central America, and the Middle East face hunger in 2016 stemming from the impact of particularly harsh El Niño weather conditions, according to global aid agencies. Reeling from crop loss, livestock deaths, and other disasters, residents in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Yemen are feeling it the worst, according to the Famine Early Warning System Network.

Conflict in Yemen has limited imports and hampered humanitarian groups’ efforts to bring food and fuel to communities in need. Families in South Sudan are experiencing similar disruptions in the food supply chain due to ongoing fighting despite a recent peace agreement between government and rebel leaders. And following a severe drought in eastern Ethiopia, more people will need food assistance in 2016 than in the past 10 years.

World Vision is mounting a response throughout Southern and Eastern Africa and in the Pacific Islands that includes food assistance, nutritional feeding, and interventions that complement ongoing innovative resilience-building programs for the most vulnerable.


Chris Huber and Kathryn Reid of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article.

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