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Wednesday: April 2, 2014 

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Sunday
Jul102011

As Drought Worsens Pressure Increases on Kenya to Open More Space for Somali Refugees (REPORT)

(HN, UPDATED JULY 11, 2011 1850GMT) - Kenya is struggling to cope with the thousands of starving Somalis crossing over the border as the East African country came in for criticism for refusing to open more space for refugees.

While Kenya has accepted hundreds of thousands of Somalis - fleeing hunger and unrest in their own country - the United Nations and other agencies are pleading for more camps to relieve severe over-crowding at the congested Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya, with half-a-million people the largest of its kind in the world. 

The aid organization, CARE, says that more than 66,000 refugees have been registered in Daadab since the start of 2011, and is now at more than 300% capacity. An empty facility adjacent to Dadaab, constructed with donor money, is sitting empty as the Kenyan Government mulls over the situation.

Somali refugees wait to get water in Ifo camp. Long lines and difficulty getting ample water is a growing problem in Dadaab due to the growing numbers of Somalis fleeing to Kenya. CREDIT: UNHCRMeanwhile, with upwards of 12 million people affected by the drought in the region, the UN is now classifying the drought as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

"I have no doubt that in today's world, Somalia corresponds to the worst humanitarian disaster. I have never seen in a refugee camp people coming in such desperate conditions," said Antonio Guterres, the head of UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency.

UNHCR estimates that a quarter of Somalia’s 7.5 million population is now either internally displaced or living outside the country as refugees.

Said UNHCR: "The Somali refugees are arriving in an appalling state of health, dehydrated and severely malnourished, especially children. Malnutrition rates among newly-arriving refugee children under the age of five range from 40 to 50 per cent."

Aside from Kenya and Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti are also severely affected.

Guterres expressed concern for the plight of children. "These people are arriving in awful conditions, especially the children - almost half of which are arriving with acute or moderate malnutrition...Women are exhausted after having walked for two weeks in some cases."

Guterres is expected to meet with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki early this week, however the government is expected to cite national security for its reluctance to accept an unlimited number of Somali refugees. (In the aftermath of Al Qaeda's 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, the US pressed the Kibaki Government to stem the flow of Islamic extremists from Somalia).

Further north, about 1,700 Somalis are arriving daily in southeast Ethiopia. Today the country said it needed $398 million to help cope with the drought.

"It is estimated that a total of 4.5 million people will require humanitarian assistance during the remaining period of the current year from July to December 2011," Agriculture Minister Mitiku Kassa told reporters.At a press conference in Nairobi Saturday: Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator

The European Union on Wednesday announced it would provide 5.67 million euros to help the millions of people affected by the drought - bringing to 70 million euros the bloc's assistance to the drought crisis.

But the UN said donations are at less than the half way mark for its appeal.

Said OCHA chief Valerie Amos at a press conference Saturday: " We will need to increase our efforts in all these countries to get to those who most need our help. And we will have to ask our donors to do more. They have been generous with Ethiopia and I hope that that generosity will continue and extend to the neighbouring countries."

- HUMNews Staff 

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