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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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Entries in Doctors without Borders (8)

Tuesday
Feb072012

Mali refugees in Niger fleeing Tuareg uprising await food and water aid (REPORT) 

(PHOTO: Mali refugees arriving in Niger, February 4, 2012/Radio Netherlands)The thousands who fled the ongoing Tuareg rebellion in Mali to seek refuge in western Niger are suffering from a severe food-and-water shortage, local officials and aid providers say.

"We must fear a humanitarian catastrophe, if nothing is done," Boureima Issaka of the Niger-based aid group Timidria said in Chinegodar, a small village that has seen an influx of some 6,000 refugees in less than a month.

They have sought shelter from a conflict in Mali between government troops and armed rebels that has caused dozens of casualties on either side.

The combat began on January 17, when the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) launched an attack in northern Mali -- the largest offensive by Tuareg rebels since 2009 -- sparking clashes with the army.

Malian civilians have since fled to neighbouring West African countries Mauritania and Burkina Faso, as well as Niger, which has struggled with its own Tuareg rebellions in the past.

Western Niger's small village of Chinegodar, 10 kilometres (six miles) from the border, has grappled with a food crisis following a country-wide drought and the influx of refugees has further stretched resources.

The village, which normally numbers 1,600 residents, has also seen its only well dry up, prompting a severe water shortage, according to the village chief.

Children are among those suffering from malnutrition and dehydration in the refugee camp.

"These children are terribly hungry; we can hear their crying every night," said Balki, a Chinegodar resident who is sheltering 10 of the refugees in her modest home.

According to officials and aid groups, about 10,000 people fleeing the Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali and reprisal attacks in Bamako have crossed into Niger, more than 4,500 into Mauritania and 1,500 into Burkina Faso.

General conditions in the Niger refugee camp are also poor, according to Boureima Issaka, the aid worker.

"The majority of people no longer bathe; they sleep under the stars at the mercy of wind, cold nights, scorpions and snakes," Issaka said.

(PHOTO: Newly arrived Mali refugees in Mauritania/Int'l World Service)Shelters made of blankets and cloth protect the refugees from the hot sun and cold nights, but the situation remains bleak.

A United Nations mission visited the village last week and found conditions to be extremely difficult and the hygiene deplorable, prompting fear of a cholera epidemic.

The crisis is compounded by the fact that the Malian region of Menaka -- one of the main flashpoints in the latest fighting -- was the principal source of essential commodities for Chinegodar.

For now, the Chinegodar mayor's office has offered the refugee camp half a tonne of cereal, Doctors Without Borders provided a few boxes of medicine and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working on the water supply.

The refugees themselves leave early in the morning to pick berries or pods of "Dani," a thorny plant sought out in times of scarcity.

Still, some refugees have not eaten in days and wait anxiously for aid.  "Give us something to eat, I suffer from dizziness," Nako, a Malian woman in the refugee camp, told a Doctors Without Borders team tallying the number of malnourished children.

--- This article originally appeared on Africasia.

Saturday
Apr022011

Ivory Coast in Crisis (NEWS BRIEF)

MSF staff treat victims of the violence in Abidjan at Abobo Sud Hospital. CREDIT MSF(HN, April 2, 2011) - A see-saw battle rages on in Ivory Coast, with forces loyal to embattled Laurent Gbagbo retaking control of key installations including state-run television, RTI.

In an indication of the spreading violence the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had documented the massacre of at least 800 people in the western town of Duekoue. However the Roman Catholic charity, Caritas, pegs the death toll at around 1,000.

Yesterday president-elect Alassane Ouattara’s forces advanced into the crucial economic capital of Abidjan and the United Nations mission took control of the country's main airport. The UN mission has also disabled Gbagbo`s Mi-24 helicopter after they gained control of airport.

As recently as yesterday, Gbabgbo looked close to defeat after key members of the military resigned and sought refuge in the South African embassy compound. Abidjan has a population of about 5 million people and, according to one estimate, some 20 percent of residents have fled.

For ordinary civilians and aid workers the situation has been described as extremely dangerous.  Some of the worst fighting is taking place at the Presidential Palace and Presidential Residence in leafy Abidjan suburb of Cocody - where several embassies are also located.

Said Henry Gray, a field worker in Abidjan with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): "It’s quite a hairy situation here at the moment. We’re hearing constant gunfire along with the occasional heavy detonation, and that’s been going on for a few days now. We had been moving around, visiting clinics and helping patients up until a few days ago. But the situation on the streets has deteriorated to such an extent that it’s just become too dangerous to go outside."

"There’s a lot of pillaging and looting going on" Gray continued, "and if you’re out on the streets, you’re basically a target. Armed gangs are out on the street and there is a real atmosphere of fear out in the community, particularly in the poorer areas."

One former western diplomat based in Abidjan described the situation to HUMNEWS as dire. "One (Ivorian) friend said they have been at home for days now with a child.  Only water left in the house, nothing to eat."

Yesterday a Swedish UN employee was killed in the crossfire. According to a diplomatic source on teh ground who HUMNEWS has been speaking with, "there appears to be looting by thugs affiliated with both sides".

Meanwhile foreign governments, including Lebanon, are desperately trying to evacuate their nationals, according to the Daily Star of Beirut.

Lebanese businesswoman Line Fakih said Abidjan was unsafe for anyone not carrying arms. “The situation here is very dangerous, and we cannot leave our houses,” Fakih told The Daily Star in a telephone call Friday. “Looters and gangs are on the streets and they are breaking into houses to ask for money in return for [our] security.”

- HUMNEWS staff

Sunday
Oct172010

Starved for Attention - Mexico: A Solution from Within 

 “Starved for Attention” captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States.

In the documentary above we see how a goverment and it's people can work to put an end to malnutrition in their country. Doctors without Borders and VII photographer John Stanmeyer bring us one such story from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.  

Saturday
Oct162010

Starved for Attention - Congo: The Malnutrition that Shouldn't Be 

Starved for Attention” produced by Doctors without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frotiers (MSF) and VII Photography captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States.

In the DR Congo where the land is fertile enough to grow plenty of food and graze animals, constant moving as a result of war keeps children and adults alike malnourished. In the documentary above Doctors without Borders and VII photographer Franco Pagetti bring to light the result of war on this fertile soil.

Friday
Oct152010

Starved for Attention - Bangladesh: Terrifying Normalcy 

Starved for Attention” produced by Doctors without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frotiers (MSF) and VII Photography captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States.

Part II: Tackling Childhood Malnutrition

Most damage caused by malnutrition occurs before a child’s second birthday. This is the critical time when the child’s diet has profound, sustained impact on his or her health and on physical and mental development.

In places such as south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, research shows that the cost of purchasing nutritious food is prohibitive form most parents, making it virtually impossible to provide adequate nutrition.

Recent advances in nutrition science and nutrition programming create opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of malnutrition in the world’s most vulnerable regions.

Countries including Mexico, Thailand and Brazil have reduced childhood malnutrition through direct nutrition programs that ensure infants and young children from even the poorest families have access to quality foods such as milk and eggs. Through such programs substantial progress has been made to towards freeing children from consequences that come with malnutrition at an early age. At the same time there is growing political will in Asian and African countries to replicate successful programs.

The World Bank estimates that $12 billion a year is needed to scale up effective nutrition programs to meet current needs. Only $350 million were spent on direct nutrition programs in 2007.

There is not enough emphasis on the types of foods included in aid deliveries in other words, the quality of food. Most current food aid programs for developing countries rely almost exclusively on fortified cereals made from corn and soy blend (CSB), which may relieve a child’s hunger, but does not provide proper nourishment.

In 2009 Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres(MSF) medical teams treated 250,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition in 116 programs in 34 countries primarily with nutrient dense ready-to-use foods, which while more expensive than foods currently provided by the food aid system, actually work to prevent and cure severe malnutrition – and can be used on a very large scale. Currently MSF is operating nutrition programs in 36 countries

In addition to a diet that includes quality foods, micronutrients – key minerals and vitamins such as iodine, iron, vitamin A and Folate – enhance the nutritional value of food and have a profound impact on a child’s development and mother’s health. Doctors Without Borders and other organizations such as UNICEF collaborate with diverse groups of public and private organizations, forming alliances such as the Vitamin A Global Initiative (UNICEF) and work with governments to deliver key minerals and vitamins.

Families and communities are the key players in the battle against childhood malnutrition and must work together to assess, analyze and take action to solve any problems.  The strategy is to empower community members to become their own agents of change. Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF's role is to work with governments to support participatory, community-based programs focusing on children’s survival, growth and development.

Also critical is the need to protect the rights of women and girls. Wherever women are discriminated against, there is greater malnutrition. Children born to mothers with no education are twice as likely to die in infancy as those born to mothers with even four years of schooling. Reproductive health, including birth spacing for at least three years, also reduces stunting and death.

The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of all children to the highest attainable standard of health, and specifically the right to good nutrition. Governments have the legal responsibility to protect that right and it is in the best interest of all that they fulfill this obligation. Malnutrition is both a consequence and cause of poverty. Children’s nutrition and well being are the foundation of a healthy, productive society.

Thursday
Oct142010

Starved for Attention - Burkina Faso: A Mother's Devotion

 “Starved for Attention” captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States

Part I: What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition, specifically undernutrition is a serious medical condition marked by a deficiency of essential proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in a diet. It is especially burdensome and dangerous for young, growing children.

Malnutrition is different from hunger although they are often confused. The principles of good nutrition are well established: exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life then an introduction to an age-appropriate complementary diet.

Infants and young children need energy furnished by high-quality protein to maintain healthy growth and development such as milk, eggs, and fish, essential fats and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals.

Malnutrition plays a significant role in mortality because the immune systems of malnourished children are less resistant to common diseases – contributing to one-third of the eight million deaths of children under five years of age every year.

These are largely invisible children and invisible deaths, occurring in places we normally don’t hear much about. Every year the cycle of malnutrition continues with negative economic and community consequences. This is an ongoing medical emergency that requires urgent action and attention.

The story of malnutrition continues - tomorrow Part II: Tackling Childhood Malnutrition

Wednesday
Oct132010

(REPORT) The Origins of World Food Day

(Photo credit: Franco Pagetti/VII) Democratic Republic of Congo, 2009 (HN, October 13, 2010) -- October 16th has been declared World Food Day which is observed in remembrance of the launching of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945.

In November 1979, the FAO’s member countries launched World Food Day (WFD) at its  20th General Conference. The Hungarian Delegation, headed by the former Hungarian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Dr. Pal Romany had suggested the idea of celebrating the WFD across the world and ever since, this day has been observed every year in more than 150 countries, highlighting awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.

The Objectives of World Food Day are to:

  • Encourage the increase of agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, transnational and non-governmental initiatives to this end.
  • Catapult economic and technical coordination among developing nations.
  • Enhance and nurture the participation of rural people, particularly women and the under privileged, in decisions and events impacting their living conditions.
  • Expand public awareness of the issue of hunger in the world and who and how many people it affects worldwide.
  • Advocate the furtherance of agriculture technologies to the developing world.
  • Revitalize international and national collaboration in the combat against hunger, malnutrition and poverty; and support positive attention to accomplishments in food and agricultural development.

The Actual Worldwide Hunger Scenario Today:

According to the 2010 Global Hunger Index (GHI), out this past Monday on October 11th, malnutrition among children under two years of age is still one of the leading challenges to reducing global hunger and can cause lifelong harm to health, productivity and earning potential.

-       Malnutrition is the result of an inadequate intake of food, either in terms of quality or quantity and of the poor utilization of nutrients due to infections or other illnesses, or a combination of these two factors.

-       The state of malnutrition causes a lack of energy, protein and/or essential vitamins and minerals in human bodies.

GHI gives developing countries scores based on three indicators:

-       the proportion of people who are undernourished;

-       the proportion of children under five who are underweight; and,

-       the child mortality rate of a country.

The worst possible score is 100, but in practice, anything over 25 is considered “alarming”.

Since 1990 the overall level of the index has fallen by almost a quarter - two-thirds of the 99 countries counted in 1990 have reduced their populations' hunger levels.  Kuwait, Malaysia, Turkey and Mexico have been the most successful, cutting their scores by over 60%. Those where hunger has increased include North Korea, Comoros and Congo. Congo's GHI score fell by over 60%, the worst of any country.  Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia continue to suffer from the highest levels of hunger.

A New Committee on World Food Security Begins Now:  

A five-day high-level intergovernmental meeting of the newly re-formed Committee on World Food Security (CFS) began on Monday in Rome. The meeting takes place against a background of recent increases in international food prices which pose additional challenges to global food security including production, distribution and availability of safe, quality food stocks. 

“This week marks the launch of a strategically coordinated global effort to draw on the combined strengths of all stakeholders engaged in the fight against global hunger,” said World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. “With recent volatility in commodity prices and increased global demand for food this comes not a moment too soon. The reformed CFS has an opportunity and a responsibility to rally nations of the world to respond effectively, efficiently and coherently to provide vital humanitarian assistance when disasters strike and build long-term food security.”

The “Starved for Attention” Campaign:

In June of this year Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and VII Photography co-produced and presented “Starved for Attention,” a multimedia campaign exposing the neglected and largely invisible crisis of childhood malnutrition. “Starved for Attention” aims to rewrite the story of malnutrition through a series of multimedia documentaries that seamlessly blend photography and video from some of the most accomplished and award-winning photojournalists working today. “Starved for Attention” captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States.

Beginning today HUMNews will focus on a variety of global food issues and will feature a different “Starved for Attention” film each day for the next seven days.  

You can show your support for the millions of malnourished children around the world and demand that food aid meets the nutritional needs of young children by signing the “Starved for Attention” petition, here.

- Written by HUMNEWS Staff

Wednesday
Oct132010

Starved for Attention - Djibouti: Frustration 

The “Starved for Attention” Campaign: In June of this year Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and VII Photography co-produced and presented “Starved for Attention,” a multimedia campaign exposing the neglected and largely invisible crisis of childhood malnutrition.  “Starved for Attention” captures frontline stories of malnutrition from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the United States.  You can show your support for the millions of malnourished children around the world and demand that food aid meets the nutritional needs of young children by signing the “Starved for Attention” petition, here.