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U.N. Emergency Fund Receives $384M In Pledges To Respond To Natural Disasters, Crises In 2013

“United Nations member states pledged $384 million on Tuesday to an emergency fund that will allow the world body to respond quickly to natural disasters and other crises in 2013, U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos said,” Reuters reports. “The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) … has raised more than $2.8 billion since it was launched in 2006,” and “[s]o far in 2012, the fund has allocated $465 million for humanitarian aid in 49 countries, including Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Haiti and Pakistan,” the news agency notes (12/11). At a high-level conference on the CERF, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “From flood zones to war zones, CERF stops crises from turning into catastrophes. … The Fund does this through quick, targeted support when an emergency starts or by injecting funds in stubbornly under-funded situations,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “The rapid and flexible support offered by the CERF makes it a central pillar of the U.N. agencies’ humanitarian response,” Amos said at the conference, the news service notes (12/11).

Fewer People Expected To Go Hungry In Africa In 2013, But More Children Face Malnourishment

“Despite good rains across much of the Sahel this year, 1.4 million children are expected to be malnourished — up from one million in 2012, according to the 2013 Sahel regional strategy,” IRIN reports. “The strategy, which calls on donors to provide $1.6 billion of aid for 2013, says fewer people are expected to go hungry in 2013 — 10.3 million instead of 18.7 million in 2012,” the news service writes.

U.N. Appeals For $1.5B In Humanitarian Aid For Syria

“The United Nations and its humanitarian partners [on Wednesday] appealed for $1.5 billion to assist civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria over the next six months, including those inside the country as well as those taking refuge beyond its borders,” the U.N. News Centre reports (12/19). “The twin appeals are for $519.6 million to help four million people within Syria and $1 billion to meet the needs of up to one million Syrian refugees in five other countries until July 2013,” Reuters writes (Nebehay/Charbonneau, 12/19). “Collectively they comprise the largest short term humanitarian appeal ever,” a UNOCHA press release states (12/19).

Examining Concept Of Resilience After Disaster, Emergency In Low-Income Countries

Writing in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, reflects on the concept of resilience, which he defines as one’s “ability to cope and their systems for preparing, responding and rebuilding” after a natural disaster or emergency. “In the United States, these systems are already in place and, for the most part, function well,” but “[t]his is not the case in many low-income countries,” he writes. He continues, “With dramatic weather events and food price volatility only likely to continue and intensify due to climate change, the need to build resilience has never been greater” (12/4).

USAID Introduces ‘First-Ever’ Guidance On Building Resiliency

On Monday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “announced the launch of the agency’s first-ever policy and program guidance [.pdf] on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis during an event in Washington, D.C.,” according to an USAID press release. “Chronic poverty and recurring shocks drive the same communities into crisis year after year, undermining development gains,” the press release states, adding, “In response to this clear need, and together with our international development partners, USAID has committed, through this policy and program guidance, to better coordinate its development and humanitarian approaches to effectively build resilience in targeted areas of recurrent crisis.” The agency “intends for these efforts to collectively contribute to reduced humanitarian need” over the long-term, according to the press release (12/3).

Remove Special Interests From Food Aid Equation

“Each year, the United States spends more than $1.5 billion feeding starving people overseas,” columnist Farah Stockman writes in a Boston Globe opinion piece. “But our charity comes with a catch: The food has to be bought in America, and much of it must be shipped on American ships,” she continues, adding, “Researchers estimate that buying food closer to where needy people are costs about half as much.” She continues, “We are the last donor country in the world to have these rules,” and writes, “At a time of budget cuts, you would think that one thing Republicans and Democrats could agree on would be making sure every tax dollar stretches as far as it can.” Stockman asks, “Why don’t we just change it?”

U.N. Officials Call On Security Council, International Community To Tackle Complex Crisis In Sahel

“Top United Nations officials [on Monday] called on the Security Council and the wider international community to support efforts to develop an integrated strategy to tackle the complex and multifaceted crisis facing the Sahel region of West Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘The warning lights for the Sahel region continue to flash,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council, as it met to discuss the situation in a region that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and parts of Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria,” the news service writes. “In addition to political instability in Mali, the region — particularly in its west — suffers from extreme poverty, with human development levels among the lowest in the world, porous borders that present significant security challenges, as well as human rights problems,” according to the news service.

Nokia To Donate Infant Delivery Kits To UNFPA

UNFPA and mobile phone company Nokia announced this week that the “company will donate the equivalent of 3,000 clean delivery kits to the fund,” according to an UNFPA press release. “The kits, designed and distributed by UNFPA, help ensure safe delivery of babies in humanitarian settings,” and are being provided as a result of the fund’s social media campaign “Safe Birth. Even Here.,” the press release states, adding, “The campaign, which reports on and tracks safe deliveries in refugee camps and emergencies around the globe, is active on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and aims to raise awareness about maternal health and the challenges faced by expectant mothers in crisis settings” (12/4).

Global Humanitarian Assistance Report Says 38% Of U.N. Appeals Went Unfunded In 2011

Though the level of humanitarian needs in 2011 was lower than the previous year, “38 percent of appeals for financing made by the U.N. went unmet,” according to the Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) Report 2012,” the Guardian reports. “The U.N. had requested $8.9 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of 62 million people [in 2011] … compared with an appeal for $11.3 billion to help 74 million people in 2010. Nonetheless, it received only $5.5 billion of its 2011 request,” the newspaper notes. “The GHA 2012 report said aid had gone to recent larger humanitarian disasters at the expense of small, less high-profile crises,” the Guardian states (Mead/Bakosi, 7/20).