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Aid Agencies, U.N. Assessing Humanitarian, Medical Needs Of North Korea After Widespread Flooding

“North Koreans hit by recent deadly floods badly need drinking water, food and medical assistance, an aid group said Wednesday after official media had reported 88 dead and nearly 63,000 homeless,” Agence France-Presse reports. A spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said a team from the organization visited the provinces of South and North Pyongan in the west of the country to assess damage, the news agency notes (8/1). In another article, AFP notes that the U.N. also is sending a team to assess the damage and humanitarian needs of the worst affected areas (7/31). “Even before the latest flooding, a dysfunctional food distribution system, rapid inflation and international sanctions over Pyongyang’s weapons programs have created what is thought to be widespread hunger,” Reuters writes (Park/Blanchard, 7/30). “Following an inspection visit last autumn, U.N. agencies estimated that three million people would need food aid this year even before the deluge,” according to AFP.

U.N. SG Ban Names 26 Members To High-Level Advisory Panel For Development Agenda

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday “announced the members of a High-level Panel to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The eight MDGs, agreed on by world leaders at a U.N. summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development,'” the news service writes (7/31).

U.N. Urges Philippines To Pass Reproductive Health Bill Amid Protests From Catholic Church

“The United Nations has urged the Philippines to pass a bill that will allow the government to provide free contraceptives,” BBC News reports (8/5). “UNFPA country coordinator Ugochi Florence Daniels said the [reproductive health (RH)] bill is important for the Philippines to achieve its health-related targets in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” including maternal health, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality, the Philippine Star writes (Crisostomo, 8/4). “The House of Representatives plans to decide Tuesday whether to end debate on the bill and put it to a vote,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times notes (Gomez, 8/5).

U.N. WFP To Begin Delivering Food Aid To North Korea After Severe Flooding Destroys Crop Lands

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Friday reported that nearly 170 people have died, 400 people are missing, and more than 84,000 people are homeless because of severe flooding in the country, the Guardian reports, noting that the World Food Programme (WFP) “announced on Friday the details of its first batch of emergency food aid to the country, although it did not state when it would arrive” (8/4). “WFP said it would send emergency assistance comprising ‘an initial ration of 400 grams of maize per day for 14 days,'” Reuters notes, adding the statement said a recent U.N. mission to North Korea found significant damage to crop fields.

VOA Examines Food Security Situation In Rural Zimbabwe

“The United Nations’ World Food Program [WFP] is appealing for $87 million to avert starvation in Zimbabwe’s rural areas where close to two million people need food aid,” VOA News reports, adding, “The U.N. agency says because of poor rainfall, this year’s hunger season in Zimbabwe has started earlier than in the past.” The news service highlights the “dire food situation” in the rural area of Buhera, part of Manicaland province, which “is one of the four regions the [WFP] says are worst affected by drought in Zimbabwe.” “We hear of people starting to sell their livestock at distress prices, reducing their number of meals in rural Zimbabwe, which is a clear indication that the food security situation is worsening,” Liliana Yovcheva of the WFP program office in Zimbabwe said, according to the news service (8/13).

African Leaders, International Community Must Act On Commitments Made At London Family Planning Summit

In this UNFPA opinion piece, Babatunde Osotimehin, U.N. under-secretary-general and UNFPA executive director, and Sharon Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, reflect on last month’s London Summit on Family Planning, where “leaders from 18 African countries made unprecedented commitments — financially and politically — to strengthen their family planning programs,” and highlight “[a] new study by the Guttmacher Institute and UNFPA [that] shows there has been minimal progress in addressing the contraceptive needs of African women during the past four years.” They discuss uneven progress “in meeting the demand for contraceptive services” across the continent and write, “Now it is up to all of Africa’s leaders and the international community to do their part through a sustained commitment to improving the provision of contraceptive services” (8/7).

NGOs Call For Full Implementation Of Human Right To Water, Sanitation In Letter To U.N. Member States

At the end of last month, the international community commemorated the second anniversary of a July 2010 U.N. General Assembly resolution declaring water and sanitation a basic human right, but “there was hardly any political rejoicing either inside or outside the U.N.,” Inter Press Service/Guardian reports. “In March, [UNICEF] and the [WHO] released a joint report claiming that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water (spelled out under Goal 7 on environmental sustainability) had been reached well in advance of the 2015 deadline,” the news service writes. Though the MDG goal was reached, “[a] cautious UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake warned that victory could not yet be declared since at least 11 percent of the world’s population — roughly 783 million people — are still without access to safe drinking water, and billions are without sanitation facilities,” the news service notes.

WFP Appeals For $48M In Food Aid For Malawi; Britain Gives $4.7M

“The U.N.’s World Food Programme [WFP] said Tuesday it needs $48 million in food aid for about 11 percent of Malawi’s population who will face hunger due to bad crops,” Agence France-Presse reports. “‘It is estimated that those needing food assistance in the southern African country will rise to 1.6 million people during the peak of the lean season early next year,’ the WFP said in a joint statement with Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID),” the news service writes.

FAO Launches Water Management Framework At World Water Week Opening Ceremony In Sweden

At the opening ceremony of World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “launched a framework that will help combat food insecurity by providing methods to better manage water resources in agriculture and reduce waste,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The initiative, entitled ‘Coping with water scarcity: An action framework for agriculture and food security’ [.pdf], seeks to encourage practices that will improve water management, such as modernizing irrigation schemes, recycling and re-using wastewater, implementing mechanisms to reduce water pollution, and storing rainwater at farms to reduce drought-related risks, among others,” the news service notes.

UNICEF Warns More Children Than Ever To Be Affected By Hunger In Sahel; PM Cameron Expected To Announce Nutrition Initiatives At Summit

“The number of malnourished children is set to hit a new high of 1.5 million in the Sahel next week as cholera and locusts emerge as new threats, UNICEF warned on Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports (8/7). According to VOA News, “International aid agencies report the situation is particularly critical in Niger where an estimated 400,000 children are expected to require life-saving treatment for severe, acute malnutrition this year.” UNICEF, other U.N. agencies, and international aid organizations “are hampered by a lack of funds,” the news service notes (Schlein, 8/7).