“Thousands gathered in Senegal [Tuesday] for the opening of the second International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), the largest meeting of its kind, which will run until December 2, 2011,” the Foreign Policy Association blog reports (Clifford, 11/29). The meeting “will aim to push forward an agenda for broad family planning access and support around the world,” according to the Accra Mail (11/29). “The historic four-day conference features more than 140 plenaries, sessions and panels that will share latest research, proven strategies, and lessons learned in addressing the massive need for contraception worldwide,” the Foreign Policy Association blog writes, adding, “Participants will seek to galvanize greater political and financial support, hold governments accountable for their commitments, and champion contraceptive innovation and access” (11/29).
“Al-Shabab rebels banned some U.N. and international aid agencies from working in Somalia on Monday and began seizing and looting some of their offices in southern and central areas of the country, the Islamist group and aid sources said,” Reuters reports (Ahmed et al., 11/28). “Among the agencies al-Shabab banned on Monday were UNICEF, the World Health Organization, UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Danish Refugee Council, German Agency For Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Action Contre la Faim, Solidarity, Saacid and Concern,” the Associated Press/Washington Post notes (11/28). In a statement, al-Shabab, “[t]he main Islamist insurgent group in Somalia, which is still in the throes of a major food crisis classified as famine in some regions, … accus[ed] them of ‘illicit activities and misconduct,'” IRIN writes (11/28). “The al-Shabab statement accused the groups of exaggerating the scale of the problems in Somalia for political reasons and to raise money,” according to BBC News (11/28)
Thousands of government and private aid officials will meet in Busan, South Korea, on Tuesday for the beginning of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, which is “aimed at making sure billions of dollars in global aid money gets to the people who need it most,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (11/29). “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend [the] summit in Busan, held against a backdrop of economic crisis in the United States and Europe and the rich world’s repeated failure to meet its targets for helping the poorest nations,” Reuters writes (Quinn, 11/28).
“A United Nations assessment published [Friday] finds that the main annual harvest in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has improved compared to last year but serious nutrition concerns persist, especially among young children,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The joint report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that while harvests are expected to increase by about 8.5 percent over 2010, the country will still have a cereal import requirement of 739,000 tons,” the news service writes (11/25). According to the Associated Press/Washington Post, “The report says nearly three million people will continue to require food assistance next year. U.N. officials have appealed to wealthy countries to put aside politics to help hungry North Koreans” (11/25).
“United Nations aid agencies said Friday more than five million Pakistanis are in need of humanitarian assistance following the floods earlier this year,” with nearly half of those being children, the VOA “Breaking News” blog reports (11/26). “UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said the most urgent risks to children are those related to safe water and malnutrition, with malnutrition rates in the affected areas already found to be high before the floods began,” according to the U.N. News Centre (11/25).
Washington Must Lead Search For Additional Financing, More Cost-Effective Strategies In Fight Against AIDS
This New York Times editorial responds to the latest UNAIDS report (.pdf), which it says “reveals substantial success by some measures and stagnation by others,” writing, “The challenge, in tough times, that must be met is to find enough resources to capitalize on scientific breakthroughs and keep the campaign moving forward.”
In this Financial Times opinion piece, journalist Andrew Jack examines how, “[a]fter a period of fast expansion, and strong progress in tackling AIDS, [tuberculosis (TB)] and malaria alike,” the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “has become a target in the era of austerity. With a shift in power between the world’s traditional and emerging economies, and donors seeking ways to cut support, billions of dollars and millions of lives are at stake.” Jack recaps a brief history of the Fund in the 10 years since its inception; highlights a number of ways in which the Fund has been distinctive from other organizations; and notes several issues that have led to calls for reform within the Fund.
Report Highlights Improvement In Children’s Well-Being, But Health Organizations Call For Stronger Political Commitment To Maintain Progress
“Children’s well-being has improved dramatically thanks to increased global political will and efficient supportive programs and policies, according to a report released [Wednesday] by [UNICEF] and Save the Children U.K., but it also warns that benefits need to reach the most disadvantaged children for gains to be sustainable,” the U.N. News Centre reports, adding, “Among the most prominent accomplishments highlighted by the report is the significant decline in child mortality rates.” According to the news service, “The authors of the report cite a number of factors for these advancements, but place particular emphasis on the high-level commitment and supportive government policies that have placed children’s well-being as a priority” (11/23).
Inter Press Service profiles the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, writing, “Since it launched in 1997, [it] has distributed more than 78 million dollars to 339 projects around the world, but even these resources fall far short, meeting less than five percent of demand.” Noting that the Fund “provides services to women and girl survivors of violence, including legal aid, health care, shelter and psychosocial support,” the news service highlights a number of programs supported by the Fund through past grants and writes, “This year alone, more than 2,500 applications requesting about 1.2 billion dollars for programs across 123 countries have been received.”
Relief Officials Concerned Over Malnutrition Among Children In Ethiopian Refugee Camps Despite Food Aid
Humanitarian aid officials are concerned about high levels of malnutrition among young children at the Dolo Ado refugee camps in southern Ethiopia “despite the free availability of Plumpy’nut, a peanut-based paste in a plastic wrapper for treatment of severe acute malnutrition,” the Guardian reports. “‘Maybe they’re not eating it properly,’ said Giorgia Testolin, head of the refugee section of the World Food Programme Ethiopia. ‘The food is there, there is easy access, but why is the situation so bad? This needs to be investigated,'” the newspaper writes, adding a report (.pdf) out last month from USAID and the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET) noted some refugees, including children, sell or trade Plumpy’nut for other supplies, such as sugar, tea leaves, powder milk and meat. Overcrowding in the camps also presents problems, as 8,000 people await the opening of a fifth camp, which has been delayed because proper sanitation facilities are not yet ready, according to relief officials, the newspaper notes (Tran, 11/22).