Crises on Four Fronts: Rising to the Call

In a time of unparalleled need, the response from our nation’s humanitarians and our partners has been inspiring.  Children and their families trapped on Mount Sinjar in Iraq are receiving U.S. military airdrops of food and water.  In South Sudan, life-saving supplies are arriving by air to vulnerable communities cut off by violence.  In West Africa, health workers are fighting the Ebola virus, even at great risk to themselves. And in the refugee camps on the Syrian border, we’re getting children into school so that this devastating crisis doesn’t rob them of their future.

From the Central African Republic to Gaza, from Burma to Yemen, millions of vulnerable people are relying on the life-saving assistance that the United States and our partners provide.  Food to revive malnourished children. Hygiene kits to stop the spread of disease.  Safe spaces for children to laugh and play.

This is the first time in our Agency’s history that we have been called on to manage four large-scale humanitarian responses at once — in addition to reaching other vulnerable populations worldwide and preparing communities ahead of natural disasters.  We are not working alone. We are grateful to our UN, NGO, and local partners, who have demonstrated exceptional fortitude and compassion in the face of relentless tragedy.

They are epidemiologists who have flown into the epicenter of one of the world’s deadliest diseases to help track its spread.  They’re logisticians who are coordinating with the U.S. military to airdrop food and water to families stranded on Mount Sinjar.  They’re engineers who have helped design displaced persons camps so that women and girls can walk around at night without risking their lives.  They’re doctors who are staffing clinics where children have arrived riddled with shrapnel or wasted by hunger.

Today, we are able to equip these heroes with new tools and technologies that have dramatically improved our emergency response, including satellite maps to forecast the risk of famine in South Sudan and debit cards that enable families to shop for their own food at local stores in refugee camps on the Syrian border.

These crises are far from over.  We will continue to work closely with our essential partners, especially our fellow donor nations, to do more to save lives and foster lasting solutions.  Despite the challenges, we remain committed to providing help in an emergency—regardless of danger or difficulty.  It is one of the most profound expressions of who we are as the American people.

If you would like to contribute, I encourage you to make a monetary donation to a reputable humanitarian organization already working on the ground.  Nothing will get there faster or help more.

About the Author: Dr. Raj Shah is the Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Editor’s Note: This entry originally appeared on the USAID Impact Blog.

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IGAD Enhances Member States Capacity on Preventive Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution

18-08-2014, Kampala, UGANDA: The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Regional Affairs of Uganda, Hon. Asuman Kiyinga, officially opened a High Level Mediation Course for IGAD Mediators’ at Munyonyo Speke Resort Hotel in Kampala today morning in the presence of H.E. Ambassador (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Mr. Murezi Michael, Head of Mediation Desk of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Daniel Yifru, Senior Political Advisor at IGAD Peace and Security Division, and Mr. Laurie Nathan, Facilitator at the Centre for Mediation in Africa, University of Pretoria.

This five-day course is organized by the IGAD Peace and Security Division (PSD) with financial support from the European Commission (EC) and facilitated by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) with support of the United Nations’ Mediation Support Unit (UN-MSU).

The objective of the course is to strengthen IGAD normative capacity on preventive diplomacy, mediation and train its mediators on skills to manage and resolve conflict utilizing home grown solutions to home problems. It will contribute to more effective IGAD mediation by deepening the knowledge and enhancing skills of the participants through simulation exercises, expert inputs and collective sharing of experiences and lessons with focus on IGAD led or IGAD supported mediation processes.

IGAD established its Mediators roster of 21 imminent persons nominated by respective member states who will be deployed upon approval by the IGAD’s Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Murezi Michael, in his opening remarks, highlighted that it was a pleasure for him to address the audience on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland who is very much committed to Mediation affairs. “Promotion of peace is one of the pillars of our new Constitution, and it is in 2005 that we decided to adopt a professional approach to Mediation. Therefore, research and lessons learned regarding mediation, capacity building and training of mediators, topical experts and parties to a conflict are very important for Switzerland,” Mr. Michael said. He added that the Swiss Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding addressing Mediation and Federalism with IGAD.

Mr. Nathan, on his side, reminded the participants that “when mediation fails in violent environments, thousands, tens of thousands people lose their lives”. “Mediation is a difficult job to perform as Mediators with soft attributes are not always confronted to cooperative parties,” he said. He added that this training course will contribute to adding value to participants’ competencies in Mediation.

Ambassador Maalim thanked the participants for their commitment to peace and security in the IGAD region and hailed the IGAD Peace and Security Division for organizing such a course. He extended appreciation to the Swiss Government for supporting IGAD in its ongoing broader institutional reforms. Ambassador Maalim called on the HE Mr. Abdelrahman M. SwarElzahab, former transitional President of the Sudan participating as a member of the IGAD Mediation Roster, for a few sentences to his peers in the audience.

The Guest of Honor, Hon. Kiyinga, saluted “IGAD for coming up to coordinate various mediation processes after setting up a Mediation Unit”. Hon. Kiyinga assured that “the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs will definitely approve of it once presented to them”. As a conclusion to his remarks, he wished the participants fruitful deliberations and declared the High Level Mediation Course open.

The IGAD peace and security agenda is guided by the Africa Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), accordingly, IGAD’s vision as defined in both its Regional Strategy and Peace and Security Strategy, reflect the same spirit and substance of that the African Union (AU) which envisions an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

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U.N. warns of ‘massacre’ in besieged Iraq Shiite town

U.N. warns of ‘massacre’ in besieged Iraq Shiite town

Sat 23 Aug 2014 at 15:26


NNA – The United Nations warned Saturday that Shiite Turkmen residents of an Iraqi town besieged by jihadists since June risk “massacre” if urgent action is not taken to rescue them, according to AFP.

The town of Amerli, in Salaheddin province north of Baghdad, has been entirely cut off from the rest of government-held territory since fighters spearheaded by the Islamic State (IS) swept through much of the rest of the province in a lightning offensive in early June.

“The situation of the people in Amerli is desperate and demands immediate action to prevent the possible massacre of its citizens,” U.N. Iraq envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

“I urge the Iraqi government to do all it can to relieve the siege and to ensure that the residents receive lifesaving humanitarian assistance or are evacuated in a dignified manner,” he said.

“Iraq’s allies and the international community should work with the authorities to prevent a human rights tragedy.”

The Shiite faith of the majority of Amerli’s 20,000 residents is anathema to the Sunni extremists of IS.

Prime minister designate Haidar al-Abadi promised aid for the town on Saturday, calling for the provision of “all types of military and logistical support for Amerli.”

His comments came after Iraq’s most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is revered by millions, sought on Friday to bring attention to Amerli’s plight.

“Amerli suffers from a tight blockade in place for two months,” and has been defended by “heroic men with limited weapons and ammunition and a severe shortage of food items,” Sistani said in remarks read on his behalf.

He called for efforts to break “the siege of (the town) and save its people from the dangers of terrorists.”

Residents have pleaded for weeks for military intervention and warned that food, medicines and water are in short supply.

Troops are gathering in areas both north and south of the town in readiness for an attempt to break the siege, army Colonel Mustafa al-Bayati said.

And the local official responsible for the area, Adel Shakur al-Bayati, said that food had been airdropped to the town on Friday, while the army carried out air strikes against militants in the area.


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Joint Statement on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak

​18 August 2014 – The current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013. This outbreak now involves community transmission in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and recently an ill traveller from Liberia infected a small number of people in Nigeria with whom he had direct contact. On 8 August 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005).


In order to support the global efforts to contain the spread of the disease and provide a coordinated international response for the travel and tourism sector, the heads of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Airports Council International (ACI), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) decided to activate a Travel and Transport Task Force which will monitor the situation and provide timely information to the travel and tourism sector as well as to travellers.


The risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel is low. Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not spread by breathing air (and the airborne particles it contains) from an infected person. Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, all unlikely exposures for the average traveller. Travellers are, in any event, advised to avoid all such contacts and routinely practice careful hygiene, like hand washing.


The risk of getting infected on an aircraft is also small as sick persons usually feel so unwell that they cannot travel and infection requires direct contact with the body fluids of the infected person. Most infections in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, are taking place in the community when family members or friends take care of someone who is ill or when funeral preparation and burial ceremonies do not follow strict infection prevention and control measures.


A second important place where transmission can occur is in clinics and other health care settings, when health care workers, patients, and other persons have unprotected contact with a person who is infected. In Nigeria, cases are related only to persons who had direct contact with a single traveller who was hospitalized upon arrival in Lagos.


It is important to note that a person who is infected is only able to spread the virus to others after the infected person has started to have symptoms. A person usually has no symptoms for two to 21 days (the “incubation period”). Symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding.


The risk of a traveller becoming infected with the Ebola virus during a visit to the affected countries and developing disease after returning is very low, even if the visit includes travel to areas in which cases have been reported.


If a person, including a traveller, stayed in the areas where Ebola cases have been recently reported, he/she should seek medical attention at the first sign of illness (fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, red eyes, and in some cases, bleeding). Early treatment can improve prognosis.


Strengthened international cooperation is needed, and should support action to contain the virus, stop transmission to other countries and mitigate the effects in those affected.


Affected countries are requested to conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection. Any person with an illness consistent with EVD should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation. There should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.


Non-affected countries need to strengthen the capacity to detect and immediately contain new cases, while avoiding measures that will create unnecessary interference with international travel or trade. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade, in accordance with advice from the WHO Ebola Emergency Committee.


Travel restrictions and active screening of passengers on arrival at sea ports, airports or ground crossings in non-affected countries that do not share borders with affected countries are not currently recommended by WHO.


Worldwide, countries should provide their citizens traveling to Ebola-affected countries with accurate and relevant information on the Ebola outbreak and measures to reduce the risk of exposure.

Useful links:


WHO advice for travellers

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إحياء ذكرى الهجمات الكيميائية السورية في 21 أغسطس 2013

زوريخ 23 أغسطس/آب  2014 / بي أر نيوز وير/ ایشیانیٹ باکستان – منظمة الصليب الأخضر تطالب بدعم دولي فوري للضحايا تنوية: الصورة متاحة  عبر الرابط التالي: [] قبل عام من الآن، في 21 أغسطس عام 2013، تعرضت عدة مناطق سكنية بمنطقة الغوطة بدمشق، لهجوم كبير بأسلحة كيميائية، مما تسبب في وفاة ما يقدر بنحو […] Continue Reading

PM announces measures to promote Northern agriculture

Fort Smith, Northwest Territories – 22 August 2014


Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced measures to promote an economically viable, job-creating, commercial agricultural industry in Canada’s North. These include support to help establish a permanent campus for the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI) in the Northwest Territories, and the launch of the Northern Greenhouse Initiative, which is aimed at advancing the commercialization and enhancing the productivity of greenhouse projects across Canada’s North. The Prime Minister also profiled research into promising new modular farming technology, developed in conjunction with the Aurora Research Institute’s South Slave Research Centre in Fort Smith, that may extend the Northern growing season and substantially expand the Northern agriculture industry. The announcement was made during the Prime Minister’s ninth annual Northern Tour, taking place from August 21 to 26, 2014. He was joined by Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council.

These new measures are intended to boost the growing Northern agricultural sector, by addressing gaps in available skills, technology and capital. The resulting increase in the amount of food grown locally will help to provide Northerners with better access to healthy fresh local produce at lower costs, and result in communities being less reliant on far-away producers.

The support being announced today for the NFTI will allow it to offer its programs year-round from a new permanent campus in Hay River, targeted towards students from every community in the Northwest Territories. It will enable the Institute to better deliver agricultural training tailored to meet the needs of Aboriginal and northern communities in the Northwest Territories. The graduates from the Institute will be able to take the skills they learn – including training in greenhouse operations – back to their home communities, such as Fort Smith, promoting the sharing of their know-how across the territory.

The Northern Greenhouse Initiative will provide support to advance the commercialization and enhance the productivity of greenhouse projects across Canada’s North. The Government of Canada, through its Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, will, in the coming days, call for partnership proposals to advance this initiative. More viable commercial greenhouses will improve access to healthy food options in the North and increased jobs and economic opportunities in the three territories.

Quick Facts

  • The NFTI is an initiative of the Territorial Farmer’s Association (TFA) which has held workshops in Hay River and Fort Smith for the past two years. Students have come from communities throughout the Deh Cho and South Slave regions, including Nahanni Butte, TroutLake, Wrigley, JeanMarieRiver, FortSimpson, Fort Smith, FortResolution, Hay River and the Hay River Reserve. A number of former students have started Agricultural businesses in the Northwest Territories.
  • The TFA and the Town of Hay River are establishing a permanent campus for the NFTI. In collaboration with AuroraCollege, they will offer training in farming, greenhouses, and livestock, as well as establishing agricultural employment in farming, silviculture, and compost.
  • The NFTI’s permanent campus will be situated on a 300 acre parcel of arable land made available by the Town of Hay River. It will house several agricultural initiatives in the Northwest Territories, including the AgNorth pilot project – based on LED modular farm technology – and the Native Seed Commercialization Project, both coordinated by AuroraCollege and previously supported by the Government of Canada.
  • Extensive consultations were conducted in 2013 during the development of the Hay River Agricultural Strategy, the NFTI business plan as well as on the AgNorth pilot project. Discussions were held with business people, communities, mine operators, and other stakeholders to determine interest, need, opportunities, concerns, and seek local knowledge.
  • The Northwest Territories imports approximately $17 million of produce annually. The initial intent of the NFTI is to annually offset $5 to $6 million of imported food with locally grown produce.
  • The Government of Canada’s support for these initiatives will help establish a more robust agricultural sector and diversify the economy of the Northwest Territories. By helping to grow produce locally, this initiative will decrease reliance on imported foods, reduce transportation costs, create jobs, and help to provide greater access to fresh food across the Northwest Territories.  


“The initiatives announced today will help provide Northerners with the skills training, technology and capital they need to help take local food production to the next level. This will contribute to healthier, locally grown, and lower priced fresh food for northern families and less reliance on southern producers and distributors. It will help provide northern solutions for northern challenges.”

– Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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