UN committed to helping Venezuelans amid growing needs: aid agencies
The situation for ordinary Venezuelans is increasingly critical but the United Nations remains committed to helping them on humanitarian grounds, UN agencies said on Friday.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, the UN’s aid coordinating branch, OCHA, underlined that it was observing developments at Venezuela’s border with Colombia, where an aid convoy arrived on Thursday.
Here’s spokesperson Jens Laerke:
“On the situation at the border, yes, the UN is monitoring that situation closely… The ideal scenario is that humanitarian aid is provided independent, independent of any political or other considerations than the pure humanitarian, and that is based on need and need alone.”
The World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed that needs are at “crisis”-like levels inside Venezuela, where opposition politician Juan Guaido declared himself interim President last month.
Spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel said that 1.2 million people had arrived in Colombia last year “starving…with no money, no food, no medicine”.
In a bid to help 3.6 million Venezuelans, including two million children, the UN has appealed for nearly $110 million.
Rapid spread of Lassa fever in five African countries is ‘concerning’: UN health agency
A campaign is underway to halt the spread of deadly Lassa fever in West Africa, where five countries are affected, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced.
The largest outbreak so far is in Nigeria, where 42 people have died since 22 January, from the acute viral haemorrhagic illness.
The country has registered 213 cases of Lassa fever to date, which is a third of the total number seen last year, when Nigeria experienced its worst ever outbreak.
Although Lassa fever is endemic to the region, it is the scale of the escalation that is most concerning, WHO says.
Here’s WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic:
“A total of 12 cases have been confirmed to date in Benin, Guinea, Liberia and Togo, including two deaths, with more suspected cases being investigated. WHO is assisting health authorities in these countries with contact tracing and providing medical and non-medical supplies and technical and financial resources as needed.”
Lassa fever transmission happens after exposure to the urine or faeces of the Mastomys rat. Prevention is dependent on good community hygiene to discourage rodents from entering people’s homes, WHO advises, and storing grain and other foods in sealed containers.
Violence in Myanmar’s Chin and Rakhine state
Concern is growing over escalating violence in Myanmar’s Chin and Rakhine states, which has reportedly forced people to flee internally and across the border to Bangladesh.
UN refugee agency UNHCR said it stands ready to support the humanitarian response in affected areas of Myanmar, where more than 700,000 fled a military operation in Rakhine state in 2017 that was condemned at the time by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
So far, however, it has been difficult to assess how many people have been displaced.
Here’s spokesperson Andrej Mahecic:
“The scale of it is very difficult to gauge. We understand from some of the reports that say 200 people – 200 people - have sought shelter, have sought safety. This is reportedly a very remote area where we don’t really have access… Obviously without effective access in Rakhine, and without effective access in other parts, we can’t assess the scope of the current internal displacement as a result of the violence which flared up some time in December last year.”
UNHCR has also offered its support to the Government of Bangladesh to assess and respond to the needs of people who have arrived seeking safety from violence in Myanmar.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.