Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report

Highlights

  • PAKISTAN: Launch of the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan to assist 4.3 million people, including refugees
  • MYANMAR: UN concerned about rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Kayah State
  • INDONESIA: Assistance provided to group of Rohingya rescued in East Aceh
  • AFGHANISTAN: UN strongly condemns attack on Halo Trust in Baghlan Province
  • TIMOR-LESTE: Government and partners appeal for $32M to assist flood victims and early recovery
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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report

Key Figures

18.4M
People in Need in Afghanistan (2021)
1M
People in need in Myanmar (2021)
11M
People in Need in Pakistan (2021)
1.3M
People in Rohingya Joint Response Plan

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Contacts

Pierre Peron

Regional Public Information Officer, OCHA ROAP

Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Pakistan — Media
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2021 Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan Jointly Launched by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations

(Islamabad, 9 June 2021) The 2021 Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was launched today at a joint event hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations in Pakistan. The Plan seeks to highlight the main humanitarian needs, share the efforts and steps taken by the Government of Pakistan to handle these challenges in collaboration with the UN and other partners, and set out a well-coordinated and inclusive plan of action to respond to the needs of the people. The HRP is holistic, with a multi-sectoral approach covering the themes of health, education, protection, food security, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and refugees.

The HRP focuses on supporting the needs of around 4.3 million people in Pakistan including refugees, facing a series of overlapping emergencies, including extreme weather events and the COVID-19 pandemic. Geographically, the Humanitarian Response Plan focuses on 81 prioritized districts. The lifesaving response activities called for in this Plan amount to US$ 332 million including food security and livelihood assistance, nutrition programmes, primary health services, including water and sanitation, women’s health, and education support, as well as shelter for displaced people.

Pakistan is a country with both the capacity and experience in responding to humanitarian emergencies and has made major strides in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, Pakistan is faced with the challenge of dealing with the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic. Moreover, whilst Pakistan remains one of the low carbon emitters, it is faced with climate induced risks and disasters, not of its making.

The HRP also highlights the generosity and compassion shown by Pakistan in hosting more than 3 million Afghan nationals including 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees holding a Proof of Registration card, 0.84 million Afghan Citizenship cardholders, and an estimated 400,000 – 600,000 undocumented Afghans, providing them protection, health, education and livelihoods.

The targeted humanitarian action put forth in this Plan represents the commitment of the UN and humanitarian partners in Pakistan to support and complement national efforts. It garners international support and commitment to assist Pakistan in responding to the humanitarian challenges, as part of the principle of responsibility and burden sharing.

Delivering the keynote, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the “Policies of the Government are guided by two important principles: ‘inclusivity’ and ‘sustainability’. Our efforts must take into consideration the aspects of efficient and effective response to humanitarian situations, followed by inclusive recovery and sustainable rehabilitation. This Response Plan is intended to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in the prevention, preparedness and response to disasters including through the provision of relief services by building cross-institutional and stakeholder linkages”.

Federal Minister for SAFRON Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan, in his remarks, said that “during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic period, we have efficiently provided relief to Afghan Refugees and other Afghans. Replicating the Government’s Ehsaas Program, the Ministry of SAFRON with generous support of UNHCR has provided Rs.12,000 to over 75,000 Afghan refugee families.”

The Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz highlighted the policies and measures taken by the Government of Pakistan regarding disaster-risk reduction, mitigation and adaptation.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. Filippo Grandi said: “In the face of grave implications of the pandemic, Pakistan also continues to make sure no one is left behind and includes Afghan refugees in its COVID-19 response including the government vaccination programme.”

UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Julien Harneis said: ‘The people in Pakistan have to cope with the humanitarian consequences of extreme weather events and conflicts in Afghanistan. The causes of these humanitarian needs are in part global and regional, and so although the Pakistani state and society have significant capacity to respond to these needs, it is appropriate that the international community share this burden. In launching the HRP, we are laying out the roadmap of how the UN and humanitarian partners aim to support and complement the response of the Government of Pakistan.”

The Government and the UN have worked tirelessly on joint efforts to contain COVID-19 and mitigate the pandemic’s socio-economic and health impacts and humanitarian consequences, while remaining inclusive of both Pakistan and non-Pakistani citizens such as refugees and migrants. COVID-19 response activities have been mainstreamed in this Humanitarian Response Plan, which aim to complement other relevant frameworks including the UN COVID-19 Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP), COVID-19 Pakistan Preparedness and Response Plan (PPRP), and the UN Socio-Economic Response Framework to COVID-19 (SERF).

The launch event was well attended by the Diplomatic Corps, heads of UN agencies in Pakistan, representatives of international organizations, IFIs, civil society and media.

END

The Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan can be downloaded here.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Afghanistan — Media

Afghanistan: Statement by Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, United Nations DSRSG, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator

Kabul, 9 June 2021: I strongly condemn the heinous attack on the Halo Trust NGO yesterday in Baghlan Province in northern Afghanistan which reportedly killed at least 10 people and injured 16 others. It is repugnant that an organization that works to clear landmines and other explosives and better the lives of vulnerable people could be targeted.

I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and wishes for a speedy and full recovery to the injured.

Aid workers and humanitarian organisations are protected under International Humanitarian Law. We call for a full investigation to ensure that those responsible for any violations are held accountable and brought to justice.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Afghanistan — Emergency Response
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Afghanistan: Weekly Humanitarian Update (31 May – 6 June 2021)

South: Fighting and civilian displacement

The overall security situation in the south remained volatile, with reports of increased conflict between Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and a nonstate armed group (NSAG) in Kandahar, Hilmand, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces. In Kandahar province, hostilities continued in Shahwalikot, Khakrez, Maywand, Panjwai and Zharey districts affecting civilian movements, and causing casualties. According to local sources, civilians have been evicted from villages near Maywand District Administrative Centre (DAC) by an NSAG. Access to irrigation water from Dahla Dam in various districts of Kandahar has also been affected. Armed clashes and airstrikes on Khakrez DAC reportedly caused 40 families (approximately 2,800 people) to be displaced to Kandahar city.

In Hilmand province, main roads between Lashkargah city and districts/Kandahar city remain closed due to the presence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and armed clashes which have impacted civilian movements and contributed to rising food prices in the city. Fighting and airstrikes near a base in Nahr-e-Saraj reportedly resulted in the deaths of 30 civilians and injury of 70 others.

In Uruzgan province, according to preliminary reports, armed clashes near the Gizab DAC resulted in civilian displacements, which is being verified by humanitarian actors. An NSAG has reportedly warned farmers in some villages around Chora DAC and Tirinkot city to leave their farms due to anticipated fighting in the area. Since 2 June, mobile service providers have reportedly turned off their telecommunication towers which is affecting the flow of information for both civilians and humanitarian actors. Armed clashes in Shah Joy, Ataghar and Shinkay districts reportedly caused the displacement of some 350 families (approximately 2,450 people). On 1 June, two suspected measles outbreaks were reported in Tirinkot (Uruzgan province) and Qalat (Zabul province) affecting 28 children. Government medical teams have responded with medicine, vaccines and health education.

On 31 May, 2,236 internally displaced persons (IDPs) displaced by conflict (642 in Kandahar and 1,594 in Lashkargah) received food, emergency shelter, relief items, water, sanitation, hygiene and hygiene education, and cash-based assistance. Furthermore, 1,526 IDPs in Lashkargah will receive aid in the coming days.

North-east: 10,500 people displaced by conflict

The security situation has reportedly deteriorated due to new conflict in the north-east resulting in seven civilian injuries during the reporting period. Some 10,500 people have been displaced following weeks of conflict in Kunduz province. Thousands of IDPs remain displaced in Baghlan province and have yet to return to their areas of origin due to poverty and fears of further conflict.

Last week, 2,282 people received humanitarian assistance while 18,550 IDPs were identified to receive aid in the coming days with needs assessments still ongoing.

East: Conflict affecting farmers and wheat yield

Conflict was reported in Achin, Dehbala, Pachir wa Agam, Surkhrod and Khogyani districts in Nangarhar province. Prior to a change of control in Duab District in Nuristan province, a health facility was reportedly closed due to insecurity. Farmers in Achin, Dehbala and Pachir-Agam districts have reportedly appealed to parties to the conflict to cease fighting so they can harvest their wheat. In Alishang, Alingar and the outskirts of Mehtarlam, farmers have harvested much less wheat crops than their normal yield and some wheat was reportedly burned in crossfire.

A total of 9,317 people received humanitarian assistance, comprising 7,028 new IDPs, 140 undocumented returnees who received post arrival assistance, 546 people impacted by natural disasters, and 1,603 people who received their third and fourth round of unconditional food rations. Out of 29,512 people assessed, 21,833 people were recommended to receive immediate humanitarian assistance.

West: Security situation deteriorates in several districts

The security situation in Farsi district in Hirat province, Sharak district in Ghor province and Abkamari and Jawand districts of Badghis province continued to deteriorate with ANSF and an NSAG fighting and vying for control of strategic areas. On 5 June, a mini-bus was struck by an IED along the Qala-e-Naw – Abkamari road killing 11 civilians (4 men, 4 women and 3 children).

During the reporting period, 749 people displaced by conflict in Badghis and Hirat provinces were assessed by joint needs assessment teams to be in need of humanitarian aid. Aid agencies will provide them with basic emergency assistance in the coming week.

Centre: Fighting and violence affecting civilans

The security situation in the centre remained unstable with increasing reports of violence affecting civilians. At least six attacks on civilian buses were reported in the last week. A total of 37 civilians were killed and 70 others injured in Kabul, Logar, Parwan, Khost, Daykundi and Ghazni provinces by IEDs and mortar shelling. In addition, 5,334 people have reportedly been displaced by conflict in Logar, Parwan and Paktika provinces.

A total of 882 IDPs were assisted in Ghazni province, while 1,232 IDPs were recommended to receive humanitarian assistances in Kabul, Wardak and Khost provinces. Local authorities provided 749 people with food aid in Waza Zadran district, Paktya province.

North: Schools, Government departments closed due to COVID-19

The security situation in the north remained complex, unpredictable and volatile though a decrease in security incidents was noted compared to the previous week. A total 532 people displaced by conflict were identified to receive humanitarian assistance in Jawzjan, Sari Pul and Faryab provinces.

Most schools, Government departments, UN agencies and NGOs are in lockdown due to a surge in COVID-19. Across the country, the number of people affected by the pandemic has increased dramatically with daily averages surpassing figures seen during the peak of the first and second waves. For more information, please see the COVID-19 report.

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Situation Report
Myanmar — Media

Myanmar: Statement by the United Nations in Myanmar on the Humanitarian Situation in the South-East

(Yangon, 8 June 2021) : The United Nations in Myanmar is concerned about the rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Kayah State and other areas in southeastern Myanmar.

Recent violence in Kayah State, including indiscriminate attacks by security forces against civilian areas, has led to the internal displacement of an estimated 100,000 men, women and children. Many of them are currently seeking safety in host communities and forests across Kayah and southern parts of neighboring Shan state. This crisis could push people across international borders seeking safety, as already seen in other parts of the country.

The United Nations reiterates its earlier calls for all parties to urgently take the necessary measures and precautions to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, particularly protected objects such as medical units and personnel, and to adhere to the fundamental principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality and protection.

People fleeing and those remaining in locations affected by ongoing hostilities are in urgent need of food, water, shelter, fuel and access to healthcare. The United Nations and its partners have humanitarian supplies, including food, shelter materials and other basic relief items ready to be deployed to complement the local response, which has been immediate, but insufficient to address all needs, particularly for those persons in remote locations. Ongoing insecurity, travel restrictions imposed by security forces, and poor road conditions, however, are delaying the delivery of these supplies. The United Nations calls on the security forces to allow safe passage of humanitarian supplies and personnel and to facilitate the direct provision of relief assistance by the UN and its partners to all those in need in Kayah, as well as other states and regions across the country where there are urgent humanitarian needs.

The United Nations reiterates the Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire made in March 2020 and to join forces to respond to the growing risk of another outbreak of COVID-19 and other humanitarian and health challenges.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Nepal — Emergency Response
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Nepal: COVID-19 Pandemic Situation Report

This report is produced by Office of the Resident Coordinator in collaboration with partners. It covers the period from 29 May to 4 June 2021. The next report will be issued on or around 11 June 2021.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Meeting with provincial Chief Ministers highlighted significant gaps in essential human resources for medical response and huge challenges related to unemployment.

  • Procurement of vaccines remains a critical gap and top priority.

  • Service delivery is constrained by infection or fear of infection among essential staff who remain unvaccinated.

  • Closure of schools with no or limited access to distance learning is reported to be contributing to child labor, child marriage and risky behavior among children.

  • Isolation centres are regularly established without consideration of WASH requirements, thereby increasing infection risks.

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SITUATION OVERVIEW

A meeting was held between Chief Ministers of several provinces and the Resident Coordinator, along with heads of WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and WFP, to learn more about the challenges provincial government are facing in the pandemic. Chief Ministers, while appreciating support extended to battle the pandemic to date made a strong request for continued partnership of the international community in helping them to address critical gaps in human resources to provide medical services. They also highlighted the huge gaps in providing employment to economically vulnerable households normally engaged in wage labour, who are currently unable to meet their family’s basic needs.

While cases have been declining across most provinces of Nepal, cases continued to increase over the past week in Gandaki province. Declining case numbers are related to the strict lockdown. Slight easing of measures in the coming weeks will be a test for the country. The ability to manage COVID-19 out of lockdowns will depend on adherence to public health and social measures, which to date has proved challenging, not least due to a need to contextualize global guidance for remote, rural and poor households to enable their action.

Test positivity has declined to 34.9%, which remains among the highest globally. In the extremely remote Karnali province test positivity is highest, at 43.8%. Chief Ministers raised gaps in RT-PCR testing availability in hill and mountain regions of their provinces, leading to inability to identify COVID-19 infections among people in those communities. This is among the gaps that the new supply of antigen tests is aimed at filling.

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Media
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Indonesian authorities conducted COVID-19 screenings and provided vaccines to all 81 people rescued by Acehnese fishermen on Friday after their vessel, which left Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, bound for Malaysia in February, encountered engine trouble. © IOM

IOM Provides Food, Water to Latest Group of Rohingya Rescued in East Aceh, Indonesia

Jakarta/East Aceh, 8 June 2021 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is continuing to provide food, drinking water and medical support as part of coordinated efforts to help 81 Rohingya, mostly women and children, rescued by local fishermen in East Aceh on Friday (04/06) after a perilous journey.

A spokesperson from the group told IOM that they set off from Kutupalong and Falong Khali camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in the first week of February 2021, headed for Malaysia.

Three days after they set sail, the boat’s engine broke down and they were left floating at sea. Four days later, they were located and rescued by the Indian Navy in the Andaman Islands.

"Nine people died due to sickness before being rescued by the Indian Navy," said the spokesperson.

“We did not have enough drinking water supply, so we had to drink the seawater. Unfortunately, some of us got sick after drinking it.”

The group – consisting of 45 women, 17 men and 19 children – remained on one of the Andaman Islands for almost four months before continuing their journey in mid-May following the first cyclone of the season.

They experienced engine problems again near East Aceh last week. Local fishermen discovered their vessel and brought them to safety on Friday. Upon disembarkation, the local government of Aceh immediately conducted rapid COVID-19 tests and COVID-19 vaccinations for all arrivals.

“Thanks are due again to local community members and authorities in Indonesia for assisting the disembarkation, which – in a humanitarian spirit – has clearly been a life-saving intervention,” said Louis Hoffmann, IOM Chief of Mission in Indonesia.

"We are pleased to be working with partners including the Government of Indonesia, the Geutanyoe Foundation and our donors to ensure a coordinated response to the health and safety of this group at their initial landing site in East Aceh.”

Hoffmann added that important next steps are now underway to help assess and stabilize this group in a more sustainable location in close coordination with UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency –, and other partners.

This latest rescue comes almost exactly 12 months after 99 Rohingya, mostly women and children, were rescued by local Acehnese fishermen after being stranded at sea for more than 120 days. 

"With the experience of last year’s arrivals, we have been able to move quickly to assess initial health and nutritional needs, and – with the leadership of the Government – put in place pandemic health protocols to ensure the protection of this group and local community members,” Hoffman said.

Roughly 1,400 Rohingya found themselves stranded at sea during the 2020 sailing season, which typically ends with the arrival of the monsoon in early June. At least 130 are reported to have died.

“Once again, as the monsoon season gets underway, the dangers facing any vessel at sea increase by the day and we therefore reiterate that a coordinated response to this situation, inclusive of search and rescue operations and safe disembarkation, is urgently needed,” said Dr Nenette Motus, IOM Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“Even as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in this region, we must work collectively to avoid a repeat of the 2015 crisis when thousands of men, women and children faced tremendous challenges in accessing life-saving care and support and many lost their lives at sea.”

IOM’s emergency response to assist the Rohingya disembarkation in Aceh is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

For further information, please contact Ariani Hasanah Soejoeti at IOM Indonesia, email: asoejoeti@iom.int , tel: +628122726308 or Itayi Viriri at IOM´s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Tel: +63 917 890 8785, Email: iviriri@iom.int

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Bangladesh — Coordination
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Cash distribution to flood-affected people in Kurigram, Bagladesh, during floods in July 2020. Photo: WFP/ Sayed Asif Mahmud)

Anticipatory Action Framework: Bangladesh Monsoon Floods

Endorsed by the Resident Coordinator on 30 May 2021 Pre-approved by the Emergency Relief Coordinator on 3 June 2021

Executive Summary

This document presents the pilot framework for collective anticipatory action to monsoon floods in Bangladesh, including the forecasting trigger (the model), the pre-agreed action plans (the delivery) and the pre-arranged financing (the money). In addition to the 3 core elements, an investment in documenting evidence and learning is part of the pilot (the learning).

The objective of this pilot is to further scale-up the quality and quantity of collective anticipatory humanitarian action to people at risk of predicted severe monsoon flooding of the Jamuna River in Bangladesh. The pilot will cover five highly vulnerable districts (Bogura (Bogra); Gaibandha; Kurigram; Jamalpur; and Sirajganj) with the aim to reach 410,000-440,000 people ahead of flood peak with multi-sectoral interventions carried out by the United Nations and the Red Cross/Red Crescent in close collaboration with NGOs and the Government through CERF funding. A further ca. 130,000 people will be reached with additional financing and about one million people are to benefit from joint early warning messages.

The model makes use of available forecasts with a two-step trigger system to predict severe monsoon floods:

  • Stage I: Readiness trigger is reached when the water discharge at the Bahadurabad gauging station over a period of three consecutive days is forecasted by the GloFAS model with a maximum 15-day lead time to be more than 50% likely to cross the 1-in-5-year return period.

  • Stage II: Action trigger is reached when the water level at Bahadurabad is forecasted by the FFWC 5-day lead time model to cross the government-defined “Danger Level” + 0.85 meters, and probabilistic forecasts with longer lead times (GloFAS/RIMES) show a sustained or increasing trend of the water discharge at the Bahadurabad gauging station for at least three consecutive days beginning from the day when the danger level is forecast to be crossed.

The delivery of anticipatory action is time critical. Agencies have agreed to develop a common beneficiary database enabling the joint targeting of households so these may benefit from a comprehensive intervention. In addition, all agencies agree to work jointly on distribution and content of targeted early warning messages.

Given the short lead times, unconditional cash is a major component of the pilot. Bringing together the reach of WFP and BDRCS, some 78,000 vulnerable households will receive 4,500 Taka (~US$53) each ahead of severe peak flooding either through mobile transfers (bKash) or the post office.

In addition to cash, FAO will support 25,000 households with (1) animal feed at evacuation points and (2) with floodproof storage of agricultural and productive assets (e.g. tools, seeds).

UNICEF is complementing the anticipatory intervention with the provision of safe drinking water and early warning and hygiene promotion messaging to some 110,000 people through the distribution of jerrycans, water purification tablets and a communication campaign. Also, through the deployment of ten mobile water treatment units at evacuation points, some 20,000 people will be able to access safe drinking water.

UNFPA-led interventions will reach more than 16,300 people: 9,688 women, adolescent girls and third gender/transgender will receive dignity and menstrual hygiene management kits. Some 3,800 pregnant women will have access to safe deliveries. 20 newly trained midwives will support some 100 safe births. An additional health center will be equipped with the capacity for clinical management of over 50 rape cases and some 1,600 couples will benefit from receiving emergency family planning supplies.

In addition to cash, BDRCS through a sub-agreement with WFP, will provide additional evacuation support based on need, last mile early warning dissemination for 100,000 households and first aid support based on need of the people and households during the operations. Save the Children, using its own financing, will provide direct cash and WASH support to some 31,500 people in Sirajgoni and 12,000 people in Gaibanda.

The money for the pilot comes from different sources, including from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) of up to $7.5 million. CERF financing will be released as automatically as possible immediately once the defined triggers are reached. The pre-arranged financing agreement with CERF is in place for one severe flooding event over a two-year pilot period from the moment this framework document is pre-endorsed and pre-agreed.

WFP, UNFPA, BDRCS and Save the Children have additional financing available as part of the same trigger mechanism for additional anticipatory actions in line with applicable agency-specific protocols.

The learning and documentation of evidence from the pilot will be coordinated through an ad-hoc committee which will ensure a common approach to agency-specific monitoring and evaluation; as well as identifying opportunities for an independent evaluation. The impact of the pilot shall be assessed against the premise of anticipatory actions leading to a faster, more efficient, and more dignified humanitarian response, which also may protect development gains. Learning from pilots should be achieved at the highest possible standards and rigor.

Key improvements have been made to this iteration of the Bangladesh anticipatory action pilot compared to the 2020 experience. Many lessons learned have been incorporated at the agency level. At the collective level, the main improvements have been on scale and quality of the pilot. Notably the common beneficiary database and common approach to early warning, as well as improved coordination around learning and activation should help to provide better anticipatory actions.

As a commitment to learning and continuous improvement of anticipatory action challenges, and ways to overcome these in the future, are identified throughout the document. For instance, the COVID pandemic continues to constrain operational capacity. Short time frames in building the pilot, limited time between trigger events and peak floods, as well as the availability of resources means the pilot must be very focused, prioritized and targeted to concrete and achievable outcomes. The biggest impediment to a further scale-up has been the absence of financing for “start-up costs,” i.e. the necessary investments to entities to build the pilot and prepare for collective action.

The framework has been facilitated by OCHA and the RCO and was jointly developed by FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP, Red Cross/Red Crescent, BDRCS, and the Start Network. Save the Children also contributed.

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Situation Report
Timor-Leste — Media
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Government of Timor-Leste and partners appeal for US$32 million to assist flood victims and early recovery

Following the devastation caused by the floods in April that affected many families in the country, today the Government and humanitarian partners, including the United Nations, are launching a joint Appeal for US $32m to respond to residual humanitarian needs and assist with early the recovery process to December 2021.

Dili, TIMOR-LESTE, 01 JUNE 2021: The Government, together with humanitarian partners, officially launched a Joint Appeal to address the residual humanitarian needs for the most vulnerable affected people and assist with early-recovery efforts in Timor-Leste. The appeal requests US$32.7 million (US $8.8m for immediate needs and US$23.9 for short-term requirements) that will directly assist 65,000 people and indirectly benefit all flood-affected population. A multi-sectoral response, the appeal identifies priority activities to address critical gaps across 9 sectors: Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) and Emergency Shelter; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); Gender and Protection; Food Security; Nutrition; Health; Education; Early Recovery and Livelihoods; and, Emergency Logistics.

The Government has allocated US$65.2 million through the Contingency Fund while the humanitarian partners including the United Nations, have so far committed US$10.7 million to support the response efforts. However, following the rapid assessments that have been completed, critical funding gaps still remain to meet the priority needs of the flood-affected communities and to kick-start the recovery process.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, H.E. Ms. Adaljiza Magno in her opening remarks stated that despite the significant efforts from the Government side to deliver the emergency needs to flood affected populations as well as increasing the contingency fund to implement short and long term programs to recover from the calamity, there are still considerable funding gap need to be filled. Therefore, H.E. Minister, on behalf of the government, calling upon for a voluntary contribution in order to help Timor-Leste to scale-up measures to recover from the catastrophic disaster.

The 2021 Timor-Leste Floods Response Plan will facilitate a coordinated by the Government and the humanitarian partners focusing on the next 7 months from end-May to end-December 2021 with the aim of supporting a sustainable recovery and helping lay the foundations for ‘Building Back Better’.

The plan was jointly developed by the Government of Timor-Leste with support from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and all humanitarian partners. A copy of the detailed Joint Appeal is available here.

Under the Government leadership, more than 86 organisations – 9 UN agencies, 63 humanitarian partners, and 14 Ministries/Departments – will participate in the 7-month Joint Response Plan ending in December 2021.

The latest official figures, show that 33,835 households have been affected by the floods across all 13 municipalities, with 44 reported fatalities. Extensive damages have been reported to houses, buildings (including health facilities and COVID-19 quarantine and isolation centres), public infrastructure and agricultural land. A total of 2,163 hectares of agricultural land have been affected, negatively impacting food security in the coming days.

This disaster comes when the country has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent months. The temporary displacement of people poses an increased threat to the further spread of COVID-19 and outbreak of other diseases.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Roy Trivedy emphasised that “it is imperative to speed up the delivery of assistance to Timor-Leste at this critical stage to prevent further loss of lives, additional damage to essential public services and infrastructure, and to stop the spread of diseases.” He also highlighted the fact that “this tragedy has hit at a time when the country is already struggling with the dangerous situation caused by COVID19.”

This Response Plan aims to directly target the humanitarian and early recovery needs of approximately 65,000 flood-affected people living with existing vulnerabilities. All flood-affected populations are expected to benefit directly and indirectly from the response, including rehabilitation of critical public infrastructure and restoration of essential services. In line with the Secretariat of State for Civil Protection’s Flood Response Strategy, the plan will prioritise support to those who remain in the evacuation centres, support the safe return and early recovery of those who were temporarily displaced and since returned to their communities.

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BACKGROUND NOTE FOR EDITOR

On 23 April, the National Parliament approved the amendment to the 2021 General State Budget to respond to the impact of COVID-19 and the flooding, which the President subsequently promulgated on 4 May. The allocation to the COVID-19 Fund increased from USD 31 million to USD 287.6 million, while the Contingency Fund allocation increased from USD 23.8 million to USD 65.2 million.

Many humanitarian partners and donors have supported the flood response through humanitarian funding and/or repurposing existing resources. In solidarity with the affected people of Timor-Leste, more donors, including the private sector, have been mobilising resources in support of the flood-affected people. Over USD 10.73 million of additional humanitarian funding has been mobilised by donors, UN agencies, humanitarian partners and the private sector.

The second phase of the humanitarian response, namely support to livelihoods and early recovery has started, including emergency cash-for-work initiatives, inputs schemes, and infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction. At the request of the Government, partners are preparing to support the Government with longer-term recovery planning through a Household and Building Damage Assessment (HBDA), a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PNDA), and a Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM). These assessments aim to provide more comprehensive country-wide information to inform longer-term recovery and reconstruction of flood-affected households, communities, and agricultural lands.

During the Emergency Development Partners’ Meeting called by the Government on 13 April, the Government and the humanitarian partners agreed on the need for a strongly coordinated floods response, under the leadership of the Government. The 2021 Timor-Leste Flood Response Plan, therefore, is positioned as a tool to facilitate a coordinated floods response by the Government and the humanitarian partners (incl. donors), focusing on the initial 9 months to address the immediate humanitarian and early recovery needs of the most vulnerable affected people. Once the findings of a more comprehensive assessment of damages and losses become available, the Government and partners may consider developing a medium-term recovery plan in line with the Government’s commitment to Build Back Better.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Interactive

Humanitarian Data Portal for COVID-19 in Asia Pacific

This humanitarian data portal developed by OCHA puts together regional-level information on the COVID-19 Crisis in Asia and the Pacific: all in one place, interactive, and searchable.

It presents data on the impact of COVID-19 on people and humanitarian operations, as well as providing insight on how the international community is working collectively to respond to the crisis. It includes an overview of the various health and multi-sector response plans, with funds required and people targeted by each plan.

The portal also has baseline data and indicators that are useful for understanding potential and underlying vulnerabilities.

Click here or on the image below to access the COVID-19 Humanitarian Data Portal. For further information or questions, please send an email to: Pierre Peron, peronp@un.org

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Situation Report
Nepal — Media
CPRP-SocialMediaCards-round1-03

United Nations and Partners in Nepal Launch Emergency Covid-19 Plan and Call for International Solidarity to Bring Life-Saving Aid to Nepal’s Most Vulnerable People and Communities

KATHMANDU, 21 May 2021- As Nepal faces breaking point amidst its worst COVID-19 outbreak, the United Nations and partners are today launching the Nepal Covid-19 Response Plan calling for US$ 83.7 million to mobilize an emergency response over the next three months to assist 750,000 of the most vulnerable people affected by the pandemic. The plan was endorsed by the Nepal Humanitarian Country Team and the Government of Nepal’s COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre and lays out critical areas of support required to complement the Government of Nepal’s response efforts.

UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Sara Beysolow Nyanti said: “The current outbreak is having a devastating impact not just on health but across all sectors, hitting the poorest and most marginalized people in Nepali society the hardest. The COVID-19 Response Plan that we are launching today calls for swift action and international solidarity that is desperately needed to save lives and prevent unnecessary suffering today, tomorrow, and in the difficult weeks to come. We have no time to lose.”

After several months of relatively low daily cases in Nepal, cases began to increase rapidly in mid-April, rising from 150 cases per day in early April to over 8,000 cases per day since 5 May. Over 44% of COVID-19 tests nationally are coming back positive, suggesting that case numbers are much higher than reported. Despite the surge beginning almost three weeks after India’s, Nepal is experiencing roughly the same number of daily cases per capita as India, but with a health system whose capacity is much more limited.

Dr. Rajesh Sambhajirao Pandav, WHO Representative to Nepal, said: “The recent surge in cases has resulted in an unprecedented need for medical supplies including oxygen, medicines, ventilators, diagnostic kits and vaccines. While WHO and partners are supporting the Nepal Government’s endeavors in mounting a robust response, fighting the pandemic necessitates international solidarity. I appeal to friends of Nepal from around the world to come forward and help with fulfilling the needs of the hour.”

Millions of people in Nepal are struggling not just with the direct health impact of COVID-19, but also with hunger, malnutrition, devastating economic losses, and other health needs that are being overlooked. The Nepal COVID-19 Response Plan brings together the priority response activities as set out by the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) to address both the health and humanitarian consequences of COVID-19. The Government of Nepal is leading the response, but capacities are stretched to breaking point and international solidarity is urgently needed to assist the most vulnerable people with life-saving response activities in health, food security, education, nutrition, shelter, protection and water and sanitation.

Ms. Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative for Nepal, said: “Nepal is experiencing an alarming new COVID-19 surge, with a steep rise in cases that has overwhelmed Nepal’s fragile health system. As we respond to the immediate health crisis to help save lives, we cannot forget the devastating broader impact the current COVID-19 surge has on children and young people in Nepal. They are being cut off from vital support networks, losing parents and caregivers, and witnessing scenes no child should ever see. We must come together, nationally and internationally, if we are to prevent interrupted childhoods in Nepal from being lost for good.”

The Nepal COVID-19 Response Plan can be downloaded here

For further information, please contact:

RCO Nepal - Ram Babu Shah, shah2@un.org , +977 9801002004

UNICEF Nepal –Tania Dhakhwa, tdhakhwa@unicef.org +977 9801244524

WHO Nepal –Tsering Dolkar Gurung, gurungt@who.int , +977 9801054040

OCHA Asia Pacific - Pierre Peron, peronp@un.org , +66 614200390

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Afghanistan — Emergency Response

Afghanistan: Flash Update – Displacement due to fighting in North Eastern Afghanistan (30 May 2021)

Key Highlights:

  • Heavy fighting continues in Baghlan Province, displacing families into Pul-e-Khumri city.

  • Authorities report more than 21,000 people have been displaced due to armed conflict in Baghlan Province.

  • Ten inter-agency assessment teams have been mobilised and deployed to the area to confirm numbers and needs. Further assessment scale-up is needed.

  • Food, non-food items, hygiene kits and cash assistance are the most urgent needs for the affected people. Distributions of humanitarian assistance are underway, reaching 2,500 people so far.

Situation overview:

Heavy fighting and armed clashes have continued throughout the month of May in Baghlan Province. According to reports from authorities more than 21,000 people have been displaced since the fighting began during the first week of May. Houses as well as public infrastructure, such as health facilities and schools, have been damaged due to the use of heavy artillery. Affected families also report losing their livestock and indicate heightened risk of unexploded ordinance on agricultural land.

The main road connecting Pul-e-Khumri to Kunduz and Mazar-e-Sharif remains contested and has been damaged along different sections. Illegal check points have reportedly been installed, creating additional challenges for partners transporting humanitarian commodities from Mazar-e-Sharif to Baghlan.

Humanitarian Impact:

Most of the newly displaced people are coming from Nahrin, Jilga, Guzargah-Noor, Burka, Baghlan-Jadid and Dahne-Ghori districts and have fled to locations in and around Pul-e-Khumri city. Affected families have taken shelter with host families, are renting accommodation or are staying in open areas. Based on initial assessment findings food, NFIs, hygiene kits and cash assistance are the most urgent needs.

Coordination and Response:

10 inter-agency assessment teams have been mobilised and deployed to the area. However, existing humanitarian capacity on the ground is insufficient to conduct timely needs assessment for the large number of IDPs. OCHA is liaising with partners at regional and national level to mobilise surge support to accelerate assessments.

Since the beginning of May, 9,520 people in Pul-e-Khumri city have been assessed, of whom approximately 5,159 people have been identified as needing humanitarian assistance. Two additional assessment teams will be deployed this week to confirm the needs of IDPs located outside of Pul-e-Khumri city. However, partners are not yet able to deploy assessment teams to Nahrin, Jilga, Burka and Guzargah Noor districts where active fighting continues.

As assessments continue, humanitarian partners have started delivering cash assistance for 2,500 displaced people. Additional stocks, including food commodities, are needed in Baghlan to respond to anticipated needs and fill current resource gaps within the region.

The next flash update will be provided if there is a significant change in the situation.

(see other updates from OCHA Afghanistan)

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Afghanistan — Emergency Response

Afghanistan: Flash Update on displacement due to fighting in eastern Afghanistan (25 May 2021)

Key Highlights:

  • Heavy fighting continues in Laghman province, including in Mehtalam city – the provincial capital.

  • Assessment teams are working to confirm the humanitarian impact of the situation. To date, between 11,000 and 14,000 people are reported to have been displaced. 

  • Partners mobilised six inter-agency assessment and response teams in early May 2021 when fighting intensified.

  • Health assistance (through mobile health teams (MHTs), food distribution and water trucking are underway, while preparations are being made to provide sanitation and hygiene support.

Situation Overview:

Heavy fighting has been reported in Laghman province in May 2021. Since 23 May, the fighting escalated into and around Mehtalam City, the provincial capital. Reports indicate there has been significant displacement and that most shops and businesses in the city were temporarily closed.

Humanitarian Impact:

According to reports from authorities, communities and assessment teams, it is estimated that between 11,000 and 14,000 people have been displaced. Most of the newly displaced people are reportedly coming from Alingar, Alishang and Dawlatshwa districts and are now staying in Mehtalam city. New IDPs are scattered across the city, some residing in public service structures (such as schools) and others with host communities. These IDPs are accessible to humanitarian assessment and response teams.

Six inter-agency assessment and response teams have been deployed across the province since 24 May 2021. Based on initial assessment findings, food, NFIs, WASH and health needs are the most urgent. Assessments continue and will further inform the humanitarian response over the coming days.

Further reports indicate that new IDPs from Laghman province are coming into Jalalabad city. This will be confirmed by additional assessment teams which are presently in process of being deployed.

Coordination and Response:

Laghman Provincial authorities convened an ad-hoc PDMC meeting with line ministries to evaluate the ongoing situation and plan Government’s response. The Government, through ANDMA, has started distribution of food assistance.

The Eastern Region Humanitarian Regional Team (HRT) met today (25 May) to discuss the ongoing assessments and identify gaps in the humanitarian response. Humanitarian partners stand ready to deploy more resources to meet needs identified through the ongoing assessments.

So far, two MHTs have been deployed in and around Mehtalam City. As part of the health response, partners have provided trauma kits and inter-agency emergency health kits (IEHK) to the Department of Public Health (DoPH) in Laghman province. Trauma care is reaching affected people while plans are underway to kickstart psychosocial support. Water trucking is underway while partners have completed site selection for emergency latrine installation and have started work on water reservoirs. Partners plan to distribute hygiene kits.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Afghanistan — Forecast

UN and NGOs will stay and deliver aid to millions of Afghans in need

Kabul, 24 May 2021 - Humanitarian actors in Afghanistan (the UN and national and international NGOs) are committed to staying and delivering impartial and neutral assistance to millions of people in need. Ongoing conflict, spiralling food insecurity and the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a near-doubling of people in need in the space of 12 months – up from 9.4 million in January 2020 to 18.4 million in January 2021.

While intra-Afghan negotiations present the opportunity for a lasting peace, humanitarian actors are deeply concerned by continued violence across the country characterised by high levels of civilian casualties and almost 100,000 people internally displaced just this year.

Increasing conflict and bureaucratic impediments have required humanitarian organisations to assess, mitigate and navigate the changing operational space. Despite these challenges, some 165 humanitarian organisations continued working across the country and reached nearly 12 million people with life-saving assistance in 2020. Even with significant funding and operational challenges, 3.7 million people received aid during the first three months of 2021, demonstrating a strong capacity to stay and deliver assistance and protection to people in need, including in challenging environments. In the context of growing need driven by the pandemic, food insecurity, conflict and a looming threat of drought, humanitarian organisations are mobilising to scale-up support and continue to respond wherever assistance is most needed.

In order to achieve the above, humanitarian actors in Afghanistan ask the following to parties to the conflict:

  1. Protect civilians, aid workers and civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals in compliance with International Humanitarian Law.

  2. Provide unimpeded access and ensure that aid workers and service providers can deliver assistance and services without interference, in accordance with the principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality.

To donors and the international community:

  1. Urgently release and increase funding to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan.

     

In 2021, the UN and humanitarian partners in Afghanistan require US $1.3 billion to help 15.7 million people in need. Only $166.8 million (13 per cent) of the funding has been received so far.

Humanitarian Coordinator Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov says, “The COVID-19 crisis has already had significant consequences on the lives and livelihoods of Afghans and on humanitarian operations. At this critical time, it is more important than ever that we continue to work together to uphold the rights of all people in Afghanistan, including their right to life-saving aid.”

For further information, please contact: Linda Tom, Public Information Officer, OCHA Afghanistan (toml@un.org / +93 (0)793 001 110) Lisa Piper, Director, ACBAR (director@acbar.org)

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Bangladesh — Feature
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Aid agencies in Bangladesh urge international community to step up support for the Rohingya refugee crisis, now in its fourth year

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (Tuesday 18 May 2021) – Aid agencies are making a united call on the international community to step up support to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, which has now entered its fourth year. The 2021 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis was launched today by the Government of Bangladesh, along with the humanitarian community. The JRP is seeking USD 943 million to meet the needs of over 880,000 Rohingya refugees and 472,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas in Cox’s Bazar district. In total, the JRP aims to protect and assist 1.4 Million people this year. More than half of this population are women and children. Some USD 340 million has been committed towards the 2021 JRP by the international community so far, amounting to more than 35 percent of the total requirements.

The JRP brings together the efforts of the Government of Bangladesh, and 134 UN agencies and NGO partners. More than half of these partners are Bangladeshi NGOs. The appeal focuses on strengthening the protection of Rohingya refugees, delivering quality lifesaving assistance to those in need, fostering the well-being of the communities surrounding the camps, and helping Rohingya refugees build their skills and capacities towards sustainable return and reintegration in Myanmar, on a voluntary basis, when conditions allow them to do so, in safety and in dignity.

The most commonly reported needs among the host communities include access to food as well as cash, along with essential health services, reflecting the impact of the COVID- 19 outbreak and associated measures needed to mitigate the spread of the virus on food security and livelihoods among the people of Bangladesh. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded vulnerabilities for them as well as Rohingya refugees. “We came to live in the camp after suffering a lot in Myanmar. But this place is very congested, and we need a lot of health support,” says 30-year old Hosne Ara, a Rohingya refugee living in one of the camps in Cox’s Bazar. “It is a great struggle to manage food, clothes, medicines, and essentials for my children” she adds.

“More than 40 per cent of this year’s financial appeal focuses on two of the most basic and critical human needs, food security and health,” says Nicole Epting, the Senior Coordinator for the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG). “In addition, the priorities for this year include water, sanitation and hygiene, wider health needs including sexual and reproductive health with a focus on women and girls, education and addressing the protection concerns of the Rohingya refugee population in the camps.”.

The leadership of the Government of Bangladesh and the support of the international community over the years has been crucial in delivering lifesaving protection and assistance and effectively responding to the needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Up to USD 2.32 billion in funds have been committed to successive JRPs since the outset of the crisis in 2017. This amounts to 69% of total the financial requirements needed to protect and assist the Rohingya refugee population and host communities in the last four years.

Rohingya refugees have expressed their desire to return to Myanmar when conditions are conducive and safe to do so. Until they are able to return voluntarily, sustainably and under safe and dignified conditions, the humanitarian community is calling for a show of compassion and solidarity with the Rohingya refugee population and is urging the international community to continue supporting the Government and the people of Bangladesh.

END/ For more information, please contact: Md. Syed Tafhim, ISCG, communications2@iscgcxb.org , +88(0)1915523773 Sulakshani Perera, ISCG, ext.rel@iscgcxb.org +88(0)1847326504

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Myanmar — Media

Statement by the United Nations in Myanmar on the situation in Mindat, Chin State

(Yangon, 21 May 2021): The United Nations in Myanmar is alarmed by the humanitarian impact of ongoing violence in the town of Mindat in Chin State in western Myanmar, following reports of indiscriminate attacks by the security forces against civilians and resulting population displacement and civilian casualties.

Local sources indicated that close to 4,000 people have been internally displaced since the hostilities escalated in the town of Mindat on 12 May, with an unconfirmed number, believed to be in thousands, hiding in nearby forests and mountains in search of safety and protection. A higher number of civilians remain in Mindat as they were reportedly not allowed to leave during the height of the hostilities.

There are reports of houses and other civilian property damaged, destroyed or occupied by security forces. An unconfirmed number of men, women, and children have lost their lives or sustained injuries because of the violence. The United Nations is also concerned by reports about the security forces using civilians as human shields and incidents of sexual assault perpetrated against women and girls.

People who have already fled and others who remain are in urgent need of food, water, shelter, access to healthcare and gender-based violence and psychological support. The United Nations and humanitarian partners are making efforts to assess and address these needs; however, humanitarian access challenges, including due to insecurity and road blockages, are complicating these efforts.

The United Nations calls on security forces to urgently take all necessary measures and precautions to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to adhere to the fundamental principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality and protection.

We also call upon security forces to allow civilians who choose to leave areas of danger to do so without obstruction or delay, securing their safety, and to ensure that those who are injured are transferred to a medical facility situated in a safe area.

We urge everyone involved to facilitate the delivery of relief by the United Nations and all humanitarian partners to people fleeing the violence, those trapped in their homes and everyone affected, by ensuring safe and unhindered humanitarian access.

The United Nations reiterates its strong commitment to continue making all efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and protection services to people in need wherever they may be, guided by the internationally recognized principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.

Media contacts:

Valijon Ranoev Public Information Officer Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs +95970007815, ranoev@un.org

David Swanson Regional Public Information Officer UN Development Coordination Office, +66 6 5982 5682, swanson@un.org

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Situation Report
Visual

Afghanistan: Humanitarian Response Plan Summary 2021

Afghanistan: Humanitarian Response Plan Summary 2021

Forty years of war, recurrent natural disasters, chronic poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be a deadly combination for people in Afghanistan. Nearly half of the population (18.4m people) is in need of humanitarian and protection assistance in 2021. Needs are being further compounded by emerging threats such as the potential drought, escalation of conflict and high risk of flash floods over spring. Already, more than one third of the country is facing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity and nearly half of all children under-five are expected to face acute malnutrition in 2021. Protection and safety risks to civilians, particularly women, children and people with a disability, are also one the rise. Demand for assistance is soaring at the same time that humanitarians are facing increased attacks and interference in their work. Humanitarian partners have prioritised 15.7 million people to receive multi-sectoral assistance in 2021, for which US$1.3 billion is required. More than four months into the year, however, the HRP remains only 12 per cent funded. Using these limited funds and some carryover from 2020 humanitarian partners have managed to reach 3.66m people with some form of support in the first quarter of 2021. However the community’s capacity to stay and deliver life-saving assistance during the remainder of the year is dependent on both additional funds being received and assurances of aid worker safety.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Timor-Leste — Emergency Response
Timor Leste Floods

Timor-Leste Floods - Situation Report No. 8 (As of 6 May 2021)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Since the declaration of a state of calamity in Dili on 8 April, the Government continues to lead the flood response. On 4 May, the President promulgated the amendment of the 2021 General State Budget, with an increased allocation to the Contingency Fund from USD 23.8 million to USD 65.2 million.

  • In solidarity with the Government, the humanitarian partners have provided relief assistance worth over USD 10.7 million to-date.

  • Latest official figures (4 May) showed that a total of 33,177 households have been affected across all 13 municipalities. A total of 2,163 ha of agricultural area has been reportedly affected by the flooding.

  • According to the Secretariat of State for Civil Protection, 3,125 people remain temporary displaced in 17 evacuation centers across Dili.

  • The preliminary findings of the Multi-Sectoral Rapid Needs Assessment and the Household Damage and Needs Assessment suggest that more than 550 residential houses have been completely destroyed, about 900 badly damaged, and another 1,900 sustained minor damages in Dili municipality.

(DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT PDF)

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Heavy rains across the country from 29 March to 4 April have resulted in flash floods and landslides affecting all 13 municipalities in Timor-Leste to varying degrees, with the capital Dili and the surrounding low-lying areas the worst affected. A total of 41 fatalities (including 9 missing, presumed dead) have been recorded.

According to official figures, a total of 33,177 households across the country have been affected; of those, 81% - or 27,622 households – are in Dili municipality. A total of 2,163 hectares of agricultural areas have been affected by the flooding, which would negatively impact food security during the next lean season.

The latest official figures indicate a total of 17 evacuation facilities in Dili municipality, where 3,012 people – or 611 households – are temporary sheltered. This is 913 people less compared to one week ago. Majority of the temporary displaced are returning home, and there is need to support the affected people’s safe return to the communities.

Following the renewal of the State of Emergency for additional 30 days to 1 June 2021, the Government also reinstated the general home confinement in Dili municipality until 13 May, and extended the sanitary fence around Dili municipality, as well as around municipalities of Ainaro, Baucau, Covalima, Ermera, Lautem, Liquica, Manufahi and Viqueque, until 16 May. As of 6 May, there are 1,315 active cases of COVID-19. The risk of further spread of COVID-19 remains high. Under the national COVID-19 vaccination programme – launched on 7 April – a total of 28,598 doses have been administered across all municipalities to-date.

(DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT PDF)

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Situation Report
Myanmar — Media

Myanmar: UN Reiterates Call for Health Workers and Facilities to be Protected

(Yangon, 5 May 2021) - The United Nations in Myanmar warns of the impact on public health, including the COVID-19 response, from attacks on medical personnel and facilities, and reiterates its call for health workers, health facilities and patients to be protected.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) global surveillance system, since the beginning of February there have been 158 reported attacks on health care, resulting in 11 deaths and 51 injuries. This is currently the majority of reported attacks on health care services worldwide since the beginning of 2021. Some 83 attacks impacted facilities, 21 attacks impacted ambulances, 76 attacks impacted health personnel, and 73 attacks impacted patients.

The global tracking system cumulatively lists 51 health facilities across Myanmar as having been under occupation by security forces. At least 31 of these facilities remain currently occupied and have reported a drop in the number of people seeking medical care. Meanwhile, at least 139 doctors believed to be participating in civil disobedience have reportedly been charged under Section 505 (a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code. These include highly specialized health personnel whose expertise cannot easily be replaced, which will significantly impact both the quality and quantity of health services available.

Attacks on health care pose a grave risk for the delivery of essential health services, as well as for the COVID-19 response, with potential devastating consequences for Myanmar and beyond. At a time when Myanmar needs them the most, health workers fear arrest or detention for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

“The United Nations in Myanmar stands ready to continue its support of the national COVID-19 response but this requires a return to the comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic previously underway, that the inviolable nature of health facilities and health workers and patients is respected, and the immediate release of urgently needed medical and technical personnel detained or arrested while exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Andrew Kirkwood, acting interim United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar, said.

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Situation Report
Myanmar — Media
Photo library
On 13 May, families in impoverished Hlaing Tharyar township, Yangon, receiving food rations from WFP. (Photo: WFP/Photo library)

Myanmar: Press Briefing on Hum (12 May 2021)

On Myanmar, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, on the ground, they are concerned by the impact of the continued clashes in the north and north‑eastern parts of the country between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed organizations, as well as amongst ethnic armed organizations themselves. In Kachin State, for example, some 10,000 people have fled their homes due to renewed fighting. In northern Shan, more than 12,000 men, women and children have been displaced since the start of the year. More than half of those families remain displaced. And our colleagues in Myanmar also tell us they are also concerned by the situation in the south-eastern parts of Myanmar, where more than 40,000 people have been uprooted since February due to attacks by the military and the Kayin National Liberation Army, including air strikes, artillery and mortar shelling. Several thousand people crossed the border to Thailand and India to escape the violence. The UN and our partners are working to help some 1 million people in conflict-affected areas of Myanmar. Their efforts are hampered by insecurity, as well as [lack] of access and funding.

And yesterday afternoon, we released a statement on Myanmar, saying that 100 days since the Myanmar military takeover has left hundreds of civilians killed, including numerous arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations, the Secretary-General renews his call on the country's military to respect the will of the people and act in the greater interest of peace and stability in the country.  The Secretary-General also encourages the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to swiftly follow through on its own commitments, and the international community to support regional efforts, to bring an end to the repression by the military.  He also calls on the international community to respond to the increased humanitarian needs.  The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, is in the region and continues to engage intensively with key stakeholders, including in light of the broader ramifications of the crisis.  She continues to promote coherent international action.  The Secretary‑General, for his part, will continue to stand with the people of Myanmar. (source: Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General)

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Situation Report
Media

Afghanistan: Kabul school bombing condemned by senior UN officials

8 May 2021 - Saturday’s deadly bombing outside a high school in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, has been condemned by leading UN officials. The attack led to the deaths of at least 30 people, including several schoolchildren.

Most of the casualties are reported to be girls, who were leaving the building at the end of the school day. According to media reports, the city was full of shoppers, ahead of the Eid-al-Fitr celebrations.

Henrietta Fore, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, reacted in a press statement. "UNICEF strongly condemns the horrific attack earlier today near the Sayed Ul-Shuhada high school, in Kabul, Afghanistan", said Ms. Fore. "The attack claimed the lives of dozens of schoolchildren, mostly girls, and severely injured many more. Violence in or around schools is never acceptable. Schools must be havens of peace where children can play, learn and socialize safely."

The UNICEF chief added that children must never be the target of violence, and that the UN agency continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law, and ensure the safety and protection of all children.

The President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, reacted with a Tweet, in which he described the blast as "an abhorrent and cowardly attack". Mr. Bozkir expressed his sadness at the "lives lost and the dozens of injuries, especially those of young students", and condemned the targeting of innocent civilians.

For the UN Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, the bombing was "an atrocity". The Mission tweeted its "deep revulsion" and sent a message of condolence to the victim's families, wishing a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.

The Sayed Ul-Shuhada high school is located in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood in west Kabul, home to many members of the Hazari minority, who are mainly Shia Muslims. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but the area has frequently been targeted by Sunni Islamist militants.

(source: UNNews)

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Philippines — Media
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(Photo: UN Philippines)

UN Philippines lauds COVAX for 2 million COVID-19 vaccines for the Philippines

Manila, 8 May 2021—The United Nations (UN) in the Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez welcomed the delivery today of more than 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility, the international partnership established to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. Today’s shipment is in addition to half a million doses delivered in March and is part of the 4.5 million total doses committed to the Philippines from COVAX.

COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as well as the World Bank, civil society organizations, manufacturers, and others.

Joined by Health Secretary Franciso Duque III and country representatives of the WHO and UNICEF at a ceremony at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Gonzalez said, “COVAX is a demonstration of multilateralism in action and its success depends on global collaboration – from the scientists and manufacturers over public health officials, and policy and decision makers, to the medical practitioners and the communities who will eventually benefit from the vaccines. It is the result of this global collaboration we see here today.”

Nearly 100 percent of the AstraZeneca vaccines delivered last March have been provided to local government units (LGUs). As of 2 May 2021, out of the 525,600 doses, 525,337 have been administered to health workers, the elderly, and persons with underlying health conditions. This new shipment of vaccines will provide second doses to those who have already been administered the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as other target populations.

Gonzalez said, “These 2 million doses represent a lifeline for so many Filipinos who have been waiting for relief from the suffering and the fear that this virus has brought upon all of us. Looking at these vials, I see hope and relief for Filipinos who need it most.”

In addition to the support being provided by UNICEF and WHO through the COVAX Facility, Gonzalez said that all UN agencies in the Philippines have been mobilized to pool capacities, technologies and resources in support of a successful vaccination campaign. The UN is providing logistics equipment like Mobile Storage Units, generators, and prefab offices and transport support to move medical supplies. It is supporting Local Government Units (LGUs) with technical assistance to help ensure equity and inclusion in the vaccination programme.

Committed to leave no one behind, the UN is coordinating with the DOH and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to advocate for the inclusion of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, especially those belonging to priority vaccination groups, in the national vaccination programme.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the UN is supplying cold chain management equipment including specialized cold chain vehicles, biosafety refrigerators, and ultra-low temperature freezers, among others.

The UN is also providing training to healthcare workers on cold chain management and COVID-19 testing, and is addressing misconceptions about vaccination through intensive and nationwide information campaigns.

The UN Philippines meets regularly with DOH officials to reinforce the UN’s support for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response and for the national COVID-19 vaccination programme.

[Ends]

For more information, please contact:

UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Office Teresa L. Debuque, Communication Officer debuque@un.org/09150612351

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Myanmar — Emergency Response
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Myanmar Humanitarian Update No. 6 (30 April 2021)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • In south-eastern Myanmar, an estimated 40,000 people have been displaced due to insecurity, armed clashes between the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), and indiscriminate attacks by the MAF on civilian areas.

  • In Kachin State, around 5,800 people have been displaced since armed confrontation between the MAF and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) resurged in early March; about 5,000 remain displaced.

  • In northern Shan, the volatile security situation and clashes, mostly involving Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), have caused the displacement of about 11,000 people since January.

  • In Rakhine and Chin states, casualties due to landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) are on the rise, with 11 civilians, including 9 children killed or injured in April.

  • Humanitarian assistance and protection services in conflict-affected areas continue despite the impact of the political crisis on operations and pre-existing access challenges. The escalation of violence in parts of Myanmar increases threats to the safety of humanitarian operations and compounds existing access challenges.

  • The 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan, which seeks US$276.5 million to assist around 1 million people in conflict-affected areas, remains severely underfunded, with only 12 per cent of requirements covered so far – FTS.

KEY FIGURES

40K people displaced in the South-east since December 2020

11K people displaced in northern Shan since January 2021

5.8K people displaced in Kachin State since mid-March 2021

11 civilian casualties due to explosive hazards in Rakhine and Chin states in April

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SITUATION OVERVIEW

SURGE IN DISPLACEMENT IN THE SOUTH-EAST: Armed conflict in the south-eastern parts of Myanmar continues to intensify between the MAF and the KNLA, an armed wing of the Karen National Union, resulting in further internal displacement and civilian casualties, mostly in Kayin State and Bago Region. The clashes, which erupted in early December 2020, had internally displaced around 7,100 people by mid-March, mostly in Hpapun Township in Kayin State, where the displaced families were hiding in the jungles with limited access to services and humanitarian assistance.

The humanitarian situation in the area has worsened since late March, with thousands of people having reportedly fled from their homes in Kayin State after the MAF launched airstrikes, including in civilian areas. The continued hostilities, shelling of civilian areas by the MAF, and increased insecurity reportedly led to the displacement of an estimated 40,000 people throughout south-eastern Myanmar by 20 April, according to data gathered from various sources by UNHCR. Prior to developments on 1 February 2021, Kayin State and Bago Region had hosted about 12,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in four locations, both in camp-like and out-of-camp settlements, since 2006.

The hostilities in Kayin and Bago between 27 March and 8 April have killed at least 20 civilians and injured more than 25, according to public sources. There have also been reports of a local school destroyed in Dwe Lo Township in Hpapun District of Kayin State, in addition to damage to other civilian property. The details of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure could not be verified at the time of reporting. Humanitarian interventions remain constrained due to severe and longstanding access challenges, compounded by growing insecurity in the area. Nevertheless, operational partners are doing their best to deliver assistance to the newly displaced and those otherwise affected by hostilities. Humanitarian partners are planning to roll out a displacement tracking system and carrying out a stocktaking exercise to assess the capacities of partners in Kayin State. This is to facilitate the efficient prepositioning of emergency supplies among partners to ensure a coordinated response.

NEW DISPLACEMENT IN KACHIN DUE TO RESURGENCE OF CONFLICT: The security situation in Kachin State, which began to deteriorate following the eruption of clashes between the MAF and the KIA in early March, remains volatile. Armed confrontations between the MAF and the KIA were reported in at least 12 townships, including Bhamo, Hpakant, Injayang, Kamaing, Mogaung, Momauk, Myitkyina, Putao, Shwegu, Sumprabum, Tanai and Waingmaw, ranging from local skirmishes, to attacks on convoys, airstrikes, artillery and mortar shelling. Hardly any clashes had not been reported in Kachin State since September 2018.

The conflict led to the displacement of over 5,800 people since early March 2021. Around 800 people returned to their places of origin within a few days, while about 5,000 remain displaced across several townships. Some 4,800 people are currently hosted in churches, monasteries and displacement sites in Injanyang, Momauk and Shwegu townships. The remaining IDPs are dispersed in small numbers across Dawthponeyan and Hpakant townships. Attempts are being made to reach the affected communities with assistance; however, insecurity and other access constraints make it difficult for partners to scale up the efforts to address needs, which include emergency shelter, food, basic household items and healthcare. The new displacement comes on top of protracted internal displacement in Kachin State, where about 95,000 people have been living in IDP camps established in 2011.

In addition to increased humanitarian needs and population movement, the ongoing insecurity is raising serious protection concerns, with reports of increased conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) perpetrated against women and girls. Reported incidents included brutal and systematic CRSV committed by multiple perpetrators and most of these violations were perpetrated against women and girls of ethnic minority groups.

POPULATION MOVEMENT IN NORTHERN SHAN: Clashes between the MAF and EAOs or between EAOs in northern Shan continued unabated in the first quarter of 2021 and escalated in March. The Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the allied forces of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA) engaged in armed confrontations in Hsipaw, Kyaukme, Monghsu and Namtu townships. There were also clashes, albeit with less intensity and frequency between the MAF and the KIA in Lashio, Kutkai and Muse townships, between the MAF and the TNLA in Kutkai and Namhkan townships, and between the MAF and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army in Hseni and Kutkai townships.

Clashes between January and April displaced close to 11,000 people in Hsipaw, Kyaukme, Lashio, Namtu, Namhkan, Monghsu and Muse townships. Displacement generally remains temporary; over 6,000 people returned to their places of origin within a few days. The remaining 4,770 people are currently hosted in churches, monasteries and displacement sites, with Kyaukme and Namtu townships hosting around 1,650 and 1,340 IDPs respectively. Local humanitarian partners and host communities are providing life-saving assistance and protection services, although as with other states and regions, operational challenges, including due to pre-existing access constraints and insecurity, continue to hinder their abilities to scale up.

The conflict dynamics and their humanitarian impact in northern Shan so far in 2021 demonstrate an upward trend compared to the same period in 2020, when there were only a few brief armed skirmishes between the EAOs that temporary displaced some 720 people. In addition to the most recent displacements, about 9,800 IDPs continue to reside in protracted displacement camps in northern Shan established since 2011.

EXPLOSIVE HAZARDS A THREAT IN RAKHINE AND CHIN: Despite the absence of hostilities in Rakhine and southern areas of Chin states since November 2020, the physical wellbeing of civilians remains threatened by the presence of landmines and ERWs. In April, a total of 11 civilians were killed or injured by landmines and ERWs, mostly in Rakhine. In Kyauktaw Township in Rakhine State on 4 April, the explosion of an ERW killed a mother and her two children and injured another child. Another explosion reportedly injured six children under 16 years old near Taung Ywar Village in Buthidaung Township on 8 April. A landmine incident was also reported in Paletwa Township in Chin State on 15 April, in which one civilian sustained injuries.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the MAF is demining villages and roads across several townships in Rakhine, tied with efforts to encourage people displaced by the MAF-Arakan Army (AA) conflict to return to their places of origin. However, many IDPs remain unwilling to return due to the continued presence of armed personnel around their villages, concerns about landmines, and the lack of livelihood opportunities. As of 21 April, more than 78,000 people displaced by the MAF-AA conflict were hosted in 146 sites and 5,038 people in 28 host communities in Rakhine State. Another 9,841 IDPs remained in 27 sites in Chin State, as of 21 January. This is in addition to around 126,000 IDPs, mostly stateless persons, who are hosted in protracted camps established in 2012.

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Situation Report
Nepal — Emergency Response
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Bhutanese refugee Bhakti Prasad Baral, 83, receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Beldangi refugee settlement in eastern Nepal. © UNHCR/Santosh Kumar Chaudhary

Nepal becomes first country in Asia Pacific to vaccinate refugees against COVID-19

Nepal is vaccinating refugees over the age of 65 as part of its national vaccination rollout.

By Deepesh Das Shrestha in Kathmandu, Nepal

Laxmi Maya Regmi, 72, a refugee from Bhutan, never thought that she would need a vaccination at her age. But on 19 March, she was among the first refugees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a settlement in Beldangi, in eastern Nepal.

“I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I am very happy now,” she said, after receiving her first dose. “I had heard that old age people like me were more exposed to the disease. I feel safe now.”

Nepal is the first country in the Asia Pacific region to provide COVID-19 jabs to refugees through its national vaccination rollout. The refugees at the settlement were vaccinated as part of the second phase of that rollout, which started on 7 March and targets people over the age of 65.

The country kicked off its vaccination campaign on 27 January after the Indian government donated one million doses of Covishield, the India-produced version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. In the first phase, frontline health workers, sanitation workers, hygiene workers and security officials were vaccinated.

Local authorities, refugee leaders and security officials set up a temporary vaccination centre at the refugee settlement and as of 24 March, some 668 refugees above the age of 65 had received vaccinations against the virus across the country. More refugees will be enrolled in the vaccination programme as the government receives additional supplies of vaccines.

Nepal hosts nearly 20,000 refugees, mostly Tibetans and Bhutanese with arrival dates in 1959 and in the early 1990s respectively.

Since the onset of the pandemic, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has been working closely with other UN agencies and government authorities to advocate for the inclusion of refugees in COVID-19 preparedness and response plans.

“The Government of Nepal has shown exemplary leadership for public health responses by including refugees in the national vaccination plans and rollout,” said Carolin Spannuth Verma, UNHCR’s Representative in Nepal.

“Protecting the life of all people is our priority.”

To date, Nepal has reported 276,750 confirmed COVID cases and 3,027 deaths.

“The risk of COVID-19 is the same for all. It doesn’t matter if you are a refugee or not,” said Shrawan Kumar Timilsina, the Chief District Officer of Jhapa, in eastern Nepal where the country’s two refugee settlements are located. “Protecting the life of all people is our priority.”

Bhakti Prasad Baral, 83, fled Bhutan in 1992 and is now living in Beldangi settlement. He said that he felt “lucky” to get the vaccine.

“It was really difficult to endure what was going on because of the virus,” said the octogenarian, who works as a Hindu priest in his community. “I have no words to thank the Government of Nepal for paying attention to older persons like us.”

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Philippines — Emergency Response
RS34749 COVAX Wide

Philippines welcomes the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines via COVAX facility

Joint press release by DOH, UNICEF, WHO, GAVI, CEPI

04 March 2021, Manila - Today, more than 480,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the Philippines from the COVAX Facility, the international partnership established to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. The Philippines is among the first countries in Southeast Asia to receive vaccines from the COVAX Facility. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers, and others.

"The long days and nights of waiting are finally over. These vaccines will be of great help to our valiant healthcare workers who have been at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. With every dose that we will administer, we are inching towards a safer recovery from this pandemic. So, let us put our trust in science, in vaccines. Together, we will rise as a nation and heal as one,” says Department of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.

Officials from the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Department of Health (DOH), World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF Philippines received the vaccine doses at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The Philippine Government will lead the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The COVAX Facility leads an unprecedented effort to provide at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021 to low- and middle-income countries. For several months, COVAX partners have been supporting governments and partners in readiness efforts, in preparation for this moment. This includes assisting with the development of national vaccination plans, support for cold chain infrastructure, as well as stockpiling of half a billion syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for healt h workers to start vaccinating priority groups as soon as possible.

The WHO launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the ACT Accelerator and is led jointly by Gavi, WHO, the CEPI, and UNICEF, which is leading vaccine procurement and delivery operations. WHO is tasked with ensuring fair allocation and prioritization of countries eligible to receive vaccines from the COVAX Facility.

“WHO joins partners and the people of the Philippines in welcoming the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. These vaccines coming through COVAX will help protect up to 20% of the population in the country during this year, including healthcare workers, other frontline workers and the elderly – groups who are most at risk. The COVID-19 vaccines are proven to protect people from severe disease and death. Used together with public health measures currently in place – wearing masks, physical distancing, avoiding large groups, and washing hands frequently – will help mitigate the effects of the pandemic by reducing deaths and severe disease. We all welcome the addition of vaccines to the available tools in the country which, when used to scale, will contribute to gradual return of day-to-day activities and economic revival in the country. The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines is a powerful step in that direction,” said Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines.

UNICEF is leading the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX facility to countries - the biggest, most sophisticated ground operation in the history of immunization. In the Philippines, apart from supporting COVID-19 vaccine introduction and roll out, UNICEF continues to support the immunization programmes of the government through planning, cold chain and vaccine management, technical know-how and training. Building on over 70 years of experience in providing simple, effective and accurate information to build public knowledge, awareness and confidence in vaccines, UNICEF is working with partners to ensure that local communities are engaged in the overall vaccination process.

“Vaccines are safe and effective. The COVID-19 pandemic has become a child rights crisis which we need to end as fast as possible. The longer the pandemic goes on, the more intense the impact on people, especially on children’s health, rights to education, nutrition, protection and mental health. COVID-19 vaccination should be part of a larger strategy to strengthen health systems for children and families in the Philippines for the long-term,” says UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.

The COVAX Facility aims to procure 2 billion doses by the end of 2021. The vaccines are intended to protect frontline health care and social workers, as well as high risk and vulnerable people. COVAX was set up to address concerns around fairness and making vaccines available to all. To control and end the global pandemic, vaccines must be available to all.

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Asia and the Pacific: 2021 Regional Focus Model

RFM 2021 - 20023 Page 2b

A key challenge faced by humanitarian agencies is how to ensure that limited available resources are allocated where they are most needed and are efficiently delivered in a principled manner. Decisions to allocate resources must strike a balance between meeting the immediate needs of crisis affected communities and supporting efforts to strengthen resilience and response preparedness to future emergencies.

To support humanitarian partners address some of these challenges, the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) produces the Regional Focus Model (RFM). Similar to previous analyses in 2018 and 2019, the model is based on INFORM (www.inform-index.org), a global risk index that identifies and analyzes where crises requiring international assistance may occur. It can be used to support decisions about disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response.

The model identifies hazard-prone countries that combine high vulnerability and low capacity to respond, and are therefore more likely to request and accept support from the international community. The model also includes a "Humanitarian" component, reflecting issues more directly related to OCHA's coordination work. This humanitarian component is combined with INFORM to produce a Focus score. The model should be a practical tool to inform and guide disaster managers, by providing an evidence base on which to base discussions and prioritization.

In 2021, the RFM covers analysis of 38 countries in the Asia-Pacific region under ROAP in Bangkok, Thailand and the Office of the Pacific (OP) in Suva, Fiji.

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Situation Report
Analysis
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Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination in Emergencies: Towards a Predictable Model

The Regional Consultative Group (RCG) on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination (CMCoord) for Asia and the Pacific is a key forum for supporting and elevating coordination, building relationships, and sharing learning to enhance and strengthen emergency response. When the RCG was formed in 2014, it was tasked with improving awareness and enhancing the predictability of CMCoord mechanisms, and their respective functions, during largescale disaster response.

As a result, the RCG initiated the development of the first version of Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination in Emergencies: Towards a Predictable Model, which focused on explaining the legislation, coordination mechanisms, approach to and leadership of disaster management in the five most disaster-prone countries in Asia: Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines. The publication was launched in 2017, and soon became a key reference for the CMCoord community.

During the 4th RCG session, the publication was discussed and a revision was deemed necessary to reflect global, regional and national changes. The global context, now more than ever, demands effective and efficient provision of aid and relief to vulnerable communities, strong motivation and capability of regional organizations in disaster relief, and continuous development of holistic national disaster management systems and capacity. Coordination is a cross-cutting theme essential to achieving an effective response, and the importance of humanitarian CMCoord is growing as we enter an era of increasing complexity on all fronts and at all levels.

This revised publication was produced through collaboration between the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster response, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, the Australian Civil-Military Centre and Humanitarian Advisory Group. Expert practitioners and researchers contributed their time to ensure the information is accurate and accessible. Like the initial version, the publication will be regularly updated to reflect operational environments accurately.

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Situation Report
Afghanistan — Feature
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Bibi Gul with her family in fled the conflict in Ghor Province, Afghanistan. Photo: Afghanaid

Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund helps displaced families in Ghor survive the winter

Bibi Gul never planned to leave her home, but when conflict erupted five years ago, she and her husband took their children and fled. Now living in Feroz Koh in Ghor province, Bibi Gul found herself alone trying to support her family during the COVID-19 pandemic. “My husband became addicted to heroin and for months he could not work. Then he left, and we haven’t heard from him since. We don’t know if he is even alive,” she said.

Bibi Gul found work doing laundry and cleaning houses. “Everything we have comes from what I earn day-to-day. My monthly income is around 1,000-1,500 AFS (approximately US $13- $20) and it is not enough to provide for the essentials,” she said.

In addition to living in a new place with no support system, the many challenges displaced families face have been intensified by the effects of the pandemic. “For the last five months, we have been living in a make-shift shelter, but I don’t know how much longer the owner of the land will allow us to stay here,” she said.

Situated in the highlands of Afghanistan, Ghor has extreme weather and one of the harshest winter seasons in the country with heavy snow and biting winds. “My oldest daughter is 11 years old. She helps by collecting cartons and plastic from the street for the heater. The long winter season in Ghor is harsh and we have not been able to warm our room. I was afraid that my children would die or become very sick. I worried we would not make it through,” she said.

Afghanaid provided Bibi Gul urgently needed winter cash aid that enabled her to purchase a wood stove and wood to fuel their new heater. The assistance, funded by the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, means people like Bibi Gul can keep their families safe and warm. It also allows them to use their money to buy food to keep their families healthy and build up financial reserves so that they are more resilient against future shocks. “I am so grateful to Afghanaid for coming to our aid. Now my children will have a warm room and I can keep them safe from illness.”

Afghanaid is a British humanitarian and development organization whose personnel have worked with millions of deprived, excluded and vulnerable families in some of the poorest and most remote communities in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF) is one of OCHA’s country-based pooled funds (CBPFs). It was established in 2014 for swift and strategic humanitarian action in Afghanistan.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Myanmar — Media

The United Nations continues lifesaving humanitarian assistance in Myanmar

(Yangon, 12 February) The United Nations in Myanmar follows the unfolding events in the country with great concern, including reports of arbitrary detentions, arrests and violence, as we continue delivering lifesaving humanitarian assistance to those in need.

“The UN and its partners have, for many years, been responding to humanitarian needs caused by conflict and natural disasters in Myanmar. It is our absolute intention to continue this work also under the current circumstances,” said Ola Almgren, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.

“It is essential that lifesaving humanitarian assistance continues unimpeded and that humanitarian partners are given timely and safe access to the populations in need,” he said, stressing “as always, our humanitarian response is guided by the internationally recognized principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence and humanity”.

Just last year, and thanks to the generous support of donors, 930,000 women, children and men in conflict-affected areas received food assistance, 250,000 people accessed essential healthcare services, and hundreds of thousands received nutrition support. Around 200,000 people were reached with specialized protection services, such as psychosocial support and efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, while approximately 75,000 boys and girls were able to continue learning. Communities also received basic relief items, such as essential shelter and household materials, and were able to access safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.

“Efforts to reach people in need of lifesaving assistance must be scaled up. This year, the Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan aims to respond to the needs of close to 1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, for whom we are seeking US$276.5 million in funding,” added Almgren. An estimated 336,000 of them are internally displaced people, 250,000 of whom are in situations of protracted displacement, including around 130,000 people in Rakhine.

The United Nations in Myanmar reiterates the Secretary-General’s words of unwavering support of the UN to the people of Myanmar in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law.

Media contact: Valijon Ranoev, OCHA, ranoev@un.org

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Situation Report
Media
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Pacific islanders are amongst those most at risk of being displaced. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Pacific governments call for urgent action on disaster displacement in light of the climate crisis

Press release by the Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP) and the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement

11 February

Suva/Geneva - Climate change is not a “doomsday proposition” but a living existential threat to humanity, Pacific government officials have warned. The stark warning was made at today’s Pacific Regional Consultation on Internal Displacement, co-organized by the Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP)’s Technical Working Group (TWG) on Human Mobility and the Secretariat of the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement. Government representatives from 10 Pacific countries reiterated strongly the need for accelerated and ambitious action to address disaster-induced displacement as part of the global fight against the climate crisis. “Every year, more of our citizens will be forced to leave their homes to escape stronger storms, rising seas, and swelling rivers brought by climate change,” said Honorable Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama in a video message. “Climate driven displacement is not a doomsday proposition; it is happening right now. In response we have to change and adapt as quickly as the climate.” The virtual event gathered government officials, UN agencies, civil societies, academia and the private sector together to exchange policy best practices on disaster displacement and review challenges ahead as the Pacific continues to grapple with extreme weather events. The outcomes of the consultation will also inform the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, an eight-member group established by the UN Secretary-General to identify concrete recommendations to better prevent, respond and achieve solutions to internal displacement. “For far too long, the idea of internal displacement may seem abstract but the issue is real and here in the Pacific,” stressed H.E. Tregor Albon Ishoda, Ambassador of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to Fiji, recalling the “devastating impacts” of Tropical Cyclone Yasa and Harold in the consultation. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), more than 50,000 people in the Pacific region are at risk of having to flee their homes each year due to extreme weather events. Pacific islanders are amongst those most at risk of being displaced, bearing the brunt of sudden and slow-onset effects of climate change with humanitarian consequences. “The breach of human rights, and scale and severity of humanitarian problem in the region requires more systematic attention be given to internally displaced persons in the Pacific,” urged Dr. Tauisi Taupo, Secretary of Justice, Communication and Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu in his keynote address. Support to internally displaced persons are provided by the National Disaster Management Offices in the Pacific and collaborative efforts of local actors, NGOs and development partners. However, as the climate crisis is escalating at an alarming pace, panelists have stressed that accelerated global actions are needed to ensure the inclusion of internal displacement in national development planning, legal frameworks and guidelines. “Climate change presents more than just disaster risks. It is an existential threat that could displace entire nations,” said Nasser Judeh, Member of the High-Level Panel. “Displacement and disaster risks need to be recognized as a shared development priority.”

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Analysis
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Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition: Maternal and Child Diets at the Heart of Improving Nutrition

UN agencies warn economic impact of COVID-19 and worsening inequalities will fuel malnutrition for billions in Asia and the Pacific

Child and maternal diets particularly vulnerable

20/01/2021, Bangkok, Thailand – The economic impact of COVID-19 on the world’s most populous region is threatening to further undermine efforts to improve diets and nutrition of nearly two billion people in Asia and the Pacific who were already unable to afford healthy diets prior to the pandemic, says a new report published today by four specialized agencies of the United Nations.

The report, Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020: Maternal and Child Diets at the Heart of Improving Nutrition found that 1.9 billion people were unable to afford a healthy diet in this region, even before the COVID-19 outbreak and the damage it has since caused to economies and individual livelihoods. The report was published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization.

Due to higher prices for fruits, vegetables and dairy products, it has become nearly impossible for poor people in Asia and the Pacific to achieve healthy diets, the affordability of which is critical to ensure food security and nutrition for all – and for mothers and children in particular.

Food prices and available incomes govern household decisions on food and dietary intake. But the outbreak of COVID-19 and a lack of decent work opportunities in many parts of the region, alongside significant uncertainty of food systems and markets, has led to a worsening of inequality, as poorer families with dwindling incomes further alter their diets to choose cheaper, less nutritious foods.

Making nutritious foods affordable and accessible

More than 350 million people in the Asia and the Pacific were undernourished in 2019, or roughly half of the global total. Across the region, an estimated 74.5 million children under 5 years of age were stunted (too short for their age) and 31.5 million suffered from wasting (too thin for height). The majority of these children live in Southern Asia with nearly 56 million stunted and more than 25 million wasted. At the same time, overweight and obesity has increased rapidly, especially in South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific, with an estimated 14.5 million children under 5, being overweight or obese.

Poor diets and inadequate nutritional intake is an ongoing problem. The cost of a healthy diet is significantly higher than that of a diet that provides sufficient calories but lacks in nutritional value, showing significant gaps in the food system to deliver nutritious options to all at an affordable price. These costs are even greater for women and children, given their added nutritional needs.

The report calls for a transformation of food systems in Asia and the Pacific, with an aim to increase the affordability of, and families’ access to, nutritious, safe, and sustainable diets. Nutritious and healthy diets need to be accessible to everyone, everywhere. To ensure that happens, the report recommends integrated approaches and policies are needed. These steps are vital to overcome unaffordability issues, and also to ensure healthy maternal and child diets.

Improving maternal and child diets requires strengthening vital systems

Nutrition is vitally important throughout a person’s life. The impact of a poor diet is most severe in the first 1000 days, from pregnancy to when a child reaches the age of 2. Young children, especially when they start eating their “first foods” at 6 months, have high nutritional requirements to grow well and every bite counts.

Mainstreaming nutrition-focused behaviour change campaigns throughout these systems should lead to greater knowledge uptake and sustainability of behaviours helping people to achieve healthy diets.

Education on what constitutes a healthy diet and how to create hygienic environments at home, in schools and in the community, together with investment in girl’s education and infrastructure that underlies good water, sanitation and hygiene practices, are critical.

Therefore, providing a nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diet for all requires coordinating with partners in the Food, Water and Sanitation, Health, Social Protection and Education systems, to collectively create an enabling environment.

Greater attention is also needed to operationalize national policies and plans to improve the delivery of health services for maternal and child diets and good nutrition outcomes. Services to improve the diets of mothers and young children should be prioritized as part of the essential package of health services needed to address undernutrition, overweight and obesity and to achieve universal health coverage.

In the meantime, social protection efforts can protect and stabilize incomes and improve access to healthy diets during disasters and crises. At least nine governments in Asia and Pacific have established a targeted mother and child COVID-19 component in their social protection systems. However, more data collection and analysis are needed to document the effectiveness of social protection in improving maternal and child diets in the region.

Bringing everyone to the table

Food systems play a critical role in achieving food and nutrition security for all. A sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food system is essential to produce diverse and nutritious foods for healthy diets. Improved efficiency and productivity of value chains can reduce the costs of essential foods to make them more affordable.

These actions are needed now more than ever because the face of malnutrition is changing in Asia and the Pacific, with highly processed and inexpensive foods readily available throughout the region. These foods are often packed with sugar and unhealthy fats and lack the vitamins and minerals required for growth and development. Consumption of these foods increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Governments need to invest in nutrition and food safety in fresh and street food markets to promote healthy diets. Regulation of sales and marketing of food for consumers, especially children, is important to curb overweight, obesity and related diseases and illness.

The report also calls for action within the private sector, as it has an important role to play in supporting the transformation of the food system and its value chains for achieving healthy diets.

Leveraging these systems, in a coordinated fashion that expands the opportunities to address barriers to accessing and consuming healthy diets, will help countries and the people of Asia and the Pacific recover faster from the economic impact of COVID-19, and be better prepared for future crises.

The reportAsia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020: Maternal and Child Diets at the Heart of Improving Nutrition’ is jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Myanmar — Media

Myanmar: humanitarian situation remains dire and aid operations disrupted by the coup.

Daily Noon Briefing Highlights – 8 March 2021

Myanmar

The humanitarian situation in the country remains dire and aid operations have been disrupted by the coup.

More than 1 million people identified at the beginning of the year as needing assistance, including more than 350,000 internally displaced people, still need help.

Humanitarian partners across the country are making all efforts to resume life-saving activities, but the operating environment remains difficult.

There are continued disruptions to communication, transportation and supply chains, and shortages of cash for operations due to limitations on banking services. Market prices in some areas are rising as a result.

COVID-19 testing capacities and vaccination planning have also been severely impacted.

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Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Analysis
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Intersection of Gender and Disability in Humanitarian Responses in Asia and the Pacific

The impacts of natural disasters and complex emergencies are disproportionally felt by people with disabilities, who are among “the most socially excluded groups in any displaced or conflict-affected community.” Women and adolescent girls with disabilities “are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and violence, including gender-based violence (GBV)” and often face difficulties in “accessing support and services that could reduce risk and vulnerabilities”. Exclusion from social networks, discrimination and stigma often increase vulnerability to violence, abuse and exploitation.

Women and girls with these underlying risks and vulnerabilities often suffer from a greater impact of COVID-19. In the recent Policy Brief on ‘A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID 19’ the United Nations highlighted that people with disabilities are at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus and developing more severe health conditions. Due to exclusion and discrimination, they are facing difficulties in accessing health care and life-saving procedures during the pandemic, and they are particularly disadvantaged by the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19.

In July 2019, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee published Guidelines on the ‘Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action’ which set out essential actions that humanitarian actors must take in order to effectively identify and respond to the needs and rights of people with disabilities. The humanitarian guidelines are the first to be developed with and by people with disabilities and their representative organizations in association with traditional humanitarian stakeholders.

In line with the objectives of the Guidelines, this brochure aims to provide practical guidance on including people with disabilities and their families in humanitarian programming and coordination by highlighting four case studies that illustrate good practices and examples in humanitarian settings in Asia and the Pacific.

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2020 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Response Overview

2020 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Response Overview

Over the course of the year, humanitarian needs and human vulnerabilities have grown across countries in Asia and the Pacific due to the health and economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The region was also battered by particularly harsh period of monsoon rains, tropical cyclones, floods, and landslides, resulting in a doubly difficult year for the world's most densely populated and disaster-prone region.

In the context of COVID-19, humanitarian agencies are overcoming increasingly complex challenges to reach the most vulnerable people affected by the mutually compounding socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of the pandemic, climatic disasters, and ongoing conflicts.

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2020 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Response Overview (page 2)

2020 ASIA PACIFIC HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE OVERVIEW OCHA Page 2

This year, the humanitarian community has launched response plans in 28 countries that have identified and prioritized over 97 million people who were most vulnerable and in most need of life-saving assistance in Asia and the Pacific.

Through these plans, the UN and partners have called for US$3.9 billion to fund humanitarian responses focused on the the most urgent needs of men, women, and children in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, DPR Korea, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Pacific (14 countries including Fiji, Vanuatu, and Samoa), Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Viet Nam.

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Philippines — Feature
UNOCHA PHILIPPINES - Malinao Municipality, Albay Province - 0002 - DJI 0515 (1)-3
Barangay Baybay in Malinao, Albay Province, a week after Typhoon Goni made landfall. (OCHA/Martin San Diego)

Philippines: Responding to a Triple Crisis

In the Philippines, a country with an average of 25 typhoons per year, 21 active volcanos and regular earthquake threats, addressing natural hazards requires a whole-of-society approach.

In many parts of the country, the ground is saturated with water, so even minimal rainfall causes flooding.

In Catanduanes, the 12th-largest island in the Philippines, a family whose livelihood depends on copra – dried coconut meat used to make oils – is struggling to make ends meet. Not only has the price of coconut oil steadily declined since the beginning of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the family’s coconut trees have been destroyed by the series of typhoons that have hit the area.

They are not alone in their struggle.

Triple crisis

The Philippines is currently dealing with a triple crisis: COVID-19, Super Typhoon Goni (known locally as Rolly) and Super Typhoon Vamco (local name Ulysses).

In early November, Super Typhoon Rolly, the most powerful tropical cyclone thus far in 2020, made landfall in the Philippines and affected 1.9 million people in 8 of the country’s 17 regions, leaving an estimated 845,000 people in need of assistance.

Typhoon Rolly was soon followed by Tropical Storms Atsani (Siony) and Etau (Tonyo) that struck Luzon and Visayas for three days. A week later, Category-4 Typhoon Vamco swept through central Luzon and affected 4.2 million people in almost the same eight regions battered by Typhoon Rolly.

In the Philippines, COVID-19 is adding another layer of complexity in what is already a difficult year, with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and almost 9,000 deaths.

The private sector leads the response

The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), a Connecting Business initiative (CBi) Member Network, has had its hands full. Working closely with the Government of the Philippines, the UN and other humanitarian organizations, PDRF is a partner agency representing the private sector.

“When a natural disaster hits a country, local economies pay the price,” said Gustavo González, UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines.

“Transportation is paralysed; value chains are disrupted and markets depleted. We see now a growing engagement of the private sector in developing early warning systems and preparedness as well as in engaging in early recovery activities. For the Philippines, this is not a cost, but a resilience-building investment. In the Philippines, PDRF is at the forefront of this new generation of emergency responses to natural hazards.”

The PDRF Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been on alert since April 2020 and monitors the situation while sharing warnings as needed.

PDRF is active on various fronts, visiting affected areas to assess and respond to damage; providing daily situational reports to its members; and leading the private sector response and engagement with regards to disasters.

Response activities have included, among others, fundraising, cash assistance to 2.8 million families, support to 92 hospitals, and capacity-building for pandemic management to 2,103 health workers nationwide.

For the recent typhoons, activities have extended to the deployment of vehicles, medical supplies, drinking water, ready-to-eat meals, call and charging booths, and relief packs, and a team of engineers deploying to help restore communications in typhoon-hit areas.

Private sector rescue operations

With 17 of 60 active member companies on heightened alert, PDRF has coordinated 16 rescue operations and helped to rescue 67 individuals.

PDRF also maintains the Hazard and Disaster Analysis for Business Resilience (HANDA) disaster information management system. HANDA is a Geographic Information System Mapping (GIS)-based platform that shows current information ranging from areas with reported flooding, casualties, number of people missing, and more (see data below). PDRF uses a survey to update the dashboard, which is available to network members.

Impact of and response to the triple threat and field visits

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and OCHA invited PDRF to join the Joint Rapid Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis for the affected regions.

Commenting on CBi’s role, Mr. González said: “The UN has greatly benefited from CBi’s expertise to expand our resilience-building partnership with the business community, as it has provided a strategic entry point for the private sector to engage in disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness and opened a fruitful collaboration with the UN.”

Following another trip to Abay, the UN released an appeal for US$52.6 million to address immediate and early recovery needs of the areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon Goni and Typhoon Vamco.

Areas particularly vulnerable to typhoons and their populations do not have time to recover from one natural disaster before the next one hits. For this reason, PDRF supports the efforts of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises to recover from crises as well as initiatives to build their resilience.

The Connecting Business initiative (CBi) is a joint endeavour supported by OCHA and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) that engages the private sector in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. For more information, visit www.connectingbusiness.org/ or find them on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn).

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Humanitarian Responses to tropical cyclones in the VietNam, Cambodia, and the Philippines

Typhoons Cyclones Floods Asia Pacific Humanitarian Responses Philippines Vietnam Cambodia LaoPDR OCHA 13Nov2020

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Lower Mekong Region: Storms and Floods Humanitarian Snapshot (as of 20 October 2020)

Lower Mekong Region: Storms and Floods Humanitarian Snapshot (As of 20 October 2020)

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Analysis
c19 rcce

COVID-19: Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region - Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Pakistan (September 2020)

Introduction

Communities are key in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Only by understanding how people communicate, what they know, their needs, and gaps in understanding about COVID-19, can humanitarian organizations achieve a community-driven response that will reduce the spread of the virus. Pillars of the humanitarian field have repeatedly emphasized the need to ensure that humanitarian organizations listen to and address the feedback they receive from communities, but they must also look for and support community-driven solutions (Core Humanitarian Standards, The Grand Bargain).

Collecting perception data through surveys is just one of many ways of understanding how communities are thinking, feeling, and behaving around COVID-19. These surveys should be seen as a first step towards understanding community needs better and should be followed up with continuous engagement that actively reaches out to the most vulnerable. Data presented in this report was collected through the Asia Pacific Risk Com­munication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Working Group’s community perception surveys in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar. This report aims to present a short synthesis of the results to better understand community needs around COVID-19 and therefore design appropriate communi­ty-based responses.

Data from the community perception surveys are automatically uploaded into an online inter-agency dashboard, which is pub­licly available here. Organizations and stake-holders wanting to get involved with future rounds of the community perception survey should get in touch with any of the co-chairs listed on the last page of this report. Based on the collected data, the following key actions are rec­ommended. Interpretations of findings and recommendations must be contextualized and triangulated.

Recommendations

  • Stigma is a key challenge in all four countries. Almost half of all respondents in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar believed that a specific group is at fault for the spread of COVID-19. Those perceived to be at fault differs by country.

    • Findings suggest that more work on addressing stigma is essential to foster community cohesion and address discrimination, particularly against vulnerable groups such as migrants. Continuing to listen and analyse whom individuals held responsible for the spread of COVID-19 is key to making people feel heard, while also clarifying misconceptions about groups perceived to be responsible for spreading the virus.

  • Awareness of COVID-19 is universal in Myanmar, Indonesia, and Malaysia. However, in Pakistan, nearly 10% of respondents were not aware of COVID-19.

    • Findings suggest that in Pakistan more information on COVID-19 through multiple channels needs to be pro-vided, with a focus on reaching people relying on traditional media and face-to-face communication.

  • Washing hands, wearing masks, and staying at home are the top COVID-19 prevention measures across the four countries.

    • Overall, participants are clear on COVID-19 preventative measures. Instead of blanket messaging that may contribute to ‘messaging fatigue,’ communicators should find out which questions remain unanswered in local contexts and seek to answer these.

  • Information most sought by surveyed communities includes treatment options and what to do if a family member is sick. Additional research and literature emphasises that individuals are more likely to follow instructions to keep others safe rather than themselves.

    • Findings suggest that people are interested to hear about what is being done to find treatments and vaccines against COVID-19. Moreover, the findings suggest that content should give practical tips on how to keep family members and others vulnerable to the disease safe.

  • More than half of all participants shared that they have worries and fears related to COVID-19. The main worries for respondents were around losing a loved one and getting sick (which 73% of respondents frequently worry about). Respondents also reported that they are frequently worried about the health system being overloaded (72%). This shows a significant emotional and mental stress that individuals are facing in addition to other challenges (e.g. economical) and highlights the importance of a response that acknowledges and addresses psycho-social needs.

    • Accessible and localised mental health and psycho-social support are key. Engagement should focus on actionable advice on how to keep family members safe and care for them.

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Pandemic Response in South-East Asia Must Address Rising Inequalities, Says New UN Report

30 July 2020 - The United Nations has commended governments in South-East Asia for acting swiftly to stem the most serious health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Robust regional cooperation, coordinated by ASEAN, has also resulted in South-East Asia reporting significantly lower confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths compared to most other global regions.

The UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on South-East Asia issued today however warns that these early successes must be translated into addressing the serious socio-economic setbacks which threaten to further deepen inequalities across the region.  

“As in other parts of the world, the health, economic and political impact of COVID-19 has been significant across South-East Asia — hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. The pandemic has highlighted deep inequalities, shortfalls in governance and the imperative for a sustainable development pathway. And it has revealed new challenges, including to peace and security,” shared UN Secretary General António Guterres, adding that while the region has much work to do, it also has formidable capacities at its disposal.

The new UN report examines how COVID-19 has affected eleven countries in South-East Asia and proposes action-oriented recommendations on mitigating immediate impacts and planning pathways out of the crisis.

“The Brief highlights the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on vulnerable groups, particularly workers in the informal economy. The crisis is threatening to push them back into poverty and unemployment. Responding to the pandemic and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals are closely interlinked. We need a future that is more equitable, sustainable and resilient,” noted United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

Moving forward, four areas will be critical in the region’s plans for recovery: tackling inequality, bridging the digital divide, greening the economy, and upholding human rights and good governance.

The uneven landscape of social protection systems has placed tackling inequality at the centre of both short and long-term recovery efforts, according to the report. Increased investments to strengthen health systems and accelerate progress towards universal health care will be critical to support those excluded from formal policy and social protection measures.

Digital technology has also proved to be a critical tool in response to the pandemic. However, the benefits it offers are beyond the reach of the 55 per cent of South-East Asia’s population who remain offline. A regionally coordinated and scaled up effort is needed to put in place next-generation infrastructure networks and ensure universal digital connectivity, highlights the Brief.

The crisis presents an opportunity for countries to re-orient their development towards sustainability particularly through green recovery packages. Stimulus packages should be directed to industries that are low-carbon, resource efficient and aligned with environmental and climate objectives. By phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, countries could finance most or all of their current stimulus packages. Such measures would create massive fiscal space and greatly boost low carbon alternatives such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The Brief further underscores that countries in South-East Asia and their leaders can play an important role in upholding human rights and good governance practices in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders can leverage community-based organizations, promote inclusion, participation and unity; and speak out against discrimination.

The report is part of a series of policy briefs issued by the United Nations that examine the sectoral and geographical dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world.

The full policy brief can be accessed at: https://bit.ly/SEAPolicyBrief

A recording of the media briefing by the ESCAP Executive Secretary can be viewed at: https://bit.ly/ESBriefing

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Pakistan — Feature
Pakistan1 1
Screening activity with the District Health Team in Kotkai Village in the Laddah subdivision, Pakistan. Credit: EHSAR

Pakistan: Fighting COVID-19 and other health emergencies

Since the beginning of the year, the Education Health Social Awareness Rehabilitation Foundation (EHSAR) has been supporting the outpatient departments of three health facilities in Pakistan’s South Waziristan District. With funding from the Pakistan Humanitarian Pooled Fund, the foundation carried out free medical consultations and provided much-needed medication to hundreds of patients every day.

When Pakistan declared a health state of emergency and lockdown due to COVID-19 in March, local health authorities imposed the close-down of all outpatient departments across the district.

EHSAR was quick to adapt and re-programme its efforts, thanks to flexible arrangements that have been put in place by the Pakistan Humanitarian Pooled Fund (PHPF) and other Country-based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) that are responding to COVID-19. 

Some reprogramming allowed ESHAR to engage in immediate tangible support through public information campaigns and the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), soap, masks, sanitizer and gloves, in close liaison with relevant local health departments.

In agreement with the health local authorities, EHSAR was also able to support the three health facilities’ readiness and response capacities and distribution of medical supplies and clinical equipment. Through reshuffling its team from general outpatient care to emergency cover for the newly established quarantine and isolation wards, EHSAR was able to respond to the increasing needs.

The team was fully equipped with PPE and available 24/7 to deal with any emerging situation relating to COVID-19 and any other critical emergency. This also included two well-equipped ambulances for free referral.

Later in March, at the request of the health department, EHSAR also carried out screening of an Islamic missionary group staying in a mosque in the Laddah subdivision of South Waziristan. The Deputy Commissioner South Waziristan and Additional District Health Officer appreciated EHSAR’s active response to COVID-19 on their official pages and conveyed their messages to continue the efforts in light of health department instruction and the greater interest of targeted poor and marginalized people.

The Pakistan Humanitarian Pooled Fund is one of OCHA’s 18 Country-based Pooled Funds (CBPFs). For OCHA’s CBPFs, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local partners are key in the COVID-19 response and reaching people in need. Many of the 18 funds have long-standing partnerships with national and international NGOs, which has made it easy to come together and prioritize funding.

CBFPs have been critical instruments in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and channelling resources to where they are most needed. So far, US$161 million has been allocated to support efforts, with more than half of that amount going directly to NGOs. Additional countries are being identified under the Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

The latest information on funding and allocations is available in real time via https://pfbi.unocha.org/COVID19.

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Media

A new approach to saving lives: CERF in Bangladesh

In an innovative approach to dealing with the effects of severe flooding in Bangladesh, the United Nations is using the latest in data and predictive analytics to forecast the next major monsoon floods, gauge likely impacts – and take action – before possible disaster hits. On 4 July a high probability of severe flooding was forecast for mid-July along the Jamuna River in Bangladesh, with one-third of the area’s total population likely to be affected. That warning was the trigger for the UN to immediately release $5.2 million from CERF to help communities urgently prepare and protect themselves. The money went to three participating agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to enable them to prepare to distribute cash, livestock feed, storage drums, and hygiene, dignity and health kits.

Read more here.

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Highlights from the Archive

Asia Pacific: Human Rights Dimensions of the COVID-19 Pandemic (22 June 2020)

Asia Pacific: FAO warns multiple impact of viruses, plagues and economic damage will fuel hunger (1 June 2020)

Asia Pacific: FAO announces new agreement to protect vulnerable family farmers and their farm animals from volcanic eruptions takes shape in the Asia-Pacific region (18 June 2020)

Asia Pacific: COVID-19 Risk Communications and Community Engagement 4W Dashboard (4 May 2020)

Asia Pacific: Combating the dual challenges of climate-related disasters and COVID-19 (4 May 2020)

Afghanistan: COVID-19 Access Impediment Report (29 April 2020)

Afghanistan: A young doctor’s fight to stem the spread of COVID-19 (4 May 2020)

Afghanistan: A safe space for children and families returning from Iran (15 May 2020)

Myanmar: "Stop the fighting, combine forces against a common enemy: COVID-19" -Humanitarian Coordinator (4 May 2020)

Myanmar: UN Launches European Union/Switzerland-Funded Humanitarian Flights (11 May 2020)

Myanmar: Humanitarians maintain life-saving support to internally displaced people as COVID-19 outbreak evolves (6 May 2020)

Nepal: COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan Calls for US$108 Million (1 June 2020)

Pakistan: Humanitarian Response Plan For COVID-19 Pandemic 2020 (1 June 2020)

Papu New Guinea: Revised COVID-19 Multi-Sector Response Plan Call for US$ 105 Million (1 June 2020)

Philippines: Engaging Vulnerable People and Communities in the COVID-19 Pandemic Response (12 May 2020)

Philippines: Single mother in Mindanao survives domestic abuse, earthquakes, and COVID-19 (7 July 2020)

Philippines: How the Philippines is quietly implementing a more localized COVID-19 humanitarian response (Part1) (Part 2) (Part 4)

Pacific: UN and Partners Launch the Pacific Humanitarian Team COVID-19 Response Plan (7 May 2020)

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