Tag Archives: Conflict

Aid Worker Diaries – Top 10 Critical Needs Facing Refugees & Persons Displaced in Emergencies

During the initial stages of a conflict or natural disaster, those who are forced to flee are particularly at risk—women, children and young people most of all.

The Women’s Refugee Commission has identified 10 pressing needs that must be met during the first weeks and months of an emergency to ensure the safety and well-being of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs)*. Some 43 million people are currently uprooted from their homes by armed conflict and persecution.

1. Keep refugees and IDPs safe. Ensure that they are settled in a secure location away from borders and ongoing conflict.

2. Provide safe access to basic needs, including food, safe and appropriate cooking fuel, potable water, sanitation and shelter.

3. Communicate with the people most affected and ensure their safety whether or not they have legal status or official documents. Ensure every adult is provided with individual documentation that allows him or her to access key services.

4. Provide life-saving health care, including reproductive health care. Ensure there are enough health workers and all necessary medicines and supplies to prevent and respond to infectious diseases and other health needs. Establish priority reproductive health services for women and girls.

5. Prevent and respond to sexual violence. Protect women and children from sexual violence by ensuring safe access to food, cooking fuel, water, latrines and other basic necessities. Offer medical services and psychosocial support to survivors of sexual violence.

6. Reduce the transmission of HIV. Enforce use of infection control measures by health workers; make condoms freely available; and ensure blood for transfusion is safe by screening it for HIV and other blood-borne diseases.

7. Prevent excess maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. Provide skilled birth attendants for normal births; manage obstetric complications at health facilities; establish 24-hour emergency referral system; provide contraceptives to meet demands; provide clean delivery kits to all visibly pregnant women.

8. Identify vulnerable individuals with specific needs, such as unaccompanied minors, child- or women-headed households, pregnant women, victims of trafficking and persons with disabilities. Secure their care and physical security. Monitor, report and respond to violations against children.

9. Provide education to children and young people. Offer structure for children and restore hope and a sense of normalcy in a safe, adult-supervised space. Teach basic literacy and numeracy skills, and provide vocational training for young people.

10. Provide economic opportunities and preserve existing economic assets. Build on refugees’ skills, taking into account local market needs, to provide the best chance for a sustainable income. Protect women and girls from sexual exploitation by providing them with economic opportunities.

* A refugee has crossed an international border; an internally displaced person (IDP) has fled from his or her home but is still in his or her own country.



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Aid plane crashes in Congo, no sign of survivors

By Joe Bavier

KINSHASA (Reuters) – A humanitarian plane carrying 17 passengers and crew that went missing in east Democratic Republic of Congo has crashed into a mountain and there is no sign of survivors, the contracting air company said on Tuesday.

Rescuers spotted the wreckage early on Tuesday of the 19-seat Beechcraft aircraft, contracted by Air Serv International, around 15 km northwest of the town of Bukavu, on Congo’s eastern border with Rwanda.

The plane had been on its way to Bukavu from the city of Kisangani on Monday when it lost contact with ground control as it made its landing approach in bad weather at around 1200 GMT.

“The aircraft has been found on a steep ridge eight miles northwest of Bukavu,” Air Serv International said in a statement posted on its website. “The aircraft was piloted by two crew members and carried 15 passengers. Aerial survey by helicopter indicate that there are no known survivors.”

Humanitarian sources said they understood some foreign nationals, perhaps as many as five, were aboard the plane along with Congolese citizens.

A U.N. official, who asked not to be named, said the rescue helicopter that found the wreckage had been unable to land. A second, smaller helicopter has been sent to the crash site.

“The last known radio contact was made 10 minutes inbound to Bukavu in heavy rain,” Air Serv International said earlier.

Air Serv is one of several entities and private contractors which service the large community of aid workers operating in Congo, a vast, mineral-rich former Belgian colony which is still suffering a humanitarian crisis triggered by a 1998-2003 war.

Most humanitarian organisations operating in the country restrict travel by their personnel on commercial flights because of local airlines’ abysmal safety record and frequent crashes.

Despite the official end of the war five years ago, fighting between rebel and militia groups and the government army has persisted in the lawless eastern borderlands.

Experts say the 1998-2003 war and the resulting humanitarian catastrophe have killed 5.4 million people in Congo, mostly from hunger and disease linked to the conflict.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

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