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ReliefWeb - Updates on Sierra Leone

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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, Zimbabwe

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    Source: UN Women
    Country: Fiji, Jordan, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Syrian Arab Republic, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Vanuatu, World

    In 2016, natural disasters and war zones have created indelible images of barbed wire barriers, endless straggling dusty lines of tired people on the move, overladen boats making hazardous sea passages, buildings destroyed by bombs, cyclones, earthquakes and fires, exhausted responders with hard hats and clipboards. These images reflect desperate flight from violence and destruction, the courage of those who stay, the courage of those who go. They make real for us the extraordinary circumstances of millions on the move.

    However, there are two important aspects of the experience of people in crisis that are not in sight, and are insufficiently in mind in humanitarian action: the extensive sexual violence and domestic violence experienced by women and girls; and conversely, the strong drive of women and girls to lead humanitarian response and to acquire the skills and resources that enable them to rebuild their lives. Governments and humanitarian agencies focus attention on providing food, water, basic medical care and shelter. Protection and a means of livelihood are relegated to non-essentials. Yet, safety and a means to rebuild their lives and reduce vulnerability are what women also want and urgently need.

    It is well established that all forms of violence against women and girls increase during crises, be they disasters or armed conflicts. It is less well understood that even after ‘escape’ from a war zone into camps or other shelter, or in the aftermath of a natural disaster, women and girls can still be under daily attack from their own partners and communities, and that this is not visible or well reported. We know, for example, that early child marriage—considered a form of violence—increases dramatically in response to vulnerability and lack of resources.

    Individual stories underline the impossible choices women and girls face in emergency settings. Now a refugee in Jordan, Alaa and her family fled their home in Syria after hearing news of the kidnapping and rape of young women nearby. Yet the camp did not offer the secure refuge she needed. Fearing sexual violence in her new home, after neighbours were raped, Alaa’s uncles accepted an offer of marriage for her. Married at barely 15, she has stopped school, has one small daughter and another child on the way. Originally ambitious to become a teacher in Syria, Alaa is now learning other income-generating skills in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, where ‘Oases’ centres for women and girls offer women-only safe spaces, Arabic and English literacy, and computer classes to equip women with skills for a life outside the camp.

    A 2013 assessment estimated the percentage of Syrian girl refugees in Jordan being married before age 18 to have risen from below 17 per cent before the conflict, to more than 50 per cent afterwards. Without access to sexual and reproductive health services, these girls have little or no control over pregnancy, with damaging or deadly consequences. Sixty per cent of preventable maternal deaths occur among women and girls who have been displaced or disadvantaged through conflict or natural disaster.

    UN Women is addressing misconceptions of what girls and women really need most in the aftermath of disasters, and ensuring that their voice is heard in policy and decision-making processes. These needs are often inadequately identified and almost always insufficiently funded. A recent analysis of migrants and refugees in Serbia and fYR Macedonia underlined the lack of attention to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of women in humanitarian response planning and implementation.

    Women have a large stake in the appropriateness of the services they receive, and must be involved in guiding those provisions to make sure they are directly relevant and effective. In Sierra Leone, for example, during the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease, initial quarantine plans ensured that women received food supplies, but did not account for water or fuel. Until the plans were adjusted, women continued to leave their houses to fetch firewood, which drove a risk of spreading infection.

    Following Cyclone Winston in Fiji and Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, approximately half of each nation’s population was affected by loss of income from subsistence farming, market sales and tourism—all areas in which women were the major workforce and providers for their families. In Fiji, Rakiraki market vendor Varanisese Maisamoa used to sell fish, cooked food and fresh produce at the market, until the cyclone destroyed it. On a good day she could make between USD $100 and $150 profit, which she used to pay her water bill, her children’s schooling and medical care, and transport. In both locations, efforts to repair the markets, distribute seeds and replant the crops have restored women’s ability to earn and support their communities.

    Getting it right for women is central to finding appropriate solutions for the millions of families and individuals displaced, homeless, or making new homes in host countries. Getting it right for women is also vital to increasing the effectiveness of humanitarian response, bridging the humanitarian development nexus and accelerating the path to recovery.

    These aspects will come under the spotlight during the first World Humanitarian Summit, which starts next week in Istanbul. The Summit explicitly builds on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that aims to end poverty and leave no one behind. Central to that Agenda is the recognition of the role that empowered girls and women play as change agents and leaders, as protectors of the environment and community, and as skillful workers capable of significantly influencing economies and ensuring a positive cycle of peace, stability and prosperity.

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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone

    Return of Nigerian Refugees

    The Cameroonian government has identified over 67,000 Nigerians who returned from Northern Cameroon mainly at the Fotokol border to Gamboru Ngala, Borno from January through April 2016. As of 26 April 2016, UNHCR has registered 22,092 Nigerians who have returned from Cameroon to Adamawa, many under conditions falling short of international legal obligations. In Borno, UNHCR is preparing to put in place registration systems to respond to the return of Nigerian refugees from Cameroon.

    UNHCR met with the Acting Federal Commissioner for National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) to discuss an arrangement whereby 10 NCFRMI staff members from the protection, registration and community service will be deployed on a joint registration mission with registration system at critical border areas with Cameroon.

    UNHCR in Borno State for a one month period in order to establish a timely the need for to scale up NCFRMI’s presence in the Northeast especially in the wake of the rising number of Nigerian returnees from Cameroon.

    Recommended that NFCRMI reopen its office in Borno State. UNHCR and NCFRMI are finalizing In view to quickly setting up a registration system for returning Nigerians in Borno, UNHCR and NCFRMI are finalizing an arrangement whereby 10 NCFRMI staff members from the protection, registration and community service will be deployed on a joint registration mission with UNHCR in Borno State for a one month period in order to establish a timely registration system at critical border areas with Cameroon.

    The Government of Cameroon has shared a draft tripartite agreement with the Government of Nigeria. A Regional Protection Dialogue, supported by UNHCR, is planned for 6-10 June 2016, to take place in Abuja, which will bring together officials from the four Lake Chad Basin countries to discuss critical protection issues including regional durable solutions. The Regional Protection Dialogue will inform discussions over tripartite agreements with Lake Chad Basin States as a mechanism for advocacy on issues such as safe, voluntary and dignified return and international standards relating to forced return and determination of conditions conducive to voluntary repatriation.

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    Source: Caritas
    Country: Sierra Leone

    “When there is a crisis, the international aid community tends to push away or sideline religious leaders and faith based organisations even though they have the key to solving the crisis,” said Fr. Peter Konteh from Caritas Freetown in Sierra Leone.

    “Instead, the first port of call should be the religious leaders and faith based organisations who live and work on the ground. They need to be actively included in planning,” he said.

    He was at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 24 May to reflect on the Ebola epidemic in his country and the role of faith leaders in tackling the crisis.

    The Istanbul meeting is looking for new ways for governments, the private sector, the United Nations, aid agencies and faith-based organisations to better serve people in need. Pope Francis said in a message: “Let us hear the cry of the victims and those suffering. Let us allow them to teach us a lesson in humanity. Let us change our ways of life, politics, economic choices, behaviours and attitudes of cultural superiority.”

    On the first day of the meeting, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila addressed the Special Session on the Religious Engagement.

    “We in Caritas are convinced that an essential part of humanitarian assistance is to get people involved in their own development and to believe in their capacity to rebuild their lives and society. But we cannot achieve this with a one size fits all approach,” he said.

    “General international cooperation must enable local organisations to lead humanitarian responses using their capacities including the wisdom of compassion and reconciliation coming from religious traditions.”

    Fr. Peter Konteh said the Ebola response highlights why the current system needs reform and why religious leaders and faith-based organisations need a greater role.

    “When Ebola broke out in Sierra Leone, people didn’t understand it. They thought it was witchcraft and didn’t accept the medical advice. They had lost faith in governments and in hospitals,” he said.

    In Sierra Leone, the outbreak began slowly and silently, gradually building up to a burst of cases in late May and early June in 2014. Cases then increased exponentially.

    “Christian and Muslim leaders came together to sensitize the people. Faith leaders found a way to explain the epidemic. Because of their role in communities, then they were listened to. We are present in every village, so we had the local presence to be able to reach them.”

    “On something like burials, it was difficult to accept that people could not be present or could not touch the bodies. Faith leaders were able to overcome that by explaining that they would be present at the burials and that offered some comfort,” he said.

    “How do you explain to a mother not to touch a sick husband or child. I faced the same situation. I was called to a house where the mother and father had died. There was a 4 year old child between them, extending their hands for help. We couldn’t touch them. We could just throw her food like she was some kind of animal. We called an ambulance, but it took 48 hours to arrive. By that time, she was dead. I have to live with that pain and guilt for the rest of my life that I could have done more.” The immediate Ebola crisis is over, but people are still suffer from health problems. Caritas is supporting clinics that continue to give medical treatment, to help stigmatised people reintegrate back into their communities and working with the large number of orphans.

    Faith-based organisations like Caritas are making commitments in Istanbul, including supporting and ensuring the engagement of religious leaders and working across faiths.

    “Some religious leaders were giving out the wrong messages – that Ebola was punishment for sin,” said Fr. Peter Konteh. “We had to work with Christian and Muslim leaders to counteract that message to give the appropriate medical advice. Christian and Muslim leaders by coming together was a symbol of unity. A symbol that there is one God.”

    “The World Humanitarian Summit has been a wonderful expression of solidarity with those in need. It’s success very much depends on the outcomes being implemented. Action and words need to go together.”

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    Source: World Health Organization
    Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Iraq, Liberia, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen

    Attacks on Health Care

    Attacks on health care in emergency situations disrupt the delivery of essential health services, endanger care providers, deprive people of urgently needed medical attention, and undermine our long term health development goals.

    WHO collaborates closely with others to better understand the problem, bring attention to the issue, and find solutions that can prevent attacks; protect health facilities, workers, transport and supplies; and ensure the continued provision of health care despite such attacks.

    WHO releases new report on attacks on health

    Currently there is no publicly available source of consolidated information on attacks on health care in emergencies. This report is a first attempt to consolidate and analyse the data that is available from open sources. While the data are not comprehensive, the findings shed light on the severity and frequency of the problem.

    Over the two-year period from January 2014 to December 2015, there were 594 reported attacks on health care that resulted in 959 deaths and 1561 injuries in 19 countries with emergencies. More than half of the attacks were against health care facilities and another quarter of the attacks were against health care workers. Sixty-two per cent of the attacks were reported to have intentionally targeted health care.

    Read the full report

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    Source: World Health Organization
    Country: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

     The Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) related to Ebola in West Africa was lifted on 29 March 2016. A total of 28 616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11 310 deaths.

     In the latest cluster, seven confirmed and three probable cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported between 17 March and 6 April from the prefectures of N’Zerekore (nine cases) and Macenta (one case) in south-eastern Guinea. In addition, three confirmed cases were reported between 1 and 5 April from Monrovia in Liberia; these cases, the wife and two children of the Macenta case, travelled from Macenta to Monrovia.

     The index case of this cluster (a 37-year-old female from Koropara sub-prefecture in N’Zerekore) had symptom onset on or around 15 February and died on 27 February without a confirmed diagnosis. The source of her infection is likely to have been due to exposure to infected body fluid from an Ebola survivor.

     In Guinea, the last case tested negative for Ebola virus for the second time on 19 April. In Liberia, the last case tested negative for the second time on 28 April.  The 42-day (two incubation periods) countdown must elapse before the outbreak can be declared over in Guinea and Liberia. This is due to end on 31 May in Guinea and on 9 June in Liberia.

     Having contained the last Ebola virus outbreak in March 2016, Sierra Leone has maintained heightened surveillance with testing of all reported deaths and prompt investigation and testing of all suspected cases. The testing policy will be reviewed on the 30 June.

    Risk assessment:

    For the outbreak to be declared over, a 42-day countdown must pass after the last case tested negative for Ebola virus for the second time. This countdown is due to elapse on 31 May in Guinea and on 9 June in Liberia. Until then, active surveillance in Guinea and Liberia will continue. The performance indicators suggest that Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone still have variable capacity to prevent, detect (epidemiological and laboratory surveillance) and respond to new outbreaks (Table 1). The risk of additional outbreaks originating from exposure to infected survivor body fluids remains and requires sustained mitigation through counselling on safe sex practices and testing of body fluids.

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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Sierra Leone

    By Francis Boima

    The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa was the largest global public health crisis in recent history, with over 8,000 cases confirmed in Sierra Leone alone. EVD had a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities, claiming the lives of almost 4,000 people and causing widespread socio-economic disruption. In order to contribute toward preventing future outbreaks and to strengthen the ability of Sierra Leone to effectively respond to crises, WFP is supporting national disaster management authorities to develop their capabilities in emergency preparedness and response.

    Since being declared free from Ebola by the World Health Organisation on 17th March 2016, the responsibility for coordinating responses to national emergencies has been transferred from the interim National Ebola Response Center (NERC) to the Office of National Security (ONS). To augment national capabilities to prepare for and respond to future emergencies, the World Food Programme (WFP) has started to carry out a series of trainings to build the capacity of ONS, supporting Government ministries and development partner staff. WFP will also work in direct partnership with communities to enhance preparedness to flooding and other environmental shocks.

    The first of a series of trainings took place between 18th and 21st April 2016 in WFP’s purpose built training facility at the Main Logistics Base (MLB) in Port Loko. The training, which was facilitated by WFP staff, combined classroom lessons, hands-on exercises and practical simulations on supply chain, logistics planning and assessment, sea and port operations, engineering services, emergency ICT and telecommunications provision and humanitarian air services. The training was attended by ONS and UNICEF staff.

    “A good disaster response is delivered swiftly, effectively, at the right place, at the right time. Effective response is grounded in thorough preparedness, careful planning and identification of teams and partners together with delivery mechanisms and supplies. WFP’s Port Loko MLB reduces expensive air-lifting of assets, cuts down on procurement processes and also, most importantly, familiarizes in country response teams with equipment. Closely partnering with disaster management authorities in these areas is a step in the right direction,” said Peter Scott-Bowden, WFP Sierra Leone’s Representative and Country Director.

    As the lead for the Support Services Pillar under the UN ‘No Regrets’ approach, WFP continues to provide logistics support managed from the Port Loko MLB which has a storage capacity of over 19,000m³. WFP maintains the ability to respond to future EVD outbreaks with prepositioned rapid response modules which are stored at the MLB. These modules contain ICT equipment, mobile storage units and office prefabs, generators and ablution units to enable WFP and its partners to establish emergency operations centres for frontline staff coordinating a response within 96 hours of notification. Maintaining this lean, rapid response capacity is essential to ensure that Sierra Leone can sustain a “resilient zero” of Ebola cases. This will also confirm that the country’s Ebola Recovery Strategy can be effectively implemented to support socio-economic recovery.

    “This training is well orchestrated to suit the interest and needs of the Office of National Security to enhance the soft skills of the institution to be in the driving seat to effectively respond to future emergencies,” said John Rogers, Director of Office of National Security.

    Special Operations activities, including trainings of emergency partners, are funded by Finland, United Kingdom, USA, Switzerland and Norway.

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    Source: Government of Sierra Leone
    Country: Sierra Leone

    By Momodu L. Kargbo, Sierra Leone Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Governor, Bank of Sierra Leone during the Ebola Crisis)

    FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, May 26, 2016/ -- Crises of all sorts, from conflicts to natural disasters to health emergencies, are happening at unprecedented rates around the world – so much so, that the United Nations is convening the first ever World Humanitarian Summit this month. There is increasing recognition that the sheer scale of the humanitarian challenges facing the world today means that governments like ours have to be prepared for future shocks, by laying the groundwork for more inclusive and resilient economies.

    In our experience battling the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, one solution saved lives, delivered major cost savings, and continues to help the economy rebuild and recover. For many, this solution is so simple and logical it is almost unexpected: digital payments.

    When we digitized Ebola Response Worker payments, we reduced payment times from a month to a week, as a new study by United Nations-housed Better Than Cash Alliance has revealed ( Getting payments to workers on time reduced fraud risks and increased efficiency and transparency.

    Prior to the deployment of digital payments, our Response Workers often had to travel long distances out of treatment and holding centers and spend scarce financial resources to access payment. Beyond addressing these challenges, digital payments broadened financial inclusion and enabled more citizens to participate in the formal economy, build up their own savings, invest in their business, and access new markets.

    The significant lesson is that government is leveraging on the 95 percent mobile phone access and coverage across the country coupled with a robust national network to intensify action and support to payment agents. This infrastructure proved essential in deploying digital payments during the crisis.

    Notwithstanding these advantages, we realized there is more to be done, and these lessons offer insights to us and others for future crises.

    Building partnerships with the private sector and development organizations is key for us to succeed. These networks, infrastructure, and expertise can help deliver digital payment solutions much faster and help sustain the adoption of digital payments platforms after the emergency ends. As a member of the G7+ countries, Sierra Leone is committed to engaging in partnerships.

    It is critical to start building resilient response measures now; therefore, we must put in place the policy frameworks, infrastructure, and public education initiatives necessary for a digital payments solution.

    By working collaboratively and proactively, digital payments can help build resilience in the face of challenges such as those we encountered in the Ebola crisis, can contribute to greater financial inclusion of citizens, and can drive economic opportunities throughout the country in the aftermath.

    “This op-ed was originally published in Devex”:

    Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Sierra Leone Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

    Sierra Leone Ministry of Finance and Economic Development

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    Source: Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo

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    Source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
    Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Cabo Verde, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, French Guiana (France), French Polynesia (France), Germany, Greece, Guadeloupe (France), Guinea, Ireland, Liberia, Martinique (France), Mongolia, Namibia, New Zealand, Niger, Pakistan, Saint Barthélemy (France), Saint Martin (France), Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Spain, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, World

    The ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR) is a weekly bulletin for epidemiologists and health professionals on active public health threats.

    This issue covers the period 22-28 May 2016 and includes updates on Zika virus, outbreak of yellow fever and Polio.

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    Source: World Health Organization
    Country: Benin, Germany, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo

    Between August 2015 and 17 May 2016, WHO has been notified of 273 cases of Lassa fever, including 149 deaths in Nigeria. Of these, 165 cases and 89 deaths have been confirmed through laboratory testing (CFR: 53.9%). The cases were reported from 23 states in Nigeria.

    Since August 2015, ten health care workers (HCW) have been infected with Lassa fever virus, of which two have died. Of these ten cases, four were nosocomial infections.

    As of 17 May 2016, 8 states are currently reporting Lassa fever cases (suspected, probable, and confirmed), deaths and/or following of contacts for the maximum 21-day incubation period. Currently, 248 contacts are being followed up in the country. The other 15 previously affected states have completed the 42-day period following last known possible transmission.

    Public health response

    Currently, two national laboratories are supporting the laboratory confirmation of Lassa fever cases by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. All the samples were also tested for Ebola, Dengue, Yellow fever and so far have tested negative. The two laboratories that are currently operational are:

    • Virology laboratory, Lagos University Teaching Hospital
    • Lassa fever research and control centre, Irrua specialist hospital

    Along with other key partners, WHO is supporting ministry of health in surveillance and response of Lassa fever outbreaks including contacts tracing, follow up and community mobilization. One of a concern since the onset of Lassa fever outbreaks is the high proportion of deaths among the cases that is still under investigation.

    WHO Risk Assessment

    Overall, the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria shows a declining trend. Considering the seasonal peaks in previous years, improvements in community and health care worker awareness, preparedness and general response activities, the risk of a larger-scale outbreak is low. Nevertheless, close monitoring, active case search, contact tracing, laboratory support and disease awareness (both in community in general and specific training for health care workers) should continue.

    WHO Advice

    Considering the seasonal flare ups of cases during this time of the year, countries in West Africa that are endemic for Lassa fever are encouraged to strengthen their related surveillance systems.

    Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Lassa fever should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with Lassa fever, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures).

    Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Lassa virus infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories under maximum biological containment conditions.

    The diagnosis of Lassa fever should be considered in febrile patients returning from areas where Lassa fever is endemic. Health-care workers seeing a patient suspected to have Lassa fever should immediately contact local and national experts for advice and to arrange for laboratory testing.

    WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restriction to Nigeria based on the current information available.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Household stocks in most areas become exhausted as the lean season begins

    Key Messages

    • As the lean season begins (mid-May to July), both household and market stocks in rural areas are below average levels compared to a normal year. This reduction in stocks follows a below-average 2015/16 main harvest season and a slightly below-average off-season harvest in March and April. Low stocks contribute to both higher demand and prices, limiting food availability and access particularly for poor populations. Most parts of the country will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through September 2016.
    • In urban areas, there are fewer electricity outages as a result of system updates, which is contributing to improved livelihood opportunities. Additionally, market functioning continues to improve across the country as most EVD restrictions have been lifted. Households that are engaged in off season production and trade have improved incomes and food access, particularly when compared to the crisis period. These factors have contributed to Bo and Western Area Rural and Urban districts remaining in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.
    • The rainy season has begun on time with seasonal forecasts from NOAA indicating average to slightly below average rainfall accumulation from May to October. Land preparation for the main cropping season (2016/17) has also begun and is at the land clearing and ploughing stage in most northern districts (Kambia, Bombali, Portloko). Planting of groundnut has started in Kambia, preparation of coffee and cocoa plantations is on-going in Kenema, Kailahun and Kono and planting of upland rice has also started in Kono.

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    Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
    Country: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

    Current epidemiological situation, country-specific information + Post-Ebola systems strengthening

    The Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) related to Ebola in West Africa was lifted on 29 March 2016. A total of 28 616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11 310 deaths. In the latest cluster, seven confirmed and three probable cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) were reported between 17 March and 6 April from the prefectures of N’Zerekore (nine cases) and Macenta (one case) in south-eastern Guinea.

    In Guinea, the last case tested negative for Ebola virus for the second time on 19 April. In Liberia, the last case tested negative for the second time on 28 April.

    The 42-day (two incubation periods) countdown must elapse before the outbreak can be declared over in Guinea and Liberia. This is due to end on 31 May in Guinea and on 9 June in Liberia. With the Ebola flare-up in March, the Governments and partners reactivated the emergency response mechanism to contain the disease.

    While the primary Ebola response is medical, services provided by IFRC and National Societies play a crucial role by allowing patients to be reached on time.

    Having contained the last Ebola virus outbreak in March 2016, Sierra Leone has maintained heightened surveillance with testing of all reported deaths and prompt investigation and testing of all suspected cases. The testing policy will be reviewed on 30 June.

    The Ebola emergency response faced various challenges, starting with the delayed identification of the unprecedented scale of the epidemic, the weak health systems in the affected countries, and the lack of knowledge of most responders on handling EVD. The recovery plans continue to focus on providing support to people affected by the outbreak.

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    Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies
    Country: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

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    Source: Voice of America
    Country: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

    Lisa Schlein

    GENEVA, SWITZERLAND— The World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa says West Africa is better prepared to tackle future outbreaks of Ebola. In an exclusive interview with VOA, Matshidiso Moeti says Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are now able to respond more quickly to emergencies because of upgrades to their surveillance, laboratory and health care systems.

    Moeti became head of WHO’s regional office for Africa in February 2015, at the height of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. As the World Health Organization’s chief troubleshooter in the region, she told VOA she knew she had to do whatever was necessary to stop the spread of this fatal disease.

    Ebola had killed more than 11,000 people in the three most heavily affected West African countries by the time WHO declared the transmission of the Ebola virus virtually over at the end of last year.

    Warning of flare-ups

    Although it acknowledged that the epidemic was no longer out of control, the WHO warned the countries to remain vigilant as flare-ups of the disease were likely to continue for some time.

    ”We have had a very prolonged last leg of getting to zero in this outbreak and we are not there yet,” said Moeti. But, she added Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea have greatly improved their ability to respond to Ebola and have proved this in their skillful management of the occasional flare-ups of the disease.

    “They have been able when they get an unexpected case in these last few months to be able to respond and detect it relatively early, follow-up the contacts and contain the spread. So, for me that is one of the best outcomes of this tragic situation in West Africa,” said Moeti.

    But, she cautioned that all the improvements made in infrastructure, in response systems, and in skills training must be sustained. This, she said required the continued support of the International community.

    Moeti stressed that the funding and expertise that had poured into West Africa during the Ebola epidemic must hold. “I am very hopeful that some of the commitments that were made by the donors during the time when these countries were talking about their recovery actually do materialize,” she said.

    She called this essential “to ensuring that the healthcare workers, the infrastructure, the laboratories, the commodities that are needed to be available on an ongoing basis are sustained.”

    Heath emergency reforms

    The World Health Assembly, which has just wrapped up its annual meeting, has approved reforms of the emergency health system.

    Moeti praised the underlying agreement by member States to provide the money needed to implement this system. She said WHO will be in a better position now to head-off crises before they become full blown. This, she said would prove to be a boon to African countries.

    This year’s World Health Assembly had a particularly packed agenda of 76 health issues to consider. The 3,500 delegates who attended the week-long meeting approved 10 new resolutions including the program on health emergencies.

    In her closing statement to the Assembly, WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan said the members’ support of this program “sends a powerful political signal” that they wanted WHO to remain “the single agency with universal legitimacy in matters of international health, to lead and coordinate the response to emergencies.”

    She also welcomed a resolution on the Sustainable Development Goals that “agreed to prioritize universal health coverage. Of all targets under the new agenda, this is the one that most decisively leaves no one behind. It is inclusive, feasible and measurable.”

    Other resolutions adopted by the Assembly include tobacco control; road traffic deaths and injuries; nutrition; HIV, hepatitis, STIs (sexually transmitted infections); access to medicines and integrated health services.

    Who will head WHO?

    Margaret Chan steps down as WHO chief next year. The race is on to find a new candidate for this position. Among those eager for the job is Ethiopia’s foreign minister and previous health minister, Tedros Adhanom. He is Africa’s first and only candidate for this position.

    Matshidiso Moeti called him a “credible candidate,” who has a proven track record in reforming his country’s health system. “I think that he is uniquely placed to understand the needs of the poorest countries,” she said.

    Moeti told VOA that she did not believe that previous leaders of the World Health Organization have short-changed Africa. She said they all recognized that Africa was the region with “the highest disease burden, with the largest number of Least Developed Countries, with the weakest health systems in the world.”

    She noted that Margaret Chan was very explicit in prioritizing Africa as part of her agenda.

    ”Of course, I agree that an African person, who has grown up in the system has a unique understanding of the situation, the context, the culture in the region and the types of responses that might or might not work,” she said. “I think that is an added plus without at all thinking that the others have underplayed the needs of the region.”

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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen, Zimbabwe

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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Sierra Leone

    FREETOWN - More than 326,000 school children will receive take-home food rations this academic year as the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) expands its assistance from 1,000 to 1,415 primary schools across the country to support efforts to get and keep children in school post-Ebola.

    WFP, in support of the national school feeding programme of the Ministry of Education Science and Technology is providing take-home food rations consisting of rice, oil and beans. The ration is provided to both boys and girls in primary schools situated in the most food insecure areas of the country.

    “In line with the government’s National Ebola Recovery Strategy to roll-out and scale-up national school feeding programme, WFP’s take-home rations will serve as an incentive to parents to send their children to school, thus encouraging enrolment and attendance in primary schools,” said Peter Scott-Bowden, WFP Representative and Country Director in Sierra Leone.

    Due to the Ebola outbreak, public schools in Sierra Leone remained closed after the 2014 summer holidays to help limit the spread of the virus. In April 2015, WFP played an important role in the reopening of schools. Through its food-for-work programme (FFW), WFP helped to ensure that schools previously used as centres for Ebola patients were cleaned and decontaminated, ready and safe for children. In partnership with the government, WFP supported the cleaning of 8,000 schools across the country. Participants in the FFW programme received food rations in exchange for their work.

    Providing school meals is crucial in a country where 3.5 million people do not have enough food to lead healthy lives. The country is also still bearing the brunt of the Ebola outbreak, and the population continues to remain vulnerable.

    In Sierra Leone, approximately 1.6 million children are enrolled in primary schools: net enrolment and completion rates for girls are lower than for boys, and these rates become lower in secondary schools. Net primary school enrolment is between 62 and 69 percent; drop-out rates are high, especially among girls in their early teens. Only 13 percent of children who enter grade 1 reach grade 6. To address this, WFP is providing take-home rations to help keep children in school.

    “UNICEF and WFP with the Ministry of Education have worked together to put in place a mobile phone-based system called EduTrac to collect data, including data on how many children have received a take-home food ration,” said Kinday Samba, WFP’s Deputy Country Director.

    WFP is able to expand its take-home ration programme to keep more children in school thanks to support from Japan and the European Union.

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    Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative
    Country: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, World

    This week, health ministers from around the world are convening in Geneva for the annual World Health Assembly (WHA). Among other public health topics, delegates will review and discuss the latest global polio epidemiology. The GPEI has set up a WHA-specific polio website, with the key documents that are guiding discussions.

    At the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen focussing on solutions to the health, economic and social challenges facing girls and women, the Government of Canada announced a Can$19.9 million contribution to Nigeria’s polio eradication efforts.

    From 17 April to 1 May, 155 countries and territories participated in the historic trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine switch, withdrawing the type two component of the vaccine to protect future generations against circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses. Track the switch live.

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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization, UN Country Team in Sierra Leone
    Country: Sierra Leone

    May 30, 2016 by Resident Coordinator's Office

    FAO embarks on fishpond construction in four districts in Sierra Leone

    The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is construction forty fishponds in four districts in the country through the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) titled, Sustainable Aquaculture for Food Security, Livelihood and Nutrition Project in Sierra Leone.

    The project will retool human resources and provide technical and material support to farmers in Bo, Kenema, Tonkolili and Kono Districts in order to improve the capacity of rural communities in the establishment and management of fishponds.

    Also, the project is expected to contribute to increased food security and improved livelihood and nutrition status for the rural households in Sierra Leone with key focus on equipping rural communities with the relevant and adequate knowledge and skills to establish and manage fishponds.

    Viability of the project

    The investment of TCP funds in an aquaculture project in Sierra Leone is important as this sector has received little attention and yet has the potential to contribute immensely to the economy of the Country.

    The TCP is entrenched within the frameworks of the government’s Agenda for Prosperity (AfP), the country’s third generation Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper; FAO Sierra Leone Country Programme Framework (CPF) and FAO global Strategic Objectives. In an effort to diversify the economy, the fisheries sector has been identified as an important component in the AfP, improve food security through enhancement of livelihoods.

    According to the Head of Aquaculture in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Lahai Seisay, “the ministry has identified fish farming as a viable alternative, not only for increasing fish availability but also potentially makes important contributions to household economy and employment.” As a result, the promotion of aquaculture within non-coastal potential communities is now a high priority of the Ministry.

    Equipping rural communities

    After the construction of the ponds, the project will develop training modules and manuals for 20 ABCs and other fish farming groups trained in aquaculture; distribute fingerlings and fish feeds to same smallholder farmers; secure the access to sufficient good quality fish seed; develop farmers’ capacity to produce good quality and accessible feed.

    The TCP is intended to contribute to the creation of livelihood opportunities that have the tendency to generate income and ensure temporary and permanent jobs for the women and youths within the project areas. Already, the project has created employment for eight hundred youths in the beneficiary communities who are provided daily wages for excavating the ponds.

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    Source: International Organization for Migration
    Country: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Guinea, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, World

    Greece - IOM Greece has published a report based on interviews with 1,206 unaccompanied child migrants in Greece. Some 508 said that they would not consider returning to their countries of origin because it was their intention to reach a northern European country and 282 expressed the wish to return back to their country of origin. The remainder initially expressed willingness to return home but later changed their minds and decided to stay in Greece.

    By the end of the project in late 2014, which was designed to develop standard operating procedures for assisted voluntary return and reintegration of unaccompanied migrant children, 59 of the children returned home with IOM return and full reintegration assistance. Another 41 from Egypt returned home and received post arrival reintegration assistance.

    The report: Addressing the Needs of Unaccompanied Minors (UAMs) in Greece showed that the 508 were intent on reaching their final destination no matter what services were made available to them in Greece, as they thought that they would have a better future in another European country.

    Of these, some 32 percent said that their final destination would be Germany, 23 percent the United Kingdom, 22 percent Sweden, 9 percent Norway, 5 percent France and 9 percent other European countries, such as Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland.

    The majority of those who intended to continue their journey to northern Europe were boys aged between 15 and 17, primarily from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    “As per IOM Guidelines on the Protection of Unaccompanied Migrant Children, we had to confirm the identity of the legal guardians in the country of origin, have IOM or a partner NGO in the country of origin complete a family assessment, share the material with Greek authorities, get the child’s opinion, and along with the Prosecutor of Minors, explore whether it was in the best interests of the child to return home,” said IOM Greece Chief of Mission Daniel Esdras.

    Most of the children were between the ages of 13 and 17 and the main countries of origin were Afghanistan (609), Egypt (216), Pakistan (176) and Bangladesh (54.) Only three were girls.

    One of the 282 who wanted to return home, a 16 year-old from Pakistan said: “When I came to Greece and I realized the situation I started crying. I was crying all the time. Somebody told me that without a passport I couldn’t leave - that’s why I stayed here nine months. If I’d known that I could return home (voluntarily with IOM), I would have left earlier. I don’t want to stay here any longer.”

    A 16 year-old from Afghanistan said: “I have decided to return home. I cannot survive here. I am a minor. Now I only want to return to my country.”

    “The ideal picture I had of Greece is far from the reality. I want to return home and open a small business,” said a 17 year-old from Pakistan.

    Those who decided to stay in Europe cited various reasons.

    “I am sure a better future is waiting for me in Sweden,” said a 16 year-old from Afghanistan.

    “I want to go somewhere safe. I don’t have any money. Maybe I can borrow a little money in order to move on to other European countries,” said a 16 year-old from Pakistan.

    A 17 year-old from Afghanistan said his brother had told him that there were job opportunities in the UK and he should therefore not go back home.

    “I know the language and I have relatives outside Paris that I can stay with,” said a 16 year-old from Algeria.

    “My parents sent me to Europe for a better future; I don’t want to disappoint them,” said a 17 year-old from Iraq.

    For some, just being provided with the right information was very important. A 15 year-old from Pakistan said: “I had no idea that I have the right to change my mind even on the day of departure. But, honestly I cannot bear living far away of my family anymore.”

    The top countries of destination were selected based on the children’s ability to speak the language, the presence of family and/or friends, and existing migrant communities whom they thought could help them.

    During the project, IOM Greece worked closely with various organizations in the public sector, as well as with Greek NGOs, Embassies in Greece and IOM missions in the countries of origin.

    The project, which was funded by the European Union, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden, ran from February 2013 to October 2014.

    Download a copy of the report here.

    For further information please contact Daniel Esdras at IOM Greece, Tel: +30 2109919040, Email:

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