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ReliefWeb - Updates on Sierra Leone

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    Source: Caritas
    Country: Sierra Leone

    “As the convoy of corpses moved along the streets of Freetown, the entire city was in tears.”

    In the aftermath of severe flash flooding and mudslides that struck the capital of Sierra Leone on 14 August, the director of Caritas Sierra Leone, Edward John Bull, has sent out a plea for prayers and for material assistance. Nearly 500 people died in the twin disaster, including more than a hundred children, and another 600 are missing presumed dead. It is estimated that 20,000 people have been displaced, a quarter of whom are children.

    Thousands of households are affected by mudslide in the capital city of Sierra Leone.

    “Today we stand awestruck at the human toll and the humanitarian impact that the recent floods and the mudslide have caused,” said the Caritas director in a message addressed to the entire Caritas confederation, as he witnessed the national funeral for 300 of the victims.

    “We have thousands of affected households in need of food, clothing, medicines, beds, tents, household items, water and sanitation, shelter, and psychosocial support.”

    The national Caritas and Caritas Freetown were amongst the first responders after torrential rain brought floodwaters tearing down from Mount Sugar Loaf at tremendous speed around 2am on 14 August. The flooding caused a hillside to collapse in the Regent area, 15km outside central Freetown, sending a huge wall of mud and rock down into low-lying areas, destroying houses and engulfing families as they slept in their beds.

    “Things are really bad on the ground,” said CAFOD’s Country Representative Kayode Akintola whose office is just a few minutes from the affected zone. “There are dead bodies in the water and littering some of the streets.”

    Caritas members moved immediately into action with mobile healthcare services, clothing, registration of survivors, and food. Caritas Freetown keeps rice stocks in warehouses which were made available straightaway to feed survivors and 500 volunteers working to help their devastated communities.

    Four other international Caritas members alongside Caritas Sierra Leone are part of the first rapid response phase of ninety days now underway, dividing core responsibilities between them to help traumatised survivors.

    Hot food and healthcare

    With thousands of people made homeless by the floods and evacuation, a daily hot meal is a lifeline. At relief centres set up in the affected areas of Culvert-Bomeh and Regent, Caritas staff and volunteers are cooking up nutritious food for 3000 survivors. Particular attention is given to children and to lactating mothers with infants.

    Medical attention is also vital, to help the injured and to stop the spread of disaster diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea and typhoid. CORDAID and CAFOD are focusing on prevention, with information campaigns to alert the community to the dangers of possible outbreaks. Meanwhile Caritas Freetown is running a mobile clinic in the field, touring the five main villages affected. The clinic has so far attended to 1,382 patients and given out medicines free of charge to those who cannot afford to pay.

    CRS together with CAFOD initially supported the volunteers who were helping to bury the dead, and for survivors provided water, food and bedding. Now CRS and the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone are working to temporarily resettle homeless people with foster families from the local community.

    Trócaire is focusing on gender protection and is distributing ‘dignity kits’ which include basic hygiene products such as soap, towels, toothbrushes, sanitary towels, and underwear, as well as household items. One of Trócaire own Freetown staff, Al Haji Jalloh, is from one of the communities hit by the disaster and lost 15 members of his family. Caritas offers him and his family our thoughts and prayers.

    Sierra Leone will rise again

    “First we had a terrible civil war,” says Edward John Bull, “then we were battered by cholera, and soon after we had a major Ebola disaster, and whilst recovering from this we have now to face the consequences of a natural disaster of the worst kind. We need your prayers above all else, but our faith is strong in the redemption of Jesus, who suffered and died for us. We are an Easter people. One day Sierra Leone will rise again.”


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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone

    HIGHLIGHTS

    714 Ivorian refugees repatriated during May 2017

    23,447 Ivorian refugees repatriated since 18 December 2015

    14,683 Ivorian refugees remaining in Liberia

    Population of concern 15,139

    Funding (as of May 2017) USD 16,194,818 M requested for the Liberia situation

    CONTEXT HIGHLIGHTS

    • On 25 April-04 May 2017, 31 persons were infected, 13 of whom died, in relation to a Neisseria meningitis/C meningitis outbreak. The cluster of health cases was preceded by accounts of funeral events that commenced on 21 April 2017 in Sinoe County. The outbreak was successfully contained and the World Health Organization (WHO) states the overall risk of spread is low.

    • UNHCR joined key Government and humanitarian partners in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Emergency Response Preparedness (ERP) approach workshop that took place on 9-11 May 2017 in Monrovia. The Representative attended the workshop and a segment on the Preparedness Package for Refugee Emergencies (PPRE) was facilitated by UNHCR. The main risks identified for the next 12 months include floods/storms, socio-political instability, and epidemics.

    • Speaking at the official launch of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Political Affairs and Rule of Law, said that human rights violations persist in the Liberian human rights protection system. According to the DSRSG, many of the recommendations of the former Truth and Reconciliation Commission remain unimplemented. He also noted that “shortfalls within the Liberian human rights situation continue to be characterized by rape, sexual and gender-based violence, accusations of witchcraft and determent of the freedom of speech”.


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Highlights

    UNICEF and partners continue their efforts to support the recovery of victims in this second phase of the response.

    With funding from DFID, UNICEF, in close collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone, the mobile money agent as well as key stakeholders and affected communities, is supporting the roll-out of a cash transfer programme for the affected communities. The Government of Sierra Leone has approved US$120 as an immediate unconditional transfer of cash and two subsequent installments of US$30, each in October and November to support the affected households. These installments will be supplemented by an additional transfer from the World Food Programme, which is estimated as the food needs of the household per month. Additionally, a one-off conditional recovery aid cash transfer will be provided to the households who wish to voluntarily settle outside the camp.

    In the meantime, UNICEF is continuing to support the affected communities (at the temporary displacement centres in Regent, Kaningo and Pentagon and those that have been relocated to the Old Skool and Juba barracks shelters) through supply of WASH services, as well as supporting affected children, including provision of psychosocial support, identification of child protection concern and referral to support. In addition, UNICEF is supporting the Government of Sierra Leone in the preparation of the first round of the cholera vaccination and the back to school campaigns.


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, World

    Despite recent decreases in rainfall, torrential rains have caused flooding across sub-Saharan Africa

    Africa Weather Hazards

    1. Since early August, above-average seasonal rainfall caused flooding in some areas. With well above-average moisture conditions, additional rain in September may trigger flooding in parts of Senegal,
      The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

    2. Recent heavy rains have caused the Benue River in Nigeria to overflow its banks. Reports indicate that 100,000 people may have been displaced by flooding. Continued rainfall will keep rivers high.

    3. Heavy rainfall triggered flooding in Sudan during the last week. Both the Blue and White Nile rivers are effected, and a dam has reportedly broken along the White Nile. Although rainfall is expected to decrease throughout the region in early September, saturated ground conditions sustain the risk for additional flooding.

    Africa Overview

    West Africa experiences a decrease in rainfall

    According to the latest satellite rainfall estimates, many areas of Senegal, Mali, and Nigeria registered below-normal rainfall totals. Despite these broad decreases, Niamey, Niger and Benue state in Nigeria still received very heavy rain which has led to flooding. Over 100mm of rain was recorded in Niamey last week. Other areas that received heavy rain (>100mm) include eastern Burkina Faso, northern Benin, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (Figure 1). Rains have begun to lessen across the Sahel and little to no rain was observed in southern Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.

    August was characterized by a general decrease in seasonal rainfall, with an increase in rainfall towards the month’s end. The observed recovery was short lived, as rains lessened again to start September. In parts of southern Burkina Faso, northern Ghana, and Liberia, rainfall deficits exceed 50mm and less than 80% of normal over the last 30 days. Large seasonal moisture surpluses persist in western Gulf of Guinea regions and some portions of the Sahel, where parts of Guinea and Mali have experienced more than twice their normal rainfall accumulation since late July (Figure 2). The continuation of heavy seasonal rains in these areas elevates the risk for floods in September.

    Next week, weather models suggest the potential for abovenormal rainfall for western Gulf of Guinea countries. The rest of the region is likely to receive seasonable conditions.


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    Source: Oxfam
    Country: Liberia, Sierra Leone

    An examination of informational needs for aid spending in Sierra Leone and Liberia

    Transparency in international aid is not just about fulfilling a requirement based on people’s right to access information, but also about making aid more effective. Transparency can help improve coordination and planning, enable accountability, and build trust. Accomplishing these goals can be a challenge when there are many partners involved in channeling funds through a complicated web of service delivery without clear public information explaining who did what where.

    This research looks at the information needed by in-country development stakeholders with an emphasis on accountability actors including civil society organizations, charities, government workers, and the media. To collect this information, semi-structured interviews were conducted in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The majority of interviewees wanted information about financial resources and the channels they flowed through, and all respondents wanted information on the services provided and where the work was happening subnationally, suggesting that these two sets of information may be the most important. Unfortunately, information on subnational locations and services provided is infrequently available through open aid data portals, implying a need to update what aid information is shared.


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    Source: World Health Organization
    Country: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania

    Overview

    This weekly bulletin focuses on selected acute public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 45 events in the region. This week’s edition also covers key ongoing events, including:

    • Cholera in Borno State, Nigeria

    • Necrotising cellulitis/fasciitis in São Tomé and Príncipe

    • Humanitarian crisis in the Central Africa Republic

    • Cholera in the United Republic of Tanzania

    • Cholera in Chad

    • Dengue fever in Côte d’Ivoire.

    For each of these events, a brief description followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.

    A table is provided at the end of the bulletin with information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as events that have recently been closed.

    Major challenges include:

    • Maintaining an adequate public health response to contain nine major outbreaks of cholera occurring across parts of east, central and west Africa.

    • Ongoing complex humanitarian crises in the region, which are driving transmission of epidemic prone diseases in vulnerable communities, while increasing the severity of infections, limiting access to healthcare, and hindering response. These humanitarian crises require adequate collaboration between the Ministry of health and other relevant sectors.


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    Source: ALNAP
    Country: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone

    Résumé

    En novembre 2014, ALNAP lançait un sous-groupe de la Communauté de praticiens (CdP) en matière d’interventions urbaines dans le but de recenser les enseignements tirés des aspects urbains de l’action contre la maladie à virus Ebola (MVE) en Afrique de l’Ouest. Informé par les discussions au sein de la CdP, les entretiens et l’analyse de la documentation, ainsi que par des articles des médias,
    ALNAP a rédigé quatre brefs rapports sur les enseignements tirés. Trois d’entre eux couvrent les questions ayant trait aux mouvements de population ; au travail dans un contexte de quarantaine ; et à la communication et à la coopération. Le présent rapport étudie diverses problématiques en examinant le cas d’une implantation sauvage urbaine, West Point à Monrovia (Liberia), et son expérience de la flambée de MVE et de la riposte contre celle-ci.

    La flambée de MVE en Afrique de l’Ouest aura marqué pénétration pour la première fois de la MVE dans une zone urbaine. L’ampleur inouïe de cette flambée, alliée aux contextes urbains dynamiques au sein de la région touchée, mit considérablement à l’épreuve les intervenants.

    Les trois pays les plus affectés — la Guinée, le Liberia et la Sierra Leone — ont tous connu une croissance urbaine sans précédent ces dernières années. Tous les trois subissent les séquelles de conflits et d’un développement non planifié, et tous ont des problèmes liés aux soins de santé et à d’autres infrastructures connexes, notamment l’eau, l’assainissement et l’électricité.

    West Point est un quartier de taudis de Monrovia au Liberia qui, bien qu’étant un township officiel de la capitale, a connu des décennies de croissance et d’expansion anarchiques, en particulier depuis que les personnes internement déplacées suite à la guerre civile libérienne ont commencé à y affluer.
    Ce bidonville est aux prises à de sérieux problèmes d’eau, d’assainissement, d’hygiène, d’électricité, d’accès, de régime foncier, d’érosion et de protection, lesquels persistent et sont sans résolution à peu près depuis l’établissement de l’implantation. Malgré ces difficultés, West Point a été décrit comme plutôt cohésif, et grâce à sa proximité à la fois de la côte et de l’activité économique de Monrovia, beaucoup de ses résidents ont un revenu. Au moment de la flambée de MVE, West Point comptait environ 70 000 habitants.

    La MVE a atteint Monrovia en juin 2014, étant arrivée dans le pays en mars. Peu de cas furent signalés en avril et mai, ce qui emmena les autorités à croire que la flambée avait été contenue.
    Toutefois, il devint évident au cours de l’été que l’échec de la communication, allié au déni, à la méfiance et au scepticisme avait poussé la flambée dans l’ombre, et que la maladie et la mortalité sévissaient sans être signalées. En août, après la découverte par un fonctionnaire en visite à West Point de plusieurs cas de décès dus à la MVE, les pouvoirs publics adoptèrent un plan rapide pour transformer une école du bidonville en centre de rétention pour l’Ebola. En l’espace de quelques jours, le centre de rétention fut ouvert, la communauté protesta violemment, le bidonville entier fut placé en quarantaine puis libéré, suite à des consultations tardives entre le gouvernement et les dirigeants communautaires.

    À partir de septembre 2014, c’est la communauté qui prit largement en charge l’action contre la MVE à West Point. Bien que les pouvoirs publics et les acteurs internationaux aient apporté un certain soutien et mis en place un programme, ce sont des volontaires de la communauté de West Point qui s’attaquèrent au démenti, firent signaler les cas et en définitive mirent fin à la crise dans le bidonville, lequel a signalé son dernier cas de MVE en décembre 2014. Les dirigeants de West Point furent par la suite priés d’aider d’autres quartiers de Monrovia à combattre la maladie.

    Aujourd’hui, bien qu’exempt d’Ebola, West Point reste un bidonville aux prises à de gros problèmes d’eau, d’installations sanitaires et d’hygiène ainsi qu’à des difficultés environnementales, sociales et politiques. Les quelques mises à jour et améliorations dont le quartier a bénéficié durant l’intervention n’ont pas résolu les questions qui persistaient depuis longtemps avant la flambée. De plus, la méfiance entre la communauté et les pouvoirs publics risque de durer, car l’avenir de West Point et de ses résidents n’a pas encore été déterminé.

    L’expérience de West Point de la MVE fait la lumière sur maintes questions examinées à travers cette série, notamment les défis posés lorsqu’une quarantaine est mise en place dans un bidonville densément peuplé, l’importance de la mobilisation de la communauté, en particulier dans un milieu urbain, l’influence fondamentale des mouvements de population sur la composition de la communauté, mais aussi sur les comportements tout au long de la flambée épidémique, et pourquoi il a fallu attendre si longtemps avant l’application d’une réponse adaptée à cette crise largement urbaine.


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    Source: Government of Sierra Leone
    Country: Sierra Leone

    4 weeks since events of 14th August 2017, it is important to review the response to date and to agree the plan for the response going forward

     Overview of the planning process and update on the GoSL response plan  Informed by recent verification of registered affected persons  Overall road map and pillar specific key interventions, related risks and mitigating strategies  Total budget obtained from existing pillars  Restructuring of pillar architecture

     Tracking of the implementation of the response plan  Activity plans tracker by pillar  Daily follow up, weekly reporting

     Pressing issues affecting implementation of key interventions  Current number of affected persons in camps and shelters  School rehabilitation and access


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    Source: Action Contre la Faim France
    Country: Sierra Leone

    On 14 August 2017, the capital of Sierra Leone was hit by a mudslide and flash floods due to torrential rainfalls. The mudslide, which occurred in the Regent community of Freetown, left hundreds of houses buried under rubble with around 500 people dead, 600 declared missing and other 6,000 affected (Office of National Security data).

    A number of water sources in affected communities were contaminated due to the floods and the availability of clean drinking water remains a concern. An outbreak of waterborne diseases due to contamination of water sources and inadequate health services poses a serious risk. Furthermore, the lack of adequate shelter and WASH facilities leaves people at risk of diarrheal diseases, malaria and respiratory tract infection, especially vulnerable groups such as children under five and Pregnant and Lactating Women. There is a continuous need for the provision of clean and safe drinking water, access to appropriate sanitation, provision of hygiene kits and hygiene promotion to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases and to avoid deterioration in the public health situation.

    ACTION AGAINST HUNGER’S RESPONSE

    After the floods started, Action Against Hunger, as part of Freetown WASH Consortium, has done a rapid needs assessment and mobilized resources for the emergency response to support the victims of the floods in several communities. Action Against Hunger installed 8 water tanks (5,000 litres each) with a total of 11 water points for water trucking in Culvert, Water Street Wellington, Bottom Oku Wellington and Pa-Muronkoh Calaba Town. The organisation is trucking 40,000 litres of water per day, reaching 2667 people on a daily basis. Action Against Hunger is also distributing aqua tabs to the people to ensure the safety standards of the drinking water provided. Action Against Hunger staff, Disaster Management Volunteers (DMV) as well as Community Health Workers (CHW) conducted demonstrations of using these aqua tabs for water treatment in the communities. In addition, Action Against Hunger has distributed hygiene kits, including Freetown WASH Consortium contingency stock, to 200 households in the Culvert community. In order to prevent spreading of diseases, with the help of DMV and CHW, Action Against Hunger is conducting hygiene promotion in Culvert, Water Street (Wellington), Bottom Oku (Wellington) and Pa-Muronkoh (Calaba Town) communities.


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    Source: Middle East Research and Information Project
    Country: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic, World, Yemen

    by Parastou Hassouri | published September 12, 2017

    Much of the media attention on global displacement currently focuses on the Syrian refugee crisis and refugees’ attempts to enter Europe through Eastern Mediterranean routes. Certainly, the large scale of displacement that has occurred as a result of the war in Syria (the number of registered refugees has surpassed five million), and the rise in number of asylum applications being made in Europe, merit our attention. However, Syrian refugee flows in the Eastern Mediterranean are only part of a larger picture of forced migration. The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) states that such global displacement is at its highest level since the Second World War, and the Middle East and North Africa are an epicenter—not just for Syrians, but for other groups as well.

    Although experts have traditionally considered Morocco to be a “sending” or “emigration” country (the global Moroccan diaspora is estimated at 4 million), in the mid-2000s it became recognized as a “transit” country—one from which migrants hope to reach Europe, either through the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, or as a base for sea crossings across the Mediterranean or the Atlantic Ocean and to the Canary Islands. In 2005, Human Rights Watch criticized the Spanish and Moroccan governments for the violent expulsion of migrants from the Spanish enclaves into Moroccan territory. Around the same time, record numbers of arrivals were being recorded at the Canary Islands with media often referring to this new phenomenon as a crisis or disaster.

    Subsequent to these events, and after the uprisings that erupted throughout the Arab world in 2011, the Moroccan King decided to institute constitutional reforms. These were followed, in 2013, by the announcement of plans to develop a new national policy on migration and asylum, and a late 2013 creation of an exceptional “regularization program” for some migrants, making Morocco the only country in the North Africa and Middle East region to attempt to address the issue of irregular migration through a regularization program. Subsequently, some even began to refer to Morocco as a “destination” country for migrants.

    It was against this backdrop that I decided in 2016 to take a UNHCR consultancy in Morocco, to get a better sense of the migration landscape. My work in Morocco was with the UNHCR’s Refugee Status Determination (“RSD”) Unit—the unit within the office that conducts interviews with asylum-seekers in order to determine whether they in fact meet the criteria for refugee status as defined in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Although Morocco committed to a new asylum policy and established a national authority meant to deal with refugees (the Bureau des Réfugiés et Apatrides (“BRA”)—Office of Refugees and Stateless Persons), the actual adoption of a domestic asylum law and the establishment of an asylum system and procedures is still pending at the time of this writing. Therefore, in the absence of domestic asylum law and implementing mechanisms, the UNHCR still conducts RSD interviews with prospective asylum seekers in order to assess the merits of their claims. However, some refugees, namely nationals of Syria and Yemen, are simply registered and then referred to the BRA (in order to obtain permits allowing them to reside and work legally in Morocco). Syrians and Yemenis are not interviewed further, since it is assumed that the cause of their flight is well known. (Only those who may not be eligible for refugee status due to the possibility of their involvement in a war crime or crimes against humanity, or other acts that would subject them to the “Exclusion Clauses” of the 1951 Convention are not referred.) However, the number of Yemeni and Syrian refugees registered in Morocco is not very large, especially when compared to other countries in the MENA region (Yemenis number in the hundreds, and Syrians in the thousands).

    The other refugees registered with the UNHCR and migrants coming to Morocco originate from Sub-Saharan African and particularly West African countries: the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, and others. Aside from nationals of Syria, Yemen, and the Central African Republic, I found that the recognition rate for asylum seekers from other countries is quite low. What this signifies is that these persons are not deemed to fit the criteria for refugee status as detailed in the 1951 Convention, which requires that the applicant establish that he or she cannot return to his or her country of origin due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on one of five grounds: race (or ethnicity), religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Although the UNHCR also extends protection to refugees based on an “extended mandate” that applies in countries undergoing wide-scale instability or generalized violence, this avenue of protection was also unavailable to most of the asylum seekers I encountered.

    Although in the course of my time in Morocco, I interviewed asylum seekers from a wide range of places, including some unexpected ones (such as Azerbaijan and Afghanistan), I was primarily focused on applicants from West Africa, and particularly (though not exclusively) those from Anglophone countries, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the Gambia. The majority of applicants from those countries did not fit the 1951 Convention definition of a refugee. In effect, they are primarily seen as economic migrants.

    The distinction between a refugee and a migrant is an important one—much of the international legal framework that has been put in place since 1951 and continues to this day centers on making this distinction. Refugees may be registered with the UNHCR and then obtain residency and work authorization in Morocco. Some may be eligible for resettlement from Morocco to third countries such as the United States, especially those refugees who meet the UNHCR’s resettlement eligibility criteria (for example, those with legal and physical protection needs that cannot be addressed in Morocco). Migrants, on the other hand, are not owed these protections. Although Morocco regularized some 18,000 migrants after the announcement of its regularization program in late 2013, and although it launched a second phase of regularization in late 2016, not all those staying in Morocco will be eligible for regularization. And although regularized migrants are able to obtain work authorization, they are not eligible for other forms of assistance provided to refugees by the UNHCR and its implementing partners and other NGOs (the number of NGOs assisting migrants and amount of resources available to them is much smaller). The migrants who do make their way to Europe are likely to be rejected there again, especially in light of repatriation agreements between Spain and many West African countries.

    As a practitioner in this field, I understand the reasons for the distinction but find that the issue is not always so black and white—that is to say, political and economic factors behind forced migration are often linked. I have written elsewhere about the fact that in many cases, economic impoverishment and political repression and corruption go hand in hand. Wars also lead to the disruption of livelihoods, and sometimes, it is scarcity and economic pressures that compel some to flee during a war.

    The asylum seekers from places like Sierra Leone and Liberia found the institutional response to their applications for asylum in Morocco and elsewhere rejected based on the rationale that the wars that existed in those countries have ended, and that those countries are now politically stable and therefore considered safe. However, the reality is that in countries that were impoverished to begin with, civil wars have even further devastated the economy and the infrastructure, leaving many scrambling for survival. Peace negotiations and agreements may have brought conflicts to an end, but the post-conflict situation remains fragile, and some of the underlying tensions between various ethnic groups (in places where conflicts were waged along ethnic lines) continue to exist and disadvantaged ethnic groups continue to suffer. They may not be the target of violent campaigns, but their economic and social marginalization persists, even if they may not meet the threshold of “persecution” that is required by the 1951 Convention. The UNHCR’s Guidelines on the Cessation of Refugee Status urge states not to be hasty in the termination of refugee status in post-conflict situations, and to wait until fundamental and enduring changes take place in a country. In practice, the UNHCR itself and member states do not always follow these Guidelines, especially when change comes slowly and with setbacks. Some are fleeing politically repressive, but stable countries, with regimes that countries in Europe support, but where endemic corruption leaves most of the citizenry feeling hopeless. Many of the asylum seekers in Morocco are from Cameroon, whose president, Paul Biya, is one of Africa’s longest ruling leaders.

    It is important to note that a good deal of the economically-driven migration is also due to both environmental and development issues. As far as back 2008, the New York Times reported on the industrial trawlers used by fishing companies to feed the high demand for fish in Europe have impoverished smaller scale fishermen in places like Senegal, driving them to migrate. The demand for fish is unabated, and similar stories continue to appear in 2017. Further complicating the picture is climate change: Senegal has lost 40 per cent of its mangrove coverage (which protect certain species of fish from predators), and combined with rising ocean temperatures that alter migration patterns, fish stocks have been further depleted—pushing increasing numbers towards migration. Climate change is also behind the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and agricultural communities in parts of Nigeria. Due to changing climate and increased drought, to graze their cattle, herdsmen increasingly encroach upon land settled by agricultural communities, leading to conflict and deadly violence. One young man from Benue State, Nigeria, whose family are farmers, explained to me that farming was no longer a viable means of livelihood for him, causing him to leave Nigeria.

    Despite the recognition that climate change already is and will increasingly become one of the primary factors pushing people to migrate, the existing legal frameworks we have to address forced displacement do not address climate-induced displacement in a satisfactory fashion. The 1951 Convention, written well before the current climate change crisis, requires that refugees establish a link between their flight and one of five Convention grounds. Although in some places, climate change may disproportionately impact persons of a particular race or ethnicity, establishing a causal link will not always be easy. Some of the regional instruments that also provide protection to forced migrants, such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention has an extended refugee definition that takes into consideration migration caused by “events seriously disturbing public order,” but does not specifically mention climate-induced migration. It is also important to note that as one of the world’s most water scarce and dry regions, with high dependency on climate-sensitive agriculture (with a large share of the population and economic activity in urban coastal zones), the MENA region has been identified as one of those most vulnerable to climate change.

    Those leaving their countries in hopes of sustainable lives include women. Many of the women I interviewed in Morocco, particularly from Nigeria, were victims of trafficking. I was in Morocco when the New Yorker devoted a lengthy article to the issue of trafficking out of Nigeria. The account in that piece echoed very much what I was hearing from the women there. The profile of the women was similar in most cases: young women from rural parts of southern Nigeria, mostly recruited with promise of employment in Europe who then found themselves trapped in Morocco and having to pay back a debt for the journey they made. To address this issue, Moroccan lawmakers introduced a draft anti-trafficking law in 2015, and a national anti-trafficking commission has been set up. But in the absence of final legislation and implementation mechanisms, domestic avenues to combat trafficking are extremely limited. This leaves international organizations such as the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration nearly solely responsible for addressing the issue. Although victims of trafficking may qualify for refugee status and in some cases may even be resettled to third countries, in practice, very few of the women who have been trafficked are able to “benefit” from this, due to the procedural hurdles and evidentiary burden that they must satisfy. Most of the women I interviewed approached the UNHCR long after being dumped by their traffickers. Most were either unable to unwilling to share information (understandably so), despite repeated reassurances that they would not face prosecution. Many, even if not formally within the ambit of the traffickers, engage in survival sex. Even outside trafficking, the sexual abuse of migrant women is rampant—it is the price many are expected to pay as they cross borders.

    The 1951 Convention cannot account for these asylum seekers because they may not be fleeing active conflict as conventionally understood and thus may not fit the classic paradigm of a refugee. Policy makers in receiving countries see economic migrants as migrants who “choose” to migrate, many of these migrants do not feel like their migration was voluntary, but was driven by an overriding need to survive or help family members who remain behind survive.

    Although many came to Morocco with the intention or hopes of making it to Europe, more are finding that they have to remain in Morocco (unless they decide to return), as entering Europe has become increasingly difficult. Increased patrols off the coast and interdiction of boats, in addition to the high security walls built outside the Spanish enclaves have ensured that migrants are forced to remain in Morocco. One report estimates that 250 million Euro is spent annually to ensure that migrants in Morocco cannot enter Europe. Of course when Morocco wants to put pressure on the European Union or express displeasure over trade agreements, it uses migration as leverage and turns a blind eye to irregular migration—and arrivals in Europe increase. Morocco’s legalization program aims to address this problem to some extent—after all, it is aimed at regularizing migrants and not necessarily refugees who are present in Morocco. Therefore, to apply for regularization, one need not meet the criteria for refugee status under the 1951 Convention. However, not all migrants will meet the regularization criteria (those eligible include those married to Moroccan nationals; those with valid work contracts; those already residing in Morocco for five years; or those suffering from serious illness). However, even those who are able to obtain legal residence in Morocco must overcome other obstacles, both economic and societal, including racism, and their integration is by no means assured. Various migrants’ rights organizations have pointed out that despite regularization, migrants continue to face abuse, especially at the hands of security officials.

    Consequently the difficulty of remaining in Morocco and the barriers to reaching Europe are also causing the diversification of routes towards Europe, including pushing increasing numbers of migrants towards Libya, where the absence of rule of law has led to less controls over sea crossings, but much greater abuse of migrants. Recently, there have been numerous reports of the horrible conditions in which migrants find themselves in Libya. Although many of the migrants leaving West African countries cross into Libya from Niger, I also encountered a number who, after giving up hope of reaching Europe via Morocco, were thinking of heading east again. However, recent reports of increased EU-funded coast guard activity off the coast of Libya has once again pushed more migrants into attempt to reach Europe via Spain.

    In sum, the migration landscape in Morocco is complicated, and ultimately constrained by the 1951 Convention, which, with its narrow definition of a refugee, fails to adequately address today’s forced migration phenomenon. The increasingly large numbers of those coming to Morocco, who are unable to enter Europe, occupy a liminal space of sorts. They can neither move forward nor wish to return to what they have left behind. Despite some efforts to address this situation through limited regularization programs, most migrants will not be absorbed and reaching Europe will continue to remain the ultimate goal. As long as the underlying factors pushing this migration are not addressed in a fundamental way, as long as the only solution envisioned by the developed countries is one of prevention or containment, migrants will continue to seek different and sometimes more perilous paths towards Europe, and the crisis will continue.

    This article is based on a consultancy with the UNHCR in late 2016 and early 2017. The views expressed in it are the author’s own.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Sierra Leone

    This weekly update is produced by UNDP in collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Sierra Leone, liaising with the Office of National Security and development partners.

    Situation overview

    Following emergency response to the landslide and floods in and around Freetown on 14 August 2017, the UN system in Sierra Leone is now supporting national recovery. The UN Country Team has designated UNDP and the World Bank as co-leads of the effort.

    The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has underscored that a national recovery strategy should address both the needs of those directly affected, and a plan to tackle the longer-term issues including environmental; climate and disaster risks; and settlement and urban development.


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    Source: World Health Organization
    Country: Sierra Leone, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    Sia Twiyor* survived the 14 August mudslides in Freetown but lost 16 members of her family in the disaster including her husband, brothers and sisters. Some of them had come to spend the school holidays with her. As she struggles to cope, Sia continues to cry, and has suffered countless sleepless nights since the incident occurred.

    Sia, along with her three young children went to attend a church meeting on the night of 13 August and, because the rain was so heavy, stayed with family in a different part of the city. This decision would save their lives. “That night I called home and also in the morning I talked to my husband on the phone. When news of the disaster broke, “all of their phones were off. I got worried but it never remotely occurred to me that anything like this could have happened.”

    Like Sia, survivors and families of those that perished in the mudslides and flooding are still grappling with the realities of their irreparable loss. The human toll and damage to property was huge. Over 500 bodies have been discovered with over 800 people reported missing, all buried under the mountain slice or washed away into the ocean by the deluge.

    Trauma is a major issue for those affected. Many families have been displaced and have relocated to makeshift structures. Many children have also been orphaned, staying with family members, often wanting for essential resources, or in camps.

    In order to support the psychosocial needs of those affected, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the World Health Organization (WHO) with funding from the UK Government (UKaid) quickly deployed Mental Health Nurses pulled from other parts of the country to provide urgent Psychological First Aid, focusing initially on psychosocial and trauma counselling.

    “Allowing people to talk through their conditions can help in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, when many survivors will experience shock and grief,” says Dr Florence Baingana, Mental Health Specialist at WHO Sierra Leone. “Allowing people to express their feelings and helping them to identify their coping mechanisms and coping resources can offer relief, and help prevent more severe conditions from occurring.”

    The nurses engage the survivors in groups and in individual sessions with messages of hope and relief. They also conduct physical assessments and refer those with critical needs to existing services and resources where they can continue to receive help, including from the country’s three practicing psychiatrists. However, mental health needs also evolve, and some weeks after the initial shock has passed more severe disorders can often become apparent, Dr. Baingana explains.

    Almost four weeks after the incident, hundreds of people in the affected communities and camps have received counselling and a significant number of them have developed signs of mental disorders. “We are seeing people with depressive disorders, severe anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - getting panic when it starts to rain. They feel highly insecure,” says Hawanatu Foday, a mental health nurse deployed in one of the communities. As time progresses and families strive to settle down, Hawanatu says the psychological effect of the devastation is becoming even clearer, including among children. Many have lost parents, family members and their homes, in the spate of just a single event.

    Whilst a large number of the displaced families are camped in tents at locations set up by the government, many children are being accommodated by charitable organizations. Over 150 children, mainly orphans, have been taken in at the Don Bosco Children’s Home. With support from WHO, a child clinical psychologist has been brought in to provide effective psychological support for children dealing with the impacts of the disaster.

    For Sia and many other survivors and relatives, the sight of the towering mountain ridge that glided and buried hundreds of their family members continues to serve as a constant reminder of their horrors and trauma. As children return to school, one woman breaks down, reminded of the loss of her own young ones in the tragedy.

    “Trauma care will not solve the immediate challenges that the affected communities are going through, but will help prevent some long term psychological impacts for those that are still in shock and in denial after the biggest natural disaster on record in this country,” says Dr Baingana. “The next step is ensuring that the country can meet longer term mental health needs. This will require long term support, attention and investment from all involved, long after the media interest wanes and the hustle and bustle of daily life resumes.”

    ***Names have been changed to protect the privacy of survivors**


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    This brief summarizes FEWS NET’s most forward-looking analysis of projected emergency food assistance needs in FEWS NET coverage countries. The projected size of each country’s acutely food insecure population (IPC Phase 3 and higher) is compared to last year and the recent five-year average and categorized as Higher (p), Similar (u), or Lower (q). Countries where external emergency food assistance needs are anticipated are identified. Projected lean season months highlighted in red indicate either an early start or an extension to the typical lean season. Additional information is provided for countries with large food insecure populations, an expectation of high severity, or where other key issues warrant additional discussion. Analytical confidence is lower in remote monitoring countries, denoted by “RM”. Visit www.fews.net for detailed country reports.


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    Source: International Organization for Migration
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Highlights

    • IOM has finalized the installation of floor pallets in all 50 tents in Juba Barrack transit site. All tents are now occupied by households displaced by the floods and subsequent mudslides.

    • IOM has completed the setup of temporary drainage and a communal kitchen in the Juba Barrack transit site. A extension to the medical clinic and a shaded area are being constructed.

    • 2 half-day introductory trainings on Camp Coordination and Camp management (CCCM) were conducted in the Old Skool and Juba Barrack transit sites by IOM.

    Situation Overview

    The floods and subsequent mudslides that occurred on 14 August 2017 have resulted in 500 persons losing their lives and affected a total of 5,951 people (1,616 households). Out of the these affected population, 371 households have sought refuge in collective centres such as schools, mosques, churches, community centres and transit sites whereas 905 affected households are being hosted by friends and families. The majority of displaced persons are located in communities of Culvert, Dwazark,
    Juba, Kamayama, Kaningo and Regent (All data is based on the verification exercise by Registration Pillar on 31 August 2017).

    The government is conducting a reverification exercise and the number of affected households will likely to increase.

    On the 11 September the government announced a reform of the humanitarian coordination structure in-country. The new coordination structure incorporates six pillars, including Psychosocial, Health/case management/burials, Shelter, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Food/Nutrition and Technical. The Communications, Logistics and Security Pillars will continue to exist as cross-cutting Pillars.
    The government has announced to start cash transfer programmes in support of the affected population. There will be two kinds of cash transfers: 1) Humanitarian Cash Transfers targeting all households verified as affected by the floods and subsequent mudslides over a period of three months with a total of USD 180; and 2) Early Recovery Cash Transfers targeting those verified households which are living outside of transit sites and not going back to the original affected locations through one-off transfers with USD 300. IOM will continue supporting the Government of Sierra Leone in CCCM and Shelter technical support as well as additional interventions as required based on the assessments in health, infection prevention and control (IPC) and WASH.


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    Source: Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
    Country: Sierra Leone

    The Buddhist Tzu Chi Compassion Relief Foundation, which has been active in providing humanitarian support to vulnerable Sierra Leoneans since the outbreak of the 2014 Ebola virus in West Africa, responded with compassionate care to survivors of the August 14 deadly flooding and landslide that left hundreds of people dead and missing. In partnership with our local partners, Healey International Relief Foundation, Caritas Freetown and Lanyi Foundation, Tzu Chi volunteers visited affected communities the same day the incident occurred and remain committed to providing life-transforming support to survivors. Tzu Chi volunteers and partners completed assessment of needs to better understand what is needed, how to provide support to those who need it most, and work in line with the Government of Sierra Leone. Some of the needs assessed are food, housing, blankets, bedding, clothes, shoes, medicines etc.

    In boosting the government initiatives, Tzu Chi Foundation teamed up with the abovementioned local partners to provide hot meals to flood survivors in Regent, Cline Town, Lumley, and Hill Station Relocation Camp. Even though Regent was the most affected community due to the large loss of lives and properties, many other communities were affected but receive minimal or no support, especially the Culvert Community in Cline Town. Hence, Tzu Chi carefully assessed the gaps and provided support to help affected persons and communities recover quicker. Tzu Chi developed and coordinated hot meal programs with local partners, providing delicious hot meals to more than 50,000 survivors from August 19 to 31 in Regent, Lumley and Cline Town. In addition, Tzu Chi provided hot meals to about 6,000 survivors who are now living at the Hill Station temporary shelters since August 29.

    The meals provided include cooked rice from Tzu Chi Taiwan, with local vegetables and soup sauce, which local volunteers spend hours preparing with love and compassion. Survivors who benefited from the Tzu Chi and partners feeding program expressed gratitude and commended the deliciousness of the food. Many survivors shed tears of joy for the food and love they received from Tzu Chi volunteers and extended their sincere gratitude to the founder of the foundation, Dharma Master Cheng Yen and the entire Tzu Chi family worldwide. In response to the survivors’ request and show of commitment to continue providing support, Tzu Chi volunteers from Taiwan, USA, France, and Spain will be visiting Sierra Leone this September to boost support to survivors by continuing feeding program and distribute blankets, dishes, and pots.

    Tzu Chi Foundation is also committed to contributing sustainable initiatives to help survivors rebuild their lives and recover healthily from their unfortunate conditions. Some of the long-term plans include providing relocation assistance and even the building of permanent housing structures. Also, Tzu Chi Foundation will launch a climate change education to sensitize people to take better care of their communities by planting trees and doing away with deforestation and avoiding disaster prone areas to save lives and properties. Tzu Chi Foundation seeks partnership with any groups interested in addressing climate change in Sierra Leone.


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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone

    HIGHLIGHTS

    714 Ivorian refugees repatriated during May 2017

    23,447 Ivorian refugees repatriated since 18 December 2015

    14,683 Ivorian refugees remaining in Liberia

    Population of concern 15,139

    Funding (as of May 2017) USD 16,194,818 M requested for the Liberia situation

    CONTEXT HIGHLIGHTS

    • On 25 April-04 May 2017, 31 persons were infected, 13 of whom died, in relation to a Neisseria meningitis/C meningitis outbreak. The cluster of health cases was preceded by accounts of funeral events that commenced on 21 April 2017 in Sinoe County. The outbreak was successfully contained and the World Health Organization (WHO) states the overall risk of spread is low.

    • UNHCR joined key Government and humanitarian partners in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Emergency Response Preparedness (ERP) approach workshop that took place on 9-11 May 2017 in Monrovia. The Representative attended the workshop and a segment on the Preparedness Package for Refugee Emergencies (PPRE) was facilitated by UNHCR. The main risks identified for the next 12 months include floods/storms, socio-political instability, and epidemics.

    • Speaking at the official launch of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Political Affairs and Rule of Law, said that human rights violations persist in the Liberian human rights protection system. According to the DSRSG, many of the recommendations of the former Truth and Reconciliation Commission remain unimplemented. He also noted that “shortfalls within the Liberian human rights situation continue to be characterized by rape, sexual and gender-based violence, accusations of witchcraft and determent of the freedom of speech”.


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Sierra Leone

    Highlights

    UNICEF and partners continue their efforts to support the recovery of victims in this second phase of the response.

    With funding from DFID, UNICEF, in close collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone, the mobile money agent as well as key stakeholders and affected communities, is supporting the roll-out of a cash transfer programme for the affected communities. The Government of Sierra Leone has approved US$120 as an immediate unconditional transfer of cash and two subsequent installments of US$30, each in October and November to support the affected households. These installments will be supplemented by an additional transfer from the World Food Programme, which is estimated as the food needs of the household per month. Additionally, a one-off conditional recovery aid cash transfer will be provided to the households who wish to voluntarily settle outside the camp.

    In the meantime, UNICEF is continuing to support the affected communities (at the temporary displacement centres in Regent, Kaningo and Pentagon and those that have been relocated to the Old Skool and Juba barracks shelters) through supply of WASH services, as well as supporting affected children, including provision of psychosocial support, identification of child protection concern and referral to support. In addition, UNICEF is supporting the Government of Sierra Leone in the preparation of the first round of the cholera vaccination and the back to school campaigns.


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, World

    Despite recent decreases in rainfall, torrential rains have caused flooding across sub-Saharan Africa

    Africa Weather Hazards

    1. Since early August, above-average seasonal rainfall caused flooding in some areas. With well above-average moisture conditions, additional rain in September may trigger flooding in parts of Senegal,
      The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

    2. Recent heavy rains have caused the Benue River in Nigeria to overflow its banks. Reports indicate that 100,000 people may have been displaced by flooding. Continued rainfall will keep rivers high.

    3. Heavy rainfall triggered flooding in Sudan during the last week. Both the Blue and White Nile rivers are effected, and a dam has reportedly broken along the White Nile. Although rainfall is expected to decrease throughout the region in early September, saturated ground conditions sustain the risk for additional flooding.

    Africa Overview

    West Africa experiences a decrease in rainfall

    According to the latest satellite rainfall estimates, many areas of Senegal, Mali, and Nigeria registered below-normal rainfall totals. Despite these broad decreases, Niamey, Niger and Benue state in Nigeria still received very heavy rain which has led to flooding. Over 100mm of rain was recorded in Niamey last week. Other areas that received heavy rain (>100mm) include eastern Burkina Faso, northern Benin, Guinea, and Sierra Leone (Figure 1). Rains have begun to lessen across the Sahel and little to no rain was observed in southern Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.

    August was characterized by a general decrease in seasonal rainfall, with an increase in rainfall towards the month’s end. The observed recovery was short lived, as rains lessened again to start September. In parts of southern Burkina Faso, northern Ghana, and Liberia, rainfall deficits exceed 50mm and less than 80% of normal over the last 30 days. Large seasonal moisture surpluses persist in western Gulf of Guinea regions and some portions of the Sahel, where parts of Guinea and Mali have experienced more than twice their normal rainfall accumulation since late July (Figure 2). The continuation of heavy seasonal rains in these areas elevates the risk for floods in September.

    Next week, weather models suggest the potential for abovenormal rainfall for western Gulf of Guinea countries. The rest of the region is likely to receive seasonable conditions.


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    Source: Oxfam
    Country: Liberia, Sierra Leone

    An examination of informational needs for aid spending in Sierra Leone and Liberia

    Transparency in international aid is not just about fulfilling a requirement based on people’s right to access information, but also about making aid more effective. Transparency can help improve coordination and planning, enable accountability, and build trust. Accomplishing these goals can be a challenge when there are many partners involved in channeling funds through a complicated web of service delivery without clear public information explaining who did what where.

    This research looks at the information needed by in-country development stakeholders with an emphasis on accountability actors including civil society organizations, charities, government workers, and the media. To collect this information, semi-structured interviews were conducted in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The majority of interviewees wanted information about financial resources and the channels they flowed through, and all respondents wanted information on the services provided and where the work was happening subnationally, suggesting that these two sets of information may be the most important. Unfortunately, information on subnational locations and services provided is infrequently available through open aid data portals, implying a need to update what aid information is shared.


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    Source: World Health Organization
    Country: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania

    Overview

    This weekly bulletin focuses on selected acute public health emergencies occurring in the WHO African Region. The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 45 events in the region. This week’s edition also covers key ongoing events, including:

    • Cholera in Borno State, Nigeria

    • Necrotising cellulitis/fasciitis in São Tomé and Príncipe

    • Humanitarian crisis in the Central Africa Republic

    • Cholera in the United Republic of Tanzania

    • Cholera in Chad

    • Dengue fever in Côte d’Ivoire.

    For each of these events, a brief description followed by public health measures implemented and an interpretation of the situation is provided.

    A table is provided at the end of the bulletin with information on all new and ongoing public health events currently being monitored in the region, as well as events that have recently been closed.

    Major challenges include:

    • Maintaining an adequate public health response to contain nine major outbreaks of cholera occurring across parts of east, central and west Africa.

    • Ongoing complex humanitarian crises in the region, which are driving transmission of epidemic prone diseases in vulnerable communities, while increasing the severity of infections, limiting access to healthcare, and hindering response. These humanitarian crises require adequate collaboration between the Ministry of health and other relevant sectors.


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