Daily Archives: August 11, 2015

US$ 41 million to strengthen HIV and TB response in Sudan

11 Aug 2015

New York – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Federal Ministry of Health in Sudan and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) have announced two new partnership agreements totaling US$ 41 million for Sudan, to give a major boost to the country’s response to HIV and Tuberculosis. 

“Thanks to our collaboration with UNDP we have made significant progress in managing the burden of HIV and TB. This grant is a breakthrough as it will help us to address the special needs of key populations,” noted Dr. Tarig Abdallrahim, Director of the Ministry’s Communicable and Non-Communicable Disease Control Directorate.

The director added that five mobile clinics will be set up to manage the TB epidemic in hard to reach populations in the five states of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Since 2005, UNDP has been actively supporting the Government of Sudan to strengthen their national health system as well as to reduce the transmission and morbidity of HIV and TB. There have been significant results in containing the epidemic, increasing service coverage and strengthening the national health system. For instance, the number of people accessing HIV counselling and testing increased from 14,000 in 2007 to over 250,000 in 2014. In the same period the number of health facilities providing antiretroviral treatment increased from 21 to 36. Also as of 2014, the number of people antiretroviral treatment has increased to 3,937 from only 319 back in 2007.

The first grant amounting to US$ 20.4 million is set to manage the steady decrease of TB cases between now and 2017, by identification of 26,600 new TB cases by 2016 – a 10% increase compared to today. Better identification means cases can be treated more quickly. The grant will also go towards improving treatment for 90% of newly infected patients as well as for 75% of those undergoing a relapse. The grant will also be used to intensify efforts to detect and treat multidrug resistant TB across Sudan. In addition, it will provide diagnostic equipment and tuberculosis medicines, including pediatric formula, free of charge.

The second grant of US$ 20.8 million will go towards halting the spread of HIV among communities most at risk between now and 2017. It will support efforts to keep the HIV prevalence rate below 2.5% among key populations and below 0.3% among the general population. It will also be used to provide universal access to comprehensive HIV treatment, care and support services to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of people living with HIV.

UNDP Sudan Country Director, Mr. Selva Ramachandran reiterated UNDP’s commitment to addressing HIV and TB in Sudan-“UNDP’s goal is to strengthen the response at the national, state and local level by supporting the development of local expertise and backstopping programme performance. To get TB under control, the authorities are planning to provide social support to patients and develop a national campaign to fight the stigma and discrimination that severely hinders TB efforts. Regarding HIV, testing is essential to bend the curve of the epidemic and we remain committed to supporting the provision of HIV testing, counseling and treatment to those in need.”

For more information visit:

UNDP Sudan – http://www.sd.undp.org/
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria – http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/

About UNDP

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

About the Global Fund

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB & Malaria has been supporting Sudan since 2005 by funding the HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria programs including Health System Strengthening. The overall goal of the Fund supported projects is to prevent deaths caused by the three diseases, to interrupt transmission of HIV, to reduce morbidity, and to strengthen the health system.

Contact Information

In New York: Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, Email: sangita.khadka@undp.org Tel: +1 212 906 5043

In Geneva: Sarah Bel, Communications Specialist, Email: sarah.bel@undp.org

In Sudan: Yusra Salim, UNDP Communication Specialist, Sudan, Email: yusra.salim@undp.org

Central African Republic: Ban &#39dismayed&#39 by allegations ...

11 August 2015 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his consternation regarding a number of allegations concerning the conduct of United Nations peacekeepers deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR), a spokesperson for the Organization has confirmed.

The &#8220troubling&#8221 allegations &#8211 revealed today by the human rights group Amnesty International &#8211 concern actions by UN ‘blue helmets’ serving with the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

Addressing the regular press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York earlier this afternoon, Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters that the Secretary-General remained &#8220personally dismayed and disappointed&#8221 by the latest reports as well as the allegations of recent months relating to both the period before UN peacekeepers were deployed in the CAR and since.

&#8220We would like to emphasize once more that no misconduct of this nature can be tolerated and that every allegation will be taken extremely seriously and investigated vigorously and thoroughly,&#8221 Mr. Dujarric added.

The latest allegations come on the heels of another series of sexual abuse claims from earlier this year surrounding a deployment of foreign military forces in the CAR.

Deployed in early 2014, MINUSCA’s presence in the CAR is currently aiming to defuse sectarian tensions across the country. More than two years of civil war and violence have, in fact, displaced thousands of people amid ongoing clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka alliance and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian. In addition, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continues to operate in the south-eastern part of the country.

The situation of deep instability is further exacerbated by a growing humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that some 450,000 people remain displaced inside the country while thousands of others have sought asylum across the borders. Meanwhile, overall some 2.7 million people in the CAR remain in direct need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

News in Brief 11 August 2015 (PM)

Disaster

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More must be done to protect youngsters from child sexual abuse. File Photo: UNICEF

Pakistan case highlights need for more action against child sexual abuse

Reports of widespread child sexual abuse in the Kasur district of Pakistan show that more must be done to protect youngsters from these horrors, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.

Hundreds of children were reportedly abused over several years by a group who filmed the acts and then attempted to blackmail the youngsters or their parents.

UNICEF is in contact with the government and expressed hope that every effort will be made to bring those responsible to justice.

The agency also stressed the importance of children and families receiving the necessary care and protection that will allow them to heal from these incidents.

Promoting peace and dialogue in South Sudan

People in South Sudan have been encouraged by the top UN official in the country to refrain from violence and to promote community dialogue.

Ellen Margrethe Løj, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, visited Warrap State on Tuesday where she reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to the world’s youngest nation.

South Sudan became independent in July 2011 but has been plagued by fighting stemming from a December 2013 political battle between the president and former vice-president.

This has resulted in mass displacement, with more than two million people fleeing their homes.

Food aid reaches more than 200,000 Myanmar flood victims

UN agencies are assisting the Myanmar government and local organizations in providing food aid to approximately 435,000 people in the wake of deadly floods, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported.

So far, more than 213,000 people have received supplies of rice, chickpeas, cooking oil, salt and, in some cases, high-energy biscuits.

As many as 100 people have died as a result of the floods which began in June due to monsoon rains, coupled with a cyclone that hit the country earlier this month.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’56″

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With political will, Libyan parties can reach settlement by month’s ...

11 August 2015 – With Libya’s disparate factions starting to coalesce around United Nations-backed proposals on a comprehensive settlement and a unity government, UN special envoy Bernardino León previewed the latest round of talks opening in Geneva today, telling reporters that with political will, the parties could wrap up “this very difficult process” with an agreement by the end of August.

“We will work in coming days on the basis of a timetable which necessarily has to be short. Libya is facing huge challenges,” said Mr. León, who is the UN Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in the strife-torn country, known as UNSMIL.

“We are proposing the parties to work on the coming three weeks and to try to have agreement on the important two points, by the end of August,” he said, referring the draft political proposal he presented to the parties in mid-June, which includes several annexes and outlines the parametres of a unity government.

He said that the “nomadic process” – the UN-sponsored dialogue that began earlier this year in Geneva, has travelled to Morocco, Algeria and Libya itself dealing with different parties and tracks, including civil society representatives, political parties and political leaders, as well as militias – was always intended to converge, “and this is what we are doing today.”

“On the one hand we are starting a new round of talks [focused on] the annexes and unity government, and starting a convergence of tracks by bringing political parties, and in the coming days we intend to do the same with the other tracks.”

Mr. León stressed that that the security track – participation and input from the militias and those who are on the ground, “has been important to reaching where we are now; to stabilizing the situation in the west. And of course we are looking forward to having more interaction with the army and to different actors in the eastern part of the country.”

He acknowledged that in the past weeks, there have been “serious problems” in the south of the country. “It is very important that the situation there also be stabilized. This process is about the whole of Libya; East, West and South should be a part of the effort to bring about stability and security in line with the agreement,” he declared.

Mr. León said that if the parties stick to the timeline and follow the path set out in the agreement – “and this will very much depend on the political will, creativity and wisdom of the parties to put…good proposals on the table” – then the endorsement and final voting and signing of the agreement could happen in the first week of September, so that the final conclusion of this process can be achieved before the opening of the substantive session of the UN General Assembly in mid-September.

“This would be the ideal scenario. But we know that we are in a very difficult process; many actors, many challenging issues,” he said and added, in response to a question: “I hope all the Libyan actors will…expedite the talks and to reach an agreement very soon.”

“I think it is extremely risky to reach October without an agreement, because we will be in a more chaotic situation. This is why it’s important to have this timeline and to finalize these discussions in the coming three weeks and then to expedite also the endorsement and voting of the agreement.”

To this end, he said UNSMIL has been pleased to see that all actors will be around the table and although there had been a delay in resumption of the talks, the delay was worthwhile in order to bring everyone to the table.

But whether they will stay of whether it will be possible to go to the stage of discussing the annexes and the government will very much depend on the will of the parties, noted Mr. León. “But UNSMIL, the international community, and I would say even all the Libyans involved in the process, have done everything possible to have all the parties around the table. This is the inclusion principle that is so important to this process; together with consensus and balance.”

Telling reporters that the latest round of dialogue will be a new chance to provide a “big drive” for the political process, he said that listening to the concerns of all the parties has been reason for the “limited success we have had so far with an agreement, where most parties are converging. So we will continue to listen to all parties. This process will only be successful if we can reassure everyone. And it is possible to reassure everyone.”

“So we will continue to listen and work with all of them and we hope that [the parties] will give the process the benefit of the doubt to see what the ‘final picture’ will be at the end of the day. If that final picture [emerges] with detailed annexes and a unity government in which all Libyans feel represented, then I am sure…that will be reassuring,” said Mr. León.

Partnership Improves Medevac Capabilities for U.S. Healthcare Workers

Your browser does not support JavaScript and cannot properly display the photo slideshow on this page.

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L-R: Tom Stacks, MRIGlobal CEO, Under Secretary for Management Kennedy, Barbara Bennett, The Paul G. Allen Ebola Program/Vulcan, Inc., & Colonel Brett Merritt, Commander, 94th Airlift Wing, celebrate the completion of two Containerized Biocontainment System units, this partnership will be instrumental in expanding and expediting medevac capabilities for healthcare workers fighting Ebola.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, Dr. Will Walters, Charles Rosenfarb, and a CDC official discuss the expanded capabilities of the revolutionary Containerized Biocontainment Systems units, unveiled on August 11th, through efforts of a public-private partnership by the State Department, MRIGlobal, and the Paul G. Foundation Allen Ebola program.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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Under Secretary Kennedy delivers remarks at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, GA.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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Under Secretary Kennedy delivers remarks at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, GA.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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Under Secretary Kennedy delivers remarks at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, GA.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy tours Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia to view their new biocontainment units. These units were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm, greatly improving U.S. medevac capability and better preparing us for global health threats in the future.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy tours Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia to view their new biocontainment units. These units were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm, greatly improving U.S. medevac capability and better preparing us for global health threats in the future.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy tours Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia to view their new biocontainment units. These units were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm, greatly improving U.S. medevac capability and better preparing us for global health threats in the future.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy tours Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia to view their new biocontainment units. These units were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm, greatly improving U.S. medevac capability and better preparing us for global health threats in the future.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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These first of-their-kind biocontainment units at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm, greatly improving U.S. medevac capability and better preparing us for global health threats in the future.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


Image 11
These first of-their-kind biocontainment units at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm, greatly improving U.S. medevac capability and better preparing us for global health threats in the future.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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These first of-their-kind biocontainment units at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm, greatly improving U.S. medevac capability and better preparing us for global health threats in the future.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


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William A. Walters, M.D., Director, Operational Medicine (MED/OM) in the Office of Medical Services at the State Department tours biocontainment units at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia. The first of-their-kind biocontainment units were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm.
State Dept Image / Jun 22, 2015


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These first of-their-kind biocontainment units at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia were created under a public-private partnership between the State Department, the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program and MRIGlobalm, greatly improving U.S. medevac capability and better preparing us for global health threats in the future.
State Dept Image / Aug 11, 2015


Negotiator: give Libya talks benefit of doubt

Press Conference

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The press conference at the UN in Geneva where negotiator Bernardino Leon (centre) said that every effort had been made to get all participants to the talks. Photo: UN

Talks aimed at bringing peace to Libya got under way in Geneva on Tuesday with a call to all parties to give the discussions the “benefit of the doubt”.

UN negotiator Bernardino Leon made his comments to journalists in the Swiss city where he said he aims to bring opposing parties together for the sake of the Libyan people.

After four years of conflict since the ousting of Libya President Muammar Gaddafi, Leon said that the aim was to get all parties to reach an agreement by early September.

Here’s Daniel Johnson’s report from Geneva

Amid a break in the peace talks, UN negotiator Bernardino Leon spoke to journalists to say that the Geneva talks had two aims: one, to discuss the concerns of all parties, and second, to talk about setting up a so-called unity government.

The UN negotiator also said he was “glad” that all parties to the talks had arrived, adding that it had been worth waiting an extra day so that everyone could take part.

The aim is to reach an agreement which can be signed in early September by taking into account the concerns of all participants, Leon said.

“So we will continue to listen, we will continue to work with all of them, and we hope that they will give the process the benefit of the doubt, and it will be possible to continue to work and see what is the final picture at the end of the day.”

Bernardino Leon however added a note of caution, explaining that significant challenges remain to reaching an agreement – a likely reference to the Tripoli-based General National Congress’s concerns about working with the internationally recognized authority in Tobruk, in the east of the country.

The UN negotiator added that reaching a deal was not dependent on addressing the concerns of just one party in the east or west of the country, since there were problems in the south, too.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’15″

UNICEF offers support to Pakistan authorities as child abuse ...

11 August 2015 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has offered its support to Pakistani authorities as they open an investigation into emerging reports of widespread abuses against children in the country’s district of Kasur, an agency official has confirmed.

In a statement released earlier this morning, Philippe Cori, UNICEF’s Regional Deputy-Director for South Asia, described the recent reports of children being sexually abused over a period of several years in the Kasur district as “appalling” and called for the affected children and families to immediately receive any necessary care and protection.

“No child should suffer violence, abuse or exploitation. The horrific crimes in Kasur underline how we must all do more to protect children from such abuses,” Mr. Cori declared. “UNICEF is ready to expand its work with local and national authorities to increase such efforts, so that no child has to suffer these terrible horrors.”

Mr. Cori’s appeal comes as Pakistani authorities continue their investigation into allegations that a gang of men reportedly abused more than 200 children in a series of criminal acts beginning in 2006.

“UNICEF is working closely with the authorities in Pakistan to prevent and respond to such issues affecting children, including sexual violence and abuse,” the UNICEF official continued.

“We welcome efforts in Pakistan to tackle the issue of child abuse – including Pakistan signing, along with many other countries, the ‘We Protect’ statement of action to end on-line child sexual exploitation.”

Walking into danger: migrants still head to Yemen

By Katie Riordan

HARGEISA, 11 August 2015 (IRIN) – Qader and Abdi are two weeks into their journey. Carrying only one empty plastic water bottle each, flattened, with no liquid to return it to its cylindrical shape, the two men figure they will be walking for another month-and-a-half before they reach the sea. From there, they will take a smuggler boat the short distance to Yemen, where another 600-kilometre walk lies ahead before they may reach their final destination, Saudi Arabia.

The pair – members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, which activists charge is systematically disenfranchised by the government – are walking along an uncrowded road connecting the capital of Somaliland, Hargeisa, to a northern port city. They walk because they cannot afford the roughly $150-200 that a series of smugglers would charge to take them from the Ethiopian border east through Somaliland to the port of Bosaso in the neighbouring semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

“We will walk until we become weak,” said 30-year-old Qader, who withheld his last name to protect his identity. He and his 19-year-old companion are dressed in dirtied long-sleeve shirts to shield them from the early morning sun, which will become unbearable by midday. They have made it this far off the good will of Somalilanders who offer them small change or meals as they pass.

There is a small risk they could be arrested so they veer off the paved road near checkpoints but quickly return so as not to lose their way. Although walking along roads in Somaliland – a self-declared nation that the international community still classifies as a region of Somalia – puts migrants like them at increased risk of robbery or assault, Somalilanders generally do not wish the duo ill will. Government officials have even been known to stop and provide food and drink to migrants despite their illegal status in the country.

When they reach Bosaso the help will likely come to an end and Qader and Abdi will have to pay. Unlike on land, which the destitute can traverse without charge as long as they can avoid arrest, the sea is only passable by ships operated by smugglers, who are more than happy to continue transporting people to war-torn Yemen for a fee.

Ever more dangerous journey

Migration to and through Yemen – historically the backdoor for migrants and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa trying to reach Saudi Arabia – has always put people at risk of death and inhumane treatment. Last year, there were numerous drownings in the Gulf of Aden and Human Rights Watch released a report in 2014 documenting “torture camps” where smugglers held newcomers for ransom.

But a civil war, precipitated by the departure of Yemen’s internationally-recognised government and a Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign to restore its legitimacy, has made an already perilous journey for migrants all the more death-defying.

“It’s very dangerous, and I cannot stress that enough,” said Teddy Leposky, an external relations officer for the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, in Yemen.

Not only has the war given smugglers license to act more ruthlessly than before, but also the ability of aid agencies to provide services to migrants and refugees has been severely compromised and the conflict’s violence has been indiscriminate. Five migrants were caught in shelling near the Saudi border in May and, at the end of March, a camp for displaced people camp was bombed, killing at least 45.

But as migrants and refugees know, the grinding poverty, political persecution or violence that typically push them out of the Horn of Africa, do not conveniently abate as wars break out in their path. So they continue to risk life and liberty and end up on Yemen’s shores. According to figures from UNHCR, more than 10,500 people have arrived in Yemen since March when the bombing campaign began. Although some of those might be part of the 51,000 who are now also leaving, as war in Yemen has created a circular flow in the region.

“I know it’s a high risk, but I will take it,” said Fila Aden, 24, in a café in Hargeisa. He is familiar with what lies ahead. This is the second time he left home in Ethiopia for work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Although he struggles to provide a precise timeline of events, he estimates he was deported from the kingdom about a month ago after working there for almost a year.

Hiding the risks

Some aid officials believe that boat smugglers in Bosaso and Djibouti (for the Red Sea route to Yemen) may be downplaying the conflict in Yemen or flat-out lying to clients about the dangers they have seen.

Fila Aden in Hargeisa doesn’t doubt smugglers are sugarcoating forecasts, but he thinks the conflict in Yemen might actually work to his advantage. He is reassured by news that one of his friends just traversed Yemen and slipped unnoticed across the border with Saudi.

“We worry about Yemen. We could be accused of fighting [for a certain side] in the conflict. People are more paranoid now,” he said. “But looking at it from the Saudi perspective, they aren’t concerned about us. They are fighting a war in Yemen.”

As long as those like Aden are willing to go, there is money to be made. Several sources said the smugglers had doubled their asking price in Bosaso, which pre-war ran from $60 to $120 for the sea crossing. Omar, who asked that a pseudonym be used, smuggles Ethiopians from the border into Somaliland. He is fairly new, joining the ranks of the illicit business just five months ago. But the job has proven lucrative. He saw a drop in numbers around the time war broke out in Yemen, but Ramadan (which straddled June and July this year) was profitable, suggesting an uptick in those still willing to go to Yemen.

“People know damn well that they are taking a risk,” he said, when IRIN asked if smugglers were taking advantage of the war and luring clients under false pretenses. But he said smugglers too were taking extra risks, and more and more fearful of arrest. “I feel bad sometimes but what can I do? I have to make a living.”

No refuge any more

While Omar continues to facilitate a migrant march east, deteriorating conditions in Yemen have destroyed a refuge that many once sought.

Abdulqader Ahmed, a 17-year-old Ethiopian migrant, arrived in Yemen in March from Djibouti right as street battles began to erupt in the southern port city of Aden. He made his way to the UN-sponsored al-Kharaz camp nearby, too afraid to begin his journey north to Saudi Arabia. He watched as the camp ran short of food and water, with aid agencies unable to get supplies in. Finally, he managed to secure passage on a ship that evacuated him to Somaliland.

At a migrant response center in Hargeisa, where he was waiting to be repatriated back to Ethiopia, Ahmed said the war in Yemen had helped him reach the realisation that his goal of getting to Saudi Arabia would likely cost him his life. He now intends to return to farming with his father in Ethiopia, even though it will be almost impossible to earn a living.

For UNHCR’s Leposky, Yemen’s collapse is particularly concerning because of the country’s history of opening its borders to refugees and asylum seekers. He told IRIN that those arriving now in Yemen are making the costly journey across the see only to find themselves in a similar situation, if not worse.

“It’s so unfortunate that a country that has provided protection and asylum to people for so many years is now in dire straits.”

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