World faces worst humanitarian crisis since WWII: UN

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People walk inside the Muna Internally displace people camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria on December 1, 2016. (REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo)
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In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 and released by the World Food Program (WFP), a WFP helicopter arrives with supplies of food and vegetable oil to be distributed to people in need of assistance in Thonyor, Leer County, one of the areas in which famine has been declared, in South Sudan. (George Fominyen/WFP, via AP)
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A Somali woman walks through a camp of people displaced from their homes elsewhere in the country by the drought, shortly after dawn in Qardho, Somalia on March 9, 2017. Somalia's government has declared the drought a national disaster, and the United Nations estimates that 5 million people in this Horn of Africa nation need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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In this photo provided by the , Stephen O'Brien, the UN's Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, addresses the Security Council at UN headquarters on March 10, 2017. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)
Updated 11 March 2017

World faces worst humanitarian crisis since WWII: UN

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations is warning that the world is facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II, with more than 20 million people facing starvation and famine in four countries.
The world body’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien called Friday for an urgent mobilization of funds — $4.4 billion by July — for northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen to “avert a catastrophe.”
“Otherwise, many people will predictably die from hunger, livelihoods will be lost and political gains that have been hardwon over the last few years will be reversed,” O’Brien said in his stark warning to the UN Security Council.
“Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease. Children stunted and out of school. Livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost.”

Food assistance
During recent meetings, O’Brien said senior leaders in both parties agreed to provide continuous humanitarian access and respect international humanitarian law.
He noted that 4.9 million people received food assistance last month alone.
A total of $2.1 billion are needed to reach 12 million people with life-saving assistance and protection in Yemen this year, according to O’Brien, who noted that just six percent of those funds have been received so far.
He announced that a ministerial-level pledging event for Yemen will take place in Geneva on April 25, to be chaired by UN chief Antonio Guterres.

South Sudan's man-made famine
During his visit last week to South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, O’Brien said he found a situation that is “worse than it has ever been.”
“The famine in South Sudan is man-made,” he added.
“Parties to the conflict are parties to the famine — as are those not intervening to make the violence stop.”
He said more than 7.5 million people need assistance, an increase of 1.4 million fro last year. And some 3.4 million people are displaced, including nearly 200,000 who have fled South Sudan since January alone.
More than half the population of Somalia — 6.2 million people — need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 2.9 million at risk of famine.
Nearly one million children under the age of five will be “acutely malnourished” this year, according to the humanitarian chief, who also visited the country.
“What I saw and heard during my visit to Somalia was distressing — women and children walk for weeks in search of food and water,” O’Brien said.
“They have lost their livestock, water sources have dried up and they have nothing left to survive on. With everything lost, women, boys, girls and men now move to urban centers.”
In northeastern Nigeria, O’Brien said 10.7 million people need humanitarian aid, including 7.1 million people who are “severely food insecure.”
The humanitarian emergency afflicting the area was triggered by the Boko Haram insurgency, which erupted in Nigeria in 2009. Poor governance and climate change have also been powerful contributors to the crisis.
The conflict, which has left around 20,000 people dead and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes, has aggravated an already difficult humanitarian situation in one of the poorest regions of the world.


Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

Updated 7 min 1 sec ago

Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

  • Concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as ‘onerous and disadvantageous’ to the public
  • Existing concessions will expire on 2022, but were subsequently extended by 15 years

MANILA: The Philippines’ water regulator said on Wednesday it has canceled the 15-year extension of concession deals it signed with the country’s two largest utilities after pressure from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte described the concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as “onerous and disadvantageous” to the public, prompting them to be revoked in a move that could turn off investors at a time the government is seeking foreign capital to modernize its infrastructure.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the country’s regulator, told lawmakers it had revoked last week a decision extending the water concession deals with the two utilities until 2037, sending their shares tumbling more than 13 percent. The existing concessions will expire on 2022.
The firms, which are servicing a combined 16 million customers, secured 25-year concession agreements in 1997, which were extended in 2009 by a further 15 years.
Duterte acted after Manila Water and Maynilad won arbitration cases in Singapore against the government.
The arbitration court in Singapore ordered the Philippines government to pay the utilities a combined 10.8 billion pesos ($212.14 million) in compensation. The companies had said they would forfeit any damage claims to avoid angering the president.
“These companies not only have inefficiently delivered water to the households, but exacted unconscionable amounts from the taxpayers,” Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman, said in a statement.
The water utilities’ woes display a violation of the sanctity of contracts, Guenter Taus, former president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, told Reuters.
“It does not instill investor’s confidence. You can’t just go out and revoke contracts,” Taus said.
The embattled companies’ shares continued their decline on Wednesday, with Manila Water slumping 14 percent.
Maynilad stockholders Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and DMCI Holdings Inc. sank 13 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively.
Manila Water president Jose Rene Almendras told lawmakers the company has yet to study the impact of the regulator’s decision.
“There should be a clean process because we have commitments both in terms of capital expenditures, projects and loans,” Maynilad chief operating officer Randolph Estrellado said.