UN needs $46.4 billion for aid in ‘bleak’ 2024

UN needs $46.4 billion for aid in ‘bleak’ 2024
Syrian children stand as UN World Food Programme deliver relief packages to displaced Syrians on the outskirts of Idlib, in rebel-held northwestern Syria on Dec. 6, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 14 December 2023
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UN needs $46.4 billion for aid in ‘bleak’ 2024

UN needs $46.4 billion for aid in ‘bleak’ 2024
  • UN: Wider Middle East, Sudan and Afghanistan among the hotspots that also need major international aid operations

GENEVA: The United Nations said Monday that it needed $46.4 billion next year to bring life-saving help to around 180 million people in desperate circumstances around the world.
The UN said the global humanitarian outlook for 2024 was “bleak,” with conflicts, climate emergencies and collapsing economies “wreaking havoc” on the most vulnerable.
While global attention focuses on the conflict raging in the Gaza Strip, the UN said the wider Middle East, Sudan and Afghanistan were among the hotspots that also needed major international aid operations.
But the size of the annual appeal and the number of people it aims to reach were scaled back compared to 2023, following a decrease in donations.
“Humanitarians are saving lives, fighting hunger, protecting children, pushing back epidemics, and providing shelter and sanitation in many of the world’s most inhumane contexts,” UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement.
“But the necessary support from the international community is not keeping pace with the needs,” he said.
The 2023 appeal was for $56.7 billion but received just 35 percent of that amount, one of the worst funding shortfall in years. It allowed UN agencies to deliver assistance and protection to 128 million people.
With a few weeks left to go, 2023 is likely to be the first year since 2010 when humanitarian donations declined compared to the previous year.
The UN therefore scaled down its appeal to $46.4 billion this time around, and will focus on those in the gravest need.
Launching the 2024 Global Humanitarian Overview, Griffiths said the sum was nonetheless a “massive ask” and would be tough to raise, with many donor countries facing their own cost of living crises.
“Without adequate funding, we cannot provide life-saving assistance. And if we cannot provide that assistance, people will pay with their lives,” he said.
The appeal covers aid for 72 countries: 26 states in crisis and 46 neighboring nations dealing with the knock-on effects, such as an influx of refugees.
The five largest single-country appeals are for Syria ($4.4 billion), Ukraine ($3.1 billion), Afghanistan ($3 billion), Ethiopia ($2.9 billion) and Yemen ($2.8 billion).
Griffiths said there would be 300 million people in need around the world next year — a figure down from 363 million last year.
But the UN aims to reach only 180.5 million of those, with NGOs and aid agencies targeting the remainder — not to mention front-line countries and communities themselves who provide the first help.
The Middle East and North Africa require $13.9 billion, the largest total for any region in 2024.
Beyond Syria, the Palestinian territories and Yemen, Griffiths also pointed to Sudan and its neighbors, and to Ukraine, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Myanmar as hotspots that needed sustained global attention.
Ukraine is going through a “desperate winter” with the prospect of more warfare on the other side, he said.
With the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, plus Russia’s war in Ukraine, Griffiths said it was hard for the Sudan crisis to get the attention it deserved in foreign capitals.
More broadly, Griffiths said climate change would increasingly impact the work of humanitarian aid workers, who would have to learn how to better use climate data to focus aid resources.
“There is no doubt about the climate confronting and competing with conflict as the driver of need,” he said.
“Climate displaces more children now than conflict. It was never thus before,” he said.


Nikki Haley says she no longer feels bound by the GOP pledge requiring her to support the eventual nominee

Nikki Haley says she no longer feels bound by the GOP pledge requiring her to support the eventual nominee
Updated 11 sec ago
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Nikki Haley says she no longer feels bound by the GOP pledge requiring her to support the eventual nominee

Nikki Haley says she no longer feels bound by the GOP pledge requiring her to support the eventual nominee
  • Haley had signed the pledge required by the Republican National Committee, but current front-runner Donald Trump did not
  • She said “the RNC is now not the same RNC” as it was at the time of the debates and that she has always had “serious concerns” about Trump

WASHINGTON: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Sunday she no longer feels bound by a pledge that required all GOP contenders to support the party’s eventual nominee in order to participate in the primary debates.

The Republican National Committee had made the pledge a prerequisite for all candidates, and nearly every major contender signed, except for Donald Trump, the current front-runner, who skipped the debates.
When Haley, Trump’s lone remaining major challenger for the nomination, was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether she was compelled to honor that commitment, she said, “No. I think I’ll make what decision I want to make.”
She said “the RNC is now not the same RNC” as it was at the time of the debates. She also maintained that she has always said she had “serious concerns” about Trump, for whom she served as UN ambassador.
The RNC is in the midst of major changes, with the chair, Ronna McDaniel, set to leave the job on Friday. She was Trump’s hand-picked choice to lead the RNC shortly after the 2016 election, but Trump now is poised to install loyalists atop the organization. He has announced his preference for North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley, a little-known veteran operative, to replace McDaniel. Trump also has picked his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, to serve as committee co-chair.
Haley dismissed questions about whether she would drop out and eventually endorse Trump.
“Right now, my focus is, ‘How do we touch as many voters? How do we win?’” she said. “I want the American people to see that you don’t have to live this way. There is a path forward. And we can do it with someone who can put in eight years, that can constantly focus on results and not the negativity and the baggage that we have right now.”
Trump on Saturday continued his march toward the nomination, winning caucuses in Idaho and Missouri and sweeping the delegate haul at a party convention in Michigan.
Trump’s count is now 244, compared with 24 for Haley. A candidate needs to secure 1,215 delegates to clinch the nomination.
The next event on the Republican calendar was Sunday in the District of Columbia. Two days later is Super Tuesday, when 16 states will hold primaries on what will be the largest day of voting of the year outside of the November election. Trump is on track to lock up the nomination days later.
“I’ve always said this needs to be competitive. As long as we are competitive, as long as we are showing that there is a place for us, I’m going to continue to fight,” Haley said.


A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee

A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee
Updated 19 min 57 sec ago
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A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee

A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee
  • 2 in 10 Iowa voters, one-third of New Hampshire voters, and one-quarter of South Carolina voters would be so disappointed by Trump’s renomination that they would refuse to vote for him in the fall
  • Anywhere between one-half and two-thirds of the staunchly anti-Trump voters in the early contests said they had voted for Biden in 2020

WASHINGTON: A small but substantial chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they would be so dissatisfied if Donald Trump became the party’s presidential nominee that they would not vote for him in November’s general election, according to AP VoteCast.

An analysis of the data shows that many of those voters were unlikely to vote for Trump, some even before this year, but it still points to potential problems for the former president as he looks to consolidate the nomination and pivot toward an expected rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden.
According to AP VoteCast surveys of the first three head-to-head Republican contests, 2 in 10 Iowa voters, one-third of New Hampshire voters, and one-quarter of South Carolina voters would be so disappointed by Trump’s renomination that they would refuse to vote for him in the fall.
This unwillingness to contemplate a presidential vote for Trump isn’t confined to voters in the earliest states.
Lee and Bill Baltzell defected from the Republican Party to register as independents a year ago. They attended a rally for supporters of Trump’s last major rival, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, last week in Centennial, Colorado, to encourage her to keep running against Trump.
“We don’t know that Trump will run into more legal problems and be disqualified, and I’d rather not see Biden in there for another four years,” said Bill Baltzell, 60.
If it’s between Biden and Trump, Lee Baltzell, 58, said she would consider writing in an alternative.
“I don’t know. I did not vote for Biden the last time; I don’t know that I could do it this time. But I don’t know if I could vote for Trump.”
Opposition from voters like the Baltzells hasn’t slowed Trump’s march toward the nomination, but it could be an issue for him later on. It’s not clear how much of a problem, though, because a dive into the numbers shows that many of the “never-Trump” voters in the early states were unlikely to vote for him in the general election to begin with.
Many of the voters who said they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the nominee aren’t Republicans at all. In the first three head-to-head contests, anywhere from 17 percent to 31 percent of the voters who said they wouldn’t support Trump in the general election identified as Democrats, and between 14 percent and 27 percent identified as independents.
Even for some of those Republicans, voting for Trump was already a tough sell. Anywhere between one-half and two-thirds of the staunchly anti-Trump voters in the early contests said they had voted for Biden in 2020.
Then there is the fact that primaries tend to draw out the people with the most passionate opinions. Voter turnout in primaries and caucuses, particularly ones that are relatively uncompetitive, is typically lower than it would be in a general election.
Still, about 1 in 10 early contest voters who said they supported Trump in the 2020 general election said they wouldn’t be doing so this year.
One question, though, is whether that means they would vote for Trump’s opponent instead.
“I won’t vote for Trump, I’ll just say that. I voted for him twice; I could never vote for him again,” said Linda Binkley, 74, a registered Republican who isn’t pleased by the prospect of a Trump vs. Biden matchup. She added, “I’m not sure I can vote for Biden.”
If Trump becomes the nominee, he will likely need to win over some of the moderates who supported Biden in 2020 if he wants to return to the White House. From that perspective, even a small amount of opposition from within his own party — not to mention broader skepticism among independents — could be a problem in the future.

AP VoteCast is a series of surveys conducted among 1,597 Republican caucus voters in Iowa, 1,989 New Hampshire voters who took part in the Republican primary and 2,466 Republican primary voters in South Carolina. The surveys were conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.


Philippines foreign minister urges China: ‘stop harassing us’

Philippines foreign minister urges China: ‘stop harassing us’
Updated 04 March 2024
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Philippines foreign minister urges China: ‘stop harassing us’

Philippines foreign minister urges China: ‘stop harassing us’
  • China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory, brushing aside claims from a host of Southeast Asian nations

MELBOURNE: Philippine foreign minister Enrique Manalo told AFP on Monday that his country wants to solve maritime disputes with China peacefully — but delivered a simple message to Beijing: “stop harassing us.”
Speaking on the sidelines of an ASEAN-Australia summit in Melbourne, Manalo defended his government’s policy of publicizing Chinese maneuvers in contested maritime territory — including the recent passage of warships near Scarborough Shoal.
“It’s merely trying to inform the people of what’s going on,” Manalo said. “And some countries or one country at least has some difficulty with that.”
“But our simple explanation is if you would stop harassing us and, and perhaps performing other actions, there wouldn’t be any news to report.”
China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory, brushing aside claims from a host of Southeast Asian nations.
Scarborough Shoal — a triangular chain of reefs and rocks in the disputed South China Sea — has been a flashpoint between the countries since China seized it from the Philippines in 2012.
Philippine governments have tried to rally international and regional support to their cause — with mixed results.
“The Philippines is committed to a peaceful resolution of disputes through diplomatic means, or peaceful means,” Manalo said, while insisting “this will not be done at the expense of our national interest.”
“We are reaching out to partners in like-minded countries with similar issues and similar concerns.”
But Manalo acknowledged there were was at least a small question mark over support from the Philippines’ most important security partner — the United States.
The two countries are treaty allies, meaning Washington has formally pledged to come to Manila’s defense in the event of a military conflict.
Ask about the November election — which will pit incumbent Joe Biden against Republican firebrand Donal Trump, he said it was a topic of frequent debate behind closed doors.
“Every country in the world is probably thinking of that, of course. The United States is a major, it’s a treaty ally of the Philippines. So obviously, any differences or changes in US policy from existing policies would most likely have some kind of effect.”
“At this stage it’s fairly difficult to assess how it would happen, or what would happen,” he said.
“But all I can say is we are, of course, carefully monitoring the election season in the United States, but I’ve had talks with many of my other colleagues from other countries, and I think everybody is doing the same.”
“So certainly all eyes will be riveted on that election this year.”


Malaysia may renew the search for MH370 a decade after the flight disappeared

Malaysia may renew the search for MH370 a decade after the flight disappeared
Updated 04 March 2024
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Malaysia may renew the search for MH370 a decade after the flight disappeared

Malaysia may renew the search for MH370 a decade after the flight disappeared
  • “The government is steadfast in our resolve to locate MH370,” Loke told a remembrance event to mark the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of the jet

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia’s government said Sunday it may renew the hunt for MH370 after a US technology firm proposed a fresh search in the southern Indian Ocean where the Malaysia Airlines plane is believed to have crashed a decade ago.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Texas-based Ocean Infinity has proposed another “no find, no fee” basis to scour the seabeds, expanding from the site where it first searched in 2018. He said he has invited the company to meet him to evaluate new scientific evidence it has to find the plane’s final resting place.
If the evidence is credible, he said, he will seek Cabinet’s approval to sign a new contract with Ocean Infinity to resume the search.
“The government is steadfast in our resolve to locate MH370,” Loke told a remembrance event to mark the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of the jet. “We really hope the search can find the plane and provide truth to the next-of-kin.”
The Boeing 777 plane carrying 239 people, mostly Chinese nationals, from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to Beijing, vanished from radar shortly after taking off on March 8, 2014. Satellite data showed the plane deviated from its flight path and was believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
But an expensive multinational government search failed to turn up any clues, although debris washed ashore on the east African coast and Indian Ocean islands. A private search in 2018 by Ocean Infinity also found nothing, but the tragedy sparked moves to bolster aviation safety.
K.S. Nathan, a member of the Voice MH370 group comprising next-of-kin, said Ocean Infinity initially planned a search last year but it was delayed by the delivery of its new fleet of ships and assets. It is now on track to resume the hunt, he said.
Loke declined to reveal the fee proposed by Ocean Infinity if it finds the plane, as this is subject to negotiation. He said financial cost is not an issue and that he doesn’t foresee any hindrances for the search to proceed if all goes well.
Loke’s response sparked tears of joy in some family members at the event held in a mall in a Kuala Lumpur suburb.
“I’m on top of the world,” said Jacquita Gomes, whose flight attendant husband was on the plane. She said she is thankful that she may now have a chance for full closure and say a final goodbye.
“We have been on a roller coaster for the last 10 years. ... If it is not found, I hope that it will continue with another search,” she said.
Family members of passengers from Malaysia, Australia, China and India paid tribute to their loved ones during the event, lighting a candle on stage to remember them.
“No matter if it is 10 years, 20 years or more, as long as we are still alive...we will not cease to press for the truth. We believe the truth will eventually come to light,” said Bai Zhong, from China, whose wife was on the plane.


Canada sanctions six Russians over Navalny death

Canada sanctions six Russians over Navalny death
Updated 04 March 2024
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Canada sanctions six Russians over Navalny death

Canada sanctions six Russians over Navalny death

OTTAWA: Canada announced new sanctions on Sunday against six Russian officials following the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny last month in an Arctic prison colony.
The sanctions target “senior officials and high-ranking employees of Russia’s prosecution, judicial and correctional services,” a statement by Canada’s foreign affairs department said.
The six people “were involved in the violation of Mr. Navalny’s human rights, his cruel punishment and ultimately, his death,” it said.
“Alongside our partners, Canada will maintain pressure on the Russian government to conduct a full and transparent inquiry into the death of Mr. Navalny,” Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement.
“This increased pressure on the Russian government sends a clear signal that human rights must be unequivocally respected.”
After the death of Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic, the Canadian government summoned Russia’s ambassador to “demand a full and transparent investigation” into his death.
Navalny died on February 16 in unclear circumstances in a penal colony in the Arctic, where he was serving a 19-year prison sentence for “extremism.” He was 47 years old.
His family and allies have accused the Kremlin of ordering him killed and Western leaders have said Putin is “responsible” for his death.