Entering court using a walker, a doctor's note clutched in his hand, 70-year-old Dana Williams, who suffers serious heart problems, hypertension and asthma, pleaded to delay eviction from his two-bedroom apartment in Atlanta. Although sympathetic, the judge said state law required him to evict Williams and his 25-year-old daughter De'mai Williams in April because they owed $8,348 in unpaid rent and fees on their $940-a-month apartment. They have been living in limbo ever since. Also Read: Suicide rate for young adults in US was worst in over 50 years during pandemic: Study They moved into a dilapidated Atlanta hotel room with water dripping through the bathroom ceiling, broken furniture and no refrigerator or microwave. But at $275-a-week, it was all they could afford on Williams' $900 monthly social security check and the $800 his daughter gets biweekly from a state agency as her father's caretaker. "I really don't want to be here by the time his birthday comes" in August, De'mai Williams said. "For his health, it's just not right." The Williams family is among millions of tenants from New York state to Las Vegas who have been evicted or face imminent eviction. After a lull during the pandemic, eviction filings by landlords have come roaring back, driven by rising rents and a long-running shortage of affordable housing. Most low-income tenants can no longer count on pandemic resources that had kept them housed, and many are finding it hard to recover because they haven't found steady work or their wages haven't kept pace with the rising cost of rent, food and other necessities. Homelessness, as a result, is rising. Also Read: Nusrat Choudhury appointed first Bangladeshi-American federal judge "Protections have ended, the federal moratorium is obviously over, and emergency rental assistance money has dried up in most places," said Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a research specialist at Princeton University's Eviction Lab. "Across the country, low-income renters are in an even worse situation than before the pandemic due to things like massive increases in rent during the pandemic, inflation and other pandemic-era related financial difficulties." Eviction filings are more than 50% higher than the pre-pandemic average in some cities, according to the Eviction Lab, which tracks filings in nearly three dozen cities and 10 states. Landlords file around 3.6 million eviction cases every year. Among the hardest-hit are Houston, where rates were 56% higher in April and 50% higher in May. In Minneapolis/St. Paul, rates rose 106% in March, 55% in April and 63% in May. Nashville was 35% higher and Phoenix 33% higher in May; Rhode Island was up 32% in May. The latest data mirrors trends that started last year, with the Eviction Lab finding nearly 970,000 evictions filed in locations it tracks — a 78.6% increase compared to 2021, when much of the country was following an eviction moratorium. By December, eviction filings were nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. Also Read: Shooting at California teen's birthday party leaves 18-year-old woman dead, 6 wounded At the same time, rent prices nationwide are up about 5% from a year ago and 30.5% above 2019, according to the real estate company Zillow. There are few places for displaced tenants to go, with the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimating a 7.3 million shortfall of affordable units nationwide. Many vulnerable tenants would have been evicted long ago if not for a safety net created during the pandemic. The federal government, as well as many states and localities, issued moratoriums during the pandemic that put evictions on hold; most have now ended. There was also $46.5 billion in federal Emergency Rental Assistance that helped tenants pay rent and funded other tenant protections. Much of that has been spent or allocated, and calls for additional resources have failed to gain traction in Congress. "The disturbing rise of evictions to pre-pandemic levels is an alarming reminder of the need for us to act — at every level of government — to keep folks safely housed," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, urging Congress to pass a bill cracking down on illegal evictions, fund legal help for tenants and keep evictions off credit reports. Housing courts are again filling up and ensnaring the likes of 79-year-old Maria Jackson. Jackson worked for nearly two decades building a loyal clientele as a massage therapist in Las Vegas, which has seen one of the country's biggest jumps in eviction filings. That evaporated during the pandemic-triggered shutdown in March 2020. Her business fell apart; she sold her car and applied for food stamps. She got behind on the $1,083 monthly rent on her one-bedroom apartment, and owing $12,489 in back rent was evicted in March. She moved in with a former client about an hour northeast of Las Vegas. "Who could imagine this happening to someone who has worked all their life?" Jackson asked. Last month she found a room in Las Vegas for $400 a month, paid for with her $1,241 monthly social security check. It's not home, but "I'm one of the lucky ones," she said. "I could be in a tent or at a shelter right now." In upstate New York, evictions are rising after a moratorium lifted last year. Forty of the state's 62 counties had higher eviction filings in 2022 than before the pandemic, including two where eviction filings more than doubled compared to 2019. "How do we care for the folks who are evicted ... when the capacity is not in place and ready to roll out in places that haven't experienced a lot of eviction recently?" said Russell Weaver, whose Cornell University lab tracks evictions statewide. Housing advocates had hoped the Democrat-controlled state Legislature would pass a bill requiring landlords to provide justification for evicting tenants and limit rent increases to 3% or 1.5 times inflation. But it was excluded from the state budget and lawmakers failed to pass it before the legislative session ended this month. "Our state Legislature should have fought harder," said Oscar Brewer, a tenant organizer facing eviction from the apartment he shares with his 6-year-old daughter in Rochester. In Texas, evictions were kept down during the pandemic by federal assistance and the moratoriums. But as protections went away, housing prices skyrocketed in Austin, Dallas and elsewhere, leading to a record 270,000 eviction filings statewide in 2022. Advocates were hoping the state Legislature might provide relief, directing some of the $32 billion budget surplus into rental assistance. But that hasn't happened. "It's a huge mistake to miss our shot here," said Ben Martin, a research director at nonprofit Texas Housers. "If we don't address it, now, the crisis is going to get worse." Still, some pandemic protections are being made permanent, and having an impact on eviction rates. Nationwide, 200 measures have passed since January 2021, including legal representation for tenants, sealing eviction records and mediation to resolve cases before they reach court, said the National Low Income Housing Coalition. These measures are credited with keeping eviction filings down in several cities, including New York City and Philadelphia — 41% below pre-pandemic levels in May for the former and 33% for the latter. A right-to-counsel program and the fact that housing courts aren't prosecuting cases involving rent arears are among the factors keeping New York City filings down. In Philadelphia, 70% of the more than 5,000 tenants and landlords who took part in the eviction diversion program resolved their cases. The city also set aside $30 million in assistance for those with less than $3,000 in arears, and started a right-to-counsel program, doubling representation rates for tenants. The future is not so bright for Williams and his daughter, who remain stuck in their dimly-lit hotel room. Without even a microwave or nearby grocery stores, they rely on pizza deliveries and snacks from the hotel vending machine. Williams used to love having his six grandchildren over for dinner at his old apartment, but those days are over for now. "I just want to be able to host my grandchildren," he said, pausing to cough heavily. "I just want to live somewhere where they can come and sit down and hang out with me."
The government of Japan has decided to provide the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with USD 0.5 million assistance in response to the super Cyclone Mocha which made landfall on 14 May and hit Rohingya and host communities in Cox’s Bazar. The heavy rains caused damage in both Myanmar and Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, significant damage was observed to camps hosting approximately 930,000 refugees. A total of 4 districts, 26 Upazilas (sub-districts), 99 unions, and 429,337 Bangladeshi nationals were affected by the cyclone, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief. The intense and heavy wind and rainfall destroyed or damaged shelters, water points, latrines, culverts, bridges, and other key community infrastructure. Also Read: Japan, IOM sign $5.7 million assistance to Rohingyas, host communities in Bangladesh This emergency grant is to provide critical WASH services to Rohingya, and host communities affected by the cyclone Mocha through IOM. Activities will include repairing and installation of latrines, provision of hygiene packages to those affected populations and hygiene awareness/promotions activities. “I feel empathy for those who suffer from disasters such as cyclones. Japan is also prone to natural disasters and is committed to supporting the response and the Build Back Better after Cyclone Mocha for both Rohingya and host communities," said Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh Iwama Kiminori on Tuesday. Also Read: Japan wants to understand what’s happening in Bangladesh and where it’s headed, BNP says as ambassador meets Fakhrul He hoped that the WASH services supported by Japan will contribute to maintaining the hygiene environment and will prevent water-borne diseases which might outbreak after the cyclones. Chief of Mission of IOM Bangladesh Abdusattor Esoev said they are grateful for the generous support of the government of Japan in response to the devastating impact of Cyclone Mocha on the Rohingya refugees and host communities in Cox's Bazar. Also Read: Will continue to work toward resolution of Rohingya issue: Japan "Japan's commitment to supporting the response and the 'Build Back Better' approach demonstrates their empathy and dedication to those affected by disasters. Together with our partners, we will continue our efforts to provide essential assistance and support the recovery of the affected communities," said Abdusattor Esoev. Since the beginning of the emergency in August 2017, Japan has been a steady supporter of the Rohingya refugee response in Bangladesh, contributing over USD $200 million to IOM and other UN agencies as well as NGOs in Bangladesh, including through this new funding.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stopped providing food assistance to 23 Rohingya people belonging to four families in Cox’s Bazar. Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Md Mizanur Rahman confirmed the matter saying that their food aid has been stopped since Monday morning. “These 23 Rohingyas of four families have agreed over repatriation under a pilot project. Their food has been stopped since Monday morning. But UNHCR did not disclose why the food aid has been stopped," he said. Read: UNHCR ‘not involved’ in discussions on Bangladesh-Myanmar pilot project on Rohingya repatriation These Rohingyas are being provided with food assistance in an alternative way, he added. When contacted, Ikhtiyar Uddin Bayezid, deputy head of UNHCR's Cox's Bazar office, said that the higher officials can say the reason behind the discontinuation of the food assistance. Bangladesh and Myanmar recently decided to undertake a pilot repatriation project under which a group of verified Myanmar nationals will return to their country of origin in the first batch. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are currently “not conducive” to the sustainable return of Rohingya refugees. Read: OIC members must share responsibility for sustainable solution to Rohingya crisis: Momen “UNHCR’s position on returns of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar remains unchanged,” said the UN agency sharing its assessment. The UN agency said it is aware of the visit of a Myanmar delegation to Bangladesh to meet with a group of Rohingya refugees — on a bilateral pilot project between the two countries on possible repatriation. “UNHCR is not involved in these discussions,” it said in a statement on Bangladesh, Myanmar pilot project on Rohingya returns. The statement was shared by the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific on Sunday (March 19, 2023) night. Read: FM calls on global community to raise their voices to ensure safe return of Rohingyas
Violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has made Burkina Faso a country with one of the world's fastest-growing populations of internally displaced people, with the number mushrooming by more than 2,000% since 2019, according to government data. Figures released last month showed more than 2 million people are internally displaced in the West African nation, the majority of them women and children, fueling a dire humanitarian crisis as the conflict pushed people from their homes, off their farms and into congested urban areas or makeshift camps. Aid groups and the government are scrambling to respond amid a lack of funds and growing needs. One in four people requires aid, and tens of thousands are facing catastrophic levels of hunger. Yet not even half of the $800 million humanitarian response budget requested last year by aid groups was funded, according to the United Nations. Also Read: UN agencies warn of starvation risk in Sudan, Haiti, Burkina Faso and Mali, call for urgent aid "The spectrum of consequences (for people) is vast but grim at every point. A lot of people might die, and they're dying because they weren't able to access food and health services, because they weren't properly protected, and the humanitarian assistance and the government response wasn't sufficient," Alexandra Lamarche, a senior fellow at advocacy group Refugees International, said. The violence has divided a once-peaceful nation, leading to two coups last year. Military leaders vowed to to stem the insecurity, but jihadi attacks have continued and spread since Capt. Ibrahim Traore seized power in September. The government retains control of less than 50% of the country, largely in rural areas, according to conflict analysts. Al-Qaida and Islamic State-affiliated groups control or threaten large areas, said Rida Lyammouri, senior fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, a Morocco-based think tank. "State security forces don't have the resources (human and equipment) to fight both groups at all fronts," he said. The jihadis' strategy of blocking towns, preventing people from moving freely and goods from flowing in, has compounded the displacement crisis. Some 800,000 people in more than 20 towns are under siege, say aid groups. Also Read: Mass killing of civilians by security forces in Burkina Faso "The situation is very difficult. ... People don't have food, children don't have school," Bibata Sangli, 53, who left the eastern town of Pama in January 2022 just before it came under siege. She still has family there who are unable to leave, Sangli said. A community leader who last year met Jafar Dicko, the top jihadi in Burkina Faso, said Dicko's group blockades towns that don't accept its rules, such as banning alcohol and requiring women to be veiled their faces. The leader spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media. In January, the United Nations began using Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to airlift food to areas inaccessible by road - an extremely costly approach. The three Chinooks were reduced to one in May, making it harder to reach many people as quickly. While the humanitarian situation deteriorates, so has the ability of aid groups to operate. Since the military takeovers of Burkina Faso's government began in January 2022, incidents against aid organizations perpetrated by the security forces increased from one in 2021 to 11 last year, according to unpublished data for aid groups seen by The Associated Press. The incidents included workers being arrested, detained and injured. In November, security forces killed a humanitarian worker with a Burkina Faso aid organization in the Sahel region, the vast expanse below the Sahara Desert, according to a text message sent to an aid worker WhatsApp group seen by the AP. Rights groups, analysts and civilians say Traore, the junta leader, is only focused on achieving military gains and cares little about human rights, freedom of speech or holding people accountable for indiscriminate killings of individuals suspected of supporting the militants. Burkina Faso's security forces killed at least 150 civilians in the north in April, according to local residents from the village of Karma, where most of the violence took place. Prosecutors said they opened an investigation into the killings. Earlier this year, an AP investigation into a video circulating on social media determined that Burkina Faso's security forces killed children at a military base in the country's north. While the government wages war, civilians bear the brunt and are running out of hope. After jihadis attacked his village in eastern Burkina Faso in April, killing people and stealing cattle, a father of five, who did not want to be identified for security reasons, fled to the region's main town of Fada N'Gourma. But now his family doesn't have food or access to health care, and the assistance supplied by humanitarian groups isn't enough, he said. "Since we've been displaced, our situation keeps getting worse," the 46-year-old man said. "I miss my home."
A steady flow of UN aid trucks filled with vital humanitarian relief, continues to cross the border from southern Türkiye into northwest Syria to help communities enduring terrible trauma caused by the February 6 earthquake and will continue every day, UN aid teams said Friday. Since February 9, 143 trucks have passed through the Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salam border crossings, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “The movements continue today, they continue over the weekend and will continue every day for as long as the needs are there,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told journalists in Geneva. Asked about earthquake damage to roads leading to the aid corridors, the OCHA spokesperson referred to information that “all the roads through all the crossing points are passable and you can drive there…I was myself at Bab al-Hawa a few days ago and the trucks were indeed rolling across.” Amid massive devastation in both Türkiye and Syria after the double quake strike, relief workers continue to stress that the full extent of the disaster is still unfolding. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Thursday said earthquake damage in Syria threatens “immediate and longer-term food security” in the country. In Türkiye, it’s estimated that more than 15 million people have been affected, while in Syria, 8.8 million have been impacted. Humanitarian assistance is urgently needed, as relief teams have seen first-hand in Aleppo, particularly after more than a decade of war. “I was quite overwhelmed by not only the magnitude of the destruction but the loss that was inflicted on families, you know, during only 60 seconds,” said Fabrizio Carboni, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Director for the Near and Middle East. “For the first time, I saw that there was not only a crack, and cracks in the buildings, but for the first time I really saw that our colleagues, the people you talked to in Syria, they were really wounded, and something is broken.” As part of the UN-wide response, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported Thursday that it stepped up its emergency response to nearly half a million quake-affected people in Türkiye and Syria, providing hot meals, emergency ready-to-eat food packages and family food rations. “Families tell me they left everything behind when the earthquake hit, running for their lives. WFP’s food is a lifeline for them; while they think about their next steps in the destruction left by the earthquake, their children can eat,” said Corinne Fleischer, WFP Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa and East Europe. She added: “We have scaled up rapidly and requests for more food are coming every day from municipalities and communities. We are there for them, but WFP can’t do it alone. We urgently appeal for funding to help us reach those in need.” Needs remain massive but the international response is gaining momentum, both in Türkiye and Syria, confirmed Caroline Holt, global director for operations at The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): “In Türkiye, we’re very much supporting the Turkish Red Crescent on the ground to support shelter needs, with food, with wash, with health and also with cash.” In Syria, the IFRC is working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to support people with basic needs and household items, including health, psychosocial support and clean water. With cholera already present in Syria, access to safe water “is absolutely critical to avoid that second potential disaster, that second health disaster unfolding”, Holt said. UN-led flash appeals for both countries were issued this week – a $1 billion request for Türkiye to help 5.2 million people for three months and a $397 million humanitarian appeal for nearly five million people in Syria – jump-started by a $50 million funding injection from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund. Highlighting the need for sustained assistance in the region, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said more help was needed for farming communities impacted by the crisis. They are still reeling from the disaster, not least those who have opened their homes to survivors from nearby towns and cities. Urgent needs include assessing the extent of damage to agriculture and food supply chains, including irrigation systems, roads, markets and storage capacity. Read more: Syria's Assad could reap rewards from aid crossing deal
After years of war, residents of areas in northwest Syria struck by a massive earthquake are grappling with their new and worsening reality. Almost one week after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck northern Syria and neighboring Turkey, the United Nations has acknowledged an international failure to help Syrian quake victims. In Atareb, a town that Syrian rebels still hold after years of fighting government troops, survivors dug through the debris of their homes Sunday, picking up the remnants of their shattered lives and looking for ways to heal after the latest in a series of humanitarian disasters to hit the war-battered area. Excavators lifted rubble and residents with shovels and picks destroyed columns to even out a demolished building. Dozens of newly displaced families gathered for hot meals from local volunteers and the local opposition-run government. A private citizen went tent to tent to give out wads of cash in a makeshift shelter — the equivalent of about $18 to each family. Syrians were doing what they have honed over years of crises: relying on themselves to pick up the pieces and move on. “We are licking our own wounds,” said Hekmat Hamoud, who had been displaced twice by Syria’s ongoing conflict before finding himself trapped for hours beneath rubble. Syria's northwestern rebel-held enclave, where over 4 million people for years have struggled to cope with ruthless airstrikes and rampant poverty, was hit hard by the Feb. 6 quake. Many in the area were already displaced from the ongoing conflict and live in crowded tent settlements or buildings weakened by past bombings. The quake killed over 2,000 people in the enclave, and displaced many more for a second time, forcing some to sleep under olive groves in the frigid winter weather. “l lost everything,” said father of two Fares Ahmed Abdo, 25, who survived the quake. But his new home and body shop where he fixed motorcycles for a living were destroyed. Once again with barely any shelter and no power nor toilets, he, his wife, two boys and ill mother are crammed in a small tent. “I am waiting for any help," he said. Visiting the Turkish-Syrian border Sunday, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths acknowledged in a statement that Syrians have been left “looking for international help that hasn’t arrived.” “We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria. They rightly feel abandoned,” he said. “My duty and our obligation is to correct this failure as fast as we can.” Northwest Syria relies almost entirely on aid for survival, but post-quake international assistance has been slow to reach the area. The first U.N. convoy to reach the area from Turkey was on Thursday — three days after the earthquake. Before that, the only cargo coming across the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the Turkey-Syria border was a steady stream of bodies of earthquake victims coming home for burial — Syrian refugees who had fled the war in their country and settled in Turkey but perished in the quake. The U.N. aid sent from Turkey to Syria is only authorized to enter via the Bab al-Hawa crossing, and logistics were complicated by pressure on the roads, many of them destroyed by the quake. While technically, international aid can also be sent from Syrian government-held areas to rebel-held areas in the northwest, that route brings its own set of hurdles and was at best a trickle. Critics of the government of President Bashar Assad say aid funneled through government-held areas in Syria faces bureaucracy and the risk that authorities will misappropriate or divert the aid to support people close to the government. A convoy carrying U.N. aid that was scheduled to cross Sunday into rebel-held Idlib from the government area was canceled after its entry was blocked by the the Qaida-affiliated rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which dominates the area. An administrative arm of the group said in a statement declined to receive assistance from government areas. Strips of northern Syria are held by a patchwork of sometimes-conflicting groups, further hindering aid deliveries. Turkish-backed rebels have blocked aid convoys from reaching earthquake victims that were sent by rival U.S.-backed Kurdish groups in neighboring areas. “We are trying to tell everyone, put politics aside. This is the time to unite behind the common effort to support the Syrian people," said Geir Pedersen, the U.N. special envoy for Syria who landed in Damascus on Sunday. At the United Nations, U.S. envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for an urgent U.S. Security Council vote to authorize the opening of additional cross-border passages into northwestern Syria." People in the affected areas are counting on us," she said in a statement. “They are appealing to our common humanity to help in their moment of need. We cannot let them down.” While aid has been slow to reach the northwest, a number of countries that had cut ties with Damascus during Syria's civil war have sent help to government areas. Arab countries including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have stepped in. UAE's foreign minister visited Damascus and met with Assad on Sunday. Raed al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, a civil defense group operating in the rebel-held northwest, said Griffiths' visit was “too little, too late.” He said calls for international assistance by local rescue teams went unheeded for days “and during this time, countless lives have been needlessly lost.” Al-Saleh met with Griffiths to demand the opening of additional cross-border routes for aid to enter without waiting for authorization from the U.N. Security Council. Abdel-Haseeb Abdel-Raheem sifted through the rubble of his aunt’s destroyed four-story building in the town of Atareb in opposition-run northern Aleppo. He had pulled the bodies of his aunt and her husband from beneath the rubble hours after the quake. Now he went back to find any valuables, using his hands and dipping his body inside the skeleton of the destroyed building to pull out blankets and pillows, as well as some clothes. The 34-year-old said he had no illusion that humanitarian assistance will solve his problems. “We have no hope anymore,” he said. ___ Associated Press writers Kareem Chehayeb and Abby Sewell in Beirut contributed to this report.
A second UN aid convoy reached northwest Syria Friday to help victims of the still-unfolding earthquake tragedy, but humanitarians said far more lifesaving help is needed, and much more quickly. Fourteen trucks crossed into opposition-held areas of Syria from Türkiye at Bab al-Hawa, the UN migration agency, IOM, said. That crossing is the only one authorised for aid deliveries by the UN Security Council, which prompted calls, including from the secretary-general, "to explore all possible avenues to get aid and personnel into all affected areas." Echoing the growing international calls for quicker and easier access into northwest Syria via new routes, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it was ready to move supplies there, although roads had been damaged by Monday's earthquakes. "That slows down our deliveries," said Corinna Fleischer, WFP regional director in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe. "We need to be able to go across the borders, we need customs officials to be there in sufficient numbers…We need all parties to do the right thing now." Crossline deliveries need to restart and be stepped up from Government-controlled areas into opposition territory, the WFP official said. "A full 90 percent of people in the northwest depend on humanitarian assistance." Prepositioned stocks supplied by crossline deliveries that were carried before the earthquakes are being distributed already, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said, adding that it hoped an agreement with the government would allow for "fast and regular access" to the northwest. "We are running out of stocks and we need access to bring new stocks in," Fleischer said, as she noted calls for the crossing at Bab al-Salam – also into northwest Syria – to be reopened. In the first four days since deadly earthquakes struck the region, the WFP said it delivered food assistance to 115,000 people in Syria and Türkiye. More than 25,000 died, according to the latest reports, and many tens of thousands are too scared to move back into buildings that they fear may collapse, forcing them to sleep in cars, tents and anywhere else they can find shelter, amid freezing winter temperatures. Hot meals, ready-to-eat food rations and family food packages that require no cooking facilities have been provided already by the WFP. In total, WFP requires $77 million for food rations and hot meals for 874,000 quake-affected people in Türkiye and Syria. This includes 284,000 newly displaced people in Syria and 590,000 people in Türkiye, which includes 45,000 refugees and 545,000 internally displaced people. In another update, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said it had released medical supplies in northwest Syria to 16 hospitals treating survivors of Monday's earthquakes. On Thursday, medical and surgical trauma supplies from the WHO's logistical hub in Dubai also reached Türkiye, but needs remain massive, with hundreds of clinics in both Türkiye and Syria damaged in the disaster, along with many hospitals. Specialist international emergency medical teams coordinated by the WHO have been deployed and there will be more coming to complement the national teams already hard at work, said WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris. As the UN and partners step up the aid effort, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said some 5.3 million people in Syria may have been left homeless by the disaster at the start of the week. "There are 6.8 million people already internally displaced in the country. And this was before the earthquake," said Sivanka Dhanapala, UNHCR representative in Syria. Providing shelter and relief items remains the focus of the UNHCR response, and ensuring that collective centres for displaced people have adequate facilities, tents, plastic sheeting, thermal blankets, sleeping mats and winter clothing. The UN sexual and reproductive health agency UNFPA, said late on Friday it began distributing 60,000 dignity kits to women and girls in the worst-affected areas of northwest Syria. A convoy of 13 trucks arrived in Aleppo from Damascus Friday, containing 9,500 female hygiene kits, 1,000 winter blankets and clothing for 5,000 people, which will be distributed to temporary shelters in Aleppo. And more than 20 UNFPA-supported mobile health teams were taking reproductive health and psychosocial support to women and girls in the three most impacted areas of Aleppo governorate. Six trucks were being prepared to carry supplies from Damascus to Latakia and Hama over the weekend, the UNFPA said. Read more: Survivors still being found as quake death toll tops 25,000
Many governments and aid groups have rushed to dispatch personnel, funds and equipment to help the rescue efforts in quake-stricken areas of Turkey and Syria. Here’s a glance at what’s being provided so far: — The European Union has mobilized search and rescue teams to help Turkey, while the 27-nation bloc’s Copernicus satellite system has been activated to provide emergency mapping services. At least 13 member countries have offered assistance. The EU said it’s also ready to offer help to Syria through its humanitarian assistance programs. — The United States is coordinating immediate assistance to NATO-member Turkey, including teams to support search and rescue efforts. U.S.-supported humanitarian partners are also responding to the destruction in Syria. In California, nearly 100 Los Angeles County firefighters and structural engineers, along with a half-dozen specially trained dogs, were being sent to Turkey to help with rescue efforts. — Russian rescue teams from the Emergencies Ministry are preparing to fly to Syria, where Russian military deployed in that country already has sent 10 units comprising 300 people to help clear debris and search for survivors. The Russian military has set up points to distribute humanitarian assistance. Russia also has offered help to Turkey, which has been accepted. Read: Rescuers scramble in Turkey, Syria after quake kills 4,000 War-ravaged Syria is calling on the United Nations and all member states to help with rescue efforts, health services, shelter and food aid. The affected area in Syria is divided between government-held territory and the country’s last opposition-held enclave. — The Israeli army says it’s sending a search and rescue team of 150 engineers, medical personnel and other aid workers to Turkey. The army said they would provide “immediate assistance in life-saving efforts.” The two countries, once close regional allies, are in the process of mending ties after years of tensions. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has also approved a request for humanitarian aid for Syria, received through a diplomatic official. Israel and Syria do not have diplomatic relations and the two countries have fought several wars. — Neighbor and historic regional rival Greece is sending Turkey a team of 21 rescuers, two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle, together with a structural engineer, five doctors and seismic planning experts in a military transport plane.
NATO is determined to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia for “as long as it takes” and will help the war-wracked country transform its armed forces into a modern army up to Western standards, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowed on Friday. Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Romania next week, Stoltenberg urged countries that want to, either individually or in groups, to keep providing air defense systems and other weapons to Ukraine. NATO as an organization does not supply weapons. “NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down,” the former Norwegian prime minister said. “Allies are providing unprecedented military support, and I expect foreign ministers will also agree to step up non-lethal support.” Stoltenberg said that members of the 30-nation security organization have been delivering fuel, generators, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone jamming devices, but that more will be needed as winter closes in, particularly as Russia attacks Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Read more: Poland, NATO say missile strike wasn't a Russian attack “At our meeting in Bucharest, I will call for more,” he said. “Over the longer term we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet era equipment to modern NATO standards, doctrine and training.” Stoltenberg said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba would join the ministers to discuss his country’s most pressing needs but also what kind of long-term support that NATO can provide. NATO’s top civilian official said the support will help Ukraine move toward joining the alliance one day. The Nov 29-30 meeting in Bucharest is being held almost 15 years after NATO promised that Ukraine and Georgia would one day become members of the organization, a pledge that deeply angered Russia. Also attending the meeting will be the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova – three partners that NATO says are coming under increasing Russian pressure. Stoltenberg said the meeting would see NATO “take further steps to help them protect their independence, and strengthen their ability to defend themselves.” Read more: Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland Since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion 10 months ago, NATO has bolstered the defenses of allies neighboring Ukraine and Russia but has carefully sought to avoid being dragged into a wider war with a major nuclear power. But Stoltenberg put no pressure on Ukraine to enter peace talks with Russia, and indeed NATO and European diplomats have said that Putin does not appear willing to come to the table. “Most wars end with negotiations,” he said. “But what happens at the negotiating table depends on what happens on the battlefield. Therefore, the best way to increase the chances for a peaceful solution is to support Ukraine.”
Chevron Bangladesh, the largest producer of natural gas in the country, has extended its support to flood-hit people of three districts of Sylhet division as part of the company's corporate social responsibility. To support the flood-hit people of Habiganj, Sylhet and Sunamganj districts, Chevron Bangladesh recently provided one week's emergency supplies to around 14,000 families and additional 240,000 oral saline and water purification tablets. Chevron Bangladesh provided support to the affected families currently staying in the flood shelters in the three districts in collaboration with local administrators and relief committees of the flood-affected areas. Read: Chevron concludes community-based Jibika project Muhammad Imrul Kabir, director of corporate affairs in Chevron Bangladesh, said: "As a socially responsible organisation, we must stand by the flood-affected families at this critical time. If we all work together, we can alleviate the suffering of the affected community."