Message of solidarity, peace and hope to the people of South Sudan

(Juba, South Sudan) May 23, 2014 — The Religious Superior’s Association of South Sudan released a statement earlier this month expressing a message of “solidarity, peace and hope” to those affected by the violence in South Sudan over the past five months.

The full statement from the RSA of South Sudan:

A MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY, PEACE AND HOPE TO THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH SUDAN

“It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts of the Apostles 4:20)

We, the 75 representatives of 29 Catholic Religious Congregations belonging to the Religious Superiors’ Association of South Sudan (RSASS) that carry on evangelization offering various services in Church schools, dispensaries, hospitals and pastoral activities in dozens of parishes and missions across the seven Dioceses of South Sudan, gathered in Juba for our Annual Assembly to reflect on the Small Christian Communities, as a new way of being Church for the People of God, from 13th-15th May 2014, wish to send a message of solidarity, peace and hope to the people of South Sudan in this time of crisis and violence.

As your brothers and sisters, we are all mindful of each child, each woman, each man, each elderly person who has been affected by violence in South Sudan over the past five months. The blood of thousands of innocent people cries for justice. We cannot remain indifferent to the cry of the poor and the innocent who have lost their lives or are going through deep suffering and pain. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil” (Genesis 4:10).

We wish, first of all, to offer our prayers for those who have fallen victims of this senseless violence and lost their lives in the various regions of the country where there are conflicts. Our hearts and our thoughts are with the bereaved families in these difficult moments of pain and loss. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:25) Read the rest of this entry »

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A record 33.3 million now displaced by war worldwide

(GENEVA) May 14, 2014 — Thirty-three million people were internally displaced at the end of 2013 due to conflict and violence says a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). This equates to a staggering increase of 4.5 million from 2012, signaling a record high for the second year running.

SetWidth240-idmc-global-overview-2014-cover-72dpiToday IDMC, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), launched its Global Overview 2014 at the United Nations in Geneva, alongside the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The report, which covers internal displacement in 2013 highlights that a full 63% of the record breaking 33.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs) reported worldwide, come from just five countries: Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. Including figures for Nigeria for the first time, the report documents that an astounding, 3.3 million Nigerians have been displaced by conflict.

“This record number of people forced to flee inside their own countries confirms a disturbing upward trend of internal displacement since IDMC first began monitoring and analyzing displacement back in the late 90s,” says Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of NRC.

“The dramatic increase in forced displacement in 2013 and the fact that the average amount of time people worldwide are living in displacement is now a staggering 17 years, all suggest that something is going terribly wrong in how we are responding and dealing with this issue,” says Egeland.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres added: “We should all be concerned about these numbers and the continuing upwards trend. We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering. Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative.” Read the rest of this entry »

Pakistan in urgent need as floods displace millions of people

(UNITED NATIONS) The response from donors to a request to assist millions of people affected by floods in Pakistan is encouraging, with nearly half of the $460 million required having been received, but the contributions are far from sufficient given the magnitude of the disaster, the United Nations reported yesterday.

Some $227.8 million or 49.6 per cent of the total amount requested by UN agencies and NGO partners in the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan (PIFERP) has so far been received, while another $42 million has been pledged, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

“We thank donors for their generosity, and ask them to keep up this accelerated pace of donations. The road ahead remains long. We should all also be ready for any increase in requirements,” said John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

“Watching this disaster unfold, the world increasingly understands its immense magnitude,” said Mr. Holmes. “I am glad that we now see a more positive response to the calls of the Secretary-General and the humanitarian community for increased and faster funding,” he added, referring to the visit by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Pakistan on Sunday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ecuador registers Colombian refugees

Ecuador has started to register refugees from Colombia, a process that should allow many who have fled the conflict in Colombia to stay safely in Ecuador, BBC News reports.

Ecuador has the highest number of refugees in Latin America – a consequence of the ongoing conflict in Colombia between guerrillas, paramilitary squads and the state.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Colombia has one of the world’s largest internally displaced populations, estimated at more than three million.

Another 500,000 to 750,000 have fled to other countries, according to the Refugee Council USA, a U.S.-based coalition of NGOs. (Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a member of RCUSA)

Ecuador is a preferred destination both for its geographical proximity to the troubled southern Colombian regions of Putumayo and Narino and for the relatively easy migration process.

Read the full story here.

Haiti needs immediate global support to grow food

United Nations agencies voiced alarm today at the lack of global support for Haiti’s immediate agricultural needs, such as seed and fertilizers to ensure food from the next planting season, while stressing that disaster mitigation techniques must figure fully in the country’s reconstruction from last month’s devastating earthquake.

“At a time when Haiti is facing a major food crisis we are alarmed at the lack of support to the agricultural component of the Flash Appeal,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jacques Diouf told a high-level meeting in Rome to coordinate UN efforts for the medium- and long-term recovery of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

The $575-million UN appeal launched shortly after the 12 January quake, which killed some 200,000 people, injured many others and left 2 million in need of aid, sought $23 million for immediate agricultural needs. “But only 8 per cent of this sum has so far been funded,” Mr. Diouf said. “The economic and social reconstruction of Haiti requires a revival of food production and massive investment in rural areas.

“The immediate priority is support for the farm season that begins in March and accounts for more than 60 per cent of the country’s food production,” he added, noting that FAO has already started to distribute seeds, fertilizer and tools to enable farmers to plant for the next harvest. Read the rest of this entry »

200,000 tents needed for displaced people in Haiti

The United Nations said it is racing against time to bring in hazard-resistant tents for Haiti’s earthquake victims before the rainy season starts, provide sufficient agricultural input to save the next planting season, and raise greatly increased funding to support the effort.

Jacmel Hospital

A earthquake victim recovers at the hospital in Jacmel. (UN photo by Marco Dormino)

“We have more or less two months, and in fact time is getting very short because rains could come earlier,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti Kim Bolduc told a news briefing in New York by video link from Port-au-Prince, the capital, in the latest update on the January 12 quake, which killed up to 200,000 people, injured many others and left two million in need of aid.

“In terms of key challenges, we are left obviously with the joint capacity of the Government and the international community to scale up the operation fast enough so that we reduce the level of vulnerability, we reach the people who are outside of Port-au-Prince,” she said, mentioning not only the towns of Jacmel and Léogâne but also other places in the hinterland where hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge. Read the rest of this entry »