Wednesday, August 19, 2009

World Humanitarian Day

Victims of the Canal Hotel bombing

Victims of the Canal Hotel bombing

The UN has declared today, August 19, the first World Humanitarian Day, in honor of the aid workers who gave their efforts and all too often their lives to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable.  This date marks the sixth anniversary of the bombing of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, which killed 22 people, most of whom where UN staff.  A senior UN official, Abdul-Haq Amiri spoke yesterday about the UN’s concerns with the rising violence against aid workers.  In 2008, 122 humanitarian workers were killed, three times more than in 1998.  Meanwhile, others are questioning whether part of the rise in violence can be attributed to the increase in missions that combine military and humanitarian goals, blurring the distinction between aid worker and soldier.

Moving Somali Refugees Relieves Pressure from Overcrowded Camp

The largest refuge camp in the world, in Dadaab, Kenya, is currently inhabited by 289,500 people, three times more than the camp was designed to hold.  In order to help relieve some of the pressures of overcrowding, the UN and Kenyan government have agreed to move 12,900 Somali refugees to a camp in Kakuma, a three day bus journey away.  Most of the refugees are Somalis fleeing from escalating violence in neighboring Somalia.  So far this year, nearly 43,000 refugees have come to the camp in Dabaad.

US Pledges $8 Million to Aid Sri Lanka

USAID announced today that it would provide $2 million dollars to help meet the immediate needs of Tamils internally displace persons.  Additionally, the US Department of State is providing $6 million to demine areas in northern Sri Lanka in order to begin repopulation.  Since 2008, the US has provided $68 million to Sri Lanka as it recovers from a lengthy civil war.