UNHCR Warns of Refugee Crisis

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that 2011 saw the largest number of new refugees in the last decade and that the trend is set to continue.

This is according to Antonio Guterres, high commissioner for refugees at the UN, speaking during the launch of the UNHCR's flagship report on the state of the world's refugees.

With this year's theme, 'In Search of Solidarity', the report explores key challenges that are fueling a refugee epidemic and making it harder for humanitarian agencies to reach those desperately in need.

EU Backs Aid Through Budget Support

In an unprecedented move, all 27 European Union (EU) development ministers championed budget support as an effective way of reducing poverty in developing countries.

The council of EU Development Ministers backed budget support, the aid modality in which money is given directly to the recipient country government, as an effective way to provide aid to developing countries.

SA Donates R10m in Aid to Congo

The department of international relations has donated R10 million in aid to victims of the explosion in Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo.

In a press statement, Gift of the Givers chairperson, Imtiaz Sooliman, states that the money will be used to buy food, tents, blankets, water purification tablets, clothing, energy supplements, detergents and disinfectants for people in the city.

SA Donates R120 Million to Somalia

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has announced that South Africa has put aside R120 million to assist Somalia.

Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says the humanitarian assistance will focus on liberated areas.

She says that the African Union has now declared that famine has ended in the area, but there is still a need for two million people to be supported through humanitarian aid.

Gates Pledges US$750m to Global Fund

Microsoft chairperson and philanthropist, Bill Gates, pledged a further US$750 million to the troubled Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and urged governments to continue their support to save lives.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Gates pointed out that, “These are tough economic times, but that is no excuse for cutting aid to the world's poorest."

Famine: UN Calls for Continued Assistance

The top United Nations relief official says that international humanitarian support in 2011 in the face of drought and famine in the country succeeded in saving numerous lives in Somalia.

However, Mark Bowden, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, warns that the situation remains fragile, with millions of people in need of continued assistance.

"The call for assistance in July 2011 received a tremendous response and we know that over the last year US$1.3 billion was actually raised for Somalia the majority of which has been spent," he explains.

Call to Tie Aid to Reforms

British MPs have backed the government’s plan to increase aid to conflict-affected countries, but want funding to be dependent on transparency and accountability.

The Commons’ international development select committee said ministers were right to increase the focus on countries such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, they called for aid to be tied to agreements to improve governance.

Climate Change Impacts on Food Security

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is sitting on a long list of farmers applying for aid relief, with their plight prompted by adverse change in weather patterns.

MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, says that weather conditions such as hail have a negative impact on farming communities and threaten food security.

"We have received requests from farmers for assistance because their crop was destroyed by hail. We have a long list of them," explains Mayathula-Khoza.

Zim Threatens to Punish Homosexuals

Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, says that homosexuals and lesbians will be punished severely for their behaviour, saying the inconsistent with African and Christian values.

Mugabe, who was speaking at the launch of the Tongogara Community Share Ownership Trust at Unki Mine, has been quoted as saying that, "Do not get tempted into that (homosexuality). You are young people. Mukaenda ikoko we will punish you severely."

NGO Volunteers All-African Games

The Mozambique Red Cross Society (MRCS) has partnered with the government's ministry of youth and sport to provide first aid assistance to athletes during the 10th All-Africa Games.

Under the government agreement, MRCS trained volunteers in first aid for the games, and provided them with the first aid kits and equipment to deliver a world class service.

"The recently acquired ten ambulances have put the Mozambique Red Cross Society in a better position to be a strategic partner in these All Africa Games," says Américo José Ubisse, MRCS secretary-general.


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