Center for Humanitarian Health Weekly Newsletter
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The Humanitarian Health Weekly Newsletter

Week of January 23rd - January 29th, 2017

Humanitarian Emergency News

Armyworm outbreak spreads across Malawi, threatens maize crop

An infestation of armyworms, a pest that has hit maize fields in southern Africa, has spread across Malawi. The outbreak of fall armyworms - an invasive Latin American species which is harder to detect and eradicate than its African counterpart - has erupted in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi and follows a crippling El Nino-triggered drought which scorched much of the region last year. The ministry is still assessing how many hectares had been been affected. Earlier this month the government said 2,000 hectares of maize had been destroyed but the outbreak then was restricted to nine districts. Malawi's maize crop, the staple grain, was devastated last year by the regional drought. About 6.5 million Malawians, more than a third of the population, are dependent on food aid until this year's harvest in March, according to the United Nations' World Food Programme. The armyworms are caterpillars that "march" across the landscape in large groups feasting on young maize plants.

800 homes destroyed or flooded in Tahiti storms
More than 800 homes have been destroyed or flooded in French Polynesia after the weekend's severe storms. Authorities said at least four people were injured, 4000 people have been affected and that at least five bridges had been destroyed. Work was underway, yesterday, on Tahiti to move tons of mud brought in by the floods. A state of natural disaster was declared after the weekend rain. 258 homes were still without electricity yesterday afternoon.

Cold weather reignites fears for refugees poorly sheltered in Greece

A new bout of cold weather across southern Europe has reignited fears for thousands of refugees and migrants sheltered in deplorable conditions in Greece. Forecasts of freezing temperatures have also been met with trepidation by international agencies, aid groups and local mayors on islands. Greece was the focus of public outcry this month after shocking footage emerged of refugees on Lesbos living in flimsy, snow-swamped tents as an arctic blast sent temperatures plummeting to -14C. The outcry prompted the government to dispatch a naval ship to temporarily house up to 500 people detained at the island’s vastly overcrowded Moria reception centre. Others were moved into heated containers, hotel rooms and apartments. But the measures have proved inadequate and with more severe weather on the way officials, volunteers and human rights defenders fear the worst.

Special Reports

A Refugee Working with Refugees

Sayed Hashimi, 30, is an Afghan refugee in Greece. He barely escaped death after Taliban groups targeted him and his family for his affiliation to awareness raising campaigns on human rights and equality. He has been a part of DRC Greece team in the refugee site of Elliniko, Greece, working with its mostly Afghan population as a cultural mediator and interpreter. With the financial support of the European Union, DRC Greece acts as Elliniko official Site Management Support agency and legal aid provider.

Crisis Updates

Death Toll in Nigeria IDP Camp Bombing Climbs to 236

The death toll from last week's bombing of civilian IDP camp in northeastern Nigeria has more than quadrupled from the originally reported 70 to 236 people. The Nigerian military says the bombing was an accident and is under investigation. Nigerian Air Force spokesman Ayodele Famuyiwa told VOA the investigators will submit their findings no later than February 2. It is not clear whether the findings will be made public. Human Right Watch Nigeria senior researcher Mausi Segun says she had hoped for a broader panel of investigators that included civil society. In a surprising move, Nigeria's Air Force quickly confirmed the bombing and called it a mistake. Nigeria’s military routinely resists accusations of alleged abuses against civilians. The bombing occurred a week ago in Rann, a small rural town where at least 20,000 people have sought refuge from Boko Haram. Teams from Doctors Without Borders were providing humanitarian assistance there when the bombing occurred.

South Africa: Water Shortages Continue Despite Good Rains

While there has been good rains, the country is still firmly in a drought situation - and has not recovered enough to relax the restrictions to water use, implemented in provinces. This came up during a MinMEC (Minister and MEC's) meeting on Water and Sanitation held between Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and MECs responsible for Cooperative Governance in the nine provinces. Addressing the media after the meeting, Minister Mokonyane said the country is witnessing slight increases in eight of the nine provinces, however, she warned that this does not translate to any indication of a recovery from the current drought.

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