The international response in Uganda is failing refugees and must prioritise life-saving supplies such as food and water to prevent a medical emergency, the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors without Borders (MSF) said today ahead of a major refugee summit.
Governments and international organisations are meeting in Kampala on 22 and 23 June to raise funds for Uganda’s refugee response. The country currently hosts 950,562 refugees and receives about 2,000 new arrivals every day, the vast majority of them fleeing violence in South Sudan. Uganda is a pilot country for the UNHCR-led Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which aims to improve the situation of refugees and host communities through increasing self-reliance and enhancing cooperation between the UNHCR, governments, NGOs, and other actors.
Inadequate resources, coupled with poor water and sanitation conditions and a shortage of food rations, could quickly turn the situation into a medical emergency. In Palorinya, 80 percent of the population is 100 percent dependent on water treated by MSF, which is unsustainable. “Currently the most basic needs of refugees are not being met,” says Tara Newell, MSF’s operations manager for Uganda. Even though we are pumping and treating record amounts of water in Palorinya, it’s always only just barely enough for the population.” The majority of refugees who live in settlements without water plants and who rely on a handful of boreholes and water trucks get seven litres per person per day. Access to water in the settlements is dependent on water trucking, a hugely expensive system often derailed by poor road conditions. “Without a longer term and more cost-effective solution, people’s ability to cope, as well as their health, will deteriorate,” says Newell.
Following 50 percent cuts to the monthly food rations distributed by the World Food Programme, the number of people critically short of food in the settlements is also a major concern. MSF is seeing refugees registering in multiple settlements because they are desperate for food rations and water, and there are reports of inconsistent or incomplete core relief items distributions in the settlements. Refugees have cited food insecurity as a major concern and have even prompted some to return to South Sudan. “I’d rather get shot in South Sudan than starve in Uganda,” one refugee told MSF staff. Teams have also heard stories of refugees who returned to South Sudan because of a lack of food in Uganda, only to be killed. “Refugees are being put in an unimaginable position – to go without food and water, or risk their lives in a conflict just so they can eat,” says Dr. Leon Salumu, MSF program manager.
Keeping pace with the growing refugee population is proving impossible and the Ugandan Government is increasingly stretched. Some refugees have been moved to sites far away from water sources or cultivatable land, such as the Ofua zone in the western part of Rhino settlement. Better site planning, which maximizes access to services such as water, sanitation and healthcare, is needed to ensure the basic needs of refugees are met.
Health interventions have also been complicated by the time-consuming nature of regular importation procedures for medical supplies. For example, for two months this year, MSF was unable to offer safe deliveries, or treat eye and skin diseases, two common morbidities in the settlements, because of the lengthy bureaucratic requirements for importing medical supplies. MSF requests the Government of Uganda expedite pending importation requests and to fast-track medical importations for emergency health kits and medical supplies to facilitate a scale-up of the emergency medical response.
Uganda is now the largest host of refugees in Africa, taking in more than triple the amount of people who arrived in Europe by sea in 2016. Many countries have shamefully introduced restrictive migration policies and sought to limit the arrival of refugees at their borders, promising instead to support refugees closer to their country of origin. Yet they have not delivered on this promise – the Uganda refugee response is only 17 percent funded. “The international community has failed to help resolve the conflict in South Sudan and is now failing to adequately help South Sudanese refugees in the region,” says Salumu. “The international community needs to step up to its obligations and rethink the ways services are delivered to refugees spread out across such vast geographical distances.”
U.S. Embassy Cairo Brings American “Writers’ Room” to Egypt
By: Segun Lawal
the U.S. Embassy collaborated with the Middle East Media Initiative (MEMI), and Egyptian script development and screenwriters hub Birthmark Scenario to conduct a weeklong series of workshops for television scriptwriters. These workshops provided Egyptian screenwriters with face-to-face access to expert American screenwriters in order to exchange ideas and to learn about the “Writers’ Room” format widely used in the U.S. television industry.
This initiative is part of the Embassy’s support for Egypt’s creative arts industries and the next generation of promising Egyptian screenwriters.
David Isaacs (Cheers, Mad Men), Larry Balmagia (M*A*S*H), Larry Andries (Six Feet Under, Alias), and Terri Kopp (In Contempt, Law & Order) led workshops for selected Egyptian showrunners, screenwriters, and producers.
“This workshop opportunity offered established and emerging Egyptian TV writers and producers valuable tools to develop and sell Egyptian stories in the global TV marketplace.” said Deana Nassar, MEMI Program Director. The initiative also aims to create deep and lasting professional connections between the creative arts communities of both countries.
The Middle East Media Initiative (MEMI) is a program supported by the U.S. Department of State in cooperation with the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. MEMI produces trainings and creative collaborations between TV, media, and digital professionals in the U.S. and the Middle East. MEMI brings leading and emerging Egyptian producers and screenwriters to the U.S. for script development workshops, masterclasses with top American TV showrunners, and job shadowing opportunities on American TV shows.
Standard Chartered launches second wave of digital-only retail banks across four African markets
Standard Chartered today announced the start of the second phase of its digital-only retail bank across Africa. In response to growing consumer demand for innovative banking services on the continent, the Bank will launch its digital solution in four key markets during the first quarter of 2019 starting in Uganda in January, followed by Tanzania in February, with Ghana and Kenya to follow.
Following the successful launch of Standard Chartered’s first digital retail bank in Côte d’Ivoire last year, the second phase builds on the original CDI platform that onboards clients in under 15 minutes and provides 70 of the most common service requests. The updated digital bank provides enhanced services including QR code and P2P payments, loan and overdraft facilities, and instant fixed deposits. Clients will be able to enjoy the convenience of banking on the go, anytime and anywhere, along with a consistent online experience.
The roll out will also see the Bank engage in strategic local alliances to create an appealing lifestyle banking proposition to provide clients offers across shopping, travel and dining.
Commenting on the second phase of the launch, Sunil Kaushal, Regional CEO, Africa and Middle East said:“We are thrilled to launch the second phase of our digital-only retail banks across other African markets. The Bank continues to make strategic and sustainable investments in technology – this complements our innovation agenda, as well as enhance our digital offerings and client experiences. Digitising Africa and facilitating access to financial services remains at the heart of our business strategy for the region.”
Africa’s banking market is the second-fastest-growing and second-most profitable globally. The retail banking sector is a locus of new business models which are emerging in response to low levels of banking penetration and heavy use of cash in the Sub-Saharan continent.
Commenting on the launch of the digital bank in Uganda, Governor, Central Bank Governor Prof. Emmanuel Mutebile said “There will continue to be disruption in the Banking sector. Institutions that fail to keep up might lose out and at the very worst be pushed out of business in the long run, however, this disruption to bank business models works in the interest of customers and the general populace. I therefore congratulate Standard Chartered Bank on unveiling this revolutionary digital initiative as I believe that with such innovations, we are making significant progress in embracing technological changes and digitization to help us achieve stable and long-term growth.”
To support the digital bank roll out across the four markets, aimed at driving digital adoption amongst new and existing clients focusing on young digital natives, the Bank will also launch a marketing campaign dubbed ‘//BEUNSTOPPABLE’, Bank on the go! The campaign will run across traditional and social media to remind consumers that banking should not stop them from doing what they love to do, and when they want to do them.
In Uganda, Standard Chartered has also partnered with popular Ugandan entertainer and comedian Anne Kansiime to drive awareness of the new digital bank in the market. As part of her role, Anne will be promoting the bank’s digital banking capabilities and will lend her voice and image rights through a series of Marketing and Community engagement activities over the next 12 months.
The Bank’s digital services are available by downloading the Standard Chartered mobile application via the Google play store or Apple store.
U.S. Government program improves lives of 600,000 orphans and vulnerable children
By: Segun Lawal
Today at Golden Conifer in Harare, the United States celebrated the World Education Inc. Vana Bantwana program together with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare. With funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Vana Bantwana program successfully reached over 600,000 orphans and vulnerable children with the tools and support they need to unlock their potential and live healthy, productive lives.
USAID/Zimbabwe Acting Mission Director Michael McCord stated: “The United States is proud to partner with the people of Zimbabwe to mitigate the impact of the HIV epidemic on children. World Education’s work through the Vana Bantwana program exemplifies USAID’s mission to empower countries, communities, families, and individuals to lead their own future.”
Launched in 2013, the $35 million USAID-funded Vana Bantwana program supported comprehensive, quality education, health, and child protection services for HIV-infected and affected children and families. The program provided educational scholarships for over 50,000 children, including 2,300 children with disabilities. More than 30,000 families participated in training to improve economic resilience. Half a million children received critical health services, including 11,000 children who were initiated on HIV treatment. The program empowered 300,000 children to identify and prevent gender-based violence and provided gender-based violence response services, including medical, legal, and counseling support.
World Education Zimbabwe Country Director Patience Ndlovu stated: “World Education, together with our partners, are deeply gratified by the impact of our program on the lives of the most vulnerable Zimbabweans. By strengthening the capacity of families, community structures, local organizations, and national social protection and health systems, this transformation will continue long past the program’s completion.”
Although much progress has been made in the past decade, HIV remains one of the top health threats facing the people of Zimbabwe. Since 2000, over 1.2 million adults have died from AIDS, leaving 16 percent of Zimbabwean children orphaned by one or both of their parents. As of 2017, an estimated 77,000 children in Zimbabwe are living with HIV.
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