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World News in Brief: $850 million plan to support Rohingya refugees, child rights, Haiti aid update

The 2024 Joint Response Plan backed by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and migration agency, IOM, is led by the Government of Bangladesh.

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It seeks to alleviate the plight of around one million Rohingya refugees living in densely-populated camps in Cox’s Bazar and on the island of Bhasan Char after they fled ethnic violence in neighbouring Myanmar in August 2017.

Almost seven years later, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said needs “are as grave and as urgent as they ever were”, expressing hope that the crisis response will also help support around 346,000 people in host communities.

‘All hands on deck’

“This is an ‘all hands on deck’ kind of humanitarian crisis,” IOM Director General Amy Pope said, underscoring the scale of response needed and stressing the pivotal role of the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

“Without food everything else falls apart,” she warned.

In recent years, underfunding has exacerbated the challenges faced by Rohingya refugees, particularly women and children. UN officials expressed hope that this year’s appeal would yield stronger support.  

Uphold child rights, says UN Special Representative

Virginia Gamba, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, addressed the Human Rights Council on Wednesday, emphasizing the critical need to uphold the rights of every child, especially in conflict zones.

She highlighted the alarming increase in grave violations last year, especially in Haiti and Niger. 

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“I am particularly concerned over the relapse into or escalation of conflicts marked by serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the use of explosive weapons in strikes that have hit civilians, protected personnel and infrastructure…notably in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Myanmar, Sudan and Ukraine as well as in the central Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions.”

Some successes

On a positive note, Ms. Gamba highlighted successful engagements with parties to conflict, including the signing of action plans in Iraq and Ukraine to prevent violations.

She encouraged collaboration with the Human Rights Council, regional organizations like the Leagues of Arab States and the African Union and the European Union to address the protection of children.

Ms. Gamba called on the international community to reaffirm their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and integrate children’s rights into responses to global crises.

UN continues aid delivery amid chaos in Haiti

Despite multiple challenges, UN humanitarians are continuing to deliver assistance to Haitians displaced by the latest upsurge in violence and the collapse of the government while continuing their regular programmes of support throughout the country.  

To date, WFP has delivered around 75,000 meals, said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, briefing reporters in New York.

“Many of those in need are women and children. They need emergency assistance, as well as spaces where they can be safe. And for that, we need safe and unhindered access to all areas of Port-au-Prince to reach those who need our help the most,” he said.

In a sign of tensions potentially easing after the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry following the threat of a gang-instigated civil war, the first ship managed to leave Port-au-Prince since the end of February bound for Miragoâne.

The shipment contained eight trucks loaded with medicine and medical supplies for the health sector in the Grand Sud department in the south of the country. 

The consignment will supply around 80 health facilities in the area. 

“Some 5.5 million people – nearly half of the population of Haiti – need humanitarian assistance,” said Mr. Dujarric, but the humanitarian appeal for the country “tragically” remains only 2.6 per cent funded.

“We have $17.7 million in the bank, and we need $674 million for this year.”

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