Saturday, January 31, 2009

humanatarian update by country

Sri Lanka: The Sri Lankan government has been engaged in civil war with a group of separatist who call themselves the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers) since 1983. During this conflict both sides have been accused of Human Rights Violations, and an estimated 70,000 people have died.

Currently, about 250,000 civilians are trapped between the forces on a 300 square km patch of jungle. On Thursday the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) transported 226 seriously wounded civilians out of the region in a convey. Hours later President Mahinda Rajapaksa pledged safe passage for the remaining civilians trapped by the fighting and asked the Tamil Tigers to do the same.

Somalia: Somalia has basically been in a state of anarchy since 1991 when the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre fell. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is the government currently recognized by the international community. However, the government has little control over the country.

In December 2008, President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed resigned when the Parliament insisted on reinstating the Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein. As such, Parliament elected Sheikh Sharif Sheekh Ahmed to be President on Saturday (Jan 30,2009) in Djibouti. Sheikh Sharif Sheekh Ahmed is a moderate Islamic leader and promises to tackle piracy, insurgents and work towards peace with their neighbors.

Myanmar: Myanmar is governed by a harsh military dictatorship which targets minorities. As a result more than half a million of its people have fled the neighboring countries.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslim minority have fled their homes and are unable to return. While the Myanmar government is denying that these people are from their country, the Thai government has been intercepting the refugees, towing them out to sea and cutting them lose. An estimated 550 refugees are thought to have drown since December.

Zimbabwe: August 2008 marked the start of the cholera outbreak that is sweeping through Zimbabwe. Cholera typically has a mortality rate of 1% but in this case it is claiming the lives of 4.5% of the individuals infected, according to the World Health Organization. This is most likely the result malnutrition and high HIV rates.

Since cholera is usually spread by water contaminated with fecal matter, the outbreak has been allowed to spread in part due to the decline of the sanitation infrastructure. Specifically, the state operated water companies have run out of Aluminum Sulfate which is important for water purification.

In addition to the cholera epidemic, there has also been wide spread food shortages since 2000. According to the Human Right's Watch an estimated 5.1 million ( 1/2 the population) will need food aid. In addition, rising unemployment, a failing economy, government sponsored violence, land seizures, disappearances, and crop/livestock destruction has left the country in total disarray.

On Friday (jan 30,09) the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) agreed to let the party leader Morgan Tsvangirai form a unity government with the governing party, the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). Hopefully the shared power will eliminate the politically motivated violence and enable the country to get the Cholera outbreak under control.

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