Sierra Leone children enjoy remarkable progress since end of war UN envoy

“The most striking impression of my visit to Sierra Leone is the remarkable transformation which has taken place in the country, in barely the space of a year-and-a-half since the ending of conflict,” the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, told the press at UN Headquarters in New York.He said the change was evident in the peace and security enjoyed throughout the country, the displaced persons returning to their homes, free and fair elections and the resurgence of commerce in various parts of the country among other things.Mr. Otunnu had been in Sierra Leone from 22 to 28 February to assess the impact of the country’s decade-long conflict on children and progress made since the end of the war. During his visit, the Special Representative met with President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, government officials and senior staff of the UN peacekeeping mission.Compared to his previous visits to Sierra Leone, Mr. Otunnu said many children were in smart uniforms attending school, and were better fed and clothed. To ensure that the gains made were consolidated and sustained, he urged the international community not to shift their attention from Sierra Leone.”It would be very unfortunate if precisely at a time when one is beginning to see tangible results, and when Sierra Leone is well-poised to really now consolidate on the peace and make this project sustainable, if the international community at this moment abandons Sierra Leone and the children of Sierra Leone,” he said. read more

Yemen UN calls for unimpeded access to people in need as fighting

Densely populated, Taiz was already one of the most vulnerable of the 22 governorates in the country, with 1.8 million people targeted by the UN for humanitarian assistance. In its latest crisis update, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that from 14 to 27 August, at least 95 civilians, including 52 children and 20 women, were killed, and 129 civilians, including 14 women and 36 children, were injured by indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling. The city of Taiz is being described by the UN “as a battleground,” with people caught between the frontlines and unable to find safety and security. Private homes are reportedly being destroyed as punishment for perceived support for opposing parties. In addition, OCHA is warning that the health system across the governorate has nearly collapsed due to the damage to health infrastructure caused by the conflict and the lack of fuel, medicines and hospital supplies. None of the six public hospitals in the governorate are operational, with the exception of the emergency unit and the kidney ward at the Al-Thawrah and Al-Jumhouri hospitals. Meanwhile, in violation of international humanitarian law, militants reportedly seized the Yemen International Hospital in Taiz and its ambulances on 24 August. According to OCHA, they forced all 80 patients, 20 of them in the intensive care unit, out of the hospital. Further exacerbating the public health outlook in Taiz, an extreme spike in cases of dengue fever has been recorded in the last two weeks with 432 cases as of 25 August. The city’s inhabitants are also at greater risk of contracting communicable diseases due to solid waste piling up on the sides of roads. The UN is reiterating its call today for predictable, safe, and unimpeded access to communities in need in the whole governorate, to deliver the much needed life-saving assistance to those who it says continue to suffer in Taiz. read more