Friday, March 12, 2010

Finding a Way Forward in Difficult Situations

Below are brief accounts of three of this week’s global stories. Easy answers to difficult situations are seldom found. As Jesus followers, we long to see aid brought to those in need and the safety of those working to provide resources to meet those needs. I share the following to allow more informed intercession. Our Father who cares about “the least of these” is at work and we seek to join Him in His activity.

Afghanistan: Will Taliban Protect Humanitarian Aid Workers

Insurgents in Afghanistan have shown interest in negotiating with the UN and aid agencies on humanitarian access and aid distributions, according to a purported Taliban spokesman. "If aid agencies contact our local Mujahedin and reach an agreement we would vouch for the safety of their workers and convoys," Qari Yosuf Ahmadi told International Relief leaders on the phone from an undisclosed location. "Whether it's a vaccination campaign or food aid distribution they [aid agencies] can do their activities in consultation and agreement with us" he said.

Niger: Food prices up, incomes down

A severe food and malnutrition crisis is looming in Niger, according to aid agencies. More than 20,000 under-five children are being treated for malnutrition nationwide and at least another 200,000 are at risk of severe malnutrition.

Selling prized cattle, cutting meals, eating food intended for animals and scrounging for anything to sell as firewood or animal feed have become increasingly common, according to officials. Access to food, rather than its availability, is turning out to be the main problem in 2010, according to a US famine monitoring group. 

Food and fodder prices in parts of the south are up around 30 percent from 2009. But March incomes have dropped to half of what they were last September due to more agriculture workers competing for dwindling jobs. 

"We need to ensure people have access to food. We are not even in the hungry season yet," Aboubacar Mahamadou, said the Health Ministry's deputy director of nutrition services.

UGANDA: One doctor for 16,200 refugees

Inadequate healthcare is just one of many challenges facing the 16,200 refugees in a sprawling refugee camp in western Uganda, which is served by a single doctor. 

Among those waiting in one of the camp's two health centers was Mirian, 30, whose child was shivering with fever, most likely caused by malaria. "I walked two hours to reach the clinic this morning and have been sitting here for three. I hope the doctor can help my child - he is getting worse and worse every minute," she said. 

"We are very stretched in terms of resources to meet all our needs," said Juliet Muhumunza, project manager with the German development agency, the UN Refugee Agency's implementing health partner. "Lack of medical staff is only the tip of the iceberg of our humanitarian assistance gaps."

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