The New Humanitarian
Gaza breaking point, Myanmar needs, and the big aid squeeze: the Cheat Sheet
Our editors’ weekly take on humanitarian news, trends, and developments from around the globe. In the two months since Israel began bombarding and laying total siege to Gaza, around 85% of the 2.3 million people who live in the coastal enclave have been displaced from their homes, according to the UN. More than 17,000 people have been killed – around 70% of them women and children – and many others are missing and presumed to be trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings, according to the Gaza Health Ministry; the enclave’s healthcare system is barely functional; and a rapid food security assessment found that nearly everyone went to bed hungry and most went entire days without food. Israel began its assault after Hamas – the Palestinian political and militant group that governs Gaza – launched an attack into Israel on 7 October, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,200 people, most of them civilians who were intentionally killed, according to Israeli officials. An Israeli ground invasion, which began on 27 October and is expanding into southern Gaza, is squeezing hundreds of thousands of displaced into smaller and smaller areas. Humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza have essentially ground to a halt, and UN officials have repeatedly warned that nowhere is safe. Amid these extreme conditions, “civil order is breaking down”, the Gaza director of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warned, while Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner-general, said: “We are reaching the point of no return”. UN Secretary-General António Guterres invoked a rarely used article of the UN charter to push the Security Council to demand an immediate ceasefire, but the United States was expected to block the effort. For an intimate first-hand account of the situation in the enclave, read: ‘What can I do?’: Reflections of a Gaza aid worker.
Snapshots: How Sudan's conflict is impacting Darfur
The war between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has been especially hard on the country’s westernmost Darfur region, which had already experienced several periods of armed conflict over the past two decades. Some of Darfur’s largest cities have been severely damaged or suffered ethnic...
The testing climate journey facing Kenya’s pastoralists
Changing climate, changing lives: This occasional series of reports from the front lines of climate change explores how extreme weather already affects millions of people in different settings around the globe, looking at both the real-world impacts and possible ways forward. MARSABIT, Kenya. Pastoralist communities in Kenya’s arid north know...
Decolonise How? | How do you cover a genocide?
Editor’s note: This column, Decolonise how?, charts efforts to build a global media ethics for the 21st century. On any given day, in any given news cycle, numerous conflicts and catastrophes around the world claim untold lives and cause massive human suffering. As I write this, the Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts online portal is monitoring at least 110 armed conflicts; deadly flooding is taking place in countries across East Africa as well as in Yemen, Italy, and the Dominican Republic; people are still suffering the effects of devastating earthquakes in Afghanistan, Nepal, and Morocco; and an Icelandic town has been abandoned in the face of a looming volcanic eruption.
‘What can I do?’: Reflections of a Gaza aid worker
Editor’s note: Nasma is an alias. The author’s name is being withheld to protect the safety of her and her family given the security situation in Gaza. I am a humanitarian aid worker living in the middle of one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time, but I feel completely helpless to do anything. There is no food, no water, no medicine. People are sick and dying all around us; disease is spreading. Every single person is in need, the problems are endless, and yet, what can I do?
What the war in Gaza means for Syria
After 12 years of war, Syria is a fractured country where humanitarian needs are still growing. The ongoing violence in Gaza is likely to make things even worse. While armed conflict has declined across Syria in the past years, the war is not over. October saw renewed airstrikes and shelling in the rebel-held northwest, while the economy continues to sink to new lows.
What’s Unsaid | Let’s talk about aid diversion
Aid diversion is a reality. But it’s not something humanitarians want to discuss. When fraud is discovered or aid is diverted, it quickly becomes a scandal. Funding can be cut – without looking at the consequences for people who rely on aid. But what if talking about the...
Expanding Israeli assault grinds Gaza aid efforts to a halt
With Israel’s bombardment and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip resuming at full force, last week’s pause in hostilities is already a distant memory for residents of the enclave, who are wondering whether it served any real humanitarian purpose at all amid the utter devastation caused by Israel’s expanding military offensive.
Aid needs to grow in Myanmar as resistance advances put more civilians at risk
Over the past month, resistance groups battling the Myanmar military have made unprecedented gains, seizing back control of several towns. This has given way to hopes the junta could one day be ousted, but experts fear it will only exacerbate the war in the shorter term. This means greater casualties, more displacement, and increased needs in a country where the humanitarian aid response is already badly hampered.
Inklings | The Gaza effect, 2024 budgets, obscure acronyms
This is the first edition of Inklings, where we explore all things aid and aid-adjacent unfolding in the wilds of Geneva, on the front lines of emergency response, or in the dark corners of online aid punditry. It’s also available as an email newsletter. Subscribe here. Today: What aid...
Snapshots: A Palestinian photographer captures life under bombardment in Gaza
Like everyone now in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Zaanoun has been living breath by breath, in fear of what might fall from the sky, but he continues to send photographs and video clips to keep the spotlight on what people there are experiencing. Here is his latest dispatch:. 5 December...
In Burkina Faso's blockaded towns, war crimes and mutual aid
Editor’s note: The name of the Burkinabé journalist is not being used due to concerns about their safety. Around a million people in Burkina Faso are living under suffocating blockades imposed by jihadist groups on dozens of towns and villages – a tool of war that is destroying local economies and leading to mass hunger and deaths from treatable diseases.
The IFRC needs to change. Here’s a to-do list
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies desperately needs a makeover. Will its new leader be up to the task?. The IFRC elects its next president on 11 December in a hastily convened vote. The incumbent, Francesco Rocca, reluctantly announced he would step down after a conflict of interest controversy obligated his departure.
What happened on COP28’s big humanitarian day?
As COP28’s grand musical light show closed the UN climate summit’s first ever day dedicated to humanitarian action, on 3 December, it was clear that two major policy trends linking climate and emergency aid had come to the fore. The first was the launch of the Climate, Relief,...
‘This is inexcusable’: What's behind deteriorating conditions in Greek island asylum camps?
In 2020, when Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos burned down, the European Commission promised there would be “no more Morias”. Chronically overcrowded and under-resourced, the dismal living conditions and treatment asylum seekers and migrants faced in Moria had become a potent symbol of the human costs of EU efforts to curb migration since the 2015 Mediterranean migration crisis.
Who’s who at COP28
The COP28 climate summit is said to be one of the biggest ever iterations of the event for the humanitarian sector, with agencies attending en masse in response to the increased global focus on climate change. From extreme weather events to destabilising societies, the impacts of a hotter planet are...
Gaza truce ends, COP28 opens, and Kissinger dies: The Cheat Sheet
Our editors’ weekly take on humanitarian news, trends, and developments from around the globe. Return of ‘hell on Earth’ as Israel resumes Gaza offensive. Israel’s bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza resumed on 1 December when a seven-day pause expired at 7am local time, after international efforts to extend the truce failed. “Resuming the bombing means hell on Earth has returned for children and their families, with no end in sight,” Care International said in a press release. In the first hours, the Israeli military said it had hit over 200 targets across Gaza. Health officials in the enclave, governed by the Palestinian political and militant group Hamas, said at least 109 people had been killed in the strikes. The death toll in Gaza since 7 October – when Israel began its military campaign following Hamas’ deadly attack into Israel – has topped 15,000, including 6,150 children and 4,000 women, according to the Government Media Office in the enclave. The Israeli military also reportedly dropped leaflets urging people in parts of southern Gaza to leave their homes, raising fears it could soon expand its ground offensive into areas of the enclave where many of the around 1.8 million people (80% of the population) who have been displaced from their homes have taken shelter. During the pause, Hamas released 105 of the around 240 hostages it took during its attack, in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians – all of them women and children – from Israeli prisons. The pause allowed for a significant increase in the amount of humanitarian aid being delivered to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. This, however, remained “completely inadequate to meet the huge needs of more than two million people”, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Oh FFS: A guide to climate change jargon and acronyms
The aid sector loves its acronyms. Stir in some climate science and the political language of global treaty negotiations, and you have the recipe for a (rapidly warming) cauldron of alphabet soup. Here’s our updated guide to some of the tongue-twisting abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms that help make climate change...
As COP28 looks at conflict-climate overlap, northwest Syria should be exhibit A
For the first time, the UN’s annual climate change conference is putting a spotlight on the overlap between conflict and the climate crisis, and on the pressing need to address its neglected humanitarian consequences. As COP28 begins today in Dubai, the urgency for more climate financing to be directed...
Trust deficit hangs over COP28, where humanitarians aim to play a bigger role
The COP28 climate summit opens today in Dubai with phasing out fossil fuels, new funding for the energy transition, and loss and damage among the urgent issues – while campaigners warn that a crisis of mistrust threatens to divide countries at a crucial time. Humanitarians head to the UN-backed...
The New Humanitarian
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