Already Complicit in Libya Migrant Abuse, EU Doubles Down on Support

Associate Director, Middle East and North Africa Division HananMSalah


This week, the European Union handed over in Italy a search and rescue vessel to Libyan authorities intended for abusive Libyan Coast Guard forces and promised four more, without any apparent attempt to vet the human rights practices of the coast guard, thus making the EU more complicit in human rights abuses in the Mediterranean.


While the single boat handed over by Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement is a pittance within an 800 million Euro project to “stop the illegal migration to Europe” from North Africa, it will tie the EU more directly to abuses that inevitably occur when the Libyan Coast Guards intercepts people at sea and brings them back to Libya.


For years the EU has abdicated its primary responsibility of search and rescue in the Mediterranean, where thousands of migrants and asylum seekers have died while attempting to reach Europe from North Africa, particularly Libya. Instead, the EU and member countries have chosen to furnish money, vessels, training, and aerial surveillance to abusive Libyan armed groups so they can intercept and forcibly return people to Libya. There, these migrants face systematic and widespread abuses including torture, arbitrary detention, forced labor, and sexual assault.


Dodging this reality, Várhelyi insists the aid will reduce deaths and trafficking in the Mediterranean and make Europe safer. “Libya can continue to count on Europe’s support,” he stated, adding that the EU can “expect [Libya’s] continued commitment to deliver tangible results on the ground.” The commissioner said nothing about the need to vet the human rights practices of the groups receiving EU support.


More than 24,684 people intercepted in the Mediterranean were forced back to Libya in 2022, and a staggering 25,313 at least have died in the Mediterranean since 2014.


To change this reality, the EU should stop supporting abusive militias and instead establish safe and legal pathways for migration. The EU and its member states should suspend cooperation with Libyan authorities until they ensure they are complying with the obligation not to return people to places where they face abuse, inhumane detention conditions, and lack of access to international protection. It is paramount the EU, with its significant means and technical capacities to take up its search and rescue responsibilities in the Mediterranean, focuses on saving lives and ensures people are disembarked in a safe port and never returned to the abuse they faced in Libya


Source: Human Rights Watch

WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at 4th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee: multi-country outbreak of mpox – 9 February 2023

Dear members and advisers of the Emergency Committee, colleagues and friends,


Thank you to our Chair and Vice-Chair for joining us in Geneva, and to all of you for joining us from around the world.


It is very pleasing to see how, thanks to the hard work of affected countries, cases of mpox have declined since I declared a public health emergency of international concern last July.


The number of reported cases of mpox has continued to drop to low levels in all regions since the last time you met, and this looks like a sustained decline.


More than 85,000 cases of mpox have now been reported to WHO, with 92 deaths.


Since November, 90 percent of cases have been reported from the Region of the Americas.


But WHO continues to receive case reports from around the world, with more than 30 countries reporting in the last month.


It is important to note that it is difficult to chart the true trajectory of the epidemic in the African Region due to the limited data available to WHO. Data sharing remains critical for all countries.


That said, the slowdown in reported cases indicates the effectiveness of response measures globally.


Whether or not you advise me that the outbreak continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern, bringing the outbreak to an end still requires intense effort. If we do not stop human-to-human transmission, we could face a resurgence of cases.


And of course, we must remember that mpox has been endemic in many low-income countries in Africa for many years.


Even as it recedes in countries that have not seen major outbreaks before, this global outbreak must spur more sustained investment in addressing this disease everywhere.


Going forward, we must sustain efforts for surveillance, prevention and care; vaccination of high-risk populations;


improving equitable access to diagnostics, vaccines and treatment for all who need them; and continuing to fight stigma and discrimination, and ensure respect for human rights.


Over the longer-term, mpox programmes and services should be integrated into surveillance and control programmes for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.


In a few moments my colleagues will provide technical updates on the current epidemiological situation.


My thanks once again to you, Dr Okwo-Bele, for your leadership.


And my thanks to each of the committee members and advisors for sharing your expertise, and for your dedication and commitment.


As always, the International Health Regulations will be your guide.


I wish you a productive discussion, and I look forward to your recommendations.


I thank you.


Source: World Health Organization

New cholera cases in Africa surging fast, reach a third of 2022 total in a month

Africa is witnessing an exponential rise in cholera cases amid a global surge. Cases recorded on the continent in the first month of 2023 alone have already risen by more than 30% of the total caseload reached in the whole of 2022.


An estimated 26 000 cases and 660 deaths have been reported as of 29 January 2023 in 10 African countries facing outbreaks since the beginning of the year. In 2022 nearly 80 000 cases and 1863 deaths were recorded from 15 affected countries. If the current fast-rising trend continues, it could surpass the number of cases recorded in 2021, the worst year for cholera in Africa in nearly a decade. Average case fatality ratio is currently almost at 3%, above the 2.3% reached in 2022, and far exceeding the acceptable level of below 1%.


The bulk of the new cases and deaths have been recorded in Malawi, which is facing its worst cholera outbreak in two decades. Malawi’s neighbours Mozambique and Zambia have also recently reported cases. In East Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are responding to outbreaks amid a prolonged and harsh drought that has left millions of people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria have also reported cases.


“We are witnessing a worrying scenario where conflict and extreme climatic events are worsening the triggers of cholera and increasing its toll on lives,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “It’s critical for African countries to scale up readiness to quickly detect cases and mount comprehensive and timely response. We are supporting governments to bolster key control measures to halt these outbreaks as quickly as possible.”


WHO is working with countries to ramp up disease surveillance, prevention and treatment measures, community engagement, as well as multi-sectoral coordination with partners and agencies to improve sanitation and provide safe water. The Organization has deployed 65 experts to five African countries, including 40 to Malawi. In addition, WHO has also disbursed US$ 6 million to kick-start emergency cholera response in Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.


So far this year, around 3.3 million cholera vaccine doses have been delivered to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya and Mozambique—which is to take delivery in the coming days—through the International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision. This initiative aims to manage emergency supplies of vaccines and is a partnership of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Médecins sans Frontières United Nations Children’s Fund and WHO.


The increase in cholera outbreaks globally has put a huge strain on the availability of vaccines, prompting the International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision to temporarily suspend the standard two-dose vaccination regimen in cholera outbreak response campaigns, using instead a single-dose approach. A further surge in cholera outbreak risks deepening the shortage.


Cholera is an acute, extremely virulent infection that can spread rapidly and dehydration resulting in high morbidity and mortality. However, the disease is easily treatable. Most people can be treated successfully through prompt administration of oral rehydration solution or intravenous fluids.


“Every death due to cholera is preventable,” said Dr Moeti. “This disease is much a health challenge as it is a development one. As such investments in better sanitation and access to safe water formidably complement the public health initiatives to sustainably control and end cholera.”


Effective control relies on implementing comprehensive measures including enhanced epidemiological and laboratory surveillance to detect, confirm and quickly respond to outbreaks, improving access to treatment, vaccines, safe water and basic sanitation as well as effecting behavioural change and better hygiene practices among communities.


The cholera outbreaks in Africa are occurring in the context of extreme climatic events, conflicts, ongoing outbreaks of other disease such as wild poliovirus as well as limited financial resources and strained health workforce due to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


WHO held a press conference today led by Dr Patrick Otim, Health Emergency Officer, Acute Events Management Unit. He was joined by Dr Charles Mwansambo, Secretary for Health at the Malawi Ministry of Health; and Dr Placide Welo, Director of the Cholera Elimination and Diarrhoeal Disease Control Programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Health. Also on hand from WHO Regional Office for Africa was Dr Thierno Balde, Regional COVID-19 Incident Manager.


Source: World Health Organization

Identification, Delivery and Empowerment Application (IDEA): An FAO ecosystem of applications to power livelihoods and agricultural assistance in food crisis contexts

To effectively deliver emergency and resilience assistance, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) requires innovative and efficient tools.


To ensure the protection and secure management of beneficiary data, and delivery and tracking of assistance, FAO developed Identification, Delivery and Empowerment Application (IDEA), a digital ecosystem of applications. IDEA facilitates secure beneficiary registration, identity verification at the point of distribution, entitlements delivery and tracking, data reporting and visualization. IDEA builds on more than 10 years of development and implementation in Somalia to support the secured delivery of FAO’s large-scale and diverse portfolio in a complex operating environment.


5 main functions


beneficiary data registration and verification;

entitlements delivery and tracking;

reporting and visualization;

two-way communication with beneficiaries; and


Key features


  • Built-in data protection and security measures that ensure the privacy of beneficiaries and the protection of their personal data.


  • Flexible system that can be tailored to diverse needs and contexts of FAO country operations.


  • Capability to support the delivery of multiple modalities of assistance: agricultural inputs, assets and equipment (whether through in-kind provision or electronic vouchers), cash-based interventions, service provision, early warning systems and training.


  • All data secured by advanced password protection and end-to-end encryption. IDEA has a built-in granular level of user permissions, ensuring secure processing and data protection principles are used to safeguard the identities of the people served by FAO and its partners.


Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Central African Republic: Situation Report, 8 Feb 2023

In 2023, the humanitarian community in CAR plans to assist 2.4 million most vulnerable people. US$ 465 million is required.


With 50 per cent of the population not eating enough, CAR has one of the highest proportions of critically food-insecure people in the world.


Humanitarian actors provided life-saving assistance to 1.9 million people in 2022, representing 95 per cent of the Humanitarian Response Plan target


After several years of displacement, humanitarian and development actors are helping internally displaced persons and refugees to resume a normal life.


Central African Republic: Soaring humanitarian needs in 2023


The humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to deteriorate. As a result of violence against civilians and insecurity in areas outside urban centres, several million people are increasingly vulnerable and their livelihoods are eroding. Their access to food and basic services such as health care and water supply is drastically limited.


In 2023, 3.4 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection, an increase of 10 per cent compared to 2022. This includes 2 million people who will have such complex and severe needs that their physical and mental well-being is at risk.


These are the findings of a joint multi-sectoral analysis conducted by the humanitarian community among vulnerable people, published in the Humanitarian Needs Overview 2023 for CAR. People affected by the crisis were at the heart of the analysis, with 23,300 households interviewed in all 72 sub-prefectures of the country. The results shed light on how the current crisis is affecting the living conditions of the population, available services and access to these services, and inform about people’s priority needs.


Increasing needs


The sectors with the largest number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2023 are water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), food security, health and protection, covering between 2.7 and 3 million people. Food security and WASH are the sectors with the greatest increase of needs, with 600,000 (+25 per cent) and 200,000 (+7 per cent) more people in need of assistance compared to 2022.


While clashes between parties to the conflict have decreased in intensity to some extent, violence against civilians has not kept pace and their livelihoods continue to deteriorate, including through forced displacement. In addition, the stress within households due to food insecurity, as well as the adoption of negative coping mechanisms have led to an increase in gender-based violence (GBV), affecting thousands of women and girls. Of the 10 sub-prefectures that recorded an increase in GBV cases, five sub-prefectures are classified in phase 4 of 5 on an international food insecurity classification scale, just one step away from a catastrophic situation.


A solid foundation for the 2023 humanitarian response


To meet people’s needs in 2023, humanitarian actors in collaboration with the Central African Government are developing a common strategy to guide their response, based on the 2023 Humanitarian Needs Overview. This strategy will be detailed in the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for CAR, which will be published in December 2022.


Thanks to generous donor contributions, humanitarian partners in CAR have provided life-saving multi-sectoral assistance to 1.5 million people during the first nine months of 2022, despite a volatile security context. Although the level of funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan 2022 remains among the highest in the region, sectors such as WASH, education and protection, in particular GBV, remain underfunded. Humanitarian partners are counting on the continued commitment of donors to stand by Central Africans and enable humanitarian organizations to respond to the ever-growing needs of the population in 2023.


Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

République centrafricaine : Rapport de situation, 8 févr. 2023

En 2023, la communauté humanitaire en RCA planifie d’assister 2,4 millions de personnes les plus vulnérables. 465 millions de dollars américains sont requis.


Avec 50% de la population ne mangeant pas à sa faim, la RCA compte l’une des plus grandes proportions de personnes en situation d’insécurité alimentaire critique dans le monde.


Les acteurs humanitaires ont fourni une assistance vitale à 1,9 millions de personnes en 2022, soit 95% de la cible du Plan de réponse humanitaire.


Après plusieurs années de déplacement, les acteurs humanitaires et de développement aident les personnes déplacées et les réfugiés à reprendre une vie normale.


République centrafricaine : des besoins humanitaires croissants en 2023


La crise humanitaire en République centrafricaine (RCA) continue de s’exacerber. Suite aux violences envers les civils et l’insécurité dans les localités situées hors des centres urbains, plusieurs millions de personnes voient augmenter leur niveau de vulnérabilité ainsi que leurs moyens de subsistance s’éroder. Leur accès à la nourriture et aux services de base notamment les soins de santé et l’eau est drastiquement limité.


En 2023, 3,4 millions de personnes auront besoin d’assistance humanitaire et de protection, soit une augmentation de 10% comparé à 2022. Parmi elles, 2 millions de personnes auront des besoins complexes et sévères menaçant leur bien-être physique et mental.


La situation ici décrite fait partie des résultats d’une analyse multisectorielle conjointe menée par la communauté humanitaire auprès des personnes en besoin, publiés dans l’Aperçu des besoins humanitaires 2023 pour la RCA. Les personnes affectées étaient au cœur de l’analyse, avec 23 300 ménages interviewés dans 72 sous-préfectures du pays. Les résultats de cette analyse multisectorielle mettent en lumière la façon dont la crise actuelle affecte les conditions de vie de la population, les services ainsi que l’accès à ces services, et informent sur les besoins prioritaires des populations.


Augmentation des besoins


Les secteurs avec le plus grand nombre de personnes en besoin en 2023 seront l’eau, hygiène et assainissement (EHA), la sécurité alimentaire, la santé et la protection, qui comprennent entre 2,7 et 3 millions de personnes dans le besoin.


La sécurité alimentaire et l’EHA sont les secteurs ayant affiché une augmentation particulière des besoins, avec respectivement 600 000 (+25%) et 200 000 (+7%) personnes de plus ayant besoin d’assistance par rapport à 2022.


Si les affrontements entre parties au conflit ont dans une certaine mesure baissé d’intensité, les violences envers les civils n’ont pas suivi le même rythme et ont détérioré leurs moyens de subsistance en les poussant au déplacement. Par ailleurs, le stress au sein des ménages suite à l’insécurité alimentaire, ainsi que l’adoption des mécanismes de survie négatifs ont entraîné une augmentation des Violences basées sur le genre (VBG) qui affectent des milliers de femmes et filles. Parmi les 10 sous-préfectures ayant enregistré une augmentation de cas de VBG, cinq sont des sous-préfectures classifiées en phase 4, à un pas de la situation catastrophique.


Une base solide pour la réponse humanitaire 2023


Pour répondre aux besoins des populations en 2023, les acteurs humanitaires en collaboration avec le Gouvernement centrafricain élaborent une stratégie commune pour guider leurs interventions, à la lumière de l’Aperçu des besoins humanitaires 2023. Cette stratégie sera détaillée dans le Plan de réponse humanitaire 2023 pour la RCA, qui sera publié en Décembre 2022.


Grâce aux contributions généreuses des donateurs, les partenaires humanitaires en RCA ont fourni une assistance multisectorielle vitale à 1,5 million de personnes, malgré un contexte sécuritaire de plus en plus volatile.Même si le niveau de financement du Plan de réponse humanitaire 2022 reste parmi les plus élevés de la région,des secteurs comme l’EHA, l’éducation et la protection en particulier la prise en charge des VBG restent sous-financés. Par ailleurs, les coûts opérationnels ont particulièrement augmenté suite au conflit en Ukraine, notamment dans le secteur de la santé et de la sécurité alimentaire, et limité dans une certaine mesure la portée des financements reçus. Les humanitaires comptent sur l’engagement continu des donateurs de demeurer aux côtés des Centrafricains et permettre aux organisations humanitaires de répondre aux besoins des populations sans cesse croissants en 2023.


Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs