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Nearly 3 million people in Nepal still need humanitarian assistance: UN

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Kathmandu: Two months after the first of two devastating earthquakes hit Nepal, some 2.8 million people require continued vital humanitarian assistance, the UN said on Thursday.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25 and the ensuing aftershocks that jolted the Himalayan nation, killed 8,832 people and left 22,000 injured. Hundreds of people still remain unaccounted for.

Temporary shelter, food and livelihood support, basic medical care, sanitation and hygiene remain the key needs as survivors now also face the added challenges posed by the ongoing monsoon season.

“Ensuring the survival of hundreds of thousands of people, who lost their homes and livelihoods in the back-to-back disasters, through the monsoon must remain our top collective priority,” said Jamie McGoldrick, humanitarian coordinator in Nepal.

“Timely, principled, and equitable relief and recovery are the key prerequisites for any reconstruction effort to be successful. The humanitarian community will continue to support the government in its effort to address the unmet humanitarian needs.”

With nearly 530,000 houses destroyed and another 278,000 damaged by the quakes, hundreds of thousands of people continue to remain in makeshift shelters, including over 117,000 people who have relocated to open air sites.

Many of the affected families are also still struggling to recover and rebuild their livelihoods, as seeds for planting and livestock were lost in the disasters.

So far, a total of 350,000 tarpaulins were distributed in 14-affected districts, but it is estimated that some 43,500 households have not yet received adequate supplies.

Material assistance, including corrugated iron sheets, is still required for 44,000 of the 125,000 families who began rebuilding their homes.

Aid agencies estimate that more than 1 million people continue to require food assistance to meet their daily dietary requirements, while 500,000 people need continued support to protect and restore their livelihoods.

More than 900,000 people depend on sustained provision of water and sanitation, including 2,000 communities relying on water filtration kits provided by humanitarian partners.

Access to safe temporary learning spaces is still required for some 370,000 children.

Provision of relief depends now even more on the logistical support, as the monsoon season has begun.

“Humanitarian needs are still significant and are expected to persist through the end of September,” said McGoldrick.

“Our ability to address these needs depends largely on the funds which will be made available for humanitarian assistance itself, that is financed independently and separately from recovery and development efforts.”

Till date, only $153 million or 36 percent, was received against the $422 million humanitarian appeal.

An additional $200 million in support to post-earthquake relief was provided directly to the Nepal government on a bilateral basis. (IANS)

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Claiming Bias, U.S.A. And Israel Pull Out Of UNESCO

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

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The logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is seen druing a conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2017. VOA

The United States and Israel officially quit of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.

The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.

The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.

The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

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UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Image Source: www.mid-day.com

The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.

The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the U.S. — which accounted for around 22 percent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.

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Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.

In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.

The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.

In recent years, Israel has been infuriated by repeated resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.

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Israel Flag, Pixabay

The State Department couldn’t comment because of the U.S. government shutdown. Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the U.S. intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicized” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

Also Read: Israel Unanimously Approves Medical Marijuana Exports

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003. (VOA)