The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called for an immediate aid package from donor nations of $252 million today, as part of its preparation for the largest humanitarian operation the agency has undertaken since the Kosovo refugee crisis in 1999. Believed to be only a small fraction of what will be needed to provide for the expected 1.5 million Afghan refugees heading for the Pakistan and Iran borders. And some 3.5 million refugees already in Afghanistan and the 1.5 million refugees already in Iran. Other U.N. agencies, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the World Food Program are also expected to request immediate aid from donor countries in the coming days. The new request may amount to more than $1 billion total. UNHCR will use the requested funds to build camps and shelter. Other named U.N. agencies will coordinate food, medical, and child-related assistance.
The Feminist Majority Foundation has been urging the United States, the largest donor country, to drastically increase its humanitarian aid for refugees, especially women and children, which make up 75% of refugees.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .