In a preliminary draft report commissioned by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Tufts University famine expert Sue Lautze characterized the situation in Afghanistan – exacerbated by a three-year drought – as “still in acute disaster phase” and urged continued diligence in international emergency assistance. Based on 1,100 interviews with Afghan households, Lautz’s report documented conditions so desperate that the sale of daughters into marriage to afford food and water for the family “was very routine, up to the point where [families] who didn’t have a young girl to put into marriage were lamenting it.” According to Vice President for Policy at Refugees International Joel Charney, “This is the most comprehensive look we’ve had at the village level food security situation…I hope it will serve as a wake-up call.”
In a news release issued earlier this month, the World Food Program (WFP) disclosed that 275,000 tons of food is needed to feed 9 million Afghans, comprising 40 percent of the population. Until harvest begins in July, the agency must overcome a critical 75,000-ton shortage worth $28 million. According to WFP Country Director for Afghanistan Burke Oberle, “This break in the food pipeline means that WFP food distribution could come to an almost complete stop in the month of June, just when millions of poor Afghans are struggling with the most difficult pre-harvest time known as the 'lean months'.”
According to the USAID, the US has spent $230 million on assistance to Afghanistan since October 1, 2001 and provided over 50 percent of the WFP Afghanistan aid this year. An immediate increase in food supplies, however, is urgently needed.
Media Resources: Associated Press, 5/23/02; World Food Program, 5/2/02; USAID, 5/23/02
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .