The United Nations’ (UN) World Food Program (WFP) stated Sunday that over the next year, roughly four million Afghans will suffer from the country’s ongoing food shortage, according to Reuters. With a harsh winter expected to begin by mid-November, food delivery will be thwarted to more than one-fourth of those individuals, who reside in rural areas. Despite an 80% boost in the cereal harvest this year, droughts in some parts of the country yielded low agricultural production, reported AP.
Since March, over 1.75 million Afghans have returned from bordering nations. However, continued violence and depressed economic conditions have driven 1,200 people per week to seek refuge in Pakistan, according to spokeswoman Maki Shinohara of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Last January, international donors meeting in Tokyo pledged $4.5 billion to Afghanistan. However, President Hamid Karzai and his Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani disclosed in a meeting earlier this month that UN and other aid groups received $800 million of the $890 million given in aid thus far. Pressing for additional monies to be directed to the Afghan government, Karzai urged donor nations to fulfill their promise of $1.8 billion in funding this year.
Reports of violence persist even weeks after the US State Department issued a report questioning the expansion of peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan. The Feminist Majority, President Karzai, UN officials, and women’s and human rights organizations have urged a full-scale expansion of peacekeeping troops throughout the country in order to ensure security and enable reconstruction efforts.
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. . . .