The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) last week unveiled a new humanitarian program to provide aid and assistance to pregnant Iraqi women. Anticipating the worsening of already rising maternal and infant mortality rates, the agency intends to distribute ambulances, ultrasound scanners, mobile obstetric care surgery units, medication, supplies, contraceptives, and other items "needed for safe motherhood," according to the UNFPA press release. UNFPA appealed to international donors for an additional $5 million to help sustain the program over the next six months.
Meanwhile, officials and aid groups continue to warn that war in Iraq is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. In the southern city of Basra, where the resident population exceeds one million, resistance by Iraqi troops have pushed British forces to declare “military targets” in the area, causing a blockage of humanitarian aid, reported the Associated Press.
Children comprise half of Iraq’s 24.5 million people. According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Iraq suffers from one of the highest child-mortality rates in the world, with one child in eight dying before the age of five, reported Salon. UN food programs feed 60 percent of the population. Joel Charny, vice president for policy at Refugees International, chastised the US government for prioritizing infrastructure post-war reconstruction over immediate food aid, telling Salon, “By all means, let’s think about having money to rebuild bridges and roads and electrical plants…but there’s a glaring contrast between preparations for private firms that do that kind of large-scale work and the lack of funding for the UN and NGOs to provide aid to Iraqis. The administration is getting ahead of itself. The survival of the Iraqi population is not yet restored.”
12/9/2013 Mixed Results for Afghanistan's Anti-Violence Against Women Law - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released their annual report on violence against women in Afghanistan yesterday, revealing mixed results of the country's Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
"A Way to Go: An Update on Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan [PDF]," found that there was a 28 percent increase in reports of violence against women from 2012 to 2013 , but only 17 percent of those were prosecuted under EVAW - a small 2 percent increase from last year.
The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .