From ethical dilemmas on data security to worst-case scenarios unfolding in real time — the Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan is spurring urgent concern about the safety of data that aid groups have collected over 20 years.
Data protection experts warn that aid groups must quickly review and safeguard sensitive information on Afghans who have received emergency relief and other services. Humanitarian agencies are among those that have tracked, stored, and shared data linked to millions of Afghans — including precise biometric data like fingerprints or iris scans.
Crucially, some of this…
By Ann Esswein and photos by Felie Zernack
Mounds of heavy stones are all that protects Jeffrey Daniels’ home from the waves that wash onto tiny Emao, an island dotting the Pacific nation of Vanuatu.
But the makeshift dams can’t stop his village from flooding during fierce tropical cyclones, tidal surges, or simply a heavy downpour.
“When the rain comes, we feel trapped as if we were standing on a ship,” Daniels said.
His home is located on an island strip less than 70 metres wide. When Daniels was a child, this land was twice as wide. Now…
By Lydia Poole
The humanitarian system has developed to respond to geographically contained and separate crises that are usually a long-haul flight from the centres of power and wealth that sustain it.
But that is no longer how crises work.
If you didn’t believe in systemic crises before, hopefully you do now — because like the COVID-19 virus, crises have jumped the species barrier and we don’t know how to contain them. The humanitarian system isn’t broken, or broke. But it is hopelessly ill prepared for our times, out of ideas, and running out of time.
By Paisley Dodds, Investigations Editor at The New Humanitarian
Early last year during a trip to the Ebola outbreak zones in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we were tipped off that aid workers might be sexually abusing and exploiting women.
“Oh, they love our ladies,” reporter Robert Flummerfelt was told in March 2019 at a bar in Butembo, one of two hubs for workers trying to contain the virus in Congo’s northeast. “They arrive in military convoys to take the sick for treatment, and they are always taking the women.”
Even though the practice seemed well known, we were warned…
By Caleb Quinley in Pattani, Thailand
Years of conflict and violence have divided communities in Thailand’s deep south. Pateemoh Poh-Itaeda-oh is one of a growing number of women trying to build peace by bringing them together.
In Thailand’s southernmost provinces, militants are fighting for greater autonomy for the region’s Malay Muslim minority within Buddhist-majority Thailand. More than 7,000 people have died since conflict escalated in 2004.
The violence comes from all sides: Insurgents have attacked government targets including civilians; Thai security forces are accused of rights abuses in counterstrikes and anti-insurgency operations. …
By Joshua Collins in Bogotá
International scientists have for years warned that climate change is likely to lead to an increase in epidemics caused by pathogens and viruses. While there’s no evidence to link the COVID-19 pandemic to global warming, major ongoing outbreaks of dengue fever in Latin America are currently adding credence to the theory.
Dengue has been burning through the region at an alarming and unprecedented rate that is only expected to worsen. In 2019, infections reached new records in Latin America, with over three million confirmed cases, six times the previous year. More than 1,300 people died…
by Ben Parker
Staff at a US-based non-profit have received death threats linked to erroneous claims about its work on digital ID in a case propelled by the tide of misinformation over coronavirus and false accusations against Bill Gates.
Dakota Gruener, CEO of New York-based non-profit ID2020, told The New Humanitarian the threats were linked to “patently false” online conspiracy theories about COVID-19, and described the episode as “pretty frightening”.
The head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has warned that false and fringe ideas can undermine international efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic and sow panic, confusion…
by Ken Arnold, Abbie Doran, and Danielle Olsen
The authors are the International Cultural Initiatives Team at Wellcome, an independent health and medicine foundation.
Jacob Burinescu, a Romanian Jewish immigrant, lived in New York City’s Lower East Side. He ran a cleaning business and was a member of the Yiddish theatre community. When the mistakenly labelled Spanish flu arrived in 1918, he started caring for actor friends — until he contracted the disease himself. His was one of an estimated 50 million deaths across the world during that pandemic.
Two decades earlier, Taipingshan, a densely populated Chinese settlement in Hong…
By Sean McDonald
COVID-19 is no time to forget history. This is neither the public health sector, the humanitarian response sector, nor the technology sector’s first disaster — and we’d do well to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
As the world braces for the possibility of a prolonged pandemic, the governments managing cases of COVID-19 are ramping up their use of technology. Everyone from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to the Government of Pakistan is promising to roll out a mobile app to help track the virus, or, really…
By Mohammed Arfaat in Cox’s Bazar
Editor’s note: The coronavirus outbreak could be particularly devastating for people living in cramped refugee and displacement camps, aid groups say. In Bangladesh’s Rohingya camps, aid groups and the government are mapping out contingency plans, and trying to boost health systems and hygiene promotion campaigns. But one roadblock is the government’s months-long ban on phone and internet access for refugees. …