As the ongoing crisis in Ukraine continues, families are struggling to bring food to the table during the holy month of Ramadan in the Middle East and North Africa.
Juliette Touma, from UNICEF focusing Middle East and North Africa joined ticker earlier.
Six weeks into the war in Ukraine, the fragile nutritional status of children in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to worsen.
While Muslims in the region observe the holy month of Ramadan, disruption in imports caused by the conflict is creating food shortages amid high prices of essential commodities, including wheat, edible oils, and fuel.
If this continues, it will severely impact children, especially in Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen; some are hunger hotspots according to recent assessments undertaken prior to the Ukraine crisis, as those countries were already struggling with conflicts, economic crises, or a sharp increase in global food prices in 2021.
“Definitely during the COVID 19 pandemic, we have seen in this region, interruptions to the supply chain, and that impacted the availability but also the prices of basic food items,” Juliette told ticker.
“In addition to that, we have high poverty levels and the high unemployment due to conflicts but also due to the pandemic. And now with crisis in the Ukraine, this has certainly impacted the situation even further,” she continues.
“In a place like Yemen, we do know that a child dies every 10 minutes due to preventable causes, including malnutrition. So the risk and the fear is that malnutrition among children in these two countries, is indeed going to increase.”
The ripple effect of the continuing war in Ukraine is compounding the impacts of two long years of the COVID-19 pandemic on economies, employment and poverty in the MENA region, where more than 90 per cent of food is imported.
Many countries have already been struggling with child malnutrition, especially due to ongoing armed conflicts and humanitarian crises.
“when you have more conflicts, that means that the attention is diverted,”Juliette tells TICKER
“And this is a fear, of course that we have at UNICEF. So I mean, the best solution for all of us and the world is for these crisis to come to an end for these wars to come to an end as soon as possible. We don’t need more wars in this region. We don’t need more conflicts around the world. And certainly we do hope that all these wars will come to an end as soon as possible also for the sake of children wherever they are in this in this world.”
- Only 36 per cent of young children in the region are receiving the diets they need to grow and develop in a healthy way;
- The region is home to high rates of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. On an average, nearly one in five children is stunted while the average wasting rate is 7 per cent.
In the MENA countries most impacted by the war in Ukraine, undernutrition rates are higher.
- In Yemen, 45 per cent of children are stunted and over 86 per cent have anaemia;
- In Sudan, 13.6 per cent of children suffer from wasting, 36.4 per cent are stunted and nearly half have anaemia;
- In Lebanon, 94 per cent of young children are not receiving the diets they need, while over 40 per cent of women and children under the age of five have anaemia;
- In Syria, only one in four young children get the diets they need to grow healthy. The price of the average food basket has nearly doubled in 2021 alone.
UNICEF works with partners to deliver and scale-up lifesaving treatment services for children with severe wasting in conjunction with its early detection in children under five years old.
Simultaneously, with partners, UNICEF delivers preventive nutrition services including micronutrient supplements, growth monitoring and counselling and support on breastfeeding and age-appropriate complementary feeding.
“what we’re calling for at UNICEF is for concerted efforts, so that we can all work together to provide children with with malnutrition, with the assistance they need, because it’s a sort of an illness, at some point, it becomes a sort of an illness,” Juliette says.
“We need to provide children with the micronutrients that they need, we need to do assessments early on, so that we identify and detect malnutrition among children early on,
“And we need more assistance to come to these countries, including the delivery of the supplements, but also of basic foods and basic medicine so that we avert more children from going hungry and more children from falling ill with malnutrition.”
Trump’s campaign debut was panned – but don’t underestimate his chances
Last weekend, Donald Trump held two events in New Hampshire and South Carolina, his first official forays onto the 2024 presidential battlefield.
The experts panned it.
A lot of the political class is talking about Trump in the past tense, and not the future, briefing out to the media that his rambling, Fidel Castro-like monologues bore his audiences silly, that his obsessions and battles with his political enemies do not have the reach they did in 2016 and during his term in office, that he is immersing himself more deeply in extremist QAnon cult waters, that he faces indictments and trials that will derail his campaign and might even put him in jail.
And more: that Trump wallows in the “stolen” 2020 election, knowing that there was no way he could have lost since he got 12 million more votes than in 2016. Trump never concedes. Six years later, he does not acknowledge that Hillary Clinton got almost 3 million more votes than Trump in 2016 – and that he won only because she lost in the Electoral College.
The telling critique – the one driving Republicans in private to say that Trump is done (or should be done, or will be done) is that Trump is a loser.
That Trump lost Republican control of the House of Representatives in 2018, bringing back Nancy Pelosi who secured not one, but two impeachments of the president; that he lost the White House in 2020; that he lost control of the Senate in January 2021 when Democrats swept both Georgia Senate seats, giving them control of that chamber; and that Trump-backed candidates in Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Arizona again cost Republicans control of the Senate in the 2022 midterms. As Vince Lombardi, legendary gridiron coach of Green Bay and Washington, said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Lombardi would say Trump was a loser.
Trump is having none of it, and his iron resolve was on full display for those listening more closely when he gave his orations last weekend.
“Maybe he’s lost his step,” Trump said in evoking the musings of some Republicans. But, “I’m more angry now, and I’m more committed than I ever was.”
The anger is palpable. The Trump 2023 brand joins his anger with the hottest culture war buttons he can press. Immigration, the open wound that is the southern border, the wall he will finish, the rapists and criminals who are flooding in and that he will keep out tomorrow. Immigration is his lead-off weapon.
Then promises of energy independence and oil forever. Utter hostility to electric vehicles and wind energy – especially if the windmills are offshore. No transgender women in sports. No way they are tolerated. A purge of woke content from school curricula, schoolbooks, school libraries, and school boards. Parents empowered to fire the principal of the schools their children attend; Trump says the parents can vote them out of their jobs.
Trump never goes far into the culture wars without conjuring up Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
Trump cannot get enough of Hunter’s laptop and the criminality of the Bidens, their business dealings and their money. We can barely follow all the Trump twists and turns in this tale, but there is no mistake that Trump wants Hunter nailed and his father to bear the consequences.
Reprising his role as Commander-in-Chief, Trump said, in case we have not been paying attention, that we are on the brink on World War III. That Ukraine would not have happened if he had been president. That we could have a peace deal “in 24 hours.” Trump wants to call Putin and knows Putin will be waiting for that call.
Trump’s great loyalist, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, was on the podium with Trump and put it this way after the event. “How many times have you heard we like Trump’s policies but we want somebody new? There are no Trump policies without Donald Trump.”
That’s the message Trump delivered to his base last weekend. And that’s how Trump intends to win.
Buried in Trump’s massive monologue was the core of what could be a winning message. “My mission is to secure a middle-class lifestyle for everyone. I did it before and I will do it again. And we will be respected in the world once again.”
Three powerful sentences which, coupled with the red meat of his anger and rage, mean that Trump is very much alive and kicking.
Leading athletes and medical experts push for medicinal cannabis in sport
Leading lawmakers, medical experts and athletes are pushing for therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis for chronic pain and injury
Basketball star Brittney Griner is one of the leading players of her generation. She jumped into the spotlight for serving a sentence for possession of cannabis oil in Russia.
It begs the question whether medicinal cannabis and athletes are a good mix. Well, many lawmakers, health experts and athletes around the world want to break down the stigmas associated with its use.
Many want to use Griner’s ordeal as motivation to change cannabis laws and therapeutic use exemptions in sports.
Mark Brayshaw, Managing Director of Levin Health has spoken closely with Dr. Peter Brukner who is a world-renowned Australian sports medicine clinician and researcher.
Brukner believes athletes should be able to compete in their field with medicinal cannabis because it doesn’t enhance their performance.
Brayshaw believes there are higher risks for athletes becoming addicted to anti-inflammatory and opioids. As opposed to any risks associated with taking medicinal cannabis.
He explains it enables athletes to function in a healthy way, pain free.
Overall, there is hope Griner’s case will break down stigma surrounding natural medicines and athletes.
In Australia, there are tens of thousands of new applications for medicinal cannabis every month.
There are also growing calls for countries to adopt therapeutic use exemptions in sport, including in the Australian Football League.
Why is China’s changing its strategy to handling the pandemic?
Changes to China’s COVID policies are coming thick and fast, much faster than many people anticipated given how strict the country has been in the last few years, the latest big announcement is around an app that people had to install on their phone
Then it tracked them when they travelled across the country, alerting them if they’ve been to a high risk COVID area, the government says that that app is now deactivated and people no longer have to have it installed on their phones.
It’s yet another indication of the change in China’s strategy to handling the pandemic.
We’ve seen changes related to quarantine, and also testing as well. And a real change in narrative from the authorities when talking about the virus and how dangerous it is. Now officially case numbers are dropping.
But that is largely due to the fact that much less testing is taking place, and we are seeing signs that in reality cases are surging.
There’s queues of people outside of pharmacies, queuing to get medication for colds and for fevers, and also self testing kits as well.
On social media, many people in China now saying that they have caught COVID For the first time, or that they know a number of people who have COVID When previously they didn’t know anyone at all.
So it’s clear that cases are rising, and this is coming just the month before the Chinese New Year holidays, which will take place at the end of January, traditionally a time when millions of people will travel across the country.
We would expect that to happen this year, as travel within China is now much easier.
So we would expect COVID cases to spread across the country talking to travel and is yet no sign of when the borders will open internationally.
Still very, very hard to get into China and very strict. When people do enter and the procedures they have to follow.
Maybe the government will wait and see how the first phase of reopening goes domestically, before thinking internationally?
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