When hunger threatens lives – Q&A on malnutrition and famine

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A man, woman and two children sit in front of a makeshift tent in a barren landscape in Yemen. The family may be facing famine.

Conflict has devastated Yemen and left millions in need of food – © Mohammed Yaseen Ahmed Ibrahim/ICRC

The word ‘famine’ conjures up images of emaciated people clinging on to life. It is a deeply sensitive term and should never be used lightly.

The United Nations has appealed this week for funds to avert famine in Yemen, a country left decimated by conflict.

But Yemen is not the only country in the world facing famine: severe food shortages in South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia are also putting lives in danger.

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Home from hospital: “Breaking my hip was the best thing that happened to me”

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Carol Looby

Carol Looby is now a volunteer for the British Red Cross, helping others through one of our home from hospital services.

Four years ago, Carol Looby passed out while walking home after giving blood. She broke her hip – but says it’s the best thing that ever happened to her.

That’s because Carol’s accident led her to a British Red Cross home from hospital service. We not only helped with her recovery, but became a new venture for her too – Carol now volunteers for the service.

“It’s changed my life totally,” she said.

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A dark day in the history of the Red Cross

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©ICRC/AbdulazizAl-Droubi

©ICRC/AbdulazizAl-Droubi

We cannot accept attacks on aid workers, says British Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson. 

I received a message around lunchtime yesterday informing me that six of our colleagues from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had been killed in Afghanistan in an apparent deliberate attack by unknown armed men. Two colleagues are still unaccounted for.

A matter of hours later I was told that one of our aid distribution centres, near Aleppo, Syria, had also been attacked. One staff member from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) was killed. Two other people, who had come to the centre to receive aid, were also killed.

These developments highlight a profoundly worrying escalation in loss of life of humanitarian workers. They risk marking the moment that the death of people who should be protected under the international rules of war became the norm. We cannot accept that.

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When the monkey shakes its tail in Mongolia

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An old postage stamp from Monglia showing a money scratching its head and a space probe

© ConradFries

The people of Mongolia will soon welcome in the year of the rooster. At the same time, the year of the monkey will draw to a close.

And it will leave behind one of the coldest winters so far this century.

In the Mongolian astrology system, every year – running from around February to January – is represented by one of 12 animals.

People born in the year of the monkey are thought to be clever and playful.

But there is an ancient saying in Mongolia: when the monkey shakes its tail, it will bring on a dzud.

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The Lake Chad crisis from Cameroon: “Home is home. We want peace.”

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lake-chad-ben-blog-721

Modou, pictured centre wearing a yellow shirt and blue trousers, fled when his village was attacked.

There is a crisis in the Lake Chad region. Years of conflict have forced people to leave their homes and search for safety and food. In many areas, cut-off from the outside world, the extent of human suffering remains largely unknown, but predictably desperate.

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