#AceWorldNews – UNITED STATES (New York) – September 11 – After Super-storm Sandy hit the East Coast nearly two years ago, the federal government quickly sent out $1.4 billion in emergency disaster aid to the hurricane’s victims.
Now, thousands of people might have to pay back their share.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is scrutinizing about 4,500 households that it suspects received improper payments after the storm, according to program officials and data obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
As of early September, FEMA had asked around 850 of those households to return a collective $5.8 million. The other cases were still under review.
FEMA’s campaign to recover overpayments, called “recoupment” in agency lingo, typically involves inadvertent violations of eligibility rules, bureaucratic mistakes or missing documentation, rather than outright fraud.
Many people asked to return money were deemed ineligible because their damaged properties were vacation houses or rental properties, not their primary residences. Others had double dipped into the aid pool, with more than one household member getting payments. Some received FEMA money for things later covered by insurance.
As of July 30, the average demanded refund was $6,987, a sum that could be difficult for many, given the modest annual incomes of most aid applicants. Roughly half of the households under scrutiny reported an annual gross income of $30,000 or less.
The larger pool of cases still under review as of that date involved $53 million in aid payments – or about 3.7 percent of the total given out by FEMA through its individuals and households program – though any potential refunds would likely involve only a portion of that money.
#AceWorldNews – GENEVA – April 08 – The United Nations is concerned about a drought that threatens Syria’s north-west, as it can bring the number of people in need of emergency food aid to 6.5 million.
Spokeswoman for the United Nations World Food Program (WPF) Elisabeth Byrs said that the rains have been scarce since September, and it could have a considerable impact on the wheat harvest due to start in May.
The WFP spokeswoman added that only one month is left before the rain season ends in the region, so there is little hope the situation will improve.
The looming drought will mostly hit farmers in the north-west of the country, in provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama, which produce half of Syria’s wheat.
The last time that Syria suffered from severe drought occurred in 2008. WPF experts forecast the wheat harvest to stand at 1.7-2 million tons this year, while an estimated 5.1 million tons is needed for domestic consumption.
Byrs said that up to 6.5 million people in Syria could face food shortages and would depend on international assistance to survive.
This means that the WFP will have to double the distribution of food aid in Syria, which already amounts to $41 million weekly. In April, the organization plans to provide food assistance for 4.25 million of Syrians.
WPF – Food and Media Sources
AceWorldNews says that according to the latest report from JOHANNESBURG and Reuters that all rescue services in South Africa are trying to reach more than 200 illegal miners reported trapped underground in an abandoned gold shaft in a suburb just east of Johannesburg, an emergency services spokesman said on Sunday.