After a surge in the conflict raging in Eastern Ukraine, thousands of children have been forced out of school. As a result of the heavy shelling, at least five schools and a couple of kindergartens have been damaged with 11 schools shutting their doors in response. The estimates were provided by aid agencies whose purpose is to provide emergency education services in Ukraine. As many as 2600 children attending schools in areas that are being run by the government in Eastern Ukraine have been affected by the sharp escalation in fighting. Hundreds more children have also been affected in areas not controlled by the government.
Schools shutting their doors
In the town of Avdiivka multiple schools and kindergartens have had to shut their doors leaving approximately 1,400 children without access to education. Families in the town as well as other villages in the region are scared to send their children to the schools whose doors are open as a result of the intense fighting. Unicef and its partner Save the Children have both strongly condemned the bombing of schools which the agencies say has been indiscriminate. Both agencies are calling for all sides in the conflict to reaffirm their commitment to a ceasefire signed in Minsk in 2015.
Michele Cecere, Save the Children’s Representative in Ukraine, says that the shelling of schools has unfortunately become a common occurrence in this conflict. There are reports of many unexploded shells lying in the streets which leave children at enormous risk on their way to school even when they are open. It is critical that children are able to get safely back to school as soon as possible so their education does not suffer any more than it already has.
Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF’s Representative in Ukraine, said: “The shelling of schools, the one place where children find safety and normalcy during conflict, is unacceptable and has to stop. Children in eastern Ukraine have suffered enough and we must ensure that they have safe spaces to seek solace and support.”
More than half a million children affected
The most recent round of school closures has exacerbated a continuing crisis in education which already affects as many as 600,000 children in Eastern Ukraine. The conflict has been raging for almost three years and it is estimated that 740 schools or one in five has been either damaged or destroyed resulting in students has been missing for many months of schooling.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide has launched a contest that encourages people to engage in humanitarian focused challenges. This could mean trying to survive on €5 worth of food over five days. Alternatively, participants could try hauling a daily allowance of five litres of water for drinking, cleaning and cooking. These are just two of the many tasks that participants of Concern Worldwide’s first ever World Champions competition.
The team that comes out on top in the competition will get to spend more than a week in one of 27 countries where the aid agency works, so they can see for themselves how money raised is spent helping people. The competition is meant to be life changing and involves people establishing teams who earn points by finishing regular missions and promoting their efforts on social media as well as raising money for the charity.
A real adventure
Jonathan Power of Concern says people who register for this contest will certainly have an adventure. Participants will not only have to face challenges, but in the process they will raise much needed funds which will be used to finance Concern’s activities in some of the poorest nations in the world. They will also have the chance to win the trip of a lifetime, to see Concern’s work first hand.
One challenge is the ‘survive on five’ mission which will allow teams to experience the reality faced by more than one billion of try to survive on less than €1 a day. Other challenges include spending day carrying a five litre can filled with water that they should use for their everyday needs. Teams can also opt to go mountain climbing or hosting fundraising events.
See the work Concern does first hand
The team who collects the most points by April 30th and raise a minimum of €3,000 will win the trip. The winner will be announced in May and be taken to one of Concern’s facilities during the summer, where they will get the chance to meet people living in extreme poverty and who benefit from the donations made by to concern the general public.
Category: Guide Dogs For The Blind
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Oxfam has authored a new report that suggests that within the next 25 years Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft will become the first trillionaire in the world. Oxfam which works to put an end to global poverty and advocates against growing income inequality released a briefing paper which says that since 2015 the wealthiest 1 per cent of the world’s population is richer than the remaining 99 per cent. The paper also said that 8 men possess the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the world’s poorest half.
The economic model is not working
Oxfam uses these statistics to illustrate the fact that the present economic model disproportionately benefits the world’s wealthiest whilst doing very little for those who are poor. According to the study, Mr. Gates wealth was predicted using the average rate of growth of his investments which grew by an average of 11 per cent since 2009. If Mr Gates fortune continues to grow at this the rate, the world’s wealthiest person valued at US$75 billion could easily become a trillionaire if he lives to 86.
Taxation needs to be fairer
Mr Gates has pledged to do good with his money and has established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is also the founder of The Giving Pledge which is committed to getting the world’s wealthiest people to dedicate the majority of their fortunes to philanthropy. Despite Mr Gates decision to donate his wealth to charity, the study did highlight the fact that his fortune has expanded from US$ 50 billion to $75 billion in the ten years since he left Microsoft. Oxfam is also in agreement with Mr Gates when they say that whilst charitable donations are a good thing, they are no substitute for fair taxation.
Oxfam the charity whose goal is to reduce poverty has a new app for the iPhone that it hopes will rejuvenate donors who have grown tired of mailers a better insight into the organisation’s global operations. This comes at a time when most UK charitable operations are looking for new ways to solicit donations from the public. Overall charitable giving in Britain has fallen from £10.1 billion in 2015 to £9.6 billion last year. The results come from a report authored by the Charities Aid Foundation which also suggests that last year overall public trust in UK charities fell to an all-time low. The results are consistent with the downward trend in public giving.
hoping to change the way people see charities
Allegations of financial misconduct in the non-profit sector combined with high salaries of charity executives and fundraising tactics which have proven to be irritating were reasons those polled by the UK Charity Commission last year said giving had stagnated. Oxfam hopes this can be changed by bringing those who give closer to the charity value chain. The organisation wants to empower donors with a more efficient way to regulate giving. As a result, Oxfam has launched the My Oxfam smartphone app which enables users to monitor their donations and track, track sponsorship funds and respond quickly when there is a humanitarian crisis by making a donation.
“Charities are striving to meet the public’s demand for a closer, more modern and responsive relationship with the charities they support,” Paul Vanag, Oxfam’s head of fundraising said in a statement. “My Oxfam provides a window on to the lives changed by our supporters’ generosity and allows users to control their giving from the palm of their hand.”
Getting a better understanding of what Oxfam does
The designers of the app wanted to give users a better understanding of the work Oxfam actually does in the field. This means including video diaries produced by aid workers as well as testimonials from those that have benefited from the work Oxfam does. The app will also provide updates on what is going on with the latest humanitarian crisis as well as track funding pledges.
It has been nearly three months since Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti and Unicef and partners are still working on delivering aid to the worst affected by the category 4 storm. A whopping 2 million people were affected by the storm, nearly a million of them were children. 1.4 million people required aid of which 600,000 were children. Aside from the loss of homes and crops, 716 schools suffered damage as did many health facilities and sanitation infrastructure. Unicef is working with the government of Haiti and other partners to deliver safe water on a daily basis to over 281,000 people, half of which are children.
Cholera vaccination campaign
Unicef is also engaged in a cholera vaccination campaign. The campaign has been very successful, reaching 807,395 people in November alone. Unicef has also managed to restore the cold-chain systems of 37 facilities and has restored services at 35 malnutrition outpatient treatment centres. The organisation has also restored schools making it possible for 4,200 children to return to school. It is estimated that 36,000 children will be able to return to schools rehabilitated by Unicef.
Working with local communities
Unicef collaborates closely with communities to fight the malnutrition that continues to affect Haiti’s children and adults who are finding it tough to recover as a result of extended drought and other effects of hurricane Matthew. The protection and interventions provided by Unicef are helping families that have lost their ability to earn a living and are targeted at preventing child separation. It is extremely common for parents who are experiencing difficulties to place their children in a residential care facility under the false belief their children will continue to receive the education parents can no longer afford to provide.
“Three months after Matthew, we can already see improvements: safe water is increasingly available, the vast majority of schools have reopened as have a number of health facilities; and areas that are the most difficult to access are receiving assistance. Unicef is continuing to fulfil its mandate and obligations to emergency and development efforts, “said Marc Vincent, Unicef Representative in Haiti.
Donors have opened their wallets
In order to continue delivering aid and intervention, Unicef needs money. The aid agency’s appeal for Haiti has risen from US$13.4 million before the hurricane hit, to US$36.6 million in the aftermath of the hurricane. By the end of the year, this target was 85% funded thanks to the generosity of donors. The money will allow Unicef to meet the most urgent needs of the children and families of Haiti.
During September last year, the UK Government announced its intention to launch a consultation on the banning of microbeads. These plastic beads which are toxic are added to washing powders, toothpastes, face washes and thousands of other products that wreak havoc on the environment. Once these microbeads are rinsed down the drain they end up in the oceans where they cause enormous damage to marine life and can even end up in seafood. The consultation has finally been launched which has given us a peek at what exactly it is the government is proposing. Unfortunately, it falls short of a full comprehensive ban that is needed but there is some good and bad news.
It’s important to stay positive so we should start off with the stuff that we can celebrate. The first thing we can cheer about is the Government is serious about making changes which will be implemented fairly quickly. We can expect products containing microbeads off the shop shelves by the middle of next year, which means the UK would beat the US in establishing a ban. With such an ambitious timeline, it shows just how serious the Government is about willing to act to protect our oceans. Greenpeace will be urging the Government to stick to its pledge.
The bad news is the government intends to limit its ban to just personal care and cosmetic products. This was expected, however Greenpeace did hope the ban would be extended to products such as washing powders, households and other items that a consultation document also proposed. Since we already know that the Government has indeed accepted the fact that microbeads are a threat to the marine environment, then the ban should be extended to all products that flow down our drains and end up in the ocean. Anything short of that means that ocean creatures are at risk. As a result Greenpeace will be challenging the government on its failure to propose a full comprehensive ban.
And the ???
The consultation produced a few unanswered questions. One such question was the lack of definition of what it means to be a “rinse-off personal care and cosmetic product”. There is no indication whether this also includes, moisturisers, heavy duty hand cleaners and make up. Arguably all these products fall within the ban’s remit but the consultation has not made this point clear. Greenpeace will be submitting its response to the consultation shortly and will be advocating for the best possible ban so that our oceans stay protected from unnecessary plastics which do nothing but pollute the sea.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide says the appeal it launched dubbed ‘Come Back From Crisis’ has raised a whopping £1.6 million. The success of the appeal has resulted in the charity launching a second appeal to tackle hunger for those people in Sierra Leone that have been affected by Ebola. The original appeal which was backed Pound for Pound by the British Government ran between September and December 2016 was designed to highlight the challenges faced by poor communities when disaster strikes.
UK government matches donations
The UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) established UK Aid match to boost the awareness and support of the general public for charitable organisations that work in the developing world. UK Aid match doubles the amount of money raised by appeals organised by British charities both to recognise the generosity of the public as well as help fund the wide range of causes being supported.
Agency grateful for support
Rose Caldwell a spokesperson for Concern Worldwide UK said the agency was extremely grateful for the level of support it has received from the public. She adds that it is only because of the public’s generosity that Concern has been able to launch its latest projects that will enable farmers to grow more and better crops so the threat of hunger can be avoided. The new project was launched last year and seeks to improve on the quantity and quality of food production which will also enable incomes to rise.
The project is set to last for three years and so far, Concern Worldwide has already established 25 farmer field schools. These schools teach farmers how to raise crop production and improve the quality of their harvest. Concern has also set up 49 village savings and loans associations which will allow individuals to save cash for future investments. Concern has also identified 19 sites where basic infrastructure can either be built or fixed. These include bridges and roads which will enable farmers to get their crops to markets where they can sell their produce.
“Over the next three years the project will strive to help the poorest, most vulnerable families, such as Ebola orphans and survivors, who were especially impacted by Ebola so they can live a life free from hunger.” Raju Sorekaidoddi, Concern’s Acting Country Director in Sierra Leone, said.
Category: Save the Children
According to Save the Children, tens of thousands of children are sitting targets as a result of heavy shelling in East Aleppo which is the last part of the city held by the opposition. As the Syrian army continues to make advances, these children simply have nowhere to hide. There are thousands of people who have been crammed into a small area which means they are at grave risk from artillery and airstrikes causing the number of casualties to climb quickly. The situation is compounded by the fact that medical aid, supplies and food are scarce.
Children killed in makeshift school
Outside the city, fighting and bombing continues unabated. Recently three children died when a bomb exploded at their teacher’s home which was serving as an improvised school because the bombing had required the regular school to shut its doors. Save the Children said it is extremely concerned about the three quarters of a million people that are effectively living under siege in Syria. The charity says it is unconscionable that the UN Security Council would not come to an agreement on a cease fire. Save the Children is calling for urgent action without which many more children could be killed as a result of fighting or starvation.
Negotiate a cease fire
Save the Children says it wants all parties that have influence over the various groups participating in the civil war to start negotiating for an in internationally monitored ceasefire that would last for at least 72 hours. This would provide a window of opportunity for aid to reach the people who are stranded in the Eastern part of Aleppo. It would also give people the chance to leave as well. The charity wants safe routes from Aleppo to be established so that people can flee the city in relative safety.
If safe routes cannot be established Save the Children says “air bridges” should be created which would allow aid to be dropped off at landing strips and airports. The situation in Syria continues to remain severe after nearly six years of conflict and suffering. The international community should not stand by as civilians are bombed without consequence.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Kay O’Loughlin Kennedy who along with her husband was one of the co-founders of global humanitarian aid agency Concern Worldwide has died after battling illness for a very long time. She had been taken care of recently by Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm in Dublin. In December 1967 Mr and Mrs O’Loughlin Kennedy convened a meeting at their home which back then was located on Northumberland Road in Dublin.
Shocked by atrocities
The meeting was called to hear Father Raymond Kennedy speak. Father Kennedy had recently come back to Ireland from Nigeria and gave what can only be described of a harrowing account of a vicious civil war that was being waged because the province of Biafra was seeking succession from Nigeria. In response Nigeria was trying to starve Biafra into submission.
Deciding to set up an organisation
The people that were present at the meeting decided the best thing to do was to set up an organisation that would help feed the people of Biafra. The group would call itself Africa Concern, it was later on the agency would change its name and mandate to Concern Worldwide. The immediate aim however was to raise money to support a mercy flight to provide supplies to starving children in Biafra.
The group is truly global
Africa Concern was formally established in March 1968 and right from the very start it was a multidenominational organisation which included trade unionists, Freemasons and a Methodist Minister. By the end of the year the group had managed to raise a staggering £3.5 million for the people of Biafra. To put that into context in today’s money that is the equivalent of €64 million. Concern Worldwide now employs over 3,200 people who work in 27 of the world’s poorest countries.