Category: Concern Worldwide
More than 150,000 families in Nepal have been displaced by severe flooding which has also caused the deaths of at least 141 people. More than 65,000 homes have been destroyed by the worst floods seen by the country in years. In Nepal’s Southern belt where the vast majority of the country’s agriculture is based was the area that was worst affected by torrential rains last month.
The situation is bad
Concern Worldwide’s Nepal Country Director, Eileen Morrow witnessed the devastating aftermath first-hand. Ms Morrow said she walked around one village in Rautahat which is one of Nepal’s worst affected areas and saw houses that had collapsed in on themselves. She added that the muddy water line caused by the flood exceeded six feet on some of the buildings including the local school. One woman told Ms Morrow that it was fortunate the flooding occurred on a Saturday or they would have lost half the children.
Livelihoods have also been affected
The flooding has not only damaged people’s homes but has also affected their livelihoods. This means there will be a huge impact on how quickly people will be able to recover. Ms Morrow says she saw people trying to dry out their animal feed in the streets, unfortunately it had already started to rot. Many families had lost their livestock and the air was filled will with the smell of decomposing animals which is a huge health hazard. Grain stocks that used to be full to the brim are now nothing more than muddy rotting rice. Thousands of families face these problems in a part of Nepal which already suffers from very high rates of malnutrition.
The problem is that is extremely difficult to fund the response to the flood and donors have been slow to give money to finance the recovery from this particular disaster. Despite this fact, Concern is working tirelessly to deliver relief to the worst affected. The aid agency is working closely with its local partners to provide food, water and aid to the most vulnerable. So far Concern has distributed food to over 11,600 families and the agency is making sure that families have water purification tablets so that waterborne disease do not spread.
Unicef Says Children Of The Middle East And North Africa Suffering From Unprecedented Levels Of Violence
According to Unicef, approximately one in five children living throughout the Middle East and North Africa are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Unicef adds that more than 90 per cent of these children live in countries that have been stricken by conflict. Geert Cappelaere, Unicef Regional Director says that war robs millions of children of their childhood and puts at risk decades of progress that has been made across the Middle East and North Africa.
Children suffer the most
Children are the ones that suffer most from continuous violence, displacement and lack of basic services. In many cases conflict participants purposely target civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, water, energy, sanitation and hygiene installations. Rather unsurprisingly, deliberate targeting of this sort exposes children to the risk of disease and death. Millions of families have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the violence. In some case under fire and in other cases multiple times. The continuing violence and displacement makes it much harder for families and their children to cope.
No end in sight
Mr Cappelaere says that the conflict seems to be without end which has put a heavy financial burden on many families who are often left with no choice but to send their children out to work and to marry their daughters off early. He adds that the number of children that are affiliated with the fighting has more than doubled.
The situation is bad
Within Syria and those countries which host refugees, approximately 12 million Syrian children require humanitarian assistance. In 2012 that number was just half a million. It is estimated that 2 million children reside in hard to reach areas of Syria which has resulted in them receiving limited humanitarian aid over the years. In Yemen, the conflict has resulted in the destruction of water and sanitation systems which has caused the world’s worst outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhea. Half of Yemen’s health care facilities no longer function and water systems have been destroyed which has meant that 15 million people lack access to safe water of basic healthcare.
World leaders need to do more
Mr Cappelaere says the region’s children have had to endure unprecedented levels of violence. Many have witnessed acts of violence that no one should ever have to witness. If the conflicts continue, Mr Cappelaere says the consequences for the region but the world at large will be dire. He calls on world leaders to do more to put an end to the violence for the sake of girls and boys and their futures.
Severe flooding has swept through large parts of South Asia causing the deaths of at least 1,200 people and according to government sources in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, more casualties are expected. Millions of people have been affected by the flood which has forced them to move into makeshift shelters as well as causing damage to farmland. In the immediate term, victims of the flood require food and shelter, and they are also at risk from water borne diseases. Here are the different ways to help with the international relief effort.
Lobby your MP
The easiest way to help is to send an email or write a letter to your MP requesting them to raise the issue in Parliament when it reconvenes after the summer break. You should ask your MP to ask Parliament for a funding commitment from the UK to help with the relief effort.
Donate to charities
Unicef is a global charity that focuses its efforts on children’s welfare. The organisation runs the Children’s Emergency Fund which provides assistance to vulnerable kids that find themselves in the midst of a disaster.
Oxfam is another global charity with roots in the United Kingdom. The organisation has started to build an emergency response that is meant to provide relief to people that have been affected by the flooding. Oxfam is providing non-food items such as fleece blankets, hygiene kits, solar lamps and tarpaulin sheets. The aid agency is also working hard to deliver safe drinking water and food security.
Save the Children is also concentrating its efforts in Nepal, India and Bangladesh and is working hard to deliver essentials such as items that will mitigate the risk of water borne diseases. Save the Children is providing items such as hygiene and sanitary supplies as well as purifiers.
You don’t have to donate cash to help with the relief effort. You can also donate your time. You should check with agencies such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on how to become a volunteer. These agencies are some of the world’s oldest humanitarian organisations and your time will be greatly appreciated.
Category: Save the Children
Yemen is in crisis with over 1 million children under the age of five who are acutely malnourished and living in parts of the country where the cholera infection rate is high. This is very dangerous because children who are malnourished are nearly thrice as likely to die if they contract cholera because they have weak immunity. Even if they do manage to survive, they are still far from safe. There are plenty of other diseases that cause diarrhoea and can result in malnutrition which puts the children at risk of starvation. After two years of intense fighting, Yemen’s children face the triple threat of war, hunger and cholera.
How did this happen?
There are a combination of factors that cause the rapid spread of cholera. To begin with, the children are suffering from near-famine rates of malnutrition and food insecurity. Secondly, according to the UN, nearly two thirds of the country’s population lack access to safe drinking water. Thirdly, there has been an effective blockade of medical supplies and other resources from entering the country. Finally, Yemen has few medical facilities and the staff that work in them have not been paid for months. Cholera is a disease that is easily treatable, however with the conflict in Yemen escalating as a result of a Saudi-led coalition bombing children, many people have no access to basic health care.
“After two years of armed conflict, children are trapped in a brutal cycle of starvation and sickness. And it’s simply unacceptable.” Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children Country Director for Yemen has said.
What is being done?
Save the Children is scaling up its response as fast as possible and is prioritising eight key provinces, so that the children who need help the most receive it. The agency is supporting people through its Diarrhoea Treatment Centres and Oral Rehydration Therapy Corners. Save the Children is also training health workers as well as delivering medical supplies. The agency is raising awareness about hygiene and the causes of cholera. So far this year, Save the Children has reached almost 50,000 children but without an end to the conflict, the crisis for children gets worse and more funding is necessary.
According to Unicef, over one million people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of waves of violence in the Greater Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This makes the DRC one of world’s largest displacement crises for children. Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF Acting Representative in the DRC says the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and their families in that part of the country have found that their lives have been turned upside down. 850,000 children out of a total of 1.4 million people have found themselves displaced.
Apart from civil war the economy is in shambles
The vast majority of people who have had to leave the region are now living with relatives and foster families in communities which are already amongst the poorest in the world. The situation is being compounded by the worsening economic situation in the DRC. Many people fleeing the violence have either lost or left behind all their essential and personal belongings. A minority of displaced families have fled into the bush that lies near their villages and have chosen to survive in improvised huts. This is far from ideal and the families are amongst the most vulnerable. This is because they lack access to humanitarian workers, food, shelter, water and sanitation.
Unicef and its partners have started a cash assistance program for people who have fled the violence. The money provides cash support to households who spend it on basic necessities. So far Unicef has delivered assistance to 11,225 households through the programme. Aside from the cash assistance scheme, Unicef is also running a multi-sectoral programme it calls Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM).
RRM is expected to be launched within the next few weeks and will seek to position materials and aid partners in advance of a crisis, so there can be a rapid response to the needs of displaced populations. The assistance Unicef will proved will include access to healthcare, the delivery of nutrition and water as well as the provision of sanitation and hygiene. Unicef will also provide non-food items including shelter materials, kitchen utensils and other items of this kind. It is estimated that 50,000 households will benefit from RRM over the coming months.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Fiona McLysaght who is Concern Worldwide South Sudan country director where she heads up a team of 350 people has issued a stark warning about malnutrition in the country which is stricken by war. Ms McLysaght says that vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly and those with disabilities are at risk of worsening malnutrition. She adds that more than 2 million people have fled their homes with 1.8 million people leaving the country and living in refugee camps in neighbouring states. Of those 1.8 million people in refugee camps, a whopping 1 million are children.
Independence happiness was short lived
South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan in 2011 but the happiness was short lived with a civil war breaking out in 2013 that has resulted in the displacement of millions of people. Ms McLysaght says her team is focused on delivering life-saving aid to women who are pregnant and children under 5 who are the most vulnerable to malnutrition.
“We are treating malnourished children and women in one of the counties, Leer, where famine was declared in February, and although this status has been withdrawn, 1.7 million people are still on the brink of starvation.”
The vacant stare
Ms McLysaght described how a child who is experiencing malnutrition looks. A child that is going hungry unsurprisingly seems both sad and scared. They have dull skin which sags and their frame is both small and fragile. Malnourished children have no energy and this means they are simply unable to walk and talk, leave alone play. A well-fed child usually looks inquisitive; however, a malnourished child just stares vacantly.
In desperate need of a political solution
According to Concern Worldwide, the number of children under the age of five that are facing the prospect of acute malnutrition in East Africa is nine times the population of Irish children under the age of five. Ms McLysaght says humanitarian aid will make a difference and save lives whilst also alleviating suffering but that is not enough. Without a political solution to the crisis in South Sudan, the situation looks dire.
Coldplay’s Head Full of Dreams tour which has spanned the globe in 2017 with gigs in the UK throughout last month, represented 15 years of Oxfam working with the super group. During this year’s tour, more than 60,000 Coldplay fans signed a pledge to support campaigns managed and run by Oxfam to highlight unfair trade practices and the plight of refugees. Coldplay have been amongst Oxfam’s most influential supporters, using their global success to help raise awareness about Oxfam on all five of their tours across 50 countries.
Coldplay really proud of the association with Oxfam
Coldplay lead singer began his association with Oxfam in 2002 when he travelled with the aid agency to Haiti. Since then Martin has toured projects in India and many other countries. Chris Martin says the band is extremely proud to have had Oxfam tour with them for the last fifteen years. It has given Coldplay fans the opportunity to show their support for fair trade and the plight of refugees.
Oxfam first toured with Coldplay in 2003
Oxfam first joined Coldplay when the band embarked on their Rush of Blood to the Head tour back in 2003. Oxfam also participated in the 2005 Twisted Logic tour as well as the monster Viva La Vide World tour which took place in 2008/9. Oxfam was also on the Mylo Xyloto tour which occurred in 2012 and during all the events that took place over the course of the many tours, thousands of volunteers signed up in each country.
Coldplay fans support Oxfam’s campaign for change
Last year Oxfam campaigners began their Stand as One Campaign to emphasise the requirement to help and protect people who have had to flee conflict and disaster stricken regions. At present, 32,000 Coldplay fans have signed up to participate in the campaign. Rachel Edwards who coordinated Oxfam tours with Coldplay says their concerts have been critical in building a global movement of Coldplay fans from the Philippines to the UK. Their fans are standing shoulder to shoulder with refugees and demanding that their leaders do more. Over sixty-five million people have been forced to leave their homes through no fault of their own and Ms Edwards says it’s wonderful to see how the people Oxfam meets on the tour support its campaign for change.
Category: Save the Children
According to research from Save the Children, approximately 30,000 teenage girls die of pregnancy or child birth each year which equates to one dying every twenty minutes. This makes childbirth one of the biggest killers of adolescent girls globally. Almost 95 per cent of those deaths take place in the world’s poorest countries and unsurprisingly, girls from poorer families and rural areas are the worst affected. Babies born to teenage mothers also face higher mortality risk, with the mortality rate for babies born to mothers under 20, 30 per cent higher than those born to women aged between 20 to 29.
Access to contraception necessary
Save the Children says the situation could get worse unless young girls in the world’s poorest countries are given better access to family planning methods and contraceptives. In many places, teenagers become pregnant before their bodies are ready and many are discouraged from using family planning or contraception because of social and cultural barriers. In fact, the figures are quite alarming. As many as 214 million women globally who do not wish to get pregnant have absolutely no access to modern contraceptives. This means that many are likely to have unintended pregnancies.
Cultural barriers prevent family planning
Kirsty McNeill an Executive Director of Save the Children UK says it is not acceptable that so many young girls end up dying simply because they do not have access to basic contraceptives such as condoms or the pill because of cultural barriers and myths. Ms McNeill adds that the UK has led the way in making sure these barriers are broken so that young females and women all over the world have the right to decide if and when they get pregnant which is a decision that could ultimately save their lives.
The UK leads the way
The UK has led the world when it comes to family planning for the last few decades. Since 2012 UK aid has assisted as many as 8.5 million women and girls to get access to contraception. This has meant that approximately 2.6 million unwanted pregnancies have been avoided and as many as 3,000 women’s lives have been saved. Additionally, 30,000 still births and 19,000 new born deaths have been prevented says the Department for International Development.
Family planning should be a right
Save the Children is urging the UK government to keep increasing the accessibility of family planning services and to make sure that health services are free, particularly in the world’s poorest countries where barriers to contraception are often the greatest. The charity says family planning should be delivered as part of a full range of sexual and reproductive health services that have their roots in the rights of women and girls.
Unicef the international aid agency says that a shortfall in funding is posing a threat to the education of millions of children who find themselves caught in the middle of conflicts or disasters. Of the US$932 million required by Unicef this year for the agency’s education programmes, it has only received less than $115 million in voluntary contributions. Unicef needs the money to deliver education to as many as 9.2 million children that have been impacted by humanitarian crises.
Growing up without knowledge or skills
Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan says that is children fail to receive an education they grow up without the knowledge or the skill required to make a contribution to the peace and development of their countries. She adds that for the millions of children living in war zones the threats are even more severe. The fact that the children don’t go to school leaves them vulnerable to child marriages, forced labour and even recruitment by armed militia.
Access to education is why people are fleeing
One of the main reasons many families choose to flee their homes aside from being driven out by conflict is the pursuit of educational opportunities for their children. According to the results of a survey of refugee and migrant children in Italy, 38 per cent said they came to Europe to obtain access to educational opportunities. Another survey conducted in Greece showed that nearly one third of parents or guardians said education was the main reason they left their countries and came to Europe. For children who have experienced the horrors of war, education can very well be lifesaving.
Education is the path to peace and prosperity
Muzoon says that when she and her family fled Syria in 2013 she was terrified that she would never go back to school. But upon arriving in Jordan, fortunately there was a school in her camp. Muzoon says she felt relieved and hopeful because school gives children like herself the chance at having a peaceful and prosperous future. As an educational activist as well as being a refugee from Syria, Muzoon has partnered with Unicef to speak on behalf of millions of children that have been displaced by conflict and do not have access to education.
“I urge world leaders to invest in the futures of children living in emergencies — and by doing so invest in the future of our world,” Muzoon said.
Category: Concern Worldwide
A recent report by Concern Worldwide, the international aid agency, has shown first-hand the contagious effect of the violence that has infected what little is left of Syrian society. It has resulted in ordinary civilians feeling unsafe in all environments, whether that be at home, in school, at work or on the streets. The report used a number of focus groups to express the main concerns of civilians who still remain in Northern Syria.
The concerns were many-fold and wide-ranging and include car bombings, bombs going off in crowded places, forced conscription, abuse, harassment, travel restrictions, forced displacement, the spread of disease and lack of treatment. Additionally, the report found that both women and girls were extremely vulnerable to domestic and sexual abuse. They also face harassment and forced marriages. These women and young girls also testified about the violence and sexual harassment they face on a daily basis.
Violence has entered into all aspects of life
Rose Caldwell who is Concern Worldwide (UK) executive director says that after six years of conflict, the violence has now made its way into every part of life and is widespread across all sections of society in Syria. The report emphasises that despite recognition of the fact that protection must be the corner stone of the humanitarian response, the response itself remains dramatically underfunded. There has a gap of 75% between what is needed for the last couple of years.
The humanitarian response has been underfunded
Last year the gap amounted to a deficiency of US$180 million and the report urges member states of the UN and other donors to raise funding for humanitarian protection so that some of the suffering of displaced people still living in Syria since 2011 will be alleviated. The report also pointed out that humanitarian aid is no substitute for failed diplomacy or the lack of political will to end the war.
“The long-term psychological and societal damage of the war will take generations to recover from. Ultimately the rebuilding can only begin when the war ends. UN member states must find a political resolution sooner rather than later for the sake of all the ordinary people inside Syria, before their lives are shattered beyond repair.” Ms Caldwell said.