Category: Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide has expressed cautious optimism regarding the recent agreement between authorities in Myanmar and Bangladesh but reiterated its worry for the very uncertain future of the Rohingya people. The agreement means that as many as 620,000 refugees living in Bangladesh could return to their home in Myanmar’s Rakhine State after fleeing widespread violence. The agreement was signed by Aung San Suu Kyi who is Myanmar’s de facto leader and the Bangladeshi foreign minister.
Refugees could start returning home within the next two months
The agreement commits the two countries to begin repatriations within the next two months. Brid Kennedy a Regional Director with Concern says whilst obviously it is a step in the right direction, many refugees that have recently arrived in Bangladesh would still be extremely reluctant to return to Myanmar. Ms Kennedy says that whilst Concern welcomes the accord which will see the establishment of a working group over the next few weeks, there still does not appear to be a concrete outcome that would secure the future of the Rohingya people.
Refugees will be reluctant to return
In Myanmar the Rohingya are considered stateless and those that have fled the violence are extremely traumatised by what they have had to endure and see in Rakhine State. People have lost their homes and ability to earn and income. Many have lost loved ones to violence so it comes as no surprise that the people who have fled feel reluctant to return. Ms Kennedy says the most crucial thing required is guaranteed safe return for people who have had to deal with such trauma.
Urgent need for resources
Ms Kennedy offered high praise for the government of Bangladesh and its handling of the crisis. She emphasised the fact that the huge influx of refugees had placed enormous strain on the country and despite the fact that Bangladesh must deal with its own high levels of poverty and massive flooding, the country still showed great hospitality towards the refugees. Obviously, Bangladesh would like to see the refugees return sooner rather than later and there is a lot of hope that a solution will be found that will allow the Rohingya to live peacefully when they do return. In the meanwhile, Ms Kennedy says there is an urgent requirement for resources so that refugees have access to food, water, shelter and sanitation.
First Story is a charity that changes young people’s lives through writing. First Story will be broadcasting its first appeal on BBC Radio 4 hosted by Robert Webb, on Sunday December 17th at 07.54 and again at 21.26. You can find Radio 4 at FM 92 – 95, FM 103 – 105, LW 198 and on iPlayer for the week following the broadcast.
Serving low-income communities
First Story pairs award-winning writers with secondary schools serving low-income communities to foster students’ creativity and communication skills. By helping them find their voices, First Story raises aspirations and gives students the skills and confidence to achieve their goals.
Helping young people
Since 2008 First Story has helped many young people to tell their stories, and the majority are now more confident, write and read more, and are more engaged in their school communities. Their work has been published in over 250 First Story anthologies.
Help First Story by sharing their Radio 4 Appeal Transmission Card on social media.
According to Oxfam, the world’s poorest regions are losing out on as much as $170 billion every year as a result of tax avoidance and the UK government needs to do something about this and increase the level of transparency. Oxfam’s Katy Chakrabortty says that tax avoidance means that developing countries are denied billions in funding which could be used to deliver healthcare, education and poverty alleviation. She adds that tax evasions also hurts ordinary individuals in rich countries such as the UK and US.
The UK needs to be ahead of the curve
Ms Chakrabortty says it is important for the UK to get ahead of the next scandal and to begin treating tax evasion and avoidance as a serious public policy issue. According to UN figures, tax avoidance costs developing nations at least $100 billion every year with one economist estimating that tax evasion by wealthy individuals causes poor countries to lose $71 billion every year. There is a briefing paper on the issue which seeks to establish policy measures to ensure that countries can claim what is considered to be their fair share of revenue.
Policy measures need to be put in place
These include making sure that there are public registers which record the beneficial owners of companies in both the UK and its overseas and crown dependencies. Developing nations should be able to access tax and company data and that tax rules should be reformed so that incentives are not provided for UK companies to avoid paying tax in developing countries. The briefing urges the UK government to show global leadership when it comes to tax avoidance and this would mean advocating for global tax reform that would eliminate the flaws in initiatives such as the OECD’s base erosion and profit sharing initiative (BEPS).
UK multinationals should show how much tax is paid in each country they operate in
Ms Chakrabortty concludes by saying it is imperative that the UK government urgently push forward tough action to tackle tax evasion by ensuring that UK based multinationals reveal the tax payments they make in every jurisdiction they operate in. Tax havens such as Bermuda which have strong link with the UK should also be forced to reveal the true owners of companies registered there. Ms Chakrabortty says its not easy to reform tax rules but it is possible and with the government committing to lead on this issue, there is no reason for delay.
Category: Guide Dogs For The Blind
Guide dogs does some really important work helping people who are visually impaired. The charity equips people who need them with a fully trained working guide dog so they can lead a much fuller life. This is not an easy task. Guide Dogs needs to start training their dogs from when they are a puppy. This takes a lot of time and money. By sponsoring a puppy from Guide Dogs, you will be enabling someone with a visual impairment to lead a life full of freedom and mobility.
You can choose your puppy
There are three puppies to choose from. Buddy is a cross between a Labrador and Golden Retriever and is simply adorable. Berry is a female Labrador puppy who is extremely bubbly and loves to wag her tail and Joy who is also a Labrador-Golden Retriever Cross. Joy loves to play with her toys and having her tummy tickled.
It doesn’t cost much
Guide Dogs has provided thousands of visually impaired people with fully trained dogs over the years and recipients come from all ages and backgrounds. You can sponsor a puppy for as little as £5.00 a month. If that isn’t enough to convince you, then check out this video of Buddy playing and learning.
Category: Guide Dogs For The Blind
Dogalogue is running an amazing sale store wide this Christmas. You can purchase items and receive a massive 10 per cent discount. All you need to do is make a purchase this December and enter code D17G012 at check out and this deal could be yours. There are tons of items to choose from ranging from gorgeous gifts and essential extras including crackers, tablecloths and napkins. If you want to make sure your delivery arrives in time from Christmas, remember to make a purchase as soon as possible.
How to get this deal
- Shop at the Dogalogue store and make a purchase on or before December 31st 2017.
- Enter coupon code D17G012.
- Receive a 10% Discount on your entire purchase.
Category: Save the Children
Save the Children says the eviction of 6,000 Syrians including what is believed to be as many as 3,200 children who live on the outskirts of Beirut must be stopped immediately. According to the aid agency in recent weeks, refugees that had been renting private accommodation in the al-Hadath neighbourhood received eviction notices from local authorities, informing them that they had just 10 days to leave their homes because they had allegedly violated Lebanon’s labour laws.
Facing intense pressure to leave
At present as many as 28 families have been forced to leave and few have found an alternative place to live. Those who have decided to remain are appealing the decision by say they are facing intense pressure to leave and worry that they will be thrown out on to streets in the immediate future. Residents who received eviction notices say they were told to leave because Syrians were not welcome in the area. Many have said they decided to move before being kicked out.
Children being placed at risk
This is the first-time eviction notices have been issued to Syrian residents of the neighbourhood but it does come at a time when calls are growing for refugees to return to Syria. The evictions risk putting children that are already very vulnerable in more danger as families face the prospect of ending up on the street as the harsh winter descends. These evictions will also force many children to drop out of school and will impact their physical and psychological well-being.
Homeless and destitute
Allison Zelkowitz, Save the Children’s Country Director in Lebanon says if authorities do not stop the evictions, the children may well become homeless and destitute, losing what little sense of safety and normality they had to begin with. She adds that Lebanon welcomed these children more than six years ago, offering them a place of refuge and there is no question that the country has been extremely generous and has fulfilled all its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Nevertheless, it should not turn its back on these children now.
International donors have failed Lebanon
Ms Zelkowitz says that Lebanon should ensure that these children continue to remain protected and should not throw them out onto the streets. Save the Children is calling on both municipal and national authorities to immediately cease these evictions before more children are put at risk. Since conflict erupted in Syria, Lebanon absorbed more than a million registered refugees who now account for as much as 30 per cent of the country’s population. International donors have simply not done their bit in supporting host countries, with less than 50 per cent of the regional refugee response having been funded.
It is harvest Season in South Sudan, unfortunately that is unlikely to end the hunger crisis that is unfolding in the country as it continues to be engulfed by conflict and hyperinflation which puts food out of reach for many. According to a report released by the Government of South Sudan in collaboration with various UN agencies, the number of people who suffer from food insecurity in the country is likely to decline to 4.8 million people between October and December, down from 6 million people in June. Whilst that may seem like good news, in actual fact the number of people experiencing food insecurity from October to December has increased by 1.4 million people compared to the same time period in the previous year.
Conflict is the root cause of the problem
Serge Tissot the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s representative in South Sudan says the harvest season has failed to deliver much relief to the millions of people in South Sudan who don’t have enough to eat. Unfortunately, the most productive agricultural areas of the country have been ravaged by conflict and as such the most important priority is finding a peaceful solution to this man-made tragedy otherwise next year the situation is likely to deteriorate further.
The situation is likely to be worse next year
The food security situation is expected to get worse towards the beginning of 2018 and the so called “hungry season” when households no longer have any food until the arrival of the next harvest is forecast to start a full three months earlier than normal. This year there was a massive humanitarian response which managed to prevent famine from occurring in some parts of the country, but even with the current harvest season in effect, millions of people require continued assistance to survive.
Critical levels of malnutrition
Next year it is expected that over more than 1.1 million children under the age of five will be malnourished. That figure includes 300,000 severely malnourished children who are at extreme risk of death. Mahimbo Mdoe UNICEF’s South Sudan representative says that too many children in the country are going hungry. More than one in five people who are unable to feed themselves is a child under the age of five. The end result is a malnutrition crisis that is putting millions of lives at risk.
UNICEF along with its partners have managed to deliver treatment this year to over 160,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). The aid agency has set a goal of reaching 207,000 malnourished children throughout South Sudan this year. UNICEF has adopted a multi-sectoral approach to tackling the problem and has also delivered safe drinking water to more than 750,000 people. This year agencies such as the World Food Programme have helped more than 4.6 million people in the country by either providing cash or food and nutritional support for children aged under five.
Category: Concern Worldwide
The Central African Republic with a population of 4.6 million people which is almost equivalent to that of Ireland has the highest hunger levels out 119 countries that were measured for the 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI). According to the report, the conflict ridden African country has nearly half of its population experiencing malnourishment and is the only country that the GHI ranks in the category of “extremely alarming” a characterisation no other country has been described as since 2014.
20 million people at risk of starvation
A further 51 nations were ranked as either having serious or alarming hunger conditions according to the study released by Concern Worldwide and several other aid agencies and policy think tanks. The results of the study were revealed during a year when famine cast a shadow over four countries where starvation threatens as many as 20 million people. Unfortunately, researchers were unable to obtain data from 13 countries which has meant they have not been included as part of the GHI despite experts being extremely worried about at least nine of them.
War prevents research on hunger
No data exists on war-torn South Sudan which the UN officially declared as being in a state of famine back in February. Somalia is another country with insufficient data that is at risk of famine. The main reason why data could not be collected in some countries is due to ongoing conflict. The report warns that despite the fact global hunger has fallen by 27 per cent over the last decade and a half, the UN is unlikely to meet the target it set back in 2015 of eradicating hunger by 2030.
We have the resources and technology to deal with the problem
Dominic MacSorely Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide said it was shameful that large parts of the world were falling ever deeper into a state of perpetual food crisis despite wealthy countries having the resources and technology to deal with the problem. Recently the UN’s Food and Agriculture organisation revealed that the number of undernourished people in 2016 was 815 million people, representing an increase of 38 million people. This year’s GHI suggests that there has been a small fall in the number of children suffering from hunger.
Millions of children suffering
Approximately 52 million children aged under five are believed to have extremely low weight for their height and a further 155 million children have stunted growth or have low height for their age as a result of hunger. It is estimated that roughly 45 per cent of deaths of children under the age of five are the result of undernutrition. Rather unsurprisingly the report suggests that the groups most vulnerable to poverty or hunger have the least social, economic and political power.
Governments need to invest more
The authors of the GHI are urging governments to invest more in attempting to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goal of no hunger by 2030. They want increased support for small farmers and to include them in policy debates so that fairer standards in business and trade are adopted.
If you don’t know what Absolutely Leisure is, it’s an organisation which seeks to provide affordable leisure and entertainment activities such as Go Karting and Laser Combat. The organisation has announced its latest initiative which it calls Absolutely Together that seeks to provide a specific framework for kids and teens who have special needs or disabilities as well as for underprivileged youth and elderly individuals who feel isolated.
Making its facilities available to local charities
Absolutely Leisure has established activity centres across the UK since the charity was first established in 2009 and the organisation has committed itself to not only delivering affordable memorable leisure experiences, but is also providing support to local communities by making its facilities available to local charities. Absolutely Leisure does this by providing either subsidised or free entertainment activities for its partner charities. Absolute Leisure wants to make an even bigger impact by providing to support to those that are most vulnerable as well as individuals that have been forgotten in local communities. Hence the name of the initiative Absolutely Together.
Customers not aware their money goes back into the community
David Brind Group Manage of Absolutely Leisure says that few of the organisations customers and members are aware that by joining one of its top-quality gyms or enjoying a thrilling afternoon of karting actually puts their money back into the community. This money is then used to help vulnerable members of society have an enjoyable experience and gives them the opportunity to socialise, which is far more effective than simply putting money into a charity box.
Programme currently 100% funded by profits
Mr Brind adds that not only do customers receive excellent value for money combined with fabulous service and a wonderful experience, but in the process, they are also helping others. The Absolutely Together programme is completely funded by the profits made by Absolutely Leisure and this means all donations are 100% guaranteed to be used towards the provision of services. Mr Brind says his organisation seeks not just to enable local charities to make use of its facilities but also wants to get out there themselves and run entertaining programmes specifically targeted at people in need.
Children get to participate in activities they would otherwise not have the opportunity to
The pilot program is being run at the organisation’s Maidenhead kart track where children with disabilities are able to participate in Go-Karting sessions in a dual seat kart. Mr Brind says these children have the opportunity to take part in something they otherwise would not have been able to before and have the kind of experience other able-bodied kids get to enjoy.
Hopefully the programme will expand
At present the profits made by Absolutely Leisure are financing the programme, but the organisation is hoping to secure donations and grants in order to support the work that it does and enable it to expand its offerings. The mission of Absolutely Together is to ‘put a smile on faces’ and to help those that are most vulnerable in society by alleviating loneliness, social isolation and prejudice.
According to a recent report by international aid agency Oxfam, despite the fact that many governments have pledged to provide funding, small farmers living in poor countries are not receiving the help they require in order to make sure their families are fed and adapt to climate change. Oxfam analysed agricultural policies and public investments made in a number of developing countries and found that very little funding is flowing to small-scale farmers in order to help them build resilience to climate change. The aid agency also found it impossible to determine how much money is reaching female farmers who are particularly susceptible to climate change.
Money being used for other purposes
Oxfam says that instead of providing funding to farmers, governments have been diverting money towards making infrastructure investments and private sector initiatives in richer parts of the countries that were analysed. In the developing world, female farmers make up an average of 43 per cent of the total number of farmers. However, these women face barriers to access land and credit, they have very little training and this means they produce between 20 to 30 per cent less food than men. By closing the gender gap millions of people would be lifted out of poverty and starvation.
Very little money is being donated and utilised
The countries Oxfam looked at were finding it difficult to attract enough funding to help them adapt to climate change. In Pakistan for example, only 26 per cent of the $1.17 billion that was received by the country in 2014 to tackle climate change was used for that purpose. Nigeria is another country that is suffering, with just $15 million having been donated for climate change adaption as of May 2017.
The Paris Agreement
Oxfam is urging the international community to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement and increase funding to help communities adapt to climate change. The aid agency is also calling on the governments of developing countries to increase funding for female farmers. African countries under the Maputo Declaration committed to spend 10 per cent of their national budget on agricultural development. Ghana was the only country that came close to meeting this target in 2010. The average amount spent by countries on the continent between 2010-2015 was just 5.5 per cent.
Governments not doing enough
According to Oxfam, governments of all the countries that were studied were doing very little to ensure that female farmers benefit from climate and agricultural funding which is insufficient to begin with. In Nigeria for example, climate change policies do little more than encourage females to take part in initiatives however they do little more than that.