UNICEF says that there are 1.4 million children in drought ridden Somalia that will likely suffer from acute malnutrition this year. That is a 50 per cent increase from the first estimate which was made in January. The figures include more than 275,000 children who are likely to face a severe form of acute malnutrition which is life threatening and are nine times more likely to die of diseases such as measles or cholera. UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says the combination of dehydration and malnutrition added to displacement is deadly for children.
Children could die within hours
Ms Mercado added that a child that was severely dehydrated and malnourished can die within a few hours if they fail to receive treatment for diarrhoea or cholera. Measles is also a major threat because it is airborne and can spread like wildfire in the camps. It is estimated that 2.9 million people in Somalia face the prospects of famine. In North-East Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen 17 million people are at risk says the United Nation. In pockets of South Sudan, famine has already been declared.
Huge increase in children suffering from malnutrition
So far UNICEF has treated roughly 56,000 Somali children for malnutrition since the start of the year which represents an increase of over 88 per cent over last year said Ms Mercado. UNICEF funds nutrition and cholera centres but has no data on how many children have died from hunger and disease in Somalia. Ms Mercado said that during the 2011 famine an estimated 258,000 people perished over a year and half period. 133,000 of the people who died were young children.
“Every mother I spoke to said their children were sick, either with diarrhoea, or vomiting or feverish. Most had never been vaccinated before because of the insecurity across the country,” Mercado said. “The pace and the scale of displacement have risen exponentially.”
Approximately 615,000 Somalis have had to flee their homes since last November because of the drought and crop failure. They join the 1 million people that have already been internally displaced. The UN has managed to achieve approximately 60 per cent of its funding target for its humanitarian appeal of US$ 720 million for Somalia. A spokesperson for the agency said it is in a race against time.
Category: Concern Worldwide, Oxfam, Save the Children
The British public has once again showed its generosity by helping to raise £50 million in 22 days for East Africa. The money will be used to enable aid agencies to step up their efforts to deliver food and assistance to millions of people who are on the brink of starvation. The total amount raised by the UK to help with food shortage in Yemen and East Africa is £72 million when you include the £15 million the UK government has also contributed.
Helping to save lives
This means the British people are already helping to save lives says Saleh Saeed CEO of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). Mr Saeed says the £50 million raised for East Africa will provide millions of people living in the drought afflicted areas with food, water and access to medical care for more than two years. The Yemen appeal which was launched back in December last year has so far raised £22 million.
Assistance being delivered despite of obstacles
More assistance is already being delivered to those in need in spite of the fact that there are many challenges. For example, as a result of the conflict in Yemen the cranes in the port of Hodeida have been destroyed. In South Sudan fighting is taking place and in Somalia vast swathes of the country are controlled by terror groups who have blocked access to aid. Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan and in Somalia people face the prospect of starvation with roughly 20 million people affected.
All the leading charities are contributing
The DEC is made up of the UK’s leading charities and is lending its support in East Africa where food shortages are most acute. According to Mr Saeed there have been reports that the delivery of aid has had an immediate impact to the lives of people affected by the crisis. Concern Worldwide has set up a nutrition centre just outside Mogadishu the capital of Somalia. Save the Children is also working with about 40 drought affected communities in Ethiopia and Somalia and providing them with food, water, and medical care. Oxfam is delivering water and providing sanitation to hundreds of thousands of people in Kenya.
Still lots more to be done
Mr Saeed said whilst the he was very grateful for what has been provided so far, there is still far more to be done as the crisis get worse. He added that the UK can be proud of its response to the East Africa and Yemen appeal. A lot of money has been raised and the UK government and the British public are leading the charge.
Oxfam said ahead of the recent Climate Change March on Washington, that global warming is responsible for making drought and humanitarian disasters worse. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that roughly 12 million people across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya are at risk of starvation due to recurring droughts. The agency believes that Somalia in particular is at risk of entering into a state of famine for the second time in six years.
Climate change a real threat
Nigel Tricks, regional director for Oxfam said in an interview that in East Africa, climate change is a very real problem that poses a threat today in East Africa. Mr Tricks added that what were once previously thought to be once in a lifetime droughts now seem to be routine. According to Mr Tricks, for the first-time camels and donkeys which are typically resistant to lack of water are dying by the score and this is causing havoc in the lives of pastoralists.
Thousands of people participated in the March
Thousands of people took part in the People’s Climate Change March held in Washington at the end of April. Last month President Trump signed an order to repeal climate change regulations that were enacted under the Obama administration. President Trump was keeping a promise to provide support to the coal industry and the move was provocative because it raises the question of whether the US will support an international deal in the fight against global warming.
Years of low rainfall
Oxfam says that this is the third year of very low rainfall in East Africa and this is combined with above average temperatures, which is part of trend that started in the 1980’s. One activist for an aid agency said that in the Kenyan town of Kilifi, people were going hungry and cattle were dying as a result of drought which really started to have an impact last year. Southern and Eastern Africa were hit badly by drought in 2016 which was exacerbated by El Nino which is when the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean rises. The combination of the two has wilted crops, slowed economic growth and caused food prices to rise.
Category: Save the Children
Save the Children says it strongly condemns the recent appalling attack on busses that were being used to evacuate civilians from two towns in North-West Syria, Foua and Kefraya. A number of people including children are thought to have been killed in what appears to be a savage attack. Sonia Khush who runs Save the Children in Syria says people have been living under siege for the past couple of years and the condition they live in are truly horrific.
Attacking civilians with impunity
In a strongly worded statement Ms Khush added that once people finally had the chance to leave all sides participating in the conflict continue to attack civilians with no repercussions. This has had devastating consequences for children and their families. Ms Khush says civilians should never be targeted. The attack took place whilst thousands of people were being evacuated from four towns that are under siege.
Children are dying
Two towns are government held and are Foua and Kefraya, whilst the other two towns, Madaya and Zabadani are held by opposition forces. Whilst under siege, critical aid such as medicine and food are prevented from entering for months at time. To add to that, children are dying from starvation, sniper fire and bombing. Save the Children is urging all parties involved in the conflict to make sure that the remaining evacuees are completely protected and given safe passage.
Millions of people not receiving aid
650,000 people still live under siege in Syria. There are also more than 4 million people living in parts of the country that are considered ‘hard to reach’ and simply not accessible to aid agencies. Despite the fact that various participants in the conflict have pledged to increase aid access, over 90 per cent of people living in these parts of Syria have no seen a single aid convoy in 2017.
More than 200,000 children or nearly a quarter of all children who live in the two areas that are most affected by the continuing conflict in Eastern Ukraine are in urgent need of immediate assistance and psychosocial support says UNICEF. These children need help to deal with the trauma of living through more than three years of violence. The children who most desperately need support live in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts which are within 15 kilometres of the line that separates government and non-government controlled which is where the fighting is at its fiercest.
“The world has forgotten about this invisible crisis in eastern Ukraine, but hundreds of thousands of children are paying a heavy price, one that could last a lifetime without adequate support. We urgently need funds to reach these traumatized children,” said UNICEF Ukraine Representative Giovanna Barberis.
Living in chronic fear
The children who live nearest to the line of control are living in chronic fear and uncertainty which is caused by the sporadic shelling and unpredictable breakout of fighting. They are also confronted by the dangers of landmines and other unexploded devices. These children risk their lives just to get an education. During the most recent escalation of violence that took place this year between February and March, seven schools were damaged. Over 740 schools or 20 per cent of schools in Eastern Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed since the beginning of the conflict back in 2014.
Children require intense psychological support
The vast majority of the 200,000 children that require intense psychological support in Eastern Ukraine are simply not receiving proper care. Services are underfunded and over extended. Social workers and specially trained teachers as well as psychologists are working 24 hours a day. However, as the proxy war continues additional funds are necessary to meet the needs of the children.
Appealing for donations
UNICEF is asking for donations totalling US$31.2 million in order to deliver support to these children and their families that have been scarred by conflict in Eastern Ukraine. This includes $5.5 million to deliver protection for children as well as psychosocial support. At present, UNICEF has not even received a third of the funds it needs and child protection is critically underfunded.
“Children should not have to live with the emotional scars from a conflict they had no part in creating. Additional support is needed now so that young people in Donetsk and Luhansk can grow into healthy adults and rebuild their communities,” said Barberis. “Children and their families urgently need peace. We call on all sides of the conflict to recommit to the ceasefire signed in Minsk to end this senseless violence.”
Category: Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide, the international aid agency has launched an East African Crisis Appeal and is looking to raise €25 Million. The money will be used to deliver emergency support for 1.8 million people in the region that urgently require food assistance as a result of drought and conflict across what is an incredibly fragile region. The aid agency has sent in Emergency Response Teams to deal with humanitarian situation that is worsening by the day in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan.
20 million people affected
There are more than 20 million people who require immediate assistance in the form of food, water and shelter. In some parts of South Sudan, famine has already been declared affecting 4.9 million people or 40 per cent of the country’s entire population. These people urgently require food assistance with 100,000 people already at risk of starvation. Conflict as a result of ethnic tension combined with drought has made the problem even more acute. Staff from Concern that are there on the ground are reporting harrowing accounts of families who are fleeing the violence.
Starvation across the continent
Somalia is in a very similar situation with conflict and drought combining to produce famine-like conditions with 6.2 million people or 50 per cent of the country’s population in urgent requirement of food assistance. It is estimated that 363,000 children in Somalia under the age of five is acutely malnourished. In Kenya 2.7 million people face food insecurity whilst in Ethiopia 5.6 million people will require food assistance as a result of the rains failing to arrive.
Concern delivering aid
Concern is delivering a wide variety of services ranging from food, water, nutrition, shelter, sanitation and cash to all countries affected by the crisis. But it urgently requires €25 Million to reach nearly 1.8 million people before the crisis escalates further. Feargal O’Connell who was the most recent country director for South Sudan says that hunger levels across East Africa has reached critical levels. It is predicted that malnutrition rates will climb further with a number of states experiencing extreme shortages of food. Mr. O’Connell says this is a humanitarian crisis that has reached breaking point.
If you want to spend this summer attending some of the UK’s best festivals, you should apply to Oxfam to act as a festival volunteer. The charity is looking for friendly people to be staff at festivals across the country during the summer such as Glastonbury, Shambala, Latitude, Leeds and Boardmasters. For those folks who sign up, they will have the opportunity to develop important new skills, make new life friends and enjoy the festivals free of charge. Organisers of these festivals pay Oxfam for volunteer stewards and this is one of the way Oxfam raises money to fund the important work it does fighting poverty.
A dream for music lovers
George Upcott of Oxfam says if you are a music lover then being a volunteer at festivals will be a dream come true. Each volunteer does three shifts at each event, but in between shifts volunteers are free to enjoy themselves just like any other attendee. The best thing about becoming a volunteer says Upcott is the chance to meet a great bunch of other like-minded people. Volunteering either as a campaigner, steward or at an on-site Oxfam shop is the ideal way to not only have a great time but also help Oxfam in its fight against poverty all over the world.
Help keep people safe
People who volunteer at festivals help keep people safe and offer information and advice to festival attendees. The type of jobs they carry out including welcoming attendees, checking their tickets or wristbands and controlling access to stages as well as managing crowd numbers. The stewards act as the face of the festival and take care of all areas such as campsites, gates and arenas.
The great leveller
Mark Grayson who has been a volunteer for the last 25 years says at Glastonbury there are more than 2,000 Oxfam stewards with people ranging from 18 years’ olds up to people who are in their 70’s. Grayson says it’s a great leveller. Everyone leaves their normal lives behind and it’s no longer important what car people drive, where they live or what their background is. He adds there is no pretentiousness and everyone displays a sense of warmth with the community raising money for Oxfam.
Steven Smith got some bad news following a burglary that turned violent at his property. He was told by doctors that he would never walk again. That may seem sad but the fact has not daunted Steven who has committed himself to participate in the London Marathon on the 23rd April 2017. Steven will take part to raise money for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation (nsif) which is an organisation dedicated to developing a cure for spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis.
Surprising his doctors
Steven was at his holiday home in the South of France when the attack took place 5 years ago. Armed men broke into his house surprising him. In order to escape he jumped from his first-floor window but landed in a ravine breaking his spine in the process. He has consistently surprised his doctors with his recovery following his spinal injury and with the help of a walking stick is able to walk.
An incredibly difficult challenge
Whilst that is an amazing recovery Steven still has to face a whole host of complications caused by his injury. His goal is to finish the marathon in under 14 hours which is nothing short of incredible given the fact that he faces considerable difficulty and pain whilst moving. Steven is seeking to raise £250,000 for nsif which will use all the money raised to finance ground breaking research to source a cure for spinal cord injury.
Steven said “After my injury in 2011 my legs often feel extremely heavy – they feel like they are made of lead. I won’t be training too much, as I don’t want to aggravate the injury. I think I’ve only got one marathon in me and I don’t want to run out of steam too early!”
Mike Milner, CEO of nsif commented, “The London Marathon is an enormous challenge for anyone taking part – but to undertake a challenge of this scale when every step is a struggle will really push Steven to his limits. Steven has shown incredible mental and physical strength in his attempt to recover from his injury. Many people don’t realise the extent of the complications that a spinal cord injury can cause, it is a life-long battle for good health due to the hidden effects of the injury. We believe in a future where there will be a cure for spinal injury and we are enormously grateful to Steven taking on this epic challenge”.
Category: Save the Children
Save the Children says that millions of children in war torn Syria could be living in a state of “toxic” stress as a result of extended exposure to the horrors of war. The charity says that an entire generation of children could be damaged irreversibly without immediate aid. The stress of war has caused children to engage in self harm, bed wetting, attempted suicide and aggressive behaviour. The findings were based on hundreds of interviews with children in Syria.
The largest study of its kind
The study by Save the Children is the largest of its kind covering the mental health and well-being of children stuck in Syria’s protracted civil war which is now 6 years old and has left more than 300,000 people dead. The report titled “Invisible Wounds” concludes with the fact that the mental health crisis of children trapped in the war is simply terrifying. The aid agency spoke to over 450 people as part of its research including kids of various ages, parents, caregivers, teachers, aid workers and teachers.
Almost all children affected
The study found that almost all children and 84 per cent of the adults said bombing and shelling were the main cause of stress for children. Two thirds of children have lost a loved one or had their home bombed or shelled. 71 per cent of those interviewed said that children were increasingly wetting their bed and involuntary urination is a symptom of toxic stress or PTSD. 48 per cent of adults interviewed said they had seen children losing their ability or suffer from speech impediments since the onset of war.
Toxic stress impedes development
About 2.3 million children have managed to flee the conflict in Syria and at least three million children under the age of six have never known anything other than war according to the report. Toxic stress can impede how the brain and other organs develop, increasing the risk of mental health problems developing in adulthood according to researchers.
“After six years of war we are at a tipping point, after which the impact on children’s formative years and childhood development may be so great that the damage could be permanent and irreversible. The risk of a broken generation, lost to trauma and extreme stress, has never been greater ” said Dr Marcia Brophy, a senior mental health adviser with Save the Children.
Study conducted only in safe areas
The research for the report was conducted in parts of Syria where Save the Children and its local partners were able to work. According to the aid agency the survey was conducted in mainly opposition-held areas. The report suggests that kids in areas under the control of either the government or the Islamic State where the agency is unable to work are also more than likely to be experiencing traumatic events.
Last year a severe drought began which has affected arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya and potentially threatens millions of people. Unicef is providing aid to the Kenyan Government through the implementation of an emergency response effort that is saving the lives of households affected by the lack of rain and shortage of food. The agency is also strengthening its coordination activities with the government and monitoring the most vulnerable groups.
2.7 million people affected
The most recent data measured at the end of February suggests that 2.7 million people require water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance. 1.1. million children are facing food insecurity whilst over 100,000 children are severely malnourished and in need of treatment. The drought has also forced 174,000 children to leave school.
National disaster declared
The Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared the drought a national disaster and has requested international support. Unicef is working with a number of other aid agencies to provide assistance and is the sector lead for nutrition, child protection, education and WASH. The agency is also expanding its sectoral coordination. Werner Schultink Unicef’s representative in Kenya says the agency should not only strive to alleviate the suffering but also help families become more resilient as well as improve the local government’s capacity to deal with future droughts and other natural disasters.
Through its partnership with other agencies and stakeholders, Unicef is delivering aid to children in 23 arid and semi-arid land counties. By January 2017 the agency had delivered 12,000 cartons of essential Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods for the treatment of 12,000 severely- malnourished children. Aside from the ability to enable people to access water, Unicef is working with county governments throughout Kenya to rehabilitate broken borewells and provide water purification commodities such as soap. The aid agency is committed to reaching all children and their families that have been affected by the drought and is scaling up its contribution to the Government led response.