As the conflict in Syria continues to escalate, in less than a year, the number of children who are trapped by the violence has doubled. There are now nearly half a million children who live in approximately 16 areas across the countries that are under siege and completely cut off from basic services and humanitarian aid.
Life is a nightmare
Anthony Lake an Executive Director for Unicef says that for millions of people in Syria, life has turned into a nightmare that never ends. The worst affected are the hundreds of thousands of children who are living under siege conditions. He adds that kids are being killed and injured and this means they fear going to school and don’t have the courage to even play. They are surviving on very little food and medicine is scarce. Mr. Lake concludes by saying that too many children are dying and this is no way for them to live.
Two years without aid
There are some communities in Syria that have not had access to aid in more than two years. Unicef estimates that in Eastern Aleppo there are at least 100,000 children living under siege. Without safe spaces, children are playing in schools, hospitals, basements and schools. In one area that has come under siege, some volunteers came together to build a playground and park by linking several basements together. The project has been a massive success with as many as 200 children visiting the playground every day. One school has moved completely underground providing 50 girls with the opportunity to continue to learn.
The sieges need to end
As the conflict enters into its sixth year, Unicef renews its call on all participants to end the sieges that are raging across the country. The aid agency says it is critical that participants in the conflict enable immediate and unconditional humanitarian access to all areas throughout the country.
Category: Guide Dogs For The Blind
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Greenpeace is celebrating a massive victory with the creation of the world’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea which is off the coast of Antarctica. The Ross Sea is home to whales, penguins and toothfish so this is obviously a great decision. Greenpeace has been campaigning for the safety of the Ross Sea for many years. The Ross Sea consists of 1,550,000 square kilometres which is three times the size of Texas or twice the size of Spain. Almost 75 per cent of that area will be fully protected. The Ross Sea is often referred to as being ‘the Last Ocean’ and scientists have identified it as being the most pristine shallow ocean left on earth and it is truly stunning.
This year has already been a massive year for ocean protection.
The victory in the Ross Sea follows the decision by President Obama to expand the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument. Until now that had been the largest protected marine area in the world. Mr Obama also established the first National Marine Monument in the Atlantic and in the process made even more history. Other countries are also stepping up their game by protecting their national waters as well. For example, Chile is creating a huge marine park that covers Easter Island whilst the UK has committed to creating protected ‘Blue Belts’ surrounding its overseas territories.
The ocean is huge
Despite the size of theses sanctuaries, the ocean is still far larger. There was a pledge made at the World Conservation Congress this summer to protect as much as 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by the year 2030. There is clearly much to be done in order to achieve that goal and Greenpeace continues to push for more and wants the target to be increased to 40 per cent of the world’s oceans to be fully protected sanctuaries.
Protection is essential
The science speaks for itself. Ocean sanctuaries are critical for the protection of biodiversity and the ability to rebuild fish populations. Unfortunately, the problem is that long battles that lead to decisions such as the Ross Sea need more than science, they need millions of advocates all over the world lending their voice to speak for our oceans. Without the voices of individuals, even if the best scientific case is presented it still is not enough to stand up against short term interests and the commercial fishing lobby which is incredibly powerful.
The tide seems to be turning
Things seem to be changing for the better when it comes to marine conversation, however as the long battle to win protection for the Ross Sea show, getting governments to act in seas which are shared, beyond national jurisdiction is a huge challenge. This is why it is so important that we do much more to ensure the so called High Seas are protected which currently enjoy no protection at all. There is cause for optimism, we are slowly inching towards and agreed system that could protect them. Greenpeace is working towards ensuring the United Nations delivers a policy that would create sanctuaries on the high seas. With the help of people like you it will be able to do much more.
Britain’s biggest bookseller has made a pledge that it will donate £5 of each copy sold of its book of the month to Oxfam in order to help finance the charity’s work with refugees. Waterstones has chosen The Optician of Lampedusa written by Emma Jane Kirby as its book for November. The book is a work of non-fiction and is about a BBC journalist recounting the story of a migrant rescue effort following the destruction of their boat in the Mediterranean.
Reviews for the book have been positively glowing with critics describing it as “ambitious and important” and “a moving and unusual achievement”. The hard-back costs £9.99 of which the book seller will hand over £5 to Oxfam for each copy sold. Waterstones undertook a similar project in 2015 where it raised £1 million for Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal.
Hopes to raise a lot of money
A year later and with the crisis in Syria continuing to escalate, Waterstone hopes it will be able to raise a significant amount of money for Oxfam with the sale of The Optician of Lampedusa. Typically, Waterstone’s says its books of the month sell anywhere between 20 to 30 thousand copies.
“Three years on from the terrible events recounted in The Optician of Lampedusa, the refugee crisis is ongoing as millions are forced to flee conflict, disaster and extreme poverty. In Italy, Oxfam is providing people with accommodation and essentials like clothes and food – as well as health and legal support. The money generously donated by Waterstones to Oxfam from sales of this book will enable us to help many more refugees.” Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said.
The author of the book Emma Jane Kirby said when the Optician of Lampedusa first recounted his story to her, she was haunted by it. She spent several nights dreaming it was her in his position instead, scrambling in the dark just to survive. She adds that she hopes readers will identify with this ordinary person who sets out on a journey to cross a see with friends and that they stay on board with optician as he seeks to steer his vessel towards the brutal reality that will shock everyone.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Dominic MacSorley CEO of Concern Worldwide recently visited Haiti where he worked alongside the Concern Worldwide team as they distributed vital aid. As a result of that visit Mr MacSorley is urging donors all over the world to “wake up” and help achieve the UN’s target of raising US$120 million. The UN is appealing for funds but so far only 20 per cent of its target has been raised. Mr MacSorley said that nobody should die because there is a lack of money.
He added that despite the immense challenges faced in Haiti, it is still a country where there is access. There is no war taking place, no bombs are being dropped and therefore there should be no excuses for why the appeal’s target has not been met. He went on to say that it was disgraceful that the response from major donors has not been more robust.
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the Irish Government’s aid program responded almost immediately. Within a few hours of the crisis supplies from Panama were airlifted and Concern Worldwide was able to distribute them. Whilst Mr MacSorley says he welcomes the additional announcement of further funding to the tune of $1.65 million, the overall response from donors with the deepest pockets are failing the country and they need to step up. International development budgets tend to ignore Haiti where less than 40 cents of every $100 is funnelled towards prevention and disaster risk reduction.
Concern’s relief efforts are focused on preventing the spread of cholera in the country’s capital Port-au-Prince as well as delivering emergency relief kits to thousands of families who live on the Haitian island of La Gonâve. The island is about an hour’s boat ride away from the mainland and took the brunt of the storm with crops and homes along the coastline completely wiped out. According to the UN, as many as 2.1 million people were affected by the hurricane out of a population of 10.1 million.
Worries of cholera outbreak
The worry is that the death toll could rise and there is massive concern that could be a huge outbreak of cholera considering the terrible conditions that people are living in. So far there have more than 510 cases of cholera and Concern is focusing its efforts on preventing more people from contracting the waterborne disease.
The fighting in Yemen has continued unabated for more than a year and a half with nearly 80 per cent of the entire population which includes 10 million children in dire need of life saving assistance. If you were to look closely at the conflict you would see the true impact of the war on the country’s children. Whilst images of children that are starving show a single dimension of the horrors facing children and their families in Yemen, the situation is worsened by the extremely poor economic situation the families face.
Health care system dysfunctional
Another aspect of the conflict is the fact the most of Yemen’s health care facilities are not functioning or do not have adequate staff. There are millions of people who are in danger but do not have access to the medical treatment necessary for survival. On top of all that, there has been an outbreak of cholera which is placing additional pressure on a health care system that is already extremely stressed. It is estimated that tens of thousands of people have died, half of which were children under the age of 15.
Aid is being delivered
In the last few week Unicef and its partners have managed to reach out to as many as 10,000 communities across Yemen using as many as 34,000 health care workers and 10,000 vehicles as well as other means of transportation. With that equipment, the aid agency has managed to reach children in the most remote parts of the country and has screened close to half a million children under the age of 5 for malnutrition. Unicef has treated almost 23,000 children for severe acute malnutrition.
Unicef needs your help
Unicef’s efforts come at a critical moment as the conflict in Yemen has left the health and nutrition system in shambles placing the lives of millions of women and children at risk. Whilst there has been progress, money is running out. Unicef is appealing for £125 million to reach people that are in desperate need of life saving food and supplies in the country. Unicef needs an additional £11 million to meet the needs of people suffering from cholera.
The situation in Yemen for children and their families is deteriorating right before our very eyes. We need to do everything we can to help them, even though their future seems well beyond their control. Please make a donation to Unicef’s appeal for Yemen’s children. They must not be allowed to go hungry.
The top four British environmental groups say Brexit is a “once in a generation opportunity” to change the direction of the huge decline in Britain’s wildlife. The Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, WWF UK and RSPB all say that the UK’s countryside is “key to our identity as a nation”. The charities urged the government to repeal the heavily criticised EU Common Agricultural Policy subsidy with a British subsidy that would pay farmers in the UK to maintain high environmental standards.
Farmers complain they haven’t been consulted
The National Farmers Union says its members understand exactly how important it is to ensure the environment remains protected, however it added that some organisations were making suggestions about agricultural policy without first speaking to stakeholders. For their part the four conservation groups issued a joint statement called a new policy for our countryside which said that Britain’s exit from the EU “will be one of the most defining events for farming and our environment in living memory”.
“[It] provides an unprecedented opportunity to revitalise our countryside in a way that balances the needs of everyone, for generations to come. Our vision is for a thriving, healthy countryside that delivers multiple benefits for society. As well as products such as food and timber, we need the natural environment to provide services like clean water and healthy soils, and the benefits to our wellbeing that contact with abundant and diverse nature brings. In turn, these services play a key role in supporting a prosperous rural economy.”
Long term future at stake
The groups argue that the long-term future of farming is at stake if the natural systems around which it is based are not replenished. Farmland covers over 75 per cent of the UK, farmers are in a unique position to help with ensuring the UK meets the challenge of restoring nature. The charities have also called for the creation of an independent commission which would be set up to develop policy as well as the drawing up of a 25-year plan.
The government needs to be brave
Steve Trotter director of The Wildlife Trusts in England says that wildlife is a critical part of what makes the countryside so special. He argues that the government needs to be brave and take a revolutionary approach to the way subsidies are used to deliver things that we require from a healthy countryside. This includes clean water, beautiful landscapes and nutritious food. He adds that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the government to develop policy to help reverse the huge decline in wildlife and we should not miss it.
Greenpeace is disappointed that the UK government intends to force fracking in the country. Politicians in Westminster have overturned a decision by the Lancashire Council which sought to block fracking. Instead MP’s have decided that fracking firm Cuadrilla has been given permission to drill. Sajid Javid the minister who is responsible for local councils said he would allow drilling to take place at Cuadrilla’s drill site which is located at Preston New Road near Blackpool. Not satisfied with just one site, Mr Javid said he was also inclined to grant permission at a second proposed site as well.
Campaigning against fracking for years
For five years Greenpeace has campaigned with thousands of people throughout the UK to prevent the fracking industry from drilling in UK towns or the countryside. Greenpeace has managed to raise awareness of the risks associated with the destructive fracking industry, especially to the environment and the climate. Greenpeace and ordinary citizens have used every democratic tool available to push back against the government which intends to pursue fracking at all costs. It would seem all that hard work paid off in Lancashire where last year city councillors paid attention to the concerns of local residents and voted against the plans of Cuadrilla. It was a massive win for the people and a huge moment for local democracy.
An affront to democracy
However, the move by Westminster to overturn that decision marks a turning point. In a single move, Mr Javid silenced elected council officials and ignored the opinion of more than 14,000 people who live in Lancashire and have said they don’t wont fracking where they live. He also rebuked a petition containing 180,000 signatures that demands that the Lancashire’s council decision be upheld. By overturning the local council decision, politicians in Westminster have essentially declared that profits from the fracking industry are more important than the concerns of the British people.
As many as 6 million children throughout the Caribbean were in danger as Hurricane Matthew passed through the region. The storm has devastated the lives of 1.2 million people in Haiti alone. The rain has not abated causing school’s banks and shops to shut their doors. Unicef was there on the ground as it happened and had very little access to information, but was able to cobble together some kind of picture thanks to satellite phones and its NGO partners. The heaviest damage occurred in the South and the Grande Anse department with thousands of people losing their homes.
The situation is grim
Haiti’s three biggest cities (aside from Port Au Prince) Les Cayes, Aquin and Torbek were submerged under water and to put that into context, that is an estimated 300,000 people affected by flooding. These people have lost what little they had to begin with. Roads have disappeared and trees and cattle have all gone. The situation is similar in other parts of the country and if Unicef is to mount an effective response it will need at least US$ 2 million in order to deliver lifesaving assistance. As the impact of the storm becomes clearer additional needs with be required.
Supplies reaching children
The good news is all the supplies that Unicef sent before the storm hit were distributed amongst many of the most affected families. This is a good place to start from, but more needs to be done obviously and Unicef is working with both the government and its partners to cover the basic requirements of families that are in need. The current priority is making sure that children and their families have access to safe water so there is no outbreak of any epidemic. Emergency supplies such as hygiene kits, water bladders and chlorination tablets have been delivered to the site. The most important priority right now is keeping children safe from disease however, this is just the beginning.
Infrastructure is poor
Children’s lives have been affected in many ways. Education has been disrupted obviously because the schools have been closed with many acting as shelters. Children have also been separated from their families and there is almost no access to healthcare. Unicef sent two teams to the South to get a better picture of what is happening there. The whole of Southern Haiti has been cut off from the rest of the country after a bridge collapsed following relentless lashing by Hurricane Matthew. Haiti’s infrastructure is both fragile and sparse and the bridge is the only one that links the capital to the Southern peninsula.
According to aid agency Oxfam, the wealthiest one per cent of the UK population own as much as 20 times the wealth of the poorest 20 per cent. This statistic makes the UK one of the most unequal countries in the western world and may be a major reason behind the Brexit vote Oxfam said. The data suggests that just 634,000 UK citizens were worth more than twenty times as the poorest 13 million and in response Oxfam is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to undertake policy which will narrow the gap between those who have and those who have not.
Inequality is astonishing
Oxfam’s report looked at data which came from the investment bank Credit Suisse and found the richest 10 per cent of UK citizens owned more than half of the country’s wealth. More astonishing was the fact that the top 1 per cent owned a staggering 23 per cent of the country’s wealth. In contrast the poorest 20 per cent own just 0.8 per cent of the UK’s wealth between them. The reports claims that vast swathes of the population felt they had no access to economic opportunity.
“Whatever your views on Brexit, the referendum brought divisions within our country to a head, with many people expressing distrust and disconnection with political processes and voting for change in the hope that it would improve their economic position,” Oxfam said.
Oxfam has welcomed the fact that Mrs. May has chosen to recognise the requirement to reform corporate culture and has suggested a number of measures that Oxfam believes the government should adopt. These include:
- Ensuring that workers are given more representation on company boards.
- Providing incentives to firms that encourage them to improve worker skill sets through training and education.
- Introduce a pay ratio of no more than 20 to 1. This would mean the highest paid person at a company earns no more than 20 times the income of the lowest paid person at the company.
- Dealing with corporate tax avoidance.
Oxfam’s Rachel Orr said that inequality is a massive obstacle in the fight against poverty and has produced an economy in which not all people can benefit. Whilst executive pay continues to rise, one in five are still living beneath the poverty line and are struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills. One way to tackle this is to end unscrupulous practices which means the government needs to reform the economy.
“That means closing wage gaps, incentivising investment in companies’ staff and making sure they pay their fair share of taxes,” Ms Orr said.
A spokesperson from Downing Street says the government is responding and made changes such as introducing the National Living Wage as well as undertaking reforms of the welfare system. The spokesperson did admit however, that that much more needs to be done both to help the poorest in the country as well as those families struggling to make ends meet.