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.
Oxfam International has come to an agreement with the government of Kenya which paves the way for the charitable organisation to shift its international headquarters to the Kenyan capital city, Nairobi. The decision was announced through a tweet made by executive director of Oxfam International Winnie Byanyima. Ms Byanyima said she could confirm that Oxfam’s headquarters will move to Nairobi and the organisation has finalised its agreement with the host country Kenya.
Idea first proposed in 2014
Ben Phillips a former campaign director of Oxfam GB tweeted in response that his last report for Oxfam which he submitted back in 2014 suggested that the International Headquarters should be moved to the South and Nairobi in particular. He added the decision to proceed was a wonderful one and everyone should celebrate it.
Decision driven by desire to shift power from North to South
Oxfam made its decision to move its International Headquarters from Oxford to either Nairobi or Bangkok back in April 2014. The reason for the decision is because it is an attempt at devolving power from the Northern to Southern hemisphere. In July 2016 Ms Byanyima wrote a blog post confirming that Oxfam’s International Secretariat was start the transfer in 2017 in a process that would take up to two years.
In the blog at the time, Byanyima wrote: “The British public is not losing its famous Oxfam! Oxfam GB will remain as strong and as vibrant as ever. Instead, the British public (and publics in other countries) will continue supporting an Oxfam that is part of a movement led from an African location – not a European one. This move is far deeper than a symbolic one (although I believe that the symbolism is important too). The fact is the world is changing and I believe it is necessary for NGOs like Oxfam to change.”
Oxfam has always maintained that the its decision to move was not driven by the desire to cut costs and that Oxfam GB headquarters and staff will be unaffected.
Category: Save the Children
Save the Children is aware that making a donation is not as exciting as online shopping. So, the UK based children’s charity has decided to take a leaf out of Amazon’s playbook and is making use of the online shopping behemoth’s Dash button concept which will make its quick and simple to make a donation because all you need to do is push a button.
Making use of technology
Save the Children has teamed up with marketing incubator Iris Nursery and together they are developing their own button which is very similar to the Domino’s pizza “easy order” button. However instead of summoning a pizza to fill your hungry stomach, pushing the “Give” button will automatically send a donation to the charity.
Young people not engaged enough
Save the Children has said that collecting direct donations online through its website simply did not engage youngsters who tend to have very short attention spans. According to Save the Children’s Sarah Fitzgerald O’Connor, young people want to feel as if they are actively contributing in real time as a response to world events as they take place.
Sending the app to potential donors
Apparently, the button will be mailed to potential donors who will then set it up online with their payment information including the amount to donate with each push of the button. If you are worried about accidental donations, never fear, you will be able to cancel them plus you can establish limits on how much you give.
David Caygill, managing director of Iris Nursery says the best technology feel effortless as if it were magic. Mr Caygill reckons that the Give buttons could be a serious contender for being one of these great applications because it takes away friction and more importantly it is likely that it will generate more donations.
For weeks now the conflict in the Central African Republic has been intensifying and this has resulted in a virtual blockade of critical humanitarian assistance required by thousands of families displaced by the violence. Unicef has said a few planes have been permitted to land in the South-East town of Bangassou carrying 5.6 tonnes of emergency aid including cooking material, soap, water buckets, blankets and mats. The aid was distributed amongst 800 households by Unicef partner organisation ACTED.
Thousands of families in desperate need of assistance
Unicef representative for Central African Republic Christine Muhigana says the agency has been attempting to reach thousands of families in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, but this has become nearly impossible because the escalating violence has made it too dangerous. Ms Muhigana says given how critical the situation has become in the South East of the country, the only available solution was to airlift emergency supplies to families and children in these difficult to reach areas.
Clashes between armed groups
There have been a number of clashes between armed groups in the South East of the country which have left more than 300 people dead and 200 injured the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. It is estimated that nearly 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes seeking out safety. This represents the Central African Republic’s largest population displacement since 2014. In Bria 40,000 people out of a total population of 47,000 have left with most people who have fled being children.
UN asking for access to civilians
In the worst affected areas, the roads are only accessible via UN military escort due to the violence and this means truck drivers do not wish to transport supplies because they fear for the lives. Unicef is calling on all armed groups to give aid workers the ability to access civilian populations without any impediments so they may deliver life-saving supplies and service without delay.
Escalating violence may unwind previous agreements
Unicef also worries that the most recent outbreak of violence could mean the unwinding of prior commitments made by armed groups to release all captive children and cease any further recruitment. In May 2015 leaders of 10 different armed factions in the Central African Republic committed to releasing children and since that agreement was signed, over 7,000 children have been released from their ranks.
Category: Concern Worldwide
The people of Ireland contributed roughly 25 per cent of Concern Worldwide’s global income last year, giving approximately €51 million. Last year Concern said it was able to deliver aid to 22.6 million people across 27 of the world’s poorest countries. The aid agency initiated responses to 45 global emergencies in 25 countries and helped 4.6 million people. Concern Worldwide’s total annual income was the highest it’s ever been in 2016 with the aid agency managing to raise €183.5 million last year.
Giving is a response to extreme poverty
Concern says its fund-raising achievement is a reflection of “the growing level of global humanitarian need and the organisation’s increasing focus on supporting people living in extreme poverty”. Dominic MacSorley heaped compliments on both the Irish government and the general public all over the world who donated with so much generosity. He said that generosity was critical to the success of Concern’s fund-raising efforts. Mr MacSorley has been working for Concern for 35 years and earned an income of €99,740 last year said that the charity sector has had a tough time of late.
“As an organisation, we understand the crucial importance of maintaining the highest standards of accountability and transparency as we deliver our programmes across some of the world’s poorest countries. The €183.5 million raised last year is a record in Concern’s 49-year history and we will continue to work even harder to ensure we retain this valuable support.”
Responding to emergencies
Concern responded to a number of major emergencies last year including a response to the ongoing crisis in Syria where Concern delivered aid to 1 million people across Lebanon, Turkey and within Syria. The aid agency also responded to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti where it was able to help 10,000 people by providing them with essential household and hygiene items. Concern is also heavily involved in responding to the widespread drought that has hit Ethiopia where nearly 200,00 children and adults have been treated for malnutrition.