During September last year, the UK Government announced its intention to launch a consultation on the banning of microbeads. These plastic beads which are toxic are added to washing powders, toothpastes, face washes and thousands of other products that wreak havoc on the environment. Once these microbeads are rinsed down the drain they end up in the oceans where they cause enormous damage to marine life and can even end up in seafood. The consultation has finally been launched which has given us a peek at what exactly it is the government is proposing. Unfortunately, it falls short of a full comprehensive ban that is needed but there is some good and bad news.
It’s important to stay positive so we should start off with the stuff that we can celebrate. The first thing we can cheer about is the Government is serious about making changes which will be implemented fairly quickly. We can expect products containing microbeads off the shop shelves by the middle of next year, which means the UK would beat the US in establishing a ban. With such an ambitious timeline, it shows just how serious the Government is about willing to act to protect our oceans. Greenpeace will be urging the Government to stick to its pledge.
The bad news is the government intends to limit its ban to just personal care and cosmetic products. This was expected, however Greenpeace did hope the ban would be extended to products such as washing powders, households and other items that a consultation document also proposed. Since we already know that the Government has indeed accepted the fact that microbeads are a threat to the marine environment, then the ban should be extended to all products that flow down our drains and end up in the ocean. Anything short of that means that ocean creatures are at risk. As a result Greenpeace will be challenging the government on its failure to propose a full comprehensive ban.
And the ???
The consultation produced a few unanswered questions. One such question was the lack of definition of what it means to be a “rinse-off personal care and cosmetic product”. There is no indication whether this also includes, moisturisers, heavy duty hand cleaners and make up. Arguably all these products fall within the ban’s remit but the consultation has not made this point clear. Greenpeace will be submitting its response to the consultation shortly and will be advocating for the best possible ban so that our oceans stay protected from unnecessary plastics which do nothing but pollute the sea.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide says the appeal it launched dubbed ‘Come Back From Crisis’ has raised a whopping £1.6 million. The success of the appeal has resulted in the charity launching a second appeal to tackle hunger for those people in Sierra Leone that have been affected by Ebola. The original appeal which was backed Pound for Pound by the British Government ran between September and December 2016 was designed to highlight the challenges faced by poor communities when disaster strikes.
UK government matches donations
The UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) established UK Aid match to boost the awareness and support of the general public for charitable organisations that work in the developing world. UK Aid match doubles the amount of money raised by appeals organised by British charities both to recognise the generosity of the public as well as help fund the wide range of causes being supported.
Agency grateful for support
Rose Caldwell a spokesperson for Concern Worldwide UK said the agency was extremely grateful for the level of support it has received from the public. She adds that it is only because of the public’s generosity that Concern has been able to launch its latest projects that will enable farmers to grow more and better crops so the threat of hunger can be avoided. The new project was launched last year and seeks to improve on the quantity and quality of food production which will also enable incomes to rise.
The project is set to last for three years and so far, Concern Worldwide has already established 25 farmer field schools. These schools teach farmers how to raise crop production and improve the quality of their harvest. Concern has also set up 49 village savings and loans associations which will allow individuals to save cash for future investments. Concern has also identified 19 sites where basic infrastructure can either be built or fixed. These include bridges and roads which will enable farmers to get their crops to markets where they can sell their produce.
“Over the next three years the project will strive to help the poorest, most vulnerable families, such as Ebola orphans and survivors, who were especially impacted by Ebola so they can live a life free from hunger.” Raju Sorekaidoddi, Concern’s Acting Country Director in Sierra Leone, said.
Category: Save the Children
According to Save the Children, tens of thousands of children are sitting targets as a result of heavy shelling in East Aleppo which is the last part of the city held by the opposition. As the Syrian army continues to make advances, these children simply have nowhere to hide. There are thousands of people who have been crammed into a small area which means they are at grave risk from artillery and airstrikes causing the number of casualties to climb quickly. The situation is compounded by the fact that medical aid, supplies and food are scarce.
Children killed in makeshift school
Outside the city, fighting and bombing continues unabated. Recently three children died when a bomb exploded at their teacher’s home which was serving as an improvised school because the bombing had required the regular school to shut its doors. Save the Children said it is extremely concerned about the three quarters of a million people that are effectively living under siege in Syria. The charity says it is unconscionable that the UN Security Council would not come to an agreement on a cease fire. Save the Children is calling for urgent action without which many more children could be killed as a result of fighting or starvation.
Negotiate a cease fire
Save the Children says it wants all parties that have influence over the various groups participating in the civil war to start negotiating for an in internationally monitored ceasefire that would last for at least 72 hours. This would provide a window of opportunity for aid to reach the people who are stranded in the Eastern part of Aleppo. It would also give people the chance to leave as well. The charity wants safe routes from Aleppo to be established so that people can flee the city in relative safety.
If safe routes cannot be established Save the Children says “air bridges” should be created which would allow aid to be dropped off at landing strips and airports. The situation in Syria continues to remain severe after nearly six years of conflict and suffering. The international community should not stand by as civilians are bombed without consequence.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Kay O’Loughlin Kennedy who along with her husband was one of the co-founders of global humanitarian aid agency Concern Worldwide has died after battling illness for a very long time. She had been taken care of recently by Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm in Dublin. In December 1967 Mr and Mrs O’Loughlin Kennedy convened a meeting at their home which back then was located on Northumberland Road in Dublin.
Shocked by atrocities
The meeting was called to hear Father Raymond Kennedy speak. Father Kennedy had recently come back to Ireland from Nigeria and gave what can only be described of a harrowing account of a vicious civil war that was being waged because the province of Biafra was seeking succession from Nigeria. In response Nigeria was trying to starve Biafra into submission.
Deciding to set up an organisation
The people that were present at the meeting decided the best thing to do was to set up an organisation that would help feed the people of Biafra. The group would call itself Africa Concern, it was later on the agency would change its name and mandate to Concern Worldwide. The immediate aim however was to raise money to support a mercy flight to provide supplies to starving children in Biafra.
The group is truly global
Africa Concern was formally established in March 1968 and right from the very start it was a multidenominational organisation which included trade unionists, Freemasons and a Methodist Minister. By the end of the year the group had managed to raise a staggering £3.5 million for the people of Biafra. To put that into context in today’s money that is the equivalent of €64 million. Concern Worldwide now employs over 3,200 people who work in 27 of the world’s poorest countries.
Leading charity Oxfam has warned that the situation in Yemen is dire with families finding it difficult to survive airstrikes and are facing starvation. Oxfam has called the situation “a perfect storm of suffering” and the entire country is suffering as the fighting has disabled a key port which is preventing the arrival of crucial shipments of food and fuel. According to the UN the number of vessels transporting vital loads to Yemen which has been ravaged by civil war for close to two years now has declined by 50 per cent in just a couple of months.
Fall in food deliveries dramatic
The fall in food and fuel deliveries has been dramatic and means that the fuel and food imports are at just a fraction of what is necessary for the country to survive and this is prompting fears of widespread famine. Oxfam is calling on the UK government to broker a peace deal in response to the crisis. The government has been accused of selling fighter jets and bombs to Saudi Arabia which have been used against civilians.
Millions could end up starving
It is estimated that eight million people in Yemen are already suffering from malnutrition with over 20 million facing starvation. Oxfam worries that the companies which import grain into Yemen will give up on the country because of the logistical and financial issues. Oxfam says that the possibility of widespread famine is a real and imminent threat. A spokesman for the aid agency says that the situation in Yemen is effectively a blockade and is making what is already a desperate situation even worse.
“Yemen is a country where 90 per cent of food is imported. If the importation of grain and other basics is halted, the consequences could not be clearer or more worrying. The country is enduring a perfect storm of suffering.”
Britain should broker peace
So far, the conflict has claimed more than 10,000 lives, 4000 of which are civilians. Three million people have been estimated to flee their homes. Both sides in the conflict have been accused of committing war crimes, however Oxfam says the British government has a moral duty to help broker a peace agreement after selling arms to Saudi Arabia that have been alleged to have been used in war crimes against civilians. The spokesman went on to add that the UK is sending aid to Yemen to mitigate the effects of war but simultaneously selling arms used to wage that war. Oxfam says the UK should not be an arms dealer in Yemen but instead act as a peace broker.
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
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 D16G012 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 on or before the 14th of December.
How to get this deal
- Shop at the Dogalogue store and make a purchase on or before December 31st 2016.
- Enter coupon code D16G012.
- Receive a 10% Discount on your entire purchase.
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.