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.
Category: Concern Worldwide
The United Nations has formally declared famine in South Sudan, the first time this has happened in six years. According to Unicef and the World Food Programme, approximately 100,0000 people face the prospect of starvation with more than a million more people on the brink of famine. The situation in South Sudan is grim because the country is in the midst of a food crisis that is threatening the lives of millions of people. The combination of continuous conflict and economic instability in South Sudan has meant that millions of people have been left millions of people without enough to eat and it is estimated that 4.9 million people face food insecurity.
Hunger threatens millions of lives
Across vast swathes of South Sudan, households have seen shrinking access to food whilst cash income has fallen as conflict has disrupted agriculture and other livelihood activities. This has had a serious impact on the economy with inflation touching 800 per cent and pushing the price of staples out of the range of all but a small minority. South Sudan is a basket case with nearly 2 million people internally displaced. With conflict breaking out once again in July last year, nearly half a million people have fled the country making food insecurity worse and increasing the number of refugees to 1.3 million.
Access is needed to save lives
Concern Worldwide’s Regional Director for the Horn of Africa Fearfal O’Connell said aid needs to arrive immediately. A lack of action could mean thousands of innocent people dying because of hunger and we need to do everything we can to prevent this from happening. It is imperative for world leaders to intervene so that all hostilities cease which is necessary to allow aid to arrive.
Concern is responding
Concern is right there on the ground in South Sudan. The aid agency is delivering emergency support for those people who are most in need. Concern is providing emergency nutrition as well as distributing food and water in the areas of the country that have been most critically affected. Concern is scaling up its life saving assistance, but it needs help and cannot stem the tide on its own. The international community must intervene to prevent the famine from escalating. Mr O’Connell says that in the end, humanitarian assistance only goes so far. The only solution is meaningful peace and security.
Several aid agencies are urging the UK government to alter the regulations surrounding the reuniting refugee families in order to protect people that are vulnerable. A new report authored by Oxfam in collaboration with the British Refugee Council, the British Red Cross and Amnesty International say that people who have been designated as refugees in the UK should be allowed to bring their children and spouses to Britain. This simple change would mean the UK government would be offering sanctuary to the people who need it the most.
Refugees not a burden
The report argues that refugee children would not be a burden to local authorities because they could be supported by parents, adult siblings, aunts, uncles and even grandparents. Oxfam has released a press release which suggests that the government argues that local authorities simply do not have the resources to support more unaccompanied minors who come to the UK.
All agencies united
Oxfam UK chief executive Mark Goldring said the British government initially tried to ignore Europe’s refugee crisis and then responded by trying to deter people suffering from travelling to the UK instead of providing sanctuary. Mr Goldring went on to add that all four agencies were united in their call on the British government to change their restrictive policies so that families don’t end up separated and children and other vulnerable refugees are kept safe from dangerous camps such as the one at Calais.
The four aid agencies proposed 12 recommendations to the British government which include widening the criteria for who qualifies as a family members to include siblings, parents, in-laws and young adult dependents. The recommendation also includes allowing unaccompanied children that are recognised as refugees in the UK to bring family members to the country under the family reunion policy.
UK Government not showing compassion
Maurice Wren who is Chief Executive of the British Refugee Council says that it is a hard fact that persecution and war more often than not divides refugee families and the government is showing no compassion when it keeps families separated despite the dangers they may face. Mr Wren adds that no child should be separated from their parents or make the impossible choice between spending a life time apart or putting their lives in the hands of people smugglers. The British government needs to do more to help refugees flee from danger and rebuild their lives with loved ones in the UK.
Less than five years after famine devastated Somalia, the country is yet again on the brink of famine. If calls for aid are not heeded within the next couple of months, millions of the country’s children are at risk of dying as the country slides back into famine. In 2011 nearly 250,000 people died, 130,000 of those that died were children under the age of five. The international community has been slow to respond to intensifying droughts. With the spring rains expected to fail, the tragedy of five years ago, looks set to repeat.
Long-term effects of famine
If the rain fails, rivers dry up quickly, crops fail, livestock dies, food staples skyrocket in price and millions of lives are at risk. Already, malnutrition and starvation are beginning to have an effect on Somalia’s children. Approximately 363,000 children under the age of five are already acutely malnourished with an estimated 71,000 severely malnourished.
The time to act is now
As conditions start to deteriorate in the region, desperate families are fleeing with their children to neighbouring countries which puts them at risk of exploitation, separation and perhaps even death. It is time for the international community to take action immediately. Save the Children says there is a small window to stop what happened five years ago from happening again, but that window is rapidly shrinking.
Save the Children on the ground
Save the Children needs £48 million to reach 1.2 million Somalis affected by the crisis. The organisation is already delivering aid to some of the hardest-hit communities. Save the Children is providing clean drinking water, health and nutrition services, food vouchers and unconditional cash transfers. The work that Save the Children is doing in Somalia is part of the aid agency’s, wider response to the crisis that is hitting the Horn of Africa.
This work in Somalia is part of the organisation’s wider response to help vulnerable children and families affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa, including in Ethiopia and Kenya. The agency is desperate need of funding to continue with its emergency response.
After a surge in the conflict raging in Eastern Ukraine, thousands of children have been forced out of school. As a result of the heavy shelling, at least five schools and a couple of kindergartens have been damaged with 11 schools shutting their doors in response. The estimates were provided by aid agencies whose purpose is to provide emergency education services in Ukraine. As many as 2600 children attending schools in areas that are being run by the government in Eastern Ukraine have been affected by the sharp escalation in fighting. Hundreds more children have also been affected in areas not controlled by the government.
Schools shutting their doors
In the town of Avdiivka multiple schools and kindergartens have had to shut their doors leaving approximately 1,400 children without access to education. Families in the town as well as other villages in the region are scared to send their children to the schools whose doors are open as a result of the intense fighting. Unicef and its partner Save the Children have both strongly condemned the bombing of schools which the agencies say has been indiscriminate. Both agencies are calling for all sides in the conflict to reaffirm their commitment to a ceasefire signed in Minsk in 2015.
Michele Cecere, Save the Children’s Representative in Ukraine, says that the shelling of schools has unfortunately become a common occurrence in this conflict. There are reports of many unexploded shells lying in the streets which leave children at enormous risk on their way to school even when they are open. It is critical that children are able to get safely back to school as soon as possible so their education does not suffer any more than it already has.
Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF’s Representative in Ukraine, said: “The shelling of schools, the one place where children find safety and normalcy during conflict, is unacceptable and has to stop. Children in eastern Ukraine have suffered enough and we must ensure that they have safe spaces to seek solace and support.”
More than half a million children affected
The most recent round of school closures has exacerbated a continuing crisis in education which already affects as many as 600,000 children in Eastern Ukraine. The conflict has been raging for almost three years and it is estimated that 740 schools or one in five has been either damaged or destroyed resulting in students has been missing for many months of schooling.