Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore says children should not be separated from their migrant parents, referring to the controversial practice by the US government on its border with Mexico. Following a domestic and global outcry President Trump signed an executive order halting forced separation but refused to be cowed by the criticism. Ms Fore says that the stories of children and babies being separated from parents whose only crime is to seek safety is heart-breaking.
Children are children
She adds that no matter where children come from or what their migration status is, they are children first. People who feel they have no option but to flee their homes should have the right to feel protected. Children must be kept with their families just like all other children and they must be given access to essential services.
Separation is traumatic
Separating families and then detaining them are traumatic experiences for children as well as adults. Children in particular can be left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse which can negatively impact their long-term development Ms Fore warns. She adds that it is in no one’s interest to separate children from their parents, particularly for children who suffer the most. Child welfare is the most important thing and it is hoped that the decision to end the practice.
Thankfully the practice has ended
Ms Fore is cognisant of the fact that the US government and its people have supported Unicef in its efforts to help child refugees, migrants and asylum seekers affected by crises all over the world for many decades. Mr Trump signed the order stopping the practice on June 20th. In the prior six weeks, over 2,000 children had been separated from parents who had crossed over in the United States from Mexico illegally. Those children have been placed in detention centres across the South-Western United States and there is still no word on their fate.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide has embarked on a Bangladesh Monsoon Appeal in order to raise funding to deal with the extreme funding and landslides that threaten thousands of refugees from Myanmar living in Bangladesh. There are almost a million Rohingya refugees in the country many of whom are children living in cramped shelters on perilous silty land in Cox’s Bazar. Most have sought refuge there after feeling violence in Myanmar.
Extremely vulnerable to the weather
The huts sit on land stripped of vegetation producing terrain that is highly susceptible to the heavy rains and strong winds of the monsoon and cyclone season. More that 1.3 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and aid agencies have been working 24/7 to prevent the outbreak of disease and deaths from escalating any further. Concern’s Cox’s Bazaar representative Gillian Boyle says most people live in flimsy tents constructed using bamboo and tarp and are completely exposed to the weather.
Number of dead and injured expected to rise
Boyle adds that as the rains continue there is an increased risk of landslides and the number of people who suffer injuries, death or the loss of their homes will rise significantly. The rains have already been so intense that one of the two main roads heading into the camp has already been shut. Concern is seeking to ensure that the people living in the camps are well-prepared, able to deal with more rainfall and able to take the required steps to stop the outbreak of disease.
Concern is scaling up its response by expanding its nutrition programme and ensuring that as many as 75,000 of the most vulnerable families have access to shelter, sanitation and hygiene. So far Concern has screened almost half a million children aged under five for malnutrition. The agency detected 7,057 severe cases and 37,029 moderate cases and treated them. As part of its scaled response, Concern intends to distribute ‘dignity kits’ containing menstrual cloths, clothing and solar lighting to over 6,000 women. If you can, please make a donation to Concern’s Bangladesh Monsoon Appeal.
Oxfam has embarked on its emergency response to the Ebola outbreak in the Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The aid agency has begun to distribute desperately needed food to the thousands of individuals in the middle of the crisis. Oxfam is making food items available to roughly 4,500 people. The aid agency began its operation in Mbandaka which is the provincial capital of Equateur and intends to widen the relief effort to rural communities as well.
Stopping the virus from spreading
Oxfam is also working hard to ensure that communities have access to clean water and that they are aware of how to protect themselves from the Ebola virus and stop it spreading. The outbreak of the disease has meant that trade between rural areas has been disrupted. Mbandaka in particular has been hit badly because many people depend on this trade route for their food and other essentials.
Delivering assistance to people who need it
Households that find they have been in contact with someone who has contracted Ebola are forced to rely on assistance because they have been asked to remain indoors for three weeks making it impossible for them to obtain food. Oxfam’s DRC Country Director Jose Barahona says it is critical that these people receive the food they need because it ensures other people remain protected. Without assistance these people will have to go to market and could potentially infect others.
Learning from previous outbreaks
Mr Barahona adds that the response is making use of everything that was learned during the West African Ebola outbreak. As a result, Oxfam is working with communities, trying to understand their fears and superstitions and working to overcome them. In West Africa the impact of the Ebola epidemic on the economy and people’s ability to earn a living was significant. People were not allowed to move freely which meant they were unable to cultivate their fields and as a result food price inflation was drastic.
Post outbreak plan needed
Mr Barahona says that there needs to be a plan in place for what happens after the outbreak subsides and this includes making sure people are able to earn a living and have access to clean water and sanitation. Ebola is not the only crisis affecting millions of people living in the DRC. Fortunately, donors have opened their wallets and should make good on their pledges. There are a few million people in the DRC who are affected by a variety of humanitarian crises and have not received any aid whatsoever.
Category: Save the Children
Save the Children has published a major report as it embarks on a global war against pneumonia which seeks to save millions of lives over the next half decade. The report, titled “Fighting for Breath” terms pneumonia as ‘the forgotten child killer’ and claims that the disease is responsible for more deaths of children aged under five than any other disease. Apparently, pneumonia kills two children under five every minute which is more than measles, diarrhoea and malaria combined.
Children simply lack the immunity to fight off infection
Over 80 per cent are victims aged under two because they have weak immune systems caused by malnutrition and insufficient breastfeeding and cannot fight infection. Save the Children is pushing for a summit of world leaders to take place which would force action and cut the death toll. The organisation has a long wish list which includes cheaper vaccines and greater investment in immunisation. Governments should adopt preventive plans that deliver universal access to health workers who diagnose the disease. It also wants to ensure that antibiotics which save lives are more easily available.
Life saving medication is cheap but unavailable
It costs just 52 cents to administer a course of antibiotics that can save the life of a child affected by pneumonia within three to five days. Unfortunately, these medicines are simply not available in the most affected countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. Save the Children UK chief Kevin Watkins who also was the lead author of the report says it is not excusable that so many children die from a disease that is perfectly treatable. He adds that pneumonia is a disease that leaves children who are vulnerable, fighting to breathe and their parents having to deal with anxiety and in the worst cases, grief and trauma from the loss of a child.
The cost of vaccination needs to drop
As a result, Save the Children is urging for the immunisation of 166 million children aged under two and for greater action to be take to help 400 million children globally who have no access to healthcare. 50 per cent of all mothers in Africa do not have access to healthcare when they give birth. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who now runs the Kofi Annan Foundation has lent his support to the effort and says that cost of vaccination US$9.15 in developing nations is simply too expensive. He argues that pharmaceutical companies, governments, donors and agencies need to combine forces to drive down the cost of vaccinations so that more lives are saved.
Unicef is working with partners and the government in order to scale up its response to Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hundreds of community workers have been mobilised in order to increase awareness amongst families and their children, teaching them how to protect themselves from the virus. Community workers also play a critical role in delivering information to various communities about how they can obtain an Ebola vaccination.
Getting the message out
Community workers have been sent to health zones such as Mbandaka and Bikoro with the goal of helping to contain the outbreak through spreading of information and mobilising people within those communities. This means disseminating information via radio or using religious organisations, schools, markets and youth groups to get the message out.
Prevention is key
Dr Gianfranco Rotigliano Unicef’s DRC representative says it is extremely important that communities understand how to ensure they stay protected both at home and in public, particularly in health facilities and schools. He adds that experience from previous outbreaks has shown that when communities have been engaged in prevention efforts, the chances of containing the disease rise dramatically.
Trying to keep schools open
Aside from educating the public, the aid agency is also delivering supplies of water and hygiene including water purification tablets to all the Ebola Treatment Centres and communities in both Mbandaka and Bikoro. Disinfection points have also been installed in a number of other health facilities. Hand-washing points have also been installed in 50 schools believed to be vulnerable in affected areas in Mbanadaka and a further 72 schools in Bikoro will also receive hand washing equipment. The schools are also being given thermometers so they can check up on the health status of their students. Dr Rotigliano says everything is being done to ensure that the schools remain safe and that education is not disrupted.
The DRC’s Minister of Health declared the outbreak of Ebola at the beginning of last month and since then Unicef has delivered about 4,585 kilograms of supplies. This includes soap, tarpaulins, buckets and chlorine to support water, sanitation and hygiene activities.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Dominic MacSorely who is chief executive of Concern Worldwide says he welcomes the commitment made by Irish Aid to fund the relief efforts in South Sudan where there is a humanitarian crisis taking place. Simon Coveney and Ciarán Cannon the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development respectively, together announced that the Irish Government will provide €3 million of funding that will be used to finance the UN South Sudan Humanitarian Fund.
Ireland is a generous nation
Mr Macsorely welcomed the decision by Irish Aid and said that the brutal civil war taking place in South Sudan is now entering its fifth year and has inflicted a terrible toll of human suffering which is appalling. The new injection of funding was critical and is a reflection of the fact that Ireland has consistently focused on parts of the world where the needs are the greatest and does not forget those that have found themselves caught up in conflict and violence.
Brutal civil war
South Sudan is the youngest country in the world and its creation has been fraught with violence. The country is currently suffering from a brutal civil war that has caused large-scale displacement, malnutrition and food insecurity in the five years since it began. Over half of South Sudan’s population or seven million people require humanitarian assistance and nearly two-thirds of the population are facing starvation.
Delivering humanitarian assistance
Concern Worldwide has been operating in the East African country since 1998 and last year was able to deliver assistance to approximately 840,000 people. The aid agency has provided emergency food, shelter, clean water sanitation and toilet facilities in the capital Juba as well as in Unity State and Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
Access to clean water and food
The humanitarian aid agency which started from humble beginnings in Ireland is making sure that 53,000 people living in the Bentiu Protection of Civilian camp as well as a couple of close by towns have access to food and clean water. Concern is also delivering nutritional assistance to tens of thousands of severely malnourished South Sudanese refugees in Gambella in neighbouring Ethiopia.
A recent study conducted by Oxfam suggests that many donors have exaggerated the value of climate finance they have provided to the poorest countries in the world by a large margin. The aid agency reckons that that the amount of public funding for climate finance in 2015 and 2016 is approximately $16 billion to $21 billion per year. That is far lower that what donors say they are spending which is $48 billion per year. The deadline to tackle climate change is just two years away (2020) and developed countries have committed to deliver $100 billion in assistance.
Tracy Carty a senior policy advisor on climate change to Oxfam says that despite the fact that people on the African continent are suffering from brutal droughts and people who live in the Caribbean are suffering from turbo-charged cyclones, the money that the world’s poorest and most vulnerable to climate change countries is woefully inadequate. One major problem the report highlights is that so many donors exaggerate the climate change value of a development project, where climate change may simply be just one aspect of a much wider program.
Loans being counted as grants
Another issue is the often donors counts loans and other types of non-grant financing at full face value which means the real amount of money developing countries are receiving as assistance is being obscured by a huge margin. In order to tackle these issues Oxfam wants governments to stop these practices and have donors only tally the “grant equivalent” of the loans they make for climate finance. That means only the net transfer of money to a developing country is counted after repayments, interest is accounted for.
Accounting standards must be improved
Ms Carty adds there is no reason why the accounting rules for calculating aid delivered to tackle climate change should be less stringent than it is for other types of aid. Governments must agree to the new rules for climate finance as par of the Paris Agreement and at this year’s COP climate conference. That event presents an opportunity for governments to meet and agree much fairer and more robust accounting standards. The report from Oxfam also highlighted how much money different governments have delivered as grants with the UK and Sweden providing more than 90 per cent of their commitments in 2015 and 2016 whilst other countries such as France have fallen well behind.
Category: Save the Children
Aid agencies such as Save the Children are waiting in dread of the monsoon season which will arrive at the refugee camp’s in Cox’s Bazar that now houses almost a million Rohingya. Last month the camp received its first set of heavy rains which were part of what is known as the pre-monsoon season which are common at that time of year. The devastating monsoon season in Bangladesh starts properly around this time of year. That is to say either late May or early June.
Rains expected to wreak havoc
Daphnee Cook who is a Save the Children spokesperson working in Cox’s Bazar says as the agency feared the first deluge of rains wreaked havoc in the camps. Multiple low-lying areas in the camp were completely flooded making already hard to reach areas much more difficult to get to. Ms Cook says aid agencies grew quite alarmed as they saw how quickly the rains converted dirt into mud as well the formation of puddles the size of wading pools. She adds that the rains mean that the Rohingya families who fled persecution in Myanmar are in for even harder times as the Monsoon comes into effect.
Conditions already grim
Not only do these refugees have to contend with grim conditions in overcrowded camps and have to depend on food rations to survive, now they have to worry about the prospect of heavy rains, storms and the potential dangers of flooding and landslides. All the excess water means there is a much higher probability of outraces of disease. Aid workers are worried that children may find themselves separated from their families or caregivers. The children may well develop skin disease in response to all the additional humidity in the air as well.
Already preparing for the deluge
Over the last few months, Save the Children has accelerated its preparation for the monsoon and has already begun to distribute shelter upgrade kits to the homes that face the greatest threat. The agency has also made improvements to critical infrastructure such as drains and bridges as well as making sure hillsides that are prone to landslides are reinforced. Ms Cook says that it is vital that the international community provides the necessary funding for the humanitarian response before the monsoon is in full effect.
Cyclone season is another big worry
Ms Cook adds that her agency would like to see land that has better access and is more usable be provided in Cox’s Bazar so that the refugee families that are most at risk by living in flood or landslide prone areas can be relocated. To make matters worse Ms Cox says the timing of the monsoon also coincides with the beginning of the cyclone season in the region. This means if a major storm were to hit the refugee camp, it would be nothing short of an absolute disaster.
One of the world’s biggest DJ’s Paul Oakenfold has composed some music and donated it for use in the credits that will feature in the celebrity announcements of Soccer Aid for Unicef this year. The track has already been used in announcements made last month by a variety of celebrities including Robbie Williams, Usain Bolt, Gordon Ramsay and many more.
A living legend
Mr Oakenfold is a living legend in the genre of electronic music with a career that has spanned three decades. He started out in the 80’s as an A&R man in the music business signing and promoting acts such as Salt-n-Peppa and the Beastie Boys. He then basically pioneered electronic music in the UK and went on to hold residencies at illustrious clubs such as the Ministry of Sound in London, Cream in Liverpool as well as Amnesia and Pascha in Ibiza. Not content with being simply a DJ he has also has a prolific career as a producer working with artists such as U2 and Madonna. He is nothing short of a phenomenon selling out solo dates at the Hollywood Bowl with over 30,000 people in attendance.
Privilege to be asked
Paul Oakenfold says it was a privilege to be asked to compose the soundtrack for the bigger and better Soccer Aid for Unicef. He adds that he has been an avid supporter of the match for many years now so he hopes he can make a valuable contribution to the show itself even if he cannot do it on the pitch! The superstar DJ says he hopes to turn up on the day to support Robbie’s England against Usain’s Soccer Aid World XI. No matter what happens he says, it will truly be a game like no other.
UK government will match donations
The match is scheduled for Sunday the 10th of June and will take place at Old Trafford just a few days before the beginning of the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Tickets are on sale now and if you can’t make it there in person, it will be broadcast live on ITV at 20:00 BST. 100% of every public donation to the event will be matched by the UK Government up to a maximum of £5 million. All the money raised will go towards supporting the critical work Unicef does protecting children all over the world. So far Soccer Aid has raised £24 million over the last 12 years. If you want to know more visit socceraid.org.uk.
Category: Concern Worldwide
Last month Concern Worldwide celebrated its 50th anniversary and was honoured by Irish President Michael D. Higgins at a special event. During the ceremony, President Higgins paid tribute to the extraordinary contribution to humanitarian causes Concern Worldwide has made globally for half a century. President Higgins said the work Concern has done has created a vital bridge connecting the people of Ireland with some of the poorest people in the world.
The Irish have proven to be generous people
The event was attended by 170 volunteers, supporters and staff. Dominic MacSorley lauded the incredible generosity of the people of Ireland which has allowed Concern Worldwide to deliver life saving aid to millions of people over the last five decades. He said that the Irish public’s response to images of war and starvation was simply phenomenal and that those images tapped into the natural empathy and generosity of a country which has enabled Concern to sustain itself for the last 50 years.
Ireland’s largest aid agency
Concern was established back in 1968 to provide a response to a devastating famine taking place in a breakaway state of Nigeria. Since then the agency is now Ireland’s largest aid organisation and delivers assistance to more than 26 million people in the some of the world poorest countries. The organisation was initially led by a group of volunteers headed by a couple from Dublin named, John and Kay O’Loughlin Kennedy and they had a bold and inclusive vision to unite supporters regardless of background from all across the country, both North and South.
Celebratory events to take place throughout the year
The group managed to raise today’s equivalent of €4 million in its first year alone and used the money to send a boat filled with vital supplies to a population that was suffering from starvation in Nigeria. At the time it was the largest relief effort to originate from Ireland. To mark its 50th anniversary Concern is organising a number of events over the course of this year which includes and international conference to discuss the issue of conflict which will be held in Dublin in September.