Norwegian Airlines and Unicef
Since 2007, two organizations, Norwegian Airlines and UNICEF,  have been working together to raise money and support for UNICEF’s humanitarian aid missions. Everyone from the flight crews up to Norwegian Airlines CEO, Bjorn Kos, participates. The partnership started in 2007 when Norwegian airlines began transporting supplies for emergency aid to Yemen on their planes and making yearly donations to UNICEF. In the 10 years since they began working together, Norwegian Airlines raised over $2.5 million for UNICEF.

The ‘Fill A Plane’ Program: Central African Republic

The partnership between Norwegian Airlines and UNICEF escalated in 2014 with the maiden voyage of their first “Fill a Plane” program. Norwegian and UNICEF boast that they fill every inch of a 737 Dreamliner with humanitarian aid. This humanitarian aid includes medical supplies, medication and education supplies. The destination of “Fill a Plane’s” first flight was to Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic.

Norwegian Airlines posted a touching Youtube video in 2014 about their first humanitarian flight. In the video, they noted that 8.5 tons of humanitarian aid were loaded onto their 737 in Copenhagen and flown to Bangui in the Central African Republic. This aid went to the thousands of internally displaced people under the care of UNICEF.

The ‘Fill A Plane’ Program: Jordan and Yemen

In 2015, Norwegian Airlines again sent another flight under their “Fill a Plane” partnership program. This time the plane was sent to Jordan to deliver humanitarian supplies to Syrian refugees in the Za’atari refugee camp. Norwegian Airline’s CEO, Bjorn Kos, opens the video by stating that, at the time, Za’atari was the world’s second-largest refugee camp. The contents of this flight focused heavily on educational aid.

There were no flights in 2016, so in 2017 Norwegian Airlines sent two. The first mission was to Bamako, Mali in March 2017. Here school supplies were an important part of the mission. The video shows Norwegian Airline employees taking part in classes as well as bringing food from the flight to the children’s hospital. The second mission was to bring aid to Yemen. Tons of food and cholera medication for 300,000 children were loaded onto the 787 Dreamliner, a much larger plane than the previous 737’s. The aid had to be offloaded in Djibouti due to the dangerous conflict in Yemen.

Future Flights

The future of the partnership between Norwegian Airlines and UNICEF looks promising. In 2018, Norwegian Airlines sent its largest “fill a plane” flight to Chad. The plane held over 13,000 kilos, over 28,000 pounds, of humanitarian aid to Chad. This flight also included the Norwegian Minister of International Development, who is shown in the video helping the Norwegian Crew members and other employees load the cabin with boxes of supplies.

In every video, the Norwegian Airlines CEO, Bjorn Kos looks genuinely happy to help his company do its part in humanitarian aid around the world. The CEO does not charge when he gives speeches and seminars; he only asks that a donation is made to UNICEF. With recognition from his own government and on the world stage, hopefully, the partnership between Norwegian Airlines and UNICEF will continue to grow and more flights can be sent each year, helping those in need.

Nicholas Anthony DeMarco

Photo: Google

Yemen Peace Talks
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is cause for despair; however, the recent Yemen peace talks in Sweden and outreach programs providing humanitarian aid are offering new hope to those suffering from the conflict. Through the Yemen peace talks, the United Nations was able to negotiate a ceasefire agreement on December 18, putting at least a pause on the war until countries can reach a further agreement. This finally opens the door to providing humanitarian aid.

Opposed to War in Yemen

Despite President Trump’s wishes, the Senate ended all aid in military assistance to Saudi Arabia following the peace talks. Thanks to Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for writing the agreement, the War Powers Act was used to assert Congress’ role in military power, overriding the White House. According to the New York Times, Trump was against the end of military assistance in fear that it would cost America “billions” of dollars in arms sales, putting the fear of losing money in front of regard for human life (a reference to the Saudi Prince having allegedly killed American journalist Jamal Khashoggi).

The humanitarian crisis currently taking place in Yemen was caused by war, and the only way to stop it is to end the war and promote peace. Humanitarian organizations such as Save the Children and CARE, along with several other organizations, wrote a letter to the U.S. government to use their influence to end the war. Providing more military support will only perpetuate the problem; whereas, peace will resolve it. Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, stated that the priority must be to increase access to currency and ensure that Yemenis are able to access shipments of food.

Humanitarian Aid

With the ceasefire in play, the focus can be shifted to the humanitarian crisis and helping the suffering people in Yemen. About half of Yemen’s population is subject to starvation and is in dire need of aid as a result of the war. “The big countries say they are fighting each other in Yemen, but it feels to us like they are fighting the poor people,” said Mr. Hajaji to the New York Times. Hajaji is a father who has already lost one child to starvation and is afraid of losing his second, who is struggling to stay alive.

According to Save the Children’s fact sheet, about 85,000 children are estimated to have died from starvation and disease since the beginning of the war in Yemen. Despite the high numbers of people who have died or are suffering from starvation, organizations like Save the Children are making a difference and increasing the number of survivors. This organization has treated nearly 100,000 children suffering from malnutrition and is operating mobile health clinics in the hardest-to-reach areas.

Ways to Help

People from the U.S. can help alleviate this issue in numerous ways. One such method is by contacting Senators and U.S. representatives through the United States Senate website and urge them to give aid and resources to Yemen. Since Yemen’s famine is income based, the best thing the people can do to aid is to donate money to those in need to survive. Organizations like Save the Children are also distributing cash and vouchers for food to families as well as education and safe spaces for children to keep getting an education despite the harsh circumstances and ongoing recovery from war trauma.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is providing outreach through healthcare, nutrition, water/sanitation services and by providing financial assistance to those struggling survive. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is providing education, food security, shelter and water outreach to many Yemenis. Volunteer and/or donating to these organizations will help their work reach more people.

The resolution of the Yemen peace talks to enact a cease-fire and the U.S. halting its military assistance to Saudi Arabia serve as a positive catalyst for change in the right direction. The ongoing battle is now the aid for Yemenis in an attempt to end their critical condition of poverty. Organizations such as Save the Children, IRC, NRC and UNICEF are providing outreach and saving people’s lives, making significant progress in the work to end Yemen’s humanitarian crisis.

– Anna Power

Photo: Flickr

Start Up Nation 
Out of the ashes of World War II rose a small, independent nation situated on the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1948, the nation of Israel has become a great leader in innovation and technology. In just 70 years, Israeli settlers have transformed the country’s desert landscape into lush green gardens by high-tech agricultural methods. With a population just over 8.5 million, Israel has earned the nickname “Start-Up Nation” which rose to popularity in 2009 after Israeli author Dan Senor’s book.

MASHAV Providing Humanitarian Aid

Since 1958, Israel has been committed to providing humanitarian aid through the Foreign Ministry’s Center for International Cooperation and provides more assistance to more than 140 countries. MASHAV helps alleviate hunger, disease and poverty by providing technology and training to places all across the globe including Cambodia, Guatemala, Albania and Ethiopia.

Since 1959, MASHAV has been sending Israeli eye-doctors to countries throughout the developing world to help combat preventable blindness and ocular disease. It has also introduced Israeli drip-irrigation systems to sub-Saharan African countries to aid in providing water to more regions, especially during times of drought. MASHAV has also started a project called Indo-Israel Agriculture Project, which teaches farmers throughout India new agricultural methods.

The Pears Program for Global Innovation

Israel has made it a priority to assist developing countries through entrepreneurial efforts. The country has “the largest number of startups per capita in the world, 1 startup for every 1,400 people.” One example is a company called The Pears Program for Global Innovation, which aids people affected by poverty by supporting Israeli innovators and companies that create technology-based, financially sustainable solutions.

The Pears Program is responsible for several innovations that could have a lasting impact on the world. For example, through its support to the Mosteq company, Israel has found a way to sterilize mosquitos, which could significantly lower, and eventually, end the spread of diseases like malaria. The company, Soapy, has invented smart capsules containing soap and water to facilitate hygiene in countries where sanitation is an issue or there is little access to clean water.

Ideas for the Future

According to Technion International, “Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China combined.” What is the secret that makes Israel so ingenious and resourceful? “At the heart of this combined impulse is an instinctive understanding that the challenge facing every developed country […] is to become an idea factory, which includes both generating ideas at home and taking advantage of ideas generated elsewhere,” says Senor in his book “Start-Up Nation.”  Furthermore, Israel values education, which helps to foster innovation.

Idea generation has become the backbone of Israeli society. It has allowed the country to thrive in a desert ecosystem, deliver aid to thousands of countries and defend itself from outside attacks. According to the New York Times, “Years of dealing with terrorist attacks, combined with an advanced medical technology sector, have made Israel one of the nimblest countries in disaster relief.” Other humanitarian programs in Israel are continuing efforts outside and inside the country, like Ziv Hospital, which has treated more than 2,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border seeking urgent medical attention.

The Israeli Innovation Authority estimates that, over the next decade, there will be a shortage of 10,000 engineers and programmers in the high-tech sector. Although this gap allows for future economic growth, it is a big concern for policymakers. Who will fill these gaps? Will Israel continue to be the Start-Up Nation of the World? Hopefully, Israel’s commitment to entrepreneurship in developing countries will come in handy and create more jobs within the country for migrant workers.

Grace Klein

Photo: Flickr

The Pele Foundation and the Empowerment of the Disenfranchised Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known widely by the moniker Pelé, is arguably the most popular Brazilian football player and had led his team to trebled triumph in the World Cup. But Pelé doesn’t have a one-track mind: he has one leg in the sports pool and the other leg in the social activism pool.

Previously, Pelé worked with FIFA as an ambassador against racism as well as with UNICEF to advocate children’s rights. He has moved on to inaugurating his own organization called The Pelé Foundation to empower impoverished, disenfranchised children around the world.

The Pelé Foundation

When first announcing the launch of his foundation Pelé said, “In 2018, I am launching The Pelé Foundation, a new charitable endeavor that will benefit organizations around the world and their dedicated efforts to empower children, specifically around poverty and education.”

Having grown up poor, Pelé developed an affinity for charity work. In the past, he had supported a multitude of different organizations including 46664, ABC Trust, FC Harlem, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Prince’s Rainforests Project and The Littlest Lamb.

In the future, Pelé’s organization plans to expand and cover issues such as gender equality and will eventually birth offshoot programs, not unlike other organizations of its nature.

Partner Organizations

Pelé isn’t alone in this endeavor. During the initial announcement, Pelé blazoned that he would be partnering with both charity:water and Pencils of Promise to fulfill his goals.

Founded in October 2008, Pencils of Promise (PoP) is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the state of education for children in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Ghana and Laos. Besides improving the quality of education, PoP also constructs schools and educational facilities, trains faculty, champions scholarships and supports sanitary programs. Backed by big names such as Justin Bieber and Scooter Braun, PoP is a big name itself in the humanitarian space.

Established in 2006 and having funded 24,537 different projects, charity:water is spearheaded by Scott Harrison. charity: water gives all donations to projects working to end the current water crises. Harrison said, “We’re excited to partner with The Pelé Foundation to bring clean water to thousands of people in the years to come. Having access to clean water not only saves hours of wasted time, but it also provides safety, health and hygiene. It directly impacts the future of children, and we believe it’s the first step out of poverty for rural communities all over the world.”

– Jordan De La Fuente
Photo: Flickr

 

Reduction in U.S. Aid to the World’s Least Developed Countries
According to the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) 2018 Human Development Report, 33 of the 38 countries considered to have low human development are in located Africa.  Regardless of this fact, the U.S. may still be cutting aid to Africa. However, they are not the only ones. there have recently been significant reductions in U.S. aid to the world’s least developed countries.

Life Expectancy Rates in the Least Developed Countries

The UNDP determines rankings in its Human Development Index (HDI) by measuring levels of health, education and standard of living. Longevity, expected and mean years of schooling as well as per capita income all figure into the country’s final ranking. Of the world’s 10 least developed countries, the U.S. has reduced its aid to five: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Niger.

Life expectancies in these countries range from 52.2 years in Sierra Leone to 63 years in Liberia. The CIA World Factbook’s latest data cites fewer than one physician per thousand members of the population in all five countries. In part due to poor sanitation, with anywhere from 78 to 89 percent of people in these countries lacking access to improved sanitation facilities, their populations are extremely vulnerable to major infectious diseases.

School life expectancies range from 5.4 years in Niger to 10 years in Liberia. Mean years of schooling among people over twenty-five are however much lower, with Liberia being the highest at 4.7 years. In Liberia, Sierra Leone and CAR, less than half of the population is literate. In Chad and Niger, these figures are reduced to less than a quarter.

People Below the Poverty Line

Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is measured in international dollars, which account for currency exchange rates and use purchasing power to essentially convert foreign currencies into their equivalent in U.S. dollars. In CAR, Niger and Liberia, these figures are below one thousand international dollars per person. In Chad and Sierra Leone, they are below two thousand.

According to the World Factbook, most recent estimates place 70 percent of people in Sierra Leone below the poverty line, and approximately 50 percent of those in Liberia, Chad, and Niger. The World Factbook has no data regarding the poverty line in CAR.

Conflict to Aid Discrepancies

All five of these countries have suffered some extent from turmoil in the late 1900s and early 2000s, including various rebellions, a coup d’état in Liberia, CAR and Niger and a civil war in Sierra Leone, Chad, and Liberia. Chad, Niger, CAR and Sierra Leone have particularly large numbers of internally displaced people. Conflicts in bordering countries have likewise pushed nearly 10,000 refugees into Liberia, and hundreds of thousands into Chad, Niger and CAR, putting additional strain on these countries.

From 2015 to 2017, CAR and Niger have seen the lowest reductions in aid disbursements, at about $4 million for CAR and $14 million for Niger. U.S. aid to Chad and Sierra Leone was reduced by close to $30 million in both countries. Liberia stands out among the five, having received $224 million less in aid disbursements in 2017 than in 2015.

Over this period, all but Liberia have received well below the average in aid to Sub-Saharan countries despite having lower levels of development. This trend has continued into the first quarter of 2018. To the credit of the United States, the reductions in U.S. aid to the world’s least developed countries have not meant an overall reduction in aid. The average amount of U.S. aid to this region has increased from $179 million in 2015 to $208 million in 2017.

Much of the aid received in Niger and CAR, and nearly all of it in Chad goes toward emergency response. Disparities in aid disbursements could be based on the need for emergency response rather than human development levels, with more money going to countries such as Nigeria, where conflict has killed tens of thousands since 2009.

Long-Term Initiatives Needed for Development

While emergency response takes precedence, initiatives that address such areas as basic health and education are important for fostering long-term progress in development. Niger, CAR, Chad, Liberia and Sierra Leone are among those most in need of these long-term initiatives. This could be difficult considering the reductions in U.S. aid to the world’s least developed countries.

In comparison to the 2015 Human Rights Report, the 2018 report shows that the least developed countries have made slight progress in their development, even if they have not progressed in terms of rank. Reductions in U.S. aid to the world’s least developed countries could have a serious effect on the progress in these countries. The fact that progress has been made does not mean that there is not significant progress still to be made that requires U.S. aid.

Ashley Wagner
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid in IraqAfter suffering so much war and conflict that forced many to flee from their country and led to the liberation of Iraq from the Islamic State, millions of displaced citizens are returning home. Out of six million Iraqi refugees in 2014, 3.8 million have returned to this broken country. A large number of individuals in Iraq depend on foreign aid and they still receive large donations and support every year. However, organizations providing aid have reported that donors have started to shift their focus to reconstruction instead of basic needs. Having this in mind, it is no wonder that many are worried about the people who are still unable to survive without humanitarian assistance.

Millions of Iraqi Refugees in Need

The U.N. estimates that 8.7 million people needed help from foreign aid in Iraq in 2018. This number is significantly lower than 11 million in need in 2017 but still means that there are many people in crisis. Due to the decrease in need, the U.N. requested $416 million less for emergency response aid in 2018. The U.N. still needs $569 million to make this one of the best-funded programs, but humanitarians and agencies are still concerned about donor fatigue.

As mentioned above, nearly four million refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) have returned to Iraq in the past four years. The U.N. and Iraqi government believed that more refugees would return after the Islamic State was ousted from Iraq. Their prediction was that most people would come home by the end of 2018.

However, people are returning at a far slower pace than expected meaning more Iraqis will need help for a longer period than organizations and donors are prepared for. Some refugees have even come back to camps after they realized that there were none to little opportunities for them in their hometowns. Camps in some areas such as Mosul, that had over 820,000 people displaced, are seeing higher rates of new arrivals than rates of people that are leaving.

From Emergency Aid to Reconstruction

Donors have not completely lost interest in providing foreign aid to Iraq but the focus has changed from humanitarian assistance and emergency aid to reconstruction. Instead of supporting individuals and their needs, aid is being used to rebuild the country and help it recover with infrastructure.

In February 2018, the U.N. began the two-year, Iraq Recovery and Resilience Program, the program that aims at bettering people’s lives by providing reconstruction and infrastructure reforms. The idea is that the country will become more stable and peaceful if communities are rebuilt and provided with bridges, roads, schools and hospitals. The government also has high hopes for this program as well and believes that it will make Iraqis more confident and trustful of their abilities.

Realistic Needs of People

This sounds great but the underlying reason why people are coming back to the country so slowly and often return to camps is the lack of job opportunities and places to live. Basic needs need to be met before great results can be seen from infrastructure programs and emergency aid such as food is still vitally important.

Humanitarians are concerned as many refugees have stated that they will no be able to survive without the food, shelter and support that they have received from aid organizations in the past.

As fighting in Iraq has dwindled, the country has received less and fewer media coverage. It is important that the global aid community does not forget the millions of Iraqis still in need and that donors continue to provide emergency foreign aid in Iraq directed to providing basic human needs.

Alexandra Eppenauer

Photo: Flickr

Cuatro Por VenezuelaVenezuela continues to face an extreme humanitarian crisis with a failing economy, medicine and food shortages and violence. Thousands have fled, and many of those that remain are struggling to find the necessary resources to survive.

While there are many complex issues involved, alleviating the crisis in Venezuela is within the reach of virtually anyone who wants to contribute. The Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation is providing the way by collecting donations and resources from individuals throughout the world who want to get involved in the cause.

How Cuatro Por Venezuela alleviating the crisis in Venezuela?

In 2016, The Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation was founded by four Venezuelan women living in The United States. With the vision of fundraising to deliver resource packages to Venezuelans in need, they have made tremendous progress in a short amount of time, delivering supplies to more than 130 hospitals and institutions in 14 of the 23 states in Venezuela.

The foundation’s Health Program focuses on four core objectives: decreasing the medicine and medical supply shortages, preventing complications from chronic diseases, decreasing the resurgence of diseases through vaccinations and prevention methods and decreasing the mortality of hospitalized patients. The annual report for the organization showed that they served 17,375 medical patients last year.

The desperation associated with the medicine shortages and inflation in Venezuela has led to the rise of black markets. While these markets have created greater access to much-needed medicines, this accessibility comes at a great risk. José Oberto Leal, the President at the School of Medicine in Zulia, Venezuela, has “found that a lot of them [the drugs] have not been maintained at proper temperatures.”

The need for organizations, like Cuatro Por Venezuela, that can properly maintain and deliver these very medications is abundant in times like these. Its efforts are vital to alleviating further medical issues for locals in a time when medical institutions are unstable, understaffed and lacking in resources.

Other Projects by Cuatro Por Venezuela

Beyond fundraising and mailing supplies, the organization is getting involved on the ground alleviating the crisis in Venezuela. One of the foundation’s most recent projects, Projecto Nodriza in Petare, Caracas, is delivering food to mothers in the area to use to cook for their families. They are also sending nutritionists to guide local mothers on ways in which they can eat properly and provide proper natal care for their babies with limited resources.

The organization’s Food Program is its newest branch, having started in May 2017. In just seven months, 20,000 meals were delivered to orphanages, nursing homes and to local organizations that cook for the homeless. Meals were also delivered to rural schools, providing students with at least one meal a day on school days and weekends.

As the economy has failed, so too have the school systems in Venezuela. Annual school dropout rates have doubled since 2011, in part due to the inability of many low-income families to buy school uniforms, shoes, backpacks and other required supplies, according to the foundation. Cuatro Por Venezuela is not only addressing the health and food crises but it is also improving access to education for low-income children through a program called Schools with Smiles.

Cuatro Por Venezuela is alleviating the crisis in Venezuela on several levels. In doing so, they are providing a platform for ordinary people to get involved, whether it be through their grassroots initiatives on the ground in local communities or from afar through donations and resource packages. As a U.S. based foundation, Cuatro Por Venezuela’s grassroots initiatives allow them to have a meaningful impact on the lives of the people they serve and ensure that their donors’ dollars are making it to those communities as well.

While solving the grand issues behind the economic crisis in Venezuela may not be in the foundation’s repertoire, making a difference in the lives of those most affected by the crisis is. The efforts of Cuatro Por Venezuela, as well as those of its partners and donors, have and will continue to be a key part of alleviating the crisis in Venezuela.

– Julius Long

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Assistance for Elderly RefugeesDespite UNHCR regulations that call for adequate humanitarian assistance for elderly refugees, older people are often not the focus of aid programs. Organizations such as HelpAge International, however, along with UNHCR, are working to improve services and care for elderly refugees by developing a more comprehensive understanding of their struggles and needs.

Lack of Humanitarian Assistance for Elderly Refugees

Older persons, defined by the UN as people over 60 years of age, are particularly vulnerable when displaced from their homes. Lack of mobility, chronic illness or weakened vision can hinder their ability to flee. They may also be reluctant to leave, concerned about becoming socially isolated or physically separated from their families. A study of eastern Ukraine found that approximately half of all the older people remained home when the conflict began and that many were left behind due to their reduced mobility.

Even after older people manage to leave, humanitarian assistance to elderly refugees may not fully address their needs. An Overseas Development Institute report explains that “while humanitarian principles require that aid is delivered in an impartial manner, based on needs alone, in emergencies humanitarian organizations tend to implement blanket, one-size-fits-all programmes that fail to adequately address the specific vulnerabilities of older people.”

One of the primary reasons for this is that elderly refugees make up a small percentage of refugee populations, approximately 8.5 percent. This leads them being deprioritized in favor of larger demographic groups, including women and children. It is estimated, however, that by 2050 there will be more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 12.

Needs of Older Refugees Neglected

Areas in which the needs of elderly refugees are not always properly addressed include safety, protection, nutrition, medical services and mental health. Elderly refugees have a greater risk of experiencing violence, including sexual and domestic abuse. They are also likely to be exploited by family members. These risks are greater for women, those with disabilities and LGBT individuals.

Additionally, older people need food that is easy to eat and digest, and may become malnourished due to their inability to consume regular food. UNHCR reported in 2016 that humanitarian assistance for elderly refugees generally does not meet the food requirements of older people.

Two-thirds of elderly refugees have been found to suffer from poor physical health. In a study about older Syrian refugees in Lebanon, it was found that most of them had at least one non-communicable disease: 60 percent had hypertension, 47 percent had diabetes and 30 percent had some form of heart disease, indicating a need for more comprehensive health services.

Mental health is also a significant area of concern. Older people, who often have a great deal of prestige and important societal roles, find that they lose much of their influence, power and resources when they become refugees. This is partly due to the fact that one of their main resources, life experience, is less relevant in new, unknown settings. Western values and education serve to give more prominent roles to younger people.

The loss of their traditional roles in addition to the trauma resulting from conflict and fleeing was found to have caused depression and mental illness among older South Sudanese refugees in a study published by the Overseas Development Institute. Respondents indicated that they felt isolated from their community and families, sensing that younger generations no longer respected them. They were also concerned that their families would grow tired of having to care for them.  

Uncertainty about being able to return to their homes can also cause psychological stress in elderly refugees. The family of Dagha, a 101-year-old Syrian refugee, stated that she often cries in her sleep and that her greatest fear is that she will die in Lebanon. Dagha reportedly asked her family to promise that they will bury her in Syria.

Providing Humanitarian Assistance

Improving humanitarian assistance for elderly refugees is an attainable goal. Aid organizations have the funding needed to make older refugees a greater priority, and an article in The Guardian explains that “mindset is the main barrier to inclusive humanitarian assistance, not money.”

UNHCR has a renewed commitment to focusing on elderly refugees and has outlined several practices ensuring aid is used to meet their needs. First, it is important to communicate with older people, both about their specific needs and concerns, and the services available to them. Important messages need to be in a format that elderly refugees can access. Working with older people to determine what works best for them is vital.

Older people should also be prioritized in reunification efforts and moving forward they should not be separated from family members. Additionally, the needs of elderly refugees should be considered when designing shelters and settlements.

In response to mental health concerns, aid workers need to improve their understanding of what elderly refugees want out of their lives in new and unfamiliar locations. Many South Sudanese informants stated that they wished to regain the societal and familial roles they had held before leaving.

With the help of organizations such as HelpAge International and UNHCR, humanitarian assistance for elderly refugees will hopefully begin to improve, moving toward fully addressing their needs and concerns. Life for elderly refugees will likely continue to be difficult, but better aid can lessen their struggles and improve their general livelihoods.  

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

The Children of Syria
After 7 years of war, Syria has become the most dangerous country to be a child. Out of a population of 18 million, 5.3 million children require humanitarian aid, 1.2 million live in hard-to-reach areas and 170,000 are currently trapped in besieged zones. Basic services, such as education and health, have collapsed under the strain of violence. In all regards, the conflict has proven disastrous for the children of Syria.

The Situation

Before the Syrian Civil War, school enrollments rates were around 87.5 percent; in 2018, however, 6 million kids need educational support while over 2.1 million are presently not enrolled at all. This standing is largely due to combatants viewing schools and other educational institutions as targets for bombings, killings and abductions. Such targeting then results in the destruction of over a quarter of the schools in Syria.

More than half of the hospitals and clinics in Syria are closed, damaged or lack proper medicine and health professionals (15,000 of the 30,000 Syrian doctors have fled the country). Alongside these statistics, vaccinations have increasingly become less common. An outbreak of polio has affected 80,000 children while another 200,000 have died from chronic diseases.

Lack of access to food and water has become widespread across Syria. As of June 2018, an estimated 11.2 Syrians required emergency food assistance. Conflict, displacement and blocked transportation routes have resulted in an ever-increasing malnutrition rate of 11 percent among the Syrian youth. Furthermore, access to clean drinking water has become a significant issue due to the destruction of infrastructure.

While these numbers are used by some to describe the children of Syria as the “lost generation,” there are plenty of examples of foreign aid groups working to reverse these trends.

The Response

Numerous organizations across the globe have taken up the gauntlet to help this population. The following are three of which who have had quite the widespread, long-lasting impact.

  • UNICEF. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is one of the prime cases of the effort that’s being done in Syria. Through U.N. programs, 956,000 children have been enrolled in formal education, while another 60,000 were placed in non-formal education. UNICEF has vaccinated 2.7 million children under the age of 5 for the polio virus and has provided 2.5 children and women with primary health care professionals. In fact, 1 million youth and pregnant women are reported to be either treated or under active treatment for malnutrition. By establishing emergency facilities and repairing water and sanitation systems, UNICEF has restored 6.5 million Syrians with access to clean drinking water.
  • USAID: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has proven to be an effective asset in foreign aid to Syria. In July of 2018, a joint food assistance program between USAID and the U.N. World Food Program was able to supply more than three million Syrians. During July of 2018, USAID and WHO delivered around 50 metric tons of medical supplies to health officials in Dar’a and As Suwayda’.
  • Save the Children: Save the Children Federation, a U.S. non-profit, has shown the strength of individual donations toward helping the children of Syria. The organization has aided 1.7 million Syrian children by delivering services and supplies to refugee camps and besieged areas. Primarily, the group has provided medical supplies and educational items to prevent the stoppage of learning and development.

These agencies and organizations seem to be too large for any one person to make a difference, especially when the number of children being helped totals in the millions. However, many of these groups rely fully or partially on individual funds in order to do what they do.

How Americans Can Help

Making an impact doesn’t require a whole lot of money or time. Every individual act helps turn 1 saved child into 1 million saved children. Here are some ways for Americans and/or any global citizen to make a difference in the children of Syria’s lives:

  • The Borgen Project. The Borgen Project focuses on getting U.S. leaders to support, and utilize resources, for global poverty reduction efforts.
  • UNICEF. UNICEF has helped millions of children throughout Syria, but struggles to meet targeted goals due to insufficient funding (44% under requested budget for 2018).
  • Save the Children Foundation. Save the Children relies entirely on donations for helping supply children with medical and educational support in at-risk areas.
  • USAID. Although USAID does not accept donations, there is a list of approved organizations that do in regards to Syria.

Individualized effort can create powerful change, and the ways individuals across the globe and in various organizations are aiding the children of Syria have the potential to save, rather than lose, a generation.

Tanner Helem
Photo: Flickr

How to Help RefugeesImagine a situation where a person’s homeland is cannot host that person and their family anymore. The word “home” loses its meaning, and people find themselves forced to find somewhere else to live in. President Roosevelt once said, “Peace, like charity, begins at home.” Unfortunately, many people around the world cannot find peace because they have no home. Refugee crises have been an issue in the world for many years, and it is important to learn how to help refugees, even in the smallest ways.

According to UNHCR, 68.5 million people are forcedly displaced worldwide, and 25.4 million of them have refugee status. A recent example is the Syrian Refugee Crisis; according to the Amnesty International, there are approximately 4 million refugees from Syria that are spread to different countries.

Refugees crises are real problems, and actions must be taken to overcome them as soon as possible. Many different actions can be taken at a governmental level, but individuals can take actions to help refugees as well. 

Fundraising

Individual fundraising and donation is one thing that any individual can contribute to the refugee problem around the globe. There are numerous organizations operating in both international and national scale, and all of them are just a click away.

Various Types of Volunteer Work

Money is not your only source to find an answer to the question of how to help refugees. Many organizations that help refugees are not only open to donations, but also to volunteer work. If a person wishes to dedicate more than their money, they can dedicate their time to refugee-focused organizations to become a helper in the field.

Social mobilization of the refugees is also related to volunteer work. Integration of refugees to the daily lives of the host country is very important, but not easy. Refugees must learn the language of the host country, and people in the host country can contribute by helping to teach refugees the host country’s language. Many NGO’s operate for this purpose, and a person who is willing to help can also speak with the municipality of any region about creating a volunteer group project.

Organizations also allow a person to connect with a refugee in need to host someone to live together with, saving them from refugee camps. Refugees Welcome International is one such organization where a person can take a refugee as a roommate, allowing the refugee freedom from the hard conditions of a refugee camp.

Writing to Refugees

If a person is unable to dedicate time or money to refugee crises, they can contribute by contacting a refugee personally. Knowing that someone cares provides important motivation that keeps hope alive for millions of refugees around the world. Organizations like CARE allow anyone to directly send a personal message to a person in need. The message is simple: “I see you and I care.”

Legal Support

Support for the legal needs of refugees is a way that attorneys can contribute to helping refugee crises. For any attorney who is ready to take action on this issue, volunteer attorney positions are available in different organizations. International Refugee Assistance Project is one example of the many organizations that help provide legal services for refugees. 

There are countless ways for an individual to contribute to helping refugees around the world. When a person takes the first step to help, even if that means spreading awareness of refugee crises, they take the first step in making the world a better place. 

Orçun Doğmazer

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