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Crisis in YemenThere is currently a devastating humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Many factors are intensifying the suffering being experienced by the Arab world’s poorest nation. The civil war is going on its third year and created conditions for famine, disease and terrorism to flourish. A variety of people and organizations are helping Yemenis in need, yet, it will be a long path to stability.

In September 2014, a group of Yemeni rebels, supported by Iran, overthrew Yemen’s government. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia supplied military forces to reinstate the government, with help from the U.S. The country remains in a civil war.

At least 10,000 people were killed, and two million people were displaced as a result of the war. Those evading conflict are who suffer most. The civil war led to famine, the collapse of Yemen’s healthcare system and a cholera outbreak.

Currently, almost half of Yemenis are food-insecure. Almost 2.2 million children are malnourished, 462,000 of whom have severe acute malnutrition. Furthermore, the cholera outbreak which impacted more than 300,000 people.

The civil war made these issues worse because it caused the healthcare system in Yemen to collapse. Poverty also exacerbates the crisis. Many Yemenis lost all their wealth because of the conflict. They are forced to work more and cannot take time off to stay with sick family in the hospital, nor can they necessarily afford travel expenses and treatment. Furthermore, the malnourishment experienced by a generation of children may set the stage for another impoverished generation in Yemen.

Fortunately, some are stepping in to help. U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN), is pleading for a policy of aiding the country. He wrote a resolution that addressed the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan and Somalia. He is also asking the U.S. to reprimand its ally Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is blamed for much of the suffering in the civil war. For instance, the country bombed cranes which were used to deliver food and medical aid. Saudi Arabia then proceeded to block the delivery of new cranes.

However, the new Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman recently allocated $66.7 million to the WHO and UNICEF to fight the cholera epidemic. While bin Salman was defense minister, he oversaw the bombing of Yemen. It is unclear if the donation is personally from bin Salman, or from the government budget.

Many other governments are also addressing the crisis in Yemen. Through USAID, President Donald Trump offered $192 million for Yemen. This will add to the $275.2 million the U.S. already gave for Yemeni assistance in 2017. The European Union is also funding humanitarian aid in Yemen. Since 2015, the European Commission gave approximately $199.5 million to help with malnutrition, water sanitation, healthcare, homelessness and more.

The WHO and UNICEF, Oxfam, Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders are among the organizations contending with the crisis in Yemen. Oxfam has been in Yemen for 30 years, building better infrastructure and working towards women’s rights and ending poverty. Save the Children has worked in Yemen since 1963 and fights for children’s rights by offering education, healthcare and food. Doctors Without Borders offers free healthcare and is working hard to alleviate the cholera epidemic.

Life has been shattered in Yemen. One of the poorest countries in the world is being made worse by civil war. Much of the world understands, that as fellow humans, it is our obligation to help end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. This ideal must spread and continue.

Mary Katherine Crowley


Conflicts in the Central African Republic have had devastating effects on the country’s civilians, particularly the civil war that began in 2012. The healthcare system has become less effective as qualified doctors and nurses move to safer areas, and aid is often denied due to unsafe commuting conditions. Along with a one-third decrease in qualified medical staff, clean water supplies are becoming scarce because water leaks cannot be easily repaired. Due to an unstable healthcare system and less access to clean water and food, many diseases are becoming more prominent among the Central African Republic’s population. Below are two of the top diseases in the Central African Republic that are causing some of the highest mortality rates for both children and adults.

Malaria

Malaria is not only one of the deadliest diseases in the Central African Republic but is the top fatal disease in the world. Malaria is responsible for more than eight percent of total deaths in the country and 32.8 percent of deaths in children under five years old. This number has dramatically risen in direct correlation to the increase in malnutrition. The Central African Republic civil war has detrimentally affected healthcare, making malaria more widespread but less treatable. The war has forced civilians out of their homes, leaving them without shelter and protection against mosquito bites, and resulting in the destruction of 70 percent of existing medical centers.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is combating malaria, and many of the top diseases in the Central African Republic, by bringing aid in the form of treatments and shelters, particularly, mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria. The aim is to reach 80 percent of the Central African Republic’s civilians with aid in order to control the malaria problem. However, many locations are simply difficult to reach and the civil war only complicates this. MSF has designed mobile treatment facilities to treat a wider range of people.

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is a major problem in the Central African Republic and is ranked number nine on the world’s most fatal diseases list. This disease affects 15 percent of adults, most of whom are young women. Not only is the afflicted person severely affected by the disease, but many children have been orphaned by an infected parent or abandoned by their family for contracting HIV/AIDS. The Central African Republic has one of the highest rates of mother-to-child HIV transmission in the world.

The World Bank’s Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Program has provided more than $18 million to African nations since 2001 to combat this disease. This has helped to supply medical centers with proper medicine, such as ARV, which prevents mother-to-child transmission of HIV. In addition, World Bank aid has helped provide vaccines, educational services and mobile services to reach more isolated areas. This funding, however, is limited and not sufficient in reaching all patients in need of treatment. Many patients have also become resistant to the primary drug that is being used for treatment, and additional funding is needed to develop new and effective medicine.

Although these top diseases in the Central African Republic have had detrimental effects on its civilians, there are many forms of aid and organizations that are determined to decrease their crippling effects.

Miryam Wiggli

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire continues to experience aftershocks of the military coup in December 1999, which turned into an all-out civil war in 2002, leading to the creation of a North and South Côte d’Ivoire. This resolution was supposed to be disbanded in 2010, but there was a conflict over the results of the election for the new leader of the unified government, complicating the transition of power. This threw the country into another five months of the war. The political unrest in Côte d’Ivoire has created widespread economic instability and food security issues.

Following the conflicts in 2011, President Alassane Ouattara adopted the National Agricultural Investment Program (PNIA), and the National Development Plan (PND) in an effort to alleviate the widespread hunger in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as to repair social relations between the polarized country. The country is ushering into a new era of human rights, job creation, availability of social services, sustainable resource consumption and poverty reduction. This new phase, which will run until 2021, and is focused on decoupling agriculture from deforestation by using more sustainable farming methods, is projected to create 400,000 jobs. This shows that the aid given will cultivate lasting economic growth for the country.

Unfortunately, despite all the positive forward momentum in the government, Côte d’Ivoire still ranks in the bottom tenth percentile of the United Nations Development Programs Human Development Index. Twenty-three percent of the population lives below $1.25 per day. Primary school enrollment is at 50 percent. And there is still widespread hunger in Cote d’Ivoire, with 13.3 percent of the population experiencing undernourishment in 2016, and 30 percent of children under 5 years old experiencing growth stunting. The country received a global Hunger Index Score of 25.7 out of 100 in 2016.

So what’s being done about it? The World Food Program opened up a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation to save lives and combat hunger in Côte d’Ivoire. The program has opened a school breakfast program that has fed 571,000 children. Action Against Hunger (ACF) has also started a program that has successfully provided food to 792,688 people and helped 848,698 people gain access to safe water and sanitation.

Difficulties for the future will depend on the influx of foreign aid to sustain these development projects. However, it is clear that Côte d’Ivoire is on the right track. It has reached a period of stability and has been able to focus inward on lowering hunger in Côte d’Ivoire and raising the quality of life. Things look bright for the country’s future.

Joshua Ward

Photo: Flickr

Education in Cote D’Ivoire
Primary education in Cote D’Ivoire, from ages 6 to 11, has slowly improved over the past decade. In 2014, enrollment rates were at 96% for boys and 84% for girls, almost 20% higher than in 2006. This positive trend is good news, but secondary education enrollment is under 50% for both sexes. Schools suffer from a shortage of trained teachers, and, while primary education is free, students cannot always afford materials. Two civil conflicts in the twenty-first century introduced additional complications.

After measures to fragment and exclude northerners from politics, ethnic and religious tensions escalated. A civil war broke out from 2002 to 2004 between the government-controlled south and the north. In 2010, a second conflict exploded after the southern government blocked the northern winner from taking office. With international support, the winner Alassane Ouattara took office, but not before 3,000 deaths.

Ouattara was re-elected in 2015 without violence. While Cote D’Ivoire is more stabilized, tensions still lead to skirmishes. These conflicts caused the displacement of almost 400,000 people, a quarter of whom have left the country as refugees.

Educate a Child explains the vulnerable situation of these children, “They become increasingly at risk of forced labor, forced early marriage, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and recruitment into armed groups.” Combined with areas unable to handle the influx of people, displaced children are often excluded from education. Non-displaced children can also fall victim to these factors. Education in Cote D’Ivoire has a significant gender gap: primary education enrollment is 10% lower and literacy rates are almost 20% lower for girls.

Thirty-five percent of girls marry before 18 and women having an average of five kids are factors blocking girls from continuing education. All children, especially from rural or poor families, can be recruited into labor or armed conflict. Lack of quality education and opportunities can make these appear to be the
only options.

Many of the education and periphery struggles are aggravated by a lack of compulsory education and quality schools. Literacy for 15 to 24-year-olds is shockingly low; last year, boys’ rates were at 60% while girls’ rates were only at 40%. Poor facilities and unqualified teachers do not provide adequate support for children, especially in extreme situations.

This problem has not gone unnoticed. UNICEF was extremely active during the conflicts to keep as many schools operational as possible. Educate a Child and their partners have created three projects to leap the hurdles. Bridging Tomorrow works to reintegrate out of school children, Building a Future targets areas most affected by conflict to rebuild infrastructure and Education First is training teachers and building schools in areas with high displacement and poverty.

There is much to be done for communities and education in Cote D’Ivoire. The recent stability is optimistic, but children must be protected and educated.

Jeanette I. Burke

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in EuropeLast year, there was a record high of 220,000 refugees in Europe seeking asylum. According to The Guardian, more than 900,000 people have sought refuge by sea to Greece or Italy due to civil unrest.

Syrians made up the largest part of this group, having fled their home country because of the 4-and-a-half year civil war that has taken the lives of over 200,000 Syrians, according to the New York Times.

The reasons why people become refugees are not hard to conjure – war, religious or social conflict, violence – but how these refugees secure their safety can be a long, stressful process.

The first step in seeking refuge is often finding a place that allows one to be close to their families, but far enough away from any threat of violence. According to The Guardian, it is almost impossible for Syrians to be granted legal access into other Arab countries.

This leaves places like Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon as places to escape, though refugee families in the Middle East no longer receive financial assistance from the UN due to funding shortcomings. These countries do not offer secure legal statuses to refugees either, which can prevent them from having the right to work.

These stipulations explain why so many refugees are traveling to Europe for refugee or asylum status by boat. According to the Guardian, more and more Syrians who become refugees in Europe are using the Balkan route – traveling by sea from Turkey to Greece and then walking through Macedonia and Serbia to reach European Union (EU) territories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHQ88y-A6iw

Open Society Foundations, an American organization whose mission statement is to “build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens” works with the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) that works to guarantee that international law protects the rights of refugees in its member states.

According to Open Society Foundations, if an asylum seeker or refugee is traveling through several EU countries, the CEAS allows one EU country to send that person to the first EU country they have reached, as long as that country maintains the rights of asylum seekers.

Unfortunately, only a small portion of asylum seekers are monitored this way, and the systems in Greece, Hungary and Italy have tried to block transfers of citizens with court orders. Some people who become refugees end up back in the south where their journey began.

Groups like Open Society Foundations are crucial in helping refugees and asylum seekers partake in legal movement for work and family without violating any human rights.

Because of the large influx of refugees in Europe, Open Society Foundations find it vital to develop effective policy proposals that will lead to a progressive and successful European asylum system.

Revisions under the European Agenda on Migration state that immediate action will be taken by the EU in order to prevent further deaths and improve conditions for those seeking refuge in Europe. This includes increased funding to Frontex and Europol, two organizations that focus on border control and defense of the EU, respectively.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: European Commission, Open Society Foundations, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, The New York Times
Photo: The Telegraph

Yemen_children
The civil war in Yemen has led to the deaths and injuries of over 1,000 children, and 4,300 total deaths, according to Save The Children. The crisis is worsening as the number of recruits to join the fighting has increased to 377 this year from 156 last year, according to Children Under Threat.

Just as concerning is the inadequate amount of humanitarian aid that is being sent to the country. Only 18 percent of the funding needed to address immediate needs has been received.

Stephen O’Brien, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs had to persuade the UN Security Council to increase aid. O’Brien saw first-hand that 4 out of 5 Yemenis need aid, while 1.5 million are internally displaced.

According to the World Food Program about 13 million, or half of the population is going hungry and 6 million face starvation.

The conflict is preventing the importation of food and other aid. The conflict has also led to the doubling of gas prices, a resource needed for cooking.

On top of the malnutrition among 2 million people, over 2.5 million Yemeni children under age 15 are at risk of contracting measles, which would be 1 million more than 2014.

The months of ongoing conflict is between Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, and forces loyal to exiled government, backed by Saudi Arabia. O’Brien has called for the international community to get the opposing parties to negotiate.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: ABC, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Photo: Huffington Post

Number of Refugees
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently reported that nearly 60 million people were forcibly displaced in 2014, which is the highest number of refugees ever recorded. Of those displaced, over 38 million were displaced within the borders of their home countries. The amount of refugees worldwide is now so high that every 1 in 122 people is displaced or seeking asylum. Of those refugees, only 126,800 of them were able to return home, and over half are children. Additionally, the majority of these refugees live in protracted displacement for at least ten years, and many have children during this time.

So where are the refugees coming from? Where are they going and why?

The majority of these refugees are fleeing the civil war in Syria and most of them are going to Turkey. But with such high rates of displacement, the problem is clearly widespread. People are fleeing from sub-Saharan Africa, Myanmar and Central America. The main driver in the displacement is civil war.

Experts are calling this the worst refugee crisis since World War II. With the advancements we have made globally since World War II, we should not be seeing such record-breaking highs in displacement rates. The situation in Syria is not likely to be resolved anytime in the near future,due to the widespread destruction and Islamic hold on the nation.

As we see a more prolonged period of civil war in various countries around the world, we will continue to see high displacement rates and see these displaced people staying displaced for longer periods. The mass migrations of populations around the world have huge implications on changing culture, foreign relations and the economy.

These displaced people start to make up subpopulations in their own countries or in neighboring countries and bring with them their culture. It is no easy feat to integrate into these other countries and refugees often face harsh discrimination that results in low living conditions, inadequate access to basic services and low employment rates. These displaced people face human rights violations, even after fleeing horrific circumstances, and the governments that accept them are faced with the strain they place on their own nation. We can expect to see more internal and external tension in these countries.

Because 53 percent of all refugees worldwide come from only three countries – Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia – solutions can be targeted. But first these solutions need to be developed. There needs to be an international focus on reducing the rates at which people are fleeing. The most pressing issue is that of civil war because it destroys a nation’s infrastructure on all levels. Civil war often involves widespread human rights violations both during and after the conflict, as the huge masses of people that fled the conflict face additional problems elsewhere.

The problems that arise from civil war, including but not limited to displaced persons, are spread across large geographical areas. By addressing the three major sources of the world’s refugees, we can hopefully prevent the problem from expanding any further. Displacement is largely a political issue and to alleviate it, there must be agreements and regulations set forth by the world’s political leaders.

– Emma Dowd

Sources: CNN, Foreign Policy 1, Foreign Policy 2
Photo: Al Jazeera America

poorest_country
Imagine being lulled to sleep by the constant sound of bullets ricocheting off trees in the forests beyond your home. For many living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), this horror story is reality. Located in the heart of Africa, the DRC has been named the world’s poorest country, but its massive amount of available resources has it set up to eventually become one of the wealthiest.

The major issue that stands between this nation and a successful future is the rampant instability of government and daily life. Existing in a much more antiquated state than that of our own, 83 percent of all Congolese citizens live in rural villages and lack access to clean water and steady supplies of food. This means that around 125 out of every 1,000 babies die within three weeks of birth due to malnutrition. This instability has allowed the region to become a breeding ground for war. Roughly 5.4 million people have been killed during the war in the Congo, a death rate second only to that of the Second World War, leaving millions of orphans as a result of death by fighting and the spread of the AIDS virus. Of these millions of children, many are left starving with no certain way of getting access to food every day, leaving malnutrition as another leading cause of death in the region. The only sense of stability these children have known is the constant of war. Many are drawn to large militant groups because they provide a family-like structure and are a constant source of food and power. However, as the world’s leading powers have begun to catch wind of the atrocities being carried out in the Congo, it looks like all of this is about to change.

The heart of the Congo is home to the equatorial rainforest, making it rich in many natural resources of which companies pay millions of dollars per year to extract. The main issue that has risen during this process stems from companies attempting to take these resources free of charge, giving rise to more civil wars in the area. However, as more NGO’s begin to put boots on the ground in an attempt to bring this to a halt, many rural communities are starting to see a future in which they can succeed. The key to changing a life is giving someone a way to change their own. By teaching local citizens how to harvest resources and develop businesses to sell said resources, many communities have begun to rise from the ashes of war. Many organizations are practicing micro-lending in an attempt to create business and a sense of worth within communities. The Congo has the possibility to become a great nation where people are happy and well-fed, the government is stable and life is like a tropical vacation in a rainforest.

Although there is a long road ahead, every reaction has a catalyst and by bringing communities up one by one, we can create a difference beyond our best hopes.

– Sumita Tellakat

Sources: African Volunteer, The Atlantic, Our Africa
Photo: Flickr

child soldiers
More than 250 children have been freed from a South Sudanese militant group called The South Sudan Democratic Army Cobra Faction. The militia has been fighting for four years, hoping to win greater rights for the Murle ethnic group.

After a peace agreement between the militia and President Salva Kiir’s government was finalized, the boys, ages 11-17, were released after years of toting AK-47s, raiding homes and cattle farms and taking part in deadly revenge attacks throughout South Sudan. Hundreds gathered in Gumuruk, South Sudan to watch the child soldiers be released back to their homes and families, although many have been displaced or killed.

The release of the 280 boys is the first of a series of releases that will eventually free an estimated 3,000 children from the militia. According to UNICEF, approximately 12,000 children have been forcibly recruited by armed groups to fight the civil war, which has increasingly worsened since December of 2013.

South Sudan has been riddled with violence and poverty for years, and the civil war has provided a cruel security for the young soldiers. One child soldier, 12-year-old Steven, said that he joined the militia willingly three years ago.

“There was nothing for me in Pibor – no roads or hospitals or even schools. Sometimes there was no food … But life in the faction was not good. There is no rest,” reported the child soldier.

Another boy, James, 13-years-old, said he joined after the deaths of his sister, uncle, grandfather and other family members. The military can provide shelter, water, purpose and a sense of safety.

Many of the freed children express their concerns of their unpredictable futures. With more than 1.5 million people displaced since the war, many of the boys have no way to contact their families, if they are even still alive.

At the ceremony on the day of the soldiers’ release, a former leader wiped tears from his eyes as the children recited their military chant for the last time. He said to the young children: “That song you sing, that is an adult struggle.”

UNICEF and many others are working to pave a path to success and peace for the young boys. After witnessing and participating in the horrors of the civil war, the boys are left with nightmares and instability. Counseling and social support will be provided to each child, depending on individual experiences and reactions. Family tracing units have been set up and hope to reunite as many children as possible with families. The most important thing to provide for these children is a sense of normalcy and a protective environment, free from violence and war. Many of the young boys are most looking forward to education.

“I don’t know how long I’ve lived in the faction— I don’t know how to count. I want to go to school now. I have never been to school,” said Joseph an 11-year-old.

The release of the child soldiers and the peace agreement gives a small sense of hope that the end of a civil war in South Sudan may be near.

Alaina Grote

Sources: BBC, Euro News, The Guardian, Reuters, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Photo: Amazon AWS

tajikistan
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan, a small country between Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and China, erupted in a civil war between the Moscow-backed government and Islamists.

The war lasted for five years, greatly hurting the nation’s economy. Around 50,000 people were killed and more than 10 percent of the population fled the country. The war only came to an end in 1997 when the United Nations facilitated a peace agreement.

Since the civil war, the economy of Tajikistan has not recovered and the country is currently Central Asia’s poorest nation. Almost half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is earned by its citizens working out of the country. Meanwhile the nation itself relies on the economies of Russia and China, as well as oil and gas imports.

During the war one in every five schools were destroyed. Since the war, Tajikstan has worked to improve the country’s education.

Tajikistan currently has an enrollment of 97 percent for primary school, 80 percent for secondary school, and 17 percent for tertiary school. Late entry, combined with the early dropout of school aged children, especially girls, lower Tajikistan’s attendance for later schooling.

Although there is a very high rate of literacy, other issues affect its educational system.

Salaries paid to teachers are very low, which leads to low staffing and poorly qualified teachers in schools. This is in part due to the lack of government spending on education. In 1991, 8.9 percent of the GDP was spent on education. In 2005, this figure was down to 3.2 percent.

Due to the negative effects of the civil war on the Tajikstan economy and the immense loss of life, the school systems have been suffering ever since. Although the government has been working to improve access to education, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

– Lily Tyson

Sources: BBC, UNICEF, Eurasia
Photo: Asianews