Posts

Red Cross and UNHCR Efforts in Cabo DelgadoIn the Northern province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, every day of the past seven years has been a fight for survival. Due to the recurring attacks on civilians by nonstate armed groups (NSAGs). As of January 2024, close to 800,000 people remain internally displaced in Northern Mozambique. However, two organizations stand as beacons of hope: the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). With unwavering dedication, they have stepped into the fray, extending a helping hand to those in desperate need.

The UNHCR’s Efforts

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported its concern about the escalating humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado in March 2024. Together with the government, the UNCHR and its partners balance the urgent needs of the newly displaced with the long-term needs of those forced to remain in overcrowded settlements. 

UNHCR and its partners provide core relief items to internally displaced persons (IDPs), including blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, jerrycans, buckets, solar lamps, kitchen sets and plastic sheets. It screens and registers people with specific needs for support and assistance. Furthermore, the organization reports that additional interventions are being planned and discussed with local authorities in the sectors of safety, water and sanitation, health, shelter and food security, though lack of funding thwarts the response. 

The Red Cross: A Lifeline in Times of Crisis

The UNHCR focuses on broader humanitarian assistance, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) serves as a lifeline for those directly affected by the conflict in Cabo Delgado. With a network of volunteers and staff on the ground, the ICRC, in collaboration with the Mozambique Red Cross (CVM), could provide IDPs with emergency assistance. 

Emergency medical is one of the key services provided by the ICRC. From treating injuries sustained in the violence to combatting the recent cholera outbreak, ICRC medical teams provide indispensable support to a conflict-affected area like Cabo Delgado, where access to health care is often limited.

The ICRC also provides vital support in the form of food, clean water and shelter. In 2022, the organization delivered 6,000 household and shelter kits. In addition, it built 32 solar-powered hand pumps and washing areas, improving access to water and sanitation for 10,000 people. 

Supporting Recovery and Reconnecting Families

The ICRC promotes self-sufficiency and as part of its emergency assistance, it distributed seed and tool kits to 25,000 people, to help them restart food production. It assists separated families and vulnerable unaccompanied children. The organization works with CVM to facilitate phone calls, reconnect, families and register unaccompanied minors. 

In the face of conflict, the ICRC and the UNHCR have emerged to inspire hope in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. Through their dedication and efforts, they have provided a lifeline to displaced families struggling to survive amid violence and insecurity. As the humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado continues to unfold, the work of these organizations remains essential in alleviating the suffering of those affected and rebuilding the future of the people of Northern Mozambique.

– Danielle Schaafsma

Danielle is based in South Africa and focuses on Good News for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Unsplash

Charities Operating in LebanonAccording to Human Rights Watch, 74% of the Lebanese population lives in income poverty, earning less than $14 per day. Lebanon is classified as a lower-middle-income country by the World Bank, with over half of the population living below the national poverty line in 2020 due to COVID-19 and other economic factors. Fortunately, a number of NGOs are working to lend a helping hand to those who need it the most. Here are five charities operating in Lebanon.

5 Charities Operating in Lebanon

  1. The Lebanese Red Cross – The Lebanese Red Cross is a nonprofit organization established in 1945 that focuses on helping those with concerns relating to conflict, social life and health by fundraising and hosting events. This NGO was recognized by the state of Lebanon in 1946 as a public nonprofit and as an essential part of the medical service of the Lebanese army. Each sphere of the country has its own establishment that collaborates with other sectors in order to create the plenary organization. This structure was made to ensure that all areas of the country had some sort of humanitarian presence. Due to its national success, the Lebanese Red Cross received major international recognition and was able to join both the International Red Cross organization as well as the Red Crescent Movement in 1947. The Lebanese Red Cross has over 7,000 volunteers all across the country who excel in their duties respecting the seven Fundamental Principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. Respecting these principles has allowed this organization to accomplish many goals with regard to helping those living in poverty. A few of these achievements include fundraising thousands of dollars toward humanitarian aid, providing training for those in marginalized communities, as well as providing medical care to those in need in order to save many lives. For example, the Lebanese Red Cross responded to the major bomb in Beirut in August 2021 by rescuing and providing first aid to those injured. These teams of volunteers also distributed food, water, masks and other essentials to more than 80,000 people who were affected. This is one of the many ways that the Lebanese Red Cross has contributed to helping people.
  2. Beyond Association – Established in 2013, Beyond Association is a non-governmental organization in Lebanon that aims to promote humanitarian issues globally among different populations. Their mission is to raise awareness of humanitarian concerns, enhance human rights and empower individuals on a global scale. Beyond Association collaborates with national and international NGOs to develop programs addressing the needs of the world’s most vulnerable. This organization aims to achieve its goals by organizing fundraisers, projects and providing resources to those living in poverty. A substantial contribution that this NGO has made to the Lebanese community is their job hunt which consists of a list of open work for those who have trouble finding work for whatever reason. This initiative has helped many individuals get an income and thus, live above the poverty line. Another one of Beyond Association’s projects is its educational initiative toward COVID-19. After the spread of the deadly virus, this organization launched both in-person and online information sessions in order to spread awareness of COVID-19 and to help stop the spread. These initiatives were targeted toward teenagers and young adults as well as those who are immunocompromised. This initiative is known to have significantly improved the quality of life for Lebanese during the global pandemic. 
  3. Save the Children – Save the Children was a national organization aimed at providing the best possible life and upbringing for children around the world. This predominantly national organization transitioned to an international one in 2012 due to its high success rate in Lebanon. Save the Children uses rights-based approaches in order to increase children’s access to education, basic needs and opportunities. This organization is different from the rest as it places high importance on empowering civil society both during peaceful and turbulent times. Lebanon is the country with the highest number of Syrian refugees (especially children) relative to its population and Save the Children has recognized this and thus, has provided the country with an abundance of resources and care for these individuals. This NGO has responded to this spike in demand by ensuring that everyone in Lebanon – regardless of their socio-economic status receives access to basic human needs such as food, shelter and electricity. This organization is able to work on many different initiatives at a time due to its large size. One of these projects includes providing shelter for families who are not able to access any – with priority given to families with children. Save the Children will provide families living in unfinished houses with a conditional cash grant in order to upgrade and/or finish their shelters. This grant ensures that living conditions are adequate for families with growing children.
  4. Caritas Lebanon – Caritas Lebanon is an organization established in 1950 that aims to reduce poverty and the exclusion of people in different social settings. They focus on creating social, medical, economic, development and emergency programs in order to benefit marginalized communities across the world. Caritas is a Latin word for charity which is the main focus of this organization through its variety of fundraisers. This NGO is a member of Caritas Internationalists – one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world. Caritas Lebanon has worked toward eliminating poverty in Lebanon and all over the world by creating programs in relation to basic assistance, education, food security, health and shelter which have proved to be immensely beneficial to those in poverty. The organization also created numerous response programs in relation to the emergency crises that our world has faced thus far including COVID-19 and the influx of Syrian refugees.
  5. BASSMA- BASSMA is a humanitarian organization established in 2002 whose mission is to empower the world’s most disadvantaged people through the rehabilitation of poverty-stricken families, social assistance, the protection and social reintegration of abused individuals and poverty awareness through Civic Engagement and Community Service projects. So far, BASSMA’s efforts in reducing global poverty have been deemed successful through their program of rebuilding homes in Lebanon that have been destroyed. This has helped many individuals with the financial burden of such a task that would take years to reach. Their deep empathy and commitment to helping families in need have proven to have helped many Lebanese families in the past 20 years. BASSMA’s gift-giving project is another significant initiative, providing children living in poverty or unsuitable conditions with small gifts during the holidays.

In short, Lebanon, through its numerous national and international humanitarian organizations, has made a significant impact in addressing global poverty and aiding those facing humanitarian issues. These efforts have improved the lives of many individuals. The Borgen Project looks forward to witnessing further progress in the future.

– Jennah Kalaaji
Photo: Flickr

Extreme Weather in RwandaAt the beginning of May 2023, heavy rainfall across East Africa led to flash flooding across the region, most destructively in Rwanda and Uganda. At least 130 people died because of extreme weather in Rwanda, while the chaos displaced entire villages. As a small but mountainous and landlocked region, Rwanda has a very dense population, increasing the number of those affected by the disaster.

Extreme Weather Changes

Rwanda and surrounding nations frequently suffer from the consequences of extreme weather changes. In 2019, 265 people died and tens of thousands had to leave their homes after two months of continuous rainfall. This event affected 2 million people across Kenya, Somalia, Burundi, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

Then in May 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was tearing through communities across the world, Rwanda suffered 65 deaths and Kenya at least 194 after yet another period of heavy rainfall. More recently, in April 2023, at least 14 people died in southern Ethiopia, when a similar pattern of heavy rain triggered floods and landslides. Alongside fatalities, this destroyed crucial livestock and devastated numerous homes. Now, only a month later, a climate disaster once again struck Rwanda and its neighbors.

Damage in the Region

Damage by the extreme rainfall and consequential flash-flooding has not only led to the loss of lives but also the destruction of more than 5,000 homes, 17 roads, 26 bridges and an entire hospital, according to DW. West Africa experienced similar levels of rainfall, with several storms occurring across parts of Sierra Leone. The flash flooding that followed washed numerous cars and tore buildings apart. A collapsing wall killed six people and another 10 died when a house collapsed during a landslide.

The loss of crops and livestock completely disrupted livelihoods because many people rely on farming to provide food for their families. In an agricultural-based economy that employs 65% of the population, the erosion of land is hugely consequential for the Rwandan people. Extreme weather in Rwanda is not only responsible for the destruction of the environment but also the biodiversity. According to DW, every year, torrential rain causes a loss of almost 600 million tons of soil with the impact being most severe on sloping croplands, which can lead to famine.

The Role of Climate Change

The increasing “frequency and intensity” of extreme weather in Rwanda and across Africa is one of the reasons for a breakdown of the climate, most notably the rate at which the planet is getting hotter, according to The Guardian. Deputy regional director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Africa, Richard Munang agreed, stating that rising temperatures are causing the number of natural disasters to rapidly increase. According to Munang, the planet has warmed to 1.1 degrees Celsius. But even worse, Africa is warming up at double the speed of the rest of the world, DW reports.

In a UNDP report, disasters brought about as a direct result of climate change between 2000 and 2023 have increased by 134%. As a region vulnerable to floods and landslides, Rwanda is a country particularly susceptible to the consequences of the planet getting alarmingly warmer. Because of its inability to adapt to these extreme weather conditions, recovery from such events is even more challenging.

Described as “one of the most climate-impacted nations on Earth,” according to DW, Rwanda has suffered significant fatalities and hundreds of people have been displaced because of flooding and landslides. There is a direct link, therefore, between the rate of global warming and the increasing frequency of extreme weather in Rwanda. Some have proposed relocating vulnerable communities to areas less prone to floods, but whilst this may help in the short term, it does not address the severe issue of climate change, which is only getting worse with time.

Relief Efforts Within Rwanda

After the most recent episode of rainfall and flooding, the Government of Rwanda has implemented a major relief effort, with provisions for temporary shelter, emergency supplies, clean water and health care services. Rwandan Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, led a delegation comprising several cabinet ministers and the Inspector General of Police, with which he visited affected regions. In doing so, he reassured residents of government support and relief efforts. In the immediate aftermath, the government established a command center in an attempt to coordinate the response effort and distribute household items such as bedding and clothes.

According to Rwanda’s minister in charge of emergency management, Marie-Solange Kayisire, relief efforts began straight away where volunteers helped bury victims and provided supplies to those who lost their homes, The Guardian reports.

Green Gicumbi Project and the Red Cross

Located in the highlands of Northern Rwanda, the Green Gicumbi Project works among communities to put flood and drought resistance measures in place. In doing so, it has built terraces and storage for water during periods of drought, and this is “rapidly transforming the landscape,” according to DW. Moreover, after funding from the Paris Climate Agreement’s Green Climate Fund, the Rwandan Government was able to transform an arid wasteland into a climate-resilient agricultural region.

The Red Cross also aided relief efforts following the floods, with photographs showing local farmers perched on steep hillsides digging through the mud in an attempt to find those buried in their homes.

Looking forward

Despite the devastating impact of extreme weather events in Rwanda and East Africa, there are positive signs of resilience and relief efforts. The Rwandan government has swiftly responded with a major relief effort, providing temporary shelter, emergency supplies, clean water and health care services to affected communities. Projects like the Green Gicumbi Project, focusing on flood and drought resistance measures, and the support from organizations like the Red Cross are also making a difference in building climate resilience and aiding recovery efforts. While there is still room for progress and additional alleviatory measure, these initiatives highlight the determination and resourcefulness of the Rwandan people in the face of climate-related challenges.

– Bethan Marsden

Photo: flickr

Charities Operating in Pakistan
Giving charity is important to many people living in Pakistan. In fact, a study from 2021 reported that 84% of people gave charity during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another. It was also reported that 79% of those unemployed also gave charity at some point. With the country currently struggling with financial debt and food crises, the value of charity has risen in importance. Below are five charities operating in Pakistan.

5 Charities Operating in Pakistan

  1. Islamic Relief: This charity operates throughout Pakistan, working with communities to implement sustainable and innovative projects. In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the organization worked to show communities how to adapt to the effects of changing weather patterns. In the aftermath of the summer floods of 2022, Islamic Relief worked to rebuild villages, install water and sanitation facilities and helped to rebuild small businesses and housing. In addition, the charity had a seasonal aid program, including a 1:1 child sponsorship program. In 2005, Islamic Relief received an award from the Government of Pakistan for its efforts during the devastating earthquakes that year.
  2. AAM Nation Care: AAM Nation Care is a charity that aims to help those who are poor and less fortunate in Pakistan. Its work occurs through a multidimensional approach, as it will reach out to low-income communities and help them develop specific ways to grow and find aid. The charity’s work includes establishing a free online academy to educate poor students and provide lower-income families with food and cash.
  3. Save the Children: Save the Children is a world-renowned organization that is a global leader in helping children to prevent, prepare and recover from calamities due to changing weather patterns. The charity first started working in Pakistan in 1979, through its work with Afghan refugees. Today, its work includes providing child rights and development and humanitarian response programs. In addition, it works alongside many other charities operating in Pakistan and Pakistani civil society to implement programs that work with child health, nutrition, education, protection, disaster response and preparedness and gender equality. In the last year, Save the Children helped more than 19,000 children in Pakistan.
  4. Red Cross: The Red Cross is an organization that has been working for almost 150 years, and is the largest humanitarian network in the world. The charity worked tirelessly during the recent floods to ensure aid reached all the affected areas. The primary focus of their relief effort continues to involve saving lives, providing temporary shelter and blankets to those whose homes were destroyed and clean water, food, medical support and sanitation to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. In addition, the Pakistan Red Crescent works currently to help relieve the pressure on the health care system, supporting households and helping local communities.
  5. Human Appeal: Since 2006, Human Appeal has been one of the major charities operating in Pakistan. Subsequently, they have implemented several different relief programs, by supporting education, livelihoods and clean water projects. Its current programs include constructing girls’ primary schools, education for orphaned girls, providing COVID-19 protection kits, supporting small businesses and providing schools with water coolers.

Looking Ahead

In Pakistan, estimates have indicated that 30% of people continue to live in poverty. The recent floods alleviated several issues in the country, including the loss of large amounts of agricultural land and livestock. However, there are many charities operating in Pakistan that work tirelessly and efficiently to provide aid to those who most need it.

Saad Haque
Photo: Flickr

Yemen’s Lasting Crisis
Few modern conflicts have been as destructive or long-lasting as Yemen’s. In 2014, Houthi rebels called for the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and seized the capital, Sanaa, proclaiming a new government and attacking regions still loyal to Saleh’s regime. The conflict, protracted by mutual suspicion, involvement by Iran and Saudi Arabia and grotesque human rights violations enters its eighth year with no long-term solutions in sight. More than three-quarters of the population lives in poverty, with high levels of disease and 4 million Yemenis requiring humanitarian assistance. The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, David Gressly, emphasized that the country’s ongoing crisis is something the whole world must “urgently address.”

Troubles and Truces

Although significant, temporary ceasefires brokered by both sides have only made a conclusive deal more elusive. Diplomacy regarding Yemen’s lasting crisis has focused on containment, not lasting solutions, with on-and-off truces being agreed upon since 2016. In 2018, an agreement between the government and the Houthis ended hostilities in the large cities of Sanaa, Hodeidah and Taiz, but broke down after the Houthis failed to live up to other agreements. Houthi rebels failed to renew a six-month truce signed in April 2022, causing fears of further violence.

This should not detract from the importance of the truces in preventing further bloodshed. The most recent ceasefire decreased violence by 60%, allowing nearly 30,000 Yemenis to receive urgent medical care. U.N.-backed efforts in 2018 achieved a two-month truce that averted a major conflict in Yemen’s third-largest city. Although temporary and worrying for Yemen’s long-term stability, these “confidence building” solutions keep both sides open to more lasting discussions.

Poverty in Yemen

Unfortunately, this type of diplomacy leaves much to be desired, with little being done for actual conflict resolution. As Yemen’s civil war continues to drag on, those most at risk are people living under the constant threat of renewed violence. Almost a fifth of the country lives in extreme poverty, and huge swathes of the population do not have access to food or clean water. With the Houthis and the Yemeni government more focused on each other than the people of Yemen, little hope of institutional aid exists.

In this context, it is essential to acknowledge the unsung work of the many extra-governmental organizations providing aid in Yemen. The Red Cross gave more than 6 million Yemenis access to potable water, while more than a million benefited from financial or food assistance in 2021. Operating out of four cities, The Red Cross adapted itself to the multifaceted challenges of the conflict, providing medical consultations, livestock vaccinations and assistance to detainees. The U.N. currently provides humanitarian assistance to more than 10 million Yemenis.

Beyond day-to-day services, the U.N. has taken center stage in dealing with Yemen’s lasting crisis. Beginning in 2012, the U.N. created the Development Assistance Framework to improve access to social services and government management. Additionally, both the U.N. special envoy to Yemen and Secretary-General António Guterres called for the Houthi rebels to renew the April truce, to no avail.

The Road Ahead

Yemen’s lasting crisis represents a failure of the international community to decisively end one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts of the 21st century. However, this does not take away from the heroic work of the many individuals and groups assisting the Yemeni people. The breakdown of truce negotiations in October is justifiably a cause for alarm and necessitates a powerful response from international actors. In the meantime, acknowledging and promoting the toil of those looking to improve day-to-day conditions in Yemen will have to suffice.

– Samuel Bowles
Photo: Flickr

Providing Earthquake Relief to MexicoLocated in the southern region of North America, Mexico is among one of the most economically disparate nations in the world. This broad inequity is largely a result of the political and economic corruption that is commonplace within the country and has resulted in approximately 41.9% of the nation’s constituents living below the poverty line as of 2018. Unfortunately, a recent earthquake in Mexico has likely caused an increase in this number, but organizations are on the ground providing earthquake relief to Mexico.

Context

On September 19, 2022, an earthquake with a 7.6 magnitude hit Mexico’s central pacific coast. This date, in fact, marked the anniversary of two previous highly damaging earthquakes that hit Mexico City in 1985 and in 2017. Mexico has had a long history of natural weather disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and volcanic eruptions. These unpredictable disasters contribute to the high poverty rate within the country. Natural weather disasters are responsible for the destruction of crucial infrastructure and result in mass displacement.

The most recent September 19 earthquake, in specific, resulted in damage to hospitals, malls, hotels, homes, parking lots and highways. Major parts of the city also faced power losses. Though the area reported no immediate casualties, reports confirm that the earthquake led to the death of at least one person. Mexico is in need of immediate aid.

3 Charities Providing Earthquake Relief to Mexico

  1. Direct Relief. Direct Relief began operations in Santa Barbara California in 1948 as an organization dedicated to “improving the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies – without regard to politics, religion or ability to pay.” The organization provides aid to territories all over the globe, including Mexico. Since 2010, it has provided Mexico with more than $57 million worth of medical assistance, more than 1.2 million pounds of medical supplies and more than 22 million “doses of medication.” In terms of Mexico’s most recent devastation, Direct Relief is providing earthquake relief to Mexico by offering assistance and aid (both physical and financial) to local and federal response agencies.
  2. Red Cross. The Red Cross began operations in Washington D.C. in 1881 as an organization dedicated to “protecting human life and health” and offers a wide range of services across the globe. The Red Cross has a primary focus on disaster relief but also provides blood services and humanitarian aid during global conflicts while working to improve global hygiene through water and sanitation initiatives. Its specific work in Mexico relating to the September 19 earthquake includes sending out Red Cross teams to monitor all regions impacted by the earthquake. In addition to its data collection, 57 Red Cross paramedics are on-call in Mexico City, ready to support affected constituents.
  3. All Hands and Hearts. This foundation came about in 2005 with headquarters in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. All Hands and Hearts is an organization dedicated to “helping families recover faster after natural disasters through community and volunteer engagement.” All Hands and Hearts’ earthquake relief program in Mexico began after the September 2017 earthquake in Central Mexico. The team devised a five-phase plan to reconstruct schools and piloted several natural disaster education programs within the country, positively impacting more than 2,400 students. This program is still in progress providing earthquake relief to Mexico today.

Looking Ahead

While natural disasters are powerful enough to destroy infrastructure and displace thousands in poverty, it is crucial to remember the important work of organizations in the aftermath of these crises. Together, these relief organizations promise a better tomorrow for forcefully displaced Mexicans.

-Aarika Sharma
Photo: Flickr

Female Genital Mutilation in ChadThe World Health Organization defines female genital mutilation as “any procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Despite constituting an international human rights violation, FGM remains a pervasive issue affecting the lives of many women, especially in developing countries. According to UNICEF, at least 200 million girls and women have undergone genital mutilation globally. FGM is particularly prevalent in Chad, a landlocked country in Northern Africa, despite laws banning female genital mutilation in Chad. Over the years, steps have been taken to reduce the prevalence of FGM in Chad.

The Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation in Chad

BMC Public Health explains that, in Chad, the citizenry continues FGM practices in both religious and traditional contexts. FGM is a hazardous practice, often done without anesthetic, putting girls and women at risk of both short and long-term health effects. These effects include genital swelling, bleeding, the inability to pass feces and urine, urinary tract infections and birth complications, among other consequences.

A BMC Public Health research article based on data from 2014-2015 indicates that, in Chad, 50.2% of women and 12.9% of girls have been genitally mutilated, endangering their health. There are multiple conditions that affect this staggering statistic. First, BMC Public Health explains that women with lower levels of education are more likely to experience FGM. Poverty levels also drive the practice as impoverished families have their daughters undergo FGM with the intention of marrying them off, granting impoverished families dowries and the benefits of marrying into a wealthier family. The practice of FGM tends to follow ethnic and religious traditions and is most common among the Sara ethnic group and other Muslim tribes.

Addressing FGM in Chad

While FGM prevalence has been decreasing throughout much of the world, Chad, Mali and Sierra Leone have seen an increase of 2–8% over the last 30 years. This increase in prevalence demonstrates the importance of efforts addressing FGM in Chad, especially now, when poverty rates are heightened due to COVID-19. With the help of NGOs, the U.S. government and tribal leaders, Chad is fighting the deeply entrenched traditions of FGM to protect the well-being of young women and girls.

NGOs play a vitally important role in the creation of long-term programs aimed at changing societal and cultural norms surrounding female genital mutilation in Chad. These NGOs can expand their reach with support from the Chadian government. For example, the Chadian government aided the Chadian Association for Family Well-Being in its work surrounding FGM education and awareness. This education includes seminars, campaigns and conferences explaining the dangers of FGM.

The Role of the US

Not only has Chad’s government stepped up to combat FGM but the U.S. has played a critical role in education surrounding FGM practices. From 1997 to 1999, the U.S. Embassy’s Democracy and Human Rights Fund supported a locally implemented FGM education program to change norms surrounding FGM in Chad. This resulted in a roundtable meeting with “doctors, judges, parliamentarians and NGO representatives, a national seminar” and four regional seminars, all of which helped spread awareness of the dangers of FGM in Chad.

Mobilizing Tribal Leaders to Fight FGM

Due to the cultural and ethnic ties surrounding the practice of female genital mutilation in Chad, tribal leaders have played an important part in the movement to end FGM. Because of the trust bestowed upon tribal leaders, they can increase awareness about FGM’s consequences and generate support for the laws banning its practice among ethnic groups throughout the country. In order to motivate and educate tribal leaders, the Red Cross of Chad set up an advocacy program that creates initiatives and training sessions for tribal leaders to combat FGM in their communities.

While the inhumane practice of FGM continues in Chad due to deeply entrenched cultural roots, the U.S. and Chadian governments play consequential roles in combating the prevalence of FGM. This support is crucial as female genital mutilation in Chad severely harms girls’ and women’s health, impacting their futures and their abilities to rise out of poverty.

Haylee Ann Ramsey-Code
Photo: Flickr

Providing Meal Kits
After Ecuador rounded its first full year in the coronavirus pandemic, citizens found themselves struggling to survive. Since the pandemic started in March 2020, the Ecuadorian government has repeatedly failed to protect and care for its citizens. It has been neglecting the sick and dead, spreading rampant misinformation, severely underreporting coronavirus cases, and most recently, allowing corruption to occur in the vaccine rollout. As a result, reports have determined the existence of more than 320,000 coronavirus cases along with nearly 17,000 deaths. Health care facilities have become overrun with desperate families and patients seeking care. As a response, the organization Kahre Org is providing meal kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) in Ecuador to help alleviate the suffering of its citizens.

COVID-19 in Ecuador

The pandemic and the blunt of the Ecuadorian government’s lack of responsibility has fallen upon its citizens, most notably, those living in rural areas. The pandemic has upended rural society and displaced many citizens. Communities lack basic necessities such as meal kits, PPE and education. The government has failed to provide citizens with information about the virus. Moreover, rural Ecuadorians, who are typically farmers, have faced an economic crash. This is because their typical markets and routes have closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Many rural Ecuadorians have had to face a harsh economic situation as they are no longer able to sustain their livelihood.

Kahre Org is providing Meal Kits and PPE in Ecuador

When the initiatives of Kahre Org, a nonprofit organization located in Ecuador, came to a halt at the beginning of the pandemic, they had to readjust their scope of work to suit the new needs that arose. Before the pandemic, Kahre Org offered community outreach. This included providing communities with access to legal services, shelters, education and provisions. The organization has adapted and refocused its efforts to now provide meal kits and PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization started with those in rural Ecuador and continued its efforts to frontline workers and the medical community. Consequently, the Kahre Org minimized food insecurity while also creating additional jobs for impoverished and unemployed individuals.

How it Works

By partnering with the Ecuadorian armed forces, Kahre Org was able to deliver more than 100,000 meal kits across Ecuador. These meal kits offer stability to vulnerable individuals. It meant they could focus on finding employment, recovering from the pandemic or taking care of their families rather than worrying about where their next meals would come from. Along with these meal kits came important medical supplies. This included sanitization products and PPE to further help Ecuadorians stay fed and healthy. As many of these rural communities are far from hospitals and medical care, such protective equipment is extremely important.

Moreover, the Kahre Org saw an opportunity with the pandemic to expand their preexisting Child Food Programme. This initiative provides more than 100 Ecuadorian children with two meals a day. It was able to travel to small, local communities and offer children food to minimize their food insecurity. This simultaneously creates more job opportunities for Ecuadorians who wish to work with the organization.

To further the hard work of the Kahre Org in Ecuadorian communities, the local organization extended its helping hand past rural communities to the frontline workers. The organization managed to provide hundreds of Red Cross workers, government corps, doctors and other health care providers with meal kits.

Looking Ahead

By amassing donations and formulating a thorough response plan, the Kahre Org mobilized and inspired Ecuadorians to give back to their communities. In the process, the organization was able to educate rural Ecuadorians of the dangers of the virus and how to minimize the spread and stay healthy. Through providing meal kits and PPE, thousands of Ecuadorians are receiving the resources they need to fight the pandemic.

– Caroline Largoza
Photo: Flickr

Fires in Bangladesh
Rohingya refugees have been seeking a safe place to dwell for years. The Rohingya people are originally from Myanmar. However, the government has persecuted them for their Muslim beliefs since 1960. Their battle for independence and peace has seen little success. Recently, attacks on this ethnic group have worsened and more and more Rohingya are fleeing to Bangladesh. Unfortunately, some of their struggles continue in Bangladesh. A raging fire in southern Bangladesh left 15 people dead and hundreds missing. Aid workers are providing relief to those the fires displaced in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, government officials are working to end the Rohingya crisis.

Nowhere to Run

Many Rohingya refugees stay in Bangladesh after fleeing Myanmar. Myanmar is located in southeast Asia and is notorious for Muslim persecution. Buddhism is the primary religion in the country, and, as a result, the Muslim Rohingya have experienced persecution. The country recognizes a total of 135 ethnic groups; however, it does not recognize the Rohingya people.

In August 2017, Myanmar used extreme tactics to remove the Rohingya people. Myanmar’s military began attacking Rohingya civilians using deadly force. As a result, the Rohingya people suffered starvation, torture and senseless violence.

The U.N. describes these tactics as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” During the initial attack, a total of 6,700 Rohingya people died, while many others were forced to flee from Myanmar. In refugee camps in Bangladesh, people set up bamboo huts as homes, hoping that they would be safe from further violence. Now, fires in Bangladesh leave these refugees homeless once again. To address this crisis, aid workers are now helping to rebuild communities and government officials are looking into the cause of the fires.

Coming Together

The Red Cross and the Bangladesh Red Crescent are assisting in relief efforts. Aid workers worked quickly to provide necessary supplies to refugees. Through their work, victims of the fire received food, blankets, water and clothing. In addition, rescue efforts are underway, as more than 400 people are missing. There is a dire need for help to search for these missing people.

The work of the humanitarian organizations is paying off for many of the refugees, some of whom have been reunited with their lost family members. One refugee, Ayesha Bibi, was relieved to be reunited with her husband after assuming he was dead.

There has been some speculation that arson is what caused the fires in Bangladesh. At this point in the investigation, government officials have no solid leads and are unable to confirm or refute these suspicions. As the fires have left the refugees homeless, the highest priority is ensuring their safety. Refugees have been using equipment and emergency tents provided by The Red Cross and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society to survive.

A Brighter Hope

These past few years have brought devastation to the Rohingya people. Fortunately, funding and outreach programs have helped to ease the strains of their hardships. The U.N. has recently allocated about $14 million for the Rohingya people. This money will contribute to rebuilding shelters and providing emergency relief. Although the fires in Bangladesh have left refugees homeless, hope exists for a more secure future.

– Nancy Taguiam
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in South Sudan
Following the Sudanese civil war, the Republic of South Sudan became an independent nation in July 2011. As of 2020, the Republic of South Sudan has a population of over 11 million people and comprises 10 states and three administrative areas. Due to Sudan’s particularly challenging circumstances, access to healthcare in South Sudan remains dangerously low. Here are some of the challenges that the international effort to provide healthcare in South Sudan faces.

5 Essential Facts About Healthcare in South Sudan

  1. Healthcare in South Sudan is in recovery mode. The Sudanese Civil War created personnel shortages and destroyed infrastructure. South Sudan has just one physician per 65,574 individuals and one midwife per 39,088 population individuals. Overall, South Sudan reports just one-tenth of the number of medical doctors and nurses in comparison to countries such as Kenya.
  2. Inequitable distribution of healthcare workers exists among the states of South Sudan. For example, the state of Central Equatoria has the highest number of healthcare workers out of all of South Sudan’s provinces. There is also an urban-rural divide, with more resources existing in urban areas despite the majority of the population living in rural areas. Meanwhile, the situation in northern regions is particularly difficult due to their widespread devastation during the Sudanese Civil War.
  3. South Sudan lacks a federal retention policy for healthcare professionals. Within the healthcare field, the country suffers from a high turnover of personnel. Poor health, insufficient workforce management, low wages and a general lack of proper supervision all contribute to burnout and rotation of healthcare professionals. Moreover, no formal system for the regulation of healthcare workers exists at the state level. On the federal level, there is no legal framework in place to guide critically important midwifery practices.
  4. South Sudan has an unusually high number of physical disabilities in its population. As the result of both the lingering effects of war and an inadequate healthcare system, an estimated 50,000 individuals suffer from some form of severe physical disability in South Sudan.
  5. Preventable conditions plague South Sudan. Nearly 75% of all child deaths in South Sudan are due to preventable conditions such as diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia. The prevalence of these and other deadly conditions are major factors in South Sudan’s high infant mortality rates, with 96 infant deaths per 1,000 births.

Looking Forward

While South Sudanese healthcare is unable to address the needs of the population, South Sudan is making significant strides to increase access to and quality of healthcare. Despite the aforementioned difficulties, improvements such as the creation of a Health Care Sector Development Plan that emphasizes the creation of jobs in the healthcare professions and gives hope for the future of healthcare in South Sudan.

Moreover, the government in South Sudan has begun to work with private, international organizations to bring aid to its citizens. One example is the government’s partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide healthcare facilities, such as the Malakal Teaching Hospital, and help deliver on-the-job training to hospital staff across the country. While the ICRC began its work in Sudan in 1986, operations have expanded rapidly in recent years. Organizations such as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) are working alongside the Red Cross in South Sudan to expand the scope of medical care. UNICEF alone conducted medical consultations for more than 285,000 people in the early months of 2020.

It appears that both the scope and quality of healthcare in South Sudan are improving, albeit gradually. One can partly attribute this improvement to the international community. War-torn countries like South Sudan are dependent on foreign aid to revitalize critical infrastructural systems, such as healthcare. In February 2020, the United States sent more than $900 million to combat the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. The continuation of these funds is integral to the successful revitalization of South Sudan’s healthcare system. Without widespread medical care, the possibility of a major humanitarian crisis in South Sudan threatens regional stability.

Kendall Carll
Photo: Flickr