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Health of North Korean Refugees

When defectors from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea risk their lives to leave the country, they are running not only from a dictatorial regime, but also from famine and sickness. The physical and mental health of North Korean refugees is much worse than that of their South Korean counterparts. But, upon reaching South Korea, North Korean defectors discover healthcare and resources that transform their well-being.

Nearly 30,000 North Korean refugees have managed to enter South Korea. These individuals suffer from both physical and mental illness. Depression and PTSD are prevalent issues experienced by North Korean refugees, who have spent their lives in a stressful environment of oppression.

Despite the fact that North Korea offers a universal socialist healthcare system, economic strife renders that system ineffective. Much of North Korea’s medical equipment is outdated, and many doctors sell medicine on the black market in order to pay for food. A recent study showed that approximately 40 percent of North Korean refugees who needed care while in North Korea were unable to receive it.

In South Korea, with access to reliable healthcare, the health of North Korean refugees is finally managed properly. On average, North Korean defectors visit the doctor twice a month.

The most common disorder suffered by North Korean refugees is malnutrition and stunted growth. Unlike the rest of the world, including South Korea, North Korea’s malnourished citizens have not experienced an increase in height over the past few decades. Even when exposed to the boundless diet available in South Korea, North Korean refugees continue to exhibit smaller statures than South Koreans, due to long-term damage caused by malnutrition.

Malnutrition has the most severe consequences for children. North Korean children exhibit stunted growth and anemia resulting from malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization, 25 out of 1,000 children in North Korea die before the age of five, as opposed to only three out of 1,000 in South Korea.

Concerned for North Korea’s suffering children, South Korea recently approved $8 million of aid, which will be divided between the U.N. World Food Programme and UNICEF to target illnesses in North Korean infants and mothers. Despite the benefits South Korea’s aid is expected to provide, any form of aid to North Korea is veiled in controversy because of its recent nuclear tests.

In 1952, South Korea became a recipient of U.S. aid. Following the Korean War, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. U.S. aid provided food and consumer goods, and within decades, South Korea became an aid donor. Today, such aid is desperately needed to supplement the lives of individuals living in North Korea.

Aid allowed South Korea to make an outstanding economic recovery and avoid the destitute fate of North Korea. South Korea has even become one of the foremost leaders in global health, which allows them to effectively improve the health of North Korean refugees who have relocated to the south.

Mary Efird

Photo: Flickr

Education and Child HungerSchool is an opportunity, and it isn’t just an opportunity to learn. To combat children’s hunger in developing countries, school and its accompanying meals can be an opportunity for hungry children and their families to access nutritious, regular meals. For students who are hungry to learn and also have hungry bellies, connecting education and child hunger through policy and humanitarian work can encourage children’s education and decrease child hunger.

There are 66 million primary school-age children who attend school hungry each day, and this undernourishment can result in up to 160 days of illness, seriously affecting children’s health and absenteeism rates. It is difficult for hungry children to focus and stay motivated, lowering school performance and impairing cognitive abilities. Hunger can deeply impact a child’s education and alter how they learn and develop, decreasing student retention.

The issue of child hunger has complex roots that spread across systems and communities, and addressing child hunger through schools requires efforts just as diverse. Hungry children live in food-scarce homes and impoverished communities, and school-based nutritional interventions have the opportunity to improve the health of their entire community. The home-grown School Feeding Program by the U.N. World Food Programme is one innovative way communities are linking education and child hunger. By partnering schools with local farmers to provide nutritious school meals, child hunger is reduced and the local economy grows.

Brazil has had great success with this model, with a 2009 law apportioning 30 percent of the federal budget to purchase local produce from smallholder farms. Municipalities are encouraged to improve their school feeding practices through an annual government award, and local smallholder farmers now have a source of income that helps to alleviate rural poverty. By providing nutritious, locally sourced school meals for children, entire communities are benefitting from improving education and child hunger.

School feeding programs can also improve girls’ access to education by motivating families to send their daughters to school alongside their sons. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program is encouraging girls’ education through the structure of its school feeding programs, providing meals during the school day and also giving children take-home meals. Attendance for girls doubled in schools with these feeding programs since the take-home meals are incentive enough for resource-scarce families to start sending their daughters to school.

In Somalia and Bangladesh, the education of women is also helping to end child hunger. Alongside its provision of nutritional supplements in Somalia, the World Food Programme offers classes to mothers about the causes of malnutrition and how to prevent it, and in Bangladesh, a partnership between the United Nations Children’s Fund and the European Union is educating mothers about the importance of a varied diet. Offering group classes and one-on-one nutrition sessions in their homes, community health workers teach mothers how to cook nutritious meals. Drawing the connection between women’s education and child hunger helps children access nutritious meals not just at school, but in the home as well.

Connecting education and child hunger through innovative programs like locally sourced produce for school feeding programs, take-home meals to increase girls’ education and educating mothers about malnutrition allows schools to be an opportunity for children to receive both an education and nutritious meals. Focusing on school feeding models that bring income to local smallholder farmers and empower women and girls ensures not only the prevention of school children going hungry but the root causes of child hunger like rural poverty and lack of nutrition education are being addressed. By examining the intersections of education and child hunger, governmental and nongovernmental programs are filling hungry minds and bellies while strengthening communities.

Irena Huang

Photo: Flickr

Food Aid in SyriaIn the first week of August, the U.N. flexed its creative muscle to provide food aid in Syria to internally displaced Syrians by hoisting supplies via crane over the walled-off Jordanian border. The process was monitored by drones on the other side.

The border was sealed following a June attack on the Jordanian military. The border closure is problematic for a number of reasons, one being that the World Food Programme (WFP) and other U.N. partners previously delivered supplies from Jordan to the 75,000 people living the area.

WFP representative and country director in Jordan, Mageed Yahia said that most of the people living in the region are women, children and the elderly. Many of these individuals are sick or wounded, and none of them have regular access to food or medicine.

The BBC reports that thousands of people have been migrating to this point at the border, a heavily entrenched area known as the berm since late last year. The number has ballooned because of strict immigration restrictions imposed by Jordan, limiting those who are allowed to cross. Of the 4.85 million Syrians registered as refugees with the U.N., 655,000 are hosted by Jordan.

Five years of war have left Syria broken, beaten and scarred, but there are still some 18 million people living in the country. Outside of the capital, Damascus, the Syrian people struggle to get by; 13.5 million of them are said to need humanitarian aid.

The war has destroyed Syria’s economy with an estimated cost of $255 billion, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research. Unemployment stands at over 50 percent, a 36 percent increase since 2011. And yet, there are still those who have not given up hope.

The WFP and other organizations came together to devise this unconventional program of food aid in Syria in the spirit of providing temporary relief to those on the other side. The partners delivered 650 metric tons of aid to two locations over three days.

Of note, 70-meter-high cranes lifted pallets over the border in Rukban and Hadalat, lowering them into encampments on the other side. Items delivered included food from WFP, bread from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and hygiene kits from UNICEF.

The WFP is calling this operation a “one-off distribution,” and says that a long-term solution is necessary to meet the needs of the tens of thousands of displaced and hungry Syrians in the area. The Jordanian government has said that it will not allow future aid deliveries to the area due to concerns over security.

This instance of food aid in Syria may have been a singular effort, but it provided food to people who had not received aid in months. Furthermore, officials at the U.N. and the WFP are using their best efforts to come up with a sustainable, long-term solution to the problem.

Aaron Parr

Photo: United Nations Foundation

Charity appsIn addition to advocacy and mobilizing governments to make a difference, donating to charities can have a major impact in the fight against global poverty and hunger. Here are three charity apps that are making a difference on a global scale:

  1. Share The Meal – Share The Meal is the world’s first charity app against global hunger. By donating only 50 cents you can feed one child in hunger for an entire day. Since its founding in 2014, Share The Meal has donated more than 7 million meals to children suffering from hunger.Share The Meal funds are distributed by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. Currently, Share The Meal funds are being used to feed Syrian refugee children in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley where 40 percent of the 360,000 Syrian refugees living in the Bekaa Valley are under the age of 12, according to data compiled by the UNHCR.
  2. Donate A Photo – Taking a picture can do more than just capture a moment, it can help people across the world. For every photo you share through the Donate a Photo charity app, Johnson & Johnson donates $1 to a cause of your choice. So far, over 1.3 million photos have been donated through the app.Causes vary from helping a newborn in Ethiopia survive through UNICEF, to giving a girl in Guatemala school supplies via Girl Up. Sharing photos not only helps to raise money but also spreads awareness. Sharing one photo per day is equivalent to donating $365 in a year.
  3. Charity Miles – Charity Miles allows you to raise money for every mile that you walk, run, or bike. The app uses your phone’s GPS and accelerometer to calculate the distance you traveled. Walkers and runners earn up to 25 cents per mile and bikers earn up to 10 cents per mile, according to Charity Miles’ Terms of Service.There are more than 30 different charities to earn donations on behalf, including The World Food Programme, Pencils of Promise, Girl Up and Every Mother Counts. Charity Miles’ goal is to raise $1 billion for charities by the end of 2016.

If you are looking for ways to donate funds, in addition to empowering others and spreading the word on poverty reduction, these three charity apps put the opportunity to make an impact directly at your fingertips.

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: Pixabay

Statement
On March 11, humanitarian leaders from the United Nations and the World Food Programme issued a press statement updating the world about the continuous danger created by the conflict in Syria.

Both organizations have led efforts to provide relief to the Syrian communities under the most duress because of the occupation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). While these operations have been successful, the basic supplies have “yet to reach one in every five besieged Syrians who urgently need help and protection.”

Most of the unreachable people live in the areas of Homs and Aleppo where ISIS occupation makes it challenging to reach the individuals who don’t have access to basic necessities. The United Nations estimates that “500,000 people are caught behind active frontiers” and “two million are in areas controlled by ISIL.”

The statement was released just four days before the start of the conflict’s sixth year. Brutal military tactics and urban fighting has caused the deaths of “over a quarter of a million Syrians” and counting. The large Syrian population has been fragmented by the conflict with “4.6 million people…in places that few can leave and aid cannot reach” and about “4.8 million people” who have emigrated due to the violence.

The message left its depressing tone for a global call to action directed at all parties involved in the war and organizations seeking the opportunity to move in and help those in need. “However, until all parties to this conflict stop attacking civilians, schools, markets and hospitals, we will continue to press them on their obligations and hold them to account,” said the UN humanitarian leaders, condemning the hindrance of aid as “unacceptable.”

Their undertones of hope quickly turned to a stubborn sense of defiance. The authors of the statement were clearly frustrated by the length and severity of the Syrian civil war and feel troubled by their blocked attempts to provide supplies. To sidestep the problem, organizations are “trying new delivery methods” despite the added “danger and uncertainty.”

On the political side, the United States and Russia have begun new campaigns to establish a ceasefire between the warring parties before the sixth year of the conflict commences. Western countries have increasing relied on the power of the Russian government in Moscow to reach a Syrian delegation in Damascus. Despite new diplomatic pressure, the third parties have yet to convince the belligerents of a “direct” meeting reported the Wall Street Journal.

A gridlocked diplomatic landscape, though, does not deter the relief efforts of non-governmental organizations and the World Food Programme. The Wall Street Journal also reports that a senior adviser to the UN’s convoy to Syria has approved “deliveries to 15 new hard-to-reach areas.” Delayed or denied shipments have created a new urgency for these fresh aid packages to arrive in areas with the most destruction.

With all of the negative updates behind, the statement retains an optimistic tone to the end. The United Nations cites that 6 million individuals have been reached in the first three and a half months of 2016. In order to increase that number, crusaders for relief are willing to “negotiate” for access to the most deprived people.

By accessing these hard-to-reach communities, UN leaders hope to inspire the young population of Syria to “believe that their future lies in their homeland.” This resilient generation has to repel violence and poverty in their country if they choose to fight for relief and believe.

Jacob Hess

Sources: World Food Programme, WSJ

Food Companies Leading in the Fight Against World Hunger - BORGEN
One out of nine people in the world go to bed hungry according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The United Nations World Food Programme is dedicated to reducing global hunger by offering food aid to developing countries in need. WFP has provided food for more than 90 million people. WFP partners with and receives funding from a few well-known food companies.

Yum! brands started the World Hunger Relief campaign as the largest consumer outreach campaign on the hunger issue. It is the world’s largest restaurant company with more than 40,000 restaurants in 125 countries. It is leading in the fight against global hunger through the campaign as well as through the mobilization of the 1.5 million employees as advocates for global hunger relief.

Yum! brands’ World Hunger Relief campaign has raised $100 million for WFP since 2007 with the help of global spokesperson Christina Aguilera. Yum! brands include Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnSf2xj6URs

PepsiCo is another partner of WFP. The company is more well know for its food and beverages than for the philanthropic PepsiCo Foundation. PepsiCo Foundation has donated $3.5 million to WFP to produce a food product made of chickpeas to help treat malnutrition in Ethiopia.

Unilever partners with WFP to make people more aware of global hunger through fundraising and campaigns as well as educational plan. They have targeted their consumer base in 13 countries in their campaigns against global hunger. Unilever has also assisted WFP in identifying what are the nutritional needs of the children to better help them.

Kelloggs, though not a partner with WFP, does important work to fight global hunger. Kelloggs donates over $20 million per year in food products for disaster relief and hunger. The company also has an initiative called “Breakfast for Better Days.” The initiative is focused on alleviating hunger specifically in South Africa, pledging to feed 25,000 children every school day in 2015. The company will dedicate one billion servings of Kelloggs snacks and cereal for global poverty alleviation by 2016 and has donated nearly 8 million breakfasts to FoodBank South Africa already.

An increase in awareness of global hunger has also increased the number of food companies coming on board to bring global hunger relief.

Iona Brannon

Sources: World Food Programme 1, World Food Programme 2, Hunger to Hope, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Kellogg
Photo: Flickr

 

 

Malnutrition-and-Pregnancy-Global-Poverty

Malnutrition is a significant problem in developing countries. Without substantial resources, many men, women and children go to bed hungry. Tackling malnutrition should be a priority for everyone, especially pregnant women.

A woman’s nutritional intake impacts both her health during pregnancy and the health of her baby. Without proper care, she is susceptible to illnesses and her baby’s health is at risk. Malnutrition during pregnancy can cause devastating results.

In many countries, tradition forces women to be the last to eat at meals, which may result in them receiving smaller portions. This notion severely impacts pregnant women.

A woman that is undernourished at the time of conception is at risk of serious health issues for both herself and her baby. Not only is it unlikely that her nutritional status will improve throughout the pregnancy, but her body also experiences additional demands due to the growing baby. Without enough food, she will most likely lose weight, which increases the risk of maternal mortality.

When her body is unable to obtain or store enough nutrients required to support embryo growth, the cells may not divide properly, resulting in a chance that the fetus’ development will be impaired. The placental cells, which support the fetus’ growth during pregnancy, are more likely to surround the fetus in large numbers, forcing the fetus to become smaller than it should be. This leads to the baby being born at a low birth weight, which in turn often leads to severe cognitive and developmental deficits.

A baby’s organs develop during the first five weeks of pregnancy. In order for the organs to grow properly, it is imperative for women to be healthy and have food supplies readily available.

A woman’s caloric needs increase with pregnancy. An additional 150 calories per day is needed to support the baby in the first three months of the pregnancy. In month four, the additional calories needed increase to 300 per day.

In addition, women must have the proper nutrients in their diet, such as foods with folic acid, iron calcium, protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D and vitamin A. According to the World Food Programme, half of all pregnant women in developing countries are anaemic (having an iron deficiency), which causes around 110,000 deaths during childbirth per year.

Without enough nutrients, a baby is at higher risk of neural tube defects, brain damage, premature birth, underdevelopment of organs, death and more. If a child becomes malnourished in the womb, the damage can be permanent.

Improving nutrition is an investment that could save the lives of women around the world; it will also decrease the number of birth defects and disabilities seen in newborns and young children. In many developing countries, nutrition is essential to promoting a happy and healthy lifestyle where no person goes to bed hungry.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Livestrong, Mother and Child Nutrition, Virtual Medical Center, World Food Programme
Photo: The Visible Embryo

UN-Scales-Back-on-Food-Aid-for-Syrian-Refugees
In the wake of large budget cuts and conflict with the Islamic State, or ISIS, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling back its food aid for more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. These cuts will manifest themselves in the monthly food assistance vouchers that Syrian refugees receive. Normally valued at $19 per person, the vouchers will be reduced to $13.50 as of July.

Around 75% of Syrian refugee households in Lebanon are undergoing “some level of food insecurity,” according to a recent WFP survey. In addition, roughly 800,000 refugees in Lebanon qualify for food vouchers, and this scale-back is arriving right in the middle of Ramadan.

The WFP was banking on a ceasefire between ISIS and the Syrian government in order to let Syrian farmers harvest wheat stored in ISIS territory. No such ceasefire took place.

“That wheat that is harvested cannot be brought across lines of conflict into the area where it is needed most by people who are suffering now into a fifth year of this conflict,” WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin told the Associated Press.

A WFP press release issued earlier this month points out that the WFP’s refugee operations are currently 81% underfunded. The WFP is requesting $139 million in order to continue aiding refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq through the summer.

“We are extremely concerned about the impact these cuts will have on refugees and the countries that host them,” WFP Regional Director Muhammad Hadi told the U.N. News Centre. “Families are taking extreme measures to cope such as pulling their children out of school, skipping meals and getting into debt to survive. The long-term effects of this could be devastating.”

– Alexander Jones

Sources: McGuirk, UN, Wood
Photo: The Guardian

Poverty-Statistics

The following are ten poverty statistics that any advocate should know and be able to share with others. They describe the true global poverty situation:

1. Globally, there are over 1 billion children living in poverty.

2. 1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.

3. The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

4. Gender discrimination is widely recognized as a major contributor to children living in poverty, and creating disparities in how resources are earned, valued and distributed based on power relationships between men and women. These poverty-induced relationships lead to tens of millions of children becoming victims of exploitation, violence and abuse.

5. Global poverty leads to global hunger, as people living in poverty cannot afford nutritious food for themselves and their families. This creates a vicious cycle where a lack of food makes people weaker and less able to earn the money, preventing them from escaping poverty and hunger.

6. Poverty is closely linked to the inability to access clean water and proper sanitation. More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water.

7. The disadvantages to poverty are closely linked to an increased risk of disease. For example, diarrhea, which is caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene, kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day. With the increased risk of disease, those under the poverty line have little access to basic medical attention, causing preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia to take the lives of 2-3 million people a year.

8. 80 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day, well below the standard of the Quality of Life Index.

9. 1/4 of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.

10. The cost of eradicating world poverty is estimated at 1 percent of global income, whereas other financial endeavors such as military spending in the U.S. alone can reach over $691.22 billion.

– Alysha Biemolt

 

Sources: 11 Facts About Global Poverty, Global Issues, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme
Photo: Wikipedia

School_Lunch_Program
The World Food Program began a massive school lunch program this past May across the Central African Republic. This week, they began a campaign that aims to battle common intestinal worm infections in children in cooperation with the school lunch program.

Many children in the Central African Republic suffer from intestinal worm infections that affect their health, ability to intake nutrition, mental development and ability to study in school. The program that collaborates with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education aims to improve the health of 250,000 children across the Republic.

One deworming pill is effective for six months. When children are healthy and worm-free, they can both focus in school and study at home more effectively.

The school lunch program that began in early May of 2015 has been very effective so far. Over 155,000 metric tons of food have been distributed. Ninety schools, over 70,000 primary school children and 4,300 elementary school children across the capital of the Central African Republic are currently receiving school lunches.

The meal includes rice, beans, oil and salt. In many cases, this school lunch is the only food children will consume in a day. The food encourages families to value attendance and enrollment in school. It also improves the efficacy of the children’s schooling experience, enabling concentration and enthusiasm.

The school lunch and deworming campaign in the Central African Republic follows political violence, armed conflict and chaos that began in December of 2014. Thousands of people have been killed and almost 1 million have left their homes due to political violence.

The instability and violence caused the majority of schools in the Central African Republic to close, leaving children without access to education. The few schools that remained open were too unsafe for children to attend. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 45 percent of schools are currently still closed in the Central African Republic and 35 percent of the population is food insecure.

According to the U.N., 3,500 to 6,000 children have been recruited as child soldiers in armed groups in the Central African Republic. Parents and many organizations like World Vision are encouraging school attendance in an effort to diminish children’s vulnerability to recruitment.

According to World Vision, Claudia Geraldine, a teacher from Bangui that educates boys and girls from age 5 to age 14 said, “I’m encouraging parents to send children to school now because it is safe.”

The school lunch and deworming programs have so far been successful due to the tenacious, determined, collaborative efforts of local community members along with large organizations. “Everybody plays a part in the process. The head of the school organizes the logistics and mobilizes parents to help. Local women volunteer to prepare the food, and the children fetch water. This is making a real difference in the lives of children in Bangui,” said Fikru Gebeyehu, a World Vision food assistance expert.

– Margaret Anderson

Sources: World Food Programme, World Vision USAID
Photo: World Food Programme,