November 29th, 2013
Interviewing new arrivals - photo by ECHO/Dina Baslan
29/11/2013 – We arrived at the gate of Zaatari on Monday morning. It was teaming with life and colour, in stark contrast to the grey and dusty environment. The humanitarian communities’ compound was large and gave off a sense of permanency which not surprisingly also seemed to emanate from this huge tent camp with its ring road of 8 kms and its total area of around 5.4 hectares – the second largest refugee camp in the world.
ECHO’s largest implementing partner for providing assistance in this crisis is the UN Refugee Agency. I was therefore particularly interested to see at least some of the work that they were doing in the camp. Our guide from UNHCR that morning was Aoife McDonnell, Assistant External Relations Officer. She had been in the camp almost since its opening two years ago. “It gets under your skin” she laughed; “I did leave for a couple of months but quickly returned”.
She first showed us the reception and registration area, which at its peak earlier this year was having to deal with an average of 2 500 people crossing the border every night. The majority were from Homs and Hama. Last night there were 334 arrivals – young families mostly with toddlers and pre-school children. On arrival they were greeted with a family food package and all children under 15 immediately received a polio vaccination. They were each given a mattress Read the full entry
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November 29th, 2013
Philippines after Haiyan. Photo credit EU/ECHO
29/11/2013 – It was six and a half weeks ago now that I began my first leg of the European Humanitarian Volunteers Programme (EHVP). The EHVP is an inter-agency pilot programme focused on training up humanitarian professionals in a number of key areas, with this round of the pilot (EHVP 3) focusing on Logistics Officers, Programme Officers and Child Protection Officers. I am one of two Child Protection Officers.
We jumped head first into the programme with a two-week intensive training in Lyon, France. I woke up that morning feeling slightly anxious, though my main thought was was “FINALLY”! I’ve been working towards a career in child protection in emergencies for some years and I am so excited to now be working in this sector full time, while also having the opportunity to learn so much.
Once I arrived in France, we drove the middle of the countryside to a gite surrounded by sheep and surprisingly friendly goats! To start with we spent some time bonding with the other trainees, seven out of fourteen of whom had already been there together for two-weeks – wow!
We then had an introduction Read the full entry
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November 28th, 2013
Photo: WFP/Praveen Agrawal
28/11/2013 – My journey across the Haiyan-struck area around Ormoc yesterday has given a whole new sense to the phrase ‘a roof over your head’. As we drove out across a beautiful, bruised and battered landscape this was the one constant. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people along the road, had been deprived of that most fundamental thing – something to protect them from the elements.
Simple bamboo huts were just blown apart, slightly sturdier homes remained upright but lost their tops. Even solid concrete buildings like schools and warehouses lost some or all of their roofs . A small boy emerged from a field of bamboo carrying aloft a sheet of corrugated iron. There was no building within 200 metres, so that roofing had been blown a long way.
Even the new city hall in Tabango, a town of 30,000 people, was not immune. The mayor, Corazon Remandaban, is now camped in a makeshift office – alongside Read the full entry
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November 22nd, 2013
Hope for malnourished children thanks to community activists. Photo credit: ©World Vision Angola/2013/Jalipa
22/11/2013 – Last February a 4-months old orphan, Conceição, was admitted into the Community based Management programme of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in Caala (Huambo Province), which was affected by the 2012 drought. Conceição’s mother had died a few weeks after delivering and her father never took care of her, so until now Conceição has been raised by her aunt and other family members.
When the community health activist Maria first visited Conceição’s aunt’s house in February 2013, she had a mid-upper arm circumference of 9.5 cm, which means that she was affected by severe acute malnutrition. She was never breastfed and survived on “kisangua”, a local drink made out of fermented maize. Her story was included in a UNICEF video documentary filmed in March 2013.
After significant progress during the first weeks of community treatment, a few months ago Conceição got ill again. During one of her regular visits to Conceição’s family, Maria noticed symptoms such as diarrhea, severe cough and fever. Most of the times Conceição had Read the full entry
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November 21st, 2013
Photo Credit: World Food Programme, Praveen Agrawal, November 2013
21/11/2013 – Mr. Ross Cruzon, a spritely 73 year old man, sits on a plastic chair in his small front yard and recounts the moment typhoon Haiyan hit his home town Tacloban: “I tell you, the entire house shook” he says. “I heard my daughters scream on the second flood: Grandpa, the water is rising. Luckily it is still standing even if the roof is damaged.”
Ross, his wife Tini, and his granddaughters survived. Many hundreds were less fortunate, ripped out of their homes by the rushing flood waters whipped up from the sea by the ferocious storm, or simply blown away with their homes by the 300km/h winds. Looking left and right down his street, Mr. Cruzon sees only a mud-covered street and destroyed homes. Even the modern built Lutheran church had pieces of its roof torn away as if a monster had tried to open it with a can opener. Windows were blown in by the tremendous pressures of the gales. Everywhere debris litters the street. Small groups of people walk past with water containers seeking wells or broken water pipes. At night packs of dogs roam the street noisily rummaging through garbage, their owners either dead of having fled.
Wearing an old baseball cap and faded shorts, Ross recounts the first days after the typhoon: “Man, it was terrible: first it was really quiet but my ears were still buzzing from the noise of the storm,” he recounts. “Then I heard people screaming, crying, calling for help.” He explains how he tried to check on his neighbors but found only a few alive. As hours passed, Read the full entry
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November 20th, 2013
"Give us peace, give us hope" – EU Children of Peace in Domiz camp - Photo credits: EC/ECHO/Jamal Penjweny
It is a sunny afternoon in northern Iraq. The long shadow of a swing stretches across the ground’s soft soil and meets the edge of a blue building. On its walls, a mural is painted of a young girl standing in a lush garden, and a dove signifying peace flutters against a thick tree. Behind the gate that surrounds this space stands Roj Diyar Hame. “In half an hour my dears”, repeats the man in his late forties to the impatient children waiting for the gates to open.
This is the child friendly space established in Domiz camp, a Syrian refugee camp in northern Iraq, under the 2012-won EU Nobel Peace Prize funds. Here, 295 children come seeking a safe environment to play away from the often stressed, difficult life their parents confront in the over-crowded camp which hosts about 55,000 Syrian of Kurdish origins.
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November 19th, 2013
NRC's project in DRC is one of four Children of Peace projects. Photo: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children.
19/11/2013 – Charlie is 14, and he likes to go to school.
It sounds like a simple story, but it isn’t. For one thing, his real name isn’t “Charlie.” In his own language, his real name means “war.” Charlie was born in a war. Where he lives, in a camp for people displaced from their homes by the conflict, he is surrounded by war still. According to Charlie:
“It all started when my dad was killed by an armed group. This is when my mum became a widow. Soon after that, the armed group came to our village and so we had to flee quickly in the fighting. I got lost from my mum as we ran, and that’s when the armed group took me. They took me and one other boy, and they took us deep into the forest and made us cook, wash clothes and carry loads for them. I was six or seven years old, I’m not sure. I had to stay with them for three years and they made me suffer so much, and they used to punish me. Then one of the officials gave authorization for Read the full entry
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November 13th, 2013
A postcard from Bangladesh
13/11/2013 – Though 16-year-old Rashedul Hasan Abir is grappling with Down’s syndrome, which severely inhibits intellectual development in children, his sense of the challenges facing his country is acute. His aesthetically painted artwork awash with water invokes the memory of the famous Hollywood film “Waterworld”, where humans are forced to live in subterranean conditions after a dramatic sea-level rise following the melting of the polar ice caps. If that were to actually happen, as some climate change experts have warned, his country would be one of the first to bear the brunt.
However, a rise in sea levels is not the only concern of the over 150 million Bangladeshis. In any given year, the country is battered by rains, cyclones and landslides affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Only recently, in May this year, Cyclone Mahasen caused widespread destruction in the coastal regions of Bangladesh. This was followed by torrential rains in the northern part of the country that flooded vast swathes of agricultural land.
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November 6th, 2013
Dolo Ado’s ‘Children of Peace’
The Government of Ethiopia, humanitarian and development donors held a round table discussion on supporting the education of refugee children affected by conflict. The meeting, held on the initiative of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Ethiopia, the Humanitarian and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO) and Save the Children, also discussed finding innovative solutions to increase the self-reliance of long term refugees.
During the event, four children from Dolo Ado refugee camps were rewarded for their drawings revolving around the theme of ‘Children of Peace’. The top 20 drawings were displayed at the meeting.
The project, funded by the Nobel Peace Prize money that was awarded to the European Union and implemented by Save the Children, seeks to provide quality education for the children in Dolo Ado.
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November 6th, 2013
Ethiopia Colloquim on Refugees
With over 420 000 refugees in 18 camps spread over five regions, Ethiopia hosts the largest number of refugees in sub-Saharan Africa after Kenya. The average stay of a refugee in a camp is 17 years. In order to restore dignity, ECHO is focussing on empowering refugees to rely on themselves rather than living entirely off humanitarian assistance.
In early November, the Government of Ethiopia, humanitarian and development donors held round table talks on supporting the education of refugee children affected by conflict and finding innovative solutions to increase the self-reliance of long term refugees.
The meeting was held on the initiative of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Ethiopia, the Humanitarian and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO) and Save the Children, at a time when the number of refugees in Ethiopia is steadily increasing.
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