Tag Archives: Save the Children

Q and A: Save the Children on Farm Bill’s Food for Peace


Read the Q and A at Examiner.com

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U.S. Food for Peace Plan Needs Support in Congress


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Save the Children, WFP bring food to conflict victims in South Sudan

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today it’s feeding around 30,000 civilians who have fled violence between the government and opposition forces. Save the Children is aiding the food distributions.

Civilians have taken refugee in UN peacekeeping compounds in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and Bentiu. The food aid will expand throughout this week to reach other locations.

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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Filipinos and Syrians Desperately Need Food and Shelter

Imagine, for a moment, losing your home and having to flee to another state or country. When natural disasters or war strike, these worst fears become reality.

As this holiday season approaches, there are millions of people in the Philippines and the Middle East who just want the basics of food, water and shelter.

Last week heavy fighting in Syria sent at least 8,000 people running for their lives into neighboring Lebanon.

“The majority of them are women and children and some of them reported shelling and clashes along displacement routes on the way to Arsal,” UN World Food Programme spokesperson Laure Chadraoui told me.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is bringing them aid packages. Some of these refugees had already been displaced once within Syria before now finally being forced out of their home country.

Once in Lebanon, Syrian refugees are not completely safe. Cold and hunger threaten them. The UN Refugee Agency says many “live in poor accommodation in informal settlements, unfinished buildings, garages, worksites and warehouses that are not properly insulated against the cold climate.”

Francine Uenuma of Save the Children, says, “when I was in Lebanon last February, when it was extremely cold, and many of the kids were outside in sandals. Many also had coughs — the sub-zero temperatures mean many face chest infections, not to mention other health problems like hypothermia and frostbite.”

Syrians have also fled to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey. Throughout the Middle East there are over two million Syrian refugees. Aid groups and host governments are facing a huge task to help these war victims, many who have lost everything.

In Iraq, WFP is providing Plumpy’Doz to small Syrian children who are at risk of severe malnutrition. This special peanut paste can save their lives. The WFP is also providing extra food to children at schools to bolster class attendance and performance.

While this massive relief operation is ongoing in the Middle East, a world away is an emergency in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. More than 11 million Filipinos were impacted by the high winds, flooding and destruction caused by the storm.

The World Food Programme, UNICEF and other aid groups are rushing to bring them food, water, and medicine. The storm victims need shelter quickly. More rain and storms may be on the way. Aid is needed fast to save lives and to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Consider this: If children, especially, do not get enough nutrients it can cause lasting physical and mental damage. The lack of food or clean water can cause the spread of disease.

As the holidays come before us there is a great tradition called Black Friday, which marks the start of the holiday shopping season. Stores and individuals could donate at least a portion of their sales or purchasing funds toward relief of the suffering people in the Philippines and the Middle East.

Here are lists of some aid agencies with relief funds for the Philippines and for Syria. Some individuals have donated already. It is deeply appreciated too as Jen Hardy of Catholic Relief Services tells us from the Philippines.

Originally published at The Huffington Post.

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The Granola Bar that Saves Children’s Lives


This Bar Saves Lives

This Bar Saves Lives

Halloween is sneaking up on us. The holidays are not far behind. These days come with plenty of snacks with chocolate, vanilla and many other kinds of flavors.

What if you could buy a snack and save a life at the same time? What if on Halloween or Thanksgiving you could share the joy and feed a “silent guest,” a starving child a world away?

There actually is a way with This Bar Saves Lives, a new granola bar with chocolate, vanilla and wild blueberry flavors. Each purchase of this bar means a donation of the miracle food Plumpy’Nut, a peanut paste fed to children suffering from severe malnutrition.

Ryan Devlin, Todd Grinnell and Ravi Patel started This Bar Saves Lives when they witnessed the devastating effects of child malnutrition. When you buy one of these bars the donation gets sent to Edesia, a Plumpy’Nut producer in Providence, Rhode Island. Edesia makes the Plumpy’Nut and sends it to Save the Children, which uses this food in their relief missions around the world. Save the Children says “more than 150 million children in developing countries are malnourished.”

Malnutrition can cause lasting physical and mental damage in small children under the age of five. If the malnutrition become severe children may perish. In many developing countries afflicted by war, disasters or extreme poverty, small children are vulnerable to malnutrition. When food supply systems break down in a country, families can be forced into desperation with little rations. They look to humanitarian aid agencies for help. Plumpy’Nut can rescue the smallest children, if there is enough supply on hand for aid groups.

Within the last year Save the Children has been fighting child malnutrition in South Sudan. In Eastern Equatoria, a state in South Sudan, crops had failed and families were resorting to wild fruits to survive. More cases of malnutrition had to be treated at Save the Children health centers there. Plumpy’Nut was used for the most severe cases.

Conflict in Jonglei, South Sudan also has escalated malnutrition among children thus increasing the need for Plumpy”nut.

When funding is low aid groups like Save the Children may be forced to cut back on this life-saving food. The consequences are devastating. Opportunities like This Bar Saves Lives gives people a world away a chance to help.

Just as after World War II when Americans fed “silent guest” at their Holiday meals, you can be doing the same in the coming weeks and months. Your “silent guest” might be a child in drought-stricken West Africa, or in war-devastated Syria or Mali. You can help them get the Plumpy’Nut that will save their lives.

Visit their web site at www.thisbarsaveslives.com

A note from This Bar Saves Lives: “Whether it’s setting up Hunger Awareness Campaigns on your campus, holding a This Bar Saves Lives community event, or connecting us with your company, there are a number of ways to get involved. Jump in!

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Feed Syria’s Starving War Victims

WFP is trying to feed millions of Syrian war victims (WFP/Marco Frattini)

WFP is trying to feed millions of Syrian war victims (WFP/Marco Frattini)

Where there is war there is hunger. In Syria children have died because of chemical weapons, but also because they could not get enough food. Weakened, illness overtook them.

Isra from Syria says, “This war…is killing people slowly. We used up all our supplies of food – I could only give my children one or two mouthfuls of rice to keep them going. I just cried at night.”

The civil war in Syria has created a new enemy for the people: hunger. Syria’s agriculture has been ruined and many bakeries have been destroyed by shelling. The seeds of war have been planted for famine.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) is facing its largest hunger relief mission. WFP is trying to feed three million Syrians this month, but faces extreme difficulty in moving life-saving aid because of the violence.

Many people are blocked off from aid by the Syrian government. Save the Children says the numbers of hungry are likely much higher, possibly 10.5 million Syrians in seven governorates alone. Save the Children warns, “As the destruction continues, these numbers will grow: children who once relied on three healthy meals a day will go to bed hungry, afraid, feeling abandoned by the world outside.”

There are also two million Syrians who have fled to Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Lebanon. They totally depend on international aid.

The World Food Program needs about $ US 30 million a week to provide food aid for Syrian war victims. The UN food agency is also trying to feed millions of hungry in Yemen, Afghanistan, Mali, South Sudan, Darfur, Haiti and other countries leveled by conflict or natural disasters.

As the world tries to negotiate an end to the war, we must also press the Syrian government to allow full access to the hungry. In addition, WFP and other aid agencies must have the funding they need to bring relief.

It’s overwhelming for any individual to look at the size of this crisis. But everyone can have an impact, even some of the simplest measures can help. The free smartphone app Charity Miles raises money for the World Food Program. Just going out for a walk, run or bike can raise funds for WFP, which is an agency that relies entirely on voluntary funding. It’s free for you, the funds are donated from a corporate sponsorship pool.

Using this app I have raised hundreds of meals for WFP just by running or walking. I know it’s a small amount, but it’s better than feeling helpless. Laure Chadraoui, a WFP rep working on Syrian relief, told me “What you do makes us all very proud, we need every penny indeed.”

It’s also important to make an impact statement. That’s what needed to keep the focus of leaders in bringing an end to the war and negotiating agreements on humanitarian access. It can help motivate the Congress to pass key legislation like the Global Food Security Act, so hunger remains a top foreign policy priority.

What happens in communities can have a powerful impact globally. In the fall of 1947 people across the USA donated food for the Friendship Train. This outpouring had a powerful influence on Congress as it debated aid to rebuild war-torn Europe.

Senator Arthur Vandenberg said the Friendship Train, “demonstrates our instinct, our tradition, and our impulse to feed the hungry and to heal the sick; and personifies the friendliness which is the genius of a lasting peace.” That holiday season Americans did not stop either, they fed a “silent guest” at Thanksgiving and Christmas which led to more CARE packages for the hungry. The famous Marshall Plan followed and rebuilt Europe from the ashes of war.

Every generation’s horrors can be overcome by its heroes. During World War I collections were held to provide relief in Belgium and other suffering countries. Even after the war people responded to pleas from Herbert Hoover and General John J. Pershing to feed the “invisible guest”: a hungry child. The Motion Picture Industry even held a major fundraiser at the same time.

As Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Every little bit can go a long way. Understanding this is what makes a leader. Now is the time for action as our generation faces its great challenges in war, humanitarianism and the quest for peace.

Originally published at the Huffington Post.

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Aid Groups Need Access to Starving People in Sudan’s South Kordofan State

Thousands have been displaced by the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. These areas are facing a hunger crisis and aid groups need access. Credit: UNHCR

Thousands have been displaced by the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. These areas are facing a hunger crisis and aid groups need access. Credit: UNHCR

This week the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced it had started distributing aid in Sudan‘s conflict-affected Blue Nile state. Previously WFP had not been granted access to this area where rebels (SPLM-N) are fighting Sudan’s government.

Now food aid must be allowed into South Kordofan state which, like Blue Nile, has been devastated by this same conflict. There are reports of tremendous suffering in South Kordofan. Yet aid is not allowed to go through.

View slideshow: Hunger and displacement from conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue NileIn a joint statement in March, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “We remain deeply concerned by the security and humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. It is imperative that both Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) seize the opportunity of direct talks to address the urgent need for a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access to all areas, and the longer-term political solution. We welcome SPLM-N’s acceptance of the invitation to direct talks and urge the Government of Sudan to do the same, without pre-conditions.”

Currently, the World Food Programme and aid groups are able to operate only in the government-held areas of South Kordofan. Save the Children Sweden has done nutrition screenings for children under five years old in parts of South Kordofan under government control. So far 89,482 have been screened with around 15,000 of the children either moderately or severely malnourished. Plumpy’Nut, a special peanut paste, is being used to treat the children. Without the treatment children will suffer lasting physical and mental damage from malnutrition.

With reports of people living off roots and leaves in the conflict zones of South Kordofan, malnutrition rates would be expected to go much higher. The World Food Programme and other aid groups need access to all of South Kordofan.

Meanwhile, funding is urgently needed for the relief effort in Blue Nile. WFP Sudan Country Director Adnan Khan, speaking of Blue Nile, says, “While we continue to strive for access to all areas, this is still a major breakthrough which will enable us to assist those who continue to be displaced by the conflict or those who have decided to return to their homes and are in dire need of food assistance. For this immediate response, we will need an additional US $20.5 million which will be used to buy 17,000 metric tons of food.”

Article first published as Aid Groups Need Access to Starving People in Sudan’s South Kordofan State on Blogcritics.

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Saving the Children in South Sudan

Save the Children is treating severely malnourished infants at its nutrition centers in Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei, two states in South Sudan suffering from hunger emergencies. (Save the Children photo)

Save the Children is treating severely malnourished infants at its nutrition centers in Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei, two states in South Sudan suffering from hunger emergencies. (Save the Children photo)

Save the Children staff knew something was wrong. It was last November in Eastern Equatoria of South Sudan, just after the harvest, when it was less likely for families to need food assistance. Malnourished children were still being brought to Save the Children nutrition centers at an alarming rate, though.

Crops had failed because of “low and erractic rainfall” according to the United Nations. Families were running out of their usual food supply and were starting to resort to using wild fruits to survive.

Fact-finding missions sent by the UN into parts of Eastern Equatoria confirmed the increasing levels of hunger. It could get much worse too. The upcoming “lean season” between harvests is generally when food supply is at its lowest.

At its Kapoeta nutrition center during January, Save the Children saw 114 infants with severe malnutrition and another 210 children with more moderate malnutrition. Severely malnourished children are given a nutritious peanut paste called Plumpy’nut.

Without the right nutrition infants can suffer lasting physical and mental damage or death. Having enough stock of a food like Plumpy’Nut is essential to humanitarian aid operations. For no long-term solution to ending hunger or building peace can be found with malnourished and stunted children.

Save the Children is also responding to another hunger emergency in South Sudan. Cattle raids in Jonglei, the largest state in South Sudan, have killed or displaced thousands of people who are in need of aid.

These cattle raids in Jonglei took place in Akobo County and are the latest in a series of internal conflicts within the state.

Save the Children is providing aid in Akobo East. This is an area that struggles with food security. Helen Mould of Save the Children points out that the internal conflict has escalated deadly malnutrition in this area. People fleeing violence in Akobo West head toward the east. Mould says, “Host communities are sharing food stocks, but this is adding pressure on an already stressed situation. As a coping mechanism it appears many children are eating just one meal a day and families are relying on wild fruits for their food.”

The effect of this violence drives communities deeper into hunger. Displaced farmers, for instance, will not be able to plant crops in 2013.

The humanitarian tragedy continues. There is such poverty in South Sudan so there is little resistance to shocks such as drought or even flooding. When you add the conflict, often over scarce resources, you add another dimension driving the hunger crisis. South Sudan desperately needs food and peace.

Save the Children has a crisis fund set up to save lives in South Sudan.

Article first published as Saving the Children in South Sudan on Blogcritics.

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Charities Low on Funding to Help Suffering Children in Mali


Drought and conflict have caused massive displacement in Mali as families search for pasture. (photo courtesy WFP/ Daouda Guirou)

UNICEF says it’s only received 28 percent of its 58 million dollar emergency appeal to help conflict-torn Mali. The charity is providing nutrition, water, vaccinations and medicine to children suffering from the conflict and poverty.

A coup followed by a rebellion in Northern Mali has caused hunger and displacement for many thousands of families. Drought has also struck throughout Mali intensifying hunger and poverty.

UNICEF states, “Across the northern part of Mali, the global malnutrition rate is among the highest in the country. Schools have been closed for much of the year. Tens of thousands of families have been uprooted from their homes and exposed to violence and distress. Cholera has surfaced along the Niger River. Community coping mechanisms are being stretched to the extreme and risk failure, with negative consequences for children and women.”

The chaos has also placed children at risk of recruitment into rebel forces. UNICEF says it “calls on all parties to the conflict, leaders and community members to ensure that children are protected from the harmful impact of armed conflict and do not participate in hostilities.”

Families in Mali normally rely on stocks of food to help them through the summer lean season between harvests. These stocks would come from previous harvests. The drought though has meant far less food reserves to draw upon. Some reports show that families are resorting to eating cooked leaves. When drought hits families who are already living in poverty the impact is devastating.

Save the Children is working to rescue the most vulnerable in this hunger crisis. The charity is facing low funding having not achieved 50 percent of the fundraising goal for Mali.

Meanwhile the peak of the “lean season” is here with farmers and their families struggling to get food. Katie Seaborne, a Save the Children officer in Mali says, “I met with a woman called Mamou Traore in Diema of Kayes region in Southern Mali just on Thursday who explained how her husband’s crops lasted just one month. They have been trying to eke out a living ever since. Her four month old baby girl, Aissaita is now malnourished.”

Save the Children is supporting health centres which are treating these malnutrition cases including Aissaita. Without funding it will be difficult for Save the Children to carry on this work.

To donate to Save the Children visit their West Africa Hunger Crisis Fund.

For more information on UNICEF in Mali visit their web site.

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UN, Save the Children Start Famine Relief Funds for West Africa

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency, has started a relief fund for the famine-threatened Sahel region of West Africa. Unless humanitarian aid is rushed in, eight countries which make up the Sahel region are at risk of mass starvation.

The charity Save the Children has likewise started a relief fund for West Africa, urging the world to respond before mass famine takes hold. Save the Children warns, “The greatest tragedy is that the world sees disasters such as this coming but fails to prevent them.”

Map of the Sahel region of West Africa. Shaded areas can quickly descend into famine if humanitarian aid does not arrive. (map courtesy USAID Famine Early Warning System)

Individuals can donate to these funds and help save lives in the eight Sahel countries which have suffered a massive drought: Niger, The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Chad, and Cameroon.

Mothers and their babies wait in line in a maternal health care centre in Niamey, Niger, where WFP provides supplementary feeding for moderately malnourished children under three years of age. (WFP/Rein Skellerud)

Niamey, Niger, maternal health care center: a child eats his ration of Supplementary Plumpy – a nutritious peanut-based product packed with vitamins, minerals, and milk proteins. If children receive this food, they will survive the crisis. Aid agencies are low on funding to provide the food. (WFP/Rein Skellerud)

Already children in West Africa have perished from malnutrition. The World Food Programme has warned for months that the hunger crisis in West Africa could reach epic proportions during the summer. WFP says, “Malnutrition rates, particularly affecting children under two, are generally high in the Sahel, and usually rise during the lean season, leading to significant peaks in acute malnutrition and mortality.”

The lean season, or period between harvests, runs through September. Severe drought, though, has drastically reduced the amount of food farmers can produce, leading to shortages and high prices for any available supply. Conflict in Northern Mali has created a refugee crisis which is adding to the disaster in the region.WFP is pleading for funds as it plans to feed over nine million people in the Sahel. The smallest children are most at risk because they need nutrients at this early age or they will suffer lasting physical and mental damage. When the malnutrition reaches its severest, children will die, as is already happening in the Sahel.

Special foods like plumpy’nut can save children’s lives, but low funding for humanitarian aid often prevents enough supplies from being deployed quickly enough into the field. If the world would act faster, and more consistently, famines could be prevented.

Country Director Vitoria Ginja speaking to a beneficiary at Janjanbureh distribution point in the Central River Region, The Gambia. (WFP photo)

Last year the world waited too long before responding to the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. Massive drought struck Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, but it was not until summer was well underway that the world’s attention shifted significantly to the disaster.

Save the Children says, “Early signs of an oncoming food crisis were clear many months before the Horn of Africa emergency reached its peak. Yet it was not until the situation had reached crisis point that the international system started to respond at scale.”

This year a similar tragedy awaits West Africa unless the world responds now.

You can donate to the relief funds at the World Food Programme and Save the Children.

See a series of articles on the Sahel Food Crisis.

Article first published as UN, Save the Children Start Famine Relief Funds for West Africa on Blogcritics.

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