People's Stories Wellbeing

What does the humanitarian access situation look like today?
Mar. 2018
Humanitarian access has deteriorated in seven countries over the past six months, according to the Humanitarian Access Overview report released today by ACAPS.
Out of the 37 countries included in the report, nearly half of them (18) are currently facing high humanitarian access constraints. Moderate humanitarian access constraints are an issue in nine countries and ten present low humanitarian access constraints.
“We are deeply concerned that in countries such as Myanmar and Mali that are already facing significant humanitarian challenges, it has become more difficult to operate. This means that even more people in need do not have access to critical humanitarian assistance” said Lars Peter Nissen, ACAPS Director.
This bi-annual analysis is the second released by ACAPS. The first publication was released in August 2017. What has changed in six months?
In comparison with the situation six months ago:
• Humanitarian access situation has deteriorated in 7 countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Turkey.
• Although some countries are categorised as ‘no change’ over six months, there may have been fluctuations during this period.
• Myanmar is the country where humanitarian access has deteriorated the most, as access for the Rohingya population has become increasingly difficult.
• In Cameroon, curfews, check-points and violence constrain access in the Anglophone regions where the security situation has worsened over the past six months.
• In Libya, insecurity deteriorated in 2017 and early 2018 when direct attacks against UNSMIL and abductions of humanitarian workers were reported in Southern and Eastern part of the country.
• In Mali, violence has been increasing and movement has become more restricted. Over 130 incidents against humanitarian workers were reported in 2017, more than double the previous year.
• In Pakistan, in the second half of 2017 over 20 INGOs had their permissions revoked, deteriorating the operating environment.

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Every child alive: The urgent need to end newborn deaths
by UN Children''s Fund
Mar. 2018
Water, Sanitation & Hygiene: The First Response in Conflicts & Natural Disasters, by Sanjay Wijesekera - Global Chief, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene at UNICEF
When disaster strikes, or conflict rages, families soon discover their most urgent need – water. In such precarious situations, access is usually limited or non-existent, and children and their families are forced to put themselves in further danger in the quest for water.
During such times, water and sanitation experts are often the first responders to communities affected by conflict and natural disasters. They work to ensure safe access to water, which paves the way for other vital interventions such as health, nutrition, education and protection.
As a young engineer, I was deployed by an international aid agency to Rwanda in 1994 in the aftermath of the civil war and horrific genocide. I arrived in Kibeho in the wake of suffering and great loss: shallow graves on roadsides; blood-stained walls in the local church; the unmistakable smell of rotting flesh.
Amid the death and destruction, it was vital to focus on the immediate needs of the children whose lives remained at risk from malnutrition, waterborne diseases and diarrhea.
For those of us lucky enough to have easy access to drinking water and a functioning toilet – the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is not a major concern. But for the one in four children around the world who live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, it is an overwhelming preoccupation and a matter of survival.
In times of conflict, more children tend to die from diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation than from direct violence.
In Kibeho, children walked up and down steep hillsides to fetch drinking water from streams and unprotected springs polluted with human and animal feces. I remember meeting Aimee, an emaciated little girl, in a makeshift shelter made of branches and thatched with dried leaves. Aimee was malnourished, severely dehydrated, and in desperate need of medical attention.
Despite her condition, she managed a smile as we hurried to get her the urgent medical care she needed. Her resilience gave fresh meaning to our job – to install a water supply in her village – which was a major camp for thousands of Rwanda’s internally displaced people.
I saw the same strength and resilience in Myanmar when I visited displaced populations of Rohingya in Rakhine state in 2013. The ground on which people pitched their tents – their makeshift homes – was low-lying and waterlogged.
The lack of sanitation and hygiene made living conditions not just unbearable, but a huge risk to life especially for children and their families living on hard-to-reach islands that were only accessible by boat.
Children, once again, were visibly malnourished and although UNICEF and partner organisations were providing water, children and families still had to walk long distances to collect it. It was an overwhelming task that called for commitment and persistence.
In the face of this adversity I was amazed by the great resilience demonstrated by women who described their shared care system which helped them cope with their difficult circumstances.
United by their loss and grief, households partnered with each other to cook, fetch water, gather firewood, care for children and tend to the sick. There was no complaining, no anger. Just hope, pragmatism, and a pooling of meagre resources.
Since the outbreak of violence on 25 August 2017, more than 670,000 Rohingya people have sought refuge in Bangladesh. During my visit, there this month, I was reminded yet again of the importance of maintaining the humanitarian response of providing safe water and sanitation to people affected by conflict while sitting with refugee children in a learning center in Kutupolong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar.
Their smiles and laughter were echoes of resilience that must be bolstered by those working to meet the needs of this enormous refugee population, particularly as the approaching monsoon and cyclone season brings with it health risks and hygiene challenges.
Over the past six years, I have witnessed the humanitarian response of delivering water, sanitation and hygiene in times of conflict and disaster. I’ve seen the profound impact it has for children who have lost so much and yet remain incredibly resilient.
We share the strength and determination of children like Aimee and the women and girls in Myanmar and Bangladesh, and we remain committed to preserving the rights of every child to water, sanitation and hygiene.
* UNICEF is the leading humanitarian WASH agency in emergencies, providing over half of the emergency WASH services in humanitarian crises around the world:
Feb. 2018
World is failing newborn babies, says UNICEF
Babies from the best places to be born up to 50 times less likely to die in the first month of life.
Global deaths of newborn babies remain alarmingly high, particularly among the world’s poorest countries, UNICEF said today in a new report on newborn mortality. Babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance at survival, while newborns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds.
“While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old,” said Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the world’s poorest babies.”
Globally, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births, the report says. In high-income countries, that rate is 3 deaths per 1,000. Newborns from the riskiest places to give birth are up to 50 times more likely to die than those from the safest places.
The report also notes that 8 of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions. If every country brought its newborn mortality rate down to the high-income average by 2030, 16 million lives could be saved.
More than 80 per cent of newborn deaths are due to prematurity, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis, the report says. These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition.
However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands don’t receive the life-saving support they need to survive. For example, while in Norway there are 218 doctors, nurses and midwives to serve 10,000 people, that ratio is 1 per 10,000 in Somalia.
This month, UNICEF is launching Every Child ALIVE, a global campaign to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns. Through the campaign, UNICEF is issuing an urgent appeal to governments, health care providers, donors, the private sector, families and businesses to keep every child alive by:
• Recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn care;
• Guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby;
• Making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and
• Empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care.
“Every year, 2.6 million newborns around the world do not survive their first month of life. One million of them die the day they are born," said Ms. Fore. "We know we can save the vast majority of these babies with affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and every newborn. Just a few small steps from all of us can help ensure the first small steps of each of these young lives.”
Nearly 19 million babies born globally every year – 14 per cent – are at risk of permanent yet preventable brain damage and reduced cognitive function due to a lack of iodine in the earliest years of life, according to a new joint report by UNICEF and GAIN released today. More than 1 in 4 of these children – 4.3 million – lives in South Asia.
Brighter futures: Protecting early brain development through salt iodization notes that iodine deficiency is a leading cause of preventable brain damage worldwide. Insufficient iodine during pregnancy and infancy results in neurological and psychological deficits, reducing a child’s IQ by 8 to 10 points. This translates into major losses in the cognitive capital of entire nations and thus their socio-economic development.
“The nutrients a child receives in the earliest years of life influence their brain development for life, and can make or break their chance of a prosperous future,” said UNICEF Senior Nutrition Adviser Roland Kupka. “By protecting and supporting children’s development in early life, we are able to achieve immense results for children throughout their lifespan.”:

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