You are here: Home » Tag Archives: children

Tag Archives: children

Feed Subscription

Bertelsmann: 21 percent of German kids are long-term poor

According to a new study, 21 percent of German children and their families live in permanent poverty. Such kids are excluded from lives that many of their peers take for granted. Children whose families are below the poverty line in Germany are likely to stay there. That's the main takeaway of a long-term study commissioned by Germany's Bertelsmann foundation that evaluated the living standards of more than 3,000 children over a period of five years. Researchers found that 10 percent of children surveyed have experienced short-term poverty. However, 21 percent of children are in conditions of permanent or recurring poverty. The risk is especially high for boys and girls with at least two siblings, children of single parents and kids whose parents received a low level of education. "Germany is a wealthy country that has seen an economic upswing in recent years," Anette Stein, Bertelsmann's family policy expert, told DW. "But many children and families did obviously not profit from that." 'If poverty becomes permanent' The study defined poor families as those whose income is 60 percent or less of the household average in Germany and families who receive state welfare. Family background is a strong predictor of a child's academic future, according to studies. Kids who are long-term impoverished are less likely to receive a university education, which then often shuts the door to higher-paying jobs. This can repeat across generations. "That's really sad for the kids concerned, but it's also not good for society at large," Stein said. "It means poverty is passed on and these children will grow up to be adults who, again, need support from the state or who at least won't pay into the social insurance system." General exclusion Bertelsmann listed 23 quality-of-life factors that many impoverished people lack, from adequate, affordable living space to laundry facilities to outdoor areas for children to play, such as a yard or even a balcony. Other items on the list included winter clothing, financial savings, and the means for modest entertainment expenditures, such as inviting friends over for dinner, seeing a film once a month or taking an annual weekly vacation. Children defined by the survey as coming from permanently poor families lack access to an average of about seven of these; those in temporary poverty are missing out on an average of 3.4. "There are currently 2.7 million children and youth growing up in poverty, and that has far-reaching consequences," Heinz Hilgers, the president of Germany's child protection agency, the DKSB, said in a statement released on Monday. "A child who experiences poverty hardly has a chance of true participation in society. That's especially true if poverty becomes permanent." Proactive steps Bertelsmann and the DKSB recommend three steps toward ending childhood poverty. First of all, the true needs of children need to be surveyed regularly and systematically. "We can't just treat children like small adults," Stein said. Secondly, the social support system needs to be made simpler. There are multiple options that families can apply for, but they often need to fight their way through a bureaucratic jungle to find the right one. Bertelsmann and the DKSB call for a unified program to help poor children. And, thirdly, children need leisure opportunities, as well as educational activities that are tailored to the needs of families in their neighborhoods. With these measures, the DKSB's Hilgers said, authorities might finally "truly contribute to making equal chances for all children in Germany a reality."

According to a new study, 21 percent of German children and their families live in permanent poverty. Such kids are excluded from lives that many of their peers take for granted. Children whose families are below the poverty line in Germany are likely to stay there. That’s the main takeaway of a long-term study commissioned by Germany’s Bertelsmann foundation that ... Read More »

Children survive ‘Islamic State’ hungry and traumatized

Children have been among those worst hit by "Islamic State" occupation and the battle to liberate Mosul. They suffer malnutrition for lack of food and toxic stress from the violence they witnessed, Judit Neurink reports. "Look, he is walking again!" Hanan Mohammed, 43, smiles, setting her two-year-old on his skinny legs. The family of three recently escaped the Old City of Mosul, where fighting had been going on for weeks, and food and water had been scarce for months. "Daesh left us hungry," she says, using the local abbreviation for the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group. "There was nothing to buy, and what was there was very expensive." That's why she could not feed her children and lost a six-month-old baby to malnutrition. Her son had started walking, but stopped again for the same reason. The single mother of two small children found refuge in Salamiyah, one of the newer camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) from Mosul. Many here have some connection to IS. Mohammed's husband was killed in the shelling - after she divorced him, possibly because he was a member of the militant Islamist group. She and her children lived with her parents and were moved by IS to serve as human shields. There was no water, no food, and there were constant bombardments. Those who tried to escape were killed by IS. Children were as much victims of the battle as the grown-ups, or perhaps even more because they had no choice. The camp houses hundreds of malnourished children, says Kelly Nau of the aid organization Samaritan Purse. She treats the children with special powered food and teaches their mothers about the positive effects of breastfeeding in a country where most mothers think that after 40 days milk formula is better than their own milk. Read more: Amnesty says US-led coalition violated international law in Mosul About five percent of the kids from Mosul are malnourished, many severely, as well as many of the babies under six months. Like Hanan Mohammed, many mothers lost babies. There was hardly any water other than from the river or the wells, and milk powder was no longer available. "I have seen cases that I had never seen before, not even in Sudan or Yemen," Nau says. Monsters, corpses and bombs But malnutrition is hardly the only problem facing children in Mosul, as many carry the scars of the violence, killing and air strikes they witnessed. "Some 650,000 boys and girls have paid a terrible price and endured many horrors over the past three years," while Mosul was occupied by IS, said Hamida Ramadhani, UNICEF's deputy representative in Iraq, in a press release. In the later stages of the battle for the old center of Mosul, aid organizations have saw an increase in the number of unaccompanied children arriving at medical facilities and reception areas. Some had been trapped under the rubble and had stopped eating because of the smell of death around them before they were saved. Some babies brought to them had been found alone in the debris, Ramadhani said. A doctor in a hospital facility in Western Mosul suggested in an interview with the BBC that these were babies belonging to local IS wives whose husbands had been killed and who were trying to rid themselves of their past with the group. Recently a Chechen girl was found wounded in the rubble, the daughter of a Chechen fighter who was killed. The fate of these foreign children looks bleak as the hate directly toward IS boils over in Iraq and Syria. These children will likely be victimized and end up in the special, closed camps set up for local IS families. Read more: Opinion: 'Islamic State' jihadism could live on Yazidi children who were kidnapped three years ago by IS have also been found, all deeply traumatized. Ramadhani pointed out that the deep physical and mental scars kids acquired during the occupation and the battle would take time to heal. It was an "unbearable reality," the title of a report by the aid organization Save the Children based on research conducted among Mosul children in two IDP camps. The children told researchers about their lives under IS rule and their escape from the Old City of Mosul, talking about monsters, dead bodies in the streets, bloodied faces and bombs falling on their homes. Researchers say many children still fear new attacks from the group and have nightmares that haunt them during the day. Children unlike children Most noticeable is that these children are hardly able to act like children and often show "robotic behavior," says Eileen McCarthy of Save the Children, worked on the report. "They are quiet and calm, and when you ask them what is positive for them, they will say: to be polite and abide [by] the rules." Read more: Iraqis wonder what will follow 'Islamic State' in Mosul The majority of children in her research have lost a family member, suffer from nightmares and frequently become aggressive. While aid workers try through art and games to help the kids come to terms with what happened and the effect it has on them, they also work with the equally traumatized parents so they can be supportive of their children, McCarthy told DW. She underlined the necessity for treatment, because stress can become toxic and lead to depression and other health issues. "For children, toxic stress can affect the brain and the behavior and lead to mental health problems in a country where this is considered a stigma." Save the Children has been working with the Iraqi government to combat the problem, McCarthy says, adding that apart from the stigma, the lack of qualified therapists poses a major problem that needs to be addressed. "Young people who have faced traumatic experiences and have not been given the appropriate support [...] may also pass on trauma to their own children," the report states. The researchers warn that "if the root causes of conflict in Iraq are not addressed and if perpetrators of human rights abuses are not brought to justice, trauma can remain chronic and reproduce itself for generations to come. The entire society, then, may suffer from a lasting culture of pain."

Children have been among those worst hit by “Islamic State” occupation and the battle to liberate Mosul. They suffer malnutrition for lack of food and toxic stress from the violence they witnessed, Judit Neurink reports. “Look, he is walking again!” Hanan Mohammed, 43, smiles, setting her two-year-old on his skinny legs. The family of three recently escaped the Old City ... Read More »

Children in Aleppo: ‘I’d rather die’

Aleppo has become "a slaughterhouse," says the UN Commissioner for Human Rights. The situation for children there is especially serious. Experts are warning of depression and suicidal thoughts among the young. The image burns itself into your brain: little Omran from the Syrian city of Aleppo sitting in an ambulance, staring into space, covered in blood, clothes torn, his hair full of dust. The photograph, taken by an activist a few weeks ago, provoked horror around the world. We can only surmise from this little child's stunned expression what the war in his homeland has done to him, and to many other children and youngsters like him. Aleppo has again been forced to endure weeks of bombing by the Syrian and Russian regimes. A ceasefire was in place over the weekend. Of all the cities caught up in the Syrian civil war, Aleppo is the most fiercely contested. According to the UN, more than 250,000 people are trapped under siege in the eastern part of town. The recent bombardments were the heaviest since the start of the war in 2011. In the last offensive alone, which began on September 22, more than 500 people were killed and 2,000 wounded. Around a quarter of the victims were children - and that number could rise dramatically, as the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimates that there are around 100,000 children and young people in eastern Aleppo. 'Medieval conditions' In an October 21 speech via video link to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al Hussein, said the siege and bombardment of Aleppo "constitute crimes of historic proportions." This ancient Syrian city, "a place of millennial civility and beauty," was today, he said, "a slaughterhouse." Although Russia agreed to the ceasefire, the sick and injured could not be brought out of the city. The United Nations said it was unsafe to transport them, and secretary-general Ban Ki Moon pointed out that: "Under these medieval conditions, the vulnerable are suffering the most." Suicidal thoughts among children Katharina Ebel, the project advisor of SOS Children's Villages in Syria, confirmed that this is indeed the case. The children are under tremendous psychological strain, she said, warning of severe depression that could even lead to children having suicidal thoughts. "One boy who wanted to take his own life was only 12 years old," she told the "Passauer Neue Presse" newspaper. "So far we've always been able to prevent children from killing themselves," Ebel went on. But she reported that every day there are children who say, "I'd rather die than go on like this." Deep depression drives them to commit acts of aggression, against both themselves and others. "Many of them can't sleep any more, or have nightmares, and then they're completely exhausted during the day," she said. Children describe the rigors of their everyday lives on the website of UNICEF's #ChildrenofSyria campaign. Not only do they risk being killed on the way to school, the schools themselves are also often attacked - around 4,000 times since the war began. And even those who try to take shelter may be killed: The organization Save the Children has reported that so-called "bunker buster" bombs are being used. Some experiences are too extreme SOS Children's Villages have psychologists and social workers in every facility, "who talk to the children individually, try to alleviate their trauma, restore the children's sense of trust," Ebel said. "Sometimes it's just not possible, because what they've experienced is too extreme. Often, when a child has seen their parents die, seen them buried under rubble, seen their home destroyed, their sense of security is lost for a very long time." The Syrian winter will start to set in in just a few weeks' time. UNICEF warns that many children and their families have reached the end of their strength. Children are especially at risk from the freezing temperatures and snowstorms that have often occurred in recent years. The aid organization is also very worried about the children in the Iraqi city of Mosul, 600 kilometers (370 miles) further east. It warns that the current offensive to recapture the city means the more than 500,000 children and their families there are now in extreme danger.

Aleppo has become “a slaughterhouse,” says the UN Commissioner for Human Rights. The situation for children there is especially serious. Experts are warning of depression and suicidal thoughts among the young. The image burns itself into your brain: little Omran from the Syrian city of Aleppo sitting in an ambulance, staring into space, covered in blood, clothes torn, his hair ... Read More »

Why star children’s author Cornelia Funke distrusts words

She launched to fame with "Dagon Rider" 19 years ago and just released the sequel. Star kids' author Cornelia Funke tells DW why words can be challenging and why she's buying up a huge plot of land. Cornelia Funke cheerfully answers the phone at 9:30 a.m. California time. She had already been to the ocean, written a bit, made a few calls, and drunk her coffee. Every workday begins with a good cup of coffee, she says. Funke laughs sincerely and frequently, then speaks thoughtfully about her life, her work with words and pictures, and her relationship to fantasy and reality. Her children's fantasy novels, which she illustrated herself, have sold 20 million copies and been translated into 37 languages. DW: Ms. Funke, you have said that the world is full of stories. Which do you find particularly worthy of telling? Cornelia Funke: I am always interested in stories about people. Although I increasingly think that our species is a problematic one on this planet, I am still fascinated by it. I'm also fascinated by stories that stem from a particular place. That started with "The Thief Lord," which wouldn't have come into being if it weren't for Venice. In the stories I choose to tell, places always play the role of a hero. I have also always been interested in the non-human and our relationship to that - whether plants or animals or imaginary creatures. I'm interested in everything that scratches at and questions the so-called reality that we perceive. What scratches at your reality? When I'm standing on the street in Hamburg and there is one of those stepping stones under my feet, which is there to remind me of the Jews that were deported from the house I'm standing in front of, then that hugely scratches at the reality I find myself in at that moment. I might just have come back from a peaceful walk across the "Isemarkt" market square, for example. It scratches at my reality when a bird flies by me and I imagine how it views reality. It scratches at my reality when someone passes me by who has a different color of skin. How does that change the experience with world? We all know it does. It constantly scratches at my reality that we can perceive this world so differently. I find it absurd I'm asked so often why I write fantasy, because I think that reality is fantastic. And the only way to get closer to it is to write fantasy. Is that how you create your fantasy worlds? The world is fantastic. I don't have to create anything. Everyone who tries to get closer to the reality of this world will realize that it is, in its essence, fantastic. You just need to stand in a big city and look around. You'll notice that all of it has been created by humans. And humans really like to believe in the illusion that they have control over everything. That we decide how our lives work and how this world works. That we are the ones who can destroy this planet. But it's the other way around: This planet will destroy us. In this regard, humans are surprisingly immature and think their own reality to be so important. But this way of seeing the world is in the end always challenged, by illness, loss, love, death…our own mortality. You are also a skilled illustrator. Does thinking in images help you to write? What came first - the chicken or the egg? Am I an illustrator because I think visually? Or has my visual thinking grown stronger because I've always liked to draw? I would say that the visual thinking comes first. If you can draw well - which I thankfully have always been able to - it's sometimes easier to first capture an idea in images. So yes, my writing is deeply impacted by the fact that I am a visual person and distrust words. You distrust words? Can you give us an example? We constantly use words to try to get closer to what has no words. Music is in that superior to words, because it can easily express the wordless things - words always have something abstract about them that is controlled by our minds. Poetry gets often closer to what music can do. But when you write prose like I do, then the aim is to weave that which has no words in between the words. You can do that for example through the sound of language. The sound still contains more than the word itself. Are you being self-critical? hmmmm, I wouldn't call it self-criticism. Instead I would call it criticism of the material I work with. I see myself as a craftsperson, as a sculptor of words. The word - my raw material - has its limitations, which I constantly struggle with. And sometimes I am more successful and sometimes I'm less successful. It's as if I were painting a picture - sometimes it looks better and sometimes it looks worse, depending on how I use the brush and the paint. In the sequel to "Dragon Rider," The Griffon's Feather," the main protagonist Ben embarks on a dangerous mission. He wants to rescue the Pegasus from extinction. Do you want to convey a message to your young readers with this story? I'm always very careful with messages, but with this book I have actually gone the furthest in this direction. I believe that the alienation of our children from the natural world is far more dangerous than getting upset about children not reading anymore. Children spend too much time at school. Time to experience the world directly is taken away from them. The world is conveyed to them through adults' filters and what we consider to be important knowledge. Children no longer have time to play outside. They're not left unsupervised anymore. I'm currently in the process of buying 10 hectares (nearly 35 acres) of land in the Santa Monica Mountains to create a wilderness sanctuary – I’ll call it the Rim of Heaven - and I intend to offer workshops up there and bring city children into nature. I'm very concerned that children will be afraid of the natural world one day and will loose their feeling for this world. Then "The Griffin's Feather" is an encouraging book? Yes! I would be very happy if children do something after reading it - if they rescue frogs or want to see an orangutan in its natural habitat. You've said that children should take their dreams very, very seriously and shouldn't believe anyone who tells them that they can't reach them. What is it that you dream of, Ms. Funke? At the moment, I'm dreaming of this piece of land. And of the tree houses and teepees that will be on it, and that I'll have city children there that lose their fear of picking up a lizard. That's my big dream at the moment.

She launched to fame with “Dagon Rider” 19 years ago and just released the sequel. Star kids’ author Cornelia Funke tells DW why words can be challenging and why she’s buying up a huge plot of land. Cornelia Funke cheerfully answers the phone at 9:30 a.m. California time. She had already been to the ocean, written a bit, made a ... Read More »

Half of Syria’s school children miss out on education

UNICEF and other aid organizations are trying to help children go back to school. Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai has called on governments to do more, so that Syria will still have a future left when peace returns. The civil war in Syria has been raging for five years now and there is no end in sight. Among those who suffer from the violence and chaos the most: Syrian children, who are especially vulnerable. According to UNICEF, the United Nations' aid program for children, there are around 2.5 million children registered as refugees outside of Syria. Many of them are living in camps in countries like Lebanon, Jordan or Egypt. They have lost everything and are traumatized by the death and violence they had to witness. International aid organizations are fighting for these children to have a future, and not to become a lost generation. One of the most important tools in this effort: education. Ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting this week, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has called on the heads of governments across the world to guarantee 12 years of school for every refugee child. "Education is crucial," Yousafzai told news agency Associated Press. "I understand that, you understand that, people understand that, but when it comes to world leaders' decision making, they completely ignore it, as if they have no knowledge and are completely ignorant." Missing teachers, closed-down schools On September 19, the UN will host its first summit on migrants and refugees. Yousafzai, who became the youngest nobel laureate ever in 2014 for advocating all children's right to an education, will not be attending the 71st session of the General Assembly. At 19 years old, she's focusing on her school work and college applications instead. But there are millions of children who don't have the chance to attend university or even go to secondary school. Aid organizations like UNICEF are working to provide as many children as possible with access to education. They deal with refugee children in Syria's neighboring countries, but also with kids who are still inside the war-ridden nation. More than 700,000 Syrian refugee children in neighboring countries aren't going to school even though they should be. Inside the country, the situation is even worse: One quarter of all schools aren't used for educational purposes anymore and 50,000 education professionals no longer work in their jobs - they fled the country, died or joined the fighting. That's why 2.1 million Syrian school children don't have the possibility to attend class. "Half of Syria's school children aren't in school," Juliette Touma, communication chief for UNICEF's Middle East and North Africa office, told DW. "Some of them have never been in school, others have missed up to five years." No Lost Generation In 2016, UNICEF plans to give 854,000 Syrian refugee children in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey access to formal education. To that end, UNICEF is one of organizations supporting the No Lost Generation initiative. Supported by different UN agencies, a variety of international and local NGOs, governments and private donors, the initiative aims to "provide opportunities for children and youth… to heal, learn and develop again." "In the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, the second-biggest refugee camp in the world, we built nine schools from scratch," Touma said. "In other countries we expand learning space by renovating existing schools, adding more classrooms or installing heating." The initiative has also introduced the double-shift methodology in numerous schools, for example in Jordan. In the morning, Jordanian children will attend school and in the afternoon, the classrooms are used to teach Syrian refugee children. "We think outside the box to provide education," Touma said. Girls' tough struggle For refugee girls, the situation is especially precarious. They are even less likely to go to school than boys. "Refugee girls are wondering how long they can stay out of school before they're forced into early marriages or child labor," Yousafzai said in a press statement. The Nobel Prize winner was shot in October 2012 for defying the Taliban in her home country Pakistan by going to school and advocating education for girls. Today, her charity Malala Fund focuses on "helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education." The fund's current social media campaign #YesAllGirls wants to draw attention to the plight of refugee girls. UNICEF's Juliette Touma recounts the story of one girl in a Jordan refugee camp who convinced her parents to not marry her off and let her go to school instead. But Touma also says that the number of young girls getting married is rising, because their parents have lost everything and are so poor that they see no other option. The No Lost Generation Initiative is doing everything to fight this practice and to make sure that girls and boys get a chance to go to school. "For UNICEF, education is as important as water and vaccinations because it nourishes a child's soul," Touma said. "School is really a safe haven - and also an investment in the future. Bear in mind that the war in Syria will eventually come to an end, hopefully sooner rather than later. We will need these children to rebuild the country."

UNICEF and other aid organizations are trying to help children go back to school. Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai has called on governments to do more, so that Syria will still have a future left when peace returns. The civil war in Syria has been raging for five years now and there is no end in sight. Among those who ... Read More »

Heavy fatalities as rebels shell Aleppo; France and Russia mull military action

At least 38 people have been killed in a rebel bombardment of Aleppo, many of them children. As "Islamic State" presses an offensive in the north, France and Russia are considering military options. At least 38 people were killed in Aleppo on Tuesday when Syrian rebels shelled three government-held neighborhoods in the west of the city. Among the dead were said to be 14 children. "Rocket fire on government districts is still going on," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, giving a toll of at least 150 wounded in the districts of Salaheddine, al-Hamdaniya and New Aleppo. "It's one of the heaviest death tolls yet from rebel bombardment of Aleppo." While the west of the city is controlled by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rebels in the east and regularly fire rockets and makeshift missiles into the government-held parts of the city. Over three years, the rebel-held east has been pounded by air raids and government shelling, with much of the population escaping to the countryside or other countries. France warns of IS progress In the French parliament on Tuesday, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stressed that Islamic State was making "very significant progress" in Syria, particularly in the Aleppo region. However, the gains being made by the militant Islamists appeared to be at the expense of other rebel groups. "There is an extremely strong offensive taking place on the small town of Marea, which if it succeeded would wipe out what we still call the Free Syrian Army or the national Syrian coalition, or what is left of it," said Le Drian. The minister was defending France's decision to carry out surveillance flights over Syria, ahead of possible air strikes. While Le Drian ruled out any ground intervention in Syria, he said Paris would support any such operation by countries in the region. On Tuesday, the northeastern Syrian city of Hassakeh was hit by a third bomb attack in two days, with the official news agency SANA putting the death toll from the latest blast at seven. "Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility for all three attacks, with 32 people having been killed on Monday. Putin defends position on Syria Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended his country's military assistance to Assad's regime, saying that it was the only way to defeat IS. "Without an active participation of the Syrian authorities and the military, it would be impossible to expel the terrorists from that country and the region as a whole, and to protect the multi-ethnic and multi-confessional Syrian people from destruction," said Putin. Putin has backed Assad throughout the four-and-a-half year war in Syria, claiming that the flow of refugees from the country would have been even greater without Moscow's intervention. According to the Pentagon, Russia is engaged in a military build-up at an airport in the coastal province of Latakia, indicating that Moscow wants to run air mission from there. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States would like Russia to engage constructively with the international coalition fighting IS in Syria, rather than build up its own military presence there.

At least 38 people have been killed in a rebel bombardment of Aleppo, many of them children. As “Islamic State” presses an offensive in the north, France and Russia are considering military options. At least 38 people were killed in Aleppo on Tuesday when Syrian rebels shelled three government-held neighborhoods in the west of the city. Among the dead were ... Read More »

UNICEF 2015 report: Millions of children caught in the middle of conflict

Killed, maimed, kidnapped, enslaved, forced to flee: violence against children has reached horrifying levels. The UN children's aid group Unicef calls for much more protection for children. The right to education, care and protection - for children growing up in war zones these are little more than empty promises. Currently, in the world's five most conflicted countries - Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen - some 21 million children are directly affected by violence. Terror groups such as "Islamic State" (IS) and Boko Haram intentionally disregard the principles of international humanitarian law in order to generate a maximum of attention. "Children are subjected to bomb attacks in their homes and in their schools; they are kidnapped, killed, sexually abused and recruited as child soldiers," says Ted Chaiban of UNICEF International. One in ten children worldwide lives in a country or region that is defined by armed conflict. That means that an unfathomable 230 million children grow up caught in the middle of conflicts. "Children caught in the middle" is also the title of the 2015 UNICEF report, which was just presented in Berlin. With its 270 page report, the children's aid organization seeks to draw attention to the ways that uncertainty, hate and violence destroy the lives of millions of children. Fewer contributions It is said that there have not been this many child refugees since the end of the Second World War. And UNICEF has never had to ask for so much money for emergency aid in conflict regions. This year that sum will be about $3 billion (2.7 billion euros). Two-thirds of that money comes from state funding, one-third from private donations - and it gets harder to raise every year. "It is far easier to gather donations for victims of natural disasters than for Syrian war refugees," says Jürgen Heraeus, chairman of UNICEF Germany. "People say, 'natural disasters could affect any of us,' so they have a certain empathy, whereas the other case is an armed conflict and they feel that it has nothing to do with them," he said. "The UN's world food program and UNICEF have both had to cut back on food rations due to lack of funding. Therefore they cannot help all of the children, youths and other needy persons that are so dependent upon such aid," laments Germany's Development Minister Gerd Müller. In the past two years, says Müller, some 70,000 children have been born on the floors of tents in refugee camps. He has witnessed the suffering in such refugee camps firsthand and tells of recently meeting a mother holding her seventh child in her arms, as she sat next to her 16-year-old son who had lost both of his legs in a conflict. Müller goes on to criticize the fact that in Germany the willingness to donate money to help refugees and displaced persons is waning. "The images keep washing over us, and unfortunately we are becoming increasingly numb to them." But the global community must live up to its promises and do something. School and psychotherapy Last year, the development ministry gave UNICEF about 150 million euros ($167 million) to support projects in war and conflict zones. A large part of that money was used to aid refugees from Syria and Iraq. "Because of such support 100,000 children can attend school in Lebanon alone," reports Müller. Financial aid is scheduled to be increased this year, although Müller declined to say exactly how much when asked. Germany is among the most important donors for school projects for Syrian refugees. Ted Chaiban emphasizes that it is importent for children and youths to go to school and to get a glimpse of a world that is formed by hope, not hate. That is why the children's aid organization is active in making sure that children get psychological and social support as well. Simple children's centers are enough to start with and therapy can take place in tents. "Germany wants to focus on the program this year," says Gerd Müller, who also announced further financial aid for this kind of support. Jürgen Heraeus stresses that the opportunity for a return to stability and peaceful development is dependent upon giving youths orientation and jobs. "If we are unable to catch this generation, to give them an education and hope for a better future, then they will simply drift away."

Killed, maimed, kidnapped, enslaved, forced to flee: violence against children has reached horrifying levels. The UN children’s aid group Unicef calls for much more protection for children. The right to education, care and protection – for children growing up in war zones these are little more than empty promises. Currently, in the world’s five most conflicted countries – Syria, Iraq, ... Read More »

Nigerian troops free 234 more women and children from Boko Haram

Nigeria troops have freed 234 more women and children from the Boko Haram stronghold in the Sambisa forest. The army operation is aiming to recover more kidnap victims. Nigeria's army announced on Friday it had freed a further 234 women and children from the Sambisa forest in the northeast of the country. A military spokesman said the "assault on the forest is continuing from various fronts and efforts are concentrated on rescuing civilian hostages and destroying all terrorist camps and facilities in the forest." The Islamist terror group Boko Haram had seized about 2,000 women and girls since the start of last year, according to Amnesty International. Its stronghold is the Sambisa forest. About 500 women and children have already been rescued this week by the military operating through the Kawuri and Konduga end of the Sambisa forest. The 234 will join them at the center where authorities are trying to determine the identities of all those released. "They have been evacuated to join others at the place of ongoing screening," the military said. It is not yet known if any of the 219 girls taken from their school in Chibok in April of last year are among the children who have been released. A campaign under the social media hashtag 'Bring Back our Girls" (photo) was launched by friends and family of the girls for their safe return. Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, who lost the March 28 elections, was criticized for not doing enough to free the girls, or end the six-year-long Boko Haram insurgency. Some 13,000 people have died and 1.5 million fled their homes in the wake of the group's attacks. Former military ruler Mohammadu Buhari won the election and is due to assume office on May 29. He has promised to wipe out Boko Haram and prevent the group from setting up a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.

Nigeria troops have freed 234 more women and children from the Boko Haram stronghold in the Sambisa forest. The army operation is aiming to recover more kidnap victims. Nigeria’s army announced on Friday it had freed a further 234 women and children from the Sambisa forest in the northeast of the country. A military spokesman said the “assault on the ... Read More »

Scroll To Top