Live Blog: Children at Risk in Libya

55 Geof Giacomini, Save the Children, Egypt Country Director

Cairo, Egypt

Geof reports from Cairo on the impact of unrest on children in Egypt and Libya. Geof plays a key role in providing relief for refugee children and their families fleeing from unrest in neighboring Libya. Save the Children is mounting relief efforts in the wake of a violent uprising against embattled Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi.

When I returned to the Middle East in the midst of the Egyptian revolution, I never would have suspected that Libya would soon follow. Now, the Libyan turmoil and violence is getting worse.Thousands of families have been forced to flee the country for fear of their lives.

The UN reports that thousands of people have sought refuge here in Egypt. Countless others have arrived in Tunisia. Libyan refugees have no where to go but to countries still struggling with unrest themselves.

Resize_imageAn Egyptian boy who fled Libya, walks across the border before being transported to a nearby Tunisian army camp. 
Credit REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

In response to the unrest and emerging refugee crisis, our emergency relief teams have been working tirelessly. Our US logistics expert and aid program director arrived safely at the border. We take very strict security measures and stock the vehicles with provisions and emergency communications equipment such as satellite phones.

Our team continues to support children caught in the violence andendeavours to meet their needs. We want to make sure that children caught up in this crisis are cared for and protected.

Boys and girls in these situations also face serious risks to their health and safety. Children can often get lost in the chaos. If they get separated from their families, they may go hungry or get hurt easily without parents to protect them. They are vulnerable to emotional distress from being uprooted from their homes, schools and all that is familiar to them.

So far, needs center around the basics – food, shelter and health care. We will be partnering with the humanitarian community on these essentials. We will also be working to reunite families and providing support for children who have been exposed to trauma.

More to come from the field as things unfold. We could really use some extra help right about now.


Get more news about Save the Children and unrest in the Middle East and North Africa


Destruction in Joplin

JOPLIN_TORNADO___11_89015 Ali Hochreiter Operations Specialist, Domestic Emergencies Unit, Save the Children USA   

Joplin, Missouri

June 7, 2011

If it had been 6:02 p.m., on a weekday rather than Sunday evening when the Joplin tornado hit, most of the 94 children who attend Creative Kids Academy would have been in the classrooms, waiting on their parents to pick them up. By 6:30 that night, the two buildings and playground that made up Courtney Grover’s child care business were nothing but rubble, one more pile of wood and twisted metal in a seven-mile stretch of destruction that left one lot indistinguishable from the next.

JOPLIN_TORNADO___2_88997Ali Hochreiter (left) of Save the Children speaks with owner Courtney Grover of Creative Kids Daycare Center that was destroyed in Joplin, Missouri. Photo by Bruce Stidham

I’d arrived in Joplin with the goal of assessing needs for families, equipped with names of nine child care centers that served more than 400 children and had reportedly been severely damaged. It was immediately clear that my list of addresses was almost worthless since streets were barely visible, and there were no signs to direct me anyway. I had my nose buried in my blackberry, following a dot on the digital map in the hopes it would pinpoint me in one of the blocks when I realized I was standing in a pile of children’s toys: an oversized ladybug, plastic building blocks, a brightly colored gate. As far as I could see in all directions, it was more of the same — piles of wood, eerily faceless homes open like dollhouses, clothing quietly swinging in the closet, beds hanging off the second story; a kitchen standing in the middle of a ripped-open house, cabinet doors gone but breakfast cereal lined up neatly on the shelves.

JOPLIN_TORNADO___19_89031 2-year-old Braden of Joplin, Missouri sleeps in a Red Cross shelter after the May 22nd tornado destroted his home. Braden and his grandmother survived by staying in their basment during the F-5 tornado. Photo: Bruce E Stidham

Although I’d seen disaster sites before, I was struck by how complete the destruction was within the path of the storm, and how alarmingly clean the edges were, with one house gone and the next one over suffering only minor damage.  I could not imagine how anyone had survived a direct hit and what the aftermath of the tornado must have been like as people dug themselves out and tried to account for neighbors. One family of three staying at the shelter survived by huddling in the bathtub as the house blew away around them, the parents shielding their little girl. They told me she’d been having trouble sleeping ever since.  Standing in the ruins of a child care center that was so fortunately empty when the tornado struck, I had to stop myself from thinking about what might have happened there on another night, and could only hope rebuilding efforts will take into account the mitigation and safety standards that will protect lives in the future.


Support our U.S. Emergencies Fund to help keep children in America safe and strong before, during and after emergencies.

Doh!-ville – Don’t forget the children, G8

Nora O'Connell Nora O’Connell, Save the Children Senior Director of Development Policy and Advocacy

Deauville, France

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The beautiful seaside village of Deauville, France, where the G8 leaders just held their annual Summit, is a long way from the villages of Malawi – in more ways than one.

The big story at the summit was the Arab spring – the popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere – and how global leaders can support the people of those countries in creating lasting peace, stability and prosperity.

The G8's package of help for the Middle East is timely and important – but key pledges to the developing world still need to be delivered. We don't want an Arab Spring to be followed by a barren summer in Africa.

In Malawi, there is a different kind of uprising happening, but there the government is leading the charge. It is a movement calling for the end of needless deaths of thousands of mothers and children, mostly from preventable and treatable causes.

Malawi is symbolic of the transformation that can happen when a government, even of a poor country, commits itself to a goal and develops sounds policies, programs and partnerships to achieve it. They’ve prioritized proven approaches, like training community health workers, giving vaccines and fighting malnutrition – things that can help prevent and treat leading killers of children, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. And Malawi has achieved results – from 1990 to 2009, under-5 mortality rate has dropped by half.

What does this have to do with the G8? Because even committed countries like Malawi need donor support to stay on track, save lives, and create a brighter future for their countries.

At their previous two summits, G8 leaders made important promises to help developing countries that are struggling with maternal and child health and hunger. In Deauville, the G8 affirmed those commitments, but they need to turn that pledge into action by tackling the shortfall of 3.5 million health workers in the poorest countries. Training just one of these could help deliver lifesaving treatments to hundreds or even thousands of children and save many lives.

The U.S. will have two key moments in the next few months to deliver on its promises. The first is on the 2012 spending bills. Congress has to resist the temptation to sacrifice these proven programs in the name of cutting the federal deficit. Programs to fight global poverty are about half of 1 percent of the federal budget, so cuts to these programs won’t help families in either Michigan or Malawi.

The second moment will come in September in New York when health workers will be top of the agenda at a U.N. summit. In its accountability report, the G8 acknowledged how these workers are critical to health progress. Now the US should come to the U.N. with its plan to help meet the shortfall of 3.5 million health workers and empower those who are already working to save lives.


 Meet local health workers and the children they help to survive.