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.

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

 

Battling Crocodiles on the Way to School

Sophie headshotSophie Hamandishe, Communications Officer, Save the Children Zimbabwe

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mbire District, Zimbabwe


Most American school children think it’s a hassle just waking up early for the morning school bus. But that is nothing compared to the “hassles” for children setting out to school in northern Zimbabwe.

Out by the Angwa River in the northern part of Zimbabwe, children trekking to and from school daily must cross these crocodile-infested waters. You can imagine how much these children want to go to school to take such risks.

One such kid is 12-year-old Hardlife Kawara. Last year, on his way home from school, he and some friends were washing in the river when a crocodile attacked him. He told me his friends got scared and ran away. But his brave brother grabbed his waist and held on tight while the crocodile took a tighter hold of Hardlife’s leg and tried to pull him under the water. After a long struggle, the crocodile let go, but it took part of Hardlife’s leg off.

Hardlife now needs a new artificial leg as the one in this picture is now too small.

Hardlife, 12, after his crocodile attack with his prosthetic leg.
Photo Credit: Sophie Hamandishe

With orthopedic care and a prosthetic leg provided through Save the Children’s support, Hardlife is back on his feet and in good spirits despite his incredible ordeal. I am so inspired to see his determination. And, what is even more amazing is that after getting care, he returned home intent on going back to school. In the first three months of 2011 alone, seven children in this area were attacked by crocodiles.

Prosper Prosper, 8, another victim of a crocodile attack, is eager to return to school.
Photo Credit: Sophie Hamandishe

A sturdy foot bridge would help keep these children safe, but it is costs money that the community currently does not have. (A foot bridge would also allow kids to cross the river during the six months of the year that it floods.)

Local officials and education authorities are doing their best to come up with a solution. One idea is to build a new primary school in Komba village on the other side of the river so children don’t have to wade through the water. But until money can be raised for a new school, children will continue to face the river’s dangers.

In the meantime, Save the Children is holding workshops in the community to teach children how to protect themselves and avoid crocodile and lion attacks. I’ll save the lion stories for another day.

Children and Families Flee Violence in Ivory Coast

Rmcgrath Rae McGrath, Save the Children, Emergency Response Manager

Saclepea, Liberia

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Save the Children is responding to Ivorian refugees streaming into Liberia as result of the conflict in the Ivory Coast. 

Our child protection teams are, "ensuring that children are made safe and brought to a safe place as quickly as possible." Children arrive frightened and fatigued from the long, arduous walk. On a typical day the temperature is around 100 degrees and humid.

Listen to this podcast from Save the Children's Emergency Field Manager in Liberia, Rae McGrath, to learn more about the situation and how we are responding to children's needs

Listen!

Support our Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) Children in Crisis Fund.

Child Friendly Spaces – A Primer

Dhheadshot Dave Hartman, Save the Children, Internet Marketing and Communications Specialist

Westport, CT

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


If you've been following our social media updates or watching news coverage of the disasters in Japan you may have heard that we've set up "Child Friendly Spaces."

While the term is somewhat self-explanatory we thought it'd be nice to give you a quick crash course so you can understand precisely what kind of work we are doing in Japan, and in other disaster or conflict-affected areas for that matter.

CFS_003_85313 Yasu, age 10, playing in a Child Friendly Space inside an evacuation center in Sendai, Japan.
Photo by Jensen Walker/Getty Images for Save the Children

 While the spaces have slight variations depending on the country there are a few basic tenets that remain the same.

The spaces are always a clearly designated area in a shelter. In some cases this will be a classroom in a school or specific tent while in others it will simply be a roped-off section of a room. 

The areas are monitored by specially trained Save the Children staff and local volunteers who lead activities for the children. Activities are culturally relevant and something the children are familiar with, in Japan children have been making origami crafts while in other countries children may play tug-of-war or sing songs and dance. 

RO.KGZ.2010.09.206_82243Children form a train at a Save the Children Child Friendly Space in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Ordonez

Our staff is trained to identify children who may be particularly vulnerable by the incident. The staff and volunteers try to ensure that children with disabilities, those who come from different ethnic or gender groups are involved in the activities and that everything is age and gender appropriate. Local volunteers are also continually trained throughout the time that we run CFS so that they are better able to help organize more interactive activities and help prepare children to return to school, once they reopen.

RO.KGZ.2010.09.183_80971A boy participates in a sack race at the Save the Children Child Friendly Space in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Ordonez

As Mike Penrose, Save the Children Australia's Director of Emergency Response, explains Child Friendly Spaces have benefits for both parents and children.

"They enable parents to have time to register for emergency assistance and start to re-establish their lives while simultaneously providing children with a sense of normality and community when their lives are disrupted by disasters."

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