PAKISTAN: Children suffer in continuing aftermath of 2010 floods

KARACHI, 29 July 2011 (IRIN) - A year after the most devastating floods in living memory in Pakistan ravaged an area the size of the UK along the River Indus, affecting at least 18 million people, according to the UN, a series of reports by humanitarian organizations say victims of the disaster are continuing to suffer. Oxfam points out that 800,000 families remain without proper shelter and says: “As Pakistan faces another monsoon season and the likelihood of more disasters, the country is not prepared. Many factors which have hampered the relief and reconstruction effort are still present, such as an inadequate disaster management system and a lack of emergency relief coordina...

IRAQ: Youth unemployment driving emigration

BAGHDAD, 20 July 2011  - A just released national youth survey in Iraq says youth unemployment is running at over 20 percent and many young people are thinking of emigrating. Up to 23 percent of males and 21 percent of females aged 15-24 are unemployed, according to a 2009 National Youth Survey by the government and the UN Population Fund (released on 16 July). Of these, 33 percent intend to go abroad in search of work, it said. “The youth are the mainstay of every society; they are an energy-producing force but are at the same time a source of grave danger when they do not have jobs and opportunities for a decent life,” the 189-page report noted. Young people, it warned,...

NEPAL: No clear route out of servitude for indentured girls

Kathamandu, 2 July 2011 (IRIN) - Efforts to free thousands of enslaved girls in Nepal and get them into school need more funding and less government bureaucracy, activists say. Since the year 2000, more than 11,000 Kamlaris, girls committed to indentured servitude by their parents, have been rescued. But without financial support, those freed remain impoverished and some say they are forced to consider returning to work as Kamlaris. “Many of my friends are now planning to resume their life as Kamlaris and this really worries me,” 20-year-old Urmila Chaudhary, an ex-Kamlari, told IRIN. She was barely six when her parents sold her to work in a rich household in Kathmandu. In ...

IRAQ: A bad place for children

Baghdad, 4 July 2011 - Decades of war and international sanctions have turned Iraq into one of the worst places for children in the Middle East and North Africa, with around 3.5 million living in poverty, 1.5 million under the age of five undernourished and 100 infants dying every day, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warns. The government can and should do more for children, said Sikander Khan, the outgoing UNICEF representative in Iraq, in a 30 June interview with the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq. “It is the responsibility of the government to support parents by investing in health and education and other basic needs for all children… Central government can also take a signi...

Schools Rise From the Rubble

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Jun 26, 2011 - Violence in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan has kept students away from school, in some areas for at least two years. Now, officials are trying to make up for lost time by holding classes even under tents or trees.The 123 students of the Government Primary School in Bezoti village in Orakzai Agency are among thousands who are studying again. "We are overwhelmed to be back in school," said third grade student Jaweria over the phone from Orakzai. The Taliban bombed her school in August last year, she said, leaving students idle. Orakzai Agency is one of seven "agencies" or tribal units that constitute Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal A...

PHILIPPINES: Bill criminalizing use of children in armed conflict

Manila, 30 May 2011 - Marikina Rep. Marcelino Teodoro, author of Bill 4480, said the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts would be prohibited under the measure. “The bill seeks the prosecution of those responsible for child rights violations in these conflicts. Children have to be provided relief, protection and rehabilitation in such situations,” he said.He said prohibited acts include killing, torture, intentional or casual maiming, rape, abduction, using children as human shield, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of children.Also prohibited is the recruitment of children by the military, the police and other armed groups.Teodoro said the bill bans ...

Northeast Afghanistan - the worst place to give birth?

London, 5 May 2011 - Where is the most dangerous place for a woman to give birth? No one can say for sure but the far northeastern corner of Afghanistan seems a likely bet. It’s well known that Afghanistan is the riskiest country to be an expectant mother - one in 11 women will die giving birth. But in Badakhshan province maternal mortality rates are several times higher than the national average. Now one aid agency wants to find out why. Health charity Merlin is exploring whether one factor could be a vitamin D deficiency, partly due to women living in purdah – largely confined to their home and heavily veiled if they go out. A striking feature about the sky-high maternal mort...

Save the Children Celebrates World Water Day in Afghanistan

Kabul,  Afghanistan 23 March 2011) — Save the Children joined local officials, teachers, and students to celebrate World Water Day on March 22 to promote good health and hygiene at a high school in Mirbachakot District in Kabul Province.The World Water Day promotion is part of Save the Children's school health and nutrition programs to help children stay healthy so they can stay in school and learn. The programs provide children with access to safe and child-friendly water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and education on subjects like proper hand-washing with soap to prevent diarrhea.Proper Hygiene, Access to Clean Drinking Water Reduce Diarrhea-Related IllnessesSpeakers at the sch...

Up to 100,000 children displaced in Japan earthquake and tsunami, warns Save the Children

Japan, 14 March 2011 - Save the Children warns that up to 100,000 children have been displaced because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Stephen McDonald who is leading Save the Children's response said: "We are extremely anxious that up to 100,000 children have been displaced because of last Friday's earthquake and tsunami. Their homes may have been destroyed and many of them will be sheltering in crowded evacuation centres. We can only imagine how frightening the experience of the last few days will have been for them. "There is also a risk that some of them will have become separated from their parents and family members because of the disaster. It is important we provide s...

BANGLADESH: Under-nutrition progress “success story”

Bangkok, 1 March 2011 - NGO Action Against Hunger (ACF) in a recent report singled out Bangladesh - along with Peru, Brazil, Malawi and Mozambique - as a “success story” in its bid to reduce child under-nutrition in the past 15 years.Government surveys showed a reduction from 1996 to 2009 in the percentage of children underweight for their age (56 to 43 percent); stunting, or short for age, (55 to 41 percent); and wasting, or underweight for height, (18 to 13 percent) - though this translated into a still high 2.1 million acutely malnourished children. Nevertheless, some notable programmes and policies are in place, according to ACF:• The national poverty reduction strategy sets as a g...

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