Depression, Poverty Make A Deadly Mix

21 July 21, 2010, Pakistan - She survived the nightmare, but three of her six children, as well as her husband, did not. In fact, Muzammil Akbar says, it was her husband Akbar Ali who had fed poison to their three eldest children before handing her a "handful of white tablets".Akbar, 32, recalls her husband as telling her: "‘What’s the point of dying a little every day? Let’s just die once and get over with this dog’s life.’"Akbar says she was overcome with shock and was soon swallowing the tablets her husband, a rickshaw driver, gave to her. Released from the hospital where she spent more than two weeks in June, Akbar found herself locked out of her in- laws’ home and denied the...

New child-friendly schools bring new hope to communities in Sri Lanka

15 July 2010 Sri Lanka – Thousands of schoolchildren in Ampara district, eastern Sri Lanka, recently cheered in a new era in education, with marching bands playing and UNICEF flags waving during official ceremonies in their villages.Along with local community leaders, they were celebrating the opening of six new schools – the result of a UNICEF Sri Lanka investment totalling $3.8 million. Thousands of students will benefit from the UNICEF-funded schools.But it was a solemn moment, too – a moment to remember the tsunami that destroyed their old schools and villages in December 2004. The scars of the tsunami are still scattered along the coastline here, tombstones and ruinsfrom the time ...

TIMOR-LESTE: "Spectacular" reduction in child mortality rates

14th July 2010, Penang- Timor-Leste, one of the world’s newest and poorest nations, has achieved significant declines in infant mortality, under-five mortality and fertility rates, according to the country’s latest Demographic and Health Survey (DHS).Preliminary data from the survey - the full results of which will be released later this year - indicate Timor-Leste’s fertility rate now stands at 5.7 births per woman aged 15-49, two children less than in 2003. Also, since the last survey in 2003, the infant mortality rate dropped from 60 to 44 deaths per 1,000 births, while the under-five rate fell from 83 to 64 deaths per 1,000 births.“In terms of the infant and under-five mortality ...

NEPAL: NGOs blame lax government for rise in human trafficking

6th July 2010, Kathmandu - Lax government enforcement of human anti-trafficking laws has led to an increase in the trafficking of young Nepalese women and girls, mainly for exploitation in Indian brothels, local activists say.Nepal’s 2008 Human Trafficking and Transportation (Control) Act stipulates punishment for traffickers of up to 20 years in prison and US$2,600 in fines, and provides for the compensation of victims. But it seems the new law has done nothing to reduce the phenomenon.“The crucial problem is weak implementation of anti-trafficking laws allowing the traffickers to operate easily,” said Shyam Kumar Pokharel, managing director of Samrakshak Samuha Nepal (SASANE), an NGO...

In Brief: UN urges Asia to focus on gender in HIV policies

28th June 2010, Bangkok - The UN is urging Asia Pacific governments to step up their efforts to address gender inequalities in HIV response as rates of infection among women in the region continue to rise. Some 1.6 million women are living with HIV in the Asia Pacific region, while 35 percent of all HIV infections in Asia are women, compared with just 18 percent two decades ago, according to UNAIDS. “Tackling harmful gender norms that are at the root of women’s vulnerability to HIV is crucial to stem the spread of the epidemic,” said Moni Pizani, UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) regional programme director. UNIFEM and UNAIDS launched an action plan on 28 June in Pattaya, Thailand...

UNICEF hands over new schools in Sri Lanka

22nd June 2010, Colombo – UNICEF Sri Lanka handed over six new schools to local communities in eastern Sri Lanka during two days of official ceremonies.The six schools represent a total investment of 420 million rupees (3.8 million US dollars) and will benefit thousands of pupils and families.UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative Philippe Duamelle said: "These schools represent hope for the communities after years of being blighted by the consequences of the 2004 tsunami and civil conflict."UNICEF, in partnership with the Sri Lankan government, is committed to ensure every child has access to education this means addressing the needs of the more remote communities such as these."The six schools ...

NEPAL: Disadvantaged children missing out on education

Kathmandu, 14th June 2010 - Millions of children from marginalized ethnic families in Nepal are drifting out of education because not enough is being done to keep them in school, aid workers warn. “Enrolling them in school and simply providing scholarships is not enough to ensure they continue going to school,” said Bhaya Ram Yadav from the Jana Jagran Yuba Club, an NGO that works with disadvantaged children in Bara District, 200km south of the capital Kathmandu. Bara has one of the worst literacy rates in the Himalayan nation, with only 27 percent female and 53 percent male literacy, well below the national averages of 44 and 68 percent respectively, according to the Department of Educa...

PAKISTAN: City life offers women new perspectives

Peshwar 2 June 2010 (IRIN) - The family of Aurangzeb Afridi, 45, is divided. For the past six months, they have been living in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtoonkh’wa province, after being displaced from the Orakzai Agency in tribal areas. Afridi wants to go back but his teenage daughters are reluctant to leave.“Fighting has slowed down in and around our home town, Kalaya, and it is time to go back,” Afridi told IRIN. He wants to take up farming again and look after his parents. “I miss our home. City life may be comfortable, with running water in taps and streets that are busy all the time, but it is not right for me,” he said.However, his teenage daugh...

INDONESIA: NGOs push for stronger child protection laws

26th May 2010, Jakarta - Millions of Indonesian children remain vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and discrimination because the government has not prioritised children’s rights, says a coalition of NGOs. On 25 May, the National NGO Coalition for Child Rights Monitoring launched its review report on the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) between 1997 and 2009, making a number of recommendations to better protect Indonesian children. “The government has shown a lack of initiative in integrating the CRC with Indonesian law,” said Ahmad Taufan Damanik, executive coordinator for the National NGO Coalition for Child Monitoring in Jakarta. Among the recommen...

INDONESIA: Anti-malaria efforts focus on pregnant women, children

20th May 2010, Jakarta - Health authorities are successfully battling malaria in remote eastern Indonesia by linking efforts to fight the mosquito-borne disease to maternal and child healthcare."Pregnant women and children are especially vulnerable to malaria, and modern malaria diagnosis and prevention can be delivered via existing maternal health and immunisation services in a symbiotic way," said William Hawley, a malaria expert with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).Nurses and midwives help the malaria programme with diagnosis, treatment and bed net distribution, Hawley said. Furthermore, because people want bed nets, more women use antenatal care and bring their children to be immunised."...

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