From the Field

Latest humanitarian world news headlines

Humanitarian world news brings you a regularly updated selection of events and trends impacting people and the humanitarian community worldwide.

The humanitarian world news briefs brings you a regularly updated selection of events and trends impacting people and the humanitarian community worldwide. This feed goes back to early 2015, so you can find multiple entries for certain events or themes to discover how they developed over time.

March 24, 2017

Peru’s deadly floods continue to worsen

More than 75 people have died and 100,000 driven from their homes after weeks of heavy rain triggered widespread flooding and mudslides up and down the coast.

The strongest rains in decades have affected almost 650,000 people countrywide and have hit the northern region particularly hard. Thousands of buildings are damaged or destroyed, including more than 1,200 miles of roads and 175 bridges.

This video of a woman miraculously escaping from a flowing river of mud and debris shows the magnitude of the disaster near Lima.

World Vision is responding to needs in Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Ancash, and Lima. Staff on the ground are providing affected families with food, hygiene kits, clothing, and supplies for temporary shelter. We are also setting up Child-Friendly Spaces, which give children a place to play, do homework, or receive counseling support.

More than 1,800 children registered in World Vision’s sponsorship program in La Libertad and Ancash are affected, according to our latest reports from the country. Some of them lost their homes.

In other humanitarian world news

February 10, 2017

Reported trafficking cases up in U.S.

A U.S. hotline to help trafficking survivors saw a 24 percent increase in cases reported in 2016, compared with 2015, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported Jan. 31. Last year, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 7,572 reports of people being trafficked for sex or forced labor. The hotline saw not only a large increase in cases reported, but also noted new types of abuse. Some people were forced to sell magazines, vacuums, or cleaning products door-to-door or defraud people of social security benefits by stealing identities. Set up in 2007, the hotline operates 24 hours a day in multiple languages.

Court says Kenya’s Dadaab camp closure unconstitutional

Kenya’s high court ruled Feb. 9 that the government’s 2016 decision to close the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab goes against the country’s constitution, the BBC reported. The directive had set in motion an effort to repatriate about 260,000 Somali refugees living in the camp by May. Government officials said they would appeal the ruling because they remain concerned about security issues they say stemmed from extremist activities in the camp. About 69,000 people have left the camp since the government announced plans to close Dadaab at the end of May. Still, about 257,000 people remain in Dadaab. Established in 1991 to host Somali families fleeing conflict, Dadaab is located near Kenya’s border with southern Somalia. World Vision has long provided various services in Dadaab camp and throughout Kenya and Somalia.

February 3, 2017

Colombia’s FARC to release all child soldiers

As a result of a peace deal between the FARC rebel group and the Colombian government, the rebels will release all remaining child soldiers. The transfer will happen as thousands of rebel fighters turn in their weapons at designated sites. Colombia’s child welfare agency says nearly 3,700 children were recruited into FARC ranks since 1999. The government estimates that about 170 underage combatants remain. For its part, the government has pledged to counsel and support former soldiers to help them reintegrate into civilian life.

January 30, 2017

Kenyan irrigation app helps farmers save crops

Scientists at a Kenyan university have invented a mobile app to help farmers deal with increasingly frequent drought and unpredictable rainfall, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported Jan. 24. The app monitors a field’s need for water and controls irrigation equipment to deliver appropriate amounts of water. It also alerts the owner when there’s a problem. The system consists of the phone app, a water-flow control unit, solar panels, and two drip irrigation lines. Costing about $480 to set up on a quarter-acre, it’s not exactly cheap for many small-scale farmers. The system costs about $48 to install on every additional quarter-acre. But it has proven to drastically reduce drought-related crop losses and save farmers money.

January 20, 2017

New study highlights widening rich-poor food disparity

A person in Malawi pays about 100 times as much on a bowl of bean stew than a person in Davos, Switzerland, suggests new research from the World Food Program. The findings, presented during the World Economic Forum in Davos this month, highlight the growing disparity between wealthy and developing nations. Factoring in average daily income and cost of food, people in Malawi spend about 41 percent of their daily income for a bowl of beans — less than $1 — and the Swiss spend about .41 percent of their daily income on the same meal. The WFP study, called Hot Dinner Data, showed that in especially fragile contexts like war-torn Syria, a bowl of beans could cost more than a person’s average daily income. While more affordable in places like India or Nicaragua, the same meal could still cost 10 to 15 times what it does in Switzerland.

New head of U.N. plans surge in diplomacy for peace

On his first day as the United Nations’ new secretary general, Jan. 1, former Portuguese prime minister António Guterres called on member nations to make 2017 “a year for peace.”  Also high on the new leader’s agenda for his five-year term is sustainable development and reform of the U.N. bureaucracy to make it more decentralized and flexible. Guterres led the U.N.’s refugee agency from 2005 to 2015.

More child laborers freed in India

Police in Hyderabad rescued 200 underage workers from bangle factories earlier this month in a national sweep to end child trafficking and find missing children. Most of the children making bracelets were between ages 8 and 14 and were trafficked from poverty-stricken northern states. Since 2015, 2,000 children have been freed from labor in Hyderabad. The children stay in shelters until they can return to their homes. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated in 2015 that 5.7 million children ages 5 to 17 were in the labor force in India. There are an estimated 168 million child workers around the world. In Indian communities where World Vision works, child protection units trained by World Vision intervene to prevent trafficking, exploitation, and child marriage. World Vision trained more than 200,000 children in child rights in 2015.

Nigerian Air Force accidentally bombs refugee camp

At least 76 people were killed and more than 100 injured Jan. 17 when Nigerian Air Force planes accidentally bombed a refugee camp near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, Reuters reported. The casualties included people displaced by ongoing attacks by extremist groups, as well as aid workers. The mistaken strike followed Nigeria’s weeks-long military offensive against extremists in the region. Years of violence have displaced 2.2 million people in the Lake Chad region — Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad — and triggered what has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world right now.

January 13, 2017

Afghanistan now a “continual emergency”

An unprecedented 623,000 Afghans were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2016, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The huge increase came as fighting intensified throughout the country between extremist groups. Three times as many people were displaced in 2016 than 2014, which has led officials to say the country is in a state of ‘continual emergency.’ And about 8,400 civilians were killed or injured last year. Further straining the dire humanitarian situation in 2016, more than 600,000 Afghan refugees were forced back home from neighboring Pakistan and Iran. The U.N. predicts conflict will displace another 450,000 Afghans in 2017, IRIN News reported Jan. 10. World Vision began work in Afghanistan in 2001 and has trained hundreds of doctors, nurses, and midwives to improve healthcare services in communities struggling with poor maternal and child health.

January 6, 2017

El Salvador’s murder rate drops 20 percent in 2016

The number of Salvadorans murdered in 2016 fell by 20 percent compared with the year before. Gang violence has plagued El Salvador for years. In 2015 the Central American country was considered the murder capital of the world, with a homicide rate of 104 per 100,000 residents. The rate dropped to 81.7 per 100,000 in 2016, Reuters reported Jan. 2. The national police said new efforts to fight street gangs helped avoid 1,378 deaths, bringing the 2016 homicide total to 5,278. World Vision has worked with communities in El Salvador for more than 40 years.

November 23, 2016

Fewer U.S. households were food insecure in 2015

The number of hungry households in the U.S. continued a downward trend in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s household food security report. It estimates that the percentage of food-insecure American households decreased to 12.7 percent — or 15.8 million households — in 2015, down from 14 percent in 2014. This means more families can afford enough groceries to feed each member without cutting meals or the size of their meals. U.S. hunger reached its highest point in 2011 when 14.9 percent of households reported being food insecure at some point during the year. The USDA also reports that 5 percent of U.S. households “very low” food security in 2015, down from 5.6 percent. World Vision and partners around the country work to help food-insecure families by providing food kits through schools, churches, and in response to disasters.

Landmine casualties at 10-year high globally

Landmines and other unexploded ordnance killed or maimed almost 6,500 people around the world in 2015. That’s the most recorded since 2006 and a 75 percent increase in casualties over 2014, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said in its Nov. 22 report. Thirty-eight percent of victims in 2015 were children. The uptick in casualties was largely driven by militant groups’ increased use of improvised explosive devices. While the group counted victims in 56 countries, the vast majority of casualties were recorded in just five countries: Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Ukraine. The mine-action group reports that about 66 square miles of minefields were cleared worldwide last year, mostly in Cambodia, Croatia, and Afghanistan.

November 18, 2016

Children’s lives and futures at risk in Africa’s Lake Chad region

Hunger and conflict are taking a heavy toll on children and families in the areas of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad near the Lake Chad water basin. More than 9.2 million people are affected, including 475,000 children with signs of malnutrition. About 2.6 million people have fled increasing violence emanating from northeast Nigeria to live in primitive camps or crowded host communities. World Vision provides assistance to 195,000 people in Diffa, Niger; and it is scaling up operations in water and sanitation, food and cash programming, child protection, and youth engagement to include Baga Sola, a region of Chad.

Other notes

A new toll-free child helpline system makes it easier for children to call police and report child rights issues in Rwanda. A fundamental part of World Vision’s child protection systems in Rwanda, the helpline links children instantly to resources and emergency assistance. “There is no way children can enjoy life in all its fullness when they still face abuse and violence,” says George Gitau, World Vision’s national director in Rwanda. World Vision conceived the helpline and developed it in partnership with the Rwanda National Police. Read more about World Vision’s history in Rwanda.

Paulo Uchôa, who runs the Children of God ministry in Fortaleza, Brazil, won the 2016 Bob Pierce Award. For 20 years, Paulo has worked in Fortaleza—which has the highest adolescent homicide rate in Brazil—to engage youth in sports, arts, culture, and Christian values. The Bob Pierce Award, named for World Vision’s founder, recognizes those whose work combines humanitarian service with Christian mission. “It’s like a mission that God gave me, and I accepted,” says Paulo. “This is a tiring and dangerous job, but it’s not in vain.”

November 7, 2016

New study reports that children’s stunting starts before birth

Researchers at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health say that in addition to childhood malnutrition, lack of sanitation, and infectious diseases, the biggest factor determining whether a child is stunted may be his or her mother’s diet during pregnancy. The problem is likely inter-generational, experts say, with stunted mothers giving birth to stunted children. Globally, one-third of children under age 5 are stunted, which limits their long-term physical and cognitive development. U.N. member states have pledged to reduce the global rate of stunting by 40 percent by 2030.

Myanmar allows aid to Rakhine communities displaced by violence

Myanmar’s leaders allowed humanitarian aid to resume last week to reach people displaced by violence in Rakhine state, Reuters reported Nov 3. About 15,000 people have been cut off from outside efforts to provide help since a militant group attacked a police border station and sparked clashes with the military. “We talked to two groups of villagers who haven’t had any food for a while,” said U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel, who was part of a group of diplomats visiting the area. “So the government has agreed to restoring humanitarian assistance to them, which is a good step.” Recent violence was the worst to affect Rakhine state since communal clashes killed hundreds in 2012. Myanmar is home to 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims, who make up the majority of Rakhine state and are particularly vulnerable due to widely held prejudices among majority groups and lack of legal rights. World Vision operates four community development areas in Rakhine state.

October 28, 2016

Global Slavery Index: 45.8 million modern slaves worldwide

Nearly 46 million people are caught up in some form of modern slavery, according to the Walk Free Foundation’s 2016 Global Slavery Index. The index ranks 167 countries based on the percentage of their population estimated to be enslaved. The top five countries with the most people per capita in slavery include North Korea, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, India, and Qatar. Fifty-eight percent of all people in slavery live in five countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. Of the countries listed, 150 of their governments provide some form of services for victims of modern slavery, and 124 have criminalized human trafficking in line with U.N. standards. The index estimates more than 57,000 people are modern slaves in the United States. A situation is considered “modern slavery” if a person takes away another person’s freedom to control their body or their freedom to choose or refuse certain work in order to exploit them. Explore the Global Slavery Index. Advocate to protect children from violence and exploitation.

October 24, 2016

Tackling urban poverty

By 2050, more than 75 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. Many cities don’t have the infrastructure and services to meet the needs of poor families who flock to them in search of opportunities. Habitat III, a recent U.N. conference on sustainable urban development in Quito, Ecuador, outlined new, pro-poor ways to build, manage, and live in cities in a New Urban Agenda. They include extending basic services to all residents and creating “safe, accessible, and green” public spaces. World Vision co-chaired the conference activities related to better city living for children and youth.

October 14, 2016

Report: Girls spend 40 percent more time than boys on domestic chores

Somali girls ages 10 to 14 spend an average of 26 hours per week doing household chores. That’s the most anywhere in the world, according to an Oct. 7 UNICEF report that estimated the amount of time children aged 5 to 14 spend on chores. The findings show that girls spend 40 percent more time than boys doing unpaid work in the home. That pans out to an estimated 160 million more hours per day of chores than boys their age do. “As a result, girls sacrifice important opportunities to learn, grow, and just enjoy their childhood,” said UNICEF’s Principal Gender Adviser Anju Malhotra.

World Bank: 385 million children living in extreme poverty

Almost one child in five in developing countries lives in a household that survives on $1.90 or less per day per person, according to a new analysis from the World Bank and UNICEF. That amounts to about 385 million children living in extreme poverty worldwide, more than the entire U.S.population of 321 million. The 2013 data the groups studied also suggests that children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in such circumstances. “Children are not only more likely to be living in extreme poverty; the effects of poverty are most damaging to children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “They are the worst off of the worst off — and the youngest children are the worst off of all, because the deprivations they suffer affect the development of their bodies and their minds.” Among the worst and most damaging effects of poverty for children, especially those younger than 5, is severe malnutrition that results in stunting. Stunted children tend to be short for their age, have learning difficulties, and ultimately can lose out on economic opportunity later in life.

October 3, 2016

No more measles in the Americas

The Pan-American Health Organization announced on Sept. 27 that the spread of measles has been eliminated in the 47 countries of North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean. If a case occurs now, the infection will have come from outside the region. Measles is highly contagious and is a leading cause of death in young children, though it can be prevented by vaccination. Worldwide, some 115,000 children died from measles last year. The latest outbreaks in the Americas were in January 2015, in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil.

Air pollution: Dirty air kills

Ninety-two percent of the world’s population breathes unhealthy air, per the World Health Organization (WHO) in a new report. Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing and traffic-choked urban centers are among the worst-affected areas. Each year about 3 million deaths from cardiovascular, pulmonary, and other non-communicable diseases can be attributed to outdoor air pollution. Among the major polluters are coal-fired power plants, inefficient modes of transportation, and burning trash piles. The WHO’s director for public health and the environment, María P. Neira, told The New York Times that “the trends are still going in the wrong direction.”

September 23, 2016

Are the world’s 2030 health goals out of reach?

A baseline study of global health indicators casts doubt on the world’s ability to meet the Sustainable Development Goal to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” with measurable results by 2030. Using health data covering the past 25 years, researchers with Seattle’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations looked at health trends in 188 countries. Somalia, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic showed little progress. Others, including Syria and Libya, saw health indicators decline due to war. One exception to the gloomy outlook is maternal and child health. The study’s authors say 60 percent of countries have already met their 2030 goals for preventing maternal and child deaths.

September 16, 2016

Refugee children five times more likely to be out of school

The U.N. refugee agency reports that more than 6 million child refugees have no school to attend. For primary grades, 50 percent of children have education opportunities, compared to a global average of 90 percent. The education gap widens significantly as refugee children age. More than half of out-of-school refugees are in seven countries: Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Alliance of U.S. NGOs announces $1.2 billion humanitarian investment

Ahead of the U.N. refugee summit and a Sept. 20 global leaders meeting called by President Obama, 31 U.S.-based humanitarian organizations — including World Vision U.S. — have pledged to collectively invest more than $1 billion from private sources to assist refugees over the next three years. The announcement was made by Sam Worthington, CEO of InterAction, the largest U.S. alliance of aid organizations. Participating humanitarian groups will provide urgent medical assistance, food and nutrition security, shelter, education, and other services to refugees and displaced people.

September 9, 2016

Report: Half of world’s refugees are children

Half of the refugees in the world are children, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a report released Sept. 7 highlighting the plight of children displaced by conflict or as migrants. The report, “Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children,” seeks to bring together the best available data on displaced children’s lives to help address their rights and needs when they’re most vulnerable.

The report shows that more than 50 million children worldwide have been uprooted from their homes, including 28 million displaced by conflict or violence. One in three children living outside their home country is a refugee, and there were twice as many refugee children in 2015 as in 2005. In 2015, more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 78 countries — triple the number of child asylum seekers in 2014. World Vision works in some of the most difficult humanitarian crises affecting displaced children, including Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

U.S. gives Laos $90 million to clear unexploded Vietnam War-era bombs

The U.S. government announced Sept. 6 it would give Laos $90 million to continue efforts to clear unexploded ordnance dropped during the Vietnam War. The pledge came during President Obama’s visit to the country for a regional summit and aims, in part, to continue programs that support victims of the leftover bombs over the next three years. From 1964 to 1973, U.S. warplanes dropped more than 270 million cluster munitions on Laos. One in three bombs did not explode. A landmine monitoring group estimates that 50,000 people in Laos have been killed or injured by air-dropped ordnance since 1964. Contaminating workable fields, it has hindered economic development for the country, which relies heavily on agriculture. Thanks in part to U.S. help over the past 20 years, Laos has reduced annual casualties from unexploded ordnance from about 300 people to fewer than 50. Along with awareness training, World Vision cooperates with the Laos government and nongovernmental organization Mine Action Group to remove mines and certify land released for agriculture and development. So far, more than 1,000 acres have been cleared and more than 2,120 bombs and mines destroyed.

WHO declares Sri Lanka malaria free

Once one of the most malaria-affected places in the world, Sri Lanka is now free of the virus, the World Health Organization said Sept. 5. About 80 percent of Sri Lankans live in rural areas vulnerable to malaria. The country struggled to quell malaria in the 1970s and 1980s, while cases soared. Health officials redoubled efforts in the 1990s and saw significant reductions in the virus. By 2006, the WHO said, Sri Lanka saw less than 1,000 cases of malaria per year, and since October 2012, the country has not recorded a single locally transmitted case.

Haiti sees huge increase in cholera cases in first half of 2016

Between January and July, the number of deaths due to cholera in Haiti rose 32 percent over the same period last year, the U.N. humanitarian office reported in July. The total number of cases is up 22 percent from that same period. In all, Haiti experienced more than 24,500 new suspected cases of cholera in the first half of 2016, with 227 resulting in death. The agency anticipates the total number of cases could reach 50,000 by the end of the year. It blamed dwindling resources, poor water and sanitation infrastructure, and high population density in urban areas for the disease’s persistence since the devastating 2010 earthquake. Between October 2010 and July 2016, nearly 9,400 Haitians died from cholera, and health officials documented about 785,000 cases. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by consuming contaminated food or water. It can result in severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. With rehydration and antibiotics, it can be cured quickly and easily.

Remembering a fallen humanitarian worker

In Memoriam: On Sept. 6, Silvano Garisano, a World Vision staff member in South Sudan, was killed along with his wife, one of their children, and another family member. Silvano worked on health projects in the embattled country. Join us in thanking God for his life and the lives of others killed, and pray for Silvano’s two surviving children, his extended family, colleagues, and those he faithfully served.

September 2, 2016

More than 1 million children risk losing school meals in west and central Africa

School children in west and central Africa who rely on meals from the World Food Program could miss out on lunch, the organization said Aug. 30. Budget tightening could affect 1.3 million children in those regions, as resources for school feeding programs dwindle and donors’ priorities shift. Students in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and 12 other countries may have to start the year without vital school meals unless the U.N. food agency receives a new infusion of funds in September. “In most countries in west and central Africa — in the grip of chronic hunger and malnutrition, and increasingly affected by conflict — school meals have been a lifeline for children, as they are often the only regular and nutritious meals they receive,” WFP’s regional director for west Africa, Abdou Dieng, said in a news release. The agency’s school meal programs in Chad, which once assisted 200,000 children, have shrunk by about 90 percent in three years because of funding shortfalls.

Thailand jails man for 35 years in high-profile trafficking case

A Thai court sentenced a man to 35 years in prison Aug. 31 for smuggling people from Myanmar, the Thompson Reuters Foundation reported. The high-profile trafficking investigation led authorities to hidden jungle camps, mass graves, and an international trafficking ring. The sentencing came 19 months after Thai police discovered a group of nearly 100 ethnic Rohingya men, women, and children at a checkpoint being transported in five vehicles. The Rohingya people have been caught up in deadly religious violence in Myanmar since 2012 and have been vulnerable to human traffickers who exploit families displaced by violence or seeking job opportunities.

10 countries with highest out-of-school rates account for 18 million non-attenders

Eighteen million primary school-age children in 10 countries are out of school this year, the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a Sept. 1 report. The 10 countries with the highest rates of children not attending primary school include Liberia and South Sudan. In Liberia, nearly two-thirds of primary school-aged children are out of school. South Sudan has the second-highest out-of-school rate among elementary school students — 59 percent. One in three schools there is closed. UNICEF also highlights Afghanistan, Sudan, Niger, and Nigeria among the top countries with the highest primary out-of-school rates, at 46 percent, 45 percent, 38 percent, and 34 percent, respectively.

August 29, 2016

Los Angeles sting nets nearly 300 trafficking arrests

A massive, three-day sweep led to recent arrests of 286 persons in the Los Angeles area, most on charges of prostitution. Victims are receiving care in protective custody. Among U.S. states, California has the largest number of human trafficking cases reported; more than 500 sex trafficking cases have been reported there this year. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Person Report, the top three countries of origin for persons trafficked for sex or labor in the United States are the U.S. itself, Mexico, and the Philippines.

August 19, 2016

Attacks on aid workers down in 2015

The year 2015 saw the second straight drop in attacks against aid workers, per the 2016 Aid Worker Security Report. The report shows that 287 aid workers were affected in 148 incidents recorded in 25 countries last year. That’s 42 fewer victims and a 22 percent drop in the number of attacks in 2014.

Afghanistan remained the most dangerous country for aid workers, accounting for 53 incidents and 101 victims. Somalia was the second-worst and South Sudan the third-most dangerous place. Syria and Yemen were among the top five most dangerous places for aid workers. Of the victims recorded in 2015, 109 were killed, 110 injured, and 68 survived being kidnapped. The majority of workers affected in Afghanistan were kidnapped. In Somalia, most were affected by shootings. And aid workers in South Sudan most often experienced shootings or bodily assaults, including rape.

World Vision operates in four of the five most dangerous countries for aid workers. The deadliest year in the past five years — 2013 — saw 475 workers affected by 265 incidents.

Worst of El Niño over, but 60 million still feel the effects

The strongest El Niño climate-warming phenomenon in nearly 20 years is over, say scientists at the World Meteorological Organization. But that will provide little comfort to the 60 million people whose crops and livelihoods were negatively impacted by increased and more severe droughts since 2014.

The most vulnerable people are families that rely on farming or wages from jobs as day-laborers. People in Central America, Southern Africa, and the Pacific Islands are particularly hard-hit. Humanitarian groups say these families will feel the effects into the next planting season. The meteorological organization predicts a fair chance of a La Niña cooling trend lasting through 2016. Areas now experiencing drought could face flooding, and areas that have received excessive rainfall could experience drought.

World Vision has so far provided assistance to 5 million people affected by El Niño, including emergency aid and programs to increase long-term resilience.

High water brings destruction in south Louisiana

At least 13 people have died and some 40,000 homes are damaged from Louisiana’s worst flooding since Hurricane Katrina. Twenty parishes have been declared disaster areas. And the worst is not over; water is still rising in southern Louisiana as floodwaters continue to drain, causing rivers and backwaters to overflow.

World Vision has sent a truckload of emergency goods, including hygiene items and cleaning supplies, to Baton Rouge. A network of partner churches will distribute the aid to families in need.

August 12, 2016

Refugee agency seeks extra funding to resettle displaced Somalis

The United Nations Refugee Agency is asking for an additional $115 million to ramp up its efforts to provide assistance to and repatriate tens of thousands of Somali refugees living in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab. Earlier this year, the Kenyan government announced its intent to close the camp due to increased security threats it said originated from activity in the camp.

The refugee agency says it could help reduce the population in Dadaab by about 150,000 people by the end of 2016. The camp lies near Kenya’s eastern border with Somalia and has been a refuge for more than 300,000 people fleeing conflict and severe drought in Somalia since the 1990s. World Vision provides ongoing support to refugees there, including food assistance.

Colombia expands efforts to return land lost during conflict

More displaced Colombians will soon be able to return to their property that was stolen or abandoned during five decades of civil conflict, Reuters reported Aug. 9. In the wake of a historic peace agreement in June, the government is ramping up its land-restitution program to help families recover almost 39,000 square miles of land that was abandoned during fighting or stolen by armed rebel groups. The land restitution program began in 2011 and has, until now, struggled to process the 80,000 claims. It has already awarded about 494,000 acres worth of land titles to about 20,000 Colombian citizens.

India investigates child deaths in mica mines

Officials in India have begun investigating seven child deaths in illegal mica mines, highlighting concerns over child labor practices in the country. The deaths were revealed in a recent Thompson Reuters Foundation investigative report that found evidence that mine owners and parents covered up the incidents to preserve economic opportunity in their communities.

India law forbids children under the age of 18 to work in mines and similar hazardous enterprises. But, as interviews in the extensive multimedia report highlight, children of extremely poor families often join their parents in the work at the mines to help the household make ends meet. Global demand for mica — a shiny, silicate mineral — has significantly increased in recent years, due to its prolific use in electronics, automotive paint, and environmentally friendly cosmetics.

New polio cases in Nigeria set back global eradication efforts

The drive to wipe out polio worldwide was dealt a major setback when health workers discovered two cases of paralysis caused by the virus in Nigeria, the World Health Organization announced Aug. 11. The organization had hoped to declare the continent polio-free and focus on eliminating the virus in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Until now the only areas known to have the strain that paralyzes.

It had been two years since Nigeria had reported any polio cases, just a year shy of being declared free of the virus. “The overriding priority now is to rapidly immunize all children around the affected area and ensure that no other children succumb to this terrible disease,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in the organization’s announcement.

August 7, 2016

Tanzania court rules against child marriage

In July, Tanzania’s highest court outlawed marriage for girls and boys under 18. The landmark ruling raised the legal age for marriage for girls from 14. A week earlier the court imposed a punishment of up to 30 years for men who marry a primary- or secondary-school-age girl. Tanzania has one of the world’s highest child marriage rates. About 37 percent of girls there marry by their 18th birthday. The court decision is considered a win for advocacy groups. According to Reuters and BBC reports, rights groups say the new policy is not a full solution and needs to be taken further by helping communities change their minds about marrying off their daughters at a young age. The Gambia also banned child marriage in July.

July 11, 2016

Super Typhoon Nepartak slams Taiwan and rain-soaked China

Taiwan and mainland China are reeling from the impact of Typhoon Nepartak, which skirted the Philippines’ coast last week with 170-mph winds. Though Nepartak was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached southern China, people there are still in jeopardy, having experienced rainstorms and flooding since May.  Earlier rains affected 26 Chinese provinces. More than 180 people died, and nearly 1.5 million evacuated. World Vision distributed quilts, relief kits for families and children, and set up Child-Friendly Spaces where children can gather and play. The organization expects to assist with recovery for at least 15 months.

U.S. Congress passes Global Food Security Act

A bipartisan bill that saw final passage last week will help alleviate hunger and malnutrition, which affect 795 million people around the world, including 159 million children. The Global Food Security Act of 2016 supports a country-led approach in agriculture development to help fight chronic hunger and food insecurity. The bill has a strong focus on nutrition for mothers and children and providing agricultural resources for smallholder farmers, including women. World Vision implements agriculture development and food assistance programs in 35 countries.

July 4, 2016

UNICEF child report challenges the world to stay on task

If the world fails to tackle the root causes of poverty, 167 million children will live in extreme poverty by 2030 and 69 million children younger than 5 will die between now, according to UNICEF’s 2016 State of the World’s Children report. The agency paints a picture of what life for millions of children worldwide might look like by 2030, the deadline for the new Sustainable Development Goals adopted by United Nations member states in 2015. Despite major gains since 1990 in the fight against poverty, growing social and economic inequality could hinder future progress, per the report. Both the number and rate of child deaths has been cut in half, but still, each year, about 5.9 million children die from preventable causes. The poorest children are twice as likely as their richest peers to be chronically malnourished and to die before their fifth birthday. Based on current trends, the report predicts sub-Saharan Africa will account for nearly half of the 69 million children who may die before age 5 between now and 2030 and more than half of the 60 million primary school-aged children who will still be out of school.

India water issues spur communal clashes

Authorities in India are reporting a rise in violent clashes among communities because of water shortages, the Thompson Reuters Foundation reported June 29. Disputes are common, and as resources continue to dwindle, the incidents are more frequent and deadly. The country has faced below-average rainfall each year for the past decade. Two consecutive severe droughts and heat waves have made it worse for millions in northern and central India who struggle to find reliable water sources. Monsoon rains recently began throughout much of the country, but it will take time for the dozens of nearly depleted reservoirs to replenish.

Trafficking report calls for prevention against $150 billion business of human slavery

This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report, released by the U.S. State Department on June 30, examines 188 countries’ progress in eliminating human trafficking. Countries are rated, and those with the worst rating are subject to economic sanctions by the U.S. government. This year’s report emphasizes prevention, with the hopeful message that, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, “…just because a certain abuse has happened in the past doesn’t mean we have to tolerate that abuse in the future.” Preventive measures include public campaigns to spread awareness of trafficking practices and laws, along with national and community networks to intervene on behalf of children and others who could be vulnerable to abuse.

June 20, 2016

Number of displaced in Afghanistan doubles since 2013

Today more than 1.2 million people are displaced within Afghanistan which has a total population of about 30 million. That’s more than double the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) as of three years ago, human rights group Amnesty International reported May 31. There were about 500,000 people displaced within Afghanistan in 2013. In addition to internal displacement, Afghans make up one of the largest groups of refugees in the world — about 2.6 million currently live outside of the country. The sharp rise is due to Western forces withdrawing from the country, according to the BBC. Exacerbating the situation for IDPs is a 2014 government policy that promised better access to food, water, and education, which has not delivered.

June 13, 2016

More Nigerians displaced after latest extremist attacks

Another 50,000 to 75,000 Nigerians have been displaced by extremist attacks since May 19 and need immediate assistance across the border in Niger, according to ACAPS, a humanitarian information agency. This puts the total number of people displaced by Nigeria’s conflict at more than 240,000 people, nearly half of whom have sought refuge in neighboring Niger, near Diffa. World Vision has been responding to the crisis there by providing displaced families with clean water, food assistance, help meeting their most pressing needs, and education opportunities for children.

Honduras gang violence forcing more to flee

Thousands of people are fleeing their homes in Honduras every month because of gang violence, the Thompson Reuters Foundation reported June 3. The mass displacement has been on the rise since December and is fueled primarily by urban violence between rival gangs. Many families are resettling in other parts of Honduras. Many, including unaccompanied children from other Central American countries, are fleeing similar circumstances and attempting to get into the United States. More than 27,700 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border between September 2015 and March 2016, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Global Peace Index shows growing gap between most, least peaceful countries

The world has become slightly less peaceful since 2015, and the gap continues to grow between the most and the least peaceful nations, according to the 2016 Global Peace Index, released June 8. While 81 countries improved according to the index, the 79 that became less peaceful fell far enough to outweigh the improved countries’ gains. The report also highlighted a historic decline in world peace over the past decade, compared with the significant progress in the decades since World War II. This was largely driven by global terrorism and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, it said. The index measures 163 countries by looking at factors such as the impact of terrorism; the number of deaths due to internal conflict, violent demonstrations, and military expenditure; and the number of refugees and internally displaced people. The report also noted that the world invests just $15 billion per year on peacekeeping and peace building, which is just 2 percent of the $13.6 trillion in economic losses due to conflict.

June 6, 2016

Refugee host communities in Horn of Africa to get financial boost

Communities hosting refugees and displaced people in the Horn of Africa will soon get help after leaders at the World Bank approved $175 million in funding May 31. The financing, mostly in the form of low- to no-interest loans, seeks to mitigate the economic effects on host communities, such as strain on infrastructure, public utilities, and schools, as well as promote stability and more economic opportunity.

  • Ethiopia will receive $100 million,
  • Uganda is slated to get $50 million,
  • and Djibouti will receive $20 million.
  • The remaining $5 million is intended as a grant to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in East Africa.

About 9.5 million people are displaced in the Horn of Africa, including 6.5 million displaced within their own countries and about 3 million who have fled their home countries as refugees, the bank said in a press release.

Aid workers killed in Afghanistan, South Sudan

Gunmen shot and killed three aid workers in eastern Afghanistan June 1, the Thompson Reuters Foundation reported. All three were local employees working for an international non-governmental organization and were driving along a rural road north of Kabul, the capital. Another humanitarian was killed May 15 after she was attacked while driving an ambulance from a medical center in Yei, South Sudan, OCHA reported in its May 30 Humanitarian Bulletin from South Sudan. In 2014, according to the 2015 Aid Worker Security Report:

  • 121 aid workers were killed,
  • 88 wounded,
  • and 120 kidnapped.

Afghanistan was the most violent place for aid workers, accounting for 54 attacks. South Sudan was the third most dangerous place, with 18 attacks.

May 30, 2016

World Humanitarian Summit gets mixed review

World leaders have talked. Now people want action. That’s the sentiment coming from aid experts after the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit concluded May 24 in Istanbul, Turkey. Governments and aid groups gathered May 23 and 24 to discuss and make commitments toward reforming humanitarian finance, preventing conflict, reducing forced displacement, understanding the impact of emergencies on women and girls, and managing natural disaster risk and preparedness. Participants pledged toward a new emergency schooling fund aimed at raising $3.8 billion and a deal between major donors and agencies to save up to $1 billion by more efficiently administering aid, among other pledges. World Vision leaders participated in some high-level panels and discussions, offering a mixed review. “Despite many positive outcomes at the summit, the lack of attention to child protection remains particularly disappointing in the face of multiple protection crises around the world, in places like Syria, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic,” World Vision leaders said after the summit.

World Bank reports cities are ‘woefully unprepared’ for rising disaster risk

The world is not adequately prepared for the adverse effects of growing urban populations and increasingly frequent natural disasters, the World Bank and a leading disaster risk reduction agency say in a report released May 16. It says that by 2050, rapid urbanization and lack of preparedness could put 1.3 billion people and $158 trillion in assets at risk from flooding. A driving risk factor, a World Bank expert says, is a lack of planning and risk assessment in urban development. Substantiating the claim that decision-makers must plan more carefully, the report cites data from the international disaster database EM-DAT that says annual damages from natural disasters worldwide have increased from $14 billion in the decade 1976-1985 to more than $140 billion in 2005-2014.

May 23, 2016

Humanitarian aid funding hit record $28 billion in 2015

The total value of humanitarian assistance given out in 2015 hit a record high of $28 billion, according to a report released May 19 by Development Initiatives, an independent development organization that focuses on using data to drive poverty eradication efforts. This is the third straight year the organization has recorded a rise in global humanitarian giving. Private contributions accounted for about $6.2 billion, while governments gave about $21.8 billion to humanitarian crises. While this funding set a record, the world would need to give almost twice as much to fully fund current U.N.-coordinated aid appeals. The report notes that 677 million people who live in extreme poverty are highly vulnerable to crisis. At the World Humanitarian Summit May 23 and 24 in Istanbul, leaders will consider, among other things, how to deliver humanitarian funding more efficiently and effectively.

330 million affected in India drought

Nearly a quarter of India’s population, 330 million people, is feeling the effects of a drought worsened recently by an oppressive heat wave. Temperatures have reached 107 degrees Fahrenheit for days on end in some areas, exacerbating water shortages, ruining crops, and causing at least 100 deaths due to heatstroke. World Vision is mounting a response over the next six months to help the communities of as many as 33,500 children registered in its sponsorship programs. So far, World Vision staff have reached more than 22,500 people with food, water, and materials to help maintain their livelihoods.

Five countries where child soldiers are still recruited

With the largest rebel group in Colombia recently agreeing to release all of its soldiers under age 15, independent humanitarian news agency IRIN News published a report May 17 highlighting how child soldiers have been used in five other countries. Featured countries include South Sudan, Myanmar, Britain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Yemen. Britain was cited due to its historical practice of recruiting 16-year-olds and deploying some 17-year-olds in the 1991 Gulf War and Kosovo in 1999. The government later barred deployment of anyone younger than 18. Britain’s army still recruits under-age soldiers but requires parental consent for enlistment. Learn more about child soldiers in Myanmar, South Sudan, Yemen, and DRC.

May 16, 2016

World Humanitarian Summit tests aid community’s will to grow, change

Government and humanitarian leaders from around the world meet May 23 and 24 in Istanbul for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit. The summit aims to reinvigorate the world’s commitment to humanitarian principles, share ideas on how to improve aid and development work, and create plans for action. Key themes covered at the summit will include: reforming humanitarian finance, preventing conflict, reducing forced displacement, understanding the impact of emergencies on women and girls, and managing natural disaster risk and preparedness. World Vision will participate in high-level talks at the event and has played a significant role in getting talks about faith in humanitarian response on the agenda.

Kenya plans to close largest refugee camp amid security concerns

Kenya announced in early May it plans to close Dadaab refugee camp, which hosts more than half of the 600,000 people taking refuge inside the country. Government leaders cited national security as the reason. They said the deadly 2013 attacks in Nairobi and the 2015 massacre in Garissa were planned and launched in Dadaab, near the Somali border. Various governments and aid agencies, including World Vision, have decried the decision, asking Kenya’s leaders to reconsider. Home to as many as 350,000 people, Dadaab is considered the world’s largest refugee camp. Most Dadaab residents fled drought and conflict in Somalia over the past 25 years. Kakuma refugee camp, in the northwest, was originally considered for closure, but Kenya’s government changed its mind, deciding to focus on closing Dadaab by November. South Sudanese make up more than half of the 190,000 refugees in Kakuma. The camp was enlarged in 2015 to accommodate as many as 80,000 refugees from the civil war in South Sudan.

May 9, 2016

Global water shortages to deliver ‘severe hit’ to economies, World Bank warns

By 2050, water shortages could diminish gross domestic product in the Middle East by 14 percent, according to World Bank analysts in The Guardian. Increasing demand for water in cities and for agriculture could lead to a:

  • 12 percent reduction in GDP in West Africa’s Sahel region,
  • As much as an 11 percent loss throughout central Asia, and a
  • 7 percent reduction in Asia.

The bank says worsening water shortages will lead to more conflict and migration over the next few decades. Economies in North America and western Europe will not see much impact due to water shortages, per the report. It cites warming temperatures, more erratic weather patterns, and increased demand from growing populations as key factors in its predictions.

U.N. envoy ‘cautiously hopeful’ for relaunch of truce in Syria

Amid news of further deterioration of the truce in Syria, the man charged with facilitating another round of peace talks says he’s optimistic the pact could be relaunched soon. “Silence or nonsilence – what the Syrians want to hear is no bombs, no rockets, no shelling, no aerial bombing anymore, and no canisters, so they can start believing in what we are trying to do with them,” Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special envoy for Syria, said following discussions in Moscow on the intra-Syria talks. Russia and the United States have led efforts to bring a lasting ceasefire to the conflict since February. The State Department said May 4 that the agreement applies to groups fighting in and around Aleppo, in the north, but that cessation of hostilities in other parts of the country has not yet happened.

New fund for education in conflict areas

One in four school-age children in the world lives in a country affected by war or disaster, according to UNICEF as the agency announced a new fund to educate children during emergencies. The Education Cannot Wait fund will launch later this month during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, with a goal of raising nearly $4 billion to reach 13.6 million children in its first five years. “Going to school keeps children safe from abuses like trafficking and recruitment into armed groups, and is a vital investment in children’s futures and in the future of their communities,” said Josephine Bourne, UNICEF’s education chief. About 75 million children ages 3 to 18 living in 35 countries are most in need of educational support.

Polio vaccine swap complete

In a two-week period, health workers in 155 countries swapped out their entire stock of a polio vaccine considered harmful to eradication efforts, said leaders with the World Health Organization’s polio program. In many developing countries, oral vaccine that had been used for more than 60 years has brought the world to the cusp of eradicating polio. But a problem has arisen: Children take the vaccine, but due to poor sanitation systems, when they defecate, the virus’ cells get into the water supply via their feces. Then if someone drinks from that supply, it can cause them to get the disease if they aren’t already vaccinated. In recent years, dozens of children contracted a version of the virus in this manner that was spread through poor sanitation. In 2015, 74 children were paralyzed by wild polio viruses in the only two countries where the virus persists — Pakistan and Afghanistan. So far, just 10 cases have been reported in 2016. That compares with the 350,000 children who contracted the paralyzing virus in annually in the 1980s. Learn more about the switch and efforts to completely eradicate polio here. The U.S. uses a different polio vaccine than this one.

Yellow fever outbreak spreads to DRC, Zambia

A yellow fever outbreak that began in Angola earlier this year has spread to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and an increasing number of cases in Zambia is raising concerns about a full-on outbreak there, the World Health Organization and various groups reported in early May. World Vision staff in all three countries are on high alert as they prepare to help affected communities. Yellow fever is spread by the same mosquito that transmits the Zika virus — Aedes Aegypti. Between early January to March 22, officials in DRC reported 453 cases and 45 deaths from yellow fever. The virus causes jaundice, kidney failure, and bleeding. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Half of severely affected patients who don’t receive treatment die within 14 days.

May 2, 2016

Shots fired and missed in the war on childhood diseases

Almost two-thirds of the world’s unimmunized children live in conflict zones, said the U.N. children’s agency ahead of last week’s observance of World Immunization Week. Many pay with their lives by missing out on protection from measles, mumps, diphtheria, pneumonia, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough. Almost one-third of deaths among children under 5 are preventable by vaccine. The global push for universal immunization has helped many developing countries to put in place systems and controls required that are the building blocks of successful community health services, the World Health Organization says.

April 25, 2016

India drought affects 330 million people

After two years of meager monsoon rains, the government of India says at least 330 million people are suffering the effects of drought, hunger, water shortages, and a severe heat wave. “This drought could turn disastrous for children if we don’t act fast,” says Cherian Thomas, World Vision’s national director for India. “Malnutrition and mortality rate among children could rise rapidly. Migration is forcing children to drop out of school, increasing instances of child labor, and causing them to live in unsafe environments.” World Vision’s initial response includes work in 15 program areas of seven states where it is already engaged in child-focused community development. Activities include distribution of food kits, livelihoods support, and supply of fodder and water to farmers.

April 18, 2016

Coming soon: First-ever World Humanitarian Summit

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on governments, aid groups, private enterprises, and people affected by humanitarian crises to meet in Istanbul May 23 and 24 to discuss the state of global humanitarian action. The meeting will convene with three stated goals: global re-commitment to humanitarian principles, national and local preparation for disaster management, and sharing of best practices. As an international nongovernmental organization, World Vision has been involved in setting the agenda and will participate in discussions.

Violence against women a fixture of war and peace

A recent U.N. report accuses both sides of the South Sudan civil war of systematic rape and violence against women. In South Sudan, “massive use of rape as an instrument of terror and weapon of war … has been more or less off the international radar,” says Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights. Globally, one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence, says the U.N., and in some countries, the figure is as high as 70 percent. While better laws, policies, and education are needed, women’s advocates say a “breakthrough generation” of men and women willing to interrupt sexual violence is necessary to make a lasting difference.

April 11, 2016

Parents of Nigerian schoolgirls to mark kidnapping anniversary with prayer

On April 14 two years ago, militants abducted 276 girls from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, northeast Nigeria. The shocking incident set off a worldwide outcry and viral campaign — #bringbackourgirls. Only 57 girls escaped; the rest have not been found. This year, parents have organized a Muslim-Christian prayer service at the school site to remember the lost girls. Amnesty International says the militants responsible for the Chibok kidnapping have captured thousands of boys and girls and used them as cooks, porters, sex slaves, and even suicide bombers over the past seven years.

Every day, 10 people die from explosive war remnants

In observance of Mine Action Day on April 4, the United Nations called for renewed efforts to eliminate landmines, bombs, and other explosive war remnants around the world. The legacy of conflict is often civilian deaths, sometimes decades after wars end, the U.N. says. Last year alone, U.N. agencies destroyed 168,000 explosive devices and 10,000 landmines. The top five countries for U.N. mine action were Afghanistan, Laos, Iraq, Angola, and Cambodia. [Read about World Vision’s work in mine awareness in a Lao village.]

Pakistan and Afghanistan make a pact to end polio

Polio has been cornered in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last two countries where the disease is endemic. Now health officials are fighting not only the disease itself but cultural norms and ignorance that have led parents of about 100,000 children on both sides of the border to refuse vaccination for their children. Local leaders and religious scholars have been enlisted to promote vaccination, and children will now receive the vaccine at border crossings. So far in 2016, only 12 cases of polio paralysis have been identified globally, down from 33 at the same time last year.

April 4, 2016

Central African Republic elects parliament

A day after its newly elected president was inaugurated, war-torn Central African Republic (CAR) went back to the polls last week to finalize parliamentary elections. Restoring a functional national government under a new constitution will be necessary for CAR to overcome the ethnic conflict that’s caused thousands of deaths and displaced more than 400,000 people since 2013. President Faustin-Archange Touadera has vowed to “preserve peace” so that the nation can chart a new course toward development. In addition to political progress, Doctors Without Borders reports that more than 73,000 of the country’s children younger than 5 were recently vaccinated in a campaign to protect against diseases like polio, hepatitis, measles, pneumonia, and meningitis.

Myanmar swears in first civilian government in 50 years

Former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party has taken the reins of government from the military in Myanmar. Suu Kyi will serve as foreign minister and one of her aides, U Htin Kyaw, holds the president’s office. The military retains significant power through control of the police and security services. U Htin Kyaw promises constitutional changes that will enhance the development of democracy and a higher standard of living.

March 28, 2016

Nearly 90 million children at risk of toxic stress due to conflict

Globally, more than 86.7 million children under the age of 7 have spent their entire lives in conflict zones, endangering their mental development, says the United Nations children’s agency. The first 7 years of life are critical for a child’s mental health, emotional well-being, and ability to learn. Living in conflict puts them at risk of toxic stress, a condition that inhibits brain cell connections. In many places, World Vision provides child protection, psychosocial support, and educational opportunities for children affected by conflict.

$100 million loan from World Bank will help Lebanon educate its children, Syrian refugees

Lebanon just got $100 million from the World Bank to boost its strained education system. The bank’s board approved the loan last week to recognize and help Lebanon’s efforts to host more than 1 million Syrian refugees, providing schooling for their 400,000 children, a Thompson-Reuters Foundation report said. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said it has already agreed to provide as much as $1 billion to the country of four million people, but government gridlock has held it back. Many have not been in school for years, or struggle to keep up in classes taught in English or French rather than their native Arabic. In October, the World Bank and United Nations aid groups announced they would provide the Lebanese with enough funding to double the number of Syrian refugees enrolled in schools, from 100,000 to about 200,000 children. Lebanon received another boost to its efforts to help refugees in early March when the World Food Program said new funding would enable it to restore emergency food aid deliveries, school meals, and monthly food baskets for millions of Syrians displaced in the region. World Vision provides support to early childhood education and gives refugee children the opportunity to learn and play in Child-Friendly Spaces.

Colombian government and rebels miss peace-deal deadline

Government and rebel negotiators missed the self-imposed March 23 deadline to reach a peace deal that would end Latin America’s longest war. Peace talks between the Colombian government and leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, began in Havana, Cuba more than three years ago. Both sides said they remain committed to finding a peaceful solution to their differences and intend to resume talks April 4. They have reached agreements on issues such as land reform and justice for conflict victims. More than 40 years of civil war has killed 220,000 people and displaced millions within Colombia.

March 21, 2016

Violence against religious minorities the Middle East is ‘genocide’

Extremists in Iraq and Syria have committed genocide against minority Christians and Yazidis, as well as Shi’ite Muslims, Reuters reported the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said March 17. The declaration does not obligate the U.S. to do more in its fight against extremists in the region, but it does make it easier to push for more action. Extremists, “ … kill Christians because they are Christians. Yazidis because they are Yazidis. Shi’ites because they are Shi’ites,” Kerry said. About 3.3 million Iraqis are displaced inside their country because of ongoing violence. About 250,000 Syrians have taken refuge there, too. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 11 million displaced during the Syrian civil war. In 2015, World Vision assisted Iraqi refugees living in churches in Jordan with winter clothing. Inside Iraq, World Vision staff there supported churches’ efforts to care for displaced families.

Child labor numbers in India reduced 60 percent in 10 years

India had 64 percent fewer child laborers age 14 or younger in 2011 than it did a decade earlier, the country’s labor minister said March 13. The number dropped from about 12.6 million working children in 2001 to about 4.5 million in 2011. The minister cited the most recent census numbers as he urged lawmakers to amend existing child-labor laws to promote child protection. According to a 2015 report by the International Labor Organization, more than 5.7 million 5- to 17-year-olds are involved in child labor in India and about 2.5 million 15- to 17-year-olds engaging in hazardous work. If Parliament passes the proposed changes, it would outlaw child labor for children younger than 14 in all sectors. The ILO estimates there are 168 million children caught up in child labor worldwide.

March 14, 2016

Hunger intensifies in conflict-, drought-affected areas worldwide

Drought, flooding, and civil conflict have forced 34 countries to seek help from neighbors to meet their own food needs, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says in a report released March 9. Twenty-seven of those countries are in Africa. Development and aid organizations cite prolonged drought and persistent flooding due to El Niño weather patterns as the cause for significantly reduced crop-production outlook for 2016 in Southern Africa. Families throughout Central America and the Caribbean are heading into a precarious planting season for the third year in a row. War and conflict in countries like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Central African Republic have created similar food crises. In many cases, those food crises affect neighboring countries, who feel the economic strain of hosting refugees.

Health leaders want outbreaks like Zika, Ebola treated like earthquakes

Disaster planning and global health experts are pushing to make countries’ responses to health emergencies — like the Ebola and Zika outbreaks — as high a priority as earthquakes, floods, and storms. The World Health Organization and the UN’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) asked national disaster management agencies March 10 to improve the way they prepare for and respond to public health crises. “It is understandable that there is a strong disaster management focus on earthquakes and extreme weather events which affect over 100 million people every year,” said Robert Glasser, the head of UNISDR, “but this machinery must also be ready for deployment in public health emergencies where the trigger is a virus like Zika.”

March 7, 2016

U.S. bans imported goods made with forced labor

The United States has banned the import of goods produced by forced labor, Reuters reported in late February. The new law, which President Obama signed Feb. 24, closes a legal loophole in the Tariff Act of 1930, which allowed goods produced by forced labor to enter the country if U.S. demand exceeded domestic production. Shipments of goods commonly produced by slave labor, like fish, cocoa, and electronics, will be kept out of the U.S. under the new law. “It’s a really big deal,” Annick Febrey, senior associate at the advocacy group Human Rights First says in the Reuters report. “While we as a country have said that we are against slavery, we’ve had this little-known rule in the Tariff Act.” The International Labor Organization estimates there are almost 21 million people trapped in forced labor around the world.

February 29, 2016

Humanitarian reform: Doing good, but better

Most humanitarian aid goes to alleviate suffering in crises that go on for years — think drought in Ethiopia and the Syrian civil war. Yet long-term, complex needs are often addressed with very short-term relief. That’s just one of the challenges U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon hopes to sort out in May during the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. Representatives of governments and aid agencies from around the world will be looking for ways to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and cooperation as they seek the answer to what Ban says is the knottiest problem of them all — humanitarian financing.

Hungry in Haiti

According to the U.N.’s World Food Program, 3.6 million of Haiti’s 10.4 million people can’t afford minimum daily calories. A three-year drought is driving more and more rural people to abandon their farm plots and relocate to urban areas in search of employment to feed their families. Haitians have long struggled with poor nutrition because of widespread poverty. Maternal and child health, nutrition, and access to clean water are top priorities of World Vision’s programs in Haiti.

February 22, 2016

El Niño’s tragic wake

A powerful El Niño-driven drought and erratic rains across eastern and southern Africa during the last two years has left nearly 1 million children needing treatment for severe acute malnutrition, according to a UNICEF report released last week.

“The El Niño weather phenomenon will wane, but the cost to children — many who were already living hand-to-mouth — will be felt for years to come,” said Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, UNICEF regional director for eastern and southern Africa. “Governments are responding with available resources, but this is an unprecedented situation. Children’s survival is dependent on action taken today.”

Families have resorted to skipping meals and selling what they own to deal with water shortages, disease, and rising food prices. Most provinces in South Africa have declared a state of disaster due to shortages and, in Ethiopia, the number of people in need of food assistance is expected to rise from more than 10 million to 18 million by the end of the year.

The refugee journey’s tragic toll on children

The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that, on average, two children per day have drowned since September 2015 as families embarked on hazardous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea to seek refuge in Europe.

Last week, the UNHCR, UNICEF, and the International Organization for Migration said children now make up 36 percent of refugees and warned that the number of child deaths is increasing.

Since the tragic death of toddler Alan Kurdi last September, more than 340 children — many infants and toddlers — have drowned in the eastern Mediterranean as families seek shelter and safety from conflict in the Middle East. The agencies said the actual number may be higher.

During the first six weeks of the year, 410 people drowned out of an estimated 80,000 people crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece, a 35-fold increase year-on-year from 2015, per the report.

February 8, 2016

U.S. trafficking hotline calls increase significantly

More human trafficking survivors in the United States are getting help thanks to a significant increase in calls to a national hotline in 2015. The Polaris Project, which runs the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline and a BeFree Textline, said about 1,600 survivors contacted the hotline last year. That’s a 24 percent increase from 2014. The hotline received reports of 6,000 cases in 2015. As many as 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year. The International Labor Organization estimates that 20.9 million people globally are trapped in forced labor.

February 1, 2016

Malaria fight gets financial boost

Bill Gates and the British government plan to spend $4.3 billion to help end malaria deaths in the next 15 years, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported Jan. 25. The money will help scale up efforts to fight the disease that killed about 438,000 people out of 214 million people infected worldwide last year. The fight against malaria has seen significant progress over the past 15 years; malaria death rates fell 60 percent between 2000 and 2015. But the disease is both preventable and curable. About 90 percent of malaria deaths occur on the African continent.

Ethnic violence in Burundi spurs international concerns

The United Nations Security Council said it is concerned about mass atrocities and ethnic violence stemming from Burundi’s deteriorating political and security situation. Nearly 236,000 people have fled their homes for neighboring countries, and 400 people have been killed since political violence erupted last spring in the east African nation of about 10 million. As many as 645,000 Burundians face persistent food insecurity.

Conflict escalated when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, despite the constitution’s two-term limit. He then survived a coup attempt and won a disputed election.

January 25, 2016

Iraq conflict death toll reported

At least 18,802 Iraqi civilians were killed and more than 36,000 injured during conflict between January 2014 and October 2015, per a new United Nations report. However, the actual numbers could be much higher. “The violence suffered by civilians in Iraq remains staggering,” per the report. The report is largely based on testimony from survivors or witnesses of violence, as well as interviews with displaced families. Ongoing violence and conflict have displaced about 3.3 million Iraqis since April 2014.

Mongolia’s extreme cold threatens livestock and livelihoods

More than 965,000 people in Mongolia are experiencing conditions of severe cold and heavy snow, locally called dzud. Snow now covers 90 percent of the country. For weeks to come, daytime temperatures are expected to average minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit and drop to minus 36.4 at night. Extreme cold set in during November following last summer’s drought. Many herders in remote areas are struggling to maintain their livestock, which is their major source of food and income.

January 18, 2016

Ebola epidemic ends

Two years after the first Ebola case cropped up in Guinea, the West Africa Ebola outbreak has been declared at an end. The World Health Organization (WHO) made the announcement last week that all known chains of transmission were stopped. The virus killed more than 11,000 people, primarily in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. Strengthening health systems in low-income countries will be key to curbing future disease epidemics, according to the WHO.

The celebration was muted a day later after Sierra Leone reported one new case.

“Our burial teams and ambulance fleet are once again on standby to help as the situation unfolds,” said Samuel Fonnie, acting national director at World Vision Sierra Leone. “Ebola has taken its toll on Sierra Leone, and it will take time to contain the situation once again.”

January 11, 2016

Insurance cost of natural disasters lower in 2015

Global economic losses from natural disasters in 2015 were the lowest of any year since 2009 and well below the inflation-adjusted average of the past 30 years, Munich Re, a reinsurance organization, reported Jan. 4. Overall losses totaled about $90 billion in 2015, of which about $27 billion was insured. The annual average from 1985 to 2014 was about $130 billion in overall losses and about $34 of that being insured. The deadliest and most costly event in 2015 was the April Nepal earthquake, which killed more than 8,800 people and resulted in about $4.8 billion in losses.

Part of the reason the 2015 totals are down is that while climate phenomenon El Niño brought stronger floods and droughts to developing countries, it led to fewer and smaller storms in the North Atlantic.

January 4, 2016

Hunger looms for millions in throes of harsh El Niño season

Millions throughout East Africa, Central America, and the Middle East face hunger in 2016 stemming from the impact of particularly harsh El Niño weather conditions, according to global aid agencies. Reeling from crop loss, livestock deaths, and other disasters, residents in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Yemen are feeling it the worst, according to the Famine Early Warning System Network.

Conflict in Yemen has limited imports and hampered humanitarian groups’ efforts to bring food and fuel to communities in need. Families in South Sudan are experiencing similar disruptions in the food supply chain due to ongoing fighting despite a recent peace agreement between government and rebel leaders. And following a severe drought in eastern Ethiopia, more people will need food assistance in 2016 than in the past 10 years.

World Vision is mounting a response throughout southern and eastern Africa and in the Pacific Islands that includes food assistance, nutritional feeding, and interventions that complement ongoing innovative resilience-building programs for the most vulnerable.

CAR holds peaceful elections Dec. 30

Despite delays and ongoing insecurity in their capital city, Bangui, voters in the Central African Republic turned out Dec. 30 to elect their next president and legislative body. Peacekeepers patrolled the streets, and the polls closed without reported violence. The country is looking to turn the page on a bloody chapter in its history marked by two years of sectarian violence that has driven more than 900,000 people — about 20 percent of the population — from their homes. World Vision has reached 152,000 people in CAR with emergency aid.

December 28, 2015

Tornadoes, storms strike Texas and southeastern U.S.

At least 41 people have died since Wednesday, Dec. 23, due to severe weather, including tornadoes and flooding, primarily in the southeastern U.S. World Vision is assisting families in Texas, northern Mississippi, and southwest Georgia. A truckload of hygiene kits, family food packs, blankets, and clothing was sent to the Garland, Texas, area from World Vision’s North Texas warehouse on Monday, Dec. 28. Recovery and rebuilding supplies will be shipped to Mississippi on Wednesday. World Vision’s relief materials will be distributed by local church

One million refugees and migrants reach Europe

In 2015, Europe saw three to four times more refugees and migrants reach its shores than in 2014 – as many as 1 million people. Half were Syrians fleeing the war, and 20 percent were Afghans. While the refugees reaching Europe dominated media attention, they were a small percentage of the 60 million refugees and displaced persons around the globe.

10 million people reached with aid

During fiscal year 2015, World Vision conducted 115 responses to disasters of all types, including the Nepal earthquake and the Syrian refugee crisis. In 46 countries, World Vision met the needs of 10 million people with food, shelter, child protection, and other types of assistance.

December 21, 2015

Human Development Index rankings announced for 2015

The 2015 Human Development Index, released Dec. 15 by the United Nations, ranks nations by their life expectancy, education levels, and income/standard of living. Norway ranks highest and the United States came in eighth. At the bottom of this year’s development list were: Niger, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Chad, and Burundi. (World Vision works in all these except Eritrea.) Taken as a whole, sub-Saharan Africa has shown a greater than 1 percent annual increase in its human development since 1990, but there’s still a long way to go. Torn by conflict, Libya dropped 27 places in the rankings, and Syria dropped 15.

Hungry Christmas ahead for Southern Africa children

Millions of children who eat meals at their schools in Southern Africa may be going hungry during the school holidays that take up most of December and January, according to World Vision staff. More than 15 million children in mostly rural schools rely on school feeding programs. Extreme drought in the region destroyed crops. Without adequate grazing, livestock are dying or being sold cheaply. World Vision is responding to emergency needs for food in some of the affected countries, but more resources are needed to prevent life-threatening hunger and malnutrition in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, and Lesotho, which already have high levels of malnutrition.

Climate of change produces agreement in Paris

On Dec. 12, nearly 200 countries signed a pact to curb carbon emissions in order to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century (measured against pre-industrial levels). Success will depend on cooperation among high-income and low-income countries, especially in funding clean-energy alternatives. The work of organizations involved in aid and development will be affected by new priorities for both developing countries and donor nations.

December 14, 2015

Disease threat follows Chennai floods

More than 50 inches of rain fell on Chennai in southeast India since November, bringing unprecedented flooding that has affected millions in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states. As the water recedes, medical authorities warn of possible disease outbreaks from contaminated mud and water, especially in urban areas. Relief camps lack clean water, sanitation, and solid waste management. World Vision is distributing food, water, and household supplies to families displaced by the floods.

Malaria deaths dip below 500,000 in 2015

Global malaria deaths dropped to 438,000 in 2015 — a drastic decrease from the 839,000 in 2000 — the World Health Organization (WHO) reports. The past year also saw a significant increase in the number of countries nearing eradication of the disease. The WHO also said that interventions since 2000 such as providing bed nets and spraying homes with insecticide have saved millions of lives and millions of dollars in healthcare costs. Africa still bears the brunt of malaria’s wrath, but the continent has seen a 66 percent decrease in malaria deaths across all age groups and an even higher decrease among children younger than 5 — 71 percent. World Vision recently reported success from its 2015 malaria-prevention work in Mali, for example. It reached more than 87,000 children under 5 with prevention treatment and saw reduction in malaria cases overall, a downturn in the rate of hospitalization caused by malaria, and reduced malaria-caused deaths of children under 5.

December 7, 2015

Recognizing ‘four freedoms’ on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10

In 1941, as World War II raged in Europe, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress to lay out a vision for the future based on what he called “four freedoms” — freedom of speech, of religion, from want, and from fear. Seven years later, those “freedoms” formed the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 10. Each year, the U.N. observes Human Rights Day to commemorate the 1948 signing of the declaration and other covenants that spell out the essentials that must be guaranteed to assure human dignity for every individual.

November 30, 2015

Central African Republic: Pope’s visit highlights humanitarian needs

Pope Francis ends his first trip to the African continent with a visit to Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, Nov. 29-30, pledging to bring “consolation and hope.” About 2.7 million people, more than half of the CAR population, are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, per the U.N. More than 6,000 people have died and 800,000 fled their homes since violent sectarian conflict began more than a year ago. Thirty-five percent of the CAR population observes animist beliefs, while Protestants and Catholics each account for 25 percent of the population and Muslims make up 15 percent. World Vision has reached 152,000 people in CAR with emergency aid.

Millions go hungry when food assistance funding dries up

A global report from World Vision finds that millions of people who rely on food, nutrition, and cash support are going without. According to “When There is No Food Assistance,” 100 million vulnerable men, women, and children annually require food aid. However, breaks in the food delivery and distribution pipeline leave many with little or nothing. World Vision itself reports being contracted to provide food assistance to 10.3 million people in 35 countries in the fiscal year ending September 2014. Yet the organization received only enough resources to help 8 million people, leaving some 2.3 million people – including 1.4 million children – without the food and nutrition they needed. The report recommends three solutions: 1. Find new money; 2. Protect lives and livelihoods; 3. Build long-term resilience.

Afghanistan: Bomb-laden fields hamper Kunduz harvest

Heavy fighting in Afghanistan’s breadbasket region of Kunduz is threatening the prospects of a healthy harvest. Farmers say their crops are ready for picking, but they can’t harvest for fear of the bombs rebel fighters have placed throughout their fields, IRIN reported Nov. 24. “The crop is ready for harvest but we cannot touch one fruit or vegetable,” Haji Hashim Khan, a 57-year-old farmer, told the humanitarian news agency. Kunduz provides almost two-thirds of Afghanistan’s rice supply and much of its wheat, watermelon, potatoes, tomatoes, cotton, and almonds. As a result of the crop losses, residents throughout the country are already experiencing higher food prices, as the nation has to import more food supplies than usual.

Weather-related disasters increase almost two-fold in past 20 years

The frequency of weather-related disasters almost doubled between 1995 and 2014, compared with records from 1985 to 1994, according to the U.N. Just a week before nearly 140 world leaders gather to work out a climate pact in Paris, the report provided details on the past 20 years of disasters related to severe weather, which account for 90 percent of all disasters. Over that period, 6,457 disasters killed 606,000 people and left 4.1 billion people injured, homeless, or in need of emergency assistance. Flooding was responsible for 47 percent of all weather-related disasters, affecting 2.3 billion people, mostly in Asia.

November 23, 2015

Burundi: Weather, violence exacerbate effects of political turmoil

More than 217,000 people have fled the country due to political violence and insecurity since April. About 15,000 people have been internally displaced, and now roughly 700,000 face severe food insecurity, according to the United Nations. In addition, heavy rains have triggered landslides in recent weeks and heightened the risk of disease outbreaks. Humanitarian groups have struggled to spark government efforts to improve the situation.

November 16, 2015

El Niño threatens 11 million children in Africa with hunger, disease

About 11 million children in east and southern Africa face hunger, disease, and water shortages due to the onset of the strongest El Niño weather pattern in decades, UNICEF said Nov. 10. Families throughout southern Africa have had a particularly rough year since widespread flooding and subsequent drought diminished crop production. They anticipate a dry stretch between October and December. World Vision leaders in the region say about 29 million people are affected, including 250,000 children sponsored through its programs in 10 countries in southern Africa.

U.N. expects Europe’s refugee flow to top 1 million this year

As many as 5,000 refugees and migrants are arriving into Europe per day through Turkey, the U.N. Refugee Agency said Nov. 5. That would add up to more than 1 million people by the end of 2015. They’re fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and insecurity in parts of Africa. The harsh winter months pose a potentially deadly threat to tired and vulnerable refugees and migrants. So the U.N. and other aid organizations are working to provide shelter, hot showers, heated tents, and other basics for them along their journey. World Vision staff have been responding to the growing crisis in Europe since September, providing food, water, hygiene items, and other items and services in Serbia.

Latin American disasters affect 13.2 million people in 2015

Emergencies in Latin America and the Caribbean affected 13.2 million people from January to October, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its recent humanitarian bulletin. That’s almost 2 million more people than were affected by disasters in the region in all of 2014. Drought affected the largest group — 6.6 million —  and rains and floods affected 2 million people thus far this year, while cold waves and other environmental emergencies disrupted the lives of about 800,000 people. Various disease epidemics have impacted more than 3.5 million people. World Vision most recently responded to Hurricane Patricia after it hit Mexico in October. Local staff also work day to day with community leaders and national governments to help families be better prepared for disasters.

November 9, 2015

Yemen: Rare cyclone adds to humanitarian needs

Hit by a rare tropical cyclone in the first few days of November, Yemen received seven times the annual rainfall – up to 24 inches – within 48 hours. More than a million people are affected on Sosotra island and Shabwah and Hadramaut governorates where the storm made landfall. Even before the cyclone, more than 21 million of the nation’s 24 million people were already in need of humanitarian aid because of conflict.

November 2, 2015

Europe: Refugees risking health and safety

Despite rain and dropping temperatures, large numbers of refugees continue to seek asylum in Europe. The majority are Syrians. During the week ending Oct. 23, 48,000 people crossed by sea from Turkey to the Greek islands, the highest number since the beginning of 2015. More than 710,000 people have made the journey since January 2015. The U.N. refugee agency reports that many refugee women and children are experiencing sexual abuse and violence. Unaccompanied children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation as they may face detention when identified by authorities.

TB rivals AIDS as top killer among infectious diseases

Approximately 1.5 million deaths are attributed to tuberculosis (TB) in 2014; 400,000 of the deceased also had AIDS. In the same period, 1.2 million people died from AIDS alone. The number of deaths from TB has been nearly cut in half since 1990, but the World Health Organization is concerned by the spread of drug-resistant forms of the disease. Most new TB cases are in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

October 26, 2015

Many feared dead in massive South Asia earthquake

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake shook northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of India Monday morning, collapsing buildings and sending panicked people into the streets. The Associated Press reported more than 100 deaths, including 12 girls in a girls’ school. The number of fatalities could rise sharply as rescue teams broaden their searches According to the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, more than 930,000 people live within 62 miles of the quake’s epicenter. Ten years ago, a magnitude 7.6 quake in the region killed 86,000 people and displaced 2 million.

Hurricane Patricia strikes Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane Patricia, a category-5 storm, made landfall on Mexico’s Pacific Coast late Friday afternoon bringing torrential rain. Authorities say no loss of life was recorded, likely because tens of thousands in coastal areas evacuated. As the flood waters recede, government disaster responders and aid groups, including World Vision, are assessing the extent of damage. World Vision staff say the organization plans to focus its work on assisting recovery in the heavily-affected Mascota municipality east of Puerto Vallarta.

October 19, 2015

Typhoon Koppu strikes the Philippines

Typhoon Koppu hit Luzon, the northernmost and most populous of the Philippine islands, early Sunday morning local time. The slow-moving storm continues to bring heavy rains and flash floods overflowing major roads and bridges. World Vision has mobilized its national disaster management team to assess damage and urgent needs of people in World Vision-assisted areas affected by the storm. More than 4,600 children participate in World Vision programs in Isabela and Pangasinan in north Luzon.

Myanmar: Ceasefire agreements could bring ethnic groups into the fold

Ahead of a Nov. 8 general election, Myanmar’s government signed ceasefire agreements with armed factions of eight ethnic groups on Oct. 15. Seven ethnic groups declined the government’s ceasefire offer. Among the signers was the Karen National Union, which has fought against the Myanmar military for nearly 70 years. Conflict between the national military and ethnic minorities has held back the country’s efforts at democratizing. Both Tatmadaw, the government armed forces, and ethnic armed groups are known to recruit and deploy child soldiers.

October 12, 2015

Global migration: Crisis and opportunity?

report released Oct. 7 by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund predicts large numbers of people will continue to migrate from poorer countries to wealthier ones for decades to come. These population shifts will have significant effects on economic development. The mass movement of refugees and migrants will be a major concern for relief and development organizations, including World Vision. A potential upside: The demographic changes brought about through migration could increase the size of the labor force in countries that are now facing aging populations.

It’s a girl’s world on Oct. 11

The fourth observance of the U.N.’s International Day of the Girl Child, on Oct. 11, follows closely behind the global commitment on Sept. 25 to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In a statement released Oct. 9, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of U.N. Women, said gender inequality “stood in the way of the achievement of the high hopes of the MDGs,” the prior global anti-poverty plan. She cited two statistics that she said should galvanize global action to improve the lives of girls: “More than 250 million of our 15-year-olds are already married … And every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies by violent means.”

October 5, 2015

CAR: Aid agencies close as violence flares up

World Vision and other aid groups were forced to temporarily suspend operations in the Central African Republic (CAR) after an outbreak of protests turned deadly last week in Bangui, the capital.

A flare-up in violence Sept. 26 killed at least 30 people and displaced thousands, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported Sept. 30.

Nearly two years of fighting in the country of about 4.5 million displaced 370,000 people and caused 470,000 to flee to neighboring countries. World Vision is providing food aid to schools and communities in need; operating Child-Friendly Spaces for children to play, learn, and receive counseling; and training community leaders in child protection and peace building.

El Salvador: drought brings widespread crop loss

A prolonged dry spell has affected about 100,000 farmers in El Salvador. As much as 60 percent of the maize crop in affected areas has been lost, and about 156,000 people, mostly in eastern and western El Salvador, are living at crisis-level food insecurity. This means food is inconsistently available, families may have to sell assets to buy food, and acute malnutrition becomes more prevalent among affected households. El Salvador’s neighbors — Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala — also are dealing with the negative effects of drought. Predicted heavy rains throughout the region in early October are expected to provide farmers some relief.

September 28, 2015

U.N. adopts new Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations General Assembly formally adopted a new set of goals Sept. 25 that will guide its 193 member-states toward eliminating poverty by 2030. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development consists of 17 goals and 169 targets aimed at ending poverty, fighting inequality, and tackling the effects of climate change over the next 15 years.

“The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms – an agenda for the planet, our common home,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his opening address to the assembly.

World leaders hope to use the goals to build on the work of the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in December.

“The 2030 Agenda compels us to look beyond national boundaries and short-term interests and act in solidarity for the long term,” Ban said. Learn more about the new development goals at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics.

Child nutrition trends

About 96 million fewer children younger than 5 around the world were stunted — short for their age due to malnutrition — in 2014 as in 1990, according to UNICEF, World Food Program, and the World Bank in a new report on child malnutrition. The findings show a 15.4 percent decrease in stunting prevalence during that period. In all, 159 million children under age 5 were stunted in 2014. In addition to physical effects, stunting also negatively affects a child’s cognitive development.

At the same time, however, there are 10 million more overweight children now (41 million total) than in 1990 (31 million).

September 21, 2015

Chile: magnitude-8.4 earthquake rocks coastal cities

A massive earthquake rocked northern Chile, killing at least 10 people, destroying houses, and triggering tsunami waves that inundated towns along the coast. A Chilean news outlet reported as many as 97 aftershocks as strong as magnitude 7.0. People felt it as far away as Peru, to the north, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, to the east, the L.A. Times reports. World Vision staff in Chile’s capital, Santiago, reported limited damage to buildings but said 1 million residents evacuated as a precaution during the tsunami warning. The staff there also reported no children affected in areas where World Vision works. This is the strongest quake to hit the nation of 17 million since the 2010 tremor in south-central Chile that killed about 500 people.

Malaria cases, deaths down sharply since 2000

The world’s efforts to defeat malaria dealt the disease a decisive blow throughout the past 15 years, according to a new report from the U.N. Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization. Between 2000 and 2015, malaria cases fell by 37 percent globally and death rates by 60 percent. That amounts to 1.2 billion fewer cases and 6.2 million fewer deaths in those 15 years than would have happened if the rates measured in 2000 had stayed the same. World health leaders said the Millennium Development Goal for malaria “target has been met convincingly.” Still, the fight continues. Fifteen countries – mainly in sub-Saharan Africa – account for 80 percent of malaria cases and 78 percent of deaths globally. The report highlights the aim, outlined in a new global malaria strategy: “A further 90 percent reduction in global malaria incidence and mortality by 2030.”

September 14, 2015

Child death rates cut in half

Half as many children died last year as did in 1990, per the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. in a new report. While 25 years ago about 12.7 million children younger than 5 died, the number is projected to drop to fewer than 6 million deaths in 2015. WHO and U.N. leaders celebrate the 53 percent reduction, but as they prepare to set new development goals, more needs to be done to improve conditions for babies in their first days of life. The Sustainable Development Goals cover the next 15 years and will replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire this year.

Japan: 50-year rains affect nearly 1 million residents

The heaviest rains in 50 years forced more than 100,000 people from their homes and another 800,000 to consider evacuation in eastern Japan Sept. 11. On the heels of Tropical Storm Etau, the torrent unleashed widespread flooding and landslides. Many homes were swept off their foundations as swollen rivers swallowed them up. Japan’s military sent 12 helicopter crews to rescue residents stranded in their homes. While 20 inches had already fallen in Joso, the hardest hit area, weather forecasters expected another 8 inches. Japan has bolstered its disaster readiness since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people.

September 7, 2015

Scenes of desperation stir response to European migration crisis

The poignant photo of a Syrian child’s body on a beach in Turkey and scenes of desperate migrants on European trains have accelerated the calls for a unified European response to migrants struggling to reach safe haven on the continent. Rising numbers of economic migrants and refugees from northern Africa and the Syrian conflict are attempting to reach Europe via land and by crossing the Mediterranean. A U.N. spokesperson told CNN last week that 300,000 migrants have tried to cross the Mediterranean to safety compared to 219,000 in all of 2014. In addition to its work with refugees, internally displaced people and host communities in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, World Vision is extending its aid efforts to refugees and migrants in Serbia.

Conflict keeps 13 million children out of school in Middle East, North Africa

The U.N. children’s agency estimates that 13 million children from the Middle East and North Africa are not getting an education because of violence raging in their homelands. The agency’s report, “Education under fire,” says at least 9,000 schools in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya have been damaged, destroyed, or occupied. In Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, more than 700,000 Syrian refugee children are unable to attend overburdened classrooms. World Vision is providing aid to displaced families in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

Families suffer as fighting in the Central African Republic continues

Clashes between warring insurgent groups in Bambari recently killed at least 10 people and caused thousands to flee for safety to a U.N. base. Throughout the country, at least 2.7 million people are in need of immediate aid, and 20 percent of the population has been displaced since conflict broke out in 2013. Violence in the Central African Republic has been brutal and often includes sexual assault. World Vision helps families with food assistance, treatment of childhood malnutrition, and water and sanitation. The organization works with religious groups to increase interfaith cooperation in peacebuilding.

August 31, 2015

Peru cold wave causes hardships

Peru’s national civil defense authority says more than 425,000 people living at elevations above 11,500 feet have been affected by persistent low temperatures, snowfall, and frost. Below-freezing temperatures in the high Andes since May have killed crops and livestock, jeopardizing family incomes and children’s nutrition. In Ayacucho, Cusco, and Huancavelica, World Vision is providing aid, including blankets and metal roofing sheets for families with the weakest houses.

August 24, 2015

Afghanistan: 2015 sees sharp increase in people displaced by conflict

Conflict in Afghanistan intensified during the first half of 2015, resulting in increased civilian casualties and more people — about 103,000 — forced to flee their homes, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says in its mid-year review of the humanitarian response there. That’s a 43 percent increase over the previous year. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimates that, in all, about 948,000 Afghans are displaced by conflict and violence. World Vision has worked in Afghanistan since 2001, providing emergency relief to people affected by drought and conflict. Current efforts focus on health and livelihoods, improving educational opportunities, and protecting vulnerable children.

Humanitarian aid: Capitalizing on faith

Humanitarian leaders are wondering how aid and development groups can better leverage the vast resources (financial, spiritual, and relational) religious communities have to offer toward helping people living in poverty. The idea gained further traction at a late-July meeting in Tajikistan leading up to the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. The international aid system tends to shy away from addressing the role of religion in humanitarian response. But leaders of the secular U.N. and other groups have warmed to the concept of tapping faith-based organizations, and local faith communities to drive emergency response and improve long-term development. They cite shared values like protecting children’s dignity, basic human rights, and the need for a holistic approach, which means addressing a child’s physical, spiritual, and social needs. Religious leaders are the best advocates for their communities, and also have the moral influence and most extensive networks. A prime example of this working comes from the Sierra Leone Ebola response, where pastors and imams swapped pulpits to urgently communicate disease-prevention methods. World Vision is an active participant in the conversation on the benefits of aid groups working more closely with faith-based organizations and faith communities.

August 17, 2015

Aug. 19: Honoring humanitarian workers

The U.N.-declared World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 19 honors humanitarians at work around the world and those who died in service. The global number of aid workers was estimated at 450,000 for 2013. Given the current state of humanitarian needs, the number of aid workers has likely increased since then. USAID reports that attacks on aid workers and resulting casualties spiked in 2013. In 2014, 120 aid workers were killed in action, one-third fewer than in 2013. It’s good that the trend is declining, yet it likely represents a troubling development — many places have become too insecure for aid workers to be deployed. In 2014, the greatest number of attacks on aid workers occurred in Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Pakistan.

Gaza: Infant mortality rate rises for the first time in 50 years

For the first time in 50 years, the infant mortality rate in Gaza has gone up, according to a new study from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Based on data gathered in 2013, the number of babies who died before age 1 increased to 22.4 per 1,000 live births, up from the 2008 measurement of 20.2 babies per 1,000 births. The neonatal mortality rate — number of babies who die in their first four weeks — also increased significantly, from 12 in 2008 to 20.3 per 1,000 births in 2013.

“Infant mortality is one of the best indicators for the health of the community,” said Dr. Akihiro Seita, director of UNRWA’s health program. “Progress in combatting infant mortality doesn’t usually reverse. This seems to be the first time we have seen an increase like this. The only other examples I can think of are in some African countries which experienced HIV epidemics.”

August 10, 2015

Floods overwhelm millions in Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan

Hundreds of people in India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have died since early July as monsoon rains brought flash floods and landslides throughout the region. Cyclone Komen made the situation even worse when it made landfall over northwestern Myanmar, coastal Bangladesh, and India’s Bengal state on July 30. One million people are displaced in India and nearly 260,000 people are displaced in Myanmar. “For many families, the floods have caused damage that will take years to recover from,” said Dr. Jayakumar Christian, national director for World Vision in India. Immediate needs are food, shelter, and access to sanitation facilities, safe water, and healthcare services. World Vision is providing assistance to affected residents in India and Myanmar.

Conflict conundrum: Fewer conflicts, more casualties

The number of conflicts around the globe has decreased significantly since 2008 — from 63 to 42. But at the same time, the death toll from conflict increased from 56,000 in 2008 to 180,000 in 2014. The increase in casualties coincides with extreme violence in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, per the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank, in its Armed Conflict Survey 2015. The study also points out other disturbing trends, including a steep rise in the number of people fleeing conflicts. The number of people displaced by conflict exceeded 50 million in 2013 for the first time since the end of World War II.

Middle East heat wave worsens conditions for displaced Iraqis

The Middle East and parts of Europe are sweltering under extreme heat. Daytime temperatures often exceed 115 degrees Fahrenheit; nights may not drop much below 100 degrees. There’s no relief in the forecast for the next two weeks. Families in makeshift camps and tents in Iraq’s Kurdish region are among those worst hit. For many, electric power is limited to a few hours a day, which also limits the access to running water. World Vision health experts are seeing an increase in diarrhea in children, which could lead to dangerous dehydration. In addition to healthcare, World Vision assists displaced Iraqis with food, water and sanitation, and programs for children.

August 3, 2015

Trafficking in persons is a $150 billion industry

Just in time for the U.N.’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, July 30, the U.S. State Department released its 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. In his introductory remarks, Secretary of State John Kerry said trafficking is a $150 billion industry exploiting 20 million people around the world. The much-anticipated annual report rates 188 countries on their efforts to eliminate trafficking, which includes forced labor, sexual exploitation, and recruitment of child soldiers. Both Burundi and South Sudan, which have seen an uptick in violence, were demoted from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 3, the lowest rating. Penalties for Tier 3 countries could include restrictions on funding and non-humanitarian assistance.

July 27, 2015

Escalating conflict sends more refugees into hard-pressed Niger

Worsening conflict in Nigeria between government forces and insurgents has caused tens of thousands of people to flee to Diffa in Niger. Aid agencies estimate that 150,000 refugees have relocated there in the past two years. They gather under plastic sheeting in makeshift camps with few possessions. An estimated 2.5 million people in Niger are facing severe food shortages, and 1.3 million children are acutely malnourished. Since January 2015, World Vision has assisted about 1,000 refugee families with household items. In one camp, the organization drilled a borehole well and is equipping a community group to manage and maintain it.

Nearly 20 million people displaced by natural disasters in 2014

A report from the Norwegian Refugee Council says better construction is needed to curb a rising trend in population displacement due to floods, storms, and earthquakes. Since 2008, natural disasters have displaced an average of 26.5 million people annually. While 2014 numbers showed a decline, the long-term trend is rising, especially in Asia, which accounts for 90 percent of displaced people. Much of the 2014 displacement was caused by typhoons in China and the Philippines, and floods in India. The growth of poorly constructed urban slum communities makes ever greater numbers of people vulnerable to extreme weather events.

Rebel ceasefire raises hopes for peace in Colombia

After nearly 50 years and 200,000 deaths, a rebel ceasefire in Colombia could signal the beginning of the end of Latin America’s largest and longest-running insurgency. On the eve of the ceasefire, FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army) rebels released a prisoner and pledged to continue peace negotiations with the Colombian government. For its part, the government committed to scaling back armed operations and continuing to negotiate toward a bilateral cessation of hostilities to be supervised by the U.N.  World Vision’s work in Colombia includes assistance to people displaced by the long-running conflict. There are about 22,000 children in Colombia involved in World Vision sponsorship programming.

July 20, 2015

Concern rising for West African drought

The lean season is starting in West Africa and the Sahel. The Sahel is the strip of land that separates the arid Sahara desert on the north and humid savannas on the south. So far, below-average rainfall and late onset of the rainy season indicate that about 7.5 million people, including 4.5 million in the Sahel, will be in food and nutrition crisis between June and August. Conflict and insecurity in Nigeria, Central African Republic, and other areas, as well as the West Africa Ebola outbreak, have made it hard for families to plant, cultivate, and harvest crops. World Vision works in West Africa and the Sahel to provide emergency aid where needed and to help families and communities develop resilience to drought.

Financing sustainable development goals

Rich and poor nations met last week to agree how to finance ambitious development goals designed, in part, to end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. The price tag is estimated to be $3 trillion annually. The solution? Wealthy nations pledged to meet their prior commitment to 0.7 percent of gross national income for foreign aid. Low-income countries committed to cleaning up their domestic tax systems and using the new revenue to support their national development agenda.

July 6, 2015

Burundi: Election unrest spurs exodus

Turnout was low for June 29 parliamentary elections, with voting stations the target of protests and violence. Nearly 130,000 people have left the country — about 1,000 depart daily — for Tanzania, Rwanda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. World Vision supporters from the U.S. sponsor about 4,600 children in Burundi. The organization’s development programs in Burundi include providing clean water, healthcare, economic empowerment, literacy, and education. Watch a video by World Vision videographer Tom Costanza from the Burundi-Rwanda border.

June 29, 2015

El Salvador: Homicides increase at alarming rate

May was a record-breaking month for homicide in El Salvador where 635 killings were recorded, about 20 a day. June will likely close on par. According to police, gangs have strengthened since the 2013 breakdown of a truce between government, and gang leaders and are now showing their muscle. This violence is also recognized as a major factor behind the influx of Central American migrants entering the U.S. illegally. In fiscal year 2014, nearly 52,000 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, more than double the total from the previous year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

June 22, 2015

World: 2014 saw greatest single-year increase in people forced to flee

On average, 42,500 people became refugees, displaced within their own country, or asylum seekers every day in 2014, the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says in a report released June 18. The Global Trends report says 2014 saw the sharpest increase ever in the number of people forced to flee their homes, driven primarily by the Syrian civil war. Nearly 60 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced at the end of 2014; half of them children.

“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement, as well as the response required, is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “With huge shortages of funding and wide gaps in the global regime for protecting victims of war, people in need of compassion, aid, and refuge are being abandoned.”

World Vision is working to help people displaced in areas affected by the Syria and Iraq crises, war in South Sudan, and violence in the Central African Republic, among other hotspots.

Dominican Republic: Children in jeopardy as Haitians face possible deportation

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic face deportation, as a government-imposed deadline to register their presence there passed June 17.

World Vision staff in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti are concerned this action may inadvertently cause a humanitarian crisis by unnecessarily breaking up families.

Tension grew Wednesday as migrant workers waited in lines snaking through the streets of Santo Domingo, the capital. They hoped for a chance to start the process of obtaining legal status before the midnight deadline. About 200,000 people of Haitian descent are in legal limbo — not recognized as a citizen by Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

June 15, 2015

World Refugee Day, June 20

The burden of hosting refugee populations could also be an economic boon, according to a recent study by the United Nations Development Program and the U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR. The study looked at the impact of humanitarian aid on Lebanon since the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2011. It concludes that for every dollar in aid spent in the country, another 50 cents is generated in multiplier effects, such as an increase in local aid jobs and spending by expatriate staff. In contrast, a 2013 World Bank study put the economic effect of the Syrian war as a net negative for Lebanon and said that up to 170,000 Lebanese were being driven into poverty as a result. Whatever local benefits and costs there may be to hosting displaced people, there’s no doubt that the global costs of displacement are rising. UNHCR has appealed for a 2015 budget of US$16.4 billion to meet the needs of 57.5 million people worldwide; 70 percent of the budget to be allocated to crises in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, and Syria(including the countries hosting Syrian refugees). World Vision is active in each of these humanitarian crises.

Niger burdened by refugees, lack of food

The numbers of people in Niger who lack sufficient food could increase to 4.7 million during the May to September lean season, from the current 3.4 million, according to the U.N. Children’s Fund. Those under the age of 5 are most likely to be affected by food insecurity. Violence in Nigeria has led to nearly 100,000 refugees crossing into the Diffa region of Niger, putting a greater strain on the humanitarian response there. Since January 2015, World Vision has provided aid to refugees in Diffa, first through a partner agency, and since May 1 directly; assistance includes access to clean water and sanitation as well as programming for children.

June 8, 2015

June 12, World Day Against Child Labor

It’s estimated that 120 million children ages 5 to 14 are working instead of attending school. Lack of education limits their future incomes and the economic well-being of the communities where they live. On June 12, the International Labor Organization is promoting the availability of free, compulsory, and high-quality education as a way to combat child labor. World Vision’s work includes education in emergencies, upgrading and equipping schools, providing students with supplies, and training teachers.

June 1, 2015

Despite progress, hunger persists, especially in conflict zones

The number of people in the world who are undernourished has dropped to 795 million or one in nine, per the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015.” Economic growth and increased agriculture production have helped, per the report. However, hunger rates are three times higher in countries experiencing long-term crises due to conflict or natural disasters. Of 24 African countries facing severe food shortages, most have suffered shortages for years because of internal conflicts. To meet the target of eliminating world hunger by 2030, the report recommends social protection schemes for the most impoverished in developing countries, including cash transfers to poor farmers and free school meals.

US: Texas, Oklahoma endure week of deadly floods, tornadoes

Severe weather throughout the Midwest last week killed at least 30 people in Texas and six Oklahoma, news reports said. A series of massive rainstorms over Houston caused flash floods that submerged parts of the metro area, stranded vehicles, and triggered emergency evacuations. World Vision staff and volunteers rushed relief supplies from its north Texas warehouse to local churches and organizations for distribution in affected areas. The warehouse holds pre-positioned aid, including food kits, flood cleanup kits, and personal hygiene supplies.

India: Prolonged heat wave takes toll as residents pray for rain

One of India’s longest heat waves in years has claimed 2,000 lives, including more than 1,750 in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states. Temperatures climbed to as high as 118 F in the worst affected areas of Telangana, which includes the major city of Hyderabad. Weather authorities expect rain in coastal areas sometime this week, but people living inland may not get relief from the heat until mid-June, World Vision staff in India report. World Vision works throughout Andhra Pradesh and Telangana but has yet to report any deaths among children benefiting from sponsorship. U.S. sponsors support more than 10,000 children in the affected areas.

May 25, 2015

Malawi: Cholera threatens families displaced by floods

There’s no home to go to for the 107,000 people still displaced by the floods that struck southern Malawi in January 2015. It’s not just a matter of their homes being destroyed. Under heavy rains, rivers changed course, leaving lands under water or inaccessible. Resettlement areas are being identified, but in the meantime, life is hard in displacement camps. Access to clean water is compromised by overcrowding and insufficient numbers of toilets. World Vision is providing toilets and water purification tablets, as well as promoting good hygiene practices such as hand washing and boiling water to drink. World Vision has also assisted families with food, household goods, and programs for children.

May 11, 2015

World: Record 38 million people internally displaced

A report issued last week notes a new world record high at the end of 2014: 38 million people internally displaced by conflict and violence — a number equal to the populations of New York, London, and Beijing combined. The report by the Norwegian Refugee Council says Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria had the most newly displaced people. Alarmingly, more than 90 percent of nations monitored had people displaced for a decade or more, signaling a trend of long-term life disruption. And some people face multiple displacements — refugees from Syria who had fled to Iraq were displaced again in Iraqi fighting, as did Palestinian refugees who had fled to Syria and then to Iraq, being uprooted once more.

Central African Republic: Child soldiers to be freed

The eight main militias fighting in the Central African Republic agreed May 5 to free all child soldiers and children used as sex slaves and to end further recruitment of children to their ranks, Reuters reported. The pact will involve between 6,000 and 10,000 children. The deal is the result of ongoing reconciliation efforts among governments and aid groups with the goal of ending the bloody conflict that has killed thousands of people and displaced more than a million people. World Vision has helped more than 150,000 people affected by the conflict with access to clean water, food supplies, and Child-Friendly Spaces. It has also worked with Christian and Muslim leaders to promote peaceful dialogue among faith communities.

U.S.: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska reel after string of tornadoes

Residents throughout the Midwest are picking up the pieces after dozens of tornadoes ripped through their homes May 6. At least 12 were injured in Oklahoma City. Two twisters In Oklahoma mangled houses and cars as they tore through Norman and Moore — areas hit hard by the powerful 2013 tornado that killed 24 people. World Vision and its local partner, Church of the Harvest in Moore, are already providing supplies to families rebuilding from the earlier storms. The organization is gearing up to send more building materials to stock the church’s disaster response warehouse to assist families affected by the latest storms.

April 27, 2015

Humanitarian need has doubled in 10 years

In April 20 remarks to representatives of U.N. member states, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said urbanization, population growth, conflict, and increasing numbers of natural disasters are among the factors that have doubled the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance within 10 years. Among those in need are 51 million people displaced by conflict, the most at any time since World War II. People displaced within their own countries by conflict now spend 17 years on average as internally displaced people (IDPs).

World Malaria Day, April 25: Malaria fight facing new challenges

The rise of drug-resistant malaria strains and an increase in the numbers and geographic spread of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes could challenge the world’s progress in defeating malaria, said Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, head of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. About half of the world’s population — more than 3.2 billion people — is at risk of contracting malaria. Each year there are nearly 200 million cases, and more than half a million malaria sufferers die, most of them children too young to respond to treatment. Experts say eradicating malaria depends on the global ability to control mosquitoes, provide effective medicines, and eventually a vaccine.

April 20, 2015

Sahel: Food crisis persists

Aid agencies remain deeply concerned for the well-being of more than 20 million people living in the Sahel region, a narrow band of African countries including Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Chad, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Families continue to suffer chronic levels of malnutrition and food insecurity due to recurrent conflict, erratic weather patterns, and other factors like epidemics. As these issues persist, World Vision is working with affected communities to help families become more resilient. Efforts such as rehabilitating water sources; training in improved farming, crop storage, and food preparation techniques; and malnutrition screening help improve health and livelihoods. As a result, families are better equipped to endure drought and other shocks.

Afghanistan: Attacks reflect perilous conditions for aid workers

Security incidents are increasing in April across war-torn Afghanistan. While NATO’s combat mission officially ended in 2014, about 12,000 troops remain in Afghanistan to train local forces. On April 10, troops were targeted in the eastern part of the country. That same day, five aid workers were found dead after being abducted in the south-central province of Uruzgan in March.

These incidents highlight the increasingly difficult conditions for humanitarian groups working there. In 2014, 40 aid workers were killed and 21 wounded in 47 incidents. World Vision works in more than 370 Afghan communities, focused on improving maternal and child health, providing access to clean drinking water, and helping families improve their livelihoods.

Malawi: President raises marriage age

President Peter Mutharika recently approved a law that raises the marriage age from 16 to 18, the BBC reported April 15. Malawi has one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage, with 12 percent married by age 15 and 50 percent married by age 18. Many parents who can’t afford to pay their daughters’ school fees see child marriage as an opportunity to relieve financial burdens. More than 133,000 children benefit from World Vision’s work in 26 districts throughout Malawi.

April 13, 2015

Kenya: Dealing with the aftermath of the shocking student massacre

World Vision and the Kenya Red Cross are working together to provide psychosocial aid to survivors of the April 2 massacre at a university in northeast Kenya. Authorities say 148 people, mostly students, were killed in the attack at Garissa University College in Garissa, Kenya. Another 100 were injured. Trained counselors will provide emotional support, help survivors to cope with their experiences, and assist them with locating family members. World Vision will also train teachers, community leaders, and faith leaders in humanitarian practices so that churches, mosques, and schools are better prepared to cope with disasters. Read more.

Shutdown of money transfers could hinder aid delivery in Somalia

Since the massacre of Kenyan university students, Kenya’s central bank has shut down 13 money remittance providers in an effort to stem the flow of funds to armed militias in the region. Somalia has no central bank, and the nation depends on remittances from Somali expatriates, who send home about $1.3 billion annually, much of it routed through Kenya. In addition, a consortium of aid agencies that work in Somalia says some could lose their only means of transferring money to sustain their operations. Francois Batalingya, World Vision country director for Somalia, says the closing of remittance providers could have a “massive impact” on aid delivery.

April 6, 2015

Yemen: Children suffer in chaos of war

Children are paying a high price for the upsurge of bombing and street fighting in Yemen. According to the U.N. children’s agency, 62 children have been killed and 30 were maimed since March 26, more than in all of 2014. It’s estimated that one million children are unable to attend school, making them more vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups. Schools and health facilities have been targeted for attacks and occupied by forces.

Burundi: Floods set back the progress of development

Heavy rains, flooding, and landslides caused extensive damage and displacement in southwest Burundi during the past week. At least 10 people died and 3,000 displaced. Houses, churches, schools, and health facilities have been damaged. This latest episode is one of many recurring natural hazards that have displaced communities, destroyed homes, disrupted livelihoods, and diminished food supplies. World Vision staff joined a multi-agency disaster assessment team to plan for needed aid. The organization has provided relief and development projects in Burundi since 1963.

March 30, 2015

Vanuatu: Needs are clear for Cyclone Pam survivors

More than half of Vanuatu’s 270,000 people need assistance since the Category 5 storm hit the South Pacific island chain in mid-March. Tafea and Shefa provinces are worst hit, with houses, crops, and water systems damaged or destroyed. More than 110,000 people lack access to clean water, making disease outbreaks a danger. World Vision is concentrating on aid and long-term recovery in Tafea, Shefa, and Penama provinces. The U.N. estimates $29.9 million is needed to support the recovery effort.

March 23, 2015

Farmers among those hit hardest by disaster losses

Farmers in developing countries bear a high proportion of losses from natural disasters, a new U.N. report says. The Food and Agriculture Organization says the agriculture sector experiences nearly one-quarter of the economic loss but receives less than 5 percent of aid dollars. From 2003 to 2013, natural disasters and hazards in 46 developing nations affected 1.9 billion people and cost more than $494 billion, the study says. In 2014, World Vision provided food aid worth almost $264 million to 8 million people in 35 countries. World Vision helps farmers build long-term resilience to drought and adverse weather.

Global group announces plan for reducing disaster risks

Delegates from 187 nations meeting March 14-17 in Sendai, Japan, announced global targets to reduce deaths and losses from disasters over the next 15 years. Among their priorities are greater emphasis on community-level disaster preparedness and applying the “build back better” principle to post-disaster reconstruction. News from the conference was overshadowed by Cyclone Pam’s destructive tear through Vanuatu, a low-lying group of South Pacific islands that is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. World Vision helped villagers prepare for the cyclone and is providing aid.

Cameroon: More people displaced

Fleeing spill-over fighting from Nigeria, nearly 60,000 people have been displaced in northern Cameroon since Feb. 10, doubling the total to about 117,000. The region also hosts 295,000 refugees who fled increasing violence in Nigeria, to the west, and fighting in the Central African Republic, to the east. The U.N. humanitarian agency (OCHA) says 10 percent of Cameroon’s population — 2.1 million people — needs humanitarian assistance.

March 16, 2015

Colombia landmines: Rebels agree to help army clear minefields

As peace negotiations continue between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, the two groups have agreed to work together to remove landmines strewn throughout the country during decades of fighting. Colombia has one of the highest concentrations of mines in the world; mines have injured or killed nearly 11,000 people here since 1990. The ongoing conflict has displaced more than 5.7 million people within the country. World Vision provides internally displaced people with food, household items, and personal supplies and works with the government to empower youth as peace builders.

Costa Rica: Turrialba volcano spews ash, closes airport

Clouds of ash from the newly active Turrialba volcano blanketed much of Costa Rica’s Central Valley March 12, forcing the country’s main airport to close and nearby village residents to evacuate. The series of eruptions began March 8, sending plumes of ash as high as 3,200 feet. Turrialba and nearby Irazu volcanoes are popular tourist destinations. World Vision began work in Costa Rica in the 1980s.

March 9, 2015

Afghanistan: Deadly avalanches cut off  residents of remote valley

Severe winter weather in late February triggered a series of avalanches that killed at least 196 residents of the Panjshir Valley in northern Afghanistan. First responders are clearing roads as the Afghan military airlifts emergency supplies to parts of the valley that have been cut off by snowdrifts. World Vision began relief efforts in the country in 2001 and has since worked to improve maternal and child health, increase children’s access to educational opportunities, and help communities regain economic stability through cash-for-work programs.

Philippines: Fighting displaces more families in the south

Almost 10,000 families were displaced after fighting rekindled Feb. 25 between two warring rebel groups in the south of Mindanao Island. Ongoing insecurity there has displaced at least 34,000 people. Affected families need shelter, access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and healthcare. In addition to reaching more than 1 million people in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan, World Vision operates programs in the Philippines that benefit about 75,000 children registered in sponsorship programs.

March 2, 2015

Where sanitation lags, cholera cases rise

Kenya, Nigeria, and Mozambique are seeing alarming increases in cases of cholera. In Kenya, the number of cases rose from 186 to 644 in a week. In Nigeria, 564 cases have been reported since January. Thirty-seven people have died in Mozambique’s cholera outbreak, which has sickened nearly 3,500 people since January floods. Cholera crops up annually during the rainy season where lack of adequate sanitation leads to contaminated drinking water.

Central America: Food stocks low for poor households

Long-term drought in Central America is contributing to food shortages for more than 2 million people. Thousands of their cattle have died and up to 75 percent of maize and bean crops were lost. Worst-affected are subsistence farmers, day laborers, and the very poor in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Humanitarian aid may be needed at least until the fall grain harvests. World Vision’s programs in Central America help families to increase their incomes and improve farm practices.

February 23, 2015

Children threatened by peacetime bombs

The U.N. Mine Action Service last week released its 2015 portfolio of project requests for finding and destroying dangerous remnants of warfare. More than 60 countries are confirmed to be affected by mines or cluster munitions. Every day, an average of ten people are killed or injured by exploding ordnance. Some of it is decades old, such as bombs dropped on Cambodia and Laos during the Viet Nam War. Children are often intrigued by the unfamiliar objects and pick them up to play with them. Mine contamination also limits economic growth by preventing use of land for building or agriculture.

Myanmar: Civilians caught in the crossfire

Recent clashes between ethnic rebels and the military caused close to 90,000 civilians to flee their homes in northeastern Myanmar. Whole villages were emptied of residents, many of whom left on foot. At least 30,000 people, mostly ethnic Chinese Kotang, crossed the border into China’s Yunnan province. Violent outbreaks hamper efforts to provide aid. Peace and reconciliation between the national government and ethnic groups will be important as Myanmar approaches national elections in November. World Vision works in more than 1,000 villages in Myanmar and provides aid to the Kachin ethnic group.

After decades in Pakistan, Afghan refugees under pressure to leave

Since January, more than 32,000 undocumented Afghans returned from Pakistan, and another 2,000 were deported. They report being harassed and threatened by authorities and their communities, and unfairly lumped in with the killers of 150 students and teachers at a Peshawar school in December. Pakistan hosts about 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees, many of whom arrived after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Now they suffer extreme poverty whichever way they turn. World Vision provides humanitarian and development assistance in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Trapped in the Central African Republic

More than 36,000 people, mostly Muslims, are trapped in seven enclaves across the Central African Republic. They are threatened by attack from anti-balaka militias. At the request of the interim national government, the U.N. forces who protect them also prevent them from leaving the country. World Vision and partner organizations provide food, nutrition screening, child protection, and medical care to 600 people, including 257 children, at the Yaloke enclave. They are members of the Peuhl, a nomadic group of Fulani people.

February 16, 2015

Worldwide: Next steps after the Millennium Development Goals

The MDGs expire this year. This week in New York, there’s a session of inter-governmental negotiations on the next set of global goals for poverty reduction. World Vision is among the relief and development organizations calling for world leaders to prioritize the needs of the world’s most vulnerable children as the key to eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. “Too many children living in conflict, post-conflict, and fragile places haven’t benefited from the global progress made in the past 15 years. We need to see a stronger emphasis on those children,” says World Vision spokesman James Odong.

Boko Haram ventures first attack in Niger

Nigeria-based extremist group Boko Haram carried out new attacks in neighboring Niger Feb. 6-9, killing six and injuring 25, including refugees who had settled in south-eastern Niger. More than 113,000 Nigerians have fled ongoing insecurity seeking safety in Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. Many families in Niger are struggling with ongoing food insecurity, too. More than 5 million people don’t have enough to eat and about 356,000 children younger than 5 are severely malnourished. World Vision helps families in Niger access clean water and improve crop production through irrigation projects, and supports thousands of students with learning materials like books and desks.

February 9, 2015

Water and sanitation pay off big in health benefits

Larger than expected health benefits of clean water make a strong case for improving access for 750 million people in poor nations, says a new report from the World Bank. “Provision of basic water and sanitation facilities … would be a good investment in economic terms,” says World Bank economist Guy Hutton. Based on a study of health benefits and time saved, such as from carrying water, investments in universal access to clean water could prevent 170,000 deaths a year and basic sanitation for all could prevent 80,000 deaths. In 2010, the United Nations declared improved sanitation and water to be basic human rights.

Ukraine: Civilians trapped without aid in conflict areas

The concern is growing for civilians who are not able to flee as fighting ramps up in eastern Ukraine. Many are surviving in underground shelters with no heat or sanitation and lacking the most basic necessities. Close to a million people are displaced in Ukraine and 640,000 have fled the country. Humanitarian access is limited because of broken infrastructure and frequent shelling.

February 2, 2015

One in 10 of world’s children live in areas affected by conflict

A new report from UNICEF says 230 million children — 1 in 10 — live in areas torn by conflict. The agency is appealing for $3.1 million to aid 62 million children, primarily with nutrition support, vaccinations, psychological care, and education. Among the countries and conflicts where children have the greatest needs are the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Iraq, and the Syrian refugee crisis. In all of these World Vision provides aid programs for children and families.

January 26, 2015

Universal immunization: A chance at a global life saver

Since 2000, a global effort has seen half a billion children in developing countries gain access to immunization. Yet each year, 1.5 million children under age 5 die from diseases that could have been prevented if they’d been vaccinated. Gavi —  the multi-national, government- and foundation-funded vaccine alliance — meets in Berlin Jan. 26-27 to raise funds for a $7.5 billion dollar effort to immunize every child in the lowest income countries between 2016 and 2020.

Yemen: Following rebel takeover, aid groups concerned for children’s welfare

Yemen’s president resigned last week to a rebel group, one of several factions that had previously asserted regional control opposing the central government. Long-term insecurity has meant widespread displacement and a severe humanitarian crisis affecting 15.9 million of the 24.4 million population. A million Yemeni children are malnourished, many severely so, and 2.5 million children are out of school. All the country’s armed groups are reported to recruit child soldiers.

January 19, 2015

Niger – Nigerian refugees flood border region

Hundreds of refugees and returnees flee daily to eastern Niger to escape unrest in Nigeria. The U.N. has registered more than 96,000 people who need aid, including more than 45,000 children. Food, shelter, medicines, and support to education are needed. Host communities are already short of food and animal fodder, and the number of malnourished children is rising. World Vision is preparing to respond through a local partner organization.

November 2014

Video report on human trafficking hot spot

World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns traveled to Bangladesh to witness World Vision’s work in preventing child trafficking, protecting those who might be harmed, and restoring those who have suffered.

Rich reports from the border where hundreds of people, including children, are smuggled from Bangladesh to India every day to work in the sex trade or as indentured servants.

 

 

Contributor: Kathryn Reid, World Vision staff.

Disaster Response

View All Stories
Since December 2013, 1.9 million people have fled the country because of conflict and hunger. Uganda now hosts more than 1 million refugees from South Sudan.
From the Field

South Sudan: Conflict, hunger, and the threats to children

Here’s a famine definition and what you need to know about the unprecedented Africa hunger and food crisis affecting tens of millions of people.
From the Field

Africa hunger, famine facts: What you need to know