Jen Banbury, UNICEF USA
Recently, at a UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva, three young adults were invited to lead and make their own voices heard. The UN Global Platform provided an amazing opportunity for these youths to join in the conversation, and the extraordinary young adults Andra and Tricia, both 14 from the Philippines, and Johnson, 17, from Kenya rose to the occasion.
This is a picture of a 13-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo named Mwindo (not his real name). Like many thousands of children in war-torn countries around the globe, Mwindo was pressed into becoming a child soldier when he was nothing more than a kid. He was taught to use weapons, was given an Uzi to carry and was expected to fight.Today, February 12 is Red Hand DayÃ¢Ž¯a day to support and commemorate children who serve or have served in armed conflict.
Imagine the life of a 6-year old girl, far from home, forced to spend all day ducking between cars on busy streets and beg drivers for change. Think of what life must be like for a 12-year-old boy who works long hours every single day in a gold mine. Picture an 8-year-old girl, forced into prostitution.
These are often the fates of children who have been trafficked. Child trafficking can take many forms, but it is, in essence, a modern day slave trade.
If you’ve heard about Yemen at all recently, the news likely hasn’t been good. Two suicide bombings last month-likely the work of Al-Qaeda-killed 25 people in the north and terrified a region already battered by unrest. Despite a ceasefire, clashes between militants and government forces in the northern region of Sa’ada continue to displace thousands of people. And last year’s thwarted Christmas day underwear bomber received training in Yemen.
It was evening when videographer Doron Schlair and I arrived at the sprawling Manila hospital. We followed directions to a small, dimly lit ward painted the sort of blue/green color so common in hospitals–no matter what part of the world you may be visiting. A male nurse met us at the ward’s entrance, helped us put sterile gowns over our clothes, and gave us a critical directive: keep your voices very low.
In 2009, donations from people like (I hope) you paid for 2.99 billion doses of vaccine for children in 82 countries. The funds enabled UNICEF to help deliver emergency supplies to 69 countries and territories (many of those crises–though deadly–probably never made the six o’clock news). Some $225 million went toward local construction projects–mostly schools. The donations also provided 43 million long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets in countries where malaria still kills children.
Homeless. Injured. Traumatized. It is horrible to imagine what some of Haiti’s children are facing right now.
Children are the most vulnerable in the wake of a disaster, especially one as destructive as last week’s earthquake in Haiti. Without any warning, their lives were turned upside down. They may have seen their homes demolished or their relatives killed. Many were separated from their families in the unfolding chaos. Some were gravely injured. They are now at increased risk of disease and malnutrition, as well as exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.
The first instinct of those watching the plight of Haiti’s children on TV is to help in any way possible
The news out of Haiti is just catastrophic. It’s shaping up to be one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. I’m sure you’ve been seeing the heart-stopping footage on the news of people badly injured, without shelter, food, and water
If you follow the news, you likely know about the brutal attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul, Afghanistan just over a month ago. On October 28, Taliban militants staged an early morning raid