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Author Archives: Jen Banbury, UNICEF USA

How bicycles help girls learn

Fifteen-year-old Rahinatu has a lot of responsibilities. In Ghana where she lives, as in many countries, adolescent girls like her are expected to play a major role in taking care of the household. And Rahinatu’s chores take priority over just about everything else

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Malnutrition is deadlier than pirates

Most of the news coverage on Somalia lately has focused on those shockingly successful pirates who’ve been attacking ships and holding them for ransom off the country’s coast. But for us here at UNICEF, the real Somalia story is happening on land, where kids and their families are suffering from the horrible side effects of a prolonged civil war.


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Four years after THE tsunami

There’s no way I can forget the date of the massive 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami: the tsunami struck December 26, which happens to be my birthday. The next day, my husband

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It’s a bus, it’s a school, it’s… both!

You know by now how important we think it is for children

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What kids in Afghanistan are going through

Not too long ago, I blogged about the worsening situation in Afghanistan, and the impact it’s having on children there. Now the UN Secretary-General has released a report

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Keeping kids safe from polio in Iraq

I’m often saddened by how little the conflict in Iraq shows up in the news these days. It was already fairly underreported, and then the election and financial crisis knocked it even farther off the media radar. The good news is that there actually is less violence in Iraq to report these days. The country has stabilized quite a bit from when I was a reporter there in 2004.

But it’s still a very dangerous place. And the daily UNICEF operations briefs I read almost always include some disheartening news from Iraq. (Two recent ones contained subheads Five killed, one injured north of Baghdad and Iraq violence leaves 14 dead.)

© UNICEF/NYHQ2007-2321/Michael Kamber
IRAQ: Children follow American soldiers as they patrol the streets of a neighborhood in the town of Falluja. The levels of violence in the city have fallen dramatically over the course of the year. But critical shortages of medicines and vaccines have left nearly one-third of children in remote areas without basic services. One in five Iraqi children has stunted growth, 1 in 13 is underweight, half are missing routine vaccinations and 1 in 5 girls is not in school.

I sometimes think that one of the reasons we Americans don’t want to know too much about the situation in Iraq is that it’s just so complicated. There are a lot of different combative groups, and it can feel as though it’s sometimes hard to know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. But for UNICEF, it’s simple: kids are always the good guys.

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