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Author Archives: Lisa Szarkowski, UNICEF USA

Haiti: Progress for Children

A piece of rubble from a school that had been shattered in Port-au-Prince during the earthquake of 2010.

Hurricane Sandy greeted me on arrival in Port au Prince on October 24th. When I left the island a few days later, the skies were clear and my heart was lighter.

As focal point for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s emergency response, I was in Haiti to survey post-earthquake progress UNICEF and partners have made in the areas of education, nutrition and child protection.

With each return trip, I see improvement in the removal of debris and the expansion of essential services for children. This trip, I was able to preview the first major benchmarking survey on the health and well-being of children pre- and post-earthquake. The data was solid, and revealed dramatic, measurable progress.

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The KONY 2012 debate: Help UNICEF stop child exploitation

Boys attend a class at a transit and orientation center for children demobilized from armed groups, in Bukavu, capital of South Kivu Province. The UNICEF-supported center provides shelter, health and psychosocial services, as well as education and vocational skills training. | © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0100/Olivier Asselin

— You’ve likely seen the video, or the flurry of activity on Twitter, or pundits debating on television. Here are three things we want you to know about children in conflict.

One: This is not just about one person or one place.

The abuse of boys and girls during armed conflict is a global problem. Today, an estimated 250,000 children are associated with armed forces and groups in at least 20 countries around the world.

These children are robbed of their rights and their childhood. They are recruited into government armed forces and rebel groups to serve as combatants, cooks, porters, messengers, or in other roles. Girls are also recruited for sexual purposes or forced marriage. Many have been recruited by force, though some may have joined as a result of economic, social or security pressures. Displacement and poverty make children even more vulnerable to recruitment. The physical and psychological impact on children and their communities is devastating.

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Pier 1′s commitment to zero

Dayna at Pier 1

— Pier 1 has carried UNICEF greeting cards for more than 20 years. During a time of intense competition and pressure for retail outlets to reach sales goals, Pier 1 has provided valuable real estate in its more than 1,000 stores, gratis, for UNICEF greeting cards. Sales of our iconic greeting cards in Pier 1 stores have raised more than $28 million, used to buy lifesaving vaccines, clean water, medicine and education for the world’s poorest children in more than 150 countries.

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A real life superhero

© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1205/Kate Holt | Water distribution in a camp in Mogadishu, Somalia for people displaced by the drought. The water is being distributed by troops from AMISOM (the African Union Mission in Somalia) from their base supplies. AMISOM was established by the United Nations to support peace, stability and the safe delivery of humanitarian aid in the country. UNICEF works on all sides of the long-running conflict.

— Today, we share a headline that is simply too important to let pass. UNICEF’s Maulid Warfa is real life superhero – someone who overcomes impossibilities and confronts danger to save others. In spite of obstacles that would paralyze most of us, he has persisted, and in the process, helped to save and protect the lives of countless children.

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Remembering fallen colleagues

— Today is World Humanitarian Day, designated by the UN General Assembly, for the purpose of honoring aid workers. It is also a day to remember the sacrifice of too many who have been lost in the line of duty, with alarming frequency in recent years. And finally, meant to inspire and engage future support for this work, in the name of peace

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Thank you, Jack: on behalf of the children of Japan

— In the currency of 8 year-olds, stuffed animals are quite a sacrifice. Plus his allowance, too? You could say he offered his most precious belongings and worldly resources to help kids he doesn’t know and will likely never meet.

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