Save the Children Federation

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
Oct 23, 2013

Emergency Health Care for Syrian Refugees

Syria’s vicious civil war has caused a humanitarian crisis on a huge scale.  Six million people forced from their homes and over half of the country’s hospitals are damaged. Thousands are fleeing the country in search of safety every day with many crossing into neighboring Lebanon and after this dangerous, arduous journeys people are settling wherever they can, and they are in desperate need of health care.

Merlin is the Lifeline

Merlin is there for the vulnerable new arrivals, as well as, the refugees who have already arrived, to provide basic health care and refer serious cases to where they can get the often lifesaving treatment they need.


The Challenge

The Syrian Civil War has brought untold anguish to the Syrian people. As conflict rages on and the health care infrastructure is torn apart, the Syrian people are being forced to flee in droves – a staggering 1.7 million so far.

While other neighboring countries have closed their borders or severely limited the numbers of refugees they are allowing in, Lebanon’s borders remain open to Syrians in search of safety. This country of 4 million people has already received at least 1 million Syrian refugees, and 4,000 more cross the border every day.

So far only about half of the refugees are officially registered. Without registration their chances of access to basic health care are greatly reduced, and even for those who are registered there are nowhere near enough health services to support them. In the first half of 2013 just 42,000, or 7.5%, of the registered refugees received UN-supported health care. And yet it’s thought that 40% of new arrivals need immediate primary health assistance.

As the third winter of the conflict approaches, families will struggle to keep warm and diseases like pneumonia will increase, particularly amongst children and the elderly.  In addition to this, after enduring over three years of civil war, the humanitarian situation inside Syria continues to deteriorate with over 6.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance as poor sanitation and hygiene conditions mean the risk of communicable diseases like diarrhea grows each day.

What Merlin is Doing

Merlin is providing emergency response health care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and  working to find new arrivals – both registered and unregistered – through  partners and community leaders, so that when groups of refugees arrive we are the first to know, and can respond immediately.

Merlin is focusing on the most in need and most vulnerable – pregnant women, children, people with disabilities and older people. We are educating people about health and hygiene to help halt the spread of communicable diseases and are improving the way information about health needs is shared to help agencies on the ground co-operate better.

The Long-term

By ensuring Merlin gets to new arrivals quickly, they are diagnosed, treated and prevented from getting diseases before they deteriorate any further, improving their health immediately and reducing the strain on health services in the long term. Merlin's health and hygiene education program is helping people stay healthy and defend against preventable diseases in the harsh and basic environment they have been forced into.

No matter how hopeless the situation seems, we need to remember that there are countless people in need of medical assistance and that this can make the difference between life and death.  That is why Merlin is working very hard to bring vital health services to the Syrian people and needs your help to continue doing so.

Aug 16, 2013

New Goat-Raising Center in Guatemala

Goat Center in Guatemala
Goat Center in Guatemala

The sleepy Mayan village of Aldea El Paraiso in the Guatemalan Quiché highlands was buzzing with action today during an opening ceremony of a new goat-raising center, hosted by the non-profit organization Save the Children in partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The center is part of a goat milk program designed to help chronically malnourished children get the key nutrients they need to be healthy and grow.

"One of the worst places in the world for chronic child malnutrition is not found in the brown deserts of Africa, but in the green mountains of Latin America," said Carlos Carrazana, Save the Children's Chief Operating Officer. "In Guatemala, nearly one in two children under the age of 5 is chronically malnourished, meaning they don't get enough of the right kinds of food each day to fuel their growing brains and bodies."

Among indigenous populations in rural parts of El Quiché, the situation is even worse. The region's lush, rolling hills mask a hidden hunger crisis affecting 72 percent of its children under 5. That's why Save the Children, with support from GMCR and USAID, has opened the goat-raising center to offer milk as a source of protein for malnourished children in the region.

"Chronic malnutrition in El Quiché coffee-growing communities has kept many young children from reaching their cognitive and physical potential in life, a potential so necessary to move their communities from extreme levels of poverty," said Rick Peyser, Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach for GMCR. "Good nutrition is fundamental to the strength of our supply chain. The new Save the Children Goat Center in El Quiché will lead to healthier, more productive lives in communities that many coffee companies, including GMCR, depend on for their fine coffees."

"For over ten years, USAID Guatemala has supported Save the Children's innovative food security and nutrition programs for families living in extreme poverty and with very high rates of chronic malnutrition in Guatemala's Quiché department. Over the years, Save the Children has championed this exemplary 'family goat model.' Today it is our pleasure to join Save the Children and other important partners in this inauguration of The Goat Center which is the culmination of their laudable work to generate income and food security among the extreme poor in Guatemala's Western Highlands," said USAID Mission Director Kevin Kelly.

The center currently houses 85 goats (it has capacity for 300) and will serve 115 surrounding communities. Over the next three to five years, 2,200 families and more than 3,500 children will benefit from the goat center. In addition to providing milk for children, the program teaches families how to generate income year-round by raising goats and other farm animals, selling surplus milk, and making cheese and yogurt.


Aug 16, 2013

Children's Futures at Risk

Photo of Classroom Riddled with Bullets
Photo of Classroom Riddled with Bullets

“The day the rebels came,” remembers 13-year-old Salif, “they destroyed the school. I saw them. They went inside the school. They went into the headmaster’s office and destroyed everything. They destroyed the students’ papers and folders.”

Salif* lives in Mali, but sadly, attacks on education are not uncommon in many nations around the world. The United Nations defines an attack as any intentional threat or use of force directed against students, teachers, education personnel and/or education institutions, carried out for political, religious or criminal reasons.[i] Nearly 50 million children and young people in conflict zones face these unnerving barriers to education every day, keeping them out of school and preventing them from reaching their true potential.

Quality Education for All Children

On July 12, 2013, youth delegates from around the globe met at the United Nations in New York City to fight for a quality education for all children, even those living in areas of war and conflict. They were joined by children like Malala, a Pakistani school girl and education activist whose only ‘crime’ was a desire to learn when she was shot and gravely wounded by armed men on her way back from school.

Sadly, attacks on education are not uncommon. The number of recorded attacks on education has increased in recent years. Global reports show these confrontations and acts of violence are widespread in a number of on-going conflicts. Based on UN data, Save the Children estimates that there were more than 3,600 separate, documented attacks on education in 2012.[ii]

Protect, Prohibit, Preserve

Save the Children is calling on world leaders to tackle this crisis and commit to the following:

  • Protect education by criminalizing attacks on education, prohibiting the use of schools by armed groups, and working with schools and communities to adopt local measures to preserve schools as centers for learning.
  • Cover the funding gap by increasing the current levels of humanitarian funding to education and progressively work towards reaching a minimum of 4 percent of global humanitarian funding.

To learn more, read our report, Attacks on Education: The Impact of Conflict and Grave Violations on Children's Futures.

[i] See Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), What Is an Attack on Education?; UNESCO, Education Under Attack 2010, Paris, 2010, see pg 23-28

[ii] UNESCO, Institute of Statistics and Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA-GMR), Schooling for millions of children jeopardised by reductions in aid, UIS Factsheet No. 25, June 2013


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