Jul 15, 2019

Spotlight: Education & Livelihoods for Refugees

Concern education center. By Gokkusag Dernegi.
Concern education center. By Gokkusag Dernegi.

Dear Supporter,

The war in Syria has now entered its ninth year. What began as a response to peaceful protest in 2011 quickly erupted into a ferocious conflict that has since led to the deaths of more than half a million people, driven an exodus of over 6.5 million refugees – almost half of whom are children – and displaced millions more within the country.

Thanks to the generous support of “concerned citizens” like you, Concern Worldwide has scaled up our assistance to provide millions of Syrians with lifesaving aid. As our teams on the frontlines inside Syria continue to provide lifesaving emergency assistance, such as food rations and clean water, I would like to focus today on our response program for Syrian refugees in Turkey, which has transitioned from emergency response to longer-term resilience assistance.

It is worth noting that Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees of any country in world – and over 3.6 million of them are Syrian, comprising 4.4% of the total population. While the standard of living in Turkey is relatively high, the situation is startlingly different for refugees. More than two thirds live below the poverty line, and one out of every four is considered “extremely” poor, which means he or she is not meeting even basic nutritional needs. When one observes the large number of vulnerable children amongst this group – many of whom have never known a life free from the indignity of displacement and poverty – it becomes clear that we must take action now to ensure this poverty does not become an intergenerational trap. Countless studies have shown that the ability of refugees to escape poverty is closely tied to two interrelated things: education and sustainable livelihoods. With your support, Concern is working hard to provide Syrian refugees in Turkey with both.

Regarding access to quality education, the needs begin with basic enrollment. In 2018, more than 200,000 of the 350,000 Syrian school-aged children in Turkey were unable to enroll in school. Over the last year, Concern’s teams on the ground helped over 1,000 school-aged Syrian boys and girls enter or re-enter the formal education system. Working with the Ministry of Education and local partners, we alleviate financial and other constraints on families so that Syrian children can access quality education to support their learning and wellbeing. We are also working to improve the quality of education and ensure it meets the full spectrum of needs. We are providing teacher trainings and engaging caregivers, including parents, as well as facilitating psychosocial support and referrals when needed.

Regarding livelihoods support, it begins with our work on education. Concern’s education experts are facilitating life skills training to help students acquire the hard and soft skills necessary to secure jobs. Some of these topics include computer skills, athletic activities, handicrafts, and Turkish and Arabic language learning. Further, we are providing vocational training to enable graduates to gain and apply professional skills to build economic self-reliance while integrating into the Turkish labor market. Coupled with the skills training are distributed resources to help refugees kick-start home businesses, such as sewing machines, plumber kits, mobile phone repair kits, and cooking materials.

None of this would be possible without the incredible support we continue to receive from donors like you. As the Syrian crisis grinds on, the needs of refugees are certainly not decreasing in size or urgency. But they are shifting. And you can always count on Concern to tailor our approaches to efficiently and effectively deliver recovery, relief, and resilience to the world’s extreme poor.

Jun 14, 2019

Early Recovery in Malawi and Mozambique

Distribution of essential items
Distribution of essential items

Dear Supporter,

It’s been several months now since Cyclone Idai brought 175mph gusts and widespread flooding to Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, and the crisis is very far from over. Initially, the priorities identified by our rapid assessment teams were food, seeds, and shelter, and Concern has been responding accordingly.

Food distributions, in partnership with the U.N. and other agencies, have been taking place in some of the most affected areas. Access has been a big problem, with soft ground, damaged roads, and destroyed bridges hampering the relief effort. Nevertheless, we have managed to gain access.

Concern has also airlifted in essential items from outside the region, which had been stockpiled for rapid response to emergencies such as this. These include tarpaulins and rope for temporary shelter, water containers, household utensils, mosquito nets, and hygiene products.

In Malawi, our teams have organized cash transfers to allow households to buy what they need most, as in some places local markets are functioning well. It’s an effective way to work and contributes to the local economy.

Cyclone Idai wiped away millions of acres of maize and other crops, which were almost ready for harvest, and this was the biggest blow of all. Most people in rural areas rely on subsistence agriculture for survival — they eat what they grow — and there is little or no backup. In southern Malawi and Central Mozambique there is now a short window of time for people to plant replacement crops, and speed is of the essence. The ground is moist, and fast-maturing varieties of grains and legumes can grow to maturity before it becomes too dry. But this has to happen quickly.

Working with partners, we have sourced and distributed seeds as fast as we can. In the words of Concern’s Director of Emergency Operations, Ros O’Sullivan, “These people have survived one disaster — it’s up to us to help prevent another.”

Unconditional cash transfers
Unconditional cash transfers
Jun 12, 2019

Nutrition in Rohingya Camps

Dear Supporter,

Thanks in part to your contributions, Concern continues to provide high quality support to vulnerable Rohingya refugees. Most Rohingya refugees are concentrated in the Cox’s Bazar district on the southeast coast of Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazar is best known for its idyllic beaches, however it is one of the poorest district in Bangladesh and the villages where most of the camps are located are among the most socially deprived in the country. The host community in Cox’s Bazar has been generous and gracious in welcoming the Rohingya refugees but they are under increasing strain as the influx continues. The price of basic goods such as firewood has more than doubled due to the increased demand.

What began as a cluster of informal settlements on a hillside in Cox’s Bazar has developed into one of the world’s largest refugee camps, hosting almost a million Rohingya refugees. Concern started working in the camp in September 2017 and was among the first humanitarian responders in the Cox’s Bazar district. Concern’s initial emergency projects responded to the immediate needs of the refugee population by providing much needed food items and later we began distributing non-food-items.

Our services have since expanded and, in partnership with UNICEF, we are now providing nutrition services to women and children in makeshift settlements throughout seven locations. We have screened well over 300,000 Rohingya children under five for malnutrition. The Cox’s Bazar refugee camps are at capacity and as the influx of Rohingya refugees continues, overcrowding is becoming a real issue. The camp’s basic services are under huge pressure and the close proximity of shelters increases the risk of illness and disease. 

Thanks in part to your support we can continue to respond to these pressing needs, and for this we are deeply grateful.

Concern staff conducting assessments.
Concern staff conducting assessments.
 
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