Nov 9, 2020

UPDATE: Empowered Girls Lead the Way to Innovative and Impactful Solutions in the Midst of COVID-19

IYD/CARE
IYD/CARE

Adolescent girls are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including interruptions in essential services and an increased risk of experiencing negative health, education and psychosocial outcomes at a critical time in their lives. However, in communities from Colombia, to Niger, Malawi, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Somalia, girls are also coming up with innovative solutions to share life-saving information, continue learning, and shape the nature of prevention and response programs. 

Debbie Landis, CARE Senior Gender in Emergencies Policy Specialist says, “The COVID-19 pandemic places  a generation of young people – especially girls  in a particularly vulnerable situation, as their ability to access essential health, education, and protection services are limited, and the dynamics of the crisis create new risks to their safety and well-being.  As in the case of other crises, adolescent girls are often a ‘hidden’ group, with limited data available on their situation, and insufficient attention paid to their needs in response plans and in the priorities of donors.  

Despite these issues, we are seeing that when the voices of girls are amplified, and when girls are given opportunities for meaningful participation, they can shape the future in powerful ways,” adds Landis. 

Examples from CARE’s work around the world has shown that girls are vital to shaping the nature of the COVID-19 response from engaging in assessment, planning and accountability processes, to informing the design of prevention and response programs, to engaging in outreach and advocacy efforts with their peers and broader communities.  

Adolescent girls are also often best-placed to helshare information in new and innovative ways. In Niger, for example, girls supported by CARE are helping to spread essential information on available services for survivors of gender-based violence.  In other countries such as Mali and India, girls are leading in information sharing and peer support through WhatsApp groups, phone calls and text messaging.  

"I have come to realize that the restriction of mobility is the biggest issue that girls in my community face,” says Puja Gupta, a youth activist from Nepal. “This restriction results in girls getting confined into their houses, not getting the opportunity for education, facing gender-based discrimination and most likely getting married early. We believe that if we do not speak up for ourselves, no one else will. So, we have started to do something about it."  

Some further examples of the role played by adolescent girls in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic include: 

  • IBurundi, CARE organized a social innovation challenge for youth-led and civil society organizations to rapidly identify solutions to respond to the health and rights of vulnerable communities during COVID-19, especially in camps for refugees and internally displaced persons.  

  • In Bangladesh and Nepal, young girls in Tipping Point - a CARE-supported project have engaged in data collection efforts in hard-to-reach communities to build knowledge on the needs and experiences of adolescent girls during the pandemic. 

  • In Colombia, adolescent girls are working to promote continued access to essential health services.  In partnership with adolescent leaders, CARE is working to implement a community awareness campaign to provide information on adolescent health through murals, plays, social medial, and health fairs. 

Promoting the leadership and participation of girls has been an essential component of CARE’s work across all sectors, and this emphasis has only increased in importance since the start of the pandemic,” says Landis. “As the world faces an unprecedented challenge, these results remind us of the powerful potential of adolescent girls – and of the value of investing in them,” she adds.

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Oct 29, 2020

UPDATE: UN Security Council to Further Restrict Humanitarian Access to Northwest Syria

Violet/CARE
Violet/CARE

The recent vote by the Security Council to further restrict humanitarian access to northwest Syria is both reckless and heartless. At a time when humanitarian needs in the NW of the country have never been higher, the Council has effectively shut down the most direct access route to food, shelter and medical assistance that the majority of more than three million Syrians in the northwest depend on for their survival. We fear that this decision will increase the suffering of those in need, who are overwhelmingly women and children. They have been displaced multiple times and have few, if any, coping mechanisms left after more than nine years of conflict. Although humanitarian organisations like CARE and our amazing local Syrian partners will work tirelessly to reach people in need of assistance under these new constraints, but we know there is no substitute for the UN and a limit to how much we can try to scale up to fill the gaps that will appear very quickly. This is a dark day in the 75 year history of the UN Security Council and Syrians should rightfully question all of us for allowing this decision to stand.

It comes on the back of an equally troubling decision the Security Council made in January of this year when it closed the Syria/Iraq border crossing that the UN was using to reach 1.4 million Syrians. In recent weeks CARE joined other humanitarian organisations operating in the northeast of the country to make the case that humanitarian needs were growing, and only by reopening this crossing, could the UN help to scale-up the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the northeast. However, the Security Council squandered the opportunity to reopen this border crossing, leaving the region scrambling to procure essential medicines, medical services and equipment that is desperately needed to respond to the pandemic. CARE continues to provide assistance to communities in northeast Syria, but we remain deeply concerned that we will not be able to sufficiently scale up our work, and the trickle of humanitarian aid coming from Damascus in recent months does not even begin to meet existing needs. All Syrians who need humanitarian assistance are entitled to receive it regardless of which part of the country they happen to live in. We hope that the Security Council will very quickly find a way to put politics aside in both northwest and northeast Syria and ensure all Syrians can enjoy a brighter future.

Syrians are in urgent need of support from the international community, and increased funding will make the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of innocent children and families. Start helping Syrians today.

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Oct 29, 2020

COVID-19 and Extreme Weather Events Threaten to Roll Back Gains in Rohingya Camps

Credit: Tapash Paul/CARE
Credit: Tapash Paul/CARE

The global death toll from the coronavirus has crossed 800,000 as confirmed cases surged past 23 million, with Bangladesh overtaking Pakistan to become 15th on the list of countries with most COVID-19 patients. While the country has crossed a grim milestone, there are so far fewer causalities in the densely-populated Rohingya camps that have been and still are considered one of the most vulnerable places to the ongoing pandemic. 

As of now, COVID-19 situation across the camps has been tackled somewhat successfully. However, the apparent success in keeping the virus away should not hide the fact that the risks of a COVID-19 outbreak in the camps remain very high. Despite taking all the preventative measures, it cannot fully alleviate the very difficult conditions continually present in the camps. 

Coordinated approach by the Bangladesh Government, UN organizations and NGOs including CARE has yielded results. CARE is currently responsible for co-managing three camps (Camp 13, 14 & 16) under the supervision of Camp-in-Charge (CIC) appointed by the Government.  

As an early responder, CARE intervened to ensure that the Rohingya population and the host community members have access to life saving and essential services to fight COVID-19. CARE continued with the services e.g. related to health, water and sanitation, and Gender Based Violence where community engagement sessions were also organized to sensitize women, girls, men and boys as well as community level actors to create awareness on prevention and control methods for COVID-19. Staff and community volunteers are being trained on infection prevention and control (IPC) to strengthen knowledge and skills on safe delivery of response package at all levels.

Along with COVID-19 response from March 2020, CARE has implemented a number of programs to reach 334,227 people in the past three yearsCARE especially targeted the most vulnerable groups like elderly, unwell, care-givers and people with disability for offering life-saving servicesWhile establishing over 1,000 gender-segregated latrines in camps, a total of 91 accessible latrines were constructed for families with persons with disabilityPreviously, the latrine I had to use was 20 feet away from my house. I used to face a lot of difficulties then”- shared Bashir who is 17 and visually impaired.  

Apart from working with health, water, sanitation, protection and gender-based violence issues, CARE has also worked on nutrition issues extensively. CARE provided training and capacity building support to 11 partner organizationresponsible for implementing community based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM). Over 2000 staff members from these agencies were trained to provide CMAM services across 29 out of 34 Rohingya camps  

However, COVID-19 threatens to roll back gains made on nutrition in the camps as access to food supplies, income and diverse diets become more limited. According to Nutrition Sector1, progress has been made since the onset of the crisis in August 2017, when over 700,000 Rohingya people fled from Myanmar seeking shelter and safety in Bangladesh. Global acute malnutrition among children under five has reduced from 19.3 percent in 2017 to 10.9 per cent in 2019. It is evident that COVID-19 compromises the fragile gains made over the past three years. 

Aside from COVID-19, people living in the camps also face the threat of cyclone and landslide during the monsoon period; usually between June and October. The conditions in the camps have made Rohingya communities at particular risk of disasters. The strain on services, infrastructures and the environment from the influx has also increased the vulnerability. The exposure of these communities to extreme weather events would exacerbate already existing needs and vulnerabilities, especially for the most marginalized, including women and girls, persons with disabilities, elderly persons and children. 

“Close to a million Rohingya refugees are living in highly overcrowded camps in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh. So far with the collective effort of all humanitarian agencies and the government we have been able to limit the spread of COVID-19 successfully. However, the risk still remains and we need to keep working with the communities on food and nutrition security, creating health awareness while reinforcing our disaster preparedness activity”- said Ram Das, Deputy Country Director – Humanitarian Response of CARE Bangladesh. 

 

About CARE: Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Last year CARE worked in 100 countries and reached more than 50 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care.org and www.care-international.org. 

 

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