Dec 13, 2018

UPDATE CARE's Support of the Syrian Refugee Crisis

A business incubator for displaced Iraqi women and a mental health mobile service with a smartphone application aiding confidential outreach to domestic violence survivors from Syria were the winners of the inaugural Relay! GBV Challenge, the global humanitarian organization CARE announced at the conclusion of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign.

The Lotus Flower Organisation from Iraq, which runs the business incubator, and the Syrian Expatriate Medical Association (SEMA) of Turkey, developers of a GBV awareness mobile application, won the Relay! GBV Challenge after a month-long call for the best initiatives addressing Gender-based Violence in the Middle East and North Africa. As the grand prize winners among the 90 applications from Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq, Lotus Flower and SEMA will receive additional funds for their programs and a partnership with CARE staff in their countries to further the programs’ work and impact.

The Relay! GBV Challenge began accepting applications in October. The challenge aimed to surface the best interventions that are working to respond, prevent and understand gender-based violence in various contexts throughout the region. CARE identified particular scenarios in each country that detailed target population and GBV specifics, for example, early marriage in Jordan or sexual harassment in Egypt. Local organizations replied to country-specific challenges and highlighted their best initiatives displaying the most promise. Eleven (11) semi-finalists were chosen in November and the final two winners were decided based on a rigorous judging process by CARE senior staff and other international organizations’ leadership.

Gender-based violence is one of the greatest barriers to gender-equity and can encompass a wide range of dangerous and sometimes invisible tactics, from financial intimidation, harassment, to physical abuse and murder. The work to address GBV is critical to save the lives and livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable populations around the word. In 2017 alone, 50,000 women were killed by family members or intimate partners, and statistics show that at least 1 in 5 refugee women experience sexual violence. The needs of women and girls are great, and CARE takes a holistic approach, including awareness training, financial and resource assistance, health care, and counseling.

CARE believes that violence against women is a human rights violation, and knows that preventing and responding to it requires a network of change-makers, allies, and advocates. The Relay! GBV challenge hopes to infuse resources and capacity to work that is making a marked difference in communities. The great work from other organizations and support of the entire community of actors, is pivotal to creating a world of dignity, safety, and security for women and girls. Congratulations to Lotus Flower and SEMA!

Notes on the two winners:

SEMA provides psychological support to individuals through a physical center and, as a RELAY! Winner, will develop a new smartphone application to increase outreach directly and confidentially with GBV survivors, offering a suite of support services.

The Lotus Flower are local implementers that support women and girls impacted by conflict and displacement. As a RELAY! Winner they will use the grant to scale up their Women's Business Incubator to provide a financial foundation and business mentorship for women-led small businesses.




Dec 12, 2018

UPDATE: CARE's Support for Refugees Worldwide

SANAA – (December 6, 2018) – As pockets of famine-like conditions are announced in parts of Yemen and the majority of the population are shown to be suffering from emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, CARE urgently calls for more funding to prevent further catastrophe in Yemen. After almost four years of brutal conflict the country has now reached close to breaking point.

“Today’s report should be a wake-up call for the world,” says Johan Mooij, CARE’s country director in Yemen. “Almost a quarter of a million people would immediately be in famine, and a staggering 20 million people would not have enough to eat here in Yemen without humanitarian assistance – all because of a manmade crisis. The tragedy here grows worse by the day, stretching the limits of what CARE and other humanitarian groups can do to alleviate misery and prevent more deaths.”

According to the just-published Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) report, 240,000 people are living in famine-like conditions in Yemen. Over 70% of the population – 20 million people – are living in emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity, with 9.8 million in need of immediate assistance.

“The areas experiencing catastrophic food insecurity are those affected the most by conflict and fighting,” says Mooij. “We know for example that Hodeidah and Sa’ada governorates have seen the highest levels of airstrikes and ground attacks, and this is where the most severe food insecurity is found. This is the clearest indication of the link between war and famine in Yemen.”

Humanitarian workers at the frontline of the response in Yemen have been witnessing severe malnutrition, hunger and food insecurity for many months now. As Mooij notes; “the vast majority of humanitarian workers are Yemeni, and over the past four years they have been watching their own people starve to death in front of them. Not to mention experiencing increasing hardship themselves.”

Nearly half of Yemen’s population are women and girls, who are bearing the brunt of food insecurity; often giving up meals so that other family members can eat. As more and more men are killed by the ongoing conflict Yemen has also seen an increase in female-headed households. Many women have told CARE staff how soaring food prices and insecurity mean they and their families often go days without eating. One woman – Samira – told CARE field staff how the price of water has increased so much that she can no longer afford to water her crops and grow food to feed her ten children. There are currently around 1.1 million pregnant or breast-feeding women and 1.8 million children who are acutely malnourished, including 400,000 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

“There is no question that people would be dying faster and in much greater numbers without humanitarian aid,” adds Mooij. “Humanitarian agencies in Yemen like CARE are doing everything they can in unimaginable circumstances to deliver aid to millions of people. CARE is currently helping one million people a month and is willing and able to reach more if funds are available.”

The IPC report also coincides with the announcement of the UN’s biggest ever single country appeal, with a record $4 billion requested to help the people of Yemen. CARE is also calling for an additional $20 million to scale up its food assistance and other humanitarian work. Through cash and voucher transfers CARE supports the most vulnerable and conflict-affected households to meet their basic and immediate needs. CARE is also directly providing food, in partnership with the World Food Programme, in governorates in the north and south of Yemen.

The burden on the Yemeni people is relentless. Aid organizations are desperately trying to fill the gaps, working tirelessly to provide food and supplies to those who have no alternative. “However, we must never forget that humanitarian aid is a short-term solution,” says Mooij. “The only way to turn the tide of suffering for the Yemeni people is to bring an end to the conflict. Warring conflict must engage in good faith with the peace process being led by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen in Sweden. Hunger and famine in Yemen is absolutely caused by war and it can only be stopped by bringing an end to the war.”

CARE has been working across Yemen since 1992 focusing on women’s and youth economic empowerment; prevention of gender-based violence; social inclusion; water resource management; civil society strengthening; good governance; and providing humanitarian assistance. CARE has a long history of implementing both development and humanitarian programming aiming to increase people’s ability to cope with crises and preparedness. CARE overall has 255 international and national staff in Yemen.



Sep 17, 2018

UPDATE: Repatriation of Myanmar Refugees

COX’S BAZAR (August 20, 2018) — As refugees from Myanmar complete one year in Bangladesh, their return to Myanmar with safety and dignity still remains a major concern for CARE and other humanitarian organizations. Many, including the refugee population, have already voiced their concerns for not being more involved in the return negotiation process.

“CARE calls out to all parties involved to ensure refugee returns are voluntary, informed, respectful, and conducted with safety and dignity. The key principle of ‘non-refoulement’ must be upheld and returns should commence only if there are no significant ongoing security risks in the area of return,” stresses Zia Choudhury, country director of CARE Bangladesh.

Since August 25, 2017, over 700,000 people from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh[1], following an escalation of violence in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State. An estimated 919,000 refugees are now living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, close to the Myanmar border.

In response to the recent agreement on the return of refugees signed on November 23, 2017 between Bangladesh and Myanmar, CARE is urging both the governments to ensure safe return of the refugees.

Given the extreme levels of violence refugees have experienced, returns in the near future will be extremely challenging. “We will go back if our homes are rebuilt like they used to be before they were burned down; if we are given citizen rights as Rohingyas and as Muslims, and if we are given the freedom of movement,”says Omar a 22-year-old refugee living in Potibonia, Cox’s Bazar.

Most of the refugees who fled Myanmar since August 2017 are traumatized and lost everything. Many lost their family members.

“It was a Thursday night, and we heard some distant gunshots. But we didn’t bother much and went to sleep. Then in the morning they came and started burning down all our houses. We only managed to escape with our lives. People who couldn’t leave their homes were burnt alive. I don’t even know how many people died, so…so many,” tells Khatiza (40), a refugee living in Cox’s Bazar.

CARE urges both the governments to ensure that the challenges associated with safe returns are recognized in the ongoing negotiations. One way of doing this could be to consult with affected communities to make their voices heard. Also a transparent process should be followed at all times so that humanitarian agencies are aware of all major developments regarding safe and successful returns.

“Since my husband is not alive, life there (in Myanmar) will be very difficult. I won’t be allowed to work and it will be very difficult for me to support my children,”shares Tosmin, a 30-year-old refugee whose husband went missing while going to work in Myanmar and now assumed dead.

The speed and scale of the influx of refugees has resulted in a critical humanitarian situation. The vast majority of refugees are reliant on humanitarian assistance for food, shelter, health and other life-saving services. Despite this, most refugees are reluctant to go back since the situation and quality of life back home in Myanmar would be worse in comparison.

“We feel safe even if we leave the doors open, but back in Burma (Myanmar), even locking the doors failed to make us feel safe. We are able to live here with peace,” shares Fatema, 27 years old.

“We couldn’t move freely, we had difficulty even going to the market for basic supplies,” adds Elias, 22 years old.

CARE has been active on the ground since the early stage of the refugee crisis and directly reached nearly 250,000 people by providing support and services as to health and nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation, site management, protection of women and girls against gender-based violence (GBV) and distribution of food and non-food items.

“CARE’s work with refugees globally underlines the importance of ensuring that all returns must be based on well-informed voluntary decisions and international standards must be upheld at the time when a voluntary return of refugees becomes possible. Security must be ensured at the area of return before returns are commenced,” says Choudhury.

[1] ISCG Report, July 19, 2018


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