Jun 1, 2021

Update: Supporting Communities Throughout India

Dear Friend,

In January and February 2021, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, India appeared to be recovering from the first wave of cases in 2020. However, since March there has been a significant resurgence in the number of cases. By April, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic had hit India hard, straining the country’s healthcare systems to a breaking point. In the peak of this second wave, four new cases were recorded every second and more than two deaths every minute.In addition, the country’s COVID-19 response is further challenged by climate emergencies. About 24 million children are impacted by floods, drought, cyclones, and other hazards that exacerbate underlying vulnerabilities on a recurrent basis in India.

With your generous support, UNICEF is leading preparedness and response efforts to address the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19, natural disasters, and civil strife, targeting the most vulnerable, including people in slums and migrant families. Your generosity has ensured UNICEF is positioned to protect children and their families from exposure to COVID-19, to minimize the impacts of public health measures, address the socioeconomic consequences, and maintain access and provision of basic social services in the following ways:

  • Reduce COVID-19 transmission and mortality by strengthening risk communication and community engagement interventions to reach communities with lifesaving information and community-led approaches that promote healthy and safe lifestyles, tackle misinformation around COVID-19 and increase adoption of vaccines, treatment and tests.
  • Improve infection prevention and control through the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene services and supplies for people in highly vulnerable rural and urban communities, in health facilities, schools, pre-schools, quarantine centers, immunization centers.
  • Ensure continuity and sustained access to basic health services for children and their families through support for facilities such as health clinics and schools and by building upon the capacity of frontline workers.
  • Respond to the impact and consequences of natural disasters and civil strife through bolstering resilience to predictable hazards by enhancing child-centered disaster risk management systems and risk-informed programming.

Thank you for continuing to stand along UNICEF to support communities impacted by humanitarian disasters around the world to make this work possible. With your help, UNICEF has been able to reach crisis-affected and vulnerable children and adolescents in India with lifesaving assistance and services. By contributing to this work, you are providing critical support to UNICEF, increasing its ability to strengthen essential systems during the pandemic and ensure access to lifesaving services for vulnerable populations.

In Partnership,

Whitney

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May 10, 2021

Update: Ensuring the Safety of Child Migrants

Children playing at the shelter for migrants
Children playing at the shelter for migrants

Dear Friend,

This year in Latin America has been marked by the intensification of migratory movements, despite the COVID-19 preventative measures. In fact, since the start of 2021, the number of migrant children reported in Mexico has increased sharply from 380 to nearly 3,500 as of April 2021. Many of these children, originating from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico, are either waiting to enter into the USA, or have been returned.

In April 2021, Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, took a five-day visit to Mexico, including stops along its northern border with the United States. “I was heartbroken to see the suffering of so many young children, including babies, at the Mexican border with the U.S.,” said Gough. “Most of the shelter facilities I visited in Mexico are already overcrowded and cannot accommodate the increasing number of children and families migrating northward. We are deeply concerned that living conditions for migrant children and mothers in Mexico could soon deteriorate further.”

In many Mexican shelters, children represent at least 30 percent of the migrant population. Half of them have traveled without their parents, which is one of the highest proportions ever recorded in Mexico. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increased number of unaccompanied migrant children, as well as the arrival of entire families with children, has put significant strain on the overstretched Mexican assistance centers. 

It is important to note that Central American families aren’t migrating, they are fleeing gang criminality, poverty, job loss due to the pandemic, a lack of education and even the most basic health care. In addition, in November 2020, in one of the most destructive disasters to hit the region, Hurricane Eta made landfall as a powerful Category 4 storm. Just two weeks later, Hurricane Iota, a Category 5 storm, followed a similar path. Over 10 million people in Central America, among them four million children, were affected by life-threatening flash flooding, river flooding and landslides. As a result of the destructive storms, the economic situation has further deteriorated, leading to an increase in migration.

As a result of your support, UNICEF has been scaling up its humanitarian response across Central America and Mexico in the past months, with increased presence at the Mexico-U.S. border. In the first three months of this year, over 2,100 migrant children have already received humanitarian assistance from UNICEF at Mexico’s southern and northern borders. With the current funding, a total of 10,000 children on the move and their parents will be reached this year. UNICEF and partners are providing shelter and safe spaces for mothers and children to access care, including maternal and newborn health, as well as conducting family tracing and reunification.

Your generosity also ensures UNICEF and partners are able to tackle some of the root causes of migration. From providing alternative education, counseling and psychosocial support for vulnerable young people, to establishing new child protection offices and scaling-up cash transfers and other social protections for families in need. 

But humanitarian needs are on the rise and are expected to remain high in the coming months. UNICEF estimates that about 150,000 children on the move and families affected by violence in their places of origin across Mexico will require emergency and development assistance in the next two years.

With your support, UNICEF will continue to support Central American children and their families, both inside their countries of origin and across borders.

In partnership,

Whitney

May 10, 2021

Update: Responding to Fires in Rohingya Camps

Dear Friend,

As you may be aware, on March 22, 2021, a massive fire in Cox’s Bazar caused widespread devastation when it quickly spread across four Rohingya refugee camps, displacing around 50,000 refugees, half of whom are children and destroying 142 learning centers, which children rely on to continue their education. In addition, one primary health care center, two nutrition facilities, six water supply networks, 763 latrines and 280 bathing spaces were either severely damaged or destroyed.

During the first 24 hours following the fire, UNICEF’s immediate concern was to ensure the safety and protection of children who were missing or separated from their families. UNICEF and partners sheltered over 70 lost children overnight. By midday the day after the fire, nearly half of these had been successfully reunited with their families.

Junaid’s Story

Junaid and his siblings quickly became separated in the panic and chaos that followed the massive fire in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh in the afternoon of March 22. Flames quickly engulfed shelters, spreading across four refugee camps and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Those who had time grabbed their most important possessions. Others were lucky to escape with their lives. The day after the tragedy, the ground remained extremely hot, while the air was heavily polluted and difficult to breathe.

When twelve-year-old Junaid saw UNICEF’s staff on the ground, he ran to meet them, overcome to see familiar faces and help arriving from outside the camp. “We lost everything in the fire. My father and I stayed with our uncle the night of the fire, but we didn’t know what happened to my two siblings, we were so worried. The next day we were reunited, we were overjoyed,” said Junaid.

As the immediate disaster is stabilized, UNICEF and partners are planning a complex rebuilding effort which will need outside support. Children like Junaid have seen their learning centers turned to ashes. “I loved coming to this learning center where I would play with my friends. But everything is gone,” Junaid shared.

Following the fire, UNICEF and partners deployed mobile medical teams to affected areas and provided medical services to 545 patients, including 124 children. With your support, UNICEF has been able to reopen the primary health care center which was partially damaged, and continues to provide medical care for children and their families at the facility. According to the latest figures, 390 children have been successfully reunited with their parents or primary caregivers and 11 temporary Child Friendly Spaces and four Child Protection Help Desks have been established to maintain the continuity of essential services. While working to rehabilitate the learning centers, UNICEF and partners are strengthening care-giver-led home-based learning for children affected by the fire. In addition, UNICEF has provided emergency water and sanitation services to 18,700 people who lost their homes and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities due to the fire.

With your generous support, UNICEF will continue to ensure that Rohingya refugee children and their families get back on their feet following this devastating fire.

In partnership,

Whitney

 
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