Oct 12, 2020

Update: Increasing Access to Education in Syria

Dear Friend,

In 2020, children continue to bear the brunt of the nearly ten-year conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, as it remains the largest displacement crisis in the world. Needs across the country remain extensive, with more than 11 million people (5 million children) requiring humanitarian assistance, including 6.2 million people internally displaced (2.5 million children).

Displaced populations and returnees, particularly in North East and North West Syria, are vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, due to unsanitary living conditions, overstretched health services and low coverage of routine immunization. More than nine years of conflict have dramatically reduced access to basic social services, while violations against children are believed to be escalating.

Every year since 2013, around one-third of school-age children and youth in Syria have been out of school and a whole generation of children and youth has received inadequate education. Those children who do enroll might not be easily retained due to the quality of the education services provided.

Since March 2020, COVID-19 has posed additional operational challenges for education in Syria. Preventative measures taken by the Government of Syria – including the closure of schools and learning centers, the postponement of formal education, limitations on movement between governorates within Syria and the closing of international borders - had a significant impact on UNICEF’s ability to deliver education activities. In addition, there were many secondary factors that posed challenges: limited access to reliable real-time information in a conflict setting heightened the risk of misinformation and fear related to COVID-19, making the resumption of educational activities all the more difficult. In response, UNICEF has scaled up investment in communication campaigns to improve the quality of information available about COVID-19 prevention measures.

Since the beginning of this program in 2018, UNICEF and partners have reached 324,020 out-of-school children in Syria newly enrolled through the Self-Learning Program and Curriculum B, providing children without access to education with a pathway to learning and opening up a lifetime of possibilities. As a result of your generosity, UNICEF and partners accomplished the following results in the first half of 2020, despite the closure of schools and learning centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • 20,806 out-of-school children (10,191 girls and 10,615 boys) who were enrolled in the SLP received self-learning materials;
  • 22,087 out-of-school children (11,417 girls and 10,670 boys) benefitted from stationery and school-in-a-box distribution;
  • 18,596 out-of-school children benefitted from rehabilitation of 37 learning spaces and 16 Curriculum B public schools;
  • 17,664 out-of-school children (9,283 girls and 8,381 boys)participated in recreational activities to provide psychosocial support;
  • 421 education facilitators (125 female, 296 male) were recruited and trained to conduct SLP classes.

In the final year of the program, UNICEF and partners plan to meet the enrollment target of 366,286 out-of-school children and reach children with learning materials, classes and support services, while deepening work with government and other stakeholders to increase access to education in Syria. Now that program infrastructure has been built and partnerships have been solidified, the program will build on momentum gained in the first two-and-a-half years to increase reach and bring children back to learning.

On behalf of our field colleagues throughout Syria and the region, and the thousands of out-of-school children who are benefitting from your support, we thank you.

 

In Partnership,

Whitney Simon

Sep 29, 2020

Update: Supporting Rohingya Women and Girls

Afroza at Safe Space for women and girls
Afroza at Safe Space for women and girls

Dear Friend,

Two and half years after the initial influx began, nearly 855,000 Rohingya refugees remain in Cox’s Bazar District of Bangladesh, 54.2 percent of whom are children. As International Day of the Girl Child approaches and with gender equity as a core pillar of UNICEF’s work, we remain committed to ensuring women and girls are afforded the access to opportunities and care they need.

Within this humanitarian context, women are particularly effected. Women face restrictions on their freedom of movement as well as high levels of violence. Intimate partner violence makes up 76 percent of all cases reported to the gender-based violence (GBV) information management system, suggesting a high prevalence rate within the community. Rohingya adolescents, meanwhile, face multi-faceted and interlinked issues, including access to adequate services, information and quality learning opportunities; sociocultural challenges including exposure to violence, sexual harassment and assault; and adverse social practices such as child marriage and child labor.

With your support, UNICEF reached nearly 80,000 refugee children in 2019 with psychosocial support activities to help children build personal resilience and equip them with positive coping mechanisms. In addition, UNICEF provided over 9,360 refugee children, who were among the most vulnerable in the camps, with case management services. These children included victims of abuse, children facing child marriage, children who are at-risk or victims of trafficking and children living with neglect and other forms of violence in their homes.

A key strategic shift for UNICEF in 2019 was the integration of its adolescent programming within the Rohingya camps. In total, 52,572 adolescents participated in life skills sessions that promoted adolescents’ resilience and positive coping mechanisms to help them respond to the challenges of everyday life in the camps. Topics included health, nutrition, hygiene, child rights and protection, the environment and disaster preparedness and leadership and empowerment. The first cohort of 9,329 adolescents (54 percent female) graduated and are being supported to start businesses and find jobs.

With your generosity, UNICEF and partners reached over 34,360 adolescent girls and women with GBV prevention and response interventions through 16 safe spaces for women and girls. Additionally, through community volunteers and outreach activities, nearly 116,400 community members were reached with messages on child protection and GBV. UNICEF also distributed 22,925 dignity kits to women and girls as a way of facilitating their movements during periods of menstruation.

The Rohingya refugee population, having very few opportunities to pursue an adequate livelihood, is completely dependent on humanitarian aid. Your support in 2019 enabled UNICEF to not only scale up life-saving activities for this population, but also ensure that individuals regain a sense of dignity.

In 2020, UNICEF is working with partners to find innovative solutions for underserved communities, including adolescent girls and children with disabilities. We so appreciate your continued support and will continue to share these updates to illustrate the incredibly important contribution you are making the lives of Rohingya families.

In Partnership,

Whitney

Jul 17, 2020

Update: Half a Billion People Reached

Mother washes her child's hands in Indonesia
Mother washes her child's hands in Indonesia

Dear Friend,

Even before the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a global health emergency, UNICEF had rushed six metric tons of medical supplies to the front lines. To date, UNICEF has delivered tens of millions of protective items for health workers, medical equipment and hygiene supplies. Now, 40 million health care and frontline workers won’t have to risk their lives to save lives. Key to UNICEF's effectiveness is its humanitarian warehouse in Copenhagen, the world's largest, which can ship emergency supplies anywhere in the world in 48 to 72 hours.

Ensuring access to accurate information regarding COVID-19 has been a key priority for UNICEF since the outbreak began. Thanks to your support, UNICEF has already helped reach over half a billion people with COVID-19 prevention messaging. At a time when fake news can do real harm, UNICEF is teaming up with Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok to dispel rumors and make sure that health education messages specifically tailored for children, parents and caregivers, teachers, community leaders and the media reach all corners of the globe.

In Indonesia, where the nation's first case of COVID-19 was reported on March 2, UNICEF teamed up with the government to conduct a poll via U-Report — a youth engagement tool that uses mobile phones to connect with more than 68 million users worldwide — to test young people's knowledge of coronavirus. The poll generated 6,800 responses in three days and helped to identify what young people know and don't know about symptoms, transmission and prevention. Up-to-date messages on how to stay safe were shared with all 108,000 U-Reporters across the country. Results from the poll were used to create a COVID-19 chatbot that is now being scaled up in 42 countries.

Thank you for your continued support of this work and for standing with UNICEF.

In Partnership,

Whitney

 
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