Archive | November, 2013

School equipment distributed in Tacloban, Roxas, as UNICEF aid flows into Philippines

TACLOBAN/MANILA, 26 November 2013 – UNICEF is distributing School-in-a-Box and recreation kits in Tacloban and Roxas, to serve children still living amidst the chaos left by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

More than 350 ‘School-in-a-Box’ kits arrived in Cebu on Saturday morning on a flight donated by KLM. Each kit contains enough stationery, reading material, arithmetic and numbering learning tools to supply 15,000 children aged six and up for three months.

Among the supplies were also 99 large tents which will be used as school classrooms and safe spaces for children.

The cargo also included recreation kits for at least 25,000 elementary and high school children aged 6 to 15. These kits comprise footballs, handballs, volleyball nets, frisbees and skipping ropes, so that children have the opportunity to play either individually or in groups.

UNICEF estimates that 1.14 million preschool and school-aged children have been displaced by the Typhoon. In addition, thousands of schools are being used as evacuation centres, so children have no place to go to school. Even when evacuees leave, the schools will need to reconstructed or completely rebuilt.

After the enormous shock experienced by tens of thousands of children, the return to learning will restore some sense of normalcy for them.

A range of pharmaceutical supplies including amoxicillin, retinol and albendazole were also in the shipment.

For b-roll of the shipment, please visit: DENMARK, COPENHAGEN 20 November 2013. Loading of trucks for KLM Flight

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

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For further information, please contact:

Rita Ann Wallace, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 212-326-7586, Mobile: +1 917-213-4034,
Zafrin Chowdhury, UNICEF, Tacloban, tel + 63 917 867 8366,
Kate Donovan, UNICEF, Tacloban, tel + 1 212 303 7984, Mobile: + 1 917 3781 2128,
Denise Shepherd-Johnson, UNICEF, Manila, tel: + 63 917 464 7028,

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School clubs help conflict-affected children in Syria access remedial education, recreation activities

By David Youngmeyer

Children take part in an activity at a UNICEF-supported school club in Tartous governorate.

Damascus/Amman, 26 November 2013 – Despite extraordinary challenges associated with the on-going conflict, UNICEF-supported school clubs in Syria have reached close to 290,000 children with remedial education and recreation activities.

The conflict is taking a serious toll on school infrastructure, limiting education opportunities for children across the country. Over 4,000 schools — or one in five — are either damaged or destroyed, or being used to shelter displaced families.

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Philippines field diary: Amid endless challenges, a day of inspiration in Tacloban

By Kent Page

After losing everything to Typhoon Haiyan, a boy and his siblings face a daily struggle to survive.

© UNICEF Philippines/2013/Maitem
Children play ball in the street in Tacloban, Philippines, as a cargo plane flies overhead.

TACLOBAN, Philippines, 25 November 2013 – For several days, UNICEF child protection staff in Tacloban, working with local government and NGO partners, were trying to track down a group of unaccompanied children who had lost their family to the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan.

After an extensive search, the five children were found and referred for help, and they are now receiving much-needed support.

Theirs is an inspiring story stemming from tragedy. The five children are brothers and sisters, the oldest an 18-year old boy, and the youngest an 8-year old boy. They are sheltering at an evacuation centre in a school overrun with hundreds of families made homeless by the typhoon.

The five children stay close together. Their mother and father both died in the typhoon, along with three of their siblings.

The oldest boy gathered his surviving siblings and got them to the evacuation centre to make sure they were safe.

He has not had a second to grieve, to process the loss he and his siblings have experienced, or even to sit back and rest for a moment. His younger brothers and sister are looking to him for support. Although he is exhausted, he gives them all he can.

When we met them, they were in the small classroom that is their temporary home. They sleep on a piece of plywood on the floor. The windows are gone. At night the room is cold and the mosquitoes come.

There is some mercy – they are sharing the room with their cousin and his family. They have lost everything too, but are willing to take in the five kids as extended family.

The younger sister looks up to her brother and told me what he has been doing to help his siblings: standing in long lines in the rain to get relief goods; watching over them at night so they are safe; working during the day in the dangerous job of cleaning debris and wreckage from the street; and keeping the small amount of money he makes to buy them food.

When we met him, he was busy preparing food for all five of them, boiling water over a small wooden fire in the classroom to make instant noodles with some rice.

I can see the grim determination in his face as he takes on all the tasks required to care for his siblings. They are now all getting support through UNICEF and others, which will help, but it can’t replace the loss of their parents and their 11- and 5-year-old sisters and their littlest 3-year-old brother.

He tells me the water was “as high as the coconut trees”, pointing up in the air. That he grabbed hold of one of his younger brothers with one hand and held on the top of a bamboo tree branch with the other at the height of the storm. His sister clung, alone, to the top branches of a jackfruit tree as the water surged more than 100 meters from where their house used to stand.

Neither of them have any idea how the other two boys survived the storm, only that they found them sitting in the sand in front of where their home used to be. The only thing that remained is a toilet bowl fixed firmly into a block of concrete. No books, no photos, no plates, no furniture – nothing.

I’d love to have a happy ending for their story, but the best I can manage is a hopeful ending. UNICEF has opened a child-friendly space at the school where they are staying, and the three youngest now have a safe, clean place to play, sing, learn and be with other children. They are registered with the local government and other organizations.

And their cousin’s family says they will take them in.

The only surviving sister, 17 years old, is sad because her high school was severely damaged and shut down. She had hoped to graduate this year, and she is determined to go back to school and graduate.

And the young man who has had huge responsibility thrust upon him is doing his very best, every waking moment. He is a hero and an inspiration.

After the media have packed up and moved on – as they are already starting to do – these children will still be here, struggling to survive, like the millions of other children living in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

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Programme provides a full courseload for pastoralist girls in Somalia

By Michael Onyiego

Somali children who once would have bypassed schooling to herd their families’ animals are now busy studying, thanks to a programme focused on rural and pastoralist communities.

SOMALILAND, Somalia, 25 November 2013 – Somali children who once would have bypassed schooling to herd animals are now receiving a basic education, thanks in part to a UNICEF programme focused on rural and pastoralist communities.

Since the programme began in March 2012, more than 3,000 children have been educated, according to Save the Children, which is implementing the UNICEF project.

“I wouldn’t have had a good future”

Nearly 45 per cent of those children are girls – like 13-year-old Ayen Noor Mohamed, who attends Xareed Primary School in Somaliland.

© UNICEF Video
According to a head teacher, many families in this part of Somaliland believe an adolescent girl is too old to go to school. But that attitude is slowly changing.

Ayen comes from an agro-pastoralist community in the Xareed area, a dry and sparsely populated region about an hour outside of Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa. She and her classmates study English, Somali, maths, social studies and science.

“Without school, I wouldn’t have had a good future. I would have just herded animals,” she says.

Maths is Ayen’s favorite subject, and she’s already found use for her new knowledge outside the classroom. “My family has a small shop, and I help with the calculations when I’m there,” she says.

Ayen is working hard. She says she wants to go to university one day, and study management so she can help her community manage its resources. Until then, she has time to help around the house and the shop. Class begins at 7:30 and ends at 12:30, including a 30-minute recess.

“[After school], I will do my house chores and help my mother, then I’ll move around herding our cattle,” Ayen says.

Education to “help you and strengthen you”

Ayen’s father, Nor Mohammed Yusuf, donated land for the school, he says, “so that my children and other children can get an education”.

Some mornings he walks Ayen and three of her siblings to school from their home, more than 40 minutes away. Many students walk 4–5 km to school each day.

© UNICEF Video
The Basic Education for Pastoralist Children programme has hired and trained 57 teachers. It has built 26 classrooms and renovated 10 others. Without school, says one boy, 'I would have been illiterate, and illiteracy is like darkness.'

“Education is something that can help you and strengthen you in every level of life,” he explains.

Ayen is fortunate to receive such strong support from her family. Many families here believe an adolescent girl is too old to go to school any longer, according to Xareed Primary School Head Teacher Ahmad Hassan Adan.

But, that attitude is slowly changing. Since Xareed Primary opened, Mr. Adan has seen a major shift in the community’s attitude towards female education, and about half of the school’s students are now girls.

“I try to contact each parent and try to make them understand the importance of education,” he says.

“I would have been illiterate”

Xareed Primary was built in 2010 by the Somaliland Ministry of Education, together with UNICEF and Save the Children, with the support of the European Union.

The Basic Education for Pastoralist Children programme has employed 57 teachers, trained by Save the Children. The programme has also built 26 classrooms and renovated 10.

Of course, girls aren’t the only ones benefitting from the new classrooms. Abdirashid Hussein Muhumad, 16, says he plans on going to university and studying to become an accountant.

Many students like Abdirashid are older than would be typical for their grades because they haven’t previously had a chance to study. He does not like to think about what might have happened to his life if the school hadn’t arrived.

“I would have been illiterate, and illiteracy is like darkness,” he says.

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Podcast #87: Peacebuilding through early childhood education

© UNICEF/UKLA2013-00044/Lane
A boy in Iraq’s Domiz camp for Syrian refugees looks at a nearby school, though he does not attend it. The early years of childhood lay the foundation for future health, as well as cognitive, social and emotional development.

By Rudina Vojvoda

Three experts talk about why integrating peace education into early childhood education has a positive long-term effect on peace.

NEW YORK, United States of America, 19 November 2013 – Evidence shows that the early years of life are strong predictors for individual health and development, as well as cognitive and social-emotional development.

In this podcast, we spoke with three experts who believe that integrating peace education into early childhood education has a positive long-term effect on peace. Kyle D. Pruett is a Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University, Michael Evans is the Founder and Executive Director of Full Court Peace – an organization that brings together young people in at-risk communities through basketball – and Siobhan Fitzpatrick is Chief Executive of Early Years, an organization based in Northern Ireland that promotes high-quality child care.

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Peacebuilding and Education Events in the Netherlands

The four-year Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) Programme – a partnership among UNICEF, the Government of the Netherlands, national governments and other key partners – is an innovative, cross-sectoral programme aimed at bolstering policies and practices around education for peacebuilding. It focuses on strengthening resilience, social cohesion and human security in conflict-affected contexts, including countries at risk of or recovering from conflict. The PBEA programme currently operates in 14 countries: Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, State of Palestine, Uganda and Yemen.

In October, UNICEF met with the Government of the Netherlands to review programme results in 2012 as well as discuss opportunities and challenges moving forward. On 21 October, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF hosted the Peacebuilding and Education Symposium to explore the contribution of education to security and rule of law in post-conflict states. On 23 October, the IS Academie on Education and International Development hosted The Practice of Peacebuilding and Education, where UNICEF staff presented their experiences on the ground in implementing the PBEA programme.

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