Entries marked "Emergencies"

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Transitional learning spaces provide safe, resilient learning environments for children living in emergencies

By Carlos Vasquez
Architect, Child Friendly School Designer, UNICEF

NEW YORK, USA, 7 February 2014 – As we publish the 2013 edition of the Compendium of Transitional Learning Spaces (TLS), over 2 million people have fled Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, making this one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history, with no foreseeable end. The refugee population in the region could reach over 4 million by the end of 2014. Children must endure far-reaching hardships and danger to escape and seek refuge across neighboring countries. This disrupts their schooling and moreover, the most vulnerable children are often disproportionally affected.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1330/Noorani
Eager to respond to their teacher, children raise their hands during an Arabic lesson at a UNICEF-supported kindergarten in Homs in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Similar conflicts and natural disasters are affecting local communities and marginalized children in many parts of the world today: escalating violence in the Central African Republic is posing a threat to children, where thousands are being recruited into armed groups instead of going to school; the Arab Spring has disrupted access to education for millions of children; and in areas of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan, about 90 per cent of school buildings were damaged – more than 3,200 schools in all – leaving over a million pupils and 34,000 teachers with no place for learning.

Less than a month after the Typhoon, I was very happy to hear that the Ministry of Education in the Philippines was using the TLS 2011 to budget, program and plan a back-to-school campaign for the hardest-hit children in Tacloban. The TLS Compendium has helped drive the emergency response and enabled partners to rebound quickly and start designing appropriate and cost-effective learning spaces for children and families impacted by the Typhoon.

There is a critical difference between spending money versus investing in education. In Jordan’s Zaatari camp, which hosts nearly 130,000 Syrian refugees, we convinced donors of the long-term benefits of healthy learning environments in emergencies. A TLS is not a stand-alone structure ‘classroom,’ but a holistic learning environment with a set of facilities, including WASH services, areas for external play, internal learning spaces, teacher and staff space and perimeter fencing. In the Zaatari refugee camp, we designed and built three schools to serve more than 15,000 students in two shifts.

The TLS Compendium is predicated on the principles of Child Friendly Schooling, the minimal components to activate healthy learning environments for children. The profound social benefits of this programming are far-reaching. The second edition of the TLS compendium follows the same initiative of the 2011 edition: collect and centralize technical information, develop basic architectural drawings and provide cost-effective recommendations to improve the quality of these spaces in the context of emergencies.

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As number of children affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan rises to 4 million, UNICEF steps up emergency response

MANILA/NEW YORK/COPENHAGEN, 11 November 2013 – UNICEF is rushing emergency supplies to areas of the Philippines ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan on 8 November, as the latest estimates indicate that up to 4 million children could now be affected by the disaster.

Therapeutic food for children, health kits, water and hygiene kits to support up to 3,000 families in the affected areas have already been mobilized from supplies available in the country, with distribution prioritized for the Tacloban area as soon as access is possible.

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At Education Cannot Wait event, global leaders stress need to fund education – especially in emergencies

By Pierette James

At a meeting on education in countries affected by conflict, global leaders stress that children need education not ‘even’ in emergencies – but ‘especially’ in emergencies.

NEW YORK, United States of America, 26 September 2013 – Global leaders from governments, international organizations and civil society met at UNICEF on 23 September to increase urgency and renew commitments to help the now 28.5 million children in countries affected by conflict who are denied an education.

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Massive campaign to get one million Somali children into school to be launched

Go2School Initiative Infographic

MOGADISHU/GAROWE/HARGEISA, 6 September 2013 – The Somali authorities are launching a wide ranging campaign to give one million children and youth access to education as part of an ambitious Go 2 School Initiative.

The launch will take place on Sunday 8 September – World Literacy Day – in Mogadishu, Garowe (Puntland) and Hargeisa (Somaliland). The campaign, led by the education authorities and supported by UNICEF and other international partners, will run for three years. It aims to give a quarter of the young people currently out of the education system a chance to learn.

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UNICEF Continues Massive Humanitarian Operation for Syria’s Children

AMMAN, 4 September 2013 – Amidst heightened tensions across the region and as the number of Syria’s refugees rises beyond 2 million – half of them children – UNICEF continues to provide urgent life-saving supplies to children inside Syria and in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

“This is one of the largest humanitarian operations that UNICEF has ever undertaken,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF’s Regional Director of the Middle East and North Africa. “We are working on the ground, round the clock with a wide network of dedicated partners to reach Syrian children across the region.”

UNICEF estimates that there has been a more than tenfold increase in the number of Syrian child refugees – from 70,000 to more than 1 million – in less than one year.

In recent weeks 2,500 children on average have been crossing Syria’s borders every day. To meet increasing humanitarian needs, work is on-going to pre-position essential supplies such as bottled water, water tanks and purification tablets, jerry cans, nutritional supplies, hygiene and diarrheal disease kits, soap, blankets, winter clothes and other household materials.

And as the new school year begins across the region, UNICEF is supporting children’s return to learning, providing school bags, materials and furniture.

Since the beginning of the year, UNICEF has provided more than 10.2 million people affected by the crisis with safe water, vaccinated more than 2.4 million children against diseases, enrolled 278,000 in education programmes and provided 468,000 children with recreational activities.

As part of the largest appeal the United Nations has ever launched in its history, UNICEF asked for USD $470 million for its Syria regional response. UNICEF still needs USD $189 million.



UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For further information, please contact:

Simon Ingram, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, singram@unicef.org, +962-79590-4740

Juliette Touma, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, jtouma@unicef.org, +962-79-867-4628

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Syrian field diary: Child witnesses to death and bloodshed

By Juliette Touma

© UNICEF Syria/2013/Touma
At a school-turned-shelter in Damascus, 5-year-old Rida, tired and sleepless, says, 'I miss my little bedroom in Dera’a. I can’t use it now, because it has been bombed.'

A humanitarian worker returns to Damascus after a year to find a situation of desperate suffering.

DAMASCUS, Syrian Arab Republic, 24 July 2013 – I first went to the Syrian Arab Republic in the summer of 2012 with the United Nations Supervision Mission (UNSMIS). Even as fighting between Government forces and the armed opposition spread, I travelled around the country. I visited villages that had been totally stripped of human life, and walked into burned-down homes.

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