UN: Millions of Refugee Children Missing Out on Education

The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 3.5 million refugee children aged five to 17 did not attend school last year to the detriment of their future and the future well-being of society. The UNHCR is calling an education crisis for refugee children.

Children make up half of the 17.2 million refugees around the world and many of them are missing out on a productive future because they do not go to school.

The UNHCR warns neglecting the education of millions of refugee children will undermine the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals � principally those targeting health, prosperity, equality and peace.

The refugee agency reports 91 percent of the world’s children attend primary school, compared to 61 percent for refugee children. It says that number drops to below 50 percent for refugee children in poor countries.

The agency finds those numbers drop precipitously as refugee children age, especially in the poorer countries. It says far fewer adolescents attend secondary school and enrollment in university is stuck at one percent.

Long-term consequences

UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told VOA denying refugee children access to an education is short-sighted.

There is a clear need for more solidarity and for making sure that people who take refugees in low income countries also have access to education. This is crucial,” she said. “We know that these refugee children will one day go back to their home places and rebuild their countries. So, they are the future. If we do not invest in their future, we do not invest in the world’s future.

The UNHCR urges governments to include refugee children in their national education systems.

It also calls for more efforts to ensure refugee children are taught by properly trained and qualified teachers.

Source: Voice of America

Read More

Former US CDC Director Takes Aim at Outbreaks, Heart Disease

Former U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden on Tuesday announced the start of a new public health initiative funded by private philanthropies to fight heart disease and stroke and shore up infectious disease capabilities around the world.

The new initiative, called Resolve, will be funded by $225 million in backing from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“There are proven strategies every country can use to prevent deaths from heart disease, stroke and epidemics � but progress has been painfully slow,” said Frieden, president and chief executive of Resolve, which will be housed at Vital Strategies, a New York-based global health organization that works in more than 60 countries.

For Frieden, the initiative allows him to take on some unfinished business. As part of the $5.4 billion in Ebola emergency funding for fiscal 2015, the CDC got $1.2 billion for international efforts to bolster countries’ capabilities to identify and fight infectious disease outbreaks.

“Those dollars will expire within the next year or so,” Frieden said in a telephone briefing.

To fight heart disease, the group will invest in efforts to reduce the amount of artery-clogging transfats from their menus, a reprise of Frieden’s efforts in 2006 as New York City health commissioner to ban transfats from restaurants.

They also aim to support countries’ efforts to reduce sodium and increase treatment of high blood pressure, which kills 10 million people every year, more than from all infectious diseases combined.

“If the world is able to increase our blood pressure control rate from the current 14 percent to 50 percent, reduce dietary sodium by 30 percent and get to zero transfats, we can save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease over the next 30 years,” Frieden told reporters on a conference call.

The effort also continues Frieden’s push at the CDC to bolster global capabilities to identify and respond to infectious disease.

“The Ebola epidemic revealed how vulnerable we are to threats, and was a stark reminder of the human and economic costs caused by the absence of strong public health systems,” he said.

Resolve’s infectious disease arm attempts to plug gaps in low- and middle-income countries’ capabilities to respond to outbreaks. These efforts will focus on building disease tracking systems, laboratory networks and disease detectives “so new threats are identified quickly,” he said.

Source: Voice of America

Read More

Abuse, exploitation and trafficking ‘stark reality’ for migrant children trying to reach Europe – UN report

More than 75 per cent of migrant and refugee children trying to reach Europe via the Central Mediterranean route face appalling levels of abuse, exploitation and trafficking, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said, calling on the continent to establish safe and regular pathways for migration.

The stark reality is that it is now standard practice that children moving through the Mediterranean are abused, trafficked, beaten and discriminated against, said Afshan Khan, the UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe.

The grim picture is revealed in Harrowing Journeys: Children and youth on the move across the Mediterranean Sea, at risk of trafficking and exploitation, a joint UNICEF-IOM report, which notes that children from sub-Saharan Africa are targeted more than any other group, pointing to impact of discrimination and racism.

Based on testimonies of some 22,000 migrants and refugees, including some 11,000 children and youth, the report also shows that while all migrants and refugees are at high risk, children and youth are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than adults aged 25 years and above.

Furthermore, children and youth traveling alone or over longer periods, along with those possessing lower levels of education, were also found to be highly vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of traffickers and criminal groups over the course of their journeys.

On top of these perils, young people reaching Europe often arrive heavily laden with debt, exposing them to further risks. On average, they have to pay between $1,000-$5,000 for the journey.

For people who leave their countries to escape violence, instability or poverty, the factors pushing them to migrate are severe and they make perilous journeys knowing that they may be forced to pay with their dignity, their wellbeing or even their lives, said Eugenio Ambrosi, the IOM Regional Director for the European Union (EU), Norway and Switzerland.

We must re-invigorate a rights-based approach to migration, improving mechanisms to identify and protect the most vulnerable throughout the migration process, regardless of their legal status, he noted.

EU leaders should put in place lasting solutions that include safe and legal migration pathways, establishing protection corridors and finding alternatives to the detention of migrant children, added UNICEF Regional Director Afshan Khan.

In addition to safe and regular pathways for children on the move, the UNICEF-IOM report also urges all concerned parties – countries of origin, transit and destination, the African Union, the EU, international and national organizations with support from the donor community � to prioritize strengthening of services to protect migrant and refugee children, finding alternatives to the detention of children on the move, working across borders to combat trafficking and exploitation, and combatting xenophobia, racism and discrimination against all migrants and refugees.

Source: UN News Centre

Read More