African youth to African leaders: “You must do more to end conflicts in Africa”

Nyabon Guin (female) 3 years, Bilikum Kebele, Lare Woreda Gambella
Nyabon Guin, 3 is happy that she is back and reunified with her family in Gambella, Ethiopia after being abducted by armed men from the neighbouring South Sudan © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mersha

GAMBELLA, Ethiopia/ DAKAR, Senegal/NAIROBI, Kenya, 16 June 2016 – African leaders are not doing enough to stop conflicts in Africa, said two-thirds of the nearly 86,000 youth surveyed in a recent mobile-based poll conducted in nine African countries.

Using a messaging tool called U-Report, the short survey was sent to 1.4 million mobile users in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Central African Republic, Senegal, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Guinea, from 18 May to 1 June 2016.

The U-Report users surveyed, who are typically between 15 and 30 years of age, were asked to provide their opinion on conflicts and crises in Africa through short multiple choice questions on their mobile phones.

The findings of the survey will be shared with African leaders on the Day of the African Child, which is marked every year on 16 June by the African Union.

“It is so crucial, and even urgent for the leaders to heed the voices of the youth, if we must silence the guns by 2020, as set in our Agenda 2063. This is flagship project to which the youth must also recognize their role and take their responsibility,” said the African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Key findings:

  • Asked whether African leaders are doing enough to stop conflicts and crises in Africa, two out of three respondents (70 per cent) believe that African leaders are not doing enough.
  • When asked why Africa is more prone to conflict than other regions, 56 per cent of respondents believe that ‘politicians fighting for power’ is the main reason while 19 per cent said ‘inequality’, 17 per cent said ‘poverty’ and 4 per cent said ‘access to food and water’.
  • What can leaders do to stop conflicts? Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) said a ‘strong economy’ while 20 per cent believe African countries needs to be more independent in their ‘foreign policy’, 19 per cent said investing in ‘good education’, 14 per cent said ‘talk to each other’, 10 per cent said ‘talk to other country’ and 9 per cent said ‘security’.

Humanitarian crises in Africa continue to spill over borders in recent years, with children and families increasingly on the move. More than 1.2 million people face insecurity in the Central African Republic due to a complex humanitarian and protection crisis that has spread to neighbouring countries.

Nearly 1.3 million children have been displaced by violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency across Cameroon, Chad, the Niger and Nigeria.

Two years into the conflict in South Sudan, nearly 2.4 million people have fled their homes, including 721,000 living as refugees. Burundi is facing a protection crisis that has driven some 265,000 people to flee across borders.

“The lives of millions of children and their families are disrupted, upended or destroyed by conflict every year in Africa,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “This survey speaks to every child’s right to be heard and gives African youth an opportunity to express their hopes for the future of their continent.”

U-Report is a social messaging tool available in 23 countries, including 15 African countries, allowing users to respond to polls, report issues and work as positive agents of change on behalf of people in their country. Once someone has joined U-Report, polls and alerts are sent via Direct Message and real-time responses are collected and mapped on a website, where results and ideas are shared back with the community.

For more information on U-Report: https://ureport.in/

Malnutrition mounts as El Niño takes hold  

Drought in Ethiopia
Bora Robu Etu, a father in Haro Huba kabele, says that people are not only angry at not being able to feed their children – but their cattle too. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

Almost one million children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition in Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF said today. Two years of erratic rain and drought have combined with one of the most powerful El Niño events in 50 years to wreak havoc on the lives of the most vulnerable children.

Across the region, millions of children are at risk from hunger, water shortages and disease. It is a situation aggravated by rising food prices, forcing families to implement drastic coping mechanisms such as skipping meals and selling off assets.

“The El Niño weather phenomenon will wane, but the cost to children – many who were already living hand-to-mouth – will be felt for years to come,” said Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Governments are responding with available resources, but this is an unprecedented situation. Children’s survival is dependent on action taken today.”

Lesotho, Zimbabwe and most provinces in South Africa have declared a state of disaster in the face of growing resource shortages. In Ethiopia, the number of people in need of food assistance is expected to increase from over 10 million to 18 million by the end of 2016.

Releasing its latest briefing on the impact of El Niño on children in the region, UNICEF notes that:

  • In Ethiopia, two seasons of failed rains mean that near on six million children currently require food assistance, with school absenteeism increasing as children are forced to walk greater distances in search of water;
  • In Somalia, more than two thirds of those in urgent need of assistance are displaced populations;
  • In Kenya, El Niño related heavy rains and floods are aggravating cholera outbreaks;
  • In Lesotho, one quarter of the population are affected. This aggravates grave circumstances for a country in which 34% of children are orphans, 57% of people live below the poverty line, and almost one in four adults live with HIV/Aids;
  • In Zimbabwe, an estimated 2.8 million people are facing food and nutrition insecurity. The drought situation has resulted in reduced water yields from the few functioning boreholes exacerbating the risk to water-borne diseases, especially diarrhea and cholera;
  • Malawi is facing the worst food crisis in nine years, with 2.8 million people (more than 15 per cent of the population) at risk of hunger; cases of severe acute malnutrition have just jumped by 100% in just two months, from December 2015 to January 2016;
  • In Angola, an estimated 1.4 million people are affected by extreme weather conditions and 800,000 people are facing food insecurity, mainly in the semi-arid southern provinces.

The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that it will take affected communities approximately two years to recover from El-Nino exacerbated drought, if agricultural conditions improve in the latter half of this year.

UNICEF humanitarian appeals are less than 15 per cent funded across El Niño-impacted countries in southern Africa.

UNICEF humanitarian appeals in El Nino-affected countries:

  • $US 26 million in Angola
  • $US 87 million in Ethiopia
  • $US 3 million in Lesotho
  • $US 11 million in Malawi
  • $US 15 million in Somalia
  • $US 1 million in Swaziland
  • $US 12 million in Zimbabwe

UNICEF Ethiopia mourns colleagues who tragically lost their lives in Somalia and Ethiopians killed in Libya and South Africa

UNICEF Ethiopia mourns colleagues who tragically lost their lives in Somalia and Ethiopians killed in Libya and South Africa
UNICEF Ethiopia staff gather to dedicate a minute of silence to colleagues who tragically lost their lives in Somalia and Ethiopians killed in Libya and South Africa. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet

UNICEF Ethiopia staff gather to dedicate a minute of silence to colleagues who tragically lost their lives in Somalia and Ethiopians killed in Libya and South Africa.

Below is UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Gillian Mellsop’s message during the occasion.

“It is with great sorrow that I’ve asked you join me and reflect together on what has happened to our UNICEF colleagues, other UN staff and fellow Ethiopians during the last couple of days.

By now I believe you have been informed about the loss of four of our colleagues, killed yesterday in an attack on a vehicle in which they were riding in Garowe, Somalia. In addition, four other colleagues have been critically injured.

The IED (improvised explosive device) attack occurred when the staff were travelling from their guest house to the office, normally a three minute drive….

The horrific attack on our UNICEF colleagues is an assault not only on them but on the people, the women and children they served.

This tragic loss again underlines the bravery of our staff across the globe and also the risks we face in the most difficult locations where we work, including in Ethiopia.

Our immediate thoughts are with the families of the staff members who were killed and with those who were injured.  Our colleagues dedicated their lives to working for the children of Somalia. We are here together this morning, to mourn their loss and hope for the full recovery of the injured.

I know many of us have friends and colleagues working in Somalia and some of us may know the victims personally – which makes our pain even more profound.

UNICEF representative to Ethiopia, Gillian Mellsop speaks to staff as UNICEF Ethiopia mourns colleagues who tragically lost their lives in Somalia and Ethiopians killed in Libya and South Africa
UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Gillian Mellsop speaks to staff as UNICEF Ethiopia mourns colleagues who tragically lost their lives in Somalia and Ethiopians killed in Libya and South Africa ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet

Colleagues, It has been a week of shock and sadness for many. Last week, an Ethiopian national was killed during the xenophobic or ‘afrophobia’ attacks which went rampant in Durban, South Africa.

People across the world have also been shocked by the atrocious massacre of some 30 Ethiopian Christian migrants by Islamic State in Libya.

Let us each dedicate a few minutes this morning to think and pray for our colleagues in Somalia; those who lost their lives in the xenophobic attacks; and the brutal killing in Libya – and think about their children, husbands, wives, parents and friends they left behind.

Ethiopia will observe three days of national mourning starting Wednesday, with flags lowered to half-staff mast to mourn what it described as “atrocities committed against our nationals in Libya and South Africa.”

Colleagues, let me reassure you, we are condemning these atrocities, not because those killed are Ethiopian or our colleagues. We – as individuals cannot allow harming or killing of the innocent, regardless gender, nationality, race or religion.

Together, as a UNICEF family we should stand strong against this and instil a respectful environment where we can work and live in harmony.”

Chair Person, Eastern and Southern Africa staff association, Awoke Moges speaks to staff as UNICEF Ethiopia mourns colleagues who tragically lost their lives in Somalia and Ethiopians killed in Libya and South Africa
Chair Person, Eastern and Southern Africa Staff Association, Awoke Moges speaks to staff as UNICEF Ethiopia mourns colleagues who tragically lost their lives in Somalia and Ethiopians killed in Libya and South Africa ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet

Awoke Moges, Chair Person, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa staff association added “This week will be one of the darkest period for UNICEF family, and Ethiopians families and friends who lost their beloved ones. Our thoughts goes with all of them.

Eastern  and Southern Africa Regional staff association will be in solidarity with all the other country office’s during this difficult period of the year.”

In Ethiopia, Nationwide Polio Vaccination Campaign Reaches 13 Million Children

Sahro Ahmed vaccinates a child
Sahro Ahmed vaccinates a child in Warder, Somali region, Ethiopia. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Sewunet

Somali Region, Ethiopia, 12 May, 2014 – Ethiopia kicked off a polio vaccination campaign on 3 October 2013, targeting 13 million children across the country following an emergency response that began in the Dollo Ado refugee camps in June 2013. In July 2013, Ethiopia Reports First Wild Poliovirus Case since 2008.

Ayan Yasin, a four-year-old girl, was one of the first confirmed polio cases in Ethiopia. Ayan lives with her father and mother, a typical pastoralist family, in their house, made of tin, wood and woven bed sheets in a remote secluded area three kilometres from Geladi Woreda in Ethiopia’s Somali Region. Living next to the Somalia border means that the family move frequently between Ethiopia and Somalia – making routine immunisation practices difficult.

When Ayan fell sick, her father took her to the nearest hospital in Somalia where he was told there was very little hope. After many visits to various health posts, Hergeisa Hospital finally confirmed she had Polio. “We call this illness the disease of the wind. We know that there is no cure for it, and that it can paralyse and even cause death. My daughter hasn’t died but it has disabled her forever,” says her father.

Close to 50,000 health workers and volunteers and 16,000 social mobilisers have been deployed all over the country as part of a campaign that includes remote and hard to access areas. With the support of the Crown Prince Court, Abu Dhabi, UAE, UNICEF has procured vaccines to support immunisation efforts particularly for children and the refugee population being hosted in the Somali Region. In total, 135,000 vials or 2.7 million doses of bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) were procured to immunise 2.43 million children with a polio vaccine – a critical input to immunisation activities in the Somali Region and Polio high-risk areas. The support from the Crown Prince Court has also helped to airlift the Polio vaccine to hard-to-reach zones of Afder, Gode and Dollo in the Somali Region.

Synchronised cross-border polio outbreak preparedness and response

Parents of Ayan Yasin Confirmed Wild Polio Virus (WPV-1) case in Degafur rural village
Parents of Ayan Yasin Confirmed Wild Polio Virus (WPV-1) case, lives in a border close to Somalia, in Degafur rural village, Somali region of Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Sewunet

Supplementary Immunisation Activities (SIAs) were conducted in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Djibouti to accelerate progress towards ending Polio in the Horn of Africa. The synchronised SIAs were an outcome of the Horn of Africa Countries Cross-Border Polio Outbreak Preparedness and Response Meeting in Jigjiga, from 21 to 23 May 2014, where Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti agreed to strengthen cross-border collaboration to eradicate polio from the Horn of Africa.

To reinforce support and strengthen Polio eradication efforts in the Somali Region, a high-level delegation consisting of Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health, Mr Abdufatah Mohammed Hassen, Vice President of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State and Head of the Somali Regional Health Bureau, Dr Pierre M’Pele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia, and Dr Willis Ogutu, Head of UNICEF programme in Somali Region, visited Warder in Dollo Zone, the epicentre of the wild polio virus outbreak in Ethiopia, on 14 June 2014. The delegation, together with the Warder Zonal Administration, launched the ninth round of Supplementary Immunisation Activities (SIAs) in the outbreak zone and formally inaugurated the Zonal Polio Outbreak Command Post, which had been established in April 2014 to improve coordination of response activities.

Sustained interventions to ensure long-term success

While the campaigns to vaccinate children against Polio in the Somali Region have been going well, ensuring long-term success in eliminating the disease will require sustained interventions.

Abdufatah Mohammud Hassen believes the best solution is to immunise every child and ramp up routine immunisation activities in the region. “The campaigns are just to stop the emergency but the main thing that we are doing is to reach every child by strengthening the routine EPI and ensuring that the health facilities have the capacity to respond to the demands of the public”

With the help of developing partners like the Crown Prince Court, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Rotary International European Commission of Humanitarian Department (ECHO) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF together with the Ministry of Health is continuing its efforts so that young children like Ayan Yasin living in the region are protected from the disabling symptoms of the Polio disease.