All Articles Tagged "UNICEF"

East Africa Famine: Media Ignores Deadly Crisis to Focus on Politics

August 3rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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Famine in SomaliaBy Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Did you know that 800,000 children are in danger of dying of starvation in the coming weeks if aid is not delivered to the Horn of Africa immediately? If you didn’t, it’s not your fault. The famine destroying the lives of east Africans is just now making it into the mainstream papers. Our nation’s media has been so focused on the debt ceiling debacle and the phone hacking scandal that pleas by aid organizations for funds have gone unheard. In fact, only one American news organization, ABC News, has a journalist on the ground in the area — now dubbed the Triangle of Death by aid workers stunned by the catastrophic suffering. Yahoo News reports:

ABC claims that it is the only American news network to have a reporter in Mogadishu, Somalia—the epicenter of Africa’s deadly and increasingly violent famine.

But that may soon change.

On Monday, the New York Times ran a heartbreakingly powerful image taken by photographer Tyler Hicks of a starving Somalian child on its cover, above-the-fold.


Until now, the media—the Times included—has been distracted by phone hacking and debt ceiling coverage to focus on the crisis there.

“The famine in Africa has had to compete with the wrangling over the debt ceiling, the mobile phone hacking scandals in Britain, the killings in Norway and, in Africa itself, the birth of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan,” Stephanie Strom writes.

Aid workers have been warning the international community for some time that the ongoing war in the region combined with a worsening drought were destined to cause the massive food crisis now affecting 12 million individuals. It is a pathetic excuse to blame events of recent weeks for letting what some have called a man-made disaster progress to the point of costing almost one million innocent lives.

But more important than placing blame is focusing on what we can do now.

Organizations like British relief group Oxfam are stressing more than ever the urgent need for the public to donate funds — and for governments to follow through on their pledges. In addition, experts have underscored that organizations like the U.N. must work with local groups on the strategic delivery of support in war torn areas to side-step violent rebels.

It is unclear whether those seeking to ameliorate the devastation are being heard. Despite continuing requests for action, governments have been delayed in responding to the suffering bringing millions the brink of extinction.

In one startling example, The Washington Post revealed that recently “a donor conference [hosted by the African Union] to raise money for Somalia famine victims has been postponed for at least two weeks.” The reason for the postponement? Poor planning.

The region has suffered enough from the poor planning of world leaders, who keep pushing preventing the imminent deaths of millions to the bottom of their to-do lists. Many children in Somalia and Kenya do not have two weeks to live. The time is literally now or never, as the U.N. reports that the under-five death rate in Kenya is sharply rising.

In the midst of addressing our debt ceiling debate, President Obama admitted that this tragedy “hasn’t gotten as much attention here in the United States as it deserves.” If the American news media is culpable for failing to provide the necessary awareness, it is more important than ever for concerned citizens to make a grass roots efforts to assist the starving.

The New York Times has (finally) created a list of organizations working to provide aid to the Horn of Africa. It is important for us all to use this list to give what we can, in addition to pressuring world leaders to work intelligently to protect aid workers and refugees traveling through dangerous territories.

Rape is among the many dangers faced by Somalian women walking to refugee camps through areas studded with militants, and living on the outskirts of camps out of fear for their safety within them. The hell people are going through there is evident. The innocent are oppressed from all sides. Our insensitivity to their pain must end, regardless of the slow movements of those in power.

You have the power now to make a difference. Donate money, send emails to elected officials. Through our collective action, we might be able to prevent further calamity.

Are Christian Advocacy Groups Hiding Behind Jesus To Steal Babies?

May 16th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"Charing Ball"If you get an opportunity, check out the 2002 flick “Rabbit Proof Fence,” which tells the tale of two mixed race Aboriginal Australian girls who run away from a government-sponsored settlement camp. The girls walk for nine weeks, while being pursued by a tracker through Australia’s outback, in hopes of returning to their community and family.

I was unaware of Australia’s dubious history of institutionalizing Aboriginals against their will in government-sponsored camps where they were used for cheap labor and “re-education” until I watched the film, which is based on a true story. Up until the 1970s, it was government policy to “breed out” all native characteristics of the Australian Aborigine by controlling breeding and swaying the swift assimilation of “some Aboriginal people into the European population.” There was also the 1915 Aborigines Protection Amending Act, which enabled the Aborigines’ Protection Board to remove Aboriginal children from their parents without having to establish that they were in any way neglected or mistreated. Many of these stolen children were placed in good “Christian” families, sometimes overseas in Western countries, to aid in their assimilation.

I haven’t seen the movie in years, but I was again reminded of it while reading a story in “The Nation” about a growing trend called the evangelical adoption movement in which some Christians advocate for international adoptions from distressed countries like Haiti to address the worldwide “orphan crisis.” As result, evangelical adoption conferences are being held around the country, and between 1,000 and 2,000 churches participate in something called the “Orphan Sunday” event, which will be held in November. The call to serve appears to be working; as of last year, the evangelical adoption agency Bethany Christian Services announced that its adoption placements had increased 13 percent since 2009. This increase was in large part due to the mobilization of churches.

Perhaps there may not be anything shady about this whole deal.  Maybe this is just an extension of missionary work aimed at addressing child welfare needs in distressed countries. But in our own country where millions of children remain in state run foster care, you do have to question whether this is just the mission of some compassionate followers of Christ or the work of evangelical zealots that are baby snatching under the guise of Jesus.

Since the 1960s, there has been an increase in the number of inter-country adoptions with inquiries about international adoption up 95 percent among self-described Christians. The demand for global children is so high that the U.S. Department of State regularly lists and monitors open calls for adoption on its website.

Groups like UNICEF, one of the world’s most influential child welfare organizations, support inter-country adoption and have worked to ensure that many countries abide by the guidelines established by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. However, UNICEF acknowledges that there are exploitative, unethical and outright illegal practices that exist in the inter-country adoption system. Issues such as the sale and abduction of children, coercion or manipulation of birth parents, falsification of documents and bribery, have all painted a troublesome picture of how inter-country adoption is sometimes executed. How can we forget the Laura Silsby saga, in which she and nine other Southern Baptists—who claimed to be motivated by God—were caught trying to transport thirty-three orphans from Haiti to an imaginary orphanage in the Dominican Republic.  There was also the story of the twenty-eight children from Leh, the Himalayan mountain region of India, who were rescued by police after a Christian-based NGO allegedly kidnapped them for the purpose of “religious conversion” and adoption. The issue of fraud, coercion and flat-out kidnapping related to international adoption is so unruly in Ethiopia that this past March, the country’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs reported that they would sharply reduce the number of adoption cases they would review from 50 cases per day to no more than 5 per day.

What instances like these should remind us is that there is an undercurrent of morally and superior arrogance even under the so-called best of intentions. This call for adoption only increases demand, which in turns fuels the trafficking of children and turning orphans into a commodity to be traded on the black market.  While Christian pro-adoption groups might really care about these children, they should also be just as concerned about the tactics that some countries and adoption agencies implore to place children with these “good Christian families.”

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

UNICEF: Measles Hits Tens of Thousands in Africa

April 22nd, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(AP) — The U.N. children’s agency says 16 countries in West and Central Africa are experiencing a measles outbreak this year.

UNICEF said Thursday that 185 people have died among more than 22,000 cases. The agency says it is $16 million short in its measles immunization campaign in Africa.

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