MORE THAN 24 MILLION CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CONFLICT NEED MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT

Millions of children living in war zones or forced to flee as refugees will require support to address mental health concerns, according to a new briefing paper released by Save the Children today, ahead of critical meetings at next week’s United Nations General Assembly. 

Photo UNICEF Ukraine.

7.1 million children at serious risk of developing severe mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or PTSD

Stories from the Field

Originally published on Save the Children Australia

11 September 2019 – Millions of children living in war zones or forced to flee as refugees will require support to address mental health concerns, according to a new briefing paper released by Save the Children today, ahead of critical meetings at next week’s United Nations General Assembly. 

Road to recovery: responding to children’s mental health in conflict’ reveals that of the 142 million children living in conflict zones, more than seven million are at serious risk of developing severe mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression or anxiety, and severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

At least 24 million children – four times the child population of Australia – require some form of mental health support, either now or in the future.

“We know that mental health is a really big issue facing many Australians. But imagine being a child who’s seen family members killed in front of their eyes or fled to a refugee camp with no idea what the future holds or who is living in a war zone where it’s too dangerous to go to school because of the risk of shelling,” Save the Children’s Humanitarian Director Archie Law said.

“Tens of millions of children are in this position, having had their lives turned upside down because of war and conflict. They are suffering a range of mental health problems, yet rarely are the services needed to treat and support these children available because it simply isn’t being adequately funded.”

Save the Children’s analysis found that just 0.14 percent of all official development assistance between 2015-2017 went to programs related to child mental health support. 

At the same time the number of children living in conflict zones has increased by 37 percent since 2010, while the number of verified grave violations against them – including killing and maiming, recruitment into armed forces and sexual violence – has increased by 174 percent.

“The scale of the mental health crisis for children in conflict is enormous, yet we don’t have the funding to match the need,” said Mr Law, who has a long history working in conflict and post-conflict settings including Iraq, Cambodia and several parts of Africa.

“That’s why we’re calling on countries meeting at the UN General Assembly this coming week, including Australia, to commit to increase funding to help the recovery of children affected by conflict.”

Specifically, Save the Children is urging donors like Australia to support the replenishment of the US$1.8bn Education Cannot Wait fund – providing nine million conflict affected children with the opportunity to learn and recover – and commit dedicated funding to integrate mental health and psychosocial support services within education in humanitarian settings.

Among those children requiring mental health support is 12-year-old Fatima*, who was in her home in Hajjah, Yemen, when an airstrike killed both of her parents and five siblings. Fatima’s leg was badly injured, and she needed operations to remove the shrapnel.

“I was unconscious and buried in the sand and rescue people were only able to help me and my sister. They took us to the hospital and that’s it. My leg was injured very badly to the extent that it was with no flesh. They (seven members of my family) were buried in the village,” Fatima said.

Fatima* now lives with her sister and aunt, Arwa*, who worries about her nieces’ mental state. Arwa* told Save the Children:

“Both girls wake up at night talking to us unconsciously. They are so sensitive. At night, they become angry and start crying.”

Through Save the Children’s global Stop the War on Children campaign, the organisation is campaigning to keep schools safe, stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, seek accountability for crimes against children and pursue new ways to support their recovery from the horrors of conflict. To find out more go to www.stopthewaronchildren.org.au

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For media inquiries contact Evan Schuurman on 0406 117 937 or Licardo Prince on 0401 777 917.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Notes to Editor: 

In 2019, the World Health Organization estimated that 17% of adults living in conflict zones have mild to moderate mental health disorders, which would require non-specialised mental health support. Assuming that similar rates apply to children and adolescents, it is estimated that approximately 24 million children living in conflict today have mild to moderate mental health disorders needing an appropriate level of support. Of these, 5% (7.1 million) were estimated to be at risk of developing severe mental health disorders.

Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT APPROVES US$6 MILLION FIRST EMERGENCY RESPONSE FOR SAHEL REGIONAL CRISIS

In response to the worsening crises that have affected over 2.3 million children in the Sahelian countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, Education Cannot Wait today announced a new US$6 million allocation to support education in emergencies responses that will benefit 187,000 children and youth.

Photo © UNICEF Mali

187,000 Children and Youth in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to Benefit from Education Opportunities in Protective Learning Environments

22 July 2019, New York – In response to the worsening crises that have affected over 2.3 million children in the Sahelian countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, Education Cannot Wait today announced a new US$6 million allocation to support education in emergencies responses that will benefit 187,000 children and youth.

This ‘First Emergency Response’ allocation was developed to help address the urgent education needs faced by so many children and youth affected by the Sahel regional crisis – identified as an urgent priority by G7 leaders in Paris earlier this month.

At least 1.5 million children require education assistance, including more than 460,000 who have been forced to drop out of school. Hundreds of schools are closed in the region due to insecurity and violence. Schools and teaching personnel have been attacked and threatened.

Boys and girls in areas affected by violence face increased risk of recruitment into armed groups, exploitation and abuse, sexual violence, child marriage. Compounding factors in the region include insecurity, extreme poverty, impacts of climate change and epidemics.

“Children in the Sahel are among the most vulnerable in the world. We must act now to respond to the education crises in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn and thrive in a safe and protective learning environment,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “For these girls and boys living with the uncertainty, fear and insecurity of violence, drought and hunger, access to quality education is a beacon of hope.”  

  • According to analysis of ongoing humanitarian response plans and flash appeals, a US$41 million funding gap for the education humanitarian response remains across the three countries.
  • In Burkina Faso, over 1,800 schools are closed in areas impacted by violence and targeted attacks against schools, affecting some 380,000 students.
  • In Mali, a quarter of a million students and close to 6,000 teachers have been affected by violence and insecurity, which has resulted in the closure of over 950 schools.
  • In the Tahoua and Tillabéri regions of Niger, an estimated 114,000 school-aged children require humanitarian assistance, with 60 schools closed in Tillabéri.

The 12-month Education Cannot Wait ‘first emergency response’ grants will help restore access to education for affected children and youth, with an emphasis on access to education for girls, the creation and maintenance of safe, protective learning environments, teacher training and community mobilization.

The planned responses were developed in partnership with national governments, education clusters, local and international NGOs, and civil society organizations. They will be implemented by: Plan International (US$700,000), Save the Children (US$700,000) and UNICEF (US$800,000) in Burkina Faso; Humanity and Inclusion (US$700,000) and Save the Children USA (US$1.2 million) in Mali; and, by UNICEF ($1.9 million) in Niger.

KEY PROGAMME OUTPUTS

  • Construction and rehabilitation of classrooms for close to 41,000 out-of-school, crisis-affected children
  • Construction and rehabilitation of latrines in schools and learning spaces to benefit approximately 47,000 students
  • Distribution of learning materials for over 94,000 students
  • Hygiene promotion, including menstrual hygiene management for over 68,000 students
  • Psychosocial support, risk mitigation and other capacity building on protective learning environments for 187,000 students
  • Teacher training for over 3,000 teachers on psychosocial support, risk mitigation, protective learning environments and inclusive education for 187,000 students
  • Mobilization of over 83,000 community members to support the creation of protective learning environments (including enhancing environments surrounding schools)
  • Radio education programming in Niger and Burkina Faso

THE GOVERNMENT OF PUNTLAND STATE OF SOMALIA, EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND SAVE THE CHILDREN LAUNCH MAJOR NEW EDUCATION PROGRAMME FOR CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CONFLICT AND DROUGHT

US$5.6 million catalytic grant kickstarts resource mobilization efforts to fully fund the US$60 million education response to reach approximately 400,000 children and youth

‘Puntland welcomes the new funds which bridge the humanitarian and developmental gaps within the education sector in the region. Save the Children and its partner Education Cannot Wait are responding to the chronic underfunding of education in emergencies and crises by placing education as a priority,’ H.E. Said Abdullahi Deni, President of Puntland said. Photo © Save The Children

$5.6 million catalytic grant kickstarts resource mobilization efforts to fully fund the $60 million education response to reach approximately 400,000 children and youth

20 July 2019, Garowe, Puntland, Somalia—The Government of Puntland, Education Cannot Wait and Save the Children launched a comprehensive new multi-year education programme today to improve learning and wellbeing of children affected by crises in Puntland.

The three-year 5.6 million seed-funding grant from Education Cannot Wait is designed to catalyse contributions from additional donors to cover the remaining $54.4 million required to implement the full programme over the next three years.

The programme will be implemented by Save the Children in partnership with the Government of Puntland to bridge the education gap for children and youth who have been forced out of education due to conflict and drought.

Access to education in Puntland is still limited with more than 41.2 per cent of children still out of school. Many of these children are recovering from being recruited into armed groups or have suffered significant psychological distress as the result of the on-going drought and conflict in the region. Girls are especially at risk for gender-based violence, early marriage and being left behind. The programme puts special emphasis on reaching children with disabilities.

H.E Said Abdullahi Deni, the President of Puntland, said the programme is a new beginning for Puntland’s children, and is a critical part of the state’s education in emergency strategy, which was finalised in December 2018.

“Puntland welcomes the new funds which bridge the humanitarian and developmental gaps within the education sector in the region. Save the Children and its partner Education Cannot Wait are responding to the chronic underfunding of education in emergencies and crises by placing education as a priority,’’ H.E Said Abdullahi Deni said. 

“It is our collective moral obligation to fulfil every child’s right to education. Girls and boys in Puntland deserve no less,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “With Education Cannot Wait’s catalytic grant, today’s launch marks a milestone in global efforts to ensure universal and equitable access to education as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4). We must now work together to mobilize the resources for the full scope of the programme to ensure we leave no child behind in Puntland.”

Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia, Mohamud Mohamed Hassan emphasised the importance of funding education for children in crises. 

“This new initiative comes at the right time. Many children in Somalia have missed years of education because of the massive disruption caused by conflict, loss of livelihoods through natural disasters, and insecurity. Children from this region deserve the opportunity to learn and develop, so they are fully able to participate in society when they get older. Children cannot miss out on education, even in emergencies, and for that, we thank Education Cannot Wait and the Government of Puntland for their timely support,” Hassan said.  

Save the Children is a close global partner with Education Cannot Wait. ln 2015, Save the Children published a report supporting the creation of a new funding mechanism for education in emergencies, which contributed to the development of the Fund. On the global level, Save the Children represents civil society organizations through Education Cannot Wait’s central governance structures, both in the High-level Steering Group and in the Executive Committee.

Education Cannot Wait and its wide range of partners – governments, UN agencies, international and national NGOs, the private sector and philanthropic foundations -are working to mobilize $1.8 billion by 2021 to support quality education for 9 million children living in conflict and protracted crisis.

# # #

 

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):

 ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure. 

 

Additional information is available at www.educationcannotwait.org

 

 

About Save the Children

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. Around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.

 

Contacts

For press enquiries, contact:

Said Isse, Media Coordinator, Save the Children in Somalia

said.isse@savethechildren.org, +252907847640


Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@educationcannotwait.org , +1 917 640-6820

For any other enquiries, contact:
info@educationcannotwait.org  

 

Mohamed Ali Farah, Director General, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Puntland,

DGoffice.moepl@gmail.com, +252907796450

 

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ALLOCATES US$7 MILLION TO SUPPORT EDUCATIONAL RESPONSES IN COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY THE VENEZUELA CRISIS

On 25 April 2019 in Cucuta, Colombia, Venezuelan children wait in the queue at the migration center. There remains a US$50 million funding gap for the educational response in the countries supported through these grants, according to in-country partners. © UNICEF/ Arcos

FUNDS WILL BENEFIT 84,500 CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, ECUADOR AND PERU

4 June 2019, New York – In a coordinated response to the Venezuela regional crisis, Education Cannot Wait announced today a US$7 million allocation to support first emergency response grants in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

The grants will focus primarily on out-of-school children and adolescents from Venezuela and host-communities to get them back in protective, quality learning environments. In all, some 84,500 children and youth, including 42,600 girls, will benefit from the fast-acting investment.

“Children and youth who are uprooted and forced to flee are haunted by fears and uncertainty. They do not lose their right to education because they are on the move, but they will lose their hope and opportunities without education. Education provides a sense of stability, protection and hope to turn around their lives and positively impact the region. The ECW catalytic investment will, however, require additional funding for education that matches the immense need and hospitality shown by host-countries in the region,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, a global fund for education in emergencies hosted by UNICEF that seeks to mobilize US$1.8 billion by 2021 to reach close to 9 million children living in crisis.

The Venezuela crisis has displaced 3.7 million people, with an estimated 1.2 million children and youth affected in the four countries that will benefit from the grant. On average 50 per cent of the refugee and migrant children from Venezuela are not enrolled in formal schooling across the four countries.

While schools in these countries are generally well-resourced, the influx of children is pushing local coping mechanisms and resources to their breaking points. In this volatile and complex context, children – especially girls – are at greater risk of gender-based violence, child labor, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

The Education Cannot Wait allocation aligns with the regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan led by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), for which there is a US$50 million funding gap for the educational response in these countries, according to in-country partners.

Education Cannot Wait’s allocation accounts for 14 per cent of this total funding gap and adds to the US$4.6 million already committed by other donors to respond to educational needs.

The funds will help sustain, rehabilitate and establish temporary learning spaces, facilitate access to formal education, support local education authorities in absorbing new students, create community-based back-to-learning campaigns, promote gender-equality and inclusion, and provide learning and teaching materials. Teachers and education professionals will also be trained to provide support to children living in such a volatile context.

On a regional level, the funds will improve coordination and cross-country collaboration and the monitoring of activities across the four countries. It will also strengthen the availability of data to facilitate policy dialogue to ensure the inclusion of children in national education systems.

The funding from Education Cannot Wait will be implemented by a wide range of international and national partners. It will be managed through four main grantees at the country level: in Brazil by UNICEF (US$749,000), in Colombia by Save the Children (US$2.6 million), in Ecuador by UNICEF (US$1.9 million), and in Peru by Refugee Education Trust (US$1.2 million). In addition, UNICEF will manage the US$376,000 allocation for regional support.

On 25 April 2019 in Cucuta, Colombia, Venezuelan children play at the UNICEF-supported Child Friendly Space. © UNICEF/ Arcos

NO MORE LIMITS

May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day, which connects people across the globe ‘To create a world in which every woman and girl is empowered to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without shame, where no woman or girl is limited by something as natural and normal as her period.’
May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day, which connects people across the globe ‘To create a world in which every woman and girl is empowered to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without shame, where no woman or girl is limited by something as natural and normal as her period.’

TABOOS ON MENSTRUAL HYGIENE ARE KEEPING GIRLS OUT OF SCHOOL – ESPECIALLY IN CRISIS AND EMERGENCY SITUATIONS – OUR SPECIAL GUEST CONTRIBUTOR FROM SAVE THE CHILDREN LAYS OUT THE WORK BEING DONE IN THE EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT-SUPPORTED MULTI-YEAR EDUCATIONAL RESPONSE AND OTHER RELATED INITIATIVES IN UGANDA TO ENSURE DIGNITY, ACCESS AND EMPOWERMENT

Special Contribution by Rachael Corbishley, Save the Children

Imagine being in the middle of your science class and your period starts. There’s no clean water to wash, no proper toilet to use, and you don’t have any pads. Sadly, that’s the reality for many refugee girls in Uganda.

As we call on education leaders, countries and other key partners to take action on Menstrual Hygiene Day, it’s important to remember the specific needs and risks for refugee girls, displaced girls, and girls whose dignity and access to the safety and opportunity of an education are being pushed aside by taboos, misconceptions, and lack of proper training and materials.

Uganda is home to 1.25 million refugees. Inadequate access to clean and safe hygiene facilities, shame and embarrassment while on their period, and lack of sanitary materials are some of the main reasons that adolescent refugee girls give for why they do not attend school regularly here.  Girls across the country do not attain success at primary school at the same rate as boys. In the Primary Leavers’ Exam, a national examination that all children in school sit at the end of Primary 7, boys consistently pass at a higher rate than girls. Education disparities between boys and girls increase as they get older, as is seen in the Accelerated Education Programme (AEP).

The Accelerated Education Programme is an approach funded by Education Cannot Wait and other donors to help children that previously dropped out of school to attain a basic education. It provides age appropriate learning for children aged 10 to 18 that had their education interrupted due to poverty or conflict, and condenses seven years of the Ugandan Primary curriculum into three years. Data from the programme shows that girls are less likely to sit for the Primary Leavers’ Exam in the first place (72 per cent of all learners that sat for the exam across 13 centres in December were boys) and then are less likely to pass when they do sit (48 per cent of girls passed the exam, as opposed to 72 per cent of boys).

With funding from Education Cannot Wait, NGOs in Uganda are working to address these challenges and reverse these trends. Uganda’s Education Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities includes activities for “menstrual hygiene management” to enable girls to stay in school.

WHAT DOES MENSTRUAL HYGIENE MANAGEMENT LOOK LIKE IN PRACTICE?

Globally, half a billion women and girls lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management. If those girls and women were to join hands, they would stretch clear around the globe – 10 times!

We need some no-nonsense approaches to ensure universal menstrual dignity – especially for girls living in crisis settings. First, schools need to have appropriate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, but in poor rural environments sometimes this isn’t the case. At a bare minimum,  it is critical that toilets are separate and clearly sign-posted for both boys and girls and male and female teachers; that the doors have locks and are well lit; and that there is a space and clean water for washing and changing, and that there is a means for girls to dispose of sanitary materials.

Next, girls need to have access to suitable sanitary materials. The Education Cannot Wait-funded programme is bringing together a range of different approaches to menstrual hygiene and different partners across Uganda are trialling different methods. One approach is to distribute reusable sanitary materials to girls. The packs often come with soap and knickers to ensure that the user is able to hygienically wash the pads. Another approach is to train girls and their teachers on how to make their own reusable sanitary pads from locally available materials. Menstrual cups are a relatively new approach in northern Uganda, and through this programme girls will be introduced to the cup and trained on its use.

These different options are not mutually exclusive. Girls have the right to be provided with a choice between options and enough information and counselling to make a well-informed choice. Thanks to Education Cannot Wait’s support for these menstrual hygiene management activities, more than 18,000 girls in Uganda will access these rights.

PROVIDING INFORMATION IS A CRITICAL PART OF THE SOLUTION

It is really important that we do not just hand out sanitary materials, without accompanying this with training, counselling and guidance. Girls need to understand what is happening to their bodies during menstruation – and why. It is also critical that boys, as well as male teachers and members of school management have a good understanding of menstruation as well as the needs of girls. This programme will train all stakeholders in the school community on menstrual hygiene through information sessions. By bringing boys and men on board, too, this can reduce stigma, embarrassment and shame. Involving the whole community has also then resulted in school management committees taking steps to ensure that sanitary materials are included in school budgets and school improvement plans.

When this all happens it can make a huge difference not just to girls’ attendance and attainment at school, but also their self-confidence and active participation in class.

‘If my period being unexpectedly, I don’t feel nervous or embarrassed anymore. I don’t miss school anymore because of my period. I am now able to attend every day.’ - Mary attends the Accelerated Education Programme supported by Save the Children in the Palorinya refugee settlement. Through the Education Cannot Wait-financed multi-year educational response in Uganda, 18,000 girls like Mary will be provided with the dignity and essential human right of safe menstrual health. Photo: Save the Children
‘If my period being unexpectedly, I don’t feel nervous or embarrassed anymore. I don’t miss school anymore because of my period. I am now able to attend every day.’ – Mary attends the Accelerated Education Programme supported by Save the Children in the Palorinya refugee settlement. Through the Education Cannot Wait-financed multi-year educational response in Uganda, 18,000 girls like Mary will be provided with the dignity and essential human right of safe menstrual health. Photo: Save the Children

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Corbishley is the Education Corsortium Manager for Save the Children in Uganda

MENSTRUAL HYGIENE DAY

Learn more about Global Menstrual Hygiene Day |#MHDAY2019

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HEALING AND RECOVERY THROUGH EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES

Children at one of Save the Children’s temporary learning spaces in Qayyara Airstrip IDP Camp, Iraq © Dario Bosio/DARST/Save the Children
Children at one of Save the Children’s temporary learning spaces in Qayyara Airstrip IDP Camp, Iraq © Dario Bosio/DARST/Save the Children

CRITICAL IMPACT OF CONFLICT ON CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL WELLBEING

By Yasmine Sherif, Director, Education Cannot Wait, and Leslie Snider, Director MHPSS Collaborative for Children and Families

‘Suicide bombs, landmines, unexploded ordinance, air strikes and other forms of explosives account for three quarters of child deaths and injuries across the world’s deadliest war zones.’

Humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises currently affect millions of children around the world with serious consequences for their ability to learn, grow and develop. 420 million children – nearly one-fifth of children worldwide – are living in a conflict zone. Children are especially vulnerable in conflict situations, because a child’s experiences during the earliest years of life have a lasting impact on their physical and mental development.

Save the Children’s new research shows just how much bombs and explosives in the world’s worst war zones are hurting children both mentally, as well as physically. Suicide bombs, landmines, unexploded ordinance, air strikes and other forms of explosives account for three quarters of child deaths and injuries across the world’s deadliest war zones. Our research shows how children are uniquely injured and impacted by explosive weapons compared to adults, and that children exposed to explosive weapons are at increased risk of long-term physical and psychosocial disabilities and mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and agoraphobia.

For children in conflict, the combination of exposure to bombs and explosive weapons, grave violations of their human rights and chronic adversity, insecurity and deprivation can lead to ‘toxic stress.’ Furthermore, many children impacted by conflict do not have access to the protective environment of schools and to quality education. As a result, conflict imposes yet another significant cost on future generations and severely undermines the potential for peaceful, prosperous societies.

MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHO-SOCIAL SUPPORT IN AND THROUGH EDUCATION

Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for children in conflict is essential to overcome the impact of toxic stress and gives children the chance to develop to their full potential. Integrating MHPSS programming into the existing structures that support and protect children, such as educational systems, is essential to ensure children can access opportunities for healing, recovery and learning at larger scale. Education, delivered in safe, nurturing environments, is critically protective for children in conflict, and has the potential to support their healing and recovery.

LACK OF SERVICES AND SUPPORT EXACERBATE CHILDREN’S TRAUMA

However, the huge need borne from protracted crises and mass displacement are not being matched with funding and support to ensure the inclusion of MHPSS services

An 8-year-old refugee from Afrin in Syria now living in Iraq. Despite huge needs, mental health services for children affected by conflict are very limited, with just one psychologist per one million people in Iraq. © Panos/Save the Children, 2018
An 8-year-old refugee from Afrin in Syria now living in Iraq. Despite huge needs, mental health services for children affected by conflict are very limited, with just one psychologist per one million people in Iraq. © Panos/Save the Children, 2018

in emergency responses. Mental health care treatment gaps are greater than 90 per cent in the least resourced countries, and for child and family MHPSS, there is a lack of targeted, evidence-based programmes, workforce capacity and sustained funding.

THE OPPORTUNITY TO SCALE UP MHPSS FOR CHILDREN IN CRISIS: ECW AND THE MHPSS COLLABORATIVE

The MHPSS Collaborative for Children and Families, hosted by Save the Children, serves as a global platform for research, practice, learning and advocacy, that aims to build meaningful partnerships to address the critical MHPSS needs of children and families in fragile contexts at scale. Education Cannot Wait has partnered with the Collaborative in order to support the Global Education Cluster and other interagency partners to mainstream evidence-based, contextualized MHPSS into education in emergency programmes – closing the critical gap in treatment and providing safe and healing learning environments for the millions of children affected by conflict.

DEVELOPING AND DELIVERING A MINIMUM PACKAGE OF MHPSS SERVICES FOR EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS

There are practical actions all countries can take to provide the help that children affected by conflict need to make a full recovery. This must include ensuring there is the mental health support on the ground to help children recover both in the immediate aftermath, and through the crucial months afterwards.

Education Cannot Wait, together with the MHPSS Collaborative and its partners, are calling on governments, donors, private sector companies, philanthropic foundations and global leaders to support efforts to increase the provision and quality of MHPSS via education in emergencies with US$50 million in dedicated financing to be channeled through Education Cannot Wait over three years through 2021. Immediate additional funding for MHPSS services will ensure the development and demonstration of the UNICEF and WHO MHPSS ‘Minimum Service Package ‘ within education, and also support the implementation of the package in five Education Cannot Wait Multi-Year Resilience Programme countries between now and 2021.

The MHPSS Minimum Service Package will build capacity across the education sector to deliver lifesaving MHPSS for an estimated 9 million children by 2021, and ensure educational systems are effectively linked to health, protection and social services, ensuring a critical safety net for children and their caregivers. For the millions of children around the world exposed to bombs, explosive weapons, conflict, insecurity, and toxic stress, this support is urgently needed to ensure their learning and wellbeing.

For more information, read the full briefing Healing And Recovery Through Education In Emergencies

www.stopwaronchildren.org | #STOPTHEWARONCHILDREN

 

‘THE LONGEST NIGHT’

Photo Noreen Chambers/UNICEF
Photo UNICEF/Noreen Chambers

WITH SUPPORT FROM EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT, TEACHERS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA ARE HELPING CHILDREN TO RECOVER FROM THE TRAUMA OF THE 2018 EARTHQUAKE WITH TEMPORARY LEARNING SPACES, GENDER-SENSITIVE APPROACHES AND NEW TRAININGS TO DEAL WITH THE CHALLENGING TIMES AHEAD

Ms. Julie James Rodney, the teacher in charge of the Injua II Elementary School in Papua New Guinea’s remote and wild Kutubu District describes living through the horrors of the February 2018 earthquake and its aftershocks as “the longest night.”

During that long night, children of Rodney’s school lost everything: their homes were shattered, and their school was destroyed, profoundly wounding the young hearts and minds. In the wake of the disaster, many families struggled to get enough to eat or drink and returning to school seemed like a far-fetched dream for many.

In all, some 127,000 people required emergency humanitarian assistance after the quake. Half of the schools in the affected area were partially damaged with three totally destroyed. Student attendance dropped drastically. As a consequence of the quake, lawlessness and tribal violence spiked, further increasing the vulnerability of people. Girls and women in particular face increased risks of gender-based violence. This affects the academic and social development of girls and boys in the region, putting their futures in jeopardy.

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Photo UNICEF/Noreen Chambers

FROM THE FOUNDATIONS UP

Rodney lives with her husband and three daughters in the school grounds where she teaches. In the morning they assessed the damage from the quake, finding the roof of her home blown away, the foundation of the school building ripped apart, and collapsed buildings and destruction everywhere.

Photo UNICEF/Noreen Chambers
Ms. Julie James Rodney. Photo UNICEF/Noreen Chambers

“People’s houses were flattened to the ground and covered in debris. It was a miracle that no one in my village was killed. We still feel the tremors and they send chills down my spine. We are still so anxious that this thing ­– or something worse – will happen again,” said Rodney. “It was difficult to get the children back into a school routine because they were deeply traumatized. They found it difficult to concentrate and worst of all they would react to any noise or bang and run out of the classroom shouting ‘earthquake.’ They are still scared, and we have not been able to fully re-establish their routine or make them feel safe again. It’s a long process.”

Rodney and hundreds of other teachers like her are receiving support from a fast-acting US$1.5 million emergency response allocation from Education Cannot Wait. Coordinated by UNICEF, the programme is implemented on the ground by trusted local and international partners that include the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, the Catholic Diocese of Mendi, The Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea and Save the Children.

The programme was designed to get children back in school, to establish temporary learning spaces, and to support these communities in building back better after the quake.

To build community buy-in and ownership, community leaders, school boards of management, church leaders and provincial and district education office representatives were consulted and involved in the programme from the start and included in ongoing school monitoring visits. Children and youth were actively involved in both the design phase and in selecting sites for water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Hygiene clubs have encouraged children to improve handwashing practices. Parents and community members are being engaged on multiple levels to encourage school attendance.

The programme has made great progress in its first six months (as reported in October 2018): close to 3,000 girls and 3,900 boys were enrolled in safe temporary learning spaces, and more than 7,000 children (43 per cent girls) accessed psychosocial first aid services and were trained on how to best prepare to face such disasters. Training workshops for teachers like Rodney were also provided so they can help children cope with their trauma.

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PUTTING GIRLS FIRST

Even before the quake, Papua New Guinea had alarming rates of insecurity and gender-based violence. Two out of three women have suffered from some sort of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, while over 40 per cent of men have admitted to raping someone (ODI, 2015). To help address this, ECW’s investment focused on supporting the safety of girls and gender equality. Gender-sensitive facilities where both girls and boys have access to toilets and sanitation facilities and services in schools were designed. This includes provisions to allow girls to manage menstrual hygiene with dignity. In addition, gender topics were included in the training workshops to raise awareness on how disasters exacerbate gender inequalities and gender-based violence and how to foster a more protective environment.

Rodney was one of the teachers that received advanced training from UNICEF in close collaboration with Save the Children through the programme.

“These resources will help us to start teaching again – properly. The children will be so excited to see the [new] resources,” said Rodney.
Papua New Guinea

Story by UNICEF Papua New Guinea, with Greg Benchwick, Education Cannot Wait

HOPE IN A WORLD GONE MAD

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‘When we learn and play here, I feel peace in my heart, and forget what has happened to me.’ Janat Ara, 12. Name changed to protect identity. Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook

SURVIVING ATTACKS AND GUNFIRE A ROHINGYA GIRL FINDS NEW HOPE THROUGH EDUCATION

Janat Ara is a survivor. She’s a dreamer. She’s a unique symbol of hope and resilience in a world gone mad.

In her short 12-year life, the Rohingya refugee has lost both her parents. She’s hidden in the woods for 15 days to escape bandits that were reportedly threatening to rape and abduct young girls in her native Myanmar. She’s been attacked by gunfire.

Around 725,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since the ethnic violence, which some have labeled a crime against humanity, started in August 2017. The new arrivals and asylum seekers are putting a strain on local communities and resources and around 1.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance today. An estimated 54 per cent of these refugees are under 18. That means close to 400,000 children are nationless, lack consistent access to education, and live in makeshift, overcrowded camps in the Cox’s Bazaar district of Bangladesh.

While much work is being done to protect these children by both the government of Bangladesh as well as international donor agencies, local non-profits and the United Nations System, the camps are still a dangerous place. Girls are particularly at risk to sexual exploitation and gender-based violence. And malnutrition, disease and unsafe water pose health risks for children and adults alike.

Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook
Attending class in the Learning Centre. Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook

A SENSE OF HOPE

Out of this chaos, a sense of hope and redemption is emerging for children like Janat Ara. It all starts in the new learning centers where children receive daily instruction through an investment backed by Education Cannot Wait and implemented through UNICEF, Save the Children, Friendship and BRAC.

“I love the learning center. I have been through a lot back in Myanmar. When we learn and play here, I feel peace in my heart, and forget what has happened to me,” said Janat Ara (whose name has been changed for her own protection). “When I grow up, I want to work at an NGO or at the hospital. My teacher also said that he sees that I could become a teacher. He has suggested that I maybe can join an NGO when I am older, to teach other children Burmese.”

The first educational emergency response is making a real difference for the 400,000 Rohingya children and youth and host community children that have been impacted by this crisis, exceeding most targets by 200 per cent.

In all, the fast-acting 12-month Education for Children of Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities in Cox’s Bazar investment has built more than 270 learning centers to date, and is on track to complete an additional 50 more to reach investment targets. According to the latest reports (December 2018), over 25,000 refugee children aged 4 to 14 have received access to safe and protective learning environments – that is three times more than the number of children initially targeted by the project. Additionally, more than 270 sets of early childhood development and school-in-a-box kits have been shared.

The investment embraced innovative and flexible learning models to mobilize fast education responses, including using podcasts and video conferences to train teachers in the camps. Along with other innovative measures, this enabled more children and youth to be reached than originally planned.

Community involvement is key in a complex context like the Rohingya crisis. To encourage involvement from parents and community members, outreach activities have reached close to 20,00 people with important messages advocating for school enrollment, hygiene and sanitation, and the importance of a safe learning environment for children and youth.

Girls and children with disabilities often fall behind in crisis situations like this. More than 50 percent of the students enrolled since the beginning of the project are girls. Total access to education for girls and adolescent girls reached more than 12,800 girls, that is nearly three times more than the original number targeted by the programme. To encourage enrollment and retention of girls, the recruitment and training of female teachers has been highly encouraged. In all some 546 teachers have been trained through the investment, over 85 per cent of whom are female. The project has also identified 620 children with disabilities in these camps with the aim to reach at least 95% of them by June 2019.

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Janat Ara’s Aunt Halima has taken on the responsibility of caring for the young dreamer and her sister.

“We came here in March 2018. Even after the outbreak of violence we tried to stay. But then armed groups started tormenting us. They wouldn’t let us go out at night. They started taking away girls and young women, and raping and killing them. When the threats become too much to bear, all of us in our village decided that we would come to Bangladesh,” said Halima. “I worry a lot about Janat Ara, because she doesn’t have parents. The children had nothing to do when we arrived, and I thought – if Allah brought these children to me, then there must be something special about them. So, I registered them into the learning center.”

Since starting school Janat Ara has made new friends, started learning English and is finding a “new normal” after enduring a perilous and traumatic journey. Her Aunt reports that “she has changed a lot since being here and she seems happy now.”

‘When we learn and play here, I feel peace in my heart, and forget what has happened to me.’ Janat Ara, 12. Name changed to protect Janat Ara's identity. Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook
Surviving crisis, the loss of her parents and other life-changing ordeals, Janat Ara is returning to a sense of normalcy in the camp. Photo: Save the Children/Daphnee Cook

LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS

Humanitarian crisis like this need more than one-off responses. Working with the Government of Bangladesh, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNHCR, Education Cannot Wait launched a new US$12 million grant in November 2018 to benefit an additional 88,500 refugee and host community children and adolescents. With efforts to mobilize resources from multiple partners and donors, the multi-year grant will connect with other initiatives to reach more than half a million refugee and host community and youth, and 9800 teachers over the coming years.

With continued support, class sizes are going down, and students will benefit from more time with more highly trained teachers in the learning centers. As new learning centers are built and reorganized, student contact time will increase from two to four hours, and class sizes will drop from 105 students per learning center to around 80.

It’s a powerful step forward for girls and boys caught in this cycle of violence, migration, crisis and fear. For Janat Ara and others like her, more needs to be done, and Education Cannot Wait is working to bring multiple partners to work together towards a lasting solution to protect these children, provide them an education, and a safer path to become productive and essential members of society. Through stronger partnerships and collaboration, we can address this pressing crisis.

IN FOCUS

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh