21 – 23 March 2017
THE IMPACT OF CRISES AND DISASTERS ON CHILDREN
The Master of Ceremony welcomed the guests to the conference, which aimed at shedding light on the suffering of children in conflicts and crisis, and he proposed to hold a one-minute silence in their honour. A short video was shown of schoolchildren giving messages of hope to children suffering and to make them feel better, and a short film putting the question forward whether we really make the situation of children any better.
H.E. Mr. Ibrahim Bumelha, Cultural and Humanitarian Advisor of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman, DIHAD Higher Committee and President, DISAB, opened the 14th edition of the DIHAD Conference, held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. Mr. Bumelha referred to the fragile condition of women and children caused by ongoing conflict and disasters, and efforts undertaken to bring relief to displaced people and refugees. UAE has always been at the forefront of local and global assistance on the basis of need. “The more we give the more we get from Allah”, words that should encourage all to spread the good. 2017 is to be the Year of the Good. UAE is one of the most generous providers of assistance in response to crises and disasters, and Dubai hosts the International Humanitarian City. He thanked all those contributing to the organisation of the conference, in particular DISAB and INDEX, wishing all participants success in continuing to provide help. (Download Speech)
H.E. Mohammed Al Falahi, Secretary General of the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Authority, speaking on behalf of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Representative of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in the Western Region and President of the UAE Red Crescent Authority, referred to the Year of Giving, illustrating the leadership of the UAE, and to look to the future of humanitarian aid and leave a new blueprint for assistance to help children to live in dignity in times of crisis, such as living in hunger; bridging gaps, and providing health care and education to dropouts when becoming refugees. The Organisation hopes to have clear plans, programmes and initiatives to save children from all these challenges, through more partnerships among humanitarian agencies
H.E. Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO, Save The Children International, Former Prime Minister of Denmark, appreciated that Dubai is truly becoming a capital of international humanitarian aid, not only thanks to the amazing system built, but also to the leading role in building partnerships for people so desperately counting on international help. Fora such as DIHAD allow agencies to come together and find new ways to tackle urgent challenges also of children in armed conflict, basis for the founding of the Save organisation, after WW-1. Save the Children is now present in more than 120 countries, 60 of which in the Middle East. Mankind owes to the children the best it has to offer, but 50 million children are living in violent conflict, suffering grave violation of their rights and safety, risking to be recruited by armed groups and forced into child labour, early marriage or prostitution. They experience the worst humanity has to offer, many of them not reaching the age of five years, while women are 14 times more at risk of losing their life than men. Many children suffer psychological damage with emotional scars destroying their lives. In Syria children have invisible wounds, as their mental health becomes deeply disturbed; they are more fearful and nervous as the war continues, turning to drugs or losing the ability to speak. The lack of access to education is one of the biggest blows of this conflict. To end their suffering, we need to bring peace, and the UN SG has designated 2017 as the Year of Peace.
Parties must be held accountable, in a strong and independent system based on evidence. The Safe Schools Declaration must be endorsed by governments, which should also attend the Education Conference in Argentina later in the year. Less than 5% of all humanitarian aid is spent on protecting, healing and educating children. Time equals life; rather than just playing catch-up, action must be faster. A new global commitment for children’s mental health is called for. Achieving the SDGs is the only long-term solution to bring an end to suffering, which requires new thinking and new partnerships. All child-focused agencies are absolutely committed to this goal, but there is a need to step up now to break the cycle of violence to bring a future for children and allow them to play a unique role. We owe to children to offer them the best mankind has to offer. (Download Presentation)
Speaking on behalf of H.R.H. Prince Turki Bin Abdullah bin Abdullaziz Al-Saud, CEO, King Abdullah Foundation (KAF), Former Governor of Riyadh Province, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Jeremie Delage shared some thoughts on the role of private foundations in providing education to children during crisis. The KAF promotes peace, security and prosperity through innovative solutions and partnerships, and is working in 17 countries in education, healthcare, economic development, social relief and peace and security. More than 4.4 million children have benefited also through local partners, including from education in times of natural disaster or crisis. KAF sponsored 2,000 orphans in Aceh after the tsunami to give them a bright future and access to jobs through education. Today still 2,000 orphans are supported in their education to give them access to university. Also USD 130 million was donated to Bangladesh to build multipurpose buildings for schools and shelter, eco-friendly and with solar power. Today’s programme is centred around strategies to provide quality education to boys and girls, also in times of crises and disasters, and to help address the USD 8.5 billion gap for education in crises. A multi-sector approach with partners gives support to livelihoods to prevent child labour and for long-term development to bear fruit. (Attachment)
“How to better address the often-times irreparable damage caused to children in conflict situations”
Moderator: Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Professor, Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester, introduced the topic by pointing out that one in four children in the world is a victim of crisis. Emphasis is on children even when both women and children are actually affected. He raised the question how it is possible that humans have become so dehumanised as to subject the most vulnerable of human race to such violence and horror. Nine months before birth to age eight all characteristics of the future human being are defined, i.e. early childhood development. Lost generations in terms of building a future due to trauma and stress experienced. It is about the future of humanity and not just out of a humanitarian perspective.
He introduced the panel members as all having had a lifelong record of “doing good”.
H.E. Mr. Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, complemented some of the issues raised by Dr. Kapila. DIHAD is not only to show dedication in humanitarian aid, but also to raise awareness on a range of gaps in humanitarian issues. Children are the first to suffer when crisis strikes, and now close to 40 million children are out of school, a key impact of the crisis on the ground. Education is a basic human right and is a protective shield against many forms of violence, radicalisation, forced recruitment and terrorism. Focus should be on protection of children and education in emergency situations. The suffering of children in Nigeria, Syria, Yemen and in the wider Middle East region leads to unspeakable physical and psychological suffering, and also the experience of loss of loved ones. Therefore, humanitarian action should take their specific needs in account. Mental trauma of children in the early phase of conflict is decisive for their future. The EU puts protection of children at the heart of its activities with 23 million Euro for activities outside Europe, and 42 million Euro for programmes also to benefit children, and a further 30.5 million Euro for child protection and education for refugees in Greece, in particular for assistance for unaccompanied minors.
Education in emergency situations has become a key priority for the EU and European institutions; he called it almost his personal obsession, and rightfully so, in order to mobilise more passion for the work. Education is essential for longer-term assistance as well, and emergency education must be part of any holistic response. Closing the gap in education in crises is a major priority as it is investment in peace and the future. Education gives children a sense of normality and allows for a dignified life, and gives them an opportunity and real prospect. “Where there is education there is no crisis.”
The EU has allocated 70 million Euro for programmes benefitting four million children in 40 countries, making up 6% of its emergency aid budget. It must be a collective priority for all, including the private sector and academia. Otherwise the damage may become irreversible also for society as a whole.
H.E. Mr. Pierre Kraehenbuhl, Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), looked at ways to reduce the impact of war or crisis on children. Wars themselves are not inevitable as is so often the unavoidable notion. There is an overreliance on resorting to violence and military forms of intervention rather than a search for political solutions. The fundamental root causes must be addressed from the outset, which was the reason for the establishment of UNRWA. To stress the importance of the UNRWA education system – of which two million children have benefitted – he showed the portraits of two students from Gaza and Syria – refugee in Lebanon – who had suffered great personal grief and intolerable suffering, and were now excelling students and actors of their own future rather than only victims of war. UNRWA is preserving a prospect for peace through education in 700 schools in Lebanon, West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The epidemic deterioration of the psycho-social condition of children in the camps is of great concern. The students are wondering why the basic human rights do not apply to them. (Attachment)
Mr. Volker Turk, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees (Protection), UNHCR, spoke on ““A child is first and foremost a child – international responses to children on the move”. He welcomed the emphasis on children and thought back of images of his experience: 1997 in DRC where children had gone through great drama.
He stressed the need to approach children with a deep ethic of responsibility and care, guided by the principles of special protection and assistance under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children must be protected as children first and foremost.
The child protection system and parallel systems for asylum should be strengthened and at least be integrated in the development systems. They should look at ways to ensure that refugee children have access to the social and national education systems. Registration can be crucial for refugees to have a recognised status and not end up stateless and not be discriminated against. In cases of restricted access to family reunification, refugees feel forced to resort to alternative structures. Unaccompanied minors should be prioritised in targeted programmes, which should not cease when they reach early adulthood. All these problems need international action. He referred to the Universal Declaration and the Global Compact of Refugees (planned for 2018) that need to feature promotion of the good practices, while the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants must address some of the dire circumstances in which children have to live. The centrality of multi-perspective approaches towards refugees in the European Union member countries is crucial. “True intergenerational justice demands nothing less.” (Attachment)
Questions and comments from the floor included the right to education for IDPs; access for child soldiers who have been deprived from education; support to host countries for integration of refugee children in their already overburdened school systems; and whether the programmes in the UNRWA schools have been adjusted to new technologies. In response, panelists mentioned that community healing is one way of responding to host country needs. UNRWA has integrated new technologies with Internet access and interactive learning methods. It has also constructed 27 new buildings. It is important to acknowledge the capacity of youth in thinking out of the box to propose practical solutions to gaps in education and make a difference on the ground. It is important to look at the conditions in which refugee children grow up and go to school as many schools have been affected by acts of violence. There needs to be a link with other partners such as the private sector to create employment opportunities for a professional future.
Mr. Toby Lanzer Assistant Secretary-General, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator, UNDP Representative in Afghanistan, Chair, had until recently covered the large Sahel region. He introduced the panelists who would talk about children and conflict.
Ms Tiffany Easthom, Executive Director, Nonviolent Peaceforce, moved to the real practical concerns for prevention of violence, as children are the most vulnerable group and at the centre of the most violent conflicts.
Children learn and repeat what they see, so when non-state actors and militia are seen more than unarmed actors this poses a great risk for children’s view of what is normal. The traditional approach for the Protection of Civilians (POC) is to bring in more armed actors in response to armed actors, but as a single POC approach it is not effective. Unarmed Civilian Protection (UCP) is more effective to prevent and reduce violence through deterrence and positive enhancement, supporting and building local capacity for self-protection. The programme is based on nonviolent, non-partisan, primacy of local actors and protective accompaniment, facilitating dialogue and working from the roots up to provide the physical protection of civilians at risk of imminent violence.
The active women’s participation has one of the direct links to peace and violence prevention. A greater shift towards civilian-based efforts to violence prevention and reduction must be encouraged
Mr. Laurent De Boeck, IOM Representative in Yemen, pointed out that five million children are in need of care, in a situation lacking rule of law and where access to people in need has to be constantly negotiated. The infrastructure is destroyed, and the society and people are without any resources.
Access to people in need is in fact also made more difficult due to the considerable solidarity of the population that it makes it often hard to locate the displaced persons who have found refuge in host families, and due to daily airfights. When schools are not destroyed, parents have to pay for education as the teachers do not receive any income. Coping mechanisms are found in several forms of labour, noticeable recruitment in armed groups, trafficking of children such as for organ removal, or child exploitation. Particularly in South Yemen some two million children are out of school in this extremely complex country, which is also a transit country from the Horn of Africa in search of a better life in Saudi Arabia. Children under 18 are often losing the little funds they may have to human smugglers at great cost and suffering. IOM has created child-friendly spaces for 100,000 children, teaching them prevention tools, leading them with education options, and resource centres for migrants in countries where they are welcome when return to their countries of origin is not possible. Its programmes aim at bringing a different perspective of life for their future, as youth will present 69% in the affected population. IOM believes in the value of a soft approach for the mental health of youth in countries like Yemen.(Download Presentation)
Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident / Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Representative, Kenya, wondered whether it might be time for us to turn the mirror to ourselves as there seems to be a common threat when it comes to our lack of capacity to prevent violence, in particular against children. Any act of violence against children must be condemned, and the world should galvanise around the SG’s call for 2017 to be the Year of Peace. Deep violence against girls in traditional societies must be condemned, such as in Kenya against girls and under-age marriage. Perhaps education alone may not be enough to rid us of prejudice. Business has to be done differently and we must allow the primacy of the principle of the policy that violence against children cannot be allowed. There must be urgent acknowledgement that no compromise is allowed in the violence against children, and for arms delivering countries to insist that these arms will not be used to attack children, and that violence against children is not acceptable. There is a need for a tatonic shift in our approach to society and for us to speak out loudly against the use of violence. South Sudan has allowed demobilisation of child soldiers and inspired hope and opportunity, but it has now silently slipped back into a time of violence. Child soldiers face deep social instability when they return as adults, and this situation has to change to finally say that they are out of bounce, whether their actions were internecine or out of state.
Questions and comments from the floor:
How does the protective accompaniment programme work, and in what dangers does it put the civilians, and the role of women as peacekeepers also in protection of children: The theory of deterrence is based on involvement of people from outside the region. Serious context analysis is needed on a daily basis with fact checking, building of relationships across stakeholders. Women’s role is an approach to child protection in the communities.
What is being done wrong after so many crises and conflicts? How can things be done differently? On education in crises it is important to define on what education is focused.
Deliberately dropping landmines is particularly affecting children, and affects the minds and spirits around the world. Education must be properly focused and educating the scholars on a historical perspective.
With governments bombing hospitals in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, thus removing any possibility to save lives of children, we can safely assume that educating children is not a priority for them.
How does civil society manage to stay on in situations where the international staff has to evacuate when conflicts arise?
Yemen is a potent and timely casestudy of military intervention and use of airpower. When a government is to publish an environmental impact statement, why should it not have to about issue a child impact statement? The problem is that the UN cannot afford to choose one party over another at the risk to become png’ed, such as often happens to MSF.
How far can we go to push through the humanitarian principles? We might want to revert to the SDGs to help becoming a game changer and follow causes of conflict to bring them to an end. Governments are to be held accountable and agencies to deliver on the SDGs.
How about building capacity or a standby force for civilian protection rather than military intervention to be a paradigm shift so as not to be partisan?
An interactive risk assessment and threshold building system may be one way to stay in conflict times.
Protection of child soldiers in the reintegration process needs a longer-term investment than just a short-term package before being ready for reintegration. The private sector with a profit modus needs to be considered when looking at a comprehensive approach and can play a pivotal role in conflict prevention.
Violence against children is unacceptable and requires a change of mindset, as the impact has deep social effects. With still some 300,000 child soldiers more needs to be done to promote a smooth reintegration in society.
Chair expressed frustration in dealing with the consequences of conflict, as our capacity is limited. Referring to the role of the advocate groups, he wondered whether we are too quiet and should be calling for consequences. We share a common desire to achieve a safer today and a better tomorrow through engagement in and promotion of human rights with non-state actors besides governments. Change starts with us – the man in the mirror.
Mr. Amin Awad, Director, Middle East & North Africa Bureau and Regional Refugee Coordinator, UNHCR – Chair, introduced the session as trying to look at gaps in responding to the needs and protection of children. This needs political will, advocacy, financial and human resources. The Middle East region has 40 million of the 65 million people displaced in the world, 50% of whom are children. At the same time, other people have not left their area but are cut off from resources due to the conflict. Three million children under six in Syria know only war, with another six million also seriously affected, as are 440,000 children in Libya. The psychological impact of war is severe on these areas, but also in Algeria where isolation and lack of proper resources make it hard to face harsh life in remote areas.
The Syrian crisis is in its seventh year, and more than half of children receive no form of education, and unfortunately there is a lost generation. Safe and appropriate referral and pathways and regional child protection response are needed, but the longer the conflict lasts, the greater impact on children becomes. Efforts to bring awareness and improve delivery of support to this sector of the population must be strengthened.
Mr. Albrecht Broemme, President, Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and Special Envoy of the German Government for the Implementation of the European Commission’s Agreement with Turkey on Migration, focused on children in conflict. THW is the second largest relief organisation in the world, created in 2006 and engaged with many humanitarian agencies throughout. The word of wisdom in an Arabian proverb “children are the wings of man” perfectly illustrates how important it is to pay special attention to the needs of children in crisis situations. Their conflicts are different from those of adults. Some 700 youth and mini groups are active in Germany and abroad in Sierra Leone, Jordan, Northern Iraq in refugee camps constructing schools and creating child-friendly spaces. Of the refugees 60% are children; in 2015 900,000 and in 2016 290,000 refugees arrived in Germany, of whom 60,000 unaccompanied minors. With 1,200 staff and 80,000 volunteers THW helps the migrants to integrate upon arrival in Germany. Ways to promote integration includes involvement of more volunteers, teaching of the German language, a place to integrate and find a new life. There is a lost generation as every fourth or fifth child has had no access to education. (Download Presentation)
H.E. Mr. Fahad Abdelrahman bin Sultan, Deputy Secretary-General for International Aid, UAE Red Crescent Authority, spoke in Arabic. The UAE RCA works towards better protection the lives and future of children in crisis, but the question is whether the focus should be on way of protecting or deterring violence Is it how to protect or deter or rather on the approach to treating the impact on the children. Seen the problems in getting data or quality data adapted to the situation, many factors must be discussed to find a permanent solution. Abuse, trauma, suffering, emotional impact, or child recruitment in conflict zones of under 18 are impacts for all affected children, but most importantly the loss of their innocence. Indirect impact statistics need to be double checked, such as two million children killed in armed conflicts and more than six million surviving with permanent disability. One billion people in the world are living in conflict areas, of whom 300 million are under five years of age, and half of the camp population are children. They need protection, safety, health care, psychological care and education. Happiness day makes one wonder how far children are away from that happiness. Even five star refugee camps are not enough to meet the needs of children. The UAE RCA also provides disaster relief such as to Philippines, health care to Greece for refugees, Mali, Pakistan, and Yemen for relief and educational services. In the UAE the women and refugees fund aims at rural areas. While 2017 has been designated as the Year of Giving, every day is a day of giving. More than two million children receive drinking water, libraries for children have been established in various countries, working with UNICEF on education and in partnership with local actors. There is a need to focus on the roots of suffering and use humanitarian diplomacy to not increase the number of affected persons but to prevent crises, to fill the gaps and address the disturbing vicious cycle. Actions should be focused on protecting children before, during and post disasters; humanitarian diplomacy; ending current crises by enacting laws to push actors to end crises; finding peaceful solutions of crises, and allowing for safe return of the displaced persons to their areas of origin. (Attachment)
Mr. Richard Pichler, Special Representative for External Affairs and Resources, SOS Children’s Villages International, had worked 20 years as its Secretary-General until May 2016. He appreciated the choice of the topic of Children and Conflict as it is the minimum that can be done for children and convincing numbers alone seem not to be enough to deter conflicts.
His organisation works since 68 years on care for children, prevention, advocacy for quality in alternative care, and is represented in 135 countries. It was established in the aftermath to WW-II, and in 1961 was active at the end of the Korean War, in 1972 the war between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and in 1978 for the boat people from Vietnam.
There is the risk that figures make us immune to the misery of those whose flight is a normal human reaction in times of crisis, while how people on the move today behave defines role model for others. He called for all to stay human in this crucial time, not leaving children behind without care. Supporting and believing in children have shown the possibility of achieving an upward spiral by looking at the next generation. By giving them a home and education, SOS has helped children to grow up into strong adults and contribute to society with the right support. The majority of people engaged in terror are those who several decades ago were victims of crisis and did not receive the necessary help.
Children on the move today must be treated as children regardless of their migration status, and detention of children in migrant situations must not be allowed. Disruption of schooling; lack of trauma treatment; and lack and too shortsighted integration support for migrants are their key concerns. With a more long-term perspective, actions need increased investment in education and trauma support that are essential for their future and for stronger societies at large. Furthermore, stepping up of efforts for job creation in the country of origin, mentorships are essential steps for building inclusive and peaceful societies. World leaders must be honest in acknowledging that more crises are coming. There is a need for a strong united response and new solutions of partnerships to bring the SDGs to children to make a significant difference cutting through the downward spiral by investing in children today and tomorrow in care, jobs and equal opportunities. Failure to do this will simply be preparing the ground for the next crisis.
Comments and questions from the floor:
In response to the question how much research is conducted in conflict countries and possible areas of local conflict, SOS does its own research, looks at other research by UN and other agencies, and works with new technology companies for surveillance of movement of vehicles and people. Such research needs cooperation among agencies. UAE RCA engages in research to use it for advocacy with decision makers, politicians to play a constructive role
What is the role of the private sector in addressing challenges? THW works with many volunteers who often have other jobs. The private sector is an important partner in response, e.g. DHL for mentorships and job creation. .
How can large social institutions and business innovations be incorporated and integrated?
There is a need to address the education needs of disabled children and to ensure these approaches are appropriate.
IFRC principles are aimed at local communities before, during and after shocks to accompany them and respond to their needs. Not every coping mechanism is resilient; sometimes resignation is the only way. The question is how safety nets can be created to reduce shocks and preserve the traditional livelihoods and provide an enabling environment. Education is a key factor and lifesaving measure, providing a sense of normalcy and safety. Chaos will follow emergencies when the social environment is disrupted, leading to migrant routes that make them often considered as illegal people on the move.
Red Cross and Crescent societies act in coordination with the UN and other agencies to provide services with packages of lifesaving measures with water, sanitation, health, and protection. The place of birth will become the most determining factor of who the person will be. No child should experience the situation of hardship that many do have to face now.
International Humanitarian Law sets out to protect health and education facilities from attacks, but battlefields now include these as targets. Family unity and youth roles must be included, an area where humanitarian actors are still failing with disaggregated data. Media services should be provided for the survivors of conflicts with invisible wounds that should not be overlooked. Preparations pre-emergency should include work in schools and communities to prepare for risk and build communities through “education plus” that also enables people to gain skills needed for intellectual and supporting long-term recovery capacities. A holistic approach is needed to be able to adapt to new situations and improve own and families’ lives, not just to understand risks but also to withstand them. This needs harmonised messages – with strong impact and backed by stakeholders at all times. Humility, planning for education in continuity, strengthening risk reduction in informal curricula to focus on feeling and experiences, such as sports and games must be included. Hazards cannot be stopped but we can help to prevent them from becoming disasters, and put an end to most crises that are manmade. Find political leadership to stop wars, shocks and violence, and change minds to build bridges across lines and find solutions to accompany communities In the long run to be able to become independent from outside assistance. We must work together to break the spiral of violence, and avoid a lost generation and build a resilient future.
Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Professor, Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester – Chair, looking at some of the evidence why interest in children beyond the affective impulse is essential, gave five key reasons: 535 million children live in crisis situations, left further behind and missing out on necessary support. More crises are protracted and have become the normal way of life, such as in Syria, Yemen, Nigeria or Afghanistan. Standards of child protection are slipping everywhere and violated. The brutality and deprivation they have suffered becomes their own right of life, such as being severely disturbed even when peace comes; post crisis recovery and development in such situations are not easy, as the cycle of violence recurs again and again. Children learn to do what has been done to them. Lastly and most importantly, getting the essentials right must be from the very early childhood. The time from conception till about eight years is the most important developmental phase, and the brain matures and determines the ultimate potential of a person’s intelligence, physical and mental health as well as contribution to economic life of family and community.
Nutrition, mental stimulation and stress management are the three critical essentials on which all else is based: nutrition before and after birth leads to brain development status; adequate stimulation of the growing mind as inadequate education due to poverty or crisis has an impact for the rest of life as brain grows so fast, making education the most important factor; and prevalence of stress by trauma and violence may cause dysfunctional effects on society. Although humans are very resilient in nature, they are not necessarily the best if just being surviving. Resilience alone is not enough. A nation with damaged children cannot develop into a successful one. Even if conflicts were to finish, it will take at least three generations to recover – current children, children of these children, and grandchildren – brought up in anger due to stories implanted in the child’s brain. Only healthy, balanced children will help to find solutions to the world’s problems. Perhaps we try to do too much for too many and do not make sufficient difference, e.g. in food, education, without the love a child needs. So it is not about equity in humanitarian assistance as that does not help to find solutions for longstanding problems. The question is why keep too many just alive rather than helping children to grow up as healthy persons and creating a prosperous society. Therefore, getting the essentials right in an uninterrupted manner the largest challenge. (Download Attachment)
Ms Lakshmi Sundaram, Executive Director “Girls not brides”, London, referred to child marriage in the context of humanitarian crises and why it is essential to address it at the start of life. While one in four girls is married under the age of 18, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, childhood marriage is a global problem. Girls in those societies are valued less than boys, and increases in child marriage are often influenced by factors such as poverty or in fragile states by natural hazards or conflict, leading to feelings of insecurity. Reasons include that families see child marriage as a way of protecting girls from rape or sexual harassment, providing financial security; it can also be used as a weapon of war during conflict with kidnapping or forced marriages. It has a devastating impact on girls and their families, and maternal mortality is a leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19. It also has a very negative impact on their children who will not get all the nurturing and support needed, and often have to undergo physical and emotional violence. Poor education and lack of social support structures are some of the contributing elements.
Proactive thinking is needed to address and reduce child marriages broadly. Strategies include empowering girls, working with families and communities, providing alternative health and education services, and supportive roles and policies. Women and girls need to be at the centre in the development of such approaches, working with community groups in decision making, even though it may be a challenge, creating safe spaces in camps to allow for rebuilding social networks and a sense of community and resilience, prioritising education with safe and high quality facilities for girls. Emphasising that these girls are still children and are not about to become wives and mothers is essential, stressing that girls need access to adequate health services.
In camp design, safety of girls must be kept in mind with the idea that it must be safe for them to go outside their homes, ensuring that staff are adequately trained in addressing the specific needs of girls and boys. Ensuring that no girl, no child, no family is left behind. (Download Attachment)
Ms Elizabeth Cossor, Child Protection Coordinator, UNICEF, Ethiopia, focused on essentials for children before, during or after undertaking their journey, mostly because of poverty or crisis. Almost one half of the world’s child refugees come from Syria or Afghanistan. Many challenges faced by refugees or IDPs are the same, putting them at increased risks to violence. Unaccompanied children are now increasing in number and often taking the risky journey to flee violence. Alarming figures make one wonder what are the essentials to support children on the move, such as a change of “status” from IDP to asylum seeker or ultimately as refugee or as illegal migrant. To avoid detection they become Invisible in urban settings which may make them left out of any protection or support service.
Essentials to address the needs of children on the move – many of them unaccompanied – include:
1. family unity and protective care to get needed emotional support;
2. access to basic services and an adequate level of protection and legal assistance in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
3. children’s own resilience and internal strength and decision making capacities.
Relevant programmatic recommendations to achieve these essentials include the link between humanitarian and development programming to ensure continuation of protection and care; integrating sex and age disaggregated data in displacement monitoring; support to local child protection services and advocacy for prevention of detention of children; strengthening mechanisms to keep families together or providing alternative care; birth registration for all children regardless of place of birth or status; strengthening community based structures; ensuring continual access to health and education services even when in temporary settings; committing to supporting mental health care; listening to girls and boys and ensuring their views are reflected in programmatic development strategies to promote their wellbeing; and innovating with child-friendly information technologies.
It is important for all these strategies to be sustained throughout the children’s journey. (Download Presentation)
Mr. Jeremie Delage, Vice-President, King Abdullah International Foundation, underlined how children’s happiness and wellbeing after a disaster are important. Education should be the way to address social and emotional needs but is rather focused on academic results. Effective learners include their disposition to learn, social competence, and social and emotional wellbeing. Happy children tend to be more resilient to stress or failures. Wellbeing is the most critical factor in performance with positive emotions as tools for achieving significant outcomes and problem solving that require insight.
Practical ways to refocus and develop happiness in class include helping children to identify their strengths, approach children as individuals, reminding them of previous success resulting from hard work. But the challenge is how to achieve this in times of poverty, after a natural disaster or crisis or traumatic event, in crowded classrooms. Children‘s learning, wellbeing and creativity should be put at the centre of the educational approach, rather than high academic performance. This can be done in simple ways, such as letting children just be children. (Download Presentation)
Questions and comments from the floor:
Are the root causes for early child marriages really addressed and how to improve economic empowerment?
How does birth registration in conflict situations work?
How is it possible to move away from wholesale humanitarianism?
Do we consider the role of religious leaders in decisions on early marriages?
Schools and relevance of books to be localised within own community of children.
Why has the situation for women and girls not improved and gaps in humanitarian response continued?
How can we measure the impact of happiness on children’s learning?
In conclusion, for too long have we been too complacent with focus purely on principles, even if it has worked very well. It is now becoming a business that is failing humanity. We need to fundamentally challenge our processes, particularly as it regards children.
Mr. Manuel Fontaine, Director, Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF – Chair, pointed out that studies have shown that children under three years of age are most at risk of toxic stress and carrying these lifelong scars. In the first years the brain shows maximum agility to absorb, the reason why parents and child carers have a particularly important role. Different sectors must be helped to work together, including protection as well as empowerment of girls and women. Nutrition, early learning and protection make up more than the sum of their parts. The focus on giving aid to children and their families shows that often parents “get it right” and value the more human aspects better than the aid providers. It is possible to give a second chance to children even when they have been off the beaten track and should not be given up on too easily.
Mr. James Kofi Annan, Chair, Board of Trustees, Family for Every Child, London, having undergone brutal abuse and stress in his years as a child in slavery, had an opportunity to escape. He stressed the importance of education and rehabilitation and family reunion on which his foundation focuses, based on his personal experience. The best mechanism to protect a child is to grow up in a strong, effective and safe family, able to withstand the risk of exploitation and abuse. Investing in family is an essential part of a child’s life and provides protection and boosts a safe environment of a child. In humanitarian crises more than just basic services is needed as an investment in strong families as a form of social protection.
Interviews with children between the ages of 8 and 17 showed their needs are health, education and particularly strong self-loving relations with their parents, growing up in kindness with shelter and peace. Ways to strengthen and protect the family, ensuring the right of all children from the start of their life, helping them to address the challenges the family has to face are key challenges. Basic services of education, food and health care without giving the protective environment simply do not do enough to prevent the trauma that children have to go through in times of crisis, such as being exposed to trafficking. Furthermore, the impact of cash-transfers shows that these alone do not give enough support, as more than just material support is needed. Family must be prioritised as an investment, as a strong family is a basic essential for children in all respects. The right to a family for all children needs to be respected, in particular in times of crisis. Practitioners and policy makers need to work together to create such a strong family with empowerment. Love from a family helps children to grow into a loving adult and achieve their full potential. (Download Presentation)
Mr. Essa Ali Al Mannai, Deputy Executive Officer, Education for All, Reach out to Asia (ROTA), Qatar, talked about the importance of education in times of crisis to guarantee human dignity. Integration linked to education is important, as the current highly knowledge-based society is leading to isolation.
Four key pillars to achieve this include: access to education with facilities and tools and innovative ways and models, such as the Nomadic teacher moving with children from place to place, or floating classrooms; the school certificate is seen by people on the move as the most critical paper to have in order to find employment. Furthermore, education is most of the time the reason for parents to move and is often supported by the community.
Other pillars are the building of capacity of young persons ages 14 – 23 and their integration in the labour market; community engagement and the family as the basis and the key players in education as a multi stakeholder process; sustainability and local ownership, in times of donor fatigue in particular in the context of the global level of people on the move, putting pressure on the host community to focus on how the 23 year old adult will turn out by providing them with a social structure for growth.
The importance of evidence-based solutions and research in area of education versus physical services such as shelter or food must not be understated. The question is how to showcase the importance of education in the implementation of the SDGs with the stress on sustainability.
“An idea is bulletproof, and once it has been given it can never be taken away”.
H.E. Amb. Atta El Manan Bakhit El-Haj, Deputy Secretary-General, Islamic Appeal for Relief and Development, Sudan, and currently advisor to the Prime Minister of the Sudan, presented lessons from survivors from different disasters in Aceh 2004, Somalia 2011, South Sudan, and Syria now. The most striking lesson is that the psychological effect is the longest lasting impact, often affecting the victims for the rest of their lives.
He listed a number of other lessons, such as the importance of faith that all will turn out alright; hope is needed for a normal life and for a bright future; people should move on and not dwell on the moment or go back; the power of one’s own capabilities and hard work to change one’s own world should not be underestimated; patience in rebuilding life is important, particularly with a sense of community and of solidarity. Fear can be a tool to learn how to escape harm and to face disasters to survive, while dreams can help to keep going and hope for a better life.
One of the most important lessons is that families should be accompanied as long as possible and not just be helped during the first few weeks of a disaster.
Comments and questions from the floor:
How to promote reintegration of child soldiers in a country lacking a peace agreement?
How to ensure education when all basic services are lacking?
How to base action to be a community-driven approach?
Are there any parenting programmes and especially on the role of fathers in bringing up children?
How have the survivors become advocates?
What mechanism and strategies exist on which to base values and interventions?
There is an urgent need to recognise academic certificates of people on the move across borders.
How to scale up provision of alternative families for unaccompanied minors lacking the normal hierarchy of traditional family structures?
Some of the responses include that reintegration is very possible and essential and guidelines and standards have been developed, while integration in new environments is critical to give children a sense of community and belonging.
Child soldier demobilisation has to be enacted at any time as child recruitment is against all rights.
Education in emergencies receives only 1.4% of ODA, a clear underestimation of its value as an enabler for the next phase towards recovery.
Many crises occur in faith-based societies so faith is an important tool for rebuilding lives.
Priorities according to the hierarchy of needs in crises show that education is not in the first place in case of a massive crisis. The best interest of the child should at all times be at the centre as in line with the Convention on the Right of the Child.
One way to address the shortage in education facilities is by interacting with the often well-educated adults in refugee camps who are not given access to the job market in their host countries, while they would perfectly qualify and support the host economy. A standardised curriculum that is globally acknowledged is a top priority for many, and communities should be involved in the prioritisation process as they are best placed to determine what is needed most and how to achieve this.
Mr. Ovais Sarmad, Chief of Staff, International Organisation for Migration, Geneva – Chair, referred to the images still on everyone’s net of two small boys from Syria and how they were hurt in the war. He focused on child migration, challenges and opportunities, and IOM’s approach. Over half of all crisis-affected people are children, 50 million of whom are on the move today, either to escape war or in search of better education and socio-economic opportunities. During crises, children face more risk of violence, in particular human trafficking, and sexual violence, psychological distress and mental disorder, family separation, and lack of justice. For the figures readers are invited to refer to the attached presentation. Examples are migrants in Greece and the incidence of trafficking and exploitation and many unaccompanied minors. Challenges include negative coping mechanisms and an increasing number of border closures, while opportunities are given by innovative and quicker processing of migrant children and greater cooperation between humanitarian and development actors with a focus on children such as displacement tracking. All IOM projects mainstream child protection components.
It is important to understand vulnerabilities and opportunities and adopt a multi- stakeholder approach to solutions, and not to neglect the potential of the next generation for them not to become a “lost generation”. (Download Presentation)
Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director, Child Soldiers Initiative, Dalhousie University, Halifax, in her presentation focused on preventing the use of children as weapons of war, the basic purpose of the initiative. She referred to Lt. Gen. R. Dallaire – who started the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative in 1997 after his Rwandan genocide experience – and his question whether “All Humans are Human”, since he had noticed that most military lack experience in interacting with children. War has changed and so must the tactics to address the change: children made to fight despite their youth has been changed into made to fight because of their youth, and they are being used by armed groups for specific purposes. The security sector approach is to be progressive to end the use of child soldiers, with flexibility on setting the age bar depending on their environment. The programme aims at prevention by context-specific training through research and consultation, education and high level advocacy to the military to promote the political will to end the use of child soldiers. Focus should not be on what actors should do but what they can do. Child soldiers are often a security concern as they are used to sustain the actions of armed groups, their post-traumatic stress, and the danger of undermining local support and collaboration efforts if troops don’t deal with the child soldiers in a human way. Teen brains are at a turning point and can be influenced positively or negatively, so adolescents should receive special attention and both bottom-up and top-down approaches are applied to make the use of child soldiers “unthinkable”. Children’s rights should be put upfront on the peace and security agenda, and this reference should be included for peace-agreements to be effective. (Download Presentation)
Dr. Caroline Clarinval, Regional Advisor, Emergency Response and Operations, WHO, Cairo stressed that health is also an important factor for children in crisis. Children as patients pictured in the media are used to raise awareness to the horrors of conflict, but they also attack the dignity of the child, and need strong justification to be acceptable. Even in case of informed consent of the parent, the patient’s rights need to put above the need to raise funds. Children have the right to remain anonymous patients and for their image not to be exploited. For mental health interventions for children on the move to be effective, basic needs must be met, persons be outside the traumatic setting, and continuous access to treatment be guaranteed. Coming back to discussions earlier in the conference, the speaker focused on the increased risk of sexual injuries or even death as a consequence of child marriage, and the need for access to health services. Ethics committees must be multi-disciplinary to guide humanitarian action and allow space for debate. She suggested for DIHAD 2018 to start a platform to discuss such important issues and ultimately improve the respect for their dignity and address their needs holistically. (Download Presentation)
Mr. Rolf Carrière, Founder, Global Initiative for Stress and Trauma Treatment (GIST-T), showed pictures of children in distress and trauma, although psychological trauma is mostly invisible and remains hidden and therefore untreated. Trauma runs like a red thread among adults and children, and is caused both by large scale events in the public sphere like loud emergencies (the big T), and by loss of loved one, abuse and exploitation, and domestic violence which occur away from the public eye (the small t). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has now become a familiar term as a serious mental disease, caused by mostly sudden life-threatening events or as a result of exploitation attacking their vulnerability. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) related to abuse, neglect and behavioural problems raise ten questions to be looked at in identifying the score and rating the risk. Economic cost to the US economy is estimated at USD 124 billion per year. Symptoms include sleep disturbances, health and wellbeing, but it has also implications for the potential for peace caused by post-traumatic anger, resentment, and impulsive behaviour. Inter-generational transmission of trauma must be interrupted as it transfers to the wider society. There is better understanding and treatment of trauma.
Possible actions include creating greater awareness, e.g. by a World Trauma Day, online courses, education, and scaling-up WHO-approved treatments. More trained professionals should be available with many volunteers and paraprofessionals as were used in the child survival revolution of the 1980s. New approaches are needed to the diagnosis and treatment of trauma. It is a long-term perspective but it is “do-able”. (Download Presentation)
Comments and questions from the floor:
WHO also pilots a mental health project for 10 – 14 year olds. What factors make children to be more resilient and not get mental health problems?
How can the attention of the media be drawn without use of pictures?
The use of child soldiers includes radicalisation in madrassas where training is very strong and hardly touched upon in view of religious sensitivity.
Language barrier is causing distance and a barrier of trust; this calls for finding a way to reach the caretakers of children.
Responses: often the so-called psychosocial support does not cover the psychological aspects of trauma. When publishing pictures of children as patients as is currently practiced it is necessary to ensure that this does not add a layer of vulnerability, and ethics specialists must review such practices’ appropriateness.
A process of engaging in discussions without being confrontational is possible. Disadvantages exist to bring up system-wide approaches if not correctly done.
On madrassas and cultural barriers reference is made to SDG-4 as a tool for understanding and preparing the next generation, while barriers are still very hard to overcome and require more efforts to bring the affected populations into the discussions and have them become the multipliers to influence the communities. Doing the doable now.
Ms Fatima Gailani, Head, Country Cluster Support for the GCC, IFRC – Chair, elaborated on violence as a global human catastrophe affecting all people independent of status. Children, adolescents and young people in the ages of 3 to 15 of those on the move are particularly affected by violence. Building their future is more important than ever to reduce the risk of violence, which is predictable. She expressed her conviction that we can stop war and work together to achieve this.
Ms Lama Srour, Vice-Chair, IFRC Youth Commission, underscored the role of youth as volunteers and positive agents of change. She mentioned the campaign “Give us a hand” in that context. When WW-II was over, the world swore such a vicious war would occur never again. Now more than 80 percent of youth under the age of 18 live in developing countries and are affected by violence, especially in times of emergency. They must be engaged in decision making processes which requires a global shift in ways of interacting with them and bring about a dramatic change. More than half of IFRC volunteers are young people, working on a culture of changing mindsets to break the spiral of violence. “Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change (YABC)” was created in 2008 and is a flagship initiative of the IFRC to promote a culture of non-violence and peace by empowering individuals to take up an ethical leadership role in their community.
Several country-based initiatives aim at students to make them learn from experiences to end violence, providing a safe space for education, and also an alternative to family settings in child-friendly spaces is offered where necessary and possible. Investments and actions are ongoing to improve access to education and develop strategic partnerships to put an end to violence to children. She called for the systematic incorporation of skills as a key strategic goal to end violence. (Download Attachment)
Ms Sabine Rakotomalala, Senior Technical Advisor, Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, focused on the early childhood cycle of violence, stressing that every other child is victim of violence, one out of four is subject of physical violence, and one in five of sexual abuse. Violence of children is an epidemic, which starts at early age through adulthood in different forms. While consequences are both physical and mental health related, response takes different forms in the public health approach.
One of the approaches is INSPIRE, a package with seven strategies: Implementation of laws, Norms, Safe environments, Parent and caregiver support, Income strengthening, Response support, and Education and life skills. Each strategy has a specific programme attached with evidence what works.
Furthermore, the Global Partnership to end violence was set up in 2016 – aimed at SDG-22 – with three pillars: build political will through advocacy and working with Member States; accelerate action; and strengthen collaboration with support to platforms of transnational action. Currently 12 Member States have expressed interest in the Partnership and discussions are ongoing with 12 more. Their engagement includes bringing different sectors together, strengthening data collection, designing a roadmap with commitments and five-year goals. Humanitarian and fragile settings are not forgotten. (Download Presentation)
Mr. Jean Ayoub, CEO, International Social Service, Geneva, former IFRC, pointed out that his organisation was created in 1924 post WW-I to accompany migrants on their return journey, with focus on children. The approach is case based psychosocial and legal support and social investigation, training and advocacy materials, and family mediation, placing children’s interest at the centre of all activities.
ISS is present in 117 countries with 11 governments as part of the organisation. The focus is on child protection in terms of placement, foster care, finding the best setting for unaccompanied minors, responding to abduction cases, and lately also surrogacy.
Regional efforts in West Africa with grassroots organisations across several disciplines have helped 5,000 children to be integrated in their own or new families.
Global initiatives of 2010 concern the health, mental and legal support of children with disabilities or special needs, who cannot be considered for adoption because of the way they are classified without training of social workers. Other initiatives concern the international visiting rights to children, as this is crucial for their development. New initiatives for children on the move are being planned to bridge the gap between hum and social work promoting suitable care solutions.
Speaker ended by stating that what we do and whom we serve is being talked about, but not enough is said about the way we work. We need to harness the power of the humanitarian work to make a difference in this world. (Download Presentation)
Comments and questions from the floor:
Globally we fail in child protection and to condemn child violence. What can we do to work collectively and have as an outcome of the Conference?
Regarding INSPIRE, the goals, partnerships, technical tools and a fund are available, and we are at a turning point but we need much stronger arguments in a common approach to get resources to end child violence.
Working together at global level and at local levels and engaging young people in the process towards child protection, health and a healthy environment.
Art 19.1 of Convention on the Right of the Child reflects the achievement of countries to agree on ways to work better together to achieve a common goal. The humanitarian scenery has changed but the access to information has become better.
Mr. Claus Sorensen, Special Representative on Humanitarian and Development Affairs, Danish EU Representation – Chair, introduced the session by telling about women who had recognised that feeding their babies was the most important for their brain development. Acute hunger problems are linked to the wider productive system and food prices. He invited panelists to discuss how the plight of children can be addressed as per SDG-2 – ending hunger by 2030 – and how to build systems in affected countries to achieve this.
Mr. David Kaatrud, Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, World Food Programme (WFP), Bangkok, in his presentation focused on his region of responsibility. WFP has been very supportive of multi-stakeholder initiatives. While there are pockets of hunger, of growing concern is nutrition deficiency. The rapid economic growth is not sustainable while urbanisation generates both challenges and opportunities. Crop production is not diverse and slowing down, and strong national systems are needed to be able to support. He also pointed at the first 1000 days of a child as critical but also the need for good nutrition for the pregnant and lactating women. Structured delivery systems exist such as school feeding, keeping in mind the importance of nutrition of adolescent girls. All this requires behavioural change, as inputs alone will not change the nutritional diet, often linked to national systems and “shock responsive safety nets”. Blurring of lines exists in the humanitarian – development nexus with risk management as the thread running through this. Concerns include that the individual becomes more resilient to shock by adequate nutrition. It is important to look through the “Nutrition lens” for response programming, including pre-crisis baselines for effective targeted food distributions. With a strategic focus on SDG-2 for governments and civil society, and a significant body of knowledge on the multi-dimensional problem of nutrition and resources in place, more work is needed on awareness, inter-sectoral and multi-stakeholder coordination, political will, and an integrated life-cycle approach. (Download Presentation)
Ms Brave Ndisale, Director a.i., Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Rome, also referred to SDG-2’s elements stressing that this can be achieved only if the other goals are taken care of. About 7.5 million children in crisis countries face acute malnutrition. Food security includes availability of food through production and access to food. When societies are dependent mostly on livestock’s availability, it shows that in times of crisis malnutrition increases. Therefore, preventing, preparing, mitigating, and enhancing resilience are of critical importance to support children facing food insecurity and malnutrition. Civil conflict and natural disasters are key drivers in the link with food security. Measures must be targeted to ensure affected populations are also benefiting the wider families and communities, in which cash plus (= cash with in-kind and hygiene) provision is boosting livelihoods and productive capacities of vulnerable households. Other supporting sectors need to also bring in civil society for production, early warning of crisis areas at global level and inter-agency report.
Key messages include that saving children’s livelihoods saves humanity through targeted measures; greater collective efforts and partnerships are needed to fight malnutrition; and humanitarian assistance should not only focus on survival but also on building resilience, both through targeted measures and sustainable management of natural resources. (Download Presentation)
Mr. Saul Guerrero, Director, International Nutrition Initiatives, Action Against Hunger US,
focused on what can be done if all else fails. Even though the fight against hunger is winning, the crisis is certainly not over. Between one and two million children will die from hunger in the next three years. The gap between needing treatment – 16.5 million people – and receiving it – 3.5 million – requires accelerated efforts. Even if people are hungry, this should not be the cause for their death. Humanity has now a plan to end this risk with a longer-term focus. By 2030 most malnourished children will be in West Africa; all measures have to be simplified; critical questions must be rethought, such as cost reduction by reducing the volume of product needed; partnerships are needed to harness collective power.
A group of agencies are committed to a common goal of ending hunger by 2030, with steps of six million people by 2020 having access to treatment, by reducing cost per child, and reaching 70% more children. The real battle is to reduce the number of children with hunger, ensuring no child should die from hunger. The choice is now to ensure that 2017 will not be remembered as the year of famine, but as the year when ambitious plans were in place to end death from severe malnutrition. (Download Presentation)
Questions and comments from the floor:
Integrated solutions should also include sanitation and hygiene to reduce malnutrition.
How to build resilience, preparedness and planning?
As distribution and monitoring of food in crisis countries can be extremely dangerous, where can the private sector be brought in?
One of the pillars of food security is utilisation, such as school feeding as a safetynet with the right food and also including nutrition and sanitation as a subject in the curriculum.
A total sanitation and hygiene strategy is needed for the delivery of safe water.
H.E. Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, CEO, Dubai Cares – Chair, stated that access to education directly affects health, safety and overall development. One in 130 persons is internally displaced or a refugee, and half of refugees are children. Safeguarding access to education for all children in times before, during and post crisis, is the basis to build resilience. He advocated for the right to quality education for all, independent of religion or nationality.
Poorly prioritised, coordinated, under funded, under capacitated, and data lacking in crisis times are the key challenges in providing quality education.
Mr. Manuel Fontaine, Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF, welcomed the large attendance by students in the session, as they are the future. One in four children of the world of school age – 462 million – is affected by conflict in 35 countries, of whom 70 million are on the move. The likelihood of conflict impacting on a child increases when access to education is lacking. Education has a longterm impact on children’s lives but also on society at large. Attacks on schools are not a coincidence, as attacking groups know that schools have this larger impact on society. However, education is a key to a better life with less poverty; in particular girls education needs much more focus to build resilience and face other shocks. Education is an important investment while it receives less than 2% of overall humanitarian aid and has increased only by 4% over the years. Of UNICEF’s 2016 Appeal for Humanitarian Action for Children, one quart was directed towards educating children in emergencies.
Delivering education means delivering on the future, and many communities themselves do get it right, trying to get their children to school at all cost. Education is the only thing that families on the move can take with them; so different forms of education need to be developed to address the needs of children on the move.
UNICEF tries to attract and channel funding to the places of education for supplies, teachers or rapid schooling with water and sanitation facilities in a crisis setting, bringing key players on board. (Download Presentation)
Mr. Justin van Fleet, Chief of Staff, Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education,
referred to the release of the global education report, and the current status of education financing. Although he was relieved with the many new developments in education, he insisted that much more is needed. While the SDGs cover not only primary but also secondary education, funding is not commensurate. By 2030, 825 million young people will not have access to proper education to prepare them for the job market. The budget for education is USD 9 billion, but to reach this amount requires additional partnerships.
At the World Humanitarian Summit, a specific fund for education “Education cannot wait” was set up that puts education at the frontline in any newly onset emergency. Even with the USD 100 million pledged by now, much more needs to be done to bring in new money to bridge the gap by 2020 with USD 13.5 billion.
By changing the way things are being done, it may be possible to reach the goal of having a fully prepared generation by 2030.
Mr. Dean Brooks, Director, Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), is connected to many main actors in the field. He came back to the five priorities, including better prioritisation, coordination, and funding. He presented ways for involvement in initiatives such as the INEE, an open and global network with more than 13,000 teachers, students, donors and private members engaged to ensure all have a right to relevant and safe education. With a number of thematic areas it has toolkits in over 20 languages accessible for minimum standards for relevant quality education (ineesite.org), and aims at sustainable funding.
The tools developed by its members are shared with Ministries of Education, refugee organisations, or for the design of education projects with the minimum standards as a guide for day-to-day work. (Download Presentation)
A representative of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in the audience was invited to elaborate on the new set of players coming into the sector. Investment in education is important to promote civic education, tolerance and address radicalisation. The UK Government’s strategic objective is increasing investment in education globally, the reason for its advocacy for the new initiative to support education in crisis contexts. Efforts are ongoing to leverage the balance sheets of multilateral banks, but there is a need to ensure that new mechanisms and actors will be coherent across the spectrum of funding.
Comments and questions from the floor:
The ensuing exchange was wide-ranging. The important role of Mr. Gordon Brown as the UN Special Envoy for Global Education as the initiator of several extremely important and promising initiatives was mentioned several times.
Reference was made to the crisis resulting from the Boka Haram incursions and the large number of children out of school in some areas of Nigeria where 73% of children are illiterate. Governments undergoing crisis need to be stressed to prioritise free education as well as adult education and to enforce access to education in the first place. In view of the large corruption there is a need to look how countries can address their problems more effectively, in particular in West and Central Africa where more than one third of the world’s out-of-school children are living. The use of new communication technology can help to involve communities and particularly young adults to generate more efficient and appropriate education also in times of conflict. Social accountability can make the difference with communities demanding and insisting on education.
While more funding is needed, it is also critical to have accountability for results and monitoring how the funding is used, and to avoid wrong investments and misuse of funding.
The primacy of education does not apply just in countries in crisis; it is also relevant in other countries to have education as a primacy. Investing in and prioritizing education for young people, and looking beyond traditional ways of delivering education are key requirements. As education was not a prioritised investment until five years ago, and plans are now in place, a new phase has started and should be given a chance.
The move from Least Developed to Middle Income Country status means an end to financial support, so alternative sources have to be sought such as from private and corporate sources.
Access to more inclusive education for children with disabilities, such as 60,000 in Syria, is a point for advocacy. It comes down to listening better to people affected and how they see their needs.
The problem of half of the 500,000 school-age Syrian refugees in Lebanon who have no access to food and education is largely based on a huge funding gap as the mechanism is in place. One suggestion is to make more use of e-learning which is not dependent on teachers or classrooms, but different emergencies require a plan to address the overall question how these can be addressed at an appropriate level, such as the development of free applications for self-study.
One question was about the bringing in private funding with a fallback support from private financial institutions that can turn borrowed money into private guarantees. If any country defaults, others will come in. Further questions / comments are welcome to be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trying to do more with available resources through steps in the right direction may give us hope.
- “The Global Prioritisation Exercise; Including Priorities for Children in the Creation of a New Global Framework for Research and Innovation Investments”
Ms Jess Camburn, Director, ELRHA, UK, introduced the focus of ELRHA on helping strategic investment on research and innovation, believing it can make a difference in improving humanitarian outcomes.
With less than 1% of humanitarian financing spent on research and innovation, and a financing gap of 45% in humanitarian funding, it means that we need to do more with less; more investment is needed to improve research and innovation in humanitarian communication. The lack of visibility and coordination of the existing investments is one of the problems, but there is great interest from outside the humanitarian specter. A clear framework for guidelines, and advocacy and monitoring tools are needed.
The exercise includes various phases: global mapping is ongoing, followed by global consultations to determine where priorities are, and the third phase is to compare and analyse the findings to come to a framework for action. Funding for the second and third phases still needs to be raised. Partners include the humanitarian donors and foundations and a few from the private sector.
The expected impact on children is achieved through key questions in the mapping phase of sectors for investment, including interaction with children on their needs, and with agencies working for children to determine priority gaps. Ultimately it is hoped for a global system to transform the effectiveness of humanitarian response. Right now ELRHA is seeking global partners to join or consult with. Any reaction is welcome to be sent to email@example.com.
Reaction from the floor on innovation advised not to create a monolithic approach but rather to give the opportunity for a more open approach to scale up existing systems, and not create a new layer.
As private sector involvement is a challenge to ensuring sustainability of activities, efforts are ongoing to overcome the barriers by finding out what these mean for the private sector (Download Presentation)
- “Caring for children in need in Dubai”
H.E. Ms Afra Rashid Al Basti, Member of the Federal National Council and Director-General of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, addressed the focus of her foundation’s work and the framework of the UAE Year of Giving. The world is faced by greed and division, which is also reflected in politics of states in conflicts for which no solution has been found yet. Families and tribes in difficult conditions cannot be assisted and given what is needed as assistance is not enough for the huge suffering. In the UAE, the slogan and approach of giving should be adopted as the society receives considerable support from the Leader of Dubai. Besides financial support also psychosocial aid is needed. The Foundation has for the last ten years been focusing on the segment of society that is suffering in silence from persons causing them pain and is not receiving the support that in normal circumstances should be provided in the family context. The Foundation focuses on abused children and victims of domestic violence, facing challenges how to advocate for the right approach for victims of domestic violence. It has initiated a hotline in four languages, which is seen by some as controversial and accused of inviting children to act against their parents’ will.
The Foundation provides accommodation; legal, health and education services for victims from all segments of society.
From the floor the question was asked how violence could be countered in view of the non-organised camp settings in Iraq. Advice included engaging volunteers to assist refugees and IDPs without any religious or other bias. UAE is also providing support to Erbil’s displaced population. Better coordination will lead to being able to give hope. (Download Presentation)
- “Empowering students in the UAE”
Colonel Expert Dr. Ibrahim M.J. Al Dabal, General Coordinator, Khalifa Student Empowerment Programme, UAE, and Dubai Police, spoke about the national security training and empowerment in schools. Lack of this would lead to terrorism by children and later in life. Protection of future generations and non-controllable digital generation are the focus of the programme. What happened after the Arab Revolution is more deterioration with more unemployment and addiction to drugs, all of which are challenges in times of economic stress and disease outbreak. He wondered whether the UAE was ready to host Expo 2020 or the World Cup in 2022. A number of initiatives are in place, but the challenge remains how to ensure the necessary actors are engaged. He mentioned five pillars for action by Ministries, which include policy on empowerment of students in UAE with better coordination, the UAE vision 2021 to be the best people of the world, and readiness for 2021. Four key skills will be taught to students in partnership with various stakeholders in order to communicate with youth through online games in English and Arabic languages ‘Dream is to build my Life; Youth and Students for the Future”, and in November the students forum will be launched. (Download Presentation – Arabic)
- “Education in crisis situations; innovative ways to help”
Mr. Devang Vussonji, Partner and Global Head of Education to Employment Practice, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Tanzania, focused on global innovation to help education in crisis situations. He pointed at the challenges and concerns across the board for the skills needed to do a proper job. Pedagogic systems must adjust to the changing needs of vocational skills training across the educational system globally. Lessons from review of the global education systems include that solutions can be global if challenges are global. In general, the quality of education rests on five pillars –
pedagogy, teachers, community and family, materials, and access.
National and family income, social group belonging, gender and the quality of teachers are influencing access to education. In conflict environments children are more than twice as likely to be out of school. This concerns 75 million children who are out of school or at risk of missing out, 17 million of whom are refugees or internally displaced.
Despite the size and dimension of the issue, only 2% of humanitarian appeal funding is targeted for education, while only one quarter to two-thirds of the target was met in the years 2000-2014. As a result, teachers are frequently not trained nor paid, and teaching materials and facilities are lacking, which are other factors influencing the access to and the quality of education.
Some actions to address this gap include making education a priority for targeted funding; training of teachers, parents, and paraprofessionals as community educators; and engagement to influence students’ performance; adapting curricula and materials to crises such as skills-based and vocational training in refugee camps; socio-emotional support and counseling; increasing access by use of innovative tools such as mobile phones and free online education. (Download Presentation)
75 million children are affected by crisis; half of the 65 million people on the move are below the age of 18; at least 462 million children live in 35 conflict countries; one in every four children is living in a crisis situation; close to 40 million children are deprived of education; and at least 7.5 million children in these countries face also severe and acute malnutrition.
Protection of children is a basic right to be respected and stressed with all conflicting parties, including where possible with non-state actors. While many actors work to meet the physical needs of children, the impact on their mental and socio-psychological health deserves more attention. The concept of “fear” is also a critical aspect to be further analysed.
It was pointed out that early childhood from the time of conception till the age of eight is the most critical period in a child’s life that determines the child’s future. And in particular the first 1,000 days as this is the time in which most of the brain is formed. Appropriate nutrition of young children and also of their mothers is critical since food delivery by the standard system only starts at school age. Several consolidated plans are in place to close the gap of at least 13 million children to obtain access to treatment of their malnutrition.
The importance of education was a thread throughout the discussions and is a driving force for many parents to go on the move in search of a better life. To better address these needs, humanitarian actors need to better work together to make sure that available data is disaggregated by gender and age.
While the problem of lack of access to education is huge, a considerable amount of work is going on – such as the recent initiative “Education cannot wait”. The current gap of USD 8 – 9 billion per year requires more involvement of the private sector, and new financing mechanisms in view of the looming serious reduction in international funding. The importance of education in crisis situations to ensure access to a longer term perspective of employment and stable society cannot be understated.
In closing his remarks, Amb. Piazzi expressed the hope that participants at DIHAD 2017 would have contributed to the growth of the seed for Peace and raised awareness about ways to work together to contribute to these noble goals.
H.E. Amb. Gerhard Putman-Cramer, Director, DIHAD International Scientific Advisory Board (DISAB), reiterated both the urgency and importance of many of the issues addressed during the various sessions. “After all, what is more important than our planet’s children who make up roughly one quarter of the global population, but also constitute one hundred percent of our world’s future?” He mentioned that a number of the brilliant speakers pointed out that a malnourished, uneducated and traumatised child will not be tomorrow’s happy, healthy and productive adult. He stressed that these urgent issues need to be addressed by empowerment and sharing of information on best practices, but also on shortfalls, gaps, and constraints. He agreed that the conference has provided a forum for partnerships to be initiated or existing ones to be reinforced, based on common interests and objectives; furthermore, that the value of the SDGs and the indicators related to the improvement of the fate of children, and in particular of those affected by crises and disasters, depends on the collaboration and partnerships between all concerned actors.
Lastly, he announced that the dates for DIHAD 2018 will be 5, 6, and 7 March. While the exact focus has not yet been defined, the thrust of it will be around the concept of “doing more – or rather doing better – with less”. On a more personal note, he expressed his appreciation for the discussions, interaction with the participants and the atmosphere of the event, his 14th one. The annual gathering has a dynamism and character of its own, based on mutual respect and shared ideals, which most certainly do leave a footprint, much to the credit of the participants. He officially closed the Conference and looked forward to wide participation in 2018.