Michele Lunsford

  • published Empower people with disabilities 2019-12-12 13:58:58 -0500

    Empower people with disabilities

    Humanity & Inclusion works to ensure that all individuals with disabilities are included.

    Acting and campaigning in places where "standing tall" is no easy task.

    Humanity & Inclusion works alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, taking action and bearing witness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.

    For more than 38 years, Humanity & Inclusion has been developing programs in health and rehabilitation and social and economic integration. We continue to work with local authorities to clear landmines and other war debris and to prevent mine-related accidents through education. We respond fast and effectively to natural and civil disasters in order to limit serious and permanent injuries and to assist survivors' recovery and reintegration. We advocate for the universal recognition of the rights of the disabled through national planning and advocacy.

    When you support Humanity & Inclusion, you help: 

    • Ensure that people with disabilities and vulnerable individuals are included during an emergency
    • Victims of conflict recover from their injuries both physically and mentally
    • Clear landmines and other explosive remnants of war so that families can live in safety
    • Educate and empower children with disabilities who were once kept at home because of their disability

     

    Fatehia stands tall on her prosthetic leg on the left side of the graphic. On the right side, it includes her quote "Many thanks to Humanity & Inclusion. Their team has helped me make my life better and to communicate with others again. They helped me become strong again!"

    Get to know us! Watch our Be a Lifeline film to see what we're all about. 

    Empower people with disabilities. Support Humanity & Inclusion today.

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    Humanity & Inclusion's Critical Actions


  • #LandmineFree2025 | Oslo Review Conference on a Mine-Free World

    Held in Oslo, Norway, Humanity & Inclusion attended the Fourth Review Conference for a Mine Free World from November 25-29. The conference drew more than 700 participants including State delegations, UN institutions and NGOs, including members of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which was co-founded by HI in 1992.

    Mine-free is not victim-free

    State parties to the Mine Ban Treaty adopted a five-year action plan—containing 50 points—that will ensure mine clearance and other treaty obligations are met by 2025. Humanity & Inclusion’s team contributed to the action plan, which included the addition of a strong commitment to providing victim assistance.

    “Mine-free does not mean victim-free. In many countries declared free of mines, victims will need assistance for the rest of their lives. States need to ensure assistance actually reaches survivors and that services are adequate, accessible and sustainable," says Alma Al Osta, Humanity & Inclusion’s Advocacy Manager.

    State announcements

    • After nearly two decades of mine clearance work in Chile, representatives during the conference announced that they would be declared free of mines in just a few short months.
    • The Democratic Republic of the Congo said it could finish its mine clearance by 2021 if they receive the necessary funds from the international community to do so.
    • Thailand has destroyed more than 3,000 anti-personnel mines it had retained for permitted purposes.
    • Cambodia, where heavy contamination and many victims led to the founding of ICBL in 1992, will be mine-free in 2025!

    Request for extension

    Seven countries— Argentina, Cambodia, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tajikistan, and Yemen—requested additional time to clear mine-contaminated areas.

    Recontamination with new mines

    Nigeria, which was declared free of mines in 2011, said it has been experiencing the “tragic consequences of the production and use of anti-personnel mines of an improvised nature by non-state actors.” With Nigeria acknowledging the contamination, the number of States having to clear mined areas grew to 33 (nine of them in Africa).

    According to the Landmine Monitor 2019, the use of improvised mines is on the rise and caused 54% (3,789) of the total of casualties in 2018 (6,897).

    During the closing day of the conference the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway handed over the Convention Presidency to Sudan.

    Humanity & Inclusion’s actions

    We supported the success of the conference with a strong team of experts from the Armed Violence Reduction and Advocacy teams. HI took part in the lobbying campaign organized by ICBL and met with score of States, donors, and potential partners to exchange views and projects. We organized several side events and presented results from innovative projects, including:

    • The use of a 3D scanner and printer to produce prostheses and orthoses. This technology can be helpful in very remote areas or conflict situations.
    • HI and its partners Mobility Robotics presented data to show how buried landmines can be located in certain conditions using drones equipped with infrared cameras. Tested in Chad, this technology has the potential to save time and make the work of mine clearance experts safer. It marks a major step forward for humanitarian demining.

  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities | Humanity & Inclusion ensures inclusion for all

    Today, we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Globally, people with disabilities continue to be excluded. Whether it’s accessing social services, health care, education, or a decent job, people with disabilities and disability rights advocates continue to fight for inclusion for all. Humanity & Inclusion’s teams work to ensure that people with disabilities are included in all aspects of life.

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    A few facts about the struggles people with disabilities face on a daily basis:

    15% of the world’s population lives with a disability

    That’s one in six. When governments and societies discriminate, people with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty. As a consequence, they are also much more likely to experience food insecurity, the inability to pay rent and have limited access to health and social services, among others.

    Access to social protection services

    In many countries, people with disabilities do not have equal access social protection services. People with disabilities are often not fully aware of their rights and may not know how to apply for these services. There is a lack of accessible information and documentation. Furthermore, people with disabilities cannot physically access grant offices and other facilities for support due to the lack of accessibility.

    Decent health care

    People with disabilities are three times more likely to face barriers in accessing health care. People with sensory or mobility disabilities may encounter physical obstacles to diagnostic equipment and health facilities. In addition, people with disabilities may be prevented from accessing health care because of discriminatory practices and policies, lack of access to information, and insurance schemes that may limit the availability of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    School for all

    Globally, 32 million children with disabilities do not go to school. In many countries, teachers don’t know how to adapt lessons to make them accessible for children with disabilities. Oftentimes in low-income settings, school buildings and educational materials are inaccessible. Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school, less likely to complete primary or secondary education, and less likely to be literate.

    Meaningful, waged employment

    In developing countries, up to 80% of people with disabilities of working age are out of work. Employers might be reluctant to employ people with disabilities due to misconceptions about their working capacity, negative societal attitudes, and non-accessible workplaces.


  • published Favorite November photos in News 2019-11-27 12:07:28 -0500

    Snapshots of Impact | Some of our favorite photos!

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    Children play on the first-ever inclusive playground built by Humanity & Inclusion's team in Pakistan.

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    Amilar benefits from a bakery and pastry training for people with disabilities, led by Humanity & Inclusion in Bolivia.

    c_Jules-Tusseau_HI__Juan-Jose-walks-on-his-new-prosthetic-leg-with-support-from-an-HI-physical-therapist-in-Colombia.jpg

    Juan Jose walks on his new prosthetic leg with support from a Humanity & Inclusion physical therapist in Colombia.

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    Channa walks alongside her friend after school in Cambodia. She receives rehabilitation support from Humanity & Inclusion's team.

    c_Neil-Thomas_HI__Emmanuel_-16_-who-has-cerebral-palsy_-holds-a-soccer-ball-and-is-surrounded-by-friends-at-a-school-in-Rwanda.jpg

    Emmanuel, 16, who has cerebral palsy, holds a soccer ball surround by friends in Rwanda.


  • Yemen | Fatehia: "Humanity & Inclusion helped me become strong again"

    One morning, the same as every morning, Fatehia walked to school talking enthusiastically alongside her sister and friends. Hours later, a bomb struck their school, changing the life of this cheerful little girl and her friends. Terrified, Fatehia and her classmates ran out of their classrooms and into the courtyard. It was then that a second bomb hit the children in the schoolyard. Wafaa, Fatehia's friend died right next to her. Fatehia was seriously injured and fell unconscious. The school's vice-principal was also killed by the explosion.

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    After hearing about the air strike, Fatehia's father rushed to the school and found his daughter in a critical state. Fatehia lost her leg. He took her to the nearest hospital where doctors operated on the 8-year-old. After spending two weeks in the hospital, Fatehia reflects on her situation. “I was always thinking about my friend and sister, asking about them,” she says. “When I saw my sister again, I was so relieved! I felt better but I was still wondering about Wafaa, my best friend. Then my father told me that she was dead. I cried a lot. But my family was very supportive. They helped me a lot.

    “Then I started to wonder if I could ever have a chance to walk again. I was brought crutches. I hated them because they made me ugly.” This new situation made Fatehia lose any desire to walk. Desperate and frustrated, she became isolated. She stopped moving and speaking.

    Following this tragedy, the traumatized family left their home and settled in the city of Sana'a. Along with thousands of others Yemenis, Fatehia’s family are internally displaced individuals. They live a hard life, far from the old one.

    Almost two years after the school bombing, Fatehia visited the Sana'a rehabilitation center, along with her father, uncle, sister, and brother. Fatehia and her family wondered if she would be able to walk again. Greeted by Humanity & Inclusion’s team, an HI physical therapist reassured them and explained the possibilities and progress of the treatment, which would allow Fatehia to be fitted with a prosthesis. At the same time, seeing that the family is still in a deep trauma, Humanity & Inclusion’s team offered them psychological support. Since then, Fatehia and her father visit regularly for psychosocial support sessions.

    After only a few months of support from Humanity & Inclusion’s team, Fatehia has changed a lot. The uprooted and injured girl started to regain strength and confidence. Following individual and group psychosocial support sessions, she began to accept her disability. From that very moment, Fatehia, who had become mute, gradually began to talk, to share ideas, and make new friends.

    Fatehia has a strong sense of humor and laughs about everything. She has become very ambitious. Indeed, since she finally can walk again, because nothing will stop her! Fatehia wants to become a dentist, but also an artist in her free time.

    "I want to thank the Humanity & Inclusion team because they have made my life better with the disability. They have helped me to accept my disability, to overcome it, and to communicate with others again. They helped me to become strong again!”  

    With her enthusiasm, energy, and drive, we know that Fatehia will go far in life!


  • Haiti | NGOs warn about the deterioration of food security

    More than 3.5 million people in need of emergency food and nutrition assistance.

    Port au Prince, November 21, 2019 — Humanitarian organizations in Haiti express their concern over the scale of the food crisis that has been confirmed by the publication of the results of the Integrated Framework of Classification of Food Security (IPC)[1] by the National Coordination of Food Security (CNSA) and the Ministry of Agriculture. Currently, 35% of the Haitian population needs emergency food assistance (3.67 million people). If no action is taken immediately, 4.10 million people will be affected by March to June 2020, or 40% of the Haitian population. 

    Rising commodity prices, the depreciation of the Haitian Gourde relative to the US Dollar, the ongoing drought, socio-political unrest and deteriorating security conditions have all greatly reduced access to food for the poorest households. They are forced to adopt negative survival strategies that are eroding their livelihoods. 

    Some areas are experiencing unprecedented levels of food insecurity, while humanitarian organizations and other actors are facing increasing access difficulties due to the deterioration of the security context. In the metropolitan area of Port au Prince, the proportion of the population in an emergency food crisis varies between 15 and 50%. In rural areas, the 2018 drought, which lasted until the first half of the year 2019, led to a decline in agricultural production of about 12% in many parts of the country. Rural areas in the departments of the North West, Artibonite, Nippes and Grand'Anse are among the most affected, and have the highest percentage of people in need of immediate assistance.

    The absence of a major response during the next farming periods would have dramatic consequences for the food security of Haitian households. For the projected period, from March to June 2020, 12% of the population will be in a situation of food emergency (1.2 million people) and 28% in situation of food crisis (more than 2.8 million people), representing 40% of the total population. 

    Based on the recommendations of the National Coordination of Food Security (CNSA), humanitarian organizations are making an appeal to meet the identified needs in order to urgently ensure access to food for the most affected populations in the most appropriate form by prioritizing the acquisition of local products to avoid aggravating the economic crisis; and take immediate action for the prevention and care of people suffering from acute malnutrition, especially children. This immediate assistance must imperatively be accompanied by the reconstruction and development of the livelihoods of these populations, as well as the strengthening of the surveillance and early warning system for food and nutritional security in order to better anticipate future crises.

     

    ***

    Contact – Port au Prince :

    Harmel Cazeau / Coordinator (Coordination National de la Sécurité Alimentaire) – hcazeau06@gmail.com

    Isabelle Faucon / Coordinator (Cadre de Liaison Inter Organisations) – info@cliohaiti.org

    ***

     

    [1] The use of the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) is a landmark in the fight against food insecurity. Widely accepted by the international community, IPC describes the severity of food emergencies. For more information : http://www.ipcinfo.org/ipcinfo-website/ipc-alerts/issue-14/en/


  • Global launch of disabilities guidelines | Inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian action

    On November 12, the humanitarian community welcomed the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action at a launch event in New York City. The professional strategies and practical guidance aims to improve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian aid delivery and ensure the participation of persons with disabilities.

    Barriers to access humanitarian aid

    When people with disabilities are caught in a crisis, they are often disproportionately at risk and exposed to exploitation, violence, and criminal acts. During displacement, for example they are at risk of losing assets, are not having fair access to the emergency infrastructure put in place or access to information on security and protection. People with disabilities are often 'left on the sidelines' when assessing needs or planning aid provision. They face many obstacles to access humanitarian aid. 

    Ensuring inclusion

    The first of their kind, the Guidelines will assist humanitarian actors like Humanity & Inclusion (co-coordinators of the guidelines), governments and affected communities to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions for the full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all sectors and in all phases of humanitarian action. 

    The Guidelines were developed during a three-year multi-stakeholder consultation process. The project was led by people with disabilities and their respective organizations in partnership with humanitarian stakeholders and more than 600 experts. A Task Team, established in July 2016, was led by Humanity & Inclusion, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and UNICEF.

    Growing interest for inclusion

    Humanitarian organizations have shown a growing interest in ensuring that people with disabilities be included, but they need to further develop practical tools and build on the skills of front-line staff to identify and properly include people with disabilities in emergency preparedness and response services. Oftentimes, staff need additional training or support to identify and accommodate the needs of people with disabilities and to not only remove barriers, but also make use of their abilities.

    Download the IASC Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.


  • published Donor spotlight | A decade of difference in News 2019-11-07 13:58:44 -0500

    Donor spotlight | A decade of difference

    With the 10th anniversary of the Haiti earthquake on January 12, we take a moment to recognize the dedicated donors who have stood alongside Humanity & Inclusion’s beneficiaries, fighting for their right to live with dignity and independence, advocating to shift attitudinal barriers, and even clearing explosive remnants of war from their paths. These generous Americans have been committed to fighting injustice since we opened our U.S. doors in Maryland in 2006.

    One of these loyal donors is Phyllis Taylor. Phyllis and her husband, Dick, live in Philadelphia, PA, and have supported Humanity & Inclusion for the past 13 years! They’ve seen Humanity & Inclusion expand programs to 60+ countries and have helped our teams reach more than 2 million individuals with care in 2018. Phyllis took time recently to talk to Humanity & Inclusion’s U.S. Development Officer, Emily Grimes. Here’s her story:

    “We support Humanity & Inclusion because we are passionate about helping vulnerable populations, providing support to poverty stricken countries, and getting rid of a culture of exclusion toward individuals with disabilities,” Phyllis explained. She notes that Humanity & Inclusion’s commitment to promoting disability rights, providing rehabilitation, and ensuring people live safely after conflict perfectly aligns with her and her family’s interests and values.

    Making a difference in the world has always been a vital part of who Phyllis and Dick are. Married for 56 years, the couple met through civil rights work, sharing a passion for social justice. Their work with families in war-torn areas is the reason they were drawn to Humanity & Inclusion’s demining efforts and rehabilitation projects for victims of conflict in urban areas. They have first-hand experience working with people who have lost limbs after happening upon explosives, and they have seen how disabilities to can lead to exclusion.

    Phyllis expressed concern about the lack of awareness surrounding civilian casualties from explosive weapons, including landmines and cluster munitions. Here in the U.S., we are very removed from the threats of dormant explosives, but the story is not the same for more than half of the world’s countries that are contaminated by explosive remnants of war.

    From donors who have been with us since the beginning, to new donors who joined Humanity & Inclusion last month, we are grateful—and proud!—to have so many individuals ensuring that we can act where the need is greatest, and for the people who are so often excluded. Every gift makes a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. People like Phyllis and Dick make this work possible. Thank you!


  • Philippines | Earthquakes injure hundreds

    From October 16-31, the Philippines was hit by a series of earthquakes in Tulunan and North Cotabato, killing 21 people and injuring more than 400. Schools, homes, and health centers experienced extensive damage. An estimated 231,000 Filipinos were affected, including 36,000 evacuees, who are living in 32 evacuation centers. More than 1,000 schools have been damaged, affecting more than 3 million students.

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    Accessing aid

    In early November, Humanity & Inclusion’s team completed a needs assessment, focusing on the most vulnerable individuals—people with disabilities, older adults, and pregnant women. "Many people with disabilities cannot access distribution sites—for food, for example—some of which are remote,” explains Reiza Dejito, director of Humanity & Inclusion in the Philippines. “And when they do, there is often a long line, which makes it very difficult for people with disabilities to access them. Hampering things is the fact that disaster-affected people also have little or no money. And if they do have money, to buy food, for instance, then they don’t have any kitchen utensils. Access to safe drinking water is also a real problem.” 

    Protection

    “Many houses have also been destroyed or damaged, so residents sleep in evacuation centers, in tents, or in makeshift shelters. It is very hot during the day and at night it rains. They need blankets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, etc. With so many people living outside, there is little privacy and one mother told us she had to change her son, who has a disability, in front of everyone. This creates problems around the protection of the most vulnerable people.”

    Priorities

    Humanity & Inclusion’s top priority is to meet the basic needs of disaster-affected people, including access to drinking water, shelter, and sanitation. We will also provide victims of this disaster with rehabilitation care and psychological support.

    Humanity & Inclusion in the Philippines

    For more than 34 years, Humanity & Inclusion's teams in the Philippines have worked with people affected by natural disasters in the archipelago, including a large-scale response to Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, which affected more than 14 million people and claimed more than 6,000 lives.

    Learn more about our work in the Philippines.


  • Lebanon | Clearing mines in hard-to-reach areas

    Since 2011, Humanity & Inclusion’s team has cleared 7.5 million square feet of land in Lebanon, the equivalent of 130 soccer fields. In the last two years alone—2017 & 2018—our mine clearance experts found and destroyed 4,500 explosive devices.

    Ending a persistent threat

    Humanity & Inclusion’s four demining teams are currently clearing fields in the district of Bsharri, which was contaminated by anti-personnel mines in the 1980s. The mined areas are very close to several villages. Accidents just after the civil war, in the 1990s, made a lasting impression on the local population. Since then, Humanity & Inclusion has taught locals how to spot, avoid and report the explosive remnants of war they may come across, and have set up warning signs.  

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    Adapting to the terrain

    Depending on the season, Humanity & Inclusion’s mine clearance experts operate in different types of terrain. In the summer months, they work at high altitude, and in winter, when it starts to snow, they return to the lower ground. Sometimes the land is hard to get to and the mine clearance experts have to build a makeshift staircase with sandbags to access certain areas. Heavy rain makes the slopes slippery and sometimes prevents teams from working.

    Hard-to-find and different types of mines

    The mines in Bsharri are old and buried in thick undergrowth. Mine clearance experts use metal detectors to locate them. When they find one, rather than move it, the team leader detonates it on the spot. Other mines are plastic, rendering them undetectable. To find them, mine clearance experts probe large swathes of land.

    Restoring land

    Humanity & Inclusion stays in close contact with the people who live close to the minefields. It is essential to update them on operations, particularly if they own land cleared of mines. It is also vital to warn local shepherds, who are among the most frequent casualties.

    After the civil war, many villagers had to sell their mined land and leave the region. Some abandoned their land all together. Since the start of the clearance operations, 30,000 villagers have returned. Today, 76% of owners have rebuilt their homes or started growing olives, pears, and grapes again.

    Thanks to support from Humanity & Inclusion donors and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, communities in Lebanon can return to their homes and live in safety. 

    Humanity & Inclusion in Lebanon

    Humanity & Inclusion began working in Lebanon in 1992, supporting local associations with rehabilitation and psychosocial support projects. Since 2011, our mine action teams have been clearing landmines and other explosive remnants of war left from previous conflicts. In the summer of 2012, we began supplying relief to Syrian refugees in Lebanon with a special emphasis on helping those with disabilities and serious injuries. Learn more about our work in Lebanon.

    Read the Associated Press story that features Humanity & Inclusion's deminers who are working to clear wartime mines from the cedar forests in Lebanon.


  • Yemen | “Yemenis are exhausted from four years of war”

    Humanity & Inclusion has been providing rehabilitation care and psychosocial support in eight health facilities in Sana'a, Yemen since 2015 and in one of Aden's main hospitals since last July. Maud Bellon, Humanity & Inclusion’s head of mission, explains the unacceptable situation civilians are facing on a daily basis. 

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    "Since Humanity & Inclusion launched a response in 2015, we have provided rehabilitation sessions to nearly 22,000 people," Maud explains. “We’ve distributed 23,600 mobility aids—including wheelchairs and crutches—along with special equipment. We have also fitted more than 200 people with prosthetics and orthotics.”

    Since half of the country’s health facilities are no longer operational, all patients are transferred to medical facilities that have space for them. “There’s a constant flow of patients, from people injured in the conflict or car accidents, to older people and people with disabilities who need rehabilitation care. Many people need help because the country is in total chaos.”

    Families cover long distances to be treated in Sana'a (North) or Aden (South), despite the risks facing travelers in Yemen, which include fighting, violence, crime and poor transport conditions due to blocked roads.

    Response in southern Yemen

    "We are now working in the country’s two main regions—in Sana’a, since 2015 and in Aden, since last July—with all the logistical and security challenges this entails.”

    The United Nations considers Aden to be the most dangerous city in the Middle East. Armed groups and crime create serious security problems. Intense fighting last August increased the number of people arriving in the city's hospitals.

    The conflict is becoming more and more complex and the number of parties to the conflict has increased.

    Mental exhaustion 

    Yemenis are exhausted by four years of war that has destroyed the country’s social and economic structure. Psychosocial support remains a challenge in a country where the idea of psychological distress is given little credence.

    "Humanity & Inclusion’s team provided psychological support to more than 16,000 people, including direct beneficiaries of rehabilitation sessions and their caregivers. We are trying to go even further by training more than 400 health workers to treat people who have severe physical and psychological trauma.”

    Contamination by explosive remnants of war

    “We are planning to launch risk education campaigns very soon. We want to inform Yemenis of the dangers of mines and explosive remnants of war and how to handle them, in order to reduce accidents. Some regions are highly contaminated by explosive devices, including remnants of bombs, so there is an urgent need for action.”

    Humanity & Inclusion and the Yemen crisis

    Humanity & Inclusion (which operates under the name Handicap International in Yemen) operated in the country from the early 2000s up to 2012, focusing on physical rehabilitation. Since returning in 2014, our mission has grown. Today, we provide direct services to individuals affected by the ongoing conflict, particularly people with disabilities, through rehabilitation care and psychosocial support at eight public health facilities in and around Sana’a city. Learn more about our work and the Yemen crisis.

    Many thanks to ECHO and the German Federal Foreign Office for supporting this vital work.

    ECHO Humanitarian Aid and Civilian Protection logo on left and German humanitarian assistance logo on the right


  • Venezuela | “Venezuelan refugees are very vulnerable, emotionally and psychologically”

    Since 2013, Venezuela has been facing a severe economic, political, and social crisis. Access to health care, sanitation facilities, and food has decreased significantly, and humanitarian needs are great. At least 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled worldwide, including 2.7 million to Latin American and Caribbean countries. Among them, more than one million people now live in Colombia.

    Gregory Le Blanc, Humanity & Inclusion’s director in Colombia, explains the situation facing Venezuelan refugees in Colombia and shares details about our emergency response.

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    Gregory Le Blanc stands in a field in Colombia wearing an old HI vest (old brand alert!).

    "The serious political and economic crisis in Venezuela makes life a little harder every day while more and more people move to neighboring countries. An estimated 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled around the world, including more than 2 million to Colombia. The Colombian authorities are overwhelmed by this influx of people and the needs to assist them. Women, children, older people and people with disabilities are worst affected.

    Struggling to access basic services

    The fact that some no longer have ID documents or residency permits, and are unaware how to normalize their situation in the country or what their rights are, makes it more difficult for them to access basic services such as healthcare and drinking water. In large cities and at major gathering points near borders, Venezuelans receive healthcare, and the most vulnerable have access to welfare services and the like. It is less easy to access psychological support, but it is just as important.

    Families uprooted

    In fact, people fleeing Venezuela are very vulnerable, socially and emotionally. They have been uprooted and live in precarious conditions, and this has a serious impact on their mental health. They feel frustration, despair, anxiety and may experience depression.

    Humanity & Inclusion is there

    Humanity & Inclusion provides them with psychological support in Medellin and La Guajira—on the northern border—and is preparing to intervene in Bogota and Barranquilla. HI also provides support to people who need help resolving legal issues (ID documents, formalizing their situation, etc.) in Medellin, in conjunction with the local council, the university, etc., and with HI’s lawyers. Our team of rehabilitation professionals also help train health service providers, in addition to providing care directly and/or through specialized centers. We also provide mobility devices—wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers—to those who need them.

    Due to the scale of the needs and the length of the humanitarian crisis, we also plan to strengthen the socio-economic inclusion of Venezuelans in Colombia from 2020, based on our extensive experience in this sector.”


  • Statement | The Syria INGO Regional Forum on the military developments in northeast Syria

    The Syria INGO Regional Forum, comprising 73 INGOs responding to the Syria crisis, expressed deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation since Turkey’s military operation started on October 9. The UN estimates that more than 200,000 people have been displaced, and is planning to support up to 400,000 people with assistance and protection in the coming period.

    Over three days, Hasakeh city saw an estimated 60,000 new arrivals as a result of the violence, while hostilities in the area also damaged the main water station, leaving it out of service. 400,000 people, including 82,000 people in Al Hol and Areesha camps, now rely on the provisional solution of pumping water from a nearby dam that can only meet 50% of the needs previously supplied by the main water station. This water, which is of poorer quality, is only sufficient to support Hassakeh city for approximately 10-15 days. This leaves the population exposed to outbreaks of infectious diseases, especially as acute diarrhea and typhoid were already two of the most reported illnesses in northeast Syria in August 2019.

    To date, the most intense attacks have been on Tal Abyad, Ras al Ain and Quamishly. The use of air strikes and artillery in those areas, and in particular, the October 13 attack on a convoy of civilians fleeing Tal Abyad, raise serious concerns that civilians have been targeted, which may amount to serious violations of international humanitarian law. Overall, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas has led to mass forced displacement and disproportionate damage to vital civilian infrastructure. With the recently renovated hospital in Ras al Ain again out of service and three health care providers in Tal Abyad rendered non-functional, people in the most affected areas have no access to lifesaving support.

    SIRF is concerned that several major humanitarian facilities fall within the 30 kilometer border area in which Turkey has established a growing military presence, such as Mabrouka camp (which had 3,170 residents) and Ain Issa camp (12,901 residents). Mabrouka camp has largely been evacuated and is no longer accessible. The majority of its residents relocated to Areesha camp, but several families were unable to leave and now have no access to food, water or shelter.  

    While the need for humanitarian aid has dramatically increased, the operation has forced many INGOs to suspend service delivery. In the last few days, SIRF members lost access to their offices in Ain Issa, 50 kilometers from the Turkey-Syria border, after the town came under the control of Turkish-backed armed groups. The local organizations that are continuing to deliver assistance face increasingly difficult circumstances and risks to their safety. 

    Many Syrian humanitarian workers, including the staff of local organizations, fear for their lives and the lives of their families, as they are unable to seek safety in government-controlled areas inside Syria or in neighboring countries. Humanitarian organizations report widespread displacement of Syrian staff, as well as concerns about increased restrictions on their freedom of movement due to risk of conscription.  

    With humanitarian access already compromised, any further sudden shifts of control or shifts in the presence of troops could further destabilize the area and the routes that humanitarian organizations currently rely on to reach people in need. In light of the recently announced political agreement between Kurdish authorities and the government of Syria, we call on relevant authorities to make continued access for humanitarian organizations a priority.  

    The people of northeast Syria have already endured years of conflict, with many being repeatedly displaced, and have suffered unimaginable physical and psychological distress. SIRF is very concerned that many of these civilians are now forced to flee south and may have to seek refuge in areas that are heavily contaminated with explosive ordnance. Areas that were retaken from Islamic State, like Raqqa, are littered with improvised explosive devices and landmines.

    The Syria INGO Regional Forum is also concerned that one of the objectives of the military operation is to facilitate the return of large numbers of refugees. SIRF notes that most of the refugees in Turkey do not originate from areas Turkey is seeking to control, and reminds Turkey of its obligation to the respect the principle of non-refoulement.

    SIRF believes that urgent action is needed and calls for:

    • all parties to the conflict to fulfill their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law and refrain from targeting civilians and humanitarian workers, as well as to exercise restraint in order to protect water supplies, health facilities, schools and camps for displaced people;
    • all parties to the conflict to immediately cease hostilities and start urgent dialogue, supported by the international community
    • all parties to the conflict to stop the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas in compliance with international humanitarian law;
    • all parties to the conflict and the international community to ensure that freedom of movement and humanitarian access are guaranteed;
    • all parties to investigate possible violations of international humanitarian law, especially unlawful attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to ensure those responsible are held to account;
    • the UN Security Council to renew Resolution 2165 to facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid in northeast Syria;
    • donor governments to be ready to provide the required level of flexible, emergency funding and assist humanitarian actors to respond effectively.

     

     

     

     


  • Syria | Providing emergency support to Syrian refugees

    On October 9, after nearly a decade of nation-wide conflict, a Turkish-led incursion entered northeast Syria, reigniting the cycle of violence, trauma, worry and uncertainty for people living in the area. Once again, civilians are the first victims of bombings.

    Humanity & Inclusion is deeply concerned about the safety of civilians and humanitarian aid workers. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Humanity & Inclusion's teams have been working tirelessly with Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Our rehabilitation experts provide vital care—physical therapy, psychosocial support, mobility devices, etc.—to injured Syrian civilians and those with disabilities. 

    When war comes to cities, civilians need your help. Today, more than ever, your support is essential. Make a gift today.

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  • published The children of Haiti: Then and now in News 2019-10-09 15:04:20 -0400

    The children of Haiti: Then and now

    This January marks the tenth anniversary of the catastrophic, 7.0-magnitude Haiti earthquake, which killed at least 220,000 people, and forever altered the lives of thousands, including children like Christella and Moïse. Humanity & Inclusion deployed hundreds of staff, including rehabilitation experts, to provide care. Many of the people our donors supported were kids who had lost limbs and peace of mind.

    Our donors rose to the challenge. Thanks to their generosity, Humanity & Inclusion’s Haitian beneficiaries stand tall today!


  • Venezuelan refugees | Providing care to the most vulnerable

    Since 2013, Venezuela has been facing a severe economic, political, and social crisis. Access to health care, sanitation facilities, and food has decreased significantly, and humanitarian needs are great. At least 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled worldwide, including 2.7 million to Latin American and Caribbean countries. Among them, more than one million people now live in Colombia.

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    Rehabilitation care for the most vulnerable

    Since April 2019, Humanity & Inclusion has been providing psychological support to migrants in the Maicao transit center on the border with Venezuela. In collaboration with the NGOs, Danish Refugee Council and Pastoral Social (Caritas Colombia), Humanity & Inclusion also provides rehabilitation care for the most vulnerable people—people with disabilities, older adults, indigenous people— technical support, including training, to local rehabilitation organizations, and runs joint social cohesion activities for Colombians and Venezuelans to promote peaceful understanding between the two communities.

    Psychological support

    Humanity & Inclusion has also launched an emergency response in Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia, in collaboration with the City of Medellín. Our team provides support to more than 1,000 people from Venezuela, including psychological support through individual and group sessions, and legal support to access basic services such as health care.

    Sports and cultural activities

    Humanity & Inclusion organizes sports and cultural activities to strengthen the social cohesion and socio-cultural inclusion of migrants in Medellín. Our team will also work on behalf of migrants in the capital Bogota and Baranquilla on the Atlantic coast.

    Venezuelans in Peru

    Our team recently conducted a mission to Peru to assess the humanitarian needs of Venezuelan citizens who have fled to the country. We plan to carry out the same type of work in Peru, as Colombia. More to come!


  • published Issue 14: Mozambique: your impact in The Next Step 2019-10-04 11:30:23 -0400

  • Vienna Conference | Crucial event to stop the bombing of civilians

    On October 1st and 2nd, hundreds of States and international organizations are gathering in Austria for the Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare. At the historic Conference, they will discuss the drafting process on an international political declaration to end human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

    Humanity & Inclusion, co-founder of the International Network of Explosive Weapons (INEW), has been campaigning for more than five years against bombing in populated areas. Alma Taslidžan Al-Osta, HI's Disarmament and Protection of Civilians Advocacy Manager, explains more.   

    90+ States will attend

    Over the past few weeks, our teams have reached out directly to States to convince them about the importance of the Conference and oblige them to attend, hence the urgency. More than 90 states have registered so far which shows that there is a strong mobilization under the leadership of Austrian government.

    Strong support from ICRC and UN

    Last week, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, launched a joint appeal. They highlighted the devastating impact of explosive weapons on the lives of civilians and called on States to commit to finding political solutions to this major humanitarian issue. It had a positive effect.

    Humanity & Inclusion will speak

    During the Conference, our team will speak on gender, psychological harm, and assistance to victims. We will speak about the findings from out latest victim assistance report, “The Waiting List: Addressing the immediate and long-term needs of victims of explosive weapons in Syria,” which illustrates the immediate and long-term needs of victims of explosive weapons in Syria.

    Support from political representatives

    We continue to mobilize governments at the national level, because the Conference is the beginning of the process. More than 95 parliamentarians from 7 states have already expressed their support to our action (via INEW).

     

    Photo caption: Destruction of a city in Syria.


  • published Paris | The Unknown Civilian in News 2019-09-26 09:54:21 -0400

    Paris | Monument to the Unknown Civilian

    Tombs of unknown soldiers honor those whose lives were lost defending liberty. America’s rests in Arlington National Cemetery. France’s sits under the towering Arc de Triomphe in Paris, while Britain’s Grave of the Unknown Warrior rests in Westminster Abby.

    On September 26 in Paris, Humanity & Inclusion unveiled the world’s first Monument to the Unnamed Civilian. The goal? To denounce the devastating pattern of modern conflict, which harms innocent civilians over and over again. In Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and other countries ravaged by urban bombing and shelling, the damages are so grave that civilians bear 90% of casualties—a figure that seems to mock the rules of war.

    Aleppo, Raqqa, Mosul, Sana'a—in the past decade, these cities have become symbols of disregard for civilian lives. The images we see are nearly carbon copies of each other—intense shelling and fighting in the heart of cities, with civilians' bodies and minds torn apart in the blast.

    Flowers sit on top of the Monument to the Unknown Civilian

    Humanity & Inclusion teams tend to the physical and mental anguish wrought by such bombings, and, true to our founding revolt against weapons targeting civilians, HI demands that the international community act right now to protect civilians.

    At the Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare, on October 1st and 2nd, States (countries), and groups like Humanity & Inclusion, will gather to discuss and address this topic. The hope is that they’ll emerge from Vienna with a draft political declaration stopping the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. This monument, and the innocent lives it represents, must be a signal for States to join this historic political process.


  • Mozambique | Six months on and the needs are still massive

    In March and April 2019, two consecutive tropical cyclones struck Mozambique. Their winds, rains, and storm surges left a trail of death, injuries, damage, and destruction in their wake. Cyclone Idai, which first struck the city of Beira on March 14, was one of the worst tropical storms on record to affect Africa, and caused catastrophic damage to schools, homes, businesses, and crops. While the storms are long gone, their impact is still palpable: with so many crops ruined, food is scarce, and any expected farming income is gone.

    Orange button with the text \Emergency response

    Humanity & Inclusion’s team organized a humanitarian response in the first 24 hours of the emergency. With an office and team in the country since 1986, we mobilized to meet the needs on the ground, with support from local partners.

    Once the extent of the destruction was clear to our team, we deployed a logistics expert to strengthen the team already in Beira. Our goal was to understand the immediate needs of the population affected by the storm, with a particular focus on people with disabilities—individuals who are often left on the sidelines during an emergency response.

    Six months later

    Residents of Beira and the surrounding regions are still recovering from the effects of the Cyclone. Thanks to their resilience, and to Humanity & Inclusion donors for fueling our actions in the collective humanitarian effort, life is slowly returning to normal. But our work won't end until the community is fully back on its feet again. 

    Over the long term, the goal of the HI Mozambique team is to provide a sustained humanitarian response to people affected by Cyclone Idai. We will continue to work with those identified as highly vulnerable in order to improve their resilience and mitigate the short and long term impacts of future disasters like this.

    Cyclone Relief in Mozambique graphic, 6 months after the emergency

    Humanity & Inclusion in Mozambique

    Humanity & Inclusion has worked in Mozambique since 1986, and is best known there for its work helping victims of landmines and other explosive ordnance left from the country’s civil war. We ran a large demining operation that wrapped up when the country declared itself mine free in 2015. Most recently, staff worked to promote the rights and social participation of people with disabilities, to support civil society to improve the social inclusion of people with disabilities, and in particular to see more children with disabilities enjoy learning in inclusive classrooms! 

    Learn more about our work in Mozambique.