Posts Tagged humanitarian

Rana Plaza: The Real Cost of Cheaper Clothing

Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 at 8:55 am

Bijoy Krishna Nath, Head of Risk Reduction & Response, Concern Worldwide

Farida holds up a photograph with the hope of finding her missing son, who worked at Rana Plaza.

Farida holds up a photograph with the hope of finding her missing son, who worked at Rana Plaza.

Farida did not know if her son was alive or dead. Tears streaming down her face, Farida showed person after person his photograph, but no one had any information. Doctors, firefighters, policemen—no one had any evidence that he made it out alive.

Her son, a garment worker in the now-famous Rana Plaza, could be one of the more than 600 people killed when the nine-story building collapsed, enveloping more than 3,000 people in concrete and steel. I met her amidst the search-and-rescue mission the day after the factory collapsed as part of a small assessment team with the humanitarian organization, Concern Worldwide.

The scene was sheer chaos.

More than one thousand rescue workers, from members of the armed forces and firefighters to everyday people, tirelessly tore through the building’s remains in search of survivors. Emergency medical clinics were overflowing with people in need of immediate care, while relatives of garment workers, like Farida, frantically searched for their loved ones, their fear growing palpably greater by the minute that they would not be among the lucky ones pulled from the rubble.

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A Field Diary from Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

By Julia Lewis, North Kivu Area Manager, Concern Worldwide

People gather to listen to the first address by the M23 rebels spokesperson Vianney Kazarama at a stadium in Goma. Photo: REUTERS/James Akena

Information in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is often like a game of telephone. It’s hard, if not impossible, to pinpoint where a rumor begins, let alone how much it changed from the original source and if it had any credibility to begin with.

As the Area Manager for the international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide in the war-torn province of North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, distinguishing fact from fiction is a big part of my job. And in a country where security can change in an instant, acting on lies and failing to act on truth can have very real—even fatal—consequences.

Reports of a potential advance towards the provincial capital, Goma, by the M23 rebel movement started to circulate on Wednesday, November 14th.  I got a call from one of our national staff who had heard that they were planning to ‘enter Goma soon,’ but was initially quite skeptical as no other source could confirm this.  When I woke up that next morning, I learned that the M23 were fighting the Congolese national army, FARDC, in Kibumba, just 19 miles north of Goma. By Saturday, M23 had taken control of Kibumba. Suddenly, what seemed unlikely had become a tangible threat.

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In Afghanistan’s Unforgiving Terrain, Bracing Communities for Natural Disasters

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

By Peter Doyle, Asia Desk Officer, Concern Worldwide

Peter Doyle with Muhammad Niaz

Travelling through Afghanistan’s spectacularly scenic mountainous northern region, it was immediately evident to me how vulnerable this area is to natural disasters.  The steep mountains have been badly deforested and the soil constantly eroded, stripping what should be fertile agriculture land of its nutrients and leaving the communities that call this unforgiving terrain home at constant risk of flooding and landslides.

Last year was particularly tough—a severe drought was followed one of the harshest winters in recent times. This led to avalanches and later in spring, as the snow melted and rains came, severe flooding.  Yet despite all this, people live here, clinging to the edge and at mercy to Mother Nature.

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Fighting ‘Hidden Hunger’ in Uganda

Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Women queuing for food in Nabilatuk Health Center, Karamoja, Uganda. Distributions implemented by NGOs are a way of addressing the nutrition needs in the country.

By Cormac Staunton, Area Manager Karamoja, Concern Worldwide

The rains are a mixed blessing in Karamoja. They came initially as a relief in April, having not seen rain since last November. The dust settled, and the fields and hills turned green before our eyes. It was a welcome sight in a dry landscape that had become burnt and inhospitable. People began to dig and plant their crops.

It’s tempting to see the arrival as the rains as the beginning of something good, a positive moment in the annual cycle. But in Karamoja the rains also herald the start of something more worrying—the hunger season.

Karamoja, tucked in the north east corner of Uganda, is a vast, flat plain, dry and dusty for most of the year. It is home to nomadic tribes, for whom cattle are both a source of food and wealth, and the center of the cultural and economic life. Conflict has been a feature of life here, as heavily armed warriors raid cattle from each other, a practice that is both a tradition with social and spiritual significance, and a means of survival.

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Concern aid worker returns to New York from Haiti

Posted on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 at 11:42 am

Supporters of Concern Worldwide Michael Londra, Susan Finucane (Concern worker), Patty Mulvihill McMenamin and Kathy Adler attended a pre-event celebratory reception for the 2010 Women of Concern Brigid Awards. All proceeds will go to Concern's relief efforts in Haiti.

I was obliged to return to base in New York last week in order to fulfil my role as Program Officer. It was a difficult decision to make as I felt like I was abandoning the team and the people in need in Haiti, but our programs in other fields beckon, and sadly, time waits for no man. Read the rest of this entry »

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Concern intent on preserving the development gains of 16 years in Haiti

Posted on Friday, February 5th, 2010 at 10:22 am

Patients at Wesleyan Hospital on the island of La Gonâve lie on outdoor beds, both by choice and because of overcrowding. Photo: Ed Kenney, Concern Worldwide.

There are thousands of families who have fled the mainland to the small island La Gonâve, just 20 kilometers off Haiti’s northwestern coast, and their numbers are growing.  In a place where the supply of food and clean water for the normal population is uncertain at the best of times, and where the hurricane season is four short months away, the challenge for organizations like Concern is immediate and massive. Read the rest of this entry »

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Swapping NYC for DRC

Posted on Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 11:08 am

Feargal will be based in North Kivu, one of three provinces in DRC where Concern is working.

Feargal will be based in North Kivu, one of three provinces in DRC where Concern is working.

There are many pitfalls, bumps in the road and unexpected obstacles when you’re changing job and moving country all in one go.  That’s to be expected.  Especially when the country you’re moving to is the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Canadian immigration, however, was not a hurdle I was expecting.

I knew I was in trouble when the border agent asked me what country I lived in.  I stuttered a little but the confused look on my face was the deal-breaker. Read the rest of this entry »

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World Humanitarian Day 2009 – New York, US

Posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Since the early days of its founding, the UN has designated days and weeks to draw the world’s attention to critical global issues. The yearly calendar, approved by the General Assembly, has almost 50 UN days listed ranging from the well -known “World AIDS Day” to more unusual ones, such as “International Mother Tongue Day.”

This Wednesday Aug. 19, at a ceremony in the lobby of the UN, a new day will be formally added to the calendar when UN Secretary General Ban Kii Moon launches “World Humanitarian Day.” Read the rest of this entry »

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World Humanitarian Day 2009 – Chad

Posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Currently, Chad is hosting some 268,000 Sudanese and 74,000 CAR refugees and attacks by armed militias and rebels, inter-ethnic violence and tensions over land access have led to the internal displacement of more than 170,000 Chadians.

Aid agencies are trying to provide assistance to as many people as possible according to key humanitarian principles, such as impartiality, independence and neutrality.

But access to the affected populations can be very difficult and even dangerous for humanitarian workers. Just recently two humanitarian workers were kidnapped in the border town of Adé and so far only one has been released. Last year, the head of an international NGO was shot dead while travelling in eastern Chad. Read the rest of this entry »

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World Humanitarian Day 2009 – Afghanistan

Posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Concern’s Afghanistan program focuses on the areas of agriculture and environmental protection, water and environmental health. It is a combination of humanitarian and development projects.

In the first six months of 2009 over 1,000 civilians had been killed through conflict in Afghanistan. This is a 24 percent increase in the rate from last year. Through the line of work five humanitarian aid workers were murdered and five were seriously injured. This is the context in which we operate. Read the rest of this entry »

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