Diana Shaw

Diana writes on Asia, the Middle East and all things Red Cross.

Posts by Diana Shaw:

A holiday far from home: Eid al-Fitr on Iraq’s front lines

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A mother holds a young child while people walk behind them in a desert landscape

On 6 and 7 July, around a billion people – approximately a seventh of the world’s population – are celebrating Eid al-Fitr.

Celebrations will take place across the world – from the UK to Russia, India and beyond. Marking the end of Ramadan, the holiday celebrates the power of family and community.

People may also give thanks for having the strength to endure difficulties in their lives.

But this year, unprecedented numbers of families are far from home on Eid al-Fitr.

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In pictures: hot meals for the hungry in Iraq

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Red Crescent volunteers distribute bread to woman and girl in Iraq

Trapped between warring armies and forced to flee their homes – this is reality for millions of people in Iraq.

More than three million Iraqis are already in this situation and fighting causes thousands more to leave their homes every week.

In the past few days, over 12,000 families had to leave the besieged city of Fallujah and the number is expected to increase.

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Child safety, Afghan style

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Three girls play as they pump water from a well

In the UK, keeping children safe means babyproofing your home or teaching youngsters to look both ways before crossing the road.

In Afghanistan, it could mean stopping children dying from diseases picked up from human waste.

More than just a nuisance

For most people in Britain, diarrhoea is a nuisance that can be easily treated. If a child is very badly affected, care is always available.

But in some countries, diarrhoea is life threatening.

Nearly 1.3 million children under five die from diarrhoea worldwide, making it the second most common cause of child deaths.

In fact, over half of these deaths occur in just five countries. Afghanistan is one of them.

What makes this even sadder is that children’s lives could be saved if communities had clean water, toilets and hand-washing facilities.

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Volunteers on the front lines

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Two Red Cross volunteers hold and comfort an injured child

What happens when the day you have spent years preparing for suddenly comes without warning?

In April, Red Cross volunteer Jorge Chele Santana was spending a peaceful afternoon with his father, wife and son.

Suddenly the ground shook violently and the family rushed outside. They didn’t realise at first that their home town of Manta, Ecuador, was near the epicentre of a major earthquake.

The city was hit hard and help was needed immediately.

“I remember calming down my 17-year-old son, who also happens to be a Red Cross volunteer,” Jorge said.

“I looked him in the eye and said ‘son, it’s time to show what we’ve prepared for, what we’ve been trained to do and remember why we are part of the Red Cross.’

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Yemen photography competition: a window for the world

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Two children sit on dry ground looking into the camera and holding a jerry can

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Can you imagine what 14 million hungry people look like? That’s nearly twice the population of London, all feeling the pain and fear of hunger.

Maybe it’s easier just to picture two hungry children, like those in this photograph from Yemen, dirty and tired but full of life.

Right now, 14 million people in Yemen – over half the country’s population – don’t have enough food.

A photography competition may be the last thing you’d expect to find in the middle of this crisis, caused by a violent civil war.

But the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Yemen recently organised one.

Why? “The competition is a tool and window to show the world how the humanitarian situation is getting worse,” said Adnan Hizam from ICRC.

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Happy birthday Nishan: one family’s story of courage and strength in Nepal

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Dolma holds Nishan next to a neighbour carrying hay on her head

Little Nishan is nearly ready to walk. “Then our lives will become even more hectic,” his mother Dolma says, with a smile.

Laughing together, Dolma and Nishan seem like any happy mother and baby. But standing with Dolma in the ruins of the family home, Nishan can’t know the danger he has been in during his short life.

This time last year, Dolma was only ten days away from giving birth.

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Watch: How a Red Cross volunteer helped save lives in Nepal

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Sameer is one of over 8,000 Red Cross volunteers in Nepal. Here, he describes how the Red Cross helped people prepare for, cope with and recover from the 2015 earthquakes.