Category: International

Syria’s children and the mental scars of conflict: ‘I only do sad drawings now’

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syria-children-art

The physical trauma of the Syrian conflict will forever be etched in our minds: images of entire towns razed to the ground; people with life-changing scars; the millions forced to flee across borders in search of sanctuary. Yet the psychological trauma of war – particularly for the millions of children caught up in the conflict – is harder to see.

Recognising this, the British Red Cross has been working with our partners, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, to make sure children and adults receive emotional and psychological support.

Hiba runs a Red Crescent community centre in Dweila, in rural Damascus. It hosts a psychosocial programme that simply offers children a chance to do normal childhood things and to express themselves through art.

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Somalia: one family’s fight to survive a severe drought

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© ICRC/Pedram Yazdi

“I am 75 years old. I have not heard of or seen such a severe drought,” said Abdi.

Abdi’s family are among many others taking refuge in temporary shelters surrounding the village of Tukaraq, in northern Somalia.

They travelled here by foot, some 150 kilometres from their home.

Like many other drought-affected families across Somalia, their situation is getting desperate.

Please donate to our East Africa Crisis Appeal.

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Millions going hungry in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen: how you can help

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A woman in South Sudan holds a huge bag of Red Cross food on her head as two other people stand near her

Red Cross rations are helping to keep people alive in South Sudan – © Alyona Synenko/ICRC

You may have seen the news reports of famine in Africa and the Middle East recently.

Millions of people in four countries are facing relentless, crushing hunger.

Most have not had enough food for months or even years.

Parents are watching their children go hungry.

Here’s how you can help.

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Food, water, health care: five things you didn’t know about Yemen

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A man holds his young daughter as they stand outside their destroyed home in Yemen

This family is one of millions in need of help – © Thomas Glass/ICRC

After nearly two years of conflict, 18.8 million people in Yemen need humanitarian aid.

That’s more than in any other country, even Syria.

Over 14 million people don’t have enough food or water. Seven million of them are classed by the UN as ‘severely food insecure’.

This means that that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from and risk starvation.

A full-scale famine is possible in Yemen this year.

But how did things get so bad?

And what are the Red Cross and others doing about it?

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When hunger threatens lives – Q&A on malnutrition and famine

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A man, woman and two children sit in front of a makeshift tent in a barren landscape in Yemen. The family may be facing famine.

Conflict has devastated Yemen and left millions in need of food – © Mohammed Yaseen Ahmed Ibrahim/ICRC

The word ‘famine’ conjures up images of emaciated people clinging on to life. It is a deeply sensitive term and should never be used lightly.

The United Nations has appealed this week for funds to avert famine in Yemen, a country left decimated by conflict.

But Yemen is not the only country in the world facing famine: severe food shortages in South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia are also putting lives in danger.

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A dark day in the history of the Red Cross

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©ICRC/AbdulazizAl-Droubi

©ICRC/AbdulazizAl-Droubi

We cannot accept attacks on aid workers, says British Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson. 

I received a message around lunchtime yesterday informing me that six of our colleagues from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had been killed in Afghanistan in an apparent deliberate attack by unknown armed men. Two colleagues are still unaccounted for.

A matter of hours later I was told that one of our aid distribution centres, near Aleppo, Syria, had also been attacked. One staff member from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) was killed. Two other people, who had come to the centre to receive aid, were also killed.

These developments highlight a profoundly worrying escalation in loss of life of humanitarian workers. They risk marking the moment that the death of people who should be protected under the international rules of war became the norm. We cannot accept that.

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When the monkey shakes its tail in Mongolia

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An old postage stamp from Monglia showing a money scratching its head and a space probe

© ConradFries

The people of Mongolia will soon welcome in the year of the rooster. At the same time, the year of the monkey will draw to a close.

And it will leave behind one of the coldest winters so far this century.

In the Mongolian astrology system, every year – running from around February to January – is represented by one of 12 animals.

People born in the year of the monkey are thought to be clever and playful.

But there is an ancient saying in Mongolia: when the monkey shakes its tail, it will bring on a dzud.

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