In this 33rd issue of our newsletter we discuss schooling of Syrian and Iraqi refugee children, displaced in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. This particular programme, and more generally, education in emergencies is our main priority. We also discuss the food relief we offer 3,000 Ukrainian families living in the rural zones near the front line. This much neglected conflict has cost over 9,000 lives and displaced 1.5 million people in the country. Finally, you shall also discover TGH's assistance to the Korean Federation for the Care of the Aged.
Supporting the schooling of refugee children displaced in Iraqi Kurdistan: a priority emergency
Since 2011, the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region has sheltered close to 250,000 refugees fleeing the escalating conflict that has fostered a major humanitarian crisis.
Forced to escape the advance of ISIS, thousands of Iraqis, in 2014, increased the number of displaced populations in the Kurdish region of the country. Ever since then, immigration to Kurdistan has intensified due to the expanding Syrian-Iraqi conflicts and more crises are likely to occur in the coming months.
Project evaluation team "cash for education" - Erbil - Iraqi Kurdistan
Photo : Elisa Piat - TGH ©
Supporting both the Syrian and Iraqi populations in a region under pressure and the destitute families requires an extensive and complex response. The humanitarian aid community often focuses on meeting the needs considered vital like access to medical treatment, food and water. However, other aspects are also primordial to enabling the populations to regain decent living conditions and, in the long run, envisage the end of the crises as well as rebuilding.
Education plays an essential role in the return to peace, social and political rebuilding, and economic recovery of a weakened State or region. Many children and adolescents lack secure and stable environment for growth. Access to education offers them new prospects for the future, thus, reducing the vulnerability risks induced by violence and ideological manipulations which aggravate crises and extremism. Education is also an agent of stabilisation for families and remains essential in a context characterised by permanent displacements of populations. Finally, the educational environment fosters social ties, causes the populations to assemble, discuss, and jointly find the means and resources needed to rebuild a multicultural society.
In Kurdistan, the educational system, which was destabilised by the massive influx of populations, lacks sufficient space in schools to teach all the children. Administrative problems, the language barrier for Arab-speaking families, successive displacements, financial constraints, insecurity, and children contributing to livelihood and even to household revenue or worse still, a prolonged absence from school all contribute to impeding children's enrolment.
Fully aware of the implications of promoting education in emergency situations, TGH decided to pursue its co-operation in the schooling of Syrian refugee and Iraqi displaced children who are settled in the Erbil Governorate. In addition to a programme implemented with the support of ECHO (the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection agency of the European Union) since 2015, another 16-month programme was established in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in view of offering families financial assistance and support to the strategy. The strategy draws on a full identification of all the beneficiaries and their needs which was undertaken during the 5-month implementation (November 2015-April 2016) of a similar pilot project in over 10 towns of the Governorate. The "Cash for Education" project team continues to support the families identified in this pilot project and spreads available assistance to new out-of-school children.
The evaluation of a Syrian family by the TGH Team - Koya (Erbil Governorate) - Iraqi Kurdistan
Photo : Camille Attias - TGH ©
Over a month and a half, TGH teams met the Syrian and Iraqi families that settled in 12 bordering towns of Erbil to better understand their stories and conditions, identify their educational needs and evaluate their general level of vulnerability. Questionnaires that were generated for the project were filled out on tablets which facilitated the rapid collection of data and prevented loss of information. The analysis of this data will reveal the most vulnerable families who will receive variant amounts of money according to their conditions- between 120-160 USD. With this amount, they could pay their children's school fees, starting with the transport fares that are relatively high in the zone. To ensure a close monitoring of the children, the project provides for extensive Monitoring and Evaluation as well as advocacy with families, schools and government.
In view of the prolonged crisis, TGH opted to consolidate the concept of education in emergencies and provide future leaders with the tools necessary to play their roles in rebuilding.
Don't Forget Ukraine !
Over 9,000 dead, 1.5 million displaced (72,000 recorded in Kramatorsk town alone) and thousands of families separated. Today, a 250-kilometre front line separates the military forces from the separatists. This is a zone where humanitarian aid and fights regulate the daily lives of the populations.
Discussions with the beneficiaries - Donbass
Photo : TGH ©
It's been up to two years since the Ukraine conflict started, surprising everyone, foremost the Donbass inhabitants. The economic and demographic development of this eastern region of the country depends essentially on industrial revolution and its charcoal production. Following the large scale urban development, its towns now resemble dormitories with very large and unrecognisable centres. However, these broad streets lined with greenery and parks certainly give Kramatorsk, a town with 200,000 inhabitants which also accommodates TGH, a rural look.
Since the 2000s, their mines and numerous heaps of slag have been abandoned just like the inhabitants, a large fraction of which survive on their monthly allowances (34 to 65€). Another equally high fraction is unemployed (34% according to statistics) and the working class execute in 3s or in 4s the tasks executed by only one person in Western Europe. The salaries are low with a monthly minimum wage of 95€. The story is that of small allowances, small salaries and small businesses. Yet, there are advances in technology while quality cell phones and internet services are easily accessed and available throughout the country. Laptops and tablets are very common which is a paradox in the rural areas where everyone has their vegetable garden, indispensable for the manufacture of canned foods and where everyone saves money to buy charcoal or gas for heating in winter. These populations live on the brink of survival and are vulnerable to the least incident in this country that is paradoxically so close and so far from us.
In February 2015, TGH undertook its first evaluation of the front line and a second one in June which was updated in January the following year. The procedure for launching a programme in the Donbass region is being delayed by the complex local administration, insufficient funds provided by the traditional donors which are inferior to the evaluated needs and the quest for cheaper and more effective solutions. The surveys indicated food security as the priority sector for intervention and also facilitated the assessment of a rural trade network (grocery stores) which, although weak, still exists.
Introducing the software and training the grocers - Donbass
Photo : TGH ©
In March 2015, the Crises Response and Support Centre of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted TGH funding to provide food relief for 3,000 families living in the rural zones of the front line. This programme is being implemented with the local partnership of the NGO, CFP (Country of Free People) which particularly participated in the June 2015 and January 2016 surveys. Its objective is the setting up of a 12-grocery store network to serve the population in 25 villages, having selected the beneficiaries according to specific vulnerability criteria. The most daring grocers, who, moreover, are mostly women, have quickly understood the need to be involved in the network.
The programme aims to have them patronised by 115 to 350 customers per month for 2 months according to their needs. The prerequisites are: buying a tablet or a laptop, connecting the grocery store to the internet, opening a bank account, reaching an agreement with producers and participating in the very simple training on managing the purchase monitoring software. Each selected beneficiary will receive a 17€ electronic purchase voucher through sms which will convert his/her telephone to a kind of electronic wallet. The customer, once at the grocery store, only has to give his/her phone number and each trader's software will automatically deduce the total sum of the purchases on the voucher.
Using the voucher in a grocery store - Donbass
Photo : TGH ©
This electronic voucher system, which has become a classic alternative for humanitarian aid operations, had never been implemented in the target zone by the project- that is, the localities situated at the front line. The beneficiaries appreciate the freedom of choice offered by the electronic voucher. They, once again, have access to fresh staples like meat and dairy products and can also buy sugar and oil which are indispensable for the manufacture of canned foods especially as the system enables them to purchase many times. As for the traders, they increase their turnover, improve their stores and nurture special relationships with their customers.
The local authorities have expressed their satisfaction with the system which they find more effective than the distribution of cartons of dry food stuffs of which some items are not culturally consumable.
All the shareholders of the project desire the continuation of the project which is why TGH is actively seeking funds to make it last. TGH is currently working towards issuing vouchers for the purchase of hygienic products through the same method.
The local authorities, however, highlighted the absence of benefits from this unconditional assistance which does not foster social harmony. In response to this objection, TGH launched a trial phase by employing 107 persons consisted of 75 women in view of undertaking the little tasks of maintaining the greenery in the village of Novotoshkivka. This trial was rather conclusive and has created new opportunities for a further expansion of the programme.
This programme is currently a success and TGH is already seeking ways to prolong it. The major challenge resides as much in providing relief in an emergency as in supporting the local economy and social harmony by temporarily or even permanently hopefully, engaging this 34 per cent of the unemployed.
Stéphane VENGUT, Head of mission in Ukraine
Korean Federation for the Care of the Aged (KFCA) – TGH partner in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)
Since the late 1990s, the DPRK has witnessed the rapid increase of its aged population. For example, the population census conducted in 2008 evidently showed that the percentage of the elderly population (above 60 years old) increased from 8.9% (in 1993) to 13.1% (in 2008), reaching 3.15 million of people. Finally, the health survey analysis on socio-economic population, carried out by Central Bureau of Statistics in the DPRK in 2014, expects the percentage of elderly population to reach 24.9% of the total population by 2050.
To follow this trend, an organization called HelpAge DPRK was established in April 2003, aiming at ensuring the rights and interests of the elderly, at fostering equal opportunities to make contributions to the social development, and ever at improving quality of life of the elderly. This organization moved into the “Korea Federation for Care of the Aged” (KFCA hereinafter) in 2006. In parallel, the elderly care work in the DPRK has been legally assured through “the DPRK Law on the Care of the Elderly” in 2007.
As a civil society organization in the DPRK, pursing its mission of ensuring rights and interests of the elderly and of further ensuring their mental and physical health, the Central Committee of KFCA guarantees the promotion of elderly welfare in DPRK. The Central Committee of the KFCA has been maintaining close cooperative relation with international organizations on the care of the elderly, to carry out above-mentioned works and programs. One of its partners is Triangle Génération Humanitaire called, EUPS Unit 5 in DPRK and hereinafter¹.
The European Union-funded project “Strengthening civil society for a better care of the elderly people in the DPRK”, which was implemented in partnership between EUPS Unit 5 and KFCA for the last 27 months² , was of a great significance for the elderly care work in DPRK. By numerous approaches and practical activities, objectives were achieved. The overall objective of the project, aimed at strengthening capacity of KFCA as a civil society organization, and the specific objectives were implemented towards the improvement of the assistance delivered to elderly people in the DPRK by KFCA through capacity building, raising awareness, material support and innovative activities. Therefore, 28 members of KFCA central committee, 700 volunteering members of KFCA provincial committees, about 7,200 elderly people living in Old People Home (or OPH) and 308 OPHs staff (doctors, nurses and employees) directly benefited from the project, whose indirect target reached the 3 150 000 aged people living in the country.
Leisure time at the Old People Home of Sinwon 2016
Photo : TGH ©
Reception of leisure materials for the Old People Home (musical instruments and games), TGH and KFCA team 2016
Photo : TGH ©
The project implementation was also carried out thanks to the synergy with other agencies, organizations and donors, detailed as followed:
Consultation at National Geriatric Research Institute 2016
Photo : TGH ©
- Project implementation funded by French Cooperation Office to improve food security of the elderly in the OPHs via providing greenhouses, rice, foodstuff processing machines and facilities;
- Co-Funded project implementation by SDC to provide musical instruments, entertainment, and medical equipment to the OPHs across the country.
- Project implementation funded by the Polish Embassy in the DPRK for the improvement of the geriatrics care system for the elderly population
- Sponsorship of UNFPA Office in the DPRK for participating in the international conferences in India and Thailand for networking activities of KFCA.
The Central Committee of KFCA is highly committed to strive for the elderly care works and for the implementation of the elderly care policies of the DPRK by facilitating partnership between international agencies and cooperation organizations both at home and abroad. The organization will be constant in the future to develop the good partnership relation with EUPS Unit 5 on the way to enhance the elderly welfare in DPRK. As such, KFCA and EUPS Unit 5 work currently on a new proposal focusing on home-care services for elderly and on the capacity building for KFCA on specific project management skills.
KFCA – Partner of TGH in North Korea
¹ The EUPS Unit 5 is the only international humanitarian actor working on the elderly welfare in DPRK
² Decembre 2014- March 2017
TGH and 28 NGOs' signed an Open Letter to M. Laurent Wauquiez, President of the Region Auvergne et Rhone-Alpes Region.
TGH supports the candidacy of the Lebanese NGO Amel International for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.
For more information about our projects, see Programmes on TGH's website.