One out of every four children is at risk of becoming a disaster victim

WorldRiskReport 2018Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft along with the International Institute of Peace Law and Armed Conflicts (IFHV) has published the international report regarding such a risk.

This year the organisations are focusing on the protection of children, quite a vulnerable group, and their rights. According to this report, 1 in 4 children in the world lives in a country affected by disasters. For this reason, among others, the report makes an appeal to improve and protect the rights of infants, particularly those who are at risk.

Children are a group that is often affected by crises and disasters. To protect and reduce the impact that these have, on them and on their families, it is necessary to establish some preparation and cooperation measures that correctly adapt to the situation they are going through. One way of guaranteeing them is that States fulfil their duty and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations in 1989.

The report stresses how important education is when there is a crisis. After an emergency situation, educational institutions must promote a protection area in which the child can continue to develop. School must be a tool to protect the child from rape, exploitation and sickness. If there is no protection, in the long term there will be a negative impact on society: a lack of opportunities, poverty… Moreover, school represents an area for raising awareness to “understand” the disaster and administer it emotionally; an example would be the loss of a family member. In this case, educational programmes are introduced, the main objective of which is reintegrate the children in the state educational system as rapidly as possible, via detection and healing the trauma caused by the disaster.

Another important point is to involve children in projects and training related to preparations for disaster to know what the best prospect for the situation is and how to develop a suitable and effective strategy, as is the case of Bangladesh, where the impact of the government is not particularly effective. The northern area of the country suffers a lot of floods, a phenomenon that destroys homes and crops. To address this problem, three NGOs united to apply a project to prepare for disasters. This involved training school teachers and children and developing a school emergency plan. At the same time schools received material such as umbrellas, rainwear, torches… For the moment these strategies and training programmes are useful, but better coordination with the government is necessary.

Some of the recommendations to promote the role of children in the management of disasters and crises, according to Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, are:

  • Address and prioritise the needs of children when there is a crisis.
  • Integrate children in preparation and intervention projects to address the risks caused by disasters. Listen to their perception of risks, their needs, ideas and solutions.
  • Nursery schools and schools are key actors in supporting children and families when there are disasters. Economic support and specialists in the educational environment are required.
  • Special measures to rescue children quickly from the danger area. The importance of child protection centres is stressed.
  • International support for the immediate evacuation of children.

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