Drought and disease, cyclones and conflict conspired to create one of the globe’s most tumultuous years, with unprecedented humanitarian crises lifting the number of people displaced globally to an astonishing 70 million.
Here are a few examples of humanitarian work trying to ease that burden, in some of the hot spots of global need.
Meet the children who are changing the world
In 2019, children became powerful agents of change – advocating against early marriage in Bangladesh, shutting down brothels in Uganda, saving their friends from barbaric ritual sacrifice and rescuing them from child labour.
Dola, 16, joint secretary of World Vision’s National Child Forum in Bangladesh, has been passionately fighting to end to child marriage.
“In the past six months, the child forum spoke to 36,580 people about the concerning impact of child marriage – and stopped 196 with the support of police and child protection committees,” she says.
In Uganda, a Children’s Parliament set up with the help of World Vision is tackling issues from ritual child sacrifice to sexual exploitation, domestic violence and early marriage.
In one example, members discovered that local children were working in backstreet brothels, with a report to the district council resulting in their closure.
“This parliament can stop issues like violence on the street and at home by giving children the right to speak,” says Marvin, one of the members.
Why this deadly virus just got even more dangerous
It’s one of the world’s most terrifying diseases – starting like a flu and causing a painful death.
The world’s second-worst outbreak of ebola has killed more than 2200 people in Democratic Republic of Congo after the first case in August 2018.
The fight to stop it is hampered by huge challenges.
Humanitarian organisations, including World Vision, have been working hard to contain the spread, including partnering with community leaders on prevention education.
After the World Health Organisation declared ebola a public health emergency of international concern this year, positive signs were emerging that the outbreak was slowing.
But efforts were suspended last month when armed attackers killed four staff responding to the outbreak.
That forced the evacuation of hundreds of health and aid workers.
“Those who haven’t been evacuated would be keeping a low profile because it’s too unsafe for people trying to deliver life-saving treatment,” said World Vision’s Brianna Piazza.
The cyclone still affecting Africa nine months on
It began brewing in early March, and soon built into a cyclone that unleashed fury for more than three weeks across southern Africa, killing 1300 and affecting about three million people.
It was Cyclone Idai – the Southern Hemisphere’s second-deadliest tropical storm that wiped out harvests, almost 280,000 homes and 1300 schools, sparking a humanitarian crisis.
In Mozambique, World Vision responded with shelter, food, sanitation and assistance in getting children back to school.
As of November, the charity had reached more than 680,000 people with essential aid across the region.
But the situation is still bleak.
A November World Vision report estimated there were still almost five million people in need in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, with about 3.7 million still seriously undernourished.
With higher temperatures and no rain, the food security crisis would only worsen.
“Our job as humanitarians is to make sure children can be children and do not have their futures and their education stolen from them,” World Vision response director David Munkley said.
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