Category Archives: International

Conflict kills 300 children every day

More than half a million babies may have died as a result of conflict over the past five years, according to a new report by Save the Children. That’s an average of more than 100,000 deaths annually – or 300 babies every day.

Save the Children - war zone photo

At least 550,000 deaths of children under the age of one could be attributed to the effects of conflict in the 10 worst-affected conflict zones between 2013 and 2017, the most recent year for which data was available, the charity found.

Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria and Somalia are the countries where children were hardest hit by conflict.

The death toll does not include children killed directly by fighting. Instead, it estimates the number of infants and young children who may have died from the knock-on effects of nearby conflict, such as starvation, outbreaks of disease, damage to hospitals, or delays to aid deliveries.

Child deaths rose to 870,000 when all children under the age of five were included. The estimates are likely conservative. By comparison, the charity estimates that almost 175,000 fighters or soldiers were killed in the conflicts over the same five-year period.

The horrific impact on children is partly the result of protracted modern conflicts, often fought among civilian populations. But there is also a crisis in accountability – with persistent, widespread and sometimes deliberate violations of children’s rights across the globe.

Save the Children is calling for the UK to urgently implement a new strategy for protecting civilians – with children front and centre – covering diplomacy, defence and aid.

Britain’s cross-government ‘Protection of Civilians Strategy’ was last updated in 2010 and has no specific provisions for children or other vulnerable groups.

Save the Children is calling for the UK to:

  • Track civilian harm and comprehensively record civilian casualties in conflicts the UK is engaged in, as recommended by the Chilcot Inquiry;
  • Acknowledge the harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, avoid its use and take measures to reduce their impact on civilians and civilian infrastructure;
  • Consistently call out violations against children in conflict, including by allies;
  • Raise the urgency of protecting civilians wherever Britain has a seat at the table – including at the UN Security Council, NATO and the G7.

Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children, said: “The UK should be using its global influence to protect children living in war zones. From Yemen to Syria and South Sudan, children are bearing the horror of armed conflict.

“Some are treated as collateral damage in urban bombing. Others are deliberately targeted for killing, abduction and recruitment by armed groups. Millions go hungry because humanitarian aid is obstructed.

“Britain should send a clear message to the world: the war on children must end, and those who commit crimes against children will be held to account.”

Music stars speak out for refugees

An album in support of Oxfam’s Stand as One campaign has been launched for download and profits will go to Oxfam’s work with refugees around the world and to the Jo Cox Fund, set up after the tragic death of the MP and former Oxfam campaigner.

Musician Jack Garratt at Glastonbury Festival supporting Oxfam's Stand As One campaign for refugees

The album Oxfam Presents: Stand As One – Live at Glastonbury 2016 features global acts such as Coldplay, Muse, and Foals who have contributed a song recorded during their Glastonbury sets to this special live album in support of Oxfam’s work with refugees worldwide.

Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis said: “The album is a wonderful illustration of our love and support for those fleeing conflict. It’s our way of showing, whoever you are, wherever you are, you are not alone when you are making the journey to safety. Glastonbury, Oxfam, musicians and music fans are doing what they can to support you.”

More than 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes by brutal conflict and violence, millions more by natural disaster and poverty. Oxfam’s Stand as One campaign calls for global action to welcome more refugees, to prevent families from being separated and to keep people fleeing their homes safe from harm.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB Chief Executive said: “We are so grateful to Glastonbury and everyone involved in this album for supporting Oxfam’s work to help refugees. This album, which we are proud to dedicate to the memory of Jo Cox, is a celebration of humanity and the desire to Stand as One with people who have been forced to flee. People can add their voices to some of the most famous voices in the world by buying the album and signing our petition so world leaders meeting next month in New York hear our growing chorus for action.”

Jack Garratt (pictured) who has donated his track Worry said: “As a musician I get to travel a lot and I’m very lucky to be able to do that. There are other people who also travel the world not because of fortunate reasons, but because there is physically nowhere else they can go. Knowledge is key in being able to fight with positivity and passion and love. If you feel as passionately as I do visit the Oxfam website, sign the petition and buy the album be a part of a fix and not part of the problem.”

Ahead of two major summits on the global refugee and migration crisis in New York in September, Oxfam is calling on governments to do everything in their power to help and protect people on the move, and for the UK to play a lead role in making this happen.

Oxfam Presents: Stand as One – Live at Glastonbury 2016  is available to buy on Oxfam’s website: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/stand

Baaah! Humbug! When Christmas gets your goat, put some ‘music’ on!

ActionAid Goats AlbumAn entire album of Christmas songs sung by GOATS is going viral, as people around the world download their favourite classics sung with a twist.  

‘All I want for Christmas is a Goat’ is a new album developed by ActionAid in Sweden and consists of eight festive anthems including Jingle Bells, Silent Night and White Christmas.

Free to download on Spotify and YouTube, the album has hit headlines globally and hopes to do the same in the UK in the lead up to the battle for Christmas number one.

So far, the most played goat anthem is well-known Christmas favourite Holy Night, with over 300,000 views on YouTube alone. ActionAid is “baah-cking” the single for Christmas Number One, but the big question is, can it “bleat” the X Factor?

Jessica Holland, ActionAid’s Head of Brand, Marketing and PR, says: “If you’re going to listen to one Christmas album this year – this is it. We’ve worked with the top “goat talent” from Sweden to take on some of the most iconic Christmas songs.

“This is the Christmas album with a difference. Behind the bleats, baaahs and goat cries we are raising awareness of ActionAid’s work fighting poverty worldwide and the positive impact that goats can have on the lives of some of the world’s poorest families.

“For women and children living in poverty, every day is a constant struggle for survival. ActionAid provides hands-on, lasting solutions to help change lives for good.

“Our Gifts in Action scheme could provide a goat to women in some of the poorest communities in the world. Their milk helps nourish that family and the remainder is sold. When kids are born, some are kept to grow the herd. Others are sold so the family can buy tools and seeds. This is a charity gift that keeps on giving.”

Learn more about ActionAid’s Gifts in Action here and listen to the entire album on YouTube.

The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark

A group of investors, an NGO, a think tank and an investor research agency, have launched the first wide-scale project to rank companies on their human rights performance. A total of 500 of the top global companies from four key sectors – Agriculture, ICT, Apparel, and Extractives – will initially be researched and ranked.

The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) will harness the competitive nature of the markets to drive better human rights performance, namely through developing a transparent, publicly available and credible benchmark.

Investors, companies, governments and consumers are increasingly aware of the impacts of business on human rights. Two years after the Tazreen factory fire and one year after Rana Plaza, the Bangladesh Accord has driven industry transparency, publically reporting on factory inspections; this year, Coca-Cola and Pepsi committed to zero tolerance policies on land grabs; the EU is soon to restrict exports on spyware surveillance technologies due to human rights concerns; and US conflict mineral legislation has led to a 65 percent drop in armed groups’ profits from the trade.

Public transparency, combined with public rankings of companies’ performance, is proving a powerful tool in driving a ‘race to the top’. The Access to Medicine Index has brought advances in the pharmaceutical industry’s approach to providing and pricing medicines for poor people suffering from diseases from HIV/AIDS to tuberculosis. Oxfam’s Behind the Brands has created competition between 10 food and beverage giants to eliminate land grabs, enhance the status of women in their supply chains, and reduce carbon emissions.

Steve Waygood of Aviva Investors said: “Our Benchmark will introduce a positive competitive environment as companies try to race to the top of the annual ranking. It will also shine a light on those where performance needs to improve. It took more than 60 years from the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights before the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were developed. We believe that within six years of their approval, we can help to make these Guiding Principles routine corporate practice through the development and use of the Benchmark.”

Phil Bloomer of Business and Human Rights Resource Centre said: “Our ranking will reward good practice by companies, and create a major incentive for poor performers to improve rapidly. The ranking will be a tool for campaigners, trade unions, investors and governments to encourage and press companies to deliver respect, dignity and essential freedoms to their workers, neighbouring communities, and the societies in which they invest.”

Bennett Freeman of Calvert Investments

Bennett Freeman of Calvert Investments

“The process of benchmarking and then ranking companies on their commitment and performance will reinforce the inescapable proposition that companies in all industries must respect human rights,” said Bennett Freeman of Calvert Investments. “Moreover, as investors become increasingly aware of human rights-related risk across sectors and asset classes, this framework will be a critical due diligence tool for evaluating how companies are managing those risks” Freeman said.

 

Peter Webster of EIRIS

Peter Webster of EIRIS

Peter Webster of EIRIS said: “We are delighted to make our long-standing experience of creating ratings, and the criteria on which they are built, available to this project. Our clients and other responsible investors are raising a growing number of human rights issues with companies, and by taking data out from behind a pay wall this project has the potential for much greater impact.”

John Morrison of the Institute for Human Rights and Business said: “The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark will be the first publicly available ranking of corporate policies, processes and performance on human rights. It will seek to assess the reality behind companies’ public commitments, including what they do to address negative impacts when things go wrong, and what kinds of collaborations they undertake to scale their resources.”

Giuseppe van der Helm of VBDO said: “As a sustainable investment forum, VBDO has 20 years’ experience with measuring company CSR performance in benchmarks. In our company engagements, we have noticed that public benchmarks make sustainability topics more concrete for companies and create a ‘race to the top’. We expect the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark to do the same.”

Over the next three years the six organisations, making up the CHRB Steering Group, will conduct a worldwide consultation on the methodology and results with diverse stakeholders, and incrementally collect and release information on 500 companies’ human rights performance. Powerful information will be made available through an open source, online portal to empower the range of business and human rights advocates among companies, investors, governments, local communities and NGOs.

When achieved, this will be an extraordinary breakthrough moment for the business and human rights field, creating greater corporate accountability, incentivising and requiring changes in business behaviour and creating greater leverage for policy-makers, investors, communities and consumers.

Amol Mehra of the Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), a coalition of human rights, environmental, labour, and development organisations who welcomed CHRB’s launch, said: “By building a comparative assessment of company performance on human rights, the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark initiative creates useful and needed momentum for corporate respect for human rights, and ultimately accountability.”

Charity Chairman to walk 2,600 miles

Bobby Grewal

Bobby Grewal – Chairman of the India Association

79-year old explorer and Chairman of the India Association, Bobby Grewal, is preparing to undertake the most demanding physical and mental challenge of his life with ‘Bobby’s Walk Full Circle’.

Bobby’s Walk Full Circle is a 2,600 mile charity trek across India that will see Bobby walk from Kanyakumari (on the Southern tip of India) up the east coast, via Chennai and Calcutta, to Delhi, where he is due to finish the walk, in May 2015.

The aim of the walk is to raise £1,500,000 for Save the Children (and other children’s charities in the UK and abroad) and fulfil a lifelong dream for Bobby, of walking the ‘circle of India.’

‘Bobby’s Walk Full Circle’ is the second part of an epic journey which began in 2005, with the ‘Great Charity Walk’, where Bobby spent five months walking 2,556 miles down the west coast of India, raising over £100,000 along the way, for Cancer and Aids research, in the UK and India.

He will complete his epic journey with ‘Bobby’s Walk Full Circle’, which will start in December 2014.

He will be accompanied by a single support vehicle and a team of four, consisting of; a Walk Manager, a Driver, a Physiotherapist and a Chef. Bobby will be faced with challenging conditions, due to his age, the extreme weather conditions and tough terrain, but he will need to cover 20-25 miles a day, in order to reach the various milestones along the route.

Bobby says of the walk; “I feel very blessed. I have always enjoyed exploring and have had the privilege to fulfil my dream through the India Association, while raising money for extremely worthy causes, such as Save the Children.”

Bobby has been Chairman of The India Association since 2001 and in that time, has raised over £300,000 for various worthy causes with the help of Executive Members and Advisers.

The India Association is a voluntary West London based charity, whose aim it is to support noble charitable causes wherever the need arises, in the UK or abroad. The organisation is governed by a group of professional businessmen and women, who organise events, activities and challenges, to raise money for good causes.

www.indiaassocation.co.uk