Middle East

Press Release 5/20/22: Yemen Famine Threat

Yemen is suffering from an extreme wheat shortage, putting millions at risk of a deadly famine.

 

Due to more than 7 years of war, political unrest, and a stagnant economy, Yemen is considered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Of the 31.18 million people who live there, approximately 17.4 million of them are hungry. This does not even touch on those who are suffering from disease, malnutrition, and injuries from violence. The situation, it seems, is only getting worse.

When the war in Ukraine began in late February, Yemen lost a large portion – over 30%-  of its wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia. In a country where more than 80% of the population already suffers from hunger, this was a devastating loss.

However, earlier this week, things went from bad to worse when India – the world’s second largest producer of wheat – banned wheat exports entirely. The UN expressed strong concerns for countries like Yemen that were already experiencing widespread hunger.

“The US envoy said that Ukraine used to be a breadbasket for the developing world, but ever since Russia started blocking crucial ports and destroying civilian infrastructure and grain silos, hunger situations in Africa and the Middle East are getting even more dire.”

Prior to the wheat shortage, 16 million people in Yemen were already ‘marching towards starvation.’ Now even more will join them.

UMR’s Emergency Plan

 

UMR has a multi-step approach to bringing both immediate relief and creating long-term sustainable solutions to help the people in Yemen.

First and foremost, we plan to deliver emergency food aid to the most vulnerable communities throughout the country, with a focus on the elderly, mothers and children, and persons with disabilities.

On a longer-term scale, we plan to rehabilitate the local markets, construct and maintain water points for people and livestock, and support local farmers through home gardens, drip irrigation units, and other services. Our ultimate goal is to stimulate the economy as well as provide sustainable food sources.

Emergency In Lebanon 2020

As of August 04, 2020, over 4,000 were injured in the Beirut warehouse explosion.  A state of emergency has been declared in Lebanon.

Lebanon needs your help and your assistance. 

“Lebanon is at great risk for a food crisis. Both the Human Rights Watch and the World Bank are predicting that over half of Lebanese households may not be able to afford to purchase food by the end of the year. A full collapse of the Lebanese pound has left thousands of Lebanese unemployed, desperate, and hungry. More than 220,000 jobs in the private sector have been lost since mid-October, and the unrest among the people has reached its boiling point.” — Wejdan Jarrah, UMR’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Representative

As it will take time for Lebanon to fully recover from the explosion, the sharp economic collapse, and the overall political unrest throughout the country, this country needs as much extra help as possible. When you give, your donations are supplying doctors with the medical supplies they need to save lives, providing mothers with food to feed their children, and sharing with the elderly pain medication that they can no longer afford– and that’s a start.

Here’s how your contribution to UMR’s emergency campaign will support Lebanon: 

Emergency Medical Intervention:

UMR already shipped its first medical shipment by air to Lebanon. Each health kit will help 10,000 people receive medical aid for 3 months. These emergency health kits include vital items such as:

  • Gauze
  • Pain medication
  • Surgical instruments
  • Gloves
  • Masks
  • Sterilizers
  • Trays and more

Food Intervention:

UMR has been working in Lebanon for years, providing cash assistance, food parcels, fresh meat, and medical assistance to the poorest areas of the country. UMR is conducting food parcel distributions carrying items such as:

  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Flour
  • Pasta
  • Oil
  • Sugar
  • Tomato paste and more

Each package typically feeds a family of 5 for an entire month.

  • The cost of household staples have risen up to nearly 70% —  butter now sells for $8.00 USD, powdered milk costs $40.00 USD, and diapers cost up to $43.00 USD
  • Over 2.2 million people are living in poverty in Lebanon. According to The World Bank, food insecurity numbers reinstate that “poverty levels could reach as high as 50% if the economic situation worsens.”
  • More than 220,000 jobs in the private sector have been lost since mid-October, and the unrest among the people has reached its boiling point.

Beirut Cleanup:

UMR volunteers are organized on the ground in Beirut to help clean up the city and restore its peace. Cleaning up the debris from the streets is vital for the country to begin to heal.

As the country begins to rebuild after the explosion, Lebanon faces countless roadblocks.

An estimated 300,000 people are now homeless, more than half of the population is facing poverty, and hospitals are operating without electricity as doctors fight to save the thousands of people caught in the explosion. As the spread of COVID-19 overwhelms the region, unemployment rises to over 30%, and overcrowded hospitals oversee mortality rates, Lebanon now finds itself in the middle of a humanitarian disaster. 

Rebuilding Beirut:

Our dedicated team has identified and begun construction on apartmentsin Beirut. We are on track to repair 40-50 apartments per week to ensure that families can safely quarantine.

UMR is restoring homes and apartments by rebuilding windows, doors, and more that were shattered in the blast. We are doing this by employing local workers and providing opportunities and jobs to people who need it most.As COVID-19 cases continue to hit historical daily highs in Lebanon, and with winter on the horizon and cold rains threatening to make matters worse, we are ask you to consider making a donation to support our work. 

“It still feels as if it happened yesterday. The exhaustion, the fear every time we hear something loud; the frustration, the worries… it’s still all there, and it will always remain there.

Your donations will allow us to expand and intensify our life-saving efforts for as long as it takes to rebuild this country.”

Click to Read More:

[1] UNHCR – Lebanon Fact Sheet 2020

[2] WFP – Saving Lives/Global Hotspots 2020

[3] UNDP – Spotlight on Youth in Lebanon 2015

[4] The World Bank in Lebanon 

Jasmine Project

6.6 million people have had to flee from the civil war in Syria— nearly half of them being women and children. They have faced dramatic changes in every part of their lives, particularly involving their roles in their community.

For women, life as a refugee has meant becoming the primary breadwinner and caretaker, fending for themselves and their families, away from their communities and traditional sources of support. The majority of Syrian women in Jordan are skilled in handicrafts, clothes, school uniforms, soaps, and cosmetic creation and recycling.

Fatima* sought refuge in Jordan with her family in 2020. She tried looking for job opportunities, but unfortunately could not join the market due to government restrictions.

UMR has sensitized its network with the private sectors, youth, and social entrepreneurs to come together to creatively contribute to solving social and economic challenges among young women in Jordan.UMR’s Jasmine Project is a way to empower women economically through skills development and entrepreneurship training. UMR’s goal is to teach women how to turn their abilities into marketable skills that will allow them not just to survive, but to prosper. Fatima joined UMR’s Jasmine Project and is now the breadwinner of her family. With a monthly income that allows her to comfortably support her family, she is the team leader of the project, helping inspire other women just like her.

Direct Impact: 225 women will directly benefit from the Jasmine Project, aged 18-50; 80% of them are Syrians, and 20% are Jordanians from Amman.

Indirect Impact: 1,125 family members of this project will benefit indirectly and another 10,000 customers– including business and the private sector who will purchase Jasmine products– will also reap benefits.

Jasmine’s goal for the future is to build the capacity of its participants and accredit its courses. UMR also plans to teach them practical entrepreneurial skills to develop a website, teach e-marketing, and visit some international exhibitions to promote Jasmine’s activities as a women-led company.

Jasmine’s trainings are not limited to community women but also targets the youth in universities and schools during summer break to teach professional crafts and handicrafts.

Cataract & Hearing Aid Mission

Treatment of preventable blindness, like cataract and low vision, and deafness is one of the most effective ways to lift people out of poverty, especially for vulnerable communities like refugees living in makeshift environments.

Cataract Missions – Life with Blindness

Cataract accounts for 30%-50% of blindness in most African and Asian countries. Every dollar spent towards eliminating blindness and correcting vision in developing countries returns a four-fold on investment in economic terms. This places eliminating avoidable blindness among the most effective interventions available. Cataract surgeries are some of the most impactful on a person’s quality of life and require no follow up visits to a doctor.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) cataract is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment worldwide, accounting for nearly 20 million cases with nearly 5 million new cases each year.

Life With Hearing Loss and Deafness

Loss in hearing may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and aging.

Loss is hearing is defined as the ability to not hear as well as someone with normal hearing: hearting threshold of 25 dB or better in both ears. Hearing loss can affect one or both ears, causing difficulty to hear conversational speech or loud sounds.

Hard of hearing is defined as hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. Individuals who are hard of hearing communicate through spoken language and the use of  hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices.

Deafness is profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing in an individual. They often use sign language for communication.

  • 60% of hearing loss is attributable to preventable causes, in children under the age of 15
  • 1.1 billion individuals are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to high noise – high risk for ages between 12–35 years
  • Over one third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss – greater prevalence in South Asia, Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa
  • The current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of the worldwide need

UMR Interventions

Since 2016, UMR has been sending medical missions to places like Kenya, Jordan, and Bangladesh to perform cataract surgeries on patients in need. UMR has helped to restore the gift of sight to curable blind cases by providing quality medical care services to some of the most underprivileged including the elderly, disabled, refugees and vulnerable people in the community, many of whom live without any support from their relatives and governments. Under this initiative, in coordination with partner NGOs and Ministries of Health, over 1,000 cataract surgeries have been successfully performed free of cost to date thanks to our generous donors. Our surgeries have been 100% successful with no recurring complications, and cost as little as $100 per eye.

Hearing Aid in Palestine/Jordan

UMR established a partnership with Community Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled/ Gaza camp (CRCD) – UNRWA, which works to integrate persons with disabilities in their communities and to improve their living conditions. The center helped UMR by offering its local program team and through conducting the need assessment for the project. UMR also partnered with Phonak Jordan, which provided a generous discount on the hearing devices and performed all medical examinations, measurements, and modeling before the devices distribution. It offered 2 years of device maintenance and monitoring in Jordan.

UMR’s Hearing Aid project helps Palestinian refugees in Gaza/Jerash camp and Syrian refugees in random camps in Al-Mafraq who have no health benefits and social security number.

When thousands of people in a community suffer from health issues, it can be nearly impossible for a society to grow and become self-sustainable. At UMR, we believe that in order to improve the quality of life in a community, everyone must have access to primary healthcare. As we continue our mission to help beneficiaries, we will be providing free cataract surgeries and hearing aids to as many people as possible.

Potato and Bread Campaign – Lebanon

In light of the economic meltdown with the wave of COVID-19 crisis, UMR has gathered its team to ensure food security to Lebanon’s most vulnerable communities. UMR is distributing bread and potatoes to more than 50,000 families in Tripoli and Saida areas.

The population of Lebanon is estimated at 6.83 million in 2020. Lebanon has taken in 1.5 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees since 2011. Refugees make up 30% of the country’s population, the highest concentration per capita of refugees in the world. There is an increase in the number of Lebanese and refugees living below the poverty line in Lebanon.

Countrywide anti-establishment protests in October 2019 have sent Lebanon’s economy in free fall and are hitting vulnerable Lebanese and refugees hard, with thousands railing against government corruption and economic mismanagement and deterioration, resulting in purchasing power being dropped and poverty increase. The crisis deepens into another crisis – the Coronavirus pandemic- Since Lebanon was placed on lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, cash-strapped banks have cut access to dollars for depositors already separated from much of their savings by months of tightening controls. Dollar shortages have for months drained it of critical supplies and the cases toll still increases on daily basis. Affects are on monthly payments of rent, food insecurity, health and other necessities.

Families can’t afford their acute need for healthy food, medicines, and cash assistance to get them through this month with Coronavirus spreading alongside the ignited economic downfall that re-erupted in May 2020. Prices skyrocketed from 60%- 300% in Lebanon, with the dollar value reaching 4000 LBP in the black market which resulted in hindering people’s access to food; Bread and Potatoes in particular; for both the producer and the consumer. 49% of Lebanese are worried about access to food, and about 60 % of the population relies directly or indirectly on agricultural activities. Poverty levels spiked across Lebanon. Some analysts are warning that violent demonstrations are likely to grow as living standards plummet and in an acute need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

In response to the issue of food insecurity, UMR will fund two important initiatives to ensure access to basic food and protect vulnerable communities; one is “Salt and Bread” campaign, carried out by community-based initiative, in collaboration with Akkarouna foundation and Heads of Municipalities. They have partnered together to raise fund for the idea of “Akkar Emergency Room”; which aims to produce bread in a small bakery by the community and distribute to 2000 families per day. So far, it has contributed in its first phase to distribute 74900 bread packs to 37450 families in all Tripoli and Saida areas. The second initiative is the Potato campaign; which aims to promote the production of potato farmers and distributing potato packs to families. 5 kilos per family to 35,000 families in Tripoli and Saida areas. 50% Lebanese and 50% Palestinians. These initiatives were inspired by UMR’s essence of giving to the underserved communities to elevate peoples’ spirits during these hard times, which is all about sharing our goodness with each other.

UMR Institute

UMR Institute: Operates domestically and internationally as an institutional context for capacity building for organizations and local communities and serve as a nonprofit incubator that forms young leaders in the Nonprofit sector, charity, voluntarism, philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship champions. In this context, UMR Institute will collaborate with its partners for external resources and training materials. Furthermore, UMR Institute will serve as a think tank for UMR by providing research and evidence-based rationale for UMR work by exploring the community needs and social investment potential and providing the feasibility and funding potential when needed, and also through being a monitoring and evaluation platform that tracks and measures the impact of UMR projects worldwide and provide post-implementation assessments and recommendations. The Institute will also help align UMR’s work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Pass the Plate

Ramadan 2020

Every year Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan by fasting from sunrise to sunset. Unfortunately for hundreds of thousands of families, they will not get the chance to spend this spiritual time in a warm home with nutritious food to break their fast.

The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million globally last year – the highest number in the UN refugee agency’s almost 70 years of operations. – UN

Refugees and displaced people are the most vulnerable people on the planet, suffering daily without sufficient housing, access to medicine, doctors, food, or clean water. As the crisis worsens, more and more people are depending on humanitarian agencies like UMR to fill the gaps.

Each year during Ramadan, UMR delivers food packages filled with nutritious items such as beans, rice, flour, oil, canned goods, and more to reach people that have absolutely nothing. We have spoken with families begging for help, telling our field staff that without these resources, they will die.

Me and my children are fasting. What will we eat to break our fast? My children are begging me for food and water!

This Ramadan, these families desperately need your help. Please #PassThePlate to a child in need!

Where We Are Working

Lebanon Kenya
Jordan Somalia
Yemen Sudan
Palestine Pakistan
Bangladesh USA

What We Are Providing

Food Baskets

UMR delivers food packages containing items such as rice, flour, sugar, oil, beans, lentils, tomato paste, pasta, bread, and canned goods.

Water & Sanitation

In addition, we will be building water wells in Pakistan, Somalia and Kenya to ensure that some of the poorest communities are able to find clean drinking water, and prevent the spread of diseases.

Orphan Protection

Children are some of the most vulnerable among these already struggling communities. That is why UMR prioritizes the safety and well-being of children and orphans by providing them with healthcare, education, nutrition and a chance at a future.

Iftars

Each year UMR hosts iftar dinners throughout the month of Ramadan. Last year we were able to serve thousands of people in Yemen and Gaza with warm, nutritious meals.

Click Donate Now to See the different programs you can Donate to:

Medical Shipments

UMR boasts a strong medical gifts-in-kind supply chain. We work with private medical providers to procure medical supplies ranging from disposables such as gloves, bandages, and prescription medications to equipment critical to the success of a healthcare institution such as x-ray and ultrasound machines. This is a critical tool for capacity building of hospitals as it frees up monetary resources to hire new doctors and reduce the cost burden on patients.

UMR has provided medical shipments containing life-saving medicine and supplies to Yemen, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Jordan and Lebanon, and continues to send containers to countries in need.

iFuture

More than 28,000 Palestinian refugees live in Irbid refugee camp, one of four camps established in Jordan as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The camp quickly became a new home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who flee their homes due to the ongoing Syrian civil war. According to the FaFo report of 2013, about 31% of Palestine refugees in Irbid camp have an income below the national poverty line. Almost 80 Jordanian schools – most of them in the poor governorates (counties) in the north – have introduced two daily school sessions to cope with the influx of Syrians that have stretched Jordan’s public resources to breaking point, including health and education. Many are beginning to grumble about the strain on their hospitals and schools. 

Dropouts and retention are on the rise between school children in Irbid camps. In addition to the socio-economic conditions that force families and children to resort to negative coping mechanisms like early marriage and mis-prioritizing work over education. Another significant challenge is the lack of introducing interpersonal and social skills to school children and refugees for the advancement of life skills and psychosocial growth.

UMR’s iFuture project aims to resolve challenges regarding education and the overall progress of the child’s social and intellectual health. UMR hopes to empower children by providing them with education, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills. UMR will use an electronic and digital platform (Electronic Library) for teaching students who each one of them will have his/her tablet to access online lessons designed by the community coaches. 

UMR designed iFuture in line with the Sustainable Development Goal.4: To ensure inclusive, equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and the MoE strategic plan for lifelong learning and non-formal education.

The project targets 100 orphan children (50% girls and 50% boys, 30% Syrians and 70% Jordanians-Palestinians, aged 7-16) 20% of them are dropped out of schools to join the market, and 80% have poor school performance due to socio-economic conditions. Therefore, financial support will be provided to refugee families with monthly cash assistance for 12 months to accommodate school and life cost challenges. To sustain the project, UMR will link families with other financial assistance systems through its cooperation with UNHCR, UNRWA and MoSD, and INGOs in Irbid. UMR will provide children with mentors, psychosocial and awareness sessions, sports, games, and other activities to help the physical and mental development of a child.

[1] http://www.dpa.gov.jo/page.php?85-85

[2]https://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work/jordan/irbid-camp

Psychosocial Support (PSS)

UMR seeks to provide a wraparound program for children and their families who are affected by conflict. Our Psycho-Social Support (PSS) and Child-Friendly Space initiatives give refugee women and children coping mechanisms to mitigate trauma while increasing critical thinking skills among children, especially younger ones, violence reduction among peers, and greater connectivity and comfort with their host community at large. The UMR Jordan PSS team supports children by listening to them, providing them with a safe space and atmosphere to express their feelings and work through the pain, consequently, transforming their negative emotions into something productive. The PSS project also emphasizes the importance of strengthening their social environment, which has a great effect on the beneficiaries’ psychological health and development on various levels; with the family, community, and the beneficiaries themselves.

The UMR Jordan PSS team has also adopted “We Love Reading”- an informal education curriculum designed for children who have experienced education disruption due to conflict. Refugees who do attend regular schooling are often victims of bullying which increases social isolation and can exacerbate mental trauma. “We Love Reading” is designed to teach young children literacy skills, introduce critical thinking through play therapy, and cultivate an early thirst for education that can carry forward when formal schooling options become available.

The program also provides awareness sessions, for topics such as sexual harassment, bullying, hygiene, emotional intelligence-EI, ethics, counseling, and psychotherapy sessions (PTSD, and Psychiatric Disturbance) in order to help them cope with their environment and society.

UMR Jordan initially:

  1. Assesses the social, financial, mental and physical health condition of a family; women and children (age 6-18), through house visits
  2. Studies and evaluates the situation of children and women according to their age, social, mental, and emotional needs, in addition to their social environment statuses, for the enrollment of UMR’s specialized PSS programs
  3. Builds up the entire program that properly fits their needs. It is usually divided into 4-6 awareness and counseling sessions and at least 12 sessions for psychotherapy

This is an ongoing program. Since its inception in 2016, 104 teenagers 13-18 years old, have attended the PSS activities designed to help them positively express their emotions, cultivate positive parent-child relations, find productive hobbies, and reduction of physical and emotional aggression towards themselves and others.

694 children between 5 and 12 years old attended PSS activities and been engaged in play therapy designed to help them express their feelings and build their self-esteem. They also discover appropriate behaviors when interfacing with parents, siblings, teachers, and elderly people to rebuild communal connections often lost to refugees.

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