It is with great joy that we confirm the release of our Finnish colleague who was abducted on 20 May. The well-being of our colleague is being assessed at this time. We request privacy for our colleague and our colleague’s family.
We are also still mourning the death of our German colleague and the Afghan house guard who were killed in the initial attack on the Kabul home of our colleagues. Our prayers and thoughts continue to be with both families as we all deal with this tragic loss.
Saturday evening, Kabul time, the residence of two Operation Mercy staff members was broken into. One staff member, a German national, was killed along with her house guard, an Afghan national. Another Operation Mercy staff member, a Finnish national, is missing. We will provide updates as more information becomes available. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families involved.
Please direct all enquiries to Operation Mercy’s spokesperson, Cathy Stanley: firstname.lastname@example.org, +46 7614 66 944.
10 April 2016
Today's agreed cessation of hostilities in Yemen comes at a crucial moment when an entire country is on the brink. Humanitarian agencies warned today that should the ceasefire break down again, as previous ones did, the consequences would be catastrophic.
In June, southern Kyrgyzstan erupted in ethnic violence, between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, resulting in an estimated 375,000 people fleeing and almost 80,000 taking shelter in neighbouring Uzbekistan. Although there were wounded and dead people on both sides, the most affected areas and communities were Uzbek.
As we are registered as a relief and development agency in Uzbekistan we made plans to respond to the crisis on the Uzbek side of the border.
Operation Mercy will begin psychosocial interventions in both Osh and Jalal-Abad the first week in July. Trainers, including a specialist in gender-based violence, will provide short courses in order to equip non-professionals in basic empathetic listening and trauma counseling.
Operation Mercy has worked with street boys in Sudan since 1996. During this time many boys, who were living on the street, have received and are presently receiving the basics like food, clothing and shelter but also the provision of a full academic course and most importantly a safe home-like environment. Many of the boys have gone on to university and are now able to provide for their families.
The youngest child in our centre in Omdurman has been with us for 6 months. He is five years old, too young to write his own life story.
In Afghanistan, many women are vulnerable and it is difficult for the women themselves to improve their situation. This is due to the social structure that often leads to isolation for many women. It is because of this that Operation Mercy has encouraged the formation of Self Help Groups.
Every human being has a tremendous God given potential. This hidden potential in the poor can be unleashed if a conducive environment is provided.
Individually the poor are voiceless, powerless and vulnerable. However by bringing the poor together as a group a tremendous strength can be gained.
Operation Mercy was able to install nine water tanks to provide the inhabitants of the island off the Iranian coast with clean drinking water.
After the severe earthquake in September last year, Operation Mercy has been helping villages on Qeshm with water tanks, since clean drinking water could no longer be obtained. About 8000 people now benefit from the water tanks on the island that was just recovering after the 2005 earthquake.
Mohammad is a 12 year old boy who studies in the 5th grade in elementary school.
The North West Frontier Province in Pakistan still faces challenges. Because of the government's war against the militia, people have fled and the displacement figure has now risen to over two million people. The world's largest internally displaced community is crying out to the international community. Pakistan still needs your help.
More than 260,000 people live in camps set up by the government. While visiting 150 families that received help during our initial intervention, the Operation Mercy team saw the people's needs with their own eyes.
The Pakistan Army recently launched an operation against Taliban militants to secure the land that they are occupying in the Swat area in the Northern part of Pakistan. Due to this operation, people from the Swat, Bonir, Malakand and Mangora Districts have fled to safe havens.
Around 1.5 million people have left their homes and hundreds of thousands now reside in temporary camps set up by the government. This has now become the world's largest internally displaced community.
Operation Mercy provided winter relief to some of the most vulnerable families in Northern Afghanistan. Here is an account of the distribution.
"On 22nd December with snow on the ground and a cold wind blowing, our two trucks made it to the distribution point with the wheat, beans, cooking oil, tea and quilts", an Operation Mercy co-worker says. He continues:
"I had engaged two students from the educational projects to process the distribution cards and get signatures. We had a number of other helpers from the village including the school headmaster.
The earthquake on April 17 in southeast Afghanistan has left hundreds of families homeless, with nearly all the homes in 5 villages totally destroyed. Operation Mercy Afghanistan has carefully coordinated with a small team of locals to assess needs in the earthquake zone. Upon confirming with local government bodies and other international organizations, we hope to distribute 200 high-quality tents to families that are still without shelter. The area is a sensitive, troubled zone and wisdom is needed for the distribution.
Your gift can help shelter a needy Afghan family.
Some people live with the daily threat of earthquakes. In the Pakistani mountains, people are very familiar with the devastation that can follow a quake. The people cannot move anywhere else and so they need to face the challenges of their area. One way of being prepared before an earthquake comes, is by making sure that their buildings are safe.
Operation Mercy has been given the opportunity to assist the village people to build a school in a remote place in the mountains.
The south of Yemen faced a tropical storm that lasted for 48 terrible hours at the end of October. As a result of the massive flooding from the mountains nearly 100 people died. One village in Wadi Hadhramout was completely washed away, thousands of houses were destroyed and ten thousand people are still homeless. Most of them are poor fishing families with many children.
In the area of Operation Mercy's community development project, the flood eradicated the mud-houses. People's living conditions are now miserable as they are squeezed in to live with neighbours or relatives.
Hormozgan province in southern Iran is no stranger to disaster. After an earthquake in 2005 left a path of devastation across the province, another earthquake in September has caused additional damage to villages still struggling to recover.
With most aid going to the mainland, several villages on Qeshm Island have been left without clean drinking water, increasing the susceptability of disease. Operation Mercy is providing water tanks that will ensure clean water for more than 3,000 families. Village committees are erecting the foundations to ensure local participation.
Over the past seven years, millions of refugees have returned to Afghanistan after fleeing the years of violence and oppression. Because of the ongoing security situation, many are not able to return to their home districts and so live as internally displaced people within their own country.
These poor and vulnerable families suffer greatly during the winter months because of their dependence on the daily labour market which dries up during the winter. In addition, harsh weather conditions require additional income for fossil heating material and to cover seasonal medical needs.
We are rejoicing with our boys who sat their high school exams. Five boys passed their exams and will go to University or College if we can find sponsors for them. One of the boys has already started at Aviation College, as the term starts earlier than the University.
We have paid his first term and are searching for a sponsor for him. The other four boys have yet to choose their courses. Four of the boys had a percentage of over 70% in all 8 subjects, which is a high achievement.
On Monday, May the 12th at 2:28 pm Beijing time, the earthquake of 7.9 degree struck China's Sichuan Province. The affected areas follow a fault line along a mountain range that runs southwest to northeast across the province. Many remote mountain villages and farm communities had not yet been reached by aid workers. This far casualties amount to approximately 74,000 dead, or missing, many still buried or missing, and 250,000 injured.
Imagine you've been ushered into a cold room in a hospital, the temperature varies from room to room depending on whether you can afford to bring your own electric heaters to supplement the tiny ones that the hospital can provide. Most of the hospital you are in has no running water, and even less hot water due to frozen pipes which burst. Sinks have old plastic cola bottles filled with water sitting beside them for washing up. Maybe you came prepared with some blankets, sheets, and a heater from home, maybe you didn't.
The relief effort in northeastern Afghanistan continues to reach the forgotten of Afghan society. We are distributing food to women who are attending a literacy class at a local women's NGO. They are widows, orphans or struggling with other issues that have resulted in poverty. Families recommended by the local community also receive food. Additionally, we work in the Hazor Smooch district among its very poor Uzbek shepherds.
We use home to home visitation in order to assess the needs of families in the area.