As a lover of food, and a tourism professional, the fall holds a special place in my heart. The summer air cools, the season's bounty is gathered and celebrations abound. This fall, I'm particularly excited because I'm also returning to Galway, Ireland for the inaugural Food On The Edge Symposium -- where I'll experience a second harvest, of an idea planted by Chef Jp McMahon.
his year has already become the worst year since 1945 for children who have been displaced and forced to flee as refugees, and for children who had their schools attacked and destroyed. Canadians should know about these crises, their impacts on children, and how youth can be better protected and educated in emergency situations.
Ebola has infected nearly 24,000 people and killed almost 10,000, mainly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. However, the impacts of Ebola extend far beyond the borders of the worst-affected countries. G7 Foreign Ministers should champion a rigorous approach to go beyond reducing transmission, to stopping the disease completely, to enabling societies to manage the consequences of the outbreak, and to preventing future outbreaks.
The Syrian conflict is entering its fifth horrific year of escalating violence, with little sign of ending. More than 200,000 people have been killed, 10,000 of them children. Today over 12.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 5.6 million children. Almost 11 million Syrians have been displaced within and outside Syria, including 3.3 million refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. More than half of the refugee population are children, and 114,000 children have been born as refugees.
When I asked in question period on February 20th whether the Minister of International Development would personally attend the donor conference, pledge, and champion 5.6 million Syrian children, Canada's Parliamentary Secretary replied that: "We are still in consideration of whether or not the minister is going to attend that."
It is time we all joined the UN chief's plea, and once again rallied to #bringbackourgirls from a terrorist organization that knows no bounds to its brutality. Join me as I call on Canada to work with the international community in addressing the ongoing violence threatening innocent women and children in Nigeria.
Today, Ebola continues to hit hardest in Sierra Leone, which reported 337 new cases in the last week of December, more than double those in Guinea and Liberia combined. In Sierra Leone, which already had the world's highest maternal mortality ratio and the fourth highest infant mortality rate, the impact of Ebola on children is huge and under-reported; and orphans remain the forgotten victims of the crisis.
During this holiday season, Canadians come together to care for one another -- we find ways to support our local communities. As we get ready to celebrate the beginning of 2015, I would like to share with you my wishes for the children who are suffering through the world's worst humanitarian crises.
The report calls for a national plan to address violence against immigrant and refugee women and immigration policies that better support immigrants in precarious circumstances. It calls on the federal government to abolish the two-year conditional status for sponsored spouses, reinstate access to the Interim Federal Health program to all refugee claimants and uphold the privacy of all people who have access to social and health services.
First, the PISA standing of Canadian students has been dropping over the years, both in terms of raw scores, and also in terms of comparative scores. Our students are getting lower marks than they did in the past -- at a time when a number of other countries are dramatically improving their scores and rocketing past Canada.
My conversation with Sierra Leone shows once again that there is much work to be done, and that international community must urgently step-up its response. Canada can and must do more to help the people of West Africa, and must turn its announcements into commitments on the ground. As the United Nations said, a humane world cannot allow Africa to suffer on such an extraordinary scale.
Will the Government of Canada make a second humanitarian contribution to South Sudan to avoid yet another human catastrophe? Moreover, given that nutrition is one of the key pillars of the Every Woman Every Child Initiative, it is counterproductive to wait until South Sudan is classified as a severe famine before intervening.
Will the government show leadership in responding to this deadly outbreak and offer help needed to contain and control it, including much needed field hospitals and other equipment? And will the Government consider deploying more health care specialists and armed forces personnel in collaboration with the U.S. to face the outbreak?
South Sudan, the world's youngest country, did not mark its third anniversary on July 9 by celebrating, but by struggling to survive what the United Nations (UN) recently described as one of the gravest humanitarian and political crises in the world's history. The question that begs to be asked is will the Canadian Government now provide a second round of humanitarian funding? Thousands of children are at risk of dying this year.
The clock began ticking April 14, when the 276 girls were abducted from their dormitories. Two months have now passed, and 219 girls remain missing. The more time passes the greater the risk, including the girls being sold into marriage or engaged in the worst forms of child labor, sexual exploitation and violence and recruitment into armed groups.