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.
Will Canada support the organization and monitoring of fair and free elections that will take place in one year? CAR must not become another Rwanda. As the Government considers what action to take, it must remember that what we do now or fail to do will have an impact on CAR society for years to come, and we will be judged on how we choose to act.
Will the Government of Canada support the threatened peace talks in Addis Ababa by offering mediators to the warring parties and other stakeholders? Will it support civil society coalitions, which are working for reconciliation inside South Sudan? If the violence does not stop, South Sudan could slip further into ethnic conflict.
The international community must strengthen its efforts to work towards a political solution to the Syrian civil war. It cannot afford to lose focus, as the children of Syria cannot afford another year of suffering, another year without education, healthcare, and protection. There are no enemy children, and we must do whatever it takes to save lives.
While the UN Security Council holds urgent talks and Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon urges dialogue to resolve the Ukraine crisis, other areas of crisis fall to the back pages of newspapers. Yet, four level-three emergencies are currently affecting children: the Central African Republic, the Philippines, South Sudan, and Syria. The three conflicts are claiming lives and childhoods.
A total of 2.3-million children are at risk of becoming victims of attacks, and there are more than 6,000 child soldiers in CAR, many of whom are forced to commit atrocities. And sexual violence against girls is increasing. These attacks against children have reached appalling, indefensible levels. Surely Canada can, and must, do more beyond this week's announcement of an additional $5 million.
The United Nations ranks the Central African Republic a level three emergency, among the top three humanitarian emergencies globally. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are concerned about the lack of awareness of this crisis. What can the government do to raise awareness of the crisis in the international community and at home in Canada?
There is a new optimism associated with Africa these days. The phrase "Africa Rising" is showing up with regular frequency in media reports within the continent and beyond, and instead of a steady diet of African despair and failure, we are finally hearing about African innovation and success. Perhaps it is finally Africa's turn, and we at the Canadian Co-operative Association will have front row seats for a long-overdue African renaissance.
Three years into my career I traveled to Uganda as a volunteer with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) to discover how agricultural and financial co-operatives are drastically improving the lives of hard working farmers. That mission, "Telling Our Story Uganda" affected me in a profound and personal way.