Paul Bettings/World Vision Canada
Emanuel was the first of many people I met on a trip to Uganda who are volunteering to parent unaccompanied children.
NurPhoto via Getty Images
The country is one of the world's toughest places to be a mom.
Though inspired by a UN initiative, Canada is running the show outside of the international body.
Sandra Chevrier/World Vision
The world's newest country is once again facing conflict and drought that are producing a new generation of internally displaced people and refugees.
Lina's life as a refugee has been fraught with loneliness and fear. Her journey began with the murder of her father.
Government of Canada
Through encounters like this one with Aysha, I have seen firsthand that all mothers have the same dreams for their children. We want them to be safe, happy and successful, and that hope doesn't change even if your circumstances are difficult. If anything, it may even become more important.
Climate change is certainly partly to blame for droughts that destroy crops, kill livestock and dry up rivers. However, the main cause of hunger crises is conflict. If the guns were silenced and humanitarian access were restored, it would save more lives in the short term than the return of the rains and crops.
Given the fragile nature of our planet's environment, there are lots of things to think about this Earth Day But this year, I'm thinking about how climate change -- and the droughts that are becoming more frequent and more severe as a result -- is affecting some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.
vlad_karavaev via Getty Images
It's now more than a month since famine was declared in parts of South Sudan. For children in the world's youngest country, the worsening food crisis comes at a time when they already face countless challenges on a daily basis. The scale of the crisis engulfing the country is staggering.
Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us via Getty Images
Right now, there are 4.3 million children in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across South Sudan. Last month's formal declaration of famine only officialized a catastrophe that has been unfolding for months.
Here in Canada, most of us don't really think about water. Easy access to clean drinking water is part of our daily expectations. But in many parts of Kenya, where I recently visited to see some of Plan International Canada's programs, it's impossible not to think about water -- or rather, the severe lack of it.
As humanitarian partners scale up their response to provide urgent life-saving support to the most vulnerable children and families, we're also left fielding questions about how, once again, the situation could deteriorate to such a point that a formal declaration of famine was made.
"Famine" is a word that's rarely and cautiously used by the international aid community. It's reserved for describing the very gravest of human suffering. For the U.N. to declare "famine," a great many people must be dying of starvation. Hunger, even lots of it, isn't enough for an official declaration.
Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan and looms in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Every day children are dying and UNICEF is working with partners to provide life-saving support for children and families. These are the stories of some of the children caught in this crisis.
Figula Photography via Getty Images
Three years of conflict in South Sudan have taken a massive toll on the lives of millions of children and women across the country. As a result of the violence that erupted in December, 2013, nearly 3.1 million South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes, with children representing about half of all those who are displaced.
The Equatorian region had been regarded as the green belt of South Sudan. That's a big deal for a country teetering on the brink of a food crisis since its inception. Its staple crops such as sorghum and maize have helped local farmers earn a meagre living, helped by the fact that the area is home to major trading routes between Juba and neighbouring countries of Uganda and Kenya.
CHARLES LOMODONG via Getty Images
As the world's youngest country, South Sudan, marks the third year of a vicious civil war, I am learning the heart-wrenching stories of some of the 200,000 civilians who have sought shelter in UN-protected camps. I'm here to learn about the impact of the conflict, especially on children.
Last month, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that in just three weeks, it processed 37,491 refugees from South Sudan who were fleeing to neighbouring Uganda -- 8,200 arrived in a single day.
Steph Glinski/World Vision
Often traumatized by the conflicts and violence they are fleeing, they face further dangers along the way, including the risk of drowning on sea crossings, malnourishment and dehydration, trafficking, kidnapping, and rape. In countries they travel through and at their destinations, they often face xenophobia and discrimination.
Paul Bettings/World Vision
It has been one year since South Sudan signed a peace deal to end 20-months of conflict in the world's newest country. But with renewed violent clashes in July and mass internal displacement, long-term peace and stability remains uncertain. These South Sudanese children share what peace means to them.
For Canadian humanitarians working in the field, the security threat has never been more serious. There are more attacks on aid workers than ever before, which is why today, World Humanitarian Day, we highlight the personal sacrifices they make to lift up the world's most vulnerable people.
Almost 900,000 South Sudanese have left their country since civil war broke out in December 2013.
The rapes highlighted two persistent problems: targeted ethnic violence and the reluctance by U.N. peacekeepers to protect civilians.
Last week, Canadians came together to celebrate their country's 149th birthday. This week, South Sudan marks five years as an independent nation. Yet for many there is little to celebrate. For half of its brief life, the world's youngest nation has been ripped apart by war, leaving tens of thousands dead.
Amnesty International Canada
Each refugee-producing situation is different and could be caused by a range of catalysts, including war, political unrest, terrorism or even climate change. However, within each situation, there is one constant: that the needs of girls consistently go unheard and unmet.
Today, we mark World Refugee Day, amidst the most challenging and troubling time for global refugee protection since World War II. It is time to turn the global focus away from the cruel and illegal means now used to keep refugees away; and instead embrace our shared international responsibility to ensure they are safe.
The baby boy is only four hours old when we meet -- born on a thin, foam single mattress that lies on a mud-dirt floor, inside a small, makeshift plastic sheet shelter in the early morning darkness of Mingkaman, the massive site for internally displaced persons in South Sudan.
In places like South Sudan, children are battered by the effects of war, long before they step onto the football field. Soccer, sometimes, is the one good thing in their lives. But no amount of football can change the basic facts of their lives.
Pregnancy during war, natural disaster, or economic collapse isn't simply a time of joy and wonder; it's often tainted with anxiety and fear. For these women, it's more like nine months of holding the thin red line of courage against almost impossible odds. The strength and resilience needed to do this is astounding.
Millions of children in countries such as Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan live and die never having officially existed. Their communities are riddled with conflict, rocked with instability or dispirited by isolation. Their governments are either unwilling or unable to provide even basic health care.
In South Sudan, domestic violence is widespread and largely tolerated. In the all-too-common words of two young women from Warrap State: "We are often beaten. When we make a mistake, we are beaten -- and there are so many mistakes." It was unfortunately not surprising that gender-based violence was a major threat for women living in IDP and refugee camps.
South Sudan is a tough place to live. The world's newest nation is less than five years old and it's been ranked as the most fragile country on earth for the past two years. Yet the proud people who live there hold great potential and targeted, effective aid is building more faces of resilience.