April 6 is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, a day when we recognize the tremendous power of sport. Evidence shows that the benefits of sport are undeniable. For instance, according to the World Health Organization, for every $1 spent on sports-related programs, $3 is saved on public health care costs.
Forget geopolitics that make it all too easy to declare ourselves powerless. Think instead of the Syrian children and teens, of the millions of internally displaced persons and millions of refugee children whose journeys have been much too perilous. We all have a role to play in ensuring a better future for vulnerable children in Syria and in the neighbouring countries that have so generously opened their doors to nearly five million Syrians.
The shelter in Aleppo seems plucked out of a fairy tale. Mohammad and his siblings stepped through the welcoming green door and walked into a safe place for the first time in months. They were surrounded by a tiny garden filled with Jasmine flowers and olive trees and a big house filled with children laughing and playing.
Challenges in access in several parts of Syria stand in the way of assessing the full scale of children's suffering and of urgently getting humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable girls and boys. Beyond the bombs, bullets and explosions, children are dying in silence often from diseases that can otherwise be easily prevented. Access to medical care, lifesaving supplies and other basic services remains difficult.
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.
An estimated 5.5 million people, including two million children, have been cut off from running water for over three weeks in Damascus and its surroundings, the longest cut Syria's capital has seen. Intense fighting damaged the water infrastructure for the two main drinking water sources for Damascus.
The animations in the film depict all too common forms of violence that boys and girls endure in spaces where they should be safe -- their homes, schools, online and in their communities. Every five minutes, somewhere in the world, a child dies from violence. Millions more are in danger of physical, emotional and sexual abuse that could destroy their childhoods forever.
Haiti is a structurally vulnerable country where a crisis is never far away, often sweeping in with rain, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and cholera to wreak havoc on the nation's priorities. When I arrived in Haiti in 2007, the 2004 disaster in Gonaives was still fresh in everyone's minds. A year later, the same city was once again flooded. When I came back in 2012, the earthquake had left thousands of people in Port au Prince homeless and cholera was rapidly spreading.