5 mothers bring smiles to children in distress

ANKARA, Feb 19 (AA/APP): With a slogan “happy children, happy world”, five mothers hailing from Turkey, Switzerland, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are reaching out to children in distress across the world.

Upset at the state of children particularly in refugee camps globally, the mothers came together in Switzerland in January 2020 to set up an international association, For Children Smile, to attend to children living in different regions of the world, particularly in refugee camps.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Emine Tas, president of the organization, said they aimed to reach children in need of humanitarian aid, especially those living in war, conflict, occupation, and disaster zones. “After witnessing so many times the pains of thousands of children in countries that have been affected by war and poverty, I decided to do something for these children. Mothers like me from different cultures came together and we established the association,” she said.

The organization aims to ensure that all the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are applied without exception to all children, said Tas. According to office bearers of the organization, they have so far identified 100,000 children in Syria, 13,000 in Yemen, 5,000 in Palestine, and 1,500 in Asia-Europe, who need humanitarian aid, educational assistance, housing, and various facilities.

Tulay Gokcimen, co-chairwoman of the association, said that the association aims at reaching children living in different regions of the world, particularly those in refugee camps. “Out of 79.5 million, an estimated 30-34 million children below the age of 18 years are among forcibly displaced persons worldwide,” according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Gokcimen said they have already distributed winter aid including clothing, toys, blankets, hygiene, and food packages in cooperation with Rahma Austria, an aid agency, in Lebanon last week. “After learning about the situation of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanese camps, we wanted to organize humanitarian aid in the camps,” she added.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the organization distributed tablets to disadvantageous children in Turkey who were facing the challenge of falling behind in the competition for access to gadgets to pursue online education. “For at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such a thing as remote learning,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director, last year.

“After UNICEF warned that millions of Yemeni children are facing the threat of starvation due to COVID-19 crisis, we have decided to increase our activities in Yemen,” said Tas. “This year, besides our ongoing activities, we are planning to do many humanitarian aid projects in Yemen. These projects are generally planned as the supply of food, education, and hygiene materials,” she said.

According to the analysis jointly carried out by Save the Children and UNICEF, nearly 150 million additional children are living in multidimensional poverty without access to education, health care, housing, nutrition, sanitation, or water because of the corona-virus crisis.

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