What have we got planned for 2021?
With 2020 in our wake, we are taking the lessons learned and challenges experienced during the last year with us as we look ahead to 2021. 2020 saw MOAS undertake a wide variety of initiatives, and we are taking this sense of diversity with us into 2021. The upcoming twelve months will see the continuation of many of our ongoing projects as well as the initiation of some brand-new plans that we are eager to begin.
Take a look at what we have got planned for 2021.
Bangladesh – Flood and Water Safety Training
2020 once again demonstrated the immense dangers flooding and other water-related hazards can have in Bangladesh. Monsoon flooding, for example, caused a third of the country to be submerged, which lead to hundreds of thousands of people being marooned and hundreds losing their lives. Therefore, equipping host communities and Rohingya refugees in the Cox’s Bazar region with flood and water awareness skills remains a major priority of ours.
This year, we will continue to undertake our Flood and Water Safety Training programme, through which our team in Cox’s Bazar will train Rohingya and host community volunteers to act as first responders in the event of a water-related emergency and to manage the after-effects of flooding. We are also deliberating plans to incorporate further groups that are vulnerable to drowning into our programme. This year, subject to planning approvals, we are aiming to expand the training with a specific focus on children under 5-years-old and adolescents, in addition to continued training for fishermen and safety volunteers from the Rohingya and host communities. Research has found that every year in Bangladesh, more than 18,000 children aged 1-17 years lose their lives drowning. Considering such a substantial figure, undertaking measures to reduce the risk of drowning for young children in the country is a crucial step that needs to be taken.
Continuation of aid shipments to Yemen and Somalia
This year, we will persevere with our efforts to send vital shipments of humanitarian aid to Yemen and Somalia. This will be primarily focused on deliveries of nutritional supplements specifically formulated for children suffering or at risk of suffering from acute malnutrition. The shipments will once again be arriving at a pivotal time for addressing the humanitarian and malnutrition needs in both countries. According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Yemen is the country most at risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in 2021, and is facing a nutrition crisis, with 2.1 million children being acutely malnourished. Whilst in Somalia, 5.9 million people, including 3.9 million children, are estimated to need humanitarian assistance in 2021 as a result of the devastating impacts of flooding, desert locusts and the coronavirus pandemic, which have deepened food insecurity.
In Malta, our plans will see the continuation of the Remote Learning Project. This year, the initiative will facilitate further distribution of tablets and internet subscriptions and modems to migrant families residing in the island’s open centres. Given the recent calls for a return to online learning in Malta, faciliating access to this technology is vital in ensuring that young migrants maintain their schooling and do not fall behind their fellow students.
We are also aiming to expand our education-focused initiatives throughout the coming year. From our experience coordinating with the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) on the issue of education, we have gained a greater understanding of the limitations to educational resources and facilities facing migrants in Malta. In response to this, we are in the early planning stages of establishing a dedicated learning centre at the Hangar Open Centre (HOC). The plan is to refurbish a room at HOC and transform it into a hub equipped with educational resources such as desktop computers with internet, books and other learning tools. The centre would be a space for formal education and training activities for residents, such as language and computer literacy classes, as well as a place for quiet study. The learning centre would also be open for use for those residents wishing to use the facilities for activities including CV writing and registering for online services. Our long-term hopes for the learning centre are that it will support and facilitate the integration of residents into the wider community and the transition from the supported living of the centres into independence and contribution in the wider community.
Following the proposal of the aforementioned Remote Learning and Learning Centre plans, MOAS has reached the semi-finals of the Malta Social Impact Awards. We are incredibly proud to have reached this stage of the competition which celebrates innovative initiatives that make a difference in Malta. The next stage of the process will see us present our proposal to a panel of judges in the coming months.
Finally, the coming months will also see the continuation of our Malta Masks Project. Last year, nearly 9,000 masks were produced by our volunteers for distribution among migrants and vulnerable groups across the island. Given the persistence of government restrictions regarding the wearing of masks, it is crucial that migrants and vulnerable groups in Malta can access personal protective equipment. Therefore, we are continuing to distribute material and coordinate with volunteers to make more masks.
Safe and Legal Routes advocacy
Throughout the year, we will continue campaigning for the implementation and expansion of safe and legal routes. 2020 saw unparalleled restrictions on border controls which made it even more difficult for people fleeing poverty, persecution and conflict to access safety and protection. We will, therefore, continue to advocate for alternative pathways of migration in order to prevent migrants and refugees being mistreated and pushed to undertake perilous, irregular journeys.
With the extensive range of initiatives planned, 2021 promises to be a big year for MOAS. Yet, given the continuing challenges and unpredictability facing the world, we will be closely monitoring other areas or issues that require our assistance and doing what we can to provide vital humanitarian services and aid to vulnerable communities across the world.
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