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Boko Haram attacks uproot 1.4 million children in five months: UNICEF

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By NewsGram Staff-Writer

United Nations: According to UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), around half a million children have been uprooted over the last five months due to a sharp increase in the attacks carried by Boko Haram.

Photo Credit: http://www.wikiprogress.org
Photo Credit: http://www.wikiprogress.org

In northern Nigeria alone, 1.2 million children, more than half of them under 5, have been forced to flee their homes, Xinhua quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying on Friday.

Dujarric added that an additional 265,000 children were uprooted from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.

“Together with governments and partners in all four impacted countries, UNICEF has scaled up its operations,” he said.

More than 315,000 children have been vaccinated against measles. More than 200,000 people received access to safe water. Some 65,000 displaced and refugee children  had access to education and were able to continue learning thanks to the delivery of school materials.

UNICEF added that with more refugees and not enough resources, its ability to deliver lifesaving assistance on the ground is now seriously compromised.

The UN agency’s work in the West Africa region is almost 70 percent underfunded, having received only 32 percent of the $50.3 million needed for humanitarian efforts in 2015.

Because of this, more than 124,000 children in the conflict-torn area have not received measles vaccinations, more than 83,000 lack access to safe water, and over 208,000 are not in school.

(With inputs from IANS)

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UNICEF to Bring 11,000 Lower-Income South Africa High School Girls in Tech Industries

Women are woefully underrepresented in technology, science, engineering and mathematics jobs in South Africa

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UNICEF
Women are woefully underrepresented in technology, science, engineering and mathematics jobs in South Africa. But for the last decade, a homegrown, UNICEF-supported program has worked to bring 11,000 lower-income high school girls into these industries. VOA

Women are woefully underrepresented in technology, science, engineering and mathematics jobs in South Africa. But for the last decade, a homegrown, UNICEF-supported program has worked to bring 11,000 lower-income high school girls into these industries.

Among those students was Raquel Sorota. Sorota has come a long way from her humble upbringing in Johannesburg’s Tembisa township. She now works as a risk engineer at a top South African insurance company.

She was those one of those South African high school girls who went through the UNICEF-supported TechnoGirls program, which started in 2005. She was selected for the program in 2009. Now 24, she says it changed her life.

“My life has literally never been the same again,” she said. “So, before the program, I wanted to be a doctor and today I’m an engineer, through that program. So I think a lot of what I think I took from that program was how it exposed me to the world of engineering. I think for the longest time I never knew how broad that world was and that I could have a place in that world, most importantly.”

Bright, disadvantaged girls

The program selects bright high school girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, gives them exposure to professions in science, technology, engineering and math, pairs them with mentors, and follows them through their university studies.

The program’s founder, Staff Sithole, says this is about much more than creating a new crop of workers. This, she says, is about changing the world — and who runs it.

“It is more an instrument, or a program, which is contributing towards gender equality. So rather than just running advocacy programs, let’s come with something that can change the circumstances, can be a purposeful targeted intervention of contributing towards gender equality,” she said.

Challenging obstacles

For high school students Gugulethu Zungu and Queen Makaile, the obstacles are more than just lack of opportunity. Both are physically challenged; they were both born with different, rare genetic defects that have affected their appearance and their health. Both were chosen to participate in the program this year for their high grades in math and science.

Zungu says the program led her to identify her dream career — forensics — but also to expand her horizons.

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“I like investigating and solving mysteries. And it actually makes me believe that, indeed, nothing is impossible. You just have to think out of the box,” she said.

Makaile, who has struggled with hearing and vision problems as a result of her rare defect that has also given her asymmetrical facial features, says she now wants to be come a journalist, to show the world that her thoughts matter more than her looks. For these girls, nothing, they say, will stand in their way. (VOA)