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News, 9/23/2016

Support to those who need it the most

Finland responds to the crises of the world by means of placing greater emphasis in its development cooperation on the fragile countries and crisis areas in Africa and the Middle East.  Results have already been achieved.

In development cooperation, the means used to tackle the root causes of migratory flows include cooperating in education, creating jobs and improving women's position. These are activities that can strengthen the preconditions of peace and help people make a living in their own country.

Migration and refugee questions have been among the topics of discussion also in the meetings of world leaders, convening at the UN General Assembly this week. In the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, world leaders express their commitment to protect the rights of women and to organise education for refugees and migrants.

The Finns are strongly in favour of directing development cooperation to fragile countries and crisis areas. Based on a survey on Finnish development cooperation published this year, the majority of the respondents believe that development cooperation can prevent refugee crises and reduce the people's need to leave their home country.

Nursing students in Puntland in Somalia. Photo: Aaro Ylitalo.

Women and girls benefit in Somalia

The World Bank Multi-Partner Fund (MPF) develops the management of public finances and taxation in Somalia and fosters the productive sectors in the country. Finland has allocated EUR four million to the fund.  Employment and livelihoods will improve in tandem with the economic recovery.

Finland plays a strong role in the development of health services in Somalia. The UN's general health programme, administered by UNICEF, has improved the quality and availability of maternal and children's health services in Somalia. Hundreds of thousands of childbirths have been assisted in clinics supported by the programme and maternal and child mortality rates have dropped markedly. Additionally, a large number of Somali children are covered by the vaccination campaigns that are part of the programme.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is implementing a project that strengthens the health sector in Somalia. Doctors and nurses of Somali diaspora living in Finland are participating in the development of Somalia's health care system by means of training local health care workers. Nearly 1,000 health workers have already been trained.

There has been a clear improvement in the provision of health care services in Somaliland and in Puntland (Northeast Somalia). The hospital in Hargeisa has set up separate dialysis and intensive care wards as well as a dental health unit, which are the first public sector services in these particular health service areas in Somalia.

Childbirths are safer and mothers survive more often than before. Better care has dropped the mortality rate of premature babies in the Hargeisan central hospital from 24 per cent to 5 per cent.

Education opens doors in Eritrea

Eritrea is isolated from any international cooperation and it remains among the least developed countries.  Large numbers of young Eritreans without education and job opportunities have left the country for the neighbouring countries and Europe in seach of a better future. Eritreans were the second largest group of refugees arriving in Europe across the Mediterranean in 2015.

Last year, Finnish and Eritrean higher education institutions (HEIs) launched a cooperation programme to develop education, research and teacher education in Eritrea.

In the young universities in Eritrea, everything is in short supply, including competent teaching staff and teaching materials. Research and teaching as well as Master's degree and doctoral programmes should also be developed. The needs are addressed by means of strengthening online learning, school resources and services.

The HEI programme offers better prospects for the future for those young people who are staying in the country and generates educated workforce for the Eritrean labour market.

Syyrian pakolaiset
Syrian refugees going to school in Lebanon. Education has been organised by UNHCR and UNICEF. Photo: Milma Kettunen.

Work and security for Syrian refugees

UN Women has set up three women's centres, Oases, in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. They offer women and girls not only asylum but also opportunities for work, vocational education, day care services, literacy courses and protection from violence. Finland has allocated EUR 500,000 to the women's centres and pledged a new EUR 1.5 million contribution for the years 2017–2018.

The centres are frequented by some 750 women and girls every month and 172 women have got a job in them. Working with the refugee camp's male leaders has reduced domestic violence by 20 per cent.

The project has supported both Syrian refugee women and Jordanian women to find employment in their local communities, which is where the majority of Syrian refugees live. 80 Jordanian women who have received vocational training have found work in textile factories in the area.

This year, Finland has committed EUR 25 million to help people in Syria and its neighbouring areas.  The support will be used to promote children's education and women's rights and employment opportunities. Innovations and information technology will be used to improve youth employment.

In the years from 2011 to 2016, Finland has allocated about EUR 106 million to Syria and its neighbouring areas in the form of development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

Outi Einola-Head

The writer works as a Communications Officer in the Department for Communications of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

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