Request for Solidarity after Hurricane Irma hit Cuba

A message from WSCF-LAC:

On September 7th, Hurricane Irma, the most powerful on the Atlantic according to the the Saffir-Simpson Scale (category 5) with winds at its center ranging between 250-295 km/h, arrived to the Republic of Cuba after generating material damage and loss of life in several countries and Caribbean islands.

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In Cuba, 12 of the 15 provinces were affected by the hurricane. Damage stood out in infrastructure of housing, losses which affect food due to ruined crops and poultry complex, problems with food and electricity supply systems due to damage from power plants, as it is the case of the Matanzas’ thermoelectric, being this one of the most affected regions in the island along with the provinces of La Habana, Ciego de Ávila and Villa Clara in the west central Cuba. Losses and serious damages are also reported in the north coast that affected the hotel-touristic complex of Cuba, which is one of the main sources of economic income. This in addition to the crisis and mobilization of evacuated people that the hurricane has caused.

“Ten people dead, destroyed towns, thousands of fallen trees, serious damages in the generation and transmission of electricity, in the supply of drinking water and in the housing, besides strong flooding from storm surges, left the powerful hurricane Irma in Cuba, between Friday 8th and September 10th,” SEMlac reported in their newsletter.

Evacuees: According to reports from the authorities the passage of Hurricane Irma by Cuba forced the evacuation of 1’738.000 people, 86% of them in houses of relatives and friends. It was also reported that more than 26thousand people are still in evacuation centers.

Energy Sector: The strongest and most difficult impact to solve in the sector was suffered by the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric power plant in Matanzas, which house of circulation of sea water, key in the cooling system, was destroyed by the waves. Besides, 15 transmission lines suffered damage and more than 3600 poles and 2039 kilometers of lines were affected. Around 90 oil wells, located in the on the north coast of the west and center, were also broken by the strong waves which the hurricane caused. Currently, the restoration of the electric service will be focused in the provinces of Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila.

Housing and Infrastructure: According to the Ministry of Construction, the major damages caused by the hurricane are concentrated in housing, especially by roofs that were flown.

Agriculture: It was found that the most serious damage in agriculture is concentrated in the poultry area, because dozens of birds destined to the production of eggs lost their sheds. Also according to the Ministry of Agriculture was explained that processing of feed, plantain and corn crops, as well as fruit crops have been affected. Currently, the work in reactivation of the countryside in several crops is being intensified, and it has been reported that there are seeds, fertilizers and pesticides are available for that purpose.

Public Health: It was reported that the health system maintained its vitality during the passage of the hurricane and to date there are no outbreaks of contagious diseases in evacuation centers or in any territory. It was announced that 516 health units were damaged and work is being done to restore them in the shortest time possible. Additionally it was announced that now priority will be given to environmental sanitation and vector control.

Tourism: on the damages to tourism when the hurricane hit the island there were more than 51 thousand vacationers, around 45 thousand of them were located in the north cost. The tourism sector is one of the most generating economic income and employment in Cuba, damage to infrastructure and recovery is one of the biggest challenges in the upcoming Cuban tourist season. This creates uncertainty thousands of employments and the direct source of income of the population of the most damaged zones.

Updates on the Students of the Student Movement of Cuba:

“It has been a habit of the Movement to mobilize us to offer help in areas most affected by emergent disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. This time will not be different, we are evaluating how we can get to the cities of the center of the island which had the biggest damages (North of Villa Clara, Yaguajay-Sancti Spíritus, and Ciego de Ávila) to work with people and affected vulnerable groups “Elderly people who live alone, persons with disabilities, children in situations of poverty, etc. ” (…) “In the same way, we are worried about what we are already experiencing in regards to food supplies for the population. Agriculture and tourism are two essential sources to generate money and food. The country will have to invest a lot in materials to re-build, while the unemployment generated by the stagnation of tourism services and the recovery of agricultural production will lead us to a period of scarcity and of rising of prices which will affect most of all to those, that as I was saying, represent the most vulnerable sector of the Cuban society.”

Tells us Dianet de la C. Martínez Valdés, president of the SCM of Cuba confirming also that there has been a calling to coordinators of the local groups who are in Sancti Spíritus, La Habana, Cienfuegos, Cárdenas, Matanzas, San Nicolás and Santiago de Cuba and it has been verified that they are all right, although some of the students and young people of the different local groups have had damage in their houses. Besides the SCM of Cuba is preparing for their next regional workshop on leadership training in the west of Cuba, in September 21 to 23, were they will plan the next steps in the agenda of solidarity and mobilization.

From the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), considering the consequences caused by the Hurricane Irma and the emerging situations that are rising in the reconstruction and recovery stage, we extend a call for solidarity to WSCF friends, Student Christian Movements (SCMs) and the fraternal organizations to participate in the collection carried out by the WSCF to assign to the work of the SCM of Cuba in the process of recovery, social and material accompanying in the zones that were damaged the most and in the 7 cities were the movement develops its work with young people and students.

All that is collected will be used to directly support affected communities, primarily by targeting the most vulnerable people including children, the elderly, people with reduced mobility and following the advice of the SCM of Cuba a possible way to contribute would be through food, personal and household hygiene pack.

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Read full PDF here: Solidarity Appeal Huracan Irma – Cuba WSCF LAC

In Solidarity with the Afflicted Rohingya People

An important message from SCM Bangladesh  & WSCF Asia Pacific:

[source = ABC News]
According to global mainstream media and the United Nations reports since the 25th August 2017 nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslim including Hindus have fled Myanmar and have entered to Bangladesh while others have fled to different regions in Myanmar to escape violence and have become internally displaced in the country. The gory violence erupted in the western region of Rakhine state of Myanmar after suspected Rohingya insurgent attacked 30 police posts and an army base killing 12 security personnel. As a result, a military retaliation was launched against the Rohingya people.

The world is witnessing one of the largest mass exoduses of people in recent history in South Asia and probably Asia’s biggest refugee crisis! The arson, killings, and reported rapes have forced them to flee through whatever means is available either through seas or by road to save their lives. Streams of terrified people including pregnant women, children, new-borns, elderly are seen in various media walking through fields, jungles, crossing through submerged fields and rivers in horrible conditions.

The recent influx has added to the existing 400,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the number has increased to nearly 800,000 – a worrisome number of refugees for an economically poor country like Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government was not prepared for the overwhelming number of refugees in just three weeks of time. Therefore, the situation of the new arrival refugees in Bangladesh is catastrophic. Not enough aid even to provide basic need of food, water, shelter for the overwhelming refugees.

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) joins the Student Christian Movement of Bangladesh (SCMB) to condemn the on-going violence against the Rohingya people by the Myanmar Army in the strongest terms. While we are aware that a faction of Rohingya community took up arms and indulged in violence and do condemn their act. However, this is purely human rights violation as more than a million Rohingya people have been persecuted through decades. We show our support and solidarity to the civilians who are violated and killed by an unjust political system and military aggression victimising a particular religious community.

We as faith community seek your support and solidarity and call the SCMs, (Student Christian Movements), Churches and Ecumenical organizations to respond to this major humanitarian disaster unfolding. The new arrival refugees are in desperate need of food, drinking water, tents, clothes, and medicines. The SCM Bangladesh together with the faith communities in the country is initiating assistance to the desperate community together with other aid agencies.

We seek your support, solidarity, prayers and action to reJoint Appeal of WSCF AP and SCM Bangladeshspond to the humanitarian disaster. You can do the following to express your solidarity with the suffering and affected people by:

– Taking immediate measures beyond of the verbal condemnation
– Writing to the Myanmar Consulate/ Embassy in your countries urging them to immediately stop the ongoing violence in the Rakhine state
– By facilitating response by the humanitarian aid agencies to assist in food, drinking water, shelter and medical help to the affected community including the internally displaced people and to protect the vulnerable children, women, men from traffickers
– Writing to the Consulate/ Embassy of India in your countries not to deport the undocumented Rohingya refugees (Indian government is planning to deport all the undocumented Rohingya people) but allow them to live in the country on humanitarian ground and based on the principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect the right to life
– Creating awareness of the Recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State 2017 and bring pressure to the government of Myanmar and Bangladesh to start implementing the Recommendations
– Increasing international pressure on UN and international communities to find a lasting solution to the conflict in the region.
– Providing financial support to meet the basic need of the refugees in Bangladesh

Send your financial support here. 

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9

In Solidarity,

Edward Tarun Roy
Chairperson
Student Christian Movement Bangladesh

Kingson Selvaraj
on behalf of the Human Rights Justice & Peace Committee of WSCF Asia Pacific

Sunita Suna
WSCF Regional Executive for WSCF Asia Pacific

View/Download the PDF here: Joint Appeal of WSCF AP and SCM Bangladesh

Support Indigenous Solidarity

The World Student Christian Federation-North America is planning an Indigenous Solidarity Program to be held in Winnipeg, Treaty Territory 1, Manitoba, Canada from June 15 to 19, 2017. A group of 15 students and young adults from across the United States and Canada will be immersed in issues of racial justice and right relations, indigenous solidarity, indigenous theology and theologies of settlers’ solidarity, economic and eco-justice for indigenous people, mass incarceration of indigenous people in Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools in Canada and other relevant topics. This program will take place at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.

In order to implement this program and provide scholarships to students, we are in need of funding. We are coming to you asking that you contribute financially to this event by sending a generous donation.

Read the Indigenous Solidarity Appeal here and Donate Online today.

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United Nations Delegation- Commission on the Status of Women

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) is hosting the Advocacy and Solidarity delegation to the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It will be a global delegation made up of young women representing all the six regions of the WSCF. All the funds raised will assist the North America Region in providing accommodation of the 11 delegates who will spend two weeks in New York City attending the Commission.

The WSCF has invited 11 young women to participate in the 61st CSW which will take place in New York on March 13rd to the 24th. In addition to these 11 young women, they will be joined by the Executive for North America and Program Director for Advocacy and Solidarity. Together they will be representing all the six regions of the WSCF (Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East, and North America). The participants are all young adults or enrolled students. The money raised will provide funds for room and board of participants while in New York City for the two weeks duration of the CSW.

For more information visit our Go Fund Me campaign here: Young Women to United Nations CSW61

Appeal: Leadership Training Program 2017

SCM-USA is planning its 5th annual national Leadership Training Program (LTP) for this March. The theme of this year’s gathering is Resisting Empire, based on Exodus 32. In order to ensure a wider participation of students, we are in need of funding. Will you give a generous donation so we can provide a larger number of scholarships? Please read our Appeal Letter from Luciano Kovacs, WSCF-NA.

Support Indigenous Peoples 4 Peace

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) is committed to work for indigenous people’s rights around the globe. It is with this commitment that WSCF-NA, at the invitation of the WSCF Advocacy and Solidarity Committee and at the request of the Student Christian Movement (SCM) and other partners in the Philippines, is creating this campaign to raise funds for the support of the Lumads people of Mindanao.

All the money raised will go to the Lakbay Lumad movement, to support their message as they travel speaking up against injustice and to raise awareness about the politically-motivated violence and forcible displacement they are experiencing, and how this repression is linked to foreign policy and multi-national corporate interests in the region; as well as providing concrete support to Lumad schools and community projects.

Donate to our Go Fund Me Campaign to support Lakbay Lumad movement. Learn more information here: Indigenous Peoples 4 Peace.