UNICEF seeks $805 million for humanitarian efforts

UNICEF appealed to donors today to provide $805 million to assist children and women in 29 humanitarian emergencies.

"Emergencies undermine basic services and protections for children," UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said today. "In the past year, a series of natural disasters and continuing humanitarian crises have left millions of children and families vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and violence."

Of the requested $805 million, more than one-third of the total, $331 million, is for Sudan. Continuing conflict and insecurity in the western Darfur region has disrupted the lives of an estimated 3.4 million people and is threatening the survival of 1.4 million children, about 500,000 of whom are under the age of five.

UNICEF's Humanitarian Action Report (HAR) 2006 provides an annual overview of the agency's emergency assistance programs within the context of UN-wide appeals. The report sets out the relief activities and the financial requirements of UNICEF for meeting the needs of children and women.

UNICEF's emergency funding broke records in 2005, thanks to extraordinary donor generosity toward victims of the tsunami, the earthquake in Pakistan and several other emergencies. While immediate tragedies garnered global media attention during the past year, the HAR report highlights crises that have gotten inadequate attention. In 2005, only four of 25 UNICEF appeals for emergencies were funded above 50 percent.

"Responding swiftly and effectively to crises is an essential part of meeting long-term development goals," said Dan Toole, Director of the Office of Emergency Programs for UNICEF, launching the HAR report on Monday in Geneva. "In many of these countries, children live in an almost constant state of emergency because they are growing up in extreme poverty, without access to education or the most basic health services."

The report details specific relief activities and provides the financial requirements of UNICEF for meeting the needs of children and women in each country and region. Areas in critical need of funding include:

  • Sudan, in addition to the challenges mentioned above, has an estimated 17 million people without access to safe water and more than 20 million without access to safe sanitation. Every year, more than 100,000 Sudanese children under the age of five die of preventable causes.
  • Eastern and Southern Africa has had more emergencies over the past decade than any other region in the world, including the current drought, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and wide-spread malnutrition.
  • Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States includes several countries that are affected by low-level warfare, fragile ceasefires and growing tensions, while natural disasters pose a threat across the region.
  • South Asia has the highest rate of absolute child poverty with 330 million children suffering from two or more forms of severe deprivation (shelter, sanitation, water, food, health or education).
  • East Asia and the Pacific, which faced a major emergency following the tsunami, is contending with other threats, most notably confirmed human cases of Avian Influenza. In several countries, drought and hot weather also have increased risks of severe food shortages and disease due to lack of usable water.
  • The Middle East and North Africa are dominated by the situation in Iraq, and violence in the occupied Palestinian territory continues to have an impact on young people.

Relief and recovery activities include providing basic survival supplies as well as training in education, child protection and health and nutrition. With these resources, UNICEF can continue its efforts to improve access to education by providing School-In-A-Box kits, treat children suffering from severe and moderate malnutrition, establish safe drinking water supplies and sanitation facilities, protect tens of millions of children against measles and malaria and assist in the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, among other essential programs.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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