This region continues to be highly exposed to disasters caused by natural hazards, particularly earthquakes, flood/mudslides and extreme weather; major economic downturn; deteriorating social infrastructure; outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases; and political instability. The situation can cause ripple effects on the survival and well-being of families, including loss of life and injuries, displacement, protection concerns and severe health problems.
Disaster negatively impacts the rights of children and women and disproportionately affects developing countries. It is also typical for children to make up 50 to 60 per cent of those affected. Disasters exacerbate already existing vulnerabilities and inequalities of boys, girls, women and men. Even one disaster could undermine years of hard-won progress toward the Millennium Development Goals.
As the number of emergencies increases and as emergencies become more complex, our role is more important than ever before, and our work is constantly evolving to reflect new realities. In partnership with national governments, civil society organizations and other United Nations agencies, UNICEF works in the region to deliver results for children and women threatened by natural hazards or complex emergencies.
• Supporting governments and other partners to promote disaster risk reduction (DRR) in order to build disaster resilience of children and their families, and to reduce the financial and human costs when disaster strikes. Realizing every child’s right to protection from the risks of disasters is one area of focus in UNICEF’s regional agenda for action for the coming years; and
• We deliver emergency relief and support long-term recovery in the aftermath of an emergency situation. UNICEF assists affected children, women and men in the region by providing them with nutritional support, health care, water, sanitation, learning spaces and materials, protection services, shelter and information.
UNICEF’s support is therefore not only to provide lifesaving emergency interventions, but also to strengthen national preparedness systems and build resilience at community, subregional and national levels. This is recognized as a key climate change adaptation strategy.
Primarily funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (DIPECHO), these programmes enable communities and institutions to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to disasters, thereby building a safer and more protective environment, and supporting the realization of children’s right to protection from the risks of disasters.