GENEVA / NEW YORK – 29 January 2007 – UNICEF today launched its Humanitarian Action Report (HAR) 2007, calling on donors to provide $635 million to assist children and women in 33 humanitarian emergencies, ranging from Darfur to Haiti, Eritrea and the Central African Republic.
The HAR provides an annual overview of the agency’s emergency assistance programmes within the context of UN-wide appeals. The report sets out UNICEF’s relief activities and its financial requirements for meeting the needs of children and women.
“Emergencies, both natural disasters and new or protracted conflicts, continue to take a toll on the lives of children and women around the world,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said today. “Life-saving activities are essential for those children in peril.”
Of the requested $635 million, nearly one-fifth of the total, US $121 million, is for Sudan, including programmes in the Darfur region. Continued conflict and insecurity there has disrupted the lives of an estimated four million people, including 1.8 million children. Children account for half of those forced from their homes.
Children struggle to survive elsewhere, displaced by emergencies that lack the global attention surrounding Darfur. Some children in Colombia are forced from their homes by violence or recruited to fight. High HIV/AIDS rates and chronic poverty and food insecurity mean Zambian children live in one of the world’s poorest nations. Many of Chad’s children have fled fighting in neighbouring countries, or their own.
“Many of the crises in which UNICEF operates are neglected because they are no longer considered emergencies by the public,” Dan Toole, the Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes for UNICEF, said from New York. “The crisis for children does not end when the media coverage ends, whether a child lives in Darfur or Haiti. As long as a humanitarian situation exists for children, UNICEF will be assisting.”
UNICEF’s emergency funding raised $513 million in 2006 (as of 1 November), covering 53 emergencies. Immediate tragedies continued to garner global media attention during the past year, but forgotten emergencies – highlighted in the HAR – received only 37 per cent of the funding required. Overall, UNICEF appeals for emergencies were 49 per cent funded.
Areas in critical need of funding include: Sudan, in addition to the challenges in Darfur, is still experiencing the long-term effects of the conflict in the South. The return of some 240,000 people following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 is increasing the pressure on already vulnerable communities.
The Horn of Africa was beset by cyclical drought then flooding and finally war in 2006. People, many of them pastoralists, must contend with extremes of famine or flooding in normal years. In late December, many were caught in the conflict between the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and that country’s Union of Islamic Courts.
Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States includes several countries that are affected by insecurity, extensive damage to social and economic infrastructure, and weak or collapsed governance structures.
South Asia has the highest number of children living in absolute poverty, the highest prevalence of underweight children and the highest child mortality rates in the world.
East Asia and the Pacific, still recovering from the 2004 tsunami, faced an increase in the number and size of emergencies during 2006, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, typhoons, heavy rains and consequent floods. In addition, armed conflict continued to cause disruption, displacement and death throughout the region, affecting women and children the worst.
The Middle East and North Africa are dominated by the situation in Iraq, the aftermath of the war in Lebanon 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 adequate resources, UNICEF can continue to support 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 programmes.
UNICEF is on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.