UNICEF in emergencies

UNICEF Humanitarian Action Report 2010 emphasizes power of partnerships

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© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0565/Ramoneda
A displaced girl queues for food at Chota Lahore camp in North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan. UNICEF's Humanitarian Action Appeal 2010 requests $1.16 billion to assist tens of millions of emergency-affected children and their families.

By Chris Niles and Tania McBride

NEW YORK, USA, 4 February 2010 – As much of the international community continues to focus attention on the disaster in Haiti, UNICEF's flagship Humanitarian Action Report emphasizes the critical role of partnerships in assisting vulnerable children and families caught in crisis situations worldwide.

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The Humanitarian Action Report, launched today by Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson at a press conference in Geneva, is UNICEF's only publication dealing specifically with the needs of children and women in emergencies. It spotlights crises that require exceptional support, and additional funding, to save lives and protect children from harm in an increasingly challenging humanitarian environment.

This year's report – subtitled 'Partnering for children in emergencies' – says the world is seeing crises exacerbated by larger trends, such as climate change and the international financial downturn, that are beyond the capacity of any one agency to address.

'Unprecedented' challenges

"The tragic events in Haiti are still very present in our thoughts, with some 3 million people affected by the earthquake," said Ms. Johnson. "As we launch UNICEF's Humanitarian Action Report 2010, we know that millions of children are suffering also elsewhere. They suffer from disasters, conflicts and displacement around the world."

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© UN photo/2010/Ferré
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson speaks at a Geneva press conference launching the Humanitarian Action Report 2010, which spotlights children's needs in crisis situations.

Reiterating the importance of partnerships, Ms. Johnson spoke of the collaboration needed at every level to address the urgent needs of children and women in Haiti – and in all of the 28 countries and territories featured in the report.

"The number of children affected by humanitarian disasters and crises, by hunger and malnutrition, is increasing significantly," she said. "Children are put at grave risk. It's unprecedented."

At the same time, armed conflict continues to blight the lives of millions of children. "In countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, DR Congo and Sudan, emergencies are becoming more and more complex," Ms. Johnson noted. "Children are subject to abuse and grave violations of their rights. This includes sexual violence, killing and maiming, and forced recruitment into armed groups."

Ensuring children's rights

The new Humanitarian Action Report emphasizes the need to ensure that all children's rights are secured in a world that has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0022/LeMoyne
Survivors of Haiti's devastating 12 January earthquake camp near the ruined presidential palace. Natural disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean now affect up to 10 million people annually.

To that end, the report appeals for nearly $1.2 billion in international donor funding for emergency-response efforts in countries covering six regions – from Eastern Europe to Africa to Asia to Latin America. The funding will be used to support a greater emphasis on emergency preparedness, early warning, disaster risk reduction and rapid recovery.

The report points out that UNICEF – working with communities, governments and civil society organizations – is developing new approaches to help vulnerable nations prepare for threats and respond to emergencies quickly and effectively.

"The crises that we now face are unparalleled," said Ms. Johnson. "It's only by working with and through partners that we can deliver on our mission: to protect children in crises, respond to their needs and help fulfil their rights."


 

 

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UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the findings of the UNICEF Humanitarian Action Report 2010.
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