By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 7 March 2011 – UNICEF has launched a $1.4 billion dollar appeal to respond to increasingly severe humanitarian crises. This year’s ‘Humanitarian Action for Children’ report emphasizes the importance of helping vulnerable communities to prepare for disasters before they occur.
|VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on UNICEF's '2011 Humanitarian Action for Children' report, which appeals for $1.4 billion to aid children and women affected by increasingly severe emergencies worldwide. Watch in RealPlayer|
“Strengthening communities and enabling them to manage anticipated risks before crisis strikes is not only critical to reducing their suffering when emergencies arise,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson. “It also shortens their road to recovery.”
Catastrophic floods in Pakistan, and an earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands in Haiti, were just two examples of disasters that overwhelmed already fragile nations last year. “We know that the number of natural disasters and people affected is growing year by year,” said UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes Louis-Georges Arsenault.
Crises in 32 countries
Around the world, millions are affected by drought, famine, violent conflict and long-term displacement. ‘Humanitarian Action for Children’ highlights 32 countries and stresses the need to help vulnerable communities to help themselves.
|© UNICEF Geneva/2011/Albouy|
|At the Geneva launch of the '2011 Humanitarian Action for Children' report (from left): UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War Ishmael Beah, Deputy Executive Director Hilde F. Johnson and Representative in Ethiopia Ted Chaiban.|
The report also requests funding to respond to so-called forgotten crises, such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan. In addition to basic needs such as water, food and education, the children and families affected by these emergencies need protection from violence and abuse.
“It’s about making sure that communities have a better capacity to absorb risk or threat, triggered either by natural disaster or conflict,” said Mr. Arsenault. “It’s about ensuring that there is a level of preparedness.”
Whether it means teaching children disaster safety techniques or constructing sturdier health clinics and schools, preparation not only saves lives – it builds confidence and hope in the future.
|A girl stands outside her family's home in Pakistan's flood-ravaged Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. The people of Pakistan continue to struggle with the effects of flooding that began in mid-July 2010 and was the worst in their country’s recorded history.|
UNICEF is appealing for a 21 per cent increase in emergency funding over the 2010 level. This amount reflects the growing severity and frequency of natural disasters, as well as the need for immediate action to avert the worst impact of crises to come.
“After a year of devastating natural disaster and human tragedy, it has never been more timely to strengthen the resilience of people and communities who are placed in harm’s way again and again,” said Ms. Johnson.
“It’s true that the financial environment is very difficult, but we have to make a strong case that we want to be able to decrease the need in the future,” added Mr. Arsenault. “We need to invest now.”