UNICEF Appeals for just over $1 billion to help children and women suffering in emergencies
GENEVA, 27 January 2009 – UNICEF’s 2009 Humanitarian Action Report (HAR) highlights the plight of children and women around the globe in humanitarian emergencies.
The Humanitarian Action Report is UNICEF’s annual funding appeal for protracted emergencies and is seeking just over $1 billion to assist children and women in 36 countries. The amount sought is some 17 per cent higher than UNICEF’s 2008 appeal, largely because of increased needs in eastern and southern Africa.
“Many countries featured in the report are silent or forgotten emergencies,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman. “Women and children are dying every day due to disease, poverty and hunger, but sadly their deaths go largely unnoticed.”
The report notes that over half the funds are to continue UNICEF support to victims of the five largest global humanitarian operations: in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
“I have recently returned from Zimbabwe where the economy is crumbling and the cholera outbreak is not yet controlled,” said Veneman, the first head of a UN agency to visit the country in over two years. “Over half the population is receiving food aid and basic social services are collapsing.”
In recent decades, the number and severity of natural disasters has increased significantly. The emergencies included in the Humanitarian Action Report represent only a small fraction of UNICEF’s emergency response activities. Between 2005 and 2007, UNICEF responded to an annual average of 276 emergencies in 92 countries. Over 50 per cent were caused by disasters, 30 per cent were a result of conflict, and health-related emergencies, like epidemics, accounted for 19 per cent of UNICEF’s emergency response.
The report also notes that higher food prices and climate change have negatively affected most of the countries for which emergency aid is sought. UNICEF has initiatives in place to address nutrition insecurity, but more resources are required to ensure the response meets urgent 2009 needs.
The UNICEF report cites recent studies which find the risk of hunger could increase for some 50 million people worldwide by 2010 as a result of climate change.
Some experts have estimated that in the next decade children and women will represent 65 per cent of all those affected by climate-related disasters. If these predictions prove correct, some 175 million victims of climate change will be children.
UNICEF is present in more than 150 countries and is often among the first responders to crises.
“These funds will help UNICEF respond effectively and efficiently to the needs of children affected by emergencies,” said Veneman. “As a result the lives of many will be saved.”