Helping children caught in emergencies and conflict - Humanitarian Action for Children 2013
© © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0007
Waves of Syrian refugees arrive every day in neighbouring countries, often settling in such makeshift encampments as this one in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. They need shelter, food, water and medical assistance.
By Priyanka Pruthi
"Together, we can give all children in humanitarian situations the tools not only to recover but to realize their potential, nurture their talents and contribute to the growth of their nations." UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake
NEW YORK, United States of America, 25 January 2013 – Displaced from their homes by violence, victims of the 22-month-long conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic are now facing bone-chilling temperatures in makeshift shelters in Lebanon. The brutal winter, snowstorms, widespread flooding and severe food shortage have brought the worst upon them.
UNICEF has been on the ground, struggling with limited resources, to prevent the refugees from losing their lives, and losing hope. It's hard to imagine and understand the scale of crises like the one in the Syrian Arab Republic. Waves of Syrian refugees are arriving in neighbouring countries every day with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They need shelter, they need food, they need clean drinking water, they need medical assistance – and they need to know they're not alone.
Through its Humanitarian Action for Children 2013, UNICEF is asking the international community to come forward and help the most vulnerable women and children of the world. The organization is in need of US$1.4 billion to assist children in emergencies across 45 countries. It is support not only for emergencies but also for strengthening nations, building resilience and helping them recover and rebuild on their own steam.
"These are massive figures, but those figures mask a human tragedy. Ordinary women, men and children are bearing the brunt of this crisis," said United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos.
From Mali to the Philippines and the State of Palestine, children and women are facing situations beyond their control. Last year, we witnessed armed conflict, political unrest, erratic and severe weather patterns, disasters and diseases that devastated homes, livelihoods – and lives.
And it's not just the emergencies heavily reported by the media. Away from the cameras and headlines, children and women in crises not talked about so often – in the Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan and Yemen – fought to survive.
Once again, food and nutrition crises hit millions in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region. Once again, floods in Pakistan affected thousands of families.
Given the financial constraints, UNICEF had no choice but to prioritize some areas and sectors over others. The organization's ability to scale up operations was compromised. Sanitation services, hygiene promotion, access to improved education, healthcare services and the launching of information campaigns to prevent HIV/AIDS were severely compromised, with lack of funding the main, but not the only, constraint.
Today, the international community can help UNICEF change that.
How we help
"Contributions to the appeal are sound investments in children and their futures," says UNICEF Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes Ted Chaiban.
Every dollar provided to UNICEF in humanitarian assistance goes a long way in giving children a second chance at life. Last year, the organization led vaccination campaigns that reached more than 38.3 million children – children who are safe from diseases such as polio. UNICEF treated two million children for severe acute malnutrition – children who were rescued from the clutches of hunger and now look ahead to a healthy future. More than 12 million people were provided access to safe water for drinking, cooking and bathing. Even in some of the most terrible circumstances, three million children were provided access to improved education. Over two million children were provided with child protection services.
According to Mr. Chaiban, "UNICEF seeks un-earmarked resources to allow the organization to respond to consistently underfunded emergencies or where the needs are greatest, to apply innovative solutions to complex situations, and to integrate early recovery in large-scale emergencies – many of which extend across multiple countries at the same time."
UNICEF depends on the international community to strengthen its capacity and support the organization in striving towards its goals. Millions in need were assisted with support from generous donors last year, despite the economic recession, but much more must be done in the coming months.
Learn more about the efforts UNICEF staff are leading in dangerous and complex situations. Ground reports and appeals for aid will be regularly updated – at http://www.unicef.org/appeals.