“All over the world, children and women are suffering the brunt of wars and natural disasters,” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said today, launching the organization’s 2004 Humanitarian Action Report. “Helping them is our greatest challenge.”
“The media is quick to spotlight sudden emergencies, like the earthquake in Bam and the unrest in Haiti, where UNICEF is on the ground, but at the same time, there are other unseen crises threatening tens of millions of children who need our help,” Bellamy said.
The Humanitarian Action Report provides an annual overview of UNICEF’s emergency assistance programmes, and in particular sets out the relief activities and the financial requirements of UNICEF for meeting the needs of children and women.
UNICEF is seeking $516 million for emergency relief in 30 countries, more than half in Africa. Among the countries included in the 2004 appeal are Angola, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Liberia, Haiti, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Afghanistan.
“The impact of these emergencies on the survival and thriving of children cannot be understated,” Bellamy said.
In the last ten years, more than 2 million children have died as a direct result of armed conflict, and more than three times that number have been permanently disabled or seriously injured. An estimated 20 million children have been forced to leave their homes. More than 1 million children have been orphaned or separated from their families. These children are at great risk of violence, exploitation and abuse. In situations of armed conflict, girls and women are routinely targets of gender-based violence, including rape, mutilation, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy and sexual slavery.
An estimated 300,000 child soldiers – boys and girls under the age of 18 – are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide.
UNICEF provides a wide array of support to children during humanitarian crises. Resources requested in the current appeal would enable UNICEF to:
“UNICEF has been central in bringing some normalcy back to the lives of devastated children all over the world,” Bellamy said. “This vital work can only go on with the continued generosity and assistance of our donors everywhere.”
For further information, please contact:
Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Media, Geneva (41) 022 909 2716
Gordon Weiss, UNICEF Media, New York (1)212 326 7426