Appeals to the ‘Tsunami Spirit’ to Help Children in 33 Countries Where Crisis Threatens Lives Far From the Spotlight
GENEVA, 26 January 2005 – UNICEF today appealed for more than $750 million to help millions of children struggling to survive conflicts and other emergencies in countries around the world, saying that the tsunami had shown that people care deeply about children in desperate situations but are often not aware of them.
“We have witnessed a truly spectacular response from the global public – a combination of compassion, speed, and generosity that allowed UNICEF to immediately help save lives," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. On behalf of all my colleagues who are working around the clock to provide aid to the survivors, I thank our donors for their inspired response."
“We are appealing to that same generosity of spirit that brought people and nations together around the tsunami crisis,” she added. “The new year began with a new spirit human solidarity, a realization that what happens in one corner of the world affects us all.”
Launching UNICEF’s annual report on children in crisis countries, Bellamy cited the continuing conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo, which has taken the lives of over 3 million people in just five years, and the crisis in northern Uganda, which she said is one of the worst emergencies facing children anywhere.
At any given time between one-quarter and one-third of the 157 countries that UNICEF is working in are affected by emergencies arising from conflict, economic crises, natural disasters or a combination of these.
The appeal provides an overview of UNICEF’s emergency programs in 33 of these countries and territories, and seeks $763 million in donor support for relief efforts aimed at keeping children alive, protecting them, and providing them with basic services. Among the countries included in the 2005 appeal are Uganda, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Haiti. Two-thirds of the countries are in Africa.
It includes an extraordinary appeal for Sudan – more than $289 million – to cover humanitarian relief in the south, where a recent peace accord is creating new hope, and in the western Darfur region, which until the tsunami was considered perhaps the world’s most pressing humanitarian hotspot.
“The camera has a way of shifting focus when a new emergency strikes, constantly urging our attentions onward. But while we may forget some emergencies, we shouldn’t forget the children who are caught up in them,” Bellamy said. “Every day, children are being killed, maimed and recruited to fight in wars,” Bellamy said. “They are being wrenched from their families, forced to witness violence, and to endure the slow and painful consequences of having their health neglected.”
During emergencies, children are especially vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and violence. Nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in conflict during the 1990s (45 per cent) were children. Millions more children were seriously injured or permanently disabled, or endured sexual violence, trauma, hunger and disease. Around 20 million children were forced from their homes and communities by conflict.
In all emergencies, UNICEF focuses firstly on the survival of the children, which means providing health care, water and sanitation and adequate nutrition. UNICEF is also there to bring immediate protection to children who have been abandoned or separated from their families, enrolled in army or rebel groups or otherwise exploited and abused. UNICEF also helps children recover from the psychological distress associated with emergencies, a key component of which is getting children back to school as soon as possible. In schools, children are also in easier reach of health care, food, water and sanitation.
Bellamy commended The European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), the third largest donor to UNICEF emergencies programs, for recently giving UNICEF two grants totalling more than €7 million to enhance emergency preparedness and response. She also praised the UK Department for International Development for its consistent support to UNICEF in recent years for emergency preparedness, coordination, and response capacity.
“Thanks to these generous donations, we will be able to work more efficiently and swiftly in coordinating emergency responses with our partners and bolster our efforts to protect children in emergencies from exploitation and abuse,” she said.
Resources requested in the appeal would enable UNICEF to provide a full range of support to children, including such things as basic health services, safe water and sanitation, immunization, demobilization of child soldiers, access to education and protection from exploitation and abuse.
“UNICEF’s work in emergencies not only saves children’s lives but gives the most vulnerable children a chance at a decent future,” Bellamy said. “This appeal may seem like a lot of money, but for the tens of millions for children in these countries, it is simply about survival, safety, and a little bit of hope.”
A Tsunami Thank You
While announcing its appeal for other emergencies, UNICEF said that its funding requirements for tsunami relief and reconstruction were close to being met. With close to $300 million already received from governments and individual donors and with ongoing fundraising still taking place – ranging from corporate pledges, all star concerts, employee giving, grassroots fundraisers and school collections – UNICEF said it expects to receive enough to meet its requirements for the foreseeable future. The agency said that apart from those events already planned, it would not initiate any new fundraising projects.
UNICEF has delivered tens of millions of dollars of life-saving relief to the tsunami zone and will continue to support basic recovery. The agency will also play a role in the longer-term reconstruction of vital services for children, including schools and health centers.
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For further information, please contact:
Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Geneva, 41 22 909 5716