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Press Release

UNICEF Seeks More than $35 Million In Emergency Relief For Afghan Children

Non-Food Aid Emphasizes Medicine, Immunization, Safe Water, Education

GENEVA / NEW YORK, 28 September 2001 - The United Nations Children's Fund today said it needs more than $35 million in special donor support to help the children and women of Afghanistan survive a humanitarian crisis that features a trio of threats - drought, war, and winter.

Previous UNICEF Press Releases on Afghanistan

The UNICEF emergency appeal is part of a larger relief drive announced by the United Nations on Thursday, totaling over $582 million, mostly covering food and shelter for an estimated 7.5 million people in need.

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, speaking in Geneva, said that while her agency's humanitarian appeal represents a relatively small portion of the total funding request, "it will have a very large impact on the health and survival of children."

"We're talking about millions of people who simply won't make it through the winter without humanitarian relief," Bellamy said. "With the eyes of the world focused on Afghanistan there is a real opportunity to save lives. But we need help now in order to do it."

For more on UNICEF's role in the Afghanistan crisis

Bellamy said that of the estimated 7.5 million Afghans who may have to rely on international relief to survive, 20 per cent are children under the age of five. A total of 70 per cent are children and women.

UNICEF will use the funds it receives to provide life-saving medicines, water purification supplies, nutritional supplements for malnourished youngsters, oral re-hydration salts to combat deadly diarrhea, and other relief items including blankets, clothing, water containers, and education kits for makeshift classrooms.

Already a series of UNICEF relief flights into the region are underway. One flight will arrive in Peshawar, Pakistan, this weekend carrying nearly 40 tonnes of relief supplies, including medicines. Another full flight will arrive in the Turkmenistan town of Turkmenabad on Sunday. At least three more airlifts will arrive later in the week to a variety of locations.

Bellamy said UNICEF, along with other UN agencies, is positioning relief supplies throughout the region as close to the borders of Afghanistan as possible, to be available if a crisis develops on Afghanistan's borders, or otherwise to be trucked into Afghanistan as soon as the situation stabilizes and borders re-open.

"Either way, we're going to try to get these supplies to the children who need them," Bellamy said. "The truth is, there was always going to be a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan this winter. It just happens that the world is watching now."

***

For further information contact:

Liza Barrie, UNICEF Media Section, New York
Tel.: 212-326-7593, lbarrie@unicef.org

Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media Section, New York
Tel: 212-326-7261, e-mail: aironside@unicef.org

Speeches and Press releases on Afghanistan and region