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Global support

Humanitarian action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. UNICEF’s global humanitarian architecture – which includes the organization’s 7 regional offices and 10 headquarters divisions – supports humanitarian action at the country level. It enables UNICEF country offices to scale up their emergency preparedness and response, effectively deliver humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable, address children’s rights and protect them from violence, abuse and exploitation.

UNICEF’s Office of Emergency Programmes coordinates the organization’s global support, including through a security team and the 24-hour, 7-day Operations Centre. In 2020, this support will cost US$71.2 million. UNICEF will cover 45 per cent of this cost through core resources. For 2020, UNICEF requires US$39.4 million in flexible and multi-year funding to cover the remaining needs.

Global architecture of UNICEF's humanitarian action
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Global support to the field in 2019

Five Level 3 emergencies required organization-wide mobilization, including global resource mobilization, in 2019: the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, and the protracted crises in Nigeria, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen.

As of the end of September 2019, investments in UNICEF’s global support translated into the following achievements:

  • The revision of the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action (CCCs) was initiated to better reflect the diversity of humanitarian crises and guide principled, timely, predictable and efficient humanitarian response, in line with updated norms and standards.
  • UNICEF renewed and expanded partnerships with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP); continued to support the implementation of the UNHCR, WFP, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UNICEF Principals statement on cash assistance; conducted six country case studies on collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); and organized the first global consultation with humanitarian non-governmental organization partners since 2012 to improve how we work together in emergencies.
  • Advocacy on the impact of crises on children was strengthened, with more than 30 high-level statements issued at the global and field levels, four statements to the Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict and an intervention by the UNICEF Executive Director at the Security Council Open Debate on children and armed conflict.
  US$267.6 million in supplies procured
for countries responding to emergencies1
  US$54.5 million2 disbursed
through the Emergency Programme Fund to 22 country offices and 2 regional offices
  80 per cent of country offices
updated their risk analysis and preparedness plans3
  1.85 million affected people reached
through U-Report4 in 12 countries


Surge support
(includes Emergency Response Team, Rapid Response Team and standby personnel)

  137 personnel
completed 263 deployments
  37 countries
totaling 26,597 days of support


Emergency Response Team support to the gender response in Cameroon
The North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon are in acute crisis, with persistent violence, deteriorating security and increasing protection violations. Nearly 1.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and 536,000 people have been displaced.7 Children and women are disproportionately affected.

As part of its global support to the humanitarian response in Cameroon, in early 2019, UNICEF deployed an Emergency Response Team member to establish a field presence in conflict-affected regions and to support the integration of gender into the humanitarian response. The pilot Rapid Response Mechanism, which was made possible by flexible funds received from donors for global support, was instrumental in shaping a more equitable, effective and gender-sensitive response.

Key results include:
  • Over 2,300 women and 2,600 girls received menstrual hygiene support.
  • Over 5,000 children (2,400 girls) received psychosocial support.
  • Over 1,500 caregivers (1,050 women and 450 men) received infant and young child feeding counselling.
  • Half of Rapid Response Mechanism assessment team members were women.
  • Nearly 19,000 people (4,000 girls and 5,800 women) benefited from community-based sensitization on nutrition, health and WASH management. Cameroon, 2019 Girl, boys, women and men participate in a community-based hygiene promotion activity in South-West Cameroon.

Global support for the response to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique
Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall at the port of Beira, Mozambique in March 2019 before moving across the region. Millions of people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have been affected by what is the worst natural disaster to hit southern Africa in at least two decades.

UNICEF was the first to reach the affected areas and immediately planned a response that aimed to address the most urgent needs, while strengthening existing systems, local capacities and resilience. Drawing on global support, UNICEF was able to deploy 13 personnel from headquarters, regional offices and standby partners for a period of three months – before a new office was established for long-term support.

In all aspects of the response, UNICEF worked with local actors to build capacities and support longer-term recovery:
  • Life-saving WASH assistance was followed by the rehabilitation of existing water points/systems and the construction of durable new infrastructure.
  • Schools were reconstructed to be more resilient to future shocks and students and teachers were trained on disaster preparedness.
  • Cholera rapid response teams and community health workers were trained to provide care in resettlement sites and hard-to-reach areas.


Looking ahead

In 2020, UNICEF will continue to ensure that the most vulnerable people, including women, children and persons with disabilities, are reached with the support they need during emergencies. This will include improving accountability to crisis-affected communities, localizing emergency response and promoting the centrality of protection. UNICEF will review its humanitarian action to foster principled humanitarian access and leadership to maximize equitable coverage and quality of response in complex emergencies; harness evidence and learning for principled emergency programmes at all levels; and roll out the revised CCCs. Training on humanitarian cash transfers will be rolled out in all regions to strengthen capacities to scale up cash programmes in the field. Standby partnerships will be expanded to include more local actors, and key partnerships will be operationalized to reach even more children. UNICEF will strengthen humanitarian coordination to more effectively analyse and prioritize humanitarian needs. And country offices will be supported to conduct sharper risk analysis and horizon scanning for better emergency preparedness.


1 Ninety-five per cent went to Level 2 and Level 3 emergencies.
2 These are revolving funds disbursed to field offices within 48 hours of a sudden humanitarian crisis, before donor resources are available, to continue critical humanitarian actions where funding is delayed.
3 Three country offices identified as very high-risk received U$1.5 million to rapidly expand their preparedness levels.
4 U-Report is a social messaging tool that allows young people and all affected populations to share feedback and complaints on humanitarian service delivery.