Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it
provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition,
education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- Rwanda first confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in March 2020. Although the number of cases has been low, health system resources are being redirected to respond and an increasing number of children are affected by the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, including disruptions to schooling and heightened protection risks.
- While Rwanda remained Ebola-free during the outbreak, it remains a priority country and continues to maintain its Ebola preparedness. Rwanda is also home to 147,000 refugees, half of whom are children, who require assistance in and outside of camps.
- In 2021, UNICEF will continue to deliver life-saving services to refugees and children and families affected by COVID-19 and its socio-economic impacts, and maintain its Ebola preparedness and contingency planning.
- UNICEF is appealing for US$6 million to respond to the urgent needs of 1 million children, including with education, child protection and risk communication services.
Key planned results for 2021
200,000 children accessing water, sanitation and hygiene services in learning and safe spaces
500,000 women and children accessing gender-based violence risk mitigation / prevention / response
30,000 children accessing educational services
2 million people reached through messaging on access to services
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
While the humanitarian crisis in Rwanda is small in scale and magnitude, it remains complex. The country is affected by three overlapping emergencies: (1) the risk that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will spillover into Rwanda; (2) the COVID-19 pandemic; and (3) the 147,000 refugees in Rwanda who require urgent humanitarian assistance.
Rwanda remains extremely vulnerable to health epidemics – including COVID-19 but also Ebola – due to its shared border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its overstreatched health system. Health centres with limited capacity will struggle to manage the surge in cases of COVID-19 and Ebola, should the outbreak spill over.
Rwanda confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on 14 March 2020, and since then, the Government has implemented strict prevention measures. As of 30 October, there were over 5,000 confirmed cases and 35 confirmed deaths. COVID-19 prevention measures, such as the temporary closure of schools and early childhood development centres, supply disruptions, rising food prices, unemployment and the looming economic crisis, are intensifying risks and inequalities for the poorest and most vulnerable populations.
Children – including refugee children, young children, girls and children with disabilities – require access to education through remote learning and home-based early childhood development and stimulation while the Government works to gradually reopen schools and early childhood development centres.
Vulnerable families and children living in overcrowded settings and dense living conditions are at at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. Women and girls have specific needs that if unaddressed may increase their vulnerability to protection risks and lead to the adoption of negative coping strategies. Stigma and discrimination tied to COVID-19 are also heightening children's vulnerability to violence and psychological distress that may have long-term impacts on their cognitive and emotional development if appropriate action is not taken.
In Rwanda, UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health to prepare for and respond to health epidemics and the refugee situation.
As part of the health response, UNICEF will work through community networks and local non-governmental organization partners, including religious leaders, to maintain essential community-based Ebola prevention activities for families and children.
UNICEF will also continue to support the COVID-19 response in Rwanda. This will include supporting the Government to mitigate the secondary impacts of COVID-19 on children and families, in line with the National COVID-19 Response Plan, which was developed with the support of key health partners. UNICEF will also lead risk communication activities and specific engagement actions; support the WASH components of infection prevention and control; and facilitate community-based surveillance efforts in targeted districts, including capacity building of community health workers.
To support children's access to learning while schools are closed, UNICEF will support the Government to provide remote learning opportunities, including home-based early childhood development activities. When schools reopen, UNICEF will support a remedial learning programme to help students regain lost or missed learning. This intervention will emphasize reaching marginalized girls.
In line with the Blueprint for Joint Action – a commitment to accelerate joint efforts to protect the rights of refugee children and the communities that host them – UNICEF will respond to the humanitarian needs of refugees from Burundi who are living in and outside of camps in Rwanda, in close collaboration with the Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This will include providing critical child protection and education services to children and adolescents, and supporting access to essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in schools serving refugee children.
UNICEF will also continue to include all refugee children and adolescents inside and outside of camps in vital social services, including services addressing gender-based violence and the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. To strengthen the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of national services for refugees and all crisis-affected communities, UNICEF will continue to support the Government to leverage existing partnerships and work through community-based mechanisms and networks in its emergency response.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Rwanda; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.