UNICEF issues largest-ever emergency funding appeal to reach historic numbers of children in need

03 December 2019
malnutrition in DPR Korea

GENEVA/BANGKOK, 4 December 2019 – UNICEF today released its US$ 4.2 billion 2020 emergency appeal to reach 59 million children with life-saving support in 64 countries across the globe. It is its biggest ask of donors yet, representing 3.5 times the funds requested in 2010.

In East Asia and Pacific, UNICEF is appealing for US$68.9 million, including US$19.5 million for the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPR Korea), US$40.7 million for Myanmar and US$8.7 million for regional coordination.

“Around the world today, we’re seeing the largest number of children in need of emergency assistance since we began record-keeping. One in four children lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster”, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Historic numbers of children forcibly uprooted from their homes urgently require protection and support. Conflict remains the major driver, while hunger, infectious disease, and extreme weather events related to climate change force millions of others to seek lifesaving aid.”

“Children in DPR Korea are vulnerable to chronic food insecurity and lack access to basic life-saving services. One in 5 children in DPR Korea are stunted, fueled by, inadequate diets in young children. Providing essential, low-cost interventions will help improve their health and nutrition. More than one third of the population does not have access to safe drinking water. Ensuring reliable and safe drinking water will reduce the risk of diarrhoea, undernutrition and preventable deaths especially among more vulnerable newborns and children under five,” said Myo-Zin Nyunt, UNICEF Representative, DPR Korea.

UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children sets out the agency’s 2020 appeal and its work to provide conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Overall, including adults, the appeal covers emergency support to 95 million people. 

The five largest individual appeals are for Syrian refugees and host communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey (US$ 864.1 million); Yemen (US$ 535 million); Syria (US$ 294.8 million); the Democratic Republic of the Congo (US$ 262.7 million); and South Sudan (US$ 180.5 million).

Reaching the growing numbers of children affected by crises worldwide – especially in countries that typically receive less funding – requires not just additional funding, but funding that is more “flexible”, Fore said.

“Our ability to provide children with support from the moment disaster hits until they can get back to their normal lives, requires funding that is quickly available, multi-year, and isn’t tied to particular countries or issues. Flexible funding helps us save more lives and protect more futures.”

In 2019, flexible funding enabled UNICEF to respond to a dramatic increase of insecurity and displacement in Burkina Faso and Mali, two countries whose emergency appeals are still less than one-fifth funded.

The 2019 appeal – set at $3.92 billion and revised upwards to $4.13 billion mid-year, was 57 per cent funded as of 1 November, including $761 million in multi-year funds carried over from the previous year.

“UNICEF has faced serious funding shortfalls for its humanitarian work in DPR Korea and 2019 was no different, 42 per cent of the required US$19.5 million was funded. Securing funds for UNICEF’s life-saving work is crucial and we look forward to the continued valuable support of our donors,” added Myo-Zin Nyunt.


Notes to editors:

In 2020, working alongside its partners, UNICEF targets include:   

  • 5.1 million children to be treated for severe acute malnutrition
  • 8.5 million children to be immunized against measles
  • 28.4 million people to have access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • 4.5 million children and caregivers to have access to mental health and psychosocial support
  • 1.4 million children and women to have access to gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions
  • 10.2 million children to have access to formal or non-formal education, including early learning
  • 1.7 million people to be reached with cash assistance
  • 49 million at-risk/affected children and adults to be engaged through communication for development/community engagement

In the first 8 months of 2019, UNICEF and partners reached nearly 51 million people including 29 million children. Specifically:

  • 2.1 million children treated for severe acute malnutrition
  • 28.9 million children vaccinated against measles
  • 32.2 million people provided with access to safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • 2.6 million children and caregivers accessed mental health and psychosocial support
  • 3.9 million children accessed formal or non-formal education, including early learning
  • 850,000 people provided with cash assistance

Photos and multimedia materials are available for download here:

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

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For more information or for interview requests please contact:

Christopher Tidey, UNICEF New York, +1 917 340 3017, ctidey@unicef.org
Joe English, UNICEF New York, +1 917 893 0692, jenglish@unicef.org    
Marixie Mercado, UNICEF Geneva, +41 79 559 7172, mmercado@unicef.org
Shima Islam, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, +66 (0) 2 356 9407, ssislam@unicef.org

Media contacts

Shima Islam
Regional Communication Specialist
UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific
Tel: +66 (0)23569407


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF East Asia & Pacific and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/eap

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