There for every child in times of crisis
Humanitarian action for children
Emergency situations are a fact of life for many children in this region. During emergencies, children’s health, security and well-being are compromised as family and community networks are broken and basic social infrastructure is disrupted. Temporary shelters often become permanent homes in which children have no or limited access to education, healthcare and other critical services.
The Asia-Pacific region is one of the most disaster-prone in the world, with 10 of the world’s 15 most at-risk countries.
Internal violence and conflict
Chronic and protracted humanitarian situations due to unresolved conflicts and political instability affect millions of children and their families across the region. Armed conflict, civil unrest and insecurity continue to pose risks to the survival, safety and protection of children in countries such as Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea. Hundreds of thousands of people in the region are displaced within their own country due to the long-running conflicts and sectarian violence, while more than half a million people have fled across a border and become refugees.
Over 60 per cent of the worlds’ disaster victims live in Asia and the Pacific. This region suffers from the highest losses caused by natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, typhoons and volcanoes. The hydro-meteorological disasters are expected to become more frequent and severe due to climate change, deforestation, rapid urbanization and population growth, leading to grave consequences for the most marginalized segments of the population. Children are particularly vulnerable, as they are least able to protect themselves from these growing risks and depend on basic goods and services.
Chronic an public health emergencies
A silent emergency of under-nutrition defines daily reality for many children and their families.
Poor sanitation and health conditions prevail in many parts of the region, resulting in public health emergencies. To this end, COVID-19 and its cascading effects continue to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and impact emergency response and recovery efforts in the region.
Protecting the most vulnerable
One of UNICEF’s main missions is to fulfil the basic needs and fundamental rights of the most vulnerable children, including survivors of natural disasters, refugees and internally displaced children, and children affected by armed conflict. UNICEF’s Core Commitment for Children identifies life-saving interventions and critical minimum basic services that are vital during the first weeks of an emergency, as well as longer-term activities that support sustainable reconstruction and development.
In humanitarian situations, UNICEF coordinates with national governments and partners to provide life-saving support such as drinking water, medical supplies, sanitation and therapeutic food, as well as awareness-raising campaigns and training. UNICEF also ensures that children are protected and their education is not interrupted, by creating child-friendly spaces and temporary learning spaces.
Emergency preparedness and response
Many countries and governments in the region have significantly invested in building national disaster response capacity. UNICEF continues to work closely with governments and partner organisations to further contribute to the strengthening of their emergency preparedness capacities, with a particular focus on child-centered approaches. We give priority to high-risk areas, including enhanced early warning systems, contingency planning and simulations, and prepositioning of goods in order to be able to respond swiftly and effectively to the needs of children and their caregivers during emergencies.
To help minimize the impact of disasters on vulnerable communities, UNICEF and our partners support various disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and peace building programmes. These are aimed at increasing community resilience to future shocks in order to save lives and avoid suffering, as well as to protect livelihoods, assets and infrastructure.
Through our holistic approach of ‘resilience building’, UNICEF aims to integrate development and humanitarian action and promote risk-informed programming and planning. We do this through child-centred risk assessments that incorporate natural hazards, climate change and conflict sensitivity and integrate risk-informed approaches into our development programmes. This helps to improve the prediction and prevention of emergencies, particularly recurrent disasters, and prepare communities to cope with them should they occur.