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UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

UNICEF seeks $763 million for ‘forgotten emergencies’

© UNICEF/HQ05-0124/Parker
On 22 January 2005 in southern Sudan, a child attends the first public appearance of John Garang, leader of the former rebel group the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army, since the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Government.

NEW YORK, 26 January 2005 - UNICEF is appealing to the ‘tsunami spirit’ for more than $750 million for emergencies out of the spotlight.  The unprecedented scale of the devastation caused by the tsunami has kept it firmly on the front page and encouraged millions of dollars worth of donations.  UNICEF alone has already raised almost $300 million for the relief effort and now hopes to redirect that generosity towards children in ‘forgotten emergencies’ in other countries.

“When countries are hit by natural disasters the world naturally gravitates towards them, partly because it could happen to anyone, anywhere, any time,” says UNICEF’s Deputy Director of Emergency Planning Afshan Khan. “We’re there before, during and after a crisis”, she continues.  “Public visibility may shift from one case to another but UNICEF remains on the ground.  I think it’s very difficult for the public to engage in more than one crisis at a time”.

The Humanitarian Action Report is an appeal for $763 million to help with UNICEF’s work in 33 countries where emergencies are taking place right now. Two-thirds of these countries are in Africa.

Children are especially vulnerable in emergencies

© UNICEF/HQ04-0923/Noorani
In November 2004 in Sudan, a health worker measures the width of a toddler's arm during a growth-monitoring session.

A substantial portion of the money - $289 million – is for an emergency appeal for Sudan.  Before the tsunami struck, the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region was considered to be the world’s most pressing humanitarian emergency. Violence there has forced around 2 million people to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, a recent peace accord in southern Sudan is creating hope of an end to Africa’s longest civil war there. (The conflict in southern Sudan is considered a separate emergency; Sudan is thus currently affected by two distinct emergency situations).  The Sudan portion of the appeal seeks to provide crucial assistance for around 10,000 children and women in the country who are struggling against disease and malnutrition.

© UNICEF/HQ04-0256/Furrer
In Uganda, "night commuters" make their way from their homes to shelters in Gulu for fear that their children will be forcibly abducted or their villages attacked by the LRA.

In Uganda today, an estimated 44,000 child night commuters leave their rural homes each night for the relative safety of the larger urban centres, in order to avoid being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Some 12,000 have already been seized by the LRA. UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy has called this one of the worst emergencies involving children anywhere.

Children are especially vulnerable during times of emergency. UNICEF works to keep them alive and to improve their situation going forward.  Nearly half of the 3.6 million people who died in conflict worldwide during the 1990’s were children. 
UNICEF’s first aim is always to ensure the immediate survival of children; thereafter the organization focuses on providing longer-term support.  Activities for which this appeal is raising funds range from immunization to the installation of safe drinking water and sanitation systems in crisis spots worldwide.

UNICEF’s goal is for every child to survive and thrive, to have access to education and to be protected from exploitation and abuse.




26 January 2005:
Rachel Bonham Carter reports on some of the countries included in the Humanitarian Action Appeal

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Humanitarian Action Report 2005:
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