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UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

UNICEF in Humanitarian Action

A girl washes her hands in order to prevent the spread of Ebola near Mangina, North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
© UNICEF/UN0229508/Naftalin

UNICEF has a long history of working in emergencies and humanitarian contexts, both natural and man-made. Originally called the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, the organization was created to provide humanitarian assistance to children living in a world shattered by the Second World War.  Much has changed since then, but UNICEF’s fundamental mission has not. Humanitarian action is central to UNICEF’s mandate and realizing the rights of every child.

UNICEF’s humanitarian action is guided by the UNICEF Strategic Plan and its Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action (CCCs) which outlines what UNICEF commits to do across all sectors – health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection, and education – as part of any humanitarian response. The CCCs are aligned to international standards and guided by humanitarian principles.

© UNICEF/UN0201084/Krepkih
Mykhailo, 6, is being immunized according to the Ukrainian vaccination calendar at a time in Obolon district, Kyiv, Ukraine.

During emergencies and humanitarian contexts, children are especially vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and violence. Children living in conflict areas are worst off- as demonstrated by the Millennium Development Goals indicators. Children in armed conflict situations are more likely to be living in extreme poverty, for instance, or not enrolled in primary school; they are also more likely to die before their fifth birthday. The chaos and insecurity of war threatens or destroys access to food, shelter, social support and health care, and results in increased vulnerability in communities, especially for children. Of the populations without sanitation and safe drinking water globally, approximately half live in countries affected by conflict. UNICEF focuses on these children and their families to provide them with the essential interventions required for protection, to save lives and to ensure the rights of all children, everywhere.

In UNICEF, country-level humanitarian action is supported by a global architecture made up of UNICEF’s 7 regional offices and 20 headquarters divisions. These offices provide the core infrastructure to support field preparedness and response to save lives, protect rights, reduce vulnerabilities to disasters and conflicts, support global and country coordination mechanisms and promote humanitarian partnerships. UNICEF’s global support is coordinated by the Office of Emergency Programmes, including a security team and the 24-hour, 7-day Operations Centre.

In order for UNICEF to meet the needs of all children affected by humanitarian crises, especially the most vulnerable, funds are needed. In 2019, UNICEF needs $3.9 billion to reach 41 million children in 59 countries. For more information please visit our Humanitarian for Action for Children appeals page at: www.unicef.org/appeals and to donate, click here.



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