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UNICEF’s Representative in Iran: Women and Children Suffer the Most in Crisis Time

Tehran, 19 August 2009 – In almost any crisis, children and women continue to suffer the most, Paul Hulshoff, UNICEF’s Representative in Iran, said at a press conference commemorating the World Humanitarian Day in UNICEF office today.

“Children and women continue to suffer the most in crisis, being it from civil conflicts, natural disasters, violence and exploitation or dire health and nutrition situations. Women and children are dying everyday due to disease, poverty and hunger, but sadly their deaths go largely unnoticed,” he said.

Introducing the governments as the first responsible body, Mr Hulshoff added that international aid and especially United Nations remains an essential lifeline for millions today. “For this reason, emergency response and humanitarian assistance has and will continue to be an integral part of UNICEF operations globally”, he further said.

Between  2005  and  2007,  over  50  per  cent  of  emergencies  were  caused  by  disasters,  whereas conflict-related  interventions  accounted  for  30  per  cent  and  health-related  emergencies  for  19  per  cent  of  UNICEF’s emergency response.

On average UNICEF responded annually to some 276 emergencies in over 92 countries.   On average, only 25 per cent are ongoing or protracted emergencies, while 75 per cent are new emergencies. UNICEF is present in the field in more than 150 countries, which gives it a comparative advantage in addressing new emergencies.

In 2009, requirements to support humanitarian aid as a part of UNICEF-assisted emergency response were in total over $1 billion- a 17 per cent increase compared to 2008 and covers 36 different countries. UNICEF representative described by sector that health and nutrition needs amount to 38 percent of the total emergency funding, followed by water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) with 22 percent.

Commemorating loss of three UNICEF staff in Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan, Hulshoff said that disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness are key concerns for UNICEF. “UNICEF will increasingly engage in climate change adaptation, risk mitigation, early warning, preparedness and emergency response in order to reduce the impact disasters can have on vulnerable populations, especially children and women”, he added.

Describing UNICEF’s activities in Bam after the 2003 earthquake, he reminded the audience about UNICEF Core Commitments for Children in emergencies in the fields of education, child protection, health and nutrition and water and sanitation. 

The General Assembly determined in December 2008 that World Humanitarian Day should be marked on 19 August every year to “contribute to increasing public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in this regard, as well as to honour all humanitarian and UN and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause and those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty”

The other speakers at the press conference were Mr. Sunil Narula, Acting Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Iran, Mr. Mustafa Muhaqeq, Vice President of the Iranian Red crescent, Carlos Zaccagnini, UNHCR Representative in Iran and Amir Abdollahpour Makouei, UNOCHA Officer-in-Charge.



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