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UNICEF Marks 2005 as Unprecedented ‘Year of Emergencies’

As Tsunami Anniversary Nears, Crises Continue in Pakistan and Elsewhere

NEW YORK, 29 November 2005 – Issuing a preliminary one-year update on its recovery efforts in the tsunami zone, UNICEF said today that 2005 has been an unprecedented year of emergencies for children, with an extraordinary series of natural disasters, food crises, and conflicts tearing at the fabric of life for tens of millions of people.

From the dozen countries struck by the tsunami to the conflict zone of Darfur; from nutrition emergencies in Niger and Malawi to crop failures in Ethiopia and Eritrea; and from the devastating Atlantic hurricane season to the epic Pakistan earthquake, UNICEF said it had not responded to such an array of humanitarian emergencies in a single year in recent memory.

In its summary of its continuing effort to help rebuild children’s lives in the tsunami zone, UNICEF said that while millions of people had been kept healthy and children were largely back in school, the real process of rebuilding is just beginning. The organization detailed its work, in conjunction with governments and a wide array of partners, to support children in their recovery, including building temporary schools, rehabilitating water systems, organizing family care for children who lost their parents, and keeping children healthy through immunization and other health initiatives. 

Despite progress, however, UNICEF said a long road remained for the victims of the tsunami. 

But the tsunami was just the start of an unprecedented string of humanitarian crises, UNICEF noted. A day before the United Nations launches its annual “consolidated appeal” for countries in crisis, the children’s agency said that an extraordinary series of natural disasters and conflicts throughout the year continue to endanger children’s lives. 

In Darfur, one of the world’s most complex and inaccessible territories, malnutrition is spreading to parts of the population largely unaffected until recently, and UNICEF is working to reach 1.5 million children caught in renewed conflict there.

And while many sudden-onset emergencies appeared in front-page news coverage, other countries where suffering is more deeply entrenched remained in the shadows.  Despite the sharp differences from emergency to emergency, two overarching facts defined the year’s humanitarian crises: the scale has been enormous and virtually no continent has been spared.

  •  In March, renewed fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo sparked a fresh crisis in a long-running conflict that has already claimed the lives of an estimated 3.5 million people, the vast majority of them children and women.
  •  From early in 2005 until the crisis peaked in August, UNICEF began stockpiling supplies in chronically malnourished and underfunded Niger, in an effort to reach 800,000 children affected by crop failure. To date, more than 12% of Niger’s children under five have been treated for malnutrition.
  •  In September Hurricane Katrina affected millions of people along large stretches of the US gulf coast, and in October hurricane Stan slammed into impoverished Central America, killing hundreds in Guatemala and El Salvador, displacing tens of thousands, and leaving close to 300,000 people reliant on international food aid.
  •  Throughout the year, drought and crop failures in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Malawi have left millions of children and women relying on international humanitarian aid.
  •  And in early October, an estimated 3.3 million people in Pakistan, nearly half of whom were children, lost their homes, and at least 73,000 people were killed by an epic earthquake. An estimated 150,000 people remain above the snowline, and with snows now falling the outlook appears bleak for those who remain isolated.

UNICEF said it would continue its work in the tsunami zone and all the other humanitarian emergency locales as long as it has funding. 

*   *   *

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals,
businesses, foundations and governments.

For the complete tsunami update, including video footage, please visit: https://www.unicef.org/emerg/disasterinasia/24615_main.html

Note to broadcasters:
Video footage of UNICEF programs in tsunami affected countries is available online at www.thenewsmarket.com, and from regional and country UNICEF offices.

For more information, please contact:
Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Geneva, +41 22 909 5716,
Susan Lagana, UNICEF New York +1 212 326 7516,





Related links

Videos and stories highlighting UNICEF's continuing effort to help rebuild children’s lives in the tsunami affected countries.

Tsunami one year update by country

Tsunami anniversary marks a year of emergencies for children

Communications Officers contact list [pdf]


Dan Thomas reports on UNICEF’s efforts over the last 12 months to help children affected by the tsunami.

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Official Updates

Children and the Tsunami, A Year On: A Draft UNICEF Summary of What Worked [PDF]

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