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UNICEF: Arab world to play important role in emergencies

DUBAI, April 10, 2006 – Speaking at the inauguration of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Re-Development Conference, DIHAD 2006, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah today stressed the need for enhanced Arab collaboration in the field of humanitarian assistance to crisis countries around the world.

Salah shared highlights of UNICEF's Arabic Humanitarian Action Report (HAR) 2006, which is to be launched tomorrow in Riyadh. HAR provides an annual overview of the agency’s emergency assistance programmes within the context of UN-wide appeals. The report sets out the relief activities and the financial requirements of UNICEF for meeting the needs of children and women in several countries faced with violence, poverty, disease, conflict and declining social indicators.

This year's report envisages funding needs estimated at US$800m of which nearly US$330m are expected to address the situation in Sudan, where 17 million people remain deprived of safe water and another 20 million still lack access to safe sanitation. Furthermore, a massive humanitarian effort is keeping the worst at bay in Darfur, while decades of conflict and under-development have led to dismal social indicators for Southern Sudan. Malaria, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections (ARI) continue to claim the lives of over 100,000 Sudanese children under five each year.

Home to a diverse number of emergencies and long-lasting conflicts, the Middle East and northern Africa region is faced with growing challenges to humanitarian assistance amidst increasingly unsafe and life-threatening environments.

UNICEF's funding appeal for countries in the region includes emergency response components focusing on the prevailing humanitarian crises in Sudan, Iraq, the occupied Palestinian territories and Western Sahara.

UNICEF's Deputy Executive Director called today for increased international and regional commitment in the search for a more collaborative and sustainable approach to humanitarian emergency funding in the region. She also stressed the need for more predictable, efficient and effective humanitarian action, envisaging greater accountability of agencies towards the international donor community and the actual beneficiaries. "We have a much longer way to go in strengthening agency coordination, engaging partners in capacity building to fill gaps in critical sectors like disaster management, aid procurement and common services", she stated. 

"Ironically, the relentless series of disasters we witnessed in 2005 also highlights the importance of good coordination, emergency preparedness and systems of early warning. We are stronger when agencies and NGOs work in synergy", Salah said, with reference to the growing number of disasters and emergencies in 2005.

She also commended Arab countries for their strengthened commitment and support to disaster management operations in response to the South Asia tsunami and the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

The Arabic version of UNICEF HAR 2006 will be launched next Tuesday, April 11th in Riyadh, in collaboration with the Saudi Committee.


For further information, please contact

M. Anis Salem Regional Communication Adviser UNICEF MENA-RO e-mail: asalem@unicef.org
Mobile: + 96279 557 9991

Wolfgang Friedl Communication Officer UNICEF MENA-RO e-mail: wfriedl@unicef.org
Mobile: + 96279 573 2745




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