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Arabic Humanitarian Action Report 2008 launched today in Dubai

UNICEF calls for strategic partnerships and flexible funding to enhance emergency response in region

AMMAN / DUBAI  9 April 2008 – UNICEF today launched its annual Arabic version of the Humanitarian Action Report (HAR) 2008, which calls for support for both immediate relief and long-term development in conflict-ridden and disaster-prone countries across the Middle East and North Africa.

Released today in Dubai, the document underscores the plight of displaced children and other vulnerable populations inside Iraq and the every day challenges facing Iraqis who have sought refuge in Jordan and Syria. UNICEF’s report also draws attention to the humanitarian situation affecting children in the occupied Palestinian territory, the worsening conditions of 2.4 million people presently displaced in the Darfur region of Sudan, the issues of child survival in South Sudan and the decline of socioeconomic indicators in a persisting political stalemate in Lebanon. It also raises concern over mounting child malnutrition in Djibouti.

The concerned countries of the region need some $274 million out of a total USD $855 million that the report appeals for globally. Sudan alone will require $150 million.

Overall, the HAR 2008 highlights the humanitarian and financial needs for 39 countries & emergencies worldwide, out of which 7 are from the Middle-East and North Africa region.

Profile of countries in  the region: A mixed assessment

Deteriorating violence and instability in Iraq are having a long-lasting, serious effect on schooling, health care, as well as water supply and sanitation throughout the country. With half of the now nearly 1,5 million internally displaced being children, UNICEF hopes to expand its basic healthcare and routine immunization outreach in 2008 to tackle the risk of chronic disease and outbreaks. Other UNICEF-supported interventions, envisage a more efficient distribution of emergency water supplies and the rehabilitation of classrooms across the country.

Funding in the amount of USD 93.5 million is expected to address the pressing needs of the 2.4 million displaced people in the Darfur region. Half of the Darfur population is in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, including necessary action in the fronts of improved sanitation and hygiene, immunization against polio, DPT and measles. Concern is also raised by UNICEF with regards to enduring maternal and infant mortality rates in South Sudan and the risk of an HIV and AIDS epidemic amongst the returnees. USD 56.8 million is requested for UNICEF emergency interventions in the South.

The report also underlines the deterioration of humanitarian conditions for children and women in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In Gaza, currently, 8 of 10 families rely on food assistance, principally from UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East) and the World Food Programme (WFP) and around two-thirds of households are not connected to a sewerage network. UNICEF will procure and distribute vaccines, immunization-related supplies to health facilities across oPt. It will also rehabilitate water and sanitation facilities in schools and undertake regular water-tankering operations to vulnerable areas. An estimated 100,000 vulnerable children will benefit from remedial education programmes organized by UNICEF.

Estimates of the number of Iraqi refugees in Syria range up to 1.5 million, with children representing at least 50 percent. Funding will support the provision of school equipment, the rehabilitation of sanitation facilities in provisional refugee schools and the expansion of existing “child-friendly spaces”.

In Jordan, UNICEF assists Iraqis who have fled the conflict. Funding will support UNICEF’s delivery of essential supplies to health centres, sustain routine immunization and ensure training of health workers on psychosocial counseling. The delivery of basic teaching supplies and vocational training for adolescents will complement the effort in 2008.

For Lebanon, UNICEF’s appeal for funding will help rehabilitate damaged water networks and support a nationwide measles campaign reaching more than 1 million children. Mine risk education for children is also planned.

In Djibouti, acute malnutrition rates in under-five children remain high. Frequent droughts, high unemployment and food prices contribute to the poor nutritional status and recurring food insecurity which affects urban and rural populations alike. Scaled-up malnutrition management and nutrition education within health facilities and at community level will be UNICEF’s principal activity to be carried out through HAR funding.

“Strong and results-oriented partnerships will enable us to meet the needs and rights of affected children and women in these countries” said Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Predictable and timely funding will help us deliver much needed assistance to the most vulnerable more effectively,” she concluded.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good 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 the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact

Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, Regional Chief of Communication, UNICEF MENA-RO, Mobile: +96279 700 4567,  E-mail: arghandour@unicef.org   

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

Zeina Habib, Communications & Partnerships Officer, UNICEF Gulf Area Office, Mobile: +971 50 6562753, E-mail: mailto:zhabib@unicef.org Mobile




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