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Joint press release

Urgent action needed to assist people affected by conflict in Nigeria and Ukraine - UNICEF and OCHA

© UNICEF/UNI181225/Filippov
On 13 March 2015, UNICEF Emergency Director Afshan Khan plays with orphans and children deprived of parental care in the orphanage ‘Malyutka’, Donetsk city in Ukraine.

NEW YORK, 19 March 2015 – Addressing the media today after returning from a week-long mission to Nigeria and Ukraine, John Ging of OCHA and Afshan Khan of UNICEF, called on the international community to support efforts under way to assist civilians in both countries.

In Nigeria, the Emergency Directors travelled to Yola, where they met with local government officials, humanitarian partners, including inter-faith groups such as the Adamawa Peace Initiative, and women’s groups, and visited Internally displaced persons living in formal camps, informal camps and with host communities. In Abuja, they met with government officials, humanitarian partners and donors.

“The people of north-east Nigeria have suffered immensely,” said OCHA Operations Director, John Ging. “With the rainy season just two months away, and host communities’ resources rapidly diminishing, we must urgently mobilize assistance to help people in need, in support of the local communities and organizations who have done so much already.”

The Emergency Directors were particularly concerned by the plight of women and children, many of whom have suffered and witnessed horrendous atrocities – they have seen their husbands and children slaughtered, walked for days with nothing but the clothes on their backs to seek refuge, been exposed to abuse and violence, and lost their homes and belongings.

“Despite all they have been through, the women we met held unshakeable strength, courage and determination to rebuild their families, their communities and their country,” said UNICEF Emergency Director, Afshan Khan. “Their asks are extremely humble – protection and justice, a plot of land, an opportunity for a livelihood, free access to healthcare, and education for their children – and we must all work to support them.”

In Ukraine, the Emergency Directors travelled to Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk and, in Kiev, met with the Deputy Prime Minister, humanitarian partners and Member States.

“This conflict has exacted a huge toll on civilians, and particularly older women and men,” said Mr. Ging. “We urgently need all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and ensure that they have access to the finances, supplies and services they need to survive this crisis. We also urgently need free and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations to reach people in need.”

The protection of medical facilities and delivery of medicines and medical supplies to conflict-affected areas is particularly urgent. More than 100 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed during the fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk alone, and the Emergency Directors visited a hospital in Donetsk which lacked even the most basic supplies, including surgical gloves, IV fluid, antibiotics and bandages.

In both Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk, the Emergency Directors saw the psycho-social and physical toll that the conflict has taken on children. Visiting a bomb shelter in Donetsk, the Emergency Directors met with families too afraid to have their children return to school for fear of ongoing shelling.

“Children are bearing the brunt of this conflict,” said Ms. Khan, “Many of them have fled their homes and left their belongings behind. Half of the children in conflict-affected areas are out of school, some of whom have had their schools damaged or destroyed. Many of these children have witnessed unimaginable violence and need urgent psycho-social support.”

Additional humanitarian funding is urgently needed for the responses in both Nigeria and Ukraine, where the appeals are just 8 per cent and 5 per cent funded respectively.

The Emergency Directors of FAO, IOM, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, UNHCR, WFP and WHO also joined the entire mission, while UNDP and Caritas Internationalis joined for Ukraine.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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For further information, please call:
Michelle Delaney, OCHA NY, delaneym@un.org, Tel + 1 917 367 4568, Cell +1 917226 6308
Najwa Mekki, UNICEF NY, nmekki@unicef.org, Tel. +1 917 209 1804





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