Remarks by Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, at humanitarian donors side event

[delivered on her behalf by Omar Abdi, Deputy Executive Director for Programmes]

24 September 2020

NEW YORK, 24 September 2020 – "UNICEF joins our agency partners in thanking the US Government for bringing us together today — and for the extraordinary generosity shown by all of the governments in attendance today.

"We could not do our jobs without you. Thank you for amplifying our humanitarian needs in your capitals. In boardrooms. With businesses. And with your citizens.

"And thank you for providing more than funding — but for being a part of our programme design and delivery. Identifying needs and developing solutions.

"You’re helping us bring together two of our most fundamental shared values — partnerships and results. Values that enable our tireless teams on the ground to quickly and effectively act when emergencies strike.

"Our joint response to the Beirut explosions is a good example.

"Together, we quickly supported survivors with urgent health, clean water, protection services, counseling and other support. And we scaled-up emergency cash assistance to families in urgent need of housing and other essentials.

"That’s what our agencies do. That’s who we are.

"Our agencies’ staff members work in some of the toughest and most dangerous places in the world.

"But COVID-19 has lent a new urgency to our work.

"With your support, our agencies are delivering lifesaving supplies like oxygen concentrators and PPE for frontline workers.

"We’re providing communities with information to prevent infection.

"We’re delivering online and distance learning to millions of children.

"We’re providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to communities.

"We’re keeping vaccination campaigns up and running. This includes supporting the ACT accelerator initiative and the COVAX facility, to ensure that any vaccine is delivered fairly and equitably around the world.

"But we are also responding to humanitarian needs that pre-date COVID-19.

"Yemen — the worst humanitarian crisis in the world — is just one example.

"With your support, our agencies’ teams are doing everything we can, but the needs are fast-outstripping our ability to respond. Eighty per cent of the country needs urgent assistance — including 12 million children. The ferocious violence they face is compounded by a catastrophic food crisis. The country is on the brink of starvation and famine. Another urgent and underfunded need is clean water and sanitation — critical to life, and to addressing COVID.

"Similarly, the needs in Syria have multiplied with the increase in fighting in the northwest. And the children who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries continue to need our support — including as their host countries and refugee camps try to contain the spread of COVID-19.

"Like Syrian refugees, Myanmar’s forced displacement of Rohingyas to Bangladesh has resulted in rapidly expanding humanitarian needs — an area that remains critically underfunded. We urgently need funding for child protection services, nutrition and — particularly — education.

"The Central Sahel has also become one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world made worse still by a looming famine.

"Burkina Faso, for example, has seen a 100 per cent increase in internally displaced people since the start of the year — more than one million people pushed from their homes because of violence. Almost half the country lives without clean water. The health system is already 90 per cent underfunded — leaving millions unprepared to address COVID-19.

"Crushing poverty, violence, conflict and displacement in South Sudan, Nigeria, DRC and Cameroon are leaving millions of children in need of urgent support — everything from food and water, to education and protection.

"And the children of Venezuela are looking at a complete collapse of public health, water, nurition and sanitation services — all while facing COVID.

"To address these and many other humanitarian crises — and our COVID-19 response more broadly — our generous donors have provided about 46 per cent of our $6.3 billion appeal.

"But we cannot leave these multiplying needs half-met.

"First, we need more funding to close this gap. The most urgent needs are in Yemen, DRC and Syria.

"Second, we need flexible funding. Our organizations must be able to target funding where, and when, it is most needed, without restrictions or earmarks.

"And third, we need more donors from the business community. Nearly one-quarter of our overall income came from the private sector last year. We’d love to have more donors from this world if you can help us.

"Help our agencies continue respond to this world of emergencies, including COVID-19. Help bring to life our shared values of partnerships and results.

"And help support young lives like Fatima’s — a girl I met at a support centre in Aden, Yemen last year.

"She told me about fleeing the terrible violence in her hometown. She’s seen things that no child should ever see.

"With UNICEF’s support, she’s re-connecting with peers. She’s healing.

"She showed me a drawing she made. A picture of a girl sitting with a friend in a park on a sunny day.

"With your support, we can support children like Fatima not only heal, but begin to imagine a better, more peaceful future. What every child deserves. Thank you."

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