Enduring humanitarian emergencies
UNICEF is responding to meet the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in some of the world's longest-running crises.
Around the world, children are living through unrelenting emergencies that have been ongoing for years, and in some cases, even decades. Their lives have been turned upside down by conflicts, food insecurity and the escalating realities of climate change, forcing them to leave their homes.
On World Refugee Day, we look at some of the most protracted humanitarian disasters and UNICEF’s delivery of essential supplies to children on the move.
A child rights crisis in Afghanistan
In Yzad province, Iran, an Afghan refugee child receives hygiene supplies procured and distributed by UNICEF. A severe humanitarian emergency, driven by an unstable political landscape and children’s lack of access to nutrition, education and protection, has forced millions of people across Afghanistan’s borders, while millions more are internally displaced.
Since 2021, Afghans seeking safety have found refuge in countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. In these host countries, UNICEF has helped provide educational opportunities to over 340,000 children, while 200,000 children have received vaccinations against measles, and many more have been reached with educational and hygiene supplies.
Drought in the Horn of Africa
At Higlo IDP site in Ethiopia, where thousands of drought-affected people are living, a health worker measures the arm of a child to assess his nutrition level. Five successive failed rainy seasons in the past three years have left over 1.9 million children in the region at risk of severe malnutrition, with millions internally displaced or becoming refugees.
In 2022, UNICEF and its partners reached more than 2 million children and women with life-saving healthcare services and worked to prevent malnutrition in over 30 million children and mothers.
Migration across Mexico
In Tapachula, Chiapas – a town bordering Mexico and Guatemala – a child receives a health check-up. Every day, migrants and asylum seekers from South and Central America arrive in Tapachula, fleeing violence, poverty and lack of opportunities. Many decide to travel onward to the United States.
UNICEF continues to deliver crucial primary care services, ensuring they have access to vaccines, clean water, screening for malnutrition, and education and recreation supplies. An estimated 3.3 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance in Mexico and Central America in 2023.
Fleeing a human rights disaster in Myanmar
Baby Riazur, living in a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, receives his routine vaccines from UNICEF-supported community health volunteers. More than 952,000 Rohingya, half of whom are children, are living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar after escaping violence that broke out in Myanmar in 2017. As Rohingya children and their families often miss out on routine vaccines, it is critical that children like Riazur have access to them.
In 2023, UNICEF will continue working to reach 115,000 Rohingya refugee children and host community children in need of immunization services, and 655,000 children that require an education, while continuing to treat others for malnutrition and provide safe drinking water.
Conflict in Yemen
Five-year-old Saiba and her mother Taiseer Jamel receive hygiene supplies in Abyan, Yemen, where thousands of internally displaced persons are living. In Yemen's eighth year of conflict, there remains a deteriorating economy and collapsing basic services. Critical water and sanitation problems increase the risk of malnutrition, cholera, and death among children.
Compounding issues, 19 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity, with more than 4 million people – half of whom are children – being internally displaced. UNICEF is reaching them with treatment for severe wasting, educational materials to continue learning, and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to prevent serious illness.
Supply response to large displacements of people
Explore a geographic overview of some of the major crises of 2022 that were marked by the extensive uprooting of populations, with a glimpse into the priorities and focus of UNICEF’s supply response for children and families. Hover the mouse over the location icons for more information.