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UNICEF seeks $3.6 billion in emergency assistance for 48 million children caught up in catastrophic humanitarian crises

117 million people living through conflict and disaster lack access to safe water, including 3.4 million people in eastern Ukraine

NEW YORK/GENEVA/KYIV, 30 January 2018 – UNICEF appealed today for $3.6 billion to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to 48 million children living through conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies in 51 countries in 2018. It includes the US$23.6 million appeal to help 500,000 conflict-affected children in eastern Ukraine in 2018.

Around the world, violent conflict is driving humanitarian needs to critical levels, with children especially vulnerable. Conflicts that have endured for years – such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine, among other countries –  continue to deepen in complexity, bringing new waves of violence, displacement and disruption to children’s lives.

“Children cannot wait for wars to be brought to an end, with crises threatening the immediate survival and long term future of children and young people on a catastrophic scale,” said UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes, Manuel Fontaine. “Children are the most vulnerable when conflict or disaster causes the collapse of essential services such as healthcare, water and sanitation. Unless the international community takes urgent action to protect and provide life-saving assistance to these children, they face an increasingly bleak future.”

Children are not only coming under direct attack, but are also being denied basic services as schools, hospitals and civilian infrastructure are damaged or destroyed. Since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, more than 700 educational facilities and 130 medical points have sustained damage due to shelling.

Attacks on water and sanitation infrastructure, and economic restrictions deny children access to safe water, as well as forced displacement into areas with no water and sanitation infrastructure – all leave children and families at risk of relying on contaminated water and unsafe sanitation.

In Ukraine, in 2017, there were 135 incidents where water pipelines and sanitation facilities were damaged or stopped due to the conflict. In many cases, water facilities were directly shelled, and in others, they were inadvertently damaged.

“This poses a huge risk to much of the population who rely on the main water system. In 2017, over 3 million people in eastern Ukraine faced water cuts – which also affect centralized heating systems, a critical life source in winter,” said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. “UNICEF repeatedly calls for all sides of the conflict in eastern Ukraine to end the indiscriminate shelling of vital civilian infrastructure.”

As the leading humanitarian agency on water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies, UNICEF provides over half of the emergency water, sanitation and hygiene services in humanitarian crises around the world.

In 2017, UNICEF ensured access to safe drinking water and sanitation to more than 1,450,000 people affected by the conflict in both government and non-government controlled areas in eastern Ukraine. Almost 190,000 people benefitted from water trucking to the checkpoints and bottled water distribution in the settlements along the contact line that suffered water supply disruption. UNICEF provided psychosocial support to 105,000 boys and girls living in conflict-affected areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In 2017, UNICEF interventions included Mine Risk Education information campaign with key messages about danger objects and safe behaviour, that reached over 1.8 million children and their parents. Activities that informed communities included educational video, direct learning sessions and edutainment events.

In 2018, UNICEF will continue to strengthen the resilience of children, provide life-saving support and build the long-term capacities of communities and institutions in conflict-affected areas of Ukraine. Next year UNICEF plans to improve access to water and its quality for 1.8 million people through provision of effective water treatment mechanisms and emergency repair of WASH infrastructure. In 2018, UNICEF also plans to reach 100,000 children and caregivers with immediate psychosocial support services and to ensure access to early childhood and basic education for 32,500 boys and girls affected by the conflict.


Notes for Editors:
The appeal overview, photos and multimedia materials are available for download here:

The Humanitarian Action for Children 2018 appeal can be found here:
Situation in Ukraine:

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit
Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information, please contact:

Joe English, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 893 0692,
Christophe Boulierac, UNICEF Geneva, Tel: +41 (0)22 909 5716, Mobile: +41 (0) 799639244,
Nina Sorokopud, UNICEF Kyiv,    +38 (050) 388 2951



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