GENEVA/NEW YORK/KYIV, 29 January 2019 – Millions of children living in countries affected by conflict and disaster lack access to vital child protection services, putting their safety, well-being and futures at risk, UNICEF warned today as it appealed for $3.9 billion to support its work for children in humanitarian crises.
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children sets out the agency’s 2019 appeal and its efforts to provide 41 million children with access to safe water, nutrition, education, health and protection in 59 countries across the globe.
“Today millions of children living through conflict or disaster are suffering horrific levels of violence, distress and trauma,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “The impact of our child protection work cannot be overstated. When children do not have safe places to play, when they cannot be reunited with their families, when they do not receive psychosocial support, they will not heal from the unseen scars of war.”
UNICEF estimates that more than 34 million children living through conflict and disaster lack access to child protection services, including 6.6 million children in Yemen, 5.5 million children in Syria and 4 million children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In eastern Ukraine, some 500,000 children affected by conflict are in urgent need of protection and humanitarian assistance, including access to clean drinking water, safe learning environments, quality health care and psychosocial support.
More than four years of conflict have taken a devastating toll on the education system, destroying and damaging hundreds of schools and forcing girls and boys to learn in fragile environments, amidst volatile fighting and the dangers posed by unexploded weapons of war.
Between January and December 2018, an estimated 16 educational facilities were damaged by shelling and 50 facilities temporarily closed hampering children from access to safe learning.
The repeated shelling of critical water, sanitation, electrical and heating infrastructure is threatening access to safe drinking water for 3.2 million people in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. In 2018, 89 incidents on WASH facilities by shelling and shooting were reported, resulting with nine staff workers injured.
The situation is particularly severe for 400,000 children who live within 20km of the “contact line”, which divides the government and non-government controlled areas and where shelling and extreme levels of mine-contamination pose lethal threat.
Child protection services include all efforts to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation, trauma and violence. UNICEF also works to ensure that the protection of children is central to all other areas of the organisation’s humanitarian programmes, including water, sanitation and hygiene, education and other areas of work by identifying, mitigating and responding to potential dangers to children’s safety and wellbeing.
2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, yet today, more countries are embroiled in internal or international conflict than at any other time in the past three decades, threatening the safety and wellbeing of millions of children.
UNICEF’s appeal comes one month after the children’s agency said that the world is failing to protect children living in conflict around the world, with catastrophic consequences.
The five largest individual appeals are for Syrian refugees and host communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey (US$ 904 million); Yemen (US$ 542.3 million); The Democratic Republic of the Congo (US$ 326.1 million); Syria (US$ 319.8 million) and South Sudan (US$ 179.2 million).
In Ukraine, UNICEF is seeking US$21.1 million to respond to the needs of conflicted-affected children and families residing within 20 kilometers of both sides of the contact line and nongovernment controlled areas. Funding will enable UNICEF to fulfill the core commitments for children in humanitarian action, including access to education, psychosocial support, water and sanitation, mine risk education, maternal and child health and HIV and AIDS services.
Photos and multimedia materials are available for download here: https://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIFI7QW8B
Humanitarian Action for Children 2019 and individual appeals can be foundhere: https://uni.cf/HAC_2019
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 for children, visit www.unicef.org.