UNICEF Requests $1.4B To Assist Women, Children In Humanitarian Crises Worldwide

UNICEF on Sunday released the Humanitarian Action for Children Report, 2011 (.pdf) “requesting $1.4 billion in its appeal to donors to assist children and women caught in the throes of crises. The report highlights 32 countries and emphasizes the increasing importance” of investments in disaster preparedness and risk reduction, The Hindu reports (Dhar, 3/7).

“Investing in children and building the resilience of countries and communities living on the edge not only shortens their road to recovery, but also helps them to manage anticipated risks before a crisis strikes and to mitigate loss when it does,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde Johnson said, according to a UNICEF press release (3/7). A UNICEF Newsline piece describes the impact of recent natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti and floods in Pakistan.

“We know that the number of natural disasters and people affected is growing year by year,” UNICEF Director of Emergency Programs Louis-Georges Arsenault said. “[This appeal] is about making sure that communities have a better capacity to absorb risk or threat, triggered either by natural disaster or conflict” and “ensuring that there is a level of preparedness,” he added.

In addition to bolstering disaster preparedness, “[t]he report also requests funding to respond to so-called forgotten crises, such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan. In addition to basic needs such as water, food and education, the children and families affected by these emergencies need protection from violence and abuse,” UNICEF Newsline writes.

The $1.4 billion appeal marks “a 21 percent increase in emergency funding over the 2010 level. This amount reflects the growing severity and frequency of natural disasters, as well as the need for immediate action to avert the worst impact of crises to come” (Niles, 3/7).

According to the UNICEF press release, the “32 countries targeted in this appeal have been prioritized based on the scale of the crisis, the severity of its impact on children and women, the chronic or protracted nature of the crisis, and the potential to bring about life-saving and long lasting results” (3/7).

Children in DRC Need Greater Protection, UNICEF Says 

In related news, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on Friday during a visit to Goma in Nord Kivu in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) called for greater protection of children in the region, as conflict in the country continues, Agence France-Presse reports (3/5).

“Children in the DRC face multiple challenges to their survival, health, and welfare,” according to a UNICEF press release. “This is especially true regarding sexual violence and the use of children by armed groups.  In 2010, 14,591 new cases of sexual violence were reported in DRC, including thousands of children,” the release states. “This is a crime for which there can be no impunity,” Lake said of the reports of sexual violence against children in the region. “Perpetrators must be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Lake added.

Due to the violence in DRC, UNICEF estimates “around 1.7 million adults and children have been displaced in recent years, with nearly half a million refugees seeking shelter in other countries,” the press release adds.

“Cut off from basic services – clean water, adequate sanitation, sufficient nutrition, education and basic health care – children affected by armed conflict are among the most vulnerable in DRC,” Pierrette Vu Thi, UNICEF’s representative in DRC, said, according to the press release, which elaborates on the health issues this population faces, such as recent polio outbreaks and food shortages (3/4).

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