UNICEF launches US$2.8 billion humanitarian appeal for children

Annual assessment targets 43 million children in need in 63 countries where conflict and climate change-driven crises put children at risk

GENEVA, Jan. 26, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, UNICEF is launching a US$2.8 billion appeal to reach 43 million children in humanitarian emergencies worldwide. As the UN agency for children, UNICEF is responding to the humanitarian needs of children in 63 of the 190 countries where the agency works.

For the first time ever, the largest portion of the appeal – 25 per cent – is going towards educating children in emergencies. This year UNICEF plans to dramatically increase the number of children in crises who are given access to education – from 4.9 million at the beginning of 2015 to 8.2 million in 2016.  More than half—five million—will be Syrian children inside the country or in neighbouring countries.

"In the midst of the horrors of conflict and unimaginable violence, education is one of the life-saving measures UNICEF it taking to reach millions of the world's most vulnerable children," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "To break the cycle of chronic crisis, children need hope for better futures for themselves, their families and their communities. Yet millions have been forced out of school by conflict, escalating violence, natural disasters and other humanitarian crises, putting their futures and those of their countries at risk."

"Canadians have shown time and again their generosity and compassion for children in crises. Whether it be earthquakes, floods or children caught in the crosshairs of conflict, the concern for the well-being and safety of children is paramount for Canadians," added Morley. "The outpouring of support for children in the days and weeks following the earthquakes in Nepal was life-saving for children, as is Canadians' ongoing support of UNICEF's work with children caught in the Syrian crisis."

Conflict and extreme weather force children to flee their homes
UNICEF's 2016 appeal has doubled since this time three years ago. The twin drivers of conflict and extreme weather are forcing growing numbers of children from their homes and exposing millions more to severe food shortages, violence, disease, abuse, as well as threats to their education.

Around one in nine of the world's children is now living in conflict zones. In 2015, children living in countries and areas affected by conflict were twice as likely to die of mostly preventable causes before they reached the age of five, than those in other countries. 

The number of people forced from their homes continues to grow, with Europe alone receiving more than one million refugees and migrants in 2015. 

"Children caught in conflict and forced to flee their homes have endured suffering that's hard to comprehend. No child should have to witness the violence and devastation millions are facing," said Morley. "Children on the move—whether it be in Yemen, South Sudan or throughout the Syrian region—are at risk of abuse, exploitation and trafficking, in addition to potentially devastating health risks."

Climate change is also a growing threat, with over half a billion children living in extremely high flood occurrence zones and nearly 160 million living in high or extremely high drought severity zones.  One of the strongest El Niño weather events on record poses further risk.

"Climate change continues to be one of the greatest threats to children—particularly the most vulnerable who are disproportionately affected by increased droughts, floods, heatwaves and other severe weather conditions," said Morley. "These events can cause death and devastation, and can also contribute to the increased spread of major killers of children, such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea."

UNICEF's Humanitarian Action for Children 2016 appeal targets a total of 76 million people, in 63 countries.

  • The largest section of the appeal – US$1.16 billion – is allocated to life-saving aid needed for Syria and the Syrian refugee crisis in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Key needs include safe water, immunizations, education and child protection.
  • US$30.8 million is being requested by UNICEF to respond to the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe.
  • UNICEF is calling for US$180 million for children in Yemen where almost 10 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian aid in a conflict which is heading towards its first anniversary.
  • UNICEF is appealing for US$25.5 million to help protect children in Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world, and to provide aid to Burundian refugees who have fled to Rwanda and Tanzania.
  • UNICEF is asking for US$188.9 million to respond to the humanitarian needs in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, including addressing the consequences of the violence in northeast Nigeria.

UNICEF's appeal also covers severely underfunded emergencies – including protracted crises in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan which were all less than 40 per cent funded in 2015.

Funds raised by UNICEF will be used for immediate humanitarian response, as well as longer term work to prepare countries for future disasters. 

Humanitarian accomplishments in 2015 
In 2015, UNICEF reached millions of children with humanitarian aid – including providing 22.6 million people with access to safe water, vaccinating 11.3 million children against measles, treating 2 million children for the most serious form of malnutrition, offering 2 million children vital psychological support and giving 4 million children access to basic education. 

The full Humanitarian Action for Children 2016 appeal and related country information can be found here: www.unicef.org/appeals 
Video and photos are available for download here: http://uni.cf/1RTmcsI

Notes to Editors
The 63 countries and areas featured in the Humanitarian Action for Children 2016 appeal are highlighted due to the scale of these crises, the urgency of their impact on children and women, the complexity of the response, and the capacity to respond.

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.


Image with caption: "A girl covered in a heavy blanket stands outside a tent at the Vinojug reception centre for refugees and migrants in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Heavy rain and near freezing conditions are challenging the refugees and aid organizations providing them with warm winter clothing and supplies. (Photo credit: ©UNICEF/UN03023/Gilbertson VII Photo) (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160126_C2107_PHOTO_EN_605890.jpg

For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information please contact: Tiffany Baggetta, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8892, 647-308-4806 (mobile), tbaggetta@unicef.ca


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