The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received the single largest earmarked donation in its 60-year history – $201 million pledged by the Government of the Netherlands to radically expand the agency’s efforts to ensure that youngsters caught in conflict and natural disasters as well as those emerging from crisis can go to school.
“We will use this uniquely generous donation from the Dutch people to reach more children with even better quality programmes,” UNICEF Programme Funding Director Karin Hulshof said. “Millions of children who might never have had the joy of the first day of school, never seen a book or held a pencil will be transformed thanks to this gift.”
While schooling children stuck in emergencies, whether conflict or natural disasters, is a core part of UNICEF’s mandate, this donation will allow for a dramatic scaling up of programmes. Children recover more quickly if they are in school, a safe haven both physically and psychologically.
Some 25 million children in 40 countries in emergency or post-crisis situations are expected to benefit from the additional funding, which will enable 10 million youngsters currently deprived of any form of education to return to school, and another 15 million living in crisis situation to receive a better education.
The countries include Sudan, Liberia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lebanon, occupied Palestinian territory, Nepal, Myanmar, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Côte d'Ivoire, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Swaziland. The funds will be distributed over four years.
UNICEF will also receive an additional $56 million for water and sanitation programmes, $24 million for child protection programmes and $24 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment from the Dutch Government.
“This donation perfectly reflects UNICEF's priorities for children,” Ms. Hulshof said. “Education, health, protection and HIV/AIDS prevention are all essential to ensuring a solid future for children and for all of us.”