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UNICEF seeks $1.4 billion to assist women and children in crises

UNICEF seeks $1.4 billion to assist women and children in crises

A Haitian girl carries water at a Port-au-Prince camp for people displaced by the 2010 January earthquake
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today requested $1.4 billion in its annual appeal to assist children and women caught in crises, with the bulk of that needed for Pakistan and Haiti.

The agency’s Humanitarian Action for Children Report (HAC) 2011 highlights projected needs in 32 countries and territories and 6 regions, and emphasizes the increasing importance of strengthening the resilience of communities. This year’s requirements have increased 21 per cent over those for 2010.

“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,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde Johnson.

Humanitarian crises such as drought famine and conflict have dire consequences for children, including recruitment into armed forces, sexual violence, and the loss of basic services such as water, health and education, UNICEF pointed out in a news release.

The agency noted that the unprecedented scale of last year’s disasters in Haiti and Pakistan triggered an extraordinary global response from all humanitarian organizations and partners.

At the same time, it underscored the need to strengthen preparedness and risk reduction in the communities that are hit repeatedly by crisis. “Granting vulnerable communities the skills to face and withstand risk is an increasingly important component of humanitarian action, and an area to which UNICEF is deeply committed,” stated the agency.

The HAC 2011 presents crises that require urgent action to save lives, to protect children against the worst forms of violence and abuse, and to ensure access to basic services, such as water and sanitation, health, nutrition and education.

UNICEF is requesting $296 million for Pakistan and $157 million for Haiti, according to the Report. The financial needs for emergencies in the Asia-Pacific region have significantly increased and represent the region with the highest funding request – $373 million. Of the funding for Asia, 80 per cent is needed for assistance to Pakistani children and women affected by flooding and conflict.

The requirements for Latin America and the Caribbean have increased eightfold, mainly as a result of emergency situations in Haiti and the addition of the Guatemala appeal.

The 2010 regional requirements for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States have also increased with the inclusion of the Kyrgyzstan appeal as well as increasing needs in Tajikistan.

Requirements for Eastern and Southern Africa have been significantly reduced, particularly in such countries as Burundi, Eritrea and Uganda. While maintaining funding requirements for preparedness following the Sudan referendum, overall requests in West and Central Africa and the Middle East and North Africa have also been reduced.