London -The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a record 3.1 billion dollars appeal to enable it to help children caught up in a “new generation” of conflicts and disasters round the world.
Afshan Khan, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes, said on
Monday in London, that the appeal was 1 billion dollar more than it sought in 2014.
She said this was because series of more complex and destructive crises, are putting some 60 million children in extraordinary danger of violence, hunger, disease and abuse.
Khan said from deadly natural disasters to brutal conflicts and fast-spreading epidemics, children across the world are facing a new generation of humanitarian crises.
“Whether in the headlines or hidden from view, emergencies sparked by social fracture, climate change and disease are stalking children in ways we have never seen before,’’ she said.
Khan stressed was committed to protecting children regardless of whether or not the crisis that affected them was attracting widespread attention.
She said 903 million dollars the biggest amount in the appeal was for Syria and the region around it, followed by 500 million dollars for West African countries affected by the Ebola epidemic.
“More that 5.6 million children need support in Syria, as do 1.7 million who have fled the five-year-old conflict for neighbouring countries,’’ she said.
“For the past four years, these children have been witnessing violence and death daily and have been missing out on the very basics in life,” she added.
Khan said the appeal would help secure a future for not only the children of Syria but all children around the world who are impacted by humanitarian crises.
“Money raised for Ebola-affected areas will be used to isolate and treat new cases and prevent new outbreaks,’’ she said.
Khan said UNICEF was also appealing for 32 million dollars for Ukraine, where 5.2 million people, one third of them children, were living in conflict zones and 600,000 were displaced.
He said the funds raised would also help strengthen national preparedness systems against future disasters.
Khan said the appeal, which covers 71 countries and a total of 98 million people, includes underfunded and forgotten crises, including Afghanistan, the Palestinian Territories and Niger.
“Its peak time just after the election (in Afghanistan) and we do want to make sure that there is some restoration of basic services for kids there,” she said.
Khan said in the Palestinian Territories UNICEF wanted to restore access to education for some 30,000 children and provide them with psycho-social support for trauma.
“The agency also wants to reach half a million children there with mine-risk education and awareness programmes.
“In Niger, UNICEF will focus on malnutrition and measles vaccinations and on Ebola prevention programmes,’’ she added.
Khan said Cameroon, was struggling with an influx of refugees from Nigeria, which was battling Boko Haram Islamist militants, and was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
“We want to make sure that host communities are not at an additional disadvantage as a result of an influx of people and to beef up services for nutrition, water and sanitation and health.
“We are going to have to have some very strong child protection activities to make sure that there’s no further recruitment of children into armed groups,’’ she added.
Khan stressed that UNICEF has an equal commitment to children regardless of whether the crises that affect them make headlines.
“To me, whether it’s Nigerian, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Niger or Palestine, those kids all deserve an equal chance and equal opportunity.
“Where a child is born should not determine their destiny and whether they’re going to get humanitarian assistance or not,’’ she added.