The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today appealed for nearly $1.4 billion to meet the immediate, life-saving needs of children in 45 countries and regions gripped by conflict, natural disasters and other complex emergencies this year.
"We are still in the first month of 2013, which has already proved harsh for millions of children suffering in Syria and for refugees who had to flee to neighbouring countries. Mali and the Central African Republic are also experiencing worsening conflict, threatening the lives of children and women," said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF's Director of the Office of Emergency Programmes.
"Children are extremely vulnerable in emergencies, often living in unhealthy and unsafe conditions, at high risk of disease, violence, exploitation and neglect," he stated.
The Humanitarian Action for Children 2013 appeal, launched in Geneva, includes countries currently in the headlines as well as others that receive less media attention but also require urgent assistance such as Chad, Colombia, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen.
"Humanitarian response is no less important in those parts of the world that do not command media attention," UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says in the foreword to the report accompanying the appeal.
He noted that in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states of Sudan, conflict has driven over 210,000 people, over half of whom are children, across the borders into neighbouring South Sudan and Ethiopia, while an estimated 695,000 people have been internally displaced or severely affected.
Meanwhile, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where 2.4 million people are displaced, the number of severely malnourished children tops 1 million, he added.
More than 85 per cent of the funding requirements are for humanitarian situations other than Syria and the related refugee crisis, UNICEF pointed out in a news release. The 45 countries and regions in the appeal are priorities due to the scale of the crisis, the urgency of its impact on children and women, the complexity of the response and the capacity to respond.
"Together, we can give all children in humanitarian situations the tools not only to recover but to realize their potential, nurture their talents and contribute to the growth of their nations," said Mr. Lake.