‘Humanitarian Action for Children 2012’ calls for continued focus on the Horn of Africa 

‘Humanitarian Action for Children 2012’ calls for continued focus on the Horn of Africa

The ongoing crisis in the Horn of Africa will remain a significant part of UNICEF’s global humanitarian response in the coming year, according to the ‘Humanitarian Action for Children 2012’ report, which launches tomorrow. Report by Chris Niles.

UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes Louis-Georges Arsenault discusses UNICEF’s annual appeal for emergency funding. The report appeals for $1.28 billion to respond to the needs of the world’s most vulnerable

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake visits drought-affected Turkana District, Kenya. The crisis in the Horn of Africa is the largest of the many protracted emergencies that challenged the rights and welfare of children in 2011. UNICEF Image © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1121/Holt

In the report, UNICEF asks for US$1.28 billion to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and their families in 25 countries and territories. This figure represents a 9 per cent decrease from last year’s appeal.

Continuing crisis in the Horn of Africa

The crisis in Somalia and other Horn of Africa countries accounts for one third of the total amount.

UNICEF’s funding request reflects serious concern that the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in the region remain threatened because they don’t have enough to eat – nearly half of all the funds requested for Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia will go to purchasing food and nutrition supplies.

“The focus of 2012 will continue to be on the Horn of Africa, but with much more focus this year on Somalia and the refugee situation in Dadaab in Eastern Kenya,” said UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes Louis-Georges Arsenault.

Meeting urgent and long-term needs

The report also highlights the needs of children and families displaced by the violence in Cote d’Ivoire and South Sudan, the second year of flooding in Pakistan, and the ongoing operation to rebuild Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake.

“We have achieved many positive results in emergency settings in 2011, but the urgent and long-term needs of millions of children and their families will continue in 2012. UNICEF requires adequate funding in order to fulfil its commitments towards children. They not only represent the future but are the most vulnerable, and deserve generous and consistent support from the donor community,” said UNICEF OIC Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah.

The funding appeal also addresses so-called ‘silent’ emergencies such as that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where, as of June 2011, more than 1.5 million people – half of them children – were displaced by ethnic violence. Millions more were affected by sexual assault and lack of schooling.

Women use a pump at the edge of rising floodwater during Pakistan’s second year of extreme flooding. Climate-related disasters, are exposing children to repeated cycles of crisis. UNICEF Image © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1379/Page

Responding quickly, flexibly

“In the Sahel, we are facing a nutrition crisis of a larger magnitude than usual; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and the Central African Republic, to name just a few, are all emergencies requiring funding if the most vulnerable people, children and women, are to survive,” said Ms. Salah.

The report stresses the critical need for predictable, flexible funding to respond to both major and ‘silent’ emergencies.

“One of the main reasons is to be able to respond to where there is no attention, and to have the flexibility to move in very quickly where there is a sudden onset of an emergency, so we don’t have to wait for funding,” said Mr. Arsenault.

This responsiveness will enable UNICEF to fulfil its commitment to, as the report states, “the fullest realization of the rights of all children’s in all emergency situations.”

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