UNITED NATIONS, Feb 4: The United Nations Children’s Fund launched on Thursday an appeal for $1.2 billion to help provide life-saving emergency support to women and children impacted by the most severe humanitarian crises around the world, including the Haitian earthquake.
The appeal, part of Unicef’s Humanitarian Action Report 2010, released in Geneva on Thursday, spotlights the desperate situation of children and women in 28 countries and territories facing deep humanitarian crises.
Unicef said Haiti was one of the countries it classified as ‘in crisis’ prior to the 7.0-magnitude quake struck on January 12, killing up to 200,000 people, leaving around two million in need of aid and reducing much of the Caribbean country’s infrastructure to rubble.
“Faced with multiple hurricanes, in addition to civil unrest, the country was [already] in need of humanitarian assistance,” said Unicef’s deputy executive director Hilde F. Johnson.
“Children are suffering in many different places, and for a range of reasons,” she said. “They all need our help.”
Every year, Unicef responds to 200 emergencies all over the world, with 2009 witnessing repeated large-scale natural and man-made disasters in South-East Asia while emergencies in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) intensified, Ms Johnson said.
“Children are always among the most severely affected, and disasters put them at increased risk of abuse and grave violations of their rights, including sexual violence, killing and maiming, and forced recruitment into armed groups.”
The report placed the 28 countries on its list on the basis of the scale and chronic or protracted nature of the crisis, the severity of its impact on children and women, and the potential to bring about life-saving results.
In these cases, urgent action is imperative to save lives, ensure access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene, health, nutrition and to protect children against the worst forms of violence and abuse, and to provide children with an education even under the worst of circumstances, the United Nations agency stressed.
The report noted that the greatest needs were still in sub-Saharan Africa, where in 2009 some 24 million people in the Horn of Africa alone were affected by drought, chronic food insecurity and armed conflict.