UNICEF expects to deliver life-saving emergency assistance to 59 million children this year.
In releasing an annual overview of its humanitarian actions during emergencies, UNICEF called for $2.4 billion to meet the forecast needs for children in the middle of conflict or affected by natural disaster across 50 countries.
The overview, Humanitarian Action for Children 2014, was released in Geneva on Friday and backed calls for financial support for children affected by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the known conflict hot-spots of Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
However, the report detailed funding gaps for lesser-known humanitarian work for children in Angola, Eritrea, Lesotho and Madagascar where access, security threats and a challenging operating environment mean many of children’s aid needs are not met.
UNICEF’s global director of emergency programs Ted Chaliban was at the report’s launch.
“Children are always the most vulnerable group in emergencies, facing a high risk of violence, exploitation, disease and neglect,” Mr Chaiban said.
“But we can change the lives of children for the better,” he said.
“UNICEF is working to address a diverse range of humanitarian situations including malnutrition in the Sahel, a lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation in Yemen, cholera in Haiti, increased attacks on children in Afghanistan and drought in Angola.”
Mr Chaiban’s comments come days after having met with UNICEF staff working in South Sudan. Conflict in the fledgling nation has displaced more than 400,000 children and their families.
“I have just returned from South Sudan where more than 3.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The rainy season is coming and we need to ready supplies and reinforce essential services,” Mr Chaiban said.
“We need urgent funding to prevent a catastrophe,” he said.
Mr Chaiban said the needs for children in South Sudan were echoed across many countries where UNICEF was working and millions of children.
“Today’s headlines focus on South Sudan and Syria, yet many other desperate situations also require immediate funding and urgent humanitarian assistance,” he said.
“These ‘silent emergencies’ include Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia and Yemen, and other countries reflected in UNICEF’s report,” Chaiban said.
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2014 highlights the daily challenges faced by children in humanitarian crises, the support required to help them survive and thrive, and the results that are possible even in the most difficult circumstances.
Source: UNICEF Australia