This year is predicted to be the worst year for children with the number of children needing humanitarian assistance growing because of disasters and conflict, says the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
Today, the international organisation said its work for children would need a further $4 billion (US$2.8bn) to reach the estimated 43 million children needing aid in 2016.
UNICEF said the number of children being driven from their homes and exposed to food shortages, violence, disease, abuse and long-term threats to their education and future livelihoods were staggering and sobering.
For the first time in its 70 year history, UNICEF said it would put an unprecedented 25 per cent of its humanitarian appeal funding to educating children in emergencies increasing the number of children it would reach from 4.9 million last year to 8.2 million in 2016. More than half will be Syrian children in the conflict-torn nation, and beyond.
“Millions of children are being robbed of their education,” UNICEF’s global Director of Emergency Programmes Afshan Khan said.
“By educating the minds of children and young people we are building hope so they can envisage a better future for themselves, their families and their societies and help break the cycle of chronic crisis,” Ms Khan said.
UNICEF said its 2016 funding needs had doubled from three years ago with the twin drivers of conflict and extreme weather forcing a growing number of children from their homes and exposing millions more to severe food shortages, violence, disease, abuse, as well as threats to their education.
About one in nine of the world’s children lives in a conflict-affected zone and UNICEF knows that children living in countries and areas affected by conflict are twice as likely to die of mostly preventable causes before they reached the age of five, than in other countries.
“In the past few months I have seen with my own eyes children pushed beyond the boundaries of human suffering in Burundi, northeast Nigeria and along the migrant and refugee route in Europe,” Ms Khan said.
“Across the world, millions of children have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and conflict. The global refugee crisis is also a protection crisis for children on the move, who are at increased risk of abuse, exploitation and trafficking,” she said.
In 2016, UNICEF’s work for children will:
- Treat 2.9 million children for severe acute malnutrition.
- Immunise 11.7 million children against the preventable disease of measles.
- Ensure 17.3 million people have access to safe water for drinking and hygiene.
- Educate 8.2 million children.
- Offer support to 3 million children who need safety and protection.
- Inform, test and treat 243,500 people at risk of HIV/AIDS.
- Support 2.1 million people with cash assistance.
Funds raised by UNICEF will be used for immediate humanitarian response, as well as longer term work to prepare countries for future disasters.
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