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By UNICEF Australia
11 November 2021

Before the crisis hits the headlines, UNICEF teams are already on the ground and have spent years building trusted relationships with the communities they work with.

From clean water to education and health care, we are building a future where children are safe and protected. When a disaster hits, whether it’s an earthquake or an explosion, our dedicated teams are often the first on the scene with life-saving supplies.   

And long after conflict and disaster fades from the front pages, we are still there, working on long-term solutions to help communities recover.  These crises might have left the headlines, but UNICEF won’t leave until every child is safe.  

Malnutrition Crisis

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Mother in niqab with child© UNICEF/UN0614764/Al-Haj

What’s happening in Yemen? 

After six brutal years, the conflict in Yemen remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with nearly every child in need of humanitarian assistance. Ten thousand children have been killed or maimed since fighting started in March 2015. That's the equivalent of four children every day. 

The COVID-19 outbreak placed even more pressure on Yemen’s already battered health care system, which is operating at roughly 50 per cent of its former capacity. While women and children continue to be disproportionately affected by the need for health care, this problem impacts 20.1 million people – almost 70 per cent of the population.  

Children in Yemen face incredible threats to their survival. Nearly 2.3 million children under five years of age are at risk of acute malnutrition in 2021.   

"Children in Yemen are not starving because of a lack of food—they are starving because their families cannot afford food,” says James Elder, UNICEF spokesperson.  

“They are starving because adults continue to wage a war in which children are the biggest losers.”  

Food, health care and clean water are key to keeping them safe. But with coronavirus quickly spreading through an already resource-scarce country, vital food, water and sanitation supplies are being stretched thin.  

A girl holds two younger girls by their hands
Thirteen-year-old Kholood (middle) and her two sisters Jana and Anhar, go to school in Yemen
© UNICEF/UN0460334/Al-Basha

Thirteen-year-old Khlood told us she walks an hour through a fighting zone in Yemen to learn in an unfinished building with no doors, windows, chairs or bathrooms.   

“I feel afraid when I walk to school because cars are speeding, and I’m scared of the shelling,” she says.   

Conflict and poverty have forced 2 million children in Yemen out of school, and for many, learning is still dangerous and difficult.   

“I don’t know if I should go home when I hear bombing or if should stay at the school. I hope that one day peace will prevail, and I will be able to go to a beautiful and safe school.”  

How is UNICEF helping in Yemen? 

UNICEF plays a vital role in protecting Yemeni children from preventable diseases and malnutrition every year. Our fearless teams on the ground are delivering life-saving supplies including nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene services to those who need it most.   

Our teams also help children get back to school by delivering learning materials and supporting teachers who haven’t been paid. But what children need most is an end to violence. 

Malnutrition Crisis

Help us deliver school supplies, therapeutic food, and warm clothing to children who need them most. 


Internally displaced Afghan families walk past their temporary tents in Kabul© UNICEF/UN0502861/Kohsar/AFP

What’s happening in Afghanistan? 

Afghanistan has always been one of the hardest places in the world to be a child. Now a triple crisis – conflict, drought, and COVID-19 – is making life incredibly difficult for families.  

The recent escalation in violence has forced the number of people internally displaced to more than double to 630,000. With a harsh winter approaching, more than half the population of Afghanistan – a record 22.8 million people – will face acute food insecurity. 

Of those, an estimated 3.2 million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by the end of the year. And at least 1 million of these children are at risk of dying due to severe acute malnutrition without immediate treatment. 

Schools in Afghanistan are now open after closing for months due to COVID-19 with both girls and boys returning to primary school. Secondary schools have also reopened, however UNICEF is concerned that many girls may not be allowed back into the classroom.  

Even before the most recent humanitarian crisis, 4.2 million children were not enrolled in school. Around 60 per cent of them are girls.  

A man provides therapeutic food from a sachet to a toddler.
At a mobile health clinic in a displacement camp, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan interacts with a girl enjoying a packet of RUTF, an energy-dense food provided as part of the treatment
© UNICEF/UN0530710/Bidel

How is UNICEF helping in Afghanistan? 

UNICEF has been in Afghanistan for 65 years, and even in the face of the escalating crisis, our work for children and families will continue. UNICEF has a presence in every region of Afghanistan. 

Thanks to support from generous people like you, our teams are on the ground:   

  • treating children for severe acute malnutrition. 
  • providing medical care to displaced families.  
  • delivering emergency water and sanitation facilities.  
  • vaccinating babies against polio and other preventable diseases. 
  • Providing winter clothes to keep families warm during winter.   

Children in Afghanistan

UNICEF will remain on the ground in Afghanistan supporting vulnerable children and their families – but we can’t do this without you.

The situation for children in Syria

UNICEF distribute clothing to children at Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria© UNICEF/Syria/2020/Delil Souleiman

A decade. That’s how long war has been raging in Syria. The conflict, which first broke out on 15 March 2011, has caused the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time.  

Today, 2.5 million children are displaced inside Syria and millions more have fled to neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey and beyond.   

More than 6 million children in need of assistance inside Syria. As conflict continues in Northwest Syria millions of children remain displaced, with many families having fled violence multiple times. Nearly 80 per cent of people live in poverty with food, water and medicine in short supply. 

Amira was forced to flee her home in Afrin when violence escalated back in 2018 alongside thousands of other families, arriving at a camp in rural Aleppo with just the clothes on her back.   

“We sleep side by side while holding my newborn baby to keep ourselves warm,” says  Amira.  

“When it rains, I feel like I can’t breathe due to the heavy pressure the rain creates on the tent. It starts seeping and we run to save our few belongings from getting soaked.” 

Amira, holds her 15-day old baby inside their tent at Fafin camp in northern rural Aleppo© UNICEF/UN0401392/Almatar

How is UNICEF helping in Syria? 

Our teams have been on the ground in Syria and across the region since the beginning of the conflict, working day and night to protect children and deliver life-saving supplies. Through it all we’ve kept children safe, healthy and learning.  
Our fearless delivery teams in Syria and across the region reach children with: 

  • warm clothes for the winter.
  • education including home-based learning.   
  • life-saving vaccinations.  
  • health care and treatment for malnutrition.
  • access to safe and clean water.  

Donate to Children in Syria

For over a decade, a generation of children have grown up knowing nothing but war.


A Palestinian girl stands in front of their damaged home in Gaza City.© UNICEF/UN0464417/El Baba

What’s happening in Palestine? 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a territorial dispute going back almost 100 years, has led to a humanitarian crisis for families living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Children living in Gaza are suffering the most from this violent conflict with more than 1.2 million children in need of humanitarian support.  

 No place is safe for children across the Gaza Strip. In the words of the UN Secretary-General, “If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza today.”  

 In May 2021, tensions in the Gaza Strip escalated, sadly resulting in the deaths of more than 60 children. Hundreds more were injured and close to 30,000 were forced to flee their homes. Even prior to the escalation in violence, one in three children in Gaza required support for conflict-related trauma.

A Palestinian girl fills a jerrycan with clean drinking water.© UNICEF/UN0463028/El Baba

How is UNICEF helping in Palestine?  

Our teams have been on the ground in the Gaza Strip for more than four decades, working together with other humanitarian partners to provide life-saving support.  

In response to the recent escalation, our teams in Palestine are:  

  • keeping water flowing 
  • delivering vaccines and,  
  • helping children and families access psychosocial support.

But more than anything, children need long-lasting peace. Any political solution that will be reached should not and cannot be “going back to as it was before” as “before” was unbearable and unsustainable for all children.  

All children deserve far better than this horrible cycle of violence and fear that has gone on for far too long.

Malnutrition Crisis

Help us send a fearless delivery of life-saving supplies to children who need it most.


Children doing a line an holding plastic bowls.
Children, who fled the violence in Ethiopia's, Tigray region, wait in line for breakfast organised by a volunteer in Mekele the capital of the Tigray region.
© UNICEF/UN0482352/Chiba/AFP

What’s happening in Ethiopia? 

Conflict between the Ethiopian Government and the Tigray Defence Forces broke out in Tigray, Ethiopia on 3 November 2020, resulting in death, displacement and destruction. 

More than 2 million people are displaced in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions – almost half are children.  

A delayed rain season has led to lower crop yields, pushing inflation up almost 20 per cent and adding to conflict-related food shortages in the region.    

UNICEF estimates that more than 100,000 children in Tigray could suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition in the next 12 months – a tenfold increase compared to the average annual numbers. To make matters worse, 70 per cent of the health system is no longer operating.   

Immunisations have ground to a halt, health and water facilities have been damaged or destroyed, and essential supplies looted. Schools are about to reopen across Ethiopia, however around 2.7 million children remain out of school due to the recent conflict.

A woman looks at her babies.
Mebraq watches as her twin babies take a nap. The young mother fled bombing in Tigray and is now receiving care in Kassala, Sudan
© UNICEF/UN0403276/Abdalkarim

When the bombing in Tigray started, Mebraq had just given birth to premature twins, Solot and Sempa, at a hospital in Ethiopia. She grabbed her babies in the middle of the night and fled. Due to the trauma, lack of food and stress, Mebraq was unable to produce breastmilk.  

“For days, I could not breastfeed, maybe because I’m so tired, I knew I had to flee to save my life and my children’s life, so I walked for three days,” says Mebraq.  

When she reached Hamdayet reception centre in Sudan, Merbraq was immediately transferred by ambulance to a hospital in Kassala, where she and her twins were admitted for several days. Now safe inside a makeshift UNICEF tent for mothers and newborn babies, Solot and Sempa sleep peacefully as they have just had breast milk for the first time. 

How is UNICEF helping in Ethiopia? 

UNICEF was one of the first humanitarian organisations to provide life-saving supplies to crisis-affected Tigrayans. We are on the ground in Tigray and neighbouring Sudan, providing nutrition treatment, emergency health care and water and sanitation supplies to refugee families in need.  

Since January, UNICEF has reached almost 4 million people with safe water and treated more than 330,000 children against malnutrition. 

Our teams are relentess in their mission to reach every child across the region with critical health, nutrition, water, sanitation, education and protection services before it is too late. 

UNICEF has 75 years of experience delivering, protecting and advocating for the rights of children in more than 190 countries. Our teams are on the ground fearlessly delivering for every child, no matter what

A young child receives therapeutic food to treat malnutrition
© UNICEF/UN0686577/Abdalrasol

Malnutrition Crisis

Help us send a fearless delivery of life-saving supplies to children who need it most.