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Do you want to know more about emergencies, what they are, and how you can help?

Here you will discover fast facts about the latest emergencies and what you can do to help. 

From the war in Ukraine to the earthquakes that rocked Türkiye and Syria, when images and videos of the latest natural disaster or conflict consume the news and our social feeds, it can feel overwhelming and scary. But remember, it’s in the news because it’s unusual and doesn’t happen often.  

Even here in Australia, a country that can be an amazing place to live, our beautiful beaches, rivers and national parks can sometimes challenge us with droughts, bushfires and floods. When that happens, it can impact on our day-to-day lives, leaving us feeling helpless. 

But in the face of every emergency, there is hope

A young Ukraine girl standing out the front of destroyed building.
10-year-old Veronica and her parents managed to return home to visit the ruins of a high-rise building in Ukraine.
© UNICEF/UN0780465/Filippov

What is an emergency?

Whether it’s a bushfire in Australia, a cyclone in Vanuatu or a war in Ukraine, emergencies pop up all the time. Sometimes they happen quite suddenly, and at other times, they creep up over time, such as droughts and famine.   

Two Syrian children impacted by war
In Syria, 12-year-old Azzam lost both his legs when a shell hit the place he was staying when he was five.
© UNICEF/UN0603139/Belal

How are children and young people affected by emergencies?

Emergencies are usually harder for kids and young people because they can lose their homes, school and access to their friends. It can be hard to understand what is happening around you. It's scary, and the world can feel different, but remember, it's not forever. 

Even if you are not directly impacted by the emergency, it is normal to feel scared, confused or overwhelmed by what you see, hear and read. When you feel this way, turn off your social media or the TV for a bit and talk to a trusted adult.  

A girl in India holding a face mask across her face.
In India, 14-year-old Rizwana wore face masks to protect her and her family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
© UNICEF/UN0595577/Panjwani

What does UNICEF do to help kids and young people during emergencies?

During an emergency, it is about saving lives, and we do this by providing safe drinking water, nutrition, medicine, healthcare, emergency shelter and education. After an emergency, we help children and their families rebuild their lives.

Unfolding global emergencies

Child rights infographic

The Rights of the Child and emergencies.

Here are just some of the Rights of the Child that can impact you when it comes to emergencies.

No. 19 You should be cared for and protected from harm. 

No. 22 You have the right to help and protection if you are a refugee.  

No. 26 Governments should provide support if you need it to keep you healthy and safe. 

No. 38 You have the right to be protected during war. 

No. 39 You have the right to special help if you are hurt by war. 

How to deal with upsetting news

When natural disaster strikes or conflict breaks out, it is ok to feel scared, worried or sad. Adults can feel this way too. When you are feeling this way, it is important to remember:

It’s in the news because it doesn’t happen often.

  • When bad things happen, it is also a time when people come together to help each other.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it is ok to switch off and stop reading.
  • Share how you feel and ask your parents and teachers questions. 

When it all feels too much, it's ok to switch off

Here are some ways you can make a difference when an emergency happens.

Volunteer

Get involved with a local group or organisation which is active in an area you are passionate about. Helping where you can is a great way to make a difference.

Raise your voice

You can raise awareness of the emergency that is happening by talking to family and friends and sharing on social media.

Fundraise

You can help organisations like UNICEF be there during times of emergency by starting your own fundraising event at school or your sports club.