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$1.2B Needed To Aid Women, Children In 28 Countries ‘In Crisis,’ UNICEF Says

UNICEF on Thursday launched a $1.2 billion appeal aimed at providing “life saving emergency assistance to millions of children and women in dire need,” VOA News reports (Schlein, 2/4). “The appeal is part of UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action Report 2010, released in Geneva … which spotlights the desperate situation of children and women in 28 countries and territories facing deep humanitarian crises,” the U.N. News Centre writes (2/4).

“Every year, UNICEF responds to some 200 emergencies around the world,” writes VOA News. The 28 countries highlighted are the places with the most acute crises. “The greatest needs are in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 24 million people in the Horn of Africa are being affected by drought, chronic food insecurity and armed conflict,” according to the news service. “UNICEF’s three biggest operations are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia.  [UNICEF’s deputy executive director Hilde] Johnson says more than six million people in Ethiopia are going hungry because of drought and famine.  She says children there are at risk of severe and acute malnutrition,” VOA News writes.

Haiti is on UNICEF’s list, but the agency says it is just one of 28 nations where women and children don’t have access to basic needs. “We need to scale up our efforts delivered in Haiti, but we also need to ensure that children all over the world-in the Horn of Africa, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Sudan, in Chad – all these children actually deserve and have the right to the same assistance as children everywhere else,” Johnson said (2/4).

For the countries on the list, “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, UNICEF stressed,” the U.N. News Centre reports (2/4).

Countries in West and Central Africa need a total of “more than $263 million for emergency funding” this year, according to a second VOA News article. “UNICEF’s emergency funding needs for West and Central Africa have increased this year because of flooding, higher food prices, and outbreaks of disease including cholera, measles, yellow fever, and meningitis. There are also increased humanitarian needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad where UNICEF says it is taking urgent action to protect children from the worst forms of violence and abuse,” the news service writes (Stearns, 2/4).

According to UNICEF, several West and Central African countries, aside from those highlighted in the Humanitarian Action Report, require additional funds. The agency says money is needed to address “smaller-scale emergencies or post-conflict transitions in Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali and Togo” (2/4).  

VOA News writes: “Countries which have an armed-conflict situation have a particular difficulty in terms of delivering humanitarian aid, because as a consequence of the conflict the basic infrastructure and services are no longer really functional,” according to Grant Leaity, UNICEF’s regional advisory for emergencies in West and Central Africa. “At the same time if you then have a flood, an epidemic or any other form of environmentally-driven crisis, the capacity to react in terms of all of the local structures is very low,” he said (2/4).