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Humanitarian Action for Children 2018
by UN Children''s Fund
10:56am 31st Jan, 2018
30 January 2018
117 million people living through conflict and disaster lack access to safe water. 84 per cent of appeal for children in countries affected by violence and conflict.
UNICEF appealed today for $3.6 billion to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to 48 million children living through conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies in 51 countries in 2018.
Around the world, violent conflict is driving humanitarian needs to critical levels, with children especially vulnerable. Conflicts that have endured for years – such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, among other countries – continue to deepen in complexity, bringing new waves of violence, displacement and disruption to children’s lives.
“Children cannot wait for wars to be brought to an end, with crises threatening the immediate survival and long term future of children and young people on a catastrophic scale,” said UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes, Manuel Fontaine.
“Children are the most vulnerable when conflict or disaster causes the collapse of essential services such as healthcare, water and sanitation. Unless the international community takes urgent action to protect and provide life-saving assistance to these children, they face an increasingly bleak future.”
Parties to conflicts are showing a blatant disregard for the lives of children. Children are not only coming under direct attack, but are also being denied basic services as schools, hospitals and civilian infrastructure are damaged or destroyed. Approximately 84 per cent ($3.015 billion) of the 2018 funding appeal is for work in countries affected by humanitarian crises borne of violence and conflict.
The world is becoming a more dangerous place for many children, with almost one in four children now living in a country affected by conflict or disaster. For too many of these children, daily life is a nightmare.
The spread of water-borne diseases is one of the greatest threats to children’s lives in crises. Attacks on water and sanitation infrastructure, siege tactics which deny children access to safe water, as well as forced displacement into areas with no water and sanitation infrastructure – all leave children and families at risk of relying on contaminated water and unsafe sanitation.
Girls and women face additional threats, as they often fulfil the role of collecting water for their families in dangerous situations.
“117 million people living through emergencies lack access to safe water and in many countries affected by conflict, more children die from diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation than from direct violence,” said Fontaine. “Without access to safe water and sanitation, children fall ill, and are often unable to be treated as hospitals and health centres either do not function or are overcrowded.
The threat is even greater as millions of children face life-threatening levels of malnutrition, making them more susceptible to water-borne diseases like cholera, creating a vicious cycle of undernutrition and disease.”
As the leading humanitarian agency on water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies, UNICEF provides over half of the emergency water, sanitation and hygiene services in humanitarian crises around the world.
When disasters strike, UNICEF works with partners to quickly provide access to safe drinking water, sanitation services and hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of disease. This includes establishing latrines, distributing hygiene kits, trucking thousands of litres of water to displacement camps daily, supporting hospitals and cholera treatment centres, and repairing water and sanitation systems.
These measures save lives, have long-term impact and pave the way for other important services like health clinics, vaccination programmes, nutrition support and emergency education.
The largest component of UNICEF’s appeal this year is for children and families caught up in the Syria conflict, soon to enter its eighth year. UNICEF is seeking almost $1.3 billion to support 6.9 million Syrian children inside Syria and those living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Working with partners and with the support of donors, in 2018 UNICEF aims to:
Provide 35.7 million people with access to safe water; Reach 8.9 million children with formal or non-formal basic education; Immunize 10 million children against measles; Provide psychosocial support to over 3.9 million children; Treat 4.2 million children with severe acute malnutrition.
In the first ten months of 2017, as a result of UNICEF’s support:
29.9 million people were provided with access to safe water; 13.6 million children were vaccinated against measles; 5.5 million children accessed some form of education; 2.5 million children were treated for severe acute malnutrition; 2.8 million children accessed psycho-social support.
Jan. 2018
3 in 10 young people in conflict or disaster-stricken countries are illiterate
Nearly 3 in 10 young people aged between 15 and 24 years old – 59 million – living in countries affected by conflict or disaster are illiterate, triple the global rate, UNICEF said today.
Niger, Chad, South Sudan and Central African Republic – all countries with a long history of instability and high levels of poverty – are home to the highest illiteracy rates among young people with 76 per cent, 69 per cent, 68 per cent and 64 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds, respectively, unable to read or write.
“These numbers are a stark reminder of the tragic impact that crises have on children’s education, their futures, and the stability and growth of their economies and societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore. “An uneducated child who grows into an illiterate youth in a country ripped apart by conflict or destroyed by disasters may not have much of a chance.”
This new analysis – calculated using UNESCO’s literacy rates in 27 emergency countries featured in UNICEF’s 2018 Humanitarian Action for Children appeal – is released ahead of this week’s Global Partnership for Education Replenishment Conference in Dakar, Senegal.
The analysis also notes that girls and young women are at the biggest disadvantage when it comes to reading and writing, with 33 per cent of them in emergency countries failing to learn even the basics, compared to 24 per cent of boys.
Yet, despite its role in leveling the playing field for the most vulnerable children and young people, education remains severely underfunded. Currently, only 3.6 per cent of humanitarian funding goes toward providing education for children living in emergencies, making it one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian appeals.
Overall, UNICEF estimates that it will spend approximately $1 billion a year on education programmes over the next four years. Just yesterday, UNICEF launched a humanitarian appeal for $900 million for education in countries affected by conflicts and natural disasters.
UNICEF works in countries around the world to get children into school and learning including by providing accelerated education and non-formal learning opportunities, training teachers, rehabilitating schools and distributing school furniture and supplies.
For example, in West and Central Africa, home to emergency countries with the highest rates of illiteracy among youth at 39 per cent and where the third replenishment conference will be hosted, UNICEF works with a range of partners to help children learn despite conflict and insecurity.
A partnership with the governments of Cameroon and Niger, for example, is helping expand an innovative radio education programme that provides an alternative learning platform for children and youth affected by crises. More than 144 episodes on literacy and numeracy are broadcast across radio in French, Fulfulde, Hausa and Kanouri. The programme will soon be rolled out in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau.
UNICEF urges governments and other partners to take action to tackle the education crisis affecting children and young people in emergencies including by:
Providing young children with access to quality early education programmes to support their development and set them up to continue learning throughout their childhood; Offering illiterate young people the opportunity to learn to read and write and further their education through specially designed alternative and accelerated education programmes; Increasing investment in education, particularly for the most disadvantaged children and youth.
“Education can make or break a child’s future,” Ms. Fore said. “For all children to fully reap the benefits of learning, it is key that they get the best quality education possible, as early as possible.”

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