People's Stories Advocates

Across the globe, children are facing a historic confluence of crises
by Catherine Russell
Jan. 2022
Through the Humanitarian Action for Children appeal 2023, UNICEF is appealing for sufficient funding support to reach more than 110 million children in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Today, there are more children in need of humanitarian assistance than at any other time since the Second World War. Across the globe, children are facing a historic confluence of crises – from conflict and displacement to infectious disease outbreaks and soaring rates of malnutrition.
More than 400 million children live in areas under conflict; an estimated 1 billion children – nearly half the world’s children – live in countries at extreme vulnerability to the impacts of climate change; at least 36.5 million children have been displaced from their homes; and 8 million children under age 5 across 15 crisis-hit countries are at risk of death from severe wasting.
In conflict and disaster, children suffer first and suffer most. From protracted conflicts to disease outbreaks to natural disasters, children across the globe face an uncertain future.
But the situation is far from hopeless. We know how to reach children at greatest risk and in greatest need. Decisive and timely humanitarian action can save children’s lives, while also sowing the seeds of future development.
In an increasingly volatile world with more children in need than ever before, it is critical that UNICEF and partners receive adequate funding support to save lives.
“Today, there are more children in need of humanitarian assistance than at any other time in recent history,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Across the globe, they are facing a deadly mix of crises, from conflict and displacement to disease outbreaks and soaring rates of malnutrition. Meanwhile, climate change is making these crises worse and unleashing new ones. It is critical that we have the right support in place to reach children with decisive and timely humanitarian action.”
This year began with an estimated 274 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Throughout the year, these needs grew considerably, largely due to conflict, including the war in Ukraine; to rising food insecurity; to threats of famine brought about by climate-related and other factors; and to the devastating floods in Pakistan. Around the world, a resurgence of disease outbreaks including cholera and measles bring an additional danger to children in emergencies.
The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and global economic disruption and instability, including inflation and the rising cost of food and fuel, have had a devastating impact on the lives and wellbeing of millions of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Climate change is also worsening the scale and intensity of emergencies. The last 10 years were the hottest on record and the number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years. Today, over 400 million children live in areas of high or extremely high-water vulnerability.
At the same time, children are crossing borders in record numbers, with their families or separated from them, or unaccompanied. Altogether, nearly 37 million children worldwide are displaced due to cascading crises, a level of displaced children not seen since the Second World War.
“The devastating impacts of climate change are an ever-present threat to children,” said Russell. “Which is why we are prioritizing climate adaptation and resilience building as part of our humanitarian response. This will help us to reach children living through today’s crises, while also helping them and their communities prepare for those yet to come.”
Putting national and local organizations at the centre of humanitarian operations is a key strategy in UNICEF’s humanitarian response. Key results in 2022 were made possible by UNICEF’s partnerships, including with humanitarian country teams, UN agencies, civil society and non-governmental organizations, national and local responders and resource partners.
As part of its Humanitarian Action for Children, which sets out the agency’s 2023 appeal, UNICEF plans to reach: 8.2 million children with treatment for severe acute malnutrition. 28 million children with measles vaccinations. 63.7 million people with access to safe water for drinking and domestic needs. 25.7 million children with formal or non-formal education, including early learning.
UNICEF’s works to protect and promote diets, services and practices that prevent, detect and treat child wasting. UNICEF aims to ensure that no child dies from wasting.
UNICEF is accelerating progress on two interrelated fronts simultaneously: (1) reduce the number of children suffering from the more severe forms of wasting; (2) increase the number of children with severe forms of wasting who access treatment.
Public health emergencies: The annual number of outbreaks reported to the World Health Organization has increased more than threefold since 1980. UNICEF is committed to addressing public health emergencies not only through emergency coordination and leadership, responding to the health threat, but also by working to ensure the continuity of essential services.
Blistering heat waves. A global hunger crisis. Deadly conflicts. Displacement. These crises are set to intensify as climate change impacts the frequency, intensity, and duration of emergencies, deepening inequities across the globe, and driving new waves of conflict, displacement, and disease.
UNICEF is also working on strengthening the resilience of communities and health infrastructure to withstand climate hazards, with the aim of better linking its humanitarian response to longer-term community resilience and climate adaptation.
But while the needs of children and families have never been greater, the humanitarian system is struggling to respond to the sheer scale of these crises. From historic floods in Pakistan, to drought across large swathes of Africa – particularly the Horn of Africa – to record-breaking temperatures and a nutrition crisis, climate shocks are driving increased humanitarian needs.
From Afghanistan to Somalia, from Ukraine to Yemen – UNICEF is on the ground in countries around the world, providing children with life-saving services during humanitarian emergencies. We are working to strengthen the systems that children rely on – like health care, protection, water and sanitation – and to make those systems more resilient to climate shocks and other crises.
With humanitarian needs at an unprecedented high, UNICEF is calling on partners to increase support to life-saving humanitarian responses for children.

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Tuvalu becomes second nation state to call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
by Fossil Fuel Treaty Initiative
8 Nov. 2022
Today, Tuvalu has united with their Pacific neighbours Vanuatu in calling on other nation states to develop a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a proposed international mechanism to effectively regulate fossil fuel production and pave a clear, fair pathway for a shift to renewables in order to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC.
During his formal address at the UN Climate Talks in Egypt, Prime Minister Kausea Natano took the main plenary stage and stated: “We all know that the leading cause of the climate crisis is fossil fuels. Tuvalu has joined Vanuatu and other nations in calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to steer our development model to pursue renewables and a just transition away from fossil fuels.”
Tuvalu’s support for the proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty joins a wave of recent momentum behind the proposal which was endorsed by the European Parliament, the Vatican and the World Health Organisation in recent months.
As Tuvalu faces the prospect of their islands disappearing, the Prime Minister’s speech comes with the backdrop of loss and damage being a central issue for the COP27 climate negotiations, one that experts expect to only escalate with every fraction of warming. Fossil fuels are the primary cause of this loss and damage, with coal, oil and gas fueling 86% of the CO2 emissions in the past decade.
Tzeporah Berman, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Treaty Initiative said “Vanuatu and Tuvalu are the first countries to call for a new Treaty as a companion to the Paris Agreement to align oil, gas and coal production with a global carbon budget. We will look back on this in history as the moment of reckoning with overproduction that is locking in further emissions and holding us back from bending the curve”.
Harjeet Singh, Political Lead, Climate Action Network International, said: “Big ocean states have provided so much leadership to international policy-making. Big ocean states pushed for the 1.5C target, they’ve pushed for loss and damage, and now they’re pushing for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is the next necessary step in international climate policy for climate justice.”
However, the world is on track to produce more than double the fossil fuels than would be in line with limiting warming to less than 1.5ºC. In this context, significant momentum has built behind the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty as an international mechanism that could complement the Paris Agreement by managing a global just transition away from coal, oil and gas.
Tuvalu’s announcement reflects the Pacific leadership that has been essential to international climate policy for decades, having championed the need for justice and equity within the UN Framework Convention, its Kyoto Protocol, and more recently helping secure 1.5ºC target within the Paris Agreement.
The proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty would be an international framework that would complement the Paris Agreement by regulating fossil fuel production with the aim to (1) stop expansion of any new coal, oil and gas (2) wind down existing fossil fuel production in line with 1.5ºC and (3) support and sufficiently finance a global transition to renewable energy where no worker, community or country is left behind.
In addition to recent support from nation states, the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty has been endorsed by more than 70 cities and subnational governments around the globe, including London, Lima, Los Angeles, Kolkata, Paris and the Hawai’i State Legislature. The three pillars of the proposal have been called for by 101 Nobel laureates, over 500 parliamentarians, 3,000 scientists and academics as well as 1,800 civil society organisations.
Tuvalu’s call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty during COP27 is a next step towards building formal diplomatic support for the proposal. Similar moments were pivotal in the legal pathway towards treaties to manage the threats of nuclear weapons, ozone-depleting chemicals and landmines.
* About the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is spurring international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods. Cities such as Vancouver and Barcelona have already endorsed the Treaty with more considering motions to endorse. Hundreds of organisations representing thousands more individuals join the call for world leaders to stop fossil fuel expansion.

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