Yesterday afternoon the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a special visit to the UNICEF global supply centre in Copenhagen to help maintain the world’s attention on the humanitarian crisis in East Africa, which has left more than 320,000 children so severely malnourished that they are at imminent risk of death unless they get urgent help.
UNICEF’s supply centre includes a warehouse the size of three football pitches where essential supplies for children around the globe are sourced, packed and distributed. These include food, water, special nutritional supplies for the most malnourished children, vaccines, education materials and emergency medical kits.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were accompanied on the visit by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark. Their Royal Highnesses arrived at UNICEF’s Supply Centre in Copenhagen’s Freeport at 2:30pm and were welcomed by Shanelle Hall, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Centre. The Duchess and Crown Princess were given flowers by Amanda Kofoed and Maryam Abdullah, both 10 years old, who are children of UNICEF staff.
Both couples then received a briefing on the desperate situation in the region from Peter Hailey, Chief of Nutrition for UNICEF in Somalia. He told them about the reality for many children and their parents, who often have to walk for 25 days to find food.
They then saw for themselves how the life-saving aid supplies are sourced and packed, ready to be sent to East Africa. They met four packing staff who showed them how different medical provisions – including essential medicines and emergency surgical equipment – are packed. Both Royal couples joined the staff on the packing line and helped to pack boxes of emergency health kits, each of which will provide life-saving supplies to over 1000 people.
The Duke and Duchess and the Crown Prince and Princess then toured the warehouse, seeing the huge variety of supplies that are sent to emergencies around the world, including ready-to-use therapeutic food for severely malnourished children under five years old and supplementary food to support-families, emergency health kits, vaccines and water supplies including water purification tablets.
At the end of their visit the Duke of Cambridge said “An incredible amount is being done. UNICEF is leading the way and doing a fantastic job, but sadly there’s lots more still to do, and that’s why we’re here today”
The Duchess of Cambridge talked more about the purpose of their visit, saying “We really hope to put the spotlight back on this crisis”.
The Duke of Cambridge then added a heartfelt appeal: “Anyone who can do anything to help, please do.”
The Duke and Duchess went on to Copenhagen Airport to see the supplies being loaded onto flights provided by British Airways and UPS, bound for Nairobi.
Since the visit of both Royal couples to UNICEF’s supply centre was announced on 26 October, UNICEF has already seen a huge response to the appeal for donations to the emergency. Shanelle Hall, Director of Supply Division commented, ‘It has been wonderful to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark to UNICEF’s Supply Centre and to show them the scale of the vital operation delivering supplies to malnourished children and their families. Their visit has already helped to draw the world’s attention back to the scale of the current crisis and we hope it will help us to raise the resources needed to continue our work in the region.’
To respond to the remaining needs of children in East Africa for 2011, UNICEF still requires HK$312 million (US$40 million). The financial needs for 2012 are over HK$3.14 billion (US$402.8 million), including HK$2.34 billion (US$300 million) for UNICEF Somalia, in order to ensure that provision of life saving therapeutic and supplementary feeding can continue.
Highlights of UNICEF’s work in East Africa:
- UNICEF is the main provider of high protein peanut paste across the whole region, working with partner agencies to ensure that it reaches the children most in need.
- So far, UNICEF’s Supply Centre in Copenhagen has delivered more than 24,396 metric tonnes of supplies to the region (between July and October).
- UNICEF has treated 108,000 severely malnourished children in therapeutic feeding centres, vaccinated 1.2 million children against measles and provided 2.2 million people with access to safe water.
To donate to the East Africa Appeal, please visit www.eastafricacrisis.org