GENEVA/ HONG KONG, 31 January 2012 – UNICEF appealed for HK$10 billion (US$1.28 billion) to fund its humanitarian operations in 2012, assisting children in more than 25 countries globally in the recently-launched 2012 Humanitarian Action for Children report
. While the crisis in Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa accounts for nearly one-third of the total required fund, the report also highlights many long standing or so-called “silent emergencies”, which emergency preparedness and building resilience are critical in reducing death and injury. During the time that the city is filled with the Year of the Dragon celebrations, the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF wishes every Hong Kong person a healthy year, and encourages the public to give a generous support so that blessings can be passed to children in need.
UNICEF’s 2012 Humanitarian Action for Children report describes the daily situation of some of the world’s most vulnerable children and women caught up in emergencies across the world and the funding required to meet their immediate and long-term needs, their right to healthy survival and development. Some of the humanitarian needs are noted in the below situations:
Children and their families displaced by violence stemming from the November 2010 elections in Cote d’Ivoire and the independence of South Sudan from the Republic of the Sudan; the five million people affected by a second year of flooding in Pakistan and the operation to rebuild Haiti two years after an earthquake shattered the poorest country in the western hemisphere; the wave of political turmoil and change in the Middle East and North Africa as creating humanitarian needs in the region especially in countries such as Yemen which is already affected by a long standing emergency crisis.
|Affected by the worst food crisis of the century, it is estimated that more than 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the Horn of Africa. In Somalia where famine has taken a harsh toll on children, about 36 per cent of children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition. In 2012, UNICEF will continue to support and coordinate the humanitarian work in the region with nearly one-third of the requested funds.
While much of the attention focuses on the Horn of Africa, UNICEF also realises and reacts to the humanitarian needs in the many long-standing emergencies, or so-called the “silent” emergencies around the globe. “In the Sahel, we are facing a nutrition crisis of a larger magnitude than usual. In addition, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and the Central African Republic, to name just a few, are all emergencies requiring funding if their most vulnerable people, children and women, are to survive,” said Rima Salah, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director (a.i.).
The UNICEF reports says: “Throughout the world, millions of children are living amidst crises that persist for years. While some of these emergencies attract significant media and political attention, others never reach international awareness, and many become ‘silent emergencies’ in which deep humanitarian need, existing far from the public eye, is too easily and quickly overlooked.”
The conflict in the East and Northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to have a profound impact on millions of people over many years, according to the report. As of June 2011, more than 1.5 million people, half of them children, were displaced by ethnic violence. Millions of children in conflict-affected areas were out of school, and attacks involving mass sexual violence were common in some provinces, and measles and cholera epidemics threatened the lives of many millions of children.
The report stresses the importance of emergency preparedness and building resilience as critical in reducing death and injury in emergency situations. “We have achieved many positive results in emergency settings in 2011 but the urgent and long term needs of millions of children and their families will continue in 2012. UNICEF requires adequate funding in order to fulfill its commitments towards children.” Salah said.
“Children represent the future but are the most vulnerable. We should give our utmost attention and care to nurture their development,” Ms Irene Chan, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF, encourages Hong Kong people to share their joy with children in the developing countries: “When we are sending blessings to children with red packets, we may think about sending real help to children in need as well. Children are also welcomed to share their lucky money with their peers in emergency situations and exemplify the spirit of ‘Kids Helping Kids’”.