UNICEF in 2012: The year in review

 

UNICEF in 2012: The year in review

Global News 00:32

Significant achievements for children in a challenging year

NEW YORK/ HONG KONG, 31 December 2012 – It’s been another challenging year for UNICEF and its partners – responding to a wide range of humanitarian needs under less-than-ideal financial circumstances.

But significant gains have been realised, particularly in the fight against disease and child mortality.

Strides against disease and child deaths

Substantial progress has been made towards achieving UN Millennium Development Goal 4: Globally, the number of under-5 deaths has declined from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.

That means 14,000 fewer children are dying every day.

The end of both HIV/AIDS and polio is in sight. The world has committed to ending new HIV infections by 2015, thanks to simpler drug regimens and the success of programmes that prevent mothers from passing the virus to their children.

A woman carries a bucket filled with safe water that she was given during a water distribution from a tanker-truck, on the Jamali Bypass, the main highway in Jacobabad District, in Sindh Province. The truck bears the logos of UNICEF and other support partners. More than 58,600 flood-affected people in the province have received safe drinking water via tanker trucks. By mid-October 2012 in Pakistan, monsoon rains and torrential flooding that began in early September had affected more than 5 million people – primarily in the provinces of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. Over 459,000 homes as well as roads and schools have been damaged or destroyed; some 265,000 people remain displaced in relief camps, with many others living in roadside and other informal settlements; over 1.1 million acres of land and an estimated 54 per cent of health facilities have been affected; and numerous water sources have been contaminated. More than 80 per cent of the affected are women and children under age 14 in need of shelter, food, safe drinking water, sanitation, maternal and child health care and malaria prevention. Malnutrition rates in the hardest hit districts are well above the emergency threshold, and 74 per cent of children in affected communities are out of school. Logistical constraints are hampering relief efforts in many areas, and continuing insecurity is placing United Nations staff and other humanitarian workers at increased risk. In response to the crisis, UNICEF is working with the Government (which has pledged US $91 million to the monsoon floods response), as well as with other UN agencies and partner NGOs. Support includes the provision of: essential child and maternal health services; therapeutic and supplementary feeding programmes; safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and hygiene kits; ongoing immunization services, including to eradicate polio; temporary learning centres and child-friendly spaces; and protective services for children, including for family reunification and psychosocial support. UNICEF is requesting US $15.4 million to fund its part of the response over the next three months.In September, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the most important meeting on polio eradication in the past 20 years. Although polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, infections were reduced by 99 per cent between 1988 and 2011.

At the meeting, world leaders recommitted to eradicating the disease.

“If we do not make history and eradicate polio in the coming months and years, then history will, rightly, judge us very, very harshly,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

Partnerships

2012 was a year of innovative partnerships. A Promise Renewed mobilised a broad international coalition to end preventable child deaths. Since its launch in June, more than half the world’s nations have signed the commitment.

UNICEF is also committed to the Scaling up Nutrition movement, which brings together 30 countries, 27 global leaders and more than 100 organisations to tackle the issue of the 165 million children under 5 who are stunted.

Helping children survive and thrive

In the field, UNICEF responded to a wide range of humanitarian disasters in 2012.

More than one million children are affected by conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. UNICEF is getting urgent supplies to them, as well as to the more than 200,000 refugee children in neighbouring countries.

The drought crisis in the Sahel was one of the biggest challenges. More than 18 million people faced food insecurity in the region. An estimated 1.1 children were in danger of death. In some countries, food insecurity was exacerbated by conflict, displacement and cholera. By the end of September, UNICEF had reached more than 730,000 severely malnourished children under 5 with life-saving treatment.

[THIS IMAGE IS FOR USE BY UNICEF ONLY – DO NOT SHARE WITH EXTERNAL MEDIA] A boy stands in Aleppo, capital of the north-western Aleppo Governorate. The city has been a site of prolonged fighting during the conflict. By late September 2012 in Syria, escalating war continues to take its toll on children and their families. Some 2.5 million people have been affected, of which 1.2 million – half of them children – have been displaced. Deaths, including of children and women, are estimated at 19,000. Syrians have also fled to neighboring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey; more than 226,700 have registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), while over 75,000 are awaiting registration. UNICEF continues working with diverse governments, other United Nations organizations and local and international NGOs to respond to the needs of affected children both in and outside Syria. UNICEF also supports initiatives in education, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, nutrition and child protection, including the provision of child-friendly spaces and psychosocial assistance for children traumatized by their experiences in relation to the conflict. To fund this work, UNICEF has requested US$123 million, of which less than 25 per cent has been received to date.In Pakistan, more than 100,000 children and women affected by flooding and insecurity received help and protection.

UNICEF responded to renewed violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where, in 2012, the number of internally displaced persons was the highest it had been since 2009. More than 3,000 separated children were reunited with caregivers.

And, amidst the challenging first year of independence in South Sudan, with political tension, an influx of refugees, and inter-tribal conflict, more than 350,000 children were reached with emergency water and sanitation.

“We can be proud of our work every day to help children survive and thrive; to help girls achieve their potential; to protect children from violence and exploitation; to vaccinate every child and to eradicate polio; assure life-saving supplies; forge more diverse partnerships to accelerate results and so, so much more,” said Mr Lake.