January 29, 2007 07:01 ET

UNICEF Report Calls for Funding for World's Forgotten Emergencies; Highlights Situation of Children in 33 Countries

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 29, 2007) - With the release of its Humanitarian Action Report today, UNICEF is appealing to the global community for US $635 million to assist children and women in 33 "forgotten" humanitarian emergencies around the world. Nearly one-fifth of the total, US $121 million, is for Sudan, including programmes in the Darfur region. UNICEF, the world's leader in emergency programming for children, reports that its programmes in the "forgotten emergencies" of the world received only 37 per cent of the required funding from governments and private donors in 2006.

Massive flooding in the Horn of Africa and multiple typhoons in South Asia were typical of the ever more frequent occurrence of floods, typhoons and earthquakes that have affected thousands of families in 2006. While in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gaza, the West Bank, Sri Lanka and the Sudan, women and children continue to be impacted by the reverberating crossfire of conflict. In most regions of the world, but particularly in Africa, HIV/AIDS is contributing in ever-greater measure to crisis situations.

"While large-scale natural disasters capture attention and spur much-needed private and government support, too many children continue to suffer unthinkable deprivations in crisis situations that simply cannot attract the international attention they need," says Nigel Fisher, President & CEO of UNICEF Canada and former Director of UNICEF's Office of Emergency Programmes. "We are able to prevent illness, save lives, protect and even educate children in some of the world's direst circumstances, mitigating the worst effects of poverty, civil instability, conflict and natural disasters. But we can only do so fully when the world fulfills its obligation to these forgotten children."

The report details UNICEF's specific relief activities and provides the organization's financial requirements for meeting the needs of children and women in each country and region. Areas in critical need of funding include:

- In Sudan, continued conflict and insecurity have affected an estimated 4 million people in Darfur alone, including 1.8 million children. Additionally, children are still experiencing the long-term effects of the conflict in the South. The return of some 240,000 people following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 is further increasing pressure in already vulnerable communities.

- The Horn of Africa was beset by cyclical drought then flooding and finally war in 2006. People, many of them pastoralists, must deal with extremes of famine or flooding in normal years. This was further complicated in late December by the conflict between the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and that country's Union of Islamic Courts.

- Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States includes several countries that are affected by insecurity, extensive damage to social and economic infrastructure, and weak or collapsed governance structures.

- South Asia has the highest number of children living in absolute poverty, the highest prevalence of underweight children and the highest child mortality rates in the world.

- East Asia and the Pacific, still recovering from the 2004 tsunami, faced an increase in the number and size of emergencies during 2006, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, typhoons, heavy rains and consequent floods. In addition, armed conflict continued to cause disruption, displacement and death throughout the region, affecting women and children the worst.

- The Middle East and North Africa are dominated by the situation in Iraq, the aftermath of the war in Lebanon and violence in the West Bank and Gaza continues to have an impact on young people.

In all countries, UNICEF applies its expertise in the monitoring and analysis of the situation of children and the barriers they face, advising authorities and informing local, national and international interventions. Prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and special attention to the vulnerability of girls and women are pervasive elements of UNICEF's emergency programmes. The organization's emergency work encompasses four broad areas of concern to children:

- protection of children including prevention of and response to sexual violence, registration of displaced children, psychosocial support, the creation of child-friendly and play spaces, and the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers;

- health care and nutrition including immunization activities, training of medical staff, provision of essential medicines to health facilities, weight monitoring, and supplementary and therapeutic feeding;

- water and sanitation including rehabilitation or construction of damaged or destroyed water sources, water purification supplies, public education regarding hygiene, provision of sanitation facilities;

- education including the rehabilitation or creation of learning spaces, teacher training, and the provision of school supplies.

UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 157 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

Donations can be made to UNICEF Canada's General Emergency Fund or to various specific emergency appeals at www.unicef.ca , by mail to UNICEF Canada, 2200 Yonge St., Suite 1100, Toronto, ON, M4S 2C6 or by phone to 1-800-567-4483.

Note regarding Nigel Fisher: As an assistant-secretary-general of the United Nations, Nigel Fisher served as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction in Afghanistan from February 2002 until August 2003. He led UNICEF's post-genocide recovery operations in the Great Lakes region of Africa in 1994 and 1995 as UNICEF Special Representative for Rwanda and the Great Lakes. In 1998 he served as United Nations Visiting Fellow at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade advising the Minister on the development of foreign policy regarding children in armed conflict.

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