UNICEF: More than 1 in 10 Children Living in Countries and Areas Affected by Armed Conflict

January 29, 2015

Over 60 million children at risk in “new generation” of crises

NEW YORK (January 29, 2015) - Growing numbers of children are facing increasingly complex and destructive conflicts, natural disasters and other emergencies, including the Ebola epidemic, which are placing them in extraordinary danger of violence, hunger, disease and abuse – and require increasingly more resources to address. 

UNICEF is launching a $3.1 billion appeal – its largest ever – to reach 62 million children at risk in humanitarian crises worldwide – a $1 billion jump in funding needs since last year’s appeal.

“A staggering 1 in 10 of the world’s children – or more than 230 million – currently live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts. Children have the right to grow up happy and safe, and should not have to fear that they will be targeted by combatants,” said Caryl Stern President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “I have seen firsthand the devastating impact that living in a conflict zone – without protection or access to water, medicine, food and school – can have on children.” 

“Earlier this week, UNICEF and partners secured the release of 3,000 children from an armed group in South Sudan and is working to restore their childhoods,” Stern continued. ”UNICEF can’t stop these conflicts, but together – through donations, education and advocacy -- we can help children be children again.”     

UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2015 appeal targets a total of 98 million people, around two thirds of whom are children, in 71 countries.

  • The biggest portion of the appeal is for Syria and the sub-region. UNICEF is calling for $903 million for the regional response to protect children at risk and deliver life-saving assistance like immunizations, safe water and sanitation, and education.
  • UNICEF is also appealing for $500 million to accelerate its work in the heart of Ebola-affected communities. The money will be used to scale up efforts to rapidly isolate and treat every case, prevent further outbreaks, and continue to promote healthy behaviors to prevent the spread of the disease. The goal for 2015 is to get to zero cases and support the revitalization of basic social services.
  • In Nigeria, where attacks by armed groups have escalated in the past year causing more than 1 million people in the northeast to flee their homes, UNICEF is asking for $26.5 million.
  • A year into the conflict in Ukraine, UNICEF is appealing for $32.45 million as the country faces a humanitarian crisis with 5.2 million people living in conflict zones, over 600,000 people internally displaced and some 1.7 million children affected.

The appeal also includes hugely under-funded and forgotten crises where children are in desperate need – including Afghanistan (35 percent funded in 2014), the State of Palestine (23 percent funded in 2014) and Niger (35 percent funded in 2014). 

“From deadly natural disasters to brutal conflicts and fast-spreading epidemics, children across the world are facing a new generation of humanitarian crises,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programs. “Whether in the headlines or hidden from view, emergencies sparked by social fracture, climate change and disease are stalking children in ways we have never seen before.”

“I have just returned from Syria and Lebanon where millions of children have had their lives torn apart,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programs. “For the past four years, these children have been witnessing violence and death daily and have been missing out on the very basics in life. This appeal will help secure a future for not only the children of Syria but all children around the world who are impacted by humanitarian crises.”

In addition to immediate humanitarian response, funds raised will help UNICEF in its work with partner organizations to prepare countries for future disasters by reinforcing national preparedness systems and equipping communities to help themselves.

“This appeal will reach the most vulnerable children, wherever they are,” said Khan. “Where a child is born should not determine his or her destiny. We must get vital services and care to children in acute need now, to provide the building blocks that will allow them to create peaceful futures. This is not just about immediate humanitarian action as these short-term investments will have long-term gains.”

In 2014, UNICEF reached millions of children with humanitarian support – including vaccinating 16 million children against measles, treating 1.8 million children for the most serious form of malnutrition, providing almost 2 million children with psychological support and providing 13 million people with access to safe water.  Two million children were also given a better education – a crucial part of UNICEF’s emergency response as it helps restore children’s routine and gives them hope for the future.

The full Humanitarian Action for Children 2015 appeal and related country information can be found here at 4:30 am EST on January 29th 2015: www.unicef.org/appeals

Video and photos are available for download here: http://uni.cf/1zwEJ4M

To donate or learn more, please visit www.unicefusa.org/supportemergencies

Notes to Editors
The 71 countries and areas featured in the Humanitarian Action for Children 2015 appeal are highlighted due to the scale of these crises, the urgency of their impact on children and women, the complexity of the response, and the capacity to respond.

About UNICEF
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For more information, contact:

Andrea Sioris, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9136, asioris@unicefusa.org