In Times of Emergency, UNICEF Steps Up

October 18, 2017

Bangladesh. Puerto Rico. Mexico. A 70-year history of being in the right place at the right time for the world's most vulnerable.

Since August, in what officials are calling a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing," military forces in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar have driven over 500,000 ethnic Muslim Rohingya out of their homes and across the border into neighboring Bangladesh. New refugees arrive on foot every day, exhausted and urgently in need of water, food and shelter. Many are sick and traumatized.

Thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar are stuck on a pedestrian road in the midst of paddy fields two kilometers from the Bangladesh border on October 16, 2017.

By October 16, 2017, between 10,000 and 15,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar had formed a kilometer-long line on a pedestrian road two kilometers from the Bangladesh border. © UNICEF/UN0136208/LeMoyne

In response to this rapidly growing humanitarian emergency, UNICEF and partners are stepping up to provide nutrition, health care and protection to child refugees and their families. UNICEF is trucking in water, pre-positioning child-friendly spaces staffed with trauma specialists and mobilizing vaccination teams to prevent a looming cholera outbreak.

Natural disasters, refugee crises, conflict and famine are putting more lives in jeopardy every day

Around the world, natural disasters, refugee crises, conflict and famine are putting more lives in jeopardy every day. In 2016 alone, UNICEF responded to 344 humanitarian emergencies. 117 were natural disasters. This year is no different. With its 70-year history of being in the right place at the right time, UNICEF's global network of staff and volunteers is ready at a moment's notice to provide much-needed food, shelter and counseling, working in tandem with local governments and other relief organizations.

UNICEF's humanitarian warehouse in Copenhagen has supplies packed. Drinking water, nonperishable food, medicines and emergency kits are ready to deploy at a moment's notice, when and where they're needed. The Copenhagen warehouse, the world's largest, can ship emergency supplies anywhere in the world in 48 to 72 hours.

A B-747 flight donated by the UPS Foundation touched ground in Port-au-Prince, carrying 100 tons of UNICEF emergency medical and educational supplies packed in UNICEF’s Global Supply Warehouse in Copenhagen. © UNICEF/UN036396/Guhle

In late September, after Hurricane Maria plunged Puerto Rico into a state of crisis, families were faced with acute shortages of fresh water, food, electricity, fuel and medicines. UNICEF mobilized rapidly, providing 12,000 emergency hygiene kits to Puerto Rican families struggling to survive, and rushing shipments of safe drinking water to distribution centers across the island.

Jesus, 7, and his mom next to the ruins of his family's home in San Francisco Xochiteopan, Puebla, Mexico. The village was one of the hardest hit by the Sept. 19, 2017 earthquake.

Jesus, 7, and his mother next to the ruins of his family's house. Their village, San Francisco Xochiteopan in the state of Puebla, Mexico, was one of the hardest hit by the September 19, 2017 earthquake. More than 200 houses collapsed or suffered major damage. © UNICEF/UN0126639/Zehbrauskas

When back-to-back earthqakes rocked Mexico, ripping through buildings and forcing mass evacuations, UNICEF set up and staffed child-friendly spaces, trained teachers on how best to support children whose lives had been turned upside-down and delivered education and hygiene supplies where they were needed most.

In any humanitarian emergency, UNICEF puts children first, ensuring that they have what they need to survive the initial impact and then get back to what kids do best: playing, learning and hatching plans for bright futures.




Please support UNICEF in getting emergency relief to those most in need all across the globe. Text RELIEF to 864233/UNICEF to make a $10 donation for children impacted by natural disasters. Learn how to give with confidence in an emergency.  

Banner photo: On October 16, 2017, growing crowds of frightened, exhausted Rohingya refugees — many of them children — wait to cross into Bangladesh from Myanmar. © UNICEF/UN0136209/LeMoyne