UNICEF: The Leader in Times of Crisis

June 26, 2013
Young Syrian girl drinks water in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq. &copy © UNICEF/Karin Schermbrucker Young Syrian girl drinks water in the Domiz refugee camp in Northern Iraq. © UNICEF/Karin Schermbrucker

UNICEF's role as global leader in emergency relief for children and families was strongly reaffirmed with the recent release of the Humanitarian Action Study 2012 [PDF]. The study documents UNICEF's response over the last calendar year to disasters big and small — both those well-known and those well beneath the media radar. In all, UNICEF responded to 286 humanitarian situations in 79 countries during 2012. The big picture numbers are simply stunning:
  • 43.8 million children were immunized against measles
  • 18.8 million people gained access to clean, safe water
  • 3.5 million school-aged children were able to access education
  • 2.1 million children under five were treated for severe malnutrition
  • 2.1 million families were given insecticide-treated bed nets
To reach children made vulnerable by disaster, UNICEF made use of OPSCEN, its 24/7 New York-based emergency operations center; the Supply Division warehouse in Copenhagen; regional transit hubs throughout the world and over 1,200 different partner groups on the ground. There were 481 separate deployments of "surge staff"—UNICEF humanitarian experts—with 62% of these to conflict crisis zones in Syria and Mali and the hunger-stricken Sahel region of Africa. For the latter, UNICEF procured 136 million packets of ready-to-use therapeutic food as it treated 920,000 children for severe acute malnutrition. The Humanitarian Action Study shows just how effectively UNICEF wielded its size, capabilities and expertise in 2012, despite often daunting situations. This year's challenges are just as demanding. Relief efforts for the humanitarian crisis that threatens 4 million children in Syria, in particular, remain drastically underfunded. Find out more about UNICEF's humanitarian needs for 2013 and please, support UNICEF'S emergency and disaster relief efforts around the world with a generous donation.