UNICEF Humanitarian Action Report 2006

Report
from UN Children's Fund
Published on 23 Jan 2006
FOREWORD
In 2005, a series of natural disasters and continuing humanitarian crises around the world have affected the lives and well-being of millions of children. In South East Asia, children have been struggling to cope with the devastating aftermath of the tsunami. In the Sahel region and in Southern Africa, thousands of children have been suffering from malnutrition. Close to 200,000 children below the age of fi ve have been treated for malnutrition in Niger, while an additional 300,000 are still at risk. Hurricanes, fl oods and mudslides have affected the lives of thousands of children in Central America and the United States. In Pakistan, it is estimated that half of the earthquake victims were children, many of whom were in school at the time of the quake. Many lost their homes and families, and are still in urgent need of assistance and protection. As in past years, millions of children have also been struggling to survive in countries forgotten or ignored by the rest of the World, such as Colombia, Congo, Mozambique, Nepal, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Faced with often complex crisis situations around the globe, the international community has responded with great solidarity in 2005. The outpouring of generosity from our donors to emergencies in general and to the tsunami disaster in particular has been unprecedented. Thanks to this extraordinary support, UNICEF was able to respond quickly and more effi ciently to the needs of millions of children.

Many of the disasters, which occurred during this past year, have highlighted once again the importance of emergency preparedness for rapid response. The immediate availability of basic humanitarian supplies and the ability to dispatch them rapidly to populations in affected areas can save many lives in emergencies. In 2006, UNICEF will seek to further enhance its preparedness at the country and regional levels along with its key UN and NGO partners.

The year ahead will also bring new challenges to UNICEF. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) has agreed to implement a 'cluster approach' to improve the predictability and quality of humanitarian response in non-refugee settings. UNICEF has agreed to lead the clusters for nutrition, water and sanitation, common data services, and education, while continuing strong fi eld work in health and child protection. UNICEF has worked very closely with partners to develop specifi c cluster reports and we will now jointly develop a work plan to implement the approach starting with new emergencies in 2006. Combined with our Core Commitments for Children in Emergencies (CCCs), the cluster lead arrangement implies signifi cant strengthening of our coordination and fi eld capacity to deliver humanitarian assistance more effectively. Meeting this commitment with high standards of staffi ng and response is an enormous challenge and one we cannot meet without the support of our donors.

This Humanitarian Action Report 2006 is UNICEF's appeal for children and women in 29 emergencies around the world. We count on your continued generosity to help defend their rights.

Thank you.

Ann M. Veneman
Executive Director

INTRODUCTION

UNICEF in humanitarian action

UNICEF has always been working in emergencies, both natural and man-made. Originally called the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, the organization was created to provide humanitarian assistance to children living in a world shattered by the Second World War. Much has changed since then, but UNICEF's fundamental mission has not. Though emergencies have become increasingly complex and their impacts ever more devastating, UNICEF remains dedicated to providing life-saving assistance to children affected by disasters, and to protecting their rights in all circumstances.

Since 1998, UNICEF has based its humanitarian activities on a series of Core Commitments for Children in Emergencies (CCCs), which summarize in concrete terms the programmatic and operational actions required in health and nutrition, water and sanitation, protection, education and HIV/AIDS in order to ensure the survival and protection of children during crises. The CCCs have proven extremely effective at orienting the organization's interventions, also allowing other humanitarian actors to plan their own activities accordingly, conscious of UNICEF's commitments.

To achieve these commitments, UNICEF works closely together with local and international partners, including governments, UN agencies and civil society. These partnerships are crucial to ensuring comprehensive and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Key issues

During emergencies, children are especially vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and violence. In the last decade, more than 2 million children have died as a direct result of armed confl ict, and more than three times that number have been permanently disabled or seriously injured. An estimated 20 million children have been forced to fl ee their homes, and more than 1 million have been orphaned or separated from their families.

Today, however, children are proportionally more affected by natural disasters (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, fl oods and droughts) than by wars, as the number of armed confl icts has decreased in number and amplitude over the past years. The result, however, is the same. The devastating impact on access to food, shelter, social support and health care results in increased vulnerability. Measles, diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, malaria and malnutrition are major killers of children during humanitarian crises. Emergencies often also result in displacement of children, the loss of education, separation from parents and social support, sexual and gender-based violence, abuse, abduction and exploitation. These conditions also increase the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS.

To ensure live-saving assistance reaches all children in need, everywhere, including those caught in forgotten emergencies, UNICEF has prepared this Humanitarian Action Report, which provides a supplement to the Consolidated Appeal. This report presents a broader and more detailed picture of our humanitarian action on behalf of children in emergencies worldwide, including countries not covered by the CAP.

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