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Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - East Asia and the Pacific



  • Disasters are threatening the lives of millions of people across the East Asia and the Pacific region and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has contributed to rising numbers of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM), unimmunized children and children without access to education. The risk of violence, exploitation and abuse is also increasing. Millions of people lack access to safe water and sanitation across the region.

  • UNICEF will work on strengthening preparedness and risk-informed programming to better anticipate, reduce and respond to disasters in the region. UNICEF will also support governments and communities to control the spread of COVID-19 and address the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic.

  • UNICEF is seeking US$117.2 million to respond to these critical needs, including US$85.7 million for the COVID-19 response and US$31.5 million to address non-COVID-related humanitarian needs. Twenty-five countries and territories are directly covered by this regional appeal.


500,000 additional children have SAM due to COVID-19

6.9 million children are not immunized against measles

369 million people lack access to basic hygiene services

114 million children/adolescents lack access to education



Countries in East Asia and the Pacific bear the brunt of disasters triggered by natural hazards worldwide, with over 1.6 billion people in the region affected by natural disasters since 2000. Several countries situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire are prone to earthquakes, volcanic activities and tsunamis. The region is significantly affected by the negative impacts of climate change, with cyclones, floods and droughts on the rise, both in frequency and intensity. Countries in the Mekong Delta have faced recurrent drought in recent years: In 2020, over 685,000 people were affected by drought-related saltwater intrusion in Viet Nam. In the same year, two devastating tropical cyclones in the Pacific and the Philippines affected over 830,000 people. In addition, chronic protracted humanitarian situations due to unresolved conflict and political instability continue to affect the lives of millions of children and their families, and lead to food insecurity and lack of access to basic life-saving services, with profound impacts on the most vulnerable.

These disasters occured as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and compounded existing vulnerabilities. Across the region, 50 million people urgently require access to safe drinking water and 369 million people lack access to basic hygiene services. The number of severely malnourished children increased from 1.2 to 1.7 million over the course of 2020. An additional 21 million children (over the existing 44 million) are at acute risk of falling into poverty with severe consequences for their well-being and development. While most governments have started to reopen schools, 114 million children across the region are still without access to formal education. Before COVID-19, 71 per cent of children and 40 per cent of women in Southeast Asia and 68 per cent of women in the Pacific experienced violence and 10 to 20 per cent of children experienced mental health conditions. During the pandemic, household violence and mental health issues have reportedly worsened. Several countries have postponed vaccination campaigns, leaving unimmunized children susceptible to life-threatening diseases such as measles and polio and increasing the risk of outbreaks.