Thursday 22 December 2011
2011 has been the busiest year for Save the Children’s Humanitarian Emergencies team in our 90-year history: 45 emergency responses, in 38 different countries. We’re really very tired.
But the first few days of an emergency are critical. It’s simple. It’s life and death. The faster we respond, the more lives we save.
This year we flew aid planes into conflict zones, faced a nuclear threat in Japan, and launched responses in the aftermath of countless floods, droughts and earthquakes.
On the frontline
We are still working quietly but steadily under the radar but on the front line, in war-torn countries around the world. We’ve reached 3.3 million children in emergencies so far, and we’re still counting.
We used rickety boats to deliver life-saving aid to families in Sri Lanka, where the worst rains in nearly 100 years had forced people from their homes. We were able to respond immediately – distributing food packs and essential supplies to over 4,000 people.
Only days later Brazil suffered extremely heavy rains, which caused terrifying mudslides – claiming the lives of around 500 people and leaving homes and schools inaccessible. We supported over 9,000 children and helped them to recover.
Fierce fighting in Libya then placed thousands of children in danger, and left families without fuel, water or electricity.
A small rapid emergency response team entered Libya at extreme personal risk and distributed essential supplies to families, and helped terrified children, unable to escape the scenes of violence and death. Maps of Libya plastered the walls of the office, and we kept a close eye on the rapidly shifting battle lines.
In March a major earthquake hit the east coast of Japan, followed by a massive tsunami and multiple aftershocks – resulting in a death toll of over 15,000.
The destruction left hundreds of thousands of children and their families without shelter – and children separated from families in the panic and chaos. We launched into action immediately – with an appeal that helped us reach nearly 5,000 children.
Large swathes of Ivory Coast then descended into violence and hundreds of thousands of children found themselves in grave danger – thousands were trapped in their homes, too scared to leave.
We urgently flew in aid to help thousands of children and adults – distributing food, soap, sleeping mats and blankets. Our staff worked tirelessly throughout the conflict, helping to reunify families and support yet more children.
Millions of children faced starvation after a devastating drought in East Africa. Save the Children was already on the ground, saving lives.
The world’s media started reporting in June – we had been responding months before it hit the headlines. The number of people at risk increased dramatically – from 7 million people in June, to over 13 million people now. It was our biggest ever emergency appeal and response in our 90 year history.
Without the ready-to-go funds from our Emergency Fund we would be forced to wait for the world’s media to report crises, to wait for often-sluggish donors to respond. But we don’t have to wait to save lives in an emergency. We are already there.