Malnutrition poses “silent threat” to children, agency’s 2017 appeal says
NEW YORK/GENEVA/ADDIS ABABA, 31 January 2017 – 48 million children living through some of the world’s worst conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies will benefit from UNICEF’s 2017 appeal, which was launched today.
From Syria to Yemen and Iraq, from South Sudan to Nigeria, children are under direct attack, their homes, schools and communities in ruins, their hopes and futures hanging in the balance. In total, almost one in four of the world’s children live in a country affected by conflict or disaster.
“In country after country, war, natural disaster and climate change are driving ever more children from their homes, exposing them to violence, disease and exploitation,” said UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes, Manuel Fontaine.
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children sets out the agency’s 2017 appeal totaling $3.3 billion, and its goals in providing children with access to safe water, nutrition, education, health and protection in 48 countries across the globe.
An estimated 7.5 million children will face severe acute malnutrition across the majority of appeal countries, including almost half a million each in northeast Nigeria and Yemen.
“Malnutrition is a silent threat to millions of children,” said Fontaine. “The damage it does can be irreversible, robbing children of their mental and physical potential. In its worst form, severe malnutrition can be deadly.”
The largest single component of the appeal is for children and families caught up in the Syria conflict, soon to enter its seventh year. UNICEF is seeking a total of $1.4 billion to support Syrian children inside Syria and those living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
In total, working alongside its partners, UNICEF’s other priorities in 2017 are:
- Providing over 19 million people with access to safe water;
- Reaching 9.2 million children with formal or non-formal basic education;
- Immunizing 8.3 million children against measles;
- Providing psychosocial support to over two million children;
- Treating 3.1 million children with severe acute malnutrition.
In the first ten months of 2016, as a result of UNICEF’s support:
- 13.6 million people had access to safe water;
- 9.4 million children were vaccinated against measles;
- 6.4 million children accessed some form of education;
- 2.2 million children were treated for severe acute malnutrition.
UNICEF Ethiopia’s 2017 Humanitarian Appeal for Children (HAC) is for US$110.5 million, which includes US$17.3 million required to provide assistance to refugees. Together with the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners, UNICEF Ethiopia aims to reach 9.2 million children and their families with access to safe water and hygiene, nutrition, health and protection services and give hope for the future by providing education in emergencies.
“In 2017, UNICEF Ethiopia prioritizes humanitarian needs of those affected by the Horn of Africa drought while continuing to support development initiatives to ensure all children and their families have clean water, adequate sanitation as well as access to nutrition and health services. Additional priorities are to support education for children facing emergencies and to protect children against violence and abuse,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “Our ability to respond adequately to the needs of millions of children contributes to future growth and stability in Ethiopia. Through linked humanitarian and development programming, the Government of Ethiopia, UNICEF and our partners’ investments helps build families’ and communities’ resilience against future emergencies.”
While the funding will be critical to UNICEF’s ability to respond to immediate needs, it will also be used to take appropriate action to strengthen preparedness, improve early warning systems and reduce vulnerability as well as contribute to more resilient communities.
In 2016, UNICEF raised US$108.7 million to provide around 7 million children and their families with life-saving humanitarian assistance to mitigate the impact of the El Niño-induced drought. With severe water shortages, malnutrition and disease outbreaks, the anticipated humanitarian need in 2017 has reduced only slightly, from 9.7 to 9.2 million people.
Though an adequate 2016 ‘kiremt’ rainy season was recorded in many areas of the country, drought conditions and residual effects from the El Niño emergency continue to cause water shortages, malnutrition, disease outbreaks and related protection and education issues, including the closure of hundreds of schools in drought-affected areas.
A new drought expanding across the lowland areas in the Horn of Africa, induced by another weather phenomena, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), is further exacerbating humanitarian needs in the south and south eastern regions of Afar and Somali, as well as parts of Oromia and SNNP. Neighbouring country Somalia is also severely affected, causing 1,325 refugees crossing into the Ethiopian Somali region in the first 17 days of January. Ethiopia is already one of the top refugee-hosting countries in Africa, with 783,401 refugees as of November 2016 hailing from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.