GENEVA: The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched its largest-ever emergency funding appeal for $6.4 billion to reach more than 190 million children affected by humanitarian crises amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The appeal, which includes essential support and services through the end of 2021, is a 35 percent increase over the funds requested for this year and will support essential programmes in 149 countries and territories.
It is an “unprecedented” situation, Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, said in a statement. “Today we are facing a child rights emergency in which COVID-19 and other crises are combining to deprive children of their health and well-being. This unprecedented situation demands a similarly unprecedented response.”
She called on donors to contribute “so that together we can help the world’s children get through this darkest of times and prevent a lost generation”.
As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, new humanitarian crises erupted in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado provinces in recent weeks while powerful storms wreaked havoc in Central America and East Asia and protracted emergencies worsened globally.
“When a devastating pandemic coincides with conflict, climate change, disaster and displacement, the consequences for children can be catastrophic,” said Ms Fore.
As part of its Humanitarian Action for Children, which sets out UNICEF’s 2021 appeal, the agency plans to assist about 300 million people including 190 million children. Priority sectors include education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition, health and child protection.
The top five appeals by funding requirements for 2021 are for Syrian refugees ($1.0 billion), Yemen ($576.9 million), the Democratic Republic of Congo ($384.4 million), Syria ($330.8 million) and Venezuela ($201.8 million).
Today UNHCR presented to states its 2021 financial needs – US$ 8.6 billion and 455 million for COVID-19 activities.
Initial pledges totalled more than one billion US$ including multi-year commitments: a record amount!
Sincere thanks to all donors for the trust and confidence. pic.twitter.com/vyVjwJRWXq
— Filippo Grandi (@FilippoGrandi) December 2, 2020
Meanwhile, donor governments pledged a record $932 million to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to support delivery of life-saving aid and protection to nearly 80 million refugees, displaced and stateless people, in 2021.
The pledges were announced at the agency’s annual pledging conference in Geneva. Addressing the conference, Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “Refugees fleeing conflict, persecution and human rights violations need our support now more than ever.
“We are encouraged by the commitments our donors made today which are a lifeline for millions needing help, hope and home.”
To fulfill its mandated responsibilities and meet critical humanitarian needs next year, UNHCR requested about $9.1 billion, including $8.6 billion for its 2021 Global Appeal, and about $455 million for its additional COVID-19-related activities. In all, donors committed over $1.1 billion for UNHCR’s programmes in 2021 and beyond.