“The region is home to the highest number of children in need in the world. This is largely due to man-made crises including armed conflicts, poverty and economic stagnation,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa. “This appeal aims to reach children with critical humanitarian assistance and continue responding to the massive needs emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
Response to the crises in Yemen, Syria and Sudan make the lion share of the appeal. Ten years into the war in Syria, one of the longest and most brutal wars in recent times, 4.8 million children are in need of assistance. In neighbouring countries, 2.5 million children are Syrian refugees. In Yemen, 12 million children or almost every child, in the war-torn country is in need of assistance. In Sudan, 5.3 million children face a multitude of challenges including due to floods believed to be the harshest in the past century, political transition and an economic crisis.
“We hear of fatigue to fund long term crises like in Yemen and Syria. The solution to these conflicts is through a political track and a diplomatic process. Until a solution is reached, the world cannot turn a blind eye to the needs of children impacted by two of the most horrific conflicts in recent history,” said Chaiban.
Other crises have swept the region in the past year. In Lebanon, an economic collapse coupled with an increase in COVID-19 cases and the horrific explosion in August made nearly 1.9 million children dependant on assistance.
The largest portion of funds requested in UNICEF’s appeal will be mobilized to support children’s education. This is followed by water, sanitation, health and nutrition and pyscho-social support to address mental health.
Last year, UNICEF’s appeal only received half of the required funds.
“UNICEF is grateful to all donors who have been great friends to children across the region over the years. Their generosity has saved the lives of millions including through vaccination, treatment of malnutrition and clean water and hygiene. We do hope that these donors and others will continue to commit to children as we face more hardships and the ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” concluded Chaiban.
In 2020, UNICEF continued to respond to needs of children and their families across the region.