Around the world, attacks on children continue unabated. The number of countries experiencing violent conflict is the highest it has been in the last 30 years. The result is that more than 30 million children have been displaced by conflict. Many of them are being enslaved, trafficked, abused, and exploited. Many more are living in limbo, without official immigration status or access to education and health care. From Afghanistan to Mali, to South Sudan, Yemen, and beyond, warring parties are flouting one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children.
UNICEF aims to help 190.8 million children in emergencies in 2021
Even before the pandemic hit, conflict and climate change were driving an unprecedented growth in the number of children in need of humanitarian assistance. Now, COVID-19 is making the situation even worse, threatening to create a lost generation.
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 sets out an ambitious agenda to address the major challenges facing children living through conflict and crisis.
Economic instability and disrupted services are also rolling back decades of progress, including in the fight against malnutrition – Yemen has seen a near 10 per cent increase in cases of acute malnutrition.
Meanwhile, conflict, climate change and economic instability are also forcing more children than ever from their homes. In Central Sahel, over a million children have been forced to flee because of armed conflict and insecurity – a 64 per cent increase from 2019.
Following the onset of COVID-19, UNICEF immediately mobilized to reduce transmission of the virus and ensure the continuity of life-saving services. This included equipping health-workers with protective personal equipment and oxygen concentrators; rehabilitating schools in Syria; providing safe water to thousands of people affected by floods in South Sudan; and treating more than 350,000 severely malnourished children in the Central Sahel.
UNICEF also redoubled efforts to ensure every child learns, expanding access to education for Rohingya refugees and innovating with partners to provide online and distance learning to millions of out-of-school children across the globe.
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