By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Tuesday launched $3.3 billion emergency assistance fund aimed at reaching 48 million children caught up in conflict and other crisis.
A statement made available to newsmen in Kaduna by Rabiu Musa, Media and External Relations Officer, UNICEF Kaduna Field office, said 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.
According to the statement, “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 lives 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.
“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.”
It further said, “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.
It added, ” 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.”