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Humanitarian Emergencies

When the earth violently shakes leaving dust where homes and buildings once stood or when long simmering tensions overflow into devastating armed conflict - lives are changed forever.

Humanitarian crises, either in the form of natural disasters like floods and earthquakes, or complex human-induced situations like armed conflicts and industrial accidents, illustrate the full spectrum between human suffering and human resilience.

In any humanitarian crisis, the most vulnerable members of society will face the greatest loss. Families that live in a constant state of vulnerability can find themselves in immediate humanitarian need when disaster strikes. In these situations, the most vulnerable victims are children.

Teachers are challenged to convey the hardship and complexity associated with humanitarian emergencies to their students. These elementary and secondary educational resources support teachers' efforts with age-appropriate activities that encourage students to explore their reactions to these crises, develop empathy and understanding, and see themselves as global citizens with an ability to act. Students are moved along this continuum towards action in order to complete learning, develop their global citizenship skills and inspire a continued desire to learn about the world around them.

When Disaster Strikes

When Disaster Strikes - Elementary Guide

Humanitarian emergencies frequently capture significant international media coverage and as a result can have emotional impacts on people around the world. Often children have questions and concerns about these crises that can be difficult for adults to address. This guide helps teachers initiate a conversation about current humanitarian emergencies with their students. Through the activities, students will understand the implications of humanitarian emergencies on communities and vulnerable populations like children, while developing a sense of compassion and empathy, and a desire to act. Read More

When Disaster Strikes - Secondary Guide

Humanitarian emergencies frequently capture significant international media coverage and as a result can have emotional impacts on people around the world. Often children have questions and concerns about these crises that can be difficult for adults to address. This guide helps teachers initiate a conversation about current humanitarian emergencies with their students. Through the activities, students will understand the implications of humanitarian emergencies on communities and vulnerable populations like children, while developing a sense of compassion and empathy, and a desire to act. Read More

Country specific activity guides

When Disaster Strikes: Civil War in Syria Supplementary Guide

A cross-curricular educational resource designed to support the elementary and secondary guides When Disaster Strikes, Understanding Humanitarian Emergencies. Read More

The Unfairy Tales

Three short animated stories of children on the move because of conflict

When Disaster Strikes: Horn of Africa Supplementary Guide

By early July, 2011, it became apparent that a crisis was unfolding across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti, an area known as the Horn of Africa. A worsening drought, rising food prices, and on-going conflict in Somalia have created a severe humanitarian crisis, with some 12.5 million people in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance. This supplementary guide for teachers explores the crisis in the Horn of Africa. You may use it on its own, but for more extensive classroom activities, please check out the Elementary and Secondary guides, When Disaster Strikes: Understanding Humanitarian Emergencies. Read More

When Disaster Strikes - Pakistan Supplementary Guide

On July 27, 2010, the first of what would eventually be a series of heavy monsoon rains arrived in Pakistan, largely affecting the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Monsoon season takes place from July to September every year in Pakistan and averages about 63.5 millimetres of rainfall per month. In a mere three-day span from July 28 to July 30, Pakistan received over 203 millimetres of rain! Imagine your neighbourhood receiving more than three months worth of rain in less than 72 hours. This is what happened to the country of Pakistan, and it immediately killed more than one thousand people while displacing millions of others. Read More

When Disaster Strikes - Haiti Supplementary Guide

On the evening of 12 January 2010, the strongest earthquake to hit Haiti in more than 200 years struck just 17km south-west of Haiti’s densely populated capital city, Port-au-Prince. The quake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, lasted mere seconds, but the impacts will be felt for years to come. Read More

Children and disaster risk reduction: taking stock and moving forward

This report reviews child-focused and child-led disaster risk reduction approaches and techniques. It documents a number of case studies across a range of interventions, dividing these into three main areas: Knowledge, Voice and Action. It makes some observations regarding current practice and recommendations that imply a shift in emphasis going forward. Read More

Humanitarian action for children

In 2010, natural disasters of unprecedented magnitude caused untold suffering for millions of children, their families and their communities. Conflict and insecurity exacted a heavy toll on lives and spirits. The examples of these affronts are numerous and include the earthquake in Haiti that destroyed its capital city; flooding in Pakistan that submerged one-fifth. Read More

Best Practices of Non-Violent Conflict Resolution In and Out-of-School

During the year 2001, the Education Sector of UNESCO launched an initiative calling for "best practices" for conflict resolution in the field of formal and non-formal education. To accomplish this initiative, it requested numerous partners, namely, UNESCO National Commissions, NGOs, various associations, schools, research institutions and universities to contribute to this work by sending clear and simple written articles relating their experience in the prevention and the transformation of conflicts. Read More

Current Emergency Response

Syria Crisis

UNICEF Photo Essays: Emergencies

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