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UNICEF appeals for funds to respond to growing children’s emergency in the Sahel

2012-06-11

TORONTO, June 11, 2012 – Appealing for more funding today, UNICEF said nearly a quarter of a million children under 5 suffering from severe acute malnutrition have received life-saving treatment in the Sahel during the first four months of the year as part of its emergency response in the region.

The agency forecasts that over the course of 2012 at least 1.1 million children will need to be treated and has increased the number of specialist treatment centres established to cope with the crisis in nine countries to 5,200. The biggest upsurge in children needing help will be over the coming three months because the region is now in the driest and harshest period of the year.
Continuing conflict in Mali, which has forced 170,000 people from their homes and into three neighbouring countries, is creating new demands and problems in ensuring secure aid access. Another 167,000 have been displaced within the country.

UNICEF said it urgently needed more funds for children and women suffering from extreme hardship in the Sahel region of Africa, under threat from diseases such as cholera and victims of the crisis displacing people from Mali.

For the rest of 2012 UNICEF needs US$146 million for the Sahel. So far emergency appeals have secured U$ 93 million for UNICEF’s emergency response.

“The donations UNICEF has already received are having a significant impact saving children’s lives but the situation is very complex,” says UNICEF Canada’s President and CEO. “The crisis in Mali has put even more children in danger and the dry season over the next three months will be extremely challenging.  A larger response is immediately required. We are calling on Canadians to once again show their generosity and support these vulnerable children and their families in the Sahel.”

UNICEF is aiming for an integrated response that takes into consideration the most pressing needs.

Children in northern Mali are very clearly at risk in terms of abuse, access to education and recruitment into armed groups. Education support needs to be given across the nine countries affected by the nutrition crisis because children from distressed communities are dropping out of school.

Vaccination campaigns must be conducted to prevent epidemics. So far this year, more than 6 million children have been vaccinated against measles and more than 9 million have received a treated bed net to reduce the risk of malaria. Measures need to be put in place before the rains to prevent outbreaks of cholera. The disease is endemic in many areas affected by the crisis.
The United Nations says about 18 million people are affected by a drought and food crisis in the nine countries. In December 2011 UNICEF warned that between 1 and 1.5 million children would need life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition and appealed for US$119.5 million.

With the outbreak of fighting in Mali, the agency asked for US$19 million to meet immediate needs for those displaced in the country and the refugees in Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Reflecting the need for a fully integrated response, the new total requirements for UNICEF of US$238 million for 2012 takes into account the need for the nutrition crisis, the Mali emergency and responding to the threat of cholera and other epidemics.
Note to Editors

The Sahel nutrition crisis and UNICEF’s emergency response covers the entire territories of Burkina Faso, Gambia (which was included earlier this year), Mali, Mauritania and Niger; the Sahel belt of Chad and the northern regions of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, UNICEF saves children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. UNICEF’s global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make it an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.
 

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.