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UNICEF committed to meeting most urgent life-saving needs in Sudan following suspension of key partners


NEW YORK, March 16, 2009 — UNICEF is working urgently with government and remaining non-governmental partners to address immediate gaps in the provision of life-saving services to children, following the suspension of 16 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the Government of Sudan.

While a full assessment of the impact on women and children is continuing, UNICEF has already warned that critical programs such as clean water, sanitation, health care and nutrition for hundreds of thousands of children will be affected. The biggest impact will be in Darfur, where an estimated 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes over the last four years - half of whom are children - and where the suspended NGOs were key partners in the provision of life-saving services.

Any disruption to health services and food distribution could exacerbate malnutrition levels among children, particularly with the approaching hunger gap season, which starts in April. The annual flood season starts in May, and preparedness activities to prevent and minimize cholera outbreaks and response capacity are likely to be severely hampered with the departure of NGOs.

UNICEF, alongside other UN agencies, is taking immediate steps to ensure that basic services are met wherever possible for the coming weeks, but does not have the capacity or resources to implement all of the programs in the long-term that would have been provided by the suspended organizations, and continues to advocate for their immediate return.

UNICEF has estimated that it will require $23 million to sustain the most critical humanitarian needs through June 2009 in areas affected by the suspension of the 16 NGOs.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information:

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