Remember those little pumpkin-coloured, cardboard UNICEF boxes the kids would carry while trick-or-treating on Halloween? They always made UNICEF top-of-mind with Canadians at this time of year.
As part of the UN, UNICEF has literally been able to stop wars – at least temporarily – so that our teams could get to children in regions under conflict like Afghanistan, Bosnia and El Salvador, in order to vaccinate them against potentially deadly diseases. In a few cases, these “days of tranquility” have led to longer, stronger ceasefires and given warring factions enough pause to decide to come to the peace talks table.
As the world’s largest global purchaser of vaccines, every year we reach 45 percent of children under 5 with life-saving vaccines. We’ve got polio on the run – with the global number of polio cases reduced by 99.9 percent between 1988 and 2021. Two out of three types of wild polio virus have been eradicated, and in 2020, the Africa region was declared polio free. We’re on the cusp of wiping polio off the face of the earth, as was done with smallpox over three decades ago.
As of December 2020, 47 out of 59 countries identified as high risk for maternal and neonatal tetanus - a disease where newborn babies infected with tetanus would often die within days of birth - had fully eliminated the disease. Additionally, over 161 million women were immunized against tetanus between 1999 and December 2020, to protect them and their children.
In other countries we have worked with national governments to overhaul their education systems, get birth certificates for undocumented children and secure freedom for child soldiers from a life of forced combat and exploitation.
These successes underscore our core philosophy, which is “Right to a Childhood” because every child - everywhere - has the right to a childhood, and everything it entails. That means being there full-time, in over 190 countries, before, during and after disaster, conflict or famine strikes, using our status as part of the United Nations to work with national governments and bring about lasting change.
Amid the lengthy conflict in Syria, right now, UNICEF is helping to provide emergency medical care, vaccinations, clean water, psychological care and learning programs for millions of children in that country and refugees living in camps and shelters in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
Despite the successes worth celebrating, the need continues in the effort to provide resources and support for children in many hard-to-reach places. That's why in 2019, UNICEF Canada brought back our Halloween campaign - which we kept going, even through COVID-19 - so that children and families in Canada can share a fun activity in support of UNICEF's work and children everywhere.
So while you might not see any little orange boxes out this Halloween, the team at UNICEF Canada has come up with other fun ways to celebrate the spookiest of seasons - and do some good. To learn more about the UNICEF Canada Halloween Walk-a-thon, and how you can get involved, click here >>