Saturday, 4 February 2012


BRUSSELS, Feb 3 , 2012 (IPS) - If the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had 1.28 billion dollars it could help 97 million people around the world.

It could relieve five million drought-affected children in Ethiopia, give 360,000 children in Kenya access to quality education and treat 16,000 children for acute malnutrition in Madagascar. It could provide 2.2 million Somalis with safe drinking water and give a million children in the Republic of South Sudan basic health care. And those figures are for Eastern and Southern Africa alone, just two regions of the world that UNICEF aims to reach.

Sadly, the U.N. agency secured less than 50 percent of its funding in 2011, suggesting that it will meet only half its expected goals this year. Each January UNICEF releases its Humanitarian Action for Children report, which identifies children around the world in the most acute need of aid as a result of humanitarian emergencies – be they "natural disasters, human conflicts or chronic crises."

The report is rife with pictures of children clinging perilously to survival; high-resolution images depict the protruding ribcages of malnourished boys and girls and the harsh realities of whole populations that are slowly starving to death. Everything about the report is a desperate call for help. But help comes at a price, which, in this case, is a high one.

Released this year on Jan. 27, the appeal – 80 pages long and spanning 25 countries across seven regions – called for 1.28 billion dollars in aid, and breaks each country’s needs into categories such as nutrition, health, water sanitation and hygiene, education, child protection, HIV/AIDS and others.