The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) yesterday appealed for a record $2.5 billion in urgent funding to provide life-saving aid to 39 million children in the Middle East and North Africa during 2021.
UNICEF said in a statement that the amount "includes an increase of nearly US$ 500 million to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic amid a surge in cases across the region."
"The region is home to the highest number of children in need in the world. This is largely due to man-made crises including armed conflicts, poverty and economic stagnation," said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa. "This appeal aims to reach children with critical humanitarian assistance and continue responding to the massive needs emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.
According to the statement, the largest share of this appeal will be allocated to respond to the crises in Yemen, Syria and Sudan.
"Ten years into the war in Syria, one of the longest and most brutal wars in recent times, 4.8 million children are in need of assistance. In neighbouring countries, 2.5 million children are Syrian refugees. In Yemen, 12 million children or almost every child in the war-torn country is in need of assistance. In Sudan, 5.3 million children face a multitude of challenges including due to floods believed to be the harshest in the past century, political transition and an economic crisis," the statement said.
"We hear of fatigue to fund long term crises like in Yemen and Syria. The solution to these conflicts is through a political track and a diplomatic process. Until a solution is reached, the world cannot turn a blind eye to the needs of children impacted by two of the most horrific conflicts in recent history," Chaiban was quoted as saying.
The largest portion of the requested funds will be allocated to support children's education followed by water, sanitation, health and nutrition and pyscho-social support to address mental health.