UNICEF announced its largest fundraising appeal in history, $3.1 billion, to provide assistance to 62 million children who are victims of armed conflicts, natural disasters, and infectious diseases. This latest appeal is a $1 billion increase over UNICEF’s 2014 appeal.
“A staggering 1 in 10 of the world’s children – or more than 230 million – currently live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts. Children have the right to grow up happy and safe, and should not have to fear that they will be targeted by combatants,” said Caryl Stern President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “I have seen firsthand the devastating impact that living in a conflict zone – without protection or access to water, medicine, food and school – can have on children.”
Annual fundraising appeals routinely rely heavily on the private sector, corporate partnerships and large philanthropic organizations to provide critical funding to help the world’s poorest. Today, 1 in 10 children are living in countries with armed conflicts including Syria, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Nigeria and Iraq. These conflicts cause children to be deprived of basic necessities like food, water, an education, and shelter. While UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories, there are certain hotspots where children need added assistance.
“I have just returned from Syria and Lebanon where millions of children have had their lives torn apart,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programs in a statement. “For the past four years, these children have been witnessing violence and death daily and have been missing out on the very basics in life. This appeal will help secure a future for not only the children of Syria but all children around the world who are impacted by humanitarian crises.”
Even though the need is great to help millions more children worldwide many American parents ask themselves why they should donate to children in countries besides their own given the challenges children face here.
“I don’t think we define children by their borders,” Stern said. “Even the poorest children in America have advantages over the poorest children in poor countries.”
Stern cites children here in the Unites States are born with birth certificates and citizenship. They are guaranteed an education because it’s every child’s right. And, no hospital will ever turn away a sick child despite his or her parents’ ability to pay. In low-income countries, especially where conflict, disease, and natural disasters are rife, children are routinely born without birth certificates making citizenship problematic. Health systems are weak making child mortality higher than necessary, and access to an education can be hit or miss for both girls and boys.
Despite that, Caryl Stern is convinced that the power of mothers can change the world. “I am a mom first,” Stern said. “Everybody who knows me knows I come to work with my mom hat. I really feel strongly that we need to enact the mom army.”
UNICEF says parents and families can get involved in helping assist children worldwide by donating to its Emergency Response Fund (90.2 cents goes directly to helping children), signing their petition to US leaders to continue their support of UNICEF, volunteering, and staying up-to-date on UNICEF news and announcements.
“I wanted to find a way to galvanize all of us,” Stern continued. “We can all afford to teach our children that we are our brother’s keeper.”
Read more about UNICEF’s $3.1 billion appeal at www.unicef.org/appeals.
Featured photo: UNICEF