UNICEF has released the Humanitarian Action for Children Report 2011 today, requesting £872 million (US$1.4 billion) in its annual appeal to donors to assist children and women caught in the throes of crises. This year's appeal highlights 32 countries and emphasises the increasing importance of strengthening the resilience of communities.

"Investing in children and building the resilience of countries and communities living on the edge not only shortens their road to recovery, but also helps them to manage anticipated risks before a crisis strikes and to mitigate loss when it does," said UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Hilde Johnson.

The world witnessed devastating humanitarian crises in 2010: flooding in Pakistan submerged one-fifth of the country; the earthquake in Haiti claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced millions; the drought and lack of food in the northern part of Africa continues to threaten hundreds of thousands of children with severe acute malnutrition.  

The unprecedented scale of the disasters in Haiti and Pakistan in 2010 triggered an extraordinary global response from all humanitarian organisations and partners. Yet it also underscored the need to strengthen preparedness and reduce risk in the communities that are hit repeatedly by crisis. Giving vulnerable communities the skills to face and withstand risk is an increasingly important aspect of humanitarian action, to which UNICEF is deeply committed.

UNICEF's Humanitarian Action for Children Report 2011 presents crises that require exceptional support. It shows where urgent action is necessary to save lives, to protect children against the worst forms of violence and abuse, and to ensure access to basic services, such as water and sanitation, health, nutrition and education.

"After a year of devastating natural disaster and human tragedy, it has never been timelier to strengthen the resilience of people and communities who are placed in harm's way again and again," said Johnson.

A boy steps on cinderblocks to avoid floodwater as he leaves class © UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2203crop/Olivier Asselin
A boy steps on cinderblocks to avoid floodwater as he leaves class at Avedji Primary School in Avedji Village, Benin.© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2203crop/Olivier Asselin