UNICEF released the Humanitarian Action for Children Report (HAR) 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 emphasizes 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 overpowering 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 parched earth and lack of food across the Sahel continues to threaten hundreds of thousands of children with severe acute malnutrition. 

These emergencies claim the headlines, but there are many more lesser-reported crises affecting the lives of children and families.

Around the world, drought, famine, violent conflict, and long-term displacement are a reality for millions of people. These humanitarian crises have dire consequences for children, among them recruitment into armed forces, sexual violence, and the loss of basic services such as water, health and education.

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 risk reduction in the communities that are hit repeatedly by crisis.  Granting vulnerable communities the skills to face and withstand risk is an increasingly important component of humanitarian action, and an area to which UNICEF is deeply committed.

In 2010, for example, UNICEF revised its Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action to uphold the rights of children and women in crises.  Key changes to the agency’s humanitarian policy now place a stronger emphasis on preparedness before the onset of a crisis, strengthening the link between humanitarian action and development, and highlighting the importance of disaster risk reduction.

UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children Report 2011 presents crises that require exceptional support. It shows where urgent action is imperative 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.

The 32* countries targeted in this appeal have been prioritised based on the scale of the crisis, the severity of its impact on children and women, the chronic or protracted nature of the crisis, and the potential to bring about life-saving and long lasting results.


Media Contact

Terry Ally, UNICEF London, Mobile: +44 (0)7714 721 701, terrya@unicef.org.uk

After hours, UNICEF London Media Team: +44 (0)20 7336 8922

Notes to Editor

1. Digital copies are available on request.

2. The launch of the 2011 Humanitarian Action for Children publication took place in Geneva on Monday 7 March 2011 at 0930GMT. 

Deputy Executive Director Hilde Frafjord Johnson launched the document with the participation of Ishmael Beah, UNICEF’s first Advocate for Children Affected by War. Ishmael, now a human rights spokesperson and best-selling author, was forcibly recruited into the war at age 13 in Sierra Leone. Two years later, with UNICEF's help, he was removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown. He spoke about the issues of resilience from his own experience and that of other children he has worked with. UNICEF Ethiopia Representative Ted Chaiban was also be present in Geneva to speak on behalf of children and women in crisis.

* Countries in this year’s HAR are:

Burkina Faso
Central African Republic
Côte d’Ivoire
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Iraq,Egypt,Jordan,Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Sri Lanka


UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights in more than 190 countries. As champion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works to help every child realise their full potential. Together with our partners, UNICEF delivers health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, while working with governments to ensure they deliver on their promise to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, governments, institutions and corporations, and is not funded by the UN budget. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.uk.