Dr Rajia Sharhan, UNICEF nutritionist screens children for malnutrition in Madaya in the Syrian Arab Republic. Learn more about Unicef's response for children in emergencies.

Our emergency response

When a disaster strikes

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In an emergency, children can lose everything

Today, children in places like Syria, South Sudan and Yemen are caught up in violent conflict, with millions forced to flee their homes.

Others, in countries such as Nepal and the Philippines, have seen their communities destroyed by natural disasters like earthquakes, typhoons and flooding.

Wherever and whenever children are caught up in emergencies, Unicef staff are on the ground, providing immediate, life-saving care and supplies, as well as lasting support to help families rebuild their lives.

Rapid response to long-term help

When a sudden disaster like an earthquake or a typhoon hits, our specialist staff work with governments and humanitarian partners to perform a rapid assessment of the situation and assess children’s immediate needs. This helps us understand the risks and vulnerabilities that children are facing, and what’s needed to save lives.

Even when disasters don’t hold the headlines for weeks, Unicef is there to protect children whose worlds have been turned upside down by conflict, drought or other natural disasters. We support them to cope with and recover from the impacts of a disaster.

When an earthquake hits a country like Nepal or Afghanistan, we look at the longer-term impacts of the quake on essential services that children need, like health and education.

In parallel, our staff on the ground ensure that families have access to nutritious food, and safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. When a disaster affects these things, which most of us take for granted, even more children are at risk.

Sanjay Maharjan, 5, smiles in UNICEF-supported tempoary learning center in Shree Rudrayanee Secondary School in Khokana

Five-year-old Sanjay could return to school quickly following the two devastating earthquakes in Nepal, thanks to this Unicef-supported temporary school.
Unicef Nepal/Karki

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In 2015, 22.6 million people got access to safe water as part of a Unicef emergency response

Life-saving supplies, wherever they’re needed

With permanent offices in more than 190 countries, we’re well placed to coordinate relief by road and air.

Our international supply division in Copenhagen and regional hubs in other parts of the world mean we can send out emergency aid supplies like water containers, nutrition supplements and mosquito nets, as well as essential education materials rapidly.

Watch: Reaching children with life-saving supplies after the Ecuador earthquake

Protecting children in emergencies

Beyond these life-saving supplies, Unicef offers safety and learning opportunities for children at protected child-friendly spaces and schools. We make sure children’s emotional and social well-being comes first in an emergency by providing psychosocial support.

In countries like South Sudan, where children have been caught up in conflict and even recruited as child soldiers, we work to release children from armed groups and help them reintegrate with their families and communities.

Syrian refugee Hakim and his sister, Amira, wrap themselves up in a Unicef-provided thermal grey blanket inside their family's tent in Iraq. Photo: Unicef/2014/Schermbrucker
I want to help Syrian refugees and displaced persons. I trust Unicef to administer donations efficiently.

Unicef UK supporter

Be part of our emergency response

You can help Unicef protect children as soon as it’s required, wherever in the world children need us most, by making a regular donation to our Children’s Emergency Fund.

As well as enabling us to reach children as soon as an emergency hits, your donations mean we can help families rebuild their lives for the long term, and improve conditions for children.

A family in Fiji collects emergency supplies after cyclone Winston tore through the islands in February 2016
Unicef Pacific/Sokhin

Help keep children safe when an emergency hits

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