From its establishment in 1946, to help children suffering in post-WWll Europe, to today being active in more than 190 countries. UNICEF’s John Daysh
There for children in need
By Roger Childs
Today is the 70th birthday of The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
The organisation is always ready to swing into action when disaster strikes or wars break out.
In 1946 its main area of activity was war-torn Western and Southern Europe, whereas today a huge operation is dealing with Syrian refugees. (see our November 30 story.)
Despite its name, UNICEF receives no funding from the United Nations, so is dependent on donations from governments, companies, trusts and individuals.
It is a non-political organisation and consequently can usually operate in very dangerous situations, because it doesn’t owe allegiance to any particular government or group.
The New Zealand branch of UNICEF has a number of well known ambassadors such as Sonny Bill Williams, Mike McRoberts, Roger Hall and Jo and Gareth Morgan.
As the name suggests, UNICEF becomes operational
- when there is an emergency resulting from a natural disaster or human conflict in some part of the world
- to work for families and especially children in need
- to provide services and infrastructure to ensure that recovery and rehabilitation is on-going.
One of the key principles in the work of the organisation is to make things better than before.
So that the response can be rapid in times of need, UNICEF has facilities and supplies all round the world. When disaster strike or war breaks out the organisation can quickly work with partners in the affected region to provide for children and their families.
The huge problems of refugees
In virtually all emergencies, thousands of people are uprooted from their homes and become dependent refugees. In Lebanon today here are over 1 million homeless people.
The needs of children vary according to the nature of the emergency, but a key focus is always WASH: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. However, in areas where there is drought or civil war, the greatest immediate need may be food. Starving children are a huge problem in these situations.
Plumpynut is specially formulated to give children who are badly under-nourished and unable to eat normally. This is a lipid-based nutritional supplement with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
UNICEF also works hard to provide safe areas for children to play, education and temporary housing.
The needs will continue
Over the years UNICEF has been active in battling famine in Africa, supporting children and their families after floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, and in areas where civil wars have forced people from their homes.
The organisation will never run out of work to do and needs all the donations it can get.
In the words of John Daysh: Currently 535 million children – nearly one in four – live in countries affected by conflict or disaster. These children continue to need our help and UNICEF continues to need your help.
(Leaving money in your will is one way of assisting UNICEF in its work. Contact Bequest Manager John Daysh to get more details: Freephone 0800 243 575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org )