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UNICEF Calls 2005 'Year of Emergencies'

UNICEF Calls 2005 'Year of Emergencies' as Tsunami Anniversary Nears

New York, Nov 29 2005 7:00PM

The year 2005 has been an unprecedented year of emergencies for children, with an extraordinary series of natural disasters, food crises, and conflicts tearing at the fabric of life for tens of millions of people, according to a report by the United Nations Children's Fund released today.

In a preliminary one-year update on its recovery efforts in the tsunami zone, UNICEF said that from the dozen countries struck by the tsunami to the conflict zone of Darfur, from nutrition emergencies in Niger and Malawi to crop failures in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and from the devastating Atlantic hurricane season to the epic Pakistan earthquake, it had not responded to such an array of humanitarian emergencies in a single year in recent memory.

In its summary of its continuing effort to help rebuild children's lives in the tsunami zone, UNICEF said that while millions of people had been kept healthy and children were largely back in school, the real process of rebuilding is just beginning.

Despite progress, however, UNICEF said a long road remained for the victims of the tsunami.

But the tsunami was just the start of an unprecedented string of humanitarian crises, UNICEF noted. A day before the United Nations launches its annual "consolidated appeal" for countries in crisis, the children's agency said that an extraordinary series of natural disasters and conflicts throughout the year continue to endanger children's lives.

In Darfur, for example, one of the world's most complex and inaccessible territories, malnutrition is spreading to parts of the population largely unaffected until recently, and UNICEF is working to reach 1.5 million children caught in renewed conflict there.

In March, renewed fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo sparked a fresh crisis in a long-running conflict that has already claimed the lives of an estimated 3.5 million people, the vast majority of them children and women.

Throughout the year, drought and crop failures in Niger Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Malawi have left millions of children and women relying on international humanitarian aid.

In September Hurricane Katrina affected millions of people along large stretches of the US gulf coast, and in October hurricane Stan slammed into impoverished Central America, killing hundreds in Guatemala and El Salvador, displacing tens of thousands, and leaving close to 300,000 people reliant on international food aid.

And in early October, an estimated 3.3 million people in Pakistan, nearly half of whom were children, lost their homes, and at least 73,000 people were killed by an epic earthquake. An estimated 150,000 people remain above the snowline, and with snows now falling, the outlook appears bleak for those who remain isolated.

UNICEF said it would continue its work in the tsunami zone and all the other humanitarian emergency locales as long as it has funding.


ENDS

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