The UN children’s agency Monday appealed for $2.5 billion in new funds for 39 million children in the Middle East and North Africa affected by war, poverty and the coronavirus pandemic.
“The region is home to the highest number of children in need in the world,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“This is largely due to man-made crises including armed conflicts, poverty and economic stagnation.”
He said the latest appeal “aims to reach children with critical humanitarian assistance and continue responding to the massive needs emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Children are most in need in war-torn Yemen, in and outside conflict-wracked Syria, and in Sudan, UNICEF said in a statement.
In Yemen, 12 million children, or almost every child, need assistance after five years of conflict, it said.
In Syria, 4.8 million children need aid after a civil war killed more than 380,000 people, displaced millions and ravaged the economy.
A further 2.5 million live as refugees in neighboring countries after their parents fled the almost ten-year conflict.
In Sudan, 5.3 million children need aid because of unprecedented floods, an economic crisis and a sweeping political transition from autocratic rule toward democracy.
In Lebanon, 1.9 million children now rely on assistance as the economy has plummeted and following a massive explosion in Beirut that killed more than 200 people and ravaged large parts of the capital in August.
Most funds requested in UNICEF’s appeal would go towards supporting children’s education, while the rest would ensure access to water, sanitation, healthcare and nutrition, and mental health support, it said.
“We hear of fatigue to fund long-term crises like in Yemen and Syria,” Chaiban said.
But he stressed that “the world cannot turn a blind eye to the needs of children impacted by two of the most horrific conflicts in recent history”.