Amid multiple crises UN children’s agency deploys largest aid operation ever in a single month

A jumbo jet being loaded by UNICEF with supplies in Copenhangen, Denmark. Photo: UNICEF

26 August 2014 – This August the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shipped 1,000 metric tonnes of life-saving supplies for children caught in the world’s most urgent crises -- the largest emergency supply operation in the organization’s history in a single month.

“UNICEF’s massive deployment responds to a massive need in many different countries at the same time,” said Shanelle Hall, UNICEF’s Director of supply and logistics operations in a statement today. “Now it is vital to keep humanitarian corridors open so these supplies continue to reach the children who desperately need them.”

Ms. Hall added that kids are facing a lot of crises in the world and that they are under a lot of stress. Foreseeing the need to ramp up the response to conflict in Iraq and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, UNICEF had secured as many chartered flights as possible for August. In 27 days, the organization’s Copenhagen supply hub has dispatched 33 emergency cargo loads to the world’s most troubled regions. The total amount of aid delivered would fill 19 cargo jumbo jets and has primarily gone to six countries.

For instance, Central African Republic has received 26 metric tonnes in medical equipment, vaccines, emergency food rations and hardware to dig water wells. Among essential medicines, anti-malarial supplies have been critical in protecting children from the country’s leading cause of death.

UNICEF also delivered 500 metric tonnes of emergency food rations, water, medical supplies, tents, and ready-to-use therapeutic food to Iraq’s displaced families and children in the northwest. UNICEF’s dispatch of 4 million doses of polio vaccine will protect children’s health in the wake of the re-emergence of the disease due to the breakdown of health systems in neighbouring Syria, Ms. Hall said.

Liberia’s effort to contain the Ebola outbreak has been strengthened by 248 metric tonnes of supplies from UNICEF such as latex gloves, safety goggles, and overalls to protect health workers, concentrated chlorine disinfectant and a range of essential medicines.

Meanwhile, Gaza has received nearly 3.5 metric tonnes in supplies, mostly in the form of essential medicines to restock hospitals and health facilities that have been damaged in the conflict. UNICEF has also supplied vaccines which are essential to protect children who become especially vulnerable during massive population displacements.

In South Sudan, UNICEF provided 34 metric tonnes of nutritional support and supplies, including ready-to-use therapeutic foods for vulnerable children, 50,000 of whom are at risk of dying from malnutrition. Nearly one million children under five years old in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition this year.

In Syria, Ms. Hall said in August the Children’s Fund delivered 89 metric tonnes of water purification tablets and education kits. UNICEF is also bringing in over 156 metric tonnes of health, education, and water supplies for displaced Syrian families in Lebanon and Jordan. Preparation for winter is underway as UNICEF stockpiles children’s winter clothing sourced from local suppliers in the region.

“During multiple crises of this magnitude children must come first. UNICEF is committed to staying the course. As long as children are in need we will continue to undertake these urgent, complex and vast supply operations,” said Ms. Hall.


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