As G8 Prepare to Meet, UNICEF Urges Rich Nations to Increase Funding to Silent Emergencies
Midway through the year some of Africa’s most intractable emergencies are seriously under funded. Only two out of ten countries with recurring emergencies are on track to reach UNICEF funding targets, but most will barely make it half way. The five least funded recurring emergency countries in Africa are Angola (14 per cent), Liberia (18 per cent), Burundi (19 per cent), Guinea (20 per cent) and Eritrea (24 per cent).
“The worst funding gaps affect countries that are recovering from or in the midst of civil conflict. None of these countries are in the headlines, but their situations are dire and require urgent attention,” said Dan Toole, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes. “In every one of these countries women and children suffer first and suffer the longest.”
Liberia is striving to get back on its feet after ending a fifteen year civil conflict in 2003. An analysis of UNICEF emergency funding targets over the last five years concluded that Liberia has never broken the 50 percent mark. Over 11.8 thousand child soldiers have been disarmed in the last two years, but there is a chronic shortfall in funds to effectively reintegrate them to society. The most acute need is money for schooling. Over a half million children missed years of school because of the conflict. Accelerated learning programs are their best hope for a brighter future.
Sporadic fighting is continuing in Burundi despite attempted peace talks. The eight year conflict has led to the continued recruitment of child soldiers. Malnutrition among children hovers above fifty percent. Only half the country’s children are enrolled in school.
Guinea is suffering from the effects of neighbouring armed conflicts. Wars in Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone have spilled over into Guinea, forcing large numbers to flee their homes to inhabit under-resourced camps for the internally displaced.
“Natural disasters tend to be better funded than countries undermined by long standing civil unrest, but the exception to this rule is Eritrea,” added Toole.
Five years of widespread drought and crop failures have wracked Eritrea. Currently 2.3 million people are in need of food aid, including 300,000 pregnant women and children. Neighbouring Ethiopia is similarly drought affected. Over one hundred and fifty thousand children are severely malnourished, and almost half a million are suffering from some form of malnutrition. However, funding for Ethiopia has so far only reached 32 per cent of the target for this year.
Although rich in natural resources, the aftermath of Angola’s 27 year civil war continues to exact a heavy toll. Angola has the third worst child mortality rate in the world, almost one third of the country’s children are malnourished, and half the population has no access to safe drinking water. The recent outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus has only added to the country’s misery. Long-term investments over time are needed to bring the country out of extreme poverty.
The funding picture for the fairly recent, better reported crisis in Darfur is also bleak. Almost two million people have now fled their villages for camps that offer little protection from further attack. Disease and malnutrition continue to plague the displaced population, who have now missed two successive planting seasons. Despite making headlines around the world Darfur has only reached 30 per cent of its emergency target for this year.
Other African countries that have failed to meet 50 per cent of the target for emergency funding this year are Central African Republic (17 per cent), Congo-Brazzaville (7), Cote D’Ivoire (18), Malawi (0), Tanzania (16) and Uganda (48).
UNICEF welcomes the Group of Eight’s decision to cancel the debt of 14 African nations, noting that from the list of Africa’s recurring
emergencies, only Ethiopia and Uganda are among those that will have their debts forgiven. UNICEF also urges leaders of the G8 to consider increasing aid to African nations, particularly those that reel from emergency to emergency.