We’re halfway through the year and the world has witnessed devastating emergencies and disasters impacting children living in all corners of the globe.
In the last six months, Kiwi generosity and regular donors have helped us to support children on the frontlines of war and natural disasters - from the South Pacific to Ukraine.
Let’s break it down:
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption:
79% of the Kingdom of Tonga’s population was impacted when the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcano erupted on 15 January. Within minutes, the volcanic eruption caused a tsunami devastating Tonga's largest island, Tongatapu, and flowed onto many of its low-lying islands.
The explosive eruption captured by satellite image impacted 85,000 people, 35,600 of whom were children.
In our previous stories about the disaster in Tonga, we heard from children like Moui-He-Kelesi Manase, 11 (boy, standing left) and his 15-year-old sister Paea-He-Lotu Manase.
“I felt scared. I cried as I was running, and I was trying to hold onto my mom,” says 11-year old Moui-He-Kelesi. “When we returned home, our fence was destroyed, the dishes in the house were all broken, and there were no clothes because the tsunami had taken it all.”
Thanks to UNICEF’s monthly donors we’ve been able to stockpile emergency supplies for the Pacific. This means we’re ready to immediately dispatch whenever a disaster hits. So, when we heard the news of the eruption in Tonga we packed 10 metric tonnes of supplies right away and had them shipped within 48 hours – with more on the way.
Our amazing donors helped us deliver more than 77 tonnes of emergency supplies to help families recover from the disaster as well as COVID-19.
60,000 people have received clean water, sanitation, and hygiene kits. While trauma and psychosocial support have been provided for 617 children and 391 parents in Tongatapu, Eua, and Ha‘apai.
UNICEF also partnered with celebrity chef Robert Oliver for the ‘To Tonga with Love’ campaign. This online auction raised more crucial funds to support Tonga’s long-term recovery.
Water & Sanitation in the Pacific
In Aotearoa, All Black legend Dan Carter successfully completed his Kickathon challenge at Eden Park in April. He converted an amazing 1,598 goal kicks over a grueling 24 hours. The event raised more than $500,000 in donations to provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for kids in the Pacific as part of a UNICEF Aotearoa and New Zealand Aid Programme initiative. Dan will travel to the Pacific later this year to see firsthand how the Kickathon donations are making a real impact on children and communities there.
We are also working in partnership with Rotary, supporting a huge rollout of lifesaving vaccines to children across the Pacific. This partnership means 300,000 vaccine doses will be delivered to kids on more than 330 islands over the next three years. So, we’ll be reaching children in some of the most remote islands in the Pacific making sure they have access to vital immunisations and preventable health care.
Munokoa waits with her baby grandson outside the clinic for vaccination in the Cook Islands.
War in Ukraine
On 24 February the world witnessed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Even now, fighting continues and intensifies each day. Throughout it all, UNICEF donors have opened their hearts and helped respond to the largest refugee crisis in Europe since WWII. There’s been so many stories of bravery and resilience from all the children caught in this horrible conflict.
Do you remember nine-year-old Viktoriia? She was featured in our ‘Letting kids be kids again’ story and is one of the thousands of children that have had to seek refuge in underground metro stations to shelter from explosions and shelling.
“The subway protects us against shelling and shrapnel, but if there’s a bomb it won’t be able to protect us. In the daytime, we have classes here, so I’m either doing that or playing with the cats or my friends. We find ways to have fun here. That’s the best thing about this place – my friends and the activities we can do,” Viktoriia says.
So far, generous Ukraine emergency donors have:
Distributed life-saving health and medical supplies for nearly 2.1M people.
Enabled access to safe water for over 2.5M people.
Reached over 900,000 children and caregivers with mental health and psychosocial support; over 57,000 children with specialised care through case management and referrals; and over 30,000 women and children with gender-based violence response services.
Provided learning supplies to nearly 290,000 children and engaged nearly 336,000 in formal and non-formal education.
Over 24,000 households have been reached so far with the UNICEF/ Ministry of Social Policy humanitarian cash assistance programme that helps household's struggling to provide the basics for their children during the war.
Horn of Africa food crisis
The war in Ukraine has set off food crisis alarm bells around the world, especially in countries that are heavily reliant on food exports from Ukraine and Russia. A region suffering from these export shortages while also in the middle of a severe and long drought season is the Horn of Africa. Here at least 10 million children are in danger of acute malnutrition also known as ‘wasting’. At UNICEF we set up an urgent appeal as the situation for kids is getting worse by the day.
UNICEF and partners are supporting an integrated response encompassing nutrition, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, disease prevention, and food security. We've done this through initiatives such as supporting drought-stricken communities to accessing safe water, launching 'Find & Treat' campaigns to empower mothers to know when and where to seek help, and future-proofing vulnerable communities so they're more self-sufficient.
UNICEF donors again stepped up and opened their hearts when a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit the East of Afghanistan in the early hours of 22 June. It left thousands of families and children injured and scrambling to find their loved ones under the wreckage of concrete rubble and mud left in the aftermath.
We were introduced to eight-year-old Halim who lost his home and many other relatives to the earthquake. He’s been sleeping and finding shelter under plastic sheets.
Within hours of the disaster, local UNICEF staff were able to dispatch 500 first aid kits and 45 acute watery diarrhea (AWD) kits. Lifesaving water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies have also been distributed as well as tents, blankets and warm clothes.
We may be halfway through the year, but for children growing up in emergencies and conflicts the past six months have felt like a lifetime.
Supporting millions of children around the world, often in remote and challenging situations is never easy and we couldn’t do it without the generosity of Aotearoa and regular donors who continue to support children in need. It means together we can continue to reach tamariki whenever and wherever they are. Becoming a regular donor allows us to pre-stock emergency supplies, so we are always ready whenever a disaster strikes. It also means we can stay on the ground for the long haul- moving from emergency response to investing in long-term solutions and sustainable change. It’s all about giving kids the best chance in life, no matter what.
Keen to take up the rest of the year as a Global Parent? More information can be found on our UNICEF Global Parent page.