UNICEF seeks $2bn humanitarian assistance for West, Central Africa

By Cecilia Ologunagba

 The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday appealed for nearly 2 billion dollars to provide lifesaving assistance to more than 24 million boys and girls across West and Central Africa in 2024.

It projected that 46.7 million children in the region would face another year of humanitarian need due to ongoing conflict in Central Sahel, Democratic Republic of Congo and displacements into Chad sparked by the war in Sudan.

“West and Central Africa is home to a large number of critically underfunded emergencies, and some of the most neglected humanitarian crises in the world for children,” UNICEF Regional Director, Felicité Tchibindat, said.

The 1.89 million dollar appeal aims to reach roughly 24.1 million children next year, up from 23.5 million in 2023.

Aid will include lifesaving nutrition supplies, clean water, education and child protection services, as well as humanitarian cash transfers for households.

More than a third of the funding will be used to address malnutrition, as the prevalence of wasting in children under five remains high.

The Sahel countries are most affected, with several areas of Burkina Faso, Mali and northwest Nigeria showing emergency levels of child wasting.

Meanwhile, the outgoing head of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has urged global leaders to heed scientific evidence on climate change and accelerate the shift to renewable energy sources.

Petteri Taalas, who ended his tenure as WMO Secretary-General on Friday, had assumed the post in 2016 and was at the helm of the UN agency over the warmest eight-year period in recorded history.

“The expertise and services of WMO and the scientific community have never been more necessary to tackle climate change, which represents humanity’s biggest challenge,” he said.

He issued a request to world leaders, saying “please pay attention to the scientific evidence and listen to the United Nations which is committed to promoting the welfare of citizens worldwide.”

Taalas hailed the agreement reached at the recent COP28 climate change conference in Dubai as historic because it recognised the need to transition from fossil fuels, marking a first.

“This is an important step in the right direction but not the final goal.

“We urgently need to reduce our production and consumption of fossil fuels and speed up the transition to renewable energy. Time is running out,” he said. (NAN)