The United Nations children’s fund UNICEF and Turkey made a joint appeal to the international community yesterday to raise $1.28 billion in humanitarian assistance in 2012 to help the millions of children affected by conflict and natural disasters.
UNICEF released a report to journalists detailing the assistance that 25 countries urgently need. Somalia
topped the list with a requirement of $289 million, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with $144 million, Sudan with $98.1 million and Pakistan with $88.9 million. About a third of the amount of the appeal is requested for humanitarian operations in the Horn of Africa. The report highlighted that the funding need for nutrition has increased by 47 percent from last year.
UNICEF officials also suggested the media and the international community ignored “silent emergencies” that threaten children affected by natural disasters and migration caused by political unrest. Countries in Turkey’s close neighborhood such as Georgia, Kyrgyzstan
and Tajikistan are in need of immediate assistance, they said.
“I am glad that Turkey has partnered us to speak up for the most vulnerable of people, the children, in many long-standing or sudden crises,” UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe
and the Commonwealth of Independent States Marie-Pierre Poirier told the press conference.
“Our region is one of the least supported for humanitarian action. Emergencies in our part of the world happen silently, far from the international headlines and are often overlooked by public opinion and donors, although hundreds of thousands of children are suffering from violence, continued displacement, and destruction,” she said.
Speaking at the same press conference, Health Minister Recep Akdağ reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment to humanitarian aid operations and pointed to a recent article in the British daily Guardian, whose headline read: “Only Turkey is showing solidarity with Somalia’s people,” and cited the country as an example for Europe
and the United States.
Appeal to Israel
In further remarks, Akdağ criticized Israel
for impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, stressing that Turkish medical supplies destined for the Palestinian enclave had been blocked for almost three months.
“I would not go into any political discussions like the minister of health. But preventing efforts to bring in medication and health supplies when there are people who need them is a crime against humanity. We will continue our efforts to bring health services to children and mothers in Gaza,” he stated.
The minister also gave a message against illegal abortions. “A child’s rights start in the womb. Legal precautions are not enough against the unregistered cases of abortions of unwanted pregnancies. Society must also have a conscious, ethic, moral and religious outlook on it,” he said.