UN children agency seeks $3.3 billion in support for 2017

The UN children's agency on Tuesday (January 31st) launched an appeal for $3.3 billion to help 48 million children caught up in crises worldwide, AFP reported.

Some 42% of the UNICEF appeal for 2017 -- $1.4 billion -- is earmarked to support Syrian children living in the country and as refugees across the borders in neighbouring states.

This year's appeal represents an increase of 18% from the initial 2016 request for funding.

The US is the largest single donor to UNICEF, followed by Germany, Britain and the European Commission.

Faced with rising humanitarian needs, notably from the wars in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, UN agencies have been requesting more funding, but the donor response often falls short.

"The impact on the ground of our appeals not being funded is children dying, children not going to school, children not being protected," UNICEF deputy executive director Justin Forsyth said.

Almost one in four of the world's children now lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster, according to UNICEF.

Aside from Syria, UNICEF's assistance in 2017 will be heavily focused on Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria - three countries ravaged by wars that have had a heavy toll on children.

UNICEF is struggling to ensure children caught up in conflict still have access to schools to avoid creating a lost generation of youths vulnerable to violent extremism.

"There are consequences, not just for the children," said Forsyth. "There are consequences for global and regional security by not investing in the needs of these children for education."

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