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Pakistan will be a focus for UNICEF in 2011

UNICEF released its ‘Humanitarian Action for Children Report’ yesterday, with a request for $1.4 billion in its annual appeal to donors.

The report outlines the countries where the organization intends to focus its work in 2011. Following what it calls “the unprecedented scale” of the disasters in Pakistan and Haiti during 2010, UNICEF highlights the need for helping to strengthen these communities and prepare them to withstand risks in the future.

In Pakistan, over 20 million people were affected by the floods which submerged one fifth of the country. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, said he had witnessed hardship there “on a scale I have never seen before”. Following the devastation caused by the flooding, UNICEF intends to work alongside the Pakistani government and other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to respond to the continuing needs of over 18 million people, including 12 million children.

UNICEF estimates that with proper funding, safe water supplies can be provided to 5 million people, more than 11 million children under the age of five can be vaccinated against measles and interventions can help the health and nutritional wellbeing of 1.2 million children and 70,000 pregnant women. The organization is also looking to provide educational opportunities and child protection services to millions of children and women in flood-affected areas. To support this work in 2011, UNICEF is calling for the provision of 295 million dollars for Pakistan, which would account for one fifth of its overall funding request.

UNICEF’s intention to provide such a large amount of assistance to Pakistan comes days after the UK government also said the country would be a focus for its foreign aid spending. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) announced it would raise its aid to Pakistan from 215 million pounds in 2010/2011 to 267 million pounds in 2011/2012.

In addition, DFID announced that it will raise its annual contribution to UNICEF, which was assessed as one of nine organizations to have provided “very good value for the British tax payer”. Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development praised the work of UNICEF in raising standards of health and education among children. As part of its commitment to tackling problems such as child mortality, lack of education and HIV/AIDS, the UK’s annual contribution to UNICEF will double from 21 million pounds in 2010/11 to 40 million pounds the following year. However, the UK’s aid is not earmarked for specific projects and can therefore be used by UNICEF for “rapid responses…and delivering assistance on the ground”. The UK government also noted that UNICEF conducts programs where children suffer in conflict-ridden and fragile states and the UK is particularly looking to expand its foreign aid efforts to such countries.

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