The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
A record 168 million people worldwide will need help and protection in crises spanning more than 50 countries in 2020, the UN’s emergency relief chief stated recently, highlighting the plight of the helpless.
Sadly, that represents about one person in 45 on the planet. It is the highest figure in decades. Climatic shocks, large infectious disease outbreaks and intensifying, protracted conflicts, have resulted in global needs increasing by some 22 million people in the past year, as Mark Lowcock underscored in Geneva during the launch of the UN humanitarian affairs coordination office’s (OCHA) Global Humanitarian Overview.
Another disturbing trend is that armed conflicts are killing and maiming a record number of children. More than 12,000 were killed or maimed in conflict in 2018, and 2019 has been worse. Women and girls were at higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence than in the past, and one in five people living in conflict areas has a mental health condition.
More communities had been affected by conflict and yet more were affected by climate change-related events than we had projected, as Lowcock pointed out, in reference to more frequent drought, flooding and tropical cyclones that tend to disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable.
The UN Children’s Fund UNICEF too released its $4.2 billion 2020 emergency appeal recently to reach 59 million children with life-saving support in 64 countries across the globe.
Children have become frontline targets, resulting in death, serious injury and lasting trauma. Humanitarian emergencies also deprive children of health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and other basic needs.
All these go to prove that the world community needs to do much more to address the serious issue.
Benevolent UAE, on its part, has always been in the forefront when it comes to extending humanitarian help. For the fourth time over the past five years, the country spent more on aid to develop other countries than any other nation on earth compared to its wealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had pointed out.
According to data published by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, the UAE spent as much as Dhs14.55 billion, which is 1.03 per cent of its Gross National Income, GNI, in development assistance in 2017. The achievements made across multiple domains undoubtedly translate the humanitarian vision of the UAE wise leadership and their keenness to stand by sisterly and friendly countries in times of need.
The nation’s commitment to philanthropy and humanitarian assistance is total and inspirational. The founding father of the nation, late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, once stated: “We believe that the benefit of the fortune granted to us by God should spread to cover our brothers and friends.”
The UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, gives volunteer work a significant consideration in its national strategies to promote values of charity, giving and generosity and encourages volunteer initiatives. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC, recently highlighted the challenges facing volunteer work and volunteers, especially in areas of armed conflicts while noting that dozens of humanitarian volunteers and workers are killed on an annual basis while performing their sacred duties.
As he rightly stated, the world needs to thank and appreciate the millions of volunteers around the world, especially the recruits of the International Red Cross and Emirates Red Crescent.
With classrooms closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UN agencies fear that 370 million children worldwide who depend on school meals will suffer devastating nutritional and health consequences and the matter is too serious to be ignored.
A child is an uncut diamond, once wrote Austin O’Malley. Children are precious and deserve peace, protection and encouragement at all times. However, the reality on the ground, especially at conflict zones, reflects a grim scenario for millions of children.
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