UNICEF has called for billions in donations in its biggest appeal to date. The Non-Profit-Organization urgently needs funds as the number of children affected by conflicts and natural disasters rises.
UNICEF on Tuesday launched its 2019 donation appeal, calling for an extra €3.4 billion ($3.9 billion) to support its programs around the world. The aid would be for 41 million children, over 80 percent of whom are believed to be living in conflict zones without protection.
In Yemen alone, 6.6 million children were in need of aid, UNICEF said. A further four million children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 5.5 million in Syria were suffering the mental and physical consequences of conflict.
Data published last December revealed that half of all Syrian children have grown up only knowing war.
UNICEF is a United Nations organization with a presence in 59 countries. Children in conflict zones needed access to drinking water, food, medical attention, education and shelter, UNICEF said in its appeal.
Scars of war
Executive Director Henriette Fore said the impact of UNICEF's programs could not be underestimated: "If children don't have a safe place to play, if they're not reunited with their families, if they're not given psychological help, the invisible scars of war will never heal," she said.
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Adolescents were also at risk of trauma and "toxic stress" UNICEF said, adding that the longer children were exposed to violence and conflict, the greater the impact on cognitive, social and emotional development would be. Such problems were lifelong and would require special medication and psychological help.