The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today asked donors for $856 million to assist children and women who are victims of emergencies, ranging from the conflicts in Chad and Kenya to flood-hit areas such as Mozambique.Launching its Humanitarian Action Report 2008 in Geneva today, the agency said the funds will be used to provide urgent assistance in health, education and nutrition.In Kenya, some 150,000 children are among the 300,000 people who were forced from their homes, while in Chad, an estimated 30,000 of the 52,000 who have been driven from the country are vulnerable and urgently need help.“In both these conflicts, and in the 37 other crises described in this report, children and women continue to bear the brunt of conflict and displacement,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde Johnson told a press briefing in Geneva.Funding is also being sought for humanitarian activities in Sudan, especially the strife-torn Darfur region, home to 2.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). UNICEF-supported programmes in Sudan, totalling over $150 million, aim to boost health, nutrition and education, increase access to safe water and sanitation, and promote child protection and mine action. In West Africa, nearly 1 million people are currently displaced by conflict and young children face the risk of under-nutrition. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), more than half of the deaths of young children are attributed to malnutrition. UNICEF is requesting $106 million to help Congolese children.“We must make sure that children and women are protected as much as possible from these atrocities, and that those responsible for these crimes are eventually brought to justice,” Ms. Johnson stressed. Last year, thanks to an increase in the contributions received from new funding mechanisms such as the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), 52 per cent of UNICEF’s requested emergency funds were received. The agency today said it hopes donors and other partners will help increase the efficiency of disaster preparedness and response. Steve Adkisson, who represented UNICEF in Chad from 2004 to 2007, said financing up front can save costs in the long run. “If the funding does not come in a consistent and timely manner, goods need to be delivered by air rather than by road,” he noted. And each time that happens, “more funding goes to the delivery of the goods.” 12 February 2008The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today asked donors for $856 million to assist children and women who are victims of emergencies, ranging from the conflicts in Chad and Kenya to flood-hit areas such as Mozambique.