Jan 12, 2021

Update: Supporting Child Migrants and Refugees


Dear Friend, 

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a critical threat to children on the move. Across the globe, the lives of children and their families have been turned upside down by the rapid spread of coronavirus. In just a few short months, whole countries have found themselves largely confined to their homes in a bid to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus and potentially lethal COVID-19. But millions of displaced children across the world are denied such basic protections –a home to isolate in, the chance to stay physically distant, or even just the facilities to wash their hands with soap and water. Many live in cramped conditions with limited access to safe water and clean toilets; others are in immigration detention or “left behind,” live with disabilities; are unaccompanied or separated from their families; and lots will struggle to access accurate information in a language they understand.

Displaced children – refugees, migrants or those internally displaced –are already amongst the most world’s most vulnerable, driven from their homes and all they knew and held dear by conflict, disaster, drought, lack of food or grinding poverty. Millions of children and their families live in overcrowded camps, settlements and urban slums where even basic water and sanitation facilities are absent. Access to free or affordable healthcare and other essential services is limited or unavailable, and many families rely on precarious daily wages and informal work to survive. Too often cut off from education, displaced children and their families are often already the hardest to reach with accurate and child-friendly information in a language they understand –and without the protection of school, children and women face increased risk of exploitation, abuse and early marriage. Tragically, misinformation on COVID-19 can exacerbate the xenophobia and discrimination that migrant and displaced children and their families already face. If the virus takes hold in those communities least able to protect themselves, as seems imminent, the impacts on vulnerable children and their families will devastating, both now and in the longer term.

Today, there are 31 million children who have been uprooted from their homes, including over 17 million internally displaced, 12.7 million refugees and 1.1 million asylum seekers. All of them need some form of assistance. Most of them do not have the luxury of calling a doctor when sick, of washing their hands whenever they need to, or of practicing physical distancing to stop disease transmission.

UNICEF is working with partners to prevent the spread of the disease among refugee, migrant and displaced populations. This includes promoting hygiene practices that help prevent transmission in shelters, camps and other accommodation sites. It includes developing accurate, child friendly information on COVID-19 and materials to fight stigma and promote positive parenting. It also includes distributing hygiene supplies and providing access to water.

In Italy, UNICEF is working to reach young migrants and refugees. Those outside formal systems remain particularly vulnerable with limited access to health care, health information and support services. UNICEF is supporting outreach teams who provide vital health screenings, distribute hygiene supplies and share information to vulnerable children and families living in informal settlements. UNICEF is also reaching young refugees and migrants with vital health information through U-Report on the Move and Facebook Live sessions. UNICEF has procured critical supplies including personal protection equipment and hygiene kits for health staff and social workers. In addition, UNICEF has supported remote counselling and psychological support for refugees and migrants, over the phone or online. This support extends to guardians and foster care families who need support and stress management.

In Mexico, UNICEF is working to address the specific needs of at least 251,000 people in border areas, routes and transit points, in communities of origin and return, and at final destinations. UNICEF is working so that the most vulnerable children, families and communities are protected from exposure to and the impacts of COVID-19. UNICEF is working to ensure migrant children’s safe return to school; nutritional support during an increasingly vulnerable time; and the provision of sanitation and hygiene services and supplies. UNICEF is also working to provide psychosocial support to support the mental wellbeing of migrant children who have been through harrowing journeys.

In Kenya, UNICEF is working to ensure refugee children continue their education. Many children are at high risk of dropping out of school due to COVID-19 and the sudden school closures, not returning once their school re-opens. UNICEF is committed to helping refugee children continue their education. UNICEF has worked to connect these children with radios so they can complete radio classes while social distancing and remaining safe. UNICEF has also worked to contain the spread of COVID-19 in crowded camps and to ensure refugee populations have the right information when it comes to public health.

UNICEF works around the world to help protect the rights of migrant and displaced children. UNICEF is providing life-saving humanitarian supplies in refugee camps. UNICEF is running child-friendly spaces – safe places where children on the move can play, where mothers can rest and feed their babies in private, where separated families can reunite. In addition, UNICEF supports national and local governments to put in place laws, policies, systems and services that are inclusive of all children and address the specific needs of migrant and displaced children, helping them thrive. And at this critical moment, UNICEF is working to protect refugee and migrant children from the global pandemic and its socioeconomic impacts.

Thanks to your support, this important work to ensure every refugee and migrant child’s fair chance in life can continue.

On behalf of every child, thank you.

Nov 13, 2020

UNICEF Leading the Procurement of COVID-19 Vaccine


Dear Friend,

While UNICEF continues to implement programs to keep children and their families safe and supported throughout the pandemic, we are also leading efforts to procure and supply COVID-19 vaccines for 92 low-and lower middle-income countries.

As the largest vaccine buyer in the world, UNICEF is leveraging its unique experience to work with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of vaccine doses as well as freight, logistics and storage of COVID-19 vaccines. The organization will lean into its decades of work in immunizations to ensure swift, equitable access once vaccines are available: mapping cold chain equipment capacity, developing advance purchase agreements, advising governments on immunization policy, building trust in vaccination and demand for forthcoming COVID-19 vaccines.

As details continue to be developed and refined, UNICEF’s decades of expertise in procuring vaccines and supplies and delivering health programs, as well as insights gained from the COVID-19 response across the world, will provide a clear roadmap of what will be required to support a swift, effective and equitable global response. That said, UNICEF is undertaking the following work to set the world up for success as it moves forward with a potential rollout of a vaccine:

  • Pre-positioning of over 520 million syringes and 5.2 million safety boxes to fill supply gaps in the most vulnerable communities around the globe;
  • Purchase  nearly 92,000 vaccine fridges, cold boxes and vaccine carriers;
  • Provide 16 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep healthcare workers safe;
  • Support for temperature-controlled freight, ground logistics, and warehousing;
  • 10 million surge stocks of diagnostic test and treatments; and
  • Provide healthcare worker training in hundreds of languages to 215 million healthcare workers

Thanks to your support, UNICEF will be able to mitigate the negative consequences of COVID-19 and work with partners to reimagine and develop a world that is a safer and more equitable place for communities and children everywhere.


Many Thanks,



Oct 20, 2020

Update: Mitigating Public Health Impacts of COVID

Dear Friend,

Seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the global number of cases per day continues to increase. As the pandemic endures, it perpetuates an unprecedented socioeconomic, humanitarian, and human rights crisis which is taking its toll on the most vulnerable worldwide. The pandemic has threatened hard-won gains to protect and advance children’s rights to adequate health, nutrition and education, and has the potential to cause irreversible damage to the social and emotional development of an entire generation.

The global COVID-19 pandemic is overstretching health systems, exacerbating deep inequities within countries and across regions, and causing children to face widespread disparities. Ninety percent of countries are experiencing a disruption in the ability to provide crucial healthcare services, leaving millions of children at risk of illness and death. Furthermore, due to the suspension of services and movement restrictions, there has been a decline in access to routine immunizations for mothers and children.

Before the pandemic, UNICEF reached approximately 45 percent of the world’s children under the age of five with vaccines each year.As the search for an effective and safe vaccine for all countries ramps up, UNICEF is playing a critical role in preparing for what could be the largest, most rapid vaccination program the world has seen to date:

  • SCALE: UNICEF procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually, for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries, making it the largest single vaccine buyer in the world,
  • EXPERTISE: UNICEF is the main procurement partner of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance which over the last 20 years has reached more than more than 760 million children with life-saving vaccines, preventing more than 13 million deaths.
  • INFLUENCE: UNICEF has worked with the governments of nearly 100 countries in low- and lower middle-income countries to provide technical support and expertise to support their vaccination programs.
  • REACH: UNICEF has been working on health systems strengthening for the past 70 years, and understands the role of a grassroots, bottom up approach to support health outcomes at the community level.

 Your support of UNICEF’s emergency programs has helped ensure the systems are in place, should a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine become available. You have also helped protect children from other harmful diseases as the world grapples with the effects of the pandemic.

Due to your support, UNICEF will be able to support vulnerable populations in mitigating the negative consequences of COVID-19. As the pandemic continues, UNICEF is working with partners to reimagine and develop a world that is a safer and more equitable place for communities and children everywhere. Today, new technologies and avenues exist as global stakeholders aim to provide a vaccine for the disease. It is UNICEF’s goal to ensure that in a post-pandemic world, all children will be better off than before. In the words of UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, “What the world looks like for children and young people tomorrow is our collective responsibility today.”


In Partnership,

Whitney Simon

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