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Jun 10, 2020

Update: Rohingya Refugee Crisis


Dear Friend,

Over two and half years after the initial influx began, nearly 855,000 Rohingya refugees remain in Cox’s Bazar District of Bangladesh, 54.2 percent of whom are children. Rohingya children continue to suffer from acute malnutrition as well as vaccine-preventable and water-borne diseases. Conditions are not yet in place for the safe, dignified and voluntary return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, and no feasible durable solutions have been identified. Consequently, time has begun to wear down families’ existing coping mechanisms, placing children increasingly at risk of early marriage, hazardous labor, trafficking and getting pulled out of school, among other concerns. These negative effects are compounded by COVID-19, which has been confirmed within Cox Bazar. 

Rohingya refugees remain fully dependent on humanitarian assistance, with relatively no access to livelihoods or cash assistance. Household vulnerability within the camps is increasing. In 2019, only 54 percent of households met an acceptable level of food consumption, with dietary diversity a key concern,  contributing to the continued serious levels of acute malnutrition among children. In 2019, 11 percent of children under five were acutely malnourished.

Within this humanitarian context, women, adolescents and people with disabilities are particularly affected. Women face restrictions on their freedom of movement as well as high levels of violence. Rohingya adolescents, meanwhile, face multi-faceted and interlinked issues, including access to adequate services, quality learning opportunities, sociocultural challenges including exposure to violence, sexual harassment and assault; and adverse social practices such as child marriage and child labor. Children with disabilities in the camps are often isolated, reducing their social network, inclusion and access to services.

Thanks to your support, in 2019, UNICEF and partners reached full coverage of access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for Rohingya children and their families within UNICEF-supported camps. Additional key results include:

  • The provision of over 339,160 primary health consultations in 2019, including nearly 156,250 consultations for children under the age of five;
  • Treatment for nearly 15,850 children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition;
  • The provision of learning opportunities to more than 219,760 Rohingya children aged 4 to 14;
  • Reaching 625 children with disabilities with education opportunities
  • Introduction of an integrated adolescent program which extended life and vocational skills opportunities to 52,572 adolescents aged 15 to 18 in camps and host communities;

Throughout 2020, UNICEF will provide girls, women, the elderly and people with disabilities with modified WASH infrastructure to meet their needs. Additionally, UNICEF and education partners will work to identify new and innovative solutions to ensuring that adolescent girls are able to realize their right to education including single-sex class shifts and female volunteers to escort them to and from classes. Inclusive education initiatives will also be scaled up, and all programs will focus on ensuring the integration of children with disabilities. Your continued support is crucial to enhancing UNICEF’s ability to efficiently scale up its response within the Rohingya refugee camps.


Whitney Simon


May 29, 2020

Update: Sharing Good News from Cote d'Ivoire!

Sylviane, a UNICEF engineer, on site at a build
Sylviane, a UNICEF engineer, on site at a build

Dear UNICEF Community,

We are happy to share some much-needed good news. Despite numerous challenges, including the outbreak of COVID-19, production of the first plastic bricks in Côte d'Ivoire has begun thanks to your support!

Together, UNICEF and Conceptos Plasticos built two latrines, two health storage unites, and 42 classrooms. Through these efforts, over 225 tons of plastic have been recycled and 2,100 children will now have access to safe, sustainable school facilitates.

In Gouékolo, in the West of Côte d’Ivoire, Sylviane, 34, supervises the construction of a plastic bricks school. As a construction engineer, Sylviane works with local companies and workers from the communities to ensure the quality of classroom construction meets the quality and safety standards for children and young people.

"I have 12 years of professional experience and this is the first time I have worked on such an innovative project. My main goal is to create a safe and favorable environment for children to learn." - explains Sylviane. Behind each classroom made of recycled plastic bricks, there is a dynamic group of construction companies, architectural firms, and young people, committed to making communities more child and environment friendly. "With this new construction material, we can build classrooms in few weeks rather than a few months which is normally the time it takes to build traditional classrooms with concrete blocks," she adds.

 "Since the beginning of the project, my team and I have helped to improve the learning conditions of over 3,000 children across Cote d’Ivoire and this is just the beginning!" - explains Sylviane enthusiastically. In Côte d'Ivoire, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education to provide quality learning spaces for all children, especially for primary and preschool children. This innovative UNICEF project also addresses many challenges affecting children’s learning environment.

"My biggest satisfaction is to see the amazement and joy of children, teachers and the community at each new rehabilitation or construction. I am also very happy to contribute to the success of this project, which is unique in Africa." - explains Sylviane.

The incredible progress already achieved by Sylviane, her team, UNICEF and Conceptos Plasticos would not have been possible without your support. While this is just the beginning, we thank you for being some of the first to support this critical work.


In Partnership,

Whitney Simon

Feb 28, 2020

Update: Curbing the Spread of Coronavirus

Five-year-old Yuanyuan, Wuhan China
Five-year-old Yuanyuan, Wuhan China

Dear Friend,

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is officially a public health emergency of international concern. The COVID-19 epidemic that originated in China has now spread to at least 28 countries and territories. Thanks to your support of UNICEF in emergencies, UNICEF is working with partners to help protect children and contribute to containing the virus.

The size and evolution of the outbreak and current knowledge on its ability to be transmitted through communities signals that the virus could still spread further within the region, despite the efforts by national authorities and the international community to contain it. While the virus has been spreading to other regions, the main burden remains in the East Asia and Pacific region. Urgent efforts are needed to contain the outbreak and to prepare health systems and communities to mitigate the impacts. The effect of a large-scale outbreak on children, especially poor and vulnerable children, can be immense— through disruption to education and health services, impacts on caregivers, and separation from family members.

Five-year-old Yuanyuan is from Wuhan in China, the epicenter of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease. Her parents and grandparents tested positive for COVID-19 and were admitted to a hospital. She was the only one in her family not infected with the virus and was left behind at home. Medical personnel in the hospital decided to look after the girl, and a volunteer helped keep her company. With tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases reported in Wuhan, the city has been under lockdown since 23 January as authorities work to contain the spread of the disease. Most of the city’s hotels were shut down, so the hospital vacated a room for Yuanyuan and the volunteer to live in. The hospital staff provided regular meals and some of the medical personnel taught Yuanyuan how to protect herself from the virus. Yuanyuan has been separated from her family for days but keeps a positive attitude. She follows the advice of the medical personnel looking after her to eat healthily, rest well and go outside for some sun. And with the help of the volunteer, Yuanyuan telephones her mother and cheers her up.

Given the global nature of the outbreak, UNICEF is engaging in preparedness activities and contingency planning for COVID-19 across regions in an effort to keep children such as Yuanyuan safe. UNICEF has also provided critical supplies - protective suits, masks, goggles, gloves - to protect health workers and minimize amplification of infection through health care-associated transmission. Thanks, in part, to your continued support, the first UNICEF personal protective equipment supplies were unloaded upon arrival from Denmark at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai in China on January 29, 2020. The first supplies were delivered weighing nearly six tons and including 97,221 masks and 10,861 protective suits for health workers in Wuhan. To date, a total of 187,221 masks, 28,861 protective suits, 12,000 protective goggles, and 1.2 million disposable gloves were delivered for use by health facilities and other local government departments directly supporting them, and there are thousands more goggles, protective suits and surgical gowns and gloves in the pipeline.

In addition to the provision of needed supplies, UNICEF is focusing on limiting human-to-human transmission and mitigating the impact of the outbreak on the health system and affected communities. This efforts include response or preparedness activities in countries around the world that:

  • facilitate risk communication and community engagement activities, including through community-based communication, mass media and social media;
  • ensure that children and pregnant and lactating women who are impacted by the outbreak are supported with adequate health care;
  • assess and curtail the secondary effects of the outbreak, including by facilitating continued access to education where schools may be closed or quarantines imposed and address protection needs, including through the provision of psychosocial support to those directly or indirectly affected.

Thank you for your continued support. This rapid response would not have been possible without your commitment to UNICEF’s work in emergencies and the wellbeing of children everywhere.


In Partnership,



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