Today is the International Day of Peace, established by the United Nations to help strengthen the ideals of peace around the world. But did you know that UNICEF actually considers children “zones of peace”? This idea of putting children above the political fray led to UNICEF’s groundbreaking work negotiating ceasefires for humanitarian work. The first of these took place in El Salvador in 1985, when then-UNICEF Executive Director James Grant negotiated three “days of tranquility.”
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This Sunday is a very special day for us here at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. It’s World Humanitarian Day–a day that honors humanitarian workers around the world, created in memory of the 22 UN staff members who died in the 2003 bombing of UN headquarters in Iraq. But WHD is also a day to honor all people who help others. And that’s where everyone can get involved. In the spirit of this special day, the UN and Beyoncé (yes, that Beyoncé), along with other global organizations, are asking everyone to do two things: Do something good for someone somewhere, and inspire the world to do the same.
Famine was declared in the East Africa in July, creating an acute child survival crisis for those caught in the drought-affected regions. My inbox was host to unimaginable updates from colleagues based in Nairobi, Mogadishu and Addis Ababa. Veteran UNICEF staff members who had experiened decades of manmade and natural disasters were reduced to tears when recounting the children and conditions they were witnessing.
It is clear that painful cuts are coming in a variety of Federal programs. In the face of this crisis, a diverse coalition of over 40 leaders of international and domestic non-governmental organizations, including President and CEO Caryl M. Stern of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, is calling upon the Administration and Congressional Leadership to protect international and domestic programs that benefit poor and vulnerable families and children from deep budget cuts.
UNICEF and its partners have the resources and personnel on the ground to provide rapid relief to the tens of thousands of people who have been displaced by the fighting in Sudan. All that is needed is that the military forces currently blocking their path allow them to do so.