The total number of children that die of preventable causes worldwide continues to decline, says the United Nations children’s agency, but such progress disguises a still-massive and intolerable death toll. At the current pace of progress, UNICEF has estimated, some 70 million children will die before turning 5 years old by 2030 from easily preventable causes.
The situation for the 20 million people at risk of famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria remains dire, warned the U.N.’s chief humanitarian. “Twenty million people remain at risk, and 10 million more could join them without sufficient funding and improved access,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Stephen O’Brien warned.
The months-long surge of Iraqi forces to retake Mosul continues to force people to flee the city and leaves 100,000 children trapped in the city in “extremely dangerous conditions,” warns UNICEF. Aid organizations are being overwhelmed by both the challenge of trying to reach suffering people within Mosul and providing basic needs to half the city’s population who has fled to outside refugee camps.
More than 300,000 children traveled alone as refugees or migrants in 2015 and 2016 – a fivefold increase from 2010 – UNICEF officials said today, reflecting a surge in the number of people fleeing conflict and poverty. UNICEF officials hope that the data will move the seven leading economies to adopt measures at the G7 Summit in Italy that would protect refugee and migrant children. Meanwhile, the U.S. is putting pressure on the Italian government to drop the topic of migration from the G7 meeting later this month.
There are now 1.4 million children facing acute malnutrition in Somalia, a 50 percent increase since the start of the year, according to UNICEF. The U.N. agency is concerned by what it calls the “triple threat of drought, disease and displacement” Somali children face.
The U.N. hosted a humanitarian pep rally in Geneva today, and raised $1.1 billion for Yemen. “Yemen today is experiencing a tragedy of immense proportions. Two years of conflict have devastated the lives of ordinary Yemenis,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the event. “We are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation. We must act now, to save lives.”
While the number of polio cases is at a historic low, new obstacles are delaying global eradication. The three remaining endemic countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan – are hampered by insecurity that makes it difficult to vaccinate all children against the disease.
Boko Haram is increasingly using children in suicide attacks in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The number of child bombers tripled in the first quarter of this year to 27 as compared to the same period last year, according to UNICEF.
A record number of children were killed in Syria last year, more than a third of them in or near a school, the U.N. children’s agency said ahead of the sixth anniversary of the war. More than 850 children were also recruited to fight – more than double the number in 2015 – with some used as executioners and suicide bombers, UNICEF said.
More children around the world are getting the measles vaccine. As a result, fewer are dying. Some 20.3 million lives were saved between 2000 and 2015 thanks to the vaccine, according to a new report from UNICEF.