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Myanmar, North Korea and Philippines are Focus of UNICEF 2015 Appeal

FILE - The UNICEF logo is pictured on a building in Geneva.
FILE - The UNICEF logo is pictured on a building in Geneva.

The United Nations Childrens' Fund says nearly a quarter of a million children in several states in Myanmar remain in need of humanitarian support. UNICEF says Myanmar, also known as Burma, is among its regional priorities in 2015, part of the U.N. organization’s largest-ever funding appeal.

North Korea and the Philippines are also funding priorities in Asia this year for the group.

In Myanmar, the goal is to raise $25 million to expand assistance to children under the age of five with severe acute malnutrition.

UNICEF said protracted emergencies in Kachin, northern Shan and Rakhine states have placed more than 240,000 children in need of humanitarian support.

Rakhine has been affected for more than two years by inter-communal violence - with the Muslim Rohingya suffering worst. Getting access to the area and working there has posed a challenge for aid organizations.

Carmen van Heese, UNICEF's emergency advisor for the East Asia-Pacific region, stressed that the group is a neutral party and only wants to provide aid.

“We have, at times, on various sites of the communities, challenges on access because emotions run high. We need to remind everyone we are there providing life-saving support. We do not take sides,” said van Heese.

Van Heese said $18 million is needed for assistance to reclusive North Korea, partly to replenish pre-positioned emergency stocks for up to 100,000 people who may be affected by recurring floods.

“In flooding situations everything, of course, in DPRK (North Korea) is very much led by the government. But you need to continue to look for the avenues and the dialogue by which we can deliver this life-saving support that we as an organization commit ourselves to provide to children. And we are happy that there are fortunately also still some other agencies that are doing the same thing. So we do this also in a joint fashion,” said van Heese.

UNICEF’s appeal said life-saving humanitarian assistance continues to be a critical need for North Korea specifically for nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene and education.

According to UNICEF, some regions are still struggling to recover in the Philippines, which has been hit by a series of natural disasters, including super typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

The organization said children are still affected by decades of conflict in Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Together, those concerns have UNICEF looking to raise $11 million this year for the Philippines to prevent child morbidity and mortality, allow children access to education and to protect them from violence.

This is all part of a global appeal totaling $3.1 billion, the largest ever by UNICEF and a $1 billion jump in funding needs since last year. The organization says the money will be used to assist 62 million children in target countries.