The UN is predicting that by the end of this year almost 10million people in Iraq will be in urgent need of help... Already, 1.3million children have been torn from their homes and more than three million do not have access to quality education. Children face danger on a daily basis and have witnessed unspeakable cruelties. Girls have fallen victim to enslavement and sexual violence. Children have been used as suicide bombers and as human shields. Most are living without physical protection, psychosocial support, and basic services.
Children and new born babies have been hit hardest. We estimate that the lives of almost 18,000 mothers and babies could be at risk, unless urgent action is taken to restore healthcare systems. In addition, the latest statistics show that around twelve babies are being born every hour without access to basic healthcare.
This year the world has the opportunity to keep more children safe. Together we can help children realise their rights, fulfil their potential and protect them from violence and danger. How the world looks tomorrow is dependent on how children grow up today - and the time to act is now, we haven't a moment to lose.
The well of pain runs deep in many parts of Africa, and yet it is young people who offer the best chance for true conflict resolution, and lasting peace. Conflict-affected youth are often the most ambitious, the hardest workers. They want back what was taken from them: opportunity. They want an education and they want to earn a livable wage.
This time last year I travelled to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon to see how Unicef, the world's leading children's organisation, is keeping Syrian children safe and warm as the temperatures plummet. Nothing could have prepared me for the heartbreaking situation I encountered; the conditions for families living in these informal camps were just horrendous. It's not somewhere that anyone should have to call a home, especially not a child. The over-crowded and unsanitary conditions need just one storm to set off a terrible chain reaction. The cold weather already makes children susceptible to respiratory infections like pneumonia.
In a country where young people make up a significant proportion of the available labour force, yet unemployment rates for 20 to 24yearolds have been estimated to be as much as five times greater than those for older adults, Building Young Futures works hard to support hard to reach people in places where there are few jobs or prospects for the bulging youth population. What's the alternative?