Whatever it takes

It's been 10 years since we launched our Emergency Fund.
Thanks to your support, we've reached millions of children in their darkest hour.


Since we launched our Emergency Fund in 2006, the humanitarian landscape has changed dramatically. Crises are more frequent, last longer and affect more people.

There are now twice as many natural disasters as there were 20 years ago. Last year alone, almost 100 million people were caught up in disasters such as earthquakes and flooding.

Climate change is an increasingly dangerous catalyst for natural disasters, risking millions of children's lives every year.

On top of that, conflicts are lasting longer than ever before. And even when they stop, they're more likely to recur.

"Even now, months after I've left Greece, the relief of knowing we still have teams looking out for these children stays with me."

Kate O'Sullivan, who worked on our refugee response in Greece

More children affected

More people than ever have been forced to flee their homes – and the average length of displacement is now a staggering 17 years. This is enough time for a child to reach adulthood, without the stability or protection of ever having had a permanent home.

Be it an earthquake, a forgotten war or a high-profile refugee crisis, all emergencies have one thing in common – children are always the most vulnerable.

We do whatever it takes

The needs are huge, but so is our determination to reach every last child caught in crisis. We have the experience to limit the effects of disasters on children's lives – and our Emergency Fund is the key to unlocking this expertise.

Since its creation, your support for the Emergency Fund has helped us reach more than 11 million people around the world when they need us most.

Thanks to you, we've cared for more injured, hungry and distressed children than was even conceivable a decade ago.



After almost six years of relentless violence and horror for millions of children, Syria's civil war is now the worst humanitarian disaster of our time.

More than half of the country’s pre-war population have been forced to flee their homes – creating the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Families under siege

Recent airstrikes have consistently pounded cities such as Aleppo and Idlib, where hundreds of thousands of civilians
are trapped.
These families were already struggling to survive before the violence escalated. They couldn't get enough food or healthcare, and were denied access to education.

Then they were subjected to some of the most intense and sustained bombardments of the entire war, with schools and hospitals – buildings that should be places of safety – increasingly on the front line.

"I don't know why they bomb the schools. They don't want us to learn and become doctors and lawyers."

Rami's school was bombed. But now, thanks to your donations, he attends a Save the Children supported school in northern Syria.

We're still there

The situation for Syria's children is appalling – but, thanks to you, they have not been abandoned.

Our partners are working in unimaginably tough conditions to save children’s lives every day.

They have distributed thousands of food baskets, helped schools to keep running, repaired water systems and provided psychological support for children traumatised by bombing and life under siege.

Doctors are treating patients around the clock, while teachers hold secret classes underground.

We’re immensely proud to work with these brave men and women as they help the most vulnerable children against all the odds.

Reaching thousands of children

Inside Syria, we’ve reached more than 710,000 children. And across the wider region, in the most ambitious emergency response in our history, we’ve reached 4.7 million people who have fled the violence.

It has only been possible thanks to our Emergency Fund, which provided crucial seed funding for our vital programmes. It also allowed us to launch our Syria Appeal which continues to be a lifeline to millions of families.


Since independence in 1956, Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries, has been plagued by drought, famine, war and ethnic tension.

The crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, which lasted for seven long years from 2003 to 2010, sent an already vulnerable country spiraling into free fall.

A photograph taken in 1990 of a young boy carrying a small child and holding rehydration salts.

A photograph taken in 1990 of a young boy carrying a small child and holding rehydration salts.

Terror swept through Darfur as violence between rebel groups and the government escalated. Ethnic cleansing, hunger
and disease killed hundreds of thousands of people.

At the height of the war, 70 children under-five were dying every single day.

A family migrate to Kutum, north Darfur, during the drought in 1990.

A family migrate to Kutum, north Darfur, during the drought in 1990.

Our response

We were one of the largest aid organisations working in west Darfur, supporting half a million people every single month. We provided children with life-saving food, water, sanitation, healthcare and protection.

We offered intensive specialist emotional support to children who had experienced or witnessed traumatic events.

The protracted nature of the crisis meant ongoing support from the Emergency Fund was critical as international interest and funding fluctuated.


For too long the children of Yemen were forgotten.

Now, their fate hangs in the balance, as families are pushed to the brink of starvation. One-third of children under five are severely malnourished and water supplies in some parts of the country are only turned on for an hour a day. Millions of children are going to bed every night hungry and thirsty.

In terms of the number of people affected, Yemen is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.

But for almost two years it was largely overlooked by the media and institutional donors. It’s during chronic and neglected crises like this that our Emergency Fund is so critical. Before we even launched our appeal, we could help families in Yemen based purely on their needs, not on whether the world's media was interested in their plight.

Forced to flee

Many families have been forced to flee their homes, and around 30,000 people, like three-year-old Maraam Ahmed (pictured), have crossed the Gulf of Aden to reach Somalia, itself torn apart by war.

The conditions for many, in camps or makeshift shelters, are appalling. Overcrowding, lack of water and poor sanitation expose children to disease, violence and exploitation.

Our teams are there

We’ve so far reached 1.1 million people in Yemen, including 635,000 children, with life-saving care.

Despite a lack of humanitarian access and severe security risks, our teams have been working around the clock to protect children from harm and provide them with food, water and vital healthcare.

They're also helping to get children back in the classroom, to ensure that the future of an entire generation is not lost.



War and persecution force 24 people per minute to flee their homes. Right now, there are more than 65 million people displaced around the world – that’s twice as many as 10 years ago.

If all of these people resettled in one place, they would constitute the 21st largest country in the world – larger in population than the UK and nearly three times as large as Australia. If the numbers continue to grow at the same rate, by 2030 they will form the equivalent of the 5th largest country in the world.

This refugee 'nation' would rank close to last in the world on school attendance, early marriage and the number of children dying from preventable causes.

Fleeing to Europe

Since the start of 2015, more than 1.3 million people have sought safety in Europe. With conflict raging across the Middle East and spiraling poverty and persecution in parts of Africa, the global refugee crisis shows no sign of abating.

We work along the whole route refugees take as they seek sanctuary. We protect children from abuse and exploitation, make sure that they understand their rights, and provide them with access to the care and support they need.

Our Emergency Fund supported responses across Europe before we were able to launch our Child Refugee Crisis Appeal.

One of our safe spaces in Idomeni refugee camp, Greece, where children can play and learn.

One of our safe spaces in Idomeni refugee camp, Greece, where children can play and learn.

Drowning at sea

So far in 2016, more than 4,200 people have tragically drowned in the Mediterranean while seeking safety in Europe, making it the deadliest year on record. It’s against this backdrop of needless loss of life that we launched our search and rescue ship. It scours the North African coast, looking for families adrift at sea.

The root causes of this crisis may be complex, but our response is simple: we stop children drowning.

Thanks to your support, we’ve now saved 2,215 people, including 494 children – 90% of whom are thought to be travelling alone. After each rescue, when everyone is safely on board, we provide them with food, water, clothes and blankets, and our doctor treats those in need of medical attention. We also give children a safe space where they can rest, play and recover from their harrowing journey.

Amena's journey

Amena, five, has a hole in her heart and asthma – she needs daily medication.

Her family escaped from Syria to Libya, but they still weren’t safe. They decided to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean.

At the beach, even the children could sense the danger they faced.

"My son started crying and made me and my daughter cry. I was taking them to their death," says Amena's father.

Adrift on the Mediterranean, Amena's oxygen ran out. Doctors say she might not have survived had our search and rescue ship not found them.

Once on board the ship, our team immediately gave her oxygen and a drip until she stabilised.

Now she's in hospital where she's receiving the treatment she needs. She's pictured right and below with her eight-year-old brother, Samer.

Burundi Refugee Crisis

Spesios, carrying a baby, lives in a Burundi refugee camp in Tanzania.

Spesios, carrying a baby, lives in a Burundi refugee camp in Tanzania.

Although the media spotlight is firmly fixed on the refugees seeking safety in Europe, the vast majority of displaced people are in the Middle East and Africa.

Burundi, for example, has been blighted by civil unrest and violence since President Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for an unconstitutional third term last April. The political crisis spiraled out of control: hundreds have been killed and the UN has warned that the country could be plunged back into civil war.

More than 315,000 people have fled in terror to neighbouring countries.

Photographer Patrick Willocq helped children in Tanzania's Nyarugusu refugee camp recreate their journey from Burundi. They travelled on foot across the mountains.

Photographer Patrick Willocq helped children in Tanzania's Nyarugusu refugee camp recreate their journey from Burundi. They travelled on foot across the mountains.

Just like other refugee children, Burundian children fleeing their homes are most at risk from easily preventable diseases, for example pneumonia and malaria. Overcrowding, lack of sanitation and poor housing often prove fatal for newborn babies and their mothers, who account for a staggering 16% of all deaths in Burundi.

Thanks to our Emergency Fund, we’ve been responding throughout the crisis – both in Burundi and in the surrounding countries of Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo where families seek refuge – ensuring that children are kept safe and healthy.


Typhoon Haiyan

It's not just conflict that forces people to flee. In 2013 natural disasters displaced three times as many people as war, with 22 million people driven out of their homes by floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Disaster in the Philippines

One of the most devastating events that year was Typhoon Haiyan, which tore through the heart of the Philippines. As with so many emergency situations, no media report or written account can do justice to the reality on the ground.

More than 14 million people across nine regions were affected, including 5.4 million children. Half a million
homes were completely destroyed and some 7,000 people lost their lives.
In this image, four-year-old Kirby is standing amid the debris of his home, which was destroyed by the typhoon.

We're still there

We were one of the first aid agencies to respond to Typhoon Haiyan, and we remain one of the largest aid agencies on the ground. Thanks to your support, over the last two years our teams have helped children and families rebuild their lives.

Our Emergency Fund has also supported preparedness work across the country to make sure families can cope better the next time disaster strikes. As families in the Philippines endure an average of 20 major storms every year, mitigating the risks of typhoons is essential.

Nepal earthquake

In April 2015, Nepal was devastated by the biggest earthquake to hit the country in 80 years. Almost 9,000 people lost their lives and more than 22,000 were injured.

After the earthquake hit, we immediately sent money from our Emergency Fund to our teams on the ground. This allowed them to assess the situation on the ground immediately and start distributing life-saving supplies such as shelter kits, tarpaulins, ropes and blankets.

More to be done

The task to rebuild lives and communities is enormous – and is continuing. More than 3 million people are still without permanent homes.

Families have been forced to live under plastic sheets, beneath bridges and in unsafe buildings. Nepal’s extreme terrain, poor-quality roads and susceptibility to landslides have created extreme logistical challenges to getting aid, building materials and expert staff out to the remote areas that need them most.

Rebuilding lives

Despite these challenges, our Emergency Fund means we can do whatever it takes to reach children – including using both helicopters and donkeys to deliver aid to areas that would otherwise be cut off. We’re designing houses that can be built for £2,500, putting a new home within the financial reach of poor families.

Disaster in Haiti

Ginette brings her three-year-old son, Pierre, to a mobile health clinic. He's had a fever and cough for a week. Ginette's house was destroyed and her sister died in the 2010 earthquake.

Ginette brings her three-year-old son, Pierre, to a mobile health clinic. He's had a fever and cough for a week. Ginette's house was destroyed and her sister died in the 2010 earthquake.

In January 2010, Haiti was rocked by a catastrophic 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated an already vulnerable nation. It was, and remains, the least developed country in the western hemisphere, with 70% of the population living in poverty. Half of the people in Port-au-Prince had no access to toilets, less than a third had access to tap water and 86% were living in slums.

Six years after Haiti’s earthquake, the numbers are still hard to absorb: more than 230,000 people were killed in a matter of moments and 1.5 million more were displaced. Nearly 5,000 schools were damaged or destroyed. The national government was crippled; the dead included 25% of all civil servants.

A fragile government, poor infrastructure and insecurity exponentially compounded the earthquake’s impact, and left the country vulnerable to a cholera epidemic that affected more than 630,000 people.

Hurricane Matthew

A father carries his baby across a shallow part of the river. When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, the bridge in the town Petit Goave collapsed, making it hard for residents to escape the storm.

A father carries his baby across a shallow part of the river. When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, the bridge in the town Petit Goave collapsed, making it hard for residents to escape the storm.

This year, families in Haiti were still rebuilding their lives when they were battered once again by Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean in almost a decade.

Our teams were on the ground before the storm hit, working to minimise the devastation. We had pre-positioned essentials such as hygiene supplies, baby kits, mosquito nets and jerry cans – everything people needed to stay safe and healthy during and after the storm. We also helped evacuate the most vulnerable people.

Now we’re concentrating on the longer-term response – supporting families as they rebuild their lives and ensuring that they’re as prepared as possible should disaster strike again.


Fighting hunger

Sometimes there’s no catastrophic moment or disaster to capture the world's attention. Sometimes it's a creeping crisis that slowly gathers strength under the radar, but that causes suffering on a huge scale nevertheless.

A huge crisis

Thousands of children were pushed to the edge of starvation in 2011 when the Horn of Africa faced a devastating drought. Despite the early warning signs, the international community reacted slowly to the disaster. More than a quarter of a million people died from hunger in Somalia alone.

Thanks to critical seed funding from our Emergency Fund, we were on the ground from the beginning of the crisis, providing food, water, healthcare and other crucial life-saving aid to families. We directly reached more than 4.5 million people
with emergency relief and longer-term recovery work across East Africa.
Being prepared

Our programmes help communities in drought-prone areas mitigate the effects of drought and enable families to cope better and recover faster. We also support early warning systems that sound the alarm when potential hunger crises loom, so we can take action early and save children’s lives.

These systems meant we were ready to respond early as a devastating food crisis took hold of East and Southern Africa in 2015. We responded in eight countries across the region, making sure that children had enough food, water and medicine to stay healthy.

In Ethiopia alone – which experienced its worst drought in 60 years, leaving more than 9.7 million people in need of food assistance – we reached 2.7 million people.

Hunger in Nigeria

Right now in north-east Nigeria, children are paying the heaviest price for seven years of brutal war, which has intensified in the past few months.

The ongoing violence has caused a crippling food crisis, pushing families to the brink of famine. Almost half a million children are already severely malnourished. Unless the response is stepped up immediately it’s predicted that 200 children a day will die from malnutrition-related causes.

Our teams have reached 321,000 people so far, and now we’re urgently scaling-up our response to meet the growing needs.

We’re providing malnourished children with expert treatment at our specialist health centres. We’re helping children get clean water and improving sanitation by building latrines and conducting hygiene awareness sessions, especially for families forced from their homes.

We’ve also given emotional support to 20,000 children at kids' clubs and child-friendly spaces to help them come to terms with their traumatic experiences.


In 2014, the Ebola epidemic spread through West Africa at terrifying speed. At its height, five people were being infected every hour in Sierra Leone alone, and the number of cases was doubling every three weeks.

Already fragile health systems were quickly pushed to breaking point. Shortages of protective clothing left health workers vulnerable to infection and many died.

Building new systems

The outbreak was one of the most challenging contexts we’ve ever faced. To deal with the crisis effectively, we had to help build health infrastructure and information systems from scratch – something that would normally take years.

We reached almost 4.6 million people, including more than
2 million children, with life-saving health care, protection
and support.
Our Emergency Health Unit

The Ebola crisis led to the development of our Emergency Health Unit – a network of surgeons, doctors, nurses and logistics experts positioned in emergency hot spots across the world. It that means we can put a team of world-class health professionals at an injured child’s side within 72 hours of a disaster striking – the right people, in the right place, ready to respond.

The unit has now been deployed eight times. It has prevented a cholera outbreak in Haiti and treated severe burns after an explosion in South Sudan, among other responses.

A wall outside one of our Ebola treatment centres, where survivors drew their hand prints.

A wall outside one of our Ebola treatment centres, where survivors drew their hand prints.

The world struggled to respond to Ebola in time, but with your help we can make sure that more lives are saved, and there are more hand prints on this wall, if there is another outbreak.

Thanks to your support
we've saved millions of
children's lives over the
past 10 years...
...and over the next 10
years we will save
millions more.
This is just a snapshot of the hundreds of responses that you’ve enabled – and the millions of lives that you’ve transformed.

Some of these emergencies have been firmly rooted in our consciousness.

Others didn’t make the headlines at all.
But thanks to the Emergency Fund,
we were there for children when
they needed us most.
Thank you – for offering hope
to the world's most
vulnerable children.

Some names have been changed to protect identities.