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UNICEF Regional Director outlines priorities as south Lebanon moves into recovery phase

TAIBEH, 31 August 2006 – Restoring water and health services - and dealing with the menace of unexploded ordnance - will be UNICEF’s priorities as humanitarian efforts gather pace in south Lebanon, according to UNICEF Regional Director, Omar Abdi.

Mr Abdi was speaking during a brief visit to Taibeh, close to the Israeli border, which suffered heavy damage during the recent conflict. Many houses and other buildings have been flattened. At least one school in the area was hit by Israeli bombing.

“You don’t need to spend long here to see the amount of work that needs to be done before normal life can resume,” said Mr Abdi. “Families are returning to what is left of their homes but economic life is almost at a standstill. “

Mr Abdi inspected water tanks provided by UNICEF as a means of ensuring clean water supply to Taibeh and 50-odd surrounding communities where pipes and other infrastructure suffered heavy damage. The tanks are being erected and maintained by key UNICEF partner, Oxfam.

Accompanied by a UNICEF assessment team, Mr Abdi also met staff from the Islamic Health Organisation, which continued providing maternal and other public health care services throughout the 34-day conflict. UNICEF expects to play a leading role in restoring the cold chain infrastructure vital to the re-establishment of routine immunisation to protect children against measles and other diseases.

At several points on the 50 kilometre route from UNICEF’s regional hub in Tyre to Taibeh, items of unexploded ordnance were clearly visible along the roadside. While many have now been cleared by bomb disposal teams, civilians – including children – continue to suffer injury or death, particularly from cluster bombs that failed to detonate. UNICEF is supporting a public information campaign, incorporating television and radio advertisements, together with posters and leaflets, warning people about the danger posed by cluster bombs and other lethal munitions.

Mr Abdi noted that south Lebanon was a region where needs existed in relation to children’s health, education and protection even before the war. “It may be that this emergency offers us an opportunity to tackle some of the more deep rooted problems of these communities, and give children and their families a real boost for the future.”

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About UNICEF
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Gordon Weiss, UNICEF New York: Tel (+1 212) 326 7426; gweiss@unicef.org

M. Anis Salem, UNICEF Amman: Tel: (+962) 79 557 9991 email; asalem@unicef.org

Wolfgang Friedl, UNICEF Amman: Tel: (+962) 79 573 2745; wfriedl@unicef.org

Soha Boustani, UNICEF Beirut: Tel:  (+961) 3 236 167; sboustani@unicef.org

Michael Bociurkiw, UNICEF Geneva: Tel: (+41) 79-216-9401; mbociurkiw@unicef.org


 

 

 

Audio

28 August 2006:
UNICEF Communication Officer Simon Ingram reports on projects under way in southern Lebanon to help returning children readjust to life in their home communities.
AUDIO listen

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