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UNICEF Lebanon joins UNRWA response to urgent needs of children and women caught in El Bared camp crisis

BEIRUT, 29 May  2007 – UNICEF continues to work in close coordination with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as well as its NGO partners, to meet the urgent needs of refugee children and women facing conflict and displacement in northern Lebanon.  UNRWA estimates that approximately 21,000 refugees have fled Nahr El Bared camp near Tripoli. UNICEF is particularly concerned about the toll the conflict and displacement are taking on children.

The majority of refugee families have fled to the nearby Baddawi camp, where they are staying in schools and with host families already living in difficult circumstances.  Five schools inside Baddawi camp have stopped classes and transformed into displacement centres for thousands of refugees, where families are sleeping on mattresses in extremely crowded conditions. More than 1,000 refugees have left northern Lebanon to other Palestinian refugee camps in other parts of the country.   

UNICEF experts in emergency response, water and sanitation, child protection and education have joined UNRWA assessment missions to support the relief work in these priority sectors. Supplies to support each of these areas have been dispatched (please see list below). 

Children living in Nahr El Bared have been through highly distressing events.  Already living in a refugee situation, they have witnessed their homes being destroyed, loved ones being killed or injured, and were trapped in their homes hearing the terrifying sounds of gunfire around them.  In addition to ensuring that children’s physical needs are met, UNICEF is committed to facilitating emotional recovery, working with UNRWA and NGO partners to make living conditions as child-friendly as possible. 

In addition to water, sanitation, hygiene, medical and recreational supplies, UNICEF is providing school-in-a-box supplies to support the urgent educational needs of more than 1,000 students who are scheduled to take official exams in the coming weeks.  In addition to these supplies, UNICEF is also providing the transportation for these students between Baddawi camp and UNRWA schools in Tripoli. 

While responding to the needs of displaced refugees, UNICEF joins UNRWA and its NGO partners in advocating for the safety of any civilian children and their families who are still in Nahr El Bared camp.  It is encouraging that some humanitarian aid has reached inside the camp, but the safety of children and families and their access to humanitarian aid must be the first priority for all parties. 

To date, UNICEF has committed the following supplies and services to the emergency, in close coordination with UNRWA and partner NGOs for distribution.   

Water and sanitation:

• 2,900 two-liter bottles of water
• 90,000 five-liter bottles of water
• 24 collapsible water tanks (5,000 liters each)
• 19 rigid water tanks (1,500 liters each)
• Water treatment plant (will provide clean water to 1400 families)
• 180 family hygiene kits (items include soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, detergent, toilet paper and towels)
• Water kits for 100 families (jerrycans, buckets, soap, water purification tablets)

Health:

• Obstetrics kits to handle 150 deliveries
• Essential drugs (e.g., antibiotics, oral rehydration salts, asthma/allergy medications, anti-diarrheals) and basic medical supplies sent to Safad Hospital in Baddawi camp
• Technical support to NGO partners on breastfeeding and nutrition issues

Child protection:

• Recreation kits (including games, paper, pens and sport equipment)
• Information on safety for vulnerable children (especially girls) in displacement situations is being produced (protection from abduction, etc.)
 
Further information will be provided as more supplies are dispatched.  Media are also encouraged to refer to UNRWA news releases and updates. 

***

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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:

Soha Bsat Boustani, Chief, Communication, UNICEF Lebanon Country Office: Mobile+ 03 236 167; Email:  sboustani@unicef.org

Nicole Ireland, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Lebanon Country Office:Mobile + 70 908 368; Email:  nireland@unicef.org


 

 

 

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