Statement Attributable to UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy
AMMAN/GENEVA/ NEW YORK - "UNICEF is deeply concerned about the impact of this war on Iraqi children and women. We know that in wartime children are the most vulnerable population. This is especially so in Iraq, where poor governance, two prior wars, and years of international sanctions have combined to weaken the Iraqi population.
"Iraqi children are extremely vulnerable. More than 1 million children under age five are malnourished. When children are poorly nourished they are susceptible to disease. Disease spreads rapidly during war, when safe water supplies are disrupted, people are displaced from their homes, and sources of food and medicine are compromised. When you factor in the loss of education and the psycho-social trauma, there is no question that war takes its greatest toll on children. And we should all remember that children make up half of Iraq's population.
"I urge the parties to this conflict to abide by their international humanitarian obligations. I urge the parties to this conflict to make the safety of children a priority. And I urge them to do all in their power to protect children's lives, their health, and their general well-being."
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UNICEF is the world's leading child rights organization. Operating in more than 158 countries, UNICEF works for health, education, equality and protection for every child. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, foundations, businesses, and governments.
UNICEF has provided support to Iraqi children since 1952. Over the last several months, UNICEF has mounted immunization campaigns and shipped in nutritional items to boost the strength of Iraqi children and improve their chances of survival in the event of war. UNICEF has also positioned thousands of tonnes of relief supplies in Iraq and neighbouring countries, including high-protein biscuits, essential medicines, water purification supplies, and other life-saving emergency items.
20 March 2003
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