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UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

UNICEF supplies are on the way, but access remains a major challenge in Lebanon

© Reuters/Hashisho
Children are evacuated by truck from their village near Sidon, south Lebanon.

By Sabine Dolan

NEW YORK, USA, 21 July 2006 – Civilian refugees caught in the conflict in Lebanon and Israel are increasingly imperilled, especially in southern Lebanon, where fighting is expected to intensify. Gaining access to deliver aid to children and families at risk remains a major challenge for UNICEF and other relief agencies.

“One of the main concerns is how do we get humanitarian assistance into these areas that have been so isolated because many of the roads and bridges have been impacted,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, adding that “access of humanitarian workers is critical in this time of crisis.”

As many as 140,000 refugees have fled Lebanon and crossed into Syria since the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah began last Wednesday. Roughly 50 per cent of these refugees are children, according to UNICEF Representative in Syria Kiari Liman-Tinguiri.

“This is a very serious situation for us. These people are in need of medical assistance,” said Mr. Liman-Tinguiri.

© UNICEF Denmark/2006/John McConnico
Relief supplies are loaded at the UNICEF Supply Division warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark for airlift to Damascus, Syria and overland transport to Lebanon.

Critically needed assistance

To help address the needs of those displaced by the conflict, UNICEF’s global Supply Division in Copenhagen is preparing a shipment of emergency supplies scheduled to leave Denmark by air tomorrow morning. Another cargo flight is scheduled to leave Luxembourg on Sunday.

On the ground in Lebanon and Syria, UNICEF teams have been developing a list of critically needed emergency supplies, including essential drugs, water and sanitation equipment and recreation materials.

Child protection is another major concern. “Children have been traumatized,” said Mr. Liman-Tinguiri. “They have travelled through difficult roads, they have witnessed very difficult situations. There is no psychosocial assistance for children. There is no recreation for children.”

© Reuters/Ladki
A United Nation soldier helps a child evacuated from his village in the port city of Tyre, south Lebanon.

Difficult logistics

UNICEF’s office in Damascus, Syria will be the main regional distribution point for supply shipments and support to Lebanon during the crisis, said UNICEF Supply Division Emergency Coordinator Tanny Noorlander. But the logistics are problematic, she added.

“The most difficult problem is the security concerns,” said Ms. Noorlander. “During the last few days, it became very clear how difficult it is to find trucks to transport the goods into Lebanon and also to find drivers willing to go into Lebanon.”

Despite the obstacles, UNICEF Syria is currently facilitating the movement of four trucks carrying humanitarian assistance, armoured UNICEF vehicles and an armoured ambulance across the border into Lebanon.

At the same time, UNICEF is sending emergency health supplies to Gaza, in the occupied Palestinian territories. The relief assistance includes basic medical supplies and medicines to cover the basic health needs of 100,000 people.













21 July 2006:
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman expresses concern for children affected by the Middle East conflict.
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21 July 2006: UNICEF Representative in Syria Kiari Liman-Tinguiri discusses UNICEF’s relief operations in Syria.
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19 July 2006:
Director of Emergency Programmes Dan Toole talks about UNICEF’s growing humanitarian concerns for children caught in the conflict in the Middle East.
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