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UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

UNICEF and partners respond to escalating crisis in Lebanon and Israel

UNICEF Image: Boy stands beside a section of highway destroyed in the bombardment of Beirut
© Agence France-Presse/Haidar
Boy stands beside a section of highway destroyed in the bombardment of Beirut, which has resulted in major damage to the Lebanese capital's infrastructure.

By Chris Niles and Sabine Dolan

NEW YORK, USA, 19 July 2006 – With the crisis in Lebanon and Israel entering its second week, UNICEF is seriously concerned for civilians caught in the conflict and is racing to get critical emergency supplies to tens of thousands of children affected by the hostilities.

But as the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel continue, reaching those in need is an enormous humanitarian challenge.

“First of all, we need to have a safe corridor to allow supplies to reach those who are reachable,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Lebanon, Roberto Laurenti, referring to the thousands of civilians who have fled their homes. The other major challenge, he added, is to provide emergency relief to “populations that are trapped in their own areas because they are declared war-zone areas.”

UNICEF Image: Displaced child sleeping in Beirut
© UNICEF/HQ06-1038/Brooks
One-year-old Yasmin sleeps on a mattress in a Beirut classroom. Her father was injured and her family displaced when their home, located near a Hezbollah station in the city's southern Dahiya district, was bombed in an air strike.

Since the conflict broke out last week, Lebanon has become increasingly isolated, with access blocked by air, sea and land. Meanwhile, military activity has cut off areas in south Lebanon from the rest of the country.

‘Crisis has the face of a child’

UNICEF, the World Health Organization and a broad range of partners are working to save lives, protect civilians and provide conflict-affected children and families with basic relief supplies, including:

  • Safe water and sanitation facilities
  • Emergency health kits with essential medicines
  • Monitoring and support for children suffering psychological trauma
  • Recreation kits for distribution in schools.

UNICEF is also working to prevent the separation of children from their families and to quickly reunite those who have been separated.

Thousands of children are suffering from the ongoing violence, according to UNICEF Deputy Director of Emergency Programmes Afshan Khan. “This crisis definitely has the face of a child,” she said. “We’re hearing of difficulties in getting children to hospitals in time to save either life or limb. This is a crisis that has deeply, deeply scarred many children.”

Tim Ledwith contributed to this story.




18 July 2006:
Deputy Director of Emergency Programmes Afshan Khan relates UNICEF’s concerns about the worsening violence in the Middle East.
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18 July 2006: UNICEF Representative in Lebanon Roberto Laurenti discusses the situation in the country. Correspondent Sabine Dolan reports.
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