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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on situation of children in the Middle East and North Africa

New York, 20 April 2011 – "UNICEF is greatly concerned about the effects of violence on children caught in escalating conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. We continue to condemn the targeting of civilians by armed groups, and call on all parties to provide humanitarian aid workers with immediate access to all areas and children in need. 


In Libya, the ongoing conflict has claimed children’s lives and deprived many more of their basic needs. In Misrata alone, at least 20 children have been killed and countless others injured. Reports of the use of cluster munitions are particularly alarming.


In Yemen, at least 26 children have been killed and more than 800 injured since early February. 


In Syria, reports indicate that nine children were killed and many injured over the last few weeks. 


In Bahrain, many demonstrators have been killed or injured, including young students.


In Southern Israel, rocket attacks from Gaza continue to affect children. This week, a 16- year old Israeli boy died from injuries after a rocket hit a school bus.


In the occupied Palestinian territory, since the beginning of the year, more than eight Palestinian children have been killed and at least 48 injured both by Israeli security forces and by Palestinian armed groups. 


Even before the violence began, many children in these countries faced multiple challenges to their survival, health and wellbeing. Now, these children are at still greater risk. 


UNICEF urges all parties to meet their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and international humanitarian law, and to take all necessary steps to protect children from the direct and indirect effects of violence."


For more information, please contact

Patrick McCormick, pmccormick@unicef.org, UNICEF New York, Tel: + 1 212 326 7426

Kate Donovan, kdonovan@unicef.org, UNICEF New York, Tel:  +1 212 326 7452

Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, Tel: + 507 301 7485




UNICEF is on the ground in over 155 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.


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