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News note

UNICEF to set up Child Friendly Spaces in war-torn Liberia

Monrovia, Abidjan, Geneva, 26 February 2002 - UNICEF, together with its partners, is seeking to ensure that children's rights are protected in the present wave of insecurity in Liberia. It is particularly concerned that children not be drawn once again into an adult conflict - as they have been in the past.

Concerned about the well-being and safety of displaced children, UNICEF will set up Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in each of the newly-established IDP camps. These will provide safe facilities for children to gather together to play, learn and acquire life skills. They will also provide mothers with an area to care for their infants. Most importantly, the CFS will provide a space, where children can experience a degree of normalcy amid the chaos unfolding around them.

Later this week, UNICEF will be distributing some 3,000 emergency family start-up kits* to help displaced families who have been on the run in search of a safe place to stay. Thousands of families have lost practically all their belongings because of their hurried departure or as a result of looting.

The exodus of most of the IDPs dates back to April 1999 when insurgents caused them to flee their homes in Lofa County, north-western Liberia. Since then, they have been through a series of traumatic and harrowing experiences and have been forced back on the road several times by insecurity and conflict.

On Thursday of this week, 37 tonnes of emergency relief items will be airlifted from the UNICEF Supply Division in Copenhagen to Monrovia for distribution in the camps. The supplies will include high protein biscuits, emergency health kits, plastic sheeting and vaccines.

In the meantime and in close cooperation with its partners, UNICEF has provided high energy and protein biscuits, dried skimmed milk, vaccines and essential drugs to SCF (UK), ACF and World Vision International for distribution to IDPs in Sawmill and Klay, as well as at the new sites in Montserrado, close to Monrovia.

* The start-up kits include locally-procured foam mattresses, cooking utensils, plastic buckets, plates, cups, spoons, slippers, bath towels and soap, to meet the needs of a family of five.


For further information, please contact:
Margherita Amodeo, UNICEF Abidjan, Regional Communication Adviser for West and Central Africa, tel. 225 20 20 81 01 or 225 05 68 09 73 email: mamodeo@unicef.org

Mike T. James, UNICEF Liberia, Information Officer, tel. 231 22 61 38, email: mjames@unicef.org






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