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UNICEF statement on Lebanon

TAMALE, GHANA 26 July 2006 – UNICEF announced today the arrival of the first convoy of humanitarian aid for children in Tyre, southern Lebanon, the hardest hit part of the country. The convoy consists of 40 tonnes of humanitarian supplies aimed at the tens of thousands children displaced due to the escalating violence in that country.  UNICEF’s supplies include water purification tablets, soap and other hygiene necessities.

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman stressed the importance of reaching the most vulnerable children. “Unhindered access is a critical component of any humanitarian response and an obligation under international law,” Veneman said, on mission in Ghana. “It is urgent that we reach these children with emergency relief and supplies that can make the difference between life and death.”

Of the reported 700,000 civilians displaced, UNICEF estimates that 45 per cent are children. Approximately 125,000 of them are now living in 587 schools and shelters and in are in urgent need of water storage and tankers, improved sanitation, and health kits. However, the insecure situation especially in southern Lebanon has severely restricted UNICEF’s ability to reach the affected population outside of Beirut. UNICEF joins the rest of the UN family in its call for safe corridors for the delivery of aid to all affected children.

Veneman also urged respect for the neutrality and safety of all humanitarian workers. This call comes on the heels of statements from the Lebanese Red Cross that some of its workers had been wounded in shelling in southern Lebanon.  Ms. Veneman also deplored the deaths of the four UN observers killed in southern Lebanon on 25 July.

UNICEF was a part of the US$150 million UN Flash Appeal launched yesterday in Beirut by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland. Of this amount UNICEF is seeking $23.8 million of immediate short term relief for children.

For background:
UNICEF has already provided $1.2 million for medical supplies and other immediate assistance. The first charter flight from Copenhagen arrived in the region on 23 July carrying 38 tonnes of supplies, including 168 water kits with enough soap, buckets, water purification tablets and water containers for nearly 1,700 families. The plane also carried oral rehydration salts to treat the symptoms of diarrhoea, essential drugs and recreation kits for children.

A second plane left from Luxembourg for the region on Sunday, 23 July, carrying more water kits, 800 boxes of medical and other supplies.


For further information, please contact:

Jehane Sedky-Lavandero, UNICEF New York: (+1 212) 326 7261; jsedky@unicef.org

M. Anis Salem, UNICEF Amman: (+962) 79 557 9991 email; asalem@unicef.org

Wolfgang Friedl, UNICEF Amman: (+962) 6 553 9977 ext 422; wfriedl@unicef.org

Soha Boustani, UNICEF Beirut (+961) 1 978 620; sboustani@unicef.org

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Geneva: (+41 22) 909 5604; pmccormick@unicef.org




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