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Statement of UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on Lebanon

NEW YORK/GENEVA/BEIRUT, 11 August 2006 – Humanitarian access is urgently needed to reach families and children who are affected by the crisis in the Middle East.  Over 900,000 people have fled their homes in Lebanon, many of whom are living in temporary shelters and schools, while nearly 180,000 refugees have crossed the border into Syria.   

Many children have been killed or injured in the conflict.  Countless others are living in extremely precarious conditions which are worsening daily, with limited access to clean water, food, medicine and hygiene supplies.  With fuel supplies dwindling, hospital operations are threatened along with other vital services. 

Thousands of families and children critically need support.  At present we are unable to reach the majority of them.  The protection of women and children in times of war is the responsibility of all parties to a conflict – children should not be the innocent victims of war.  We call upon the parties to urgently agree to a cessation of hostilities to allow humanitarian agencies to deliver needed supplies.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 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.

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

Simon Ingram, UNICEF Beirut: (+961) 70 971 387, singram@unicef.org

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

Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF Geneva: (+41 22) 909 5712; wbelmonte@unicef.org




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