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Press centre


Statement by Shahida Azfar, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, on unrest in the region

AMMAN, 24 March 2011 – “UNICEF is alarmed by the continuing unrest in a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa region and its impact on children and young people.

In Bahrain, growing violence against demonstrators, most of them are young people, have left many dead and countless others injured.

In Libya, UNICEF remains concerned at the impact of the hostilities on women and children and joins calls for all the parties to take all possible measures to protect civilians.

Reports from Syria indicate that a boy died from tear gas inhalation and a girl was killed from a live bullet. Fifteen schoolchildren were temporarily arrested and reportedly ill-treated while in detention.

In Yemen, since the anti-government demonstrations began in early February, at least 19 children have reportedly been killed, including in the cities of Sana’a, Ibb, Aden, and Mukalla. The current situation has also affected children’s schooling.

Violence against children is unacceptable. UNICEF calls for the protection of children and adolescents at all costs and under all circumstances.

UNICEF joins the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for all concerned to exercise maximum restraint and to do everything possible to prevent the use of force and further violence.

UNICEF also underscores the responsibility of all parties to act in strict accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, international human rights and humanitarian law.”

For further information, please contact:
Najwa Mekki, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa,
Tel + 962-79-573-2745,




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