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UNICEF condemns violence, regrets deaths of children in Middle East

Statement attributable to UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy

Thursday, 12 October 2000: UNICEF strongly supports UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for a negotiated end to the conflict that continues to rage in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. UNICEF is deeply concerned about the continuing loss of life, especially among children, and calls upon the adults of the region to do everything in their power to protect minors and to reach a negotiated end to violence.

In recent days, at least 27 children under 18 have been killed in the conflict. More than 1,200 have been injured, many critically. Such violence threatens the most basic rights of children -- the rights to survival, healthy development, and general well-being.

UNICEF is concerned that a failure of negotiations could lead to increased peril for all the children of the region. Both Palestinian and Israeli children have been promised peace for too long to let it slip away now. UNICEF continues to believe that if conflict can be held in check, these young people have the power and potential to build the better future to which they are entitled.

UNICEF has been promoting programs for Palestinian women and children throughout the region since 1981. Since the beginning of the peace process in 1993, UNICEF has been working from its Jerusalem office to build trust and encourage dialogue among children and adolescents -- the new generation now coming to adulthood.

Even amid the current conflict we will continue working with our partners in the West Bank and Gaza, focusing on providing emergency medical supplies; training volunteers to conduct psychosocial counseling to help families deal with conflict-associated trauma; and supporting adolescents in their own efforts to make peace.

All these efforts are already underway. But until the adults of the region take responsible action, children and youth will continue to suffer injury, loss of life, and lasting trauma.

Please email media@unicef.org with comments or requests for more information, quoting CF/DOC/PR/2000/65.