In Libya, two months of intense fighting and indiscriminate shelling in Misrata has led to at least 21 children being killed (some as young as 9 months) and injured by shrapnel from mortars and tanks, and bullet wounds. Many others are trapped in their homes traumatised from the atrocities they have witnessed, lacking food and without safe water.
James Elder, UNICEF Communications Chief for UNICEF's Libya Emergency Response Team in Benghazi, said, ‘There are tens of thousands of children and civilians caught amid the hostilities in Misrata. Along with the intense fighting, which continues to kill children, there are problems with the town’s water supply being cut off, the sewage system is disrupted and the basic delivery of aid is being hampered by this”.
Despite the violence in Misrata, UNICEF has managed to get limited aid to the city. A boat arrived just last week with items to help up to 20,000 people including medical supplies, hygiene kits and recreational toys for children. Additional supplies are also in use on the Tunisian and Egyptian borders. It is estimated that half a million people have fled Libya to neighbouring countries including increasing numbers of families and children. Humanitarian access remains a concern and UNICEF is calling for safe, unfettered access to people in need.
In Cote d’Ivoire, the political and military situation remains precarious despite the recent arrest of former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo. UNICEF has been able to airlift 60 tonnes of emergency supplies into Abidjan and the rest of the country but more assistance is still needed in the areas of shelter, food security, health care, water and sanitation, education and protection.
More than 150,000 Ivorians have fled to Liberia (60% of them children) with numbers expected to increase in the coming months. Refugees crossing the border need immediate assistance including access to safe drinking water, food and nutrition, sanitation and primary health services. UNICEF is working to ensure that assistance reaches refugees but it is a logistically complex and challenging operation. Refugees are spread out in remote areas which are accessed by poor roads and bridges - this situation is likely to deteriorate further as the rainy season begins.
UNICEF NZ has launched the Children in Conflict Appeal to help children affected by current hostilities. Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director at UNICEF NZ, commented, “Children are the most vulnerable in conflict situations and we know that in many countries young people are experiencing unbearable suffering as violence affects their everyday lives - they need our urgent assistance.
“The volatile situations in Libya, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia are front of mind but we can’t forget those children also affected by violence in countries including Yemen, Syria and the occupied Palestinian Territory. As these shocking situations continue to unfold, children need our practical and psychological support to ensure their survival, health and wellbeing. UNICEF is doing what we can but we need your support to continue this work – please give to UNICEF’s Appeal"