Conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa Take a Brutal Toll on Children in a Grim Month of January

February 5, 2018

  Statement by Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

NEW YORK (February 5, 2018) – In this dark month of January, conflicts and violence in the Middle East and North Africa have once again taken a devastating toll on children. They were killed in ongoing conflicts, suicide attacks, or frozen to death as they fled active warzones.

“It is simply unacceptable that children continue being killed and injured every single day.

“In the month of January alone, escalating violence in Iraq, Libya, the State of Palestine, Syria and Yemen has claimed the lives of at least 83 children.

“These children have paid the highest price for wars that they have absolutely no responsibility for. They are children – children! Their lives have been cut short, their families forever broken in grief.

“Intensifying fighting in Syria has reportedly killed 59 children in the past four weeks as the conflict enters its eighth year.

“In Yemen, the United Nations has verified the killing of 16 children in attacks across the country. UNICEF is receiving reports of killed and injured children on a daily basis as fighting escalates across the country.

“In Benghazi, east of Libya, a suicide attack took the lives of three children. Three others died while they were playing near unexploded ordnance – a fourth child remains in critical condition after the blast.

“In the old city of Mosul, a child was killed in a booby-trapped house. A boy was shot dead in a village near Ramallah in the State of Palestine.

“Amid a harsh winter storm in Lebanon, 16 refugees including four children, froze to death as they fled the war in neighboring Syria. Many more children were hospitalized with frost bite.

“Not hundreds, not thousands but millions more children in the Middle East and North Africa region have their childhood stolen, maimed for life, traumatized, arrested and detained, exploited, prevented from going to school and from getting the most essential health services; denied even the basic right to play.

“We collectively continue failing to stop the war on children!

“We have no justification. We have no reason to accept a new normal.

“Children may have been silenced. But their voices will continue to be heard! Their message is our message:

“The protection of children is paramount under all circumstances, in line with the law of war.

“Breaching that law is a most heinous crime and jeopardizes the future – and not just for children.”

Notes to editors
On January 30, UNICEF appealed for $3.6 billion to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to children in 2018. This is the largest appeal amount ever. Emergency operations to respond to the needs of over 27 million children in the Middle East and North Africa account for over half of the global appeal, with nearly $1.9 billion to support children in Djibouti, Iraq, Libya, the State of Palestine, Sudan, Syria and Syrian refugees and host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

About UNICEF
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For more information, contact:
Sophie Aziakou, UNICEF USA, 917.720.1397, saziakou@unicefusa.org
Erica Vogel, UNICEF USA, 212.922.2480, evogel@unicefusa.org