Violence and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa have put in jeopardy the health of 24 million children in Yemen, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Libya and Sudan, according to UNICEF.
In Libya (450,000 children in need):
• Last year, Libya recorded 20 attacks against health facilities, second only to Syria,
• Immunization programmes have been facing challenges since the conflict erupted in 2011, with suspected measles cases reported among young children,
• Without new funding, over 1.3 million children won’t be vaccinated against measles or rubella, putting these children – and others in the country – at risk of highly contagious and potentially fatal diseases.
In Sudan (2.3 million children in need):
• Over 8,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea have been recorded in just eight months in conflict-affected areas including those hosting large numbers of refugees from South Sudan,
• Cases of acute watery diarrhoea are set to rise rapidly once the rainy season begins in June.
UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Cappelaere, said today that damage to health infrastructure is depriving children of essential health care.
“Water and sanitation services have been compromised, causing waterborne diseases to spread while preventative health care and nutritious food are insufficient to meet children’s needs.
“Violence is crippling health systems in conflict-affected countries and threatens children’s very survival,” said Geert Cappelaere. “Beyond the bombs, bullets and explosions, countless children are dying in silence from diseases that could easily be prevented and treated.”
Cappelaere said there is very little standing between children and life-threatening illness, especially when humanitarian access is denied.