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UNICEF: War-torn Middle East and N Africa children need urgent aid
September 13,2017   By:Xinhua
UNITED NATIONS, Sept.13,2017-- Nearly 20 percent of the children across the Middle East and North Africa - over 90 percent of whom live in conflict-affected countries - need immediate humanitarian assistance, a UN report said on Monday.
"Conflict continues to rob millions of girls and boys of their childhood," said Geert Cappelaere, regional director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in a press statement.
The UNICEF report pointed out that children have been hit hardest by years of violence, displacement and lack of basic services. Civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, energy, water, sanitation and hygiene installations have often come under attack, exposing children to the risk of death and diseases.
Moreover, millions of families have been forced to flee their homes - some several times and under fire. Continued violence and displacement have increasingly made it difficult for children and families to cope.
"The number of children affiliated with the fighting has more than doubled," continued the UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The latest analysis reveals that inside Syria and in refugee-hosting countries, almost 12 million Syrian children require humanitarian assistance - up from half a million in 2012.
An estimated two million children who live in hard-to-reach or besieged areas in Syria have received limited humanitarian assistance over the years.
In Yemen, the fighting has destroyed water and sanitation systems - triggering the world's worst cholera and acute diarrhoea outbreak, with over 610,000 suspected cases to date.
More than half of the country's health facilities are out of service and water systems have been destroyed, cutting off almost 15 million people from safe water and access to basic health care.
In Iraq, more than 5 million children are in need of assistance as heavy fighting intensified, including in Mosul and recently in Tal Afar.
In the Gaza Strip, an ongoing electricity crisis has reduced access to water by 30 percent while diarrhoea cases among young children have doubled in just three months.
"Children in the Middle East and North Africa region have undergone unprecedented levels of violence and witnessed horrors that no one should witness. If violence and wars continue, the consequences - not only for the region but for the world as a whole - will be dire," Cappelaere said.
The UNICEF official urged world leaders do much more to put an end to violence for the sake of boys and girls and their future.
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