By Vatican News
“Today, children in Libya are in a dire and untenable situation that the rest of the world should find unacceptable”.
These are the opening words of a statement by UNICEF Director General, Henrietta Fore. They describe the sense of urgency and frustration experienced by all those working in Libya to protect children, “who continue to suffer grievously amidst the violence and chaos unleashed by the country’s longstanding civil war”.
Children recruited to fight
According to the statement, “Indiscriminate attacks in populated areas have caused hundreds of deaths, and UNICEF has received reports of children being maimed or killed. Children are also being recruited to the fighting”, continues the statement, while “more than 150,000 people, 90,000 of whom are children, have been forced to flee their homes”.
Attacks on civilians
UNICEF and its partners on the ground are assisting children and their families to access healthcare and nutrition, protection, education, water and sanitation. The statement adds, however, that attacks against the civilian population, infrastructures, and healthcare personnel, are undermining humanitarian efforts.
Refugee and migrant children
“The 60,000 refugee and migrant children currently in urban areas are also terribly vulnerable, especially the 15,000 who are unaccompanied and those being held in detention centers”. According to the statement, “These children already had limited access to protection and essential services, so the intensifying conflict has only amplified the risks they face”.
Berlin peace summit
Ahead of the peace summit planned for this Sunday in Berlin, UNICEF is urgently calling on all parties in the conflict to “end the recruitment and use of children, cease attacks against civilian infrastructures, and allow for the safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to children and people in need”.
The statement by the UNICEF Director General calls on all parties, and those who have influence over them, “to reach a comprehensive and durable peace agreement for the sake of each and every child in Libya”.