Conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa are putting over 24 million children at risk, according to alarming new research by the UN Children’s Fund.
“Beyond the bombs, bullets and explosions, countless children are dying in silence from diseases that could easily be prevented and treated,” says Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
His staff put together some staggering statistics.
In Yemen, a two-year-long battle between a Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-backed rebels has pushed the country “to the brink of famine.” Cholera has broken out in most of the country and UNICEF says two-thirds of the Yemeni population use unsafe water.
More than two million children live under siege in Syria or in areas where aid groups struggle to reach. Attacks on health facilities are commonplace too. Libya is second only to Syria on that front, with 20 attacks on health facilities in the past year. UNICEF warns that without new funding, over 1.3 million Libyan children won’t be vaccinated against measles or rubella.
The battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS has trapped 85,000 children and water supplies in camps for the displaced are “stretched to the limit.” Overall, 5.1 million children are in need in Iraq.
UNICEF also warns about power cuts and reduced water supplies in the Gaza Strip, where one million Palestinian children are in need of assistance. The report says 8,000 cases of acute diarrhea have been recorded in conflict zones in Sudan.