Statement from UNICEF Regional Director, Geert Cappelaere, following his first visit to the country:
“Six years since the crisis began in Libya, over 550,000 children need assistance because of political instability, on-going conflict, displacement, and economic collapse. Heavy violence in some parts of the country has forced families to flee their homes. More than 80,000 children are internally displaced and migrant children in Libya are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, including in detention centres.
“Since 2011, UNICEF has been expanding its assistance to respond to children’s needs on the ground. More than 1.3 million children were vaccinated against polio last year. UNICEF and partners, including national institutions, were able to maintain nearly universal immunization coverage even when violence was at its peak. UNICEF has partnered with 28 municipalities across Libya under the “Together for Children Campaign” to support children’s basic rights.
“At a child friendly space where children play, learn and receive psychosocial support, boys and girls spoke of their dreams of living in peace and prosperity. We have to support each and every child in Libya - especially the most vulnerable - to reach their full potential.
“In discussions with the authorities in Tripoli and Benghazi, UNICEF reaffirmed its commitment to provide all the support possible to reach children in need wherever they are in the country.
“Next October, UNICEF plans to have all its international staff operating full-time from Libya. UNICEF will further scale up its assistance to reach 1.5 million girls and boys and support strengthening of national institutions and civil society.
“UNICEF reiterates that the wellbeing of girls and boys in Libya should be a priority for authorities, civil society and the international community.
“In the interest of children, UNICEF is calling for an immediate political solution to the crisis and an end to the violence.”