UNICEF called today for an immediate end to the siege of Misrata, warning that tens of thousands of children were at risk in the crisis-ridden Libyan city.

Intensified fighting has led to an increased number of children being killed in Misrata, with many others suffering trauma and lacking food and safe water.

Children as young as nine months have been killed in Misrata, with at least 20 child deaths - mainly children under 10 years of age - and many more injuries due to shrapnel from mortars and tanks, and bullet wounds.

"More and more children in this city are being killed, injured and denied their essential needs due to the fighting," said Shahida Azfar, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. "Extraordinary efforts must be taken to protect them. The siege must stop."

As fighting in and around Misrata goes into its seventh week, tens of thousands of children remain caught amid hostilities. UNICEF reiterated calls made by the UN Secretary General to all parties for an immediate cease-fire.

"Until the fighting stops we face the intolerable inevitability of children continuing to die and suffer in this warzone," said Azfar.

Late last week, UNICEF and other UN agencies delivered critical relief supplies to the hospital in Misrata. These included emergency health kits and surgical material that will cover the urgent needs of 30,000 people for a month.

We are also responding to needs in Eastern Libya, providing health kits and hygiene kits reaching tens of thousands of affected people.