Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on situation of children in the Middle East and North Africa

"UNICEF is greatly concerned about the effects of violence on children caught in escalating conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. We continue to condemn the targeting of civilians by armed groups, and call on all parties to provide humanitarian aid workers with immediate access to all areas and children in need.

“In Libya, the ongoing conflict has claimed children’s lives and deprived many more of their basic needs. In Misrata alone, at least 20 children have been killed and countless others injured. Reports of the use of cluster munitions are particularly alarming.

“In Yemen, at least 26 children have been killed and more than 800 injured since early February. 

“In Syria, reports indicate that nine children were killed and many injured over the last few weeks. 

“In Bahrain, many demonstrators have been killed or injured, including young students.

“In Southern Israel, rocket attacks from Gaza continue to affect children. This week, a 16-year old Israeli boy died from injuries after a rocket hit a school bus.

“In the occupied Palestinian territory, since the beginning of the year, more than eight Palestinian children have been killed and at least 48 injured both by Israeli security forces and by Palestinian armed groups. 

“Even before the violence began, many children in these countries faced multiple challenges to their survival, health and wellbeing.  Now, these children are at still greater risk. 

“UNICEF urges all parties to meet their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and international humanitarian law, and to take all necessary steps to protect children from the direct and indirect effects of violence.”


For more information, please contact: 

Terry Ally, UNICEF London, Mobile: +44 (0)7714 721 701,
UNICEF London Media Team: +44 (0)20 7375 6030


UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights in more than 190 countries. As champion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works to help every child realise their full potential. Together with our partners, UNICEF delivers health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, while working with governments to ensure they deliver on their promise to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, governments, institutions and corporations, and is not funded by the UN budget. For more information, please visit