UNICEF Mobilizes Staff and Supplies to Respond to the Humanitarian Needs Caused by the Unrest in Libya

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As concern mounts over the influx of returnees and migrant workers to Tunisia, UNICEF is mobilizing staff and relief supplies to the western and eastern borders of Libya.

“It is UNICEF’s priority to help children affected by the crisis in Libya,” said U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl Stern.

As concern mounts over the influx of returnees and migrant workers to Tunisia, UNICEF is mobilizing staff and relief supplies to the western and eastern borders of Libya.

UNICEF Director of Emergency Operations, Mr. Louis-Georges Arsenault arrived Wednesday in Tunisia to meet with government authorities, UN agencies and the National Red Crescent to discuss the humanitarian needs resulting from the unrest in Libya.

UNICEF Charter flights are expected to reach the two neighboring capitals in the coming days with over 160 metric tons of supplies to address immediate humanitarian needs on the Egyptian and Tunisian borders, and are being pre-positioned for a possible response within Libya.

“It is UNICEF’s priority to help children affected by the crisis in Libya,” said U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl Stern. “Children are always vulnerable to malnutrition and disease during emergencies. By providing them with safe water and sanitation, health kits, nutrition and vaccinations, we can help minimize the impact and prevent this from expanding into a larger scale humanitarian crisis.”

Initial supplies, including hygiene kits, nutrition items and recreation and psycho-social relief items have been given priority. While numbers of families crossing the border into Tunisia are reported as relatively low to date, UNICEF is concerned that within Libya, children and women have been severely affected by the unrest.

Mr. Arsenault will travel to Ras Jdir, on the Tunisia – Libya border on Wednesday to meet with people who have fled the unrest in Libya. He will also meet with aid officials and local authorities to discuss the needs of those at the Tunisian border.

UNICEF today issued an Immediate Needs Document requesting $7.2 million to address the urgent needs of children and women affected by the crisis in Libya. This document will feed into the Inter-Agency flash appeal due in the coming days.

The appeal for funding comes as UNICEF moves to scale up operations with staff already deployed to the border regions of Tunisia and Egypt to assess the needs of returnees and migrant workers fleeing civil unrest in Libya. On both borders UNICEF is working in support of UNHCR, IOM, and in collaboration with Egyptian and Tunisian Red Crescent Societies.

About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 22,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit http://www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:
Marci Greenberg, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2464, mgreenberg(at)unicefusa(dot)org
Lauren Monahan, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9136, lmonahan(at)unicefusa(dot)org

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Marci Greenberg
U.S. Fund for UNICEF
212-922-2646
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Lauren Monahan
U.S. Fund for UNICEF
212-880-9136
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