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UNICEF: Half a million Libyan kids in 'direct' danger

By
Darryl Coote
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees relocated 150 refugees at a detention center near the conflict to a safe area for their protection. Photo courtesy of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Libya/Twitter
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees relocated 150 refugees at a detention center near the conflict to a safe area for their protection. Photo courtesy of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Libya/Twitter

April 10 (UPI) -- Nearly half a million Libyan children are in danger, UNICEF said this week, as government forces try to repel insurgent fighters advancing on Tripoli.

"Violence has escalated over the past few days in and around the Libyan capital Tripoli," UNICEF Special Representative in Libya Abdel-Rahman Ghandour said in a statement. "Nearly half a million children in Tripoli and tens of thousands more in the western areas are at direct risk due to the intensification of fighting."

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Ghandour then urged all parties of the conflict to protect every child "at all times."

"UNICEF reminds all parties to refrain from committing grave violations against children, including the recruitment and use of children in fighting," he said.

The agency said that it would remain in Libya to provide support to the children and their families.

Due to the fighting, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees also said Tuesday that it had relocated over 150 refugees from the Ain Zara Detention Center near the conflict to its Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli.

The call comes as the World Health Organization tallied 47 people killed and 181 wounded since last week when Gen. Khalifa Haftar, 75, sent his Libyan National Army towards Tripoli to take over the reins of the country from the United Nations-backed Libyan government.

Government forces have fought insurgencies as part of a conflict that began in 2014 as sides struggle for control over the country since the death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

WHO also warned that the conflict, which has already claimed the lives of two doctors, could risk the depletion of medical supplies, Middle East Monitor reported.

The U.N., the United States and the European Union have all called on both sides for a ceasefire and to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict, which has gone ignored by the Libyan National Army forces.

On Monday, Meitiga airport was hit by an airstrike that has been blamed on the insurgencies.

On Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and reiterated his call for an immediate halt to military operations and a de-escalation of the situation to prevent an all-out war.

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"All Libyans deserve peace, security, prosperity and respect for human rights," said U.N. Secretary-General Spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

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