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UNICEF seeks $93M for poor children in war-torn Mideast, North Africa

By
Don Jacobson
Palestinian children wear protective face masks as they play video games in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 22. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
Palestinian children wear protective face masks as they play video games in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 22. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

April 20 (UPI) -- The United Nations children's agency said Monday it's seeking $93 million to help young victims of the coronavirus pandemic in Middle Eastern and North African nations where they're at the most risk.

Ted Chaiban, regional director of UNICEF, said the aid is desperately needed by children in Yemen and other regional countries where they already face economic displacement and dangers of armed conflict and worsening poverty.

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"The region has the biggest number of children in need in the world due to ongoing conflicts and wars," he said. "It has the highest unemployment rates among young people while nearly half of all children in the region live in a multi-dimension of poverty; deprived of basic services including education, housing, nutrition, healthcare, safe water, sanitation and access to information."

The situation, UNICEF said, is particularly grim in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Libya, where years of conflict and poverty have been compounded by near-total lockdowns due to the pandemic.

The health emergency has led to the loss of about 1.7 million jobs in the Middle East and North Africa, the agency said, and the region already had nearly 25 million children in need, including refugees and internally displaced.

Chaiban said the $93 million would be used to better fund the agency's efforts during the outbreak, including its delivery of supplies, educational outreach, repairing water networks and setting up distance learning programs.

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A health worker with the Israeli national emergency service, Magen David Adam, wears protective gear while taking swabs to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing center in East Jerusalem on August 26. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

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