By Bayram Altug and Betul Yuruk
GENEVA (AA) – More than 20 million children in the Middle East need immediate help, the UN children’s agency said.
Sunday is Universal Children’s Day and UNICEF has called for the rights of every child to be protected.
“More than 20 million children, who have been affected by wars and clashes in the Middle East, particularly Syria, Iraq and Yemen, need immediate humanitarian aid,” Juliette Touma, UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa communications chief, told Anadolu Agency.
She added: “We are worried about the fate of more than 100,000 children in southern Aleppo. They remain in-between heavy bombardment, siege and violence.”
According to UNICEF, 4.7 million children are waiting for aid in Iraq while 10 million children were in a “terrible” situation in Yemen and in need of humanitarian aid.
“Unrestricted access should be allowed for charitable organizations to reach children who are in need,” Touma said in comments aimed at the international community.
Meanwhile, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake marked Children’s Day by condemning the violation of children’s rights.
“They’re being violated in eastern Aleppo and other besieged areas across Syria, where children are cut off from food, water and medical care,” he said in a statement.
“They’re being violated in Yemen, where children are dying because we cannot reach thousands of them with therapeutic foods to treat acute malnutrition — and where cholera now threatens more young lives…
“They’re being violated around the world, in every country, wherever children are the victims of violence, abuse and exploitation.”
Lake also called for access in Yemen following the introduction of a 48-hour cease-fire. “Eighteen months of conflict have led to the deaths of well over 1,000 children and left millions more without access to basic care and at risk of imminent death,” Lake said.
He added: “We urge all parties to the cease-fire to allow unhindered humanitarian access for the delivery of life-saving supplies and services to all children in need. It cannot be in anyone’s interest to endanger the future of Yemen — its children.”