Tens of thousands of children and civilians in Libya continue to suffer “grievously” amid the violence and chaos of the country’s longstanding civil war, the UN Children’s Fund said Friday, calling for a durable peace agreement to be reached “for the sake of each and every child.” “Today, children in Libya are in a dire and untenable situation that the rest of the world should find unacceptable,” UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore said in a statement, ahead of a peace summit in Berlin. “We urgently call on all parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them to protect children, end the recruitment and use of children, cease attacks against civilian infrastructure, and allow for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to children and people in need,” Fore said.
The situation in Tripoli and western Libya has deteriorated further since in April last year when hostilities broke out, leaving hundreds dead and more than 150,000 internally displaced — 90,000 of them children. Children are being maimed, killed or recruited for fighting, UNICEF said. Hospitals, schools and other infrastructure that children depend upon for their well-being and survival has also come under attack. Nearly 30 health facilities have been damaged in the fighting and 13 of them had to be closed, the agency said. Almost 200,000 children have been left out of school. Water systems have also been attacked and the waste management system “has virtually collapsed,” greatly increasing the risk of diseases like cholera, UNICEF said.