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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on the Situation in Sri Lanka

2009-03-17

NEW YORK, 17 March 2009 - “Hundreds of children have been killed and many more injured as a result of the conflict in Sri Lanka. Thousands are now at risk because of a critical lack of food, water and medicines.”

“Children and their families caught in the conflict zone are at risk of dying from disease and malnutrition.”

“Regular, safe access for humanitarian agencies is urgently required, so that lifesaving supplies can be provided, and civilians must be allowed to move to safe areas where essential humanitarian support is more readily available.”

“The rights of children caught in the conflict must be fully respected and every effort should be taken to prevent civilian casualties.”

“UNICEF, together with other UN agencies and partners, is providing emergency water and sanitation, health, nutrition, protection and education support for many of the 40,000 people who have been able to leave the conflict zone.”

“Children are the innocent victims of Sri Lanka’s conflict. They desperately need assistance and extraordinary efforts must be taken to protect them.”

About the UNICEF Executive Director

Ann M. Veneman assumed the leadership of UNICEF on 1 May 2005, becoming the fifth Executive Director to lead UNICEF in its 60-year history. Prior to joining UNICEF, Veneman served as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. At UNICEF, Veneman directs a global agency of over 10,000 staff and annual total resources of more than $3 billion, funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of governments, businesses, foundations and individuals. Since assuming the position of Executive Director, she has traveled around the world, witnessing firsthand the work of UNICEF, speaking at meetings and conferences, and visiting heads of state or government and other partners.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.