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UNICEF: National and community leaders in Côte d’Ivoire must put children first

2011-01-18

Dakar/Geneva, 18 January 2011 – UNICEF is calling on leaders in Côte d'Ivoire to ensure that all children are protected from violence, that they have continued access to health services and are able to go to school, during what continues to be a volatile political situation. The present tragedy would be compounded if ongoing political instability resulted in diseases left untreated, children being exploited or missing school.

In any crisis or emergency, children are the most vulnerable. National and community leaders in Côte d'Ivoire must ensure that those responsible for the well being of children are able to work and that children are not placed in the front line of political action.

UNICEF and its partners are responding to the needs of those displaced within the country, in addition to those who have crossed the borders into Liberia and Guinea. Over 28,000 Ivoirians, more than 75 per cent of whom are children and women, have sought refuge in neighboring communities in Liberia, where host communities were already struggling to meet their own food, shelter, water, sanitation, and health care needs.

In Côte d'Ivoire, UNICEF has already dispatched 20 tons of relief supplies in the West to assist people in need. A national yellow fever campaign is also being prepared to counter an outbreak that is affecting two districts of the country and has already claimed the lives of 25 people since the end of October 2010.

Food costs have risen steeply in the western region of Côte d'Ivoire since the start of the crisis. Over the long term, this may affect the nutritional status of children from the poorest families who are being forced to use up reserves.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

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.