Lebanon: UNICEF calls for urgent action to protect minors

Many families have at least one child who has to skip a meal

23 November, 18:27

    Ted Chaiban, United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, chats with children in Beirut Ted Chaiban, United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, chats with children in Beirut

    BEIRUT - The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday called on authorities in Lebanon, a country currently in financial default and experiencing its worst economic crisis in recent decades, to adopt "urgent measures" to protect minors amidst a situation of growing food insecurity.

    According to UN data, 80% of the resident population in Lebanon lives under the poverty line and has to face the collapse of the exchange rate for the local currency, the Lebanese pound, to the US dollar.

    This has led to price spikes due to inflation, exacerbated by the banks' de facto imposition of capital controls on small and medium savers.

    Because of this, the average Lebanese citizen is more frequently experiencing shortages in essential goods and services such as medicines, fuel, electricity and water.

    "Urgent action is needed to ensure no child goes hungry, becomes sick, or has to work," said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF representative in Lebanon, in a statement.

    The UN agency's alarm is based on a survey tracking the situation of about 800 families, which was carried out between April and October.

    The study highlighted a drastic deterioration in these families' living conditions.

    "The future of an entire generation is at stake," said the report.

    It said that in October, 53% of families had at least one child who missed one meal a day.

    In April, that figure was 37%.

    "The percentage of families who sent their children to work rose from 9% to 12%" in six months, the report said.

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