Ambassador Norland participated in a virtual meeting on April 3 led by UNICEF’s Special Representative to Libya, Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, who provided Embassy staff with a briefing on UNICEF’s vital assistance to children in Libya. In addition, Mr. Ghandour described UNICEF’s ongoing coordination with the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health (MoH), the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), and other aid organizations to enhance public awareness of COVID-19 mitigation strategies and strengthen primary healthcare services for children and their families.
UNICEF Libya provides critical protection, health, nutrition, hygiene, and education support to hundreds of thousands of children and their family members. These activities range from administering lifesaving vaccines to rehabilitating schools and classrooms. To prevent against the spread of COVID-19 in Libya, UNICEF is working with the NCDC to produce and disseminate child-friendly health awareness materials. UNICEF is coordinating closely with the Ministry of Education to provide distance-learning options to schoolchildren, and the Ministry of Social Affairs to ensure the protection of populations at risk. UNICEF also continues to strengthen basic health, nutrition, and hygiene services for thousands of families in Libya.
As Libya marked one year since the onset of major hostilities in Tripoli, Ambassador Norland and Mr. Ghandour reflected on the many ways in which children are disproportionately affected by the conflict, including exposure to violence, displacement, and a lack of regular access to adequate basic services such as health, education, nutrition, water, and sanitation. They stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire to bring an end to the indiscriminate shelling of civilian infrastructure that has killed or maimed several innocent children in the last month alone. Between the ongoing conflict and the looming COVID-19 crisis, children in Libya face truly dire and untenable circumstances that require urgent attention by Libyan authorities.
The U.S. Department of State supports UNICEF in Libya with $1.5 million in funding for health and child protection activities in Tripoli, Misrata, Tawergha, and Benghazi. In addition, in March 2020 the U.S. government contributed $4.6 million to UNICEF’s global headquarters for COVID-19 response around the world. Follow @UnicefLibya to learn more about its activities across Libya.