More than 16,000 children are displaced in eastern Libya following “Africa’s deadliest storm in recorded history,” UNICEF has warned.
The UN agency said Friday that the displaced children’s psychosocial well-being is at stake, noting that many more children are affected due to a lack of essential services, such as health, schooling, and safe water supply.
While the number of children among the casualties is not yet confirmed, UNICEF fears hundreds died in the disaster, given that children account for about 40 percent of the population.
UNICEF stated that significant damage to health and education infrastructure means children once again risk further disruption to their learning and the outbreak of deadly diseases.
It noted that waterborne illnesses are a growing concern due to water supply issues, significant damage to water sources and sewer networks, and the risk of groundwater contamination.
In Derna alone, 50 percent of water systems are estimated to have been damaged.
UNICEF has actively supported the children in eastern Libya since day two of the crisis.
Sixty-five metric tons of relief supplies have been delivered to affected areas, including medical supplies for 50,000 people for three months, family hygiene kits for almost 17,000 people, 500 children’s winter clothing sets, 200 school-in-a-box kits, and 32,000 water purification tablets.
UNICEF has also dispatched mobile child protection and psychosocial support teams to help children cope with the emotional toll of the disaster.