UNICEF urges all parties to protect Iraqi children

Statement Attributable to UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy
AMMAN/GENEVA/ NEW YORK, 20 March 2003 - "UNICEF is deeply concerned about the impact of this war on Iraqi children and women. We know that in wartime children are the most vulnerable population. This is especially so in Iraq, where poor governance, two prior wars, and years of international sanctions have combined to weaken the Iraqi population.

"Iraqi children are extremely vulnerable. More than 1 million children under age five are malnourished. When children are poorly nourished they are susceptible to disease. Disease spreads rapidly during war, when safe water supplies are disrupted, people are displaced from their homes, and sources of food and medicine are compromised. When you factor in the loss of education and the psycho-social trauma, there is no question that war takes its greatest toll on children. And we should all remember that children make up half of Iraq's population.

"I urge the parties to this conflict to abide by their international humanitarian obligations. I urge the parties to this conflict to make the safety of children a priority. And I urge them to do all in their power to protect children's lives, their health, and their general well-being."

For further information please contact us:.

Wivina Belmonte, UNICEF Geneva:, (+41-79) 909-5509
Alfred Ironside, UNICEF New York,, (+1-212) 326-7261
Jo Bailey, UNICEF Media, New York,, (1-212) 326-7412

For interviews in the region, write or call directly to
the UNICEF NewsDesk in Amman:(962-79) 50422058,