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UN seeks $90 mn for Mideast children as virus deepens poverty

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Amman (AFP)

The UN children's agency on Monday appealed for $92.4 million in new funds for the Middle East and North Africa to help combat the effects of coronavirus on already poverty-stricken areas.

"The region has the biggest number of children in need in the world due to ongoing conflicts and wars," said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement.

The combination of a lack of "or inadequate basic services, years of conflict, poverty, deprivation and now COVID-19 are hitting vulnerable children the most, making their hard lives simply unbearable," he added.

Nearly 25 million children across the region are in need, including many who are refugees and internally displaced, the statement said.

The majority were uprooted due to armed conflicts in Iraq, Libya, the Palestinian territories, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, it said.

The devastating effects of population lockdowns -- introduced to forestall the spread of coronavirus -- on employment and business will drag around eight million more people into poverty regionally, an estimated half of them children, UNICEF added.

Around 110 million children are now stuck at home rather than in school, it said.

The agency was therefore working with education ministries across the region on "distant learning programmes and... making material available on radio, TV and online platforms" for continuity of learning.

It also said it was focusing on distributing printed copies of learning materials for "vulnerable communities".

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