News and Events: Press releases

UNICEF backs government efforts to ensure Lebanese children return to school on time

BEIRUT, 23 August 2006 - International donors have been urged to support the Lebanese government’s efforts to ensure that the destruction and upheaval caused by the recent conflict does not prevent children returning to class for the new academic year.

Speaking at a UNICEF-sponsored gathering in Beirut, the minister of education, Dr Khaled Kabbani, said preliminary assessments of war damage showed that up to 50 schools in the south of Lebanon had been completely destroyed, while up to 300 others had suffered serious damage.

“We must provide our pupils, students and teachers with the means to undertake a normal school year (despite) the destruction and losses suffered in this terrible war,” Dr Kabbani told the meeting, attended by representatives of Arab, European and other embassies and UN agencies.

The minister said preliminary estimates put the losses sustained by the education sector at $70 million, including damage to infrastructure, equipment and supplies. He confirmed that government schools would resume classes on 9 October, about three weeks later than originally scheduled.

UNICEF Representative, Roberto Laurenti, underlined the scale of the challenge facing the education authorities.

“The slogan ‘education for all’ has never carried as much meaning as in the current situation,” said Laurenti. “By getting children back to school, we are helping ensure their  return to normal life.”

The cost of providing school bags for 350,000 children, and of equipment and supplies for 1,500 government schools will be contained in a revised appeal to be launched by UNICEF – together with other UN agencies – later this week.

UNICEF will also support the rehabilitation of more than 150 schools in Beirut and other areas that were used as emergency shelters for families displaced by the war.

 Since the start of the crisis in Lebanon, UNICEF has provided:

- 51 Water Tanks with a 5,000 litres capacity, to IDP centres in Beirut, Aley, Metn and Chouf areas; Beneficiaries reached: 25,300 persons. 1 x 5,000 litre tank and 2 x 1,500 litre tanks supplied to Marjayoun;

- Over 1 million litres of drinking water has been provided weekly to IDP centres in Beirut and Metn areas (300,000 litres weekly);

- Over 300,800 litres of bottled water to communities in south Lebanon;

- 385 water kits (containing  collapsible containers, purification tablets and other items) throughout Beirut, Mount Lebanon, the South, North, and Bekaa; IDPs reached: 78,000;

- 3,150 boxes of water purification tablets to Beirut and the South; IDPs reached: 63,000;

- Essential drugs (including ORS & lice treatment) reaching  70,000;

- Vaccination against measles to 16,500 children: vaccination against polio to more than 9,000 ; Vitamin A capsules for more than 9,000;

- Implementation of public awareness campaign on the threat posed by unexploded ordnance. TV and radio spots have been produced and aired; 100,000 leaflets are being distributed at army checkpoints in south Lebanon;

- 27,840 bags/bars of soap to Beirut, Mount Lebanon, the South, North, Bekaa; IDPs reached: 101,000;

- 279,000 diapers to Beirut, Mount Lebanon, the South, North, and Bekaa; Children reached: 91,000;

- 370 recreation kits containing footballs and other games equipment. Children reached: 21,000.



For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Wolfgang Friedl, UNICEF Amman: Tel (+962) 6 553 9977 ext 422;

Soha Boustani, UNICEF Beirut: Tel  (+961) 3 236 167;

Simon Ingram, UNICEF Beirut: Tel (+961) 70 971 387/ (+2012) 214 2567

Michael Bociurkiw, UNICEF Geneva: Tel (+41) 79-216-9401;



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