UNICEF Tunisia Representative visits a transit camp on the Tunisia-Libya border 

UNICEF Tunisia Representative visits a transit camp on the Tunisia-Libya border

UNICEF Representative in Tunisia Maria-Luisa Fornara talks to a Somalian man at Shousha transit camp in Ras Jdir on the Tunisia – LIbya border. Thousands have fled the conflict in neighbouring Libya and are staying at the camp. UNICEF Image © UNICEF Tunisia/2011/Ramoneda

UNICEF Representative in Tunisia Maria-Luisa Fornara visited the Shousha transit camp on the Tunisia-Libya border today to review the emergency response to the crisis in Libya. Report by Dan Bhayi and Roshan Khadivi

She also met with families affected by the ongoing conflict. “We have teams and supplies in place and have been successful in responding to the immediate needs of these families,” said Ms. Fornara.

“We continue to review our contingency plans with partners as we discuss possible scenarios ahead of us.”

In the camp, Ms. Fornara met a group of UNICEF-deployed psychologists for a briefing. These psychologists meet daily with the affected families, assessing their needs and providing psycho-social support.

Providing support

They work with mothers and children simultaneously to help them cope with the trauma and reality of being displaced.

This is often a harsher reality for children, particularly as their schooling has been disrupted and they may have been separated from family and friends.

There are currently 7,000 people in the transit camps on the border. There are more than 350 families, including 150 children.

The situation is fluid as many new comers arrive in Ras Jdir as others return to their home countries.

“UNICEF is concerned about the well-being of women and children in the camp,” said Ms. Fornara. “We are committed to meet their basic needs and ensure that they are protected, particularly during this very difficult time.”

UNICEF, in close coordination with the Tunisian Ministry of Health and partners, continues to carry out vaccinations as well as setting up latrines, distributing hygiene kits and providing psycho-social support to mothers and children.

Since the beginning of the unrest in Libya in early March, more than 170,000 people have crossed the border to Tunisia, including hundreds of families.

Ongoing violence

Unconfirmed reports say that children and women have been killed or injured and hundreds internally displaced as the result of the conflict in Libya. Due to lack of access, it has been impossible to verify the reports.

“UNICEF is very concerned about the impact of the on-going violence on children and communities in Libya,” said Ms. Fornara.

Under last week’s Security Council Resolution, Libyan authorities have to respect the ceasefire and provide secure and unrestricted access to humanitarian agencies. UNICEF is gearing up for an emergency response inside Libya as soon as humanitarian access is granted.

Meanwhile, the emergency response on the Tunisian and Egyptian borders with Libya continues to provide humanitarian support to the affected families in collaboration with other United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and government officials.

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