By: AFP

Source: AFP

AMMAN: The UN children’s fund warned Tuesday that a funding gap and the start of winter could leave nearly one million children “out in the cold” in the Middle East and North Africa.

“Years of conflict, displacement and unemployment have reduced families’ financial resources to almost nothing. Staying warm has simply become unaffordable,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The UN agency said it was facing a $33-million funding gap –- two thirds of its total allocation — for assistance to children across the region this winter.

Cold and rainy weather would hit those living in extremely basic conditions, especially camps or crowded shelters with little protection.

“With cold and rainy weather sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa, nearly one million children affected by crises in the region risk being left out in the cold,” Cappelaere said in a statement.

“With little nutritious food and health care, children have grown weak, becoming prone to hypothermia and dangerous respiratory diseases,” he said.

UNICEF said it aims this winter to reach 1.3 million children in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt, providing them with warm clothes, thermal blankets, clean water and other hygiene support.