UNICEF to create "child friendly spaces" in camps

The UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, and its partners, are to establish "child friendly spaces" in newly established camps for internally displaced persons in Liberia.

The UN agency said the effort was being undertaken so that children can experience "a degree of normalcy amid the chaos unfolding around them". Thousands of families have fled years of fighting between government troops and Liberian dissidents.

The friendly spaces would, UNICEF reported on 26 February, "will provide facilities for children to gather together to play, learn and acquire life skills" and safe areas where mothers can care for their infants. The agency's regional communication adviser for West and Central Africa, Margherita Amodeo, told IRIN on Monday that a school and recreational kits would be provided for the children. The school kit containing crayons, books, slates and teaching aids.

"Basically it has everything to be able to start a school under a tree, so to speak," she said. Teachers and nurses would, she added, be sought among the displaced and given "an incentive" to perform their tasks.

UNICEF plans to distribute supplies to some 3,000 displaced families. These include foam mattresses, cooking utensils, plastic buckets, plates, cups, spoons, slippers, bath towels and soap.

On 24 February, UNICEF airlifted 37 mt of emergency relief items from its supply division in Copenhagen, Denmark, to the Liberian capital Monrovia, for distribution to camps. These supplies included high protein biscuits, emergency health kits, plastic sheeting and vaccines.

Thousands of Liberian fled their homes in Lofa County, northwestern Liberia, in April 1999 in fighting between dissidents and government forces.

[For UNICEF statement visit http://www.unicef.org/media/newsnotes/02nn05liberia.htm]