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40,000 KIDS HAVE DIED IN LEBANON WAR, UNICEF SAYS

The United Nations Children's Fund in Lebanon said more than 40,000 children have been killed in 15 years of civil war and an entire generation has grown up "with fear in their hearts and panic in their minds."

"Leave them in peace, give them a chance that might be the last chance of the country," UNICEF representative Andre Roberfroid told a news conference Tuesday at the U.N. Information Center in Beirut."To all who have any responsibility, I ask them (to) consider that children are no part in this conflict. They have nothing to do with the causes nor the objectives of this conflict," Roberfroid said on the "International Day of Children: Victims of Aggression."

He said in any conflict, basic needs of the children and their fundamental rights must constitute a minimum common understanding among all parties.

"It is possible to agree that at least we will protect the child and will secure his health, education and physical security," the U.N. official said. "Wherever they are, whoever their parents are, the children need health protection, schooling, safe home, playgrounds and loving families."

Roberfroid noted that an entire generation of Lebanese children was born and lived all its childhood in a climate of war and aggression "as normal organization of human society."

"Thousands of children have been subjected to stress and fear, of guns and bullets, of shells and bombs," he said. "They have learned to hide and live underground with fear in their hearts and panic in their minds."