UNICEF extremely concerned about the impact of escalating conflict in Somalia on children
24 children killed and 58 seriously injured in October
NAIROBI, Kenya – UNICEF is extremely concerned about the impact on children of the escalating conflict in Somalia.
“Increasing numbers of children and civilians are being caught in attacks and cross-fire across the south and centre of Somalia” said UNICEF’s Representative to Somalia, Sikander Khan. “Over the last several weeks, we have seen a very worrying rise in killings and serious injuries of children."
According to the UN’s monitoring and reporting mechanism for grave violations of children’s rights, 24 children have been killed in the conflict in October; nearly double the number of child killings confirmed in every month this year. In addition, 58 children have been confirmed to have sustained serious injuries in October; the largest number of children injured as a result of the armed conflict in Somalia in any month this year. To date in 2011, the monitoring and reporting mechanism has confirmed nearly 300 children to be seriously injured and over 100 children killed in the on-going conflict.
“While we have confirmed these numbers of children to have already been killed and seriously injured it is likely that the scale is much greater with many more killings and injuries of children either unconfirmed or unreported,” Khan noted.
Also of concern are the recruitment and use of children for armed services and sexual violence of children and women. This year, the UN’s monitoring and reporting mechanism has confirmed over 600 children to be recruited and used for armed service with over 200 more, mostly girls, confirmed to have been raped.
“Somali children’s lives are being put more and more in grave danger with the increasing conflict. In accordance with international law, we call on all parties to the conflict in Somalia to stop all killing, maiming, recruitment for armed services and rape of children. All children must immediately be assured of safety and protection from hostile acts”, stated Khan.
Escalating violence also threatens the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.
“Many of the hundreds of thousands of children already facing a situation of life and death due to famine and disease are now facing the risk of having life-saving assistance cut off to them. We call on all actors to enable us to respond fully and rapidly to children and women in urgent need. Thousands of children’s lives are at stake and on our watch”, Khan declared.
The UN system has been monitoring grave violations of children’s rights by parties to the conflict in Somalia since late 2005, in compliance with Security Council Resolutions 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009) and 1998 (2011). Over the last several years, information has been collected about grave child rights violations, including: killing and maiming, recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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.