NEW YORK (Nov 15, 2011) — UNICEF is extremely concerned about the impact of the escalating conflict in Somalia on children.
"Increasing numbers of children and civilians are being caught in attacks and cross-fire across the south and center 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, it is confirmed that 58 children 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 that nearly 300 children have been seriously injured and more than 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 is the recruitment and use of children for armed forces and sexual violence of children and women. This year, the UN's monitoring and reporting mechanism has confirmed that more than 600 children have been recruited and used for armed service. In addition, more than 200 children, mostly girls, reportedly 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.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian aid organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health and immunizations, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency and disaster relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood.