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Somalia, 7 June 2011: UNICEF shocked at new reports of increase in child casualties

Children face multiple threats to life in ongoing conflict which no longer is at the forefront of world attention

NEW YORK, 7 June 2011 – UNICEF is shocked at new reports of an increase in child casualties in Somalia. In the central south of the country grave violations of children’s rights are taking place every day in a conflict the world has largely forgotten.

At the end of May alone, forty children below the age of fifteen were reportedly killed in the latest wave of fighting in Mogadishu, after they were forcibly recruited by Al-Shabaab fighters. As consistently reported by human rights groups, forced recruitment in Al-Shabaab-controlled areas continues to be on the rise.  UNICEF is also highly concerned about the fate of children who escape from armed groups who have no safe place to go, and those who are captured in the line of combat and detained for reasons related to the armed conflict.

According to WHO, children under the age of 5 also accounted for 46 per cent of all weapon-related injuries in Mogadishu in May 2011 compared to only 3.5 per cent in January.

Children in central south Somalia face never-ending suffering in what is arguably one of the most extreme, indiscriminate and complex conflicts in today’s world.

Somali children are the most affected by the unrelenting violence in which they risk being killed, maimed or injured when caught in crossfire or as a result of being unlawfully recruited and used on the front lines by all parties to the conflict. Thousands of Somalia children are reported to be directly involved in the fighting.

Every aspect of the conflict has a detrimental and disproportionate impact on children in central south Somalia. It affects their physical and mental well-being, exposes them to extreme life-threatening situations, displacement and food insecurity and leaves them without health care, education and protection from violence, abuse and exploitation.

In addition, 75 per cent of acutely malnourished children (at least 180,000) are in Somalia’s southern regions, only 30 per cent of the population has access to safe water and school enrolment is amongst the lowest in the world at only 22 per cent in the Central South.

Not only is this a tragic humanitarian disaster for children now, it also represents a critical challenge to peace and stability in Somalia in the future.

A call made by children in Somalia for education, good governance and less violence has gone mostly unheard. However, the world cannot continue to ignore the children’s crisis in Somalia.

Without a population of literate individuals who understand the concept of human rights, peace and democracy, the building blocks for future stability in Somalia are absent.

Editor's Note: UNICEF is the sole or largest provider of supplies and technical expertise for water, education, health and nutrition services in Somalia and continues to advocate for and support interventions to protect Somali children against violence, exploitation and abuse.

 

 
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