DAKAR - 12 November 2004 - UNICEF has received extremely disturbing reports that children have been involved in recent street violence in Abidjan and elsewhere in Cote d’Ivoire. Whatever interests may be at stake for the parties concerned and whatever the motivations, it is unacceptable for children to be involved or associated with violent activities of any kind, for whatever purpose. Numerous families are also reportedly still searching for their children who are thought to have participated in the recent street demonstrations. UNICEF is very worried about this separation of families.
“We are asking all parties to the conflict to take every action necessary to ensure that no child in Cote d’Ivoire be associated in any fashion with violent or armed activities,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Rima Salah. “To mobilize children or to allow children to take part in such violent or armed activities is a flagrant violation of their rights.”
UNICEF reminds parents, families, communities, and traditional and religious leaders that they are all responsible for the well-being of
children and the protection of their rights, and launches an urgent appeal to communities throughout Cote d’Ivoire to take concrete actions to protect children from all negative effects of the current crisis. The respect of children’s rights is the responsibility of all, including governments and institutions.
UNICEF calls upon all parties to the conflict, and upon communities themselves, to concretely and immediately:
1) ensure that children do not become separated from their parents or families
2) keep children away from all forms of physical and verbal violence
3) keep schools open, safe, and accessible to all children
4) maintain access to health care for all children
5) protect children, and particularly young girls, from any form of sexual abuse and sexual violence
Since September of 2002, UNICEF and partners have reunited more than 3,000 children with their families in Cote d’Ivoire, and will continue supporting all partners to reunite separated and missing children with their families.
For further information, please contact:
UNICEF Cote d’Ivoire: Jeff Brez: +225-05-853118 or
UNICEF WCARO: Kent Page: +221-545-8580 or
UNICEF Geneva: Damien Personnaz: +41-22-909-5716 or
UNICEF New York: Oliver Phillips: +1-212-326-7583: