The High Civilian Casualties, Particularly Children, are Unacceptable
BAGHDAD/AMMAN, JORDAN, 1 March 2006: The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UNICEF Iraq Country Office strongly condemn the continuing violent attacks in Iraq which are taking an ever-increasing number of civilian lives, particularly those of children.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General Ashraf Qazi expressed his grave concern at the increasing civilian death toll, stating that, “This brutal violence that takes innocent lives, especially those of children, is totally unacceptable”. He stressed that the protection of civilians is an obligation that must be observed by all.
“It is important and necessary that all parties, including the Government, adhere to and respect international humanitarian law and are perceived by the population as doing so”, he said, adding that, “As Iraqis attempt to rebuild their country, callous acts of violence without regard to possible victims only serve to further intensify and prolong the pervasive sense of insecurity, uncertainty and fear”.
There is no official estimate of the number of Iraqi children who have died as a result of the violence in the past crucial months. Nevertheless, figures for civilians made public by a number of sources, such as Iraq Body Count, Brookings Institute, People's Kifah, and the UK Lancet, are all too high. One recent incident, which took place on 15 February in Baghdad, highlights the terrible crime that such violence represents -- three Iraqi children were killed by a bomb on their way to school.
The UNICEF Special Representative for Iraq Roger Wright said that in addition to the three children being indiscriminately robbed of their right to life and the terrible loss suffered by their families, “this type of incident creates fear in the hearts of all families. In addition to being afraid your child may never return home from school, just imagine how traumatised children who witness all this violence become. These are the Iraqi civilians and leaders of tomorrow. They must be allowed to grow up and develop in an environment of care and respect, not constant concern and anxiety”. He stressed “Enough is enough – it’s high time to put Iraqi children first – on everyone’s agenda.”
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