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UN decries deaths of children in Mogadishu conflict

NAIROBI / KENYA , 5 February 2007 - Forces involved in the Somalia conflict must engage in dialogue to avoid deaths of children and innocent civilians as happened last week when three children were killed in Mogadishu, UNICEF Somalia Representative, Christian Balslev-Olesen said today.

The security situation in Mogadishu has witnessed deterioration as unknown attackers have staged hit-and-run attacks on Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian forces and they, in turn, have retaliated. Civilians are caught in the cross-fire.   According to reports, mortars launched into a settlement for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Talex village, Mogadishu, last Thursday night (1 February) left seven dead, including three children. 

At a time when UNICEF and UNHCR, other international organizations and local communities are working to ensure that children and IDPs gain access to services such as health, education and water, such incidents of insecurity are a major drawback and can only lead to trauma, helplessness and despair among the people of Mogadishu.

Said Balslev-Olesen, “Children should not be dying in conflict in Somalia. They should be going to school and getting access to social services. When children die or have their lives put at risk, the political leadership must hasten efforts to bring peace to the country to prevent further suffering.”

Even under ‘normal’ instances, IDPs live a perilous existence and the latest upsurge in intermittent violence has made their lives worse.  Children are among the most vulnerable in disadvantaged situations and they are now experiencing additional stress and fear.

“The violence has already taken a physical and mental toll on livelihoods for too long in Somalia,” said Balslev-Olesen as he echoed a call made to the warring parties by Mogadishu-based protection monitors, to protect children from violence. “IDP families, which are already among the most disadvantaged in society, have now been forced to flee from their shelters and do not know where to go. The callousness and desperation that has bred the chaos in Somalia must be brought to a halt.” 

Banadir and Medina hospitals in Mogadishu have reported admitting several children as victims of the mortar attack, most of them with severe injuries. 

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in 156 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.

For further information please contact:

Christian Balslev-Olesen, Representative, UNICEF Somalia. Email: cbalslev-olesen@unicef.org. Tel: +254-20-7623950/53/55/70. Mobile: +254-722-514-569/733-629-933.

Denise Shepherd-Johnson, Head Communication, Advocacy and External Relations, UNICEF Somalia: Email: dshepherdjohnson@unicef.org. Tel: +254-20-7623950/53/55/70. Mobile: +254-722-719-867

Catherine Weibel, Associate Information Officer, UNHCR Representation for Somalia. Email: weibel@unhcr.org.  Tel: +254-20-4222000


 

 

 

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