KATHMANDU/NEW YORK, 4 February 2003 – For the sake of Nepal’s children, UNICEF today urged parties to the country’s conflict to ensure that the recently announced cease-fire is swiftly followed by a peaceful resolution to a conflict that has had an increasingly severe impact on children and women.
Speaking towards the end of a three-day visit to the country, during which she met King Gyanendra and Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said she welcomed the cease-fire as the first step to restoring peace for Nepal’s children.
“The cease-fire and the promise of all-party talks have provided a ray of hope for Nepal’s 11 million children, who have been increasingly affected by violence and fear, especially in these last several months,” Bellamy said. “As they gather around the negotiating table, I urge all parties to keep Nepal’s children at the forefront of their considerations."
"By focusing on their shared responsibility for the safety and well-being of children, leaders can find common ground and an undeniable imperative to build a lasting peace," Bellamy added.
The UNICEF chief noted that the conflict has taken a direct toll on children, including thousands who have been killed, orphaned, injured or traumatized. “Not even schools have provided a safe haven for children. This is unacceptable,” Bellamy said.
UNICEF insists that, in this, as in any other conflict, children have an absolute right to be protected from violence. “ No one should come to a school bearing arms,” Bellamy asserted. She further suggested that as part of efforts to build confidence in achieving a peaceful solution, codes of conduct should be agreed upon and monitored based on certain basic principles.
Similarly, health facilities and health workers must be protected from violence, and free passage guaranteed for all essential drugs, food, and other services.
Speaking of her private meetings with Nepali children affected by the conflict, Bellamy said she was moved. “I was troubled by their stories and the obvious pain they’ve suffered, but I was even more touched by the fact that none of these children expressed desire for revenge, they simply called for peace.”
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