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Statement by UNICEF on death of six children in Gardez

KABUL, 11 December 2003, – Following the announcement yesterday that six children were killed as the result of Coalition military activities in Gardez on Friday 5 December, the Afghanistan Country Office of the United Nations Children’s Fund has released the following statement :

“The United Nations Children's Fund learned with great dismay and regret that a further six children have been killed during a Coalition military operation in Gardez on Friday last. This second incident, coming shortly after the announcement that nine children were killed in Ghazni during another operation last week, is cause for grave concern.

Firstly, UNICEF would like to express its condolences and deepest sympathies to the families of those children who were killed in both incidents.

UNICEF would also like to remind all those parties involved in military operations in Afghanistan, that children must be afforded special protection by those planning and implementing military operations to avoid injury or other harm. The death of a single child is one death too many.

Echoing the earlier statement by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ambassador Brahimi, UNICEF reminds all parties of their obligations under international law to the protection of children in times of conflict. Firstly, Article 38 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that, in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law, parties must protect the civilian population in armed conflicts and take all feasible measures to ensure the protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict.

Furthermore, UNICEF draws all parties' attention to the 1974 UN Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Armed Conflict which calls for strict observance of the principles covering protection from attacks and bombing, and requires that all efforts be made to spare women and children from the ravages of war.

UNICEF welcomes the announcement that an enquiry into these incidents will be undertaken, and urges that the findings be made public immediately and that all steps necessary are taken by military forces to ensure the full protection of women and children in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is entering a crucial period of its history. UNICEF calls upon all those involved in military activity in Afghanistan to exercise the greatest caution in their operations to ensure that local communities do not lose faith in the essential reconstruction process now underway across the country. This is imperative, if the progress made for Afghanistan's children is not to be undone.

Incidents such as those which have been reported in recent days are unfortunate, and must not be allowed to happen again. It is not acceptable for children to become the victims of any form of conflict.” [ENDS]

For more information please contact
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Media – Kabul +93 (0)702 74729




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