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UNICEF thanks Olara Otunnu

NEW YORK, 3 August 2005 – Reacting to his departure as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF said today that it was deeply grateful to Olara Otunnu for being an outspoken advocate for millions of children caught in conflict around the world.

UNICEF welcomed Mr. Otunnu’s appointment in 1997, following Graça Machel’s  groundbreaking study on the impact of conflict on children, and has worked closely with him over the years in highlighting issues affecting children in conflict zones. 

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah said UNICEF greatly appreciated Mr. Otunnu for “bearing witness to the atrocities children face in conflict, for telling and re-telling their stories for so many to hear, and for his persistent calls for accountability”.

She praised Mr. Otunnu for insisting that egregious violations of the rights of children in armed conflict cannot be overlooked or forgotten, and that the cloak of impunity must be lifted for all war crimes and abuses committed against children.

Ms. Salah also hailed Mr. Otunnu for his close work with UNICEF in negotiating the landmark resolution passed by the Security Council last week, which establishes a comprehensive monitoring and reporting system for children affected by armed conflict.

UNICEF also congratulated former Deputy Executive Director, Karin Sham Poo, on her appointment as the interim Special Representative.

UNICEF looks forward to working with Ms. Sham Poo and her eventual successor to help keep the myriad child protection issues in conflict high on the international agenda, including the ongoing recruitment and use of children as soldiers, the routine targeting and sexual exploitation of children, the killing and maiming of children, the arbitrary detention of children, the heightened risks of child trafficking, and the difficulties facing children separated from their parents and relatives. 

Monitoring and reporting of violations of children’s rights are central to these efforts, and must be improved if those who deliberately target, abuse, or exploit children during war are to be held accountable.

Together with Mr. Otunnu, UNICEF has been a vocal advocate for children caught up in conflict in places such as Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Uganda, and Sudan.


For further information, please contact:

Allison Hickling, UNICEF Media, NY (+1 212) 326-7224,





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