2 June 2011 The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has draw attention to what it describes as grave violations of children’s rights that are taking place every day in Somalia, which has been wracked by factional warfare since the collapse of the government 20 years ago.
“Children in central-south Somalia face never-ending (unremitting) suffering in what is arguably one of the most extreme, indiscriminate and complex conflicts in today’s world,” the agency stated in a news release issued yesterday.
“Somali children are the most affected by the unrelenting violence in which they risk being killed, maimed or injured when caught in crossfire or as a result of being unlawfully recruited and used on the front lines by all parties to the conflict,” it added.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that violence in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has driven the number of child casualties to a new high, and that the main causes of children’s deaths were burns, chest injuries and internal haemorrhage resulting from blasts, shrapnel and bullets.
UNICEF said that reports by WHO of a 46 per cent increase in weapon-related injuries to children under the age of five in Mogadishu last month underscore the vulnerability of Somali children in the ongoing conflict.
The agency drew attention to the “detrimental and disproportionate” impact the conflict has on children’s physical and mental well-being. Ongoing violence also exposes them to displacement and food insecurity and leaves them without health care, education and protection from abuse.
“Not only is this a tragic humanitarian disaster in the present, it also represents a critical challenge to peace and stability in Somalia in the future,” warned UNICEF.
Somalia has had no fully functioning national government and has been wracked by factional warfare since the collapse in 1991 of the administration led by the late Muhammad Siad Barre.
An estimated 2.4 million people – or about a third of the country’s 7.2 million people – are in need of relief aid as a result of drought and two decades of conflict, most recently between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Al-Shabaab Islamic militants.
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