Attacks on children 'horrific reminder' of terrible price they pay in conflict – UNICEF

A boy in Grade 1 with the school bag distributed by UNICEF and partners in central Damascus, Syria. Photo: UNICEF/Razan Rashidi

7 November 2014 – Two deadly attacks on children in Ukraine and Syria on the same day this week serve as a “horrific reminder” of the terrible price youngsters are paying in these brutal wars, the United Nations children's agency said today as it urged all conflict parties to keep children out of harm's way.

In Syria, an attack on the Al Hayat Primary School in the district of Qaboun in eastern Damascus on Wednesday killed 11 children and injured many more, reported UNICEF's country representative, Hanaa Singer.

The Qaboun assault is the latest in a series of indiscriminate attacks on schools, teachers and students. In the first nine months of 2014 alone, the United Nations in Syria has verified at least 35 such incidents that killed 105 children and injured 293.

“The real numbers are surely higher, and there are indications that attacks in some areas may have been deliberate,” Ms. Singer said, expressing her deepest sympathies to the families of the children who had lost their lives or been injured.

That same day, 5 November, at least two children were killed and four were injured in Ukraine as a result of shelling of a school sports field in Donetsk city.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, UNICEF representative Christophe Boulierac said the agency is outraged to learn of the casualties and expressed sympathy to the families of the children.

Mr. Boulierac stressed that UNICEF has repeatedly called on all parties to the conflict to uphold their responsibility to protect children, schools, and other civilian infrastructure from the conflict.

Schools should be zones of peace and safe havens where children could learn without fear of death or injury.

He reminded that all parties to any conflicts have specific obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws to afford children special protection.


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