UNICEF chief voices concern over fate of children in Sudan unrest
Children arrive at the Zamzam IDP camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), near El Fasher in North Darfur February 4, 2015. (Xinhua/REUTERS)
UNITED NATIONS, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), on Tuesday voiced grave concern over the fate of children in Sudan amid violence following the ousting of former President Omar al-Bashir in April.
At least 19 children have reportedly been killed and 49 others have been injured since June 3, said Fore. "I am gravely concerned at the impact of the continuing violence and unrest in the country on children and young people, especially the reported use of excessive force against peaceful protesters."
UNICEF has received information that children are being detained, recruited to join the fighting and sexually abused. Schools, hospitals and health centers have been targeted, looted and destroyed. Health workers have been attacked simply for doing their job, she said in a statement.
Many parents are too scared to let their children leave the house, fearful of violence, harassment and lawlessness. Water, food and medicine shortages have been reported across the country, putting children's health and well-being at risk, she said.
Children throughout Sudan are already bearing the brunt of decades of conflict, chronic underdevelopment and poor governance. The current violence is making a critical situation even worse, she noted.
Fore called for an end to violence in the country and for the protection of children at all times. Any attack on children, schools or hospitals is a grave violation of children's rights, she said.
"I join the (UN) secretary-general in urging the parties to pursue peaceful dialogue and resume negotiations over the transfer of power to a civilian-led transitional authority."
The children of Sudan want peace. The international community needs to take a firm stand in support of their aspirations, she said.
Fore called on the Sudanese authorities to allow humanitarian organizations to respond to those in need, including through access to hospitals that have been off-limits or closed.
UNICEF's work for children in Sudan continues, providing millions of children with vaccines, safe water, treatment for severe acute malnutrition and psychosocial support, she said.