UN issues statement on the situation of children in Libya

Posted on | april 21, 2011 | No Comments

UN photo: Radhika Coomaraswamy

The situation in Libya appears to be slowly shifting for some as it seems Gaddafi’s grip on the contry and it’s people may be loosing strength following weeks of internal conflict and air strikes by Western forces.  However lost in the shaddows chaios of conflict and the media blitz that often follows is the plight of the country’s children.

As noted in my previous post, Libya’s Children Caught in Turmoil as the Conflict Escalates, the children of Libya have been left in peril as they face serious risks to both their health and safety, amid the country’s continuing violence.   Children vulnerable to emotional distress from being uprooted from their homes, schools and all their daily familiarities. Children are suffrering as they are without or have little access to education, steady rations of food and water, and many continue to find themselves and in internal and external displacement camps as the violence continues.  Many children have or where, separated from their families, and it is in such times of crisis and conflict that often render children vulnerable to child traffickers.

On March 9, 2011,  United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, issued a Statement on the protection of children in Libya, stating that the UN had recieved “…unconfirmed reports from human rights groups, civilians on the ground, and the media of violations against children in Libya—including killing and maiming and use of children as combatants and the denial of humanitarian access.”

The concern over the stablity of the country and the protection of children’s lives and rights has only escelated as the violence and political instablity continues. Media reports of children being spunt into propaganda tools and pupils has been reported across global media sources. Children continue to be the victims of violence as  However even graver concerns are being made as children are being foreibly recruited as child soldiers.

The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, issued a statement early today voicing concerns on the situation of children caught in the conflicts in Misrata and Libya.

“Despite outcry from the international community, children continue to be the victims of the conflict in Libya. Last month, I called on all parties in Libya to protect children and to ensure than none were associated with any armed forces or groups. However, credible information on recruitment and use of children continues to be received by my Office daily. In addition, there have been increasingly alarming reports of other violations against children. The situation of girls and boys in the besieged city of Misrata is of particular concern at this time when heavy shelling, bombardment, and land mines claim children as victims. Humanitarian access is also hampered by the current fighting and several hospitals have been damaged.

I again urge the Government of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, pro-government elements, and opposition forces to immediately stop using children as combatants. The killing and maiming of girls and boys must end. And I remind all parties that attacks on hospitals and denial of humanitarian aid are also grave violations against children.  Perpetrators from all sides of the conflict in Libya will be held accountable.”

Today as the conflict continues to boil and the country’s future remains uncertain one can only hope that the warnings of the International community will not fall on deaf ears and that Lybia’s children will be spared from the most heinous atrocities of armed conflict.

AUTHOR: Cassandra Clifford
URL: www.bridgetofreedomfoundation.org and http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com
E-MAIL: Cassandra [at] btff.org


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