Deploring the “appalling” suicide bomb attack that killed over 10 children and injured dozens more in northern Iraq, a senior United Nations official today appealed to the conflict-wracked country’s political, religious and civil leaders to find a way to put an end to the violence.
“It is our collective duty to protect children as well as their places of learning,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui said in a statement on yesterday’s attack in which the bomber detonated a truck filled with explosives on a school playground in a village in Mosul Province.
“Deliberately killing or injuring young children at their school is appalling. This is a grave violation of children’s rights and I remind everyone that schools are and must remain safe havens,” she added. “I call on political, religious and civil leaders to come together to find a solution to this surge of violence that is deeply affecting children.”
The surge of violence in Iraq spares no one and no place, the statement goes on to say. In the past few weeks and months, children have been killed or injured by attacks targeting civilians. Schools, as well as recreational areas where children gather to play, have been targeted.
Ms. Zerrougui works with the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners to monitor and report on grave child rights violations, including attacks on schools.
According to the statement, the armed group Islamic State of Iraq/Al-Qaida in Iraq is listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict for recruitment and use, killing and maiming of children as well as attacks on schools and hospitals.
Nearly 1,000 Iraqis were killed and more than 2,100 wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in September, according to UNAMI.