United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy expressed her profound shock and sadness at the recent events in Qana and the brutal deaths of 37 children and their families. She strongly condemned the repeated attacks on civilians, and especially on children, noting that callous disregard for the lives of children has permeated this conflict from its start. The Special Representative joined the Secretary-General in calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. "The guns must stop firing", she said, "to give all parties time to reflect on the impact of this war on children and to provide the space necessary for the formulation of a political framework to ensure a more permanent peace".

"According to reports from our monitors on the ground, an estimated 177 children have been killed in Lebanon to date. And according to UNICEF, one third of the approximately 3,000 injured and 45 per cent of the 800,000 Lebanon's internally displaced people are believed to be children", Ms. Coomaraswamy said. Humanitarian relief operations are facing tremendous difficulties in delivering assistance to these needy children, and the constant bombardments are expected to leave permanent scars. In Israel, meanwhile, unguided rocket fire has also killed children, while many others remain in constant fear of indiscriminate shelling.

The Special Representative takes this opportunity to remind all parties that the Security Council, in resolution 1612 adopted in 2005, expressed its determination to ensure respect for international norms and standards for the protection of children affected by armed conflict. It prohibited the grave violations against children during times of war outlined in Security Council resolution 1539 that include killing, maiming, denial of humanitarian access and attacks on schools and hospitals. Her office, along with UNICEF and other UN partners, now has monitors on the ground in Lebanon and Israel to report on possible violations, and plans to report to the Council's Working Group on children and armed conflict at the earliest opportunity. According to resolution 1612 persistent violators – state and non-state actors alike – may face punitive measures if they continue to defy the resolutions of the Security Council.

"We cannot roll back years of agreed standards of international protection", the Special Representative stressed. "If we do so, no-one will emerge victorious. Time and time again, the world has united to protect children, and we must not fail them now".

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For further information, please contact:

Laurence Gerard, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children Affected by Armed Conflict, United Nations, New York. Telephone: 1 212 963 0984. E-mail: gerardl@un.org.