New York, 7 November 2008 – Ms. Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed conflict, said she was horrified by the stoning to death of a young Somali girl on 27 October 2008. She strongly condemned the incident and urgently called for better protection of children in Somalia.

UNICEF reported that a 13 year old Somali girl, Aisha Duhulow, was stoned to death in a stadium of spectators in Kismayo on 27 October 2008 after having been found guilty of adultery. However, reports indicate that she had been raped by three men while traveling on foot to visit her grandmother in the war-torn capital, Mogadishu. Following the assault, she sought protection from local leaders, who then accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death.

“The incident highlights the extreme nature of violence against children and women in Somalia which has been heightened by the increasing lawlessness”, stated Ms. Coomaraswamy.

The Special Representative also raised serious concerns about widespread recruitment and use of children by all parties to the conflict. She also said that children were killed and maimed on a daily basis in military operations.

“It is the duty of the international community and the local authorities to stop these violations and to ensure better protection for children. No efforts should be spared”, concluded Ms. Coomaraswamy.

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