HAITI: UN Special Representative Calls For Child Protection After Unprecedented Increase Of Children Abductions

New York, 21 December 2006 – Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, expresses her deep concern about the recent escalation of violence mostly targeting children in Haiti.

"I strongly condemn the increasing number abductions and violence against children. It has been officially confirmed that a total of 29 school children have been abducted by different criminal and armed groups between 13 and 15 December, in the capital and in other regions of the country. I urge parties to take immediate action to ensure protection of children", she declared. These incidents have increased the level of panic amongst the population, leading to the anticipated closure of schools for the holiday period.

The Special Representative is also seriously concerned by official reports indicating the presence of children in recent front line confrontations in conflict zones. In Carrefour Feuilles, in the slum area of Port-au-Prince, 29 cases of rapes have been reported in just one week, including a 16 year old girl raped by 6 armed bandits and a 4 year old girl raped by a member of an armed group on 9 November.

According to the UN Secretary General Annual Report on the situation of children and armed conflict (S/2006/826), widespread and systematic rape and other sexual violence against girls are of particular concern, estimating that 50 per cent of the girls living in conflict zones have been victims of rape and sexual violence.

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For further information, please contact:

Laurence Gerard, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, United Nations, New York. Telephone: 1 212 963 0984. E-mail: gerardl@un.org. www.un.org/children/conflict