AFGHANISTAN: Higher Protection For Children’s Physical Integrity And Safety

New York, 27 August 2008 – The Special Representative voiced her grave concern on the high toll of civilian victims, mostly children, caused by an aerial bombardment in Shindand district of the Herat Province in Afghanistan on August 21.

Investigations by UNAMA, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, found convincing evidence that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children.

"I am really alarmed by the number of casualties caused by this air strike and other similar military operations. Children are bearing the brunt of this conflict and also experiencing physical and psychological trauma" Ms. Coomaraswamy said. “I would like to echo the call of SRSG Eide in reminding the international and Afghan military forces that they must review their operational procedures to avoid such tragic events from reoccurring”, she added.

The Special Representative strongly condemned the large number of deaths of civilians, and especially children, as a consequence of the escalation of the conflict. During her recent visit to the country, Ms. Coomaraswamy raised the need to limit such incidents with the leadership of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and other international military forces.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Laurence Gérard, Liaison Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. Phone: +1 212 963-0984- gerardl@un.org

Mr. Luca Solimeo, Associate Communication Officer – Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict – solimeo@un.org – +1917-367-3563