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UNICEF calls for release of children detained due to armed conflict

FILE PHOTO: Syrian Democratic Forces helps women and children fleeing the Islamic State group’s last pocket of territory

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has asked countries to release children in detention resulting from armed conflict.

According to UNICEF, many countries have not headed to the advice and as a result, 250 million children continue to be affected.

In the latest statement, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in areas where violent conflict continues including Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Yemen among others, parties will not be able to fight COVID-19 if they still fight each other.

She noted that in these areas, authorities need to release any children held in detention concerning the conflict or national security as the organization is ready to intervene regarding finding them safe conditions.

“Children living through these waking nightmares, a ceasefire could mean the difference between life and death”, she said.

On a positive note, however, heeding to the UN’s advice, some 11 countries have already committed to a cessation of hostilities during the pandemic but Fore says more need to do the same and come on board to make a difference for especially children on the ground.

Fore called upon authorities in areas where conflict continues to in the meantime to open their territories for access by humanitarian personnel to reach children and their families for essential services like food, water and healthcare protection.

However, among the countries that have already announced a cease-fire include Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the Philippines.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the unprecedented global cease fire appeal on March 23 to facilitate access to the most vulnerable populations for interventions to guard against further spread of COVID-19. This was the first global request in the organization’s 75-year history.



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