18 January 2013

Somalia: UN Official Urges African Union Troops to Minimize Child Casualties

A senior United Nations official today urged the African Union to strengthen its efforts to minimize child casualties in their operations after several children lost their lives earlier this week in Somalia.

In a news release issued by her office, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, voiced her deep concern about the killing that took place during military operations carried out in the Lower Shabelle region by the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on Tuesday.

She noted that, on that same day, acting AMISOM Force Commander Major General Salvatore Harushimana committed to opening an investigation into the facts and circumstances which led to the incident.

"I welcome the proactive stance taken by AMISOM to acknowledge the tragedy and to open a thorough and timely investigation. I hope that this examination will result in concrete measures to prevent further violations," she stated.

"I also urge the African Union to further strengthen its efforts to minimize child casualties in their operations and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law," she said, adding that her office stands ready to assist in this regard.

Ms. Zerrougui also stressed that the protection of children must be a central aspect of the AU's peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations, such as in Mali and areas affected by the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

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