UNICEF: Children are victims of the conflict in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO/NEW YORK/ GENEVA, 15 August 2006 – The bombing on Monday of a Vallepuram compound in Mullaitivu district that reportedly killed dozens of girls and wounded many more is a shocking result of the rising violence in Sri Lanka, UNICEF, said today. 

“These children are innocent victims of violence,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director.   “We call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and ensure children and the places where they live, study and play are protected from harm.”

According to press reports, the compound in Vallipunam in the northern part of the country was bombed, reportedly killing as many as 40 adolescent girls. Some 100 children were wounded, many critically.  Girls from various schools in the districts of Mullaituvu and Kilinochchi were staying overnight at the compound, attending a two-day course in first-aid.

UNICEF staff from a nearby office immediately visited the compound to assess the situation and provide counseling services to those in need.

This latest incident comes amidst escalating hostilities in Sri Lanka in recent weeks, where tens of thousands of children were displaced from their homes.  Hundreds of children have been injured, lost family members, and live in constant fear of the violence and continuous shelling of their communities.