Rally sites should be 'child-free', Unicef warns

national February 25, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

UN chief Ban Ki-moon offers to help

The United Nations and UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) yesterday condemned the political violence in Thailand, particularly attacks over the weekend that claimed the lives of three children. 
Unicef’s representative in Thailand Bijaya Rajbhandari said areas within and around the protest barricades should become “child-free zones” to ensure there are no further children killed or injured in the political crisis.
He urged the government, plus pro- and anti-government protest leaders and all parents to ensure children do not enter protest sites and are kept well away from areas where people rally. He also called upon authorities to ensure that those responsible for the attacks are brought to justice.
His statement came after two political-related attacks over the weekend – in Trat and central Bangkok – that claimed the lives of children aged four, five and six and left some others in a critical condition.
Rajbhandari said Unicef “condemns the violence that resulted in these tragic and senseless deaths and injuries to children. 
These incidents underscore the urgent need to keep children out of harm’s way in order to ensure their safety”.
A five-year-old girl was killed when gunmen attacked an anti-government rally in Trat province on Saturday night, while a four-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister died after a bomb blast in Ratchaprasong on Sunday afternoon.
Another five-year-old girl remained in a coma yesterday at Rayong Hospital, while a nine-year-old boy was in intensive care at a Bangkok hospital.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is ready to assist in any way he can to end the political violence in Thailand.
He called for an immediate end to escalating political violence and urged the authorities to bring those responsible to justice. 
In a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York, Ban condemned the aggression, which included armed attacks on the weekend against anti-government protests and led to the deaths of three children.
“The secretary-general believes strongly that there is no place for violence by any side in resolving political differences and disputes,” his spokesperson said. 
“Ban is ready to assist in any way possible.”
The top UN official has called on all sides to respect human rights and the rule of law, prevent any new attacks and “engage in meaningful dialogue” to end the crisis and advance reforms.