Statement attributable to Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq:
“As the violence continues to escalate in Fallujah and across Iraq, we are concerned over the protection of children in the face of extreme and rising danger.
“Since the start of the military operation in Fallujah, 60 kilometres west of Baghdad, very few families have been able to leave. Most have moved to two camps while others have sought refuge with relatives and extended families.
“Unicef estimates that at least 20,000 children remain trapped in the city. According to reports, food and medicine are running out and clean water is in short supply.
“Children face the risk of forced recruitment into the fighting, strict procedures for security screening and separation from their families.
“Children who are recruited see their lives and futures jeopardized as they are forced to carry and use arms, fighting in an adult war.
“Unicef calls on all parties to protect children inside Fallujah, provide safe passage to those wishing to leave the city and grant safe and secure environments to displaced civilians.”
(UNICEF image via Shutterstock)