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Nepal: UNICEF and OHCHR expresses concern over children’s use in protests

By NNN-Nepal News

Kathmandu : The United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal have said they are increasingly concerned at the threat of harm to children, given the violent protests that have been taking place in the Terai.

In a joint statement on Friday, the two UN agencies said there are alarming and confirmed reports of children participating in violent protests and bandhs (general strike).

In Nepalgunj, for example, on February 3 and 4, a considerable number of children aged between seven and 15 years old, some of whom carried sticks, were observed supporting the enforcement of the general strike called by the United Democratic Madhesi Front.

In Duhabi, Sunsari, a number of children between the ages of eight and 12 years were seen manning a roadblock armed with sticks. Similarly, the crowd that attacked a group of Nepali Congress members in Darchula district on February 5 also reportedly included at least a hundred children and students, some in school uniforms.

“Children have been seen at several other locations during the Terai-wide bandh (general strike) including the violent protests in Nepalgunj on February 17, during which one person was shot dead and several injured by bullets, including a fourteen year-old boy,” the agencies said.

UNICEF and OHCHR urged all parties to respect rights of the children and to take all necessary measures to avoid their exposing to risk of harm.

“People under eighteen must not be forced, coerced or bribed into participating in political activities. Any participation must be voluntary, with consideration given as to whether they fully understand the implications of their participation. Children should not be armed under any circumstances,” the statement reads.

They also reminded all parties concerned to respect Section 23 of the Election Code of Conduct of 2007, which states that no children should be brought to participate in any kind of procession, mass meeting or rally, or in any election-related publicity activity.

Furthermore, the agencies said it is unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of children in the Terai and some eastern hilly districts have been prevented from attending school due to the imposition of general strike. – NNN- NEPALNEWS.COM