Unicef calls for child-free rally sites

Unicef calls for child-free rally sites

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) on Monday urged parents and all sides of the political divide to protect children by keeping them away from all protest sites after the latest round of deadly political violence claimed the lives of three children and severely injured two others.

A five-year-old girl was killed when gunmen attacked a People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest rally in Trat province on Saturday night, while a four-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister died after a suspected grenade exploded near Big C Supercenter at Ratchaprasong late Sunday afternoon. 

This photo taken on Jan 16, 2014, shows children at an anti-government protest at the PDRC's Asok rally stage. (Photo by Weerawong Wongpreedee)

Two children were also severely injured in the incidents. A five-year-old girl remained in a coma on Monday at Rayong Hospital and a nine-year-old boy was in intensive care at a Bangkok hospital, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

Bijaya Rajbhandari, Unicef representative for Thailand, said the organisation “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.”

“Unicef urges the government, pro- and anti-government protest leaders and all parents to ensure children do not enter protest sites and are kept well away from all protest areas,” he said.

Mr Rajbhandari added that areas within and around the protest barricades should become “child-free zones” to ensure there are no further fatalities or injuries among children. He also called upon the authorities to ensure that those responsible for the attacks are brought to justice.

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