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UN Special Representative

United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui speaks to the UN General Assembly as she sits next to the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous in May 2013. The topic of the discussion highlighted grave human rights violations made against children during armed conflict, along with protective measures that are needed for children. Now Special Representative Zerrougui is speaking out about protective needs for children in Iraq. Image: Eskinder Debebe/UN

(WNN) United Nations, New York, AMERICAS: United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Ms. Leila Zerrougui spoke out strongly this week against continuing episodes of religious extremist violence in Iraq as a suicide bomb killed over ten children present at an elementary school in a village 45 miles northwest of Iraq’s Mosul city on Sunday.

Dozens more children were injured at the time as a truck filled with explosives was detonated in the school playground.

This was not the only suicide bomber who coordinated an attack that same day inside Iraq. Fourteen people were also killed on Sunday, with over 30 injured, as a group of Shi’ites on a religious pilgrimage were traveling on their way to Baghdad.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for either bombing, but the tactics used point to the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, which views Shi’ites as non-believers and has been regaining momentum this year,” outlined Reuters news in an early Tuesday release.

Secular violence and extremism in Iraq has definitely been on the rise this year as attacks on Shi’ites continue and border regions have become much more dangerous as Syrian insurgents spill over into the Iraqi region.

“The civil war in neighboring Syria — itself a volatile, sectarian conflict — has spilled across the border, and Sunni jihadi factions are operating in both countries. Now, four months before the next parliamentary elections, Iraq increasingly appears to be spiraling toward a civil war,” said Time magazine in an October 1, 2013 release.

Children are exceptionally vulnerable during conflict, says Zerrougui.

“…children continued to pay a heavy toll, perhaps the heaviest,” the Special Representative to the UN stated before a UN Security Council meeting in New York last June.

“It is our collective duty to protect children as well as their places of learning,” outlined Zerrougui during  a recent statement made yesterday on Tuesday October 7.

Too often children have become part of those targeted as violence continues, conveyed the Special Representative.

The surge of violence in Iraq spares no one and no place, the statement goes on to say. In the past few weeks and months, children have been killed or injured by attacks targeting civilians. Schools, as well as recreational areas where children gather to play, have been targeted.

Ms. Zerrougui works closely with UNAMI – United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, as well as UNICEF – UN Children’s Fund and others. Dedicated to speaking out against human rights abuse and atrocity, Zerrougui has been outlining the needs for child rights under violations inside Iraq.

Conflict in the region suspected to involve al-Qaida operatives has also included armed attacks on hospitals, as well as schools, as the violence has risen and continued to spread this year beyond Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad.

To date, in the last weeks over the month of September, more than 2,100 people have been wounded and close to 1,000 adults and children have been killed due to attacks made inside the region.

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