New York, NY
The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children is calling for the immediate release of all children being held hostage in Beslan, Russia, and for a complete cessation of the use of children as pawns in conflicts.
“Children should never be used as hostages and schools should never be targets for violence,” says Lori Heninger, Senior Coordinator, Children and Adolescents Project, Women’s Commission. “Not only is it immoral, it is illegal: the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) specifically prohibits attacks on educational buildings in armed conflicts.”
“Schools are a place of safety and growth for children,” Heninger continues. “They are places where children in war-affected areas go to heal and gain hope for a better future. Attacks such as this one create extreme insecurity in children and potential psychological trauma which has dangerous implications for a country’s future.”
The Women’s Commission urges the international community to be aggressive in bringing such cases before the ICC, which should itself set clear benchmarks for the prosecution of perpetrators of attacks on schools.
“The international community must act now to ensure that schools can continue to be a much-needed safe haven for children in conflict worldwide,” Heninger says. “Without them, children will have no where to go in this increasingly dangerous world.”