World’s leading child rights organisation Save the Children has raised serious concern over engagement of children in recent political impasse in Islamabad, Pakistan and their exposure to violence and hazardous gases. Children as young as infants and toddlers have been brought to demonstrations.
Save the Children acting country director and spokesman Ghulam Qadri said that media and hospital reports suggest several children were among the people who received injuries from use of tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and stones used by the police and workers of political parties during violence on Constitution Avenue and other parts of the country. There were some reports of young children separated from families during the agitation.
In addition all children in Islamabad lost crucial education time due to one-week extension in summer break. Its uncertain schools will even reopen on September 8 as announced by the government.
According to media reports, 57 schools are being used for hosting police that is called in from different parts of the country to manage security situation. Use of schools as boarding facilities damages education infrastructure and learning materials.
Save the Children urges all stakeholders involved in the process including the government, demonstrating parties, police, health and education departments and media to uphold the best interests of children in the current situation and ensure that the negative effects of the whole episode are minimized on children as much as possible.
Save the Children particularly urges all political parties to disengage children and mothers with infants and young children from groups of their protesting workers. Save the Children also urged the government law enforcement agencies not to use violence against children and women nursing young children among the protesting groups.
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