Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Since the beginning of the year Islamic State (IS) militias have killed or maimed at least 700 children in Iraq, killing them in the course of summary executions or using them as suicide bombers to attack operations. This was denounced by Leila Zerrougui, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations for Children and Armed Conflict, during a hearing at the UN Security Council held yesterday. Children up to 13 years of age are exploited by militants to carry weapons, keep watch over arms stores, munitions and strategic locations, stop civilians; others "are used in suicide attacks".
The senior official added that another 30 million children have been deprived from the right to education because of the war or epidemics that have broken
out in the course of the
conflict. However, violence against
children is not the exclusive
preserve of the militia, the Special Representative adds that child soldiers are also being used by "militias allied with the Iraqi government" in the fight against IS.
World governments and the United Nations have repeatedly accused the militants of the Islamic State of atrocities and crimes, since its capture of Mosul and a large part of northern Iraq last June. Previously, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ra'ad Zeid Al Hussein had declared that the Islamists are creating a real "house of blood" in the areas under their control.
Last month, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution that aims to cut funds in money and weapons supplies to the Islamic state; the atrocities committed by fundamentalist guerrillas could also constitute a crime against humanity. The meeting held yesterday was devoted to the issue of child soldiers, with particular attention to countries such as Libya, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan. In the Central African Republic over 8 thousand children were forced to fight by the various armed groups fighting each other.
United Nations estimates report that last month, the worst so far in the conflict with the Islamic Army, 1420 people were killed; 1370 injured. In the past year, at least 1.6 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence; 850 thousand in the month of August. These include hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and Turkomans driven from their homes under threat of death if they did not convert to radical Islam.