Highlighting a sharp increase in grave violations against children in Mali, the United Nations Children Fund on Tuesday said more than 150 children were killed and 75 were injured in the first half of 2019 in the war-ravaged nation.
"As violence continues to spread in Mali, children are more and more at risk of death, maiming and recruitment into armed groups," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, said in a statement
"We must not accept the suffering of children as the new normal. All parties must stop attacks on children and take all necessary measures to keep them out of harm's way, in line with international human rights and humtarian law. Children should be going to school and playing with their friends, not worrying about attacks or being forced to fight," she said.
UNICEF said that children in the north and the centre of the country urgently need protection. Over 377,000 children are estimated to be currently in need of protection assistance in Mali.
The child rights body said that the spread of violence in Mali caused more than 900 schools to remain closed.
Mali has been facing a volatile crisis as political armed groups, including ethnic-based movements, jihadist groups and transnational criminal networks, fight for hegemony and the control of trafficking routes in the North of the country since 2012.
The gravest communal crisis was of March in which 150 people of the Ful community were killed in Mopti region.
According to UNICEF, the crises of Mali remained the least funded in the world.
( With inputs from ANI )