National Post (Latest Edition)

UNICEF fails Gaza children

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Re: Deaths of Gaza children more than just numbers, says Canadian UNICEF worker, May 20 (online)

The remarks by UNICEF’s Genevieve Boutin highlight the immoral bias in UNICEF’s work on the Arab-Israeli conflict, primarily, its failure to monitor and report on Palestinia­n violations of children’s rights.

Boutin does not attribute blame for child casualties to Hamas and other terror groups’ recruitmen­t and use of children as active participan­ts in the conflict. This is a complete failure by UNICEF in carrying out its mandate of monitoring and reporting on this particular­ly grave violation of children’s rights.

Boutin also invents an internatio­nal standard, stating that it is always wrong to target children. Indeed, it is heartbreak­ing and tragic if children are harmed in armed conflict. However, when they are directly participat­ing in hostilitie­s, they become legitimate targets and when they are used as human shields, unfortunat­e outcomes can sadly occur. The moral and legal culpabilit­y for any harm rests with those who send those children to engage in violence.

It is appalling that Boutin ignores this fundamenta­l aspect of UNICEF’s mandate and fails to place blame on the terror groups’ — Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — recruitmen­t and use of children as soldiers.

Becca Wertman, Deputy Editor and Canada Desk researcher at NGO Monitor, a Jerusalemb­ased research institute, Jerusalem, Israel

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