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UNICEF to hold conference on child protection in eastern Ukraine

November 06, 2014, 15:20 UTC+3 MOSCOW
More than 100 children have already been killed in hostilities in eastern Ukraine
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© Stanislav Grigoryev/TASS

MOSCOW, November 6. /TASS/. A conference of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will be held in the Belarusian capital Minsk on November 11-13 to focus on protection of children in the zone of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov told reporters on Thursday.

More than 100 children have already been killed in hostilities in eastern Ukraine, he said.

The Russian children’s rights commissioner said he has appealed to the Ukrainian president and the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics to inaugurate a position of children’s rights ombudsman in Ukraine.

The offer was “to set up an institution of commissioner, appoint respected, reliable and recommendable people and get down to the negotiating table,” Astakhov said.

He said the international community could also be involved in that process, reminding reporters about the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children, an association of independent children’s rights institutions.

School children killed in Donetsk shelling

The statement comes as  a reaction to the death of two school children in a shelling attack on eastern Ukraine's Donetsk Wednesday. Astakhov called for an independent investigation into the incident.

The teenagers were killed while playing on a school sports field in Donetsk. Three other locals, reportedly aged between 17 and 21, sustained various injuries and were hospitalized.

“Despite the announced ceasefire, there are continued military actions, escalation of armed conflict and unfortunately children continue dying,” Astakhov told journalists in Moscow.

Astakhov urged an investigation both under the Ukrainian and international laws to punish “war criminals and those guilty of deaths of civilians, especially children.”

Russia’s Investigation Committee said earlier on Thursday a criminal probe had been launched into the deadly school shelling in Donetsk. According to investigators, on Wednesday afternoon servicemen of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and National Guard launched artillery shelling upon instructions of their commanders directly targeting school number 63 in Donetsk.

Investigators suspect that the attack was launched to “eliminate a Russian-speaking ethnic group living on the territory of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic,” the committee's spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said.

The shelling comes in violation of international conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as the protocol on ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and the memorandum signed in the Belarusian capital Minsk in September.

Amnesty International said earlier the school shelling must be “immediately, fully and impartially investigated.

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