UNICEF calls for end to violence against children in Thailand’s deep South

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BANGKOK, Dec 12 – United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urged an immediate halt to violence against children in Thailand’s restive southern provinces, where an 11-month-old girl was among five people killed in an attack at a Narathiwat tea house on Tuesday. 

In a statement published on the UNICEF website, Bijaya Rajbhandari, UNICEF Representative in Thailand, termed the slayings “a tragic, senseless and unacceptable act” and called upon all parties involved “to use every means at their disposal to end the violence and ensure that all children are protected from it.”

The infant girl, Infani Samo, was killed early Tuesday morning when gunmen armed with automatic weapons sprayed gunfire into a tea house in Narathiwat’s Rangae district.

More than 50 children have been killed and some 340 wounded in Thailand’s southern border provinces since the resurgence of violence in January 2004. In total, more than 5,000 people have lost their lives as a result of the violence.

In late October this year, an 11-year-old boy was slain along with his father when gunmen fired on their pickup truck in Yala’s Raman district.

“Every time a child is killed or injured, every time a child loses a parent or relative, and every time their schools and teachers are attacked, the more all children in the deep south suffer,”  Mr Rajbhandari said. “Bringing an end to the violence is the only way to ensure that the rights of all children in the south are fully protected and respected.”