NEW YORK, 2nd June, 2016 (WAM) — The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, has called for protection of the children of Fallujah, Iraq.

“As the violence continues to escalate in Fallujah and across Iraq, we are concerned over the protection of children in the face of extreme and rising danger,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq “Since the start of the military operation in Fallujah, 60 kilometres west of Baghdad, very few families have been able to leave. Most have moved to two camps while others have sought refuge with relatives and extended families,” he said in a statement.

UNICEF has estimated that at least 20,000 children remain trapped in the city. According to reports, food and medicine are running out and clean water is in short supply.

“Children face the risk of forced recruitment into the fighting, strict procedures for security screening and separation from their families,” Mr. Hawkins said. “Children who are recruited see their lives and futures jeopardised as they are forced to carry and use arms, fighting in an adult war.

“UNICEF calls on all parties to protect children inside Fallujah, provide safe passage to those wishing to leave the city and grant safe and secure environments to displaced civilians.”