Philippe Duamelle, the UNICEF [official website] representative in Egypt, expressed concern [press release] Tuesday that children are being used as symbolic witnesses and subjected to violence in the recent unrest. This comes amid escalating political violence in Cairo [JURIST news archive], as Duamelle already released one statement in March warning [Ahram report] that children's rights were being violated as an effect of the political violence. Duamelle said, "Such actions can have a long-lasting and devastating physical and psychological impact on children. We call on all Egyptians and political groups not to exploit children for political ends, and to protect them from any potential harm." Although the number of casualties is not yet confirmed, human rights groups in Egypt are calling for investigations [Daily News Egypt report] into the deaths of at least three children, while tens more are currently hospitalized for their injuries.
Although Egypt has faced political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] began over two years ago, the conflict peaked this month in the wake of new developments. Both the UN Secretary-General and the High Commission for Human Rights [statements] have engaged the current leadership in discussions about protecting human rights this week. On Saturday the UN urged the Egyptian government to ensure the application of law and order and to promote safety and security in dealing with protesters. The country's interim government also caused controversy earlier this month when it shut down [JURIST report] four Islamist-run television stations that it viewed as sympathetic to ousted president Mohammed Morsi and his supporters. The country's government is currently being headed by the Chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Adly Mansour [BBC profile], who took the oath to become the interim head of state days after the Egyptian military deposed [JURIST reports] Morsi and suspended the nation's constitution in early July.