The United Nations and the United States on Sunday expressed concern for the safety of children and young people during protests over road safety and subsequent violence in different parts of the country.
The UN also urgently called upon all parties to keep everyone, including children and young people, safe on the roads and safe from any kind of violence.
‘We are deeply concerned about the reports of violence and call on all for calm,’ United Nations resident coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo said in a statement posted in Facebook.
The concerns expressed by youth about road safety ‘are legitimate’ and a solution ‘is needed’ for a mega city like Dhaka, she said, adding that it was a matter of deep concern that a number of young people taking part in demonstrations in the capital were injured over the last few days.
A functioning public transport system should ensure the safety of all, including children, young girls and women, said Seppo.
The UN official said students and young people had legitimate right to speak out on issues of concern to them including road safety issues and to have their opinion heard without the threat of violence.
The UN has long campaigned for better road safety across the world and traffic accidents, she said were one of the major killers of young people in Bangladesh.
There are more than 20,000 road fatalities every year in Bangladesh, according to a World Health Organisation report.
The UN also expressed concern over closer of many school as a result of the protests depriving children of learning opportunities.
Expressing concern in a separate statement, the US embassy in Dhaka said the peaceful demonstrations of the past week in favour of better vehicle and road safety, led by students and school children across Bangladesh, ‘have united and captured the imagination of the whole country’.
While ‘we do not condone’ the actions of a few who have engaged in senseless property destruction, including of buses and other vehicles, the US said nothing ‘can justify the brutal attacks and violence’ over the weekend against the thousands of young people who have been peacefully exercising their democratic rights in supporting a safer Bangladesh.
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