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23 July 2012
Syria "unique" in scale of deliberate targeting of children, says new assessment of conflict.
The first ever comprehensive assessment of the impact of Syrian crisis on children today reveals the shocking scale of brutality as young Syrians are deliberately murdered in execution-style killings, horrifically injured, abused, raped, enlisted to fight as soldiers and used as human shields.
Authors of the report, "Syria: A War on Childhood", warn that the Syrian conflict is "disturbingly unique" in its deliberate targeting of children and that no child in Syria is now safe, including an estimated 2 million in Damascus, as the intensifying conflict reaches the densely populated capital and tactics become ever more desperate. The report shows Syrian armed forces have a record of targeting children in the streets. War Child is urging the UK to step up its efforts to protect children affected by the crisis.
Syria: A War on Childhood shows that every one of six UN-recognised violations against children including killing and maiming; recruitment as child soldiers; rape and abduction and; attacks on schools and hospitals; is being breached by parties to the conflict. These must be classed as war crimes, says War Child, with:
As well as direct impacts of the crisis on children, there are severe indirect consequences, including trauma, which have affected 470,000 children in Syria. Dima is one of them.
Aged 10, Dima is being cared for under War Child’s Emergency Child Protection Programme in neighbouring Lebanon and saw her father killed. She said:
"I recognised him from his boots. His face was covered in blood. My mum was shaking him. I wish I never saw my dad’s body. I am trying to forget but I cannot."
The report states that the lack of unity at international level, the failure of the Annan UN Peace Plan and British diplomatic efforts, including commitments it made on responding to violent crises in 2011 , have failed to protect and save lives. Children are entitled to protection under humanitarian and human rights law, including the Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
War Child is calling on the UK government to honour its commitments and place child protection and rehabilitation into its current negotiating efforts and future planning for the country.
Rob Williams, Chief Executive of War Child, which is providing emergency assistance to Syrian children refugees in Lebanon, said:
"The Syrian conflict must now rank as one of the worst for the depth and scale of abuses against children. When adults go to war they have a legal duty to protect children yet neither side is protecting children in the areas they control. In fact, there are deliberate violations of thousands of innocent children including murder, rape and abduction. These actions will scar Syria for generations.
"The UK has consistently failed to achieve any kind of influence to curb these gross abuses. It must now ensure its diplomatic efforts directly target the exploitation and killing of children, and build a child-sensitive dimension into its work in the future.
"With Syrian government-backed forces becoming more desperate by the day and the crisis deepening as it tightens around Damascus, not one of its 2 million children and young people can now be considered safe. The UK and International community must act to save children’s lives."
In Syria: A War on Childhood, War Child is calling for: