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Syria: Prolonged Violence, Violation And Abuse ‘Bound To Affect Generations To Come’


Millions of children trapped in protracted
conflict in Syria continue to endure severe violence with
little support for survivors, according to the UN
Secretary-General’s
third
report
on the situation, launched on
Wednesday.

“In Syria, all children below
the age of 10 have lived their entire life in a country
ravaged by conflict. They have known nothing but war”, said
Virginia Gamba, the Special
Representative for Children and Armed
Conflict
.

This latest report covers the two-year
period in which the COVID-19 pandemic
hit and related-restrictions were imposed – making
children more vulnerable, while impeding the work of
humanitarians.

Prioritize
children

Theactual number of grave violationsis
believed to behigher than the 4,724 verified in the
report.And at least 32 parties to conflict were found
responsible for them.

“The consequences of such
prolonged exposition to violence, to the violation and abuse
of their most fundamental rights and to enormous stress, are
dramatic”, said the UN expert. “It is bound to affect
generations to come”.

Refugee camps

The
killing, maiming, recruitment and use of children were the
most prevalent grave violations verified, according to the
report.

Between July 2018 and June 2020, airstrikes,
explosive remnants of war and indiscriminate shelling,
maimed or took the lives of more than 2,700
children.

During that same time, more than 1,400
children were recruited or used by at least 25 parties to
conflict.

Particularly concerning was the emerging
trendof transnational recruitment whereby children were
enlisted and trained in Syria before being trafficked to
Libya to participate in hostilities, all by armed
groups.

Attacks on schools and hospitals was the
thirdmost verifiedviolation, with 236 assaults on
classrooms and 135 onmedical facilities.

Liberty
denied

Citing 258 verified cases, the report also
revealed that children have also been detained, for their
alleged or actual association with parties to
conflict.

The Special Representative reminded that
children must be treated primarily as victims with detention
to be used only as a last resort, and for the shortest
period possible. Alternatives must be sought in line with
international standards for juvenile justice.

Ms.
Gamba underscored that it was of “the utmost importance”
to prioritize the rights and needs of boys and girls,
including in the protracted Syria peace talks, “to avoid a
lost generation”.

Repatriate boys and
girls

The report highlighted an extremely concerning
humanitarian situation in al-Hol and al-Roj camps where more
than 65,000 are being held, the vast majority women and
children.

Children below the age
of 10…have known nothing but war —
UN
Special Representative
Gamba

In conditions that
Emergency Relief Coordinator and UN Humanitarian chief Mark
Lowcock has called
“scandalous”, at least 960 unaccompanied and separated
children are among 11,000 foreign nationals being held
there.

Ms. Gamba said countries should “facilitate
and prioritize the repatriation of foreign children to their
country of origin”, in line with the best interests of the
child.

Reminding that they have lost a huge part of
their childhood, she said that “these boys and girls must
be provided with assistance in reintegration, education,
access to health and to livelihoods”.

“It is our
common responsibility to give it back to them so they can
recover and thrive in a safe and protective environment
where they can build a future away from
violence”.

The Special Representativereiterated
the Secretary-General’scall to all parties to abide by
international humanitarian law and human rights law, to
better protect children inSyria and to ensure that their
well-being is a core part of theongoing discussions
andpeace
process.

© Scoop Media

 



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