UNICEF calls for "immediate efforts by all parties" in Syria to spare civilians during unrest

08:10, June 01, 2011      

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With the death toll reportedly increasing in Syria during the unrest which started in March, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday called "for immediate efforts by all parties to spare civilians, particularly children and women, the most vulnerable populations."

"Since mid-March, reports of children injured, detained, displaced and at times killed have been increasing," UNICEF said in a statement released here Tuesday.

"While UNICEF cannot verify the reported cases and events, we are particularly disturbed by the recent video images of children who were arbitrarily detained and suffered torture or ill- treatment during their detention leading in some cases to their death," the statement said.

The UNICEF statement called on the Syrian government to " thoroughly investigate these reports and ensure that perpetrators of such horrific acts are identified and brought to justice."

"UNICEF reiterates the state's primary responsibility for the well-being of those affected by the unrest and therefore the duty to ensure the continuation of basic social services at all times and their urgent resumption in case of interruption, especially for life-saving and emergency services," said the UNICEF statement.

Reportedly the use of live ammunition against demonstrators has left at least 30 children dead, said UNICEF but the agency said they have not been able to independently verify the number of the victims and the circumstances of their death.

"UNICEF strongly condemns all acts of violence against children everywhere," said the statement. "As party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Syria has an obligation to ensure children's right to life, to freedom of expression, to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to protection from violence, exploitation and abuse. These rights must be upheld at all times."

Since the beginning of unrest in Syria in mid-March, hundreds of people, including security forces, have been killed. The authorities' reaction to the peaceful protests has evoked wide denunciation.

UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay on Monday strongly criticized Libya and Syria at the latest session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

European nations on Thursday urged the UN Security Council to warn Damascus that its crackdown could be a crime against humanity.

Source: Xinhua
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