UN re­ports chil­dren in Syria be­ing killed at higher rate than in 2013

The National - News - - NEWS - ARTHUR MacMIL­LAN New York

Chil­dren are be­ing killed or maimed in Syria’s civil war at a rate higher than five years ago, with the regime’s bar­rel bomb at­tacks and air strikes among the largest cause of fa­tal­i­ties, a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil re­port re­vealed on Wed­nes­day.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors ver­i­fied 12,537 of­fences against chil­dren, with all par­ties to the con­flict guilty of breach­ing in­ter­na­tional law af­fect­ing mi­nors. With the con­flict now in its eighth year, boys and girls con­tinue to be re­cruited for com­bat roles, in­clud­ing by the govern­ment. Chil­dren and Armed Con­flict

in the Syr­ian Arab Repub­lic, cov­ered the pe­riod be­tween No­vem­ber 16, 2013 and the end of June this year. Fight­ing in that time, as well as the large num­ber of coun­tries and groups in­volved, mean the num­bers are likely to be a gross un­der­es­ti­mate, the UN said.

“All par­ties to the con­flict have fla­grantly vi­o­lated their obli­ga­tions to pro­tect chil­dren un­der in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian and hu­man rights law,” the re­port said. “In­dis­crim­i­nate at­tacks, in­clud­ing ae­rial at­tacks and the use of bar­rel bombs by govern­ment forces were the pri­mary cause of death and maim­ing among chil­dren.”

Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar Al As­sad’s forces have taken the up­per hand in the war over the past year but the prospects of any end to fight­ing ap­pear dim.

The Geneva peace talks – a UN process – has foundered to the point of not be­ing taken se­ri­ously. A ri­val Astana peace process led by Rus­sia, Iran and Turkey, and based on their in­ter­ests, re­sumed on Wed­nes­day in Kaza­khstan.

Those present dis­cussed a crum­bling 10-week truce in the rebel-held Syr­ian prov­ince of Idlib af­ter con­fronta­tions be­tween in­sur­gents and the govern­ment this week threat­ened to de­rail the agree­ment.

Although Staffan de Mis­tura, the out­go­ing UN spe­cial en­voy to Syria, was in Astana, the item he was ex­pected to dis­cuss – the for­ma­tion of a com­mit­tee to draft a new Syr­ian con­sti­tu­tion – does not seem to be on the of­fi­cial agenda for the two-day talks.

The vi­o­lence con­tin­ues, with chil­dren be­ing re­cruited as sol­diers. Wed­nes­day’s UN re­port said the num­bers of what it called “grave vi­o­la­tions” had mostly in­creased year by year. There were 2,285 in 2014, 2,740 in 2015, 3,151 in 2016 and 3,009 last year. In the first six months of this year the UN ver­i­fied 1,291 grave of­fences.

The UN said 3,377 chil­dren – 3,150 boys and 227 girls – were re­cruited, with 82 per cent of them serv­ing in a com­bat role.

Those num­bers have also risen in the past five years. Just over 350 chil­dren were re­cruited in 2014, 538 in 2015, 1,034 in 2016 and 1,142 in 2017, with chil­dren over­all be­ing press­ganged into ser­vice at a younger age, the re­port said.

Ver­i­fied cases were at­trib­uted to groups af­fil­i­ated with the Free Syr­ian Army, as well as ISIS, Kur­dish armed groups (the Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units, or YPG), govern­ment forces and pro-govern­ment mili­tias.

Seventy-six re­cruited chil­dren were iden­ti­fied as for­eign­ers com­ing from more than a dozen coun­tries.

Al­most ev­ery fac­tion in Syria’s war is ac­cused of putting chil­dren into com­bat roles Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.