[QODLink]
Middle East

UN decries crimes against children in Syria

A top UN official says perpetrators risk prosecution as war criminals for atrocities against minors.

Last Modified: 22 Jul 2013 23:06
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Zerrougui said the UN is keeping track of atrocities and that perpetrators would not escape persecution. [EPA]

A top UN envoy has warned officials and anti-government fighters in Syria risk prosecution as war criminals for atrocities against the children.

Leila Zerrougui, special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said on Monday she was “overwhelmed” by the suffering of children during a recent visit to Syria.

“Officials and rebel commanders alike risk prosecution as war criminals for atrocities against minors,” she  said, adding, “ I met parents whose children were killed in bombings, children who saw siblings die in front of them and teenagers who had fought with armed opposition groups.”

The UN official visited both Syria and neighbouring countries that are hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the civil war.

Zerrougui said one of her main goals during her visit was to make clear to both sides that the UN is keeping track of atrocities and that perpetrators would not escape persecution.

"One day Syria will come to peace, and those committing the atrocities will have to face, I hope, justice," she said.

List of shame

Around 7,000 children under the age of 15 have been killed during Syria's more than two-year-old conflict.

Half of the 1.7 million Syrian refugees are children, and within the country over 3 million children are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

A recent UN report placed the main rebel umbrella group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), on its “list of shame” for recruiting child soldiers even as FSA leadership has acknowledged the problem and sent Zerrougui a letter asking for guidance on how to get off the list.

Zerrougui said most commanders on the ground denied recruiting children and insisted everyone in their ranks was at least 18.

Syrian government forces were added to the list for detaining minors and often torturing and sexually assaulting them even as the government of President Bashar Assad has passed a law prohibiting child soldier recruitment.

“Syrian authorities continue detaining children on security charges or because their families are suspects of sympathizing with the opposition,” she said.

352

Source:
Associated Press
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list