Syrian children pay high price for conflict, says UN official

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A Syrian girl who has sought refuge with her family in Jordan. (Photo: UNICEF/G. Pirozzi)

The conflict in Syria is exacting a heavy toll on children, according to Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Ms. Zerrougui on Wednesday briefed journalists on the report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict covering the period from January to December last year.

She said in 2012 there were some positive developments including the release of thousands of child soldiers by armed groups.

However, she added, there were some extremely worrying situations in places such as Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"For Syria, children are bearing a heavy toll, maybe the heaviest. They are killed, they are maimed, they are recruited, they are detained (and) they are tortured. So children in Syria, outside of Syria, are also bearing what is happening to the adults because they are IDP's, they are prevented from going to school, they are seeing their parents killed."

Ms. Zerrougui said indiscriminate use of force, including bombing, rocket attacks, and the use of cluster munitions in residential areas, as well as sniper fire, terror tactics used by armed groups and the recruitment of children, are major issues.

The UN envoy for Children and Armed Conflict said she intends to travel to the region at the end of the month to further assess the impact of the conflict on children.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’32″


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