UN unites in call for action on Syria as daily horrors continue

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Syrian refugee children walking on a street in the Za'atari camp in northern Jordan. Photo: UNICEF/Simon Ingram

UN chiefs joined together Friday to call for international action on Syria amid reports that children gather in public squares to watch video footage of prisoners being executed by extremists.

According to UN children’s agency UNICEF the gruesome spectacle happens in Raqqah and is part of an effort to "desensitise" youngsters to terrible violence.

The development comes as Syrian conflict enters its fifth year, with UN heads highlighting its "unconscionable human cost". Daniel Johnson has more.

Daniel Johnson has more:

With more than 200,000 people killed since the fighting erupted it's sometimes possible to lose sight of what's happening to Syrians every day.

Not so, after listening to UN children's agency field officer Hanaa Singer, who on Friday described how youngsters watch video footage of executions in "excruciating detail".

It's a deliberate attempt to accustom them to extreme violence, she says.

"This event in Raqqah is just one example of the evolving ways in which children have become the helpless victims of the complex and vicious conflict engulfing Syria and more recently much of neighbouring Iraq."

After spending the last 12 months in Syria, Ms Singer explained how communities encountered "loss and destruction, suffering and fear" and a "horrifying level" of daily violence.

UNICEF is unable to reach two million people to deliver aid, she said.

Meanwhile, no less than eight UN chiefs have called for world leaders "to put aside their differences" to change the status quo in Syria.

The appeal, headed by Humanitarian Affairs Under Secretary General Valerie Amos, points the finger at the international community for failing to act and highlights the 12.2 million people in Syria who need life-saving help.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’04″

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