Syria conflict "robbing" children of their future

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Credit: UNICEF/UKLA2012-00867/KARIN SKERMBRUCKER (file)

Syria is at risk of losing a whole generation of children to "despair, illiteracy and darkness," a senior UN official has warned.

Kevin Kennedy, UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria crisis, said nearly five years of fighting is robbing children of their future.

He said tens of thousands have been killed or maimed in the conflict while two million are out of school.

Dianne Penn reports.

The grim warning comes in a statement Mr Kennedy has released on the occasion of Universal Children's Day, observed this Friday.

He said the Syrian conflict is having a "particularly heinous" impact on the country's youngest citizens.

Children have been killed due to air strikes, mortars, artillery fire, shootings, car bombs and improvised explosive devices.

He listed recent incidents, such as the deaths of 19 children who were struck by a missile while playing in the city of Homs.

The statement was read by Jens Laerke, a spokesperson with the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, in Geneva.

"The conflict is a living nightmare for everyone, particularly for children, robbing them of their childhood and their futures. Kevin Kennedy says that we are closer than ever to losing a whole generation of children to despair, illiteracy and darkness."

The statement called for all parties to the Syrian conflict to implement a nationwide ceasefire and put an end to the fighting.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1'02"

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