Syria's parties urged to put children first as negotiations begin

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United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura welcomes a delegation of Syrian women during the Intra-Syrian talks, Geneva. 23 February 2017. UN Photo/Violaine Martin

Parties to Syria's six year long war are being urged to "show bold leadership" for the rights of children as they meet in Geneva for a new round of negotiations following a nearly a year-long hiatus.

The appeal was made on Thursday by Geert Cappelare, the Regional Director for the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF.

Syrian women in the Swiss city also held a vigil to highlight the plight of men, women and sometimes children who are being abducted or arbitrarily detained

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

The Regional Director for the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, Geert Cappelare, issued a statement at the start of the intra-Syrian negotiations appealing to the conscience of the government and opposition representatives.

Mr Cappelare recalled the heart-wrenching image of a young boy screaming for his father just minutes after losing both his legs in an assault in Idlib last week.

He also confirmed the deaths of 20 children in various attacks since the start of the year. Many more have been injured, he noted, including a baby girl injured when her home was shelled in rural Damascus.

"What if these were your children?" the UNICEF senior official asked.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, lent his support to a group of Syrian women holding vigil in Geneva to draw attention to the kidnappings and arbitrary arrests carried out by both the government and opposition.

Here's Mr de Mistura: 

"They were sending me, and through me to everyone, the message that while we are going to talk about the future of Syria, we should not forget those who are still either detained or abducted, or missing. Because there are thousands and thousands of mothers, wives, daughters who are hoping that at least this aspect will be one of the benefits of any negotiations, and I cannot disregard that because I feel very strongly like they do."

Some of the women who took part in the vigil have also been detained or have family members who are in jail.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’36″




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