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UNICEF alarmed about reported extreme violence against children in Syria

2011-05-30

NEW YORK, 31 May 2011 – As the death toll in Syria increases, UNICEF today calls for immediate efforts by all parties to spare civilians, particularly children and women, the most vulnerable populations.

Since mid-March, reports of children injured, detained, displaced and at times killed have been increasing.  While UNICEF cannot verify the reported cases and events, we are particularly disturbed by the recent video images of children who were arbitrarily detained and suffered torture or ill-treatment during their detention, leading in some cases to their death.  We call on the government to thoroughly investigate these reports and ensure that perpetrators of such horrific acts are identified and brought to justice.

UNICEF reiterates the state’s primary responsibility for the well-being of those affected by the unrest and therefore the duty to ensure the continuation of basic social services at all times and their urgent resumption in case of interruption, especially for life-saving and emergency services.

The use of live ammunition against demonstrators has reportedly left at least 30 children dead. UNICEF has not been able to independently verify the number of the victims and the circumstances of their death.

UNICEF strongly condemns all acts of violence against children everywhere.

As party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Syria has an obligation to ensure children’s right to life, to freedom of expression, to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to protection from violence, exploitation and abuse. These rights must be upheld at all times.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.