UNICEF chief calls on parties all over Syria to protect children

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 28, 2020
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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), on Thursday urged parties all over Syria to protect children and the essential civilian infrastructure.

"We call on parties all over Syria to protect children and the essential civilian infrastructure they and their families need so desperately -- such as schools, hospitals and water systems -- and which Syria will need to re-build, when the fighting stops and a political settlement is underway," Fore told the Council meeting on the situation in Syria.

"2020 is barely two months old. And according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), some 300 people have been killed in Idlib and Aleppo since the start of the year," she said.

"The situation is worsening by the day," she noted.

"The escalation of fighting in the northwest since December has pushed over 900,000 people -- including over half a million children -- away from their homes and into danger. A staggering mass movement of people in such a short time," said Fore.

The UNICEF chief called for a "cessation of hostilities" in northwest Syria, while appealing "regular humanitarian pauses to allow civilians to move safely out of harm's way if they can and wish to do so."

Talking about children's education and health care, Fore said that in the northwest, 280,000 children have had their education "cruelly snatched away." And an estimated 180 schools are out of operation -- destroyed, damaged or being used for shelters. Another blow to children's hopes and futures.

"Access to health care is almost non-existent or financially out-of-reach. Hospitals continue to be targeted. Seventy-two have suspended services because of the fighting," she said.

"Across the country, the nine-year war has decimated public services. Over half of all health facilities, and three out of 10 schools, are non-functional," she added.

The UNICEF chief asked all member states to honor their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and repatriate children in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner.

"The conditions under which many children are living -- in particular children formerly living in ISIL-held territory -- do not provide the necessary care and protection that every child needs. When in the best interest of the child, family unity should be maintained, so that children can be repatriated with their siblings and primary caregiver -- usually their mother," said Fore. Enditem

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