Statement attributable to Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director, urging all parties at Geneva talks to put Syria’s children first
DAMASCUS/AMMAN, 23 February 2017 – “The heart-wrenching image of a young boy screaming for his father just minutes after losing both his legs in an apparent assault in Idlib last week is another brutal reminder that children continue to come under attack in Syria’s conflict.
“This week, as efforts continue in Geneva to bring together all parties to Syria’s six year long war in an attempt to bring peace, we appeal to all of them to show bold leadership for the rights of children.
“And we urge each and every single one of them to ask this one question: What if these were your children?
“Since the start of this year, at least 20 children have reportedly been killed in attacks and many more injured, including a one-day old baby girl injured when her home was shelled in Rural Damascus. In addition, nearly 2 million children remain largely cut-off from urgently needed humanitarian assistance.
“The numbers are a grim indication that the cessation in hostilities announced last December has yet to result in real gains in protection and humanitarian assistance for all children in Syria. So far this year, only three inter-agency missions have reached children in need in besieged and hard-to-reach areas.
“The immeasurable cost in lives and suffering should shame the world into taking immediate action in finding a political solution to the war.
“We remind all parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect children at all times, wherever they are, and no matter whose control they live under.
“All over the country, children continue to suffer from constant and widespread violence and from the lack of basic necessities required to save and sustain their lives.
“Parties to the conflict must provide immediate, unconditional, and sustained access to all children in need across the country. Sieges must end. The removal of life saving supplies from convoys is unacceptable, as is the use of water as a weapon of war.
“All parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them must act with an extreme sense of urgency to silence the guns for good.
“It is high time for all parties and anyone with the interest of children in Syria at heart, to talk about the children!
“The more than 10 million Syrian children suffering directly and daily the consequences of this vicious conflict want only one thing: peace to come and having their childhood back.
“The parties to the conflict and those who support them owe it to the children of Syria to put an end to this war once and for all.