UNICEF appeals to Syria’s warring sides to protect children

Out-of-school children in Sokoto drops by 50 per cent – UNICEF
United Bank for Africa

The UN children’s fund, UNICEF, on Thursday called on all parties involved in Syria’s conflict protect to work for the protection of children in the war-ravaged country as a new round of peace talks began in Geneva.

“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,” the agency pleaded.

In an attempt to reinforce the message, UNICEF recalled a recent video showing a boy screaming for his father after losing both legs, shortly after a raid on Idlib province in north-western Syria.

“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 near Damascus, the agency added in a statement.

Nearly two million children remain largely cut off from urgently needed humanitarian assistance, UNICEF said.

“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,” it said.

“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.

A new round of peace talks on Syria is scheduled to start Thursday in Geneva.

The UN-sponsored negotiations, the first in nearly a year, are expected to create some momentum towards political transition in Syria, according to international mediator Staffan de Mistura, who has dampened hopes for major progress.

Syria’s conflict started with peaceful anti-government protests in March 2011.

Soon, it spiralled into a full-blown war that has claimed more than 300,000 lives and driven about half the pre-war population of 22 million from their homes.