UNICEF alarmed about reported violence against children in Syria

Since mid-March, reports of children injured, detained, displaced and killed have been increasing. While UNICEF cannot verify the reported cases and events, the children’s agency is 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. UNICEF calls on the government to thoroughly investigate these reports.

NEW YORK (May 31, 2011) —As the death toll in Syria rises, UNICEF today calls for immediate efforts by all parties to spare civilians, particularly children and women, who are considered the most vulnerable during conflict.

Since mid-March, reports of children injured, detained, displaced and killed have been increasing.  While UNICEF cannot verify the reported cases and events, the children's agency is 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.  UNICEF calls on the government to thoroughly investigate these reports and to 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 lifesaving 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 has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian aid organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health and immunizations, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency and disaster relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.

UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 22,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. .

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, (m) 646.428.5010, smasur@unicefusa.org

Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org