Wednesday, June 20, 2018

UN: 'Unspeakable suffering' for Syria's children

BEIRUT — Children in Syria have been tortured, sexually abused and subjected to "indiscriminate" attacks by President Bashar Assad's forces, and recruited for combat and terror operations by the rebels fighting to topple him during the country's nearly 3-year-old conflict, a new United Nations report said.

The report to the U.N. Security Council by Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon highlights the plight of children in the conflict from the beginning of the uprising against Assad in March 2011 until Nov. 15, 2013. It was given to the council this week and posted on the U.N. website Tuesday.

Ban said Syrian children have been subjected to "unspeakable and unacceptable" suffering during that time. "Violations must come to an end now," he said.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government missed another deadline for destroying its chemical weapons Wednesday, but pledged to complete the process by June 30.

Under a timetable set up by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Syria was to have given up its entire stockpile of chemical weapons by Wednesday. Last week, a U.S. diplomat said Syria had removed only 4 percent of its most deadly chemicals so far. All should have been removed by Dec. 31 under the framework.

The uprising against Assad's rule began with largely peaceful protests in 2011 but evolved in time into a bloody civil war that has killed more than 10,000 children — according to U.N. estimates — and more than 130,000 people, according to activists. Millions of Syrians have been driven from their homes, seeking shelter in neighboring countries or in safer parts of their homeland.

The conflict has hit the country's children hard.

In the early stages, Ban said, violations against children were committed largely by Syria's armed forces, intelligence forces and allied Shabiha militia but as the conflict intensified and the opposition became more organized, an increasing number of violations committed by Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups were documented.

The report said the "disproportionate and indiscriminate" use of weapons and military tactics by government forces and associated militias "has resulted in countless killings and the maiming of children, and has obstructed children's access to education and health services."

Children as young as 10 have been detained on suspicion of having links with armed groups, the report said, citing the arrest of a large number of boys and girls, mainly between the ages of 10 and 12 in August 2012 in Kfarzita village in Hama province by Syrian troops, who the report says used them as human shields.

Ban's report said armed opposition groups also engaged in "the summary execution of children." It said U.N. investigators have not been able to reach many of the rebel-held areas for lack of security there, and consequently have been unable to further investigate and document those violations but "trends are believed to be much higher than the number of recorded cases."

Comments

Eritrea sends delegation to rival Ethiopia for peace talks

Eritrea sends rare delegation to rival Ethiopia for peace talks after years of deadly tensions
Updated: 1 hour ago
World Cup games to air on free TV amid problems in Australia

World Cup games to air on free TV amid problems in Australia

World Cup matches will remain on free-to-air television in Australia until the end of the group stage after a telecommunications company with live streaming rights continues to have difficulties delivering its service
Updated: 1 hour ago

Official: Taliban targets army checkpoints killing 30 troops

Afghan official says at least 30 soldiers were killed when Taliban fighters targeted two checkpoints in western Badghis province
Updated: 1 hour ago
Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson dies aged 88

Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson dies aged 88

Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of the British Open and only golfer in the 20th century to win the tournament for three straight years, has died
Updated: 1 hour ago

Here is the latest Florida sports news from The Associated Press

Here is the latest Florida sports news from The Associated Press
Updated: 1 hour ago

Germany: Merkel's Bavarian allies critical on euro budget

A Bavarian ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel is criticizing the German leader's agreement in principle to a eurozone budget, adding to a conflict over migration
Updated: 1 hour ago
Banking by smart speaker arrives, but security issues exist

Banking by smart speaker arrives, but security issues exist

Banks start to offer banking through virtual assistants like Amazon's Alexa, but security experts express worry
Updated: 2 hours ago

AP Top News at 3:17 a.m. EDT

AP Top News at 3:17 a.m. EDT
Updated: 2 hours ago

Israel strikes Hamas after heavy rocket attacks from Gaza

Israel's military says its warplanes have struck some 25 Hamas positions in Gaza after Palestinian militants fired dozens of rockets and mortars at southern communities
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hearing set for California parents accused of shackling kids

Hearing set for California parents accused of shackling kids

Prosecutors are expected to make their case against a Southern California couple accused of starving and shackling some of their 13 children
Updated: 2 hours ago