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UN envoy on children in war visits Syria

15 July 2013, 17:08

Damascus - The UN Secretary General's special envoy for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, arrives in Syria on Monday for three days of meetings on the violence in the country.

"Zerrougui will meet government officials, representatives of the United Nations and NGO partners," the UN said.

Zerrougui's trip to Syria comes as part of a regional tour that includes stops in Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon to assess the plight of Syrian children and families affected by the conflict.

"During her visit to the region, the Special Representative is working with governments, UN and NGO partners to highlight the needs and enhance the protection of children affected by the Syrian conflict," the UN said.

Sexual violence

In June, Zerrougui's office said it had received "verified reports that Syrian children are killed or injured in indiscriminate bombings, shot by snipers, used as human shields or victims of terror tactics".

Her office said boys as young as 10 were used by armed groups to work as combatants and porters.

It said there were a growing number of reports of the Free Syrian Army, the main rebel group, recruiting children, mostly between 15 and 17.

She urged "everyone involved in the conflict... to take urgent measures to protect children," warning that the Syrian regime had also used sexual violence against boys to obtain information or confessions.

Children have regularly been victims of the violence in Syria, which began after the government cracked down on peaceful anti-government demonstrations that started in March 2011.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog, more than 100 000 people have been killed since the conflict began in Syria, including more than 5 000 children under the age of 16.



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