Syrian child holds opposition flag, ICONIC, 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed )
UNITED NATIONS - The aid group Save the Children pleaded with
members of the UN Security Council on Monday to do more for Syria's children,
nearly 2 million of whom need help because of the country's 2-year-old civil
The UN Security Council has been deadlocked since the start of the
start of the conflict, with Syrian President Bashar Assad's close ally Russia
- with the aid of China - using its veto power to block any condemnations or
attempts to sanction Assad's government.
"From the very beginning of the
crisis in Syria, children have been its forgotten victims - facing death, trauma
and suffering, and deprived of basic humanitarian aid," Save the Children said
in a report presented to the 15-nation council on Monday.
increasingly being put directly in harm's way as they are being recruited by
armed groups and (government-aligned) forces," it said. "There have even been
reports that children as young as 8 have been used as human shields." The threat
to children begins before they are born, it said. Since hospitals and health
workers are being attacked, women are reluctant to go to hospitals. It added
that nearly 2 million Syrian children were in need of aid.
more births are taking place at home, without a skilled birth attendant," the
report said, adding that access to food was also a serious problem for Syrian
Save the Children, a US-based non-governmental charity
organization, said last month that Syria's children were being shot at, tortured
Carolyn Miles, president and chief executive officer of Save
the Children, told Reuters in an interview that the main message she brought the
deadlocked Security Council was that aid access must be improved and pledges of
relief funds paid out.
"The pledges for protection of children in Syria
remain virtually unfunded," Miles said, adding that less than 3 percent of the
pledges earmarked for protecting and educating children in Syria had been
Miles' remarks came after the United Nations gave its starkest
warning yet on Friday that it would soon run out of cash to cope with the vast
influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan and other neighboring
countries.Real people are suffering
Car bombs and attacks on civilians -
including children - are commonplace in the Syrian conflict, which the United
Nations estimates has killed more than 70,000 people, without so far producing a
Syria's conflict started with peaceful protests against four
decades of Assad family rule that were violently suppressed. An armed struggle
ensued, forcing more than a million Syrians to flee abroad, and displacing
millions more inside the country.
Miles said she had asked the Security
Council members to put pressure on all the actors in the conflict - including
the Syrian government - to improve humanitarian aid access, an issue that she
said has become needlessly politicized.
"There are ways to ensure
humanitarian access and that aid gets through," she said.
facing sexual exploitation, she said, adding that parents said they were
marrying girls to protect them.
"We were reminding people (on the
Security Council) that this is about real people who are suffering," Miles
Security Council diplomats, whom Miles described as relatively
"quiet" during Monday's meeting at the German UN mission, did not respond
immediately to requests for comment. Miles added that she would keep the
pressure on the council.
The Save the Children report urged the Security
Council to "unite behind a plan that will bring about an end to the violence and
ensure that humanitarian aid reaches children throughout Syria." It also urged
all parties to the conflict to allow unfettered access to civilians in need of
aid. Assad's government, UN diplomats say, has balked at the idea of free
access for aid workers due to the fears that such corridors could be used to
transfer weapons to rebels.
The report also called on Assad's forces and
the rebels to stop recruiting children, release any in their ranks and ensure
they are returned to their families.
An official from the UN children's
fund UNICEF was also present at Monday's meeting, but the fund had no comment.