Desmond Tutu heads up plea for Syrian children

By staff writers
January 21, 2014

Ahead of the Geneva 2 peace talks, senior humanitarian organisations and leaders have urged the protection of Syria’s children.

Signatories of the appeal to participants in the talks include human rights campaigner, Nobel Peace Laureate and former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu.

The statement declares: "With the parties in Syria’s conflict meeting in Geneva tomorrow, we believe the time has come to urgently focus on the plight of children. Over 11,000 Syrian children have already lost their lives. From the shelling of residential areas to attacks on schools and hospitals, children are being targeted.

"More than 4 million children have been forced to flee their homes, including over a million who have fled the country altogether. Many are traumatised, hungry, and in urgent need of shelter and protection.

"Scandalously, aid cannot reach the children who need it the most. Hundreds of thousands of children are trapped in conflict zones and are receiving little or no humanitarian assistance at all.

"As they arrive in Geneva, we urgently call on the parties to the conflict not to target children, and to commit to a three-point plan to protect them:

* Do not prevent life-saving aid from reaching children.
* Do not target, or allow military use of, schools or health facilities.
* Do not use explosive weapons in populated areas.

"Every child in Syria who is hurt, or killed, or loses a loved one, represents yet another failure by the international community.

"We hereby commit to becoming champions for Syria’s children, speaking out for their rights at every opportunity. An entire generation is being lost to violence. All of us bear a responsibility to save these children."

The other signatories are Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs; Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF; Antonio Gutteres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response; Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation; Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme; Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative for the United Nations Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict; Mark Malloch Brown, former United Nations Deputy Secretary General and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; Jan Egeland, Secretary General, Norwegian Refugee Council; Louise Arbour, President and CEO, International Crisis Group; David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee; Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children; Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International; and Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO, World Vision International.

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