The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is sounding the alarm about the plight of children caught up in the bloodshed in Syria, where nearly 11 months of violence have led to the deaths and injuries of hundreds of young people.
“There are reports of children being arbitrarily arrested, tortured and sexually abused while in detention,” the agency said in a statement, adding that reported heavy shelling by Government forces of civilian neighborhoods in the city of Homs in recent days is no doubt causing further suffering for more children.
“This must stop. Even one child killed in the violence is one child too many,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
“We urge the Syrian authorities to allow help to all those who need it desperately.”
UNICEF said it does not have access to the affected areas of Homs and cannot confirm the impact of the attacks there, but there are credible reports, including from international media inside the city, that children are caught up in the violence.
“Those injured must be given immediate and unconditional access to specialized medical care,” stressed the agency.
According to media reports, Syrian troops have escalated their assault on Homs, using heavy artillery and shelling against civilians as part of their wider crackdown against a public pro-democracy movement that emerged early last year.
Top UN officials have repeatedly called on the Government to end its violence against the Syrian people, amid a rising death toll that has surpassed 5,000 since the uprising began in March, and to seek a peaceful and durable solution to the crisis.