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UN report highlights abuse of children in Syria

The UN on Monday released a report [materials] to the Security Council [official website], which highlights the severe suffering faced by children in Syria during the period between March 2011 and November 2013. The report states that the Syrian government and military allies have killed and tortured [UN News Centre report] extensive numbers of children, while opposition forces have recruited children to aid in combat and have summarily executed children as well. Other violations against children during the country's civil war range from sexual violence and arbitrary detention to the denial of access to humanitarian aid. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] stated in the report that he urges "all parties to the conflict to take, without delay, all measures to protect and uphold the rights of all children in Syria." Ban concluded the report with a list of recommendations, calling on all parties to end ongoing and disproportionate attacks on civilian areas and immediately release women and children who have been abducted.

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has persisted for almost three years, and there is mounting international pressure to find an end to the conflict. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] last week that Syrian authorities had deliberately demolished residential neighborhoods with explosives and bulldozers in Damascus and Hama over the last year. The main opposition group within Syria, the Syrian National Coalition [official website], recently agreed to attend the Geneva II conference after an invitation to Iran was rescinded by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Following Iran's original invitation to Geneva II, the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition announced [JURIST report] that it would refuse to attend the peace talks if Iran was in attendance. Iran is the primary international supporter of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the current regime. UN pressure on Syria has mounted in the last month as evidence revealed signs of war crimes in the country. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] warned [JURIST report] Syrian opposition groups earlier in January that recent mass executions are in violation of international human rights, and that these acts may also constitute war crimes.

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