The Ignored Victims in Syria: The Children
Apr 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm
A conference called the Friends of Syria met on Sunday, April 1, 2012, and Arab states agreed to provide millions of dollars to Syrian opposition fighters. The Syrian National Council will distribute the funds, which will be provided by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. According to the BBC, "most opposition groups" have agreed to allow the Syrian National Council to represent the interests of the Syrian people in a political peace process.
The Friends of Syria funds are to be used to purchase black market weapons for the on-going conflict, as well as to provide a "salary" to the opposition soldiers. It is hoped that the funds will encourage defections from the Syrian army. The conflict has raged for nearly a year and claimed approximately 9,000 lives.
What is widely ignored in the international media is that both sides of the Syrian conflict violate the basic human rights of Syrian children and that these monies pledged to the Syrian opposition will most likely enable and encourage violence against children in both armies. History has shown that funding "freedom fighters" rarely results in the protection of human rights and individual liberties.
UN human rights commissioner and former International Criminal Court (ICC) judge Navi Pillay has accused Bashar al-Assad's army of "systematically detaining and torturing children" and said that the UN has enough reliable evidence to refer the case to the ICC for further investigation and possibly prosecution. "They've gone for the children - for whatever purposes - in large numbers. Hundreds detained and tortured... it's just horrendous," said Pillay to the BBC. "Children shot in the knees, held together with adults in really inhumane conditions, denied medical treatment for their injuries, either held as hostages or as sources of information."
The Huffington Post and the BBC have reported that the Free Syrian Army uses child soldiers as well. Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN special representative for children and armed conflict, admitted, "We haven't been able to verify or check" the reports.
CRI calls upon the Friends of Syria to maintain accountability and put measures in place to ensure that no funds are used to recruit children.