Syria\'s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari affirmed that the Syrian government is committed to international treaties and conventions on children\'s rights which it joined and ratified early, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two optional protocols.
During a Security Council session on children in times of wars and conflicts held on Friday, al-Jaafari pointed out that Syria has always been a pioneer in tending to the needs of children, supporting their rights, and protecting them, particularly in terms of providing free education and medical services, noting that UN reports spanning decades testify to this.
"Unfortunately, the crisis in Syria produced extremist phenomena that contradict the Syrian values of moderation, and Syrian children were the first to be affected by them.
"These aberrant phenomena were brought by mercenaries and takfiris sent from across the world to impose dark Wahabi ideas on our youths and children and to commit the most heinous crimes against Syrian children, including recruiting children and youths and training them to commit gruesome terrorist crimes such as slaughter, abduction, mutilation, dismemberment and decapitation using axes and swords, slitting open the bellies of pregnant women, hanging fetuses on trees with their own umbilical cords, trafficking in humans and their organs, and many more," al-Jaafari said.
He pointed out that during dozens of Security Council meetings related to Syria, not a single state with influence over terrorist groups exerted any pressure on them to lift blockades they impose on an area, end the militarization of a hospital or school, or free abducted religions leaders, bishops, nuns or orphans, nor did any of these states exert pressure on terrorists to release Syrian women and children used as hostages and abducted from Lattakia, Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, Daraa and the town of Ma\'an in Hama countryside after slaughtering many others.
"The biggest disaster isn\'t that a group of criminals and terrorists committed such acts; rather it is that these terrorist groups are funded, supported and armed openly by the governments of Arab, regional and international states who elected to be part of these offenses and sins," al-Jaafari said.
He went on to say that these governments, with all their riches, influential media and the sectarian instigation they employ, did their best to undermine Syria\'s social, educational and economic advancement and to subjugate Syria\'s independent decision-making, not to mention their efforts to cover up the terrorism, destruction, vandalism, pillaging of national resources, and opening the borders of neighboring countries to let foreign terrorists and mercenaries into Syria under shameful pretenses that are harmful to the image of Arabs and Muslims.
"Despite the tragic nature of this dark picture, some senior officials at the UN Secretariat still consider these incidents to be mere reports that haven\'t been verified yet," al-Jaafari said, asserting that Syrian government continues to exert great efforts to fulfill its obligations towards protecting children despite unprecedented challenges.
Syria\'s Representative affirmed that Syria continues to cooperate with the UN to uncover the violations of children\'s rights committed by terrorists, with the Syrian permanent delegation distributing an official memo to the Security Council dated February 6th containing detailed and documented information and examples of crimes committed by terrorist groups against Syrian children, explaining how these groups methodically and repeatedly attack schools and hospitals, steal their contents, and murder their staff members.
"We provided Special Representative of the Secretary-General Leila Zerrougui and Security Council members with a list of 28 cases of armed terrorist groups targeting schools across Syria, 54 cases of murder, mutilation and abduction of children," he pointed out, voicing regret that no-one at the Secretariat bothered to verify any of this nor ask the Syrian government for more information about these violations.
Al-Jaafari said that while terrorist groups continue to recruit Syrian children, both male and female, to employ in their military operations, the authorities in the Syrian government are taking legal steps to deal with child soldiers as per the law on this issue issued on May 6th 2013, which incriminates those who recruit children for combat activities of any kind, with sentences for the recruiter ranging from hard labor for 10 to 20 years up to capital punishment if the child in question dies while carrying out combat activities.
He explained that this law treats child soldiers as victims subjected to the laws for minors, placing these children in social protection centers, not in detainment centers, and they are subjected later to fair trials and referred to correctional facilities to receive care under expert supervisors.
Syria\'s Representative pointed out to another form of children\'s rights violations in Syria, as foreign sides and satellite channels broadcasting from Arab Gulf countries recruit children to work as armed insurgents against the state and war correspondents, equipping them with cameras and communications devices and sending them to dangerous zones to transmit information, endangering these children\'s lives and violating all principles of children\'s rights.
Al-Jaafari called on relevant UN and Zerrougui to investigate these heinous acts immediately, noting that Syrian authorities arrested a gang responsible for recruiting children, and its members\' confessions were broadcast on the Syrian TV recently.
He said that the Syrian government, represented by the Health Ministry, continues to carry out its programs for children health care, beginning the 4th stage of the polio vaccination campaign recently, noting that this disease had been eradicated in Syria but it reemerged when terrorists from Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries brought the virus back to Syria.
"We are deeply concerned over the continuation of tragic situations and grave violations against children in camps in neighboring countries, which include sexual abuse, being forced into underage marriage, depriving them from education, and segregating family members in different camps and depriving them from work and freedom of movement, in addition to recruiting many Syrian children from these camps by armed terrorist groups, under either the supervision or the disregard of the governments hosting these refugees in some cases," al-Jaafari said.
Syria\'s Representative voiced surprise over the UN\'s persistence to disregard all these violations and its refraining from taking any tangible step to help resolve these dangerous phenomena, despite the fact that active members of international, regional and non-governmental organizations and Secretary-General are aware of the severity of these violations taking place in camps, as this was documented in their own reports.
"The UN today is required to work with neutrality, transparency and efficacy to take steps for protecting Syrian children by reminding the governments of member countries – some of whom are members of this Council – of their obligations as per the UN Charter and international law, and to press the governments of the states which support, fund, and train armed terrorist and extremist groups and facilitate their movements into ceasing these actions immediately, in addition to pressing the countries who impose forced, illegitimate and unilateral measures into lifting them immediately," he said.
Al-Jaafari concluded by saying that Syria is serious about decisively confronting any form of violation of human rights, and that it continues to cooperate with the UN and partner international and regional organizations in order to show the reality of the situation in Syria away from politicization, manipulation of public opinion, and provocation, in order to put an end to all forms of violence against children in cases of armed conflict and to punish those who perpetrate and instigate such acts, no matter who they are.