“Highest ever number” of Syrian children died in 2017: UNICEF report
The ‘highest ever number” of Syrian children died last year, compared with any previous year of the brutal civil war, according to figures released on Monday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
There was a 50 per cent increase compared with 2016, and in the first two months of this year, 1,000 children have reportedly been killed or injured due to intensifying violence in eastern Ghouta and elsewhere.
Indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes in densely populated areas mean that children now represent a quarter of all civilian deaths.
Addressing the Security Council on Monday, UN chief António Guterres said with the eighth anniversary of the conflict looming later this week, there had been no cessation of hostilities, as demanded by the resolution late last month.
“A country known for its ancient civilization and the people known for their richness and diversity have been betrayed and Syria’ s bleeding inside and out. There should be only one agenda for all of us. To end the suffering of the Syrian people and find a political solution to the conflict and this council, has a particular responsibility.”
“Proud feminist” Guterres praises women “calling out” abuse and discrimination
Declaring himself a “proud feminist” the UN chief António Guterres praised women and girls who have been “calling out abusive behaviour” and discrimination in both the boardroom and the bedroom.
The Secretary-General was speaking at the opening of the new session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and he stressed that centuries of patriarchy and discrimination had left a “damaging legacy”.
He added that changing the dynamics underpinning discrimination and violence against women, was not only the “greatest human rights challenge” of our time, but also in the interests of everyone.
“By building equality, we give women a chance to fulfil their potential. We also build more stable societies. Women’s participation in decision-making makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Conversely, attacks on the fundamental rights of women and girls can be precursors to radicalization and violent extremism.”
Iraqi government must take “active steps” to better protect minorities
The Iraqi authorities need to take “active steps to support and protect” minority groups who have been subjected to recent criminal and terrorist attacks.
That’s according to the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Ján Kubiš, who urged the government to ensure persecuted minorities have the chance to go home where they’ve been displaced by extremist groups such as Daesh.
He said that Iraq drew its strength from its cultural and religious diversity, stretching back centuries – a “treasure that should be protected and nurtured by the government and people”, he added.
He cited the example of indigenous Christians who numbered around 1.3 million in the 1980s, and now stand at an estimated 400,000 today.
More on Mr Kubiš’s statement, from UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.
“He urged the religious, political and civic leaders as well as the general public to stand up for their fellow vulnerable citizens. Mr Kubiš called for the support and protection of minorities, including Yezidi, Christians, Shabak, Sabean Mandaeans, and others. He said Iraq needs all its components, all its ethnic and religious groups, to rebuild in the post-Da’esh period and to prosper in the future as a stable and united country.”
Matt Wells, United Nations.