AMMAN, Jordan (November 25, 2013)—World Vision applauds today’s announcement of peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian civil conflict will resume on January 22, 2014, The international humanitarian agency urges all parties to join the talks in good faith with an eye toward protecting the most vulnerable and pushing for a lasting end to the conflict.
Today, World Vision released a new report, Stand with Me, Ending the War on Syria's Children, which paints a picture of the horrors faced by children caught in this war. Findings highlight the urgent need for all parties to commit to protecting children in the conflict and prioritizing their needs, as their situations continue to worsen. The January 22 peace talks present this opportunity.
“The international community has failed the children of Syria. Every month that goes by without a peaceful resolution means more children displaced from their homes, missing school or even fighting on the frontlines of the conflict,” said Joe Harbison, World Vision’s response manager for the Syrian crisis. “The time to act is now.”
“These talks represent the best chance Syria’s children have had in over two years for a future free from fear and violence,” said Conny Lenneberg, leader of World Vision’s programs in the Middle East. “As the atrocities continue, we need leaders at the Security Council and beyond to show they are prepared to push urgently for peace and support humanitarian responses. They need to come together to negotiate an immediate ceasefire, followed by peace talks.”
Highlights from new report:
• The recent escalation of fighting has led to a rise in casualties, with more than 7,000 children killed. Surveyors found that in some cases children are being specifically targeted in massacres and executions.
• More than four million children in the region have been affected by the conflict, including two million children inside Syria who have been displaced from their homes.
• An alarming number of children are being used in the conflict. In some hotspots of the conflict, as many as 25 percent of children over 15 years old are tied to an armed group. Reports indicate children as young as eight years old are being used by armed groups as human shields.
• Child protection workers working with Syrian refugee children are nearly unanimous in reporting signs of severe emotional stress among refugee children, such as unusual crying/screaming, disrupted sleep patterns (nightmares and insomnia), sadness, bedwetting and unwillingness to go to school.
• Almost 80 percent of the child protection workers surveyed believed there has been an increase in the number of children detained for their role in the conflict.
• Almost three-quarters of the child protection workers believe there has been an increase in sexual violence against Syrian refugee children, with most having no idea where victims of such violence can get help.
World Vision is urgently requesting all sides in the conflict to unconditionally support negotiations aimed at ending the fighting and to end the violation of children’s rights. As well, the agency says all sides should support better access for humanitarian aid to reach those in need inside Syria.
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