Displaced Kurdish children who fled their home town of Ras al-Ain city play at temporary shelter in a school building at Tal Tamr town, northeast of Syria, 14 October 2019 | Photo: EPA/STR
Displaced Kurdish children who fled their home town of Ras al-Ain city play at temporary shelter in a school building at Tal Tamr town, northeast of Syria, 14 October 2019 | Photo: EPA/STR

A UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria has said that nearly nine years of conflict in Syria has robbed children of their dreams, reporting numerous rights violations committed by all sides involved in the conflict. The report entitled 'They have erased the dreams of my children' was released on Thursday.

The conflict in Syria has robbed boys and girls of their childhood and subjected them to ''unabated violations of their rights'', including being killed, maimed, displaced, forced to fight or subjected to torture, rape and sexual slavery. That's according to the latest report carried out by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which was released on Thursday last week.


Nearly nine years of conflict in Syria have deeply scarred Syrian minors whose dreams have been ''erased'', according to the study. The report was drafted by the three-member Commission set up by the Human Rights Council to investigate and record all violations of international law related to the Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011. 

Reports on violence 

The Commission's report is called 'They have erased the dreams of my children' from a quote taken in a 2012 interview with a woman discussing attacks on her village in Idlib. The study is based on approximately 5,000 interviews conducted between September 2011 and October 2019 with Syrian children, as well as eyewitnesses, survivors, relatives of survivors, medical professionals, defectors, members of armed groups, healthcare professionals, lawyers and other affected communities, the UN said. 

The president of the Commission, Paulo Pinheiro, expressed dismay for the "flagrant disregard for the laws of war and the Convention on the Rights of the Child by all parties involved in the conflict."

"While the government of the Syrian Arab Republic has the primary responsibility for the protection of boys and girls in the country, all of the actors in this conflict must do more to protect children and preserve the country's future generation," he said. 

Rape and sexual abuse to punish and intimidate communities 

The report denounced that rape and sexual abuse were committed to punish, humiliate and intimidate communities, stating that government forces arrested children as young as 12 who were beaten and tortured. The study also said that armed groups intentionally attacked schools and used educational facilities for military purposes. Moreover, they used children as pawns to exchange prisoners or obtain a ransom. 

The war has had an impact on access to education, with more than 2.1 million children not regularly attending classes of any form. 

The report also expressed concern over the severe impact the conflict has had on children's long-term physical and mental health. 

'The protection of children must be guaranteed' 

The Commission urged States to guarantee the protection of displaced children, which includes the obligation to repatriate children with family ties to ISIS extremist fighters. It also called on the Syrian government and other key actors to grant children special protection during wartime, in line with international law. Other recommendations included ending child recruitment, taking child rights into consideration during military planning and guaranteeing that those responsible for violations face justice.
 

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