News today that the United Nations has suspended its monitoring mission in Syria is but another step in the pattern emerging from this deeply scarred nation
Nearly fifteen months after its inception, the Syrian uprising has not faltered, but neither has the international community’s apathy.
Although the United Nations as a whole and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have spoken out against the atrocities taking place in many Syrian cities and villages, there have been little or no concrete actions by the international community. Yes, one may argue that the UN has backed Kofi Annan’s Peace Plan and put observers on the ground in Syria. However, in my opinion, this plan is entirely ineffective and there is very little meaning or leverage behind it. For example, every time the UNSC expresses its sadness about the death of innocent civilians and warns that they may consider using military intervention if the situation continues to deteriorate, the Assad regime arrogantly continues its crackdown on protesters and opposition strongholds. Consequently, this combination of the international community’s ineffectiveness and unwillingness to act, and the Syrian regime’s complete disregard for human life, has led to the deaths of 14,000 people.
Although the loss of life of any human being is upsetting, the systematic deaths of children are highly disturbing. Over the last few months the world has witnessed horrific footage of the dismembered and bloody bodies of innocent murdered children, some as young as a few months old, in places such as Baba Amro and Huola in Homs, as well as the Haffa in the coastal province of Lattakia.
However, those ‘fortunate’ few who do escape the regime’s air and tank fire and survive to tell the tale, face countless other hardships such as sexual and violent abuse. According to witness accounts one such incident is said to have occurred in the village of Ayn l’Arouz in the Province of Idlib on the 9 March 2012, when the Syrian army and militia forcibly dragged tens of boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 13, and used them as human shields, placing them in front of the windows of buses carrying military personnel into the raid on the village. Furthermore, according to the UN and other organisations on the ground, children as young as 14 have been beaten, tortured and raped in detention. The extreme nature of these events has led to surprise and shock among even the most seasoned professionals. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN’s special representative for children and armed conflict, states in an interview with the BBC that, “the killing and maiming of children in crossfire is something we come across in many conflicts but this torture of children in detention… is something quite extraordinary, which we don’t really see in other places.”
Echoing the words of Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director, this must stop. Even one child killed in violence is one too many. The importance of this idea applies as much to the future as it does to the present. If the murder of children and the destruction of family life, homes and educational institutions continue at the same rate for much longer, Syria will have to overcome an even bleaker future and a multitude of challenges when the time comes to rebuilding the country and society.
Image from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/13-syrians-die-attempting-to-rescue-foreign-journalists/2012/02/28/gIQAAceggR_story.html
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