The UN Commission of Inquiry for Syria noted the experience of children was "deeply gendered" and girls are “disproportionally affected” by sexual violence.

Syrian children, who fled air strikes in their hometowns, are pictured near tents at an informal camp for displaced people where they live with their families in northern Syria's Idlib province. January 7, 2020.
Syrian children, who fled air strikes in their hometowns, are pictured near tents at an informal camp for displaced people where they live with their families in northern Syria's Idlib province. January 7, 2020. (Omar Haj Kadour / AFP)

The brutal war in Syria has robbed children of their childhood as they are forced to participate in and endure numerous violations of their rights, according to a UN report released on Thursday.

The latest report for the UN Commission of Inquiry for Syria released its findings at the UN in Geneva, noting that children in Syrian remained "acutely vulnerable to violence and abuse."

The 25-page report is entitled "They have erased the dreams of my children". Commission chair Paulo Sergio Pinheiro described the circumstances it recounts as a "disgrace" and "scandal".

In the report, the three-person commission outlines violations on children's rights in the conflict, with over five million minors displaced internally and abroad.

Girls worst affected 

The war in Syria's impact on children is “deeply gendered”, the report said.    

The UN report said girls are “disproportionally affected” by sexual violence and that the fear of rape restricts their movements. 

"Girls have been confined to their homes, removed from school or faced obstacles to access health care."  

Meanwhile, boys, particularly those 12 and over, have been arrested and kept in detention facilities, and targeted for recruitment by armed groups and militia. 

YPG/PKK recruitment of children

It is highlighted in the report, "the YPG/SDF, recruited and accepted girls and boys under the age of 18 into their ranks."

"I am appalled by the flagrant disregard for the laws of war and the Convention on the Rights of the Child by all parties involved in the conflict," said Pinheiro.

"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 noted.

Regime targets schools, hospitals 

In an excerpt, the report said: "Robbed of their childhood and forced to participate in a brutal war, children have been killed and maimed in vast numbers."

It underlined that in addition to regularly targeting children using sniper fire, regime forces have also deployed cluster munitions, thermobaric bombs, and chemical weapons, often against civilian objects such as schools and hospitals.

Daesh sex slaves

"The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [Daesh] terrorist group subjected girls as young as nine to sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence and systematically recruited and used children for direct participation in hostilities," said the report.

It added that the group also launched indiscriminate attacks on towns and villages that killed and injured scores of children.

"Most emblematically, children were both victims of public executions and forced into the role of executors by the group," said the report.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic comprises of Pinheiro, Karen Koning AbuZayd, and Hanny Megally.

They were mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate and record all violations of international law since March 2011 in Syria.

Source: AA