The international community should save the lives of thousands of children is Syria’s Al-Hawl refugee camp, and help bring them home, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Gennady Kuzmin said on Friday.
In his words, over 31,000 children are currently staying in the camp, where over 6,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus have already been registered.
“We appeal to international community to undertake practical measures to defend lives of innocent children,” he said during an open Arria-formula meeting of UNSC members, headlined ‘Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on violations against children in situations of armed conflict.’
“Let me remind that states have the duty under international law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to repatriate their nationals and to take steps to prevent children of their nationals from becoming stateless,” the Russian diplomat continued.
“States should assume primary responsibility to protect these children and ensure their safe return home.”
The diplomat went on to say that the Russian authorities are actively engaged in the effort to evacuate underage citizens from areas of armed conflict, including those brought to conflict zones by their parents.
“Despite restrictions and additional challenges posed by COVID-19, 145 minors were repatriated from Middle East within a year. While since 2017 in total 274 children aged from 2 to 16 years old have been returned to motherland from Iraq (122) and Syria (152),” he said.
“When we are talking about children, we do not have a right to politicize agenda, we do not have a right to draw a line between to-say our children and other people’s children; children having good and bad parents; children living in Syria government controlled territories and thus subjected to unilateral sanctions and other young Syrians. We need to do more to protect our children, much more,” Kuzmin added.
Last June, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michel Bachelet made a call to foreign governments to help their citizens return back home from Syria.
She said that thousands of Syrians, Iraqis and citizens of other states with presumed family ties to members of the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) are staying at refugee camps on the Kurdish-controlled territories of Syria.
According to Bachelet, the majority of them were taken to refugee camps following the Islamic State’s defeat in the east of Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province.