Op-Ed: Children Are Suffering in Syria
It boggles the imagination that Australia’s national broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) could have been involved in a joint investigation between its premier Public Affairs show - “Four Corners” - and one of Australia’s leading newspapers – The Australian – in producing a 45 minute television documentary – “Stone Cold Justice” - examining the treatment of Palestinian Arab children in Israel’s military court system.
ABC News announced that:
“Children are being intimidated and forced into false confessions by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, according to allegations to be broadcast tonight on the ABC's Four Corners program.
"A joint investigation between Four Corners and The Australian newspaper has examined the treatment of Palestinian children in Israel's military court system. Four Corners looks at claims the Israeli army is arresting hundreds of Palestinian children during night raids for alleged crimes, such as throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and settlers.
"Israel's security services have also been accused by lawyers and youth workers of using Palestinian children to gather intelligence.”
The news item went on to reveal that:
“700 Palestinian children [are] detained each year by the Israeli army…”
Any allegations concerning the mistreatment of children should be vigorously questioned and exposed - but the allocation of substantial resources by the Australian taxpayer funded ABC to investigate allegations that relate to 700 children a year, many of them actually minors close to the age of 18 and who have been accused of endangering lives by throwing stones, rocks or boulders at people and moving vehicles in the 'West Bank' must be seriously questioned.
There are certainly far more serious abuses being suffered by small children – most notably in Syria for the last three years – that deserve detailed investigation by national broadcasters like the ABC.
The impotency of the United Nations and its “humanitarian” agencies in allowing inhumane outcomes for children resulting from member states either backing the Assad regime or those seeking to overthrow it – has been starkly revealed in a report - “Under Siege -The devastating impact on children of three years of conflict in Syria” - issued by UNICEF this week
The Report reveals that:
"Since March 2013, the number of children affected by the crisis in Syria has more than doubled from 2.3 million to more than 5.5 million. The number of children displaced inside Syria has more than tripled from 920,000 to almost 3 million. The number of child refugees has more than quadrupled from 260,000 to more than 1.2 million. Of these children, 425,000 are under the age of five One in 10 children – over 1.2 million – have fled the country to become refugees in neighbouring countries. And these numbers are rising every day.
"By the end of January 2014, 37,498 Syrian children had been born as refugees. As of January 2014, more than 10,000 children have lost their lives to Syria’s violence reflecting a blatant disregard for civilian lives by all sides to the conflict. Most have reportedly died in the last 24 months - and there is evidence that children are being directly targeted. Boys as young as 12 have been recruited to support the fighting, some in actual combat, others to work as informers, guards, or arms smugglers
"According to a recent UN report, children as young as 11 are being detained with adults. In some cases, they are being subjected to torture and sexual abuse to humiliate them, force confessions, or pressure relatives to surrender According to UN field estimates- one in ten refugee children is thought to be working – whether as cheap labour on farms, in cafes and car repair shops or as beggars on city streets.
"Malnutrition and dangerous vitamin and mineral deficiencies – so-called “hidden hunger” - have been slowly undermining children’s ability to develop and thrive over the last three years. Since the confirmation of a polio outbreak in the governorate of Deir Ezzour in October 2013, 25 cases of the disease have been confirmed in the north and east of the country. Despite a massive immunization programme since - polio remains a threat, especially to an estimated 323,000 children under the age of five in areas under siege or that are hard-to-reach."
Australia currently occupies a seat on the United Nations Security Council –positioning it to take a lead role in demanding that an armed UN force be sent to Syria to implement an imposed cease fire to end this mayhem and slaughter – if the warring parties do not agree on a cease fire within a specified time frame.
If Australia’s national broadcaster has been moved to investigate the abuse of 700 children in the 'West Bank' – surely it should be similarly motivated to produce a series of 45 minute documentaries interviewing UNICEF officials and those on the front line in Syria named in UNICEF’s report detailing the abuses being visited on 5.5 million children.
Indeed all national broadcasters – especially in those democratic countries forming part of the “The Friends of Syria Core Group of countries – the ‘London 11’” - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Turkey – should be actively demanding a cease fire to end the suffering of these innocent children.
The other members of the London 11 - Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates must be prepared to join such an international force to end this genocidal assault on Arab children.
Russia, Iran and Hezbollah need to accept such a cease fire immediately.
The world must intervene without further delay.
Syria is only a stone’s throw away from the 'West Bank' – not on another planet.