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UN rights chief calls for international support for Syrian civilians

November was the bloodiest month so far since protests broke out in mid-March with 950 people killed.

Image: AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman

THE UNITED NATIONS High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the international community to protect Syrian civilians amid the failure of Bashar Assad’s government to protect its own people.

Addressing an emergency session of the UN’s Human Rights Council, Navi Pillay said:

The Syrian authorities’ continual ruthless repression, if not stopped now, can drive the country into a full-fledged civil war. In light of the manifest failure of the Syrian authorities to protect their citizens, the international community needs to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people.

Last month was the bloodiest since protests erupted in mid-May, with at least 950 people killed across the county in the government’s crackdown on the protesters. The UN says that over 4,000 people are estimated to have died in the unrest inspired by popular political movements in Tunisia and Egypt.

Turkey, the EU and the Arab League recently imposed a number of new economic sanctions against Syria which included freezing assets and restricting materials and services exported to Syria. Syria has responded by announcing the suspension of its membership of the Union for the Mediterranean group until the “European Union reconsiders the measures taken against it”.

The UN’s council recently released a report which claimed that at least 256 children have died in the Syrian violence. The panel behind the report said they had received information that a number of children were tortured to death, and that “numerous testimonies indicated that boys were subjected to sexual torture in places of detention in front of adult men”.  The panel was not allowed into Syria to investigate claims of human rights abuses, but says it interviewed 223 victims and witnesses to abuses.

Today, Pillay said she understood that the number of child deaths had risen to 307. She repeated her calls for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, saying that “the need for international accountability has even greater urgency today”.

The UN rights council passed a resolution condemning the Syrian violence with the support of 37 of its 47 members.

Read: EU blocks export of ‘monitoring equipment’ to Syria >

Read: Children tortured, killed during Syrian regime’s crackdown: UN >

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