6 December – Brussels
Today, the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights together with the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) along with EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom and Belief Mr. Jan Figel will gather in the European Parliament at 18h00 in room ASP 3E2 to join a Skype conference call with the school children from Aleppo.
Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Parliament and convenor of the event, said:
“Not a single children in the world should witness and suffer the consequences of war. With this event we want appeal to the people of Europe, Russia, the U.S. and the rest of the world not to stand idly by, but to spread the word and voice their outrage”.
UNICEF estimates that 8.4 million children are affected by the conflict either in Syria or as refugees. Moreover, 6 million Syrian children are in need of humanitarian aid, and more than 2 million do not have access to it as they live in areas difficult to reach or under siege.
Caterina Chinnici, Co-Chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights, said: “Children in Aleppo are expecting an answer from us. Children are not responsible for this war. We call upon all the parties to protect children and allow immediate access for humanitarian aid. We cannot stay silent before this bloodshed. Six years of war is a lifetime for many of these children who have seen nothing else but war. Children are the future and we need to protect them”.
Since the beginning of the conflict, families all over Syria have been reporting serious violations against their children, violations committed by all parties. In 2015 alone, the UN has verified 1,500 serious children’s rights violations including killing, the recruitment and use of children by parties to the conflict, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access.
Today, the children – both Christian and Muslim students – will tell their stories and answer questions about their lives in a war that has lasted 5 years, claimed the lives of over 400,000 people, destroyed 2,960 schools and where, of the approximately 2.9 million school aged children, almost 2 million cannot attend class. The appeal for peace seeks to draw attention to the fact that, unlike in Iraq, despite the divisions of war in Syria, Christians and Muslims are still united.
“There is not a single moment in which I don’t think of the tens of thousands of children who are slaughtered, injured and starved in Aleppo at the hands of the Syrian army and Russian airstrikes.
They are under siege, trapped and traumatized. I know how it feels to be under siege. We call upon the parties for an immediate stop of the indiscriminate bombings and violence against children in eastern part of Aleppo and to lift all the sieges across Syria!” concluded Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Co-Chair of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights.