Children’s rights organisation Plan International Australia is calling for the Syrian Government to allow immediate access for independent investigators to investigate the site where 11 children have been killed by a chemical weapon in northern Syria.
The April 4 attack, in the central province of Idlibin, has killed dozens - reportedly the result of a deadly Sarin gas – making it the one of the worst chemical attacks in six years of civil war.
On the ground reports indicate the death toll will be higher than the official 58, as doctors at the scene say entire families were killed in their sleep.
Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart has called for unhindered humanitarian access to the site of the attack, to allow an urgent United Nations enquiry and the immediate collection of evidence that war crimes have been committed.
In particular, the attack appears to have breached:
- The Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare (1925)
- The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (1995); and
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) – Article 38: governments must do everything they can to protect and care for children affected by war.
“What kind of a world do we live in where perpetrators can just use chemicals to kill children with no culpability whatsoever?” Mr Wishart said.
“Children deserve safety and to be protected from the worst of humanity. For six years these atrocities have befallen the people of Syria and as result, 55,000 children have died.
“Where is the accountability? How long must the people of Syria endure the intolerable cruelty of watching their children die in their arms?”
Australia has co-sponsored United Nations resolutions to collect evidence on war crimes in Syria and has sanctions in place against the Syrian regime, however something like this has still occurred, he added.
“History has shown that finger-pointing and political posturing will do nothing to help Syria’s children. The Assad regime must immediately allow full and unrestricted humanitarian access and an independent enquiry into this latest atrocity.
“It’s too late for those who have died. But we can demand justice for them. We join with civil society organisations around the world demanding access for the UN to gather the evidence required to hold those to blame to account.”
Read about Plan’s work with Syria’s refugee children and families: https://plan-international.org/syrian-refugee-crisis-appeal