UN issues blank statement on Syria, says it has run out of words

More than 100 people killed in air raids, rocket strikes and shelling in country since Monday


Reuters February 20, 2018
Children stand near a UN vehicle in the village of Otaya, eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA: The UN children's fund UNICEF issued a blank "statement" on Tuesday to express its outrage at mass casualties among Syrian children in the besieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta and neighbouring Damascus.

"No words will do justice to the children killed, their mothers, their fathers and their loved ones," the release from UNICEF's regional director Geert Cappalaere began.

There followed 10 empty lines with quote marks indicating missing text, and an explanatory footnote.

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"UNICEF is issuing this blank statement. We no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering and our outrage," it said. "Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?"

Forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad have been besieging almost 400,000 civilians trapped inside Eastern Ghouta for years, but the siege has tightened this year and attacks on the enclave have intensified.

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Siege tactics and indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas contravene the internationally-agreed "rules of war".

Pro-government forces carried out air raids on Eastern Ghouta overnight on Monday and early on Tuesday, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

More than 100 people were killed in air raids, rocket strikes and shelling of the area on Monday, it added.

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