Death of children fleeing Syria is a ‘human tragedy’, says MENA UNICEF director

A Syrian refugee removes snow from tents at a makeshift settlement in Bar Elias, in the Bekaa valley. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 January 2018
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Death of children fleeing Syria is a ‘human tragedy’, says MENA UNICEF director

BEIRUT: The death of children fleeing Syria due to extreme cold weather at the Syrian-Lebanese border is a “humanitarian tragedy for the world to stop,” Khairat Kabalari, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa has said.
“It is tragic that more than a dozen Syrians, including two children, have died in eastern Lebanon near the border crossing with Syria — the Syrians are risking their lives and the lives of their children in an attempt to escape,” Kabalari added.
He praised the efforts of the Lebanese authorities in searching for those who are still trapped in the mountains in freezing temperatures.
He said his organization is working in cooperation with a group of partners to help families cope with the harsh weather by distributing blankets and winter clothes and fueling schools.
The number of Syrians who have died trying to flee their war-torn country into neighboring Lebanon during a snowstorm had risen to at least 13, the United Nations said on Saturday.
A group of Syrians, including children, had tried to enter neighboring Lebanon late on Thursday through a smuggling route but were caught in a fierce storm.
The Lebanese army and civil defense said on Friday they had retrieved the bodies of 10 Syrians, including two children and six women.


Palestinian FM to press ICC on war crimes probe

Updated 45 min 55 sec ago
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Palestinian FM to press ICC on war crimes probe

THE HAGUE: Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki was to arrive in The Netherlands later Monday ahead of talks with the chief prosecutor of the world's only permanent war crimes court.
Maliki will meet with prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Tuesday morning just over a week after 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire as they protested the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.
Maliki will update Bensouda on the situation in the Palestinian territories and also "submit a referral" on the issue of Jewish settlements during their talks at the International Criminal Court ICC), the Palestinian embassy in The Hague said in a statement.
Afterwards, Maliki will hold a press conference outside the court. He will also meet later Tuesday with Dutch counterpart Stef Blok.
Bensouda vowed last week that she was watching the unrest in Gaza closely and would "take any action warranted" to prosecute crimes.
"My staff is vigilantly following developments on the ground and recording any alleged crime that could fall within" the tribunal's jurisdiction, she warned in a statement to AFP.
"The violence must stop," she insisted, urging "all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this situation and the Israel Defence Forces to avoid excessive use of force."
The Palestinian Authority joined the ICC in January 2015 signing up to the Rome Statute which underpins the world's only permanent war crimes court.
The Palestinians asked the prosecutor to investigate alleged crimes committed in the Palestinian territories in the Gaza war the previous year, and Bensouda opened her inquiry just a few days later.
The preliminary examination which comes ahead of a full-blown investigation continues.