February 20, 2018 / 10:36 AM / a month ago

U.N. issues blank statement on Syria, says it has run out of words

GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N. 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.

A general view of damaged houses after an air raid in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 6, 2018. REUTERS/ Bassam Khabieh

“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.

“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.

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.

Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Andrew Roche

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