Syrian child victim draws strong Swiss reaction

Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter has spoken out after images of a Syrian war child victim circulated around the world. Reuters

The image of a bloodied and dazed five-year-old Syrian boy, who was rescued from a collapsed building in Aleppo following an air strike, has drawn strong reactions in Switzerland.

This content was published on August 19, 2016 with agencies

“I would like to take this little boy’s hand and give him hope,” Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter wrote in the tabloid Blick newspaper on Friday, a day after the image appeared throughout the world. “No child in Aleppo is safe,” wrote Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “We cannot accept that.”

The five-year-old boy was rescued from the ruins of a building in Aleppo AFP

The image of the boy, covered in dust and with blood on his face, prompted outrage from around the world. The child was treated and later discharged from hospital to be reunited with his family. But this piece of good news has failed to ease feelings of deep disquiet.

Recalling that he has personally witnessed other child war victims, Burkhalter wrote: “For this little boy, childhood has evaporated. Not because of the natural wing beats of life, but in the dust of bombs which darkens everything.”

Maurer called on the international community to “do everything to stop the killing and the violence” and for the fighting sides to observe the laws concerning warfare. “Every day we see an increase in the number of victims in hospitals,” he wrote. “And each day more children are dying through violence that knows no bounds.”

More than 250,000 people have died in the five-year civil war, according to United Nations estimates, including many children. The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) believes some 120,000 children are cut off from humanitarian aid in the Aleppo region.

Is the international community doing enough to protect civilians in Syria? Have your say.

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