* Health sector particularly hard hit, Syria's UN envoy says
* He says UN report on children in conflict "fraudulent"
* U.S., EU, Arab League have imposed sanctions on Syria
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 22 Sanctions imposed on
Syria by the European Union, the United States and others over
its 19-month conflict are "immoral and illegal" and harming
Syrian children, the government wrote in a letter to U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released on Monday.
The letter from the Syrian government was in response to a
recent report by Leila Zerrougui, Ban's special representative
for children and armed conflict, who accused both sides in Syria
of targeting children with bomb attacks, sexual violence and
The Syrian government said the claims against it were
"unsubstantiated and fraudulent" and relied on allegations by
the media and opposition groups rather than facts. The
government said sanctions were hurting the children.
"It is the children who are primarily adversely affected by
those sanctions and the challenges they post to the various
sectors and, in particular, the health sector," Syrian U.N.
Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari wrote in the Oct. 4 letter.
"The difficulty of exchanging money that has ensued from the
embargo placed on national banks has impacted the import of
children's vaccines and the availability of medications, raised
the cost of medical equipment and made supplies thereof
unreliable," Ja'afari said.
He said his government called "for the immoral and illegal
nature of the unilateral sanctions that have been imposed on
Syria to be exposed."
The World Health Organization has said Syria produced 90
percent of its medicines and drugs before the conflict began.
But production has been hit by the fighting, lack of raw
materials, impact of sanctions and higher fuel costs, it said.
The United States, European Union and Arab League have
imposed various sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's
government in a bid to bring peace to the country where 30,000
people have been killed in the fighting.
"It is the armed terrorist groups that are violating the
rights of the child in Syria and obstructing the evacuation of
the injured and sick, children and disabled persons from certain
quarters where they are held hostage," Ja'afari wrote.
The issue of children and armed conflict sparked a split in
the Security Council last month with China, Russia, Pakistan and
Azerbaijan abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote to renew
Zerrougui's mandate over concerns the U.N. envoy can investigate
any conflict, not just those before the council.
Russia and China have vetoed three U.N. Security Council
resolutions condemning Assad's government and calling for an end
to the conflict. They have also rejected the idea of imposing
sanctions on Syria.
A report by Ban to the Security Council on children and
armed conflict, based on the work of his envoy, covers conflicts
in 23 countries. Of these, 16 are on the council agenda and
seven are not - Colombia, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri
Lanka and the southern border provinces of Thailand and Yemen.