United Nations: Expressing shock over the killing of hundreds of civilians in the Syrian town of Daraya, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sought an immediate investigation into the "appalling and brutal crime."
"The Secretary-General is certainly shocked by (the killings) and he strongly condemns this appalling and brutal crime," Ban`s spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters at UN Headquarters here yesterday.
"It must be investigated immediately in an independent and impartial manner, and those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held accountable."
Opposition groups claimed that more than 200 bodies had been found in Daraya, on the southwest outskirts of the capital Damascus after Syrian government troops stormed the town on Saturday, in what has been described as a counter-terrorism operation.
"This is yet another glaring example of the lack of protection for civilians in Syria and the urgent need to prevent further loss of life," Nesirky said.
Syria has been wracked by violence, with more than 17,000 people, mostly civilians, killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began over 17 months ago.
The number of people fleeing the country increased dramatically over the weekend, with as many as 2,000 people crossing the border from Syria to Jordan in a single night, according to the UN Children`s Fund (UNICEF).
According to UNICEF, some 17,000 people half of them children are sheltered at the Za`atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan, but numbers are increasing daily with hundreds of new arrivals from Syria.
"We expect to have 70,000 people at Za`atari camp by the end of this year," UNICEF’s Representative for Jordan, Dominique Hyde, said in a statement.
“We must act now because it is children who continue to suffer most. So more funding is urgently required to scale-up our emergency response activities."
The agency is appealing for USD 54 million to cover the emergency needs of Syrian refugees sheltering in the Za`atari camp and surrounding communities, where high temperatures and frequent sandstorms make living conditions harsh.
UNICEF said as the number of refugees increases, so will the risk of disease outbreaks.
The agency has partnered with the World Health Organisation and Jordan`s Ministry of Health to establish a regular vaccination programme to immunize children under five years of age at the camp.
"Children fleeing violence in Syria are at risk of suffering long-term distress without appropriate care," Hyde said adding that there is space for 2,500 children in the Za`atari camps.
In another few months, as many as 35,000 children are expected to be at the camp, "so we urgently need to provide additional safe places and other support to protect these children who have already suffered so much."