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Syria children 'scarred for life'

The UN's top human rights official has urged nations to save Syria's embattled and dying children and to rally behind a 14-year-old girl shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting female education.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says many Syrian children "will be scarred for life" at the hands of their government, army or neighbours in a conflict activists say has killed more than 33,000 people since March 2011.

She called on the world to prevent another slaughter like that of 8,000 Muslim men in July 1995 by Serb forces who overran the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, in what became Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War.

"It should not take something as drastic as Srebrenica to shake the world into taking serious action to stop this type of conflict," Ms Pillay said in criticising the lack of action by the international community because the UN Security Council is blocked by Syrian allies and permanent members Russia and China.

At a news conference in Geneva summing up her first four-year term, she condemned the Taliban's shooting of Malala Yousufzai in Pakistan last week, and singled out Libya as "extremely fragile after so many years of disastrous misrule" during Muammar Gaddafi's regime. She said much more work remains to be done to protect the rights of people in Arab Spring nations such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.

She said North Korea also remains a top concern because of its "political prison camps, frequent public executions and severe food shortages."

She also said several nations including Bahrain continued to retaliate against human rights activists.

"This is completely unacceptable behaviour anywhere, let alone in the halls of the UN," she said.

www.ohchr.org (Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights)

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