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Sexual violence on the rise in Syria

Feb. 27, 2013 at 10:29 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Rape and sexual violence as weapons of war are becoming more commonplace as the Syrian conflict continues, a U.N. rights commissioner said.

Civil war in Syria moves into its third year next month. The United Nations estimates at least 70,000 people have died in the conflict.

Erika Feller, U.N. assistant high commissioner for protection, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that fighting in Syria is complicated by the "deliberate victimization" of women.

"Reports are revealing that the conflict in Syria is increasingly marked by rape and sexual violence employed as a weapon of war to intimidate parties to the conflict destroying identity, dignity and the social fabrics of families and communities," she said.

An estimated 2 million people have been displaced in Syria by the war. Another 900,000 have fled to neighboring countries.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Wednesday with officials in France in part to discuss the Syrian crisis.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said from Geneva this week that the U.N. Security Council has so far "failed with regard to Syria." Efforts to censure Syria by the Security Council have been met with opposition from Russia, which says draft resolutions lack balance.

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