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UN Official Condemns Early Marriage Among Syrian Girls in Camps

April 15, 2013

A United Nations official condemned early marriages among Syrian girls following a visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.

“We have reports of early marriages in the camp and outside the camp,” Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the UN Population Fund, said in a telephone interview from Amman. “It is an unfair thing to do to a child.”

Osotimehin said his agency doesn’t have figures showing how many girls have been married off at a young age. He urged the camp residents to abide by Jordanian law that sets the minimum age of marriage at 18.

Osotimehin said he has heard reports that one reason why early marriages take place is for the girls’ safety.

Among Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, rape was a primary motive for their flight, the International Federation for Human Rights said in a Jan. 14 report. It said rape has been a “significant and disturbing feature of the Syrian civil war.”

The Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011 with peaceful protests that turned violent after troops attacked the demonstrators. At least 70,000 people have been killed, according to the UN.

To contact the reporter on this story: Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at

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