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All Blacks star criticised for posting graphic images of dead Syrian refugees

All Blacks rugby star Sonny Bill Williams has been criticised for posting graphic photos of dead children after his visit to a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon.

The 30-year-old, who won the Rugby World Cup with New Zealand in October, uploaded pictures of two children with gruesome wounds to the head, torso and legs on Twitter with the accompanying message: "What did these children do to deserve this? This summer share a thought for the innocent lives lost everyday in war."

Unicef, who had sent Williams to Lebanon to raise awareness of the plight facing Syrian refugees earlier in December, said the photos were not taken during the athlete's visit and did not support his actions.

Unicef New Zealand spokesman Patrick Rose said: "I don’t think anyone would be happy about those kinds of images. It certainly wasn’t something that he consulted us about and they weren’t images that he’d taken on the trip with us.

"We see it as a fundamental infringement of those children’s rights. But at the same time, we don’t have the capacity to censor or edit private citizens’ showing what they find on their individual explorations online."

The post drew a mixed reaction online.

One critic tweeted: "I'd imagine Sonny Bill Williams has a lot of young followers so posting pics of dead kids, however valid the message, is really poor form."

However, one supporter said: "It is a ferocious reality. Good on him for sharing. People can un-follow."

Sources: AFP, The New Zealand Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald

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