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Unicef criticises Sonny Bill Williams for tweeting photos of dead children

Unicef says it won't condone rugby player Sonny Bill Williams' posting of pictures of dead children in Syria because it doesn't respect their rights in death.

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Sonny Bill Williams visits refugee camp in Lebanon

All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams is humbled during his visit to a refugee camp in Lebanon. Vision courtesy UNICEF.

The All Black created an online stir by tweeting graphic images of dead children following his visit to Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon.

The photos depict two children lying dead with horrific injuries. Fairfax has chosen not to publish the photos.

Man of the people: Sonny Bill Williams listens to Fatima's story.
Man of the people: Sonny Bill Williams listens to Fatima's story. Photo: Twitter: @UNICEFNZ

"What did these children do to deserve this?" the caption sent to his more than 500,000 followers read. "This summer share a thought for the innocent lives lost everyday in war."

The high-profile sportsman travelled to camps in the Bekaa Valley earlier this month as a Unicef ambassador.

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But Unicef NZ spokesman Patrick Rose says while Williams' emotional reaction to the situation is admirable, the global charity can't condone posting pictures of dead children.

He said the organisation took children's rights seriously both in life and death and publicising pictures of their deaths breached those.

Mr Rose said the organisation was now talking to Williams about how they would go forward and hoped in future they could better co-ordinate a response together.

It was not up to Unicef to tell people how to deal with their own personal shock, he said.

The images also drew a critical reaction from some of Williams' Twitter followers. They pointed out some could have reacted adversely to the images and his young followers would also have seen them.

"Too late if they've already seen these pictures. He should at least have included a trigger warning," one said.

Another said Williams was insensitive and young people followed him because he was a sports star not for his politics.

Some however, were supportive. "It is a ferocious reality. Good on him for sharing. People can un-follow," one said.

Williams has also spoken about his visit to the camps on YouTube.

AAP