2018 was marked by the highest death toll of children in Syria as the civil war enters its ninth year, the UN agency for children, UNICEF, announced on Monday.
“Children in parts of the country remain in as much danger as at any other time during the eight-year conflict,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.
“In 2018 alone, 1,106 children were killed in the fighting -- the highest ever number of children killed in a single year since the start of the war.
“These are only the numbers that the UN has been able to verify, which means the true figures are likely much higher,” she said.
Fore said that 262 attacks were carried out against education and health facilities in 2018, which she described as a “record high”.
She voiced concern about the situation in Idlib in northwestern Syria where “an intensification of violence has reportedly killed 59 children in the past few weeks alone.”
“Children and families in no man’s lands continue to live in limbo. The situation of families in Rukban, near the Jordanian border, continues to be desperate, with limited access to food, water, shelter, health care, and education,” she said.
Worsening conditions in Al Hol camp
UNICEF director is also “alarmed by worsening conditions in Al Hol camp in the northeast [in al-Hasakeh governorate], now home to over 65,000 people, including an estimated 240 unaccompanied or separated children.”
“Since January this year, nearly 60 children reportedly died while making the 300-kilometer [186.4 miles] trek from Baghouz [in eastern Syria] to the camp. “
The fate of children of foreign fighters in Syria remains unclear, she noted.
UNICEF “urges member states to take responsibility for children who are their citizens or born to their nationals, and to take measures to prevent children from becoming stateless.”
Call for protection of children
The UN Agency, Fore said, renewed its call on “all parties to the conflict, as well as those who have influence over them, to prioritize the protection of all children, no matter who controls which area and regardless of the alleged affiliations of a child’s family.”
“We also renew our call for unconditional, safe access to the families in need and for sustained, voluntary, long-term solutions to those choosing not to return.”
Ahead of the pledging conference in Brussels between March 12-14, Fore urged donors to “maintain their generosity towards the children of Syria and neighboring countries”.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced in the conflict, mainly by regime airstrikes targeting opposition-held areas.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.