Children Increasingly Exposed in Syria Conflict: UN


Children stand near curtains in a shelter in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus. — Reuters

The UN children’s agency UNICEF reported a 50 per cent increase in the number of children killed in the conflict last year compared to the previous year.

BEIRUT — Children are at more risk than ever in Syria’s devastating conflict, the United Nations said on Monday as the war approached its eighth year.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF reported a 50 per cent increase in the number of children killed in the conflict last year compared to the previous year.

“In 2017, extreme and indiscriminate violence killed the highest ever number of children — 50 per cent more than 2016,” it said, adding that 2018 was off to an even worse start.

More than 200 children have been killed in bombardment of the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta by Syrian regime and allied forces since February, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The monitoring group says children account for around a fifth of all civilian victims of the assault.

The UN agency quoted a child from southern Syria named Sami, who is now a refugee in Jordan.

“I went outside to play in the snow with my cousins. A bomb hit. I saw my cousin’s hands flying in front of me. I lost both my legs,” he said.

Disabled children “face a very real risk of being neglected and stigmatised as the unrelenting conflict continues,” said UNICEF regional director Geert Cappelaere.

According to the UN agency, an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to explosive hazards across the war-torn country. Dozens of schools were hit in 2017 alone.

Seven years of conflict in Syria have left more than 350,000 people dead, according to an updated overall death toll released Monday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on an extensive network of sources on the ground across Syria, said 353,935 people have been killed since March 15, 2011.

The conflict, which will enter its eighth year on Thursday, is taking a devastating toll on civilians, including in the ongoing regime assault on the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.

According to the head of Observatory, 106,390 civilians have been killed in seven years. — AFP

A breakdown of the deaths, according to the Observatory:

– 106,390 civilians, including 19,811 children and 12,513 women

– 63,820 regime soldiers

– 58,130 regime-allied and militia fighters (including 1,630 from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and 7,686 from other foreign Shiite groups)

– 63,360 hardline Islamists and jihadists (including from the Islamic State group and a former Al-Qaeda affiliate)

– 62,039 fighters from other forces, including non-jihadist rebels, Kurdish forces and defected government soldiers

– 196 identity unknown but death documented




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