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‘Hitting Rock Bottom’: The Suffering of Children in War-Torn Syria

A UNICEF study has found there was a 20% increase in the number of children killed in Syria since 2015.

Displaced families from Reyadeh and 1070 neighbourhoods take shelter at a kindergarten in western Aleppo city. Conditions are still extremely basic. Credit: UNICEF/Khuder Al-Issa

Displaced families from Reyadeh and 1070 neighbourhoods take shelter at a kindergarten in western Aleppo city. Conditions are still extremely basic. Credit: UNICEF/Khuder Al-Issa

Rome: The suffering of children in war-torn Syria “hit rock bottom” in 2016, with the highest number of grave violations against them since verification began in 2014, underscored the United Nations children’s agency.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), at least 652 children were killed last year – a 20% increase compared to 2015 – 255 among them were killed in or near a school.

Maiming and recruitment of children also rose sharply as violence across the country saw a drastic escalation, UNICEF on March 13 said in a grim assessment of the conflict’s impact on children, as the war reaches six years.

Verified instances of killing, maiming and recruitment of children increased sharply last year in a drastic escalation of violence across the country.

A seven-year-old child stands in front of her damaged school in Idleb, Syria. October 2016. Credit: UNICEF

A seven-year-old child stands in front of her damaged school in Idleb, Syria. October 2016. Credit: UNICEF

At least 652 children were killed – a 20% increase from 2015 – making 2016 the worst year for Syria’s children since the formal verification of child casualties began in 2014. Two hundred and fifty-five children were killed in or near a school.

More than 850 children were recruited to fight in the conflict, more than double the number recruited in 2015. Children are being used and recruited to fight directly on the frontlines and are increasingly taking part in combat roles, including in extreme cases as executioners, suicide bombers or prison guards.

There were at least 338 attacks against hospitals and medical personnel .

“The depth of suffering is unprecedented. Millions of children in Syria come under attack on a daily basis, their lives turned upside down,” said the UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Geert Cappelaere, announcing the study, ‘Hitting Rock Bottom – How 2016 became the worst year for Syria’s children‘.

“Each and every child is scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and future,” he added.

This article was originally published on the Inter-Press Service.

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