Violence against Syrian children reaches record levels in 2016, UNICEF says

Geneva, March 13, 2017 (TNE): The suffering of children in Syria has increased significantly, the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday, citing 2016 sharp rises in killings, injuries and the recruitment of child soldiers.

UN said no fewer than 652 children died in the conflict in 2016, the highest number seen during the three years that UNICEF has been verifying such killings.

“The number of children who were drawn into combat jumped above 850, twice as many as in 2015.

“The depth of suffering is unprecedented,” Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s Middle Eastern regional chief, said.

Cappelaere said after six years of war, an estimated six million Syrian children depend on humanitarian aid.

“A quarter million are trapped in besieged areas and therefore, cut off from such aid, and many more live in regions that are difficult to reach.

“Children do not only die from bombs and bullets, but also from lack of access to doctors and basic services,” UNICEF noted.

He noted that several million children have become refugees within Syria, while 2.3 million have fled across the border to other countries in the region.

“As the overall suffering has intensified, a growing number of families have taken extreme steps such as pushing their children into marriages or into child labour.

“Each and every child is scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and future,” Cappelaere said. (TNE)

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