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Maimed, killed, recruited as executioners - Violence against children in Syria at its worst in 2016

At least 652 children were killed last year – a 20% increase from 2015.

I want to be a surgeon to help the sick and injured people of Syria. I dream of a Syria without a war so we can go home. I dream of a world without any wars – Darcy (12), Syrian refugee sheltering in Turkey.

THE UN’S CHILDREN’S agency has said violence against children in Syria was at its worst in 2016, as the war reaches six years.

Unicef said grave violations against children were the highest on record last year. Verified instances of killing, maiming and recruitment of children increased sharply last year in what the agency described as a “drastic escalation of violence” across the country”.

  • At least 652 children were killed – a 20% increase from 2015.
  • 255 children were killed in or near a school.
  • More than 850 children were recruited to fight in the conflict – more than double the number in 2015.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

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.

“The depth of suffering is unprecedented. Millions of children in Syria come under attack on a daily basis, their lives turned upside down,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, speaking from Homs.

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

Source: Statista

Beyond the bombs and bullets, Unicef says children are dying in silence, often from diseases that can easily be prevented.

Access to medical care, lifesaving supplies and other basic services remains difficult. The most vulnerable Syrian children are the 2.8 million caught in hard-to-reach areas, including 280,000 children living under siege who are almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Nearly six million children now depend on humanitarian assistance. Millions of children have been displaced – some up to seven times. Over 2.3 million children are now living as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq.

The agency also said families are taking extreme measures just to survive, often pushing children into early marriage and child labour.

“During the six years of conflict I have travelled to the region many times, meeting hundreds of children affected by violence. All of them are desperate for peace, desperate for education, desperate for a future,” commented its Ireland executive director Peter Power.

“One day they will hopefully celebrate the end of war, but they will then face the most difficult task imaginable, rebuilding their nation from ruins. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity Irish people have shown over each of the six years of this war. Unfortunately, because there is no end in sight yet, we are now forced to issue yet another appeal for donations.”

Read: 44 killed in twin bomb attack in centre of Damascus>

Read: Suspected chemical weapons attack on Iraqi city slammed as ‘horrible’>

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