The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) condemned the widespread attacks on civilian facilities, especially the attacks taking place as part of the brutal bombing campaigns being launched by the Assad regime and Russia on Idlib province and the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta. It stressed that “protection of children under all circumstances is non-negotiable.”
In a briefing issued on Friday, the UN children’s agency called for sparing children in Idlib province the horrors the children in eastern Ghouta and other parts of Syria are experiencing. It stressed that the attack on children inside underground shelters must not become the new norm.
Rights groups said that Assad regime and Russian air forces were targeting underground shelters in eastern Ghouta which has been coming under fierce military campaign claiming the lives of hundreds of children and women.
“We received reports that an underground shelter where children took refuge came under attack earlier this week. Even shelters were no longer safe in the war-torn country,” said Geert Cappelaere, the agency’s Regional Director in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Heavy violence — just 300 meters from a Unicef-supported school in Idlib, forced children attending classes, to seek shelter in an improvised shelter nearby. The building was later hit and 17 children were reportedly killed,” Cappelaere added.
“Schools, hospitals, children’s homes, playgrounds and parks have all come under attack in the past seven years in Syria. Since 2011, 309 education facilities were attacked. Some teachers and education staff came under attack while in the line of duty serving children who were enjoying being at school with their friends.”
Multiple reports by international rights groups confirmed the Assad regime’s responsibility for such attacks as it has been extensively using barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons against civilian areas.
“Attacks on children and civilian infrastructure are a violation of basic laws of war,” Cappelaere stressed. “Children today or in the future will hold us all accountable if we don’t stop the war on children.”
In a report released in late December 2017, UNICEF said that the year 2017 was brutal for children in Syria because of military operations.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights in mid-November said that more than 26,500 Syrian children had been killed in the violence raging in Syria since March 2011, of whom 21,500 were killed by the Assad regime.
“In 1989, the World adopted unanimously the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Where has that political leadership gone? Cappelaere said. “The last seven years shall go down in history as an unprecedented ‘war on children’. A vicious race to the lowest point of horror, of killing, of brutality.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)