The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported an increase in deaths of children in Syria over the past year. It noted that the majority of deaths were caused by indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, a strategy that the Assad regime has pursued for the past several years.
As many as 910 children were killed across Syria in 2017, compared with 652 the year before, said Marixie Mercado, spokesperson for UNICEF told a media briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
“Disproportionate attacks in densely populated areas kill a growing proportion of children who now account for one-quarter of civilian deaths,” said Mercado.
“It is important to note that these are verified numbers — the true figures are certainly much higher,” Mercado added. Casualties among children are likely to rise as military operations by Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air support, continue to target many areas across Syria, the most violent of which is taking place in the besieged Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta.
Over the past few days, Syrian activists have circulated grisly images of people killed and injured in eastern Ghouta, while rights groups said that the onslaught on the rebel-held Damascus suburb has so far claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians, mostly children.
Mercado said that there are some 5.3 million children in Syria in dire need of assistance, noting that 2.8 million are internally displaced and 2.6 million others are refugees.
Furthermore, Mercado said that more than 1.7 million children are out of school, and an additional 1.3 million are at risk of dropping out.
The Syrian Coalition earlier called for the immediate implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2401, maintaining that a ceasefire and the introduction of humanitarian aid are the gateway for a permanent political solution in Syria. (Source: Syrian’s Coalition Media Department + Agencies)