Children have suffered the most during the past six-years in Syria, and among them the most vulnerable are those separated from their families, a senior Unicef official told Reuters on Wednesday.
In addition to the large number of direct casualties from the war, many more children have died or suffered from indirect consequences of the crisis including a collapse in healthcare.
“For unaccompanied and separated children, the situation is even harsher than for other children, and for children in general it’s already a very, very difficult situation,” said Geert Cappelaere, Unicef regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Unicef, the United Nation’s agency focusing on children, issued a report on Monday saying it has documented the deaths of 652 children last year, 20 percent more than in 2015. However, Cappelaere said that that represented only a small proportion of the real number of deaths.
“In 2016 every six hours a child dying or severely injured in Syria … dramatic figures. But these are only the figures we have been able to verify. We do assume that indeed the number of child casualties is really much higher,” Cappelaere said. Documenting the real impact of the war is “an impossible task,” he added.
“Beyond the bombs, bullets and explosions, children are dying in silence often from diseases that can otherwise be easily prevented. Access to medical care, lifesaving supplies and other basic services remains difficult,” Unicef added.
The most vulnerable among Syrian children are the 2.8 million in hard-to-reach areas, including 280,000 children living under siege, almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid. Over 2.3 million children are now living as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) on Tuesday called upon Russia, as a guarantor of the ceasefire agreement, to exert pressure on the Assad regime and its Iranian ally to abide by the terms of the agreement. It warned that the ceasefire will be doomed to collapse should violations by the regime and its allies continue. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)