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#NewsdayTuesday: UNICEF Findings on Syrian Children

By Holly Rosen Fink

March 21, 2017

A new report by UNICEF, says 2016 was the worst year yet for Syria’s children. 

The fact is 8.4 million Syrian children, in and outside the country, are in need of humanitarian aid. Millions of innocent children have borne witness to unrelenting violence from the brutal conflict that began more than six years ago. Places usually thought of as safe havens, including schools, hospitals, playgrounds, parks and homes have now became disaster zones.

The report points out the following statistics:

• At least 652 children were killed – a 20 per cent increase from 2015 – making 2016 the worst year for Syria’s children since the formal verification of child casualties began in 2014.
• 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 recruited in 2015.
• There were at least 338 attacks against hospitals and medical personnel.

This is no life for any child and there no coping mechanisms in sight. Families are struggling to survive, often pushing children into early marriage and child labor due to a lack of choice or security.

The implications of this are unfathomable. Children in more than two-thirds of households are working to support their families, some in extremely harsh conditions unfit even for adults. In addition, nearly 2 million children in Syria are out of school, with roughly one-third of all schools unusable due to destruction or use for shelter or military purposes, according to UNICEF. 

unicef

Courtesy of UNICEF.

Yet despite the horrors and suffering, the UNICEF report points out that there are many remarkable stories of children determined to pursue their hopes and aspirations. Darsy (12), now a refugee in Turkey said: “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.”

Children are also united in their quest for education, with hundreds going underground to study Arabic, Math and English, even as warplanes often fly over their heads. In Saraqib, a mobile caravan serves as a classroom, and teachers in Idlib say they rely on charities or used books printed in neighboring Turkey.

In response, UNICEF has helped mobilize the largest humanitarian operation in history, supplying food, water, education, warm clothing and critical immunizations to millions of children and their families in Syria and neighboring countries. UNICEF is appealing for nearly $1.4 billion to help Syrian children in 2017.

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